Friday, October 30, 2009
By Noble Collins
Tonight I saw the future of Payson. At least I had a clear vision of what it could easily be, and it was grand and exciting and a winner for everyone involved.
I envisioned Green Valley Park as a first class outdoor amphitheater with a Broadway type stage and a world class sound system.
The fist third of the seating area was covered by a clamshell overhang, as was the stage. This area was somewhat recessed so as not to block the view from the remaining areas. It was reserved for chairs and tables so that people wishing to buy first class tickets could bring their candelabras and gourmet dinners to enjoy. The remaining two thirds of the area was divided into stadium seats for the first third and an open grassy hill for the last third for folks to bring their own seats.
The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra was playing as part of a Summer Pops concert series, and Josh Groban was the featured soloist. The air was typically cool and comfortable and the sky was beautiful above the scene.
Thousands had made the short drive from Scottsdale or Fountain Hills, Sedona, Flagstaff or Prescott to attend and enjoy a marvelous weekend in the cool little mountain town of Payson. The entire town had been retrofitted to accommodate these visitors.
Payson is not a factory town, but this could be its factory, bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars and spiking widespread interest in the town. It’s a natural, and probably one of the few things the town could do to bring tourists here and keep them at least overnight.
New restaurants and shops would open. The old Ox Bow Saloon could easily be turned into a western attraction. You don’t need a large city for this. In fact, the charm of a small town is part of the attraction.
When the stage isn’t used for pops concerts, it could hold festivals and special events like bluegrass or blues, musicals or plays. Something could be going on almost year round.
Here’s one way I see it happening: A group is formed with representatives from the existing arts and concert organizations. This would become The Payson Performing Arts Association. An agreement would be struck with the town council to lease the amphitheater for a long term. A bond issue would be floated to cover the costs of building the facility, and the Performing Arts Association would buy most or all of the bond. All proceeds from any use of the park, other than for public occasions, would accrue to the association, including parking fees ( a new parking lot would be needed).
It requires a large leap of faith and very deep pockets in the beginning. Only folks with a use for large write-offs need apply. BUT, it represents an enormous opportunity to put Payson on the national map for tourists, and give exciting life and meaning for all future generations. The opportunities for young people to contribute as stage hands, workers or even “extras” in performances could keep them here instead of losing them to other towns.
Towns like Wolf Trap, Virginia; French Lick, Indiana; Telluride, Colorado and others are shining examples. If done properly, there is no reason why Payson could not be in that league. The variables and opportunities are endless.
The standing, whistling, shouting crowd at the Payson High School Auditorium one recent night was a resounding testimony to the latent yearning for the kind of entertainment presented by the Broadway show. The organizers are to be congratulated. From this beginning, the future should be obvious.
Lots of money and a large cylinder to reel in the red tape are required. It’s a huge undertaking. An outstanding “trail boss” would also be needed to see the project through.. It’s a gamble of sorts, but I say, “Build it and they will come.” It’s there for the taking and nothing else has near the potential for creating a unique and lasting future for Payson.
A first rate concert on a cool evening in the mountains, only a short beautiful drive away. How could folks in the valley resist? Make the parking lot large enough to accommodate tour buses. A night in Payson before going on to Sedona or other tour stops. would be on every agenda.
We could, of course go on forever promoting camping and fishing, but Safeway, WalMart and Circle K are the main beneficiaries of transient dollars. The rest of us feed off each other.
Hey, at least don’t forget you heard it here.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
If you think the haunted house at the Ox Bow is terrifying, just meander "down the street" to Down the Street Art Gallery at 703 W. Main Street. That's Dorothy in the red dress and a melting witch trying to get away at the right. The other ladies in the scene are none other than artists Minette Richardson and April Bower who are putting the finishing touches on the gallery's Halloween display.
Nature's death-to-life Phoenix principle
By Bruce Wales
From the ashes of its own death, the Egyptian bird the phoenix would arise in rebirth. Indeed, the phoenix was believed to do this time after time after time.
Arizona's largest city is named for this bird because it was knowingly built upon a site previously occupied by the Maricopa culture. The principle of the re-birthing phoenix is around us today. Though it is not heralded as the high drama it is, it is nothing less than life and death chasing each other in cyclic fashion.
I don't think we understand the amount, nor the greatness of the dramas that are played out every minute every day by nature's own phoenix principle. I question our level of understanding by wondering at today's take on a couple of mundane examples – peeing and nursing.
I wonder if the day will come when a bystander will witness a man zipping his fly after dispensing crucial nutrients to organisms in the soil with the same aplomb, or, sense of ordinary as when he/she witnesses a young mother re-buttoning her blouse after suckling her offspring with her body-born nutrients. I wonder.
I wonder if the average bystander will see the true value of both types of nutrients within the framework of today's social judgments.
Goodness knows, the baby formula industry has not been touting the natural feed system of the human baby feedbag, the breast. And others have even given supposed examples of the lethality of mother's milk. So also has the media been anxious to portray the penis-exposing man as an exhibitionist – dirty, repulsive and most punishable, and moreover, a scourge to maidens of pure heart and intentions.
Now then! People have been peeing as long as they have suckled . And, they have been, incidentally, supporting the soil life that provides the food that sustains them. Natural functions of one type of entity support the natural functions of another.
The decorum of today's standards is the result of a misplacement of emphasis. By appealing to false sanitary heartstrings, self-aggrandizement and pretentiousness, product sellers appoint themselves the judges of all consuming activity and set the trends in many facets of human life. This results in a tyrannical control of public judgment – a true misuse of the first amendment, if ever there was one.
Others have been anxious to denigrate anyone who would eliminate directly upon the earth. Why? Is it because this action violates some city code or the equipment has not been approved by United Laboratories!
Let's dismount the high horse. We all pee! We all have babies and they need to be fed. So also the soil organisms need to be maintained by nutrient swapping!
I wonder if ever the elimination of bodily fluids will be understood as both a transmission of pathogens, AND a giver of life food to another. I wonder.
I think we judge the ways of nature by unnatural standards. We pretend. Yet, it is nature's way to thrive on the many, many journeys from death to life, from feces to food, from cycle to cycle, from you to me.
Do we worship our inventions and technologies so much that we not only reject, but choose to forget Nature's waste-to-nutrient, death-to-life phoenix principle?
I wonder. I just sit here and wonder. For the water, worms, soil and all life
Where are the Paul Reveres,
Riding through the night?
Where are the Paul Reveres,
Riding from the darkest of darks to the lightest of lights?
Where are the Paul Reveres,
With a cry of warning coming from their throats?
Where are the Paul Reveres,
Telling their neighbors of the enemies coming by land and by boats?
They warn us of threats both far and near,
They defend our liberties so precious and dear,
Those noble and brave Paul Reveres.
But today there is silence where there should be fright.
There are no galloping horses
In the dead hours of the night.
Where are the Paul Reveres,
To warn us of the coming malignant forces?
Has he died
On his glorious midnight ride?
Has he become deaf and blind?
Has he been sabotaged at the peak of his prime?
No, none of these things.
It was merely his time.
He has dropped the mantle and passed the torch.
He has kicked off his boots and put away his horse.
His voice has become raw, weak, and coarse.
It is up to us: to you and to I
To make the choice to live or to die.
Our neighbor’s entirety is on the line
Unless we can make it in the nick of time.
So, Onward! Onward, show no fear
You brave and noble Paul Reveres.
Our attention to the major issues of the day is again, unsurprisingly, being blindsided by the Extreme Conservatives (ExtCons).
We are noisily thrashing around with health care, entitlements, taxes, energy, etc, etc, with little prospect of making any useful headway. The ExtCon approach is to encourage and facilitate this useless thrashing. It is to DENY history and to insist on dividing up a fixed pie amongst the competing needs of society, generally in such a manner as to favor the moneyed establishment, Accumulated Wealth & Old Money, (AW & OM) to whom they curtsy.
