Colleen Don Dero got a taste of Colorado recently, but she didn't like it much.
Several decades ago, the Colorado native moved to Phoenix, where she runs a hat and T-shirt company called It's All About the Head. The apparel features the company's name as a slogan alongside a mug of beer overflowing with foam and graced by a set of lipstick-kissed red lips.
But when Don Dero, who is in her fifties, applied for a booth at A Taste of Colorado -- which takes over Civic Center Park Labor Day weekend -- the organizers denied her application. "The double entendre reflected in all of your apparel does not fit within our family Festival," said the group putting on the event for the Downtown Denver Partnership. In other words, take your fellatio puns elsewhere.
Denver's prudey-pants response to Don Dero's request inspired her friend John DeMoss to pen a lengthy retort, which can be found below in its entirety.
But the Downtown Denver Partnership, which produces the Taste, doesn't find it funny.
"That's a story? Interesting," said Partnership president Tami Door. She declined to address the approach A Taste of Colorado uses to approve or disapprove vendors: "We don't comment on who applies and who doesn't and why they're selected or how. We have a lot of applicants every year and we don't have room for everyone. It's a very popular event."
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So is the Taste prudish? "Prudish, hmm," Door responded.
It's difficult to determine what she meant by that, but one can only assume that A Taste of Colorado and Downtown Denver Partnership are not All About the Head.
Tasteless of Colorado?! Obscene queen?! Hardly! [oops!...strike that!]. Granny banned in Denver?!
Present Phoenix-resident Colleen Don Dero [nee Cain] was born in Denver and was raised a good Catholic girl and attended Catholic school -- kindergarten through high school -- in fact, she was a former St. Joseph high school cheerleader.
Growing up, Colleen, her older sister Pat & and younger sister Susie, and parents Frank & Pauline lived in a modest tri-plex at 267 Cherokee St. in Broadway Terrace... less than 12 blocks south of the upcoming "A Taste of Colorado" festival. To this day, the attractive, fifty-ish, petite, grandmother attends Sunday mass religiously [pun fully intended].
Though Colleen hasn't spent a lot of time in Denver proper since she and her family relocated to Phoenix decades ago, she and her younger sister Susie have stayed overnight in and sampled LoDo, the 16th Street Mall, and toney Cherry Creek; have often visited their nieces in Vail/ Beavercreek; and have noticed how progressive and European-like are those mountain communities.
Colleen was under the impression that Denver and its tastes had grown from the cow town of her youth to a chic, sophisticated cosmopolitan modern megalopolis and that the 1895 Festival of Mountain & Plain, which evolved into today's "A Taste of Colorado," had become avant-garde.
However, she's now having second thoughts....
Colleen and her business partner, Mr. Chris Pascal, were recently surprised, and frankly disappointed, when their fledgling apparel company, "It's All About the Head," was turned down at the last minute when they applied for a booth at the upcoming "A Taste of Colorado" festival, because the festival management felt "...the double entendre reflected in all of your apparel does not fit within our family Festival."
If Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was correct in his 1964 ruling that "Obscenity is in the eye of the beholder," then the festival management's decision may say more about the festival's management, than about Don Dero & Pascal's company name.
In short, if one looks long and hard [oops!] enough, one can find sexual suggestion in virtually everything and everywhere. So says Sigmund Freud! In a takeoff on Supreme Court Justice Stewart's ruling, Charles Rembar told us that "Pornography is in the groin of the beholder!"
Colleen said, "The Festival people were polite and courteous, but it left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth [retract that!] We had already gone to some expense in preparation for participating in this festival and would have appreciated more than 6 weeks notice that we weren't welcome." [Note to self: Thomas Wolfe warned us that "You can't go home, again...."]
Don Dero & Pascal concede that their company name has an intentional double entendre [sex sells, but apparently not at the "Taste of Colorado"], but, "Contrasted with the sexually-explicit content of family-hour TV and the media -- let alone the internet! -- our T-shirts are barely [oops!] risqué!"
[Aside: With suggestive word play throughout his body of work, would even The Bard -- none other than William Shakespeare himself -- be banned from "A Taste of Colorado" ?! Are Rocky Mountain Oysters banned?!]
Interestingly, these 2 entrepreneurs recently received a photo via e-mail from an unknown customer in northern Arizona who won a local Pinetop, AZ, beer festival T-shirt contest sporting one of their T-shirts!
Colleen has always loved Denver and in no way wants to harm the city nor offend its residents, but she has some concerns about overly restrictive restraint of expression at a community festival held on city property. Is this more political correctness? A First Amendment freedom of speech issue?
Colleen and Chris observe that "In San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, bicyclists are legally riding totally nude through city parks, but we can't even market a T-shirt at a community festival in a Denver city park in 2009!?"
Though Colleen's personal preference is "fine" wine [Franzia White Zin...via a box], she has come [oops!] to learn a lot about beer, and particularly how critical "head" [pardon me], or the foam, is to the overall beer experience.
She states, "The more one knows about beer, the less risqué the name of our little company becomes."
It is the height of irony that Colleen & Chris themselves toned down the original logo creations that their graphic artist submitted for their company, because they deemed them slightly too suggestive.
They will have a booth at the upcoming Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Sept. 24-26... unless they are again turned away at the last minute.
"If we're 'banned in Denver,' perhaps we'll just have to pursue less prudish, less puritanical markets like Canada, Australia, and Europe... Oktoberfest in Germany would be a blast!"
Roll out the original adult logos for Munich, Calgary, and Sydney!!!
In conclusion, Chris, the originator of the company name and concept, and a Heineken Light aficionado, says, "We're only a little start-up company just trying to get ahead..." [There they go again!]