Thursday, December 24, 2015

Politics, Theater, Water & Good News

Trying to move US to the radical middle

INNER TRUMP … No use denying it. As Americans, we all carry a bit of Donald around with us. Crypto-racist language. Mean sound bites. Impossibly simple fiats … Truth is, we are all embedded in the United States of America, the First World’s leading nation -- which has assumed neo-colonial guard duty for the Free World’s Market Empire. At least that’s been the vision, since the ‘50s, of the DullesBrothers/Eisenhower/Nixon/Reagan/Bush/Wall Street Journal wing of what many of us have taken to calling our nation’s “deep politics.” This is the same group of powerful men representing the 1% who, post-WWII, created the CIA, a Cold War strategy of mutual assured destruction with Russia, had Mossedegh, Arbenz and (it would appear) both Kennedys killed, and has been overturning as much of FDR’s legacy as possible and preventing any quasi-socialist proposals for money to be spent on society’s middle and lower classes … Look, we all need to move to the middle to get things done … Let certain pols make fools of themselves. It’s a free country, as my daddy used to say. But neither side of the political divide is going to close the gap by throwing rocks from the other cliff-face.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC … This was meant to run last week, but got crowded out by other items. But I have to comment. It’s amazing to me how a live community theater show is so powerful. Even with non-professionals, there’s something about live theater that grabs one in ways that even the most polished films rarely do … I don’t know exactly how Sara Doehrman manages to pull off such great community theater musicals. But corny, nostalgic, old-fashioned – little of that matters when you see neighbors and kids acting out a play, singing and carrying on, in a thoroughly convincing manner. Her adapted Rodgers and Hammerstein delight had us all charmed and entertained a couple Fridays back. There were so many standouts I can’t name them all. But I loved all the characters and the singing and the acting. It really amazed me how powerful theater is, even community theater with amateurs … There’s a reason I don’t miss ACE of Norwood shows in the Livery. They’re wonderful!

HAMLET … As you can tell, I love live theater. Theater on film almost always seems to lack the immediacy and wraparound embrace of live stage performances. But I had to make an exception for the Royal National Theatre’s production of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbicon theater in London, and watched last weekend at the Palm, thanks to the good work of Jennie Franks and SPARKy Productions … It was nothing short of astounding. I can’t wait for the next production.

THE GREAT DIVIDE … April Montgomery of the Telluride Foundation and Laura Kudo of the Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program showed this wonderful primer on water in Colorado at the Wilkinson Library last week. Every Coloradoan ought to see this film. There’s probably no easier way to get up to speed on the issues associated with water in this state than watching The Great Divide. Not only is it well executed, but it’s enjoyable, balanced and thought-provoking. Peter Coyote does the narration … Plus, our own April M gets a couple marvelous quotes in the mix of water experts, and the documentary ends with a finale shot of Bridalveil Falls … Highly recommended.

GOOD NEWS … Kudos to San Miguel County for protecting the Forest Service’s Wasatch Trail up Bear Creek from closure by the Chapman gang. State Appeals Court shot down the Chapman legal challenge on all counts, upheld Judge Deganhart’s lower court ruling and released a written opinion, making it precedent-setting law -- unless overturned by the State Supreme Court … Kudos too to the Trust for Public Land, GOCO, Colorado State Forest Service, the federal Forest Legacy Project and Ouray County for putting the 2,248-acre Sawtooth Mountain Ranch into a conservation easement. That means water rights for the 11 springs and 20 ponds on the ranch will stay with the land, including two tributaries of the Uncompahgre River which run through the ranch property, protecting drinking water and irrigation water.

NOW WE KNOW … “We could question when we were young about the dead and whether they live on in heaven, or in the ground, or in molecules of air, or whether they return, or wherever it is they go. We can no longer question. We can no longer say we do not know … We look now into mirror and see them. Our mothers’, our grandmothers’ faces. Our fathers’, our grandfathers’ traces. Their gnarled old hands, their blotched and spotty skin. We see them in the postures of our bodies, their shape or stoop. Their sprightliness and grace … We see them in the predilections of our souls. The ancestors -- hear them in our stories. Stories of home, of lost love, of youth. Stories of victory or of loss. Echoing in us like ram’s horns, or tambourines with a beat in the movement of our fingers. Or words flowing through our hearts and the rhythm of our feet … On the great round now, winter. Darkest night. Abyss of night. Gateway to the dream beyond the dream. The very animals in us howl. And the moon, shining on fields, shining on sea. Shining, shining on ancient Earth.” –Amalia Sabatini, Clinton, NY


