SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Every Summer We Go a Little Gaga



July 20, 2013

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska
- One of our favorite pastimes in these here parts is to sigh and roll our eyes at what goes on “Outside.”
jpg Dave Kiffer

After all we are truly immune to all that “all that,” aren’t we?

Clearly,  Ketchikan must be “the place” to be because we all pretty much came here from somewhere else. We chose to be here, or at the very least our ancestors chose to be here.

So we really don’t care all that much about the Outside world, right?

Except when it comes to celebrities.

Yes indeedy, there is nothing like a celebrity sighting – or reported sighting – to get the indwellers of Our Fair Salmon City into a serious bout of rubbernecking.

Take, for example, the recent hubbub over whether or not Lady Gaga and Johnny Depp were in town. Everyone said they were – especially on Facebook and other Social Media -  so it must be true.

But there were no pictures, and no one actually said they saw them. They just heard from other people that they were here. Still, it was enough to get folk running around (including my son and friends) for a glimpse of Captain Jack Sparrow. I don’t think they were as interested in Lady Gaga.

Come to think of it, I am not sure if they could even recognize Lady Gaga without all her “staging.” Perhaps, one could find her “outfitting” herself at a local “meat” counter? But I digress.

Anyway, it calls to mind that we have had more than few encounters of the fawning kind with celebrities over the years.

Heck, earlier this summer, Spock himself visited the First City – and was on the radio and in the newspaper to prove it.

Natch, I pointed that out to Liam and he said “who?”

“Leonard Nimoy.”


“You know, Mister Spock, from Star Trek.”

“That’s Zachary Quinto.”

“No, the original Spock.”


“The REAL Spock!”

“You mean like that old TV guy who was here before?”

“Dick Van Dyke?”

“Yeah, the Black and White guy.”


Anywho, every summer we do attract some famous folks to these parts. In a box somewhere is a picture of a six year old me standing next to John Wayne downtown. And my parents were always talking about times when Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Jack Benny would visit (Liam says “who, who and who?”).

Of course, a decade ago, we were overwhelmed with “celebrity” when a cruise ship pulled into town one Sunday morning on a Paul Allen birthday cruise and about 40 of the most famous people in the world (people even Liam has heard of!) like Bill Gates, Robin Williams and folks from the Harry Potter cast schlepped ashore for a few hours. They came, they saw, they purchased jewelry.

And we gawked.

But I, for one, have always been more amused by the unconfirmed sightings. Years ago, for example, I was sent on a somewhat wild goose chase to track down reports that Keith Richards (of the Rolling Stones) was in town for a fishing trip.

First off, you have to be pretty weird to even imagine someone like Keith Richards going fishing.

Maybe, I am wrong. Maybe he is an angler of some renown. Maybe Clint Eastwood will come to town on a crochet cruise or Sophia Vergara will show up in camos in time for the start of deer hunting season. It could happen.

Anyway, I looked around and talked to a lot of people who claimed to have seen Keith Richards everywhere from getting groceries to buying lures to gassing up a boat at the petro dock. Of course, he never actually said he was Keith Richards. But they just knew it was him.

For a minute, we will also disregard the fact that a lot of men “around the docks” have that ridden hard and put away wet look that Keith Richards has. Ketchikan specializes in men who opt for “disheveled” as a life choice.

It reminds me of the days in the late 1960s when Howard Hughes was believed to be hanging out on a big yacht in the harbor. Never mind the fact that Hughes was not known to be a “yachting” kind of guy and had pretty much given up the real world by that time for a series of hermetically sealed hotel suites.

The simple fact that there was a great big yacht in the harbor meant that he must be on it. In the same way the fact that there was a blue yacht parked off Pennock last week seemed to be all the evidence needed that Johnny Depp and Lady Gaga were in town.

But I digress again.

Anyway, I never did find Keith Richards. There was a 100 percent likelihood that he was either here or he wasn't.

I was left to imagine him “fly fishing” on some local, but remote lake. Enjoying his “slumming” in the Alaskan wilderness. Replacing the rock and roll debris in his system with a little bit of that paradise we call home.

I hope he got his “satisfaction.”

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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