Friday, April 23, 2010
Heaven&Hell Part 16: Dancing with Elk and Greeks
One of the interesting aspects of working in the Rockies are the somewhat "wild" animals that walk nonchalantly along sidewalks downtown or in backyards. They are mostly deer and very little threat, if any.
Bears are rarely seen in the park and hardly ever seen within town limits, where they obviously become potential problems. The black bears are dangerous but the grizzly is most dangerous. I have seen only one black bear since I arrived and he was a few miles outside of town crossing the highway.
Elk, on the other hand are not really dangerous as they wander mostly in open park areas or around the edge of town and on the highways. I once saw an elk get hit by a transport truck and it was not a pretty sight, the elk had broken legs and couldn't stand up. Eventually they are shot by rangers. Unfortunately elk and other animals are frequently hit by speeding cars and trucks.
Here in Jackson, the elk are not really any threat at all. Except for spring time when the males begin to look for love. And any other elk in the same area is considered a threat to the male's territory and selection of mates.
And apparently they don't really discern between another male elk or a human being.
Two of the crew have already been chased by a male elk, trumpeting his love call or ready to stomp on the intruder. In spring they don't have antlers, those were lost in the fall but they still weigh about 600 lbs and can crush a human fairly well.
I say this because this is the morning I walk/run with Erica, the movie star. Sure enough she is there, ready to go, sun is not even over the eastern mountain range yet. I put on a good show as the marches up the road to the outskirts of town. Considering the steep road and the high altitude, I do reasonably well keeping up to her.
Then an elk appears. Male. Sniffing. Their eyes aren't all that good and from 50 feet away I look like trouble to him. Erica doesn't even bother stopping, marching straight ahead. The elk snuffs and paws, a sure sign he will attack.
Then Erica shouts at him, telling him to go away. She picks up some stones and tosses them at the elk who looks completely confused. I join the shouting and eventually he decides we are no threat at all and he leaves.
I decide not to hike with Erica anymore. Not only because of elk threats but also because I can't keep up with her. At an alleged 59 years, she is doing just fine.
The rest of the day is spent on rewrites of new scripts and starting my own script which will be one of the last ones filmed. By day's end I join Rino, the other writer and go to the Rocky Mountain Lodge, the most expensive and posh lodge in the entire area. Celebrities from the 1950's used to stay here, people like Bing Crosby and even Marilyn Monroe. It's definitely a 4-star tourist resort but tonight the bar has around 5 customers listening to a local band.
We head back to the Peak where the crew hangs out and where Erica has a handful of listeners as she tells stories of her encounters with movie stars as famous as she was. Jonathan is nowhere in sight. The bar is now accustomed to us and they pull together as many tables as we need, mostly for above the line people and maybe a few selected below-the-liners, whom the creative types allow within their circle.
I always fit on either side and managed to stay level-headed, but some people get carried away with perceived power. Like Kaplan, but fortunately he rarely comes here because I think he knows nobody likes him.
A bar patron wants to meet Erica and the manager brings her over. Erica plays the movie star part well, smiling and genuinely listening and talking to the woman. The woman, it turns out, is the girlfriend of Ari, the owner of the bar and she speaks Greek and Swahili as well.
Like many small resort towns, a lot of the food businesses in Jackson are owned by Greeks. Ari is an interesting case himself. He jumped ship twenty-four years ago in Chicago and never looked back. He worked hard and now owns two places in Jackson. And he seems to like us and our lifestyle, not to mention the money he's making in a quite winter.
Ari buys drinks regularly for us and in moments of introspection tells us of his life and tragedies. It seemed his son died in a car accident and is buried in the small cemetery outside of Jackson. In the weeks that follow, I will learn that not all is well at Ari's, but for tonight I pass on the fifth Ouzo shot and head home. The clock reads 2am.
Tomorrow is Sunday and a day of rest.
(Mon: A New player comes to town)