when the glass slipper
does not fit, learning
the joy of bare feet

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Western Slope Poet Laureate

Thursday, December 17, 2015


John Trudell leaves us with his legacy

AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT … One of those truly influential figures on modern American society has been the activist, poet, songwriter, and visionary John Trudell. He passed away last week after five decades of working to empower the dispossessed and help us envision a future free of racism, violence and injustice … “John's words were only one of his many gifts to this earth. His actions and activism were also an inspiration,” said Mike Mease, director of the Buffalo Field Campaign in Montana. “John paid for his actions with the loss of his wife, three children, and mother in law. Rather than silencing him, this only made him stronger” … Born in 1946 in Omaha, Nebraska, Trudell grew up on his father’s Santee Sioux reservation. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, serving on a destroyer off the Vietnamese coast, and studying communications at San Bernardino Valley College, he turned to activism. In 1969 he joined other Native American militants in occupying Alcatraz Island, the former federal prison, and called for its return to native peoples, while broadcasting from Radio Free Alcatraz … Having been myself radicalized as a Vista volunteer on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, I was deeply moved by the action, and wrote a poem supporting the takeover that was published in the local alternative newspaper, the Good Times (formerly the San Francisco Express Times). Although the number of protesters eventually dwindled and the last of them were removed by federal agents after 19 months, the action mobilized a resurgence of the Native American pride and a growing pan-Indian push for sovereignty and for Anglo recognition of the genocidal wars on indigenous peoples waged in the settlement of this continent … Inspired by Trudell and Richard Oakes, a Mohawk activist killed shortly after the Alcatraz action, I attended a pipe ceremony for the first Longest Walk (1978), brought food to the marchers in Nevada, and marched with them into Utah. AIM-organized, The Longest Walk brought demands to DC for mitigation of the effects of climate change and calls for environmental sustainability plans, protection of sacred sites, and the renewal of improvements to Native American sovereignty and health... He served as national chairman of the American Indian Movement during much of the 1970s, his tenure beginning after the 71-day standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota … In 1979, Trudell burned a U.S. flag on the steps of the FBI building in Washington, saying the flag had been desecrated by the government’s behavior toward American Indians and other minorities and that burning was the appropriate way to dispose of a desecrated flag. The next day his home on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada burned to the ground. The fire killed his pregnant wife and fellow activist, Tina Manning, as well as their three children and Manning’s mother. BIA police called the fire “accidental,” but Trudell maintained that it was arson, and an attempt to silence him. But, in spite of his personal pain, he never stopped struggling for the movement… I got to hear him speak at the AIM-sponsored Survival Gathering in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1980. His speech there, one of the great ones in American history, emphasized that Power resided with the People, not with governments or guns. He acknowledged that American Indians were victims of physical genocide, but stated that Anglos had also been victims of spiritual genocide, while Native Americans had preserved much of their spirituality in spite of all the forces arrayed against them … It wasn’t completely surprising then that he participated in one of the spiritually-oriented Steps to Awareness Festivals in Telluride back in the 1990s. Unfortunately, I never found anyone who recorded his speech here -- I myself was out of town and missed it … In some of his last words, Trudell said expressions of concern and love for him have been "like a fire to my heart," according to family friend Cree Miller. "Thank you all for that fire”

MORE TRUDELL… The death of John’s family led Trudell from militant activism to cultural advocacy. As on-line arts and social justice zine Colorlines explains, “…Trudell turned to a prolific career as a poet and musician, often blending the two with activist themes on more than a dozen albums. His final project, ‘Wazi's Dream,’ was released earlier this year … His family released a statement to those mourning this humble but powerful human being: “His wishes are for people to celebrate life and love, pray and remember him in their own ways in their own communities. With love for all.” … So, let’s celebrate his legacy in our county with a sampling of his quotes -- although you’ll find lots more on-line, like at:


“We’re not Indians and we’re not Native Americans. We’re older than both concepts. We’re the People. We’re the human beings.”

Every human being is a raindrop. And when enough of the raindrops become clear and coherent they then become the Power of the Storm.”

