Showing posts with label mountain towns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mountain towns. Show all posts

July 12, 2020

The Mountain Gazette is Back (Again)

I missed out on the original 1960s Mountain Gazette — too young, but I subscribed during the M. John Fayee era (the 2000s) and still have my "When in Doubt, Go Higher" T-shirt someplace.
The last person to resurrect Mountain Gazette in 2000 after a more than 20-year hiatus was M. John Fayhee, a legendary journalist and scribe who spent 12 years at the helm of the magazine. His insightful eye reshaped Mountain Gazette, with irreverent barstool insight, an abiding appreciation of the West’s characters, an razor-sharp criticism of interlopers seeking to get rich on a town’s culture and landscapes, and a stable of the region’s top writers. His approach celebrated the artistic and literary heritage forged by its founder, Mike Moore, with long-form essays — think wandering 25,000-word explorations of Western culture, weather, and life and death in high-elevation towns — and a definitive rebuke of flashy outdoor mags heavy with gear reviews and top-10 lists.
That quote is from a Colorado Sun piece on the Mountain Gazette's third incarnation, now in the womb.
Appreciation for the Mountain Gazette never died, even when it stopped publishing. Older issues can be found in curated collections in antique stores. Lovers of the magazine collect them like precious vinyl records.

And now the journal of culture and commentary is getting a second, second chance.

Mike Rogge, a 34-year-old skier and new dad from Lake Tahoe, is breathing new life into the idled magazine, hoping to revive the glory days when Mountain Gazette harbored the stories and characters that defined high-country culture.

Rogge bought the dormant Mountain Gazette and its website in January from Summit Publishing Co., which prints the popular, free Elevation Outdoors magazine seen on racks all over Colorado.
The new plan is for a glossy, semiannual sort of "coffee table magazine," not sold on newstands, with "long-form stories, essays, and poetry capturing mountain town culture" and  "stunning, large format photography" for $60 per year. More information here. 

Clothing and accessories (merch) are already available, so if you are unsure about the magazine, you can get the bumper sticker.

September 16, 2018

End of the Season in a Mountain Town


M. and I went over to Westcliffe Friday night to watch a movie in a real (and historic) theater.

Westcliffe is not a ski town, not a river town, not a mountain-biking town. When its one ski area, Conquistador, finally faceplanted too many times and shut down in 1993, the town gave a collective yawn and got on with its real industry, building mountain mini-mansions.

There are a bazillion photos taken looking west down Main Street toward the Sangre de Cristo Range, all variations of this one:
Add more a few more trees, neo-historic streetlamps, paving, and diagonal parking,
and you have the Westcliffe of today.


It occurred to me as I sat on a street bench across from the Jones Theater that you could pick up the whole place and set it down in, say, Phillips County—only with neo-historic streetlamps and a "dark skies" ordinance. The two counties' populations are about the same, and the buildings would fit right in.

The only difference is that almost no one is building mini-mansions all around Phillips County, thus supporting numerous small construction firms. On the prairie there is maybe less talk about agricultural "heritage" and more actual agriculture.

Walking down Main Street, it seemed like every third retail space was for rent and almost every restaurant for sale. Chappy's, our favorite bar for Westcliffe visits, was "closed for renovation." I hope that's not a euphemism.

The Chamber of Commerce types want more economic activity. Factories? In all these towns and small cities the refrain is, "We don't want our kids to move away." But guess what, the kids are going to move away.  Maybe some will come back later and find a way to make a living. Most will not. (Did I go back to Del Norte or Rapid City? Nope.)

What you can get in a place like Westcliffe:
  • First-run movies
  • Hardware store merchandise (the Ace store is pretty good)
  • Carhart clothing (at the hardware store)
  • "Western decor" items
  • Paintings by local artists
  • Grass-fed beef
  • "Lowest-common denominator groceries" (M.'s phrase)
  • Hiking boots 
  • Firearms
  • Automotive repair
  • The rural health clinic

What you cannot get:
  • Auto parts
  • Books
  • Other clothing
  • Appliances
  • Specialized medical care
  • All kinds of other things that send people "down the hill," leading to much Facebook angst about road conditions
Then there is the new but growing Amish population (buggies at 8,000 feet!) who have a different set of shopping needs and probably rely sometimes on mail order from Gohn Bros. or wherever.

So there is much complaint about how retail businesses (except hardware) cannot succeed with a season that is only four months long.

On the other hand, there seems to be little desire to be one of those resort towns with a different manufactured "festival" every other weekend throughout the year. The argument goes around and around.

But the views!