Saturday, February 28, 2009

some Moab stuff for you

Some happenings in and around lovely Moab, ye lovely neighbor to the west. Easy to get there, and spring is the best time to visit. Well, fall's not bad either. Check it out:

(shamelessly lifted from The Official Moab, Utah, 2009 Calendar of Events)

March 9, 2009

Banff Mountain Film Festival
The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour features the year's best films on mountain adventure and culture. 7:00 p.m. in the Grand County High School Auditorium (608 South 400 East). Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Doors open at 6:15. Gear Raffle during Intermission. All proceeds benefit Utah Open Lands and stewardship at Castleton Tower. Ticket Outlets: Back of Beyond Books - Canyon Voyages - Pagan Mountaineering - Poison Spider Bikes. For more information email or call 435-259-4859.

The tour heads to Durango on March 22.

[note: you can also enter a contest to win a trip to Nepal (heck yeah!) on the website: Banff Mountain Festival World Tour.]

March 14-16, 2009

Skinny Tire Festival
The three rides of the Skinny Tire Festival highlight Moab’s different road riding opportunities. The first day follows the mighty Colorado River corridor downstream passing by ancient puebloans petroglyphs. The next two days leave the valley and climb the beautiful canyon roads into red rock country to Dead Horse Point State Park and through Arches National Park. Channel the energy of riding through this grandeur of Moab’s canyon country by putting purpose behind your cycling. This event raises funds for cancer survivorship programs. For more information contact 435-259-2698 or visit

March 28-29, 2009

For you runner nuts out there:

24 hours of Utah Team Relay and Solo Challenge – Experience the beautiful desert landscape of Moab, Utah while testing your own personal limits. This years race will be run on the beautiful Monitor and Merrimac trail 16 miles north of Moab. Racers will run 6 mile laps with approximately 430’ of climbing per loop. For more information visit our website at, or call 303-249-1112.

Coming up in early April is the much-loathed (okay, I'm editorializing here) Easter Jeep Tour. If you're really into running Jeeps with crazy monster huge tires all over the beautiful Moab area, well then, by all means, this is your thing. Or you could just go and throw eggs. Whatev. See here for info on how to further ruin the environment. Um, I mean, run a huge Jeep all over Moab and then drink beer. Not that I'm knocking beer. Beer: good. Big monster trucks in Moab: bad. Just my super humble thoughts, here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Belated Birthdays

Wallace Stegner’s Birthday
(18 february 1909)

The last ten days got lost – classes taught,
essays read and marked, a meeting
sandwiched into lunch – and I forgot
about Wallace Stegner’s birth,
about his books
quietly keeping their places on my shelves.
And this morning it’s too late
to remember, Stegner
gone for another year.
I’ll have to celebrate
something else.
Maybe the first of March,
a day when it will be possible again
to speak of lions
masquerading as lambs.

Utah tops in online porn

This is just plain weird. So weird it deserves a post. And perhaps a toast:

According a study by the Harvard Business School, and reported in New Scientist, traditionally conservative and religious states, particularly those that voted for John McCain in the last election, also consume the most internet porn.

According to the article titled "Porn in the USA," "Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama."

Topping the list is our humble, reverent, anti-gay-marriage-funding neighbor, Utah.

Utah, after funding California's successful campaign to ban gay marriage, is in line with other states with similar attitudes. "Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage," says article author Ewen Callaway.

Not to say these folks don't have some respect. The article also notes, "Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays – a 1% increase in a postal code's religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day."

Of course, you can't buy a beer, either.

Download the study here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feela's New Title

While David might be too much of a respectable fella to be tootin' his own horn, I thought I'd alert everyone that Feela's new poetry collection, Home Atlas, is out and on the shelves at Maria's Bookshop.

He'll be reading and signing at Maria's on Tuesday, April 7th at 6:30.

So, I guess I just tooted David's horn. That feels...weird.

Speak your mind next week about "Lake Nightmare"

This reminder from the San Juan Citizens Alliance:
Please save the date on your calendars for March 5th to provide input to the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District (ALPWCD) regarding the design and development of recreation facilities on Lake Nighthorse. This is your opportunity to share your interests, concerns, and vision for the future.

This meeting will be held THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH, (5:30 -9:30 PM) at the DURANGO PUBLIC LIBRARY.

As you may already know, State Parks has formally declined to take over the operation of the reservoir. While there are no federal project dollars to complete the design and/or build out of the recreation facilities (except for the boat ramp), the ALPWCD would like to get input from the public to guide the development of these facilities.

The tentative agenda includes: an overview on the history of the effort (related to recreation) and where it stands today, an overview of the EIS as related to recreation, a panel discussion of project sponsors on their views and perspectives, a break out for small groups of attendees to discuss their thoughts on the topic, and lastly an opportunity to discuss potential next steps.

Key questions and points for consideration:

Who should manage the recreation? It can be anybody - public or private entity (although public is more typical), or a partnership of both.

What type of recreation should be allowed?

The funds associated with the boat ramp may or MAY NOT require the use of motorized boats on the lake as a stipulation of using the funds. Additionally, although the APLWCD is aware they will need a boat washing station to address the aquatic invasive species risk, it has not been discussed in detail or in relation to where the proposed boat ramp will go (as an aside, they plan on beginning construction of the ramp within the next month).

Could/should it be closed to recreation?

What are some short and long-term steps that could be taken?

What could be the vision for recreation at the new Lake Nighthorse?

