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  • This article by Jonathan Thompson originally appeared in the Jan 24, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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Sign-hating Californians

News: Jan 24, 2013
by Jonathan Thompson

*Heard photo truck on wall*
CALIFORNIA: It seemed like a good idea at thetime. Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

CALIFORNIA

"Out here, people don't like signs." So said Sheriff's Deputy Rob McDaniels to the Point Reyes Light in December, after apprehending "Sensitive Sean" for stealing more than 20 no-parking signs. This small community on the Northern California coast –– let's just call it "Anonymous," since the locals have asked us not to reveal its name –– boasts hobbit-esque wood homes snuggled in lush foliage within earshot of the Pacific's waves. Its residents tend to be aging hippies, who've been here since real estate was cheap, along with a handful of millionaires escaping the urban frenzy and a few youngsters trying to recapture the countercultural vibe that once made the town famous, though now it's likely to cost $1 million or more to buy into it. The town has a proud reputation for vanishing signs: Whenever a highway placard is installed, it almost immediately disappears, stolen by reclusive locals. (Which is, incidentally, why High Country News decided not to print its name; we couldn't face having that many copies of our paper stolen.) It almost seems as if stealing signs has nudged its way into the town's DNA. It's not just highway or no parking signs: A few years back, someone absconded with 90 parking barricades. They've never been found.

THE OILFIELDS

Given the fact that oil rigs are popping up like weeds across the West, particularly in North Dakota, it was probably inevitable that the roughneck lifestyle would seep into popular culture. And so it is that CrashHat Entertainment is seeking "a group of women who socialize together while their husbands are away in the oilfields" to star in a TV reality show. The prospective show seems tailor-made for drillingahead.com's Web forum: Real Housewives of the Oilfield, where spouses of roughnecks swap advice. Or maybe not. Given the forum members' response to the casting call, the folks at CrashHat should just forget this housewife stuff and try putting together a reality show featuring roughneck women in the oilfield. "Another stupid reality show," wrote one such woman. "They don't want me, since I'm an oilfield worker." Another woman who works on the rigs said she doesn't have time for a reality show, between toiling in the oilfields and raising her kids, 500 miles away, while on rotation. "Oil and gas is our life," she says, one her father and brothers shared. "I understand this life, as I was raised in it. My new boilermaker husband doesn't understand."

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