Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

Syllogism Test: If Nederland is Mayberry........

......then Richard Simmons IS James Bond!

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 31, 2002.

The Boulder Weekly does a cover article about Nederland and the conflict between 'modernization' and 'Mayberry,' its chosen image for Nederland. To compare Nederland to Mayberry requires either sufficient drugs to enter an adjacent reality (and hey! Nederland can help) or a willing disregard for observable fact. The admitted history of Nederland since, say, 1965 suffices.

When I arrived in Colorado in 1971, I lived in Nederland, which was still in the after-throes of a Redneck/Hippie conflict that was both bogus braggadocio and violent. Much of this stemmed in part from the lifestyle issues raised by the Vietnam War and the construction of Lake Eldora Ski Area in previous years. People shot and killed each other's dogs and - if the confessions of a former Town Marshall can be believed (it could and has been) - each other.

There were some murders in bars through the years where the motivations were not clear, even by the standards of murders in bars. I personally witnessed at least two incidents that came close, mostly drunks waving loaded pistols at each other in the street or at unarmed belligerents outside their house before losing interest. There were rather unsettling stories about old mine shafts that housed the odd corpse of hippie kids and a few about how lecherous old timers were lured into the arms of young girls and vanished soon after for jeopardizing drug traffic or just because. Nor could it easily be patted into the jean/suit image conflict of the 1980's, or potheads vs. alcoholics, nor simply people who could no longer afford the newly enhanced land values brought about in large part by drug money. Nederland holds dangerously violent secrets not too far under its often charmingly stoner first impression.

In any community where members of what elsewhere would be called the Town Council (but is in Nederland called the Town Trustees) cheerfully admit to breaking laws at open meetings, where such a significant percentage of the population smokes enough pot that it quashes any possible hint of non-malleable law enforcement entering their property for any reason, and where an equally significant and sometimes different segment wants only to keep property values down so they can continue their life there, cannot help but produce conflict as new money moves in. There are so many unresolved and irresolvable issues that the danger is always there.

Even more than in Boulder, it is virtually impossible for any Nederland business deal, especially involving land, not to produce conflicts of interest with members of town government, who often have been among the most virulently outrageous of its citizens. Newcomers are often aghast at blatantly subjective decisions and press the issues.

There are people in Nederland who prefer a town where loud drunks can amble down the street any time of day, where drugged out kids can avoid school as they like, where no arrests are made. There is another segment, cheerfully Yuppie with their own hypocrisies, who resent the slumlords and their tenants for keeping their property values down but don’t want to be taxed to pay for the agencies needed to clean up the town. There are old timers and young Deadheads/Phishheads/stoners who resent both each other and the Yuppies on principle, which they probably cannot spell. This is why, at regular intervals, the Nederland police force biodegrades from the pressures put on it. It is in turmoil again.

Nederland is an example of why the drug war not only cannot work but leads to the corruption of civic ethic. This is a town with too big a stake in maintaining certain and mutually exclusive life styles and is willing to corrupt civil administration to make sure nothing changes in what can be seen as a delicate balance. The press coverage of the town's many, many travails follows the prejudices of the editors. Potheads like to think of it as this heavenly sanctuary. Those who aren't portray it as a slum infested joke. The correct observation is not in between, but rather both.

And still there are the old mine shafts and the bottom of Barker reservoir, where all sorts of items of interest are said to exist, from chained skeletons to large amounts of South African gold coin from a failed drug exchange. Absurd and melodramatic at first blush, nobody who is familiar with Nederland for the last thirty years can dismiss their veracity out of hand. After all, we have the recent confession to murder of a former Town Marshal, and a lot of missing dogs and some people, and poisoned animosities lying behind dulled eyes in faces old beyond their years. Whatever it is - whatever it was - it's not Mayberry.