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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 15sept50011

How in our own County we mistreat 
the very symbols of the American West

WILD HORSES … It’s truly revealing about the Telluride community that two of its most passionate issues have to do with our more-than-human allies – prairie dogs and wild horses. I think how we treat animals, as a culture, is truly indicative of how we one day will treat each other … It was wonderful to have so many folks -- incensed and upset by James Kleinnert’s excellent documentary, Wild Horses & Renegades -- show up for a special county meeting on the issue last week. I think it’s shameful how we, as a nation, treat wild horses. I can think of no excuse for the condoning of helicopter herding – it’s absolutely an inhumane method of capturing these wild creatures, whose ancestors pre-date ours on this continent … At the same time, as an elected representative who listens to all sides, not just the side I side with, it was heart-breaking to hear from two local members of the National Mustang Association most familiar with the Spring Creek herd, about how long they’ve been fighting this fight, and how finally they’ve reached a new accommodation with the local BLM office in Durango on how to manage the herd. Things aren’t perfect, but new BLM officials are now working in conjunction with the horse advocates. It would have been counter-productive, in this new climate of local collaboration, to try to intervene and stop the wild horse roundup this week … But that’s not to say things are okay, or even right with the Spring Creek herd. And certainly, on the national level, we need to support a moratorium on any more roundups until a national investigation is completed … Anyone interested in this issue ought to contact David Glynn of Ophir or Alessandra Jacobson of Telluride. That we have a herd of wild horses in San Miguel County is something we all need to educate ourselves about and work to protect and nurture.

HEADWATERS 22… That marvelous intellectual ferment of a conference over at Western State College in Gunnison takes place this coming weekend, Sept. 16-18, with the theme “Small Steps, Big Stories: Climate Solutions in the Headwaters” … “To lead us in this conversation,” according to director John Hausdoerffer, “we have gathered a diverse array of influential writers, community leaders, scholars, poets, artists, musicians, farmers, builders, cooks, activists, ranchers, teachers, students, and citizens” …  In addition to Winona LaDuke's Friday night keynote address, Aaron Abeyta and I will use poetry to explore the role of story-telling and story-making in the Headwaters, while Alan Wartes will lead us in a sing-a-long of the Headwaters anthem. Dr. Enrique Salmon will facilitate a "Finding the Story" workshop, and director screenings of two films by Melinda Levin and Jack Lucido will be shown … For more info, go to

POLE INSPECTOR … Josh shakes with his gloves on. He’s all business. Overalls, shovel, drill and big wood screw bit. But glad to stop and talk shop. Explain his job … Catching me by surprise at my Cloud Acre sanctuary. Messing around in my backyard, unannounced … Though, with SMPA’s easements and rights-of-way, no property the power company serves is private … Turns out Josh walks his day’s route. Lugs his gear pole to pole. Others use ATVs or trucks but average about the same poles per day as him … Saving carbon. Keeping his waist trim. Going the extra mile for the cooperatives’ member-owners … Now, that’s my kind of public service employee.

HAPA PAPA … What I love most about Hawaii … those islands we & the Japanese fought to adopt & colonialize (pull out our eyes!) … was the vibrant mix of Pacific Rim cultures, hybridized. Portuguese. Pilipino. Haole. Most folks on the Islands were half this, half that – or hapa this and hapa that, as the Native Hawaiians would say … And so, as one proud Pops of a mixed lineage familial clan – some related by blood and some by choice -- I think instead of single dad, I ought to be known as a Hapa Papa. Half the time aging paleohippie bachelor, and half the time patriarch & caregiver. Just call me Shroompa, the Hapa Papa.

TRUTH AND SATIRE … Kevin Haley’s paper, the San Juan Horseshoe, like the Onion, is built on satire and making fun of things. But that’s not to say there isn’t a lot of truth behind the wit … Check out the fall issue’s story Mug Shots: The San Juans’ Finest Felons by Anne T. Soshull, History Specialist. Definitely a case of the real truth masquerading as satire. Highly recommended.

