Denver Nicks is having a great year.
He’s had a lot of really good years, but this year is the greatest.
To start, his second book—Hot Sauce Nation: America’s Burning Obsession—is quickly becoming a cult favorite.
He followed that by going on assignment for National Geographic into the Bolivian highlands in search of one of the world’s first peppers.
After that, a national book tour.
When that finishes, he’ll be a TEDx speaker.
Like we said, it’s been a really great year for Denver Nicks.
And he recently sat down with waggle to share his thoughts on life, hot sauce, and the best dog cities he’s encountered during his travels.
Q: Based on your book(s), your photos, and seeing your name in the news all the time, we can assume that you’re constantly on the road. What are your top three cities in the U.S. for dogs, as well as internationally.
A: This is tough, but I’ll give it my best shot.
In the U.S.—
New Orleans. In addition to having plenty of space and parks and wacky smells and whatnot, there’s a deep culture of dog friendliness in New Orleans. Dogs are more than welcome in most shops and people will often take their dogs to bars with them, which are, lest the point be lost, vital public spaces in New Orleans where people spend a lot of time. There’s even a bar in the Quarter where you’re as likely as not to see a dog or two sitting on a stool right there at the bar.
Tulsa. I’m biased because this is my hometown, but the combination of lots of space, great parks, and all the seasons in the extreme make Tulsa a fantastic dog city. Lots of snow in the winter to play in, lots of critters in the summer to chase.
Seattle. Great weather and wilderness area to explore and so many dogs to be friends with!
In the world—
Amsterdam. Not too many cars and the same wonderful city that we two-legged folk love to explore.
Paris. The French influence must be where New Orleans gets its dog friendliness.
Oslo. Just because snow is so much fun to jump around in and, well, they’ve got a lot of it in Oslo.
Q: Since you pointed out in your book that a capsicum burn isn’t really a burn (except in one’s mind), would you give hot sauce to a dog to help liven up its mundane diet?
A: I did meet a dog in New Orleans once who loved hot sauce but as a general rule, no. Humans like hot sauce because we’re emotionally broken sadomasochists with pleasure/pain perversions and a bottomless need to make sense of suffering. Dogs, thank goodness, aren’t saddled with our existential crises and I’m afraid the heat-pain caused by hot sauce would just be scary.
Q: Weren’t you a New Yorker at one point? We’d like a very, very good explanation of why you left. And don’t say “Portland” or this interview is over.
A: I was! Many times! And maybe I will be again! I just move all the time and a few years ago one of those moves took me out of New York. I was a dipshit writer not doing much writing, had just been fired from a woodworking job I lied my way into, and my then-girlfriend was basically supporting me, so I followed legions of young men before me and went west in search of a decent living. If it helps, I’ll confess that I wish I hadn’t, since it didn’t really work out and I lost the girlfriend and I’m still broke half the time. Never leave New York, people. It’s a trick.
Q: What kind of dogs do you have now?
A: Only the ones in my heart.
Q: Wait…what? You don’t own a dog? How the hell did you blag your way into an interview with us if you’re not even a dog owner?
Editor’s Note: Follow Denver on Instagram and be sure and pick up a copy of his latest book Hot Sauce Nation: America’s Burning Obsession. Then you’ll want to buy his first book Private: Bradley Manning, Wikileaks, And the Biggest Exposure of Secrets in American History.