Lance is back on his bike. But it’s not about the bike, never has been. It’s about Lance.

On Wednesday, at the Clinton Global Initiative, he announced his plans to join Team Astana, a doping-plagued team that withdrew from 2007’s Tour de France after its race-leading rider tested positive for blood doping.

In 2008, Team Astana was barred from competing in the Tour. Questions remain about its status in 2009.

But doping is beside the point of my problems with Lance. While he very well might have used artificial means during his amazing string of seven-in-a-row Tour de France victories, I care more about the man’s character.

In his book, It’s Not About the Bike, co-authored by Sally Jenkins, Lance claimed that testicular cancer had made him a changed person. The self-described “brash” young man who “raced with no respect” was given a second chance. “There are two Lance Armstrongs, pre-cancer and post . . . In a way, the old me did die, and I was given a second life.”

The problem is that post-cancer Lance is still a self-centered jerk. A true phony. (Ms. Jenkins and Lance need to be congratulated on their fine fabrications. I’ll be sure to return the book to the fiction section of the library.)

Most athletes are. Big deal. What makes Lance different are his public proclamation to be a changed man, his recent talk about possibly running for public office, and his status as the global face of cancer – admirable work, no doubt. But work that makes his name and face ubiquitous, helping to line his pockets with cash. In 2005, he was reported to have an annual income of almost $30 million, mostly from endorsers, which include Nike, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Trek.

In 2007, he was given an ownership stake in New Sun Nutrition – an energy drink company – in exchange for becoming the public face of the company.

Nike, not Lance’s foundation, came up with the idea to sell the yellow bracelets, a genius marketing tool to help expand Brand Lance.

Another indictment of the man is his private life, which he doesn’t keep private.

The “beautiful coed,” Lisa Shiels, who was at Lance’s side through every chemo treatment got dropped. She disappears from the narrative of his book just as he meets his future wife, Kristin.

Though, she – the mother of his children – faired no better. (Thankfully, the two supposedly still do have a close relationship.)

On to Sheryl Crow, his one-time fiancee, who he broke it off with shortly after their engagement.

And I won’t even get into the current liasons – can we even keep those straight?

Lance is so wrapped up in his own greatness that he recently talked openly about running for public office in Texas – possibly in 2014, an election year for governor.

Governor Lance?

But, rest assured World, Lance has his eyes on you too. He is not making this comeback for himself; rather, for cancer. To Spread Awareness Throughout the Globe.

Guess what Lance? Cancer is not the most pressing issue in Africa and Asia – terra incognito for Lance and his products. Try AIDS or malaria. Poverty or development. War or repressive governments. Genocide!

Ask your friend Bono.

In the end, Lance is a simple slave to money and fame. No different than most athletes and public figures. Except, he is blatantly profiting from his cancer experience.

Will he ride cancer all the way to the governor’s mansion?


The LoDo Tattered Cover, covering two floors with a nice collection of new books. Check out that Sustainability section!

The LoDo Tattered Cover, covering two floors with a nice collection of new books. Check out that Sustainability section!

Denver, after a week of surveying your bookstores, I can confidently proclaim that your book culture is strong.

Of course, this is in comparison to the rest of America. I know not of how today stacks up to yesteryear.

Everybody said my first destination should be the independently-owned Tattered Cover, a veritable community institution that sells new books.

The two stores I visited didn’t quite live up to the hype. Very importantly, both were selling and prominently displaying Jerome Corsi’s Obama Nation – a libelous take on our next President. (Let’s reprise the Alien and Sedition Acts, so we can throw that bastard in jail! No, that’s very much a joke. Haha.)

On the other hand, each store had a nice sustainability section. Something I think is new, at least from its in-store promotion. It’s worth checking out, especially for eco-minded folks – and there are tons of them in the West.

Other impressions: the Colfax store was smaller than the LoDo store. I’m not sure there was even a full fiction section. Non-fiction was similarly truncated. However, of the small section I sampled – Latin American history – numerous, new juicy titles sprang out. If I was a new-book buying kind of guy, I might could have bought ‘em.

Moving on. Frugal by nature and incomeless, I need used books. The fifth result of my Google search, “Denver used bookstores,” was on Broadway, south of downtown.

Books Unlimited claims all sorts of accolades on its site. One of which is the “best older bookstore in a new location.” I guess so. But that doesn’t mean the books don’t have cobwebs.

Two other stores were within a two-block radius. A shop owner I was to later meet in Boulder called out these stores as treating books like antiques, as they are located in the small antique-selling district of the city and, apparently, operate on the same model.

Keeping it simple: these three stores offer nothing special.

A little farther up Broadway, where the vibe gets kind of funky, things get better. I came across Fahrenheit’s Books, which sells an eclectic assortment of quality used books. Bookstore as incubator of ideas seemed to be the model, with touches of fun – science fiction.

I bought Michael Chabon’s first book, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. And I couldn’t pass up the chance to pass on my new-found knowledge: Fahrenheit 451 is an inferior book. Ray Bradbury can’t write! I got no response from the clerk.

I must have passed at least three other interesting-looking bookstores on my bike ride further up Broadway. But time was short. They seemed to be of the same intellectual variety as Fahrenheit.

