Off Limits

Just a week before the election, David Hakala, the first Coloradan to sue a telemarketer for violating the "do not call" list, unveiled his latest public service: the No Political Calls List.

"I got my first robo-call from a politician -- the Colorado Republican Party -- on October 12, slamming Colorado Congressional District 7 candidate Dave Thomas," Hakala says. "So I e-mailed Bob Beauprez's camp saying, 'Just for that, I'm going to vote for Thomas,' and I copied Thomas's people. I advised them not to call me or I'd vote against Thomas."

That wasn't the end of it, of course. Despite his e-mail, Hakala got a call from Thomas's camp, as well as a second Thomas-bashing call from the Republicans. And then came this e-mail from Scott Russell, political director of the CRP: "We often reap what we so [sic] and in your effort to keep your privacy you will help elect a person who believes in abortion on demand, slashing troop funding, and gay marriage. The next time you run into a soldier, be sure to tell him or her that you voted against them because you got an auto-dial call."

As Hakala was walking away from casting an early ballot -- he went for Thomas after all, since "I figured Beauprez was twice as sinful" -- he came up with the idea of making a national demand to end unwanted political calls, which are exempt from current "do not call" restrictions. Unfortunately, signing up for this list won't necessarily stop the endless campaign calls; people who join with Hakala are merely pledging to vote against any candidate who dials for support. But Hakala hopes to make their efforts more than merely symbolic, he says, by selling the list to "political campaigners who wisely choose to filter members' phone numbers out of their telemarketing databases in order to avoid losing votes for their causes."

If this policy had been in place earlier, it might have prevented Pete Coors's telemarketers from making an ass out of the beer baron. Coors's auto-dialers called an Off Limits correspondent on two Sundays -- both times interrupting the Broncos game. And that was reason enough for him to vote against Coors.

Right neighborly: Last week Matt Casias was just another local businessman struggling to get by. But on October 28 he became a hero -- and a man himself in need of saving.

For the past eighteen months, Casias has run a print shop, Power Imaging, just down Santa Fe Drive from Suavecito's, the zoot-suit store co-owned by his cousin, Jay Salas. Last Thursday afternoon, Casias heard a woman calling for help outside of his business, and he rushed out to find four men trying to steal 63-year-old Brenda Turner's purse. When he went to her aid, one of her assailants shot him in the chest. Casias was rushed to Denver Health in critical condition.

Amazingly, by Saturday Casias was back home, where the single father's eight-year-old son was waiting. He'd survived the shooting, but now he faced another hurdle: Casias had been in the process of switching his company's health plan, and at the moment he was shot, he had no coverage.

Now the members of Artdistrict on Santa Fe are pulling together to support one of their own. As part of this month's First Friday Art Walk, Pod & Capsule, KOUBOUaDoux and 825 Art and Framing will host a silent auction from 5 to 9 p.m. to raise money for Casias's hospital bills. "There are an overwhelming number of artists who are donating artwork," says Lin Clark, owner of 825 Art. "Artists donate to a lot of different benefits, but I had artists I didn't even know call the gallery, offering whatever I needed, saying, ŒJust take it.' It just hit a chord. Matt, even though he isn't a gallery or associated with the art district, is a part of the community. We feel that way about all of the businesses." Many Capsule artists are donating items, as is Katie Taft, whose work will be on display at Pod during First Friday.

"It's just so overwhelming," says Pod owner Lauri Lynxxe Murphy. "I'm going to be donating, and so many people have told me they will be as well. And this is just the first event. We're already planning several more fundraisers."

The Denver Police Department may also take official note of Casias's actions. "We're not doing anything right now," says Detective Teresa Garcia, DPD spokeswoman. "But we are planning something for the future, if that makes sense."

