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The gorilla in the room

August 17, 2012

When the Mammoth do-gooders last spring adopted the phrase “Best Summer Ever” for this year’s promotion, it had the scent of wishful thinking to it.

It smacked of desperation, coming as it did on the heels of the “Worst Winter Ever.”
 
A lot of people bought into it, though. We don’t blame them a bit. The health of an economy and lifestyle is partly heads-in-beds, but there is a psychological component, too. We have remained a happy people here, and after last winter, all of us needed it.
 
The hitch to all this, though, is that 800-pound gorilla over in the darkened corner, dressed as an attorney working for Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition and riding a massive winning streak. We know that the gorilla is there. But in our summer of bliss, it is easy to ignore, for residents and most particularly for our visitors.
 
We were reminded of that a couple of weekends ago during the Bluesapalooza weekend. Honestly, no one around here can remember a summer weekend in town that was so jam-packed.
 
We were riding in a car toward the venue at Sam’s Wood Site. We had a little trouble negotiating left turns and finding parking close to the woods.
 
“Um … what bankruptcy?” a visitor wanted to know.
 
Fair enough.
 
To the casual visitor and even the residents, no one can see that 800-pound killer in the corner quite yet. No one knows what the final butcher’s bill will be for our continuous courtroom losses, to whom it will be paid, the schedule of payments, and so on.
 
On Aug. 29, we’ll get closer to finding out more, when the case finally moves from “mediation” (a joke, we think), and into a Sacramento bankruptcy court, where the process will continue as to whether Mammoth, $42 million in the red, qualifies as a true, down-and-out town that deserves municipal bankruptcy protection.
 
But in the meantime, it’s all woo-hoo and what-the-heck (See story, P. 10). The Mammoth Motocross was as good as it can be. No snow, no mud, lots of people, lots of smiles; KidApolooza was a great time; as was everything associated with the Fourth of July, which featured Larry and Karen Johnston’s (still) enigmatic “Trojan Horse” float.
 
The Jazz Jubilee went off without a hitch, thanks to longtime organizers Ken and Flossie Coulter, and we believe it was their best effort yet; the Mammoth Foundation’s Food & Wine Experience was top-drawer, thanks to Evan Russell, Juliana Olinka and the gang; the Sierra Summer Festival’s good-bye appreciation weekend for Maestro Bogidar Avramov was genuine and a true pleasure.
 
And just to make good on our reputation as “A drinking town with a skiing problem,” Mark Deeds’ Margarita Festival was off the charts.
 
We loved all of it, and the mountains, too. The snow was off the trails early, the fish were (and are) biting, through-hikers on the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails add garnish to our ages-old reputation as a hiking, backpacking Mecca, and so on.
 
Best Summer Ever? Probably.
 
Except for that darned gorilla over there in the corner. 
 
The gorilla, cynical and cruel, thinks this is just about the “Best Prelude to Mayhem, Ever.”
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