| ParkRecord.com

Teri Orr: All things being equal — except they never were

This week was the fall equinox — the day that matches night — equal with 12 hours. It was very still that day … quiet and the changing leaves which have been coming right on cue now for the last few weeks, reflected the light differently, held onto it longer with the morning sun and the evening shadows.

It is the time now of the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashanah and the 10 days of awe that end with Yom Kippur — where you atone for those mistakes of the past year in a variety of ways, to be forgiven, to hope the Good Lord writes your name down to be included in the Book of Life in the year ahead. Time to reflect upon a personal plan for another year of walking softly on the earth and fighting fiercely against injustices. And while this is not my faith per se it is the basis for all faiths.

It is the time of new notebooks for me — literal clean pages I give to myself. And sticky notes and 3×5 cards and giant white pages I stick to walls to write on. These are meant to provide clarity and purpose and organization for the overlapping concentric circles constantly increasing and competing for attention inside the cacophony of noises and voices in my head.

Different voices show up in the fall — those who have passed, of course, but those very much alive. They are the coaches who understand we are in serious training now for winter. We need to be gathering. Memories and projects and also refreshing our friendships. New stacks of books to read and lists of programs to view.

My companions, the birds, have been busy with their own fall flight plans, and they have never ever eaten as much as they have this past month in my yard. Friends who come to porch-sit have noticed the increased chatter and flutter of wings. In five-pound bags of varying selections — nuts; nuts and seeds; seeds only, I have gone through probably 300 hundred pounds of seed in the past month. To be fair, the deer and squirrels and raccoons have been part of the parade of fall visitors, needing to bulk up for the shorter days and longer nights ahead.

The death last week of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in some ways not unexpected — she was 87 after all and had been fighting various cancers for decades — but it was unanticipated right now. Like that favorite elderly friend in our life who we thought we would have more time with … and then suddenly we didn’t. Her groundbreaking work that in the simplest and most profound ways really did make women equal — in admittance to higher education positions, in the ability to hold credit in our names — are things I experienced in my lifetime.

In my late teens both my father, and then six months later my grandfather, died early leaving me with an inheritance I was surprised by. I married my high school sweetheart at 19 to break the bank trust that had been wisely set up. There were no guardrails left in place. I dropped out of college to major in motherhood. I had no idea that my husband was spending the trust and mortgaging it at such an astounding rate until I chose to divorce him seven years later in 1977. I discovered my beautiful home on the lake at Tahoe — I had paid for in cash — was mortgaged to 80% of its value. Our credit card debt was an equal crushing surprise and my department store accounts in San Francisco, which had to be in his name — also unmanageable.

I sold my beloved 6-year-old children’s boutique I had created — just to get out from under the debt. I ran away to Park City with less than $10,000 with my 6-year-old daughter and her 8-year-old brother in a tired Subaru wagon with a small moving truck driven by two friends behind us with all our things. And though there was talk of many things — like walruses and kings — the money was gone forever and the child support of $50 a month — not exactly supportive and never consistent.

I share this because these things would now be against the law, against so many laws that RBG stood up for and to and changed them so women could hold credit in their name and fight for support of their children with new language and allow women equal access to higher education. I did not meet her when she came to Park City a few years back for the Sundance Film Festival for the documentary about her life. I regret that my work that day kept me from a reception where I might have been able to thank her for her incredible body of work making this a more just planet. But I would have simply been another voice in the cacophony of others singing her praises. Still, I owed her much — as we all did.

So right now, we push all the reset buttons, including the thermostat. Soon enough we will even change our clocks for the reset of time in where we have been to where we are going. The light slants differently on the bark of the tree trunk and the changing leaves become translucent and crunchy. And the need to toss on a sweater when the sun sets feels right. All the other seismic shifts happening on the planet and in our country and to our once tiny, intimate, caring community here, in our town, will rotate for a few more days and then — god willing all the cylinders for a fully new year will click into place on this weekend as Yom Kippur begins with solemn reflection and atonement. And we will move together with grace and remembrance and gratitude with work to do — as a New Year begins to begin, at sundown, this Sunday in the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.

Amy Roberts: With gratitude

I have been a homeowner since I was 22 years old. Days after walking across a stage to accept my diploma, I was touring open houses with a Realtor. While many of my friends were taking a gap year to backpack Europe, or renting apartments together off campus, I was learning about interest rates and picking out a lawnmower.

Owning a home at such a young age wasn’t a goal of mine as much as it was an expectation of my parents. They had a very well-defined path for me and my sisters. It went something like this: 1. Graduate from college. 2. Become gainfully employed. 3. Buy a house. The steps were expected to be completed within a month or so of each other. And after ticking them off, we were officially adults, able to chart our own course.

There are many things I distinctly remember about purchasing my first home. I recall hating the wallpaper and contemplating removing the entire wall before I learned the wallpaper could be peeled off. I remember being delighted when I pulled up the carpet and discovered pristine oak floors underneath. I can still feel that anxious pit I had in my stomach as I sat on the floor in my bare living room and contemplated being in $85,000 of what my dad told me was, “good debt.” I remember meeting my neighbors, learning the definition of “elbow grease,” hauling furniture up two flights of stairs, and swearing I’d never move again because it was so much work.

