The 19 Minutes staff has been expanding the definition of "public service" by posting my monthly humor column, "Last Laugh", in this space since this space came into existence. The column has been running in something called Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine since September 2004. A couple months ago, I got the word that the column was to be cancelled at the end of the year. It was, well, kind of a bummer. Fortunately, this blog will live on, which means I won't be forced stand on a fire hydrant in downtown Flagstaff and shout my column to passersby. I could make some parting shots at the Mountain Living folks, such as keeping a running count of their typographical errors. I could threaten to sic my legions of fans on their e-mail in-boxes. But parting shots are unseemly. And my legions of fans are probably more passive consumers of great literature.
So I'll settle for posting this last column in this space, noting to any newspaper or magazine editors out there that I'm available, and pointing out that readers can direct any compaints here.
Some months ago in this column, I reflected on my contribution to diversity – specifically, my place in the patchwork quilt of cultures, languages, and ethnicities that make up the changing face of northern Arizona. This, not surprisingly, was done with just a trace of irony, as the best way for me to actually make a place more diverse would be to put me in a place like, say, Cameroon.
Somewhere down the line, the editors of this fine publication took my point to heart and – in their wisdom – figured having a diverse group of voices on this page might actually reflect the character of northern Arizona better than one jaded journalist banging away on the word processor in his Bat Cave every month. Even this jaded journalist has to admit that makes a certain amount of sense.
So this will be the penultimate edition of this column in this form – literally, the Last Laugh. However, to ensure that the goal of achieving diversity on this page is met, I hope the editorial staff at Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine will allow me to make the following suggestions for overlooked demographic groups that I hope we’ll hear from on this page in the future:
- People who enjoy waiting for the trains to go by at a grade crossing. You see these people hopping out of their cars to take pictures of the BNSF blasting by San Francisco Street. Or at least you did, until the Department of Homeland Security got sketchy about people doing things like that. Anyway, I’d like to know why 150 freight cars going through Flagstaff are any more interesting than 150 freight cars going through Akron.
- Europeans having a Route 66 Experience. They hop off their rented Harleys, stand on the corner in Winslow, walk into a bar, and say “I’ll hef a rrrrut beeer.” I’d be curious to know what the bartender replies.
- People who have ridden their mountain bikes without sustaining serious injury. My last regular experience on a bicycle came when I was around 10 years old – in other words, during the time when falling off the bike was a traumatic experience. So I’m always a little surprised to run into mountain bikers on Monday morning, comparing their weekend battle scars. It seems a little like listening to golfers compare stories of the great fun they had landing in water hazards. So I’d love to hear from a mountain biker who went out on the trail Saturday morning, rode for a few hours, then had a cheeseburger.
- I’d like to hear from the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher itself. We hear a lot from the environmentalists and the ranchers. Now, let’s hear from the bird. The same goes for the Humpback Chub. (Which, I’ll concede, is not a bird, but a fish. And which would also make a good name for a professional bowler.)
- Someone who can satisfactorily pronounce “Tempeh”. And tell me whether you can purchase it in Tempe.
Thanks for listening.
The blog, however, returns tomorrow.