Jess Walter: The Urban Outdoors

Lately, people in downtown Spokane have been stopping me on the street to ask how the urban outdoorsperson should vote in this month’s election.

“Hey,” the curious voter will often say, “can I have some money to buy a forty or some crystal meth?”

“Good question,” I’ll say. “So what you’re really asking is about our uncertain political future and what we can do locally in the face of such massive problems as global warming or the Iraq war?”

“No. I just want to get wasted.”

“To escape the grim political reality.”

“No. Because I’m a junkie.”

“Because of the failed policies of the last six years.”

“No. I was getting stewed long before that.”

“So you’re saying both parties have failed you.”

“If I say yes will you give me fifty cents.”

With that in mind, here is my 2006 urban outdoor voters guide:

  1. Initiatives: It’s confusing because for the first time since the late 1800s, there is no initiative floated by Tim Eyman to get Tim Eyman out of paying Tim Eyman’s taxes. (To save trouble, I think we should have an initiative once and for all establishing Tim Eyman as a tax-exempt entity so he can go back to harvesting kittens or whatever he did before he wrote tax initiatives.)Still there are some important initiatives:
    • I-920 would finally repeal the repressive estate tax unfairly put upon multi-millionaires and billionaires whose coke-addled, trust-funded children often have to sell off one of their Sun Valley condos just to pay the taxes on … Uh … NO.
    • I-933 seeks to limit government regulation of private property and give every landowner the right to have his cow shit in a wetland, and allow small farmers to turn pastures into sprawling mini-malls with Quiznos and tanning salons. NO.
    • I-937 is the green energy mandate, which would require energy companies to have fifteen percent of their energy be “renewable” by the year 2020. Opponents make a pretty good argument this is totally unrealistic and could lead to economic ruin, anarchy and cannibalism. Enough said. YES.
    • U.S. Senate: Maria Cantwell vs. Mike McGavick. If you’re a true greenie, or if you’re fed up with mealy Dems like Cantwell who voted for the Iraq war, you might be tempted to vote for the Green Party candidate, Aaron Dixon, but I believe he has a ponytail. Men with ponytails are only qualified to run three things: vans, jazz saxophones and juice bars. Cantwell.
    • U.S. Representative District 5: Cathy McMorris is running against Peter Goldmark. While McMorris is no friend to the environment, I wonder about Goldmark’s trademark cowboy hat. I guess he’s a real cowboy, but honestly, who wears a cowboy hat? Do politicians stand before a wall of props, thinking, I could go with the pirate eyepatch? No. How about the suit of armor? Hey, a cowboy hat! You don’t see Republicans wearing tie-dye or growing dreadlocks to looks less conservative, so why do Western Democrats insist on wearing cowboy hats? Still … Goldmark.

Jess Walter’s new novel, The Zero, is available in bookstores

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