Around The Rim Country

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In our ongoing effort to keep you apprised of important worldwide happenings that might otherwise go unnoticed, we take you to downtown Beijing where a dramatic facelift is unfolding.

Seems the local urban planners wanted to impress the Olympics inspectors who would soon be arriving in town to evaluate their bid to host the 2008 Summer Games. Not wanting to make the same mistake the folks in Salt Lake City did when they got caught bribing Olympics officials with cold cash, the Beijing bureaucrats hit upon a novel idea.

They would repaint the entire town in one color so, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it would "appear more dignified."

The color they chose, however, was not China's traditional bright red. Nor was it the vibrant yellow favored by its ancient emperors.

Nope, the color they chose to paint the town, "based on a consensus of respected architects," was gray. So nobody would screw this plan up, which some wags immediately dubbed "drabness by decree," the town bought enough gray paint "to cover more than 32 million square yards of walls and bridges."

In defending the choice, Fu Bonan, director of the Municipal Committee for Urban Construction, said that gray was historically and culturally accurate that over its 800-year history, the town of Beijing had "developed a gray color in accordance with its geography and climatic characteristics."

The same bunch of wags referred to above immediately noted that Fu was right that the town's winter weather and polluted skies had done more to turn the town gray "than all the paint the government can mix."

It seems to me a few cash bribes would have accomplished the task a lot easier than painting 32 million yards of Beijing gray. It also seems to me that the concept is one that we can borrow right here in the Rim country.

Think about the one great thing we have in common with Beijing. No, not that the people in both towns dress alike. While we Rimaroos, as was pointed out right here in last week's first annual Worst of Payson, all dress alike because we have to buy our clothes at Wal-Mart, Beijingites stopped wearing those Mao jackets years ago.

The thing we have in common is that our major thoroughfare could also benefit from a new paint job. If you will think back to a front page story that appeared in the Arizona Republic a year or so ago, the first in a continuing series of investigative reports that paper is running on the Rim country's many flaws and defects, you will recall the trick photo snapped by a clever Republic photographer that compressed a stretch of the Beeline so it looked like we pile fast food clutter on top of real estate junk on top of combo bait-trophy-embroidery-bicycle shops.

But while we have our junkiness in common, there are some important differences between Payson and Beijing, most notably that we know better than to pick some dull, drab, lifeless color like gray even if the Chinese do claim there are fully 42 shades of gray.

Nope, there is a better way for us to go a way that will hide our flaws in a manner that only we inventive Americans could think up. We paint everything on the Beeline in camouflage!

Before you grab your brushes, rollers and aerosol cans and make a beeline down to the first annual Great Beeline Painting Bee, allow me to explain why this is a better idea than it might appear at first glance:

Just wait til that trick photographer comes up here to photograph our Dairy Queen and neighboring establishments in an unflattering light. The trick will be on him when he develops his film and finds he has absolutely nothing.

Camo is the great equalizer. Because rich and poor, Californians and non-Californians, cowboys and city slickers will be virtually indistinguishable, we will have created the perfect egalitarian-utopian society.

You know those days when you feel like getting lost for awhile? Now you can just dress in camo and come on down. Be sure to carry ID, however, because we will not otherwise be responsible should you become disoriented and unable to find your way out.

We will resolve the great 87/260 intersection dilemma, whereby road improvements will mean nobody can get into or out of McDonald's anymore. Camouflaging the Beeline will level the playing field so nobody can find any of our fast food restaurants.

Think campers. Think the ultimate revenge on campers. Think what if they couldn't find a fast food joint in which to stock up on those bags and cups and plastic eating utensils they come up here to throw along our highways and byways. What would they do with themselves all weekend long?

We will once and for all kill that Swiss Alps theme that nobody knows why we started in the first place.

It's a great way to add to our growing reputation as the weird festival capital of Arizona. With our camouflage backdrop, we can host a paramilitary festival, a festival for shy people, and the mother of all festivals a festival of nothing.

Other tourism possibilities include hosting the Republican National Convention, annual Desert Storm reunions, and the trade show where the world's military suppliers display their latest wares.

Remember that "don't fence us in" mentality that local counselor Penny Navis-Schmidt will forever regret having said is a component of our collective psyche up here in the Rim country? Well you can't fence in what you can't see.

But most important is the image we will convey to the rest of the world. Camo is "bad." Camo is cool. And now, fellow Rimaroos, Camo R Us.

P.S. ... If you don't like this idea, I too accept bribes of cold, hard cash.

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