What I don’t remember is pausing to acknowledge the person who made it possible for a single woman to take out her own mortgage. I had no idea that just 25 years prior, doing so wasn’t a right, much less a widely accepted norm.

Four years ago when my younger sister Heather passed away, my mother assumed control of her estate. My parents are still married, but my mother handled the selling of my sister’s home and car and the thoughtful distribution of her belongings. Heather wasn’t married and didn’t have children, and she didn’t specify which parent should be in charge. We just all accepted it would be my mom because she’s better at that stuff. It never occurred to me that just a few decades prior, my father would have been automatically appointed executer of her estate, regardless of his lack of desire or skill. Thanks to RBG, my mom was able to handle the details in the way my sister would have wanted.

When my older sister was pregnant with my niece six years ago, I never once asked her, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get fired?” She didn’t have to worry about that because it’s illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant. But neither of us stopped to consider that wasn’t the case for many women before us.

Now though, with the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, women around the world are pausing to reflect on the rights we take for granted because of her advocacy and pursuit of equality. From controlling our own finances to controlling our own bodies, RBG didn’t just move the needle on gender equality, she used it to tickle the patriarchy.

Her death combined with the unbelievable hypocrisy of a Republican-controlled Senate that four years ago refused to hold a hearing or vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee, saying it was too close to the election (nine months prior) and the American people should have a say in their next appointed member of SCOTUS — threatens to move that needle back to the 1950s.

How Mitch McConnell and his mindless GOP cronies, including Utah’s Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, can suggest they care about anyone is this country is inconceivable. The only thing more ludicrous is that people in Kentucky (and Utah) continue to vote for a guy who would rather rush a Supreme Court nomination hearing than pass a relief bill for those impacted by COVID-19.

May the women and men who value progress, equality and decency exercise their right to vote this November.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

Tom Clyde: Hideout reboot

The Hideout saga continues. It’s back, this time with some changes. The overall project has shrunk from about 625 acres to 350 acres. The land removed was partly land Park City claims to have restricted development on through the Empire Pass agreement years ago. What development at the top of Deer Valley had to do with sagebrush at Richardson Flat, which is not subject to Park City zoning, is hard to explain. But Park City insists that the land is restricted, and the developers decided they didn’t want to deal with that issue.

So the project is smaller by almost half — the half that included parkland — but the total density is reduced, too. The other big change is that the proposed development used to be called “North Park.” In the new plan, it will be known as “Hideout West.” Well, that makes all the difference. The apparent snub of Park City is hard to ignore. The developers don’t want their project associated with the famous resort town any more, and instead want to be identified as part of Hideout.

Park City and Summit County still hate the idea. Summit County has the land zoned one unit to 20 acres, because who wouldn’t want a 20-acre estate nestled between two overcrowded state highways on the shores of the toxic tailings pond? But there’s no way Summit County is going to rezone it for commercial development and high-density residential to make the traffic problems worse. No, if Summit County is going to rezone something to make traffic problems worse, they will do it at the Tech Park at Kimball Junction. Why create a new mess at Richardson Flat when you can make the existing mess at Kimball Junction even worse?

So the developers have restarted the annexation process with Hideout. The Legislature met in a special session a month ago to plug the loophole that had allowed Hideout’s initial cross-county annexation process. But the loophole had a loophole of its own: The repeal doesn’t take effect until mid-October. There was time to start the process over again and complete the annexation before the repeal takes effect. The rapscallions at Hideout decided to go for it.

Hideout’s explanation for all of this is that they have a booming residential community without so much as a 7-Eleven to be found. They need basic services like a grocery store, coffee shops and an indoor surfing facility. They need some sales tax revenue to function. As an actual town, Hideout has the authority to zone land within the existing boundaries for commercial use. For some reason, they haven’t done that, and are looking to annex Richardson Flat to solve their own planning mistakes. This seems like a lot of effort to get a Starbucks.

The area around Jordanelle Reservoir is a jurisdictional chowder gone bad. Some of it is zoned by Wasatch County, some by Hideout and a lot of it by MIDA. MIDA is the unaccountable state agency that funds warehouses adjoining Hill Air Force Base, as well as single-family homes on the north end of Jordanelle and the Mayflower ski resort, all in the interest of a strong national defense.

If you live in Hideout, your kids go to school in Heber, you get your mail in Kamas, commute to work in Salt Lake and think you live in Park City.

It could be fixed. It’s late in the game to redraw the lines, but it’s not impossible. The school district boundaries could get shifted around so that kids on that side of the lake go to school in Kamas or Park City. The reasons for having three school districts in Summit County are long gone, but that’s another rant. Busing Hideout kids past the front door of the Park City schools on their way to Heber is stupid.