There is absolutely no need for this to continue.
The appropriate solution is to increase the size of the pie, taking all or at least much of the pressure off society and thereby allow reasoned, non-panic-driven solutions to be implemented, acceptable to almost all interests.
HISTORICALLY, such societal adjustments have occurred several times (actually, they occur continually, but people like brackets around ideas) and have been given the designation "Industrial Revolution."
We are naturally in the midst of one right now. It began in earnest in 1948 with a single event in New Jersey and has been accelerating ever since, with a big boost in the 1980s. It is so pervasive now, that we are used to ignoring it.
What has happened is that we now have available the means of increasing human productivity with almost no practical bound. This fundamentally alters the relationship between labor and capital. It tends to first diminish and eventually destroy the power of AW & OM over us all. That is, it makes the pie very, VERY large.
It should then come as no surprise how vehemently moves in this area are being resisted by AW & OM and their henchmen, the ExtCons, via any and all means -- fair and foul, subtle and overt -- you name it. It is basically a dance to the death !
The most obvious tactic employed in recent years has been the implacable diversion of U.S. manufacturing activity to China and the Pacific Rim -- that instead of using available technology and making the necessary investments here at home to compete with cheap labor over there. Taking advantage of technology and making investments here would have been counterproductive to immediate 90-day profits and, more importantly, to the retention of the economic power of AW & OM over us -- so these investments were, of course, NOT MADE.
We the people have let it happen : We could have intervened . . .
We have allowed ourselves to be led astray, by the arguments of the agents of AW & OM, namely the ExtCons. Yet, in spite of this clear evidence just given, still far too many of us listen to their siren song -- Just exactly why is beyond me -- but it is perhaps explained by the innate human need to belong to something, to set oneself up as special, to be viewed as different from and above his fellows -- even at the cost of his own personal economic interests.
Allen N Wollscheidt
Top: Members of the Mesa del Caballo Water Committee are (from left) Randy Norman, Irene Schwartzbauer and Ed Schwebel.
Bottom: Designated Hot Dog Ladies at Mesa del's Make a Difference Day on Oct. 24 were Jeanne Schoonover, Roxanne Anderson and Judith Barker.
By Ed Schwebel
Mesa del Caballo Water Committee
(Editor’s note: Ed Schwebel is a member of the Mesa del Caballo Water Committee, along with Randy Norman and Irene Schwartzbauer. The committee is working with Brooke Utilities to try and resolve the community’s chronic water shortages. It is also working to promote water conservation through education. This is Ed’s latest report to the citizens of Mesa del. In addition to the events he discusses below, the committee also held a rainwater harvesting workshop featuring Gazette Columnist Bruce Wales.)
Over the past couple of weeks, the Mesa del Caballo Water Committee met with Buzz Walker, head of the Town of Payson's Water Department, and also with four staff members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). A reasonably accurate account of our meeting with the ACC can be found at http://rimcountrygazette.blogspot.com/search/label/LOCAL%20NEWS.
Basically, we established working relationships with both. We did remind Buzz that we had a keen interest in him keeping the C.C. Cragin/Blue Ridge reservoir project on schedule.
We also have had two phone meetings with Bob Hardcastle, president of Brooke Utilities, over the past month. Brooke expects to sign an agreement for a hydrology study (in Mesa del) by the end of October. The results of the study will determine if, where, and when supplemental wells can be drilled. Brooke Utilities is also actively seeking water rights from SRP. (If it doesn’t, we will have to form a water district.) This is a 12-18 month process. Brooke is working with Payson to secure taps on the pipeline for all the communities potentially affected by the C.C. Cragin project.
Our Make A Difference Day cleanup and party was a success. Over 40 people showed up. We thank everyone who participated.
If you are not a member of the El Caballo Club/Mesa del Community Center, we encourage you to join. It is only $35/year. Please contact Irene Schwartzbauer at 474-3660 to join or for more information. We want to ensure the future of the playground/park and the clubhouse.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Here comes the pillage and burn Forest Service back to spew pollutants and contaminants into my air through prescribed burning. It’s good to clear. It’s not good to pollute. There has to be something more productive that can be done with the stuff. There has to be. Apply for some stimulus money and start a program that others can emulate. Be creative. Any damn fool can light a match and start a fire. Just ask Smokey Bear.
Don’t get too excited yet, but the Phoenix Coyotes just might be Arizona’s next Cinderella story. Why not jump on the bandwagon now before it gets full. We need to keep our home hockey team home.
So it looks like two more years of the Seven Pro-growth Dwarfs on the Payson Town Council. Make that six dwarfs and Ed Blair – a decent enough guy whom the others treat as Dopey. But thank God, no pun intended, for honest Ed. At least he looks at both sides of an issue before voting. And at least he has a moral compass, being a preacher and all. Those other guys – always on the side of growth, the realtors and the developers. Vogel is shameless in his support of developers. Connell: you wonder sometimes if she even knows what she’s voting for. We always knew where Croy and Hughes were coming from. John Wilson – also a given, although his naivete makes him more of a dupe than a member of the cabal. And then there’s Kenny Who. We sure know who he is now. Between that huge ego and the Mormon voting bloc, it was little surprise that he would renege on his pledge to serve just one term. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I never thought I’d long for the days of the Brewer council. OK, maybe they’re not that bad, but you get my point – Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to grow we go.
Su Connell and Mike Vogel should call it a political career. Connell may have political ancestors, but she seems lost on the dais most of the time. Vogel is a blusterer and a bully. That doesn’t translate well to the democratic process.
I guess I’m what you call a pro-growther. I don’t like empty storefronts. I don’t like my restaurant choices dwindling. I don’t like the ghost town this place is becoming. Bring back the Realtors. Let’s kick this thing into high gear.
Why stop at seven stories. Let’s be the first little town in America to have a genuine skyscraper. It could look just like the Empire State Building, and we could have a monkey climbing festival every year.
I’m a Gazette investor. I just thought those of you who miss the Gazette should know that two of the local businesses that absolutely refused to support the Gazette, presumably because of their good ole boy ties to the Roundup, were Payson Jewelers and PostNet. PostNet even advertises in the Heber paper, but wouldn’t in the Gazette. As the holiday season rolls along, I know where I’m not going to be shopping. How about you?
Thanks to Roy Haught, the Payson laundromat is reopening soon. Just thought everybody should know.
I’ve been a customer of Blockbuster for well over a decade and have rented thousands of movies from many different locations. I requested to buy a movie from the Payson location and the manager told me to just rent it and keep it, then I’d be charged the amount next time I rented a movie. I’d forgotten about it, not rented there in a while, and had a family emergency and was out of town for about a month. When I returned home there was a bill from a collection agency DEMANDING payment of $10.65! They sent it to a collection agency for a debt of less then $11. I will NEVER go to ANY Blockbuster EVER again, especially when Red Box is only $1 per rental. AVOID Blockbuster and you won’t get a mark on your credit for a bill less then $11. Bad move in a bad economy.
Thanks to Mesa del Caballo for taking the high road with Brooke Utilities. They actually sat down on the same side of the table with Brooke President Robert Hardcastle in a meeting with Arizona Corporation Commission staffers. What they are doing is unprecedented. Here’s hoping they get what they want – a stable, long-term water supply.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Frieda Reisch and Lee Davis talk about the history of the Spade Ranch House during the dedication. Frieda's parents, Herman and Evelana Dietlaff, lived in the ranch house 55 years ago.
Lee Davis and his wife Dora celebrate the dedication of the Spade Ranch House model, which was built by Davis and later donated to the Rim Country Museum. The model is now under a Plexiglas display case for museum patrons to view and learn about the history of the homestead.
