I just got back from my weekend at the Telluride Jazz Festival. I’ve been to Telluride countless times, for the Jazz Fest and for the Telluride Film Festival, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite places in the whole world. Ironically, it’s a lot like my hometown of Park City, Utah, except that Park City is easier to get to and in Colorado you don’t have to resort to a secret handshake to get a decent cocktail.
However, there are a few quirks about Telluride that make it completely unique from any other city, and for me that’s what makes it so wonderful. Like Parkites, the folks in Telluride sway to their own rhythm without any concern as to what other people might think. And in a world that has become so homogenized by the Internet it’s nice to know there are still some free thinkers out there.
So in an open love letter to a sister city that I adore, here are just a few of the, shall we say, idiosyncrasies that make Telluride a memorable, yet completely endearing, place to visit, especially if you come from a place like Utah or Tennessee.
That Telluride Aroma
Colorado is one of those states where you can legally obtain medicinal marijuana. As a result, there seem to be a lot of people in Telluride with glaucoma, especially in jazz clubs on Saturday nights or in coffee shops on weekend mornings. Just drawing in a deep breath while walking down Telluride’s Main Street at noon on a Sunday takes me back to my college days. And I went to U.C. Berkeley, so that ought to tell you something right there. Yes, indeedy, it’s nice to know that all these ill Coloradans can still get out and enjoy themselves.
Dogs Are Legal Citizens
Or at least it seems that way. Domestic dogs are everywhere in Telluride, usually running alongside a mountain biker or standing sentry in a doorway of a Main Street shop. I even rode down the mountain on the gondola with a blond lab that sat quietly on her owner’s lap the whole journey. Which was a stark contrast to my ride up on the gondola with a young mother and her obnoxious two-year-old who wailed bloody murder and pounded on the windows the whole time. I’ll take a well-behaved pooch or a bratty toddler any day. And the town of Telluride seems to agree. (Note to restaurants: Now if you could just add a screaming baby section to your seating, so I could avoid that section, you’d be golden.)
Women with Mustaches
On this last visit to Telluride, I saw no less than five women with facial hair that could rival Johnny’s Depp’s scruff when he’s channeling Captain Jack Sparrow. They sported mostly mustaches, but a couple had a forest of chin hairs, too. These fine ladies were all innkeepers or shop owners, so I know they’re locals. I have to admit it made me stare at first, but after a while I became envious of their self-confidence, as well as the money they save on waxing. It just goes to show you can pull of any look, as long as you’re willing to own it.
Your balance must improve the higher up you go in altitude, because I saw several people getting around on unicycles. One guy was even carrying groceries while he rode. And of course, he had a dog jogging next to him. At least I think it was his dog. Or maybe the K-9 was just on his way to the gondola so he could have a nice meal at one of the many fine restaurants in the hoity-toity Mountain Village (which, BTW, is the equivalent of Deer Valley here in Park City…except in Deer Valley they give you the bum’s rush if you even think of bringing in a dog).
Parking in the Middle of Main Street
This is the coolest thing next to turning streets into walking malls (á la Helena, MT, or Boulder, CO). Telluride’s Main Street is so wide they added parking down the middle of it, which is great because then those cars act as dividers between the two-way traffic. I even saw a guy parked in the middle of the street painting on an easel set up next to his car. Pretty soon people crowded around him to watch, and faster than you could say “human barricades” Main Street traffic slowed to a crawl. But nobody seemed to mind. Telluride has figured out that you discourage speeders by filling your streets with people.
Either that or everyone was so high they didn’t care. Regardless, it works.
Thanks Telluride for a great Jazz Festival weekend. I look forward to coming back again soon!
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.