The hidden beauty of West Side Books and the indie bookstores of Denver

I scored a bounty of Dare Wright books from West Side Books.
I don't read books. Really. I used to be ashamed of this, but then I realized that I read thousands of words every day -- they just come in the form of online articles and, when I'm lucky, physical copies of magazines. I've been a voracious magazine reader since I learned how to read; I love longform, investigative pieces, clips, tips and factoids. I love well-curated publications, beautiful photo spreads and regular columnists. My favorite authors are those with a magazine past, people like Joan Didion and Chuck Klosterman.

But despite the fact that I don't read books, I do love book stores. This past weekend, during the Highlands Street Fair, I was working a table for a friend's non-profit and I wandered into West Side Books to see if I could use the bathroom. But I was stopped in my restroom pursuit by a handful of books I hadn't seen in twenty years sitting high on a shelf, too far from my reach. I had to see these books.

See also: 40 West Arts is capturing West Colfax's history through commercial architecture

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Hoodlab will be leaving its home on Larimer at the end of July

Antonio Valenzuela
Hoodlab will be leaving its home in RiNo next month. The owners of the HoodLamb clothing line, which celebrates hemp and got its start in Amsterdam, moved their business into the building at 33rd and Larimer streets almost two years ago, and quickly turned it into a gathering place known for art, culture and cannabis parties as well as clothing.

See also: Photos of Hoodlab's Extravaganja celebration, lighting up 4/20 weekend

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40 West Arts is capturing West Colfax's history through commercial architecture

Courtesy of 40 West Arts.
8000 West Colfax, formerly the home of the Lakewood Theater, was built in 1950.
If you take a closer look, underneath layers of paint and decades of additions, there are gorgeous mid-century modern commercial structures along Colfax Avenue that have a story to tell. A sordid past is part of what makes the country's longest main street fascinating to some, but for Bill Marino and the non-profit 40 West Arts whose board he chairs, there's a desire to let onlookers know there is more to the avenue's colorful life than seediness.

Through a $50,000 state historical grant secured by 40 West Arts and the Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District, Marino and his crew of volunteers are hard at work on a historic resources survey. Cataloging more than 500 structures along West Colfax from Sheridan Boulevard to Simms Street, the organization's building a complete picture by taking a photographic inventory as well as speaking with people who live and work in the Lakewood corridor. Marino talked with Westword about what information is being collected with the grant and how he hopes the public will soon be able to enjoy the once-buried history of this section of the fabled Colfax Avenue.

See also: Will Sid King's Crazy Horse Bar light up Denver again?

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The Metlo proves development in Denver doesn't have to be ugly and destructive

The Broadway Plaza Motel back in the day.
I complain about the bulldozing of Denver's sometimes tacky but often unique cowtown-ish architectural history a lot. It wasn't that long ago that we weren't very cool; in my salad days of the early 2000s, I rented a sprawling two-bedroom apartment in a beautiful '40s-era building on Cheesman Park for $795. That time is gone -- which is why I am writing this from my six-foot-by-six foot room in a commune I share with five other people in a quaint joint on the west side.

I feel like I am constantly at odds with what developers seem to think will look cool in my sweet little city, but as Denver continues to grow, I understand that I cannot stand in the way of progress. Which is why I was surprised and, frankly, overjoyed to see what has been done with the old Broadway Plaza Motel at 11th and Broadway.

See also: New owner of Mayfair Center to renovate the mid-century modern shopping area

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Photos: Back to the '80s at Totally Tennyson

The Berkeley neighborhood went back to the '80s this weekend when Totally Tennyson took over the Tennyson Street strip from 35th to 46th avenues for a street crawl and party that ended with live music and a high-stakes costume contest at the Oriental Theater. Photographer Marissa Shevins brought back these images of the big-hair shredders and other pop-culture heroes of thirty years ago -- from Mr. T to Olivia Newton John -- who wandered the street on Saturday.

