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A Once-Guarded Tradition Spills Open In New Orleans’ Streets

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On a sunny Sunday in New Orleans, barbecue stands and ice-filled coolers line a closed-off street. Central City is not a tourist zone, but people pack in — many with cameras and long lenses. A mass of color begins to move.

Mardi Gras Indians, maybe a hundred or more from all around the city, wear sky-to-pavement costumes: heavy, wide headdresses several feet tall, down to embroidered satin boots. It’s all embellished with beads, sequins and countless plumes of marabou feathers, and each suit is a masterpiece in neon green, pink or orange. It’s an African-American tradition that goes back more than a century, to honor collaboration between Native Americans and slaves.

“I’m Big Chief Tugga Cloud and I’m 17 years old,” says one lanky teenager. “We go by Mr. Ed’s house every evening after school, and we sew our suits every year with needle and thread.” Tugga Cloud leads the Red Flame Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian and youth outreach group started by Ed Buckner.

A portrait of a Mardi Gras Indian
The Mysterious World Of The Mardi Gras Indians
“See, I’m trying to reinvent the community and get the community involved,” Buckner says. “We talk about violence. These 15 or 20 young black men are going to improve their lives a little bit and get some direction, and know which way to go.”

The group has a Facebook page and a GoFundMe page to raise money. They put up videos on YouTube, and perform for private events.

That’s a big shift from the way Mardi Gras Indian culture started. The black Indians were mysterious, rarely announcing where or when they’d take to the streets. Many outsiders considered them dangerous. Now, even the city’s official tourism campaign celebrates them: A recent ad shows a Mardi Gras Indian dancing at sunset with a young child.

