September 17, 2013
So I called my brother McGee the other day to iron out some tentative plans we had made for some further gallivanting around Kauai before I headed back to the mainland on an upcoming late-Sunday-night "red-eye."
My call caught him watching this one particular episode of "The Newsroom" for the fourth time since the previous Sunday, when it had originally aired. Now, being aware that he knew that I had also viewed that particular episode, I got a little paranoid about his motives for such seemingly-obsessive behavior.
I reasoned that he could very well be up to something. Something not necessarily nefarious, but, quite possibly, within the realm of mischief. He’s like that. The first possible explanation that crossed my mind had him planning to spring a "pop quiz" on me dealing with various arcane subplots within Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series. There is indeed history for this sort of shenanigan on his part.
Back in the day when Park City flaunted more of a "bohemian" flair than it has at any time since, there was this bar on the Main Street level of the New Park Hotel called The Forge. This was the early ’70s and a quite-different watering hole than the one that had operated under the same name downstairs in the same building during the previous decade.
A faction that had followed Tim Mertens to Park City from Wisconsin Dells Resort or, in the vernacular, "The Dells," had opened the establishment and, soon thereafter, it had become a gathering spot for a sort of blue-collar and post-collegiate intelligentsia.
Tales that were anything but vertically-challenged were spun almost non-stop concerning the various "characters" who had populated The Dells during the heyday that this current crop of Wisconsin expatriates had called it home.
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At some point, and no doubt I’ll probably get called-out on this, barkeep Joe "Porky" Onn and one of his best customers, Dick "O.D. McGee" Meehan, began holding instantaneous trivia contests that got underway whenever one of them called out: "Dells Quiz."
The winner of the trivia contest would be the first of the then-current crop of habitués to name the character or characters who were most responsible for whatever bizarre scenario Porky or O.D. would spell out as purportedly having taken place at The Dells in some previously-reported historical context.
Now, what with McGee’s recent over-saturation of Season 3’s penultimate episode of "The Newsroom," I couldn’t help but think that that very well might be where he was headed. You know, some kind of pop quiz that he would spring on me without warning while we traipsed about from one of Kauai’s treasured local’s hangouts to another.
So what was there left for me to do, other than prepare myself for his onslaught? You got it! Once our phone conversation ended, I sat right down and watched the episode in question for a second time. I knew going in that there wasn’t much chance of a two-time loser catching all the nuanced subplots that a four-time viewer had perceived, but I had to give it a shot.
Alas, however, once the credits rolled at the end of the "Election Night Part I" episode, the only thing I had learned that I didn’t know before was that my obsession for actress Olivia Munn was quite possibly even more bizarre than McGee’s for the episode as a whole. Her character was pretty much all that imprinted itself to memory.
If the truth be told, there is history for this type of behavior on my part that goes back to adolescence. Oftentimes, surface elegance blinds me to inherent depth. I suppose I should work on that. But, then again, why? I’m flawed, therefore I am!
And whether or not a "Dells Quiz"-type trivia contest actually occurred when McGee and I began doing laps and loops on the island is beside the point. It’s much more about how far O.D. has raised the bar, aesthetically, when it comes to the complete abandonment of "normal" behavior. My brother, as Duke Ellington was wont to say, is "beyond category."
He is also very well aware that he doesn’t have to actually follow through on any perceived notion that he might have covertly slipped into what I jokingly refer to as my cognitive centers. He only has to plant the seed. My own neuroses will get the ball rolling from there.
In Kauai, however, it’s rather difficult to maintain any sort of anxiety. Especially when, on a day following McGee’s and my North Shore trek, we tossed our sister Mary Beth into the mix and headed to the south side for Wiamea Canyon and Kōke’e State Park.
It was total rapture. Family is everything! And I didn’t once have to play my Olivia Munn card.
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.
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