The Briarwood Inn
In Breakfast at Tiffany's, the characters played by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard stop by the venerable jewelry store to ask if a ring from a Cracker Jack box can be engraved as a gift from him to her. The stately, stuffy gentleman behind the counter looks the ring over and gets all misty. "They still have prizes in Cracker Jack boxes, do they?" he asks. "That's good to know. It gives one a sense of continuity, of connecting with the past, that sort of thing."

These days, the list of things that can be counted on from year to year gets shorter and shorter. Beloved historic buildings are razed for parking lots, steadfast authors run out of steam, decades-old Broadway shows call it quits. Snow skips a season. Cracker Jack is purchased by Frito-Lay. Heck, you can't even depend on an election to decide who's going to run the country.

But there are some pockets of reliability. The Nuggets still stink. Madonna keeps making music that sells. Employees at daily newspapers are eternally miserable. Stores insist on playing White Christmas way too much during the holidays. And The Briarwood Inn continues to be a citadel of warm hospitality, dining elegance and culinary classics.

Although Reid Pasko opened the Briarwood back in 1979, you can probably count on one hand the number of people now working at this elegant Golden eatery who weren't there in the beginning. General manager Lynn Ramondo came on board twenty years ago, and while she should get much of the credit for the impeccable service --flawless, really, the kind of unobtrusive table waiting that gets the job done with sincerity, warmth and a professional attitude -- she passes the credit on to the staffers. "I hire them, and I've trained some of them, but the way we work it here, the new servers are trained by the veterans," she explains.

The system works remarkably well. So does the Briarwood's atmosphere. It's homey but elegant, with three dining rooms lined with pieces of dark wood furniture that you only wish your grandma would leave you: credenzas and breakfronts, hutches and curios, all stocked with the Briarwood's old-style china (Villeroy & Boch) that, along with real silver, is used to set the tables formally. Right now the dining rooms are also decked with boughs of holly and other holiday trappings, so sitting down for dinner here feels like you're dining on the set of The Nutcracker. The chairs are soft, the tables are spaced far enough apart that your conversation isn't everyone's conversation, and the lighting is diffused and inviting, low enough for intimacy but not so low you can't tell what your date looks like.

And you'll want a date to bring you to the Briarwood, because all of this opulence doesn't come cheap. But at least the whopping entree price includes the restaurant's trademark appetizer and dessert trays -- and the lazy Susan filled with starters arrived at our table before we did, so we didn't waste a minute. Or a bite: A dozen large, chilled Gulf shrimp, charmingly arranged tail up around a mound of shaved ice, topped the assortment; below were compartments filled with a rich duck and chicken-liver pate, a savory salad of marinated vegetables, a port-spiked cheddar cheese, a mousseline of spinach and water chestnuts, and smoked salmon butter -- our favorite. A basket of focaccia, rolls and lahvosh came with the appetizers, and the breads proved the ideal transportation system for the mostly spreadable array.

That's it for starters at the Briarwood; the menu doesn't include any trendy calamari, escargot or carpaccio. But we didn't need anything more, not when our next course was a spinach or "vinaigrette" salad. The former consisted of fresh spinach leaves tossed with caramelized onions, mandarin oranges, sliced button mushrooms and bacon bits, all slicked with a hot bacon dressing that boasted a good balance between sweet and sour. The "vinaigrette" turned out to be romaine tossed with feta, shredded red cabbage and black olives in a Mediterranean-style (plenty of oregano and garlic) dressing.

And then, the main event: the sort of rich, traditional entrees that could have been offered back in 1979. Heck, Hepburn and Peppard could have been eating these dishes in New York between Tiffany takes. Executive chef Tom Morris has been cooking at the Briarwood for two decades, and although he's made some minor changes in the recipes and the menu over the years, these were classics you could count on.

The filet Wellington was a delectable Christmas package of pastry-wrapped beef filet sandwiched with duxelles, the French concoction that calls for sautéeing minced mushrooms and shallots in butter and then mixing them with cream. Morris's version had been cooked down thicker than is customary, which made for a concentrated mushroom flavor and a foie gras-like consistency. While this denser texture might have been a problem for a less juicy piece of meat -- the satiny-textured beef was cooked a perfect medium-rare -- or a heavier pastry, this crust was thin and flaky, and a textbook Bordelaise sauce kept the package moist. A traditional brown sauce made from shallots, red wine and bone marrow, Bordelaise requires extra effort and a commitment to the final product that few modern restaurants are willing to make. Some cooks might even say the sauce is archaic, and that a lighter, more contemporary creation would work better. But in fact, the Bordelaise served as an excellent example of why the Briarwood deserves its fine reputation. The sauce was so smooth, so glossy and rich, with a slight meaty undertone and a dense, faintly grapey sweetness, that it was truly intoxicating. Escoffier himself must have been looking over Morris's shoulder when he made it.

And Escoffier apparently decided to hang around the kitchen awhile, because the rest of the entrees were just as commendable. The exquisite rack of Colorado lamb had been cut so that a thin ring of fat protected each chop, and then cooked just barely medium; it arrived atop pan juices thickened with Grey Poupon and mellowed with well-roasted garlic. A whole Rocky Mountain rainbow trout had been pan-fried until crispy on the outside and velvety tender inside, then topped with buttery sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and crabmeat, all draped in a hollandaise so sweet that it clearly had been made with a high-quality butter. Butter is the key to great hollandaise; lemon juice is added to heighten the creamy butter flavor, not to create a lemon sauce. But Morris also understands lighter sauces, as evidenced by the seafood au gratin. Lobster, crabmeat, bay scallops and shrimp had been sautéed, then mixed with cream thickened with Swiss cheese and enhanced with sherry. The trick here was to make the sauce taste heavy without actually giving the diner a heart attack; a nutty-flavored sherry was Morris's secret weapon.

After all that, the waiter brought a cake stand overflowing with fresh grapes and blueberries, along with thick slices of macadamia-packed brownies and bananas coated with toasted coconut. Although you can also order the classically prepared, absolutely perfect chocolate mousse or a surprisingly stunning peach sorbet, the generous dessert tray was really all we needed to wrap up a gorgeous meal.

You can count on finding not just crackerjack service, but a prize meal at the Briarwood.

Hunched over the counter of the only 7-Eleven in Widefield, an elderly black man named Leo mulls over what could be his most consequential purchase of the day. You never know; this could be the time, the magic moment, that life-altering, red-letter, once-in-a-lifetime lucky day.

You just don't know. This could be the day that pigs fly, hell freezes over, and odds of several hundred thousand or even five million to one mean diddly-squat. It could be.

Then again, maybe not.

Leo stabs a finger at the glass display of lottery tickets. "Give me three Octoberfests," he says. "Two Sizzling Sevens. Three Quick Picks. And three of those Double Downs."

He forks over thirteen dollars, collects his Lotto and scratch tickets, and heads out the door. Similar transactions are conducted every day at hundreds of stores across the state, but at the Widefield 7-Eleven, a few miles southeast of Colorado Springs, they occur with dizzying frequency. According to the Colorado Lottery's latest official sales figures, the store is the second-busiest ticket-seller in the state; only a retailer on the Wyoming border, the undisputed champ at luring dreamers from the Cowboy State to join in Colorado's gambling fever, sells more.

Store manager Greg Harrington isn't sure why his 7-Eleven consistently makes the list of the state's top lottery retailers -- particularly with a competing seller, a Safeway, right across the street -- but he has a few ideas. "There's a substantial senior population around here," he says. "They like the convenience. Some come in four or five times a day."

Convenience has been a key to the Colorado Lottery's success ever since the first scratch game made its debut in 1983. Widely promoted and available in every corner of Colorado for the past seventeen years, lottery tickets have generated more than $3 billion in gross revenues and pumped more than a billion dollars into state parks, open space, conservation and capital construction projects. But the true costs of the enterprise may be higher than anyone knows.

According to a study conducted by the Colorado Department of Revenue in 1997, up to 4 percent of the state's adult population -- between 37,000 to 85,000 people -- can be classified as "problem" or "pathological" gamblers. Although the group as a whole prefers casinos, many of its members also spend heavily on lottery games. And their numbers may soon grow substantially -- if, as expected, voters hungry for bigger jackpots approve Referendum E next week.

Heavily favored in polls, Referendum E would allow the Colorado Lottery to participate in multi-state lottery games such as Powerball or the Big Game. Compared to the current state Lotto, the multi-state games offer humongous payoffs (the Big Game hit $357 million last spring) and even more ridiculous odds (around 80 million to one, compared to Lotto's 5.2 million to one chance of hitting the big score). Lotto spending has trailed off in recent years, and backers say a multi-state game will enhance current lottery revenues and provide a new source of funding for school construction as well.

In an election season mined with explosive issues -- ballot issues dealing with growth control, abortion, tax cuts and background checks at gun shows -- Referendum E has stirred scarcely a ripple of comment. Both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News have come out against the proposal, and both dailies have dutifully run the usual op-ed pieces arguing pros and cons, but the debate has been oddly muted, in sharp contrast to the outcry that has greeted previous proposals to expand gambling in the state. "Other than the 10 percent of the population who are morally opposed to gambling, everybody else seems to have other things on their mind," says Colorado Lottery spokeswoman Lisa Murray.

But opponents of the measure, including Republican state senator Doug Lamborn and Democratic ex-legislator Jerry Kopel, say that Referendum E is a bad bet on several counts, an overkill solution to a nonexistent problem. They note that overall lottery proceeds aren't dropping catastrophically -- in fact, in the latest fiscal year the lottery provided $89.5 million to the designated state funds, up from $84.7 million in 1999 -- and in the long run, a Powerball-type game is unlikely to offer a tremendous boost in revenue. But such a game would increase the state's reliance on gambling to finance conservation and recreation, add to the already impressive pool of compulsive gamblers and related social ills in the state, and prompt litigation over the proposal's constitutional problems.

Kopel, a critic of the Colorado Lottery since its inception, says the agency has an almost boundless appetite for schemes to part citizens and their cash. "The legislature never intended that," he notes. "You won't find any legislative declaration that they have to raise more money each year than the previous year. But the lottery's mission statement says exactly that -- that they're going to try to get as much money as they can." [page]

Actually, the lottery's mission is "to maximize revenues for proceeds recipients in a way that demonstrates the integrity that is appropriate for a state agency," according to the official statement. But Kopel has a poor opinion of the level of integrity involved: "Every time their revenue falls, they add a new game. We started with scratch, and they said that wasn't enough. Then Lotto. Now they want Powerball. What happens when a multi-state game's revenue falls? I don't know where it ends."

Murray says it isn't the Colorado Lottery but the referendum's legislative sponsors and interested parties, such as the Colorado Municipal League, that are pushing for the proposal. (Local lobbyists for lottery-ticket suppliers have also toiled mightily in support of the referendum.) She contends that lottery games, unlike slot machines or bingo parlors, "don't have the play action that reinforces the pathological gambler. It's not the immediate gratification they're looking for."

The difficulty with predicting the impact of a multi-state game on Colorado is that no one seems to know much about who plays the lottery here, how much or why, or what sort of player will be attracted to Powerball or its equivalent. The state's own forays into the question, for marketing purposes or otherwise, tend to be fuzzy and off point. But the experience of other states suggests that Colorado is about to learn a lot more about the play action of the pathological gambler -- without having made any provisions to address the problem.

When the first scratch games appeared in Colorado nearly two decades ago, hand-wringing politicians made a number of dire predictions about possible fraud and corruption, welfare moms buying tickets instead of milk, and general moral decay. The only real scandal to emerge, though, was the lottery's outrageous success.

Initial estimates pegged first-year sales at between $60 million and $100 million. Actual sales topped $200 million weeks before the year was up. For the first two months, sales averaged $1 million a day, an unprecedented take in a state that then had a population of three million people.

The novelty of the scratch games quickly wore off, though. After five years, sales had declined more than 40 percent, prompting another run at the legislature to win approval for the introduction of Lotto in 1989. Fueled by rapid population growth and the lure of seven- or eight-figure jackpots, lottery sales soon doubled and then doubled again, reaching a peak of $374 million in 1998.

But in the last two years, Lotto's luster has begun to dim, too. Overall lottery sales appear to have plateaued at around $370 million, while expenses continue to rise, cutting into the proceeds available to parks and conservation projects.