TED LIVELLI … Heard from a Telluride local that since Ted’s mom died, he has two houses to take care of, and so a summer in the mountains may not be his to enjoy any longer … Too bad. Always have appreciated Ted’s company and camaraderie on main street, as well as his unique view on things.


Summer Solstice

Heron, butterfly,
dolphin, crow,
teach us humans
what we need to know
to keep the rhythms
of Earth's ancient flow.

Hummingbird, bumblebee,
polar bear, shark,
remind us to treasure
our precious ark,
with actions that honor
the law of living
not keeping and having
but giving and giving.

-Amy Hannon
Raritan Valley NJ

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 8sep50011

Searching for what’s left us

WHERE’S TED LIVELLI? … Summer’s come & gone. But no orange-helmeted, rolls-his-own thin wire of a motorcyclist has driven up from Arizona to park his aged rig on Colorado Avenue. For a good 20-some years Ted has made his summer pilgrimage to the mountains. For many of those he worked as sound engineer without gear for the mushroom festival. And maybe projectionist for the film festival. Odd jobs. But mostly he’d hang around To-Hell-u-ride’s quirky streets ... I have some of his sketches – a color study of the old pre-remodel Nugget door and ashtray I treasure. Sums up a lot of where this town came from, and where it’s gone … Never one to concede authority to governments easily, he kept no contacts current. Liked to be paid in cash. Talked about government transgressions with the enthusiasm of a conspiracy theorist … His own quirky ways almost cost me big-time one year. It was right after Shroomfest. He’d earned a McKinley, and I procured a crisp one from the bank to pay him in cash. But, since he had no firm address, bike-camping in the area for the summer, the bill stayed in my pouch … My family calls it a purse, but I protest. It’s not a purse, it’s a pouch. And the connotations between those two words tell a whole story of gender differentiation that was once important to my generation … Anyway, my son and I went for a hike up the Roma Slide to Signal Rock one day. It was on impulse, and I had my pouch along. At least I did at the start. After marveling at the flag atop the rock, we bushwhacked our way into the Bear Creek Basin, discovering many cave-like depressions in the hillside that seemed to suggest to us winter lairs for the bruins that gave their name to Telluride’s favorite side-canyon. It was grueling and exhilarating. Leaping into the leaf litter and sliding downslope. Following deer trails until we came to the Wasatch Trail … It was only after we hiked down the main Bear Creek Trail and back into town that I realized I’d lost the pouch with the $500 in it … I spent the next two weeks hiking back up the Wasatch and into the surrounding slopes, searching. I figured I’d lost it in our gymnastics, hiking sans trail, so that’s where I concentrated my efforts. But to no avail … Then, finally, at wit’s end, not sure how I could repay a debt that I had no money to make good on, I thought I’d try to hike back up to Signal Rock. It was the last sure place I knew I had the pouch with me … Then it gets kind of eerie. Stressed, I called on all my special helpers to find this pouch and Ted’s money. And as I made it to the rock’s base (two rocks really), these two pinyon jays started squawking and making a ruckus. Don’t tell me how, but I knew the pouch would be found. Which it was. Not where I’d left it -- to try a climb (unsuccessful) up a rock’s sheer face -- but tossed down along the slope. I saw this giant rip in its flap. A bear had unmistakeably clawed its way into the pouch in search of food. Would anything be left inside? There was this moment of panic. But opening the torn flap, I found my wallet and the errant McKinley, shining as though brought back from the dead. It was one of those moments of unspeakable joy, noteworthy mostly for the weeks of terror in which it had been embedded. I was happy. Ted was happy. And I never told the tale for years afterwards, except in private, being much too embarrassed (even journalists have their secrets). I did take to wearing the torn pouch, and still do on occasion. When I want to feel the good luck of a scarred garment that’s become one of life’s great tattoo lessons … By the way, anybody heard from Ted?

