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The Pulskamp who stole Christmas

How beige was my valley

Posted: November 22, 2008 7:34 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2008 4:55 a.m.
If City Manager Ken Pulskamp gets his way, will the citizens of Santa Clarita be forced to use scrap metal Christmas trees like this in their homes? If City Manager Ken Pulskamp gets his way, will the citizens of Santa Clarita be forced to use scrap metal Christmas trees like this in their homes?
If City Manager Ken Pulskamp gets his way, will the citizens of Santa Clarita be forced to use scrap metal Christmas trees like this in their homes?
The darndest things oft find their way into my wicked fingers. The other day, a friend mailed me a copy of the Burrtec News.

It's the newsletter sponsored by the city o' SClarita and their überrubbish death star pal, Burrtec Waste Industries.

Pity. For the lack of a solitary "s," the middle word would become a verb.

Taking up most of the newsletter front page in a size to humble The Savior or any Realtor was a mug shot of my close personal friend, campaign adviser and - cue the echo chamber: "THE 4th MOST INFLUENTIAL MAN IN SCLARITA" - City Manager Ken Pulskamp.

If it weren't for the suit and out-of-context smile, the bearded Ken could easily pass as president of an outlaw motorcycle gang or leader of a Mongol horde.

Ken is always pestering people with his Chairman Maoisms, camouflaged under the guise of "Message From the City Manager."

In the fall 2008 issue of Burrtec News, Ken "encourages" businesses to "have a ‘green' holiday."

I don't know why The Kenster chose to place quotation marks around "green." You do something like this, especially as a politician, and it makes you seem like you're saying: "Just - Kidding ... "

Ken provided eight theses, a full 87 short of Martin Luther's world record. At the very top of Ken's Sissy List was the edict:

"Consider purchasing an artificial tree to enjoy each year."

What? An artificial tree?

I'm sorry. There's artificial limbs. There's artificial sweetener. There's artificial relationships. But fake Christmas trees?

Is Ken lobbying Mr. Obama for a secretaryship as head of the Interior? Or is Ken using eminent domain to seize Christmas from the very navel of the universe, the Greater Santa Clarita Valley?

I'm sure there are German nihilists somewhere who would revel in the minimalism of spray-painting a wire brush Black Forest Green and stabbing a cigarette butt atop as a decoration.

But here in Santa Clarita? Home to more Christmas spirit than, dare I say, even the North Pole? We're now to abandon Christmas?

I haven't been to a council meeting in a while. Well. Ever. I've never read the City Charter. But can the city manager do that? Order everyone to limp over to Wal-Mart and purchase a pathetic $3 holiday cancer-causing barbecue scraper made in China - by communists - from a recycled 1959 Buick and spray-painted with toxic, baby-killing paint?

What am I to do this holiday?

Make an aluminum pyramid of Hamm's beer cans and spent sunflower shells then sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" to my sobbing 5-year-old daughter?

Don't we have some sort of community Christmas Tree lighting over at Henry "Hold The" Mayo Hospital coming soon?

Is Ken going to roar up in a prowl car, sirens blazing, to halt the ceremony?

Escorted by - and here comes one of my favorite liberally biased media clichés - a gang of faceless jackbooted Christmas police in riot gear who start clubbing carolers and macing Santa?

As masses of yuppies flee, Pulskamp pulls out his 48-inch McCulloch, yanks the hand crank and cuts down the great pine.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: As this is a family newspaper, let the record state that "McCulloch" is the brand name of a fine family of chainsaws and not any pet nickname the city manager has given any personal appendage.)

After the sickening guitar-solo cry, the hospital conifer crashes in a pile of suffocating dust and debris.
"Blocking four lanes of McBean Parkway," scowls Pulskamp. "I told you these damn Christmas trees are dangerous!"

Aaargh, aaargh, aaargh. Hoolie hoolie.

Is the beloved charity event, the Festival of Fleas, er, Trees, now an endangered species?

"I'm sorry, little Timmy and Amber Tiffany Brie," say 2008 organizers Carl and Jeri Goldman to a pair of homeless orphans. The $100,000 normally raised to aid local waifs who find the Boys & Girls Club a sanctuary from this valley's mean streets was not raised this year - thanks to greenie-meanie Pulskamp.

"We're afraid you're going to just drop you off in East Newhall after dark where you'll be jumped in by the Race Street Crips."

As the shoulders of Little Timmy and Amber Tiffany Brie vibrate with uncontrollable sobbing, Carl and Jeri turn to the sound of their front door being kicked down.

It's Pulskamp. And his dreaded Christmas Tree Police.

"Arrest them. They're Jewish," barks Pulskamp.

Ah, that my old friend and mentor Scott Newhall were still alive. The former swashbuckling publisher of The Signal had a wooden leg.

I wonder. In Ken Pulskamp's Brave New World of a Diminished Expectations Christmas, would Scotty's dear limb pass as an artificial tree?

Me, having a heart, I'm prejudiced. And probably old-fashioned. I love real Christmas trees.

I like the yearly custom my daughter and I have of driving out to a local farm and wandering down the rows, searching for that just-right holiday spruce. I love the scent they bring to a winter's home.

And there's something special about light twinkling off a real tree - from the same family that is today part of a Swedish forest of the oldest-living trees at 10,000 years young.

Of course, I've never had my daughter sit on my lap Christmas Eve and the two of us just stare, lost in the peace and Christian metaphor of a hot pink metal tree assembled by child labor from the homeland for human rights violations.

The darn thing is, I know Ken Pulskamp. Here is a good soul, someone who not only cuts a tall figure on a fine horse but a cowboy who doesn't just embrace nature - he's passionately, madly in love with it.

The 21st century in this, our valley, can tend to suck the life out of us. We get music and messages piped into our brains all our waking hours.

Many of us have bought into the concept that we should not own a decent front yard and we're crammed into a utopian concentration camp of our own making. Even simple darkness is taken from us.

We are out of touch with the very sky above, unable to even see the stars at night because of light pollution. Do we now have to be coerced by our government to embrace a holy symbol that was recently recycled from a shopping bag or Playtex Living Bra?

Is this about economics?

Then what about the noble agriculturists?

Some grow cherries. Some raise cattle. Some, like the Christmas tree farmer, take the sharp edge off a world gone mad while bringing heritage and peace to a home.

A single acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people - daily. Multiply that by the Christmas tree growers here in Santa Clarita and the 50 states that grow more than a half-billion of the happy, ecologically friendly flora.

What about jobs?

There are 20,000-plus Christmas tree farmers in America, and those are just the ones in the official association. Add to that number about 100,000 more seasonal workers.

From the local Christmas tree farmers to the corner lot sellers, what's in their stocking? A lump of coal? A congressional bailout?

Because of government mandates, we've already taken many slaps to the face. Remember Christmas vacation? Because of some snivelly ACLU attorney, we are now prisoners in our own culture.

Our schools scold us and nag: "It's called ‘Winter Holiday Break.'" Christmas carols have been watered down and eliminated by the P.C. goons.

And now this.

A Christmas tree defines us. Blessings on the Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems and other groups for their cherished cultures. But Christmas is American. So is the Christmas tree - a Christmas tree - not a recycled stripped set of hubcaps spray-painted green.

Times are definitely tough. The last thing we need is to have not so much Christmas taken from us, but outlined.

It's almost Christmas. Make a splendiferous noise. Go buy a Christmas tree. Recycle it.


Go buy a live one, plant it afterward and then visit it over the years.

John Boston has earned 117 major national, regional and California awards for writing excellence. His column appears in The Signal Sundays and Fridays.


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