The wonderful Wizard of Aaaaughs! |

The wonderful Wizard of Aaaaughs!

Tom Boyd

Aaaaaugh!What’s happening?Where am I?The other evening I opened the door cautiously, peering out across the parking lot toward my car. I had reason to be cautious: It was late at night and my nerves were on edge, my mental composition had been shaken and stirred, my insides felt like a bubbly saucer of bad milk, and the liquid in my cup of life seemed to have soured, to have curdled somehow and swirled in upon itself before disappearing down the drain altogether.I like to think of myself as someone who has a firm grasp on reality. But even the best of us have spells of doubt. Even the most stoic and staid among us will sometimes feel that harrowing feeling like nothing is for certain, like anything can happen, like nothing is real.Perhaps I’m a little too obsessed with my new favorite book, I thought, as I peered out toward my car and tried to summon the courage to make a run for the driver’s side door. Perhaps “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” has taken over my mind. Perhaps the author, Gregory Maguire, gave too lucid a presentation at the Festival of Words in Beaver Creek April 17. Perhaps he cast a spell on all of us, using words to warp us into some alternate reality a land of Ozma’s and witches and flying monkeys a land of beautiful and terrifying imagination, where anything can happen and nothing is for certain. A land where water burns the flesh and animals walk on their hind legs and speak like men.After the day I had, why not?After all, I had just discovered that Randy Wyrick was running for U.S. Senate, that Tom Stone had publicly accused us of contriving facts in order to injure his reputation, and yet (unbelievably) Stone and Michael Gallagher had just spent thousands of Eagle County tax dollars on the hopeless task of resuscitating the dying work of Michael Cacioppo.I made a dash for my car and jumped into the driver’s seat half expecting Cacioppo to come barreling out of the sky like a winged monkey from the witch’s tower. Maybe Wyrick would show up at my car window, garbed in an American flag and a fishing hat, soliciting campaign contributions in the form of magic potion. Maybe Don Rogers’ booming laugh would interrupt my radio broadcast, announcing that all county commissioners were heretofore exempt from ethical responsibility, that blue lights and bridges were the important issues of the day, that Ben Nighthorse Campbell was the world’s most perfect senator, and everyone in the county was invited to watch the trapeze artists and fire-eaters stationed throughout his office as they collected inaccurate, anonymous quotes and touted them as truths.After all, hadn’t Rogers’ newspaper just failed to point out that Stone has a much larger conflict of interest than Arn Menconi when it comes to voting on Vail Resorts-related issues? Hadn’t he overlooked the glaring fact that Stone works for Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate, which is 50 percent owned by Vail Resorts? And hadn’t he printed a statement from Stone that the Vail Trail has maligned him (which, in case you’re wondering, specifically means to contrive untruths about somebody in order to injure them.) Pardon me, but that would make us libelous (which is why David O. Williams stopped printing Cacioppo’s work in the first place it was libelous). At the Vail Trail we must uphold certain journalistic standards in order to maintain the respect of our reader. Cacioppo, on the other hand, simply solicited money from Stone and Gallagher (since legitimate advertising wasn’t enough to keep him alive) and they gave it to him.Everything we’ve printed about our commissioners has been accurate, and we leave it to our readers to decide what they think of him, and Menconi, and Gallagher, and the rest. If I know this town, they won’t look well upon the two commissioners who approved using tax dollars to prop up a dying, four-page throwdown. Or, at least, the county should have taken the time to find out if Speakout is in as many locations as Cacioppo claims it is. Nine-hundred locations? The combined distribution of the Vail Trail and the Vail Daily is not even half that, and we have a fully integrated team of full-time distribution people. On behalf of the county’s taxpayers, I’d like to see some evidence, please.But no matter. As I worked through all these things in my mind, trying my best to regain some sense of reality (and the accompanying sense of justice that must come with it), I began to weave a spell of my own. I conjured a normal world back into existence. I added ample amounts of reason to my warlock’s brew. I cast away the bad magic of the day’s events, trusting once again in the sensible nature of the people of the valley and knowing (without a doubt) that no matter how big a splash certain frogs may make, their ripples die quickly inside the cauldron of common sense.Tom Boyd can be reached for comment at

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