FILM FEST … Heard raves about the George Harrison videothon of a documentary-in-the-park free show … Guess I never really understood why people would spend so much time, in such a dazzlingly beautiful canyon, waiting in line. It was waiting in lines that drove me out of the City … Although I get the roulette wheel opportunity to talk with amazing strangers. Maybe even the rich and famous. One dazzled belle bragged on Facebook last weekend how she’d huge-hugged George Clooney, died & gone to heaven … Still, a Wright’s Mesa bike ride up the Norwood-Dolores Road from Cloud Acre to the Gurley Ditch at sunset, as the geese wheel in v-flock formations over the twice-mown fields of a good hay year, beats any line I’ve ever had to wait in … As for films, my life is a full-length feature, both entertaining and artistically satisfying (at times) ... The older I get, the more impatient I get with the siren call of celluloid. Its artificial intensity and addictive lure. Its lipstick glamour and uneven art (great camera, bad story) … Ah, but as a long-time (now) local, I can claim my FF bragging rights. How many can say they were there when Abel Gance’s Napoleon screened in Elks Park? When the great man himself leaned out a Sheridan window and waved at us, like the French hero he was? … Or who else can say they sat through a drenching downpour (thanks to providential folding chairs and tarp) to catch Werner Herzog introduce his Where the Green Ants Dream? … Malcolm would have approved.

BANGKOK HAUNTS … I love stopping to visit with Taz Vass at the Dolores Food Market, sometimes more to search his used book racks than to buy his organic produce, pies and drinks. But usually it’s both. As it was my last jaunt to the south when I picked up John Burdett’s best-selling novel. Kind of trashy, exotic, full of increasingly clever plot turns until one is amazed and captivated by a scintillating spellbinder of an erotic mystery … Every so often I just need to be taken away from the complexity of the now. And Bangkok Haunts did that. And all’s well that ends well. The good guys win. The bad guys lose. And you learn a whole lot about a Thai culture of ghosts that’s completely foreign to our rationalist Western tradition … Recommended, especially for the prurient (not the prudish)


Running Tanka

Running on the long
dirt road, it is four miles
before my mind
slows down enough
to join my body.

-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 1sep50011

Celebrating cinema in the mountains

FILMFEST … It was the charm of celluloid dreaming that brought me to Telluride … My only art teacher in seven years of seminary (then) Sister Corita (Kent) told us boys in a elective workshop that “the poets of this generation are filmmakers” … Living in the Haight in the Sixties, I pursued film hard, even as I found my own voice in poetry (free of the capital required to film). I was a regular attending Canyon Cinematheque at San Francisco’s Art Institute. Living with friends of an Austrian master of experimental cinema (famous for his flicker films), Peter Kubelka, I found myself talking film with him over dinner about his 1966 avant-garde classic Unsere Afrikareise (Our Trip to Africa) – with one of the most moving death scenes I have ever witnessed … Later, traveling around the country searching for work, I rolled into the nation’s capital to visit a sem buddy turned filmmaker, Michael Anderson – his latest indie (from Vanguard) is a moving story well told, Tenderloin <>. Through Michael I met Saul Landau (Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, 1979), and got introduced to radical politics in cinema, and causes like the D.C. assassination of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and social activist Ronni Karpen Moffit in 1976 … Wherever I traveled, I took in films. Great anthropological classics at Chicago’s Field Museum. Underground flicks and foreign lanuage films in New Haven. University film series in Minneapolis and Denver. Buñuel and Kirasawa became my favorite directors … So, it was not altogether inappropriate the FilmFest brought me to Telluride. Two sem buddies settled into Telluride in the ‘70s, and wrote back accounts, particularly about its nascent film festival. I came to visit several times … But it wasn’t until 1980 that one of FilmFest’s earlier allies (they seem a bit hard on their long-time local employees) gave me the job of managing the Nugget Theatre, that venerable grand dame of funky charm (how many remember the ashtray & the swinging glass doors?). It’s what brought me to Telluride after the American Indian Movement’s Solidarity Gathering in the Black Hills that summer. As theater manager, I had the grand fortune to see a first showing of My Dinner with Andre, with Andre Gregory in the crowd, moved to tears by the standing ovation the film received for its daring, all-conversation script … So, welcome to Telluride film buffs and industry honorees. Enjoy FilmFest in Telluride, where the whole town goes madly cinematic, against a backdrop of National Park opulence.

