While so much post-election journalistic energy has been spent oogling the orbiting awfulness around ex-CIA Chief David Petraeus, two flown-over stories recently caught my eye.
I. I've been wonking out on an intriguing little Bill currently wending its way through the U.S. Congress. Oddly, this was the first business the Senate took up after the election. Which now seems like eons ago. The title for the Bill must drive copy editors wild - the "Sportmen's Heritage Act of 2012" - and the hodgepodge of issues covered therein never makes it above the fold. Plus it's well on its way to passage even as it was sent back to the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources after a cloture vote (meaning a voice vote without objection...after which Congress seemingly just greases the skids we've got ourselves a new-car-smell law). A few papers and blogs from places presumed to still care about hunting and fishing ran headlines last week mentioning, well, not much up top. Other than that a few dozen hunters upon passage will be allowed to import polar bear trophies from Canada. But aside from the cutesy focus on what a "baculum" is (that's a polar bear penis bone, folks - extra credit for those who've heard of the Inuit term "oosik"), there's been almost no ink spilled for the range of special interests getting extra dap in the Heritage Act. I'm still trying to tease out who benefits and whether or not that's something to be troubled by. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) had a tough re-election back home, and he's among those most responsible for what's called for in the Bill. Which runs from changes to the rules for hunting, fishing and recreational target shooting, to changing the sizing of what can be called "wilderness", to letting those polar bears who've been dead and skinned since at least 2008 finally cross the border from Canada to the U.S., and a whole musket load of small bore issues in between. Support in the Congress seems to be broad and largely unquestioned. The Obama Administration even weighed in by saying the bill would be good for the "conservation economy" - take just what bowhunting contributes to the U.S. economy and you've got $38 Billion. Yes, with a B. Admittedly, I don't really have any skin in this legislative game or the background to have a reaction to the ones I've read elsewhere. Yet. When the Heritage Act's post-scripts comes around (Senate Bill 3525, mirroring H.R. 4089), I hope to have a bit more to dress out. Or maybe I'll just prep myself to bid on a pimped-out oosik sent down from a taxidermist in Nunuvut. I know, I know - get in line, cowboy.
II. My second shout out comes from a reclaimed childhood memory that I didn't see coming. First of all, Frank Peppiatt died last week. Who? Exactly. However, if you recognize the title quote for this post - a famous bit from Peppiatt's most famous cultural contribution - you just may be...someone who can find some fascinating details in his life story. Whether or not you grew up in cultural circumstances similar to mine. Peppiatt was a co-creator of the TV show "Hee Haw" (with fellow Canadian, John Aylesworth, who died a few years ago). I watched countless episodes when I was a kid, invariably for the skits and bits. I couldn't get through the country music performances fast enough. Yet it's not an overstatement to say that I can't really think of my childhood's Saturday nights without the corn pone jokes and cutaways with sexy farm girls suggesting a playful roll in the hay. "Hee Haw" came on mild and steady with performers like the hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens showing comedic chops far removed from the stylish New Country crossovers that now seem so ubiquitous. More interestingly, I had no idea until I read Peppiatt's obit that this long-running syndication hit for flyover America came into being as a summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers. Their top-rated comedy show got axed after their satire went all serious and they openly opposed the Vietnam War on-air - probably one of the ballsiest moves in the history of TV. I kid you not when I claim that re-reading signature "Hee Haw" shtick like "I'm a-pickin'...and I'm a grinnin'" conjured up a long buried fondness. To then read that "Hee Haw" got canceled after just two short seasons when CBS did a "rural purge" of shows that didn't fall into the right target demographics sent me Googling for more details. Where and when I saw "Hee Haw" - along with most of the middle of the country - was in the 20+ years of syndication that followed that purge. I rarely recommend obits. Still, where this one led me after getting acquainted with Mr. Peppiatt's life was a sweet, corny treat.