Pomp, circumstance and Whiskey Blanket


by Chris Aaland

While the calendar may mark the first day of summer as June 20, I prefer to view it as spring graduation at Fort Lewis College. In a sadistic-yet-philosophical way, Saturday marks the day that hundreds of youngsters kiss their childhood goodbye. Welcome to the machine, my friends. Real life begins at 8 a.m. Monday morning.

On my graduation day 17 years ago, I had no clue what the future held in store for me. I believed I was off to Denver to become a sports writer, move in with my parents and search for romance with a girl I knew in high school.

Flash forward 17 years and none of those things ever came true. Sure, I was a college sports information director for nearly 10 years and have freelanced a story or two, but to call myself a sports writer would discredit the work that scribes are doing on a daily basis. Move in with my parents? More than three days in the same house usually results in therapy for one or more of us. And that girl from high school? I’m happily married to someone I met in the real world. The guy she married became my best friend.

My real job is FLC’s director of alumni relations. In this capacity, I get the privilege of welcoming nearly 600 graduating seniors into the FLC Alumni Association on Saturday at 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. ceremonies in Whalen Gymnasium. Students who majored in accounting, business administration, computer science, economics, exercise science, interdisciplinary studies and psychology will walk first; all other majors participate in the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. Highlighting graduation day is commencement speaker Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager for the City of Denver’s Road Home, a 10-year plan to eradicate homelessness. During his tenure as president, Brad Bartel has taught FLC students the value of community service. The choice of Van Leeuwen as graduation speaker is most appropriate.

While caps and gowns and “pomp and circumstance” are featured this week – and bars will be packed to the gills each night with students celebrating the end of finals as well as graduation – there are a few other highlights to the weekly entertainment calendar.

KSUT welcomes back cowboy humorist Baxter Black to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A longtime NPR darling and syndicated columnist, Black lives in Benson, Ariz., “between the Gila River and the Gila monster, the Mexican border and the Border Patrol, and between the horse and the cow.”

Boulder’s Whiskey Blanket brings its thinking-person’s style of hip-hop to the Summit at 9 p.m. Saturday. The trio consists of 20-year-old Steakhouse (MC, piano, bass, turntables), 22-year-old Funny Biz (MC, cello, beatbox) and 22-year-old Sloppy Joe (MC, violin). Whiskey Blanket has played sold-out shows at the Fox Theatre, performed with the likes of Flavor Flav, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Coolio, and will release its second album this summer.

Cuckoo’s turns 9 years old on Friday. Per tradition, the Lawn Chair Kings are ringmasters for the chicken house’s anniversary fandango. Music starts at 9 p.m.

Jack Ellis & Larry Carver perform their high-altitude blend of blues, rock and folk at the 8th Ave. Tavern at 8 p.m. Friday.

Steamworks’ musical brew this week includes a club mix of classic, old school and underground hip-hop by DJ Mytha on Thursday, a rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll riot with the Soda Jerks and Strange New Shoes on Friday, and upbeat funk and world groove by Liquid Cheese and B.P.M. on Saturday. Music starts at 10:30 p.m. nightly.

Each and every weekend, roving bands of Charmington thugs crash the party at the Lost Dog and other Durango bars to wreak havoc. I, for one, am sick of it – as are several friends who now choose to end their
festivities by 10 p.m. each night to avoid being assaulted. Take your life in your own hands by traveling south to the Top Deck in Farmington to see alt-country-lite when Cross Canadian Ragweed takes the stage on Wednesday. Call 505-327-7385 for more information.



In honor of college graduates everywhere, here are 10 highlights from my 1991 graduation day:

1) The beer bandolier. Buck’s Bags, a fly-fishing manufacturer out of Idaho, used to market a bandolier that held a six-pack of beer. Hidden beneath my blue graduation robe was Buck’s Bandolier, stuffed with two bottles of champagne and four cold ones.

2) The big on-stage hug from FLC President Joel Jones. He never thought I’d leave. He was right.

3) My step-mom passing out on Southern Comfort. Strangely, this certain red-headed Irish New Yorker fancies herself somewhat of a Janis Joplin impersonator when SoCo is involved.

4) Spin-the-bottle, Jeff Stegeman style. “The Creep” was given an inflatable sex toy by a coworker as a graduation gift. We blew it up, formed a circle and tossed her into the ceiling fan ... . Jeff Lipschultz’s mom, who is a shrink by trade, was repulsed – and her client list included a balding lead singer of a certain leather-clad ’80s heavy metal giant.

5) Suns vs. Lakers. Lipschultz’s father watched the NBA playoffs sitting cross-legged in the middle of the spin-the-bottle circle.

6) Running out of beer. When the keg ran dry, Lipschultz tried to pass the hat for collections. His father, a heart and lung surgeon from Phoenix, publicly scolded his son for being cheap and returned a few minutes later with a new keg and cases of champagne.

7) The lacrosse brawl. I’m not sure if they were invited, but the entire FLC lacrosse team showed up to our graduation party and an intrasquad riot broke out.

8) The pony, the chainsaw and Henry Noerdlinger. Envision one of those 10-cent pony rides in front of the grocery store, a power tool and a dude who ate too much acid over the years.

9) Stegeman’s father stiffing the rest of the dads at brunch the following morning, thus proving being a tightwad is genetic.

10) Actually outdoing ourselves at Larry Hartsfield’s bachelor party two weeks later. •

Jolting Joe has left and gone away? E-mail me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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