The bigger question is just how much growth we want around here. The proposed units at Richardson Flat could seemingly add 2,500 to 3,000 people. That’s on top of about 20,000 other units approved around the reservoir. The proposal for converting the Tech Park at Kimball Junction from office to residential would add about the same. Silver Creek Village’s 1,300 units bring another 3,000 people or so into the mix. Then we have the plague-related phenomenon of existing second homes becoming primary residences.

I don’t know anybody who thinks doubling the population in the area is a good idea, but that’s the course we are on. The Snyderville Basin zoning code has a designation of “rural residential” in it. That’s delightfully quaint, but “rural” left the building a long time ago. Park City talks a good line about small-town charm, but that, too, is more nostalgia than reality. Small-town charm ended with traffic congestion, parking meters and an economy that depends on 15,000 workers a day commuting from Salt Lake, Heber and Kamas.

Frankly, I don’t much like the neighbors I’ve got. I’m certainly not looking for 20,000 more. Not even if there is an indoor surfing facility.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Tom Clyde: The burning of the hat

The Labor Day weekend was a great mini-vacation. I didn’t go anywhere, just hung out on the ranch, but various branches of the extended family were here. We tackled a couple of big projects, hiked, biked, walked the dogs and just enjoyed each other and the place we call home. Somehow all the world’s problems went away.

The biggest project was cleaning out a barn. I had made the mistake of telling a tenant that he could store some of his stuff in one end of the barn. The house is so small it seemed reasonable compared to having snow tires in the living room. By the time they moved, the barn was packed full of crap, which they left. Two truckloads of paint to the hazmat place, and one dumpster later, we were almost able to reach the back wall. We got another dumpster. The only problematic item left was a huge deep freezer.

The freezer had been there for something like 50 years. It technically was my aunt’s, but she has been gone for many years now. It wasn’t running, but she thought it would be a great mouse-proof storage container. She had hoards of food squirreled around all over the place. I thought with five or six of us, we could just push it out the door and into the dumpster. No such luck. In addition to being kind of rusted to the floor, the thing weighs a ton. There is more steel in that freezer than there is in my Subaru. It wasn’t moving.

Of course the weight made us wonder what was in it. We are all dedicated “Yellowstone” fans, and while my uncle was no John Dutton, you didn’t want to get on his wrong side. The freezer could be full of the remains of former employees who showed up late for milking back in the dairy days, or the bodies of neighbors with fence line issues. Nobody was willing to open it and find out what was lurking inside. To get it out of the barn, I finally wrapped a chain around it and dragged it out with a tractor.

When we pushed it into the dumpster, it rolled over and spilled. It was as empty as Al Capone’s vault. The only thing inside was a couple of bags of moldy sugar. But it smelled bad enough to lend credence to the dead body theory.

The high point of the holiday was the annual Burning of the Hat. I have only recently realized that not all families ritually burn a hat on Labor Day. That’s their loss. Every Labor Day, we sit around a bonfire and reminisce about the summer and all the work that got done on the ranch (and how little there is to show for it), and what a joy it is to be here with the deer flies and mosquitoes. My father started it by spontaneously tossing a sweat-stained, paint spattered, crushed-up cowboy hat on the fire and announcing that another season was gone to hell. So 60 years later, we still burn a hat on Labor Day.

It’s a big deal, and there are protocols involved that would make the Catholic Church envious. It’s on par with Christmas. This year was different. I’m responsible for the selection of the hat, mostly because I do all the work on the ranch and usually have one or two particularly disgusting baseball caps that are in need of burning. But this year, there wasn’t really a hat I was willing to part with. Maybe I’ve been buying better quality hats, and they are all beloved vacation souvenirs. They wash up better than cheap hats used to. So there wasn’t an obvious candidate for the burnt offering.

Then it hit me. I had a straw cowboy hat that I never wear because it didn’t have any ventilation in it, and the sweat would run into my eyes. Might as well get rid of that one, even though it was essentially new. From there, it was a quick step to deciding to have everybody write one of the crappy things that has happened in 2020 on the hat, and burn them along with the hat. So there you have it. It was passed around at dinner and everybody added something: Plague, drought, Trump, the cattle market, home schooling, working from home, a nephew’s cancer, riots, Trump again, police shootings, ski season, fires, smoke, loud motorcycle traffic all times of day and night, and on and on. A whole year’s worth of grievances (and this year had a lot to offer) duly noted on the cowboy hat.

And then, after the ice cream, it went on the fire and we all cheered as the flames consumed it all. For the first time since the world turned sideways last March, I slept like a baby. It was a wonderfully therapeutic holiday.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Teri Orr: ‘Like a holy rolling stone…’

Whatever sanity I might have left right now — after six months of COVID confinement — I owe to a pod of women who have been a literal lifeline — day and night. Back in March — as lockdown began — one woman decided to create a text group of women she knew and thought would be a good group to share information and support. We all knew each other certainly — maybe two were good friends and so were another two and three of us — but all five were kinda crazy-cut puzzle shapes no one would have easily linked together.

