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Off Limits

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Jim Dahl had a drunken dream. A dream to organize the biggest pub crawl ever -- and then hold it along Colfax Avenue, Denver's most liquid asset.

"There are a lot of new bars that have opened and that are doing well," says Dahl, whose day job is with a professional-recruitment firm. "It seemed like a good time to organize an event that would include some of the nicer places as well as the dives that give Colfax the charm we all know and love. Additionally, Colfax has really turned into a downtown alternative for many locals. The drinks are cheaper, parking is better, and the bars are quainter."

Dahl should know: He's lived off of Colfax for five years now, and regularly frequents its more colorful establishments. And so, inspired by a similar pub crawl in San Francisco, he brought the Colfax Crawl to town on Saturday, April 2, adding one post-April Fools' Day twist: Everyone had to be dressed as a pirate. "Do you know how huge pirates are right now?" he asks.

No, but we certainly know how huge Colfax is right now. So Off Limits sent a correspondent along with Dahl -- who'd decided on a colorful pimp/lounge-singer pirate motif -- and about fifty other buccaneers. After sobering up on Sunday, our operative filed the following diary of the night's debauchery:

7:05 p.m., Red Room: Receive the itinerary scroll. The first drink of the night is Coors.

7:41, Red Room: I am mildly buzzed from the first drink. More pirates come. One has a bird duct-taped to his shoulder. Their names are Brian ("with a B," Brian tells me many times throughout the night) and Pedro the Parrot.

8:20, Nob Hill Inn: The pirates pack into the small bar. The regulars leave. The elderly, cowboy-looking bouncer appears worried and confused.

8:35, Roslyn Grill: We find the regulars from the Nob are here. They migrated; we followed. Just like real pirates. My second drink of the night is rum and orange. It's strong -- very strong.

9:20, Sancho's Broken Arrow: I do a shot called a Cannonball. Before I do that, I must toast the hippie next to me.

10:12, Charlie's Denver: I really have to pee. There are no doors on the stalls, so I hold it. I do a Cowboy Sucker and something else I can't recall.

10:49, Lounge: I pee. I drink a Red Parrot. I am now drunk.

11:13, Irish Snug: White people dancing. Drink Car Bombs. Best. Shot. Ever.

Almost midnight, Streets of London: Time not important now. Same can be said for my notes. I drink.

12-ish, Burger King drive-thru: Walk up to the window and order a Whopper. Sit on the corner of Colfax and Williams and eat. Someone tries to solicit my roommate. She continues eating her fries.

Near 1 a.m., Squire Lounge: Brian with a B buys Car Bombs. Apologizes to my roommate for her being mistaken for a prostitute.

Closing, Satire Lounge: Everyone is asked to leave five minutes after we get here. There is no wilding, but people do go "Arrrrrggghhh."

2 a.m.: Walk home and pass out on the bed -- something I haven't done since I dropped -- okay, was forced -- out of CU.

Several mornings after the event, Dahl reports that a good time was had by all -- all who can remember the night, that is. He promises a second Colfax Crawl later this year.

Our operative may be recovered by then.

Kick your grass: Spring has sprung, but not at Denver International Airport.

Back in 2001, worried that the area around DIA might soon accumulate the sort of "industrial clutter" that surrounds so many of the country's lesser airports, Denver applied for a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, then added another $100,000 to fund a landscape-design competition for Peña Boulevard. San Francisco-based architecture firm Hargreaves Associates and Denver's own Wenk Associates won the contest with a plan that integrated the natural landscape and native grasses with twenty-foot-high earth mounds, at a projected cost of $10 million.

By spring 2002, the estimated cost had grown to $15 million, and the project was broken into three four-mile segments. Groundbreaking for the first, $5 million phase -- between E-470 and Gun Club Road -- was originally slated for spring 2004, but DIA managers decided instead to focus on repair of aging structures and parking lots, some of which were five years older than the airport itself. A year later, the landscaping plan is still on hold. "People care about dirty bathrooms," says airport spokesman Chuck Cannon. "They don't care about a dead tree."

"There's not a lot of money that we spend on landscaping," adds Ron Morin, DIA's director of field maintenance. "We go out there and make sure the areas are mowed and trimmed and the irrigation systems work as best they can. Other than that, there's not a lot of effort that goes into it, because this is a 53-mile site, and our main concentration is to make sure people get on planes."

Can't say we blame them.

