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Know the West

Pet the nipping pup and hide your newcomer roots: tips from a failed campaign.

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


WASHINGTON When your Christmas tree just keeps growing ...
Elaine Thompson /AP

Forrest Whitman belongs to one of rural Colorado’s most endangered species: He’s a Democrat. Nevertheless, this brave man ran for mayor of Salida a few months ago — unsuccessfully, of course, though he got a respectable 44.63 percent of the vote. He shared with us some of the valuable lessons he learned on the campaign trail, and the first rule, he says, is to be sure to harp on your roots — assuming your parents were fortunate enough to be born in the county. But what if you’ve been a resident for three decades and are still considered a newcomer? It might help to have a third- or fourth-generation local introduce you at your meet-and-greets. At such gatherings, he cautions, do not mention that your son-in-law is a Muslim or point out that, in your urban life, you were a professor. Your actual qualifications for office probably count for little, though it helps if you have a reputation for running the annual community dinner. Most of all, he advises, always carry dog treats and say nice things about people’s dogs — even if the vicious little yappers are nibbling on your ankle. It’s only a matter of time, Whitman optimistically- concludes, before newcomers can help change things by doing something positive about local economic development, alternative energy and bicycle paths.

Mystery solved in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks: The dozen broken toilet seats in outhouses were most likely caused by Asian tourists who climbed up on the lids to squat instead of sitting on the “throne,” reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Next year, park latrines will sport signs illustrating the proper use of elevated toilets to visitors more used to porcelain holes in the floor. It might take more than a sign to change the propensity of tourists to crowd and elbow their way through parks, where the melee at information desks makes asking — or answering — questions like “Where is the bathroom?” somewhat difficult.

New York City’s menagerie already includes deer, wild turkeys and hawks. Now, an increasing number of coyotes have invaded parks in Queens and the Bronx — even a high-rise development on Manhattan’s East Side, reports The New York Times. In a refreshing response, Sarah Grimke Aucoin, director of the city’s -Urban Park Rangers, says residents ought to relish glimpsing coyotes, though they should never attempt to feed them: “People might be alarmed, maybe even a little fearful. But the message we want to get out is: ‘You’re lucky. Enjoy how special it is.’ ”

And in Canada, two 20-something brothers from Ontario became Internet stars after they rescued a bald eagle, one of whose talons had been caught in a trap. The Guardian said that Michael and Neil Fletcher gingerly approached the giant bird, but “as soon as he realized we were trying to help, he kind of calmed down.” It took four minutes for the men to free the bird’s talon, and after posing with the eagle for a widely shared selfie, they released the formidable raptor, which flew off. The brothers said they had never seen an eagle up close and were struck by its grandeur: “We were just really amazed — and still are.”

When your religion forbids you to drink liquor, smoke cigarettes or swill coffee, what can you do to be a little bit naughty? In Salt Lake City, devout Mormons can patronize a “dirty soda shop,” reports The New York Times, where “sugar is the vice of choice.” And how sweet it is: At Sodalicious, the drink called Extra Dirty Second Wife boasts a concoction of Mountain Dew, fruit syrups and a shot of half-and-half. Meanwhile, down the road, its competitor, Swig, serves up a calorific brew called the Missionary, which combines Sprite, coconut cream and something called tiger’s blood syrup. Unfortunately, the two popular chains are now in litigation over who owns the right to call their mixed drinks “dirty.” Swig says it nailed the term first; Sodalicious scoffs that the word dirty is nothing new; think “dirty martini.” For now, the “soda war” is galvanizing fans on both sides, though on Twitter, Rea Perry commented, “Only in Utah would a soda shop think they own ‘dirty.’ ”

A Salt Lake City judge will soon decide whether children as young as 6 were forced to do farm work under the polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Federal attorneys say Paragon Contractors violated a 2007 order involving underage labor and should be held in contempt for failing to pay 1,400 workers from the sect, including 175 children, who took part in a 2012 pecan harvest. In its defense, Paragon said that because the children among the pickers were home-schooled and with their parents, they weren’t “working during school hours,” reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.