I am the oldest — which I find is how many of my sentences begin now. The youngest hovers around 40. Two women have never married and don’t have children. Three of us have children and the youngest is the only one married and with young children. We are happy travelers all, and this confinement had been painful on our clipped wings.

We all lean left — not exclusively — but there is a base level of understanding of fairness and kindness and what real leadership has looked like. Did I mention wicked funny? Oh god — are they funny! Irreverent. And also, exquisitely thoughtful and kind.

In the first days of COVID — when folks weren’t leaving their homes and no one was ordering takeout because no one was making it — we grabbed things for each other when one of us left weekly for the store. Toilet paper and hand wipes and almost always — chocolate. We watched the horrible unstoppable watchable “Tiger King” series but also the stunningly beautiful and haunting “Unorthodox.” And so much more. We shared titles of books we were reading and articles in magazines and newspapers. We checked in on each other — nearly daily. Two of the women had grandmothers in their 90s they were helping care for. We did a few Zoom cocktail hours but that wasn’t really our wheelhouse. We are all more action-oriented.

As that long, wet, gray, miserable spring finally made its way into summer, COVID allowed for more movement. Restaurants opened for takeout first. We found ourselves comparing notes on where good places were to walk without running into unmasked people. We all now have to admit we have a literal wardrobe of masks we have ordered online and gifted one another. We all have gone through family things during this time. We all have gone through work-related changes. We all have found ways to contribute within the community. Here’s the one thing we hadn’t done — we hadn’t all been in the same space at the same time together.

So when two birthdays were converging over Labor Day weekend I offered up my big backyard for a socially distanced, joint birthday party — for the pod — plus the husband and young children of the only one of us who has those currently. It was a total of eight people spaced out. There was pizza I picked up and cupcakes one of the other women had made. The two small boys under 7 — brought their bikes and rode them all over the dead-ish grass in my yard. And around the quiet cul-de-sac. The night was perfectly still and we could socially distance and chat and hear ourselves. There were masks and hand sanitizer and all the requisite trappings of a COVID gathering. But there was also so much laughter. And we stayed outside long, long after the sun was down — just relishing in the sight and unmuffled sound of one another.

I admit while they were there I was most smitten with the boys. It has been far too long since little boys had found my yard of such great interest. And right at dusk — as if on cue — a fawn appeared at the bird feeder to dine with us. The boys were wide-eyed! They whispered for me to be quiet and “come see.” A couple of little birds had landed to grab a to-go dinner of their own at the same feeder. The boys had ice cream bars and cupcakes and found “moon rocks” and feathers. That little family left first from the gathering but the sound of their joy stayed behind.

The rest of us lasted until long after the sun was gone and the moon was up and a chill had set in the air. It just felt — for a few hours — so normal.

We are all on edge. With kids back in school, whether online or in classrooms, we have watched families in our community make difficult decisions based on what was best for their own family. The blame and judgment stuff is best left to higher powers. We are literally doing the best we can each day. And we all feel like everyone else somehow has this all figured out.

They don’t.

What COVID has done is to recalibrate for each of us what matters and who matters. There is a stark clarity to these days that doesn’t allow for pettiness. The is an otherworldliness to the world that is hard to interpret through epic wildfires and hurricanes and Mother Earth throwing plates in the kitchen against granite walls. We get it. We have to be the change — right now — the planet cannot wait any longer.

Back in the early 2000s there was a television series called — “Joan of Arcadia” — starring Amber Tamblyn. The theme song was sung by Joan Osbourne. It was quirky and — haunting.

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
Just tryin’ to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome
Like a holy rolling stone…

These days I see heroes in the supermarket and the post office. I realize we are all afraid. Even as the matriarch of my little family I have life no more figured out than those sweet little boys who found such joy in witnessing the deer at dusk. Except maybe it is just that simple. So I will try so much harder to be aware of the holy rolling stones in my path each day, including Sundays in the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.

Amy Roberts: Hideout proves that failing to plan is planning to fail

It would be easy to assume the inability to host a highly anticipated meeting via Zoom might be all the proof needed to realize those running the town of Hideout lack fundamental planning skills. But what they lack in strategy and competence, they apparently make up for in perseverance and arrogance.

Less than one day after being told by a judge it was not to pursue the pre-annexation agreement the town passed in July because the process was, at best, deeply flawed, Hideout’s Town Council scheduled a work session to plot its next move. A hastily scheduled meeting on the Friday night leading into a holiday weekend doesn’t exactly ooze transparency, which has been a top concern all along.

The town and developers Nate Brockbank and Josh Romney have been accused of masterminding a cunning backroom deal with the state Legislature to allow for Hideout to annex roughly 650 acres of land in Summit County without the county’s approval or even advanced knowledge. Accusations in litigation filed by Summit County include manipulating lawmakers and holding secret meetings to avoid public input. Hideout Town Council members have feigned offense at these perceptions and stated that everything was perfectly legal and there was no attempt to conceal intent.

