A posse of mad satirists is loose in the Flathead. Kalispell’s Paul Gamaliel and Melaena Hughes, self-described “gleaners”—in that they salvage what others waste, physically and otherwise—are the driving creative forces behind a new quarterly humor publication focusing on the Flathead. The Glacier Gesundheit, billed as “an amphigoric [“nonsensical,” according to Webster’s 1913 dictionary] journal of risible folly,” is the Flathead’s answer to The Onion, featuring articles and pictures that weave the true with the absurd, flavored with a liberal sprinkling of Monty Python-esque oddities, including a “choose your own caption” option below a picture of a man in a biohazard suit choking the neck of a rubber chicken.
Hughes says that she designed the 16-page rag the old-fashioned way, cutting and pasting photos and text—no Photoshop.
Gesundheit articles range from a piece which “reveals” that a local road construction project is actually just a government “psych op” to see how much a passive citizenry would swallow to a “service journalism” piece on the best times for glacier-viewing, beginning with the sentence, “One of the most commonly asked questions every year by eager tourists is, ‘What time do the glaciers go by?’” The article goes on to note that glaciers are regionally known as “Fat Ice,” but that local businesses simply refer to them as “money.”
Writer and Editor Gamaliel says the Gesundheit takes off from a former Montana humor publication, Milton F. Poltroon’s Wretched Mess News, which was popular in West Yellowstone in the 1970s and ’80s.
“The local papers are just missing out on humor and using the same old prose and stock photos,” Gamaliel says, which is why he believes the Gesundheit has a niche.
Gamaliel also says that the Gesundheit, which sells for $2.25 at various locations around the Flathead, including Conoco stations in Bigfork, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Kalispell, is not aiming to make money, but merely to break even. The publication doesn’t seek advertisers.
Due out this winter: the Gesundheit’s “swimsuit issue.”