Best Of :: People & Places
Folks in the Kmart that anchors Broadway Marketplace claim that a sheriff patrols this parking lot until the Albertsons closes at midnight, but after that, the bland strip of paved land becomes the envy of Bandimere Speedway. Several nights a month, usually on weekends, Denver's illegal racers congregate here to make use of the tree-median slaloms, ample exits and close access to Alameda, Broadway and I-25. Denver police have winked when speaking to Kmart employees and local residents about a pending sting, but the lot remains open at night for light-rail users. And our speed racers -- engines revving, lights low -- move fast between the different race courses on their circuit, sometimes stopping only to plan the next move and then peel out.
Sitting on the steps of the Immaculate Conception cathedral's gothic entryway, or on a bench inside the courtyard garden blessed by Pope John Paul II himself, you may voyeurize the entire teeming array of life on Colfax Avenue. Perps, pervs and priests by the paddy-wagon-full. Hookers enjoying fresh McDonald's Big Macs. Across the street, a space for lease, a temp agency, an Asian restaurant, a drug and liquor store. The cathedral's garden is surrounded by a high, black-metal fence tipped with crosses and dull spikes, but the gate is open, and it's filled with topiary and amiable vagrants. A sign near the gate maintains that drugs, alcohol and loitering are not tolerated in a place honored with the title of "basilica" by big J.P. 2 on Christmas Day, 1979. That lightning once struck the east spire is proof enough.
Campus kiosks, newspaper event calendars and city-specific websites are all well and good, but you can't beat the backsides of bars and adult bookstores for ambience. This bulletin board, stuck to the back of the building housing Sancho's Broken Arrow, exists for the stated purpose of providing publicity for the bar's upcoming acts and those of its drinking buddies: Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, Quixote's True Blue and Dulcinea's 100th Monkey. But while you can certainly find fliers for the DarkStar show, it's no surprise to also find other engrossing items on this board: cool indie stickers, particularly tasteful centerfolds torn from mags at the Kitty's outpost next door, offers for guitar lessons. Look across the alley toward the Denver Police Department's District 6 station before pinning up your ad for Used Bowflex, $20 OBO.
The enormous head stares at traffic headed east on Colfax with a cold, smarmy sneer. There's something about this man that you just don't trust. Maybe it's his surly glare, or maybe it's just the giant lettering next to him that asks, "Who Invited Syphilis to the Party?" Jesus, that's a little direct, isn't it? But we've all seen it a million times. The night is in full swing, second keg just got tapped, and then in walks Syphilis, covered in lesions, with swollen lymph nodes and patchy bald spots on his head. Nobody will fess up to inviting him, but he's there just the same, and he's ready to party. This billboard is positioned so creepily -- above the Guardian Angels' headquarters and kitty-corner from one of the most high-traffic prostitution spots in the city -- that many passersby just might heed the advice to "Get Tested" and call the prominently displayed number. Now, that's what we call a party favor.