Heard Around the West

  • Underground diggers defeat a landowner near Longview



Here’s a story to make you wince: Three mountain lion kittens, all about eight weeks old, tried to cross railroad tracks 12 miles west of Butte. The kittens were wet from crossing a nearby creek, and the air temperature was only 10 degrees. So the kittens stuck fast, one frozen to the track on its back, another by its paw and belly, and the third by its tail. But there to save the day was railroad inspector Pat O’Rourke, who rolled toward them in his track-truck. O’Rourke tried the right remedy: He poured his hot coffee on the cats where they’d frozen to the tracks. But that failed to spring the kittens, who licked at the coffee. "They kept licking their paws, and the more they licked, the more stuck they got," O’Rourke told the Helena Independent Record. By this time the little lions were screaming, which alarmed their mother, who was watching the scene from a nearby ridge. Her angry roars chased O’Rourke back to his track-truck, where he called for help. Game warden Marty Vook, with Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, then arrived with hot water in tow. Once doused, the cats broke free and limped off, exhausted and missing lumps of fur. O’Rourke’s co-workers now call him the "Lion King."


"Are you ready to unleash the power of mediocrity?" You bet! Especially since some of us are tired of those framed photos of soaring eagles that urge us to strive harder for success, a better bottom line or fame and fortune. Despair Inc., an Austin company, offers a catalog that will inspire working stiffs to feel delightfully inadequate with the help of its "idiotic insights" and "megalomanical maxims." It’s difficult to guess what will look best on the boardroom or bathroom wall: "Procrastination: Hard work pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now" or maybe "Demotivation: Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire the unhappy people." We’re also inspired by the maxim: "Success: Some people dream of success, while other people live to crush those dreams." There’s lots more, including the inevitable T-shirt with its one-word message: INSECURITY. Depressed operators at 1-877-Despair are waiting to take your money.


Bound for a slaughterhouse on a snowy afternoon in Great Falls, three bison weighing a half-ton each made a break for freedom. They busted through a corral at Mickey’s Packing Plant, crossed a state park, stampeded through a residential area and alarmed drivers by merging with traffic on 10th Avenue South, one of the busiest roads in the city. But their four-mile flight was short-lived, reports the Great Falls Tribune. After the "truant trio" was shot and killed in an open field, the bison were hauled back to the slaughterhouse from which they’d escaped, there to be transformed into cutlets of wrapped and frozen meat.


Now that the weather is cooler, nudist activists in Issaquah can take a break from their "guerrilla pranksterism." Members of the Body Freedom Cooperative have illegally skinny-dipped at a county park near Seattle, and they’re talking about other ways to ballyhoo clothing-free activities. "These are people who actually want to get caught with their pants down," comments the Seattle Times. Washington state claims some seven nudist clubs, and a gated nudist community called Forestia hosts the popular Nudestock music festival, now an annual event, plus a "Bare Buns Fun Run."


Boo Boo Blodgett just can’t be beat. He seems to have a lock on the annual Rez Car Parade, which serves as an ironic counterpoint to the Columbus Day holiday, reports the Spilyay Tymoo news. Blodgett took first place and $50 for the second year in a row, thanks to a car held together mainly by duct tape, rust and neglect. Useful prizes given to participants included "an extra-strength clear garbage bag to be used as a window, red plastic bags for extra taillights ... and five rolls of duct tape." The laid-back Rez Car Parade was started four years ago by Charlotte Herkshan of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colo. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the Heard around the West column.

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