The End of the Rainbow

Christopher Jenner

I have to see the Rainbow. I imagine the puzzled looks of construction workers as I ask them if I can see my beloved music hall one more time. To them, I’m the family member of a dying man—a man who was dragged off the street and patched up by medics, who no one can identify, who can’t prove that he was once loved.

Driving down Monaco, I hit my stereo’s presets, trying to hear music, trying to avoid the onslaught of commercials. I get a DJ on KBCO after a U2 song. He says the band just announced a tour that will start in Barcelona in the summer and move to the States in the fall. “They have a history with the area,” the DJ continues. “A lot of people remember their early performances at the Rainbow Music Hall.”

I remember pushing open the heavy doors—were they made of red vinyl?—into the dark, smoky room. If the rows of seats weren’t holdovers from the building’s movie theater days, they might as well have been. The ceiling seemed too low, and the place looked so boxy inside and out. But if you doubted this could be a concert hall, you were soon convinced by its lusty sound.

As I approach the intersection, my heart thumps harder. I spot Quiznos sub sandwiches and a rush of panic shoots through me before I remember—that’s not the Rainbow building. Stopped at the light, I glance to the right and see bulldozers in front of the Rainbow—not moving, it’s Saturday—and large mounds of dirt. A chain-link fence will block my entrance to the parking lot, but the building and its sign are still there. Phew!

I pull around back after driving through the parking lot of the adjacent strip mall. No chance of going into Walgreens now. It’s quarantined. A sign on the side of the building, in white with blue letters, reads: “Available – 303-771-5155.”

Is it available for lease? Maybe Walgreens gave up. Maybe a new, larger building will house more businesses. Or, maybe the Rainbow building will survive. My cell phone is out of my pocket; I can’t stop myself; I’m calling the number.

What am I doing? Am I going to lease the Rainbow? Only if I win the Powerball jackpot—nearly a hundred million.

With my newfound fortune, I’d buy the building outright. I’d demolish all evidence that Walgreens ever infected the space. I’d call my friend Ed, my former neighbor from my Maui days, who played acoustic guitar in the Front Street bars, who played James Taylor better than JT himself. I’d sell two-dollar tickets. I’d tell Ed he’s opening the new Rainbow Music Hall, just like Jerry Jeff Walker opened the old one thirty years ago.

If you reopen it, they will come.

The phone rings once, twice, three times, four, and I hope no one will answer. What am I going to say?

“Uh, um, can I ask who is leasing the building?”

“Who is this? Can I help you?”

“Sorry,” I would say, “dialed the wrong number.”

Even if the new building is bigger, can Walgreens really improve? It’s Walgreens! Same shit, different place. What could they make better? More aisles for me to not be able to find razors in?

And when I found razors, I would wonder why I bother to shave. Why not become some bearded Amish-looking hippie concert following fool? Find myself a woman who digs shaggily bearded men. Buy a VW minibus and equip it with an antiquated stereo cassette player and install some bitchin’ speakers. Get my box of cassettes out of storage and throw them in the back seat, along with two lawn chairs (the kind with cup holders—now that’s progress!), a hammock, and a cooler. I’d putter around the country, up and down mountain peaks, over river rapids, through sunny meadows, listening to Arlo Guthrie, his dad Woody, Pete Seeger, and Bob Seger! I’d dig out my old Night Moves tape, the one whose repeated playings drove my little sister to Bob Seger-hating madness when we were teenagers. While cruising down a two-lane road in the bus, Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” would come on the radio, and my beard-digging woman would say, “I like this song,” and I’d say, “Stevie Wonder and Bob Seger should have a contest to see who can sing the never ending song,” and I’d mockingly sing, “Isn’t she lovely!” over and over, louder and louder, until my beard-digging woman took off her Birkenstock and threw it at me, making me swerve the minibus onto the crumbling shoulder of the country road. I’d smile and wink, and we’d travel onward to the next show.

They’ve torn down so many places. And who are they? The moneymakers, the movers and shakers. The takers and fakers. Not the wake ‘n’ bakers. Not the dream makers. They have demolished McNichols Arena in favor of the Pepsi Center, Mile High Stadium for Invesco Field at Mile High, the Cooper Theater to plop down a Barnes and Noble, and the old Cinderella Twin Drive-In to put up some crappy apartments where a large sign reads, “Lease the Dream.”

I don't want to lease their dream. My dreams are enough.

1Brown, Mark. “Rainbow Music Hall about to take its last bow,” Rocky Mountain News, March 11, 2008,

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