Monday, July 28, 2008

Can you give me a landline on my cellphone?
by Greenvanholzer
Is what I've heard peace officers in action say now and again over the scanner. In the spirit of Mad Magazine's "Snappy answers to stupid questions," just once I would like to hear the respondent say, "No! That would be impossible."
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Falls Church

Falls Church

When we finally arrived at the woodland falls, somebody had parked a Toyota there, but they weren’t around. Here, I revealed the note to my companions, but they seemed perplexed as to its meaning. I stripped myself of the extra supplies and emptied all pockets before quietly sunning on a large flat rock. This enormous rock was next to the deepest water and it faced perfectly into the best afternoon sun. The rock is large enough to hold one of the families we saw earlier in the day. If I become more star-savvy, perhaps one night I will lug up some simple astronomical sextants and whatnot to measure our nighttime sky from this rock to determine if it orients toward celestial noon

I located a few sticks to throw in the water for Lucas. From previous experience, I knew he would be careful, because whenever he draws near a dangerous looking area, like the cascading falls; he approaches very tentatively, sometimes waiting for the stick to float upstream to come into easy grasp. After a while, he got used to the slippiness and saw that if he tiptoed across the moss carefully, it was probably safe to pull a thrown stick from any area of the falls where we played. 

After splashing around downstream for a while, I finally submitted to the deep immersion. “Cold!” I cried aloud, while quickly bobbing back to the surface. Reflecting above the water, I wondered what the enduring waterfall here looks like in winter. I thought again about the note and remembered that Wildhorse is where; two decades ago, Marcus shot a Mountain Lion with small ears. They attributed the small ears to the coldness and the fact that the Mountain Lion wintered in an area where it sometimes reaches forty-below. The cutting frostbite, shortened the Cougar’s extremities at its ears, and shaved some length off its tail.

I baptized myself in the water two more times. The third time Lucas came over with a high look of concern to ensure I was okay. This reminded me of a time when Maddie-Lou did the same thing at these very falls and pawed at me while my head was underwater. It was a very sentimental moment for me again, as I had been talking about Maddie with Laura only days before at Shorty’s Diner, where a deep sadness came upon me as Laura spoke Maddie’s name aloud. Her words made me think about Maddie-Lou and Dartmoore and the wonderful lives they led.

"What keeps a man away from the waterfall & the lion will kill him."

Found this quote tucked in an old shoebox Saturday morning a few hours before heading out Wildhorse Canyon for a 3 and ¾-mile uphill hike, which ultimately leads to a cascading waterfall. Although you can actually drive to the falls, the walk is only mildly rough and the road not very steep.

Parking near the campground area is a good starting point. Last year, after leaving this trailhead, we went up the road and encountered a bear within the first mile. The bear seemed to sense that we were not hunters as she trotted up the ridge in a mild gait. A few weeks later, Fish and Game had to relocate that bear, as she could no longer resist the temptation to come into camp at night, to look for easy picinikings.

With this year’s hike, the three of us, along with Lucas, started in a mild afternoon heat. This was good, because we knew of the cool reward, which lay ahead. Lucas became excited when he saw that our sunny adventure was about to begin. So, we started tracking out fresh with our hiking poles and daypacks.

Within a mile, we encountered my next-door neighbor, who is a strong man, built like a bear. He had led his family on an ATV tour, turning around at the broken bridge, below Arrowhead Lake. They told us that there weren’t many people about, which meant there was a chance we would have the waterfall to ourselves for our mighty splish-splash.

Being familiar with the trail, I purposely set a slow pace to inhale the scenery, rather than “bust up the hill.” Besides last years bear encounter, in previous years, we had seen moose munching moss from the creek bottom. As I lagged behind my companions, hoping for glimpses of more wildlife, Lucas dashed back and forth to tether our group together. Suddenly a tiny quartz glint caught my eye and then right after that, I found a mysterious willow stickcarved with four notches and of strong animal scent. It was as if someone had placed this reed here for me to find.
Sagestick or dipstick?

Finding this wood stick in such a way, clicked something within me, as a reminder of a sage stick, involved with some fanciful dreams of flight.

