Thursday, February 25, 2016

25feb25016 -- Food Hub, FRESH, Local Food Shift, Dirty Tricks, State Patrol, Josefina Mendéz, Lark & Sparrow, Cottonwood, and a poem “Leaving For Texas”

Local Food: Hub of the Revolution?
Josefina Mendez at the Lark & Sparrow

FRESH … While you have to love the acronym, this new Norwood group’s actual moniker is a little clunky: Food Resources Encompassing a Social Hub. But the group itself is anything but. The locavore food movement’s trendy and FRESH is off to a great start with last weekend’s free Health Day event at the Livery … I missed out on the free back massages, but Catherine Peterson’s salad was delicious. Jen Nelson & Mel Eggars’ Apple Core Project table I found fascinating, and Telluride Mushroom Company’s Scott Koch did a comprehensive presentation on the fungal world – pictures of his Idarado myco-remediation site off Black Bear Road being the most phenomenal ... I also missed Regan Tuttle’s yoga & essential oil workshops, astrology with Cynthia Zehm, and an evening of music with local musicians. Which is to say there were a lot of very fun things happening in Norwood Saturday. I met new people. Exchanged contacts. But I made it back to Cloud Acre in time to walk Simba and admire the rising moon … FRESH’s Food Hub is a buying club and local food store now under development, open to both the public & members, offering the best possible prices on wholesome, healthy foods. It will operate synergistically as a for-profit retail space and a non-profit buying club … Its website ( links to an article in a Boulder-based publication at the forefront of Colorado’s local food revolution, Local Food Shift magazine ( Darien Cabral’s article there is entitled, “Shift Happens: the Role of Food Hubs in Local Food.” As he notes, “The local food movement is taking off nationwide, and Colorado is no exception.” The founding of a Food Hub in Norwood – the county’s traditional agricultural center – seems to be right in line with a significant movement looking to decentralize food the way some have called for us to decentralize our power … “As the local food shift continues to happen,” adds Cabral, “food hubs will play a major role.” Food hubs along with established farmer’s markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), traditional farms and ranches, and developing farm economies for cannabis and hemp … This is an exciting time to be in agriculture, as the Fossil Fuel Era winds down and self-sufficiency-in-place and sustainability-in-the-face-of-change become central dictums of the 21st Century.

SHENANIGANS … It’s political season locally. Over the past 30+ years in this county, I’ve seen phony letters to the editor. Economic threats to participants in caucuses and assemblies. Lawsuit saber rattling. Lots of hanky panky … This year is no different. Someone is circulating an email purportedly from “San Miguel County Young Democrats” and signed mysteriously “R.W.” The email endorses Brian Ahern for county commissioner, attacks me and Elaine Fischer and our “high dollar supporters,” and claims there has been all kinds of political harassment against Mr. Ahern from local law enforcement folks resulting in his arrests … During elections it’s sometimes hard to distinguish lies from fact. So be discerning. Those claiming to be shining knights in ethical armor might just be the opposite of what they claim.

LARK & SPARROW … I love this new Montrose jazz club with great music, reasonable prices, café seating, mixed drinks, polished hardwood floors and a stained glass dome in its main performance hall that is visually stunning … Recently I got to catch Aspen-based jazz vocalist and Argentine porteña Josefina Méndez. Her big voice with its syncopated wizardry was backed up by the red-hot saxophone of Mark Johnson, understated piano whiz Tim Fox, and a couple local stand-ins. Méndez belted out some real showstoppers, all the more amazing since she was 8 months pregnant. Check out and her new album, Todo Llega  … And go check out the schedule at the Lark&Sparrow. Lots of sassy stuff brewing. Highly recommended.

SPEEDING ETIQUETTE … Now I admit to male privilege. But I have to say, the majority of State Patrol Leos (law enforcement officers) in this state that I’ve run across (so to speak) have been pretty nice people. Polite. Professional. Even the ones that gave me tickets … But a recent story told me by one of my readers left me flabbergasted. This local woman said a cop stopped her for speeding, held her up for 15 minutes and gave her a ticket, while her daughter in the backseat was dilated and waiting to go to the hospital to give birth … Pretty heartless, officer, if you ask me.

BIG TREE … Boulder County made the news a while back with a cottonwood growing along an irrigation ditch that held the distinction of being the largest known of its species for the past 45 years, beginning in 1967. It measured 112 ft. tall and was 36 ft. around (13 people joining hands to surround it) … This specimen stopped growing in 2011, ending its life at 120 years old. However, it’s still standing, just not growing. A county forestry team harvested a dead branch in 2012 and Longmont Museum held a show this past spring of all the amazing art objects created by local artists from one branch of this Grandma Populus.