What are your concerns about recreation at Lake Nighthorse?

What do you believe are the opportunities for recreation at Lake Nighthorse?

Should the development of the recreation facilities be phased? (As opposed to full build out from the start)

For more information, contact:

Meghan L. Maloney
Phone: (970) 259-3583
Fax: (970) 259-8303

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is LION country

These chilling photos were taken just a couple of days ago by Bryan Peterson, director of Bear Smart.

They were taken on private land up Lightner Creek, west of Durango. They show a fresh-killed yearling deer, loosely buried in debris, and surrounded by large lion tracks.

Needless to say, after taking these quick pics, he didn't hang around long.

And "I not going back to this place anytime soon," Bryan added.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review: Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale (Ska Brewing)

From Beer at 6512, a beer blog for Durango:

For the first time in years, Ska Brewing Co., Durango’s largest brewer, has introduced a new beer to its year-round lineup. Certainly, a cause for drunken celebration followed by a sober contemplation of the offering.

The Ska boys chose to grace the market with Modus Hoperandi, an IPA that packs a 6.8 percent alcohol by volume wallop, with 65 IBUs.

Ska is following a popular style. India pale ales are distinguished by their hop bitterness and high alcohol content. They were developed in the 18th century by British brewers who wanted a beer strong enough to mask the spoilage that inevitably occurred on the long sail to India, which was a British colony at the time. Or so the story goes, and it makes sense. After a long day of subjugating the natives, an IPA must be refreshing. (Soggy Coaster reading suggestion: pair a Modus Hoperandi with “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell’s famous essay on British imperialism).

In recent years, American craft brewers have seized on the IPA, turning it into a pissing match of who could stuff the most hops in a bottle. Dogfish Head of Delaware won that contest with its 120 Minute IPA, an experimental brew bringing 20 percent ABV and 120 IBUs. It tastes like no beer you have ever had. (Star Liquors stocks it, by the way).

Steamworks Brewing has its own entrant in the pissing match: Conductor Imperial IPA (8.5 ABV, 96 IBUs), a way-over-the-top hop bomb that Soggy Coaster finds excessively bitter.

Many beer drinkers love IPAs, and for some, an appreciation of the style sets a true beer aficionado apart from a domestic-sucking ignoramus. Soggy Coaster is not one of these people. Perhaps it is sacrilege, but he prefers good pale ales, strong golden ales, Belgian styles and stouts to the simplistic, bitter aggression of many IPAs.

Which brings us to Modus Hoperandi. It is a major effort from Ska, and it will be found wherever Ska beers are sold. Durango beer drinkers can buy it now; Ska fans on the Front Range and other states will get it in coming weeks. Ska opted to can Modus Hoperandi as well as bottle it, a curious decision given the IPA’s aggressive profile. Typically, brewers can more approachable beers. A six-pack of Modus Hoperandi cans retails for $8.39 at Ska HQ: not cheap by any means.

The first thing one notices is the can’s graphics. Ska has distinguished itself with tattoo- and comics-inspired art from day one. Modus Hoperandi advances this grand tradition with a fantastic design: a dark green background with three fellas in suits (one a skeleton) strolling out of the Ska logo, which is itself adorned with green hop flowers. It is perhaps the coolest beer can in America.

Modus Hoperandi – the name is also excellent – is perhaps best enjoyed straight from the can or a pint glass. It pours a light amber color. A minimal head recedes quickly.

The taste is exceptional for the style. It is bitter, but less so than other IPAs. A nice, hoppy floral aroma greets the nose. A slightly fruity taste – those hops again – is evident. Soggy Coaster found himself liking Modus Hoperandi despite his general aversion to the style. Modus Hoperandi will be a great beer for spring and summer.

The bottom line: people who enjoy IPAs will love Modus Hoperandi. People who generally do not like IPAs will tolerate and perhaps even like it. Soggy Coaster predicts Modus Hoperandi will find an eager market and stick around in Ska’s lineup for a long while. It is good, and only Soggy Coaster’s general aversion to the style keeps it from earning a higher grade here. B+

- From Beer at 6512, a beer blog for Durango

More from the science of appearances file...

[photo: Arizona Game and Fish Dept.]

Sometimes you're looking for lions, and catch a jaguar instead. Having considered this possibility, the research team attached a collar, and released the 118 pound male to continue roaming a landscape that trumps the concept of national borders. This may be the jaguar known as Macho B, appearing only as an image on motion-triggered cameras for the last thirteen years, or it may be another male migrating toward the northern portions of ancestral jaguar range; but the knowledge gleaned from this accidental trapping will further complicate the politics of fencing the empire.

So far the satellite-uplinked jaguar has stayed south of Tucson, but his ancestors once hunted the rims of the Grand Canyon. A quick glance at the habitat map I posted here last week should encourage you to consider adding jaguars to your phenological "watch for" list, and might give further incentive to teach your poodles and chihuahuas to heel.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feelin' Scrapple-y

It's that time of year: February, the longest short month of the year. Winter's hunkered down hard, the nights come early and cold, and summer's still oh-so-far away.

A good time to hunker down yourself: crack open a beer, warm up by the woodstove, and spark up ... whatever takes you to where ever you wanna be. And then turn on the TV and fire up a movie.

If your February therapy includes that kind of night for you, I'd like suggest a movie suited perfectly to all those mountain-town moods and needs and hankerings: serve yourself up a heaping of Scrapple.

