There’s a dragon with matches that’s loose on the town

Courtesy Stewart Sallo

The current crisis is not the first time I have been tested in my life, nor will it be the last. For all of us, the human experience is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, and the measure of our lives is not made with a yardstick that quantifies the highs and lows but, rather, with the residual feelings we have in our hearts when things smooth out again. Right now, in this moment, as we face one of the most formidable challenges of our lifetimes, it is imperative that we act in a way that will leave us feeling that we did our utmost to meet the adversity we are facing — individually and collectively — with strength, with compassion, with wisdom and with courage.

Each of us needs a place to turn for guidance and inspiration at a moment such as this. In my life, I have always been able to find the answers in two places: music and movement. Luckily, even as Boulder County has ordered all county residents (with few exceptions) to stay at home, effective 8 a.m. on March 26, these two sources of clarity are still available to all of us.

For almost as long as I can remember, the Grateful Dead and cycling have been my primary soundtrack and activity, and, indeed, I am on the verge of launching a new website: You can consider this column to be a preview of the weekly posts that will be made under that moniker, beginning around the middle of next month.

As I was riding up Lefthand Canyon this past weekend, I was struck by a deeply metaphoric lyric in the Grateful Dead tune, “Fire on the Mountain.” 

There’s a dragon with matches that’s loose on the town.

Takes a whole pail of water just to cool him down.

Clearly, we are facing a “dragon with matches” in a novel virus that is spreading like wildfire (keeping with the same metaphor). And we, as a community of individuals, are being called to “cool him down.” The question at hand is this: What “pail of water” can you contribute to the cause?

At a minimum, you can observe the stay-at-home order through April 17. But what else is in your pail of water? In the wake of this pandemic, many people are stepping forward with heartwarming acts of kindness and good will. Health care workers are risking their lives to provide medical care; delivery people are making sacrifices to get supplies to stores, which have stepped up efforts to ensure their hygiene and are allowing senior citizens to shop early to minimize their exposure; restaurants are donating food, and delivery services are paying their employees out of pocket to make deliveries; people are connecting on the internet to run errands for higher-risk individuals who are afraid to leave their homes. The list goes on and on, and I would encourage you to add what you can.

At the Weekly, we are focused on continuing to provide you with valuable information and our unique perspective during this challenging time. But with the County’s stay-at-home order in place, we will publish our content exclusively online during the weeks of April 2, 9 and 16. Just log on to and select the Digital Issue button at the upper right to read the magazine exactly as it would appear in print. We will resume publishing our print edition just as soon as we have cooled down this dragon.

Finally, I want to make you aware of a new Membership Program we are rolling out this week. Restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, and arts and entertainment events make up a significant percentage of our advertisers, and the financial crisis being faced by those businesses, and others, is almost as significant as the health crisis we find ourselves in the midst of. Consequently, much of the revenue we receive from these businesses has been suddenly lost, thereby threatening our ability to provide the award-winning content we have offered to our community week-in and week-out for more than 26 years. These local businesses are our partners, and we are in this with them. So, please support them in any way you can, and please consider supporting our work by becoming a Boulder Weekly Member. You can sign up now at

A dragon with matches is a metaphor, but this new virus is real. Your personal pail of water is needed right now, so please give some thought to what you can contribute. You can email me at with your ideas, and we will help you implement them in any way we can. Together we can ensure that we come out of this episode with the feeling that we did everything we could, and that feeling will last a lifetime.  

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