The Great Boulder Smack-fest

This is the second time I’ve seen a reference to a kind of building disillusion with Boulder, Colorado, its scene, its reputation, and everything else about it. There was also an almost identical sentiment in the August issue of Outside. As a native Coloradoan who often visited the super-hip, recreation and culture epicenter to find an escape from the Denver ‘burbs, this is probably the point where I’m supposed to jump in with a thirty-pronged defense of the town. With apologies to Celestial Seasonings and any other undeserving residents, however, I must utter a prolonged “duuuuuuuh” in response to this Boulder bashing.

Boulder went the way of so many other former Western centers of spiritual, physical, metaphysical and drug-induced Nirvana decades ago. If you’ve been to Boulder, Sedona, and in many ways, even the Taos which I now call home, odds are you are bound to feel a bit cheated. All of the above towns still retain much of their beautiful scenery and some of their character, but they have the feeling of being ridden hard and put away wet by capitalism.

My memories of roaming Boulder’s tree-lined Pearl Street malls have been replaced by recent memories of being stuck in traffic while passing by endless strip malls. The town now exudes a bizarre atmosphere of hard-core, grassroots independence that is about to be bought out by another huge corporation at any minute, and almost always, it is.

This is not necesarrily to Boulder’s detriment. At least they are fighting the corporate expansion, unlike the rest of Colorado’s Front Range, which sprawled out and sprung up into a long chain of well, chains, seemingly overnight in the 1990s.

So is Boulder as cool as it claims to be? Of course not? Is it cooler than the rest of the state it calls home? Probably not, but I’ll give them an ‘A’ for effort.