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Off Limits

Finally, the Unsinkables have either realized their fondest dream -- or had their worst nightmare come true. Because this past Tuesday night, the 7-Eleven at 13th Avenue and Pearl Street (right) closed for good. And so far, there are no plans to fill the black hole that's earned a black mark for this part of Capitol Hill.

"The feedback I'm getting is that most people think it's a wonderful thing," says Unsinkables president Kathi Anderson, who for years has patrolled the mean streets with the neighborhood group named for the area's most famous resident, Molly Brown. "Personally, I'm not sure another dark hole will be a good thing on that corner. We never wanted 7-Eleven to close; we just wanted it to be safer."

They certainly never expected it would close: A 7-Eleven shutting its doors is rarer than a Starbucks failing. And because this outlet sat on one of the city's most infamous drug corners, it had a built-in clientele of people coming up, people coming down -- and in the meantime doing a little shopping. The Southland Corporation, which owns this particular location, isn't talking about why it shut the store, and over the weekend, store manager Eugene was under strict instructions to refer all calls to a corporate voice-mailbox. (When asked, Eugene did assure Off Limits that all store staffers have been transferred to other locations.)

According to Anderson, police have promised that the area will be fenced off until its future is determined. In the meantime, its past is documented on www.crackstreet.com, a new website that's essentially a vigilante JohnsTV, but starring crackheads. "This web site is intended to provide news to inform the public and potential tourists of the danger associated with visiting these attractions," reads what must be the worst nightmare of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, since those attractions range from the Molly Brown House to the State Capitol," as well as expressing the concern of area residents for their safety and dissatisfaction with the city's ability to police and protect the community from this rampant drug dealing." The site includes photos of deals, dealers and druggies taken around the now-defunct 7-Eleven, plus a lively discussion page.

"You are hurting the very entities that are struggling with the same crimes that you are," Denver City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb wrote to crackstreet.com last week. "The cultural institutions in the area that bring honest people and community supporters to the area should not be harmed. As you reduce their visitors, you open the area up for more bad influences. I fear that you are defeating your very goal."

So far, no one has claimed ownership of the site -- not even the webmasters who responded to Robb with an unsigned e-mail outlining their three-point plan to crack down on crack in the area, insisting that "the city itself does not already have such a plan in place to stop this crime." The founders have gone so far as to block their website-registry information at domain researcher www.whois.net, and the phone number listed there goes straight to a non-working number that 411 operators can trace only to "somewhere near Brighton." On the site itself, there's this simple message: "Crackstreet.com has no physical location or individual representative, currently we only exist and distribute news via the internet."

Although rumors are rampant that the Unsinkables are behind it, Anderson swears that's not the case. "We can't even figure out how to turn on a computer," she says.

A read-letter day: Political pundits say the writing's on the wall in the District 6 race between Tom Tancredo and Joanna Conti. Given Tancredo's incumbent status and the district's GOP-heavy registration, they predict the congressman will stay put. To get a more off-the-wall opinion, Off Limits asked handwriting expert Scott Petullo to analyze samples (above, right) provided by the candidates. "I think this is the goofiest thing I've ever been asked to do!" wrote Tancredo.

The congressman "is very motivated by achievement, ideals and recognition," Petullo noted. "His mental stamina is stronger than his physical vitality. Tom has vision, but he may set his goals too high at times. He's receptive to new ideas and fairly sensitive to criticism. His strong abstract imagination and intellectual aptitude serve him well in goal-setting and generating constructive ideas. Thriving on praise and attention, he's very comfortable working closely with others."

As for the challenger, Petullo determined: "Joanna Conti is a responsive people-person and has a respectable emotional temperament. She is persuasive and has very solid boundaries in place that support an innate toughness. People clearly understand she means 'no' when she says it. She's capable of very cleverly operating against rivals while smoothly projecting kindness and reliability. She is very good about protecting confidential data, but she sometimes goes too far in keeping private information from even her own conscious awareness."

 


What's So Funny?

