By Jayson Jacoby
Baker City Herald Editor
I like wilderness but I wouldn’t want to live there.
It’s not enough like my family room, for one thing.
Sitting on an old log in a camp a dozen miles from the nearest road, and watching the rays of the westering sun transform a slope of drab granite into ivory sculpture, is memorable indeed.
Never mind what President Obama wants to do to your tax bill.
The man is up to something vastly more insidious than squandering your nest egg.
He has ruined thousands of little kids’ birthday parties across our fair land this summer.
And who knows what’ll happen with Halloween and Christmas coming up.
Kids are being turned into social pariahs because their soirees lack the necessary and expected accoutrements.
The culprit in this scandal is the federal government.
And we know who’s in charge of that.
The real landmark moment for a parent isn’t watching your child walk with timid steps into a classroom for the first time.
It’s what happens later the same day.
When the kid comes bounding out of the building, backpack straps bouncing off her little shoulders and a big smile on her face.
That’s when you know that her world has expanded, finally and irretrievably, to include a place where you will always be something of an interloper.
A place where you are always welcome, to be sure.
But also a place where you are not, strictly speaking, necessary.
The other day’s mail delivered an interesting package to my office desk.
(It’s my only desk, actually, so the “office” is superfluous; at home I just pile stuff on top of the TV, where it’s perfectly positioned to fall on my toes. And does.)
Inside the sturdy envelope was a black cotton T-shirt bearing on its chest the word “BULLY” printed inside a lemon-yellow circle, with a watermelon-red diagonal line slashing through the word.
This, of course, is a popular, and T-shirt-friendly, way to brand something — anything — as undesirable.
The “Ghostbusters” movie logo is perhaps the most famous example of the style. But you can insert just about any word or object into that slashed circle — “WAR,” for instance, or a photograph of Phil Collins, and get your point across.
By Jayson Jacoby
Baker City Herald Editor
So it looks as though Portland, the city which venerates the bicycle with near religious fervor, might decide whether dental health is as important as cardiovascular.
The dread specter of fluoride, humble defender of our collective enamel, has risen once again to haunt the City of Roses.
Most times I enjoy talking with people who aren’t from Baker County. In particular I like to meet out-of-towners whose interest in our fair land is rather more substantial than wondering how quickly they can refill their fuel tank and get back on the freeway.
This foreign perspective can help dissipate the fog of provincialism that I fear obscures my perspective.
(Literally foreign, on occasion — last Sunday I met a group of French hikers up at Anthony Lake. I tried to explain how to get to the Lakes Lookout and then I worried all afternoon that I had led the visitors astray. The problem wasn’t language — one of the hikers spoke more precise English than I do — but my abysmal ability to convey the various trail and road junctions and the general lay of the land.)
Perhaps “obscures” is too harsh a verb.
Although my affection for Baker County is great, it has not rendered the place’s blemishes invisible to my eyes.
(I don’t, however, need some carpetbagger to tell me there’s some junky looking yards around. Every town has those, and well that this is so; a man’s castle and all that, even if the castle has roof shingles shaped like Fritos and a yard that could hide a herd of wildebeests.)
What I mean is that certain things I take for granted pique the curiosity of people who don’t get their mail here.
I wish on occasion that I could go back to the early 1860s, when Baker County was born.
I would sell shovels.
I’d make a pile, I’ll bet, peddling this most humble of tools.
The pioneer settlers around here were by most accounts a busy lot.
And what they were engaged in, generally speaking, was digging of one sort of another.
I daresay they could not have gotten by without a goodly supply of shovels.
So Oregonians, having dispatched years ago such trifling topics as whether we should pump our own gasoline or pay sales tax, will at last get down to the weighty matter of marijuana.
Literally, what with the munchies and all.
A little over a year ago I wrote in this space about my chronic ambivalence regarding the idea of legalizing (more or less) marijuana in the state.
Now, with the knowledge that a pro-pot initiative will be on the ballot Nov. 6, my position on the topic has started to solidify.
I’m not yet a definite “yes” vote in favor of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which would allow people 21 and older to grow and sell (to adults only) marijuana.
But my endorsement is congealing, so to speak.
The dog days have descended and the nation lapses into the heat-induced stupor of high summer.
But we will not remain languid, ice-choked lemonade parked in the grass beside our lawn chairs, for long.
It’s a presidential election year.
And the exaggerations and general hysteria, in this grandest of campaigns, are as reliable as the maple leaves turning yellow and crimson.
I’m eager for the cacophony to commence.
Democracy, let’s be honest, is a loudmouth.
Go ahead and tout the automobile.
Extoll the capacity of the jetliner to shrink our great sprawling world to a manageable size.
In the pantheon of great inventions, both the Model T Ford and the Boeing 707, as icons of their respective type of vehicle, deserve all the laurels bestowed on them over the decades (or, in the case of the Tin Lizzy, more than a century).
But for my money, the air-conditioner puts both in the shade.