Change in the Feather

Fighting on Capitol Hill and Colfax

The flier said 10 p.m. sharp, but by 10 p.m. sharp last Friday, only a handful of pillow fighters had taken up positions on opposite sides of 13th Avenue at Washington Street, in front of Wax Trax. The trash-talking had begun in earnest, though, as the north-siders and south-siders prepared for battle. "They're just scared on the other side," said a man in a houndstooth jumpsuit who later identified himself as Wham-O the Magnificent. "Your mama was like, 'Oh, don't get hit by a pillow,'" he yelled across the street.

His taunt wasn't enough to deter the pillow-armed troops that were suddenly descending on the corner. And moments later, when the traffic light turned red, sixty armed-and-costumed hipsters went all Braveheart in the middle of 13th, putting up orange construction cones to stop oncoming traffic and smiting each other mightily until the light changed and the chorus of honks became too loud to ignore. Then Wham-O blew his whistle and the fighters retreated to their clans as the cars -- including one District 6 patrol car whose driver barely glanced back at the street littered with feathers -- rolled through.

When the light turned red again, the warriors headed back into battle, their cries of victory punctuating the crisp night air. As a stretch yellow Hummer rounded the corner and rolled through the fight, the mob attacked the interloper -- to the great pleasure of the passengers inside.

"I fucking love you guys," a taxi fare yelled out as he braved a similar volley of fire on his way to the Snake Pit, whose customers were standing outside, alternately cheering and looking confused.

But not everyone was enamored of the pillow fight, which had been announced via tiny hand-drawn fliers posted throughout Capitol Hill last week. And after nearly a half hour of warfare -- which by then had dwindled to a few brave souls sitting in the middle of the street making halfhearted gestures, one with a PBR in his hand and a smoke hanging from his lips -- another cop came by, answering a call of "disrupting traffic." It didn't help that someone belted his car with a pillow -- hard.

"You may have won the battle, but you haven't won the war," Wham-O the Magnificent hollered as the exhausted warriors quickly dispersed under the bright floodlight of the Denver Police Department's eye in the sky, leaving two officers to survey the carnage.

The cold, hard 'Fax: "Hey, Jooohhhnnnyyyy," the driver of a white pickup yelled out at Mayor John Hickenlooper as he careened around the corner of Logan Street onto East Colfax Avenue. Hizzoner was surrounded by a gaggle of Denver high-rollers -- city councilmembers Elbra Wedgeworth, Jeanne Robb, Rosemary Rodriguez and Rick Garcia; Colfax booster Dave Walstrom, city parking think-man Greg Holle -- and he gave just the smallest of grins before finishing his speech about the new wireless cameras installed along Colfax.

"The most interesting thing to see with these new cameras is, there's nothing interesting to see," said Holle.

And there wasn't. Earlier in the day, cops from District 6 had been doing undercover drug buys along this particular stretch of Colfax, so the area was clean and clear of its crack-sketching regulars. Clean and clear for city officials to host a press conference touting local business owners cleaning up Denver's most notorious strip, fighting back against the blight on their blocks.

Ready Temporary Services owner Jim Hannifin was at the forefront of the effort to get four high-definition Digatron cameras installed high above the intersections of Colfax and Logan, and Colfax and Pennsylvania, and in the alley between Logan and Grant streets. Monitors stationed inside District 6 allow cops to watch street activity 24/7. But the crack traders know they're being watched. District 6 commander Deborah Dilley told Off Limits that one of her officers had been doing an undercover buy when the dealer pushed him around the corner into the alley, warning that the boys in blue had their cameras out. D'oh!

They might want to move one to the alley between Logan and Pennsylvania: While the street-corner speeches continued, two deals went down here, just around the corner and behind the dumpster.

Exhibitionist:After four years, Assembly Gallery is disassembling, and director Jared Paul Anderson is moving to Telluride. "I've always wanted to live in the mountains and recluse," Anderson says. "I'm moving into this little cabin until the avalanches start; then I'll be living in a tepee on the edge of town. I've been working with forty artists over the past few years and working on their careers, and I haven't been able to get into my own stuff. I hit a crossroads and had to decide whether I'm going to be a gallerist or an artist. No question -- I'm an artist."

A fallout with the landlord and a hike in the rents along Santa Fe Drive helped move matters along. Some of the artists who had studios above Assembly have left; others are considering staying and doing something with the space. But everyone is getting together on November 4 for one last party celebrating one last show. Versus, a collection of works created by artists who've been affiliated with Assembly since it opened, will hang until November 30. "We're going out at a good time," Anderson says. "We're not jumping the shark."

 
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