Best Of :: Shopping & Services
After more than three decades in Cherry Creek North, the Wizard's Chest decided to leave its quaint castle for a bigger, better kingdom on 4th and Broadway. Going from 8,500 to 18,000 square feet, Denver's beloved home base for Magic: The Gathering aficionados, puzzle masters and costume seekers creates a magical new world from the ground up. The store brought in artist and designer Lonnie Hanzon to craft the perfect facade for the new fortress of fun. Hanzon — who's been involved with the Wizard's Chest since its early-'80s beginnings — is the magician behind the store's iconic and bold castle aesthetic, and the new spot is just as whimsical and inviting as the original. Plus — abracadabra! — there's parking.303-321-4304
Central Denver is lousy with new buildings — or would that be that most of the new buildings are lousy? Not all of them, fortunately. Around Union Station in the Platte Valley, there are several recently completed structures that have been well designed and constructed out of distinctive materials. Most of those are fairly nice, and one, the Triangle Building, is positively great, already a distinctive landmark in that part of town. Taking the very sculptural form of a sharp-edged wedge nearly completely clad in black glass, it looks as much like an art object as it does an office building, which is what it is. Developed by East West Partners, the building was designed by one of the city's most artistically distinguished architectural firms, Anderson Mason Dale Architects. The firm has done a number of other exceptional projects not far from the Triangle Building, including the handsome pair of mid-rise pavilions bracketing Union Station and CU Denver's Student Commons Building, a stone's throw away on Speer Boulevard.
1550 Wewatta St.
By early last year, Brad Evans was fed up with the ugly structures sprouting up all over Denver. And soon the founder of the Denver Cruisers was on a roll with Denver FUGLY, the Facebook page he started to document some of the aesthetic disasters in this fast-growing town. "There's all this shit going up," he told us at the time. "Stucco boxes that have no use for being built. People are being lazy." But not Evans, who regularly posts not just his most recent fugly discoveries, but attractive options around the world. And the group's members weigh in regularly, making Denver Fugly a place that's really building for a better future.
Piece by piece, Denver's built environment is getting a makeover — but Save the Signs is working hard to make sure that the city's commercial history is not lost in the changes. A few years ago, photojournalist Corky Scholl began sharing images of the vintage illuminated signs that once greeted travelers along Colfax Avenue on Facebook. These days, Scholl uses the social-media hub as a way to get the word out about endangered neon signs across the country. He's also expanded his project to include photos, stories and videos about the architects and artists who contribute to Denver's visual urban landscape. More than just a place to commune online and talk about the Mile High City's good ol' days, Save the Signs is also a nonprofit that raises money to restore classic signage. Scholl's efforts have saved the wacky neon of Colfax icon Sid King's Crazy Horse Bar and downtown jazz joint El Chapultepec's glowing corner sign, among others.
A notoriously misunderstood player in Denver's history, Colfax Avenue still works hard to showcase its role as the vibrant city thoroughfare it was intended to be. Fortunately, ColfaxAvenue.com is shining the spotlight on what Playboy magazine once called "the longest, wickedest street in America." Founded and run by Anistacia and Johnny Barber, ColfaxAvenue.com regularly publishes photos, personal stories and news updates that prove that the 26-mile-long main street, though still wild, is definitely welcoming. Whether you're looking for throwback images of the gone-but-not-forgotten Eddie Bohn's Pig 'N Whistle or Mammoth Skating Rink (now the Fillmore Auditorium) or a tribute to Pete Contos — owner of the Satire Lounge, Pete's Kitchen, Pete's Greek Town Cafe and many of the other Pete's-named businesses in the city — ColfaxAvenue.com is worth repeat visits.
