Remember the classic movie Citizen Kane? Hey, that’s a true story! Sort of. The movie was loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul of the 1920s who turned politician who turned movie actress manager.
I have to remind you of that so you understand how bizarre things have become in our orange backwater ghost-mining town of New Idria. We may be far away from the maddening crowd, but that doesn’t mean were just as mad as neighboring San Benito County. (We’re still trying to secede from that union).
This week everyone in New Idria – all three of us – was gearing up and digging in for President Bush’s State of the Union Speech. It was a big night. We made sure the idiot-box was in full working order: in the Community Wreck Room Trailer, a stack of dead TVs were piled in the corner, one on top of the other, with the only working one perched on top. (Some historically-minded citizen had etched the date of each TV’s last broadcast on the side panels, before the tubes finally blew – victims of orange creek dust, plagues of capsid beetles and a certain cat’s spraying sprees.)
We divided ourselves into three parties and armed each division with a bottle of New Idrian orange lightning – 100 percent homemade alcohol made from the essence of foxtails. For every time the President used a certain buzzword, we had to take a shot of hooch, depending on the word. My party was the “terror” party. My sister Mel had the “9-11” party, and my brother Kemp had the “retreat” party.
I had to down 17 shots. Sheeeeesh. But that was nothing compared to what poor Mel went through. As for Kemp, we didn’t find him until the next afternoon draped high in a cottonwood bough near the filthy creek.
Trying to stay focused on the speech was daunting, not just for the booze and the breathtaking Orwellian one-liners, but for the incessant traffic of local politicians that trampled through the Wreck Room. Talk about two hells! There we were trying to be good citizens and choke down Bush’s doublespeech, while every cousin in the world came campaigning through the door.
The first was our Cousin Iggy Cheapezquez, owner of New Idria’s Last Tooth Cafe, who is for some mystifying reason running for the 28th Assembly District. He came into the chambers, hootin’ and hollerin’ and carrying signs that telegraphed the latest riveting news in his campaign, like, “Supervisor Slimey in the News endorses me!”
Who would have guessed?
Later, he marched in with another sign saying “Supervisor Fibber Big Knockers endorses me, too!”
I’m shocked. Shocked!
“What experience does he have in politics?” I asked Kemp, slurring like a sailor on leave.
“He sues the government,” Kemp slobbered, bleary-eyed.
Molly the Dog tried to bite poor Iggy in the rump as the restaurateur turned wannabe politician attempted to exit the backdoor of the Wreck Room. He didn’t make it.
Just as we were knocking back our umpteenth buzzword shots – the one working boob-tube blaring away in the corner like a babbling wall of white noise – we looked up to see a newcomer at the door. It was Cousin Citizen Kone, whom we hear is running for Big Knockers’ seat on the board.
Life imitates art!
Citizen Kone had on a hazmat suit and a respirator, and after she took a long look around our sacred governmental chambers, I could hear a single muffled word from within the moonsuit.
San Carlos Creek Update: We have recovered from our hideous night of local and national politics, a little worse for the wear. It turned out our fearless leader, Mayor Orange the Cat, got the drunkest and in a fit of alcohol-drenched lucidity, resigned his post.
But never fear. He took it back the next day as he angrily tried to shake off the same mind-shattering hangover that befell us all. In a statement for the drooling hacks of the New Idrian newspapers, he trotted out that old New Idrian chestnut, a campaign promise that has become something of a town joke.
Orange’s sign read, “Of COURSE I’m concerned about the polluted mercury-choked orange creek. I pledge to clean it up.”
Yeah, right. With what? A veggie colander and a cat litter box scooper? It’s going to be a long election season.