Scrapple has been called everything from "Babe on Acid" to "A ski bum's version of Easy Rider." In a review I myself wrote when the film came out ten years ago, I sang its dirt-bag praises:
Scrapple [is] a great success of an independent film. The greatest success, though, from the point of view of someone who has witnessed several ski towns sink into the sewer hole of "resort" success (and what is a resort but a place offering a "lifestyle," but with enough modern comforts so you can have the style without the demands of the life once required to live there?) is that it gives a needed reminder for us mountain-town folks of why we live here, what it's really all about, and what the real value of small towns and our tribal subculture is. And still can be.
Filmed in Telluride (and employing back alleys to look like pre-resort Telluride), Scrapple unfolds through the course of one ski-town summer as the main character, Al Dean (played by writer and producer Geoffry Hanson, in a big, beautiful '70s afro) struggles to acquire a house to get his Vietnam-vet brother (Dan Earnshaw) out of a VA hospital. To do this, Dean takes on a variety of mountain-town occupations, from house painting to drug dealing -- particularly taking orders for a mysterious mystical Tibetan concoction called "Temple Balls" that he is sure will yield him his economic jackpot (so to speak).

Meanwhile some other entertaining and classic ski-town plot twists unfold:
  • In a greased-pig contest, one of Al Dean's roommates wins Scrapple the pig, which he and his shack-mates decide to fatten through the summer for an end-of-summer pig roast;
  • bandanna-headed motorcycle-riding stud Tom (Buck Simmonds) wrestles with both the death of his girlfriend (a subplot that casts a dark light on the mountain-town drug culture) and his new-found attraction to her best friend, Beth (Ryan Massey);
  • and the the sleazy developer (is that redundant?) as he wheedles a new airport to transform the town of Ajax (a thinly fictionalized early Telluride) into a major resort. (I think it was Woody Allen who once said, the scariest words in the English language are "it's terminal." In Western ski towns, it's the developer's line: "We have all the necessary ingredients to make Ajax the destination resort in North America.")
And through it all, Scrapple the porker lumbers along in and out of the plots, on his way toward enlightenment and transformation into "the Dharma Pig."

It all makes for a fun, funny, and festive '70's kinda ride.

And all this also makes Scrapple the Big Wednesday, the surfer culture epic, of ski-bum life -- except that rather than highlighting the skiing (there's only a few minutes of skiing in the entire film) Scrapple fictionalizes but truthfully captures the "bumming" part of the culture -- that real Rocky Mountain lifestyle built around accumulating joy rather than money.

As Errol McNamara, the obligatory ski-town Aussie and philosophizing bartender in the film, says of how he arrived in Ajax: "Life is just way too short to end up at 60 with a gold watch and a pension. Headed out looking for Nirvana. This might not be it, but the back yard's not too bad."

So as you're riding out those caFebruary mountain-town cabin-fever blahs, remember why you do it. And, for a night, anyway, let Scrapple be your guide.

Here's a scene from the film where Scrapple transmorgifies from mere bacon to enlightened Dharma Pig:

Scrapple also delivers an outstanding soundtrack that drives many of the scenes, featuring happy-hippie greats old and new, from J.J. Cale to Jonathan Edwards' classic "Shanty," to some great stuff from Taj Mahal, Widespread Panic, and Sam Bush.

Learn more and purchase Scrapple and the soundtrack here.

* * * *

This post also appears on

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Writing and the West redux

Tim Egan is the only guy the NYT regularly bothers to have write about the west. See link. Comments are interesting too -- as if all of us who read Stegner, Harrison, Hasselstrom, Abbey, etc crawl out of the woodwork to offer support. I generally find High Country News far more relevant than the big papers. As Egan quotes Stegner at the end: If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Home Mountain

We get up there around noon. There's no hurry, though. Although the skies hang low as a living room ceiling all morning, the cloudcover isn't squeezing out any snow yet. This afternoon it'll arrive, the witchdoctors from the National Weather Service promise.

And, you know, with a ski pass, one grows into a bit of a snow snob.

Good call. The flakes arrives as we do. And I don't mean those slow-driving sudden-turning lane-wavering New Mexican drivers -- I mean that frozen manna that we acolytes of the church of the mountains wait for, pray for, worship when it finally comes. Especially after a long drought filled warm, lovely but snow-less weather like we've had.

Even though it's a weekend day, and "Local's Day" at Purgatory, there's not that many other people up here today -- at the base area, we ski right up to the lift and get on a chair. We deduce that it's perhaps because the Durango High School ski club is in Aspen, and the local ski teams are away at competitions -- as behests the offspring of those locals whose day it is here.

At the top of the chair, our own kids leave us as well -- same ski area, but they seek their own turns, with their own friends. So we head off ourselves, just my wife and I, toward our own favorite local's destination: Ye Olde Lift 8.

And the snow picks up, starting to accumulate like a layer of albino volcanic ash. We float the fluff fallen on the groomed green and blue runs traversing toward Purgatory's "backside." It's dreamy, like waterskiing a glassy lake.

We have our favorite combinations of routes across the mountain -- across our mountain The mountain where we've spent most of our married years together. The mountain we raised our kids on. The mountain where our kids make their first moves toward taking off, on their own, to find their own runs, to carve their own turns, with their own pack of "locals." Soon those turns will take them off the mountain, out of our home, and into the world.

