Fa­ther’s Day gifts that are not lame

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By John Wen­zel

Fa­ther’s Day holds a sweet spot among nom­i­nally cel­e­brated hol­i­days. (I dare you to ar­gue it’s more im­por­tant than Mother’s Day.)

It hon­ors fa­thers of all ages and back­grounds, and is there­fore gen­eral enough to avoid the anx­i­ety that other pas­sage-of­time cel­e­bra­tions can in­voke. I don’t dread it the way I dread my birthdays, in other words, and I’ll take any excuse for my wife to wake me up with dough­nuts and cof­fee.

But it’s aimed at a spe­cific enough group (guys with kids) that any­one who fits the bill can squeeze a lit­tle joy out of the perks: greet­ing cards, hugs, fa­vorite din­ners, back rubs or what­ever else my fam­ily deems a wor­thy trib­ute to my ex­is­tence.

Of course, most sports gifts are lost on me (un­less you want to grab me a vin­tage, mint-con­di­tion 1989 Up­per Deck base­ball card set). Other gifts that in­voke main­stream no­tions of du­de­ness — tools and home im­prove­ment tomes, or meat prepa­ra­tion and bar­be­cue sup­plies — are a sim­i­lar waste.

Don’t bother with brown liquor (I don’t drink), cologne (hate the stuff), ties or belts, war films (those be­gin and end with “Full Me­tal Jacket”), leather prod­ucts or au­to­mo­tive ac­ces­sories. (I like my ag­ing Honda Ac­cord but de­spise car cul­ture.)

I will proudly cop to lov­ing video games, sci-fi (in any medium), mu­sic, movies, food, cool T-shirts and shoes. Plan­ning a day trip, a concert, or a meal will also get you in my good graces but quick.

It’s im­por­tant to note that I would be grate­ful for any­thing my fam­ily gave me for Fa­ther’s Day. If my 5-year-old scrawled a pic­ture in Capri Sun-spit and handed it to me with pride, I

would trea­sure it like a Van Gogh orig­i­nal.

But what else do I want? Ro­mance! Cul­ture! Mys­tery! Things that chal­lenge me to be bet­ter and more curious, or more so­cially con­nected and aware of my en­vi­ron­ment.

If you plan to spend the money and time to make Fa­ther’s Day more than a pass­ing thought, there’s a vast, rich sea of ideas be­yond the Lowe’s gift card you can pick up in the gro­cery check­out aisle:

• If you’re look­ing for beer, wine or liquor gifts for Fa­ther’s Day, think lo­cally. Denver is renowned for its craft beer (and in­creas­ingly wine and liquor) for a rea­son, and there are dozens of ac­claimed brew­eries only too happy to sell you to-go brews or gift cards.

Craft Al­ley (denver.craftal­ley.co) sells crowlers — canned growlers — from a ro­tat­ing selec­tion of brands in a mail or­der or pickup-based ser­vice, in­clud­ing IPAs, porters, sour ales, saisons and more from Colorado brew­eries such as Span­galang, Launch Pad, Res­o­lute and Fic­tion. Cus­tom­ize your IBUs and ABVs on their web­site, or visit their shop for one of their free weekly tast­ings (1455 S. Pearl Street).

• Search­ing for qual­ity, lo­cal read­ing ma­te­rial? The Tat­tered Cover and other in­de­pen­dent, metro-area book sell­ers (BookBar, The Book­ies, City Stacks, and long stretches of South Broad­way) are happy to point you to­ward Colorado au­thors, whether it’s the late, great Kent Haruf or con­tem­po­rary non­fic­tion-writer ex­traor­di­naire Helen Thorpe. Denver-based critic and sci-fi ed­i­tor Jason Heller, whose new non­fic­tion book “Strange Stars” (Melville House) ex­am­ines the in­flu­ence of sci-fi on David Bowie and 1970s pop­u­lar cul­ture, is a per­sonal fa­vorite.

• If you came up in ’90s zine cul­ture (like me) and are into DIY pub­li­ca­tions and the weirder, more lit­er­ate cor­ners of the city, places like Kil­gore Books & Comics (624 E. 13th Ave.) and Mutiny In­for­ma­tion Cafe (2 S. Broad­way) carry not only great comics from past and present Colorado artists and writ­ers (John Por­cellino, Noah Van Sciver and R. Alan Brooks) but also free, reg­u­larly pub­lished lo- cal mag­a­zines such as Sus­pect Press, Birdy and small, hand­made zines. Also check out the Univer­sity of Colorado Denver’s Cop­per Nickel po­etry and fic­tion jour­nal, which fea­tures hand­some de­sign and ex­pertly cu­rated writ­ings.

• I’m no clothes horse, but I am highly spe­cific in my fash­ion aes­thetic — how­ever lame it may be. You won’t find me spend­ing much time or money in any of the dozens of high­end bou­tiques around town un­less they’re uni­sex and have a sense of hu­mor. Mostly, I like places such as Fancy Tiger Cloth­ing (55 S. Broad­way), I Heart Denver (in the Denver Pav­il­ions and Lit­tle­ton’s South­west Plaza) and Jolly Goods (4020 Ten­nyson St.), where you can get ev­ery­thing from hot sauces and kids’ one- sies to stick­ers, mag­nets and prints. Even bet­ter: shops like Hope Tank (64 Broad­way) do­nate a por­tion of their cloth­ing and jew­elry sales to char­ity.

• A home-cooked meal or a pizza from Enzo’s End are both great in my book. But I wouldn’t turn down some­thing ridicu­lous and in­dul­gent, like choco­late-cov­ered jalapeno ba­con from Ge­ne­see Candy Land ($10 for a four-pack). There are Fa­ther’s Day beer brunches ga­lore on June 17, from Boul­der’s St. Julien Ho­tel & Spa to the Vail Beer Clas­sic, and no short­age of themed smor­gas­boards (I’m look­ing at you, Denver BBQ Fes­ti­val, June 15-17 at Mile High Sta­dium).

But I’d also love to get signed up for a cook­ing class, on­line through Denver’s Craftsy. Or, bet­ter yet, one-off and in-per­son. Ev­ery­where from Denver Botanic Gar­dens to north Denver’s Stir Cook­ing School of­fers them, and I can vouch for how much fun they are (they’re a meal, party, date and ed­u­ca­tion all in one).

• Sub­scrip­tions to cul­tural pro­grams, mem­ber­ships to mu­se­ums and restau­rant gift cards also tell dads that you want to keep spend­ing time with them well into the fu­ture. And isn’t that the point of Fa­ther’s Day? To show that you’re not quite ready to be rid of them (yet)?

Pro­vided by Jason Heller

Denver-based critic and sci-fi ed­i­tor Jason Heller’s new non­fic­tion book “Strange Stars” (Melville House) ex­am­ines the in­flu­ence of sci-fi on David Bowie and 1970s pop­u­lar cul­ture.

Pro­vided by From the Hip Photo

Denver comic Greg Baumhauer per­forms at Mutiny In­for­ma­tion Cafe dur­ing 2016’s High Plains Com­edy Fes­ti­val. Mutiny car­ries great comics and free, reg­u­larly pub­lished lo­cal mag­a­zines such as Sus­pect Press, Birdy and small, hand­made zines.

Denver Post file

The I Heart Denver Store in the Denver Pav­il­ions on the 16th Street Mall. There is also a lo­ca­tion in Lit­tle­ton’s South­west Plaza.

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