See also: The Worst Possible '80s TV Comebacks

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Artist House Tour: Fine art photographers Mark and Kristen Sink thrive in their LoHi Bohemia

Mark and Kristen Sink, and
Fine Art photographers Mark and Kristen Sink in their LoHi home.
Editor's note: Indie Design Blogger Jeanne Connolly loves to see how creative people put their houses together. In this series, she'll be sharing some of her favorite homes, by taking us inside the unique private spaces of metro Denver and beyond.

Husband-and-wife photographers Mark Sink and Kristen Sink are quite the artistic force in Denver, using their inspiring bohemian as a home base to launch massive community projects, to create special wet-plate photos and to collect books featuring historic family members who have impacted the field of photography. There are even some fabulous photographs of Mark's work with renowned Pop artist Andy Warhol from the 1980s.

See also: Artist House Tours: Featuring Eron Johnson's inspiring Valverde Loft.

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Cherry Creek Shopping Center welcomes a new four-story Restoration Hardware gallery store

Aerial rendering of the new four-story Restoration Hardware, which will be called RH.
The empty space at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center once occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue is slated to become a four-story Restoration Hardware gallery store, officially rebranding as "RH." The 53,000 square- foot showroom will be four times the size of the current Restoration Hardware store and feature an atrium, outdoor garden and rooftop park, as well as the brand's product lines for living, dining, bed, bath, lighting, tableware and more. The original Saks will be demolished to make way for RH, along with 38,000 square feet of additional speciality merchants.

See also: Best of Denver 2013 - Best Indoor Mall: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

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Artist House Tours: Featuring Eron Johnson's inspiring Valverde loft

Steve Hirsch Photography,
Johnson playing music in his loft home.

Editor's note: Indie Design Blogger Jeanne Connolly loves to see how creative people put their houses together. In this series, she'll be sharing some of her favorite homes, by taking us inside the unique private spaces of metro Denver and beyond.

When Eron Johnson isn't designing "drool worthy" accessories, lamps and sculptures out of finely crafted architectural antiques, he is simply a man who enjoys making things with his hands. His artistic creations range from wirework to pottery to stained glass -- and even music. You can find everything from a forklift to wire cutters in Johnson's creative toolbox and you can find every inch of inspiration in his Valverde Loft home.

See also: Artist House Tours: Andi Todaro takes inspiration from her home studio.

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Remembering All-V's All Variety and the small-town feel of a strip mall in the big city

I used to have this recurring dream where I was walking along a strip mall in my grandparents' neighborhood of Mayfair/Hale. I was always heading to La Bola, a Mexican restaurant we used to go to when I was a kid. I would walk up to the door in broad daylight, pull on its oversized wrought-iron handle, and look into the dark and dank bar room beyond. But that was as far as I got -- I would always wake up before I could really see what the interior looked like.

About a decade ago, I made my roommate go with me to this strip mall to see if La Bola was still there and if it looked like that dream I couldn't seem to finish. It didn't: La Bola was gone, replaced by an Italian restaurant. I opened the door and there was no bar room, no mysterious dim and cool space to step into -- just a regular restaurant.

I was in that same neighborhood again yesterday, after I heard that All-V's All Variety had closed after almost half a century on East Eighth Avenue. As with La Bola, I wanted to go inside the sub shop one last time, but no such luck. It was done.

See also: New owner of Mayfair Center to renovate the mid-century modern shopping area

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema unveils plans for a second Colorado location on West Colfax

Although the first Alamo Drafthouse opened less than a year ago, the Texas-based chain already has a second movie theater on West Colfax. The success of the location in Littleton prompted the company to extend its brand in metro Denver. The new Alamo will be part of the Sloans development plan, the project that is taking over the former home of St. Anthony's Hospital. That's a massive redevelopment that will take years to complete; the Alamo is targeting an opening for late 2015 or early 2016.

See also: Keith Garcia and Theresa Mercado join forces for new film series Channel Z

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