Best Bookstore for the Dark and Brooding 2003 | Black and Read Bookstore | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Underground movie rentals, creepy comics, horror paperbacks, obscure punk bands on vinyl: If it's spooky or subversive books and music you're after, you'll find it at Black and Read Bookstore. Never again must you search in vain -- or pay too much -- for avant-garde German synth-pop on CD or hard-to-find '80s death metal. New or used, Black and Read's enthusiastic, ill-groomed, goateed staff is happy to turn you on to obscure tomes or tunes. And in case you're stuck in Arvada with a pressing need for a new eyebrow stud, you'll always find one in their selection of jewelry and accessories.

Hue-Man Experience carries books, music, gifts and more, catering specifically to the often-overlooked African-American consumer. Since purchasing the store from its original founder eight months ago, new owners Joi Afzal, Kim Martin and Daryl Walker proudly offer more than 6,200 titles in their homey downtown space, along with Afro-centric wedding invitations, a children's corner, gift certificates and unique home and gift items. For sixteen years, Hue-Man has served as the local black community's leading source for fiction, relationship tips, health advice, African history, art and photography. If you're into literature and media with flavor, check out the Hue-Man Experience.

If you like your media saturation on a more manageable, not to mention liberal, scale, Breakdown Book Collective and Community Space is the place. After troubles at its former Platte Street location, the bookstore moved into the burgeoning Ogden arts district, and the place is again stocked with hundreds of titles on anarchy, pacifism, gender, race, sexuality and, of course, some ol' fashioned socialism. They also offer art, workshops, free classes and even the occasional basement show spotlighting everything from noise bands to hip-hop DJs. Just don't sign any lists. You never know where the FBI lurks.

Best Place to Dispose of Old Magazines


The charity magazine table at the 6th and Corona Safeway is like manna from heaven for the magaphile. There's this month's Vogue and last month's Atlantic Monthly. There's Best Friends, the Utah sanctuary's quarterly glossy, and piles of old New Yorkers. And for just a quarter each, they're a bargain. The money is donated to local nonprofits such as Race for the Cure, so it's worth the dig through the niche shlock. Watch the table carefully in the third week of the month -- that's when most of the current lad mags and fashion bibles hit the table. And, hey, when you're done, drop it off again.

Every day is a book fair at the Arapahoe County Library's Koebel branch. Since Valentine's Day, a group of dedicated volunteers has been manning the used-book store inside the library's espresso bar. They sort the donated books, which are priced by an expert once a month, then sell them during regular library hours. Proceeds go to literacy programs.

New owner, new location, more space and more titles on tape and CD for rent and sale. Owner Benjamin Anzman has introduced new membership deals ranging from weekly to annual unlimited rentals, starting at less than $10 a month. The bestseller and new-books list at Reel Books is updated weekly. So even if you don't have time to flip pages, insert tape.

In the past, music sections at most public libraries have been of little interest to anyone other than fans of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. But the Schlessman Family Branch of the Denver Public Library is an enormous exception to this rule. The year-old library has approximately 10,000 items in its audiovisual section, including multiple copies of the most popular DVDs. Better yet, the CD selection is wonderfully eclectic and includes rock that's apt to appeal to even the most esoteric listener. (One patron reports having recently found discs by the Magnetic Fields, the New York Dolls and Beth Orton.) Because word of the branch's assemblage has spread, the shelves aren't always jammed -- but you'll always find something you never thought would be stocked in a public library.

There's only one place to surf while snacking on a pressed-beef lunch: the Arby's at 11th and Broadway. Their Cyber Cafe -- the only one in the state -- has two Macs with broadband connections for your dining pleasure. Just don't think it's a free-for-all. The corporate offices cracked down earlier this year after customers hacked into their PCs and changed internal settings and downloaded a new wallpaper. And don't spill any Horsey sauce on the keyboard -- the porn patrol would not be amused.

In the last decade, Swamp Co. proprietor/artist Lindsey Kuhn has silk-screened thousands of his signature day-glo pop-art rock posters, promoting the concerts of Fugazi, Beck and Ween in the process. Kuhn began his career in the Mississippi skate-punk scene, relocating to Texas for a spell before finally settling here in 1999. His business is part DIY, part speculative: Kuhn provide the music-venue customer with a stack of posters free of charge, then squirrels away another stack to sign and sell as limited-edition prints. The strategy works just dandy, as the rock poster has evolved from disposable ephemera into collectible fine art over the last twenty years.

For the last half-century, OME Banjo Company founder Chuck Ogsbury has been the mind behind some of the best banjos money can buy. Gram Parsons, Bela Fleck and Pete Wernick are a just a few of the musicians to pluck these instruments that double as striking objects d'art. The company crafts traditional, jazz and bluegrass models, twanging out about 125 annually in best-of-the-best woods, such as curly maple, Honduran mahogany, Gabonese ebony and Brazilian rosewood. For serious banjo buffs, OME's top-shelf models have 23.5-karat gold plating. No gold records guaranteed.

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