Heard around the West

  • Stop Bragging: Sign outside Anatone, Idaho.

    Ed Marston

Tired of basting and babysitting that big bird for Thanksgiving? Why not try SPAM, the pressed pink concoction that does not signify, as rumor has it, "something posing as meat." No, SPAM is smooshed pork shoulder and ham in a can along with sugar, salt, water and sodium nitrate, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican. Some people really love it, and at a recent "SPAMmania" celebration in Santa Fe, a few were brave enough to share recipes for SPAM sushi, SPAM pizza, SPAMbalaya, and a concoction dubbed "spelk," which combines elk with the malleable meat. It is true that many cooks shudder at the mention of what was called "miracle meat" during its debut some 60 years ago. They might agree with Forouz Jowkar of Tierra Amarilla, N.M., who calls SPAM "gross and disgusting." If so, there's another alternative to fowl - "Tofurky." This turkey-shaped dinner features tofu plus wheat gluten, "GMO-free soybeans," canola oil, shoyu, spices, lemon juice and calcium lactate from beets. Add stuffing of brown and wild rice plus faux turkey legs called drumettes and you've got yourself a vegetarian feast. Tofurky came on the market just five years ago "and consumers are gobbling it up," says the Hood River, Ore., firm, Turtle Island Foods.

Wyomingites, photographer Dewey Vanderhoff tells us, are buzzing about the next season of the popular television show Survivor coming to the Cowboy State. The premise of the Western show: Participants must drive a Volvo from Cody to Laramie with one of the following bumper stickers on the back:

  • "Gun racks: substitutes for small penises"
  • "More wolves, fewer rednecks"
  • "I'm gay ... and I'm here to take your guns!"
  • "Bull riders suck" and
  • "Gore/Lieberman 2000"

The first one to arrive safely in Laramie wins, Vanderhoff says.

We liked hearing about a real bumper sticker seen by Jeff Pearson in Denver, Colo.: "Be the person your dog thinks you are," as well as one spotted in Palo Alto, Calif., by Mary Davey: "A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose."

You may have heard Greg Brown sing on PBS's "Prairie Home Companion"; his deep, gravelly voice is likely to stop you in your tracks. But singer and songwriter Brown, 51, is anything but famous, and Mother Jones magazine recently interviewed him to find out why. It turns out that Brown is un-American in the sense that he just doesn't care about winning awards or getting rich. What he likes is hitting the road 150 days a year to sing in mostly rural towns. He especially enjoys knitting together like-minded people: "I think the sweet thing about my job, more than the music I sing, is that I come into some town and a really cool community of people gets together. And they meet each other and maybe somebody falls in love or starts a little business together." As for writing songs with an overt message about subjects such as giant cars or disappearing farms, Brown says he tried doing that and it failed: "I don't think that good politics ever excuse a bad song."

What if you bought a ranch, added 80 cows, then neglected to hire a cowhand? That's what Tucson, Ariz., faced after spending $2.5 million to acquire the 41,000-acre Bellota Ranch. The city's purchase halted a subdivider's plan to chop up the ranch into five-acre ranchettes, but nobody was thinking then, says former mayor George Miller, about how the city would keep its federal grazing privileges and a cattle operation running. Now there's a traditional job to fill, says the Christian Science Monitor, and finding a ranch hand has been anything but easy. The city has tried advertising the $9.95 an hour position on the Internet and in feed stores, but so far, no takers. Wonder why? The lone wrangler needs to feed, dehorn and castrate cows, pitch 75-pound bales of hay their way and, finally, haul animals to market. Here's the upside: Home base is a beautiful ranch that Miller says "can be treasured by generations to come.

Actress Goldie Hawn didn't laugh when she found out that the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon had borrowed her name to describe the logging of 100 acres. The "Goldie Fawn" timber sale wasn't amusing, said the former Laugh-In TV star, and she asked the agency to stop using her name "in association with such a destructive proposal," reports EcoNews.

That river-straightening agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has adopted an official prayer. Written by the agency chaplain, Lt. Col. Tim Carlson, the prayer praises God for "holding the plumb line of the cosmos" and asks for guidance in the fight to make "rough places smooth, crooked places straight ..."

Strange things can appear in the woods. East of Yellowstone National Park, on a trail through Shoshone National Forest, the disconcerting sight this summer was a hiker wearing only sneakers and a backpack. When the unknown man wasn't streaking through the trees, reports Montana's Billings Gazette, he was writing slogans on rocks and trees proclaiming the joy of going naked. After three months of fielding complaints from alarmed families, and with no success from Forest Service staffers who combed the woods, lodge owner Bob Kudelski took on the job. The surprise was the identity of the man he caught up with: a filling station attendant in his mid-50s whom everybody had known for years. He was not breaking the law by going bare, it turns out, since the local forest supervisor had never enacted an anti-nudity rule as required; the streaker was fined $200 for defacing public property.

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]

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