1. Boulder may be 25 square miles in area, but I wouldn't consider its surrounding a paragon of reality. I don't know that the folks in Aspen are in touch the reality of most Americans either.
2. Left-leaning? How about drastically left standing!
A play on Alex Rodriguez's nickname, "A-Rod". Rodriguez first got the nickname after signing an excessive $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers for ten years, starting in 2001. The nickname has followed him to the New York Yankees, where he was traded in 2004. His 2008 salary was $28,000,000.
Old cable cars that go up the side of Mt Washington
This is what 'water' sounds like when pronounced by a local Philadelphian.
Milwaukee-speak for clear soda, such as 7-Up or Sprite.