Unraveling mystery of area proves a challenge
By Mitzi Brabb
Although the original cabin is rapidly deteriorating, a very precise reminder of the Spade Ranch House will always be well preserved at the Rim Country Museum.
A special dedication in honor of the ranch house replica built and donated by part-time Star Valley resident Lee Davis was held on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at the museum, which is located at Green Valley Park.
Last Spring Davis spent two and a half months, working a consistent eight hours a day, creating the detailed model by aid of a single photograph and a magnifying glass.
By the time he finished his “labor of love,” he had created an exact replica of the original ranch house, which was built more than a century ago. Davis even used natural stone and sticks taken from the homestead to help authenticate his historical contribution.
The wooden model structure is now professionally showcased under a Plexiglas encasement for public viewing at the museum. A plaque revealing the history of the ranch house and the surrounding area is included with this display.
“This was quite an event,” Davis commented, pleased with the outcome of the dedication and the work that was contributed to digging up the history on the area.
Historical writer and museum member Gail Hearne devoted several months researching the Spade Ranch area so that she could present as much historical accuracy as possible about the area during the dedication. However, little documentation was found to support facts dating back to that time and Hearne ran into several difficulties in unraveling the mystery of the area.
According to Hearne, this area under the Mogollon Rim (known as Spade Ranch) was part of Yavapai County until 1889 when the Fifteenth Territorial Legislature passed a law granting a fifteen hundred square mile parcel to Gila County that included Payson, Pine, Pleasant Valley and Strawberry Valley.
Hearne says that the information found in a book entitled Sheriff Thompson’s Day, written by Jess G. Hayes of Globe, suggests John Henry Thompson may have built the cabin between 1880 and 1887.
“Soon thereafter, Thompson, a resident of Yavapai County prior to 1889, gathered enough support to be appointed Gila County Sheriff on June 9, 1890 and subsequently moved to Globe,” states Hearne.
While continuing with her research, Hearne found a publication featuring first-hand recollections of James C. Herron (1865-1945), which places the Frank Herron family on the Webber Creek ranch under the Mogollon Rim by 1893. Official documents confirm that George Francis “Frank” Herron homesteaded the land where Spade Ranch cabin still stands today.
“In accordance with the 1862 U. S. Homestead Act, Frank Herron received a land patent for 157.72 acres on Webber Creek in 1914. This property, known as the Herron Ranch beginning in the 1890s, is essentially the same land that currently comprises Camp Geronimo, owned by the Boy Scouts of America since 1955,” Hearne states in her dedication article.
However, Hearne also claims that the 1900 U. S. Census records for Gila County show that William Craig and Paul Vogel also lived on Webber Creek, approximately two to three miles downstream from the Herron Ranch.
“In the spring of 1884, these business partners planted a fruit orchard. They also constructed a log cabin and fruit processing building and received patents for their land totaling 250 acres in 1912. Today, these privately owned lands are collectively known as Geronimo Estates and Elusive Acres.”
In 1887 Vogel and Craig trademarked the Spade cattle brand, which brought about the name “Spade Ranch.”
“Through the years,” Hearn indicates, “the Herron Ranch and the Spade Ranch lands were combined by property ownership and/or by livestock grazing permits. Cattle bearing the Spade brand roamed in the area from the 1880s to the 1950s; a span of seven decades.”
Among the 20 individuals who attended the Spade Ranch House dedication, were some living icons who had once inhabited the old log cabin residence. One of these women, Frieda Reisch, talked about the history of the Spade Ranch House and her experience while living at the house with her parents, Herman and Evelana Dietlaff, about 55 years ago.
Reisch recalls fond memories of her mother cooking and serving lunch to the work crew while Camp Geronimo was being constructed in the mid-1950s.
“I remember sleeping on bunks in that little cabin and my mother cooking meals in the kitchen,” said Reisch.
Although Davis had only visited the Spade house on a couple of occasions, he felt a strong connection to the land and the cabin, which is why he felt compelled to build a replica of the house while it still stood firm in ground.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Let’s talk about awards, a subject that has dominated the international, national and local stages of late.
President Barack Obama, of course, won the Nobel Peace Prize, setting off a firestorm of criticism. Coming in for their respective shares of that criticism were the prize itself, the committee that awarded it, and (no surprise at all) President Obama for being President Obama.
It seems there are those among us who can find nothing to like about the 44th President of the United States. Everything he does or has done to him (aka the Nobel Peace Prize) is roundly ridiculed by the right.
Their hatred totally defies logic, but don’t suggest racism – nothing raises the hackles on the anti-Obama crowd more than the R word.
Shortly after Obama’s Nobel hit the front pages around the world, your local newspaper blasted its own horn in a front page story announcing it had won the best little newspaper in the state award from the Arizona Newspapers Association (ANA) for the 11th consecutive year.
Leading the charge to disparage the significance of that award is none other than yours truly. Like the R word associated so often with hatred of the President, I have my own R word for the Roundup. It stands for Really Slanted.
I know. There I go again. Can’t get past it. Won’t let go.
But I have a proposition for you. If you will allow me to explain why those who believe President Obama should not have received the Nobel Peace Prize are absolutely correct, then you must allow me to explain why the Roundup’s award is a total and unequivocal sham. Fair enough? Let’s begin.
The Nobel Peace Prize is named after Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. He created it so he would be remembered for something other than inventing the original weapon of mass destruction.
It is awarded each year by a committee comprised of Scandinavians, a people that collectively can be said, at least tongue in cheek, to know quite a bit about peace.
They gave it to President Obama, as they have other heads of state including Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev and West Germany’s Willy Brandt, “to enhance the ongoing work of sitting heads of government.” But Gorbachev and Brandt were considerably further along in their terms than President Obama is, and therefore had made inroads toward peace that the president has not yet had time to accomplish.
According to Newsweek magazine, “We thus find ourselves in a rather peculiar universe where good intentions are rewarded before they have undergone the strenuous metamorphosis of being translated into good deeds, or hard facts.”
So there you have it. A world enthralled with an American president who is once again engaging the international community has led to his premature recognition for achievements yet to be realized.
Now let us turn to the other “front page” award story because there are some things you need to know about how the ANA competition works – things that are, of course, absent from the Roundup’s front page account.
First let me point out that during five of those 11 consecutive best paper awards, I was a reporter for the Roundup. The string started a few years before I arrived and it has continued for the few years since I was fired.
Also there for several of those years was my buddy Mike Burkett, arguably the best writer the Roundup has ever had. Those who remember Mike and his wonderful work will agree. He had Pete Aleshire’s gift for verbosity, but also brought substance and insight to the table.
Mike and I spent two years together at the Roundup, and one of the things we hated most was the ANA contest – not only because it was time consuming to enter, but also because we both recognized it for what it was – a competition that was weighted toward the tired old, traditional-looking papers like the Roundup and that was so easy to win it wasn’t really a competition at all.
Also understand that the ANA competition does not evaluate a paper’s actual fairness and balance – critical components of its worth to the community. They don’t do that because of the way their competition is structured.
Editors and reporters submit what they want to submit, rather than a representative body of their work. The ANA does not ask for a random sampling so it might also see some of the mediocre stuff, or the stuff that was obviously biased, or the stuff that might have contained inaccuracies.
With one exception, that is also true of the categories by which the entire newspaper is judged. The paper picks out which issues to submit for its editorial page, its front page, etc. The ANA does request, I believe, three random issues – hardly a large enough sample to judge how well a newspaper is fulfilling its critical mission to be fearless and fair.
Consider the following:
The year Mike Burkett was told he couldn’t write a story exposing one of the Roundup’s biggest advertisers, the Roundup was still named newspaper of the year.
The year I was fired for my coverage of the Star Valley water theft, the Roundup was still named newspaper of the year.
