Sunday, October 05, 2008
At my favorite discussion board, posters are making fun of Sarah Palin because she used to be mayor of a town with a population of 6,000 and 42 meth labs. But having been there, I can tell you there's no shame in being chief executive of Wasilla.
I know Wasilla pretty well. Back in the '80's I used to play music there, at a lodge-restaurant-bar on the shore of lovely Lake Wasilla. I was drumming with a top-40 covers band, and the locals were very good to us. We had that three-nights-a-week job for a long time. Sometimes in deep winter we'd shortcut across the frozen surface of the lake itself to pick up the highway that took us back to Anchorage, an hour away.
There was a gigantic moosehead mounted a few feet above my head on that bandstand, and I prayed there would be no earthquake while we were playing. The owner was a roaring alcoholic and a Nazi -- literally. He had a Nazi flag on a flagstand behind the desk in his small office, and a framed picture of Hitler. He didn't like our music -- Roy Acuff was his idea of top-notch stuff -- but we brought in the customers, so he was OK to work for.
Later, after I left the state, I heard he torched that wonderful place for the insurance money.
I liked Wasilla a lot. You have to keep in mind that Alaskan politics is characterized by nuttiness, and tends toward the bizarre and outrageous. You know, secessionists, anti-tax crazies, UFO theorists -- it's the faraway corner of the country all the nuts roll into. But it's a great place to live despite that, and sometimes I wish I was still there.
And I must say, the politicians were more accessible than anyplace else I've ever been. I saw the governor talking one-on-one with voters in the airport more than once, and Alaska's only Congressional representative, Don Young (still in office), used to be a regular at the bars we played in.
In Wasilla, you see bald eagles sitting in the trees on any given day, and in the winter moose wander through the streets. It's great.