Heard Around the West



Eugene’s annual used-book sale, organized by Friends of the Library, turned vicious last year, reports the Register-Guard. “Aggressive and boorish” Internet booksellers hired local people to wait in line, and when the doors opened, they swarmed in and threw sheets over tables, claiming every book. “It was over the top — it was savage,” said one local bookseller and frustrated buyer. The monopolizers used portable scanners, cell phones and laptops to identify rare and valuable books, then shoved their discards into a disorganized heap. Fed-up volunteers who had spent months collecting and sorting books were so dismayed that they’ve tightened up rules for this year’s book sale. There will be no saving places in the line that starts forming the night before, you can look at only one box of books at a time, and you better put back what you don’t buy.


Satan may not be running for office in Utah County, which includes Provo, but he has “popped up” in local politics before, says the Salt Lake Tribune. Last year, he came on the scene as a spoiler, or so believed congressional candidate John Jacob, who blamed the devil for his lackluster campaign. Now, Satan is back in the news, warns Don Larsen, and this time he’s trying to establish a “New World Order” as predicted by the Scriptures. Larsen, who is a delegate to Utah County’s Republican Convention, used his own money to print 1,300 copies of a resolution that he hoped the convention would adopt. It fingers Satan as the enemy who must be stopped, because he wants to destroy the United States through a “stealth invasion” of illegal immigrants. Utah’s Latino community “searched for diplomatic words to respond” to Larsen’s charges, and Curt Bramble, chair of the Republican convention, also tried to be circumspect. Illegal immigration is perhaps the most critical issue facing Utah, Bramble said, but, “I don’t think there is going to be a great deal of people attributing the problem to Satan.”


It’s spring, and flowers are popping up in Western backyards. Writer Jill Kuraitis loves watching daffodils, iris and other bulbs emerge, but she has strict rules about how they should have been planted. She decries “the planting of bulbs in single file along a pathway so that you have a unnatural row of force-marched tulip soldiers.” The right approach, she says in NewWest.net, is density: Plant bulbs in groups of no less than 15-25, with no symmetry allowed. And if you want, “follow a cow around with a bucket. People will understand.”


A nude man wearing nothing but high heels was spotted sitting on a bench in a nearly empty medical building in downtown McMinnville, Ore., population 18,000. The sight was apparently so alarming that police came out in force. Two police units responded along with several sheriff’s deputies and the Oregon State Police, who locked down and surrounded the building. “Alas,” reports the Associated Press, “no naked man.” Described as “bald or with short white hair” and between 40 and 50 years old, “he was last seen running down one of the building’s hallways in the heels.”


Half of the West’s top 10 “hot spots” for car theft last year were in California, with cities Stockton, Visalia-Porterville and Modesto showing up in the top five. But it was Las Vegas, Nev., that snagged the number one spot, and metro Phoenix, Ariz., that came in fourth, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In Mesa, Ariz., there’s a new threat, reports the Arizona Republic: Custom-car enthusiasts are targeting pickups and ripping off their tailgates. “Back into your driveway,” urges Detective Justin Bocock. “Watch your tailgate more.”


A lot of skiers don’t know it, but when they slip off a lift and slide down a mountain, they’re apt to be skiing on land owned by the public and managed by the Forest Service. That gives the agency the upper hand when it comes to telling the Aspen Skiing Co., for instance, that it has to demolish a dozen or so shacks on Snowmass Mountain. These are rough structures where skiers go to “to take a break and spark a joint,” reports the Associated Press. The smoke shacks that keep popping up at Snowmass are within the White River National Forest, as are some shrines, though the latter are more prevalent on private land on Aspen Mountain. Shrines seem more basic than smoke shacks: “It doesn’t take more than an hour to go in, nail a bunch of memorabilia, photographs, silk flowers and a pair of panties to a tree.” Smoke shack or shrine, they’re about to be history if they’re on public land. The Forest Service calls them “unapproved structures,” or as one agency manager put it, “One man’s shrine gets to be another’s trash.”

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