Some of these routes we claim as our own by dubbing them with our own names -- "afternoon delight," "dreamsicle, "the tibeal plateau" -- and they are the product of years of exploring and experiences and studying and sharing. And skiing. Lots of skiing.

We ski them all today. The snow deepens. Lift lines never materialize. Sarah and I have a great, grand time bumping and carving and gliding and riding the chair together.

We ride Lift 8, of course, all day: That old triple chair that slowly climbs the steep-walled basin that looks out over Hermosa Park. It's a process getting to Lift 8, and it's a long, pensive ride on the '80s-era mechanism back to the top. (And longer if it suffers one of its not-infrequent breakdowns.) But it's worth it, I think. I like the slow ride. I like the time to think, or talk, or just look around and not think and not talk. I like the time to rest my telemark-tortured legs after careening down one of the many radical runs through the trees of Paul's Park or Poet's Glade, or bumped-out battlefields of Elliots or Boudreau's or Blackburn Bash.

(We once had the pleasure of having dinner with the old-time ski-bum Paul after whom Paul's Park is named. That, my wife said dreamily after, would be the greatest honor she could imagine: to have a run named after you ...)

Hard to get to. Hard to get down. A hassle to get around. (Kind of life in the rural West in a nutshell.) That's why Lift 8 is the locals' chair.

(And this year we savor it more than ever, since next year, the plan is, one of them new-fangled high-speed detachable quads, like Lift 3, is going to be installed here. Sure to make it easier to get to, less of a hassle to ride, more popular to more tourists. Kind of like the rural West in a nutshell.)

The snow accumlates quickly. Thickly. Arriving in ocean-fog-like wafts of dumping snowfall. People indistinguishable in their body armor and powdered with snow pant and grin and nod to each other knowingly.

We run into people we know, too, on the chair, at the top of the mountain, at Dante's, the mid-mountain cafeteria. We run into the same people we always see up here, smiling away on a powder day. And we run into many people we haven't seen in a long time -- river people and coworkers and people from the schools we work at.

And we run into one couple we've known as long as we've lived here, and who have kids just a few years older than ours. Also river runners, travellers, campers, skiers, we've been following their tracks for many years now, looking ahead at what they're doing, what their kids are like, what is happening to them, and awaits us.

They're up here skiing today together. And their kids are off -- elsewhere, off into and around the world. And we can see our next big adventure.

But until then, I'm thankful for and savoring being able to bring our kids up here, to raise them here, with this, our home mountain. Where it's always locals day.


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Lip Service

All kisses suck

You’re not doing it correctly
if the lips don’t pucker, a fleshy
forward thrust designed

to extend your reach, but that’s
where the presumption ends.
I don’t have to remind you

that Hollywood has made a mess
of such a perfect thing, an actor’s maw
for instance, wide and gaping

clamped over another actor’s mouth
so that their tongues churn and writhe
like eels in a salivating sea.

That’s not a kiss. It’s a technique
used in resuscitation, leading up to
some medical emergency resolved

but it’s not a kiss. What follows the pucker
should be a short discernible intake
of breath, as if a spaghetti noodle

is slipping from the lip
and if you open your eyes fast enough
to see a smile reshape that mouth

you just kissed, well then
whatever happens next
should tax the limits of description.

A 21st Century Valentines

Compatibility a cyber valentine

by ArtGoodtimes for Robyn Bob & Delaney Covelli

Mine can't read the attachment
from yours.

But no sweat.

Just send me something

blind copy.

Found at random.

Try cracking the dictionary

& running a finger

down Madonna’s spine.
Eyes closed. Down Webster’s.

And, Apple of my eye,

Duchamp scampers

up the down chocolate grinder


to fuse a new connection

(perhaps having to ignore the IBM

error message box).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The biology of capitalism

Ok, here's why I will never be a Free Market fanatic, nor a guru of even run of the mill growth-based capitalism.

1) We live in a bounded world, called Planet Earth.
2) Cells in our bodies that have no mechanism for die-off -- that is, have nothing to forestall endless growth -- are called cancer cells. The growth, uninhibited, is called metastasis.
3) At another scale, let's look at human life span. We start out in utero, where hyperplasia -- or the proliferation and development of many new types of cells/growth occur (to wit: stem cells morph into specific cells). Then we begin to grow on this base, and most growth after our early life is in the form of hypertrophic growth -- or the increase in cell size.
4) Then we get our full size, reproduce, and by middle age figure whatever growth is going on is not in the direction of biology, but more inner: psychological, spiritual, etc. We actually use less resources if we're not acting out previous adolescent fantasies and buying Porsches, etc. That is, we (hopefully) acheive a steady-state and then senescence.
5) Our economy, on the other hand, has an entire philosophical industry justifying why it should stay at Stage 3 -- a barely post-adolescent stage with the concomittant belief that the GNP should just keep exhibiting hypertrophism.
6) No other organism on earth acts like this (save cancer cells). And countless civilizations before us -- the Maya, Chaco, Ur, etc and so forth -- have demonstrated the folly of expansionistic fantasy. (See Jarrod Diamond's Collapse or Guns, Germs and Steel; see also, more locally, David Stuart's Anasazi America). The difference this time is that the whole world is involved.
7) So to reach steady-state, or to grow up out of hypertrophic adolescent economic theory and practice, we've got to can our entire economic model.
8) Even Obama is unwilling to go there.
9) Dammit.
10). Glad to see y'all are willing to go there, though.
11). Such is my half-baked analogy, but my current theory is that somewhere in their unconscious pea-brains the hyper-conservative free-marketers have a vague sense their ability to be adolescent in body and soul and economic mind is about to end. So they cling to sexy fantasies (Sarah Palin, Drill Baby Drill) in the hopes they don't have to do the real work. Meow.