The year my successor Michael Maresh wrote the absolutely false and libelous front page story about local realtor and upstanding citizen John Hanna, the Roundup was still named newspaper of the year. You can bet Maresh’s story was not entered in the competition that year.
The year the Roundup decided to sell its front page to advertisers, it was still named newspaper of the year. Incidentally, half the points in the newspaper of the year competition are awarded for advertising – and it’s always their advertising points that make up the Roundup’s margin of victory rather than their editorial content.
The two years the Roundup proudly declared the drought over (droughts are not good for growth, you know), it was still named newspaper of the year.
The year the Roundup stole the mayoral election by running a biased profile of Bob Edwards on the front page next to a fluff piece about Kenny Evans, the Roundup was still named newspaper of the year.
And most recently, the year the Roundup allowed its cow manure columnist Jinx Pyle to play fast and loose with the truth, including a large number of outright falsehoods, it was still named newspaper of the year.
And so, I refuse to put a lot of stock in their award having any real significance. But wait, there’s more.
One year when Mike and I were at the Roundup, then publisher Richard Haddad worried one year that ANA board members could influence which random issues were selected for judging, and that one specific board member had it in for the Roundup and actually went to the trouble to select issues he knew were weak ones for the Roundup. At the time I thought Haddad was being paranoid, but guess who is currently on the ANA board. That’s right, Haddad’s successor John Naughton – that man of many, many boards.
Anyway, during the years Mike and I were there, we would go to the ANA awards ceremony, usually at some posh Scottsdale resort, and yawn through it all, knowing that this was not the competition to judge our worth as journalists – a responsibility we both took very seriously, to the point that we both left the Roundup for refusing to compromise our integrity.
That is the reason, in fact, that I feel so strongly about the Roundup. Mike and I were both penalized for trying to be honest, for trying to do what good journalists do. That, my friends, is unforgivable to somebody who takes his responsibility as a journalist seriously. It’s not something you just “get over.”
Mike and I much preferred the annual competition sponsored by the Arizona Press Club, a much tougher competition that attracts the real journalists in the state. At an ANA awards ceremony you never find the big boys – the Goodykoontzes and Bommersbachs and Bensons and Montinis and Laceys – but they wouldn’t miss a Press Club ceremony.
The Roundup has never won much of anything in the Press Club competition, with one exception. In 2003, when I was still with the Roundup, I won the Community Journalist of the Year award in that competition – the top award for a small newspaper journalist. Nobody, including Pete Aleshire, has ever won that award. (The ANA has since added its own journalist of the year award, the one given to Aleshire this year.) Of course, the Roundup will never again mention my receiving that award, although I can still remember an exuberant Haddad saying that night, “Jim, I don’t think you realize what a big deal this is.”
Of all the awards I have received, there are just two that really mean something to me. The first was the Community Journalist of the Year. The second was a first place from the Arizona Press Club competition for the series of stories I wrote about your Rim Country Chamber of Commerce that brought down then-director Tina Breuss.
They are the awards that matter to me because they truly reflect what I have tried to stand for as a journalist – being fair and digging for the truth no matter the consequences.
That a newspaper that purports to be fair inflicted the consequences (by firing me) in one case and continues to be the benefactor of the chamber’s biased largesse is something I have a problem dismissing. It strikes at the very heart of what is fair and right.
My ANA awards line the walls in the Gazette office, but I have decided to simply toss them when we shut down the office for good. They just don’t mean that much.
As for the Roundup’s 11th consecutive newspaper of the year award, I can only say that it is a sad, sorry commentary on the state of small town journalism in Arizona.
The Gazette chose this year to not even participate in the ANA competition. Now you know why.
Friday, October 23, 2009
By Noble Collins
The Gazette is no more. The paper version , anyway.
I’m still wrestling with this fact as I take a long walk with my faithful Chihuahua companion, Cowboy. He pulls hard on the leash as we crunch deeper and deeper into the Ponderosas, putting everyday concerns more and more into perspective behind us.
“Come on,” he seems to say, “let’s get to a place where we can look at this in reality.”
“Did you do harm?” he asks
“I don’t think so. Certainly none was intended. I tried to inform and entertain as much as anything.”
“Were you true to your understanding of the truth?” he continues.
“I hoped to represent the truth, no matter what it revealed,” was my reply
“You seemed rather eager to challenge misunderstandings and false statements.”
“It’s because I want 'truth' to prevail in any society in which I live,” I answered.
“How can I believe in and enjoy my life if it is not true?"
(I know dogs don’t actually speak, but this one channels mighty well.)
Ultimately, there are only two sides to Mankind’s Progress. One side wants continued improvement to what has been accomplished and proved true over the eons - a slow, but steady improvement to Life in all its vast array of “awesome wonder.”
The other side is troubled. It is afraid. It lacks the self confidence needed to allow anything risky to be presented.
Their world is full of Devils. They actually believe that at any point in history, they have the Universe captured in a bottle, and they desperately guard the top from coming loose.
Compromise, accommodation, examination or inquiry are far too risky to attempt. To their rigid world, this represents chaos.
Understandings different from their narrow, nervous Status Quo are fought off.. Examination, study or research are dangerous. Worse, they are heresy in a strange belief system invented to “protect” them from the “overpowering” forces they fear they are too weak to withstand.
In the past, millions of people died not knowing that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun. Cholera was long accepted as being a punishment for sins. Capricious gods ran the universe. Attempts at discovering the truth were punished severely. It doesn’t make sense, but neither does its modern counterpart. It still goes on.
“Here’s the thing, Cowboy,” I tell him.
“I like the world we live in a lot.”
I think the world has improved decade by decade for many generations, and it’s a pretty good place in which to live for the most part. Of course, there are huge problems left to overcome, but look how far we have climbed due to the efforts of many good people.
Fluoride didn’t lead to Communist domination after all. Galileo’s discoveries, or Newton’s or Einstein’s didn’t condemn us to eternal Hell. There were no witches in Salem, after all. Communism didn’t infiltrate and take over our government, nor Socialism, nor Fascism nor a Dictatorship.
Our system of government seems to have held up pretty strong in spite of angry challenges. People who see it crumbling are shortsighted in my view.
It isn’t perfect. It never has been. It merely acts in a way far superior to any other system ever devised.
We VOTE, and we even allow idiots to have a say. The flexibility of our government is what makes it stand apart from all others, in my view. The Principles never change.
As long as Good Men and Women are in the majority, we will survive, as we should. If The United States fails, what is there left on earth to hope for? Isn’t that what that radical social engineer, Abe Lincoln, had to say?
The Dark Side dealt with Abraham and John and Bobby and Martin (and Galileo and Newton and others), and they may yet be assembling a plan to deal with the latest threat. Their ant chamber has been disturbed once again. Reason and discussion are being shunned like the poison they represent to these programmed souls. Life above ground is too risky for them. Too uncertain.
“Well, hopefully it’s like this,” says Cowboy.
“There are eight billion people in the world. Not all of them are bad, and the ones who are don’t all have access to weapons of mass destruction. History shows that Light eventually overcomes Darkness. The sky can’t be shouted down. Darth Vader can make life miserable for a time, but The Force resumes its rightful place in the end..”
Sometimes I think Cowboy is on the wrong end of the leash.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Dad and the boys, Denny, Randy and Jim, pose at the cemetery after the successful re-interment of mom.
Mom’s re-burial a moving experience
By Jim Keyworth
As I write this, we are flying back to Michigan to re-bury mom.
Fortunately, mom is powdered, not decayed. But she is buried, so we’re actually going to have her dug up and moved to another cemetery.
The re-burial is dad’s idea. Something about preferring one cemetery over another.
When I get there and ask him face-to-face for an explanation, I’ll let you know. He’s explained it on the phone, but dad’s hard to follow on the phone anymore.
