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Commentaries and editorials

Mo's Money

Humour by Cope
Boise Weekly - June 10, 1999

Before we go any further, I must inform you I’m entering thin-ice country here-tightrope territory, the gone-tooooo-far regions-and I have no idea where this slippery slope might lead.

I’ve written about salmon recovery before, you know that. And breaching those dams that are the main impediment to salmon recovery. And reaching those politicians who are the main impediment to breaching those dams that are the main impediment to salmon recovery. And screeching about those voters who are the main impediment to dumping those politicians who are the main impediment to breaching the dams that are the main impediment to salmon recovery. You know that, right?

But I have never, ever written about the bullshit contained in a full-page, full-color advertisement published just last week in this very paper. I tried to call my boss and see if it was okey-dokey, but he wasn’t home. Or maybe he was home, but he has caller I.D. Or maybe he was in bed, since it was pretty late when I called.

For whatever reason (maybe because I tried to reverse the charges from Winnemucca) he didn’t pick up, so I am entering this mine field solo, my friends, and if I’m not around come next week, you’ll know why.

After all, advertisements are what pays the bills, and I would fully understand should the head office decide yours truly is less necessary than whatever revenues BW received from the Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council and the Lewiston-Clarkston Chamber of Commerce for running their aforementioned bullshit.

In case you missed it, the ad over which my career dangles precariously consisted of a photo of a nervous Lewiston café waitress named “Mo” (short for “Monnette,” according to the text provided) who asks, “What about me?” Her question refers to the option of breaching the Lower Snake dams and exactly how such a move would effect Mo, in that, should the area farmers and forest product folks lose the reservoir transport system that enables Lewiston to call itself a seaport, they could no longer afford to tip the waitresses at the Hi-Land Café where “Mo” works. Supposedly.

Oh yes, and “Mo” is preggers. Supposedly.

So in essence, the ad’s message is-please allow me to paraphrase-”Leave our dams be or we’ll starve Mo’s baby.”

What Mo might not know because she looks awfully young is that the dams weren’t always there. Nope. What’s more, Lewiston hasn’t always been a seaport. (I don’t know how far out of town Mo managed to roam before she developed a bun in the oven, but she might be surprised to learn that the nearest actual sea is three or four hundred miles from Lewiston.)

Truth is, it hasn’t been all that long ago since those pulp mill owners and grain farmers up north didn’t know a cargo barge from the Starship Enterprise. Considering that the last of the dams that turned the mighty Snake between Lewiston and the Columbia into a big paddle-boat pond wasn’t completed until 1975, you can see that disco music was around before the Latah County locals were shipping by ship.

Imagine that. “Boogie Fever” is older than the Lower Granite Dam.

I can almost hear Mo exclaim in that wide-eyed way of hers, “That can’t be! Without those dams, transportation costs for agriculture and forest products would double. Double! That’s… what? Twice as much. It says so right there in the advertisement. So how’re they gonna tip me if transportation costs are twice as much?”

And well you should ask, Mo dear. But possibly the more pertinent question is, “How’d they manage before the dams went up?” After all, they’ve been producing wood by-products in Lewiston and growing lentils in the Palouse long before anyone thought of turning the Snake into a stagnant sump.

So what? Were they stacking it up in big piles and hoping that someday some reservoirs might pop up? No, no, no, Mo. Much like grain growers and pulp producers elsewhere, they used trucks and trains. Oklahoma, as you might know, has more than its share of wheat to distribute, yet does anyone suggest Tulsa needs a fleet of barges and a long run of still water to survive? And more relevant to you, Mo dear: Are all Okie café waitresses destitute simply because Sooner wheat farmers have to resort to trucks and trains?

I’d suggest it’s worth looking into, but that would only give Idaho politicians an excuse to piss away another several years until the studies are complete.

Face it, Mo. Those café patrons you’ve been humping Tabasco sauce for have been pulling your leg. As long as people need what they have to sell, there’ll be enough money in their pockets to slip a sweetie like you a tip now and then, just like back when they didn’t have a giant water slide to Portland on which to slip their goodies.

And about that ad they got you to pose for, I figure it’s the Lewiston version of a snipe hunt, honey.

Don’t you worry, Mo. Your job is as solid as Lewiston Hill. Mine, on the other hand… well, let’s wait and see what accounting says, huh?

Humour by Cope
Mo's Money
Boise Weekly - June 11, 1999

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