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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

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