Part of the problem has to do with the peculiar economics and marketing maneuvers of state lotteries. Colorado sells almost twice as many scratch tickets as Lotto chances, but the scratch tickets are more expensive to produce and offer a higher payout in prizes, leaving less for the state funds. And because more people are playing Lotto now than did in 1989, the jackpots are routinely claimed before they can swell to the kind of level that attracts a stampede for tickets. (The game achieved its largest jackpot, $27 million, more than eight years ago.) That's bad news on two counts: The lottery actually pays out a larger percentage of the proceeds to players on small jackpots than on large ones, and small jackpots keep ticket purchases down. In a society bombarded with get-rich-quick schemes, from mega-slots to day trading to that Regis guy, a paltry $1.5 million jackpot just doesn't seem like big money anymore -- especially when players learn that that jackpot translates into a lump-sum, after-tax check of $408,000, or a mere $25,500 the first year under the annuity option, rising to $61,106 in the 25th and final year of payment.

"Lotto is a mature product," says the lottery's Murray. "Industry-wide, every state is experiencing the same problem with their lottery sales. When we introduced Lotto, a million dollars was enough to quit your job. With today's economy, if you win a million -- or $1.5 million, which is our lowest jackpot -- you probably can't quit your job. Your retirement's taken care of, the kids' education -- you're going to have a lot less worries. But things have changed. When Powerball hits $250 million, that just makes the average player look at our jackpot and go, 'Hmm.'"

One of the high-rollers casting envious glances as the multi-state action reached record levels last year was state senator Ken Chlouber, who was hunting for state revenue to boost school repairs and construction. This past spring, the Leadville Republican championed the legislation that put Referendum E on the ballot. [page]

Chlouber's bill would retain the current formula for distributing proceeds from the lottery, with one significant change. At present, state parks receive 10 percent of the net profit, the Conservation Trust Fund 40 percent and the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund 50 percent; any profits in excess of a cap tied to the Consumer Price Index are designated for the state's general fund. Referendum E calls for profits exceeding the cap to be transferred from the general fund to public-school funding and makes that money exempt from the surpluses that must be refunded to taxpayers under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment.

"My district is rural, all pretty poor school districts," Chlouber says. "We had kids going to school with buckets in the hall and the roof leaking. We just don't fund capital construction for schools at the state level at all, and we can do a lot of good with this money."

Chlouber figures that if people want to hurl their pocket money at a $200 million jackpot, then Colorado ought to be getting its piece of the action. Never mind that the odds of winning are considerably less than those of getting struck by lightning, flipping a coin and having it come up heads two dozen times in a row or getting devoured by flesh-eating bacteria. The day the proposed legislation first hit the newspapers, he says, his office received 400 e-mails in support of it.

"The phone, the e-mail just started rocking," he recalls. "Folks from all over were saying they were excited about this. They wanted to play Powerball. They were tired of driving to Kansas, Nebraska, whatever."

The major opposition to the plan, he says, is coming from killjoys of the "extreme right" who are opposed to gambling on principle. "They want to tell everybody how to live their lives," he says. "Not only that, they don't want anybody to have any fun. But we already have plenty of gambling in this state, and there's 22 other states already involved [in multi-state games]. They're not going down the path of wrack and ruin. This is just another form of lottery."

But relentless lottery expansion has become a concern across the country. Critics have long maintained that state-sponsored lotteries, which have the worst odds of any form of legalized gambling, rely heavily on a customer base that can least afford to lose, including disproportionate numbers of elderly, poor and minority players. Last year's report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, an ambitious effort to assess the spread of gambling nationwide, reported that lottery players who earn less than $10,000 a year not only spend a greater percentage of their income on tickets than other income groups, but they flat-out spend more -- an average of around $600 a year. Blacks spend five times as much on lotteries as whites, the NGISC reports, and the top 5 percent of lottery players account for 51 percent of total lottery sales.

The lottery-playing seniors that have made the Widefield 7-Eleven one of the state's busiest -- big spenders like Leo -- would seem to suggest that Colorado is no exception to the national trends. But it's not that simple. For one thing, the lottery's list of top retailers is a shifty beast; with the exception of the stores on the Utah and Wyoming borders that are perennial leaders, the reported sales figures may be skewed by the size of the Lotto jackpots, the popularity of certain scratch games and other vagaries. Clerks at a 7-Eleven in Arvada that made the most recent list believe that their prominence hinges on a single heavy-spending Cash 5 player who's been hitting the store regularly in recent months.

Also, a population of retirees or minorities doesn't automatically translate into the kind of low-income players the NGISC report is talking about. Other studies suggest that, contrary to stereotypes, senior citizens may actually binge less on lotteries and bingo than other age groups. And Colorado Lottery officials point to their own demographic surveys, which indicate that the state's lottery players closely mirror Colorado's population profile in age, income levels and ethnicity.

Lottery spokeswoman Murray says the "myth" that low-income players are the backbone of the lottery stems from early research done back East, in states where blue-collar workers played the numbers before state lotteries made a comeback in the 1970s. "All the initial lotteries were on the East Coast, and it's a different cultural makeup," she says. "There was an illegal numbers game, and the lottery became the legal version. The population and the culture here are different; we don't have the centers of steelworkers or mill workers who play those games." [page]

Yet the Colorado Lottery's demographic profiles don't address how much certain income groups spend on the lottery. "If we were ever to do a study to find out how much the poor player played, it could be turned against us, to suggest we're trying to target the poor player," Murray says. "Those who think they're going to protect the poor from the evils of gambling also suggest that we're targeting minorities. We don't target minorities or the poor."

Under pressure from the administration of Governor Bill Owens -- who, like predecessors Roy Romer and Dick Lamm, is no fan of expanded gambling -- the Colorado Lottery no longer runs advertisements showing people wallowing in luxury, what spokeswoman Murray describes as "the greed-o stuff." Instead, the ads now tout the benefits to the state and the "fun" of playing the games. But detractors such as Jerry Kopel are skeptical of the lottery's claims that the games don't pander to a gambler's instincts; they believe that Powerball would be one more potent weapon aimed at people who are already blowing their paychecks on long, long, long shots.

"I don't know why we would be different in Colorado from other states," says Kopel. "I've seen studies that indicate that 10 percent of the players are responsible for two-thirds of the revenues at a national level."

State senator Lamborn, another Referendum E opponent, views the measure as an effort to woo folks dazzled by high jackpots away from casinos. "You have a state enterprise trying to siphon money away from private enterprise," he says. "Worse than that, there is a social cost to this. We're staking the success of the program on victimizing a small number of people.

"If you had a pollution source that was fairly benign but had the potential to hurt a small number of people, the regulatory agencies would really crack down on that. Maybe 95 percent of the people can play and have fun, but if 5 percent are going to be harmed, why go ahead and do it?"

Kopel maintains that the lottery is a horribly inefficient way for the state to raise money. The agency spends 22 cents on prizes, commissions, promotion and other expenses for every 36 cents it takes in. Add to that, he says, the less quantifiable costs of bankruptcy, divorce and crime generated by compulsive-gambling problems. If a state that's currently running a surplus of nearly a billion dollars a year needs to raise more money for open space or school repairs, there are other ways to do it, such as slashing the generous commissions to retailers (around six cents on every dollar ticket sold) or a modest hike in "sin taxes" on tobacco or alcohol.

But as Kopel sees it, the hike isn't needed, anyway. "The lottery is not going down in revenue," he says. "The money for state recipients shot up last year, close to 6 percent. If it's going up without a multi-state lottery, then why the hell do you need one?"

The proposal has also been attacked -- by Lamborn, Kopel, state treasurer Mike Coffman and others -- on constitutional grounds. Unable to secure the votes for a constitutional amendment and facing a threatened veto of the bill by Governor Owens, Chlouber and other backers decided to reshape it as a statutory amendment and seek voter approval. But opponents say it's unclear in the current legislation to what extent a multi-state game will remain under the state's supervision (as required by the existing lottery law) or whether the provisions for transferring money from the general fund and exempting it from TABOR will pass muster.

"There's going to be a lawsuit about it," Kopel vows. "If necessary, I will be the plaintiff."

Chlouber dismisses such objections as a "smokescreen" for what boils down to moral opposition to the state's growing role in the gambling racket. "Powerball is not going to solve all our problems, but it's one more step in that direction," he says. "There's no good reason not to do it. If Kopel and Coffman and the governor don't want to play, then they can go sit in the dark and stay there."

A moral distaste for the whole business does seem to tinge even the most reasoned attacks on state lotteries. For years, one of the most dogged anti-lottery crusaders at a national level has been conservative columnist (and former Nixon speechwriter) William Safire, and Colorado Springs's own James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was a key member of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Lamborn admits that he has a conservative's unease with recent polls that indicate almost a third of Americans now believe their best chance to get wealthy is to win the lottery rather than by saving or investing. "I don't like the message that you can get something for nothing," he says. [page]

But Chlouber believes fears of compulsive gambling are overblown. "We're still a nation that survives and thrives on individual freedom," he says. "Why are they so worried about the government being everybody's babysitter?"

He suggests that Powerball's astronomical odds might actually discourage pathological players. "As I understand it, compulsive gambling is fed by winning -- when you hit the jackpot a few times in a row," he says. "The odds with this are so bad, that reinforcement factor is not there."

According to Peggy B., compulsive gambling is not about winning or losing. It's not about good odds or bad, high-stakes or penny-ante games, rich suckers or poor ones, young or old, white or black, a stroll to the convenience store or a junket to Vegas.

"It's not about the money; it's about the action," she says. "It affects all walks of life. But we have no state funding for treatment. Most insurance companies won't cover it. And if your employer finds out you're a compulsive gambler, you're out the door."

Peggy B. is one of the legions of faceless twelve-steppers who have come to regard out-of-control gambling as not simply bad judgment, but an addiction, comparable to alcoholism or drug abuse -- an intricate pas de deux of brain chemistry and self-destructive behavior that has received clinical recognition in the standard psychiatric manuals and spawned its own self-help groups. As legalized gambling has spread across Colorado in recent years, so has Gamblers Anonymous.

A decade ago there were only two weekly meetings of GA in the entire state. Now there are meetings every night of the week in the Denver metro area; three nights a week in Colorado Springs; one night each in Fort Collins, Longmont and Cripple Creek; a monthly women-only group that Peggy B. helped organize; and a fledgling chapter opening in Cortez, near the casinos located on the Ute and Southern Ute reservations.

Most of the growth has been attributed to the limited-stakes casinos that opened in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek nine years ago. Compulsive gamblers whose primary game is the lottery are hard to come by; researchers say that lottery compulsives tend to be more furtive, socially isolated and difficult to identify than other types of problem gamblers. Still, a few of them have found their way to Gamblers Anonymous.

For Josh, a 21-year-old waiter and GA member, the lottery offered something no casino could: easy access. Four years ago, he would have been bounced out of any slot palace in the state for being underage. Technically, he was too young for the lottery, too, but with scratch ticket vending machines conveniently located in supermarkets, the action was as close as his next shopping trip.

A large, soft-spoken young man who describes himself as "a compulsive person by nature," Josh played the scratch games off and on as a kid, usually when some older relative bought him a ticket. By his late teens, though, he was buying the tickets himself -- and dropping entire paychecks in a fruitless quest to hit a big score.

"I got kind of a rush from scratching the ticket off," he says. "I'd go in and buy ten. Go across the street and scratch them. Maybe win two dollars. Go back and get two more tickets. Scratch those off. And just go back and forth. I remember one day, I went to my bank thirteen, fourteen times to get money for scratch tickets. I was taking twenty dollars at a time, and each time, I was sure it was going to be the last time. The teller finally said, 'Why don't you just make one withdrawal?'"

Josh knew the odds were not only against him but downright impossible. He knew that a roll of 400 tickets could be expected to have, at most, one big winner -- if, that is, your notion of a "big winner" is a prize worth fifty bucks or so, which would invariably be used to buy more tickets. (The current Sizzling Sevens game, which has been promoted heavily and whose sales, Lisa Murray says, are "blowing the doors off the barn," offers 569-to-1 odds that a two-dollar ticket will yield a $77 prize. The odds of winning $777 are 8,000 to 1; in other words, if you spend $16,000 on tickets, you just might hit one of those triple-seven payoffs.) He knew it, but that didn't matter. [page]

"That's the sick part," he says. "I knew they weren't out to give money away. But I thought somehow I could buck the odds. It really wasn't the money. I'd settle for twenty so I could get twenty more."