Soonafter, at the thickest shade of the jeep trail, we heard some wailing from the forest. At first, we thought it was a bugling Elk, but then the cries sounded like a young animal injured and beckoning for help. Was it a mountain lion? As the eerie noise continued emanating from the other side of the dark shade, another noise from a creaking tree directly above us added to our confusion. We backtracked to try to find the animal, but from where we stood, it was too elusive for us to identify. Meanwhile, about two minutes previous, we had heard some motor vehicles chugging down the path. At this puzzling point, I held Lucas by the collar and wondered why they had not yet passed. After recovering from the distracting cries of the strange forest creature, we realized that the running engines were no longer within earshot. After a few minutes, we walked up the trail and saw why. Only minutes before, a hundred foot tall, pine had plummeted to block our trail. Now another man, strong as a bear, pushed the enormous tree off the path to make way for his family and their all-terrain-rigs.

The giant we encountered was not actually this large. Our Giant was able to move the 100 ft pine because it landed in such a position that it was easy to pivot for a 'regular strong man'

For a short while, I considered the possibility that the unknown creature of the forest was sending out distress signals to forewarn us of tree’s impending doom. However since we did not hear the tree fall, its downfall must have occurred several minutes before we reached the area. Since my next-door, neighbor traveled through that area without trouble 40 minutes previous, at that point the tree was still standing.

Nonetheless, the unknown creature from the other side probably held some strong connection with the tree. Perhaps it had built a home within the pine, and was injured during its toppling.



Right before we parked at the trailhead, while steering the truck through the most treacherous part of the jeep trail, it flashed through my head that this would be a bad place to intersect with an ATV operator. Suddenly I had fleeting vision of one crashing through our windshield in this narrow rocky stretch.

The four notches carved on the willow could signify the time of four decades, since I am in my forties.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rexburg Buzzmeg

To me, the accomplished achievment of making it into a Rexburg, Idaho newspaper, far exceeds my earlier life-long dream of catching an anvil in my lap, while lightly floating over jagged Idaho peaks in a modern magical balloon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gently Floating with Down-to-Earth Sacred Cows

Mariel Hemingway came into our Ketchum furniture store last summer, before the great fires hit, to purchase a few items. She leads a yoga studio here called the Sacred Cow. I actually got the chance to sit and lightly chat with her for a few minutes. I found her to be very likeable. The next day, my boss told me that Mariel wanted us to package a few items to freight to her California address. Our primary freight room is located in a place with great atmosphere – directly across the avenue from Hemingway Elementary, replete with grand sounds of children gleefully enjoying playground activities. As I begin packaging the nice items for Mariel, I started turning this into an opportunity to shield her items with some newspapers strategically opened to old columns from both Two Skies and myself. When I finished taping the last box, my co-furniture worker / secret identity newspaper columnist, Two Skies just happened to drive by with his mother who was visiting. I mentioned the signature package job complete and that Mariel would probably fall for him like a ton of goldbricks after reading one of his good columns, which I had stuffed into her package with that very intent. This gave Two Skies, his mom and I all a good laugh. However, in reality, his work is darn good and this theory not so farfetched.

To be at ready stand by, for a future opportunity like this, I should probably keep this newspaper clipping, laying about for special insertion.*

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Serious Shrug


I noticed that the Mayan Calendar ends only several weeks after our 2012 election. I wonder if there is some connection between the two.

Perhaps Atlas, as a sentient being, will seriously shrug when it senses what o the humanity, stinkily dotting its landscape has ultimately elected.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cell Tower could have offered benefits

Galena cell tower would have offered great benefits
A friend brought it to my attention that some of the people, who adamantly wrote against any positive aspects of cell phone use in our Sawtooth National Recreation Area and surrounding region, and who won't buy a phone on principal, think it's perfectly OK to borrow other people's phones to make their important calls.

Something else that's not being talked about much is that some people in small Idaho
communities still unsecured by cell towers hesitate to speak their true feelings out of fear of being shunned--or worse--by the prevailing Flintstone-aged attitudes of their townspeople.

In one community, this fever reached such a high chirping pitch that even a physician went on public record to speak out against cell phone towers. So far, though, I have not heard any police or emergency medical technicians make convincing arguments about how the potential unsightliness of Galena
's cell tower--or any other tower--would outweigh its multitude of benefits.
Some naysayers worry about how the safety beacon on the hill might smear the landscape if pine beetles munch their way over Alexander Ross' ancient pass. If this does happen, it is actually one more reason to install a repeating cell tower on that exact spot, as it will have then become more avalanche-prone in this dangerous area where young sports-enthusiasts have already lost their lives after needlessly suffering because of extended communication delays.