This full embrace of the culture is pretty new. Ten years ago on St. Joseph’s night, police clashed with Mardi Gras Indians.

~~~  READ/LISTEN  ~~~

Samuel Charters, Foundational Scholar of the Blues, Dies at 85

19charters-1-obit-blog427Samuel Charters, whose books and field research helped detonate the blues and folk music revival of the 1960s and 1970s, died on Wednesday at his home in Arsta, Sweden. He was 85.

The cause was myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone marrow cancer, his daughter Mallay Occhiogrosso said.

When Mr. Charters’s first book, “The Country Blues,” was published at the tail end of the 1950s, the rural Southern blues of the pre-World War II period was a largely ignored genre. His book immediately caused a sensation among college students and aspiring folk performers, like Bob Dylan, who would later become pop stars — a small but ultimately influential group. The book, which remains in print to this day, created a tradition of blues scholarship to which Mr. Charters would continue to contribute with books like “The Roots of the Blues” and “The Legacy of the Blues.”

“In retrospect, we can mark the publication of ‘The Country Blues’ in the fall of 1959 as a signal event in the history of the music,” the music historian Ted Gioia wrote in his book “The Delta Blues” (2008). As “the first extended history of traditional blues music,” Mr. Gioia said, it was “a moment of recognition and legitimation, but even more of proselytization, introducing a whole generation to the neglected riches of an art form.”

FWASCH101Released in tandem with “The Country Blues” was an album of the same name containing 14 songs, little known and almost impossible to find at the time, recorded in the 1920s and 1930s by artists like Robert Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, Blind Willie McTell and Bukka White. Mr. Dylan’s first album, recorded in 1961, included a version of Mr. White’s “Fixin’ to Die,” and within a decade other songs by the singers and guitarists Mr. Charters had highlighted were staples in the repertoires of blues and rock bands like the Allman Brothers, Canned Heat, Cream and the Rolling Stones.

Equally important, the aura of mystery Mr. Charters created around his subjects — where had they disappeared to? were they even alive? — encouraged readers to go out into the field themselves. Over the next five years, John Fahey, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Dick Waterman and other disciples tracked down vanished names like Mr. White, Mr. Estes, Skip James and Son House, whose careers were thus revived and whose song catalogs were injected into folk and pop music.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~

SEARCH THE STONE Noam Chomsky on the Roots of American Racism By GEORGE YANCY and NOAM CHOMSKY MARCH 18, 2015 7:00 AM


George Yancy: When I think about the title of your book “On Western Terrorism,” I’m reminded of the fact that many black people in the United States have had a long history of being terrorized by white racism, from random beatings to the lynching of more than 3,000 black people (including women) between 1882 and 1968. This is why in 2003, when I read about the dehumanizing acts committed at Abu Ghraib prison, I wasn’t surprised. I recall that after the photos appeared President George W. Bush said that “This is not the America I know.” But isn’t this the America black people have always known?

Noam Chomsky: The America that “black people have always known” is not an attractive one. The first black slaves were brought to the colonies 400 years ago. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that during this long period there have been only a few decades when African-Americans, apart from a few, had some limited possibilities for entering the mainstream of American society.

We also cannot allow ourselves to forget that the hideous slave labor camps of the new “empire of liberty” were a primary source for the wealth and privilege of American society, as well as England and the continent. The industrial revolution was based on cotton, produced primarily in the slave labor camps of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson feared the liberation of slaves, who had “ten thousand recollections” of the crimes to which they were subjected.
As is now known, they were highly efficient. Productivity increased even faster than in industry, thanks to the technology of the bullwhip and pistol, and the efficient practice of brutal torture, as Edward E. Baptist demonstrates in his recent study, “The Half Has Never Been Told.” The achievement includes not only the great wealth of the planter aristocracy but also American and British manufacturing, commerce and the financial institutions of modern state capitalism.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~

Close call in Highlands Bowl! ~ Bernie Arndt

Apx 2;00 pm iii.17.15
Bowl was Open.
No one was caught or buried.


the Brit in Dhaka, Bangladesh


The photo is of Nilufa (domestic) & me shopping. We got a Rickshaw ride back to the apartment.

Hibiscus as big as…..

Suzie B.


SNOTEL ~ Time Series Snowpack Summary


…Click on graph to ENLARGE…

SNOTEL % of average for Colorado ~ 3/16/15

While snowfall has not been consistent throughout the season, it has accumulated to near-normal levels in some sections of the state. Two large storms during the middle and end of February helped to increase the snowpack in southern Colorado to respectable levels but still below average for a 30 year history.