The magical thinking persisted for months. If someone at work boasted of having bought a $50 winner, he'd want to buy a ticket for the same game right away. If a clerk asked for ID, he'd say he forgot it, and sometimes they'd sell to him anyway. His mother told the local 7-Eleven clerks not to sell tickets to him, and he got banned from a King Soopers store after they caught him shoving money into the ticket machine, but soon he was eighteen, and nobody could stop him.

Finally, he was arrested for stealing a bottle of vodka from a liquor store, which he planned to sell to a friend to get five dollars for tickets. He wound up in Gamblers Anonymous, working on his urges. He's been clean for eighteen months. "I'm still addicted to them," he says. "I just don't buy them anymore."

All the time he's been in GA, Josh says, he's met only one other person who has a problem with scratch tickets. The overwhelming majority of the people at his meeting are slot players, and the rest are card or bingo players; it comes down to one's disaster of choice. Gamblers Anonymous takes no public position on government-sponsored gambling or particular initiatives such as Referendum E, and neither does Josh. "My thing was instant gratification, not Lotto," Josh says. "But if we do get Powerball, GA will probably get more people."

Other than GA, there are few resources for compulsive gamblers in Colorado. Because health insurance doesn't usually cover treatment and most compulsive gamblers don't have the money to pay for it, few therapists bother to undergo the specialized training required to be certified in the area. At present there are no more than six certified therapists in the state, says Renee Rupe, president of the Colorado Council on Compulsive Gambling.

"Treatment is the area where we're really lacking," Rupe says. "Even with the training, the success rate is very low. The suicide rate is high. The financial devastation is unbelievable. It blows my mind how much debt, how much trouble, how many lawsuits can result from this, at all income levels."

The CCCG is an all-volunteer effort made up of therapists, gaming-industry representatives, mental-health experts and do-gooders such as Rupe, whose background is in consumer credit counseling. The group operates a toll-free hotline (1-800-522-4700) funded by casino owners and the Colorado Lottery. The lottery prints the phone number on every Lotto and scratch ticket. But the calls are actually answered by a better-staffed council in Texas, and the list of possible local sources for referrals is a short one. Until a recent fundraiser, the council's annual budget was less than $5,000 a year.

Fewer than 10 percent of those who called the hotline in the past year identified their problem as "lottery-related"; slot machines and video poker account for nearly two-thirds of the calls. "But it's all relative," Rupe says. "A person making $10,000 a year who is spending ten or fifteen dollars a week on the lottery is overspending his budget. That money came from the food budget. Then you have people making $100,000 a year who are spending more than that at the casinos. The disease is the same."

Rupe worries what a multi-state game might bring to a state that's well behind many others in addressing its gambling problems. "The higher jackpots do attract more players," she says. "I think there needs to be some research on underage gambling and on seniors. I would have hoped that would happen before this multi-state lottery came about."

Two years ago, state senator Jim Dyer introduced a bill that would have set aside a modest portion of lottery profits for treatment of compulsive gamblers, similar to legislation enacted in other states. Therapist Nancy Lantz, a pioneer in gambling treatment in the state, pushed hard for Dyer's bill, only to see it defeated along party lines.

Lantz first became interested in gambling issues while developing court-ordered treatment programs for men convicted of domestic violence ("Men Who Beat Women and the Woman Who Treats Them," June 18, 1998). As a condition of treatment, the men would have to give up booze and drugs, but in many cases, Lantz found, they would compensate by gambling heavily. "There was no one in Colorado who knew how to treat gamblers," she recalls.

Lantz founded the Colorado Council on Compulsive Gambling shortly after the mountain casinos opened in 1991. She's now program manager for the Robert and Lillian Custer Gambling Treatment Center in Indianapolis, the first (and only) residential treatment program focusing exclusively on problem gambling disorders. Patients from around the world stay an average of 24 days, the first several of which are devoted to intensive psychological and physiological workups. [page]

The two-year-old program builds on research that shows a strong link between brain chemistry and gambling behaviors. Lantz says many of her clients show signs of multiple addictions or disorders, known as "co-morbidities," including a high incidence of attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even Parkinson's disease. ("The dopamine and seratonin get depleted from Parkinson's, and gambling will raise that," she explains. "It's self-medication.") Most require much more than counseling, including medication, financial evaluations and extensive followup. Since gambling "relapses" can't be detected through standard screening methods, such as urinalysis, Lantz sometimes has family members pull credit reports.

The lottery players Lantz has seen tend to be "escape gamblers," she says. "They isolate a lot. Other people aren't noticing because they aren't around people. Many of them are depressed. Did the gambling create the depression, or were they depressed when they started? We don't always know."

The pathological lottery players also tend to be lower-income, she points out, such as a suicidal young artist from Colorado who checked himself in at the Custer Center a few months ago. "It's easier for them to go down to the corner than get on a bus to Central City," Lantz says. "Some of them don't even have telephones."

Through her work with other state councils as well as the Custer program, Lantz knows that multi-state games not only perk up lottery revenues, but also add to the existing casualty list. "Colorado has made leaps and bounds in awareness of the problem, but they still have done nothing about treatment," she says. "If they're going to do a multi-state lottery, they need to have the resources in place. The more availability, the more problems are going to surface."

A few years ago, novelist Lois Gould interviewed several Colorado lottery winners for the New York Times. She discovered that even players whose dreams had come true were scarcely content with their lot; in fact, their riches had resulted in so much resentment, so many ruptured friendships, so much anxiety and upheaval that some wished they had never won.

Debra Van Straete, who won $6.85 million in a scratch game in 1987, told Gould that one of her sisters didn't speak to her for a year because she didn't pick up a breakfast check. Another expected Debra to repay her student loans. Close friends hit her up for money and then disappeared, and her husband's employees abruptly demanded big pay raises.

Teresa Molander threw a big party to celebrate when she won $1.3 million in 1985. Ten years later, none of those who came to the party were still speaking to her. Shortly after $4 million winner Barbara Langfeldt appeared in a commercial for the Colorado Lottery, her parents' house was burglarized.

Many of the people Gould interviewed seemed to regard themselves as victims rather than winners. They had not anticipated the burdens of success, and they were having a hard time adjusting to the situation.

The Colorado Lottery is finding its success tough to live with, too. Locked into popular but less profitable modes of play, limited to a low-key form of advertising that has become a model of restraint for the rest of the industry, its only prospect for goosing revenues is to introduce a new product, offering much larger jackpots and much crueler odds. But Jerry Kopel says that new tide of money won't solve anything.

According to initial estimates, a multi-state game would produce a total of $18.8 million in net proceeds in its first two years of operation, including $2 million for school repairs and construction. But since the game is expected to take business away from the existing Lotto game -- who wants to play for $1.5 million, when the same buck can buy you a crack at $20 million, $100 million or $200 million? -- Kopel argues that the long-term gain to the state may be negligible. Murray says the Colorado Lottery will continue to offer the current Lotto game for at least six months but may have to adjust the jackpots downward to reflect declining sales (a move that will almost certainly further depress sales). The lottery's own newsletter offers only a cheerful, short-term prediction for a multi-state game: "Healthy sales are anticipated for at least 1-2 years."

"Powerball tends to take a huge jump the first two or three years and then withers away," says Jerry Bauerkemper, executive director of the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling. [page]

Bauerkemper takes a keen interest in Powerball sales figures in his state because funding for his council's efforts and gambling treatment programs is directly tied to the game's success. When Nebraska set up its own state lottery in 1995, offering Powerball and scratch tickets, 1 percent of the proceeds were designated to help problem gamblers; the rest goes to educational and environmental funds. But the legislature soon decided that the 1 percent allocation was inadequate and began to funnel additional money to the council from bingo proceeds and other sources.

The council now has an annual budget of about $1.45 million, roughly two dollars for every adult in Nebraska. That's a "good rate," Bauerkemper concedes, when compared to what other states are doing, but he says it's still not enough.

Seven years ago, the Nebraska hotline for compulsive gamblers fielded around 500 calls a year. Now it handles 6,000 a year, and more than a quarter of them are from people who say that the lottery is at least part of their problem. The lottery calls are almost evenly divided between scratch players and those who are chasing the Powerball jackpots.

"We know that Powerball goes across economic lines," Bauerkemper says, "but lower-income players are more lured to the larger jackpots, from what we hear anecdotally. They call it 'investing.' When you can't get in the stock market, you can get in on a $100 million Powerball. Of course, the percentage of discretionary income those players spend on this is much greater, and they get in trouble quicker."

The funding arrangement has put the Nebraska council in a peculiar position. As the novelty of the lottery has worn off, so have sales in the state, which has a direct impact on the council's budget. At the same time, the number of people calling for help continues to rise. So the council has to hope, perversely, for larger Powerball jackpots or seek other sources of money for its treatment programs.

"If we had to do it over again, we would ask for 5 or 10 percent of those beneficiary funds," Bauerkemper says. "It sounds like a lot of money, but not if the sales are declining. Unfortunately, the only way to get that money to be put aside is to do it in the original bill."

Colorado offers an even wider range of gambling opportunities than Nebraska, including the lottery, bingo, casinos and illegal sports betting. ("I know you have sports-betting problems in Colorado," Bauerkemper says. "We used to answer your helpline.") But the state doesn't fund any programs to deal with compulsive gambling, not even educational or preventive measures, and the passage of Referendum E won't change that -- even while raising the stakes for potential problem players.

Bauerkemper believes that state-sponsored forms of gambling have an even greater obligation to address the problem than private operations. "There is a sense that this is okay because it's state-sanctioned," he says. "And once you have it on every street corner, people see it's available and think it's harmless."

Nancy Lantz agrees. "The message that's given to everyone in Colorado is that if you buy lottery tickets, it cuts down on taxes and helps parks and recreation," she says. "If you're looking at it that way, it's almost our civic duty to buy lottery tickets. There's no indication that anyone could be hurt by this."

There's no denying that Real to Surreal, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in Sakura Square, has garnered some negative word of mouth. Perhaps it's the disappointment generated by the fact that it could have been a great show and is instead merely a good one.

The exhibit represents Mark Sink's swan song as interim director of MoCAD. On January 1, Mark Masuoka officially took the reins of the institution, though he had been working there since December. But Real to Surreal, which runs into February, opened in November, before Masuoka was hired, and therefore is entirely the result of Sink's efforts.

Changes Masuoka has wrought, however, are evident as soon as you are inside the front door -- which is, unbelievably, still broken and makes every visit a potential lawsuit. "Fixing the door is a priority, but we have a long list of things that need to be done," says Masuoka. At least he has gotten started.

Previously, visitors came into a shabby and cluttered gift-shop-cum-office-area that created an initial impression not unlike that of entering a thrift shop. With great economy, Masuoka has solved the problem. Facing you as you enter (once you've dislocated your shoulder opening the heavy front door) is a short wall with an information desk and ticket booth in front of it. To the right is the reformulated gift shop in a new location -- a great improvement. The shop focuses on the sale of original art -- some of it with questionable value -- but may grow to include a book shop.

Beyond this lobby is a passage into the museum proper, with the staircase going up to the second floor on the left and most of the galleries off to the right. The galleries are a maze-like warren of rooms with many dead ends; Masuoka can't wait to start rearranging them, which he intends to do once Real to Surreal comes down. "I want to move a few walls to make the flow better," he says, "but the museum is more set now than it's ever been."

In the meantime, despite the negative reaction to the show -- which Sink and Masuoka both acknowledge -- visitors are coming to see it in droves. "Attendance has been up, and it's been consistently coming up," says Masuoka. "And we could have expected that the people who loved Western Vernacular were not going to like this show." Masuoka is referring to MoCAD's last exhibit, an installation show curated by freelancer Sean Hughes, who works in the collections department of the Denver Art Museum.

Real to Surreal starts with a bang. In its own discrete space is a signature figural group by the internationally known sculptor John DeAndrea. The master of hyper-realism, DeAndrea is best known around here for "Linda," a shockingly realistic sculpture of a reclining female nude from 1983; the piece is made of painted polyvinyl and is one of the DAM's most beloved works of art. ("Linda" was briefly on display at the DAM earlier this winter but is now back in storage.) At MoCAD, DeAndrea's single piece is "Sisters," another characteristic painted polyvinyl sculpture, this one from 1991, and it's even more impressive than "Linda." Instead of a single figure, "Sisters" is, in a way, twice as good, since it comprises two figures.

