Pluck You

Hmm. Would you rather live in Commerce City or

On April 3, the good folk of Commerce City will go to the polls -- none of those Denver mail-in ballots for them! -- and vote on whether to change the name of "the City of Commerce City to another name to be chosen by the registered electors of the City." If so, four electors from each of still-Commerce City's wards will be named to a naming committee, which will "meet not fewer than four times," and at least once in each ward, to consider possible names, then select three that will be presented to the voters in November -- and "one of which may not be 'Commerce City.'"

And one of which probably won't be, the suggestion sent to Mayor Sean Ford last week by Matt Prescott, Factory Farming Campaigns manager of, you guessed it, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Including chickens. "I'm writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 1.6 million members and supporters regarding the proposal to change the name of Commerce City -- a proposal I understand you do not favor," Prescott told Ford. "I'd like to recommend that you appease the unhappy residents of Commerce City and give the city an unforgettable new name that will help alleviate the suffering of countless animals.... By changing your city's name to, you'll send the message that the city formerly known as Commerce City opposes cruelty to animals. You'll also be associating your city with kind people worldwide -- including Sir Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Reverend Al Sharpton -- who have spoken out against KFC's cruelty."

Although PETA has cooked up numerous capers -- if not capons -- in the past, this is the first time the group has played the name game. "Commerce City is the first city we've come across trying to change its name," Prescott explains, "but if we find others, we'll make the request of them, too." But only if the good folk of Commerce City are so foolish as to ignore Al Sharpton's advice and fail to adopt as their new name. "It would certainly be unforgettable," Prescott points out.

Perhaps. But judging from the tranquil scene at Commerce City's sole Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, which sits like a beacon of Southern-fried hospitality on 60th Avenue, would be a grievous misnomer for the town in which this bright, neo-deco restaurant resides. On Monday evening, we didn't witness a single piece of poultry being treated inhumanely. In fact, despite a sign touting a "hot & fresh meal every time," we're fairly certain that the chickens we spied sunning peaceably beneath the heat lamps as "Crystal Blue Persuasion" played overhead had all ceased breathing long before arriving in C-town.

Then again, aside from a small enter/exit sign at the entrance of the parking lot, there's no visible signage on this KFC. Maybe it's hiding its cruel purpose from the police station next door. Vote early, vote often, Commerce City.

The song remains the same: Last week, right after Off Limits spanked Senator Bob Hagedorn, Colorado's most famous prudey-pants -- no tan teens, no cigar bars -- he was saluted by none other than Stephen Colbert for making "Rocky Mountain High" the state's second official state song. "There was some concern that the song contained drug references," Colbert said, then defended Hagedorn's assertion that it does not. As further refutation of that rumor, "let's not forget the fact that the Rocky Mountains are literally high," Colbert added. "I can't believe I'm the first person to put that together. So relax, America."

And Hagedorn can relax -- although probably not with a big fat joint -- because not only has the Colorado Legislature endorsed the song, but Cherry Lane, the New York-based company that publishes John Denver's entire catalogue of several hundred songs, has sent a letter giving Colorado permission to make "Rocky Mountain High" its second official state song -- just as long as it's not actually used to promote the state. That would require a licensing agreement and some cold, hard cash, which Coors Brewing Co. paid out a few years ago when it used the ditty in two ad campaigns. "Just the song as the state song is fine; we're honored and happy," says Cherry Lane's Greg Baron. "We've been in touch with the governor's office. If they want to license it in any manner, they can work through us and the other copyright holders."

So far, Baron says he has yet to hear back from the governor's office. Then again, the governor's office has no record of receiving any missive from Baron. The Kansas City-based advertising agency that has the state's tourism account did get an e-mail from Cherry Lane regarding licensing opportunities for "Rocky Mountain High," but since Colorado just revealed its new campaign -- which carries the extremely lame tagline "Let's Talk Colorado" - the agency is in no hurry to discuss such opportunities.

The last time the state used a song to tell its story was more than two decades ago, when the tourism campaign featured the slightly diffident slogan "I guess I'd rather be in Colorado," as well as updated lyrics for "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado." Unlike "Rocky Mountain High," that song is by a native Coloradan: Judy Collins, the East High grad who'll be back in town Sunday for a concert at the Paramount.

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