While he still has all his wits about him, he is 92 and I find face to face works much better these days.
Mom died 10 years ago – almost to the day of the reburial. They were married over 50 years and were very much in love for most of that time. I remember a couple of rocky years – one in particular – but that’s not bad. Especially compared to me, a creature of another era.
It wasn’t OK to just walk away back in their time. In fact, I was the first in the family to get a divorce and it wasn’t something to be proud of – even in 1973.
But this is about mom, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Mom was a strong woman who literally held the family together through sheer willpower – something most of us didn’t realize until she was gone. She simply wouldn’t tolerate divisiveness.
Funny thing, she really hasn’t gone for good. I get occasional signs to this day that she is still in at least limited control.
When she first died, she “appeared” to me several times in different forms – as a statuesque bull elk, a brilliant red bush, and a momentary rush of wind – all in the same spot in the forest. Nowadays, her appearances are less frequent and more subtle.
She collected Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, and when she died I took one back to Payson with me to remember her by. It rests on a high shelf in my office, propped up against a picture of mom and dad – a place where no one, man or beast, can disturb it.
Nothing mortal at least. Because whenever she wants to remind me she is watching, she pushes the doll off the shelf and onto the floor.
I’ve read that spirits can perform such acts, although with great difficulty. So the gestures are small – like shoving a small Raggedy Ann doll off a shelf.
Back on the plane and headed back to Arizona after four cold and rainy days in Michigan. The deal on the reburial is that a new VA cemetery opened near Flint and dad feels it will be kept up better than the one mom was in.
Plus, he’s a WWII vet and he wants to be there with so many of his comrades. He didn’t say as much, but I got that feeling.
We got mom moved OK, and she is now in what they call a columbarium – “a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.” The individual receptacles remind me a lot of the package containers on group mailboxes.
But at least mom is above ground now. If we move her again in 10 years, it will be a little less traumatic on all of us – mom included. We got some good pictures at the cemetery, including the one posted above.
Those are my two younger brothers with dad and me. Mom had three boys and always wanted a girl. I helped ease her disappointment by going shopping with her all the time. Mom was the consummate shopper, and I inherited the gene. Sometimes The Consort likes that trait, sometimes not so much.
The whole re-burial thing was pretty uneventful, although The Consort believes mom was messing with her at the cemetery. All of a sudden one of her earrings popped off her ear, and The Consort swears it couldn’t have happened without a little divine intervention. It still had the stopper-thing on it, so it takes on “camel in the eye of a needle” dimensions.
The rest of the day was uneventful, but the next morning after breakfast, The Consort and I were following my brother and his wife, Peggy, on a short walk from the restaurant to our hotel room when mom suddenly dislodged one of Peggy’s earrings, or at least so The Consort insists. She retrieved the earring, handed it back to Peggy, and that concluded mom’s interventions for the duration of the trip (unless she was responsible for 120 mph headwinds on the flight home, which wouldn’t surprise me). Think of the symbolism of such an act.
What she was trying to tell the two wives with her earring caper is anybody’s guess, but The Consort chooses to take it as a sign of approval. She came along after mom died, and she always wondered whether mom would have liked her – whether she felt she was good enough for me – and how she would measure up to the ones who came before. One extracted earring later and she has her answer.
Anyway, I woke up the morning after the re-burial inspired. I leaped from bed, ran over to my laptop and wrote down the opening lines to a poem called “Moving Mom.” It goes like this:
We did the deed
We dug up mom
Then buried her
We did it once
Ten years ago
But that was
Way back when
It’s no big deal
To yank her
Out the ground
And move her
To a better
Place that’s just
The corner round
You might think
It would be best
To just let
Dead moms lie
Was not my choice
Though I didn’t
And when you
Think about it
It makes a
Sort of sense
To let her
Steal a whiff of
Air – although
In the past tense
In the darkness
Has been brought
To an end
And now it’s done
She’s in the crypt
She’s laid to rest
You may think my poem disrespectful, but I’m confident mom would approve. She was a practical joker par excellence, and she would have had a good laugh at the whole thing if she could have.
Besides, she knows where I live, and if she doesn’t like how I treated her re-burial, she won’t hesitate to let me know.
Unethical to represent opinion as fact
By Noble Collins
“Well, he’s entitled to his opinion.”
I hear it every day, and I absolutely agree. What amazes me, though, is the absolute refusal of some folks to understand the difference between stating a fact and stating an opinion.
Look at it this way - your only child needs one more passing grade to graduate with his peers from high school. His chemistry teacher gives him an “F”. Are you willing to say, “Well, he is entitled to his opinion.”?
When facts are needed, opinions only get in the way. Let’s say you are just entering a twilight sleep when you overhear the doctor say, “ Gosh, Fred, that sure looks like the gall bladder, whatta you think?” Or, over the intercom, accidentally left on by a pilot, “You know, this old bird will probably glide for a long way if it has to. We probably have enough fuel anyway.” Let’s say you take your winning Lotto ticket to the State Office, and an old guy says, “I don’t know, that could be a seven or maybe a one.”
Well, they are entitled to their opinion, right?
The reverse it also true. Your drill instructor barks, “Give me 10 pushups!” Would you answer back, “Well, Sarge, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Let’s say you are lost in a forest and a ranger suddenly appears and tells you, “Just walk down that trail about a mile and you will find a paved road leading out.” Don’t you hope that is more than just his opinion?
There is a proper place for both. Facts and opinions are both needed and welcomed in an open society. It is vitally important, however, to be able to distinguish between the two.
If something is stated as a fact, then it better be. If, on the other hand, the information is preceded with, “It seems to me,” or, “I think,” or, “I believe.” that should alert us to the presence of opinion, even if those prefaces are merely assumed.
If I run into your home tonight and shout, “Your house is on fire! Quick, get out!” are you willing to grant me that as an opinion? Your stock broker tells you to sell everything except one stock. Your wife tells you she is pregnant with twins. Do these seem like opinions to you?
When these situations turn out to be incorrect, can I assume that you will merely say, ”Well, they’re entitled to their opinion.”? I can hear it now - Next Sunday, go right up to your preacher and say, “Well, Reverend, you are entitled to your opinion,.”
There are places where opinions should be welcomed and respected. As long as they are represented as opinions, they can make for interesting points of discussion or debate. In fact, opinions frequently invite other opinions as comparisons. Once something is stated as a fact, however, it must stand the test of responsibility and verity.
Facts and opinions are two sides of a coin. They can only represent one side at a time.
The next time a newspaper columnist or a broadcaster states something as absolute fact, hold them to the accuracy test. If it doesn’t seem right, challenge it, respectfully. Or, you
might at least use the same scrutiny you reserve for President Obama.
President Obama is entitled to his opinion, right?
Friday, October 16, 2009
By Diana Vincent
Who cannot fear
of the devil-god
Who dares cross paths
with climbing vines
of shining leaves
and tempting jewels?
or most unwise
and fearless fools!
My arms ablaze
with flesh ripped raw
I scratch this scourge
with frenzied claw
His burning wrath
He’ll wicked wage
Urushiol will have His way
I am His,
the nasty chap
who freely wields
His toxic sap
For itching nights
and endless days
Urushiol will have His way!
Scratch, scratch, scratch!
Scratch, scratch, scratch!
Scratch! Scratch! SCRATCH! S-C-R-A-T-C-H!!!
Oh! Dear God!!
When can I be?
How will I quell
this August hell?
Heed my advice
I say to thee:
Beware the touch of the
Note: Urushiol is the toxic resin found on poison ivy leaves.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
En Vino Veritas:
To study wine is to study civilization
The best are known as “Vitis Vinifera,” the Noble Grapes. I take no personal credit for this.
To fully understand the complexities of wine, one should study the history of wine, and to do so, one must study the history of civilization. They are inseparable.