First Listen: Buena Vista Social Club, ‘Lost And Found’



Buena Vista Social Club’s new album, Lost And Found, comes out March 24.


It was nearly 20 years ago, back in 1997, that the Buena Vista Social Club became an improbable worldwide sensation: a group of mainly elderly (and some younger) Cuban musicians, performing traditional son music for an album produced by Ry Cooder. The combustible success of that first project — which only transpired by accident to begin with — led to a cottage industry of lovely artifacts, including a beautiful 1998 documentary by Wim Wenders and a string of solo albums from its leading artists (not to mention 2010’s Afrocubism, the fruit of World Circuit chief Nick Gold’s original idea for what became the Buena Vista Social Club’s first album).

Since the group’s initial successes, several of its unforgettable artists — including guitarist and singer Compay Segundo, pianist Ruben Gonzalez, singer Ibrahim Ferrer, percussionist Miguel “Anga” Díaz (father to the sensational new twin-sister duo Ibeyi) and bassist Orlando “Cachaíto” López — have passed away. The remaining Buena Vista artists are saying farewell with an international “Adiós” tour this year, so it must have seemed like a good time for World Circuit to dig through its archives.

The result is Lost And Found, a compilation of studio recordings (from the original Buena Vista Social Club sessions made at Havana’s Egrem Studios in 1996, and from a string of dates through the late 1990s and early 2000s) and live cuts from throughout the artists’ touring career. These tracks have all been taken out of the vault and dusted off only for this occasion, but fans of the Buena Vista artists’ earlier projects will find more than enough gems here. They include “Macusa,” featuring guitarists and singers Eliades Ochoa and Compay Segundo; the cool, trancelike Afro-Cuban jazz of “Black Chicken 37″ with Díaz and López; smoky-voiced singer Omara Portuondo in “Tiene Sabor” and the 1930s Cuban chestnut “Lágrimas Negras”; the blazing horns in “Mami Me Gusto,” featuring Ibrahim Ferrer; and the razor-sharp dance rhythms in “Guajira En F,” featuring Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos, one of Buena Vista’s younger performers (now 63).

If it turns out that this is the year we do say a final goodbye to the Buena Vista collective, Lost And Found provides a gorgeous reminder of what made it so famous to begin with — and what we’ll all be missing.

~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

Aspen Taxidermy ? ~ Bernie Arndt

c/o Baldwin Gallery

L_Noct 50-1002792

How Mexico Learned To Polka


Legendary norteño group Los Alegres de Terán, in a promotional still from the 1976 documentary Chulas Fronteras.

A casual listener would be forgiven for not knowing one kind of accordion music from another. But where two cultures in particular are concerned, the similarity comes with a century-old backstory involving immigration and imitation.

On the 76th birthday of Flaco Jimenez — one of the instrument’s most celebrated living players — Morning Edition asks how the accordion-heavy folk music of northern Mexico came to sound so much like the polkas and waltzes of Eastern Europe. Hear the conversation, featuring Felix Contreras of NPR’s Alt.Latino and Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records, at the audio link.

~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

Georgia On My Mind


We were in Santa Fe over the weekend and ran into Georgia. Took her for a spin out towards Abiquiu and had a picnic. Caught her peering thru a hole in the cheese.  

Why China’s Pollution Could Be Behind Our Cold, Snowy Winters


A lot of the airborne particles in the Earth’s atmosphere come from natural sources, such as desert dust (red-orange) and sea salt (blue). But there’s also soot from fires (green and yellow) and sulfur emissions (white) from burning fossil fuel.


It’s March. It’s freezing. And there’s half a foot of snow on the ground. When is this winter going to end?

Many scientists think that climate change might be one cause of this year’s “snowpocalypse” in Boston and bitter cold snaps in New York and Washington.

But physicists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been looking into another culprit: air pollution in China and India.

“Over the past 30 years or so, man-made emission centers have shifted from traditional industrialized countries to fast, developing countries in Asia,” physicist Jonathan Jiang writes in an email.

The animation from NASA shows how pollution from Asia and other continents mixes and moves around the world. (It’s a simulation made with satellite data from September 2006 to April 2007.)

The colorful swirls represent airborne particles in the atmosphere. Many of those particles are sea salt (shown in blue) picked up from the ocean, and dust (shown in red-orange) scooped up from deserts.
But there are also man-made sources of particles. Soot from fires is shown in green-yellow, and sulfur from fossil fuel emissions and volcanoes is in white.

As the animation moves through time, you can see fires billow up from South America and parts of Africa. Dust from the Sahara Desert sweeps west, and power plants in North America and Europe emit sulfur that blows east.

Then, about 43 seconds into the video, Asia comes into view. And its coal-powered industrialization is clear.

