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Ten Years of Lying — Would We Kid You?

The Journal of Prevarication
Here lies Jim Cook,
official state liar of Arizona

A decade of working to make lying the official language of Arizona has been hard, dangerous work. But it has been rewarding. 

We broke the news that Arizona will be closed on Mondays this summer. We not only located the Lost Dutchman Sawmill, but we found the Lost Dutchman himself, and his elusive mine.  A mine is a terrible thing to waste.

One of our defining moments was when we proved that the first  airplane flew in Arizona in 1897. It was powered by a steam engine. Some contend that a boiler explosion does not constitute propulsion. However, the plane left Glendale in a hurry, and came down near Yuma two days later. The pilot, Guavo Schmidt, was not far behind.

Elvis has dropped in five times to tell us that he is alive and well, and working in various lounges in Las Vegas. I knew Elvis back in the seventies, and he seems to get younger all the time. I think he has a crush on Miss Ellie.

Yes, The Wickenburg Institute for Factual Diversity is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Our Grand Deception Days celebration was scheduled for next Saturday.

By an uncanny coincidence, that’s the same day as the second annual Grand Desert Days Festival in Morristown, where Miss Ellie and I had a prior commitment to perform on Saturday. Come on over and let us kid you.

How did we come to take on the mission of freeing Arizonans from the shackles of fact? Years of newspapering had left me jaded. Politicians, promoters and preachers tried to shape the truth to their benefit. The constant spin made me a bitter, broken man.

I retired in 1994, but continued to write magazine articles until the first time I received a pension check and a Social Security Check in the same month. I quit writing for a while, and took up folk music.

Miss Ellie came up with the idea that has led us to fame and fortune. We were traveling across Northern Arizona by train when I pointed out boogie  bushes to Miss Ellie and her sister Kathy. I told them how boogie bushes get up and move in the night, confusing anyone who uses them for landmarks.

I had never told a lie before. It felt good. My friend Marshall Trimble had recently been appointed Official State Historian. I told Ellie, “I wish I could get someone to appoint me official state liar.”

She said, “They wouldn’t have to, you know.”

The genius of her idea floored me.  I printed up some business cards, and started publishing The Journal of Prevarication.

The Institute for Factual Diversity was born in Phoenix, but we moved to Wickenburg late in 1999.

Lying was hard for me, at first. Part of my mind said, “Hey, this can’t be true,” and another part said, “It’s not supposed to be true, genius.”

(As my dad used to say, “Listen, stupid…”  He always called me “Listen.”)

I worked hard at improving my lying skills. We have received  compliments from many of our readers,  and only a few have unsubscribed.

Still, we are often accused of telling the truth, and that hurts.  The competition is fierce in this world of spin, perjury, deception, hype, bull dandruff and fanciful advertising. Sometimes I catch myself believing that the Jack in the Box chain is actually run by a big guy with a cue ball for a head. One time, I caught myself believing a congressman.

On Saturday, April 18, Miss Ellie and I will be among the musicians performing at the Grand Desert Days Festival in Morristown. We’ll be playing and singing at noon, and I’ll tell stories from my books at 12:45. I’ll be autographing books all day long.  So will several other Arizona authors.

The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Morristown School. That’s just east of U.S. 60 (Grand Avenue) on Rockaway Hills Road, the road next to the Morristown Post Office.

There will be a classic car show, games for kids, and vendors offering food and arts and crafts. The festival benefits literacy programs for children, and a Grand Avenue Library Initiative for Morristown, Circle City and Wittmann.

Last 5 posts by Jim Cook

3 comments to Ten Years of Lying — Would We Kid You?

  • John Wemesfelder

    Hi Jim,
    We’d like to come visit you at Morristown, but we’re not sure whether you’re telling the truth or prevaricating. And if you tell us that you’re telling the truth, are you? Perhaps you’re prevaricating about prevaricating, and really will be there.

    So, we’ll be there to meet Miss Ellie and yourself…. Of course, as apprentice liar, we may be there or not, depending on how well we have learned your lessons.

    So, if we stop by to say Hi, then I guess that I have failed as your apprentice. If we don’t stop to say Hi, then I guess I’ve passed the course.

    Whichever, don’t stop with the lessons, I’m learning, and can always learn more………..
    And that brings me to one more thing….Would you mind telling us again about the Gila Monster Dirigible?

  • Carolyn Johnson-Horton

    I lived in Wickenburg for 10 yrs-1988 -1998 in the “old Thurber house” on
    Thurber Rd. I miss those years although I love Colorado. Still have my same wonderful thoroughbred I rode all over the Sonoran Desert!

    Really got a kick out of seeing a great article about Jim in the latest issue of Country Magazine. I’m surprised you don’t have it on your web-site!?

    Jim- you make me chuckle and ‘LOL’ like no one else can!

  • George Becker

    Where does the name “Thurber” come in as far as Wickenburg or Arizona is concerned? I had a classmate named Louis Thurber who operated either in AZ or NM in some capacity as an aid to native Americans and I can’t find him.