WEEKLY QUOTA … "The poet can´t change anything, but the poet can demonstrate the power of the solitary conscience." -Stanley Kunitz (1906-2006)


Leaving for Texas

-for A.G.

“Jim was a very good teacher
& Mike very supportive
It makes a difference
to have good bosses”

And McRedeye sez, good
employees & bosses are
the rock solid soil on which
 grows good local government

18feb25016 -- Colorado Legislature, Hunger Free Colorado, NACo’s County News and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poem “Beside the Sunflowers”

Bird-dogging the legislature in Denver

The Colorado Capitol in Denver

NEW BILLS NEW LAWS … I’d given up going to state meetings for Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI). It’s a useful lobbying group that helps counties prevent really bad bills from making it through the Legislature. And helps even pass a few good ones … But, of late, CCI has been infected with the “partisan paralysis” that Sen. Ted Cruz champions. Last month Republicans knocked almost all Democrats out of CCI leadership positions on its steering committees. Instead of having a chair with the majority party and vice-chair with the minority party, so as to offer a bi-partisan front to legislators on CCI issues, conservatives led by Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer cleaned house … That kind of disastrous internal one-up-woman’s-ship led Boulder County to leave CCI last week. Denver City and County had already pulled out … San Miguel County’s paid its dues for 2016, or we might have considered pulling out as well. But, next year, unless there are changes, it would be hard to recommend staying on board a group that supports fracking, tax breaks for the rich, return of public lands to the states, and opposes universal health care, more money for education, higher minimum wages, etc … But this year, I’ve been directed to attend and offer what liberal input I can to the process … The bills CCI reviews run the gamut from the inane to the seriously wrong, from good ideas to senseless tweaks. There was unanimous support for a SJM16-001, urging Congress to pass Good Samaritan legislation to protect those involved in voluntary reclamation of abandoned hard rock mines from potential liability – a big stumbling block for cleaning up situations like the one over in San Juan County that led to a mine adit blowout and heavy iron release in the Animas River last year … ASIDE: When I was in San Francisco last month, I visited an art installation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts entitled, “Golden Prospects” by Kevin Cooley. It was all about the Animas River spill, with boxes of on-floor videos of murky water flowing over iron-coated rocks. It wasn’t very impressive. But maybe living so close to the actual river was insulation from the meant-to-shock simulations of tainted agua … CCI steering committees voted to support HB16-1150 to give counties authority to prohibit underage nicotine possession, SB16-080 to require cannabis grow operations in a home to be enclosed, locked and restricted from anyone under 21-years-of-age, HB16-1030 to allow local governments to require insurance and driver’s licenses for OHV riders on local roads (something local counties have been trying to achieve for years), and SB16-060 that shifts fiscal responsibility for providing courtroom space from the counties to the sate … CCI opposed SB16-067 to grant a personal property tax exemption for broadband providers, HB16-1088 giving Fire Protection Districts the authority to impose impact fees on new development, SB16-81 to create a rural economic emergency assistance grant program, HB16-1071 which would have granted county citizens initiative power for county decisions (killed in committee), HB16-1078 granting whistle-blower protections to local government employees, SB16-37 changing the public’s access to digitally-stored data under the Colorado Opens Record Act, and SB16-54 allowing local governments to set minimum wages in its jurisdiction … Those are only a handful of the hundreds of bills considered in the Colorado Legislature each session. Which is why it’s important for local governments to pay attention to what’s happening in Denver. And, with perhaps a new bipartisan county support group, help shape the action.

RAT-A-TAT STATS … Hunger Free Colorado released a report last month for 2015 that ranked Colorado 46th in the nation for getting food stamps to the needy. Pitkin County had the worst record, enrolling only 10% of those eligible, while El Paso County had the best record, enrolling 71%. San Miguel County enrolled 27% of those eligible, according to the report … The National Association of Counties (NACo) puts out a newsletter, CountyNews, and in the Jan. 11th edition, it published a graph of the Top 10 Counties with the Highest Growth Rate of 65 Years and Older Population (2004-2014). Colorado had 7 of the 10 spots, with San Miguel County ranked third in the nation with a 203% growth rate. That’s telling me that the Telluride Region is becoming a retirement haven and that doing more for seniors is something the County is going to have to wrestle with in coming years … In the same issue, NACo’s County Explorer program offered a map that showed San Miguel County to be the only county in the state in 2015 to have full economic recovery with all four recovery indicators used from Moody’s Analytics data – one of only 215 counties in the nation to do that, out of over 3000 counties total … Finally, the heaviest one-day snowfall ever recorded in the nation wasn’t in Alaska, Montana, Maine or New Hampshire, but right here in Colorado. On Dec. 4, 1913, 63 inches of snow fell on Georgetown in Clear Creek County


beside the sunflowers
naked, except
this strand of what ifs

-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Western Slope Poet Laureate