Pythons along the ol' San Juan?... on the "science of appearances"

[ U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior / National Park Service photo by Lori Oberhofer]

Last year, the U. S. Geological Survey released a study projecting that the climate of the Four Corners region could become habitable for pythons, just one long lifetime from now.

[Projected climate in the continental United States in the year 2100, based on global warming models, that matches climate in the pythons' native range in Asia. USGS image.]

Midway through this winter of seriously weird weather, while waiting for fresh pow to blanket the back country of my home range, I took a walk on the mesa the other day. Snow was melting off the fields, and in some south-facing furrows, I got a glimpse of the future. Not pythons, gators, or tigers; but, oh my, green-up was in full (so to speak) 'bloom.'

Got your attention?...a call for citizen-scientists
"Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include the timing of leafing and flowering, agricultural crop stages, insect emergence, and animal migration. All of these events are sensitive measures of climatic variation and change, are relatively simple to record and understand, and are vital to both the scientific and public interest." [USA National Phenology Network(USANPN)]

Long the province of of a disorganized rabble of farmers, hunters, gatherers, and peripatetic seekers of random knowledge (see Thoreau's "Faith in a Seed"), citizen-phenologists now have a budding national network to collate and analyze their observations. Since 2007, the USANPN has collected botanical data in two programs, Project Budburst and NPN Core Protocols, to document budding and blooming times. Both are looking for citizen observers, so all interested plant-gazers should check them out.

In December 2008, USGS announced the launch of a new Wildlife Phenology Program, a partnership between USANPN and The Wildlife Society. Data collection will begin in 2010, giving plenty of time to document the projected invasion of our beloved local waters by the dreaded duo depicted above. (OK, those two were doing the dance of death in Everglades National Park. Be careful in the Big Bend country though. See below.)

[Current areas of the continental United States with climate matching that of the pythons' native range in Asia. USGS image.]

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy Darwin Day!

Who knew? Here in the officially EPA-sanctioned Year of Science, the long-dead hero/bogeymen of one of the troubled empire's longest running culture wars is a hot ticket. I've just read Darwin-themed issues of National Geographic and Smithsonian, listened to his great-great-grandson on NPR's Science Friday, and even found a countdown to his birthday.

Darwin Day 2009

Despite Durango's party-town rep, as far as I know our home range is devoid of Darwin Day celebrations (the closest I could find are in Albuquerque and Tucson), but you can search for one, or organize your own.

For a more sober treatment of Darwin's Big Idea, here's a bit of the History of Evolutionary Thought, and last month's Scientific American Magazine, on the "Evolution of Evolution."

Poem for a Sunday

So Sundays often feel contemplative to me. Maybe it's something particularly on my mind today, as the skies are broody, weeping with copious amounts of rain, and I am contemplating a great many more things than just my navel. Poetry definitely falls into the category of contemplation. I'm playing with the idea of posting a different one here each Sunday. Not, let it be known, my own poetry. I don't really write that. But the words of others that have moved, that's a different story. Or poem.

My friend Rachel Snyder is a writer extraordinaire, currently based in Colorado, although not exactly in the southwestern area...but very worthy of reading, in my as-always humble opinion. Don't believe me? Check her out yourself. Here's a poem from her that she posted today, added here for your enjoyment wherever you may be.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know!
You approach the altar time and again
Only to retreat under the weight of your own misgivings,
Your feet falter, caught in the glue of ego and indecision
And you retreat once more into your lone and empty cell.

You know I’m not making this up!
You muster a weak smile for the woman on the sidewalk,
While those pesky concrete walls encircling your heart
Rise up repeatedly in triumphant separation,
Signs on every floor flash by in hypnotic contempt
Me, Them. Self, Other. Yes, No.

How often do you ache and preen in the name of Love
Yet push back the gentle beckonings even as Love calls your name?
Entangled in the thorns, you miss the scent of roses,
Steeped in old words and painful recollection,
Creation’s most rapturous melodies pass by unheard.

I am merely mentioning what you may have forgotten:
It is time again to listen.
To unloose your grasp on all that is dying
Sweep out the dust of disappointment and regret,
Wipe clean your soulwindows of no-longer-useful residue
And surrender to the insistent Call that bears your name.

Have faith that all is safe now,
That you may take up the linoleum covering your spiritfloor
And liberate the tender interior surfaces yearning to breathe deeply
once more!
The light of your brilliance has reduced bushels to ashes;
What you have protected for so long is now ready to provide.
Take a moment to remember what may have slipped your mind:
In you rests a wondrous seed that can never be duplicated
A boundless capacity for passionate living
And a never-ending supply of unrestrained Love
It’s yours if you want it,You are worthy, deserving…
…but surely, you already know that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fear and Loathing - and optimism - in Mountain Village

A friend of mine just spent a bargain weekend in Mountain Village. Not exactly wilderness, this multi-million-dollar trophy-home enclave set on the backside (appropriately enough, methinks) of Telluride Ski Area's Coonskin Mountain that looms over the more appealing and personable -- and relatively real -- town of Telluride.

Yet he came back with some crazy tales.