Another anti-cell tower argument is that telephonic technology will soon orient towards satellites, which will render cell towers obsolete. However, what happens when a satellite goes defunct; locks up, or is shot down by one of our enemies? In the eventual likelihood of one of those events, wouldn't most people hope that we had the foresight to construct a dynamic back-up plan?

Cell towers should complement satellite technology and vice-versa. When we develop an innovative device that operates off both of these great technologies, that's the kind I want. And no matter what the cost, I will happily share my unlimited cell-minutes with any party that comes up against sudden unexpected distress, in our attractive SNRA, when we finally implement the enlightenment of cell phone service here.

Related story:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Memory of Cristina Reed

I found it shocking to hear that on July 4, Cristina Reed decided to plunge to her death by leaping off the Perrine Bridge and into the Snake River . Although I only knew Cristina from delivering her products, while I was a cab driver, the kindness she exuded towards those of us living on the edge of society became legendary. For some reason she strongly identified with us. Without question, Cristina was our best customer and most generous tipper and for years after I ended my brief taxicab stint, when we intersected, the drivers occasionally mentioned that her sincere kindheartedness never waned.

Another reason that Cristina’s death hits home so hard; is that back in 2006, I sent in a well-received suggestion to the Idaho Department of Transportation, regarding the importance of considering a feasibility study for improving suicide prevention measures on this very same bridge.

Writing the above linked letter was literally a dizzyfying experience. Halfway through it, I had to pause to catch my breath, and stood up to walk around and regain my bearings. Finding yourself up on that high bridge to imagine what is flashing through a troubled person’s mind can be electrifying and intensely sad. I wonder what other writers’ feel, when they report on horrific stories like this.

When I was a newspaperman, the chief editor explained why we sometimes go into detail, when a distraught person decides to end their life and it doesn’t go off exactly as planned. As hard as it is for that person’s family to hear, by reporting on the extended pain they felt; crawling with a broken back below a cliff, or suffering in a crippling death swim beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, may prevent other distraught people from making the same rash decision.

In addition, when someone shoots themselves in the head, we name it “self-inflicted gunshot” rather than suicide, since they might have changed their mind at the last millisecond, but too late because they already pulled the trigger. By the same token, in SFGate’s seven-part Lethal Beauty series; some of the jumpers who decided to take the drastic plunge off the Golden Gate, and actually survived, say that as soon as they jumped, they gained a completely new perspective, by realizing it was the wrong decision and that none of the problems in their life could have been that bad compared to this brand new problem.

Back to Cristina and the cab service: I remember those hard November days of slack when the evenings were so slow we would wish for any type of call, to make a couple of three bucks to relieve our cursed tedium. Then Cristina would sometimes ring our dispatcher to become our savior. For her friends, she sometimes enjoyed ordering a wine, called Chalk-Hill Chardonnay. I believe it was around 27 bucks or so, back then at the Circle K. It was the most expensive wine they carried. Once, while delivering a bottle, a friend of hers, sensed my curiosity, as Cristina went downstairs to retrieve her purse, and the friend remarked that yes, deep down Cristina was an extremely kind person.

Those Chalk-Hill experiences left enough of an impression, that a few years later, when climbing Mount Borah, I secretly packed along a jug, lugged it up the steep hill and hid it among some glacial-like ice, beneath a long gnarled tree stump, below Chicken-Neck Ridge. During the return from our victorious summit, I surprised my co-hikers, by revealing the perfect-temperature bottle and ceremoniously whisked it from a vortex beneath the ancient log.

It was such a good experience that even now I can still taste that everlasting wine on my buds. And since we never proposed a toast that day on our way down from Idaho’s tallest peak, I would now like to dedicate that precious moment in our hike posthumously to a wonderful woman that so many of her friends and family must now miss –Cristina Reed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

JBanholzer Says:

The accepted wisdom, which the Putrid Plutonium Propheteers try to push around in their seemingly spotless boardrooms; is that something like this could never happen here, in our pristine Idaho waters:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

JBanholzer Says:

Mickey G.

After completing your devouted route this Wednesday A.M., you will have achieved a well-deserved rest. Therefore, I invite you to sit back, relax, and break on through to the other side, to consider why this highly respected Idaho anthropologist would continue religiously sniffing, down our grand Bigfoot track:,1249,650204462,00.html

Monday, July 07, 2008

Nana Joyce

Since my maternal Grandmother would have turned 114 on July 5, I was thinking about her and how symbolic 114 is, since it often is the age of the oldest person in the world.