By Adam Cayton-Holland

Like most children, I always anticipated approaching holidays with great feelings of excitement and eagerness deep within my bosom. Unlike most children, though, I suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which made me pace more than a caged leopard in a European zoo. Couple crippling OCD with swallowing whole every morsel of nostalgia that the Disney Channel flung at me, and my excitement reached a fever pitch days before any holiday, only to explode on the actual occasion and then burn out like a degenerate junkie-gambler after a trip to Vegas.

So when eleven-year-old Adam asked if he could be in charge of decorating for Halloween, my mother happily informed me that I could. She was no doubt relieved that her son would have some form of diversion for that week other than running tight, concentric circles around the kitchen table or repeatedly dialing to 100 as fast as he could on the remote.

If you could only see the plans I had for our house that year, carefully drawn with rulers and colored pencils. I wanted our house to be like the houses you see around Christmas, the ones visible from airplanes that blind the neighborhood with ten million bulbs of joyous light, shaming the squinting neighbors for their far inferior Christian spirit and simultaneously making Jewish people question their beliefs. Unfortunately, I lacked both the budget and the know-how to achieve such a feat, and the result was a far cry from the designs that I'd drafted with such architect-like precision. Instead, the display was clearly the work of a sloppy and spirited eleven-year-old boy.

Cheap Styrofoam gravestones spray-painted gray littered the front lawn. Scrawled across their fronts were the names of all the dickheads I didn't like at school, but the paint had run so badly that they looked like the strange, senseless symbols that an evil blind person might produce. There were about a dozen jack-o'-lanterns, each adorned with futile attempts at elaborate carvings. Fake cobwebs were everywhere.

On the porch, right by the front door, was my best work. Earlier in the week, I'd made my mother drive me to some farm in Lakewood to retrieve a bushel of hay. Back home, I filled a pair of sweatpants, then a gray sweatshirt, with the stuff. Using rope and clothespins, I attached the two articles of clothing together and then hid the dummy behind our patio. On Halloween day, I unearthed my hay-man and proceeded to stab him 2,013 times, shredding his outfit with long, painful incisions. After that, I covered the poor fellow with an amount of ketchup that can only be described as gratuitous, dragged him to the front porch, popped a pumpkin on his head and called it a job well done. Oh, and I left the knife sticking out of his chest for effect.

Both of my parents had problems with the dead man on our porch. But they also knew how hard I'd worked on it, so they decided to let it slide. I postponed my own trick-or-treating -- this was an era before curfews, mind you -- so that I could see the reaction to my signature piece. It was unanimous: That Cayton-Holland boy is disturbed. After only an hour of youngsters' furrowed brows and trembling lips and their horrified parents' angry comments, my parents ordered the dummy removed. I protested.

"Well, at least take out that knife," my mom said.

But when I went to remove it, the knife was gone.

A Halloween miracle.

That was the year I learned a very important lesson: Halloween can be dangerous. Oh, yes, people, it's true. It's not all candied apples and girls with slutty costumes; some people use the holiday as an excuse to do very bad things. Years of having my bag snatched and then later snatching bags myself hammered home this point all the more. So while we here at What's So Funny want to make sure that you laugh and enjoy yourself and everything this weekend, we're also looking out for you.

Tips for a safe and fun Halloween:

When out political-sign snatching, remember this helpful maxim: Republicans carry shotguns.

Warning: New York Yankees costumes may pose a serious choking hazard.

While traveling in large packs tends to ensure safety, if the group is all dudes, people might think you're gay. Better to fly solo.

The only way to prevent terrorist trick-or-treaters is to hunt them down in their homes and kill them.

A flaming bag of dog poo is a noble idea, but human feces is a lot harder to remove from loafers.

 

If dressing as a ghost, make sure to cut holes in sheet at eye level, not nipple.

Not even trained medical professionals can tell the difference between a roofie and a Smartie. Tactical advantage: you.

In case of emergency, a Three Musketeers bar can be used as a projectile and/or flotation device.

If zealous Halloween revelers try to invite you inside to see their haunted house, politely decline. Immediately call police and tell them they tried to touch you "down there."

While smashing pumpkins is delightful fun, setting the house on fire really gets the point across.

Happy Halloween, gang!


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