Five Things Alaskans Can Agree on. Maybe.
I was thinking of writing about less controversial things this week… you know, like fish allocation wars or immigration. I’m never sure what’s going to throw people down a rabbit hole of rage, so I’ve decided to focus on a Top 5 list that I would hope we Alaskans could all get in agreement with.
First — If it’s illegal to have five cars stacked behind your motor home pulling a skiff full of four-wheelers, why don’t I ever see that guy pulled over by the red and blue lights? I don’t know how many times I’ve driven the New Seward and Sterling highways over the years, but it’s always that guy holding up traffic and then the guy right behind him who seems to be in a trance with the bumper stickers and won’t go around. Dude, you’re part of the problem as the No. 2 car. Get up and scoot already! At some point, in either frustration or eagerness to donate all their organs, a driver pulls out on double lines and scares us all half-to-death or sadly closes the road for hours. I’m thinking this has something to do with the reluctance of campers to find the pull-off when there are more than five cars behind them — much less 50.
Second — “We Alaskans” is worth celebrating coming back to the newspaper. When I was a kid, Sundays after church we’d stop at Proctor’s Grocery on Pioneer Avenue in Homer and get the paper. By the time we’d driven home to the cabin, I would have read it cover to cover even though the ink made me a tad carsick. I think part of the reason I stayed in Alaska was because of those stories. Seeing Marian Beck on the cover as a kid made me think everyone in that pullout must be real. I guess that’s what makes us Alaskans — the real.
Third — Can we agree that dry brine is far superior than wet brine for smoking salmon? I mean, really. How in the world can you get a fish ready for the smoker by soaking it in more liquid? They’ve been soaking in water their whole lives. Introduce those red slabs of happiness to the drier side and salt and sugar (and secret ingredients) — they make their own slurry that way. (I realize this may be the most controversial topic to write about. Fine, send your letters to the editor and share your recipes.)
Fourth — I love live music. I love local music. The live-music etiquette in Alaska is somewhat lacking. Oh, I get it — we don’t care how they do it Outside — but when people buy a ticket to see live music they didn’t spend that money to hear you talk about your jerk of a boss, cheating boyfriend or how you need to get your prescription filled. While attending a live album release concert last week a woman complained (on a break) to me that people sure were rude telling her to shush up. I offered to buy her the new Easton Stagger Phillips album, “Resolution Road,” so she could go sit in her car with her friends and listen to it there while they chatted about her new personal trainer and why spray tans really are better than real ones. She seemed shocked. How rude of me to not buy a ticket to listen to her chatter. (BTW, the album is stuck in my head and I’m perfectly fine with that.)
Fifth — If Congressman Don Young was 5 years old he’d be in a time-out. Really, sir? This week a congressional staffer — not his own — blocked Young from entering an immigration meeting already underway. Young tried the wrist-vise Ninja-move on him because, well, that’s what made sense. Bring back the duels. Oh, he said he was sorry, or someone did on his behalf. Young’s behavior is getting old — and tiresome. I can’t get more embarrassed, and can’t even put into print some of his finer scandals. Can we just agree that he should enjoy his retirement and see what we can all do to send him on his way?
While writing my list I was asked what was up for the column this week. “A bit of this, a bit of that, things we can agree on like the simplicity of dry brine,” I said.
After a half-hour debate on how you were going to get the spruce tips in there, I realize I may not have furthered my agenda to bring us together. Guess what? No matter what you smoke your fish with or if you do at all, or love Don or roll your eyes at him, pull over your RV or not, love live music or not — for all you and I do or don’t agree on — we Alaskans are still in this together.
This article is cross-posted at Alaska Dispatch News.