In a related concept, in some African Culture’s, there are a couple of highly respected concepts called the Sasha and the Zamzini. The Sasha regards somebody like Nana relating to us, since although she has passed on, she is sometimes still very alive in our minds. For instance any of our extended family who experienced early Pennsylvanian oatmeal mornings in Nana’s kitchen, could probably describe in detail many aspects of her loving personality and the surrounding atmosphere, which she created.

When the last person who is alive that knew Nana in their great memory, passes on, then she will be considered to have passed into the Zamzini, since then, nobody alive will have known her in person.

One reason that this is such an important concept is so that we can accurately gauge history. For instance think about George Washington, Caesar, Napoleon etc.; since nobody who is now alive, actually knew them; it makes it harder to refute questionable items printed (with great authority) in our history books.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Rosie & Mundo’s masterful adventure

(Circa 1998)

Come on Rosie, I’ve got somewhere special to take you,” said Mundo.

“There will be hypnologic star-shine unseen by our kind; squirrelly animals to engage in recreation with and scents to behold from out of this world.”

Rosie grinned mischievously, “Mundo, you always get me in hot water by suggesting that I come along. Ultimately, the blame is shifted onto me. But I’m game. I suppose we could surely sneak away for two or three days, with little repercussion. After all what is life if we don’t let our desires sometimes drive us?”

Mundo deliberated deeply -then under his thin breath muttered, ‘I knew she’d go for it, all right!”

So they were off into the wild blue abandon of

Mundo’s piercingly deep, almost supernatural eyes selected the snow path. “Rosie, let’s head way out this curvy part of East Fork country –all the way.”

Triumph-fully, they wagged their ways out into the deep snow, straying from man’s path the way dogs ordinarily do.

They skipped fast onto an unadvertised sacred path. One that the wintertime humans, left mostly forgotten. Packed powder held the canines high, like stilts above the actual earth.

Through a sixth sort of sense, they sniffed out some secret cliff waterfalls, thereaways past P.K. pass. Rosie led the way, as they bounded past old Leadville mines and abandoned flophouses- still vibrating full of high tales and appealing scents -both good and bad. Civilization became thinner, while thick aspen groves spread out beckoning branches.

“What is that smell Mundo?” Rosie muffed, “Wood River Wolverine?
“That my dear is a wolf,” bragged Mundo. “The newspapers you stamp on, say they don’t live here yet, but you and I are ahead of the times, my dear doggie friend.”

To mix it up, Mundo started playing a rough rapscallion sport of tag and tackle with Rosie, tossing her about in the snow. Rosie encouraged this in a way, by performing acrobatics, as she flipped and flew asunder, through the thunderous air. Some at first observation would comment that their spirits almost drove each other crazy. It was a contrary coyote line of attack, which Rosie and Mundo held for each other, but in the end their healthy competition, made both of them better creatures. That day Rosie and Mundo checked out copious draws and game trails in their valley of deep serenity. Their unique playfulness consumed most of the afternoon. It was as if they were teenagers hitchhiking, two birds of a different species hooked on laughing and losing track of time and ending up on an off beam sphere.

The twilight drew in along with a slight wind to warn them of the approaching cold.

“Mundo, I’m ‘zausted”, woofed a winded Rosie through her snoot. “I could use some of that hot water that you always get me into.” Mundo barked, “I think we’re resting in some right now Rosie, for I have become a bit bewildered with all of the spiraling about you did –hypnotizing me with your axis of aerial tricks.” Rosie ruffed back, “Don’t blame it on me you surefooted galloping galoot! You’re the one that wanted to dash out here with me.”

They nuzzled together for a while to stay warm. Dreams of snowshoe bunnies emerged, hopping in their dear doggie heads. Colder air soon blew further into their teeny snow dugout. Meanwhile, at the trailhead, some guardian humans conferred, and yes, a cross-country skier out for some evening exuberance had spotted the radically rascally twosome.
Mindful of the forthcoming below-zero temperatures the Ninja wore a tight tortoise like covering for the outbound approach. His boiling temperament at the situation, held some simmering warmth in reserve against the blustery wind. “I will let these doggone dogs know what the deal is when I find them,” he repeated as a powerful chant.
Another instantaneous challenge had come afoot. Repeatedly, unexpected tests like these kept mysteriously arising. So often now, that he was becoming acclimated to these on the spot challenges. He shook off the accumulating snow like the gauntlet of physical trials he had passed with ease by always utilizing his tight focus. Those tests had prepared him for this sudden demand in true-world time.