~~~  WATCH/READ  ~~~

‘Merchants Of Doubt’ Explores Work Of Climate Change Deniers

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NPR’s Melissa Block speaks to director Robert Kenner about his documentary, “Merchants of Doubt,” which examines the work of climate change skeptics and their campaign to sway public opinion.

~~~   LISTEN   ~~~

Avalanche Mitigation With Drones……….??


Mountain Drones’ drone prototype can retrieve snowpack information remotely and perform avalanche mitigation from a safer distance. The start-up will be in town this week for the start of the Telluride Venture Accelerator’s 2015 session and plans to move business operations here permanently. [Courtesy photo/Warren Linde]


By Stephen Elliott
Staff Reporter
Published: Sunday, February 1, 2015 6:05 AM CST
Drones are all the rage these days. They crash into the White House, they’re used for experimental cinematography, and now, a company about to plant roots in Telluride is planning to use drones to combat avalanche danger.

“Living in Vail for a couple of years, we lost a few friends to avalanche incidents,” Brent Holbrook, one of the co-founders of Mountain Drones, said. “We were wondering if there was any way we could use this new technology to address that danger.”

Mountain Drones is one of five companies participating in the 2015 Telluride Venture Accelerator cohort, which begins Thursday with a kick off celebration, and Holbrook and the other Mountain Drones co-founder Warren Linde have said they plan to make the move to Telluride more permanent than the five-month business development program run by TVA and the Telluride Foundation.

“We think that Telluride is a great environment for us both from a natural resources perspective but also a business resources perspective,” Linde said.

* “It gives us access to the avalanche-prone terrain that we’re focused on and also the individuals that work in that landscape. It enables us to do further research and development.”

The guys at Mountain Drones were originally focused on beacon searches for lost avalanche victims, but decided to focus on the source of the problem rather than the result.

“Instead of starting with the problem, why don’t we start at the beginning and make the problem not happen as much?” Holbrook asked.

Holbrook, Linde and the rest of the team began initial development of their drone technology at the end of 2013 and worked on it throughout 2014. Though they aren’t revealing the specifics of their technology because they are still working on securing patents, they said they hope their drones can provide ski patrols and departments of transportation with timely and accurate snowpack information in addition to a safer alternative to the expensive and dangerous avalanche mitigation work currently done mostly by helicopter and Howitzer-launched explosives.

“With our technology we seek to keep department of transportation operators as well as ski patrol operators out of harm’s way and keep them out of situations where they could be exposing themselves to bodily harm or positioning themselves on a dangerous mountain face,” Linde said. “We’re utilizing our technology to keep humans out of harm’s way.”

Linde said the Colorado Department of Transportation is responsible for 278 out of 522 known avalanche paths statewide and that road closures cost the economy around $1 million per hour in economic development, making state departments of transportation an important target customer for Mountain Drones.

“We’ve been in touch with multiple ski patrol operations and CDOT and they’ve been very receptive. They’re all on our side and think it’s a great idea, a cost-effective and safer way to go about avalanche mitigation operations,” Holbrook said. “Avalanche mitigation hasn’t changed much since ski resorts were really established in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. We believe we have a safer and more effective way to do that.”

Avalanche country often overlaps with extreme weather conditions and high altitudes, creating a challenge for drone-based avalanche mitigation.

“Anyone can operate on a bluebird day,” Linde said. “A lot of our development efforts are focused on operations in high wind and high altitude environments.”

That’s another reason why Telluride is a good base for Mountain Drones.

“This is probably the toughest environment that you could fly one of the mechanisms in,” Holbrook said. “We’ve proven that it can be done with our initial prototype and the next prototype we’re looking to build even better.”

“If we can fly in this environment, we can fly in any environment,” he added.

This is the third cohort for TVA, with the first class of companies coming to Telluride in 2013 for business development work with mentors during the five-month program. Linde and Holbrook are excited about the opportunity to work with TVA mentors and other members of the Telluride community moving forward.

“We are excited about the mentors that are a part of the TVA program,” Linde said. “There will be strong support on both the technical and business sides. We’ll have some mentors that are business-minded and some other mentors out there in the field mitigating avalanches as we speak.”

San Juan Mountains Storm Snow/h20 totals ` 3/3/15 ~ 6pm

snow tube-water content

                                                                              HN / HNW (water equiv) 4 day total


Monument                                                                5” / .4”                                    20.5″/1.6″

RMP                                                                       7.5” / .75”                                   29.5″/2.4″

Molas                                                                      12” / 1.4”                                   44.5″/4.65″ !!!

Coal Bank                                                                7″ / .8”                                     36.5″/3.8″


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Today’s world view @ 8:31am






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San Juan Storm Report 3/1/15 ~ 07:00

snow tube-water content

Below are snow totals since yesterday morning:
                                     HN24/ water
Mon                                        7.5”  / .5”
RMP                                         11” / .7”
Molas                                       11” / .75”
Coal Bank                              10” / .8”

More snow on the way… Things may be getting touchy with recent snow and WIND…
Expect some hwy delays for avalanche control this morning – shouldn’t be too long. Preemptive work.


Kiitella project: Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race Medals @Aspen Snowmass


Tomorrow, the Audi Power of Four competitors will race across all four Aspen Snowmass ski areas, climbing 11,600 feet of vertical gain over 25 miles. This year’s medals by Kiitella celebrate the classic ski pole basket with leather, rivets and metal rings.

San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast and snow/water from 2-26-15


Scattered light snow showers develop later today/tonight as the latest moisture over eastern Utah moves overhead. There will be a small break in the snowy weather early tomorrow for a few hours. Later in the day, the storm that’s being advertised as a “potentially very big snow producer” will initiate. Technically, this isn’t one storm but multiple waves of energy passing through until late Tuesday with ebb and flow.

The low-pressure trough closes off over southern California tomorrow and will pump moist Pacific air into the San Juans. As of now, periods of peak snowfall look to be Saturday evening through Monday. Favored SSW locations above tree line in the San Juans could see two to five feet of snow.

24 hr. snow 2/26/15

                                                    HN/HNW (water equiv)
Monument                                    4”/0.4”
RMP                                                9”/0.75″
Molas                                          0.5”/0.05”
Coal Bank                                      2”/0.15”