What does a newpaperman-turned-professor who spends the better part of 168 pages reminiscing about life in the spliff-puffing ski town of Crested Butte have to say that's relevant to anywhere else in the West? Well, it turns out, a lot.
If you ever wonder whether the West will create that
mythic society to match its fabled scenery, read Dragons
in Paradise. George Sibley's scope ranges wide, including
a cantankerous, accordion-pumping Croatian and life during the
"paleotechnic" stage of development at the Mount Crested Butte ski
resort — the pre-Snowcat era, when ski patrollers busted the
tops off icy moguls by hand, long before Club Med hung its shingle
at the base of the ski slopes.
Matching the scenery,
Sibley believes, will take fewer chauffeured Land Rovers, and more
mountain pluck. "Until I came to the mountains," he writes, "I
thought, or had been generally encouraged to think, that money and
capital were one and the same."
He discovers that human
capital — ideas, passion and even a knack for a little
wheeling and dealing — creates community. Starting the
Crested Butte Mountain Theater, for example, took some money, and
it took a little artistic talent. But, Sibley writes, it also took
a rougher form of human capital: "I knew whom to talk to to get the
use of the schoolyard and the gym for rehearsals, whom to talk to
at the college to borrow some lights," and, of course, "whom to
talk to at the Electrical Association to get a slightly illegal
line and some help in the touchy task fo splitting 220 volts into
two 110 volt lines."
Dragons is an
inspiring reminder that in simply leading their lives, people can
end up with a lot to say.
A view of the West from on high
You can buy this book and help High Country News, too.
BookSense.com is an on-line family of independent booksellers in communities near you. When you use the link below to buy a book through BookSense.com, you'll not only support local booksellers, you'll also help us: Five-and-a-half percent of each purchase goes to High Country News.