View Larger Map

The stories he told me, though, weren't about the skiing -- that was fair to midland, he reported. It was the house he stayed in at Mountain Village that left him dazzled and babbling.

The lodging was the gift of a friend, who has a friend on the East Coast who has a house in Moutain Village. The owner and his family only get to Mountain Village, you know, a couple of weekends a year -- the rest of time time it sits empty, but is kept ready, idling, waiting: heated, stocked, lit, and fully accoutremented.

The "house," as my friend described it, is a gargantuan wood and log structure with gaping glass windows, a multi-floor cathedral-style vaulted central living space, and seven or so bedrooms -- each with its own bathroom. And more. The place, too, he related with some audible awe, was fully outfitted with a Wii game console, super-sonic sound system, and drive-in-sized flat screen TV -- with the cable, of course, turned on year-round for those couple of weekend visits.

And although the owner was kind enough to let his local friend bring some buddies -- like that Buffett song "Gypsies in the Palace" -- to hunker down there with their cheap beer and T-Cards, it still left my friend with some vague, gnawing sense of ill ease, like, That's just not okay ...

I get it.

Living here in one of the most gorgeous spots on Earth, we, of course, are all too familiar with Mountain Village, or some jet-set enclave like it, that has been carved out like a fortified colonial outpost in some beautiful corner of the San Juans or Four Corners. And if you're like me, you can't help but look toward those often-empty but always-lit-and-heated and maintained mega-houses set upon the metaphoric hill above the commonfolk, and scratch out a mental note: Um, Mr. Obama, I have a great idea where the country can save energy and resources right away ...

And we're certainly not alone in our distaste for such waste. Mountain Village itself -- the crown jewel in Four Corner's set of gaudy second-home (and third, and fourth) monuments to ego -- has even been the subject of a funny and biting mockumentary, The Lost People of Mountain Village, by Telluriders Carol Black and Neal Marlens.

Still, I try to not let my cynicism and scorn obscure the big picture here: That those aren't just distasteful shrines to oppulence piled up in places like Mountain Village -- those are also resources held in reserve for a day not far away when we'll need all that stored wood, all those spare parts, all that housing space. Just think: that single-family tens-of-thousands-of-square-foot weekend getaway spot my friend squatted in could one day be ... a hostel for dozens of trekkers ... an indoor village for some future self-styled traveling-buddha-like career-bumming class of wayfarers ... or a series of studio apartments for the future dwellers in some Rewilded West.

For myself, that's a beautiful vision that takes away some of the sorrow I feel for the poor slobs so rich that they feel they need an outpost in some faraway place they wish they could afford to let go of their wealth enough to actually move to. I think now that maybe this is their way of giving back to the future generations of the places and cultures they plundered in their reckless and fruitless search for happiness in their sad, unrooted, tedious, wealthy worlds.

Again, though, I'm not alone in this optimistic vision.

This vision, too, or something like it is being explored elsewhere -- in bigger circles and by smarter people than just some middle-aged low-budget still-ski-bumming multi-jobbed curmudgeon like me. The New York Times recently ran a piece titled "What Will Save the Suburbs," which profiles progressive urban planners who are already looking at potential benefits and uses of abandoned suburban neighborhoods and their accompanying blight of strip malls and box stores.

And those skills we'll need to make use of those in those reclaimed landscapes that got hammered in the last of couple of decades or centuries of urban/suburban sprawl? There, too, there be those looking for a bright side. Check out these "urban foragers," stalking a still bountiful and resilient landscape, even in urban Chicago.

Sky Full of Bacon 07: Eat This City from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

So next time you pass by some gated community or resort slum or McMansion hovel, swallow that bitterness, put away that molotov cocktail, and instead see instead the potential. What bounty is awaiting us in the disappearing and someday-to-be-reclaimed Mountain Villages around the West?

* * * *

Proceeds from sales of the Lost People of Mountain Village DVD support the Sheep Mountain Alliance. Buy the DVD here.

This post first appeared on The Monkey Wrench Dad Blog, on

Reports from Lone Cone Country

by Art Goodtimes

Publicizing the Pacific’s plastic garbage patch

ROZ SAVAGE … My old St. Joseph’s Mountain View grammar school buddy and fellow paisano Ray DiFazio sent me a email (with photos!) of this amazing woman. Some of you extreme sports mountain men & mamas may be acquainted (bring her to Mountainfilm!). If not, here’s his account …

Many of you have heard me talk about Roz Savage, the extraordinary woman who rowed (yes ‘rowed’) from San Francisco to Waikiki in 99 days last summer. Recently Roz spoke at the Presidio Yacht Club in Sausalito.(The very place from which embarked on her remarkable ‘voyage’). I was fortunate enough to have a nice conversation with her during which she was as gracious and upbeat as I had suspected, from listening to her pod casts as she was en route to Hawaii.

We then had dinner together and I marveled at how, when seen in person, this relatively tiny woman was able to complete such an ambitious undertaking … Roz's 24' rowboat was specially designed for rowing the oceans. Her voyage was completely solo and without support. It has been estimated that at her goal of 10,000 a day, she completed almost a million strokes during the voyage.