My advice to them is to hire a communications firm that specializes in reputation management. Because if your reputation is that you embrace shady practices in an attempt to annex land, and a judge voices concern about your lack of open meetings and public comment in her ruling against you, and the state Legislature does a 180 and repeals the very law that allowed this to happen in the first place, perhaps the next best step is not to host a meeting on the Friday night before the Labor Day weekend to discuss where to go from here. Consider for a moment how pro-development the state Legislature is. Then remember there’s a Romney making requests. The willingness of Utah lawmakers to say “oops” and vote to repeal this law should be enough to give one pause.

In an interview with KPCW, Hideout Town Council member Chris Baier said the town was in a very odd place because it was being “ignored” by Wasatch County, where it’s located, and “despised” by Summit County. Well, duh. Usually when you try to steal something from your neighbor hard feelings tend to surface. And when your neighbor catches you in the act and gets a court order to stop you from stealing, and then you try to plot another attempt, well, the contempt seems rather justified.

While I do think regional collaboration is necessary to plan for future growth, this isn’t collaboration. It’s an attempted hostile takeover. It’s frankly no different than me purchasing my home, knowing I will need to expand to meet my needs. But then deciding that instead of adding onto my house within the land I already own, I’m just going to take over my neighbor’s backyard because she’s not really using it anyway. There’s a reason that’s not acceptable. Or legal. After all, it’s not my land. And how much I need it, or how little my neighbor uses it, isn’t exactly a stellar legal strategy.

The original development plans for the area call for 200,000 square feet of retail commercial space, 100,000 square feet of office space and 3,500 residential units, though the developers have stated these plans present the maximum use and the final project will be scaled back.

Perhaps instead of scaling back and making revisions, the existing plans should be burned. It’s time to start over, this time with competent planners and developers who understand the concept of property and county lines. It is Hideout’s responsibility to either pressure Wasatch County to pay attention to the town’s needs and work together, or adjust its master plan to fit within its existing footprint. Land grabbing to make up for your lack of strategic planning is justifiably despisable.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

Tom Clyde: A new national hero for our times

This week, El Presidente went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to try to, well, I don’t really know what his goal was. I mean, who better to calm an explosive situation than Donald Trump? The riots were sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake was shot seven times in the back as he tried to avoid arrest. He was getting into his car, with his young children inside, when a police officer grabbed him by the shirt and then fired seven shots into his back at very close range. Some people in Kenosha thought that wasn’t OK. As an aside, the calm and dignity of Blake’s family through this is kind of surreal. They have been amazing.

The shooting was followed by nights of protest and some rioting, looting and general mayhem. To add to the mix, a 17-year old from neighboring Illinois decided to take matters into his own hands. He drove to Kenosha with his AR-15 rifle to preserve order. Nothing preserves order like well-armed, random teenagers wandering around in the middle of a riot. He ended up shooting three people, killing two of them. Not a lot of it is clear, other than he deliberately drove to Kenosha with a rifle and the intention to get into the middle of it all. None of it looks good.

Trump went to Wisconsin, against the wishes of the governor and mayor, who said they had their hands full already. His comments mostly ignored the police shooting (and all of the others) that set it off, and focused instead on the unacceptable risks riots pose to innocent vigilantes. It came across as an endorsement of 17-year-olds taking law enforcement into their own hands. It certainly missed the mark about why the police drilled seven shots into Jacob Blake. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s answer to Baghdad Bob, came right out and said that violence in the streets was helpful to the Trump campaign.

It went on like that for days, punctuated by occasional plague news, and just about the time my head was going to explode, the best thing of the whole year happened (admittedly a very low bar). A guy on a jet pack flew through the flight path of the Los Angeles airport. He was at about 3,000 feet, and flew within about 300 feet of an American Airlines plane. He was also spotted by a JetBlue pilot. It’s unclear if he was wearing a mask as required by airline policies.

Of course, this is a stupid and dangerous stunt. A guy on a jet pack slamming into the windshield of an airliner wouldn’t end well for anybody. Flying is scary enough with the mask brawls and plague risk. Now there’s a chance of a guy on a jet pack getting sucked into the jet engine and crashing the plane. It’s not something to be encouraged.

But, oh, the pure joy of it. It’s almost as good as the guy with the helium balloons tied to his lawn chair. We all remember exactly where we were back in 1982 when Lawnchair Larry, aka Larry Walters, flew an ordinary lawn chair to an altitude of 15,000 feet with helium balloons. The control mechanism was to shoot a balloon now and then with a pellet gun to control the descent. It worked flawlessly until he dropped the pellet gun. He ultimately got tangled in a power line, but was able to climb down unharmed. The only thing missing from that story was that it happened in San Pedro, California, instead of Florida, where that sort of thing rightly belongs. Lawnchair Larry was an instant hero.

