During my first two years as a Coloradan, I lived in Capitol Hill. Not the Wild Oats or Queen Soopers Capitol Hill; not the Bender's or Chipotle or Lancer Lounge Capitol Hill; not the Charlie Brown's or Table 6 Capitol Hill. No, fuckin' Rent-A-Center, Famous Pizza, Scooter Liquors, Burger King Capitol Hill — broke-down, bad-news-bus-stop Colfax Capitol Hill. And while old-school historians and new-school nameologists may beg to differ with my location-name accuracy ("Actually, Drew, the area you're referring to is UpCheeHillNoCapParkManTownDo"), I'm not interested in arguing any neighborhood semantics. What I'm arguing is that I've experienced me some Colfax homeless (or CoHos, for the areademics). And much like the season-eleven South Park episode "Night of the Living Homeless" portrays, CoHos could be dead-on extras in a big-budget zombie flick. Think about it: Unintelligible moaning? Check. Haggard appearance and foul smell? Yep. Open sores, outstretched hands and that leg-drag, shuffle-wobble walk? It's all there. Even the way the home-havers can escape simply by speed-walking is the same. Forget 16th Street Mall bums: CoHos are the toughest, fastest, most haggle-savvy hoboes this city has to offer.
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But they are no match for the shady characters pacing up and down Larimer Street tonight, stopping every fifteen minutes to lean over the front-patio railing of the Ginn Mill (2041 Larimer Street) and ask us for change — some of them three or four times over the course of an hour. They tell the usual tall tales, spew the typical tired rhetoric during their entreaties; some of them try to bum smokes; one of them — a loud, lanky woman wearing a white sports bra and stonewashed jeans — reaches across to an un-bussed table and slams the watered-down contents of a low-ball cocktail glass before swaggering away. "Did that really just happen?" the two guys sitting closest to the action ask incredulously. "Holy shit, that's resourceful."
Twenty minutes later, still on the front patio of the Ballpark neighborhood's newest watering hole, we switch from premium draughts to Banquet Beer tallboys and shoot a round of chilled whiskey. I'm stacking empty shot glasses on the next table when Adam notices that the guy who needs gas money because his car is broken down off the interstate is approaching on his fourth lap. For nearly ninety minutes, we've been patient, kind, meek and mild, but we're just plain out of biblical virtues, so we grab our drinks and move to the back patio, away from the freeloaders' flee market out front. On my way through the bar, I stop to feed the Internet jukebox (Pinkerton-era Weezer, Say Anything, U2, but only hear "El Scorcho" before we leave, around 11 p.m.). Throwback board games (Hungry Hungry Hippos, Operation, Connect Four) sit untouched on the tables by the bathrooms, while the did-that-just-happen dudes trade furious uppercuts on the red-and-blue Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots game.
The Ginn Mill
For the next hour or so, all-out freeness ensues. First, the bartendress forgets my tallboy during a simple round and feels so bad that she buys it for me. Then we get served free promotional shots of honey rum with brown sugar and spices that's so terrible I spit half of mine back into the glass. But the best part is how liberated we feel from the oppressive pestering of the street zombies. That is, until the stonewashed, secondhand-shot-taker comes barreling in the back gate from the alley. "Help the homeless?" she barks in all directions at once. Kill me now.
At least then I could come back as a CoHo and take this crazy bitch out.