During major international soccer tournaments, my friend Darren and I are in almost constant contact. We're either watching games together or texting back and forth about the games. And since Euro 2008 has been in full swing since the beginning of this month, I've been getting lots of texts and calls from my man Darren — sometimes you just need to talk a little smack about the greasy, greasy Italian squad. May they rest in relentless turmoil. Still, I found it strange to get a call from Darren at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night when no game was on. Sunday is a time of respite, a time for clipping toenails and trying to teach your dog to talk.
Turned out, Darren had seen some shit and felt obligated to call his friend, the intrepid investigative reporter. What he'd seen — or more appropriately, heard — were black military helicopters buzzing overhead. Darren lives in Five Points, and apparently choppers were landing on what used to be Children's Hospital but is now Warsaw.
My reporter's instincts were percolating, and part of me wanted to go check it out immediately, but then I remembered I was super tired, so I told Darren to sit on a helmet to make sure his balls didn't get blown off and to simply accept the intrusion as part of living in the 'hood, which must be policed. A few minutes later, Darren sent me a text. His girlfriend had called 911 and had been told the military was conducting training exercises, he said. And I was an asshole.
Which is not exactly news. And ten days after the invasion, nor is the fact that the Special Operation commandos moved into the Mile High City with the stealth of a date rapist, descending in the dark as part of elaborate counterterrorism exercises. The only problem? Denver didn't tell anybody they were coming.
Here's how it all went down:
U.S. Military (smoking cigar, drinking oil from bejeweled goblet):Denver, what the fuck is up? Listen, we're going to come in there next week basically just to pull our cocks out and have everyone tell us how nice they look, that sound cool to you?
Denver: Hell, yes! Come on in! Our city would love to see your Army shlongs!
U.S. Military (wiping oil off of chin): Yeah, basically we're just going to fly around in our most terrifying urban choppers and have a bunch of dudes with guns hanging out of them. Then we're gonna land on a bunch of buildings and shit, maybe check out some baseball games.
Denver: Whatever's clever, dog. Make yourself at home.
U.S. Military: Great. One more thing, and this is important: Be sure to let the people know we're coming, because otherwise this will play like a terrifying scene out of 1984 and everyone will get really upset.
But what U.S. Military didn't realize — and I swear to God this is the transcript of an actual conversation I found, because I'm such a fucking good reporter — was that Denver had already hung up the phone. It was after six, and Denver was in a big hurry to get outside and water its lawn, so no one got the message to alert the good citizens of this city. And so, like in some terrifying sci-fi flick, the black choppers of death rained down without warning from the cruel heavens, scaring the bejesus out of my little Darren and much of the urban core. And then, predictably, once the word got out, bureaucrats bumped into each other cluelessly in an attempt to tie the best Windsor knot, pointing fingers and dodging blame and touting the experience as invaluable in learning how to combat threats in a "realistic urban environment."
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Because clearly, Denver, a city without so much as a subway system, is the ideal tester city for how to combat terrorism.
All of the panic and confusion could have been averted had someone simply had the balls to say, "Hey Denver, the Democratic National Convention is going to be here soon, and you'd best believe some shit is going to go down. Mind if we prepare a little bit?"
I think we all would have been just fine with that. Because anyone with any sense realized what I realized last week as I watched chopper after chopper rip over downtown, then hover atop a skyscraper, only to repeat the same course again and again: This was the first of many monumental fuck-ups guaranteed to take place as the whole world's eyes turn to Denver come late August.
And perched on my roof with a shotgun and a smile, I'll be ready and waiting. Unless, of course, you want to rent my house for $50,000.