It looked like the tracks could be theirs. Ill-behaved winding wispy dog prints trailing out only one way. The brewing snowstorm begin to match the mental storm unmasking beneath the rescuers physically powerful makeup. The snow was muffling their yips and yaps, but he still easily recognized the rogue dogs’ sounds.

The Ninja shifted in softly with the new snow, stirring the stretched thin dogs from their catnap area. On their return from the rescue he had some powerfully long words with both barkers, and for many moons neither one strayed so far in this lifetime.

And that is the story of one Rosie and Mundo’s big adventures in these parts.

Spectacular stolen items of interest

I read in a religion news blog that The Holy Bible is the most shoplifted book. Heavens to Murgatroid! -what’s up with that? Does this statistic include Gideon providers? Do thieves who steal Bibles consider this hook or crook act to be above the Ten Commandments? Whose lead are they following for this unseemly act to be manifesting itself in our country? Are they romanticizing that if they are caught pocketing hallowed verses, the original author will instantaneously absolve them? Has anybody ever gone to jail for copping a Bible? Apparently so. In addition, the Dead Sea scrolls were reportedly stolen at some point from a Jewish Synagogue. I wonder if this statistic somehow stacks up differently for blessed books of the Koran.

After speculating over these underlying pilfering causes, Slate published an article proclaiming that meat is the most purloined supermarket item in America. This drove me to get to the beef of the matter. I pursued a line of questioning, asking, what other items of interest have been stolen over the ages? First, there was Mary’s Little Lamb. That’s right; in 1990, somebody under the cover of darkness fleeced a Sterling, Massachusetts statue of Mary’s lamb, which commemorated Sarah J. Hale’s nursery rhyme. After seeing news reports of kids bawling over the incident, the bandits rediscovered their own hearts and tiptoed back into the town manger to return poor Mary’s innocent lamb.

Our first and last Presidents have both been involved in petty larcenies. In 1990, somebody pinched George Washington’s old wallet from an unlocked cabinet in Trenton New Jersey’s Old Barracks Museum. This too was later returned. The police once detained our current Commandeer for stealing a Christmas wreath, while he led a boisterous Yale frat house. The next year, rambunctious George embarked on a (unaccomplished) mission to steal a crossbar from rival Princeton after a football game.

Another popular harmless prank involves the mysterious “borrowing” of somebody’s precious trinket or doll and then taking it for a trip around the world on adventures it would never otherwise had, glumly festering in an unused toy box. This has happened several times. The practical-joke protocol is for the traveler to take as many photographs as possible from faraway exotic lands with the doll placed in front of recognizable landmarks. After a spell, the doll is returned in the wee hours, holding a satchel stuffed abundantly full of photographs, which show off its masterful adventures.

Then the perpetrator fesses up after forty years or so.

Huck Finn’s pap once said it was okay to borrow a watermelon –as long you intended to pay it back. Onliest thing is that Huck ‘disremembers’ ever recompensating any of the farmers. I suppose we are all borrowing these days with technology stolen from the Mythos, with the miracle of Google, instant messaging from Hermes, laser beams to heal or destroy, MRI’s and nanotechnology, ships of the sky and magic sticks which thrust open doors with our simple commands.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I am not advocating that anybody actually steal anything. Far from it. In fact, a friend recently had his entire CD music collection swiped from his house. Most of the tunes were from twenty-five years ago; an era when songs were written about peace, love and understanding, before the popularity of cop-killer and gangbanger songs, stole away some of our peace. I sometimes wonder if the person, who stole my friend’s collection, enjoys listening to Carol King, Steve Miller and Arlo Guthrie, while knowing that each rocking rhythm was robbed. I pray that one of those pilfered bibles out there freely circulating will serendipitously appear in the crook’s cache to reveal a new dimension of thievery, so that the burglar might rediscover his misplaced heart, then tiptoe back to my friend’s porch to return his peacenik C.D.s.

