Heard around the West

  • Vail ski team


He had nothing but the best intentions, says a Stanford University surgeon. Then the publicity got out of hand. So Dr. Simon Stertzer reluctantly sold the three Nevada strip clubs he'd bought to finance his medical research. Stertzer tried to explain to the North Las Vegas City Council that owning the all-nude Palomino as well as the topless Satin Saddle and Lacy's clubs was a smart investment. He'd done this kind of thing before, he pointed out, selling a company he co-founded that produces medical instruments and donating $2 million to Stanford, which then endowed a chair in cardiology at its medical school.

But this was different, and some council members had trouble allowing a respected doctor from California into the same world where naked women dance for money. City Councilwoman Stephanie Smith quipped that customers going into one of the topless clubs "will get heart problems from the shock, and that will build up his other clientele." Although Smith voted to approve Dr. Stertzer's license, she added, "Morally, I think it's a little odd to sell flesh on one end so you can repair it on another," reports Associated Press. Stertzer reiterated that his interest in strip joints had only to do with his work: "We are in a serious financial threat when it comes to research, and anything I can do to help, I will attempt to do so." The innovative surgeon still owns Las Vegas land, where a car-repair business is based, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In Provo, Utah, there's a little loophole in the town's dance-hall ordinance. Churches are exempt from rules requiring the hiring of state-certified security guards and setting up surveillance cameras. So two college students took all of 10 minutes to go on the Internet and become ordained ministers. As new pastors for the Universal Life Church (just give it your name and address, and, voila!), they believed they could throw a party legally. Brigham Young University student Corbin Clawson, who now goes by the title "Reverend," was just trying to have fun and make a point, he told Associated Press. He and fellow BYU student John Hash may have demonstrated that some religions have more power - if not more fun - than others, but the police chief shut down the dance before it started.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that a bull moose in Soldotna, Alaska, took so much offense at a backyard swing set that it "took off with the whole thing." Although the slide slid off his antlers before the moose left her yard, Jennifer Wallis said, "We figure he's still carrying eight to 10 feet of bar, plus two legs and three swings." Commented a state wildlife official: "This moose will be pretty easy to recognize." But the animal still hadn't been spotted a couple of days later.

Would you bare all for a good cause? Saying yes in Vail, Colo., and having a great time stripping down, were firefighters, chefs, doctors, personal trainers, competitive skiers and even the town's famed lawn-chair drill team. They posed in the buff for a nearly nude calendar to benefit the nonprofit Vail Valley Charitable Fund, which helps locals with long-term illness or medical catastrophes. Photos of the town's professionals remain PG-rated, thanks to clever camera angles and strategically placed props, explains board chair Rohn Robbins. For more information about the Vail Undressed 2002 calendar, call toll-free 866/859-9937. Or check out the Web site vvcf.net and see how you can cover essentially everything with a stethoscope.

Bigfoot sightings ran rampant this summer, along with reports of strange creatures that ranged from "an enlarged black widow spider to a giant mouse," writes the Billings Gazette. So many stories circulated about a rancher in Pryor Creek shooting a hairy two-legged monster that the rancher felt called upon to issue a denial. Steve Kukowski announced that nothing untoward had terrorized his livestock, been killed by his bullets or taken off secretly by federal agents. Bill Pryor, who works for Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, joked that "the FBI cleaned everything up," a statement sure to start even more rumors.

Then Pryor added dryly, "Depending on the size of the population, there's a chance we could trap, tag and redistribute some (Bigfoots) in other parts of the state. You know our routine on anything other than humans: 'Try to build them up to huntable populations and start issuing tags.' " Glimpses of Bigfoot, aka sasquatch, have been gossiped about for 200 years.

A California teenager wandered into a modern-day range war in Nevada. It began when Cody Palmer, 19, used his grandmother's credit card to put a sealed $13,000 bid on 62 cattle impounded by the Bureau of Land Management near Reno, Nev. But after he won the secret-bid auction, Palmer realized this was no ordinary sale. The BLM had seized the cattle in an attempt to recoup $73,000 in grazing fees that it says rancher Ben Colvin owes the agency (HCN, 8/27/01: Showdown on the Nevada range). Colvin insists that the federal government "stole" his cattle, and the auction was attended by dozens of his supporters - some of them members of states-rights groups. Palmer says he heard "there were 50 people up there waving guns around." Now, Palmer says ruefully, "I don't want anything to do with the cows right now." But Palmer has moved the cattle to Roseville, Calif., and may sell them soon. He got a good deal: The estimated value of the animals was more like $40,000.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (www.hcn.org). Bizarre, quirky or quintessentially Western stories can be sent to her by e-mailing [email protected]

High Country News Classifieds