“We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it. There can be no trade off.”

“I think it’s the responsibility of every human being, not just those who wear the identity of poet, activist, voter, religious person – it’s the responsibility of every person. Our responsibility is to use our intelligence as clearly and coherently as we possibly can.”


One of our beloved messengers left this world December 8, 2015
In the early hours of the morning,
When the dreamers and teachers walk the earth
Speaking to us as we imagine the new day into being,
All of us here essential to the story in the great imagining.
They took John with them. It was time.

And he was ready, he’d said his goodbyes, only for now
Because we live in eternity together.
And was circled by those he loved: his children,
People whose lives he shared from his many travels
In this world to speak and sing the dreams and visions
He’d been given to take care of, to share.

And contingents of young warriors, from all over the country
Including Hickory Ground or Oce Vpofv people, from one of the last
Calls John answered for justice from the East, and other groups
From the North, West, and South arrived to pay respect
Because he was one of them, grown older and wise
After paying the terrible costs of being human
In a society broken by lies, greed, and our failures.

Everything has a cost.
Carrying a vision out of such massive tests demands the highest price of a prophet.
And we are human beings only after all.
And some visions are relentless.
To know the images and words you have to live them.
And they will not let you rest.

In every season are given messengers.
They rise up to carry a voice for a nation, a people, a time.
They emerge through holes from broken history, from bloody grounds,
stirred from the collective dream field by a need to rectify
the difference between earthly injustice and holy vision.

John Trudell was born of the need for someone among us
to stand and speak, from the Santee Sioux
Out of the heartbreak of this country, on February 15, 1946.
He grew up like other young native men, wandering these lands
Fed by water, trees, stones, and education that didn’t include them.
And in the middle of the age, when natives began gathering
Together from their tribal fires

Around the common need to affirm our mutual presence
As caretakers of our lands, our families, our existence as distinct nations
in an age of the rise of multinational corporate overlords,
and the continued loss and theft of our children to the greed carnival,
John stood up with his generation of change makers,
Questioners of evil, and warriors for justice.

He was there at Alcatraz, on the Trail of Broken Treaties, he traveled widely
as a wise witness in Indian country, in the aftermath of the aftermath
as the people stood for water rights, human rights, the right
to be human in a time when people were forgetting
What it means to be human ...

He was John Lennon, the son of Crazy Horse,
Dylan of the urban rez, the rez rez, the world rez.
 “I am just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human.”

John knew that art and culture were the ways to raise us up.

Our creations hold memory so we can know who we were, who
We are, and how we are becoming—he said that the artists
and warriors of the heart are the poets, musicians, rappers, dancers, actors, painters... those who create.

He was the original thinker who said:
“Think more. Believe less.” (Believe has the word “lie” in it.)
“We don’t need more leaders. What we need are thinkers.”
“We need to make peace with the earth.”

John roused an army of young native spoken word artists, and made it okay for a warrior
To write poetry. Poetry is the love a man and woman make when they create
A planet together. Poetry is a cleansing rain bringing water to a thirsty land.

John said of his poems, “They’re called poems, but in reality they’re lines
Given to me to hang on to.” And hang onto them we did,
From Tribal Voice to Heart Jump Bouquet, AKA Graffiti Man, Blue Indians, Bone Days, DNA: Descendant Now Ancestor, Madness and the Moremes, Crazier than HeIl, Wazi’s Dream and many others

And hang on to his words we will, for they remind us that:

“No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred for those who have no sense.”

These are good words for making a trail through this beloved earth
Into the next world, a road we are all traveling together …

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee/Creek Nation, Hickory Ground Ceremonial Ground, and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her newest collection is a book of poetry, “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,” from W.W. Norton. You can find her at

PARALLELS … What a brilliant job Telluride Theatre folks did with this original play. It was hilarious, taught us a lot about science, kept us riveted on the action in a non-traditional theater space, used choreography and lighting to great effect (Burning Many style), and all in all was a blast. Huge kudos to Sasha, Colin, Cat, Rachel, Gin, and Carlin. You easily deserved your standing ovation Sunday night.