DeAndrea has placed a pair of casts of nude young women on a draped stand. The women, who face different directions, are seated on different levels, with one placed a foot or so above the other. The artist's casting of the figures is strikingly accurate and detailed. But even more astounding is his skill as a painter of flesh. "Sisters" is so lifelike, you'll find yourself checking it out over your shoulder until it's out of sight.

Where to proceed from here is a quandary, since there are three distinct options. Sink provides one clue: Across from "Sisters," he has placed a row of romantic and realistic paintings of nudes in the landscape by Rebecca Alzofon, a California painter whom Sink found on the Internet. Alzofon's style recalls nineteenth-century British painting, but several of these 1999 pieces include in their depiction of the antique landscape some contemporary details, such as the staked red flags that are left by surveyors in advance of development.

Beyond these well-done, essentially traditional nudes is a room where the works of two widely known painters, Daniel Sprick and Wes Hempel, are shown. "This room is exactly what I was aiming at in this show," says Sink. "Putting different approaches to realism next to one another."

There are two Sprick paintings in this section, both in oil on board. "Next World," from 1994, reveals, in tremendous detail, a softly lit interior space. Empty rooms are a favorite subject for Sprick, and here he shows his accomplished technical skill by including a mirror in the picture. Smaller, but also haunting and skillful, is the descriptively titled "Horse Skull," from 1992. [page]

One of the more annoying problems with the installation of this show, however, is that Sprick's paintings, as well as those of a few others, are not displayed together.

But Sink is right about this section: The two Spricks do look good in relation to the two side-by-side Hempel paintings that he has hung nearby, "Rescue from Nature" and "Mending Hall."

The first piece, a 1999 oil on canvas, takes up the topic of two young men dressed (to the extent that they are) in contemporary clothing but placed in an antique landscape that recalls the style of the old masters. There's a photographic quality to this painting, though it is not photorealist. Sink, who is a fine-art and commercial photographer, chose the artists in this exhibit with an eye toward those who use photography in their work. Hempel not only employs photography -- as well as art history -- as source material, but he has also created a large body of black-and-white photographs of young men that are finished artworks in their own right.

His other painting, "Mending Hall," an oil on board from 1998, is the kind of thing that made him famous. Above a bucolic landscape, a manor house floats in the sky.

Proceeding through the hallway and narrow gallery beyond, we arrive at another highlight, a large gallery featuring big-time Colorado artists Chuck Forsman and William Stockman.

The Forsman painting, "Feather River," an oil on Masonite from 1992, is part of a series that the Boulder painter has done on the devastating effect that dams have had on the Western landscape. The painting, which bleeds onto the frame, shows a mountaintop in the center of the background. In the foreground are the boulders used for landfill beneath the dam, the mammoth wall of which limits our view. For scale and for narrative purposes, small figures are seen in the mid-ground.

Stockman's gorgeous 1997 oil-on-canvas "The Phenomenology of Birds" is a classic example of the gifted Denver artist's enigmatic approach. In a romantic, if gloomy, landscape, a zaftig woman crouches among a flock of white birds clustered on the ground. In the sky above her head are white line drawings of two mask-like faces placed right on the surface of the picture plane.

Like Sprick's, Stockman's paintings have been scattered around the show, which is really too bad. His small paintings on paper, seen upstairs, look particularly misplaced.

Also in this section are two paintings by Jeff Carpenter, a New York artist who's an old friend of Sink's, and three portraits by Boulder painter Barbara Shark.

In adjacent spaces, but open to one another, are works by two of the most distinguished bad boys in the local contemporary art world -- Matt O'Neill and Jeff Starr. Their placement together is perfect, since these artists are closely associated with one another, and both are apparently interested in a wide variety of styles.

O'Neill is represented by an assortment of works, including examples of his black-and-white cartoons of Picasso paintings based on yearbook photos. Another piece combines surrealist elements with a photo of a retro room from a magazine. Though O'Neill looks to photos for some of his source material, he softens the focus. This smudgy realism is sometimes done in a straightforward and traditional way, as in "Woman on a Yellow Rug," an oil on canvas from 1999.

Starr explores a similar yet distinct array of styles. Among the most impressive are two oil portraits, "Warren Oates," from 1998, and "Gladiator Stephen Boyd," from 1999. Another Starr painting, "Two Musicians," an oil, is related to his only sculpture here, "Replicant Towers," which is made of cast resin and sculpted clay. "Replicant Towers" is billed by the artist as "public art for a new millennium." Both the painting and the sculpture incorporate abstract shapes based loosely on the figure. In the painting, the shapes are seen in a room; in the sculpture, which is a model for a much larger piece, they are encased in tinted resin cylinders.

If O'Neill and Starr may be branded as bad boys, their mentor in misbehavior was surely the much older John Fudge, the Denver painter and teacher who died this past summer. Sink makes it clear that the Fudge paintings here are not meant as a memorial; he had already spoken to Fudge about being in the show only weeks before his death.

Fudge's style is a kind of photorealism with a humorous twist. "Why Am I Here?," an acrylic on canvas from 1992, is a perfect example. A squirrel is perched on a branch before a vividly hued sky. On one level, the painting is mundane, and then we notice that the clouds, the branches, and even the squirrel's tail take the form of a question mark, which refers back to the title. [page]

More in-your-face is "Some Violence and Sexual References," an acrylic on canvas from 1981, which shows a pair of red spike high heels and Nazi memorabilia, including a dagger, arranged into a still life. Also outrageous is "You'd Better Watch Out," a 1974 acrylic on canvas that finds Santa Claus in the gunnery port of a bomber equipped with a machine gun.

And with that, we are back around at the beginning; it's time to check out the galleries below and on the mezzanine.

Opposite the staircase are two handsome landscapes by Mark Nelson and the compelling portraits of art and literary figures by Gary Michael. Both artists live in Colorado.

Also downstairs are some disturbing installations by Boulder's Terry Maker, the quirky paintings of Denver artist Don Carleno, and those by Dave O'Brien, also from Denver.

Upstairs are the marooned Stockmans, along with the work of other local painters, including Peter Illig, Karen Bozik and Sandra Wittow.

To be honest, Real to Surreal doesn't hold together, and whatever Sink's intentions may have been, they are only glimpsed here and there. But although the show isn't spectacular, many of the pieces in it are, and Real to Surreal may truly be said to be less than the sum of its parts. But with a little visual discrimination on the part of visitors, the show can still make for a pleasant viewing experience.

After a long night at the bars, it's hard to find things to laugh at. But down at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, the bus stop for the #15 eastbound is a hive of entertainment. The stop is usually packed with denizens from the bars, winos trying to get out to Aurora, and people dealing with the graveyard shift. Some nights the conversation can get pretty interesting, as folks talk about the various effects of Thunderbird and Night Train on the central nervous system. The bus is almost always packed, and it's not unusual for passengers to break out in song.

Readers' choice: Kitty's

After a long night at the bars, it's hard to find things to laugh at. But down at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, the bus stop for the #15 eastbound is a hive of entertainment. The stop is usually packed with denizens from the bars, winos trying to get out to Aurora, and people dealing with the graveyard shift. Some nights the conversation can get pretty interesting, as folks talk about the various effects of Thunderbird and Night Train on the central nervous system. The bus is almost always packed, and it's not unusual for passengers to break out in song.

Readers' choice: Kitty's

The Partridge Family? Not. The Jackson Five? Please. But cross Selena with the Brady Bunch and you'd be pretty damn close. Mariachi Vasquez is a certified mom-and-dad-and-all-the-kiddies mariachi group: Daddy plays bass, Mama sings tenor, and the three sisters and two brothers join right in there. The group, which hails from Tucson, has been shaking its maracas since the kids wore Pampers. While other children scribbled multiplication tables, these youngsters perfected their chops on violin, trumpet and guitar. Last year the group cut its first CD, Como la Ves, and is compiling its second. Mariachis usually are content to cover the classics, but Mariachi Vasquez spices its playlist with original material and south-of-the-border tributes to Patsy Cline and Elvis. Although the Vasquez kids are still learning their way around a recording studio -- let them make it through puberty first -- they can still put a little rumba into a conga line. And the Mr. Microphone tribute to the King -- as sung by ten-year-old Vincente -- is enough to put a swivel in your hips. If not a black-velvet Elvis painting in your living room.

Best place to turn Jagged Little Pillinto a five-dollar bill

Cheapo Discs

Cheapo Discs
Everyone has musical skeletons in their closet: an embarrassing Euro-trash obsession, a long-outgrown affinity for death metal, an Alanis Morissette disc purchased during a particularly weak moment. Don't fret. The curiously friendly counter crew at Cheapo Discs has seen it all, and they pass bills instead of judgment. Here, old, unwanted CDs turn into money -- which one can pocket or spend on the store's impressive and inexpensive inventory of used discs. It all works off the magical and dynamic wheel of musical tastes. After all, the Cheapo people know that we all make mistakes -- and that at any given moment, someone else is ready to make that same mistake again.
Eight days after Danny's funeral service, his parents and sister gathered in front of the Nativity scene at the Denver City and County Building. The weather was turning colder and snow was in the forecast as they waited for a few reporters to gather with their cameras and notepads.

Their "press conference" wasn't exactly the biggest news of the day. After all, there was a full-scale riot going on in Seattle, the Ramseys were suing the Star for $25 million, and jurors were beginning deliberations in the murder trial of skinhead Nathan Thill.

Even though Danny died in a police shooting, his death was not receiving anywhere near the attention of the no-knock drug raid in which cops had killed 45-year-old Ismael Mena. The Lopezes were just the family of a known gang member complaining that their son and brother, Danny Ray Lopez III, had been the victim of "blue justice."

The Lopezes wanted to announce that Danny's nineteen-year-old brother, Dustin, had turned himself in to face charges of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated robbery, first-degree assault and aggravated car theft.

And they wanted to say that Danny didn't have to die the way he did. No matter what the police were saying, the family didn't believe Danny was much of a gang member. He was too soft, too loving, too nice -- despite his criminal record. Danny wasn't hardcore like the Martinez brothers or their brutal friend Pancho, who had started the notorious Deuce-Seven Bloods and initiated Danny into it. He wasn't crazy violent like Alejandro "Speed" Ornelas or a killer like Sammy "Zig Zag" Quintana Jr.

But the Metro-Area Gang Task Force saw him differently. They'd heard that as soon as he was released from prison, Danny had let it be known that the Deuce-Seven were back and that he was going to re-establish the gang's reputation on the streets. The Deuce-Seven had taken a beating in the past couple of years, especially after seven members were implicated in the 1997 rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Brandy DuVall.

Even the other Bloods gangs were incensed by the DuVall killing. Child molesters. Baby-rapers. That's how the Deuce-Seven was referred to on the streets and in the prisons after it happened. Word was that they were marked men.

Danny, who'd been in prison at the time, wasn't as tainted by DuVall's murder. But it was the way he died that made him a gang legend. Judging by the number of rival gangbangers who had attended his funeral services dressed in red to show their respect, Danny had obviously succeeded in reviving the reputation of his old gang -- whether or not that had been his intention.

The Adams County district attorney had yet to announce the findings of its official investigation into Danny's shooting. But the Lopez family didn't expect that the police would hold their own accountable for his death. Not when the victim was a gang member.

And now they had to submerge their grief while they turned their attention to Danny's younger brother, nineteen-year-old Dustin, who had been there when his brother shot the police officer and, sixteen days later, was running when he heard the fusillade that killed his brother. Dustin had stayed on the run for two weeks, living at least part of the time outdoors. But shortly before the press conference, he had finally been persuaded to give himself up and had walked into the Jefferson County jail with his lawyer, Kenneth Padilla.

"I'm just relieved that my son is safe," said Gloria Lopez. "My biggest fear was that the police would approach him the way they did my son, Danny, when he was brutally shot by police...I thank God that Dustin has made the choice, the right choice, to take responsibility for his own actions."

Their father, Danny Ray Lopez Jr., said he'd hugged his remaining son and thanked him for not adding to the family's grief. "The most important thing in my life was for him to surrender."

