It's a bit of cheeky coincidence that the man who co-founded Wild Oats Markets in Boulder twenty years ago has been accused of attempting to sow those oats with an underage prostitute in New Mexico. Turns out that one of the first stores Michael Gilliland purchased en route to building his health-food market empire was named Lolita's. Really, how many sex puns does this story need?!
Gilliland -- a recently-christened Westword Shmuck of the Week -- was arrested February 10 through an Internet prostitution sting by Phoenix police, after he allegedly arranged to have sex with a female he believed was seventeen years old. Gilliland maintains his innocence, but the criminal charge prompted him to resign as CEO of the Sunflower Markets chain.
An interesting Sunday article co-written by the Boulder Daily Camera and Denver Post charts Gilliland's sometimes controversial business dealings from the time he and his ex-wife began purchasing small convenience stores in Boulder:
In the mid-1980s, Gilliland and his wife, Libby Cook, bought several convenience stores in town -- one named, ironically in light of his arrest, Lolita's.
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This tongue-in-cheek reference to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, in which an adult man becomes obsessed with a sexually precocious girl, may have been too juicy for the reporters to resist including in what was otherwise a straightforward business story. Indeed, Lolita's Market is still in business at 800 Pearl Street in Boulder though it is now owned by Pretty Good Groceries, Inc.
Still, the irony poke was criticized by several DailyCamera.com commentators, who said the "slam" was unnecessary and out-of-bounds since "the book Lolita was about a pedophile: by definition, someone attracted to pre-pubescent children. If Gilliland tried to solicit sex from a 17 year old, he is not a pedophile."
A fair point, particularly in light of headlines like "Michael Gilliland Resigns After Child Prostitution Arrest" that may be technically correct, but are definitely misleading.
So please, daily journalists, get your minds out of the gutter with all the sex puns. That's Westword territory. Want more alleged hot Sunflower action? Read Anthony Garcia allegedly adds special ingredient to yogurt -- semen -- at NM Sunflower Market.