Flights of fancy: On March 19, at exactly 5:37 p.m., shoppers wandering along the 16th Street Mall near Champa Street witnessed a bizarre display as a flock of more than 1,000 origami cranes fluttered down from the third level of a parking garage to the sidewalk in front of a Chili's. The spectacle inspired a carnival-like atmosphere as passersby gawked at the sky and children scrambled to catch the falling fowl. And the scene took an even weirder and more wonderful turn as half a dozen operatives in Matrix-like black suits and sunglasses emerged from an adjacent alleyway with matching brooms, proceeded to systematically sweep the meticulously folded gaggle into wheel-away trash bins, then disappeared as quickly as they'd come.

Judging from the number of Chili's baby-back ribs left dangling halfway to diners' mouths, the flash-mob experience was a first for most unsuspecting spectators. The Origami Crane is an international symbol of peace; this action, organized by local art subversives entirely through e-mail, is part of a multimedia project that will soon soar to Japan for display at the Hiroshima Children's Peace Museum, with accompanying video, photos and cranes.

Scene and herd: Looking for a hip place to live? Try the recently nicknamed Cool fax Avenue -- a moniker hung on America's longest Main Street even before Dahl's cool crawl. "Located one block from City Park, across the street from Starbucks and around the corner from Denver's newest hotspot -- East Coolfax Avenue," reads one posting on Craigslist. "Great apartment, great neighborhood, great landlord!" Great balls of fire. ...A few feet off East Coolfax, in the first stall in the ladies' bathroom of the Goosetown Tavern, there's a feisty graffiti debate on the proper spelling of "fuck all y'all." Those of us who've spent time in Mississippi know that "fuck all ya'all" and "fuck all y'll" are incorrect, but we always appreciate a good, literate discussion. Or a lovely, if misspelled, sentiment like the one on the gas station sign at Speer Boulevard and Zuni Street: Savor life's/tiny delights/a walk/a sunraise/a kiss a hug." ... After a friend of Kris Knapp found the biggest charm ever in a box of Lucky Charms she purchased in Broomfield, Knapp took the treasure -- a box's worth of blue moons, orange stars and green clovers compressed into one giant marshmallow rock -- and put it on eBay in honor of St. Patrick's Day. But with a $400 minimum bid, she found no takers.

On the Record

When John Huggins , now director of the Denver Mayor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade, reached the top of Genesee Mountain five years ago, what he found astounded him. The infamous clamshell-shaped Sculptured House that had captured his imagination decades before was literally just a shell. The windows were boarded up, snow had drifted inside, and the beautiful work of architect Charles Deaton was falling apart. What's a former software mogul with a spare $1.3 million to do? Buy the place, of course. So Huggins did, repairing the existing structure and finishing the 5,000-square-foot expansion that Deaton was unable to complete before he sold the house in 1988. This week, the Sculptured House may again change hands. Huggins has put it up for an April 7 auction on eBay, along with 22 other luxury properties all repped by Kruse International. The minimum bid is $3 million -- a steal, considering that this Sleeper set has been on the market for $10 million. Off Limits stole a few minutes of Huggins's time and asked how the most recent deal involving Colorado's most famous sculpture developed.

Q: Did you ever live in the Sculptured House?

A: I used it as a second home.

Q: What was it like to stay in it? Was it like sleeping in a museum piece?

A: It's magical. When people come to visit, there is something about the house that just makes them smile. It has good party karma. It is also a very peaceful place to be.

Q: What is the single most interesting aspect of the building?

A: Whether you're inside the house or outside, the view that you have, or the picture of the house, changes every time you take a step. I once told a friend it has 360 facades. It's really remarkable; if you just move a few feet, you see something completely different or see something in a completely different way.

Q: Why are you selling?

A: It was more fun for me to create and restore it than just to have it.

Q: Have you had any potential buyers?

A: We've had several people look at the house as a result of the auction. I don't expect it to sell at the auction, but maybe as a result of the auction. The Sculptured House is as much a work of art as it is a residence, and anyone who buys it will have to appreciate both aspects of the house.

Q: What are your plans now? Any big renovation projects on the horizon?

A: Nothing at the moment. My kids would love to move up there if it doesn't sell. I've thought about it.

Q: Do you have any amusing anecdotes about life with the Sculptured House?

A: The Sculptured House was in the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, and the Orgasmatron was inspired by the round elevator in the house. People always ask if I have the Orgasmatron. I say, 'Yes, but you can't use it.'

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