As Mac said in a recent story “the town (and he may as well have said the Sierra) has only one requirement to really be a true local – you’ve got to have a big heart. What follows are synopses of some of the personal profiles we ran this year.
Chris Hernandez (Jan. 9): Hernandez, a bartender at Nevado’s and one of the Town’s more beloved characters, ultimately recovers from a Dec. 15, 2010 ski accident that left him in an induced coma from Dec. 16-Jan. 4 and required 15 screws, 7 plates and 2 rods to put him back together. According to girlfriend Lisa Dewey, some of Chris’ first words top her upon his reawakening were about making sure his mother was okay, and then, “Hey, you’re pretty hot.”
Alon and Guy Ravid (Jan. 16): The Ravid brothers open The Smokeyard, a barbecue/steakhouse in the Village. The brothers grew up in South Africa. And clearly have the sense of humor necessary to succeed in business in Mammoth Lakes.
“So who’s working for who, today?” asks Alon.
“You’re working for me,” says Guy.
The conversation continues for about another 30 seconds until Guy is interrupted by a text message.
“My brother just called in sick,” he tells me.
Christine Lozoski (Feb. 6): Lozoski works the counter at the Great Basin Bakery in Bishop. “I’m a cookie. Everyone likes a cookie. Not that I’m saying everyone likes Christine, but a cookie is easy, there’s no exterior wrapping, and they usually do their job to make you feel better.”
E.J. Poplawski (Feb. 6): Poplawski, one of the nation’s top telemark skiers circa 2006, lost one of his legs as a result of a horrific ski accident. He has since bounced back and also found a new sport, taking fifth place in Snowmobile at the Winter X Games. A guest speaker at this year’s Disabled Sports Wounded Warrior Camp, Poplawski had this to say about fear: “I like fear. I thrive on it. A little bit of fear is healthy; it lets you know you’re alive.”
Judge Ed Forstenzer (May 15): Judge Forstenzer retires as Mono County Superior Court Judge. As Lunch observed: “The reason Ed Forstenzer lasted 22 years on the judicial bench in Mono County was because he was fair and consistent. As the Judge told The Sheet this week, the keys to the job are an ability to listen, to reason and to treat people courteously. ‘I treated people the way I’d like to be treated,’” he said.
Phyllis Benham (November 13): No person can stop time, but there are a chosen few in this world who appear able to suspend it, or elongate it, people whose vitality remains intact for birthday after birthday until you (and they) lose count of what year, if not what decade, they’re on.
Phyllis Benham is one of these people. And Phyllis still holds her infamous “pick-a-pot” parties. She held her fourth one this year. Benham has been “potting” for about a quarter-century. She became interested in ceramics years ago when she enrolled her children in a summer program and “it looked like fun.”
Phyllis met her husband Herb on a tennis court in Santa Barbara in 1949 and they were married April 15, 1950.
“What’s the secret to a long marriage?”
“Lots of space,” replied Phyllis. Then after a few beats, she added, “Really, it’s a crapshoot.”
Marcus Nobreus (October 2): Late September was made a bittersweet with the knowledge that local thespian/writer/director Nobreus was heading back to his native Sweden, apparently in pursuit of a woman.
Marcus was a man of wisdom and of empathy, the sort of flawed individual you seek out when you’re feeling down because he’s always got an even more embarrassing story about himself, which he’s happy to share with you.
“How’d you break your hand?”
“I knew you’d ask that. I punched a wall.”
“Why do most people punch walls?”
“You seem to have some anger management issues.”
“You think?!” laughed Marcus. “But I’m working on it. I haven’t been in trouble for awhile. But you know, it was a helpful characteristic to have as a bouncer.”
Royce Gracie (October 2):
Mixed Martial Arts legend Royce Gracie visited Snowcreek Athletic Club as part of a promotional tour. A snippet from Wolf’s interview:
The Sheet: Can you be trained to take a punch in the face?
Gracie: Oh, no. No, you never want
to be punched in the face. People say to me things like, “I can take a punch. I don’t care.” I love when people say that. That’s why their careers are so short. People like that are a perfect fit for guys like me because I love hitting people in the face.
Sheet: Hell, no. Do people ever try to test you on the street or in a bar?
Gracie: They might joke about it. [Laughs.] But if they were serious, they would have a big problem. In an organized fight, the round is over and I’m like, “Okay, where’s my prize?” On the street the fight is over when I feel like it’s over.
FATHER ANDY DACHAUER, S.J. (August 7): On the verge of his retirement, Father Andy reflected on the many years he has spent with the people of Mono County, 27 of which he has been the pastor. It was these people he would miss the most as he departs, even though he never wanted to meet them in the first place.
“I didn’t want to come here,” he quips. The Jesuit lifestyle revolves in great part around education and intellectualism. Not only is Father Andy a priest, he is also a scientist specializing in chemistry. He was teaching in San Francisco when he was assigned to the Eastern Sierra for the summer. He wrote a letter to his superiors explaining that they would ruin him as a teacher. They wrote a letter right back saying thanks for your thoughts, but you’re going anyway.
“God sent me here and it’s been the greatest blessing I’ve ever had,” he explained. He credits his science background as the reason why his sermons are well loved. “The science helps color the sermons and make them understandable,” he says.
NATHAN MORGENSTEIN (Dec. 11): Bishop based private investigator Nathan Morgenstein is no stranger to tracking down a good case. There’s probably not one of us who at some point in his/her life hasn’t thought it would be cool to be a private eye, but for Morgenstein, who grew up in Hawaii, it wasn’t a lifelong dream. In fact, he was drawn into it by a television advertisement for a P.I. school. Why? ‘Cause he was home and bored and not working.
“I came from nothing,” said Morgenstein. “We [his family] lived on the beach for a year when I was growing up. I come from the street, which is incredibly useful. I know when people are lying and I know when they’re on dope … I love what I do. Not many people can say that.”
PHIL KIDDOO (June 26): Fredericksen took readers along for a jaunt with this Bishop local, whose one-way commute to work is between 1.9 to 2.1 miles, depending on the route. Driving, it would take under five minutes, yet his travel time averages 18 minutes. The reason? Kiddoo runs, through the heat, rain, snow and wind — from his home on the outskirts of town, home for lunch, back to work, and then home again. Seems he prefers manpower versus horsepower. Forget about hybrids and whatnot, this guy’s 10-year quest for minimal car use tops all of those trends.
In 2009, Kiddoo had driven 3,750.7 miles and biked 524.4 miles. But his running miles trumped both other forms of transportation: 3,770.4 miles. On the other hand, he does acknowledge that, “The world is enormously large without a car.”
TODD UNANGST (Sept. 4): A commercial artist for a little less than two years now, Unangst has been creating art since his high school days in Brookfield, Conn. “My mom gave me an orchid for Christmas,” Unangst said. “It was sitting on a counter in my house and when I went into the room and turned on the light, it hit the orchid and put shadows of it all over the wall.” This array of light immediately inspired him to start working on flower pieces. “I think the flowers come [to me] because our summers here [in Mammoth] are so short,” he explained. “The ones I make can be left out in the snow all winter long.” Unangst cuts all of his art freehand with plasma torches. He does not use anything of, by or relating to a computer, preferring to keep everything, including his process, old school. You can find examples of Unangst’s work all over the town of Mammoth, including outside of Mammoth Liquor, all over Red Lily Floral Design, and in the redesigned railings at 1849.