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 KentuckyFriedCruelty.com, 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 KentuckyFriedCruelty.com, 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 KentuckyFriedCruelty.com 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, KentuckyFriedCruelty.com 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.
Who's on first? Parade marshal Joey Skaggs has just announced the lineup for the 22nd annual April Fools' Day Parade in New York City, with people playing such notable fools as "John Mark Karr dressed as JonBenét Ramsey," along with a "Blatant-Hypocrites float featuring ex-Congressman Mark Foley, ex-pastor Ted Haggard, Boulder Colorado District Attorney Mary Lacy and Durham County North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong," the announcement promises. "The King or Queen of Fools will be chosen based on the loudest cheers of the crowd at Washington Square Park."
Or based on which reporter is duped into actually covering the parade -- which has been imaginary for the past 21 years. It exists only in the fertile mind of media-hoax artist Skaggs -- and on the thousands of releases he sends to media organizations each year. Still, we couldn't help but note that Colorado figured prominently in this year's cast of imaginary characters. "Fools come from all kinds of places," Skaggs told us, adding that he's spent time in Boulder and that "I spared all of you."
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Hmmm, spent time in Boulder? Could he be related to that famous Skaggs -- not Boz, not Ricky, but former congressman David Skaggs, who's now filling the education slot in Governor Bill Ritter's cabinet? "There are more skeletons in the closet," Joey Skaggs says. Hey, we're not biting.
In lieu of the parade, on April 1 Skaggs will introduce a new website, pranks.com, devoted to the fine art of tomfoolery.
Scene and herd: Odd that at the same time the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge was importing sixteen bison from Montana, Lakewood was reducing its known bison population by 50 percent when it shot an errant bison roaming the streets of Jeffco. According to Holly Gilbertson, supervisor of Lakewood Animal Control, it's legal to own a bison if a property is large enough and has adequate fencing; this particular bison's owner was as surprised as everyone else that his giant charge had managed to escape, then elude every attempt to capture him.
Finally, last week an Off Limits operative caught Kenyon Martin in his hot, black Phantom Bentley convertible, parked outside the Beauvallon on Lincoln Street, dodging free cups of joe from a local coffee-shop owner and waiting patiently for someone to emerge from the building. That someone? Fellow Nugget Reggie Evans, who'd apparently borrowed one of K-Mart's shirts. Driving around town in his Bentley, tracking down errant belongings? Could someone be thinking of packing up his possessions -- and packing it in?