I heard a story on NPR today about Denver’s mixed attitude toward its heritage as a “cow town.” Apparently, several of the movers and shakers in Denver got together and killed the idea of hosting a rodeo as an entertainment event for delegates to the Democratic Convention.
NPR dutifully went around and interviewed Denverites (Denverians?) about whether a rodeo fit their image of the city. Most folks thought not (at least the folks whose voices got broadcast.) One person of course said that Denver shouldn’t publicize its cowboy past, but feature the trendy shops and restaurants in its gentrified downtown.
So Denver has gotten what it wants. It is another soulless town in America, indistinguishable from others because, as Douglas Coupland observed in the novel Generation X, they’ve all got the same stores in their malls. Of course, today the malls are lifestyle centers and come in many degrees of price variations. Denver’s stores match up more with NY and San Francisco, than with Topeka and Syracuse. Big deal. I’d rather see a freakin’ rodeo.
Syracuse seems to be going down this path now, despite the voices of people like Dean Robbins of Syracuse U. urging us to value what is authentic about our culture and heritage. Hopefully, we will listen and not end up like poor Denverites, folks deluded into thinking they’ve “made it” in society and can now shed the seemingly low-class ways of their humble beginnings. In truth, being a “cow town” is the most interesting thing about Denver. Without it, they are just a bunch of yuppie arrivistes.