Heard around the West

 

When the mighty stumble, satirists have a field day. California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, became an easy target once its halfway deregulation of electricity triggered billion-dollar deficits.A commentator on the Web site F--kedCom- pany.Com chortled, "All this whining and complaining that there's no juice to run the Jacuzzis and there's no way to heat up Hot Pockets in the microwave - shut up, you causers-of-your-own misery!" Another inquired, "Can't California just go into the Pacific now?" In the satirical newspaper The Onion, a so-called "man in the street" offered this advice: "There's only one thing to be done. Nevada and Arizona: Give California all your power. Come on, it's not like you matter as much."

Those muscular guys from Vail, Colo., who fold and flip lawn chairs as if they were rifles, have become notorious, if not famous, for spicing up parades. The laid-back resortniks in their Bermuda shorts and cheesy Hawaiian shirts specialize in chants that celebrate sloth: "I got myself a new beach chair. This is where I park my derriere." Vail's Precision Lawn Chair Demonstration Team hit the big time in January. It was invited to participate in George W. Bush's inaugural parade through Washington, D.C., where, unfortunately for those bare knees, rain and wind dampened the day. Another group from the West also battled chilly weather to add wit to the presidential swearing-in. Idaho sent its Red Hot Mamas from Coeur d'Alene, 70 strong, and running the gamut in age from 35 to 76. Synchronized shopping is their routine, with all wearing red house dresses covered by blue aprons. Unlike the Rockette dancers of Radio City, however, the Mamas schlep shopping carts behind their backs in a kick line that wows the crowd. What's more, says Associated Press, each dancer sports a post-consumer hat that rises four feet in the air. It's built of stacked cereal boxes, milk jugs and bags of potato chips.

Aspen, Colo., had better stop bragging about its gazillion-dollar houses. Last year, says AP, the average house in Jackson, Wyo., sold for $1.25 million, a big jump from the $825,000 that a single family home went for on average in 1999. This year is already raising the bar. One house in Jackson Hole Valley recently sold for $40 million - a jump from the high of $29 million in 2000. Only two years ago, the big seller went for $7.5 million.

The Independent in Colorado Springs often enrages cultural conservatives. The alternative weekly paper routinely runs sexually oriented ads and what might even be more provocative - announcements of atheist get-togethers. Now, the American Family Association has put pressure on some supermarkets to consider the paper "adult material." That means King Soopers and Albertson's could stow the paper under the counter and effectively "disappear" it, reports the Independent.

Smiting smut would meet with approval in the towns of Rem and Pleasant Grove, Utah. The owner of video rental stores there believes it's his duty to free movies of explicit sex, violence and nasty words. Ray Lines of CleanFlicks deleted nudity in the movie Titanic, "and in Saving Private Ryan, soldiers die but they do not bleed a lot," reports Michael Janofsky in The New York Times. From Schindler's List, Lines cut out scenes of naked people in concentration camps "because he felt their appearance overstated their dehumanization." Directors deserve respect, Lines allowed, but, "I don't think teenagers, and adults, for that matter, need to see all that sex and hear curse words and see all that blood and gore." Lines, father of seven daughters, says he consulted his lawyer, who apparently assured him that the censorship was on firm legal ground. But film company executives say the lawyer is out to lunch; censorship on the retail level violates copyright.

It could be that throughout Utah, small-town censors have become emboldened by the presence of statewide "porn czarina," Paula Houston. In appointing her, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said she would battle smut, and Houston vowed, "I, for one, will not allow pornographers to hide behind the Constitution."

In rural Kane County, Utah, Sheriff Lamont Smith believes he's sort of a czar himself. According to Southern Utah News and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Smith has declared that his law enforcement authority in Kane County "is equal to that of the president of the United States." Even within the federally managed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Smith says, roads are a county bailiwick. And he says he wants every one of them to remain open.

Meanwhile, Nevada is in no hurry to regulate much of anything. Nevada, in fact, can hardly get its state lawmakers to gather. They assemble in Carson City only every two years in a session lasting four months. Nevada representatives love to congratulate themselves for not becoming politicians; instead they hold "real jobs" such as waitress and pastor. Police officer Richard Perkins, who serves as speaker of the Assembly, says, "We're still the Wild West and we still are anti-government." Rancher Dean Rhoads adds, "The view of my voters is: The longer we're here (in the state capitol), the more harm we create." As always, there's a downside to this claim of fierce independence. Somebody has to do the public's work, so "lawmakers rely heavily on the hundreds of lobbyists who work the hallways," reports the Los Angeles Times. The biggest and most generous lobbyist of them all is the gambling industry.

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]

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a friendly, detail-oriented, and self-motivated Development Coordinator to provide administrative support to the Development department. This position will report to...
  • FIELD ORGANIZER, MONTANA
    Help Northern Plains Resource Council protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the...
  • FOR SALE
    Successful llama trekking business with Yellowstone National Park concession for sale! A fun and enriching business opportunity of a lifetime! Call 406-580-5954
  • ALBUQUERQUE VACATION HOME
    Centrally located. One bed, one bath, lovely outdoor patio, well-stocked kitchen.
  • NEW AGRARIAN PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Quivira (www.quiviracoaltion.org), a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that aims to shift current practices of agriculture and land stewardship to those that produce good food, support meaningful...
  • SPECTACULAR SCENIC MOUNTAIN VIEW HOME BUILDING SITE
    Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    opportunity in Eugene, Oregon! To learn more and to apply, visit our website at www.bufordpark.org.
  • FUNDRAISING & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
    Does the prospect of working to protect one of the Southwest's last remaining flowing rivers get you excited? Join the team at Friends of the...
  • DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
    Position Summary Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a dynamic, organized, and creative Digital Engagement Specialist to be an essential part of our growing Communications Team....
  • NORTH IDAHO FIELD REPRESENTATIVE
    Founded by sportsmen and women 1936, the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to conserving and enhancing Idaho's natural resources, wildlife, habitat,...
  • SMALL HISTORICAL FARM FOR SALE - NEW MEXICO
    23-acres, adobe home, shop, barn, gardens, pasture, orchard. https://www.zillow.com/homes/222-Calle-Del-Norte,-Monticello,-Nm_rb/ or call 575-743-0135.
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year round outdoor living. REDUCED to: $1.17 MM 575-536-3109
  • GRANTS MANAGER AND EDITOR
    Are you a strong communicator who excels at building relationships, writing winning grant proposals, and staying organized? You sound like a good fit for our...
  • REPORTER
    The Wallowa County Chieftain, has an opening for a reporter. Experience with and understanding of editorial photography also required. Journalism degree or equivalent, an understanding...
  • 2017 JOHN DEERE LAWN MOWER Z930R
    15 hours on it, 3 years warranty, 22,5 HP, $1600 Sale price. Contact: [email protected]
  • OWN YOUR OWN CANYON - 1400 SF STRAW-BALE ECO-HOME ON 80 ACRES - 3 HOURS FROM L.A.
    1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • HEAD BREAD/PASTRY BAKER AND ASSISTANT POSITIONS
    Hiring Part/Full time for Summer Season - entry level & experienced positions. Year round employment for optimal candidates. Pay DOE.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921