The jet pack guy is a modern remake, but I still have to give the prize to Lawnchair Larry for the original. It was so simple and home made, where the jet pack guy had a lot of expensive technology at his disposal. Either way, the idea of the jet pack guy cruising through the LAX flight path, getting picked up by air traffic control who, in what seems like a parody of air traffic control, nonchalantly broadcast his position, altitude and direction to the incoming planes. Just another day on the job.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the stunt, so we won’t need Trump to go to Los Angeles to give a speech in which he would say that this sort of lawlessness wouldn’t be happening if he were president. We don’t know who the jet pack guy is, though I’m assuming the whole thing was duly recorded on multiple GoPros and will get posted on YouTube. And while he’s no Lawnchair Larry, the interruption of the otherwise toxic news flow was nothing short of delightful. A grateful nation salutes you.

So when a town is faced with deciding what to do with the empty pedestal where the local Robert E. Lee statue used to be, the obvious choice is a statue of the jet pack guy. He made America smile again.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Teri Orr: And now … Act III

When I left being editor of this paper in the early ’90s — in my early 40s — I had no idea what I would do next. It was just time to do something different. I leapt without a net and patched things together — working at Dolly’s Bookstore — writing a book I chose not to publish — turning down an HBO movie contract for that too-personal book. I volunteered on the Navajo Reservation with Linda Myers before the Adopt-a-Native-Elder program had a name.

Ann MacQuoid, JoAnn Krajeski, Gary Cole and Heather Urich took me to lunch one day and asked if I would help them run a bond campaign to build a joint-use performing arts center with the school district. I said sure. When the bond passed the realization hit — someone would have to raise money for that building. Someone would have to program that building. I was between jobs so I agreed to help out.

When the building was completed we started programming shows. The board insisted I hire someone to help handle the talent. They thought I should hire Robert Urich’s gopher in Park City — my daughter, Jenny. I thought it was terrible idea to work together. I told the board they would hire her and when the time came — they would fire her. Jenny turned out to be the not-so-secret Eccles sauce. Every act loved her. She made them all feel like this was a temporary home away from home — even if they were just spending a day on their tour bus. She did everything with grace and good humor. The reputation the institute enjoys in the performance world is due largely to her patient and enthusiastic treatment of each act. She remains the only full-time employee under Executive Director Ari Ioannides, who took the reins March 1, now fully this week.

The very first season we wanted to show the variety of what could happen on our stage. We presented — Maynard Ferguson, National Orchestral Society, Acting Company of New York and Alvin Ailey Dance Ensemble. We had no idea how to price tickets or seat people. Park City and Salt Lake communities were forgiving — they were hungry for national acts. We started that first year with $5 student tickets in the Park City School District and expanded later to include all Summit County students. The first season and every season thereafter we offered free tickets to our senior citizen community. Then it was a handful of mostly mining widows.

After 9/11 when no one was traveling we decided — with the help of Tommy Tune — to keep our gala as planned — just 10 days after the Twin Towers fell. That night, when Tommy told the audience that performing was the only way he knew how to help, we took the hands of those next to us in the audience and got quiet for a moment. The theater became church.

The next year we brought in from West Sengal — Mandinka — and they gave us a taste of Africa in dance, music and storytelling. They had such a great time in Park City on their very next stop — in Berkeley, California — the entire 30-person troupe just walked off stage and defected. They had wanted to do that in Park City, I learned from their agent, but realized they might have been spotted more easily here than on the streets in Berkeley.

During the Olympics we were the only venue outside of Salt Lake City to host the Cultural Olympiad. Pilobolus and Alvin Ailey dance companies performed to international full houses.

In the summers we started doing concerts in City Park with local bands. The permit was for 500 people. The night I counted 1,400 people I knew we had to move. The next summer we were at Deer Valley presenting Kenny Loggins and The Pointer Sisters. We turned the free concerts over to Mountain Town Music.

Those summer shows were their own kind of magic. The elaborate picnics and celebrations we all shared — birthdays, weddings, even a high school graduation moment for a young woman who had missed her own ceremony due to cancer. We worked hard seating our donors and put them with folks we thought would make for a good dinner party. It created decades-long friendships.

And oh — those shows! B.B. King and Etta James. Willie and Bonnie and Lyle. Jon Baptiste — long before he became the band leader for Stephen Colbert. And that epic muddy night of Earth, Wind and Fire and that other epic, muddy night of Sara Bareilles opening for Open Republic.

In 2007 I was invited to join the TED community — our programming morphed some more. Speakers included Sir Ken Robinson, Dr. David Gallo, Dr. B.J. Miller. Edward Snowden via his “snowbot” and Monica Lewinsky. TED sent me to Aspen, Palm Springs, Whistler, Banff, Edinburgh, Tanzania and Qatar. It changed my life to see the world. It has given me friends in exotic places doing good work.

As a lifelong reader, bringing authors to the stage seemed the right thing. Sue Monk Kidd, Anne Lamott, Sherman Alexie. Journalists Maureen Dowd, Carl Hulse and Van Jones.

The ability of our tech crews to make cirque folks fly across our stage always amazed me. I was happiest the night those shows were over, safely. I am grateful for pre-parties and after-parties at local art galleries and restaurants, which hosted us in their magical spaces.