SHROOMFEST … Wrapping up details after an event says as much about an organization’s long-term viability as bringing the stars into our eyes. Making sure bills get paid, stained carpets cleaned, money wired overnight to make good somebody’s rent – there are myriads of aftershocks to making a big quake. And this year’s Telluride Mushroom Festival scored high on the Fungal Richter Scale. Dazzling talks. A half-dozen tracks – from identification and culinary, to entheogenic and medicinal, to cultural and cultivation. Forays into the surrounding San Juan Mountains that brought a host of colorful species to our free display tables in Elks Park. And always the parade, where fungophiles dress up like shrooms and follow the Amanitamobile up & down Colorado Avenue … Lots of folks to thank, of course, starting with Pam & John Lifton-Zoline and the Telluride Institute under the able leadership of Dan Collins. Thanks to our many sponsors – Wilkinson Library, Fungi magazine, Telluride Watch, Telluride Alpine Lodging, Alpine Wellness, Shroomery, and MAPS. Thanks to a terrific staff, starting with Kandee DeGraw and moving on down to our first-time volunteers. Kudos to an amazing faculty of 45 mycological experts. Thanks to local friends of the festival from long-time attendees George Greenbank to first-time supporters  Congratulations to our 63 scholarship attendees. And our gratitude to all the many town institutions that assisted us, from the Palm Theatre to the Parks and Recreation Dept. of the Town of Telluride … Thank you, Telluride, for another crazy wonderful Shroomfest.

RENDON-JAIN WEDDING … Former Durango mayor, long-time social activist and Rainbow brother Michael Rendon married the love of his life, Minna Jain, up at Berri Park in the mountains above Vallecito Reservoir. It was a wild affair. The theme was gypsy circus garb, and the ceremony was most unconventional (in no small part of my own participation as co-celebrant) … Lightning and thunder ripped the outdoor wedding site a couple hours before showtime. I sat curiously peaceful in my thin nylon tent as fulsome strokes of Thor’s rage slammed its fists all around me and a downpour turned the meadow to mud … But, as is often the way with weddings, the clouds cleared, the sun poked through, and Michael and Minna exchanged vows in a burst of sunshine. Such is the Way of the Mountain when dealing with such magical people. All blessings on their union.



Lone Cone in a storm
takes my breath away
and gives it back as break.

As riff. As solo harmony
to my innermost ring.
Hafiz would have us

embrace. Even the
darkness. Rimbaud too.
Which is what mother

mountains do best:
Give dawn witness,
Speak dark truth.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 25aug50011

Good talks, good shrooms, good times

SHROOMFEST31 … The Palm Theatre hosted this year’s Telluride Mushroom Festival. A bigger venue to fit a bigger crowd. And the monsoon rains, although spotty, brought enough moisture to fill the free display tables at Elks Park with hundreds of varieties, and a few choice edibles … The annual parade was bigger and wilder than ever before, with the Amanitamobile leading the assemblage of costumed fungophiles. A costume contest, sponsored by Fungi magazine out of Wisconsin, added to the excitement (with returning locals Charris and Dulce Ford winning one of three prize categories and Rolley White and family dressing up like yours truly – even the three kids) … There are many mushroom gatherings around the country, some older than Telluride’s. But none is as celebratory as Shroomfest. In Telluride mushrooms aren’t just studied and displayed, but turned out and celebrated … Visionary myco-wizard Paul Stamets won standing ovations for both of his Friday talks – one about his discovery of pre-sporulating mycelia of some shrooms species that can be used as natural, non-toxic pesticides (he’s just won several patents that have the capacity to change the face of insect control all over the world), as well as his dazzling Life Box invention to turn packaging into carbon sequestration, and the other talk focused on the medicinal and anti-viral properties of other fungi that have been shown effective against many human diseases … As one young woman expressed, “Paul is so wonderful. In the face of so much environmental destruction, his talks give you hope” … Not only were there reputable mycologist types lecturing – Dr. Michael Beug, professor emeritus at Evergreen College, and Gary Lincoff of the New York Botanical Garden – but budding scientists like teenager Devon Enke talking about soil health and young idealist myco-remediationists like Danny Newman and Lindsay Ofrias-Terranova alerting us to the ecological Texaco/Chevron oil disaster in Ecuador and current attempts to clean up what American corporations have done to the rainforest there … The Wilkinson Library partnered with the Telluride Institute to sponsor several culinary events – including a Thursday Chef Mushroom Cook-Off that saw a Mushroom Ice Cream (made with Candy Caps) win first prize (still available at Cocina de Luz’s outdoor juice bar) … Valerie Mojeiko wound things up on Sunday with a run-down of the work MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has been doing to highlight and prove the therapeutic value of entheogenic mushrooms and drugs like MDMA, LSD and Ibogaine. Their goal, said Mojeiko, is to get these substances delisted as dangerous drugs and made available for healing use by prescription … The moderate-sized festival brought several hundred folks into town for lodging and restaurants and complemented the Telluride Chamber Music Festival and Shakespeare in the Park also taking place. An economic boon in a niche market, as well as a rollicking good time.