It's been more than a decade of interviewing bands and making prank phone calls (and fun of each other), but the boys are still at it. The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show is broadcast live every Monday night on idobi Radio — the most-listened-to alternative-music stream in the world — but the podcast is created right here. The three best friends and Denver natives — Eddie Barella, Jason Newcomer and Chris Barr — are online-broadcasting pioneers, having started live-streaming their show during the dial-up days, before podcasting was even a thing. More than 70,000 listeners tune in each week to catch interviews with bands like the Mowgli's and the Undead, but the trio has been known to make appearances around Denver at events like Holiday ManCraft and the Underground Music Showcase. Listen to the show live at 6 p.m. MST on idobi.com, or download the podcast episodes on iTunes. Either way, Denver's sounding mighty good.ejcshow.com
Readers' choice: Whiskey and Cigarettes
Garrett King has spent years exploring the great state of Colorado through his lens, and he's gained speed on Instagram as a brand ambassador for Collective Nomads. The founder of @ALifeExploring and co-moderator of @ColoradoInstagram, King has earned big-name sponsorships over the past year, including NAU Clothing, the ASUS computer, Teva and many more. King's aesthetic is faded and surreal, depicting the fantasy Colorado life you've always dreamed of. A self-proclaimed wanderer with close to 80,000 followers, King has hiked many a mountain to reach the top as the state's best Instagrammer.instagram.com/shortstache
Readers' choice: @milehighandhungry
It's been a rough year for the East High School Angels, what with a police officer getting injured during a protest march and a brief lockdown situation over a gun scare. But the staff of the Spotlight has handled those stories and others with surprising maturity and insight. With the encouragement of advisor/teacher Mark Ajluni, the paper has tackled racial identity and diversity, checked out a nearby methadone clinic, and celebrated local artists and overachievers — all while still finding time for the usual silly stuff about high-school romances and senioritis. Journalism is one trade where you learn by doing, so the students at East are learning plenty.facebook.com/EastHighSpotlight
Social media can be a tricky form of communication for folks in the public eye. As a newscaster, 9News's Kyle Clark takes a brave step into the modern world of communication and dares to engage with friends and foes alike on his various Internet channels. His Twitter account is on fire, challenging viewers to talk politics, sports, beer and crime stories with him throughout the day. Through social media, Clark answers questions, collects anecdotal data and shares behind-the-scenes photos from his life at the news desk. His atypical news-delivery style has been a topic on Reddit, and he's made national news for his humorous rant about viewers sending him snow-covered patio photos during winter storms. Whatever newsworthy events happen around the world — or on the set of 9News — know that Kyle Clark and his hashtags will be there to cover it.instagram.com/KyleClark
Most car dealership pitchmen stick in viewer's minds because they're loud and crazy (we're looking at you, Dealin' Doug). But Kent Stevinson of Stevinson Automotive is the exception that proves the rule, doling out humor that's decidedly low-key, and all the more amusing as a result. "Meet the Dragon" is a case in point: In the commercial, the not-exactly intimidating-looking Stevinson appears wearing a karate gi as he says, "Follow me on Facebook to get special offers, model updates and more. Follow me down a dark alley, and you'll meet the dragon" — after which he strikes a supposedly fierce fighting pose that wouldn't scare a three-year-old. It's the funniest nine seconds you'll spend all day.
Steffan Tubbs has made a career in Denver radio by doing the little things better than anyone else. Instead of keeping the focus on himself via outrageous statements or loony stunts, he's a facilitator whose main goal is to make those around him shine, be they other members of the KOA team — including co-host April Zesbaugh — or the people he's interviewing. He's smart, efficient and well-prepared, sharing the news and information listeners need during morning-drive time so professionally that it's easy to overlook his skills. But rest assured, he has them in abundance.Readers' choice: Slacker
The 9News morning show hasn't just topped its time-slot ratings for decades; it's dominated them in ways that are exceedingly rare for any local broadcast. And Gary Shapiro, who took over as host of the program in 1989 (six years after joining the station), is a big reason why. Cohorts have come and gone over the years, but Shapiro's been a constant, shifting from serious breaking news to goofy hijinks with a casual effortlessness that can't be taught. He may not be the brashest element of the program, but he's the glue that holds it together.Readers' choice: Kyle Clark