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Review of hyperlinks used: Thieves go for Bible, but ignore Ten Commandments

Why Americans love to shoplift meat. - By Brendan I. Koerner - Slate Magazine

AlterNet: How Bush Breaks the Ten Commandments

George W. Bush's Journey: Ally of an Older Generation amid the Tumult of the 60's

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ranting about being Green is not always Pennywise

An opposite-take essay on disposability

By Jim Banholzer

Trying to save money, I set out to survive cold Idaho winters by plopping myself down on the edge of Hailey society in an affordable shack with minimal utility needs. Although, I attached lots of character to the poorly heated hut, sometimes its confined quarters gave me cabin fever. The second winter there, I begin having difficulty breathing and even nightmares. After a few nights of thinking I was suffering from a heart attack, I discovered that the substandard flooring and antiquated plumbing system were allowing poisonous methane fumes to seep up into the tiny living space, where there were no windows or ventilation.

The landlord then thought it was high time to profit from its booming in-town location. That old shack is now smithereens and I say, “Good Riddance!” Like lots of thought to be cost-cutting measures, the quality of living, which dropped tremendously in that tiny shelter, proved to be more costly than any rent savings I might have imagined.

Around the next corner, in my warm new close-knit community, I was secretly relieved when I saw my next-door neighbor throwing away recyclables. She was an intern for an environmental concern and I had been worried that she would give me the evil eye if I did not rinse every can, spic and span, before plopping each into politically correct pristine containers. Who has time to waste on this type of virtuous garbage anyway? It’s going to take some serious sustained efforts to convince many people and me that investing time to surface scrub every throwaway is worthwhile.

Take non-refundable glass for instance. There are only nine glass-reprocessing factories in the Nation. The closest one to Southern Idaho is in Portland for gush-sakes. Jeezum Crow! How can some people implore that wasting gas, by limousining glass over Oregon trails is better or even profitable with the rock bottom price glass has crashed to?

Moreover, the tree-huggers and whatnot brag that they mix their big deal glass into road compounds. These people are making me sick. Does all this stained glass blind the bulging mountain of “Dudley Dew-Rights” into limited prisms of thought? While they’re out celebrating their tiny merit-badge highway clean ups, why don’t they just righteously tamp the beer bottles they find tossed off sides of roads directly back into the sand it came from. After all, silica (sand), from which we form glass, is the single most abundant element found on this planet. Instead, the earth-muffins haul it back to the central scrutinizer transfer station, cut their vain little hands –probably getting hepatitis and God knows what else from the filthy glass–then crush it up for a waste of time photo-op, exposing negative chemicals to the wind. Environmental nuts like these should come clean themselves and admit that most of them are there posing to display their emerald vanities. I bet they have endless reasons as to why you never see them recycling their prized peacock styling mirrors over to the Gold Mine (thrift store).

By the same token, many people admit to throwing pennies into the rubbish for the job-secure sanitation engineers to pick up. That’s right, tossing away money freely, following our Government’s lead of greasing the slippery economy inner-mechanisms. Wheeling garbage around under well-designed plans is not all bad. The quicker we can stuff more landfills complete, the sooner some more mountainous parks will come into play.

What’s a penny to buy anyway? It’ll cover my rent for about thirty seconds. There is no more penny-candy to rot your teeth. Heck, for years the cost to produce a penny has far exceeded Lincoln’s face value. Nowadays, the materials alone melted into copper basins are more valuable than infinitesimal pennies of the same weight.

Saving spendthrift pennies makes about as much sense as bronzing gold medals. Honest Abe. Only an untouchable person would stoop to pick up dirty coinage from the gutter and become the butt of cruel jokes. “Indisposed” Sun Valley girls won’t touch a man unless he has about a million starched greenbacks sticking out his back pocket, at ready stand-by for high-society squandering.

A modern fable related to this has Bill Gates strolling on a Segway, where he spies a hundred dollar bill with his money detector, blending in the green grass. If he clicks the kickstand with his penny-loafers, stopping to pick up the $100, the seconds spent doing so, in theory earn him (and the Gates Foundation) less money than he would have earned by not halting progress to grub up the lesser green.

On a more down to earth scale, let’s say that it takes you six seconds to lean over and pick up a glistening penny from Ketchum’s Gem Street. Is it levelheaded to do this? Some quick math: Six times ten is sixty seconds…times six again equals six dollars an hour. Therefore, if you are making minimum wage it does still “make sense” to take a break from harvesting potatoes, or bussing tables for Allen & Company to pluck up that fools gold!