You could, of course, just leave study to scholars and simply enjoy wine for its own sake. That’s what most folks do, and for very good reasons. Few, if any, libations bring more complete involvement with the occasion, interest in the ingredients and simple satisfaction with their presence.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
By Noble Collins
"It hurts too much to laugh, but I'm too proud to cry."
That's not original, but I can't think of anything more appropriate. This will be my last column for the Gazette.
I knew the risk when I signed on. I offered to write for free, and to assist in any way I could to keep this little ship afloat. I believe Rim Country deserves something more than a myopic view of reality.
I think truth is like a hard stone. The more you cut and polish it, the more valuable it becomes. In hard times, though, value gets re-set. I know.
How many Basha's, Safeway or Mazatzal Casino ads do you really need? How many announcements about organizational meetings, real estate listings, or court decisions? In a small town, one outlet for that information is about all that ever gets read, anyway.
It costs big money to publish a newspaper, however, and advertising is mother's milk. Pups have to nudge each other fiercely to get the nutrition needed for survival. Often, the big dog wins.
Gone are the days when a Hearst or a Wrigley or a Goldwater could and would take up any slack needed to keep the presses humming. Most of the time, there was no slack. People bought newspapers by the millions and actually read them.
The great old newspapers were encyclopedic, not the “Cliff's Notes,” which abound today. Newspapers were a place where great ideas could be explored, dissected, and challenged. A Sunday afternoon with a great newspaper was an education and excellent entertainment as well.
The Gazette was always somewhat limited. It mainly served as a foil to the old local paper, and escaping that atmosphere was always going to be a challenge.
In the end, two things became simply too formidable: the economy and the Worldwide Web. Much larger and better known newspapers have succumbed to the same obstacles in the past year.
In a genuine way, the Gazette may actually have only been freed to pursue a higher calling. Increasingly, we live in a digital universe. We have access to a global newspaper - an encyclopedia, indeed. The Gazette will now enter this universe.
A Web log (blog) has been created and will be enhanced regularly. Local news will always be a part of the mix, truth and honesty will always be the discipline, but broader and more varied contents will be included. Rim Country can now join such great communities as “Lake Wobegone” of Garrison Keillor fame, perhaps, or take on some of the aspects of “Arizona Highways,” or who knows what else? You will want to mark us in your “My Favorites” file for sure.
To everyone who has shown interest and encouragement to me, personally, you have meant more to me than I can express. Thank you. A keyboard is a lonely place unless you believe you have something to bring to the party. You have always been gracious, even when I know the gifts were meager.
The engines are revving and the door is beginning to close. Here's to you, Kid. We'll always have the Gazette.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
(with a new feature -- BY THE PEOPLE -- that allows posts on any subject)
What an outpouring of support and condolences we received after our last printed issue hit the streets. We knew we were appreciated, but it sure felt good to hear from so many readers.
Check out “Rant & Rave” where we’ve printed a few of the literally hundreds of comments we’ve received. Just click on “Rant & Rave” over in the right hand column.
We have had some offers of money from our current investors and some potential new ones. Unfortunately, it would take $100,000 to reopen the doors and give us a good full year’s cushion against the economy.
So unless your richer than I am, that option is a limited one. But there is another option we’re working on – an existing newspaper that is considering entering the Rim Country market. I can’t tell you who it is yet, but I can tell you it is an established paper with values very similar to ours.
If we can work out the details, Matt and Mitzi Brabb and myself will do all we can to assist this new venture and make it happen. The current choice, between bad journalism and manipulative journalism, is not an acceptable option.
In the meantime, the blog (at www.rimcountrygazette.blogspot.com) has gotten great reviews, although some are disappointed that it is not interactive on every subject like that of a certain newspaper we all love to hate.
What you can do on our blog is post instant comments at the end of each article – comments that can be read by anybody who visits the blog. You do this by signing up as a blog follower. You have the option of following publicly (and even posting a photo of yourself), or of following anonymously). It’s really pretty easy. You may be asked to open a Google account, but that is easy and it is free.
If you prefer not to comment and just want to read the blog, simply go to www.rimcountrygazette.blogspot.com and enjoy. Remember we also accept letters, rants and other contributions for posting on the blog via firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we’re adding a new feature that allows more interactivity. It’s called “By the People,” and it’s a place you can go and comment on anything – or respond to someone else’s comment on anything. Just click “BY THE PEOPLE” on the right and have at it.
We’re going to continue expanding the blog and we want your input. Recently added is a poetry section, thus far featuring contributions by Dee Strickland Johnson/Buckshot Dot, Bruce Wales and Noble Collins. Your poems are welcome.
We have also given “Rant & Rave” its own section separate from “Opinion.” It’s one of our most popular features and we wanted to make it easier for you to find. And we’ve given the Citizens Awareness Committee (CAC) its own tab so you can keep track of their meetings. We believe they are an important watchdog group that deserves all the support we can give them.
Most of our regular columnists will continue to write for the Gazette’s blog, including myself (“Off the Rim”), Noble (“Rimshots”), Leilah Breitler (“Staying Healthy the Natural Way”) and more. Matt Brabb will continue to cover the Payson Town Council, Paty Henderson the Star Valley Town Council, and Mitzi Brabb whatever strikes her fancy.
And Bill Huddleston, far and away the best newspaper photographer in the Rim Country, will continue to share his very special work in PHOTO GALLERY.
What we are hearing from many readers is that we are soon going to become a paperless society, and that we are therefore going in the right direction – the only direction that leads to the future.
If, as Noble and I fervently hope, we attract a wider audience – dare we hope a worldwide audience – all the better. Many blogs have started small and grown into international phenomenons.
We think we have the writers. We think we have the contributing readers. Let’s think big and embark on this journey together.
Women turning surly, survey suggests
By Jim Keyworth
A new survey shows that men are happier than women. Another new survey shows that women are happier than men.
How can this be you ask? Let’s take a closer look.
According to a survey out of the University of Pennsylvania, women are reported to be “less happy with their overall lives,” a reversal of the results when the same question was asked in 1970, at which time women were slightly happier.
According to Princeton economist Alan Krueger, the unhappy state of today’s women is easy to explain. Over the past four decades, men have gradually cut back on activities they deem unpleasant. They work less and relax more.
Women, on the other hand, have gone in the opposite direction. They have joined the workforce and are therefore spending more time doing things they don’t like.
Four decades ago, a typical woman spent 22 hours a week doing things she didn’t like – 40 minutes more than a typical man. Today that gap has grown to 90 minutes, apparently enough to tip the scales in the other direction.
An interesting side note: according to Princeton economist Alan Krueger, these overtaxed women are spending a lot less time dusting than they did back in 1970. Krueger observe that since “there haven’t been any dust-related technological breakthroughs” (what about Swiffer?), houses are “probably just dirtier than they used to be.”
OK, now let’s flip the coin over and look at the other side. According to an online survey of 309 people by the Mental Health Association NSW (MHA), happiness is linked to spending time with friends or being a member of a club (including a church or a social networking site such as Facebook). In that survey, women reported feeling happier than men and had more active social lives.
"It was also interesting to note that the majority (72 per cent) of the respondents were female, which indicates immediately that women are more likely to get involved than men," reported MHA spokeswoman Nataly Bovopoulos.
So there you have it. Men are now happier than women, except when they’re not – in which case women are happier than men.
But I think this all makes perfect sense. Allow me to elaborate.
Let’s accept the premise from the first survey that women as a rule have become an unhappier lot than men. I think most of us guys would agree that’s an observable phenomenon.
And it’s hard to argue with the reason – women are essentially holding down two jobs: they still run the home and they also run the workplace (just a little guy humor there). Being in charge can be exhausting.
But I would have to disagree with the part about men dialing back their busyness. How can that be, what with e-mail and cellphones, and all the other diversions that didn’t exist back in the 60s?
