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Know the West

Heard around the West

 

Maybe Denver International Airport was built to test the tempers of travelers. Flighty state-of-the-art baggage system? No backup. Access road blocked by snowdrifts? No backup. A busted concourse train? No backup - so 30,000 passengers were stalled and enraged Sunday, April 26, some of them trapped for hours in darkened train tunnels without ventilation or working doors or phones.

"No one ever spoke to us, except for this Keystone Kop character that kept running back and forth along the catwalk next to the train," one traveler told The Denver Post. "I heard him yell into his radio, "I can't keep them in there any longer. They are losing their minds. What do I do?" "''''No one seemed to know. Despite all this, the city's sangfroid remained intact: Hours after escaping the maelstrom at DIA, a group of Nashville government and business leaders listened to Denver Mayor Wellington Webb deliver a talk titled "Why Denver Works." "Kind of ironic, huh?" said a Nashville architect, who added that at least he could understand the words of the speech. When he was stranded at DIA, he said, the airport's public address system issued "garbled, incomprehensible messages ... There was no plan at all."

Cheeks fore and aft were red with blushes - not anger - over at the Crested Butte, Colo., ski area. "Happy Naked Day!" read a sign for skiers April 19 on the last day of the sport. Shedding everything but boots, sunglasses and the occasional wacky wig, a hundred or so skiers whizzed down the mountain, causing some lift riders above to hastily shield the eyes of their children, reports the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs. The mostly sunny day was filled with photo ops as wind-whipped skiers flashed by, many sporting "posterior raspberries' from spills on the hills. Clothes-free and free-admission skiing on the final day dates back to the 1970s at the resort, which does insist on a few rules. A sign for those waiting to ride a ski lift advised that "You must have pants or some form of loin cloth covering your nappy butts."

Scandalous, some parents complained, after hearing what a Sesame Street "talking T-shirt" said at a Kmart in Denver, Colo. The shirt was supposed to teach the letter T; its instructional tape was hijacked by pranksters who substituted the letter F. That turned Cookie Monster's cheery "Time to truck" in a whole new direction. The bad-word shirt was discovered by the parents of 19-month-old Willie Medina, reports the Rocky Mountain News, after they heard their child repeating the new word he'd learned from his size 3T garment.

Social news in the venerable Cody Enterprise, founded in 1899, occasionally turns to the travails of a pack of five orphaned wolves. Under the headline, "Wolves moving closer," the paper reports that residents in the backcountry recently spotted the year-old Thorofare pack apparently still together. The wolves were left to fend for themselves after another pack killed the dominant male, and the female either died in an avalanche or was also brought down by a competing pack.

If life is rough for wolves in the wild, try enforcing the law in California. Police in Oakland spent two hours trying to subdue a man with a gun who had barricaded himself in his house. After firing 10 tear gas canisters, reports R.J. Kalish, police discovered the man was standing beside them, shouting pleas to come out and give himself up.

And in Fresno, a couple at a marriage counseling session definitely failed the test of respectful listening: Michael Martin shot his wife; she shot back, then he emptied his pistol at her. Still married and in fair condition in the hospital, both were arrested and charged with attempted murder, AP reports.

When it's on sale in New Mexico, it's been on sale a long, long time. Those "50 percent off!" tags for Native American jewelry and souvenirs have been common for 25 years, reports Associated Press. State Attorney General Tom Udall says he wants to crack down on the perpetual sale claims so that tourists, who account for a $2.9 billion-a-year gift business, get a more accurate sense of prices.

In Austin, Texas, a champion of cemeteries continues to fight a lonely and losing battle. Karen Thompson says her group, Save Texas Cemeteries, finds graveyards wiped out in a single night by developers using bulldozers to clear the way. "People will come and say, 'You know, it's funny, but there are cemeteries on each side of such and such a road,' " Thompson told the Houston Chronicle. "Well, guess what? That road went right through a cemetery."


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 bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]