Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ski Bodo at downtown Corn Camp!

You know you live in a good place when you can gather two or three dozen people together on short notice for a fine day of spring skiing just minutes from downtown.

Which is what happened this weekend when friend and neighbor Sean quickly rallied whatever fellow ski fiends he could muster for some fun in the sun on the sagey, p-j-ish frontcountry slopes of the majestic and semi-arid Carbon Mountain, hiding just behind the post-industrial hinterlands of Bodo, on the dingy southside of greater metropolitan Durango, and rising ominously over the soon-to-be site of the murky, karmically tainted, coal-dark waters of Lake Nighthorse ...

But for a day, Carbon Mountain was a sacred slope swarming with peaceful, playful, pagan pilgrims. Or so it seemed, savoring a beer in the sun among a mass of really good people between runs carving the corn, with Durango at our feet and this wacky wicked winter still in our blood.

The mythic, mystical Corn Camp had reappeared. For a while.

A toast to rare gift. See you all again in another dozen years or so. Or sooner. Until then, check it out here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing wisdom from an unlikely source

I had the pleasure to speak in an Environmental Literature class at Fort Lewis College the other day, and was asked a good question: Have I ever heard any good advice from someone that influenced my writing?

I had to think for a minute, of course -- not because I couldn't think of anything, but because I could think of so much. There's a lot of writing advice out there, and over the years I've digested a good chunk of it.

But after a minute of mulling -- and I mean a minute at most -- something popped into my head, and it surprised me what it was. What it was was the memory of Will Smith (yes, the actor/rapper/TV star/"Fresh Prince of Bel Aire" Will Smith) speaking at the Nickelodeon Channel's "Kid's Choice Awards" a few years ago (2005, to be exact). In that most unlikely of venues -- I just happened to be sitting there watching this goofy show with my kids -- this most unlikliest of persons said something that really stuck with me, and that has only grown in profundity over the years.

Smith took this small opportunity on this completely contrived and childish event to offer his audience -- kids who look up to him -- a small, highly digestible tidbit of advice that I found to be brilliant and truly inspiring. And that I found to be a fine perspective on the perseverance and work that writing requires.

So here it is (in a somewhat expanded "video-ized" version). Check it out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Good column on Desert Rock

A fine, biting, spit-in-your-eye "letter from the editor" by Will Sands in this week's Durango Telegraph. Cuts to the heart of the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant issue. Or the heartlessness. Check it out.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring training for all

It takes skill, this following baseball. I mean following a single game, in progress. It takes practice. It takes training. Especially following a game on the radio, which I do a lot living out here in the Rocky Mountain West, where most of my Red Sox fixes are injected either through MLB.com or via XM Radio.

So while the BoSox are in spring training, so am I. I'm getting this football softened brain back into shape -- working hard on my ability to maintaining a running consciousness of the status of a ball game whilst keeping up the pace of my multitasking of daily work and life. It takes me a few weeks before my mental dexterity returns to its major-league game-ready regular-season agility. So I'm thankful for those few weeks of spring training games to work on my own game.

But the reward of this spring training is more than merely sharpening my mental game-tracking skills, of course -- just the same way that the joy of following those Grapefruit League games is more than just notching the (relatively) meaningless wins and losses. Spring training is about ... spring. (And here in the southern Rocky Mountains, where this ex-pat New Englander now lives, spring is most welcome this year.)

So when I tune my browser to a spring Red Sox game, sure, I'm rooting for each at bat. And, yes, I'm working on my ability to follow the game while I do my work, since games that matter are only a few weeks away (and work never goes away). But, really, what I'm doing is listening to music, like some cool jazz, feeling the groove, tuning in to musical soundtrack of spring itself.

With Joe Castiglione on vocals.

[This blog also appears on FenwayWest, a community blog by a group of ex-pat New Englanders who still bow to the Red Sox. Check it out!]

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Eco-sabateurs got it all wrong

These fools are also the bad guys.

I mean the so-called Earth Liberation Front, the so-called "eco"-saboteurs who burned a row of luxury homes near Seattle this week.

Fools. And not on our team -- I mean the dispersed, tribal, independent "culture hackers" out to not just fight the present culture afflicting people and planet, but is out to actually create a new, sustainable, fair, simple, adapted and adaptable culture that promotes both freedom and individual style, and symbiosis with with land and other people. (Hey, aim high!)

Yes, I loathe McMansions, too. But what the fools who took to burning these homes is missing is the fact that you can't defeat an enemy by becoming the enemy. And If short-sighted selfish gluttony -- i.e. McMansions -- are a form of violence that these fools seek to confront, then you can't do that with more violence. That keeps violence itself -- including the violence of self-serving greed and waste -- alive in the culture.

Here's whatI believe: Yes, the culture itself must change. But when it comes to real cultural change, then evolution is the only real revolution.

That is real monkey wrenching.

But don't I use the monkey wrench, from Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, as my personal symbol? And isn't The Monkey Wrench Gang about ... well, eco-saboteurs?

Well, yeah. But what I believe to be important about that book was not its theme, as much as it was its attitude: compassionate arrogance, physical connection with place and land, intelligent redneck-ism, and a patriotic willingness to fight for that which you love and need.

And in that, I believe the "monkey wrenching" was Abbey's resisting the present culture and acting to forge a new culture by speaking taboos in that book, by daring to put those themes out there in an accessible, entertaining, understandable way. That is the real revolution of The Monkey Wrench Gang -- not the story the book told.

But burning houses? That's not monkey wrenching, because nothing was achieved by burning but personal gratification. And much was hurt -- like, a potential message to the world at large about what's wrong with the trophy-home industry -- that would have gone much further toward real, long-term change in the culture at large.

Want to fight? Be different from that you're fighitng.

Want change? Be the change for all to see.

Want to get the message to others? Don't be a fool.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring things


Some signs spring is upon us:
  • Flipping that kitchen calendar to "March."
  • Playing hooky with the kids. I call them in "well" to school -- they feel too good to sit inside all damn day! -- and we pass the day skiing lovely, light early-spring snow under the warm and naked sun.
  • Sitting in the the hot tub (speaking of naked ...) listening to the birds whistle happy songs while feasting on the re-stocked feeders my wife has hanging all around our backyard.
  • The snowpack settles and sublimates and melts its way in half -- yst still is two feet deep in the yard.
  • The days smell as rich and moist as a wet dog.
  • Back to the ritual of sleeping outside once a week with Webb on the back back deck off his room. Orion just hangs up there with his bow eternally drawn toward Farmington.
  • I wake up early, and the day is already light.
  • In the middle of the day I crack the windows throughout the house to finally let fresh air flow and circulate and flush out the stale air of winter.
  • When I work in my office, in the mid-afternoon I open the door and windows and I'm pretty much working outside.
  • Pretty much ... yet suddenly I can hear the canyonlands call ...
  • Riding Lift 8 with friends, the conversation keeps veering back toward river trips ...
  • Baseball on in the afternoons (thanks to MLB.com and XM). Sure, it's only spring training baseball, but it's still baseball! (And my wife groans ...)