Literary Tricks

FRI, 7/23

By nature, the curved, concrete, fly-away world of skateboarding simply flips off the literary world. It's tough to imagine, after all, how a seat-of-your-pants extreme sport embraced predominantly by fourteen-year-old males and few tough, old hardcore adults in baggy shorts might have anything to do with the written word. Or as skateboarder Jared Jacang Maher (an occasional contributor to these pages) notes, "The idea that they might be able to write, or even read, is surprising." Maybe so. But Maher, along with longtime buddy Jeff Knutson and Brooklynite Justin Hocking -- all skateboarders and schooled creative writers with Colorado ties -- just looked at the dilemma and took a 360 Flip right around it. The trio teamed up in an effort to accomplish two things: prove that at least some skateboarders are literate and do something to encourage the ones who aren't to maybe pick up a book. The result is Life and Limb: Skateboarders Write from the Deep End, a newly published paperback anthology from Soft Skull Press of writings propelled by the high energy of skateboard culture, if not always by the sport itself. The three editor/contributors will introduce their book, which includes work from the known -- such as Thrasher Skateboard Magazine journalist Michael Burnett, and Jocko Weyland, author of The Answer Is Never: A Skateboarder's History of the World -- and the unknown, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo.

But if you go, don't expect to hear one skateboarding cliche after another. "A lot of the stories don't even mention skateboarding," Maher says. "We didn't want a bunch of stories about feeling the concrete move under your feet." Rather, Hocking explains, "These writers take the inventiveness of the board and translate it into prose. Skateboarders think in unconventional ways, and that comes out even in the pieces that are not about skating." The book, they agree, is more of a brave new world of writing on the edge: "It's a different view from that of mainstream America," Maher says. "For instance, you might see a storefront and think 'Starbucks,' but skateboarders just see the lay of it, the rails and the ramps. They're thinking about how many tricks they can do before they're chased off."

The Tattered Cover is at 1628 16th Street; call 303-436-1070. An after party with live music and a film screening follows at 9 p.m. at Andenken Gallery, 2110 Market Street, 303-292-3281. -- Susan Froyd

Buffalo Exchange founders shift into retro-drive
THURS, 7/22

People who bring clothes to trade or sell at a Buffalo Exchange clothing store often leave with questions. For example, "Why did they take those huge sunglasses and not my barely worn jean jacket?" Or, "How did that sales associate know layering a bright-green running jacket over her rainbow tank top would look cool?" Coloradans interested in mastering the shop's cutting-edge sense of style can pose fashion inquiries in person this week when Buffalo founders Kerstin and Spencer Block -- who are driving a retro trailer to the 23 Buffalo Exchange stores and six franchises nationwide in honor of the company's thirtieth birthday -- roll into Denver. Along with their innate knowledge of what is hot, the Blocks will offer such giveaways as Buffalo Exchange T-shirts, bags and discount keycards.

Each locale will add a unique flavor to the freebie extravaganza. Today's stop, the Denver store at 230 East 13th Avenue, will be decked out with a Gilligan's Island motif. For tomorrow's Boulder celebration, the shop located at 1717 Walnut Street will take on an '80s prom theme. Both stores will have cake and DJs.

Kerstin Block offers a sneak peek at the Buffalo Exchange's chic formula, explaining that the secret is "a lot of unusual items, small boutique items in combination with vintage clothing, and then our bread and butter, which is mall-type brands." Who'd have guessed that the key to the funk dynasty's success could start with Abercrombie and end with Fitch?

The celebrations last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the Denver store, 303-866-0165; the Boulder store, 303-928-1924; or visit -- Caitlin Smith

The Good Teese
WED, 7/21

If the walls at the Diamond Cabaret, 1222 Glenarm Place, could talk, they would probably sound a lot like a hungover fraternity brother expounding for the pledges, at great length, on all he's experienced. In their thirteen-year history, the strip palace's partitions have seen enough excitement to fill volumes. Tonight, though, those walls are bound to be tongue-tied when Dita Von Teese, the vixen helping to revive burlesque, bares A Night of Seduction, the kickoff to the Diamond's birthday week. Fresh from an appearance at Playboy's fiftieth anniversary party in L.A., Von Teese will be on stage at the Diamond cavorting in a giant martini glass -- a tribute to such tantalizing pioneers as Lily St. Cyr and Betty Page. Before that performance, she'll host a five-course dinner, with each dish highlighting such features of burlesque acts as "tease," "grand entrance" and a "flash of sequins and bare skin."

"Dita is the biggest of what she does in the world," says the Diamond's Mani Isler. "She's never played a club like the Diamond. Her coming here is like going back to the roots of burlesque, but in an exciting, upscale way."

General admission to the show is $15 (arrive early, Isler says); a limited number of spots for the 7 p.m. dinner, as well as reserved tables, are available. For more information on the Diamond's anniversary week, call 303-571-4242. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Canvassing Talent
Wynkoop hangs newcomer's art
THURS, 7/22

Former gallery owner Joshua Hassel, who helped pioneer the original LoDo gallery district, has seen a lot of art in his time. But that doesn't mean he's no longer moved by what he sees. As ongoing curator for casual shows at the Wynkoop Brewing Co., he's kept a sharp focus on emerging artists who lack formal gallery representation -- artists such as Jason Arnold, a previously undiscovered painter he met by chance while Arnold was showing his portfolio to fellow art entrepreneur Jim Robischon. Arnold, a 25-year-old Greeley native now living and painting in a small downtown Denver loft, proved to be just what Hassel was looking for: a raw, unstudied talent. He's had no art schooling, yet he paints close-up portraits of young women's faces on two-by-three-foot canvases, sometimes using models, sometimes not, but always blending fact, fantasy and a good shot of imagination. As a body of work, their impact is significant, if "not quite ready for prime time," Hassel says.

"Jason really meets the criteria of what we try to do at the Wynkoop," he adds, and that's more than good enough. Arnold's works go on display at the brewpub, 1634 18th Street, tonight during a reception from 7 to 9 p.m.; the show continues through September 19. For more information, call 303-297-2700. -- Susan Froyd

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Adam Cayton-Holland
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd
Caitlin Smith