When Eddie Albert died last month at the age of 99, one of the early pioneers of American culture was lost. As the star of the popular 1960s television comedy series, "Green Acres," he was Oliver Douglas, the New York lawyer who settled in a generic caricacture of farm life with his glamorous wife, played by Eva Gabor. And so, one of the enduring themes of pop culture was set: That of a city clicker perplexed by the antics of the residents of rural America.
This theme has been repeated over the decades. American film and television has continually recycled the charming schism of this fish out of water story. Eventually, after his on-the-tube career as a Chicago psychiatrist ran out of ideas about dealing with the crazies of urban America, Bob Newhart moved out to the country, too. And there again was Newhart, scratchin' his head, dead pan, about eccentric country folk.
Then, in the 1980s and early 1990s, a sea-change occurred with "Northern Exposure." Based on the life of a tiny, remote town in Alaska, and the adventures of various city slickers who had also come out to the country in search of some kind of Eden fantasy, the question was turned on its ear. That is, who was more comedic, the city slicker or the laid-back logger, the dingy waitress or matter-of-fact restaurateur.
Arguments could be made on both sides, but if urban America's interest in this theme is any indication, there exists deep in the heart of the national fabric a lingering desire to return to "Green Acres."
To extend this deep-seated need into reality then, one need only to look at changes in the local rural environs as loads of people come up from Phoenix or other cities to attempt to find the sort of nirvana implied by escape from the city. In counter to this, long-standing residents of these rural areas regard such folk with suspicion. Typically, there is a fear these people want to bring the city with them.
So there exists, in the election of Camp Verde Mayor Tony Gioia, or, a refugee from more populous places such as newly elected Councilman Ron Smith, a natural rflex action that their values run counter to what old-timers whose families grew up here believe in. That is, a rural lifestyle.
One need only to look at the voting record of Gioia, as his votes continually are a minority on the town council, that there is an Us vs. Them formula at work. However, as more and more people come to town from the cities, with ideas of controlled growth and supposedly radical notions of preservation that seem to run counter to a general community desire that more is better, always better, one might take another view of these newcomers with a fresh thought: These people are canaries who have just come from the coal mine.


Mythville became a quiet little place, but then the dogs began to bark and I couldn't stand the silence anymore. I'd thought I'd gotten away from the noise pollution. Getting older, my sensitivity to noise increases. Then the builders came. Filled every atom of air with a turbulatin conundrum. I came all the way out here, to a place where I can look over a valley of cottonwood trees and whitewashed cliffs on the other side, black hills and birds and insects flying around, and then the builders came. Civilization is chasing me.
As an embedded reporter here at the fort, I often notice the flag of Mythville flying stiff in a ceaseless wind. Reminds me of Apache hunting days. That flag flying stiff and straight as the one planted on the moon. Stiff as the lockstep mindset of faraway leaders with the voice of god and cannon talking to them, pleading with them, making them do what they do.
Far away from that as I appear to be here, looking over the valley, Mythville is a porous channel for their energies. Everything I have done since my last post on December 24, 2004, has been a slow crawl to find a new Mythville. Well, here it is.
What I can report is the following: Education is dirt poor here and the dialect is rough. People are strange. That's the fun part. Call them hicks if you will but they are fairly entertaining. One of them asked the Mythville town council to set regulations for the proper care and maintenance of the flags. The flags around town are apparently not being properly cared for.
This same councilman has had little to say on other matters. The whole town is being vivisected by developers. Groves of cottonwood are being sold off by realtors for trailer parks. Everything related to town business is done because growth is necessary. Growth for its own sake. Apparently, getting bigger is always better. But on the flag matter, well now that's an issue he can get his mind around. We must care properly for our flags. And if we can't, if they get worn, well then, stiff penalties are needed.
Flag maintenance. Apache hunting daze. Wind blowing in gusts to make me wonder if the earth energies are finally willing to burst. Flag maintenance. Quiet, shady real estate deals. Everything for sale. Open space needs to be filled in. Way up river, they are digging a well so deep a small community turning into a monster community just might dry up the last remaining perennial river of the Southwest because they believe bigger is better. Flag maintenance is needed. There must be a policy. Marshals in the trees. Dogs barking, sniffing out trouble. X-ray eyes, the Fourth Amendment has been runthrough by a templar sword. Flag maintenance. Indeed.
Gotta keep track of this.