All the Sundance stories — too many but much gratitude for their willingness — from the first festival in Eccles — to help us create a Filmmaker in the Classroom program, ensuring local students didn’t have the festival just happen to their school but included them. Our own artist-in-the-classroom program had choreographers like Jessica Lang traveling to Coalville and teaching young dancers. Monica Lewinsky explained to students what it felt like as Patient Zero of cyberbullying.

All the New Year’s Eve shows starting at 8 p.m. and ending with the balloons falling around 10 p.m. so folks could head home before the midnight hour or to our parties from the Yarrow to St Regis to Tupelo.

The volunteers — regardless of the snow storm or the scorching summer heat — who showed up without fail to be the first line of response and defense greeting guests.

I am grateful for every single person who purchased a ticket. Who brought a friend — who sponsored a show — who donated food or lodging. All the media folks who donated space in magazines, newspapers and radio spots who knew a vibrant smart community needed a vibrant smart performing arts center. The donors who supported things they knew and even more they had no idea about. What would be flying across the stage — dancers or tough language?

All the boards who wanted to make certain — from the start — that all staff had full health care — incredible 25 years ago. I am grateful for shows we booked because an agent assured us this emerging act was a worth a risk. Nickel Creek — later Punch Brothers led by the McArthur genius Chris Thile — my favorite example.

But there was the fake Hamlet with “members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.” In 1999 it was much harder to do homework with only DVDs to view. We loved the idea. Turned out the only link to the Royal Shakespeare Company was the makeup guy who was also the lover of the guy who played Hamlet. He once did makeup for a run of RSC in Vegas. Hamlet laughed in all his scenes like Pee Wee Herman. That was the same dreadful year we had The Lullaby guy — who had a recommend on his CD from Christopher Reeves. He decided — unbeknownst to us — not to perform lullabies but rather ingest something prior to going on stage and do something so freeform we were apologizing to every person who was streaming out of the theater at intermission.

These things are funny only in hindsight.

But even just one minute of Bernadette Peters hiking her ballgown to climb on the baby grand and sing “Fever” made up for the other stuff. Or Kris Kristofferson giving us his raw version of the song he had shared with Janis Joplin — “Me and Bobby McGee.” Or Rufus Wainwright on New Year’s Eve with the penultimate encore — a song he hadn’t performed publicly in four years — Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” You could have heard a pin drop.

I hope you have your own best — and less — list of shows at Eccles, summers outdoors and Curiosities nights we tossed in for good measure. Or maybe your child joined us during the 10 years we ran the MegaGenius Supply Store and IQHQ — a free literacy tutoring center. I have 25 years of crazy and scary and mostly life-affirming moments to wrap up in.

So “thanks for the memories” and for allowing me to have had the best job I never knew I wanted.

It changed my life and for that I will be forever grateful — each Sunday in the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.

Amy Roberts: The birds and the bees

In the mountains, the temperature and the season aren’t always on the same calendar page. Anyone who has lived here long enough has seen snow in June or had to cover the tomato plants in July. I remember shoveling the deck one August, clearing a path to the grill. Summers here are as glorious as they are short and mercurial.

The transition from summer to fall is often a bit of back and forth — both physically and emotionally. Just like the hot sunshine-filled days are sometimes met with a nights of “wintery mix” moisture, there’s a corresponding juxtaposition with my feelings about the shift. While I don’t particularly love the heat, and fall is my favorite season, I can’t help but release a heavy sigh at the sight of the first crimson leaf, or feel a sadness putting the hummingbird feeders away.

I still have one straggler, so I’m still putting out the nectar. But the temperature is dropping and his lady friends have already flown south, so there’s little reason for him to stay much longer. I know he will soon begin his migration to Mexico and it will be eight months before I hear the distinctive aerodynamic whirring and high-pitched squeaks again.

This summer, more than any others before it, I was particularly entertained by the hummingbirds that visited my garden. Given how many of us humans spent more time at home and vacationed in our backyards, these tiny creatures likely benefited the most of all from COVID. At one point, hummingbird feeders had a two-week backorder on Amazon. If you spend any time watching these little rocket raisins, it’s easy to see why people hope to share time and space with them. Not only are they amazing pollinators, they’re also fascinating to watch due to their agility and speed and utterly amusing due to their personalities and behaviors.

Last fall I planted some of their favorite flowers — trumpet vine, bee balm, lupine and columbine — to attract them. Between those plants and my feeders, by late June the word was out and I had to fend them off while I changed the nectar.

I like to imagine what they shared while gathered around the feeders. Was it mindless “how was your weekend” watercooler talk similar to humans? Did they exchange pleasantries or gossip? Or was it more survival based; valuable information regarding a cat’s whereabouts? So basically, yes. I spent much of my summer personifying birds not much bigger than my thumb. Who says quarantining is boring?

A few weeks ago I was beginning to run out of storylines for them (there had already been multiple affairs, divorces and personal injury lawsuits), when suddenly Mother Nature introduced a few new characters to the plot. Actually, it was more like 100 new characters — Italian honeybees. I didn’t know they were Italian, they weren’t eating gelato or zipping around on vespas. But a friend of mine who is a bit of an aspiring apiarist came to assess the situation and confirmed their nationality.

