Off Limits

Our award for the most sweeping agenda and the most "isms" of any protest signage at last Saturday's Transform Columbus Day Alliance protest march goes to a group of young, black-clad rabble-rousers whose banner read: "Anti-Racist Action Denver: Combating Racism, Fascism, Sexism, War, Homophobia, and Oppression."

Faces obscured by bandannas, these good guys and girls taunted the first squadron of riot police that the marchers encountered as they neared the intersection of 22nd and Blake streets. "Whose streets?" they shouted. And before the cops could answer, they responded to their own query in forceful unison: "Our streets!"

But as they got a closer look at the riot squad, one of their fellow marchers wondered aloud, "Look at those guns. What the fuck are those?"

Indeed, many of the Denver Police Department's 600 riot-gear-outfitted cops on hand for Saturday's festivities were armed with weapons that appeared to be taken from the pages of hyper-violent, futuristic Japanese manga comics rather than Guns & Ammo.

One officer explained to an Off Limits correspondent that his huge, hose-connected, wicked-looking rifle was in fact a "paint-pellet dispenser" that would fire oversized paintballs loaded with colored dye. The idea, the officer explained rather tersely, was to both repel a violent mob -- "paintballs sting a little" -- and to mark law-breaking demonstrators for arrest, should they, say, bust though a barricade and later attempt to blend back in with a peaceful crowd.

Also on hand for non-lethal crowd control, according to the cops, was a pepper-spray Super Soaker and some sort of sonic device that emitted ear-piercing wails -- both of which bore a striking resemblance to plasma ray guns. One poker-faced officer told a marcher that his gun could shoot a massive net 150 feet up the air, and the net would then float down over the crowd and entangle it like a school of tuna.

"No way!" the marcher said.

"Yeah," said the cop.

"No way!" the marcher repeated.

The cop pursed his lips and shrugged.

In the intersection at 22nd and Blake, a cop with a bullhorn and a script shouted that the protesters who were blocking the progress of the Columbus Day Parade, which had started at 27th and Blake, should "disperse immediately." He couldn't really be heard, since his bullhorn was turned off. No matter. The tension defused when the protesters symbolically turned their backs on the pro-Columbus Day marchers and then slowly headed back to the State Capitol for a rally.

As he was leaving, one man wearing a red satin jacket emblazoned with the words "American Indian Movement Security" shook hands with the white-haired, bullhorn-wielding cop. "Thanks," he said.

No arrests were made, no one was blasted with paint pellets, no plasma rays were deployed, and no giant nets rocketed skyward.

Same time, next year.

Throwing the book: During her 24 years representing Colorado's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic firebrand Pat Schroeder never shied away from a confrontation.

Still, even she was taken aback when Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken took off after each other on the panel she moderated last May at a book expo in Los Angeles. "I needed a whip and a chair," remembers Schroeder, who's now head of the Association of American Publishers. "It was wild. I'd thought, 'They're pros, they're going to behave themselves.' I was wrong."

Half of that tag team hits town this week when Franken arrives at the Tattered Cover LoDo on October 16 to tout his new book, Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which just bumped O'Reilly's Who's Looking Out for You? from the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list. The timing has to be sweet, since O'Reilly's employer, Fox News Channel, had sued Franken and his publisher over their book's tagline: "A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

"Fair and Balanced," of course, is Fox's trademarked slogan -- if not Fox's actual journalistic stance.

In Lies, Franken takes on not just O'Reilly, who anchored at Denver's Channel 7 in the late '70s, but another former Coloradan, Karl Rove -- the Republican redistricting mastermind whose home town of Kokomo is now buried beneath a pile of tailings from the Climax mine outside of Leadville. Perhaps that explains "a man whose fleshy and formless physique belies a heart as cold and steely and deadly as a discarded refrigerator with the door still attached," writes Franken.

"In an elementary school playground during a Minnesota winter."

That's a good line. And Schroeder, too, has gotten off more than her fair share of bons mots -- or, as Washington Post reporter Lloyd Grove described it, a "bonbon with a razor inside." In "Queen of the Quip," a chapter in the just-released book Pat Schroeder: A Woman of the House, by Scripps Howard News Service (and former Rocky Mountain News) reporter Joan Lowy, you'll find just a few of them. "Women who sleep around in this city are called sluts," Schroeder said during the Senator Bob Packwood sexual-harassment controversy. "Men who do it are called senators."

Until the 1980s, she said, Congress was "the planet of the guys." She told Newsweek, "Everyone here checks their spines in the cloakroom." The rich and privileged belonged to "the lucky sperm club." After the Republican landslide in 1980, she said, "It's nice to be out of the Alamo and still alive." And, yes, Schroeder also cloned the term "the Teflon president" for Ronald Reagan.

What's in a name? Al Franken honed his political edge at Saturday Night Live, whose "Weekend Update" was sharper than ever last Saturday -- and stuck it straight to Kobe Bryant attorney Pam Mackey, who'd "accidentally" uttered the name of Bryant's alleged victim six times at last week's truncated hearing in Eagle County. Showing a picture of Mackey and Bryant outside of the courtroom, Update anchor Tina Fey (also listed as a head writer for the show) noted that "after being admonished by the judge, Mackey went on to repeat the woman's name five times. Which is really bad, because what lawyer Pamela Mackey did by mentioning the woman's name is to put her at risk of further harassment. A lawyer -- like Pamela Mackey of the Colorado firm Haddon, Morgan, Mueller, Jordan, Mackey and Forman, which is probably in the 303 area code -- should know that people can look up a name, like Joe Smith or Pamela Mackey, on the Internet and learn everything about them."

Or simply call information, get the number of the law firm (which has represented John and Patsy Ramsey and Rocky Flats contractor Rockwell International, among other noteworthy clients) and call it over and over on Monday -- which people did.

Paving the way: The mauve-and-dusty-blue planting boxes have started disappearing from Colfax Avenue in preparation for winter, but that doesn't mean the strip has to be bleak. Deciding to "brighten Colfax," Video One owner Richard Bunch asked Jae Choe to retouch the eight-year-old mural of James Dean that stares out over the Lafayette intersection of the longest street in America.

Passersby may notice that the monumental-sized work has a few new details, including a sepia-toned effect and a distinctive Denver skyline flowing behind the film icon.

"I was just a student when I did the first mural," says Choe, whose images of Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe can be see in the alley behind the Park Tavern in Capitol Hill. "They thought it was boring, so I added the background and had the idea to make it look like an old photo."

And while Denver is famed as a setting for the writings of that other '50s-era Rebel Without a Cause, Jack Kerouac, this city has a real-life, flesh-and-blood connection to Dean. His cousin, Barbara Inman Beall, teaches English at Metropolitan State College. Naturally, she bases part of her coursework on the original brooding bad boy.

"More material has been written about James Dean than any other actor in history," Beall says. "James Dean had more of an impact on society than any other person in the mid-1950s. His impact changed the way that we live and paved the way for the social revolution that followed in the 1960s."

Let's hear it for nepotism!


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