A Napa group building a memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was derided Thursday as tone-deaf and showing poor judgment for a flier that included a sexual pun.
The announcement from Napa4ward about an upcoming fundraiser in which steel I-beams taken from the World Trade Center will be raised invites people to celebrate “Napa's 30-ton erection!”
Below the headline is a drawing of the proposed Main Street garden with four jutting pillars surrounded by glass panels.
Two of the four businessmen responsible for the flier and ongoing fundraising efforts defended their choice of words, insisting they didn't intend any phallic imagery.
Artist Gordon Huether, who composed the headline, said erection is a technical term that applies to I-beam construction.
He lashed out at the Napa Valley Register, which published a critical editorial, accusing the writer of “watching too much porn.”
“It never occurred to me that it would turn into some perverted thing,” Huether said. “Anyone who knows me knows the memorial is not something I take lightly.”
His counterpart in the group, City Councilman Alfredo Pedroza, also said there was no double meaning. He said the flier was an attempt to attract potential donors to a July 2 event and he “didn't scrutinize each word.”
“For folks that interpreted it differently, that was not my intention,” he said.
But one member of the group acknowledged in the editorial a deliberate attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor. Civil engineer Ryan Gregory was quoted as saying it was “kitschy” and an “attention-grabber.”
Gregory didn't return calls Thursday seeking comment.
Others who read the flier had mixed opinions about whether it was offensive or inappropriate for a memorial about people killed on Sept. 11.
Steve Countouriotis of Petaluma, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who visited Ground Zero for the first anniversary of the attacks, called the flier “immature, juvenile and senseless.”