Jay Meehan: A mic drop after two decades of writing this column
So there we were, hunkered down in the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson, Wyoming. It being midday, there wasn’t much of a crowd.
The band playing the night before had left their gear onstage in an adjoining room, including one of those classic Gibson Les Paul guitars leaning against a vintage tube-driven Fender super-reverb amplifier. It’s funny what sticks in memory.
We had come to Jackson Hole from L.A. to ski for a season or two, but while sitting at the bar, decided it really wasn’t in the cards. Snow had already fallen that late fall of 1970 and it seemed apparent that most of the seasonal digs within our budget range were taken. Park City had always been the net over which we performed, so we opted south.
How fortunate! As cool a spot as Jackson is, I can’t imagine it playing out as well as Park City. As if on the fast track, along came ski-in ski-out digs behind the Miner’s Hospital, entrée into the radio biz in Salt Lake, and a bevy of alternative-lifestyle writing gigs.
Speaking of which, this is my final column for The Park Record. And, in bidding adieu, it has occurred to me many times over how fortunate we were to end up in this town at that time. Not that it isn’t cool now, but boy, was it ever cool then!
I’m thankful for many things this holiday season. That I’m a bit of an odd duck and an acquired taste comes quickly to mind. Otherwise, how would I have ever fit into this zany mining camp turned ski town back then? Those were defining attributes for newcomers and, lo and behold, for those who stayed, it stuck to our ribs.
To wit: It’s a bit past four-in-the-morning and directly in front of me a science experiment is unfolding. In the closest thing to a Petri dish available on such short notice, a Scotch glass holds forth. Inside, bathing in a three-ounce pour of my current-favorite Islay single-malt, basks an ice cube of indeterminate girth.
Will I, an acquired taste, prose-wise, to be sure, be able to finish writing this final Core Sample prior to the pour of “Laphroaig Quarter Cask,” becoming one with the ice? Life is chemistry, as they say.
Looking back, I’m unable to place in time my final columns for The Newspaper, which would later merge with The Park Record, or The Park City Coalition, the first local independent rag targeting the emerging ski-town demographic. What isn’t in question, however, was the non-availability of most any single malts in Utah back then.
The columns in those days dealt almost totally with the local music culture, fed mostly by associations made during my then-concurrent gig as a radio DJ at KMOR in Salt Lake City. They appeared sporadically, which is a euphemism for whenever a concert or an album release or street scuttlebutt of sufficient weight got my attention.
This column, originally pitched by my dear longtime friend and then-Editor Nan Chalat Noaker, however, was headed for the opinion section.
And, in retrospect, although subtly opinionated they were, the approach was highly nuanced to the point that, if I were reviewing anything Haggard or Willie, I would have confidence that my more astute readership would instantly recognize it as an anti-Trump diatribe.
The inherent problem with that approach, of course, is that it is not mainstream. And mainstream is what readers and advertisers thrive upon. So, to those who stuck it out through the years of week-after-week wondering where the piece was headed, thank you.
Anyway, in the future, whenever an Islay single-malt Scotch whisky contacts my lips, I shall think of the wondrous associations that were mine during the timeframe I engaged with you in this space. Twenty years in the blink of an often-bloodshot eye. How time flies when you’re having fun.
For keeping me apprised of the real world, thanks to my family and to Nan and Teri Orr and to Scott Iwasaki and Jay Hamburger. And to the other muses I chose to exploit during my two-decade-long scorched-earth assaults on the mother tongue. I love you all madly. You know who you are!
Plus, to the readers and editorial staff at The Park Record, thanks for the feedback through the years, including those who disagreed with my notions of propriety. To my fellow columnists, keep the faith! And to Andy Bernhard, thanks for your patience and continued luck to you in the print media biz.
That’s a wrap! Adios!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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