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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.

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