Christmas Eve

buy one”
she says

But Doug fir
nailed to a wooden cross

& Jesus, Mary & Joseph
he begins to weep

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sugar, Nanoparticles & Other Strange Relations Dec16015

Some recent science finds of note

SUGAR SHOCKER … “Contrary to parental belief, sugar may actually cause drowsiness, not hyperactivity,” says Laura Sanders in Science News (Aug. 8th). According to a recent scientific study in the Journal of Neuroscience, key brain cells awash in glucose put mice to sleep … “We all experience this strong feeling of sleepiness after a very large meal,” reports French co-author Christophe Varin of the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center. Those study results suggest that sugar is the cause for these post-meal naps … This correlates with a 2006 study published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental which found that high-energy drinks, often loaded with sugar, can lead to quick surges of alertness. But over time, such high-sugar drinks, that have little caffeine, may actually enhance sleepiness.

NANOPARTICLES … According to Science News (Oct. 31th), many of us have been noshing on all manner of nanoparticles for some time. Explained Susan Gaidos, “Over the last two decades, nano-sized components – smaller than 100 nanometers – have found their way into a wide range of products: clothing, electronics and cosmetics as well as food” … Some of the more common teensy tiny additives include titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide and zinc oxide. Recent studies have suggested that these tiny compounds may not be as benign as originally thought, and most studies have focused on potential harm to the intestinal tract. But Dr. James Waldman is worried about studies that show that these nanoparticles don’t stay in one place in the body. “Particles are getting into the bloodstream,” he noted, “and once they’re there, they can go on to any other organ” … Foods with significant amounts of titanium dioxide include Hostess powdered Donettes, Kool-Aid blue raspberry, M&M chocolate candy, Betty Crocker whipped cream frosting, Trident White peppermint gum, Jell-O banana cream pudding, Mother’s iced oatmeal cookies, Albertson’s mini-marshmallows and Vanilla milkshake Pop-Tarts.

STRANGE RELATIONSScience News reported in August on an article that appeared in Science magazine earlier in the year, which turns our view of evolutionary branchings on its head. Gone are the “kingdoms” of the old biology tree of life. Humans and animals get lumped in with mushrooms and eukaryotic microorganisms under the supergroup heading “Opisthokonts” – derived from two Greek words meaning “rear poles.” Opisthokonts refers to the common characteristic of organisms having flagellate cells, such as the sperm of most animals and the spores of chytrid fungi, which propel themselves with a single posterior flagellum … I suppose we might start fine-tuning our insults of variously undesirable humans from ass-holes to ass-poles.

ARCHIVE … It’s a little tricky to find my column’s on the Watch’s on-line site. You have to go to the “E-edition” hot key, get the issue you’re interested in, and scroll down to the column … So, I’ve created a personal blog in case some folks want to see the column and make comments. Go to … I currently have four columns up and running and will post future ones after they’ve been published in the Watch.

POETRY … In 1992, 17 percent of Americans said they read a poem at least once in the past year. In 2012 that number fell to just 6.7 percent, according to the Washington Post  But this January the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Club will be attempting to turn that focus around with a First Tuesday reading at Arroyo’s in Telluride that will feature famed Southwestern master poet Judyth Hill teaming up with international pop sensation and poet Jewel (Kilcher). It’s free. Don’t miss.

KEVIN RITTER … The general manager of San Miguel Power Association is retiring after eight years on the job. And what a productive eight years it has been … Taking over at the start of a significant economic downturn and in the middle of a lawsuit controversy over a new 115kV line across Wilson Mesa, things did not look promising in 2007. But working together, the County and Ritter, along with other partners, were able to broker a compromise that allowed the line to be built and undergrounded across much of the region’s most scenic mesa. SMPA went on to build the largest single community-owned solar array in the country, converted its system to automatic metering, retired capital credits (paying money back to its member/owners), shelled out $1 million in Christmas credits in 2014, instituted its EnergyWise newsletter (which I read religiously), is working on a fiber-optic network for the region, offers a green block program, is focused on renewables – the list goes on and on. Of course, to accomplish all this it took strong board backing from the likes of the late Wes Perrin and others, a dedicated local staff and the support of its member/owners … But one has to think Mr. Ritter deserves a huge thank you from our regional community for a job well done.