Book Buffs, Ltd, in chill Old South Pearl Street, is a store that specializes in “literary fiction” first editions and poetry, but includes a sufficient overall variety. Unfortunately, it’s closing at the end of the year.

A nice woman, who was not the owner, gave great service. I asked: “Does Colorado have its own version of Aldo Leopold or John Muir?” She kept bringing me book after book. But, I still don’t know if he or she exists. I did buy a few historical accounts of exploration in the state and the greater Western United States.

Many folks mentioned Capitol Hill Books – which is also the fourth Google result of “Denver used bookstores.” It’s located right next to Colorado’s State Capitol. The store had nice breadth. But seemed lacking in depth. Maybe I was just tired. (I subsequently napped on a bench outside the capitol. Two semi-rude state troopers awakened me. “No sleeping. This is a state park. You understand, sonny?”)

And, finally, a little taste of Boulder. I was impressed with the fine Beat Book Shop, on Pearl Street. A nice collection that touches many subjects. Ideas are definitely central. I bought a Stephen Jay Gould collection of essays and an account of the Constitutional Convention.

The owner was wacky. He had no one working for him. After paying for housing last year, he claimed to have lived on just $6,000. Books seemed to be his best friend. Surely a good thing in a bookshop keeper.

So, Denver – and environs – it’s a fact. You guys are learned and conscious. I’m impressed.

An average statue in front of an average state capitol.

Just your average Civil War statue in front of your standard state capitol. Boring.

But, upon closer inspection, the plaque immediately below the statue lists the “Battle of Sand Creek,” in its tribute of Colorado’s Civil War effort. (By the way they fought for the North. I had doubts.)

Just one problem: that “battle” is widely regarded as “massacre.” A peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians was attacked. 150 people, many of them women and children, were killed.

Another plaque, located next to the statue, tells that story.

A remnant of the DNC, two and a half weeks prior.

A remnant of the DNC, two and a half weeks prior. Elevation: 5,280 ft. - one mile - supposedly.

The pride of Guatemala, Pollo Campero, has infiltrated the Dallas.

The pride of Guatemala's 40,000th American store in Prosper, TX.

Dallas, TX – 9/14/2021 – Over the past 18 years, a once-obscure Guatemalan enterprise has risen to the status of America’s top chain restaurant.

Under the quiet stewardship of the Guatemalan government, Pollo Campero has continued to outperform its American peers, even the recently merged McDonaKing.

Long a cherished part of Americana, American fast food chains have spent the better part of the past five decades becoming central to Earthana – our numbingly dull global culture.

But while McDonaKing, Domino’s, and KFChing – among others – have successfully conquered much of the world market, they have left their home flank exposed.

Into this semi-void have stepped a number of foreign chains: Burger Bueno, Pizza Gustoso, and Chong’s Chinese.

But no foreign chain has done more than Pollo Campero. “Country Chicken” has just opened its 40,000th American store, on Victory Over Terror Tollway in Prosper, TX, a super-exurb of Dallas.

The inexplicable way a corrupt Central American government helped transform a moderately-sized fast food company into a powerhouse is astonishing. Much of the credit is going to economic advisers from Milton Friedman University in Guatemala City.

“We really understand fast food. You could say it’s in our blood,” Pollo Campero CEO Jorge Oro said. “Everybody knows we invented the Happy Meal. But that was only the beginning.”

At first, the company concentrated on the U.S’s burgeoning Latin market. But as the American economy continued to experience limited to no growth in the 2010’s and fast food increasingly became the lone option for Americans dining out, Pollo Campero officials saw their opening and expanded into other markets.

“Nobody thought it could be done at the time. Shoot, unemployment was over 10%. Things were depressing. But we knew we had something good to give Americans,” Oro said.

Of course, the rapid expansion into mainstream America could only happen with the proper backing.

After much internal debate at the beginning of the last decade, the Guatemalan government decided to financially back the chain restaurant.

“We saw that they knew what they were doing. The choice was easy,” former president Manuel Romero said.

Many American observers, however, are worried. They see the Guatemalan government as benefiting unduly from Pollo Campero’s unprecedented rise. Much has also been made about Guatemala’s recent invasion and temporary occupation of Belize. Opponents say it was American funded, with “Campero dollars.”

“We really took our eye off the homeland. This is a travesty,” Jill Pride, a foreign policy expert, said. “Not only have American fast food companies been closing at an amazing rate, Guatemala is now using its fast food wealth to terrorize and dominate Central America. Washington totally dropped the ball. If I were Mexico, I’d be shaking in my boots.”

Nevertheless, Pollo Campero’s rise remains the business success story of the century.

Uppity downtown workers.

Uppity downtown workers.

“Walking to the Sky,” at Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center. The best museum in the city.

The new Hunt Oil Tower in Downtown Dallas.

The new Hunt Oil Tower in Downtown Dallas.

Hunt Oil has a new home in Dallas. I like the building a lot. It lights up at night. A friend in the construction biz pointed out that the curved glass is quite expensive, helping to push the price tag to $120 million.

The city of Dallas kicked in a tax abatement of more than $6 million, making the building another fine example of corporate welfare. Something Dallas does very well.

The Hunts – offspring of oil tycoon H.L. Hunt – are Dallas’s richest family.

And, notice the “H” that the front of the building makes. Well done.