Duane "Dog" Chapman, the bounty hunter who nabbed Max Factor heir and fugitive rapist Andrew Luster in Mexico last June, was back in town last Wednesday, sitting in Casa del Rey, a Mexican joint in Commerce City, and enjoying his next fifteen minutes of fame.
The besieged waitstaff had no idea who the Mulleted One was; they just knew they had to rope off a section of the restaurant for some VIP guest while numerous cameras and guys with guns surrounded the place.
After a stint in a Texas prison on an accessory-to-murder conviction (for a crime he denies committing), Dog had kicked around Denver for years. He and his sister, Jolene Martinez, worked Bail Bond Row together until they had a falling out in 1999, and the former Devil's Disciple went out on his own, eventually taking his business -- and his dreams of stardom -- to Hawaii.
Dog has always insisted that he was thisclose to inking a deal for a reality-TV series, but somehow those plans kept falling through. Four years ago, the Learning Channel did feature Chapman on its "The Secret World of Bounty Hunters" episode ("A Dog Gets His Day," March 30, 2000), and then last year, the notoriety he earned with his capture of Luster at a Puerto Vallarta taco stand landed him on Hollywood Squares. Still, that wasn't much of a consolation prize: Dog had to spend time in a Mexican jail because his line of work is illegal south of the border, and he subsequently got stiffed on any reward for Luster.
But the exposure did lead to a deal with A&E to appear on Take This Job last August, and Dog's now part of the cable channel's "real-life" series. He'll star in his own show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, which "will follow the unique life of Duane 'Dog' Chapman as he mixes a high-stakes job, a combustible marriage and fatherhood of 12 children in a series with big personality," according to A&E's website.
And so big-personality Dog and his "Regulators" were taking a break from their shooting schedule at Casa del Rey, downing a few enchilada plates and waiting for the hailstorm to pass.
"It's going to be aired in late August," says Dog spokeswoman Frankie Leigh. "They've definitely got a season on the air, and they've picked up another season. They've caught a lot of criminals. A lot."
Leigh won't reveal who Chapman is hunting in Denver these days, though. All she'll say is this: "Criminals, beware."
All's fair in war and war: Some people just weren't welcome at the Capitol Hill People's Fair this year.
On Saturday, June 5, Deena Larsen found herself escorted off the Denver Civic Center fairgrounds because her tie-dyed attire festooned with "Bush Lied People Died" bumper stickers broke the rules. "Anytime people came up and said, 'Hey, that's a great skirt,' I handed them a bumper sticker," says Larsen, a Lakewood resident. "So I was not soliciting; I was not taking any money; I wasn't harassing anyone. Then this Guardian Angel comes up and says, 'You can't be in this park.' So I went back into the shade to get my stuff, and he saw me there, and he grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the park. This is so antithetical to what the People's Fair started out to be. That's where every nonprofit in town went. That's where you went if you wanted to volunteer that summer."
Turns out the overzealous Angel was only enforcing the fair's regulation that prohibits petitioners from being on the grounds. "We've been doing that for five or six years," explains Tom Knorr, executive director of the People's Fair and Capitol Hill United Neighbors. "We're trying to do a balance and trying to make it work for everybody. I had somebody petitioning scream at me because I asked them to go to the outskirts. They said, 'You don't even know what we're petitioning for,' and I said that's exactly right, and I don't want to know. Otherwise it would look like I was saying yay or nay to something."
Although Larsen did sneak back into the fair and enjoyed the rest of the day, she swears she won't return in 2005. "I'm just so upset about the politics this year that I paid $300 myself for the bumper stickers to give them out," she says. "I'm not representing any political group. But if the fair continues to kick people out, to just destroy the whole nature of the fair, then I won't go back."
Bucket brigade: Maybe Paul Tamburello should work for State Farm instead of Distinctive Properties, because "like a good neighbor," he's there. This time, Tamburello is there for the homeless.
The realtor has created an "Undie Bucket," and is calling on his Highland neighbors to donate new -- let us repeat: new! -- underwear, bras, socks and diapers for the city's temporary emergency shelter in the Mile High United Way building on West 18th Street.
"In a previous life of mine, I was a youth minister, and one of the things we learned when we worked with the shelters is that nobody ever donates underwear," says Tamburello, whose day job involves redeveloping the old Olinger Mortuary building. "A pair of socks only lasts so long, so it's the biggest item of need. We used to do Undie Sundays, but we're not really open Sundays, so we made it an Undie Bucket."
As a welcoming gift, those undies are a little late. The shelter has been in place since April, when it relocated there from the Denver Department of Human Services building at 1200 Federal Boulevard, where the city had set it up last fall to fill the void left after the First Baptist Church closed its Capitol Hill shelter. Mayor John Hickenlooper had promised neighbors that the temporary location on Federal would close by April 15, and when that deadline rolled around, Hick's Commission to End Homelessness still hadn't come up with a more permanent solution to handle the homeless, so Mile High United Way agreed to house the facility. It will remain there until October 15, when it moves to the Mulroy Gym at 13th Avenue and Knox Court.
In the meantime, Tamburello wants his "unique" neighborhood to show the guys a warm welcome (since this is a men-only shelter, the Denver Rescue Mission will distribute the bras and diapers to women's facilities). "I mean, what says 'welcome' more than a clean pair of undies?" he asks.
"When the shelter decided to move up here, some people were absolutely panicked, and other people were okay," he says. "So we had a neighborhood meeting, and I and a couple of other people brought up the idea that instead of panicking, we could say, 'Welcome to our neighborhood. We want you to take care of our neighborhood the way we do. And as a way of showing hospitality, we're going to collect an item of great need and give it as a gift.'"
In addition to a drop-off box at the Mile High building, donations are also being taken through July 31 at such northwest Denver institutions as Patsy's, the Bug Theatre, Lucia's Casa de Café and Tamburello's office, at 3222 Tejon Street. "Some folks at the United Way are talking about hosting a neighborhood barbecue and giving all these things to somebody with the mission then. We'd invite people who are on the street and say, 'Sorry you're down and out, but we care about you.'"
Underwear the homeless are? Right next door...
Sibling revelry: While the Denver Regional Council of Governments and Sister Cities International -- whose D.C. office is headed by former Boulder city manager Tim Honey -- rushed to determine why the White House had just announced that Denver was now responsible for Baghdad's well-being, the war-room section of Salon offered this on June 11:
The White House has a new creative solution to the reconstruction of Iraq: Let Denver take care of it.
On Wednesday, the First Lady's office announced Denver was Baghdad's "sister city," a relationship that will focus on "humanitarian assistance" and "other local aid initiatives."
"As the partnerships develop, other programs will be explored relating to healthcare, education, information technology, and economic and business development," says the First Lady.
Denver may be wondering how it got so lucky. Especially when Baltimore gets paired off with a seaside resort city in Italy. And Chicago has the tough assignment of sistering with Paris. No one ever said life was fair, Denver.
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Plus, you have company: The fine people of Dallas now have Kirkuk to look after, and Tucson gets Sulaymaniyah. "The U.S. government applauds these cities for their initiative," the First Lady said in a statement.
How is Denver taking the news? Officials there, confronted with a $33 million budget shortfall in 2005, said the White House announcement was, um, premature. No vote was taken on the proposal, they said. Good luck getting out of that one.
For the record, Denver's ten official sister cities are: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Potenza, Italy; Axum, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; Kunming, China; Takayama, Japan; Madras, India; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Karmiel, Israel; and Brest, France, adopted back in 1948.