"My little brother is not the type of person the police are making him out to be," said the boys' sister, Danaia. "He is a kindhearted person who is caring and gentle...We pray the justice system will afford Dustin his right to a fair trial."

To which Padilla added that Dustin was not a violent youth. "This was basically a motor-vehicle theft case that got escalated to this terrible tragedy."

The press conference ended quietly. The press and the family shuffled off in different directions. That night, the city would turn on the Christmas lights at the City and County Building, an event that would rate front-page coverage the next morning while the Lopez story was buried deep inside the newspapers. [page]

To his family, Danny Ray Lopez III would always be a happy, smiling boy. He was born October 1, 1971, at Denver General Hospital, the first child of Gloria and Danny Ray Lopez Jr., and brought home to the little wooden house on Denver's west side.

Danny was almost too friendly. His mother was always getting after him for talking to strangers in the grocery store or on the sidewalks. But there was no stopping him -- it was just the way he was. He was a big Broncos fan and liked to play football with his friends on the school playground across the street. In the summer, it was baseball sponsored by the Police Athletic League. In those days, the police were still the good guys to Danny.

He was a handsome little boy with steady brown eyes and a habit of sucking on his top lip. He was loud and boisterous. Back then, the neighborhood was still nice. The family didn't have a lot of money, but no one else did, either. The Lopez kids, Danny, Danaia (four years younger), and Dustin (born eight years after Danny), could wander the neighborhood, play all day in the schoolyard and report home only when the last bit of sunlight had left the sky. Gloria didn't have to worry about anything worse than whether they would remember to look both ways before crossing the street. A knot of boys on the corner would have been planning nothing more hazardous than a pickup game of football.

Danny was a natural leader. The other children in the neighborhood looked up to him. He played a mean air guitar in imitation of his favorite rock bands, and the other children would play along. Someone else on bass. Another one or two on drums. Anybody could play in that band.

In particular, Danny was idolized by Dustin, who followed him everywhere almost as soon as he was able to walk.

But the gangs started showing up on the west side when Danny was twelve, maybe thirteen. The knots of boys standing on the corner went from planning games to planning crimes. Passing by or through them was intimidating. There were shootings and police raids on the crack houses that had sprung up in the neighborhood. Graffiti on the walls of local businesses promised violence. Children like the Lopezes were afraid to walk to the local rec center because the gangs congregated nearby.

The timing couldn't have been worse. Danny's father left home about the time the gangs showed up and would be in and out of his son's life after that. Now that his father was gone, his mother told Danny, he would have to be the man of the house. "Set a good example for your brother," she'd say. "He'll be following in your footsteps."

But there were no footsteps for Danny to follow. His mother had to work hard at a lot of menial warehouse jobs to make ends meet. The pressure on a boy to join a gang was tremendous. Danny stayed out of it for a time. When younger friends like Daniel and Antonio Martinez got involved with the Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Bloods in Park Hill, he'd tried to talk them out of it, even roughing them up a little.

But the other boys just laughed at him. They had money. And guns. And power on the streets. To them, it was a matter of survival. Their grandmother's home, at 2727 California Street, was surrounded by a gang of black Crips who gave them a hard time, made it difficult to get to school or anywhere else. The Bloods offered backup and acceptance in return for allegiance and ferocity. The Martinez brothers may have been small in stature, but their reputation as "Bang" and "Boom" (for the sounds made by a gun), as well as the violence of their childhood friend, Francisco "Pancho" Martinez, made them a force to be reckoned with.

Sometime around 1990, Danny Lopez began spending time with the 104th Street set of the CMG. His mother didn't like the idea, but this seemed fairly innocent, mostly just boys hanging out together. And Danny would tell her not to worry about it -- it was just for acceptance -- so she didn't worry, even when he kept getting into trouble with the law. Petty stuff, it seemed to her. Truancy. Shoplifting. Getting into fights with other boys. The crimes landed him in Lookout Mountain Juvenile Detention Center; each time, he would promise that when he got out he would stay out of trouble. Do good. Set an example for his younger brother.

It was on weekend passes from the center that Danny began seeing his future wife, Barbara. She was eighteen months younger than him and had first noticed him when they'd been children growing up in the neighborhood. She knew better than to get involved with someone who couldn't seem to stay on the right side of the law, but it didn't matter: She was in love. It wasn't just his movie-star good looks, the quick, flashing smile and wavy black hair that fell about his shoulders. He was just so real. She could talk to him about anything, and he was never judgmental. If he heard some rumor about her from other boys, he would ask her about it rather than jump to a conclusion. And no matter what she told him, he loved her, too. He would hold her and tell her that no matter what, "everything will be all right." [page]

Barbara didn't like it when Danny started associating with the Bloods. Boys were getting thrown in jail or shot over the color of their clothing. But to him, it was no big deal. Just friends, partying. She saw no future in it, but he'd just laugh, hug her and tell her it would be all right.

Like his mother, Barbara chose to believe him. He didn't act much like a gang member. He didn't talk tough or treat her mean. He was sensitive and not afraid to express himself. He even cried when he needed to. He was always buying roses for her and his mother, even for her mother. He loved red roses. For no reason at all, the women in his life would come home to roses and a card that read "I love you."

One time he called his mother and sister from Lookout Mountain. Excited, he asked them to visit him, saying he had a big surprise. They arrived and were delighted when he met them with a huge decorated cake, which he wanted them to take to Barbara. He had decided that when he got out, he wanted to be a chef.

During his years in and out of Lookout Mountain, Danny got his high school equivalency diploma, and those who loved him hoped it was a step away from his life as a petty criminal. Things looked even brighter when, on March 30, 1991, Barbara gave birth to a baby girl, Mariah.

Danny couldn't have been happier. The proud papa crawled onto the hospital bed with his shy, smiling girlfriend to pose for photographs with his daughter cradled in his arms. A month or so later, he and Barbara would pose again, one on either side of twelve-year-old Dustin holding his cranky niece in sunglasses. But even then, Danny was wearing a jersey with blood-red lettering -- not because he was a sports fan, but because he was a Blood, with "Crenshaw Mafia Gangster" tattooed on the small of his back, a skull on his stomach and "104th" on an ear.

In 1993, Danny was hanging out more and more with the Martinez brothers, Daniel and Antonio, and Francisco Martinez. The three had broken away from the Park Hill Bloods, which was no longer as welcoming of Hispanics, to form their own subset, the Deuce-Seven, named after the address of their grandmother's home. Unlike CMG Bloods or other splinter groups from California, mostly black street gangs named after their original home turf, the Deuce-Seven was Hispanic, indigenous to Denver, its core made up mostly of neighborhood friends and family, including Sammy Quintana Jr., a first cousin of the Martinez brothers, and Alejandro Ornelas, who, like Antonio, had made a reputation as a teenager by shooting a Crip and serving time for it at Lookout Mountain.

Barbara begged Danny not to join the Deuce-Seven. Up to that point, his hanging out with the Bloods seemed to be just that -- hanging out. But the Martinez brothers and Francisco had a rougher reputation that involved guns and violence, a reputation as big-time drug dealers who flashed a lot of money and attitude. She was noticing a change in Danny. Whenever he talked now, it was Blood this, Blood that.

Then came the day when she went to see Danny at his father's house. Danaia met her at the door with a warning: "Danny went and did something you begged him not to do."

"What?" Barbara asked.

"He got beat into the Deuce-Seven."

Danny appeared. He had two black eyes, a split lip, scratches all over his face and body and a large ugly mark across his stomach. He'd been sleeping when the gang jumped him and began pummeling and kicking him. It was a right of passage in gangs, a privilege you earned if you were tough enough to take it.

His family was appalled. Not just by the beating, but by what it signified. You shed your blood to get into the gang, and the only way you walked away from the gang would be by shedding your blood again. One way or the other, it was "blood in and blood out." [page]

But Danny was proud of his new distinction. He was a member of one of the most notorious sets in Denver. Anybody who messed with him would have to deal with the others as well.

Barbara worried. What kind of a life would they have now? What kind of a father could he be to Mariah? He loved his daughter and he loved her, but she didn't want to spend her life visiting him in prison or wondering when -- or if -- he would come home at night. The gang lingo increased, as did the rough side of his demeanor. He seemed angry all the time, short-fused. They began to argue more and more, which led to him hitting her and arrests for domestic violence. One night the police arrived in time to see him kick her and drag her to the ground by her hair.

Barbara didn't understand where the anger was coming from. And he would always be contrite afterward, sending roses, holding her, telling her it would be all right. He would get a job, be a good family man. But he couldn't seem to get away from the gang. And when she pressed, he'd storm off, saying she wasn't his boss and he wasn't coming home until he felt like it. And the cycle would begin again.

He wore red like it was the only hue in the world -- red shirts, red pants, red shoes, a red hat. His mother would ask him to at least tone it down. But he would respond, "Oh, Mom, it's just a color."

One day in 1993 he pulled a gun on a young Inca Boyz gang member. He took the boy's leather coat and threatened him.

Danny's family couldn't believe it. He'd spent a lot of time in juvenile detention growing up, but he wasn't violent. He had always been more likely to give a boy his own coat than to take one. They wondered if it was just some sort of gang initiation, a way of showing who had power in the neighborhood.

But it was also a felony for which he was arrested and prosecuted. And there was another charge for felony theft in Jefferson County, for a bicycle he'd stolen. This time Danny was in real trouble. The mug shot taken at the Jefferson County jail depicted a cold-eyed young man, hardly able to grow a thin moustache -- an image of what was to come.

His mother was devastated. She'd begged him to stay away from gangs. She blamed herself for not keeping a closer watch on his activities and friends. But he'd told her: "I am who I am. I can handle it, Mom. Don't you worry. Don't you never worry."

Now she couldn't help but worry.

Danny spent the next four years in prison. An "ugly" place, he told his family. A place where you went to bed at night to the sound of men screaming. A place rampant with disease and more drugs and violence than he'd ever encountered on the streets.

Danny and his father had never been close. But he wrote his father about life in prison, saying that he could not live "like an animal in a cage." When he got out, he swore, he'd never go back.

For the first two years, Barbara went to visit him regularly and often took Mariah. He wrote to his daughter and somehow always managed to send her a present on her birthday and at Christmas. But Barbara found him to be meaner, colder, with each passing month. He'd accuse her of sleeping around and ask why she didn't send him money, when he knew that she had none to spare.

Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. She stopped going. She wanted a future with a man who would do right by her and her child. A man not committed to gangs, a man with better prospects than prison walls or a hole in the ground. She hoped they would still be friends when he got out -- but that would be up to him.

Others in his family noticed the change in Danny, too. When Danny had gone into prison, he'd been a young gang member who might have made a lot of bad choices about his friends and actions, but none of it seemed too serious. Now he was more a gangster than he had ever been on the streets. [page]

Had to be, he said. You had to be tough to survive in such a place. You had to fight, even if you ended up in the hole, locked down 23 hours out of every day. For protection from the other gangs, he let it be known that he was Deuce-Seven Blood, affiliated with other Bloods. But in 1997, his particular gang affiliation became a liability when seven members of the Deuce-Seven were arrested for the rape and murder of Brandy DuVall.

On the night of May 30, 1997, Brandy was waiting for the bus on South Federal Boulevard when several younger members of the Deuce-Seven got her into their car and took her to a home. Already there were Daniel Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Sammy Quintana and Frank Vigil.

Antonio Martinez, one of the other core members and founders of the Deuce-Seven, had left several hours earlier, upset with his brother and the others for continuing the downward spiral they were on. An aspiring artist, Antonio had given up the gangbanging life and was attending art school. But the others spent their lives getting drunk and committing crimes.

They may have known that the end was near. Lakewood police were looking at Quintana, as well as Alejandro Ornelas and his brother, Gerard, in the shooting death of nineteen-year-old Venus Montoya a year earlier. Francisco Martinez was the suspect in the shooting of another man in May. And Daniel Martinez was on the run from a court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

The insanity of their lives caught up to Brandy DuVall that night. They raped and tortured her for three hours and then, as she pleaded to be let go, took her to the mountains west of Golden and stabbed her 28 times. Still alive, she was thrown down an embankment and left to die. Her body was discovered the next day by a man and his companion who had stopped to admire the scenery and instead saw her half-nude body lying beside a stream ("Dealing with the Devil," February 25-March 18 and May 27-June 3, 1999).

