By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
One of Denver's most storied streets is starting a new chapter.
In a few days, the cameras will roll on The Real World: Denver, the eighteenth installment of the show that made reality TV a reality, capturing the antics of seven pretty people who work together and live together in a fabulous warehouse loft complete with hot tub and basketball court. And when these pretty people venture out of their make-believe home, they'll find themselves on the 1900 block of Market Street, in the heart of LoDo, Denver's true hot spot.
Too much heat, of course, and you can get burned. That's what happened a few years ago at Let Out, when thousands of kids would spill out of the clubs and into the street and nearby parking lots after last call. The sound of their socializing alone was enough to bother neighbors who'd paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own fabulous warehouse lofts (and who somehow overlooked the fact that those lofts were a few steps from a sports bar or a pizza joint or a train station where pesky horns might occasionally toot in the wee hours). But what got the neighbors really hot and bothered were the sounds of gunshots and sirens during the long, hot summer of 2004.
The area bounded by Speer Blvd. and Lawrence, Wynkoop and 20th streets
Denver, CO 80202
Category: Community Venues
Region: Downtown Denver
As a result, after a decade of increasing prosperity, last year was not a great one for the area around the 1900 block of Market. Some businesses moved, others closed -- including B-52 Billiards, whose former home at 1920 Market is now occupied by The Real World. To cope with the unpleasant realities, bar owners started working with city officials and residents to see how they could co-exist peacefully -- even agreeing to pay for added security to keep that peace. The goodwill got even better as the rejuvenated Rockies started drawing crowds not just to Coors Field, but to the businesses around the ballpark.
And then on April 10, The Real World revealed its next home. "Denver has absolutely everything we could hope for," said Lois Current, executive vice president of MTV Series Entertainment. "Diversity, activities, energy and nightlife."
Sometimes the world can get all too real.
In June 2004, Quincy Shannon was just back from his first year away at college when he decided to head to LoDo during Let Out. It was a chance to see friends he'd grown up with in northeast Denver, and also to work on an assignment for one of his journalism classes, to videotape some "action." There was always action around Let Out.
Shannon got more action than he'd bargained for. He saw a half-dozen kids, one of whom he recognized, pounding on cars and people, and he filmed them. Then the police arrived in force, and he filmed that. When the friends who were giving him a ride back to Park Hill pulled up near Bash, at the corner of 19th and Blake streets, Shannon hopped in -- but they hadn't gotten a block before a cop stopped the car and pulled them all out. Ultimately, a couple of parents arrived and the kids got to go home -- but the cop kept Shannon's videotape.
Two weeks later, Shannon started getting calls from people calling him a "snitch": Somehow, his tape had made its way from the police evidence room to a couple of newsrooms, and the "wilding" incident was all over TV. No one from the stations ever talked to Shannon about using his work, but their stories provided quite a journalistic lesson anyway. "The news had a field day with it," he says. "The different stories were humorous, but scary. You can see how it evolved from an altercation downtown to kids going crazy downtown to it's a racial thing downtown, and then how the police responded to it."
The response extended to zero tolerance for the rest of the summer. When Shannon got caught up in a LoDo sweep a few months later, he dialed 911 to protest the police use of pepper spray. The tape of that 911 call -- which captured a cop shouting that Shannon was "a serious pain in my ass" -- was enough to get a charge of failure to obey a lawful order dismissed that November. But the next day, an arrest warrant was issued for Shannon, on charges that he'd incited a riot -- the five-month-old "wilding."
A half-dozen young black men were charged in connection with that night; three quickly took plea deals. Shannon was the first set for trial, even though he'd done no more than film the action ("A Piece of the Action," May 12, 2005). He drove all night from school in Missouri to make his May 17 court date in Denver -- only to learn that the case had just been dropped. (His attorney subsequently filed suit against the City of Denver for violating Shannon's civil rights; that case is pending.)
Now it's May 2006, and Shannon is back in his home town again. "It was an amazing year," he says. "It was crazy. It seemed like every two weeks, I was in and out of the state, in and out of the state." There were all his duties as Mr. Lincoln University, as well as his work with the black journalists' group, and with his fraternity chapter, and with a special program sponsored by Honda that got him a spot on a nationally syndicated TV show on BET. "I was road-tripping everywhere," he says. And although Shannon's doing public-relations work this summer, he's still pursuing a career in journalism, still focusing on broadcast.