Her underlying mission was to raise the public's awareness of the crisis arising from the enormous amount of plastic and other debris that is being dumped into our oceans every day. Some of you are aware that there is a patch of garbage in the Pacific ocean the size of Texas. Plastic bottles & bags comprise a surprisingly large percentage of this ‘North Pacific Garbage Patch’, as it is called. The plastic breaks down, over time, into very small floating particles. These particles then enter the food chain where those at the top (guess who?) ingest them, and the toxins they produce. By the time they get to us, they are in greatly concentrated form. This not only presents a very real danger to us, but, if things don't change, to our children and even more so to their children …

As she neared Hawaii, Roz encountered some environmental scientists who completed a similar voyage (but that's a whole other story). These scientists dragged a skimmer behind their boat to collect whatever was floating on the surface. Even at the latitudes near Hawaii, the material they collected was comprised not only of phyto-plankton and other life forms (natural), but even more so of tiny pieces of plastic (patently unnatural). At the time, they were thousands of miles from the "Garbage Patch.”

Roz uses the analogy that just one stroke of her oars, in San Francisco Bay, will not get her very far, but a million strokes got her all the way to Hawaii. By the same token, if each of us does our small part to keep our empty plastic bags and bottles from entering the environment (by recycling, for example), we collectively can have a tremendous positive impact …

This year, Roz will set out from Hawaii on May 15, to row (hopefully) to Samoa. Her message, this time, will be to raise awareness of global warming. Later, Roz plans to row from Samoa to Australia with yet another message. When she completes that, she will be the only woman to ever row across the Pacific Ocean … As she was leaving the yacht club, I offered to walk her to her car. She flashed that engaging smile of hers and said, ‘I just rowed to Hawaii, I think I can find my car!’”
Read about the recent discoveries about plastics in the ocean here.

Check out this video blog entry from Roz's trip:

Here's a quick primer on the North Pacific Garbage Patch:


Deep Ecologist Passes

ARNE NAESS … A Norwegian philosopher who took his values and principles beyond the classroom, he won fame as part of a protest against the flooding of Mardalsfossen waterfall in the '70s, where protesters chained themselves to the dam site … He is considered the founder and coiner of the term "Deep Ecology," and he was good friends with my teacher, the late Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton … Norwegian Sjur Paulsen’s movie Loop, which featured Naess in its final scenes, played at the 2007 Mountainfilm festival in Telluride … Naess died earlier this month at 96, although he was playing his piano up until last year.




death’s incense’s
lush & baroque

while life blazes
spare & elliptical


Shame on you classic rock radio station, for ignoring 98 percent of the output of rock and roll music released between the years 1965 and 1978. You are foolish, yet you have most of America by the ear who for some reason don't mind hearing "Sympathy for the Devil" a hundred times over. Here are three classic rock records that are all but ignored by classic rock radio.
Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street- 1972

Led Zeppelin- Physical Graffiti- 1975

The Who- Quadrophenia- 1973
I feel like I should write something about these records, but you all have outstanding taste, else you wouldn't be here. So do I really have to?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

having my garden, and eating it too--or else

Just stumbled across this very cool enviro news site, thanks to an article I browsed on So this dude says we must sustainably farm, or we all starve to death. (Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but you now get my point very clearly, no?)

Anyway, it put me in mind of the Kenyan slum gardener. He's definitely on to something, probably much bigger than he even imagined...

In theory, of course, I support the thesis that sustainable food growing is the way to go. Do I believe it's truly possible for the whole world, in these times, to go this route? Nope, not really. Not right now, that's for sure. In some ways, I can really foresee another extinction coming our way...and it might be us. Some people these days know how to grow their own food, live where they can do just that, and have the time and inclination. But most of us...nah. It will be very, very interesting to see where we end up.

Food for thought...ahem.

A broader perspective


It’s called a social networking phenomenon,
this desire to paste our faces
in cyberspace in the hope somebody finds us.

And here in the broader galaxy we plant
the ones we love in plots of earth
marked by numeric profiles

or we push them into the sun
hoping to disperse their energy
to the widest possible audience, praying

they’ll contact the webmaster
directly instead of being forced to point
and click for an eternity.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Utah's land lease fire sale grinds to a screeching halt

Victory resounds for enviro-lovers: the Utah land lease wildfire has been halted. Read all about it here on my blog post. Pretty. Freakin'. Sweet.

Hooray for the little folks with the big mouths, the big stars who put their own mouths where their money is (thank you, Mr. Redford), and a country just fed up with rampant, mindless greed.

Now I need to get out and enjoy my newly undrilled public southern Utah lands....

Some Thoughts on Localization from Jeffrey Free Luers

I came across this article a couple of weeks ago, and it is actually posted on the WilderPress! blog site. It is a view on post- peak oil, post-civilization theory by environmental activist Jeffrey Free Luers. Luers is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for his part in the arson of 3 SUV's in Eugene as a protest to deforestation, climate change, and excessive human consumption of natural resources. Jeffrey continues to remain active from prison and recently wrote an article entitled "Taking Power" that addresses issues of global energy decline, use of renewables, the collapse of modern civilization, and how localization and personal responsibility play into necessary future plans. While some of Luers' facts may be a little skewed I think the ideas are solid, and drastically important. Especially in an area like Durango, it is increasingly important that we focus on localization and sustainability. The days of products transported thousands, or even hundreds, of miles may well be over. We must return to a stronger sense of community and interdependence. We must meet our neighbors and furthermore begin to share with them- they may become much needed support in a future that promises to provide much less. Beyond just our needs it is important to focus on a reconnection to the land; to once again remember where our food comes once again grow our own food, hunt, gather, build, invent, to once again get our damn hands dirty...I like to think of this as a new era of adult fort building! We should not feel threatened by the concept of localization, rather we ought to be excited, and relieved, to move into a lifestyle that is simpler, less chaotic, and more logical. Durango faces increased development in the future, and I believe it would be in our best interests to think long and hard about where we want this community to be in 10 years. In my mind sustainability does not equal growth, and growth does not necessarily equal progress. The future definition of progress will surely include a return to a simpler, more fulfilling life...