Based on information supplied by the man who leased the home where Brandy was raped (Daniel Martinez's uncle, Jose Martinez), police apprehended the gang members who had been in the house that night. That summer, facing two separate first-degree-murder charges, Sammy Quintana agreed to a deal, pleading guilty to two second-degree-murder charges and agreeing to testify against the others for the DuVall and Montoya murders. It wasn't long before several other members of the gang -- David and Maurice Warren and Jacob Casados -- also took deals in exchange for their testimony. Only Daniel Martinez, Francisco Martinez and Frank Vigil were left to face prosecution.

The Deuce-Seven's leadership and numbers were decimated. Hit just as hard was its reputation. The sick savagery of the sexual assault and murder of Brandy DuVall offended even the sensibilities of other gang members. Rapists are never the most popular of prisoners; most inmates have mothers, sisters, daughters or girlfriends. It wasn't long before reports from the Jefferson County jail and state prison began filtering back to the Metro Area Gang Unit that other gangs were threatening to get the Deuce-Seven. Members of the gang who were already in prison at the time of DuVall's murder were going to have to watch their backs as well.

For Gloria Lopez, it was just one more thing to worry about. Even before Brandy's murder, other gangs like the Inca Boyz were writing graffiti on the walls of businesses in the neighborhood, saying they were going to kill Danny. Even if he survived prison, she feared for his life once he got out. He had a reputation now and would be a prime target for some little banger who wanted to make a name for himself.

Danny told his mother that he was disappointed in his friends for what they'd done to the girl. He was embarrassed. But there was nothing he could do about it. He was Deuce-Seven -- blood in, blood out.

"I can't change who I am," he told his mother, any more than he could erase the tattoos on his body.

When he got out in March 1998, Danny had changed for the worse. His temper was shorter. Once he had carried himself like he owned the world, but now he slouched.

"Pick your head up," his mother would urge. "How come you don't hold your head high?"

"It's what prison did to me, Mom," he'd respond.

Still, at first Danny tried to make it. He got a job working construction on the new Pepsi Center. It was good money, and soon he would qualify for benefits for himself and his family. He was proud of his job and talked about starting his own business someday. He'd given up on the idea of being a chef but had discovered a knack for drawing and hoped he might translate that into a future in art. He and Barbara started talking again, re-establishing the friendship that had brought them together in the first place, and shortly after Mariah's seventh birthday, they decided to try to make another go of it. [page]

But Danny wouldn't let go of his gang ties. Not that there was much of the Deuce-Seven left to run with. In January of that year, nineteen-year-old Andrew Vialpando, a cousin and fellow gang member, had died falling from a cliff in Utah. Vialpando and Joaquin Lopez, another cousin and fellow gang member, had survived being wounded in a drive-by shooting during the May 1997 Cinco de Mayo festivities. Vialpando still had a bullet in his body from the attack when he and Joaquin stole a Jeep in Englewood and drove to Utah with three young women. After a clerk reported them for stealing gasoline in Green River, Utah, the young men and women led sheriff's deputies and state troopers on a high-speed chase. When troopers placed spike pads across the highway to deflate the Jeep's tires, the car's occupants got out and tried to run. Lopez and the three women were quickly apprehended. Vialpando, however, wasn't found until police searchers discovered his body at the bottom of a 300-foot cliff. Joaquin Lopez was returned to Denver, where he was convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison.

Gang member Francisco Guzman had already been convicted of sexual assault on a child and sent to prison. And that spring, Frank Vigil and Alejandro Ornelas were convicted and sent to prison for life; Ornelas's brother, Gerard, had been sentenced to 48 years. In September, Francisco Martinez was also convicted for DuVall's rape and murder and was awaiting his death-penalty trial; Daniel Martinez's murder trial was scheduled for February 1999, and if convicted, he, too, would face a death-penalty hearing.

So Danny "D-Ray" Lopez III found himself in a vacuum. But rather than lie low or even break his gang ties like Antonio Martinez had, he began letting it be known that the Deuce-Seven was "back in the kitchen," with him as the head chef.

It wasn't unexpected. Even as far back as 1997, during the early investigation into the Montoya and DuVall homicides, members of the Metro Area Gang Task Force had warned prosecutors with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office that Lopez could be trouble when he got out. Some members of the Deuce-Seven were still on the streets, just waiting for someone to come back and take charge. Danny looked like the best candidate: He had served hard time like a man, there was no snitch jacket on him, and he hadn't been tarnished by the DuVall murder.

Other than his criminal record, however, the police had little on Danny Lopez. There were rumors that he had been involved in drive-bys, but nothing that could be proved -- and such information, especially if it was supplied by rival gangs, was always suspect. But he bore watching.

Danny seemed determined to prove them right. He quit his job at the Pepsi Center. All he could find after that was temporary work -- nothing that paid much, certainly no benefits. He and Barbara argued constantly. He didn't hit her anymore, but he also never cried, not even when she knew he was down and frustrated. And when they argued, he would leave to go be with his friends. She might not see him for several days, though he would call Mariah frequently.

And now he took Dustin with him. The younger boy dressed in red like his older brother and got in trouble with the law -- a car theft, a couple of assaults for fighting with other boys. But he wasn't Danny. Dustin was what his family thought of as a "pretty boy." He was only five-foot-four and 130 pounds; he ironed his clothes and made sure every hair was in place before going out. He liked parties, not the rough gang stuff. And he was the one who often talked Danny out of doing "the stupid stuff" that might get him sent back to prison.

Although they constantly dressed in red, the boys hid most of their gang activities from their mother. She'd talk to them about the colors and cry sometimes, but they'd just tell her not to worry. How could she not? She'd be driving them somewhere and pull up at a stoplight next to a car filled with other boys. Her sons and the others would get into staring contests, and she'd wonder if someone in the other car had a gun. She'd ask her boys to stop, but they'd respond, "They're staring at us. What do you expect us to do?" [page]

But just when she'd get so mad at Danny, there he'd be with a bouquet of roses and a card telling her he loved her, begging her forgiveness.

In December 1998, Danny broke the conditions of his parole by skipping a meeting with his parole officer. All of the kids and grandchildren did show up, however, for Christmas at his mother's house. It was the first time in four years that Danny got to spend the day with Mariah. He'd always made sure that she had something special from him, but this was better, because he could hand it to her himself.

He was still on the run when he and Barbara got married on February 23, 1999. Barbara thought Danny was making headway toward a new life. He still insisted on wearing his red clothes but, he said, he was just being himself, not really doing the hardcore gang stuff. He talked about getting a good job, about doing right by her and Mariah and staying off the streets. A week later, he was apprehended and sent back to prison -- where he'd sworn he wouldn't go.

And when he returned to prison, so did the gangster within. Out of self-protection, he said. The Deuce-Seven was a blemish, even for gangs, and it was dangerous to be a member -- even one who was not connected to Brandy DuVall's murder.

Danny swore again that he would never go back to prison once he got out. His family hoped that meant he would choose a different lifestyle. In July he was sent to a community corrections halfway house, where he was able to work during the day and see his daughter and wife outside a jail setting. If he'd stuck with it, he would have finished his sentence in January.

But Danny still wouldn't give up who he was. In July he attended Danaia's wedding dressed from head to toe in bright red. Even his sunglasses were rose-tinted. When his wife and family complained, he shrugged and said he didn't have anything else to wear. Dustin was only a little better, showing up in a Cleveland Indians jersey with bright-red lettering on the logo. His brother had set the example, and he was following it.

Rather than change, Danny seemed to give up. At least once a week, when Barbara was picking him up or driving him back to the halfway house, he would tell her, "I want them to cremate me, Barb. I don't want to be buried." The first time she brushed it off as just talk, but the regularity of the comment began to frighten her.

In August, Danny and Barbara got into a fight. Somehow that led to him quitting his job, which was discovered by the authorities at the halfway house. He tried to smooth things over, but he'd already been reported to the police. He told Barbara that they said he would be in just as much trouble if he turned himself in or if he ran.

Barbara said she didn't think that could be true. She urged him to turn himself in.

"What do you want me to do?" he replied angrily. "Do you want me to go to prison or be here with you?"

"At least we'd have a chance," she said.

But Danny told her he would never go back to prison. And she knew then that there would be no life with the man she loved, no father for her daughter. He left her angrily and went on the run with his brother. Dustin had warrants out for him in Denver, too. They were only for traffic violations, but Dustin wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps.

For the two months that Danny was on the run, Barbara didn't see him. He called often to talk to Mariah, but their own conversations were filled with foreboding. Danny was often drunk when he called, saying he was on "a party mish," or mission. More disturbing was when he changed that to him being on "a death mish" -- not caring if he lived or died or who he took with him.

Danny and Dustin didn't seem particularly concerned about being apprehended when they visited Danaia on the night of October 30. They wanted her to go with them to visit haunted houses. But Danaia didn't approve of the girls her brothers were with and declined the invitation. So they disappeared into the dark, wearing their red like trick-or-treaters. [page]

Around 6:30 Halloween morning, Lakewood police officer Kris DeRoehn was patrolling near Kendall Street and West Florida Avenue when he saw two young Hispanic males crossing a yard on foot. They were wearing red shirts, red pants and red shoes.

A BOLO -- be on the lookout -- had been issued that morning for two Hispanic males wanted in connection with an automobile theft. DeRoehn decided to contact this pair, radioing his intent and position first. He pulled up alongside them and indicated that he wanted them to come over and talk to him. The younger and smaller of the two began to comply, but the older one kept walking.

The police officer got out of his car with his nightstick in hand to pursue the older suspect. He was partway across the street when his quarry turned with a gun in his hand and fired. The bullet struck DeRoehn in the leg, passing through his right calf muscle.

As he stumbled backward, drawing his gun, DeRoehn heard his own patrol car roar past behind him. He fired at the vehicle but the car kept going. Reaching for his portable radio, DeRoehn, married and a police officer for two and a half years, called in the words that strike fear and anger in the hearts of police officers everywhere: "Officer down!"

Help arrived quickly from other officers already en route following DeRoehn's initial call. Soon a West Metro Fire Rescue team arrived and rushed the wounded officer to St. Anthony's Hospital. As doctors attended to DeRoehn, word went out to metro-area agencies informing them that an officer had been shot and giving a description of the suspects. DeRoehn's cruiser was found a half-dozen blocks away. One of his shots had struck a tire, and the thief had fled on foot.

Police discovered the car that had been reported stolen, which led to identification of the suspects: Danny Ray Lopez III, age 28, and his 19-year-old brother, Dustin Delaciano Lopez. They were ID'd as gang members, and the older of the two was thought to be armed with the 9 mm handgun he had used to shoot DeRoehn.

About 3 p.m., Barbara was home looking after eight-year-old Mariah, who was painting, dressed only in her underwear so as not to mess up her clothes. There was a knock on the door, and when Barbara answered, she was ordered to come out with her hands up.

She did as she was told, and was surprised to see as many as twenty police officers with their handguns drawn. They made Mariah go outside in her underwear as they searched the home.

Barbara told them she had not seen Danny in weeks. She asked what he had done and was told only that he had "shot at somebody in Lakewood." But she knew by their numbers and intensity that whatever Danny had done, it was serious.

When they left, Barbara turned on the news. There was a report about a police officer being shot in Lakewood. She hoped Danny wasn't involved, but she knew that he was. She feared she would not see him alive again.

That same afternoon, Danaia's husband was watching TV when a report came on about two Hispanic males being sought in connection with the shooting of a police officer. The description matched Danny and Dustin, but she couldn't believe it was them.

"I know my brothers are crazy," she said. "But they're not that stupid." Shooting a cop was as good as putting a gun to your own head.

A little later, they were sitting on the front porch with Gloria Lopez when they noticed that an undercover police car had cruised by several times. They realized that it was Danny and Dustin the police were looking for.

They had a definite answer ten minutes later, when ten cars roared up and twenty men, some carrying rifles, jumped from the cars. With her children screaming in the street, Danaia, her husband and her mother were all told to lie face-down in the dirt of the front yard.

Panicked, Gloria Lopez complained that she couldn't catch her breath. Danaia begged to be allowed to go to her still-crying children. But they were forced to remain where they were while police searched the house. The police didn't find the boys, but everyone knew it was just a matter of time.

