WELL, THAT HAPPENED: #FeedTheArch, Part Deux

By on September 20, 2016

A town square webcam viewer from Norway has a new obsession with Jackson Hole.

For Marielle A. Lien, from Norway, watching the town square webcam is like viewing “a portal into another dimension.” (Photo: Marielle Lien)

For Marielle A. Lien, from Norway, watching the town square webcam is like viewing ‘a portal into another dimension.’ (Photo: Marielle Lien)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Marielle A. Lien, a 31-year-old married mother of two from Norway, can’t seem to tear herself away from spying on Jackson Hole via the live town square webcam. Initially, she was turned onto the live stream by YouTube celebrity, Tyler Oakley, who blogged some images of the infamous “Arch.” By the time this column goes to press, Lien will have been watching the webcam consistently for nearly two weeks.

“For me as a European, it’s like a portal into another dimension,” she told me via Twitter. “Everything feels mysterious—The Arch, the amount of red cars, the flashing red lights at night…”

“The Arch,” the southeastern antler elk arch on the square, acts as the centerpiece to the webcam, and is treated by viewers as a deity of the intersection, demanding sacrifices and worship. It can only be satisfied by passing through its opening or dabbing for it (it’s a trend; look it up). Depending on who’s writing the rules, sometimes The Arch is pleased by the appearance of red trucks, sometimes it offers up red trucks, and sometimes it just sits there like a boring half-donut made of antlers. The joy lies in the fact that the viewer gets to decide what’s interesting and what’s worth pointing out in the running chat next to the live stream.

“I literally can’t stop,” she said. “When I get up, I check in to see if something’s going on, and before I go to sleep, and randomly during the day is when I mostly tune in.”

Webcam devotees are on the constant lookout for red trucks, school buses, Alamo car rental transports, fancy cars, Subarus, Arch worshipers, and the increasing number of Jackson locals who now perform for the camera.

The chat room has also developed its own sense of community. Lien mentioned there’s a good group of 20 to 50 people who she recognizes as return visitors, all eager to join in and find beauty in the mundane. While the rest of Jackson carries on, sometimes oblivious to the reality that surrounds them, there’s a massive group of strangers who look upon our lives with wonder and excitement. There’s a lesson in that.

Last week, I decided to act out in front of the camera again, this time on my own. I put on an orange hat so I could be discerned from other passersby, and went into the chat to hype up my appearance. Many didn’t believe me—apparently others have said they’ll appear and failed—but I promised I would deliver. In the pouring rain, I went out to the Broadway crosswalk and dabbed. I then ran across Cache and dabbed into The Arch, sacrificing myself to its mighty majesty.

The act was so well received by the webcam community, that a recording of my performance showed up on YouTube as “Orange Hat Man (Andrew) Dabs and Feeds the Arch.” As of press time, the video somehow has 561 views.

Lien was watching the webcam during the performance, which is how we became acquainted. I offered up my Twitter handle in the chat to connect with some of my new “fans,” and now each time I enter the chat and say something there’s at least one person who recognizes me and says hello.

Inspired by the madness, Lien wrote a story on WattPad titled “The Arch,” which expanded on the godly desires of The Arch, and the terrible things that might happen if it was not worshiped. Orange Hat Man and a few other webcam celebrities make appearances in the story.

“It’s just a joke-story, obviously, that I wrote mostly for my own amusement,” she admitted. “But I guess I just wanted a thing that said, ‘I was a part of this weird thing and it inspired me’… I really wanted to do something with that creative burst.”

Lien has now added Jackson Hole to her list of places to visit, and has written a journal entry with bits of her research about the valley, including everything from the American Indian tribes, the ski areas and the 2017 solar eclipse.

“[It] has been a hard year for a lot of people,” she said, “and [the webcam] is like a very bright piece of innocent fun, so let’s just roll with it. It’ll most likely pass soon.”

We shall see. PJH

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