This week’s Dudes in the News: a brazen elderly skier, art-hating municipal employees, and a different kind of drug dog.
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.—Police here recently arrested a local man, 78, who refused their repeated requests to desist from skiing uphill, according to a Feb. 9 post on the website of the Jackson Hole News and Guide (“Reflecting the Unique Character of Jackson Hole”).
The skier, who displays the kind of can-do spirit, not to mention spiteful crankiness, that every aging American male would do well to emulate, is a longtime Jackson Hole resident who goes by the enchanting name of Ronald Fleck, or, as we fervently hope locals lovingly call him, “Old Snow-Fleck.”
En route to a granddaughter’s ski race at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Mr. Fleck, whom the News and Guide refers to as a “pioneer backcountry skier,” scaled a snowy slope wearing specially designed skis.
Little did Mr. Fleck know that skiing uphill—or, in the parlance of the slopes, “skiing uphill”—is frowned upon by resort owners, the ski patrollers in their employ, and local law enforcement representatives. Or maybe he did know it and just didn’t give a hoot.
As Mr. Fleck clomped skyward, non-skiing deputies, summoned by the resort, informed Mr. Fleck that Wyoming law prohibits skiing uphill, and asked him to “ski properly,” according to a police report cited by the News and Guide.
Select observations from the report suggest that Mr. Fleck’s longevity may derive from an approach to life that is equally spirited and cantankerous:
Mr. Fleck was defiant … Fleck ignored [a snow patrolman] and continued uphill. … A fifth patroller arrived and Fleck told him to “write me a ticket.” … Fleck allegedly became argumentative… Each time the deputies asked him to cooperate, Fleck allegedly became argumentative. The deputies decided to arrest him, and he pulled away when one of them took hold of his arm.
That Mr. Fleck was a mite tetchy is entirely understandable. He hails from Innsbruck, Austria, an alpine playground. He was likely skiing down—and up—mountains long before his nemeses the snow patrollers, as diaper-clad toddlers, had even begun flailing around on bunny slopes.
Mr. Fleck’s grumpiness further may be explained by the adage that (Jackson) Hole hath no flurry like a skier scorned.
As it happens, the resort declined to press charges. Good thing, too—Mr. Fleck was to be represented by his son, the lawyer Dan Fleck, whom we like to think of as “Young Snow-Fleck.”
If the son has inherited his father’s sense of surly determination he is no doubt a fine trial lawyer. But it is likely that in some ways the two men’s personalities differ. After all, no two Snow-Flecks are exactly alike.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A large fiberglass cactus sculpture, one of 650 public art projects in the Albuquerque area, was reported missing last week from the park where it was on display, and city officials feared it had been stolen.
Such, it transpired, was not the case. Someone had vandalized the statue, and two Parks and Recreation employees, thinking that the decimated green thing was trash, subsequently had carted it off to the city dump. They came forward late last week to acknowledge their error.
The cactus was created under the auspices of Working Classroom, Inc., which provides funding and guidance for so-called “at risk” young people to undertake art projects. High school students and an advisor fashioned the cactus last summer with $50,000 of funding from the group
“There are just layers of tragedy here,” Working Classroom Inc. director Nan Essler told the Albuquerque Post-Chronicle (“News*Information*Insight”) for a February 18 story. “First of all, who would vandalize it, and for what purposes?”
That’s an easy one. Judging from news photos, the cactus looked like a shoulder-high silhouette of Mickey Mouse, if Mickey Mouse were rendered by, say, Salvador Dali. Our guess is that Disney henchman, protective to a fault of a copyrighted image—and disturbed that Mickey, or his Dali-like silhouette, should be cavalierly displayed in an Albuquerque public park located, as KOB-TV 4 reported, “behind Tramway-Lomas public library”—knocked it to the ground in a fit of legal pique.
Speaking to the Post-Chronicle, Ms. Essler, was further moved to muse, “Who would make this decision to cart off a piece of art and throw it in the dump?” Such an act, she added, “is unfathomable to me.”
It is not to us. If you spied a green melted-clock-esque Mickey Mouse simulacrum lying in the dirt of a park behind a public library, wouldn’t dragging it to the dump be your first thought, perhaps after that of setting it on fire just because?
The high school artists have learned a valuable lesson: don’t mess with Disney. Art people are strange people and business is business. When artistically representing local flora, then, be sure to check copyright statutes.
And if you’re going to render cactus in the shape of a Disney character, try Donald Duck. He is, after all, a prickly sort, not unlike the uphill skier Ronald “Old Snow-” Fleck, and therefore would make an awesome water-bearing desert plant.
MORO, Ore.—A man stopped for a traffic violation February 9 was indicted on drug possession charges after police discovered he had marijuana and hashish in his possession, according to a February 16 Associated Press report.
Or almost in his possession. The man, whom the AP declined to name, attempted to hide a sock filled with the contraband when he saw flashing lights in his rearview mirror. But his dog, a pit bull mix, chomped on the sock “and wouldn’t let it go,” the AP noted, “enjoying a game of tug-of-war.”
The dog won the contest, and presently threw the sock out the vehicle window. We do not know why—although sophisticated enough to play games requiring advanced mouth-eye coordination, the dog does not speak English, and therefore was unable to explain himself either to police or the AP.
As it turned out, Sherman County sheriff Sgt. John Terrel, the arresting officer, spotted the airborne footwear, retrieved it, and took the driver into custody.
Referring to a police spokesman, the AP concluded: “Sheriff Brad Lohrey says he wished everyone traveled with their own drug dog.”
This kind of dry, down-home humor is characteristic of the brave men and women on the front lines of crime prevention. For maintaining an awareness of life’s drollery in the face of flying pot-stuffed socks, cacti on the lam, and nasty aged gits, these heroic souls are to be saluted.
llustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.