Only you can bury the smoke

The idea of senseless, unnatural, preventable forest fires drives me nuts. I’m a tree guy. Don’t know diddly about trees, not really, but I do know I love them. I love knowing they’re there.

Some years ago, the Ad Council solicited the creative community for a continuing slogan for Smokey Bear, the ubiquitous ursine national spokesanimal. All they could come up with was, “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.”


First of all, it ain’t true. Rainstorms can prevent even natural forest fires.

Secondly, and sadly, it doesn’t work. People who start the most forest fires are people who don’t know—or care—how to put out their own damn campfires, because nobody told them how to put out their own damn campfires.

This is where I start feeling guilty. What happened was, I wrote a line that people would more easily remember, a line that probably would have changed the way most campers leave their fire sites, but … no, really, you’ll see … but I never sent it in to the Ad Council, and I can’t even remember why not. The slogan was to be spoken more often than written, so murmur it to yourself:

Smokey Bear Says Bury the Smoke.

I should have sent it in. Maybe they’d have used it, and it might have made a difference.

Look, I’m really sorry about that “ubiquitous ursine” thing. Couldn’t resist. I tried. Deleted it twice. Can’t let it go. Sue me.

More fire stuff: Last week I had the genuine honor of entertaining men and women who helped fight the Martis Fire. It got me thinking, also a rare and wonderful experience.Maybe what we need is a high-powered print and television campaign designed to educate moronic camping enthusiasts whose stupidity and sloth causes more eco-damage than all the much-maligned lumber companies put together. Camping should require a license, the same as any other publicly dangerous sport. To get one, every member of every camping party should be required to take the course, “Exactly How to Extinguish a Simple Freakin’ Campfire, You Idiot, 101.”

You don’t pass the final, you don’t get to park your lazy ass in our magnificent forests.

More words on words: Ever since a recent column concerning the use, non-use and relative merits of our current American English language, several Reno/Sparks citizens have muttered a surprising assortment of their own favorite-to-say words and phrases into my wide-eyed ears. Get this: Ginkgo biloba turns out to be the 8-5 favorite.Here’s one I wish I could forget: Pop-culture history has it that John Lennon’s first girlfriend’s name was Thelma Pickles. If this is true, it could explain Yoko Ono … no, wait a minute, nothing can explain Yoko Ono.

Spackle. There’s a word you can really get into saying. If I had a dog, I’d name him Spackle and follow him around with a putty knife instead of a pooper-scooper. But that’s just me, a sentimental fool.

I don’t get guys who blacken their gray hair. Why? It always looks like shoe polish, anyway. Besides, gray is cool. Not that mine is gray. Mine is silver. There’s a difference. If there weren’t, the Lone Ranger’s horse would have been called Slate.Tonto’s horse: Scout. Tom Mix’s horse: Tony. I know a guy named Tony. He never rode a horse.

Dog makeup? Why not? Canines have the right to be as radiant as the next species. There’s a potential fortune in it, too, because so many dogs have low self-esteem. You could call it "Schnauzer-Glo."