Television has brought its own set of icons into our world: O.J. as hero, O.J. as anti-hero; the Super Bowl as football game, the Super Bowl as cultural landmark. And for the first time this year, the Super Bowl as intergenerational Navajo entertainment.
Ernie Manuelito of KTNN, the tribe's 50,000-watt radio station, provided a play-by-play of the game in Navajo that was broadcast to television screens and radios all over the reservation. And as Manuelito explained to The Navajo Times, it wasn't an easy job. Navajo doesn't have words for football terms like "punt" or "interception," and using the English words could confuse older Navajos not familiar with football. So he got creative: "If a pass is intercepted, I may say in Navajo that the person threw the ball but someone who shouldn't have has caught it," he told the Times. Likewise, a Navajo translation of the two-minute warning is "two black dots left over' - a reference to the dots on the clock.
Also watching television these days is Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Washington, who recently put veteran representative (and Speaker of the House) Tom Foley out of a job. The freshman congressman's favorite campaign jingle was "I'm a listener, not a speaker." He was recently paid a visit by Spokane environmentalist John Osborn.
"Rep. Nethercutt welcomed me into his office in the Longworth Building," Osborn wrote in a recent issue of Transitions, the publication of the Inland Empire Public Lands Council. "We sat down: The television was on one side of Nethercutt and I was on the other. He looked at the TV as I spoke. Then looked at me. Then back to the TV (which was broadcasting congressional goings-on via C-Span). I attempted to convey the historic proportions of the transition under way in the Columbia River region. Leadership is needed, I said, to protect and restore our forests and fisheries and to help rural communities through a period of disruptive change. "Do you fish?" I asked. No. "Hunt?" No. "Do you know anything about the clearcutting and toxic metal pollution upstream from Spokane?" No. Finally, Nethercutt turned away from the television and asked, insistently, "What do you want?"
Idaho writer Stephen Lyons doesn't watch much TV, but he recently put in the better part of an afternoon staring at fish behind a piece of reinforced glass. He wrote to us after taking a trip to Little Goose Dam on the Snake River, where he encountered "more concrete than he thought existed on this earth" enroute to the dam's viewing room. He read the oversized visitor's log, in which previous visitors had written the following:
"Lots of fishies."
"No fish in windows."
"Didn't see no fish."
"I like the carp."
"Saw a fish. A dead fish."
"Saw lots of fish. Had fun."
"Seen a salmon."
This collective haiku may not be enough to have you planning a vacation to the Snake River dams anytime soon. There are flashier and more photogenic vacation activities in the West - skiing, rafting, fishing, and, in Nevada, guaranteed romance. Wanaleiya, (pronounced, well, you know), a resort planned to open in 1998, will cater to just about every need you could possibly name. A $7,000 weekend there will include wine, food, cigars and "access to the staff women and men freely roaming the grounds," reports the Rocky Mountain News. "People go on expensive singles' trips to Club Med all the time in hopes they will meet someone," pointed out company spokesman Steve Cohen. "Here, it's a guarantee."
Well, okay. Call us puritanical, but we feel more comfortable with romance, Iowa-style. Dairy farmer Dennis White recently found a wife through the Farm Journal's popular new singles' listing service. He and Deb Renning, also a dairy farmer, set their first date at the Dairy Queen in Waverly, Iowa, where they talked for five hours, reports the Capital Press. The next weekend courting began in earnest for the pair; they had lived 12 miles apart for years but had never met.
It's no wonder love is flourishing in the Midwest - it's one way to prevent freezing to death. Take, for instance, the story of John Gardner of Carrington, N.D. He knew the next day was going to be a bad one when he went out in the late evening to plug in his engine-block heater, and the electric cord shattered as though it were glass. Even to the south, in Bismarck, things were tough. Ann Clark of the United Tribes Technical College was just about the last person still at school when we called on Feb. 1. "We sent all the students home," she said. "They were getting frostbitten just walking from building to building." How cold was it? Well, in Minnewauken, not that far from Carrington, Bernadine Solewey, who runs the Little Flower Independent Living Center, said it was minus 80 degrees. When we expressed disbelief, she admitted as how that included the wind chill factor. Without the wind, she said, it was only 40 below.
Speaking of being a few degrees off, here's our latest installment on Denver International Airport. We all know about big DIA - the $5 billion complex with the rickety radar and high-tech flying baggage. But there's also little DIA. The little airport caters to model planes and helicopters. It's in the phone book. Big DIA is not.
How did this happen? Because little DIA owner John Palombo lists his flying field in U.S. West's White Pages phone book while somehow big DIA failed to do so when Stapleton Airport closed. "Human error," says a phone company spokeswoman. So now lots of people call little DIA requesting flight information, airport tours, the correct terminal for passenger pickups - little stuff like that. Palombo always asks: "Are you calling big DIA or little DIA?" This is not a question most callers expect, and many just hang up, perhaps muttering something about the latest looney tune emanating from the embattled airport.
Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or HCNVIRO@aol.com