Drinking and Reading Liberally

Coloradans do not believe in moderation. As proof, consider that this small state boasts a dozen chapters of Drinking Liberally, the second-largest showing outside of California for the four-year-old group that's now 212 chapters strong, with each of them devoted to "promoting democracy one pint at a time." And this month, Drinking Liberally Denver is spilling over into another regular event: Reading Liberally.

"Reading Liberally is a new direction taken by Living Liberally," explains Jay Hazen, who, along with Lauren Turnage, is hosting this latest offspring. "Its first big push was with Drinking Liberally as a social club, so that the progressive movement could not only stay in touch socially, but talk out the issues of the day."

How does he account for Drinking Liberally's popularity in this town? "I'm sure the microbrews have something to do with it," Hazen admits, "but the state has been changing, too. Little by little, we're seeing inroads being made by candidates who are not part of this radical conservative agenda."

Reading Liberally had its unofficial coming-out party at the LoDo Tattered Cover Monday night, when Mike Jones read from I Had to Say Something, the former male escort's account of the rise (and how!) and fall of Ted Haggard. But the real page-turner will be on July 3, when the first Reading Liberally chapter in the country convenes at Hooked on Colfax, 3215 East Colfax Avenue, to choose the book that will kick off its reading campaign. "We are democratic with a small d," Hazen explains. "We'll open the table up to everyone's suggestion. We want to make sure that we find a selection that will appeal to the members."

A good progressive always has an opinion, of course, and so Hazen has his own favorite: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore. "It's a great opener for a discussion on the degradation of public discourse and media sensationalism," he notes. "But it's certainly not my call."

And it won't be last call, either, not if the success of Drinking Liberally Denver — which regularly attracts dozens of people to Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month — is any indication. After this initial gathering, Reading Liberally will move its meetings to the first Wednesday of the month, to keep the progressives' march to world domination orderly. Or, as Drinking Liberally's most recent missive notes: "Whether you like books, movies, drinking or chatting liberally, Living Liberally is spreading faster than TB on an airplane from Greece."

Scene and herd: And speaking of the TB poster boy, when Andrew Speaker became a reluctant resident of this city a few weeks ago, he not only provided celebrity-starved Denver with another bold name, but offered up a great new marketing slogan. "People told me if I was anywhere but Denver, I'll die," he confided to Diane Sawyer.

"If I was anywhere but Denver, I'll die"! Let's talk about how much more appealing that line is than the godawful "Let's Talk Colorado" that the state is now using in its high-priced tourism campaign.