Sunday, February 22

You Don't Want To Piss Them Off

You might get a lump of coal from them.

They might kick you in the knees.

To hear a good friend speak of what happened this last week, it was a time of excitement and closure. "About damn time" could have been a quote from her, but was not.

Years ago, this good friend took a photograph of a sign. Yes, photos are taken of signs all the time. Jay Leno and Dave Letterman - and Johnny Carson before them - used to highlight them on their shows. But what was on this particular sign was unintentional, but then again maybe it was.

She had submitted the photograph to High Country News (no, not that High - I know what you're thinking, I did too, at first); they, like other such publications, take submissions from their readers and use them as they see fit. Why it took so long for them to use the photograph is anyone's guess, but it was time.

She said it got to be a running joke between she and her husband. Every month, upon the magazine's arrival, a quick flip through the mag elicited a "snubbed again" comment and the monthly tossed aside. Not to say High Country News doesn't have useful or even provocative prose; it has both. Written by and "For people who care about the West", their mission is to "...inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West's land, air, water and inhabitants -- to create what Wallace Stegner called 'a society to match the scenery.'"

So it comes as no great surprise that the photograph, taken just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was just such a piece of the scenery. Not the grandeur of the Tetons, or of the surrounding National Parks, but of a dilapidated sign that most folks would pass by without a second look. And it was a second look that made this photograph. Almost shouting "Back up", she had her husband go back to the sign after having passed by. Taking the photo with an "old-fashioned" film camera, she caught that bit of Americana, and after processing, sent it in to the magazine.

And last week, the whoopin' and hollerin' could have been heard across the Salt Lake Valley; she had been published! Right there, on the back page of High Country News' February issue, was her photograph.

Advertising a self-storage company, several letters were missing from the sign. But not just any letters. Were they intentionally removed? No one will ever know.

So instead of advertising a self-storage lot, the sign had been transformed into more of a statement:


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