the desert breaths
thin and spare
January air

no way to soften the sun
no escape
from truth's sharp edges

Carol Anne Modena

Port Townsend

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Steve Clark Dec16015

Walking another friend into the mystery

ANACORTES … I couldn’t fly out until two weeks after the news that death was imminent. Steve had been my outrageously mischievous roustabout writer friend in San Francisco during the wild Sixties & Seventies. My gumbah … By the time I arrived at his Fidalgo Island home, he was close. I took his hand as he lay weak in his living room bed. His filmy eyes and pale grimace (with his signature roguish mustache) revealed just a spark of what our friendship had meant to both of us. He spoke in whispers. I made out the first sentence. But the rest was unintelligible. I pretended to understand. Responded vaguely. And then I kissed his hand … Being with a friend in home hospice, as his family cares for him, like the invalid he is, is a beautiful thing. I watched as several of his many friends filed through, seeking that exuberant spirit that had left him, though its aura infuses our memories still. Our lives … Steve passed the day before Thanksgiving, surrounded by family. A few hours after I had taken a turn watching him, as he slept in a living room of fresh flowers and small birds pirouetting around the feeder outside the east window, where the sun warmed his dying face. Almost Thanksgiving, I was filled with great thanks for his presence in my life. And yet it was a deep sadness to see one so vibrant humbled in death’s throes … Dying is a paradox. Almost incomprehensible. And yet so ultimately human. As we all journey from the high hopes of birth, adolescence and (if we’re lucky) adulthood to the inevitable grip of our going. A long and yet brief journey, mimicking the universe we live in. Poetry of the light and the dark.

BUDADA … Got to attend a publication party recently for Uncompaghre Plateau hermit sage and Western Slope dean-of-poets Jack Mueller’s long-awaited manifesto, Budada – from Lithic Press of Fruita. The book’s a brilliant litany writ in alternating currents of unraveling paradox and spear-point wisdom, striking home. Mueller grinds the pure godseye bean of the Buddha with the sugar-coated literary ferment of Dada. And brews up the Real Jack of all aces, asses & assassins, Budada!

SHROOM ALERT … I got to spend most of my time in Washington State with my old friend and part-time Norwood resident Jim Rosenthal and his gentle poet wife Carol Anne Modena of Port Townsend … They have a stellar Farmer’s Market in PT where locally grown and wildcrafted mushrooms are sold. While our local season has long gone, theirs is just now wrapping up. So, I was able to purchase three unique edibles I’ve always wanted to try – the Cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis genus, probably radicata species), the Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus – known in some circles as the Pom Pom mushroom), and winter chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis, formerly Cantherellus, but recently changed after DNA analysis) … I cooked all three (separately) in butter. Attentive to each’s sautĂ©. The result -- for five us at a PT dinner -- were three gourmet tidbits, each bursting with flavor, all tasty. Each mushroom had its champion. But I thought the Hericium sported a marvelously unique taste.

BERNALILLO … When I was down in New Mexico for Quivira’s annual meeting couple months back, I got to perform at the Range CafĂ© poetry series run by dedicated activist/organizer poet friend Bill Nevins of Albuquerque, who read in Telluride back in September … The grand old man of New Mexico performance poetry Larry Goodell of Placitas joined us, sprouting three new books of poetry from the fertile garden of his vast creative spirit … It was a diverse reading from what clearly was a strong community of poets, all welcoming each other’s work. Highly recommended.

CENTENNIAL … It’s just now a hundred years ago that Einstein solved the Orbit of Mercury Problem of Newtonian physics. He changed our world and how we see ourselves in the universe … Science News, my lay touchstone for the latest news on scientific concepts, did a great issue on it. If you want to delve into the mysteries of our space/time continuum, no better place than here <>.

POTPOURRI … Hiked the beautiful driftwood beach at Fort Flager where the state park campground looks across to the munitions loading crane at Indian Island Naval Magazine. Makes one realize the Pacific Rim edge of the Pacific Northwest is our first line of Asian defense … Took the half-hour Washington State ferry that cost money to use, instead of multiple free highways that took four hours to get to the same place. Seemed a fair trade.



His a high throne on
my refrigerator pantheon
since he moved off
to the San Juan Islands

as I had moved off
to the San Juan Mountains
& Goodgoddess! by John
I’ve missed him

my backwoods
badass buddy
Ace hiker. Lover
of soft curves &

everything wild. Earth
defender. One of
those great teachers
who made more than

a difference. Ecstatic
writer & storyteller
Mimic. Glummick.
Wisecracking jokester

Avid liver of what’s
given us to live
McRedeye sez,

isn’t that life enough?