Heard Around the West

  • COLORADO CAMEL: Tom Dooley, the two-humped white camel, makes his home in Ridgway, Colorado

    Cody Deutsch
 

A typist at the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah, misread a letter to the editor, and the result was a howler, particularly since the letter dealt with public misconceptions about wolves. The word “wolves” was transmogrified into “wives,” and somehow got through copyediting without a hitch. Here’s how the sentence appeared in the paper: “Wives communicate with each other by howls and have sophisticated sign language, example: the position of their tails, ears, lips, let other wolves know whether they are submissive, want to play or are going to attack. They have a society just like ours.”

Headline writers also stumble once in a while, which might explain the startling front page of the April 14 Cody (Wyoming) Enterprise: “Thomas: U.S. won’t tolerate peace threats.” But no one is actually waging peace yet; Wyoming Republican Sen. Craig Thomas said he wouldn’t stand for regimes that threaten world peace.

Should we ship back the Statue of Liberty and all those French Impressionist paintings cluttering up our museums? That’s the tack that Colorado Republican Sen. Scott McInnis seems to be following these days. He says he doesn’t want a French company supplying headstones for American veterans, because the French “have done everything in their power to undermine the very troops whose sacrifice from which they now stand to profit,” reports the Grand Junction (Colorado) Daily Sentinel.

Aspen Pure — a new brand of bottled water featuring mountains and aspen trees on its label — is now for sale in Aspen stores, but take a guess: Is the water produced locally? If you answered no, you’re cynical but wise. Aspen Pure comes from Colorado’s San Luis Valley, where the water is delicious and the lifestyle mostly rural and impoverished. The wells do lie at the base of a ski area, but it has nothing to do with Aspen: It’s Wolf Creek, reports the Telluride Times. Entrepreneur Barry Gordon says he has no doubt the water “will sell better outside of Colorado than within the state,” because in New York or Chicago, “it’s prestigious to show the bottle and say: ‘I have Aspen water.’ ”

Perhaps the mayor of Eagle Mountain, Utah, should have come up with a less elaborate excuse for not wanting to go to work. Instead, Mayor Kelvin Bailey told police he’d been forcibly abducted by a hitchhiker and compelled to drive hundreds of miles to California. Now, Utah County has filed charges against Bailey for making a false police report. Bailey’s defense: He was feeling “overstressed and under-appreciated,” reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

Colorado Central magazine’s April 1 issue spoofed all those ad-stuffed, glossy magazines dedicated to hyping “exquisite mountain living.” Our favorite headlines: “Expanding Your Castle: When 20,000 square feet gives you ‘Cabin Fever,’ ” “Why Celebrities Are Better Than You Are,” and “How to Shop for a Nanny in Guatemala.”

Thanks to an advertising brochure from Kentwood Companies in Denver, we now know an upscale house when we see one. “Chateau de Plateau” looks like a village on a ridge and includes every luxury, we’re told, for just $7.2 million. That means a 3,000-bottle wine cellar, sports bar, six bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, exercise room, staff quarters and something called a “walk out stone ranch.”

Still a dumb ad: A television commercial showing a Yellowstone Park ranger pouring a laxative into Old Faithful to keep the geyser “regular” has been slightly altered, thanks to complaints from Park Service officials and indignant tourists. Proctor and Gamble has added a disclaimer which says: “Dramatization — Please Obey Park Service Rules.”

No good deed goes unpunished, the saying goes. Brion Michael Kean, a 30-year-old architect in Boulder, Colo., knows this to be true. While on his way to work recently, he spotted some expired parking meters, and in a random act of kindness, fed in a few coins. Kean had no criminal intent, he told the Daily Camera, he just wanted to help people out. But a city parking officer accused him of “obstruction,” and when Kean responded that this seemed “crazy,” threatened him with arrest. A city spokeswoman explained afterward that a meter-feeding Good Samaritan might be guilty of being “an accessory to a violation.” Boulder officials aren’t revealing the identity of their persnickety parking officer, but Kean describes him as “burly, surly and bald.”

Some people rate, while others, well, they don’t. The Interior Department in Washington, D.C., has adopted two contingency plans in the event of a terrorist attack. One of them protects 100 key staffers by moving them to someplace safe. But what happens to the other 2,000 workers? Why, they’re left to scurry off in search of their own safe spot. The notion that so many people are expendable bothers some staffers, says columnist Al Kamen in the Washington Post, though there is a “shelter-in-place” option, with three days’ worth of food and water at main buildings. But some federal workers are based in privately owned buildings, including staffers for the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. If you happen to work there, Kamen says, you’re “pretty much on your own.”

Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, a column service of High Country News ([email protected]). She appreciates photos of Western quirkiness.

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