Jay Meehan: Keeping the circle unbroken
April 1, 2014
If I didn’t have a dog in this fight, as sporting wags are wont to say, I’m sure I’d be kicked back with beer and pretzels and some sort of digital multimedia gizmo enjoying the ongoing back-and-forth litigation brouhaha between PCMR and Vail as pure theater. However, that is not the case! Canine-wise, I’m a totally invested PCMR kind of guy!
From the moment I first hopped on the Gondola back during the dawn of 1968, I’ve had this warm and fuzzy feeling about the place. And not just because, (disclaimer alert) on and off, throughout many of the ensuing years, with strategic pauses initiated by both parties, they shipped me paychecks on a regular basis.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I get similar feelings about ParkWest, now the Vail-operated Canyons resort, where I spent one season both working maintenance and moonlighting as a part-time sampler in the quality-control department of the Branding Iron Saloon. It’s just that, try as I might, I can’t locate enough dots to connect that cozy joint with the current bunch running the ski terrain out in those parts.
Although, back in the day, the Snyderville operation flaunted an even-more mom-and-pop vibe than the various operational entities that preceded PCMR at the bottom of Treasure Mountain, a deep perception of family pervaded both landscapes. For the most part, sensations of place, built up over time and stacked one-upon-the-other like layers of sedimentary sandstone, kept the comfort zones intact.
And that’s why I have this sense of foreboding. It’s a recurring nightmare, often a vision of Putin, sitting shirtless atop a tank he picked up for chump change at Walmart, crashing through the gate and toppling the statue of Loran Larsen while undoing the collective legacy of Trapper, Neff Murdock, Nate Cossey, and Mary Mair.
Some nights has Yul Brynner leaving his understudy role and Cossack-style jump stepping into the spotlight. It’s not like I wield any control whatsoever over the production. This is improvisational guerilla theater at its most raw, each and every impromptu member of the cast making it up as they go.
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I toss and turn all night, every night. There is no escape. It’s Kafkaesque. I have no idea what I’ve done or why they’ve come to haul me off to their multi-national corporate gulag. "It was right there in the small print," they say. "Fifty years gets you diddly-squat." Did I mention, it’s also Vonnegut-esque?
Even workmates I didn’t care for all that much assume a much-more friendly visage in these hallucinatory encounters. We become brothers-in-arms, festooned as barricade-extras from "Les Miz," willing to lay down our lives in front of Vlad’s chugging tank, our arms thrust forever to the elbow into some metaphorical levee, holding back the floodwaters of change.
That’s what a lot of this is about, of course. Old dogs, like myself, and new tricks. Emotionally, I barely survived Art Durante selling-off and moving-out of his Main Street Hardware digs back in the day. Not that I couldn’t acquire a bucket of galvanized, hex-head, verbal abuse jabs elsewhere. It’s just that no one fulfilled that function quite like Art. Presentation is everything.
All these thoughts came crashing down around me as I sat nursing a couple of draught Guinness stouts on the back patio at PCMR’s Legacy Lodge the weekend before last. The band Lash LaRue was serving up savory platters-full of that root-music-thing-they-do (it drips so much ethnomusicology that they really ought to hand out bibs) and, under bluebird Utah skies, a rather full quorum of pilgrims kept lining up for seconds. Blissful rapture to be sure.
Admittedly, I’m not one to ramble on about what a boon corporate structures have proven to be over time to either our sustainability as a planet or as a plausible workable model within the framework of democracy. Their collective track record is there for all with a semblance of perception to see. And from here, it’s not all that pretty.
That said, everything is relative, including various manifestations of David and Goliath. And, like I mentioned previously, when it comes to the fallout of the lawsuit between PCMR and Talisker Land Holdings LLC (Vail), I have a dog in that fight. I fervently hope that the ruling favors PCMR and keeps the thread of continuity intact that goes back to their opening in 1963.
Somehow, though, it’s not that difficult to envision a ruling coming down on the side where "technicality" masks "hostile takeover." Merits of the case be damned! This is backroom shenanigans, which, I suppose, those less naïve than I might term "corporate business as usual."
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.