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Dog Days

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On Saturday, the Denver Post reported Duane “Dog” Chapman, bounty hunter and quipmaster extrordinaire, said from his Hawaiian home that growing up in Denver meant something really special to him.

In addition to telling Post columnist Bill Husted that he used to orchestrate drug deals in order to steal money from the dealers themselves in a Washington Park that we can only assume contained then more canines of Chapman's ilk than the chocolate labs of today, Chapman says of our modest bovine metropolis:

All Denver had then was Villa Italia and Celebrity Lanes.

And he says that like it was a bad thing.

Skateboard gripped firmly in one hand, Slurpee or nachos in the other, picture me rolling through the suburban splendor that was Villa Italia mall, my posse three or four deep on a Saturday afternoon. Oh, the glory of it all. We would stalk mall security, pretend to steal precious items from department stores, and bolt for the mall entrance only to display empty pockets when the wheezing, overweight police academy washout finally stopped our flight. Crying wolf was, of course, a ruse to enable real thievery later on.

Sure it was one of the only sources of entertainment available to kids in Lakewood desperate for some sort of freedom from their parents, but its low-brow consumer and social pleasures -- recounted here with a nostalgia that may or may not be rooted in hipster irony, I honestly can't tell anymore – were limitless.

This is the place where I saw Terminator 2, dropped off a full two hours early by a friend's parents so we could maximize our time at playing Street Fighter II.

This was the place where I bought a pair of nunchakus from the knife store that also sold ceramic dragons, role-playing games, and swords of all measure.

This is the place where I learned to reconcile reality with my love for the Latina girls -- whose bangs were sure to be Aquanetted into a wall of plumage to rival any foul peacock – who would, at best, address me only with a click of the tongue and a terse “as if,” or “psy-eeeech.”

This is the place where I saw those same countless objects of my lily-white obsession get the words “Exit Only” air-brushed on the assess of their Girbaud jeans, and later their JNCOs.

This was simply the place.

And I don't care how many lectures on tequila or the dark energy of the universe Adam Lerner hosts at the Lab at Belmar, roughly where my mall used to stand; Villa Italia was a bastion of culture that is now lost to the ages, remembered lovingly only by shoddy bloggers in half-assed texts.

And don't even get me started on the joys of Celebrity Sports Center. -- Sean Cronin

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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