DAN EARNSHAW … As a lover of local theater, it was hard to lose one of our local community stars whose performances have delighted me for years. Shroomfest got in the way of my making his memorial this past weekend, but Dan was on my mind. I could see his smiling face taking us along some theatrical journey into another time, another place ... It is a great gift to give one’s community artistic energy. Dan did so unstintingly. He will be missed.

WEEKLY QUOTA … “To make living itself an art, that is the goal.” –Henry Miller

NIGHTLIFE … What a wild street scene has developed in Telluride. Living in Norwood, I’m rarely up in town on the weekends, and never after hours. But hanging out late with Shroomfest, I got to sample the dancing energy at the Bean with DJ Apoc. No cover, the doors open, people waltz in from the street and hop onto the dance floor. And then they drift off to the Oxygen Bar or Llama’s – where there’s more great music, live bands (thank you Hubert), and a free-form bar-hopping energy that reminded me of Montreal … Even the hot dog cart was alive with customers at 1:30 a.m. – as lively a late-night scene as cities twice Telluride’s size.


The Bones of Words

I bury words
in my garden,
like a dog his bones.
Words like "deciduous"
I bury deep in the mud.

deep in the ground,
sprouting orchards of words.

I bury the word Mother
and grow a forest.

I bury the word Fire
in my garden,
and I can feel it
my naked feet.

I bury words
in my garden
all day long
and wait...
'til they are good
and ripe and ready
to harvest.

-Valerie Haugen
Glenwood Springs

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 18aug50011

Town’s unique Shroomfest revs up
for its biggest myco-production ever

TELLURIDE INSTITUTE … Events have their cycles. The Denver Fungophile folks who ran the non-profit Telluride Mushroom Festival for 25 summers threw in the towel a few years back. Attendance had tapered off. Costs were escalating … Lucky for Telluride, TI stepped in and took over management of the iconic mountain event. But bad economic times and continued low attendance took their toll. The festival was on the verge of going under … Some of us on the TI board couldn’t let that happen, and after several successful rebuilding years, it’s back with a bang … Paul Stamets is one of the true stars of the mycological world – discovering new entheogenic species, revealing the power of oyster mushrooms to clean up oil spills, pioneering mushroom blends for cancer healing and prevention, lecturing on the many ways shrooms can help save the world. His talks on TED and at Bioneers are legend. To have him back speaking on all these topics, as well as his brilliant Life Box invention, is a first-class coup. And already pre-event ticket sales have quadrupled … Last year’s bumper crop of shrooms locally may be unrepeatable, but recent rains have revived hopes of great forays again this year … And the fest has expanded to accommodate a number of simultaneous talks and workshops. Instead of one site for shows, we now have three – the Palm Theatre, the Wilkinson Public Library and the San Miguel County Meeting Room, as well as our free exhibits in Elks Park. We’ve established seven tracks for those interested in particular areas of the fungal world more than others: Identification, Culinary, Cultural, Cultivation, Entheogens, Medicinal, Remediation. And there are numerous speakers holding lectures, powerpoints, workshops and demonstrations in each of those areas … Last week’s Watch had a schedule. More schedules are available at Elks Park, on line, and our three performance venues … Pick and choose what interests you about mushrooms – those ubiquitous natural life forms that can be good to eat (or bad), can heal you (or hurt you), can make cuisine of free food (or a culinary disaster). Lots to learn. Lots of chances to learn it …

