Grasshopper Soup: Long live Phil and the Devil |

Grasshopper Soup: Long live Phil and the Devil

LAKE TAHOE and#8212; The 24-hour media is so hard up for news they use stories of humans engaged in trivial pursuits, thinking thatand#8217;s something new. PETA versus Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, and California resident Mr. Art Mijares versus Mt. Diablo (The Devil), are two of the biggest stories of the week, only because they are so ridiculous.

PETA says Phil the groundhog is being subjected to psychological and physical torture because of cold weather, crowds, noise and the mortifying experience of being put on public display by fun loving humans wearing tuxedos and top hats.

Apparently, PETA feels that animals like Phil are fragile, helpless creatures, incapable of dealing with the challenges and surprises life has in store for them. Isnand#8217;t that what adrenaline is for? If groundhogs get an adrenaline rush when Mother Nature, in spite of PETAand#8217;s most valiant efforts, exposes them to the inevitable life and death struggle of survival, Punxsutawney Phil probably loves it. I bet he never feels more alive than when the tantalizing threat of Groundhog Day approaches. He probably looks forward to it. Whatand#8217;s life without at least one extreme thrill every year?

For Philand#8217;s self respect, PETA wants to replace him with a mechanical robot groundhog, with fake eyes. A blind, robot groundhog wouldnand#8217;t know the difference between his shadow and his hole. Try explaining that to your kids. Kids, our most favorite animals, arenand#8217;t dumb. They wouldnand#8217;t buy the idea of a robot Phil for one second. Groundhog Day would have no meaning, tourists would quit coming, Punxsutawneyand#8217;s economy would dry up and we would never know when Spring is coming. Poor Phil would lose his self esteem and grow old all alone in his hole, rejected, deprived of his adrenaline rush and fame.

Humans are animals too, arenand#8217;t they? By trying to manipulate and control human behavior as it pertains to animals, it could be argued that PETA is just as guilty of animal abuse as humans are. Spoiling 124 years of Groundhog Day fun would be considered cruel by most human standards. But this is 2010. Logic rarely applies to political correctness.

Another one of PETAand#8217;s goals, in their own words, is the and#8220;humane slaughterand#8221; of animals for human consumption. Humane slaughter? Isnand#8217;t that a bit of an oxymoron? Even death by lethal gas, besides making food more expensive and weird tasting, would be a real drag for animals. And thatand#8217;s just what we need, more expensive food that tastes like gas.

Mount Diablo is named after The Devil. Mr. Art Mijares, the poor Devil, is apparently creeped out by that. He wants to change the name to Mount Reagan just to be safe, or superstitious. The question is, will changing the name of Mt. Diablo rid the world of the Devil? It could just make him more angry.

From some angles, Mt. Diablo looks like a giant chocolate chip, or a Hersheyand#8217;s Kiss. It has smooth, round, layered contours. It is a cow grazing paradise. Maybe we should call it Mount Cow Pattie. That would beat the Devil, and be more poetic than Mount Reagan.

Mt. Diablo is powerful poetry, intriguing romance and the freedom of human imagination creatively expressing itself. We have already lost much of the poetry of language because of instant messaging, e-mails and texting. Traditional, old world language, with all its mythology, metaphor, mystery and fantasy is something Mr. Mijares should be proud of. Maybe he should change the name of PETA to EATA, for Eat All The Animals.

I will defend to the death the right of PETA and Mr. Mijares to voice their opinions and to petition society or government to change any little thing they want, while I enjoy my right to say they are being trivial and dumb. Yet, I have to give them credit. Without people like PETA, and Art Mijares, the only thing left to laugh about would be the serious news.

and#8212; Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.

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