I know I used to be obsessed about keeping my shoes shined and I don’t much care anymore. I used to be obsessed about keeping my car waxed and I don’t much care anymore. But those don’t begin to make up for the time I waste on technological pursuits.
The only explanation that makes sense is that women have been working harder at working harder than men and thus have surpassed us on the unhappiness scale.
I think the other survey – the one showing women to be happier because they are bigger joiners – can also be explained. If 72 percent of the 309 people surveyed were women, it appears to me that the results are skewed.
Because if this survey were strictly scientific, it would be 50-50 men and women. Therefore I propose that the women who dominated the survey are aggressive joiners.
You know the type. Join, join, join. Happy, happy, happy. Church. Facebook. Twitter. Twatter. Smatter. Spatter.
It’s enough to give a sort of happy guy a headache. I think I’ll go take a nap.
But first there’s that issue of dust. Because therein just may be the answer to the great swine flu mystery.
Nobody knows the precise source of the swine flu pandemic (isn’t that a fun word to say?) Porky Pig has been tentatively cleared. So has Miss Piggy. And it’s looking more and more like Charlotte’s Wilbur, despite his exposure at the state fair, is also innocent.
I propose we look closer to home. If we are dusting less and living dirtier, I suggest we are living more like pigs.
Is it too much of a stretch to conjecture that our own filthy habits have led to this end.
Unhappy ladies, start your feather dusters. Gentlemen, how about that nap.
Ubiquitous mistakes drive word lover crazy
By Noble Collins
A friend of mine says that I use the word "hubris" too much. I asked him to define “too much.”
He answered, "More than once in a lifetime." I may not agree, but I'll go ahead and get the subscription to The Weekly Reader renewed for his birthday anyway. Friends should be allowed to speak freely.
I confess to enjoying words. Not as much as a full fledged etymologist, mind you, but capturing an illusive one now and again and penning it in my notebook is very satisfying.
Precise meanings and clearly articulated thoughts appeal to me. An attorney friend once explained the importance of “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” when giving testimony.
Each of the phrases compliments and augments the other in the same way that “cut, clarity and color” are used to determine the value of a diamond. Each individual quality must be present to establish the worth of the whole.
English has become a universal language for many reasons. One of the most important is that it combines words and phrases from almost all the world's languages, starting with Greek and Latin. To that base, you add French, German, Italian, Spanish – words, phrases and idioms from around the world.
Then you use them like condiments at the great feast called English, and, if you are a true gourmet, you particularly savor the language spoken in the United Kingdom. There, sentences are crisp, precise, and usually charming. One of my favorite words, used there rather commonly but seldom anywhere else, is “daunting.” Just the sound of that word expresses its unmistakable meaning, I think.
“Rather daunting weather for sailing, eh, Reginald?”
“I suppose so, Dunbar, with the hurricane and all.”
Ever watch the amazing youngsters at the National Spelling Bee? Listen as they ask for the root of a word and for its use in a sentence:
“Well, Sammy, the root is from archaic Sumerian, third dynasty, where it meant strong odor.”
“Would you use it in a sentence, please?
“Of course. – ‘Please roll down the window Frank, this methaneobnoxicus is peeling the false wood from the dashboard.’”
“O.K. M – E – T . . .
And, of course, they get it right.
BUT, do they really appreciate the full power and seasoning of the words they so easily spell? I hope so. Another of my favorites is “nuance,” which wraps around a word or phrase and wrings every drop of meaning from it.
I want to be sure that I completely understand the meaning of a writer or speaker. His or her true thoughts deserve accuracy in my mind, and I find that I pay far more attention to a speaker if who appears to know and is able to express what he or she is talking about. “Gibberish” is another of those words where the mere sound fully expresses the meaning.
In the beginning, we most likely communicated with each other through grunts or other sounds. As time went by, we added in some gestures and perhaps did some play acting, somewhat like “Charades.” The desire to communicate must have been a primal urge, linked with advancement in all the other areas. Somehow, we slowly connected patterns of thought, intent, desire, or information transfer from one brain to another. Like a child learning to speak, this must have taken a while. Quite possibly, it was more like generations of children, each learning a new word.
By now, I think most of the vast potential quarry of words has been mined. The Oxford Dictionary adds a few new ones from time to time, mostly from colloquial utterances accepted into the mainstream because of perceived “charm” or “color.” New scientific words are added, also, although they are far less used.
Language continues to evolve, but I think we are pretty much fully equipped at present with a full arsenal of communication tools. The problem is in learning how to use them properly and effectively. Also, knowing how to speak does not always guarantee knowing how to listen.
Diplomats know the great importance of conveying thoughts with precise accuracy. Even so, a word or a phrase gets misunderstood or taken out of context occasionally, and wars have been known to start because of this.
Not long ago, President Bush used the word “Crusade” with regard to taking over Iraq. To the Turks especially, and many other Muslim tribes, this brought an unpleasant reminder of other historical invasions in this part of the world. It didn't win us any allies at the time, and later Mr. Bush had to spend more time than he wanted explaining his meaning. I don't think he convinced many people.
In the 1960's we almost engaged in nuclear war over a “quarantine” of Russian ships. If the word “blockade” had been chosen, things might very well have turned out differently.
Perhaps the biggest detriment to using rhetoric in our daily lives is that so much has been simplified for us. No one pulls up to the drive-in window at McDonald's and says, “Please serve me a ground beef patty cooked and placed upon a toasted bun. Add a small portion of ketchup, mustard and mayonaise, and a few sliced pickles, please – oh, and some potatoes cut into rectangular sticks and cooked in hot oil.” Well, maybe if you saw the movie, “Sling Blade.”
We substitute parlance for rhetoric because it's quicker and easier and because English class was boring, while science lab was fun.
“Turn off the Bunsen Burner, boys, something is methaneobnoxicus in here!”
“Dammit, Roy, you messin' with the sulfur dixide again, or did you just have beans for lunch?”
“Open a window, Frank.”
And all the while, poor Miss Norman was trying to explain the value in diagramming a sentence.
Men expect each other to get to the point rather quickly and get on with whatever it is that brings them together. Women don't seem to share the same objective. They appear to go to quite the other extreme, substituting elaboration for description. Women like big words. This is why I majored in English rather than become just another big time jock.
Sooner or later, we all seem to accommodate to each other, though. Getting along requires it. I am not allowed to be too pretentious, and I enjoy pointing out the misuse of “too, to, or two” to my e-mail buddies. I've stopped trying with “your and you're” or “their and there.” The mistakes are ubiquitous.
By Noble Collins
Isotopes have half-lives in the periodic table.
Does this mean that I am whole,
or half a life,
For I am made of atoms, am I not?
It is no theory,
and atoms have their isotopes
that make up me, my Dearie
Just think of all the molecules
that link together nicely,
containing all the isotopes of atoms,
form the genes, the cells, the skin,
the hair and eyes, the feet,
the ears and elbows
and the fingers writing this so neat.
A random combination, then
has lately caused me strife.
Your spurning of my love should not be blamed
for my half-life.
By Noble Collins
I was a brakeman on a midnight train
when steam and smoke and four good men
could take a load of steel
from Youngstown to Detroit
and did - twice a week.
Dropped off those flat cars at the Detroit switch-yard
and picked up a load of machine parts
to carry back to Ohio
all in one motion.
The pay was better, we heard, in Omaha,
where cattle cars lined up
to go to slaughterhouses in Chicago,
but that didn‘t seem prideful work, somehow,
and, besides, we had it pretty good.
Better than folks camping by coal fires
who had it pretty good
before The Great Depression came like a plague,
devouring everything in its path.
We saved them our best left-overs
for their stew.
There weren’t much else we could do.
We got regular wages
and a bonus for our shift,
so we had no complaints.
