PUBLISHED: 4:20 PM on Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Never a dull moment in Alaska
(unless you watched me type this column)
A few years ago while I was working at a newspaper in Louisville, a new art museum and hotel hired an artist to live inside a glass room as a publicity stunt. For a month she painted and sent text messages, slept and ate, in front of thousands of daily onlookers. Sometimes, she would write backwards on the glass to send messages to the crowds of pedestrians who would ogle her every move.

When the month was up, the artist requested she be alloyed to stay for a few more weeks. She said there was more work to do. What the work was, I don't know. Something about people watching "living art" she said, though it was more like a boring reality show, really. But it made for an interesting story nonetheless.

Right now I feel like that artist.

As I sit at my desk typing this column on a muggy, overcast Sunday afternoon, a new swarm of tourists are standing outside my window on the corner of Franklin and Second streets. Many are surveying Mount Juneau in the background (the parts not covered by mist) while a few examine me as I type and design pages for this week's paper. How boring it must be to watch me.

But at least no one is banging on the glass ... yet. Someone will. They always do. Eventually a tourist will get lost or want to know where they can buy camera batteries. It seems the best way to answer these questions is to beat on the eight-foot high windows surrounding my work area and to speak very loudly. It startles the bejeezus out of me every time.

I'm thinking of calling the Alaska Zoo and ordering some signs to warn would-be glass-bangers: DON'T DISTURB THE STAFF!!!

But it's cool if they feed the editor. Treats are always welcome - especially coffee during a chilly afternoon like today.

Speaking of being observed closely, somewhere in this column I have to mention Sen. Ted Stevens and the mind-blowing scandal that surfaced recently. I've been aware of Steven's reputation since long before I knew what an Xtra-Tuf was. Anyone who has followed politics in the last half century knows Ted Stevens; he's not a personality that can be ignored.

Despite the accusations against Stevens and whatever happens next, we all owe Stevens some gratitude for possessing the level of fervor a senator should have when battling for their home state. Anytime there were federal dollars to be earmarked, Stevens made sure Alaska got its share of the bounty. He set a precedent that should be expected from anyone we elect to office in the future.

As for the charges, I can't really tell anyone much more than what they already know. Stevens has vehemently proclaimed his innocence of any known wrong doing but, even if charges are dropped or he is proclaimed innocent by a jury, it's likely the damage is done as far as public opinion is concerned.

Allegations are enough to thwart any politician. One of Kentucky's past governors was indicted for illegal hiring practices a few years back and, though he got off scot-free of any legal repercussion, the people chose not to re-elect him in 2007. Stevens' bid for reelection could very well play out the same way.

Before I wrap up this column I have my own confession to make, and I might as well admit this now before each of you finds out later. I told a few people back home what Southeast Alaska was really like. I know, I know, all of you want to keep it this big secret. But I couldn't help myself and managed to talk two friends from Louisville into heading up here to join me.

It was quite easy, actually. I just sent home photos of humpbacks, orcas and eagles. Doted on Alaska beer and shared a few stories about community events and sharing pitchers of grog with Petersburg's Vikings. For now, the 18-30 demographic just grew by two. But don't worry, I promise not to tell anyone else.

To my friends Dustin and Meggie: welcome to Alaska. It's been a crazy year so far - and I'm sure more bombshells will drop before it's said and done - but I hope Southeast Alaska treats the two of you as well as it's treated me. This is certainly an interesting place to live and there is rarely a boring moment. That is, unless you're watching me type.