Harping over this surprising new aspect makes me believe that perhaps I am a little green about some common cent facets. After all, legend has it that when Abe was an agile young man, he chased down an old Kentucky customer, realizing he had short-shifted the purchaser a couple of three pennies. Just as Lincoln later matured his own mind over larger issues, it’s only right that I should follow his lead and reflect about higher-level spiritual items, rather than these small change squabbles. It’s easy to see gazing trancelike into Lincolns memorialized penny eyes, that as our founding Republican, he understood flip-flopping from heads to tails on some issues is the healthiest thing for humankind.

Unfortunately, it’s also human nature, to discard such wisdom unthinkingly, while lazily living off the overabundant lard so easily scooped and gathered from our heartland’s arteries.

Before the grizzled men battered down my old hovel into Lincoln logs, my friend Brad came to visit there a few days. It was good to see Brad back in town and we caught up on old times. On his last morning, hard rains spilled from the substandard shack roof, unearthing by the front stoop a quicksilver mercury dime from WW2. When Brad turned this over to me, it was a priceless moment. We remembered steel pennies backing up steely nerves from that war effort, since every scrap of precious copper was ceremoniously cut, then cleansed on wings and prayers, for dumping throwaway bombs to “wipe out” expendable Japs and Germans.

In that era, we treated the creed “Every Penny Counts” like a religious doctrine. By utilizing that conviction, look to what degree we have ascended from earths touch. By accomplishing so many missions of far-reaching disposal, and standing haughtily like ill-bred Giants with food to burn, the rest of the world who must love us to death, say they want to greatly warship the United States!

On another Sun Valley trip the same season at Brad’s, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrapped up his visit here, he made an interesting observation about jet setters. He said something to the effect that it’s remarkable, our society pays to travel thousands of miles for meeting and celebrating with strangers in other lands, yet we do not invest simple free time to cross our streets to get to know our own neighbors. Reminds me of how often you see someone trying to flag down help on the side of the road to no avail. Another message mostly lost on the somewhat-jaded crowd was that The Dalai Lama was interested in making a buck and was happy that his elite sponsor with connections here in the United States was helping him launch his enterprising new book, The Universe in a Single Atom. Here is a holy man who, through living poorly has done enough rich shadow work on himself that he can freely broadcast his wide smile to millions showing that he, too, is attracted to powerful fistfuls of dollars. Unlike handlers behind some high-preaching podiums, the Dalai Lama openly recognizes that within the purest of bright goods lies balanced a minuscule seed of darkness and vice-versa. Identifying this innately human fact allows rational creatures to harness certain control over their inner conflicts, rather than be spooked from reflecting about the powerful prehistoric urges dormant, but still raring to go if needed, within all of us.

From throwaway pennies to the chemicals creating people on them and even the religious convictions behind it all, disposability is an extremely broad and complex subject. Being able to openly listen and debate from many sides of the issue is the strong mark of an established scholar. Some will argue that all of us are replaceable, yet at the same time, it’s clear that that the wiser you are, then the more distinct differences you can find between individuals. Each person has a unique gift of some sort. Sometimes these are hidden talents, unknown by the persons themselves and not revealed until later life fermentation.

When Brad visited, I realized that I had been taking him for granted –as a throwaway friend. I was blind to my ignorance until after he had moved on. Sometimes it takes a moving experience or even the death of a loved one for it to be evident of how much of an energetic force they became. Once centered in your life, but then transformed into a puzzling vortex of barrenness.

On the other hand, even Copernicus had to wait for deadwood thinkers to drift out of the way before he could show off his new spin to the world.

Therefore, the paradox to keep in mind is that even though people are replaceable they are also, irreplaceable. If we knew that we never moved on, we would all end up taking each other for granted. Having a near-fatal experience of being gassed by a shameful human waste disposal system, helped me strongly concentrate that life is ever so fleeting, making it evermore precious.

Do well to avoid ice cream headaches

By Jim Banholzer

Three hayseeds sprouted tall in the Virginia hills in the simmering summer of ’76. Each of us had appetites such that we could polish off a full 64 ounces of ice cream in one sitting. Hardly able to contain our energies, we would jump home from the school’s basketball courts, and then try to leap to tap our heads on the 8-foot bedroom ceiling adorned with nerf-ball regalia. Occasionally one would misjudge the leap and end up getting knocked out on the floor. This way of getting high was almost as dangerous as other methods being used at the time.