TEA PARTY FOLLIES … A local business person and I take pleasure in sending the other emails detailing our personally biased takes on issues. Here’s a recent one from him …  “ObamaCare was the wrong way to solve the health care issue and it’s now determined to be a huge job killer! Thank you Judge Hall and Judge Dubina: if the government can impose this kind of ‘economic mandate,’ if it can force individuals to enter contracts with private companies "from birth to
death,’ there are no longer limits on what it cannot do. Judges Frank Hall and Joel Dubina from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.” … And my response …
“Obamacare" was the compromise Republicans forced on the Dems. It isn't perfect. Compromises rarely are. But it's a step towards universal health care in this country, something that I as a Green support. And honestly, government imposes car insurance on us -- we have to contract with private companies for our entire lives as drivers. So now we have to do that for health care (what the two judges don't like) because Repubs shot down single payer. It's like the Tea Party antics in the house -- refusing to impose the tiniest tax on the wealthy and insisting on all these huge cuts for the poor. and then taking us to the brink of default. Talk about job killers. It's the Repubs who are taking us back into recession.

BURN CANYON… What last week’s excellent story in the Watch on the Tri-County meeting in Ridgway failed to tell you is that San Miguel County’s own Burn Canyon Salvage Logging Community Monitoring Project was one of the local initiatives funded in that large Forest Service grant that the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest received this year … So, in partnership with the New Community Coalition, the Burn Canyon coalition of partners will be hosting a field tour of the Burn Canyon Project site, next Tuesday Aug. 23 starting at 9 a.m. at the Norwood District Ranger District offices. A larger, more public field tour is planned for next year, when we will have the results of the data collected this year by Ridgway’s Peggy Lyon and her Norwood intern, Skyler Hollinbeck …But if you have a burning interest (lol) in this legacy project of Phil and Linda Miller of Telluride, come join us.

DECHRISTOPHER FUND … Thanks to hard work by Carol Bell, the Tim DeChristopher Defense Fund, has a bank account and a post office box (Box 207, Norwood CO 81423). Send in your contributions (no amount too small) to help support Tim in his legal defense costs and our own Chris Myers and Skip Edwards for their legal costs in supporting DeChristopher.


Of Breasts & Mushrooms

A loose jowled, broad shouldered woman in black wanders our camp with large handled basket and pendulous breasts swinging freely beneath peasant blouse above thin legs. She asks in lilting accent, perhaps French, “May I have your mushrooms?” as though they were ours only for camping for a price on a mountain where air hums with RV generator songs. Admiring her trespass of parceled campground boundaries, her astute respect for American habits of possession in a quest for fungal delicacies, and having enough delighted in their frumpy company peeking at my pointing children from tiny mosses and pine duff, I say, “Yes, of course,” and notice her basket nearly full, soil clinging to creamy sponge roots below dozens of burnt red waxen caps, echoing her own robust form. She squats and pulls. Wanders. Squats and pulls some more, looks up at me, around me, as I write. I want to walk with her, watch her cook these mysteries over fire, taste her Rocky Mountain dreams of French cuisine. I imagine, instead, her crossing into other camps, ambassador, visiting my rough brothers-in-law, their blonde wives, leaning against red trucks and silver mini vans, not far from here, through lodge pole pines, her gentle request, their eyes upon her passing swaying breasts, crude comments chuckled beneath beer breath, relieved their own wives’ tits are tucked away, firmly compressed, hiding their age, padded and wired from wandering eyes, mushrooms unable to rise,
no nipples greeting the duff of day.

-Rachel Kellum