11feb25016 -- Homeless, Super Bowl, Broncos, Joe Hutchison, Looking South to Lone Cone, Wendy Videlock, Science News and a poem, “Listserve”

The dark underside of the City

Colorado Poet Laureate Joe Hutchison

HOMELESS … That was the biggest downside of returning to San Francisco in January. There were whole tent cities under freeway overpasses and along other busy thoroughfares. Bums, we used to call them, sleeping in the street. Or in parks. Cardboard for covers. But these days both sexes. And sometimes whole families … Of course, I had no defense when someone asked me for money. I’m from Norwood where we help each other out, even if we don’t particularly like one another. I had a roll of ones in my pocket, just for that occasion -- of being asked … Still, I wasn’t naïve. I grew up in the City. I kept my eyes averted walking in the Tenderloin. The Mission. Letting anyone engage your eyes as you passed was tantamount to inviting trouble. Better to pretend you were deep in one’s own thoughts than to register anything even faintly hinting of recognition. That’s the urban way … But if someone asks me, I have a hard time saying no. As long as I have enough to share, and someone asks, it kind of feels like it’s my duty to oblige … My daughter got mildly annoyed with me, as we walked the night streets returning from shows or scooter rides. If asked, I shared. It made for slow walking on some jaunts … Maybe the worst example (although it felt like compassion to me) was entertaining a homeless sort while Iris went to a class nearby. An older woman, but not elderly. Asking strangers odd things, questioning stuff, ranting about her last hotel, and her aunt, and others who had wronged her. I was in a trendy hipster yogurt and pudding shop off Polk Street. I was typing out a column (like this one) while enjoying a bowl of rice pudding (like my mother used to make). Lady GoneGone (or whatever her name was) sat at an adjacent table. Soon she was plying me with queries and telling long stories that made little sense. Or repeating stories over and again … I guess she reminded me of my mother, who had lived in the City. And had only been saved from homelessness because I moved her into an apartment in Noe Valley I’d rented for a half-dozen years. The landlord was a good-hearted sort. The rent was affordable for someone on Social Security and food stamps. The second-floor railroad flat of the three-story building wasn’t pretty. But it was clean. And livable … She stayed her last years there until the cancer took her. Lady GG reminded me of what might have become of Blanche, if I hadn’t been around to watch out for her. So, before long, I was buying GG a pudding. Telling the waitron it was okay. That GG wasn’t bothering me … For about an hour I half-listened, half-typed. Not only was she a talker, but she scratched her arms and legs ceaselessly. Finally explained she had lice, about the time she got moved out of her table by other customers and sidled in next to me. Not touching. But close … Finally, the time came to meet up with my daughter at a jewelry workshop a couple doors done the street. I politely, if firmly, detached myself from GG, said goodbye, wished her well, and scurried off. My compassion tested. My heart also a bit sore, thinking of where GG would spent the night. And the next day. And the rest of her life.

SUPER BOWL … Sadly, Mayor Ed Lee and the not-so-progressive San Francisco pols used the Super Bowl down the Peninsula at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara as an excuse to roust the homeless from their tent city at the foot of Potrero Hill. Which, in turn, sparked public protests from the decidedly liberal element still infiltrating the hipster capital of California … Not that having hundreds of people (they actually estimate about 1,500) living in the streets is a good situation. It’s not. And so something has to be done … But moving people for a football game is maybe not the best thing to be done.

BRONCOS … You didn’t have to be a Broncos fan to root for the Manning underdogs against the Newton upstarts. But the Angler Inn was a good setting to watch the upset. Not a spectacular game. Lots of turnovers – mostly benefiting Colorado. But a hard-fought slog that went our way … Life doesn’t always happen like that. Nice to be part of the good times when it does.

JOE HUTCHISON … Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison has a blog []. He recently sent out an email with a list of his best books in 2015. And two Western Slope poets made his list … “Best Poetic Discovery: Wendy Videlock (how did I survive without her marvelous wit?) … Best Floating World Poetry: Art Goodtimes’ Looking South to Lone Cone, where the local and the spiritual intersect and release astonishing flashes of, well, I can only call it wisdom.”