In the days that followed, calls began to pour into the Lakewood Police Department. Some callers offered tips, others prayed for the officer's recovery. Many were from officers in other jurisdictions who wanted to know what they could do to help. Some had been shot themselves, or knew of partners or other officers who had. [page]

DeRoehn was lucky. The bullet had not struck bone or severed a major artery; otherwise, he could have lost his leg -- and thus his career -- or bled to death. It looked as if he would recover physically. But other officers knew that half the battle would be getting past the trauma and fear that came with being shot in the line of duty, and that could be as debilitating for a police officer as any physical wound.

They also believed that Danny Lopez represented a very real danger to the public. It was one thing to trade gunfire with rival gangs, but a willingness to shoot an armed police officer showed a desperation that could get innocent people hurt.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office filed charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Members of Danny's family told the police that he had sworn he would never go back to prison. That information was relayed to metro-area police agencies.

On the morning of November 3, a Lakewood training officer sat with police recruit Keith Marks in a patrol car on Wadsworth Avenue, checking out the photographs of Danny and Dustin Lopez that had appeared in a newspaper. Marks looked up and noticed a young Hispanic male on foot who matched the description of Dustin Lopez.

Marks, who had started training in March and was due to graduate in nine days, left the patrol car and stopped the young man on the sidewalk next to the Wal-Mart parking lot. As Marks began to frisk him, the suspect suddenly bolted, running across the busy street and hopping the median. Marks ran after him. Twice the officer tried to knock the youth to the ground as they headed toward the Discovery Land Child Care center. The second time, about halfway across southbound Wadsworth, Marks tripped and fell to the asphalt. Rising to his feet, he looked up to see a gun pointed at him.

The training officer could not shoot to defend Marks, because Marks was between him and the suspect. At the same time, Discovery Land employee Kelly Lentz was watching the chase while holding one of the eight toddlers in her care. She saw the officer trip and then get up as the young man pointed a gun at him. The pair were about ten to fifteen feet apart when the youth fired twice, striking Marks in the leg before turning and fleeing again. The police recruit gamely tried to follow, pulling his own gun and firing five times before collapsing in the parking lot next to the child-care center.

Marks, who hadn't yet seen one full day on the job, was rushed to St. Anthony's Hospital. Like DeRoehn, he was lucky and was expected to recover fully -- at least from the bullet wound.

More than a hundred officers from several agencies, including a dozen K-9 units, responded to the manhunt. Helicopters buzzed overhead as heavily armed officers in bulletproof vests sealed off an area bordered by Wadsworth, Garrison Street, West Alameda Avenue and West Sixth Avenue.

Lakewood agent Stacey Collis, a school resource officer, and Detective Jeff Rogers spotted the suspect walking around the corner of a building off Wadsworth. When the suspect saw them, he took off running back into the neighborhood, with the officers giving chase. The youth was eventually cornered and gave himself up.

It turned out that this cop-shooter wasn't one of the Lopez brothers, but a sixteen-year-old named Benjamin Sandoval. Sandoval was already wanted in Denver for minor traffic violations. Now he, too, was facing charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and possessing a handgun. His weapon, also a 9 mm, was located under a pile of leaves in a backyard.

Sandoval indicated that he was with someone. Taking no chances that the second person might be one of the Lopez brothers, the police kept the area sealed off for three hours while they went door-to-door. They found no other suspects.

Before DeRoehn, it had been more than twenty years since a Lakewood police officer had been shot. Now there had been two in just over three days. Everyone who carried a badge was tense.

The Lopez family members resigned themselves to the fact that it was unlikely the boys would come through this unharmed. On the day the police had raided Danaia's house, she and her mother told other family members that they had asked Lakewood detective Gregg Slater if they would be notified when the police caught the brothers. They said he told them they would hear about it "from the coroner."

A friend of the family communicated with the boys and passed the word that they were okay but too frightened to call and possibly expose their whereabouts. The family passed word back, begging them to surrender. The family would find them an attorney, fight the charges. They had to give themselves up. But word came that Danny would not go back to prison. [page]

Gloria Lopez was haunted by nightmares. In them, her sons were running from the police, but no matter how far and fast they ran, they were still caught and killed. It was so real that she would wake up in the night screaming.

Barbara hoped they would come in on their own. But she knew that Danny was gone. Dead or alive, he would never be hers again.

The brothers' father was the only one to talk to them. Privately, though a little late, he wondered if things might have turned out differently if he had spent more time with his sons. Of Deuce-Seven members Danny and Dustin Lopez, Antonio and Daniel Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Alejandro and Gerard Ornelas and Frank Vigil, not one had his father living at home with him. All Danny Ray Lopez Jr. could do now was ask his sons what had happened.

Danny admitted shooting the police officer. But Dustin's version was that Danny had continued walking and looked back to see the police officer approaching Dustin with his nightstick raised as if to hit him. He then shot the officer in the leg so that Dustin could get away.

On November 16, about 2:30 p.m., Arapahoe County sheriff's deputy Tom Albershardt was called by Detective Alex Woods of the Denver Police Department's fugitive unit. Danny and Dustin had been featured in an advertisement in the Rocky Mountain News under the heading "50 Most Wanted Fugitives." And that had led to an informant calling Crimestoppers and reporting that the brothers were holed up at 3081 Eppinger Boulevard in Thornton.

That evening, officers from the Thornton, Lakewood and Northglenn Police Departments and deputies from Arapahoe County arrived in the neighborhood to monitor vehicle and foot traffic to and from the address. When people left the home, they were followed and then pulled over out of sight and sound from the house. The police used "high-risk," or felony, stop procedures: With guns drawn, they ordered occupants of cars to keep their hands in sight and get out of their cars to be checked.

About 9:45, two men and two women left the house and got in a green Honda. One of the females drove while a male sat in the front passenger seat; the other male and female were in the backseat.

The police pulled the car over and demanded that its occupants put up their hands and get out. Three of them began to do as ordered, but the male in the right front passenger seat wouldn't comply. Suddenly the doors on both sides of the car opened, followed by an officer's shout: "He's got a gun!"

The doors closed again as the male forced himself over on top of the driver and took control of the car, which sped away. Several marked police cruisers pursued.

The chase lasted only a couple of minutes before the driver hit a dip and lost control of the car, ending up on the front lawn of a home. The two males escaped from the car -- the driver carrying a handgun -- and ran, leaping over fences. The two female passengers were arrested. One of them told the police that the fleeing men were Danny and Dustin Lopez. Danny, she said, had pointed a gun at her head when he'd commandeered the car.

The police fanned out through the neighborhood. After ten minutes, they spotted a male running down Eppinger Street. Sergeant Jerry Peters, who had responded to the sighting with Officer Greg Reeves, saw another male on the sidewalk and shined his spotlight on him. The man was holding a handgun.

Instead of stopping as commanded, the suspect jumped into an unoccupied Arapahoe County sheriff's vehicle and sped away without turning on the headlights. Peters would later report that he saw the vehicle come within a couple of feet of striking Lieutenant Troy Smith, who was standing in the street. Smith identified the driver as one of the Lopez brothers.

The chase was on again, and again it was short-lived, as the man in the stolen car turned into a cul-de-sac with three police vehicles right behind, their lights and sirens going full blast. The suspect whipped his car around, hitting another parked vehicle, and stopped. The three police vehicles -- Reeves and Peters in one, Smith and Arapahoe deputy Jeff Britegam in the second, Albershardt and Northglenn officer Jeremy Sloan in the third -- also stopped, and the officers got out with their guns drawn. [page]

The officers would later state in their reports that the suspect got out of the car with a gun in his hand. There was a standoff. A moment of indecision passed in a heartbeat. Then the young man jumped back inside the car and, with the tires screeching, aimed for Reeves.

Reeves panicked. "He's got me," he thought.

But his partner, Peters, began shooting. The car swerved, only this time it headed for Smith, who fired into the windshield. It swerved again, heading toward where Sloan and Albershardt were standing. Sloan tried to shoot, but at first he couldn't get the safety on his gun to release.

Albershardt dove for cover as the car came at him. He didn't understand: The driver must have seen that he had a clear path to escape the cul-de-sac but instead had swerved at the officers. Sloan and Albershardt joined in firing at the car.

At last the bullet-riddled car rammed into a parked van and stopped. The officers approached cautiously, but there was no need for their guns. They had fired almost fifty rounds at the car. Inside, Danny Ray Lopez III had been struck by five bullets, including one to his head. On the floor was a loaded 9 mm handgun.

Danny was transported to St. Anthony's Hospital and was on the operating table when his family got the word.

Barbara had been at her cousin's home in Thornton when they'd heard a helicopter pass overhead. "There's the ghetto bird watching to see if I'll lead them to Danny," she'd joked. It wasn't funny, but she was trying desperately to keep up her spirits. They abandoned her completely after she arrived home and got a telephone call from Danaia. Danny's sister was hysterical. "They got him," she cried. "They shot my brother."

Barbara dropped Mariah off at a relative's home, and soon she, Danaia and Gloria Lopez arrived at St. Anthony's. Detective Slater, who'd been talking to the family about getting the boys to give up, approached and said it didn't look good.

"Why did you have to shoot him?" Barbara wailed.

Danny shot first and held a gun to a girl's head, Slater responded, going by early reports that indicated there'd been an exchange of gunfire. But he wasn't entirely inaccurate. Sixteen days earlier, Danny had shot first.

A little while later, a surgeon came down and told them that Danny hadn't made it. The bullet in his brain had killed him.

Gloria Lopez was overcome with grief and anger. Anger at the police, who she believed meant to kill Danny from the beginning. Why couldn't they just have wounded him? she wanted to know. Why did they shoot him so many times?

But she was also angry with Danny. He'd put himself in this position. Always promising to do better. To get a job, settle down, take care of his wife and his little girl. But he wanted to hang out on the streets and get drunk, commit crimes. He shot that police officer, and there'd been hell to pay.

True to his word, Danny wouldn't be going back to prison.

A November blizzard howled outside the doors of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the day of Danny's funeral service. The church was filled to standing room only as latecomers squeezed in to get out of the bitter cold.

As he'd requested of Barbara, Danny had been cremated, his ashes placed in a box that had been set in the coffin near the altar. Here and there among the mourners dressed in somber tones were incongruous splashes of bright red. Red shirts. Red pants. Red shoes. Even one young man in a red three-piece suit.

Bloods. Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Bloods. Latino Gangster Bloods. Park Hill Bloods. Hispanics. Blacks. Maybe even a few white and Asian Bloods. And Danny's old subset of the CMG, the Deuce-Seven.

An unmarked police car cruised the neighborhood outside. The Denver Gang Unit monitored the funeral, noting who was arriving -- the shooters, the drug dealers, the OGs and the wannabes -- and watching for members of rival gangs who might want to disrespect the deceased by disrupting the proceedings. The police presence wasn't a secret, but the gang members in attendance largely ignored the officers in the car.

On any other day, such a gathering would have engendered hard looks, harsh words and itchy trigger fingers. Some sets of Bloods don't get along with each other much better than they do with traditional rivals like the Crips, UTAs or Inca Boyz. But on this day, they put aside their differences to pay respects to one of their own, D-Ray, who'd gone out in a blaze, shot five times in a barrage of police gunfire after having shot one of them first. It was the stuff of legend in the gang world. [page]

Sitting in the front of the church, Danny's family -- his grieving mother and father, his sister, his wife and eight-year-old daughter -- hardly noticed the young men in red. But saying goodbye to her boy, Gloria saw the red bandanna that one of them had placed in the coffin.

It made her angry. They meant to show respect to her son. But these guys, with their Blood this and Blood that, the Crips and Inca Boyz, too -- when would they realize that the people they hurt the most were the ones who loved them? Their mothers. Their fathers. Their sisters and brothers. Their wives, girlfriends and children. All of the people whose lives would be rearranged and destroyed in order to visit prisons and graveyards. What good were those bright-red clothes? What honor to be remembered with an old red bandanna?

It had been blood in and blood out for Danny "D-Ray" Lopez III. And it wasn't over yet, as far as the Bloods were concerned.

The police were still looking for Danny's little brother. "Dusty," as his family called him, had had no real gang reputation before this. But he'd been there when Danny shot the Lakewood cop. And he was the one who took off in the wounded officer's car. And he was there the night the police came gunning for Danny, escaping into the dark while his brother was killed.

