Late November 1, shock and awe spread through the minds of city leaders as they learned that voters had actually passed Initiative 100, which changes city ordinances to legalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana -- and state laws be damned.
People expect such shenanigans from San Francisco or Portland -- or Boulder, especially -- but our fair cowtown? Local officials agonized. What might this mean for Denver's image? Would Jay Leno make fun of us? (Short answer: Yes.) What message did this send to the children? Would people say that this truly puts the "high" in Mile High City?
Sorry, but who gives a crap?
Off Limits knows there are more pertinent questions that concern our readers. For example, how would this affect our pocketbooks? What would it do to our local drug dealers? And most important, would it change the way we buy our pot? To investigate these and other pressing issues, the day after the election, we dispatched an operative to Denver's ground zero for street-level marijuana dealing: Civic Center Park.
He returned with a dime bag and this report:
1400 hours: I make a lap of the grounds between the State Capitol and the Denver City and County Building and am approached by several different men. Some nod or mumble phrases in Spanish; others whistle to get my attention. I ask each one their opinion of I-100. Not one responds intelligibly. A teen accuses me of being an undercover cop.
1420 hours: I make contact with a man wearing a large blue T-shirt and a Discman. In a thick South American accent, he asks if I need help. I answer, "Weed?" He nods. I make a mental note that this drug deal is going excellently. Then I realize I don't have any cash. I tell him I need to get money and that I will return. I ask his name; he declines to answer. I shall refer to him as Dealin'Doug.
1430 hours: I find an ATM on the 16th Street Mall. When I turn to walk back to the park, I see Dealin' Doug walking toward me. Too many cops over there, he says, pointing to the park. "I don't want to get busted." We walk down the crowded street, looking for a place to make the deal. I ask him what he thinks about I-100 passing. He looks at me blankly. "They made weed legal," I say. "Well, sort of." I point to the Denver Post in a nearby newspaper box: "Look." Dealin' Doug is very excited and says that if I buy the newspaper for him, he will give me a better deal. I insert fifty cents, locate the article and hand it over. He looks at the headline for a split second, rips the article out, looks over his shoulder for cops, and then, in broad daylight, with little cover, pulls a bag of weed from his pocket. He removes several large pinches and wraps them in the I-100 article. I hand him $10.
1435 hours: We're standing in line at McDonald's. I ask him, "Now that weed is legal, sort of, are you worried that you're going to be out of a job?" He answers quickly, "No, people always buy what I am selling." I order fries and a soda. Gotta get ahead of the munchies.
Ain't that a kick in the pants: Although Joe Phillips, aka the Commish of the Denver Kick Ball Coalition, has left to join the shiny, happy people of Los Angeles, the notorious kickball club he started five years ago on the fields of Morey Middle School lives on. As Phillips's parting act, he dubbed friend and right-hand man Marc Hughes, who plays on the Natural Twenty, the new DKBC Commish.
"Well, officially I am the Commissioner," Hughes says. "Joe is the Commish until the end of time."
The two weren't always so simpatico. Hughes used to play kickball in Wash Park with a Christian punk-rock group, but when they headed off on tour, he was left high and dry. That's when he found out about the Commish's league. "Pretty much at first Joe hated me," Hughes says, laughing. "We kept butting heads all the time. I was too aggressive, I guess. He was more about having fun, and I was more competitive. But we started kicking it after the games, and it grew into a friendship."
Hughes already has next year's season planned out. There's talk of the DKBC and Radio 1190 teaming up for games at South by Southwest in March, he's looking to expand the group's charity efforts, and he's already scoping talent in preparation for the April draft. And in his spare time, the Commissioner can be found deejaying at the hi-dive under the Postman moniker or making copies at Kinko's. "Lots of people know me because I work at Kinko's." he says. "I'm that friend everyone has who works at Kinko's."
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Scene and herd: Yes, that's ProgressNow's Michael Huttner pictured in the pages of the new book Bar Mitzvah Disco, looking wildly uncomfortable in a safari suit at his sister's over-the-top, zoo-themed bat mitzvah in 1987, which came complete with a live elephant and a very hefty price tag. "The book is 80 percent New York and New Jersey," says Huttner, who just picked up a couple of copies at the Tattered Cover. "I think hers was the only one from Colorado."
Stephanie Kleinman now lives in Arkansas with her husband and just had baby boy, Westley. "We had the bris last week," Huttner reports. "It was the first hometown bris in Hot Springs in over ten years." Huttner had another reason to celebrate last week, too: the passage of Referendum C, which his progressive group had heavily promoted. "In the last month or so, we really pushed it out there," he says. "Every little podcast and e-mail helped."
But enough about politics. What about his own bar mitzvah? "I was the middle child," Huttner says. "I had a $20-an-hour magician"
Last year, Adam Hall and his best friend, Ramsey Brookhart, a Boulder high school teacher, broke the Guinness World Record for the longest moonwalk in an hour by sliding across the Golden Gate Bridge (Off Limits, September 9). On November 13, they'll relay moonwalk the ten miles between Louisville and Boulder to promote their nonprofit, moonwalkforearth.com, which pushes renewable energy in schools -- and to break their own record. Glittery white glove optional.