SCIENCE NOTES … What were the science breakthroughs this past year that you won’t find in textbooks, but are important changes in how we as a culture see things? To find out I turned to Science News, published by the non-profit Society for Science & the Public … Pluto, that demoted sub-par planet, turned into the year’s hall-of-fame superstar -- thanks to a robotic spaceship the size of a grand piano named New Horizons, which revealed its ice volcanoes, mountain ranges and regions devoid of craters, in transmissions still being received … “Seeing a new world for the first time,” opined Cathy Olkin, a planetary scientist at Boulder’s Southwest Research Institute, “I mean that’s huge.”



where theorists
bat intellectual systemologies
back & forth like bric-a-brac

you can almost
smell where they’re headed
& beat them to the seat

though, careful,
they like to piss on new poles
& bark up each other’s trees

I like the leads

they give us

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Iris Willow, Jersey Boys, Scoot, Paul Fericano, Dennis Dybeck, Kit Muldoon’s passing and an elegy poem for Kit Muldoon

Spending time with my daughter
(photo by Bert Fan)

SAN FRANCISCO … The nicest part of taking off for California to honor my old parish priest on his 90th birthday was spending time with my daughter Iris Willow and my son-in-law Bertrand Fan. As I explained last week, we decided to take advantage of city life and did three major theatrical productions – both the nationally renowned American Conservatory Theater’s Satchmo at the Waldorf in the ornate Geary Theater and the working-class Marsh Studio Theater’s production of Echo Brown’s Black Virgins Are Not For Hipsters in the Mission District. Both were extraordinary … But we tried our luck, decided to go for broke and paid $100 each to see a traveling version of a Broadway musical as well.

JERSEY BOYS … I’ve never made it to Broadway, although I’ve seen my share of musicals. But never as professional or polished a production as this. Watching it in the landmark Orpheum Theatre helped … I had a vague memory of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. But soon as I heard Sherry baby, it all came flooding back to me. That classic early Sixties sound. Part of my adolescent yearning. And that later hit, Big Girls Don’t Cry … These weren’t world-changing songs. But they were pop hits. It’s about that great American dream of success. And Valli does succeed. But the story is kind of a sad one. Yes, he and his buddies made it from street kids to pop sensations, but at quite a cost. Betrayals. Suicides. Huge disappointments. So, in the end, in spite of all the fame and fortune, it’s a bittersweet story … But nothing bitter about the production. It was fantastic music, dancing, costumes, staging, everything. What you’d expect from an amazing show like this … And it taught so many lessons as only theater can do. Making other people’s lives come alive in such pointed scenes that you can’t help talking away things in your own life from the dazzle of the acting and emotional avalanche of experience recreated … I’m hoping to go see more theater, locally, in Denver and back in SF, when I get back there. I can’t think of any artistic medium that moves me more than live theater.

(Photo by Iris Willow)

SCOOT … Maybe the most surprising and fun activity Iris and I had were renting electric motor scooters and tooling around the San Francisco hills, visiting friends, going to museums, taking in some of the great restaurants that seem to be as prolific as San Juan boletes in a good year. Scoot, the name of the service, uses smart phone technology to actually run the scooters. You get one at one site, drive it around, take it to a battery-replenishing site or park it and use another one. The smart phone keeps track of everything and takes the money from your on-file card. You don’t deal with people. Just machines. They have a range of 20+ miles, which works in SF, but maybe not in many sprawling cities … But we drove all around Golden Gate Park. Visited the new De Young Museum thanks to poet buddy Dennis Dybeck. Met up with poet Paul Fericano and sem buddy Kerry Yates and had a great lunch at Pacific Catch. Toured a couple museums, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum and a great show, Chasing Justice – artwork depicting the union organizing of some great Russian-Jewish activists in the automobile industry in the 1930s … Easy to park. Gasoline-free. We even found Vermont St. – the twisting roadway in Bernal Heights that’s as crooked as Lombard Street but without the tourists … If you’re adventuresome, let me recommend Scoot as the best way to tour San Francisco on one’s own.
Art, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Kit Muldoon, SETH at a performance in Denver

KIT MULDOON … Many in Colorado’s poetry community mourned the loss of this dear heart, who succumbed to cancer last week after a long illness. There was a memorial reading at the legendary Mercury Café in Denver, where she often read, including at the annual end-of-the-year Erotic Festival of Poetry. I got to read the poem below I’d written in her honor, as did Ted Vaca (who offered the near-homeless Muldoon a hospice room in his house with his family for the last six months of her life – bless him!), Jimi Bernath, Roseanna Frechette and many other of her poet friends. She will be missed.

Kit on Valentine's at the Merc (Photo by Andy O'Leary)


Picking Red

-for Kit Kalriess Muldoon

There it was. A red kerchief left
in the Denver Museum parking
lot. Unclaimed. Run over

Do I stoop to pick it up
& wave its dust aloft
into my floating world?

A gesture, maybe. Like Kit's
all in red, sharing
center stage with the Erotic

Or conjuring stone soup
for sodden poets in the San
Juan shelter of her worn van

Making more than just
do, with meager pickings
Making a feast. That's it!

That’s Kit, McRedeye sez
Making a feast of adversities
And for us, in our sadnesses

it’s picking up on the red
brilliance she’s left us

Not dead cloth left behind