Heard around the West (column)
Writers on the Range
A “firearms tourist attraction” just a shuttle ride away from the Las Vegas Strip ginned up a novel promotion for Valentine’s Day, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Machine Guns Vegas invited newly divorced women to stop sobbing over their wedding gowns and “have fun shooting up the dress with an M1919 Browning machine gun.” The gun frequently stars in shoot-’em-up movies because it fires a brisk 400-600 rounds per minute. Men are also welcome to try the $499 “Just Divorced” package, which encourages the recently uncoupled to shoot any marriage-related item of their choice — excluding any photos of recently shed partners. “They’re not allowed to shoot a picture,” said the business owner, who rejoices in the name Genghis Cohen. “They can do it privately, but if a nut job shoots a husband or wife … we don’t want to be involved in a lawsuit.” Cohen anticipates success because he’s done the math: About 315 couples get hitched in Las Vegas every day, but national statistics indicate that about half of those marriages will flop. That adds up to thousands of heartbroken lovers who might need to soothe their pain by blasting faded bridal bouquets or worn-once bowties and cummerbunds into eternity. Not that Machine Guns Vegas lacks a sense of romance: It also hosts weddings. “We facilitate all levels of love here,” says Cohen.
Speaking of jaundiced views of marriage, the weekly Ouray Plaindealer shared a sly remark from Nov. 12, 1909: “A girl is always petted and fussed over before she is to be married, much like we give a Thanksgiving turkey care just before the slaughter.”
The Waste Management Phoenix Open unfortunately failed to manage its own waste recently: Fans of the PGA tour had to step carefully to avoid “puddles of raw human waste when a row of Crowd Pleaser port-o-potties overflowed,” reports The Week magazine.
Chuck Koehler was hiking in the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs on a windless, quiet day after a fresh snowfall. Suddenly, he told the Independent weekly, a drone with four propellers appeared, flashing red and green lights and hovering just 12 feet above his head. Koehler considered picking up a rock and beaning it. But he refrained, although he considered a noviolent alternative, one that raises a legal (and perhaps philosophical) question: “If a man is alone deep in the woods and a drone approaches — and he moons the drone — is this public indecency?”
Ah, indecency: Missoula knows something about that. Last August, 200 mostly naked bicyclists rolled through the city as part of a Dare to be Bare event, celebrating the right of bicyclists of all types of body shapes and attire (or lack of it) to share the roads. If you saw video of the bikers on their tiny seats, you probably thought: That looks really uncomfortable.- Participants seemed to have had a good time, but some observers were incensed, including David Moore, a Republican state lawmaker who clearly never wants to see a biker in a thong again. Moore recently introduced a bill that would expand the state’s indecent exposure law to prohibit “any nipple exposure, including men’s,” as well as any garment that “gives the appearance or simulates” any part of a person’s nether region, reports the Billings Gazette. That wouldn’t include yoga pants, but Moore believes “should be illegal in public anyway.” The bill, which the Legislature killed in mid-February, was written with the help of retired professor Walt Hill, who explained, “I want Montana to be known as a decent state where people can live within the security of laws and protect their children and associates from degrading and indecent practices.”
What should a Sublette County deputy sheriff wear on the job? Western attire, of course, especially since the county includes Pinedale, which True West magazine recently designated “a true” Western town, reports The Associated Press. Not so fast, partner: Sheriff Stephen Haskell has introduced a dress code requiring deputies to wear black boots, a black ball cap, and black trousers and tan shirt. This did not sit well with Deputy Gene Bryson, who said, “I’ve had a cowboy hat on since 19 — I don’t know. That’s what looks good to me in the sheriff’s department. It’s Western. It’s Wyoming.” Bryson retired after 28 years with the department.
The mysterious war between joggers and owls has heated up in and around Salem’s Bush Pasture Park. In the fourth “angry owl” attack since January, a bird plucked Brad Hilliard’s sweat-stained hat off his head, scratching his neck in the process, reports AP. It was identified as a barred owl, a tough species that’s been causing trouble for endangered spotted owls as well as joggers.
The federal government is now killing thousands of barred owls in an attempt to give their spotted kin some relief.
Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, a column service of High Country News (hcn.org). Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared; email email@example.com.
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