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Haus of Hunter: From Home to Fort Collins

by Hunter on April 9, 2014

“Imperfections are beautiful.” – Lady Gaga

Kevin Spacey, "American Beauty"

Denver

Denver is no New York or Los Angeles, but it isn’t a Fort Collins, either. I was born downtown, but I grew up in Englewood, the first suburb south of the capital. Englewood is too small to be a city, but too big to be a town. Since I went to school in Littleton, and my friends lived as far away as Aurora, I felt connected to the area without feeling like the area was connected to me – it wasn’t that a reputation preceded me everywhere I went, but it’s not like I was unfamiliar with my surroundings, either.

Fort Collins

Northern Colorado is strikingly different from farther down south. The South Metropolitan Area of Denver is home to a diverse immigrant population, but Northern Colorado is a little bit more… Rural.

Politically, Colorado is a purple state to begin with. We’ll legalize marijuana, but, after Arapahoe, Aurora, and Columbine, we’ll buy more guns, whereas a state like Connecticut will entertain gun control legislation after Newtown (personally, I’m not saying one thing or the other about either of these controversies).

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Fort Collins. By nature, college students tend to be more liberal, but, off-campus, most of the people who are actually from Fort Collins, are descended from cowboys and ranchers, so they like their guns; from business owners, so they enjoy their Reaganomics; from mountainfolk, so they grow out their beards and guzzle their beers and drive pickup trucks.

Denver has nightclubs. Fort Collins has bars. Denver has skyscrapers. Fort Collins has Old Town. Historically, I’m a suburbanite, but, at heart, I’m an urbanite. I would rather take a vacation in the lights and noise of Las Vegas than in the cold and silence of a cabin. A night out for me is a concert at the Pepsi Center, not a house party.

There’s a reason Main Street in Disneyland was modeled after Old Town – it’s as picture perfect as a postcard: family-owned shops, neighbors safely walking around at all hours of the day and night, muted pastels and no mouth left unsmiling. In the background are the mountains, which people travel from far and away just to see. Everybody has a college education. Everybody’s successful. Everybody’s happy, and, when you’re not, it’s as though something is horribly wrong with you.

Call it paradise sickness, call it homesickness, label it whatever you please, but I plan on leaving Fort Collins right away when I graduate, for Denver, for New York, for Los Angeles…

I like having to lock my doors at night. I like having to leave my porch light on. Genetically, the odds are never in my favor – I had an unhappy childhood under parents who were, themselves, unhappy. Sometimes, a good day isn’t enough for me to be in a good mood. It’s much harder for me to tell myself to be grateful for what I have when everyone else around me has the same thing I do – a life in Fort Collins – and I’m the only one feeling anything other than ecstatic about it. I get along better with survivors than with victims – people who’ve had to overcome much worse than anything I could ever say to them, versus people who’ll launch a crusade against me because I refuse to get down on my hands and knees and kiss the ground they walk on.

Don’t misread me – Fort Collins has been good for me. It’s taught me that I can’t be satisfied with myself unless I’m constantly distracted through a fast-paced, city lifestyle. I’ve learned more about myself here than anywhere, because it's so peaceful. Diversity isn’t exclusive to the socially oppressed – experiencing Northern Colorado as a Denverite is just as important as experiencing Denver as a Northern Coloradan.

Thank you for reading. Fort Collins is perfect for people who like perfect things – but, I am a journalist, after all, a writer, a storyteller, and no story is good without a good conflict.

Paws up, and go Rams.

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Epilogues by Kelly: Good Eats

by Kelly T on March 30, 2014

If you love food as much as I do, you’ve been waiting for this post for your whole life. I have to be honest, Fort Collins doesn’t have the best food. I have tried several Mexican restaurants, and haven’t found any I love. And good Chinese food is essentially non-existent (as far as I’ve seen). But today I want to share some of my favorite dining-out spots in the Fort!

Best Pizza:

1. Pizza Casbah—if you love cheese pizza, this is your place. With huge slices, garlic-y crust, and the perfect ratio of cheese to crust to sauce, this pizza is perfect. They also have really good coupons! But if you order anything other than cheese, the toppings are a bit sparse.