Scene and herd: Initially, it sounded like getting into last month's fancy-pants VIP party for John Elway's new restaurant -- set for four days before the Cherry Creek eatery opened to the public -- would be tougher than casting a ballot in Tuesday's elections. "Make sure to bring your ticket and a valid photo ID for admission," the invite had advised. But unlike Judge Morris Hoffman, whose ruling on a voting-access complaint had come down just hours before Elway's opened its doors to party-goers on October 18, the restaurant ditched the ID requirement. Our Off Limits operative didn't even need to pull out that "current utility bill" -- one of the forms of ID that Hoffman ruled was acceptable at polling places, along with driver's licenses, Medicare cards and passports -- to get in. Now, voting? That was another story -- and there are thousands of them in the naked city.

What's So Funny?
By Adam Cayton-Holland

I miss the Denver where I grew up. I long for the days when a short drive down Colorado Boulevard meant hours of fun at Celebrity Sports Center -- bowling, swimming, uncomfortably changing clothes alongside wrinkled, naked men in the locker room -- not a quick stop for tub caulking at Home Depot. I want to return to those days when Lakeside outdrew Elitch's because of the Denver Public Library's free tickets for its summer-reading promotion. I want to stroll through the Natural History Museum, not the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and take in those ever-vanishing classic animal dioramas instead of some nightmare called Prehistoric Journey. I want to drive to Boulder and gaze out at open prairie, not hive after hive of swarming cul-de-sacs birthing bleached-blond, queen-bee automatons.

But those days are gone.

This is the era of New Denver. In New Denver, the only construction projects allowed are housing complexes, preferably townhome fashion. Knock down whatever stands in the way, build them as fast and as high as you can, then throw in a strip of commerce on the ground level to keep the yuppies quickly and easily fed. Occasionally New Denver allows for supposedly innovative additions, such as downtown's Denver Pavilions -- a multi-use, high-profile location in which to display our city's trashiest denizens -- or Stapleton and Lowry, white-flight hubs for people too lazy to fly very far.

It's a dark time for the Queen City of the Plains.

But there are still places that remind me of the good old days, places that always send me reeling back in time, like Marcel Proust chasing a fistful of cookies, no matter how long it's been since I walked through their doors. Places that make me feel at peace. Griff's on Broadway, where we'd eat after all our baseball games at Ruby Hill, and where I still enjoy a burger every now and then. The Bluebird Theater, which looks today just as it does in my memory, gazing down Adams Street at the bright neon sign from my friends' porches. Chuck's Do-nuts on Kentucky, a staple of the community since 1948.

Or not.

Sign on Chuck's door: "Thanks to the T-Rex project taking 70% of my business when the exits off the highway closed three years ago, I can no longer take the loss. Thanks for your patronage, but we're closed indefinitely."

Survey says... New Denver.

"Everyone in this area is suffering," explains Al Anderson, owner of the nearby Kentucky Inn. "When they shut down the Logan Street bridge for that T-Rex construction, it cut our business by about 30 percent. The bridge is back open now, but in the bar biz, once you lose a customer, it's not easy getting them back."

So let me get this straight: A massive reconstruction of I-25, designed to widen it from three lanes to five, thus increasing the number of people able to move into New Denver and the ease with which they can do it, winds up hurting longtime Denver businesses in the process.

Well, everything seems in order here.

I recently experienced the marvel that is T-Rex firsthand, on a new stretch of highway that just opened between Belleview and County Line. As I headed south -- past Hampden, past Quincy -- I took a deep breath, unable to imagine what the highway could look like at five lanes wide. Then I hit Belleview, and it happened. That concrete river unveiled itself to me on a scale I never thought possible. Suddenly, instead of two Mack trucks whipping past me, sucking me into their overpowering vortex, there were ten trucks. Asshole drivers were everywhere, in blind spots, in front of me, behind. Orchard, Arapahoe, Dry Creek exits all flew by me as if in a dream. Such unlimited access, but where to go first in the unending, soulless suburbs?

I turned around at County Line, thinking about the appalling number of people who will turn up at the Park Meadows mall this weekend, and headed back north, toward Denver, the place where I grew up, the place that's changing before my very eyes.

In the far right lane of the highway, legions of workers were busily working on the light-rail line that will run alongside the highway. A few on a break stood off to the side, hardhats in their hands, watching the traffic pass by, looking tired.

They looked like men who could use a good doughnut. Or maybe a trip to Celebrity Sports.


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