Shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, in those dull days between Christmas and New Year's -- days whose dullness can only be brightened by a couple of cocktails in LoDo -- Off Limits was just pulling out of a parking spot on Wynkoop Street when we heard a tap on the window. Still full of holiday spirits, we dropped the window a few inches.
"I'm not a bum," the short-haired guy assured us. "Really! Just look what I'm wearing!"
And true, no self-respecting bum would ever be caught dead in such an ugly (but clean) holiday-style sweater.
"Can you help me out here?" continued not-a-bum, who said his name was James. "I came down from Fort Collins with a friend, and we had a fight, and he left, and all my stuff was in his car, and I just need to get back to Fort Collins, and I don't have any money for the bus. I talked to the cops, and they said there was nothing they could do, but that I should be careful because panhandling is illegal."
Not precisely true, our snowflake-sweatered friend: Aggressive panhandling is illegal, and panhandling while lying on a downtown sidewalk is illegal, and panhandling in the middle of the street is illegal, and panhandling after a certain hour is illegal, but shaking down drunks in LoDo? That's a time-honored tradition.
"What was the fight about?" we asked.
"And where was the fight?"
"Rise." Not only an actual club, but a club actually open on Wednesday nights. Bonus points.
"And where's the bus station?"
"At 18th and Arapahoe, I think. I just need $11.40." Close: The Greyhound station is actually at 1055 19th Street, and the fare to Fort Collins (why do these not-a-bums always need to go to Fort Collins?) is $20.25.
We gave James an A for effort -- and ten bucks, the last of our Christmas drinking money.
To you, we leave the one question we forgot to ask him: Whatever happened to hitchhiking?
The bum's rush: James-not-a-bum would have doubled the customers at the Palm Grill Lounge (not to be confused with either the Palm or the Capital Grille) one night just before Christmas. It's often lonely at this bar in the Best Western hotel at 200 West 48th Avenue, with few customers to appreciate the large ode to the Denver Broncos on the walls. Signed jerseys and photos adorn the place, and former orange-and-bluers Tyrone Braxton (who now sells real estate in town) and Rick Upchurch (who dated Condoleezza Rice when she was at the University of Denver) are reported to be regulars.
This Palm could soon fill up, though. Soon after Art Cormier -- former owner of Smiley's Laundromat and the once-notorious Regency Hotel -- set his giant fiberglass bronco statues outside the 209-room sleep shack six months ago, he applied to Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses for an upgrade to the hotel's current liquor license that would allow dancing ("No Tell Motel," September 22). Cormier wants to be able to host weddings and parties, according to his October 28 testimony before license hearing officer Kip David Barrash. But Globeville neighbors such as Paulette Hirsh are afraid they're going to get much, much more. Something like what residents around the Regency fought for years.
When Cormier ran Los Caporales nightclub at the Regency, he often packed in up to 7,000 people. The cops and the fire department were frequent visitors, and neighbors complained about everything from noise to drag racing in the parking lot to needles and glass pipes on the grounds. Cormier finally let the place go after a fire in 2004. Robert Salazar bought the building and turned it into student housing for the Auraria campus; meanwhile, Cormier signed a lease with the Best Western.
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In November, Barrash approved Cormier's application for an upgraded liquor license, despite the fact that more than thirty people showed up to speak in opposition. But since Cormier's new neighbors couldn't prove that the license would have "an adverse effect on the health, safety, morals or welfare of the designated area," he got a green light.
Hirsh and other neighbors protested, and asked Excise and Licenses director Stephanie O'Malley to reconsider. (Her decision is expected any day.) "We don't want something bigger that would cause a problem and take our emergency resources," Hirsh says. "We're just hoping that the hotel will do what they said they would do in the hearing and not expand their usage and maintain it like the Regency was."
Just call it the no-tell hotel.
We bought it so you don't have to! The ninth anniversary of the death of JonBenét Ramsey on December 26 didn't merit a mention in Denver's dailies, but the Globe hasn't forgotten America's favorite little beauty queen, whose murder once filled the pages of the tabloid. The cover of the January 9 issue promises a "JonBenet Breakthrough!" -- which essentially consists of this: Jim Kolar has been heading the case for the Boulder District Attorney's Office for the past five months, and he has five new pieces of evidence, including a cassette tape and "a small weaver's loom used to make oven mitts." Sounds like a cold case could be heating up...