It was a situation because suddenly there were a hundred bees swarming the feeders, hoping for a drop of nectar and several hovering and hungry hummingbirds who were too cautious to belly up to the bar. My friend told me someone within a 2-mile radius of me was keeping the bees and this particular breed was known for being docile and an excellent honey maker.

Docile was an understatement. These bees were practically domesticated. Perhaps they were drunk from the sugar water, but I could pick them up and move them to a flower or gently scoop them away from the feeder without painful repercussion. Though it was a bit like moving my dog to the other side of the bed. Within seconds they were back in the spot I didn’t want them in.

After a few days of this, fearful my feathered friends would fly away for good, I ended up setting out saucers with nectar for someone else’s made-in-Italy bees. The bees liked this much better as they could drink the sweet juice with ease and, with the feeders devoid of bees, the hummingbirds preferred the new arrangement as well. I had to double my sugar-water batches, but it was a small price to pay to ensure my garden stayed abuzz.

The cooler evenings and temperature swings mean both insect and bird will soon be gone. And while I love autumn in the mountains, I can’t help but be a little sad about their pending departures. Maybe I can get them all to stay with some pumpkin spice-flavored nectar.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

Tom Clyde: Gatsby’s birthday party

When I was growing up, my mother had a bright red dinner plate that had “You are special today” painted on it. On birthdays, she served both breakfast and dinner on the red plate. It made us feel recognized on our birthdays, and of course on our birthdays we are special. The idea that somebody would hold a mega-birthday celebration, ignoring all the public health warnings, and manage to generate at least 75 new plague cases locally is just appalling. It’s selfish and reckless and stupid. Yes, on your birthday, you are special. But not that special.

The virus is a strange piece of work. Most infections are not having serious health consequences. Some people are landing in the hospital, and taking a long time to recover, and of course nationally, 180,000 people are dead. So it’s not nothing. But because people’s skin isn’t turning green and their limbs aren’t falling off, it’s invisible. The consequences are more economic than physical for most of us.

I think the official color-coded threat level is now set at paisley. Restaurants and bars are open at reduced capacity, and many have decided they can’t survive on the reduced volume. Some haven’t reopened, and some never will. The climb back to “normal” is going to take a while. The problem with having a new birthday party outbreak is that it undermines all the progress we’ve made, delays getting back to whatever normal will be.

It doesn’t really matter what the local health regulations are. If Park City is a hot spot, and travelers are advised not to come, or are subject to a two-week quarantine when they go back home after visiting our germy patch of paradise, they will vacation elsewhere. If vacationers are afraid to come because we don’t have the virus contained, the new normal is a lot of vacant storefronts. The ski resorts can’t operate long without customers. Businesses can’t survive if people are afraid to go out.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the pandemic birthday party. For some reason, the county isn’t releasing much information. Where was it held? Was the special birthday guest a local or some Kardashian type who flew in to celebrate? Were the new cases party guests, the lodging property staff or both? Was the cake any good or all dried out like those big banquet cakes tend to be? And why wasn’t I invited? I think we have a right to know more about this whole affair, if for no other reason than to quell the rumors and suspicions. But for now, I guess the best we can do is congratulate the birthday boy or girl on their special day, and thank them for sharing the experience with us.

Of course the birthday bash isn’t the only big event in town. The Great Gatsby has relocated to Aspen Springs, where there are huge parties almost every night. As Fitzgerald said, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” They apparently have a fully equipped COVID-19 testing facility set up in the garage to screen the guests before they come in for the nightly bacchanal.

The whole country is on edge. Another police shooting, another city erupts in riots and now vigilante militias are coming out of the woodwork. It’s impossible to tell what’s happening in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but no part of it is good. Toss in huge fires, a hurricane or two, and a drought just to round out the list. Congress is worthless; el Presidente thinks if we ignore it, the plague will magically disappear. Even if businesses are opened up again, they have no customers. Health regulations may limit them to 50% capacity, while customer reluctance to risk exposure probably limits them to a fraction of that. Once the weather turns and outside seating quits working, will there be anybody going out to dinner?

The election is like a fingernail on the chalkboard, painful to listen to. It’s only going to get worse. We’ve got another 60 days of this, with the intensity building all the time. No matter what the outcome, the divisions will still be there. Maybe worse.

So what do we do about it? We can’t cure the plague. The self-indulgent will still find ways to host parties with varying degrees of infectiousness. It’s going to take a long time to rebuild confidence that it’s safe to travel, to eat out, to go shopping or to concerts. Some people are falling into an economic black hole that they will never get out of. While “masking up” is beginning to feel like a regular thing now, it doesn’t feel normal — and it shouldn’t.

I feel like we are all trying to do what we do, but there is a constant background of tooth-grinding anxiety. Somehow, we all need to find a way to step back from the ledge and just chill out.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.