An insider’s take on The Woody Creeker

Gaylord Guenin

Anita Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson’s widow, announced in November that she thought it would be a great idea if the residents of Woody Creek could publish their very own magazine – “a publication meant to be by the Woody Creatures and for the Woody Creatures.”Along with many neighbors, I thought this was a wonderful idea, a means for us to display our independence, our quirkiness, our mule-headed tenaciousness, and also a means to remember Hunter and his importance to Woody Creek. I suspect I was really sold on the concept when George Stranahan made it rather clear that we should be envisioning a “magazine with attitude.” Anita also put forward a logical argument in favor of a magazine: “We’re living the Woody Creek lifestyle, we should be recording it, at least.” So it was agreed at that first meeting that the publication would be called The Woody Creeker and most everyone there obligated themselves to produce something for the first issue.But I’ve been involved in projects of this sort before – someone has a brilliant idea, a wave of enthusiasm sweeps over those who embrace the idea and suddenly everyone is intoxicated with dreams of what they may produce. Then, in time, the euphoria wears off and the project may be left to die as each of us are faced with our day-to-day existence. I am ashamed to say that the cynical side of my nature began to creep out of my black heart. Yes, I believed Anita had a fantastic idea, but I couldn’t help being skeptical about her idea achieving reality. What I did was to absolutely underestimate Anita’s determination to see this project through. And I also seem to have forgotten how completely the Woody Creatures will rally around a friend, which they certainly did in this case. And so it has come to pass that the tiny community of Woody Creek has its very own magazine. I could sing the praises of the inaugural issue but it might come across as my flaunting a tad too much hubris. I was and hope to continue to be a small part of The Woody Creeker, but the credit for this weird miracle goes to others. I was wrong about Anita’s idea coming to fruition and about the support she would receive from her friends, and I have never been more pleased to have missed the mark.How to describe The Woody Creeker? The word “eclectic” comes to mind, of course, but that would only be a partial description. Yes, the contents are quite diverse, perhaps to the point of looking at the magazine as some strange, multidimensional creation that can’t be described.The Woody Creeker proudly tells you, on the cover, that it is “Printed At Owl Farm When You Least Expect It.” At the outset you are hit by a bit of that “attitude” that George referred to. Anita kicks the show off with some poignant musings from Owl Farm about her neighbors and friends. She makes the nice point that “the Woody Creek family stretches far and wide,” a statement authenticated with an interview by the author P.J. O’Rourke with the Good Doctor in 1987. Jennifer A. Stroup offers some hints on catching peacocks and some insight into how business and “law enforcement” are conducted in Woody Creek. If Jennifer might assist in catching a wandering peacock, John Oates offers a delightful story that pretty much spells out how not to shear a goat. In an interview with Anita, Stranahan offers up some of his philosophy regarding his vision for land use in our valley; Janet Schoeberlein gives us some “indoor gardening” tips and she does know what she is talking about.Linda Luke passes on an encounter with, she believes, a couple of bobcats on her porch, and Ann Owsley looks back in time and discusses, in a rather restrained manner, fox hunters in Woody Creek and other newcomers who have no respect for the land they have invaded. Stranahan also offers a fanciful tale about how the flying dogs came to Woody Creek, and Brandon Cohen, a Lenado neighbor of mine, reminds us that we may or may not really own the land that we hold title to. Jimmy Ibbotson reflects on the Everly Brothers, among other things, and Dwight Shellman offers up a reminder that “all politics is local.” Peg O’Brien tells about her grandmother and dementia, and Shelly Wilcox offers a tribute to Hunter. Daniel A. Shaw details a rather difficult first visit to Woody Creek, which quickly became a love affair. There is a bizarre recipe for Green Fairy Absinthe by Ksenia, which calls for a gallon of Everclear, and finally we have Tex Weaver’s poetry page.The first issue of The Woody Creeker is diverse indeed and it does come with an attitude. And, yes, I do have an offering in the publication, one that has to do with mythology, for Woody Creek is a place of myths. I have tried to offer up a snippet of the mag’s contents because it is difficult to run down a copy. For me, the most delightful aspect of the magazine is that it is not the product of a collection of strangers. The contributors are all my neighbors and my friends. This is indeed a Woody Creek creation.My second favorite aspect of the magazine was noted by Jeremy Madden in a recent column in the Aspen Daily News. Jeremy wrote, “Not only is the content great but the upstart magazine has dared to do the impossible in the Roaring Fork Valley. It actually published a magazine without real estate ads.”I will say a small prayer in the hope that The Woody Creeker continues that policy.This is the 326th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where just about everyone can claim to be in the magazine business.