2. Krazy Karl’s—this place is a great deal. On Mondays between 5-8pm, the time you call is the price you pay for a large 1 topping pizza. And the pizza is really good!

Best Mediterranean:

1. Yum Yum’s Mediterranean Grill—this place is my favorite restaurant in Fort Collins. I love falafel, and this place serves up authentic, hearty pita wraps filled with falafel, chicken shwarma, or gyro meat. It is so good! Plus, if you have cash, you can get a wrap of your choice for only $5!

Best Thai:

1. Simply Thai—I love good Thai food. The plates here are huge—it’s a good place to order a few dishes and share them with friends! Try the pineapple fried rice and avocado curry, and you won’t be disappointed (the avocado curry is quite spicy, be careful!).

2. Toys Thai—If you’re on a budget but love authentic Thai, Toys Thai is the best choice for you. The food is so good, and really cheap—perfect for a college student! It’s such a cute little place, too, they have photos covering the walls of people that have been there.

Best Tacos:

1. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop—so they aren’t really Mexican food, but I love Fuzzy’s baja tacos. My favorites are the tempura fish and the grilled veggie tacos (on a soft shell, duh). Their chips and salsa are also amazing—they put spices on the chips—and I like to wash everything down with a Fuzzy’s on the Rocks lime margarita (if you’re 21, of course!). Fuzzy’s is a really fun place to hang out with friends, and they have some great drink specials for 21 year olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Best Bar Food:

1. Mainline—I love the atmosphere at Mainline because it’s calm, cozy, and modern. They have great cocktails (with a bit higher price tag), and some pretty interesting food options, including chicken and waffles, burgers, and tasty fries. It’s a good place to go if you want a little fancier night out.

2. Scrumpy’s—an apple cider bar, Scrumpy’s has some delicious sandwiches to go along with your flight of cider. The sandwiches are on the high end in price, but are served on homemade bread. They have some really different combinations, and I think even the pickiest of eaters could find something they love.

That’s all for now

There are plenty more restaurants that I haven’t had the chance to try, and I’m sure I’ve missed out on some really good spots! This is just a list of some of the places I’ve tried and really enjoyed, just in case you get sick of dorm food every once in a while. My friends and I went out to eat almost every weekend during our freshman year, because there wasn’t as much variety in the dorms on the weekends. Plus, it was a nice treat for working hard all week long!

Happy eating!

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Epilogues by Kelly: Light Up the Town

by Kelly T on December 8, 2013

One of my favorite parts of living in Fort Collins during the holiday season is Old Town. A couple of weeks into November, Old Town lights their holiday lights. Strands of lights shimmer all across Old Town—it's a wonderful tradition that compares to nothing you've ever seen.

The Lights

The lights are a holiday tradition in Fort Collins, and light up the charmed brick walls of store fronts. It's breathtaking, magical, beautiful, and somehow manages to make even the worst winter weather seem placid and peaceful. The last two years, the city has kicked off its annual holiday lights with a lighting ceremony, in which families, students, and all residents were encouraged to celebrate as Old Town was lit. It's another one of those really cool events where the whole community comes together in something that is uniquely Fort Collins.

Old Town Cheer

Because I'm so busy with school, I don't make it to Old Town very often. I think I've only been 3 or 4 times this semester! Crazy, I know. But last week, I made the trek down to Old Town with Pre-Occupational Therapy club for our end-of-semester banquet at Old C's. It had started to snow a few hours earlier, the traffic was horrendous, and the temperatures were below freezing, but the lights made it seem a little less cold. I love how beautiful the lights look in Old Town—it’s one of the prettiest parts of living in Fort Collins. So if you're ever in Fort Collins during the holidays, make sure to head to Old Town at night and check them out. I promise it'll be worth your time! Because I was simply too cold to whip out my phone and take some photos, this post features some lovely photos from Google images.

(Isn’t that just absolutely beautiful? Makes me smile!) 

