A Run for the Border

We spend a day on Denver's dividing line: Sheridan Boulevard.

In the end they called the cops on the Juggalo, who managed to transfer his bag of weed to his siblings, who fled into the neighborhood prior to the po-po's arrival.

Next, Pierced Tongue and I talk about music. Much to my surprise, she's a hippie, she tells me, loves Bob Weir and String Cheese. She saw Weir in Detroit about a year back and considers it the highlight of her life, her being a mere ten feet away from his guitar, as she puts it. And suddenly I feel bad for being so judgmental. Here I was thinking this chick was a Juggalette herself, or at least a reformed one, when it couldn't be further from the truth: She's just a pot-smoking flower child who digs guitar solos the length of telethons. And what's so wrong with that? Who cares what kind of music you're listening to as long as it rocks your world? This chick digs hippie music, the trashy Sheridan throngs dig Insane Clown Posse, I like music by men in women's jeans. Who's to say which of us is right?

"I think I'm going to pass on buying anything today," I tell Pierced Tongue, turning to leave with a refreshing, newfound sense of musical tolerance in tow.

Shoenberg Farm preserves a part of Sheridan's past.
Anthony Camera
Shoenberg Farm preserves a part of Sheridan's past.
Berkeley Park is a popular spot for canines to meet and play.
Anthony Camera
Berkeley Park is a popular spot for canines to meet and play.

"I hear you," she says to my back. "If I ever caught my cousins listening to that ICP bullshit, I'd kick their little asses."

Adam Cayton-Holland

Tommy's Slalom Shop
3740 Sheridan
2 p.m.

A guitar player who fled Texas in the 1970s because there was a "Stevie Ray Vaughan on every doorstep" there, Tommy Phillips came to Denver having grown up on water sports around the Gulf Coast.

One day in 1981, his brother-in-law, Herb O'Brien, of the O'Brien water-ski company, sent him a slalom ski, so Tommy took it down to Sloan's Lake, at 17th Avenue and Sheridan, where a small community of water skiers could be found every weekend. The ski was newer and better than what most people had, and Tommy ended up selling it for $50. After that, everybody wanted one, so he kept taking skis down to the beach at Sloan's, and eventually had so many boxes coming to his house that he decided to rent a strip-mall shop next to the lake.

"There wasn't a water-ski shop in Colorado," says Tommy, who still sells skis, wakeboards, boats and other water-sports supplies from Tommy's Slalom Shop, at Sheridan and 38th Avenue. "Most people say, 'Why here?' Well, the fact that there was nobody else here made it wide open for me." Tommy's "dream come true" is now a paradise for water-sports enthusiasts in landlocked Denver.

And as strange a sight as a boat and water-ski shop is on Sheridan, the store took off, especially after Tommy introduced the crowd at Sloan's to wakeboarding — which is like surfing in a boat's wake. In 1990, Tommy moved to his current spot further north because it was bigger, and he bought up the adjacent houses, too. He completed an expansion of the store in March.

"The boating community at Sloan's Lake has been very supportive of us," he says. "That is a very hard-core group. It's a higher level of boating skills and wakeboarding and water-skiing skills than you would see at Cherry Creek or Chatfield." In the mornings, there's usually a line of people who want to get the first run of glass — perfectly flat water. "And Sunday afternoon you'll see people there with their navigation lights on, anything to get that last two minutes of glass," Tommy continues. "They're glass junkies down there."

For years, Tommy would hang out on the shore at Sloan's with a peanut butter sandwich, a gallon of water and a ski, and he was doing that again last spring. "I'd just go shake hands and jump in people's boats and come back up here and ring the sales up — kind of old-fashioned guerrilla marketing," he says.

Walking through his store, Tommy blends in with the beach theme in a Hawaiian shirt and dark tan. He proudly shows off a boat line so technologically advanced, "it's from outer space," and so expensive he doesn't even own one. There's a wakeboard wall, a service shop, and a warehouse that supplies his Internet business. Outside, the egg-shaped lenses of Tommy's glasses darken into shades when the sun hits them. There is a T carved into a Superman-like logo on the side of his building — a testament to his large entrepreneurial ego, and one he feels is well-deserved. Younger generations don't work as hard, he says. Instead of taking off to travel the world, they should be saving and living below their means, like Tommy did on peanut butter sandwiches all those years.

— Jessica Centers

E-Z Pawn
Sheridan and West Colfax Avenue
3 p.m.

There's something gratifying in seeing the space-age welcome sign that Lakewood has erected at Sheridan and Colfax. It stands just in front of an E-Z Pawn — a branch of the Texas chain that threatens to muscle out the old mom-and-pops with plastic ubiquity, Starbucks style. To me, the sign says, "Bring me your tired, huddled masses yearning to trade their earthly possessions for a thirty-day reprieve from eviction, your addicts with power tools stolen from worksites down the block. This is Lakewood!"

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