Begging for Christmas

My recent column, “Panhandling in Paradise,” (The Aspen Times, Aug. 7)described my panhandling experience here in Aspen. You can find it again at http://bit.ly/2aJ1BaB. Spoiler alert: Someone gave me a $100 bill.

But panhandling is not always paradise.

I recently panhandled for a day in the town where I grew up, Colorado Springs. Around the terrific Broadmoor Hotel, that town is moneyed and beautiful. But the rest of the town is a modest home to slices of Americana: three military bases, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, religious groups like Focus on the Family and a prestigious private college.

Wealthy tourists who brought money to the town when I was a boy are now bringing their money to resorts like Aspen and Vail. Much of the old tourist strip is now run down or even boarded up while renovation plans simmer. Sometimes the potholes are so big that they have to close a street.

The town is home to lots of homeless people these days, and panhandlers are common. I knew I wouldn’t be the spectacle that I was in Aspen, where panhandling is not only unusual but illegal.

In the back of my BMW I found my cardboard sign reading “SURVIVED CANCER BUT LOST MY JOB” (which happens to be true, though a bit misleading). It had gotten a little clean in my trunk, so I dirtied it. Then I put on old jeans and a tattered shirt and set out. Continue reading

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Why Do We Own Guns?

I’m of two minds about guns. You might call one “Gunny Glenn” and the other “Gunless Glenn.” We talked through it the other day.

Gunless: “Tell me, Gunny, why do you own guns?”

Gunny: “They’re half yours.”

“No, the guns are all yours.”

“In that case, thanks for paying for half.”

“Don’t mention it. But they’re dangerous, you know.”

“So are the bathtubs and balconies, and we don’t even keep those things locked up.”

“Answer my question: Why do you own guns?”

“I might want to go hunting. I know you don’t understand that because you’re too moral to eat meat — unless it comes from animals born to be eaten.”

“Ha, you never hunt — you don’t even drink beer and you can’t bring Chablis on a hunting trip!”

“Maybe someday I’ll go to the shooting range.”

“Give me a break. We don’t like the noise at the shooting range. And don’t snarl at me like you’re Dirty Harry.”

“I need the guns to protect you, Gunless, because, as we know, you aren’t as physically strong as I am.”

“Oh, come on, Gunny. Do you expect us to leap out of bed in our birthday suits, run to the gun safe, unlock it, load a gun and shoot an intruder — all in the dark — in the 1.3 seconds we have before he neutralizes us? What are we, SEAL Team 6?”

“OK, Gunless. If you really want to know, here’s why I have guns. Continue reading