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Haus of Hunter: Aca-Believe It!

by Hunter on October 30, 2013

“The melody that you choose can rescue you.” – Lady Gaga, “Artpop”

Catch the Beat for the Weekend

Having been friends with performing arts kids throughout school, I am a veteran to the audience lifestyle. Friday night, when I drove across downtown Fort Collins, scavenged for a place to park, and scrambled through the October chill to arrive at the event in Bisetti’s Italian Restaurant punctually, it was a familiar ritual. This time, it was to behold my roommate and the debut of the new Colorado State University a cappella arrangement, Bassic, for which she sings.

I Just Love the Music, Not the Bling

As anyone who has seen Pitch Perfect knows (in other words, everyone), a cappella is a genre of group music which is stripped of instruments, but not of instrumentals, and it is certainly not stripped of entertainment. The choir of singers generates the background composition of their songs vocally in addition to singing the lyrics (the current Bassic set is Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” Zedd’s “Clarity,” and Imagine Dragons’s “It’s Time”). The effect is a sound which strongly connects to the original inspiration and departs from it in a course original to the unique voices of the chorus. This picture is of Bassic at Bisetti’s. They were so impressive that an assemblage of talent scouts serendipitously dining at the eatery that evening took the organization president aside to congratulate her on their efforts.

Aca-Awesome!

Bassic can be found at https://www.facebook.com/BassicAccapella, where they create Facebook events of their schedule (for example: a fundraiser at Café Mexicali this Saturday…!). They are a gifted band of individuals who need passion to support them, as is inherent of the arts.

Thank you for reading. You are aca-amazing!

Paws up, and go Rams.

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Haus of Hunter: There’s a Reason Rebecca Black Sings about Fridays

by Hunter on October 17, 2013

“Come on and run. Turn the car on and run. I’m gonna marry the night." –Lady Gaga, “Marry the Night”

The Perks of Being Talented

Music is my life – listening to it, not making it. However, my roommates are both musical treasures, so we decided to spend Friday night with our friends cruising Old Town in search of the public pianos to play – well, for them to play, for me to applaud them. On behalf of the passerby forced to hear me sing Katy Perry’s “Firework” whilst my roommates sang the lyrics more expertly than I and performed the instrumental, allow me to give them thanks for budgeting their time to enchant our community.Embedded image permalink

But Wait, There’s More!

In between the moments of our melodious odyssey, we visited a random, family-owned shop, full of incense, traditional Hindu textiles, and Indian literature. We high-fived a stranger who waited beside us for the crosswalk signal. We danced to the radio at a pizza vendor’s outdoor cart, and the onlookers cheered. We asked a bouncer where we could find some karaoke, and he recognized us when we passed him again, still standing outside in the dark and the cold, as if waiting to meet somebody. We improvised the Pitch Perfect a cappella interpretation of “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson.

And Then, We Watched the Drunk Guy Get Arrested

He sprayed a crowd of barflies with a fire extinguisher and proceeded to flee. A good Samaritan sat on his back, held his hands behind him until the police arrived, and he screamed to the gathering spectators that he was being held against his will. The woman he was with knelt next to his head and begged him to stop mortifying her.

At least he provided some free entertainment.

The Ultimate College Rite of Passage

We concluded the evening with a meal at midnight. After the swarm of high school theatre kids were finished with yelling and pounding the tables during their quintessential opening night IHOP run, we had the place to ourselves. I ordered the chicken and waffles, which were surprisingly good! (Conversely, I do not foresee that chicken-and-waffle-flavored potato chips will ever be an option. Yes, they do exist).

By the time I finally peeled the contact lenses away from my eyes, they were bloodshot, and regardless of how sleep-deprived I was from hours out on the town at the end of an exhausting week of school, I was proud of my tiredness. The day is incomplete without the night. The night is where we dream, asleep or awake.

Fort Collins overflows with memories to make and stories to tell. The streets are paved with light and the air breathes celebration. Too often, we complain about how the parking is arranged, when, really, parking blocks away and walking around blesses us with an excuse to liberate ourselves and explore. There’s something for everyone.

Thank you for reading. How was your weekend?

Paws up, and go Rams.