One warm evening, our trio thought we would play a little harmless prank on our neighbors the Wolfe’s. Their family had left in the van to celebrate our nation’s bicentennial. We snuck around to an easily jimmied rear window. Being the suitable size of the three, I became the natural volunteer to enter the house. I did not know where the light switch was, but saw in the shadows their icebox. Lickity-Split, I drew out three gallons of Red, White & Blue ice cream, and then a quicksilver spoon from the drawer. Suddenly Kirkland warbled screechingly that someone was coming as he hurriedly shook the window blind –pretending a noise in the dark. Shuddering, I slammed fast the freezer door and dashed out the back glass, with frozen confection sparkling aside.

How hard we rapscallions howled at the Wolfe’s! We shared in the frosty delight, tossing basketballs to tap against the mercury vapor streetlamps lighting our merry way, while a silver moon scooped out stars against fireworks.

Three days later the phone dinged us. We were summoned to meet in the Wolves den at six that evening for a pow-wow with Mr. Ray “Van” Wolfe. This was not his real name but that which we called him behind his back. Being not yet of age to drive, we would sit entranced, admiring his decked out van for hours –fancying how someday we would drive sporty vans like Ray’s.

Turns out a neighbor had seen us from the shadows. When slamming the freezer’s door in the fright, I had shoved it so hard that unbeknownst to us- it had rebounded open again! This had knocked frozen chickens out to the floor for their cat to swimmingly delight in, and then drag around a horrifying mess all weekend –technically enough foul spots sploshed over Ray’s prized Persian rugs to get us suspended from the team.

Our Cheshire grins quickly vaporized. We were soon served up a seven course chewing out about respect and how Mr. Wolfe had served his country. Then another general up and down cuss when Kirkland compulsively giggled in the meltingly hot chamber. For dessert, that evening there was no cherry on top, as Ray had us to call our parents. Kirkland went first, but with some slight of hand on receiver, had fake-dialed the rotary and was only pretending to be conducting a solid telephonic ice cream confessional to his mother. I, feeling much like under the spell of truth serum and had not considered any further tricks against the Wolves. My Mom somehow nimbly intercepted Kirkland’s Tele-tomfoolery to ensure the clear-cut story transported across the lines for all involved parties that sweltering July evening.

Though part of the trio says that Ray was too hard on us, my take was that he was also a cool cat. Not only had Ray allowed us to daydream in his van, he empathized with our waywardness. Though calling authorities was heatedly discussed, he knew deep down that we would long recall our lengthy discourse. After eliciting genuine face-to-face apologies –including Kirkland’s and promises to pay for damage; we were let off the hook. It took numerous wheelbarrow loads of weighty Washington Post broadsheets delivered that summer to atone for this wrong, which stayed out of the news of record for three decades.

As years leaped past, I realized that all of the involved parties ended up eventually driving vans -just as we envisioned. Even young Brian –now Officer Wolfe, beamingly steers things right, from a paddy wagon sometimes filled with trios just like ours, but who have delved into compulsions even worse than shadowy ice cream. Though all of us have tried to fancy up our vans, none have ever quite matched the integrity of Ray’s old dependable Dodge.

A few summers back, the third tall man visited Idaho. It was again 4th of July and the honored author Lawrence Ferlinghetti was highlighting the Hailey Cultural Center Ice Cream social during Ezra Pound week. I had hoped to engage Mr. Ferlinghetti in some conversation perhaps revealing to him some earnest poetry scribblings, whipping them out from magic reservoirs of secret pockets at just the right moments. Hailing from Washington D.C., our conversation might have sprung up about Mr. Pound’s time spent concentrating there, or even about Mr. Ferlinghetti’s ideas about how to get more poetry inserted into newspapers. I thought that these acts could have been augmented with help from my personable friend who is now involved in academia of the highest sorts –with his easy way of stimulating banter. Half a world ago he had even enthusiastically handed me his worn copy of Ferlinghetti’s Her, a baffling story about young men confusing Madonna’s of the flesh with those of a spiritual nature.

However, it then resonated, that whenever we see each other, the sudden mention of ice cream still makes us feel unwell, and lower than snake’s bellies wedged under wagon wheel ruts, to consider attending such a singularly illustrious event, so we went off fishing worms instead...

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Footnote: the author at the Ezra Pound house read this story aloud on June 22, 2006 as part of Ron Carlson’s writing class.

Related links:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti - Poetry as News

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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