Except in miserable weather
when sleet or snow or icy rain
cut through all the wool and leather
a shivering body or red-raw hands
could safely wear -
climbing atop the cars
to turn the brake wheel - just so -
a little too much and the wheels would grab and slide;
a little too little and the train would coast
beyond the coal bin or the water trough.
That’s when we really earned our pay
“The Railroad Irish”
Born to railroad
the way fiddlers took to the bow
or quaffers to their pints.
Backbones as strong as the silver rails we rode on -
proud and sure as the locomotives.
No man would do the work we did,
and no woman would refuse us her bed.
Too many women were widows, though -
young ones at that-
living off of tiny pensions left when
a signal got confused or a step was too icy.
If a coupler wouldn’t attach properly,
you weren’t supposed to get in between cars
to fix the problem,
but the dispatcher would have harsh words for a delayed train,
and you would notice a little less in your pay envelope
so, of course, you fixed the problem.
But some didn’t.
Too many young men hobbled about
with stumps for legs.
Too many hugged with one arm.
But I was lucky
or both -
Naw, mostly lucky.
And I rode that train -
Midnight to Detroit -
Midnight to Youngstown
until the day I died -.
Yesterday, in the sleet and snow and icy rain
Monday, October 5, 2009
By Noble Collins
Mrs. Shapiro, always prudent
takes care of herself, a very good student
of creams for her face and healthy elixirs,
the latest cosmetics and frizzy-hair fixers.
A regular viewer of “Oprah” and “Wheel,”
“Late Night” and “Leno,” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”
a master of trends and secular knowledge,
she married a doctor, so no need of college.
The hostess of all the great parties in town,
a trend-setter wearing a new opera gown,
she knows all the gossip - starts some herself -
keeps wigs in fine boxes stacked high on a shelf.
Never would wear them herself,
don’t you know!
Her own coiffure’s stunning -
(does that underpin show?)
Her pool-boy said he heard that she was a “Doyenne.”It sounded like slander, so she pushed the boy in.
Her butler said someone had called her a “Maven.”
She said, “And just who has been doing that ravin' ?”
“A Matriarch” was the term making the rounds.
Well, none of these culprits would enter her grounds!
Not one would partake of her famous Hors d'Oeuvres
Too bad, for no meatballs were better than hers.
A courtly old dame in spite of their chorus
For Christmas, I’m giving her Roget’s Thesaurus.
By Noble Collins
the Owl and the Buzzard were sacred.
Only the Owl remains beautiful and revered.
The Early Ones soon discovered :
lofty Buzzard was a trickster, not worthy of ceremony.
Condemned to revulsion, surviving on carrion,
he fools no one anymore.
Buzzards only sense
The Owl knows
For several nights, now, he appears at my window.
He speaks to me in a dream:
“The Soul is aware in a way far different from the body.
The body knows nothing. It is carrion.”
Crow and Raven are cousins
Arrogant Crows ignore me.
Pompous Ravens mock me.
I linger, somewhere in a twilight place.
Pinholes large and small allow light through a black ceiling.
I am afraid of what is on the other side.
“This way” whooos the owl
The faint sound of a flute-whistle
drifts on the wind from a far away place,
its plaintive sighs and moans oddly comforting
A warm breeze rustles faded curtains.
I do not want to be cold,
or forlorn -
How has it come to this?
After all the loves, the laughter
the fear and the conquest
the accolades and the acquisitions
the knowledge, the experience
Why is Time the inexorable winner,
arrogant and pompous like the ravens and crows,
dumb, ugly and circling like the Buzzards?
This was not the plan, the dream, the goal.
Thousands should be mourning; praising my grand achievements.
My children and grandchildren
should be delighted at their inheritance.
Great Women should smile and remember.
Raconteurs should relate fine stories.
even my sighs are old and worn .
So, I listen to the Owl
He seems to know what he is talking about,
and I am growing too weak
to protest circling shadows
By Bruce Wales
My soil evolves from spring to spring
From leaves and twigs my neighbors bring
With shreds of bark or scraps of cloth
So stewed and chewed by bug or moth.
And cardboard snips or garments old
Are layered deep for fungus, mold
Then, chipped and raked and laid with dew.
They’ll decompose - the earth renew.
Oh, worms and slugs will slime on deep.
They’ll slide and rise – bacteria keep.
The creeping fungi tentacles
Invade the woody cellulose.
Small pill-bugs armadillo-like
Will chew, proliferate germ-like.
Black crickets nip and chirp aloud
As green-stuff breaks down, earthen bound.
Tough weeds and thistles thickly lay
broad birthing beds for seeds to splay.
The grass seeds sprout to soon reclaim
And forbs and bush will do the same.
The tree and shade will moisten life
Bourgeoning growth, hey, life’s a-rife!
These are my friends –for heaven’s sake-
While here on earth such means they make
That forms the base for nutrients’ ride
in each backyard where veggies hide.
For there cucumbers and our corn
Will sun-ward climb when mantles shorn.
And berries plump up for the tongue
Thick watermelons swell for fun
The chives, potatoes, peppers, too
Once tended, eaten two-by-two
As pomegranates burst in pink
So grapes and cherries clump in sync.
Thus, weeds and waste, insects, debris
Comprise a food web thriving free.
As treasure, trash: they’re all confused
Since food and waste are either used
By creature, plant; with moisture pure
They’re ripe for appetite for sure.
One hardly treasures easy means
Once giv’n to him for what he needs.
Yet needed most are presents free
Like food for life, a saving spree.
And so I’ll eat my garden free
And save my coin from grocery.
I’ll build the soil and plant the seed
To answer body’s nutrient need.
My soil evolves from spring to spring
From leaves and twigs my neighbors bring
For the water, worms, soil and all life Bruce Wales 8-27-09
Dee Strickland Johnson, © 2009
(This is a true story which it has taken me nearly forty-five years to write)
Surely, United States Border Patrol,
is a job that few people would choose.
She might have been dead a day, maybe two,
the girl with the red high-heeled shoes.
She lay in the slight dappled, grudging sparse shade
of a small palo verde tree,
A merciless sun slew such shade as it made.
I found her amongst the debris—
Aluminum cans, sacks, and diapers and such
we find scattered about every day.
O, I’ve seen the dead and the dying too much,
yet this took my breath clean away.
She wore but one shoe – it was high heeled; bright red.
How it spoke of her tragic ordeal!
The desert’s unkind to both living and dead,
and the shoe in her hand had no heel.
She was young and she might have been pretty.
Probably fled from her harsh poverty
To some Norte American City
To begin life adversity free.
She’d left from some village one morning,
decked out in her finest new clothes,
With her hopes and her dreams still aborning:
red shoes, fancy dress and silk hose.
I cursed the deceitful “coyote!”
‘Tis sure she could never have seen
That he’d leave her to die in the desert
where the heat blazed a hundred eighteen.
He had probably told her, “A bus will come by.
Just over the hill there lies wealth.”
The whole thing was a lie: With result that she die,
while he lives by deception and stealth.
I knelt and cried, “¡Madre de Dios!”
I felt the hot tears on my face
As I lifted her ever so gently
and took her away from that place.
¿A donde vas, Seňorita?
¿Como se llama? ¿Who knows?
¿Maria, Rosita, Lupita, Juanita
con zapatos tacones altos?
Did coyote forecast that this trip be her last?
Be he damned for his treacherous ruse!
Her sun has long set, but I’ll never forget
the girl with the red high-heeled shoes,
I still weep for the girl in red shoes.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Photo by Bill Huddleston
This young dancer performed at the Rim Country Heritage Festival last weekend. We thought her pensive look most appropriate for the Gazette's last front page. Many thanks to Bill Huddleston for his excellent photographic contributions to the Gazette. We hope to feature some of Bill's best photography here on our blog.