What we’ve forgotten about Quartzsite

As I learned early from broadcasting a daily radio show and later running this website, you can’t give everyone what they want.

In fact, one of my heroes in life, who later became arguably America’s most prized entrepreneur of recent times, lived by the mantra that few people even know what they want. Apple founder Steve Jobs believed you’d have to show it to them first. (So, he never did a single focus group or survey or poll asking people what they’d like, and yet Apple built the world’s most valuable tech company – currently second-most valuable company – on the basis of trusting Jobs’ instincts. I’d suggest that those who own a business and would like to play this game ensure their instincts are good beforehand!)

I run into lots of people who rely on Parker Live for their local news. None of them would have told me before it existed that this is what they wanted (or needed). But the site now has around 30,000 visitors every month, an average of 1000 per day. Around half of these are regular readers. We also have about 500 people with Facebook accounts who now get our articles (including this one) in their News Feed every day.

And I get emails pretty regularly from some of these readers, telling us what they want. Some of them want more of this and less of that; some don’t like – or do like – Michael Roth; some think they perceive a bias in our coverage of some news item that they want to complain about (complaints welcome, by the way); some merely want to comment privately on something, or want to comment publicly but forgot their password. And our coverage of Quartzsite resonates positively in the minds of some of our readers while not so much in others! Observe:

“Isn’t this a Parker website? Isn’t there more going on in Parker to talk about!”

Etcetera. (Answer: ‘Sort of’, and ‘Nope’. Or at least not that day.)

The truth is, Quartzsite is so interesting from a news standpoint that the little town south of Parker made statewide news on many occasions in the past year and national news several times too. Of course, these are all for the ‘wrong’ reasons. News about Quartzsite typically focuses on the political imbroglio involving the current management of the town, its council and police administration, and the ‘revolutions’ (and counter-revolutions) from within and without that typically has Parker people rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.

But, no matter the virtue or otherwise of Quartzsite news – and rest assured, dear reader, that news deriving from the rest of La Paz County and the wider region is reported posthaste when it happens – I think it may have had the side-effect of causing us to forget something important about Quartzsite of which I was reminded at the weekend.

Myself and my cohorts at Hemet Productions spent most of the weekend in Quartzsite, Arizona; the several most-recent of a billion-plus hours spent filming for our documentary on the town. And it was a blast. We met all kinds of people: young and old, rich and poor, in town for business or pleasure, trading goods or browsing items new and used, raw and refined, mass-produced and homemade, big and small, new and old, shiny and rusted. Looking for skulls or skins? Gas pumps? Guns? Jewelry? Original books sold by the author? Musical instruments? Satellite dishes? Metal flamingos? Fresh lemonade? The people in Quartzsite have got it.

These people are riding around on bicycles, tricycles, battery-powered solar-cycles, quads… UTVs and golf carts and Segways, oh my. There are hobos, tramps, bums and transients. There are hippies selling incense candles next to veterans selling ammo boxes. There are rocks, of all kinds, everywhere. There’s a guy making metal letters. There’s an artist selling stained-glass window pieces. There’s a naked bookseller. There’s a ‘NO DOG S**T’ sign on a trash can. An old guy rode there on a lawnmower from Oregon. A young girl rode there on her mountain bike from Minnesota. A man from Huntington Beach put up a 69,000 square-foot tent filled with stuff to see.

As we rode through town on Saturday with the town’s first, second and third mayor, Richard Oldham in a 1935 Packard Eight, waving back at the throngs who clearly loved the car and its driver (only a few years between them), I realized what the hundreds of thousands of winter visitors in the area already knew: this was the place to be this weekend, and next, and for several after that.

What we’ve forgotten about Quartzsite (especially those of us in the Parker area and wider region who are still here throughout the heat of August listening to news of the town’s turbulent politics) is that there’s still a crazy good time to be had down there.

Visit soon. You won’t regret it.

JW

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Quartzsite Calendar of Events
The Documentary

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