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REDNECK PERSPECTIVE: Thornhill: Breaking yoga
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – I’m sitting in my office smoking cigarettes between shots of cheap bourbon and bad memories. Velda ran off with a sponsored snowboarder and the promise of a free Burton board. I feel empty, incomplete, like a Subaru without a bumper sticker.
Police chief Todd Smith walks into my office. “We got a problem,” he said. “A new hot yoga studio opened this week. Physique 22. The Castellazzo family controls all yoga in the valley, but word on the street is Physique 22 is paying Johnny “Fat Ski” Maranzano to keep Castellazzo’s goons away. It will be war.”
“What’s that got to do with me?” I ask.
But I know the answer. Castellazzo imports bootlegged Snake River Lager labels, pastes them on cans of PBR and sells them on the street. To keep things cool with the cops he gives them free life drawing classes using nude models forced into the business to feed their double-shot cappuccino habit. The cops don’t want to lose their cozy deal, but if it comes to war there will be political pressure from the Chamber of Commerce if dead bodies interrupt the tourist season; from the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance if a wolf gets caught in the crossfire; and from Tim Mayo if they use lead bullets. Smith wants to keep his lily white hands clean and have me deal with Castellazzo.
I work my way across town to Lotus Cafe, the Castellazzo mob’s unofficial headquarters.
Castellazzo is sitting at a table with a couple babes the yoga schools use as student shills to attract older males with bad backs, weak knees and pork bellies, but vigorous fantasy lives. I take a seat uninvited.
The waitress comes over. “What can I get you?”
“Carrot juice, doll, and throw in some rocks.”
“Plain carrot juice?” she asks. “We can cut it with ginger, mint, green apple or beet.”
I take a good long look at her. She probably came from a fine family, was a good kid once, and I admit she looks high-class from across the room. But up close she looks like what she is: an addict. The years of organic hemp milk, quinoa and basmati rice have taken a toll. I feel no pity. She chose her path.
“Straight up,” says my unrelenting, critical gaze. She scurries away.
“Castellazzo,” I begin, getting right to the point. “I want you to leave Physique 22 and Johnny ‘Fat Ski’ alone.”
“Yea,” he says. “And what if I don’t?”
I notice Louise Sanseau of Inversion Yoga in the corner sipping a Tiger Chai tea with banana, agave and cinnamon.
“Got any Hot 90s today?” I ask her.
“We do, in 15 minutes. You should come!”
“I got a new student for you,” I say, nodding toward Castellazzo.
The color drains from Castellazzo’s face, his body shakes every so slightly. “No … no, not that.”
After a long pause, the yoga boss relents. “OK, you win this one Clyde.”
I smirk, push out the door and find a bench in a shabby alley littered with Starbucks cups and Tram Bar wrappers. The stench of discarded to-go sushi containers dominates the air, much like the phrase “and then I …” hangs over a skier’s conversation. I light a cigarette, take a long hard drink of carrot juice and feel it burn all the way to the pit of my stomach.
“To Velda,” I say to no one.