Off Limits

Off Limits hasn't had to bust out the gloves for a while, but after reading David Harsanyi's Denver Post columns about Colfax Avenue last week, we had to borrow a pair from our friend over at the Beatdown.

Harsanyi's descriptions of the city's most-beloved strip -- after all, Colfax is Main Street, USA! -- were so sneering that numerous 'fax fans e-mailed to ask, no, beg that we defend the street's honor. It's sorta like he talked shit about our mom. Sure, we may know she's a crack whore, but why the hell is some outsider from the East Coast running down our mother? It's time to teach this uptight import the rules of the road that he called "one of the most decrepit stretches of pavement in Colorado." Uh, has he seen Brighton Boulevard? Or Smith Road? Or 40th Avenue?

For that matter, we're not sure he's even seen Colfax. For starters, he mentions that you can score amphetamines at "the busy pay phones" along the avenue -- but amphetamines haven't been big on this strip since 1978. Crack is king here. Plus, if you're buying on Colfax, you're scoring from street pushers. If you're dialing for dope, it's called delivery service -- and the merchandise comes to your door. And we won't bother taking a swing at his mischaracterization of Mon Chalet, so far is its Rat Pack-like swapping atmosphere from the one-hour hot-sheet flop he described.

After Harsanyi's first drive-by shooting of the stretch of pavement Playboy once called the "longest, wickedest street in America," he returned three days later, cocked and loaded, to praise Mod Livin', a mid-century modern furniture store started by Erick Roorda and Jill Warner. "Now, their shop, between Grape and Glencoe streets, has emerged as one of the remarkable success stories of the projected Colfax renovation," he wrote, "which, it's fair to say, has gotten off to a sluggish start."

Katherine Cornwell, the city planner in charge of the Colfax redevelopment project, came out slugging after that. "This street is Denver, baby!" she says. "David Harsanyi will probably be most comfortable running through the sterilized pavement of Highlands Ranch, with a Noodles, Chipotle, Starbucks on every corner serving up a solid dose of homogenous Stepford safety. But me? Give me Colfax any day, with all its grit and glitz and gum on my shoes, over a sterile, predictable, formula commercial strip."

For glitz, where was Harsanyi last Friday night, when hundreds of neighbors showed up on East Colfax for the Teller Art Walk? In a joint project among residents, businessfolk and educators, shops between St. Paul and Cook streets had hung artwork created by students at Teller Elementary School, and the exhibit was accompanied by music, food and even a few hookers mixed in with the kindergartners and their parents.

Now, that's Colfax.

But then, so's this gritty tale: Early in the morning of that same Friday, police pulled over a white Cadillac Escalade moving erratically -- and how, as it turned out -- down West Colfax. Inside, they found then-Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle and prostitution pro Jill Russell, who reportedly told police Neagle had paid her $40 for a blow job. On Monday, the Rockies canned Neagle; his arm hadn't worked well enough to pitch for over a season, but apparently he could still catch.

More bare facts from Colfax.

On the Record:

James 'Slim' Cunningham is either one hell of a friend or one hell of a promoter. Maybe both. He took the rap for the weed found in Carmelo Anthony's bag on October 15, swearing to the world that he'd accidentally left it behind after he'd borrowed some luggage from Melo's crib. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the president of Loose Cannon Entertainment, an outfit that throws hip-hop nights all over the country, now faces the possibility of a paltry $100 fine if he's convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana -- and in the meantime, he's reaped publicity beyond price.

Off Limits caught up with the impresario (who'd just written Westword to give Dave Herrera a beatdown for his December 2 column) while he was relaxing at home in St. Louis.

Q: How's life been since you took the rap?

A: I've been, like, crucified; it's terrible. I did it, but everybody's making it look bad. Melo don't even smoke. Everybody who knows me knows I do. Everybody's acting like it was crack, or I shot somebody.

Q: You say you're the Hip-Hop King of LoDo. How's that kingdom?

A: It's better now. When I first got there, it was a little bland, but people are stepping their game up. People are going out and getting national celebrities. I was the first one doing that, bringing them to the nightclubs. You guys have real honest, good clubs compared to other cities. It was just like we could never get nobody to come out there. But after Melo's celebrity game, they started comin'. Denver is going to be a spot for urban people to start coming. It can't do nothing but grow now.

Q: Why aren't you still promoting Carmelo's parties?

A: I graduated from that type of stuff. I've got bigger events; I'm not doing the weekly stuff anymore. The papers just tried to make me out to be some little dude in Carmelo's posse. I've been doin' my own stuff since day one.

Q: Do you think your nights are responsible for the Let Out problems in LoDo?

A: The problem isn't the hip-hop night. The problem is there isn't enough hip-hop nights. When people don't have nothing to do, they're going to shoot and fight. My motto is, "We don't fight, we fuck." There's so many girls in there, there's something wrong with you if you fighting. I did sixteen to seventeen parties out there, and we never had no altercations, no stabbings. A police presence is fine, but not a strong police presence. The police need to go and take some lessons on how they do it in other cities.

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