There was a chance Dustin might go down the same way. Become a gangland hero. If they caught him, Dustin was facing heavy prosecution. He'd been named as an accomplice in the shooting and had been charged with first-degree attempted murder, among other things. He could be looking at hard time, but he would have a reputation of his own. Bloods behind the walls would look out for him, teach him what he had to know to get by, protect him as well as anyone can be protected in prison. And when he got out, he'd have a name on the streets, just like the brother who'd gone down like a true homeboy.

After Danny's shooting, Gloria wondered if he was already dead or hurt and dying. It wasn't until the next day that she heard from friends of friends that he was okay. For the past two weeks, he'd been on the run, frightened, sometimes living outdoors. Her nightmare continued, only now it was just one son being hunted by the police.

In the days that followed, the family accused the cops of serving as Danny's judge and executioner. Danny's father demanded an independent investigation. His son, he said, had been "massacred," his shooting of DeRoehn an act of "self-defense" to protect his little brother.

The family kept saying Danny had been shot 48 or 50 times. It didn't seem to matter that he'd been hit five times and only one had been fatal. It was the sense that the officers had shot until they were sure he was dead that troubled her.

The day before Christmas, Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant announced that an investigation had concluded that the officers "believed that it was necessary to fire their weapons to defend themselves and others from what they believed to be the imminent use of deadly physical force by Danny Lopez" and that the shooting "was justified."

In Lakewood, Officer DeRoehn was "taking some time to be with his family" before making a decision about coming back to work, according to police spokeswoman Rammona Robinson; she also said that Detective Slater denied commenting that the Lopez family would be notified "by the coroner" when police caught Danny and Dustin. "He's frankly surprised they would say that. He spent a lot of time with them trying to get Danny to give himself up."

The Lopez family did not agree with Grant's assessment, but they don't have the money to hire a private investigator to look into the shooting. Still, for all their hurt and anger, the Lopez family recognizes that this could have just as easily been a tragedy for the family of Kris DeRoehn or one of the other officers who encountered Danny on that mid-November night.

It could just as easily have been DeRoehn's wife left without a husband on Christmas Eve. But it was Barbara who had to deal with telling her daughter that her daddy would not be coming home again. That there would be no presents from him anymore. No hugs, no kisses. No "It'll be all right."

Gloria Lopez spent Christmas hoping that his brother's death had Dustin "scared straight." But she wondered: If he's sent to prison, will he come out worse for it, more of a gangster, like his brother Danny? Would he have a reputation to live up to, a legacy to follow in his brother's footsteps? Would there be another funeral? More red bandannas? [page]

Will enough ever be enough?

Editor's note: At press time, Gloria Lopez told Westword that Dustin had been offered a plea bargain. Nine other charges will be dropped if he pleads guilty to aggravated robbery, for which he could be sentenced to between 10 and 32 years in prison.

Any musical uprising worth raising a fist for must have its own battle cry. For today's alternative-country camp, Robbie Fulks's anti-Nashville anthem, "Fuck This Town" (from his 1997 neo-country classic, South Mouth), just might be it. But don't think for a minute that Fulks's hilarious-but-pointed shlock country diatribe makes him some kind of revolutionary.

"I'm not an anarchist," Fulks says from his home in Chicago, "because I have absolutely no hopes of my music having any sort of practical impact in the world like that."

For fans of updated country, however, Fulks is alt-twang in the flesh, and his music is the finest weapon the insurgent country army offers. Even if he makes no claim to the title of cultural instigator, it's clear he knows a tad or two about dissidence from the status quo. "I think Rosa Luxembourg probably thought that bombing something was going to change the social structure," he says, citing one of Germany's Socialist leaders and revolutionaries from the early 1900s. "But I just sit quietly in my room and do what I do. And I'm way too appreciative of old lasting stuff, and I'm too fundamentally conservative to call myself that anyway."

What's more, notes Fulks -- who shares his home with his wife and their two toddling children -- penning anthems of defiance comes with a price. "My kids play my records all the time," he says, "and I'll be upstairs working on something, and they'll put on one of them. It will get to the first stanza of 'F This Town,'" he says, opting for a more euphemistic name for the tune, "and I'll start running down the stairs heading for the CD player. About that time, I'll hear my wife's footsteps as she's running in from the kitchen and hits the button on the stereo to fast-forward to the next song."

Okay, that's hardly the picture of an anarchist's life. But Fulks's catalogue of four rebellious recordings certainly defies musical norms. It embraces country's musical cornerstones, but lyrically and spiritually, it's miles from anything now heard on mainstream radio. And while so much against-the-grain 'alternative' fare is actually just countrified rock or note-for-note vintage C&W, Fulks's music is clearly something new. It fine-tunes country's best virtues while gleefully smashing its conventions and cliches.

It's an approach Fulks spelled out from the start with his 1996 debut for Bloodshot Records, Country Love Songs -- the cover of which features a shot of a man raising an ax over his spouse's head. In the disc's promotional material, Fulks defines his modus operandi: "In retro spirit," it reads, "these songs will frequently violate current country songwriting trends which hold as taboo themes of negativism, forceful expression, and points of view uncongenial to the prevailing ideology of fatuous feelgoodism." Furthermore, he notes, "they will instead reflect a modern sensibility in their emotional graphicness, vigorous iconoclasm, and sense of humor."

The material on Love Songs bears out that assessment. The CD includes letter-perfect, old-school honky-tonk (such songs as "Tears Only Fall One Way") along with tunes about white-trash delicacies ("The Scrapple Song") and unsentimental odes to aging starlets ("She Took a Lot of Pills and She Died"), among others. The disc earned raves from numerous corners of the music press and set Fulks up as a countrified rule-breaker, part modern-day Johnny Cash and part smartass kid brother of Dwight Yoakam.

South Mouth cements that image with a similar mix of iconoclastic country. The disc's aforementioned anti-Nashville number is joined by equally funny/jarring cuts such as "I Told Her Lies," "What the Lord Hath Wrought (Any Fool Can Knock Down)" and "Dirty Mouthed Flo." That particular cut is classic Fulks, a trad-sounding roadhouse romp that deals in subjects no Nashville act would touch. "When she gets in that sack with her legs spread wide, she's as pretty as a July bride," Fulks sings on the tune. The disc balances such ribald humor with styles in the tradition of the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, along with fall-on-the-floor country weepers and bloody murder ballads.

Fulks's 1998 Geffen release, Let's Kill Saturday Night, was a less twangy, more poppy collection that exchanged Americana-style pre-rock for brainy, guitar-crunched pop. He followed that disc with last year's The Very Best of Robbie Fulks, a Bloodshot collection of unreleased material and old faves. The disc featured a blend of ultra-country, rebel honky-tonk, humor and irresistible gems. In typical Fulks fashion, the disc's themes ranged from tributes to actress Jean Arthur and Bangles member Susanna Hoffs to themes of cheatin', drinkin' and the pointless nature of love.

This year Fulks has been earning praise for Big Thinkin', his collaboration with Dallas Wayne that features the guitarist performing a slab of ace tunes co-written and produced by Fulks. It just might be the finest country record of the year, brimming with witty wordplay and one more dash of "Nashville sucks" sentiment, on "If That's Country." (The latter details the current pop sickness in Music City and features a sticky-as-molasses chorus in which Fulks chimes, "You can kiss my Ozark ass if that's country.") [page]

On the whole, Fulks's creative output is staggeringly good. His irreverant sentiments, however, have led some to consider him more of a mocker of country than a person with a true, if twisted, appreciation of the genre. He doesn't see it that way.

"I don't think it's mutually exclusive to make fun of something and appreciate it at the same time," he says. "There's definitely an outsider, cosmopolitan sensibility to my songs -- that's just who I am. But it doesn't mean that country music's not really deep in my heart, which it is. I just like to laugh.

"There's not been enough goofiness in country music," he adds. "It's been too solemn for my tastes since the last big boom. I miss the day when you'd turn on the radio and hear 'The Love Bug' or some goofy song like that."

Besides, Fulks says, what separates good music from the merely mediocre is a sense of the uncompromising individual behind it. "As far as rock and country songwriting," he says, "I like to get a feel for the kind of person that's writing it down. I think it's good that Hank Williams had the strength of character to write from his point of view and not imitate, say, Webb Pierce or Bob Wills. The same thing with Roger Miller. And it takes a little strength of character, because when you come out on the scene, there's no demand for what you do. And in the face of that, you have to stick to your guns and insist that what you do has value."

Fulks's 1993 stint in Nashville with a publishing outfit required much of his backbone. But despite some of the pointed barbs he's sent Nashville's way ("This ain't country-Western, it's just soft-rock feminist crap," he sang in "Fuck This Town"), he doesn't seem bitter about his time there. And he offers even-tempered reasons for his troubles. For starters, Fulks says, the staffer who signed him to a major country label left the company shortly after he was inked. He also says his brand of country-and-Western was too true to its roots for commercial appeal. "Alan Jackson's not going to do 'Papa Was a Steelheaded Man,'" Fulks says, "and a lot of those songs on those first two records of mine wouldn't be appropriate for Nashville pitches. They're too old-fashioned."

Then again, when Fulks recounts one particular song-pitching session, it becomes clear that those shortcomings weren't what kept him from landing songs on big-time records. While he was playing a tape of a couple of his songs for a Polygram rep, Fulks recalls, the man seemed puzzled, apparently distracted by something on the recording. "When the four-song tape finally was over, he shook his head sadly and said, 'I just don't hear it.' 'Hear what?' I said. 'Talent,' he said."

Such assessments have not come from the alternative-country realm. But Fulks has at least a few misgivings about being lumped into that bracket, or any other single category. "It's nice to have a home, because people need some kind of conceptual category to understand you," Fulks says. "But I also like to think that I'm more of a broad songwriter guy, and I sort of separate myself from the camp of a lot of the rootsy traditionalists that don't seem as lyric-driven as I am." His major-label release made that clear, and it led some critics to speculate that the disc's direction was proof of Fulks's bowing to major-label pressure. "That's totally incorrect," Fulks says of the assessment, "because the kind of music I was doing before I went with Bloodshot was a lot more along the lines of the Geffen record. And as far as my adapting to a label, that's more applicable to Bloodshot than the Geffen record.

"There were people," he adds, "that said, 'This is something different, and he's not doing it well,' which is an arguable point. But I don't think that people can say, 'You've got to keep making the same record over and over again.' That's not what I'm about." Geffen appreciated Fulks's direction, he notes, because it was "easier for them to work into some existing radio format than any Bloodshot-style material. I mean, there's no real radio outlet for old country music with cussing in it, you know?"

For now, Fulks will be avoiding such issues by launching his own label (wryly titled "Boondoggle"), which he and his wife will run. This week marks the release of the Fulks family's first release, 13 Hillbilly Giants, which is available through It's an all-covers project of primarily obscure country tunes, the first step in Fulks's plan for artistic independence. "What's most exciting to me and my wife," Fulks says, "is trying to set up some sort of an arrangement where we can put out our own stuff without dealing with A&R-style opinions and pressures. And, of course, it's a matter of more pride in your enterprise. And it's more stimulating in so many different ways -- being able to do the exact kind of music that you want to do and go out and take an active hand in the marketing of it." [page]

This new disc has already become a hit in the Fulks household. "Over the past month, my kids have been playing it about a half-dozen times a day," Fulks says. "I can hardly stand to listen to the songs now. I'm not sure how I can get out and support the record." This spring Fulks will begin recording his next batch of original songs, which will again veer from the alt-country trail. "It's definitely not roots country, and it's definitely not funny," he says of the upcoming platter, which will appear on his Boondoggle imprint. "It's going to be more like Paul Simon than Webb Pierce."

For those who love Fulks for his take on country music (a demographic he skewers with sidesplitting precision in Best Of's "Roots Rock Weirdoes"), that change of direction might be bad news. It might also suggest one more reason to lose hope of running down corporate country's old guard. Such thoughts might be foolish anyway, Fulks says, and he doesn't see a takeover happening on his behalf. "There's an ongoing appetite for certain basic things," he notes, "like blues, country, rhythm and blues and the old traditional things. If country's going to survive, and it seems like it ought to, it's got to somehow disconnect itself from the great pop juggernaut that's sweeping Nashville now. But it ain't gonna happen because of me or anybody like me. I don't think that's in the cards."

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