Stay wild. Stay free...

EarthFirst! holds Winter Rendezvous

For those who don't know, and for those who might be interested, EarthFirst! is holding its annual Winter Rendezvous in the mountains  of southern Arizona from Feb. 12th to the 16th. This is traditionally designated as a time for EF!ers from all over, but particularly the west, to come together and discuss the state of the environmental movement. For those interested in more information, such as a list of events and workshops, you can visit the EarthFirst! journal and their article about the conference. Here is the link:

New Warren Miller film showing in -- and features -- Silverton

If you're looking for a mountain getaway this Saturday, consider heading up to Silverton to catch the new Warren Miller film, Children of Winter Never Grow Old.

The new film features footage shot at Silverton Mountain. It will be shown at 7 p.m., Feb. 7, at the Silverton Mountain Headquarters in the Miners Theatre, at 1069 Greene Street.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Silverton Ski Team & Silverton Mountain’s Andy Calloway Fund

About the film:

Warren Miller's 2008 film showcases spectacular footage shot in Japan, Austria, British Columbia, Alaska, and Iceland with jaw-dropping performances by an impressive assembly of world-class athletes, including Jonny Moseley, Daron Rahlves, Marco Sullivan, Seth Wescott, Gerry Lopez, and Wendy Fisher.

Timeless Warren Miller athlete Chris Anthony takes on Leadville, Colorado's legendary skijoring competition. Pep Fujas explores Silverton Mountain, the only backcountry type ski resort in the United States. Teenage snowboard pro Ben Watts chases surf legend Gerry Lopez on Mount Bachelor's frozen waves. Skiing's top female athletes meet up in Crested Butte for the deepest powder in decades. And Jeff Annetts, Drew Stoecklein, and Derek Foose sail Iceland, skiing mountains that end in the ocean. Stefan Lessard of The Dave Matthews Band, Eric Fawcett of N.E.R.D, Adam Gardner of Guster, and Ed Robertson of The Barenaked Ladies unite to form Yukon Kornelius—a supergroup who perform on and off the snow in Vermont and Colorado.

"When it's cold and snowing, others run inside. But skiers and snowboarders do the opposite, no matter how old we are," said Max Bervy, director and producer. "We are all the Children of Winter, and if you ski or ride, this movie reaffirms what we all know, that we're lucky to know the shortest, coldest days of the year."

Check out the trailer:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Film about photo that changed the world coming to Durango

It's an iconic shot from the Vietnam War -- one, more than three decades later, people still recognize. It changed the course of the war -- and it changed the course of photographer Eddie Adams' life.

An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story, a documentary about the photographer and his photo, and the effects the latter had on the former, will be shown at the 2009 Durango Film Festival. The festival this year will be March 4 - 8. (Exact schedule has yet to be released.)

Watch the trailer here:

An Unlikely Weapon Trailer from senshi on Vimeo.

If you'd like to help support the Durango Film Festival, head to Ska Brewing Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm at SKA Brewing Company's World Headquarters at 225 Girard St. in Bodo.

~10% of DIFF Beer sales will benefit the 2009 festival
~Food available for purchase from Zia Taqueria
~Musical entertainment provided by Gigi Love & Michael Coble

For more information call (970) 375-7779

Monday, February 2, 2009

Inside Outside Southwest magazine hits the information superhighway

Inside Outside Southwest magazine, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary in November, is now leaping into the 21st century with the launching of an active and interactive on-line version of the magazine this morning.

Inside Outside has had a website since its earliest incarnation, but until today that site consisted of just links to copies of each issue's stories. The website launched today will feature expanded versions of stories featured in the print version of the magazine, as well as stories and columns exclusive to the The website will also (soon) offer a searchable database of all the magazine's issues back to its birth in 1998. will also constantly have fresh and updated stories, including news updates, a regional calendar, webcams, and blogs from both long-time and first-time Inside Outside Southwest writers.

[Including, yes, in the interest of full disclosure, yours truly, in the form of the blog The Monkey Wrench Dad. (In case anyone cares, the column I've been writing for for IOSW since 2001, Neanderthal Crossing, is ending -- the last Neanderthal Crossing is in the current issue.)]

The print version of Inside Outside will still be available around the Four Corners. Instead of coming out bimonthly, though, the print magazine will now be a smaller but more frequent publication, with a new issue every month.

The February issue -- the first of the revamped magazine -- is available now.

* * * *

Check out -- and give feedback and suggestions on -- here.

You can sign up to receive updates from here.

Read the first post in The Monkey Wrench Dad blog -- "Fear and loathing -- and optimism -- in Mountain Village."

More of the power of pictures - and sounds

Pending a Four Corners follow-up on Mr. Wright's great link to Magnum Photo's "The Places We Live," here's a BBC story about organic farming near the Kibera, Kenya slum, with photographs...
Mohamed and pumpkin
(Mohamed and the pumpkin [BBC Worldservice, some rights reserved])
The surroundings
(The surroundings [BBC Worldservice, some rights reserved])

a Google map of Kibera...

and more pictures.