a tune… a haiku… an infrared loop

Latest

Ridgway School Learn To Ski Program

photo

GGSF board members, Deb Willits and Mike Friedman hold the XL-Thank You card from the Learn to Ski students this past winter (2014).  ~~  Go to George Gardner Scholarship Fund  ~~

A Cathedral Under Siege Two Development Projects Threaten the Grand Canyon~By KEVIN FEDARKO~~AUG. 9, 2014

0810CANYON-blog427

Simon Roussin

 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — WHEN I worked as a white-water guide at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I was often struck by how many passengers concluded their odyssey through the most iconic landscape in the United States by invoking the very same epiphany. At the end of each two-week, 277-mile journey down the Colorado River, someone would often come up to me and declare that the canyon was “America’s cathedral — a church without a roof.”

That image never failed to strike me with the indelible force of poetry and truth, because if there is a space of worship in this country that qualifies as both national and natural, surely it is the Grand Canyon.

Unfortunately, this idea of a tabernacle that is marvelously open, but also precariously vulnerable, is also a useful metaphor to capture what is unfolding this summer as the canyon’s custodians confront a challenge that some are calling one of the most serious threats in the 95-year history of Grand Canyon National Park.

To be precise, there is not one menace but two. And many of the people who know this place best find it almost impossible to decide which is worse, given that both would desecrate one of the country’s most beloved wilderness shrines.

On the South Rim plateau, less than two miles from the park’s entrance, the gateway community of Tusayan, a town just a few blocks long, has approved plans to construct 2,200 homes and three million square feet of commercial space that will include shops and hotels, a spa and a dude ranch.

Among its many demands, the development requires water, and tapping new wells would deplete the aquifer that drives many of the springs deep inside the canyon — delicate oases with names like Elves Chasm and Mystic Spring. These pockets of life, tucked amid a searing expanse of bare rock, are among the park’s most exquisite gems.

It’s a terrible plan, but an even deeper affront resides in the story of how the project came about.

In the early 1990s, the Stilo Group, based in Italy, began buying up private parcels inside the Kaibab National Forest, which is adjacent to the park. The group recently worked in partnership with Tusayan business owners to incorporate the town, and then to secure a majority of seats on the town council and control over local zoning.

It was a smart and effective strategy. But it also transferred to a small group of investors the power to irreparably harm the crown jewel of America’s park system.

Perhaps the only thing more dismaying is that the second threat is even worse.

Less than 25 miles to the northeast of Tusayan, Navajo leaders are working with developers from Scottsdale to construct a 1.4-mile tramway that would descend about 3,200 feet directly into the heart of the canyon. They call it Grand Canyon Escalade.

The cable system would take more than 4,000 visitors a day in eight-person gondolas to a spot on the floor of the canyon known as the Confluence, where the turquoise waters of the Little Colorado River merge with the emerald green current of the Colorado. The area, which is sacred to many in the Hopi and Zuni tribes, as well as Navajo people, would feature an elevated walkway, a restaurant and an amphitheater.

Opposition, which is furious, includes a group of Navajos who accuse the developers of tricking fellow tribesmen into supporting the project with misleading presentations. While the developers argue that the entire project would lie within the reservation, the park service suggests that it might intrude into the park and would not be allowed. Whichever is the case, the project would be a travesty.

The park’s superintendent, David Uberuaga, who says he spends a majority of his time battling developers and other threats to the park, says the proposal represents “a real and permanent” danger because it “will change the landscape for all future visitors.”

The driving force behind this is a developer and political consultant from Scottsdale, Ariz., R. Lamar Whitmer. He argues that the tramway will improve the canyon because the park service offers its visitors nothing more than “a drive-by wilderness experience.”

“The average person can’t ride a mule to the bottom of the canyon,” Mr. Whitmer recently told The Los Angeles Times. “We want them to feel the canyon from the bottom.”

That statement is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. But a good place to start is with the fact that Mr. Whitmer is conjuring a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

“We have multiple ways for people of all ability levels to experience the canyon, whether it’s taking a slow trip on the river, riding one of the burros, hiking the trails, or even flights or helicopters,” said Bob Irvin, president of the conservation group American Rivers. “But if we start building gondolas and other forms of development, we lose much of what makes the Grand Canyon so special. It would be a devastation, a sacrilege, to build that structure there.”

That word, sacrilege, may sound a bit overblown — but only to the ear of someone who has never been afforded the chance to grasp, firsthand, what makes this place so utterly unique, a landscape without antecedent or analog.

Although it is not the first, nor the largest, nor the most popular of America’s national parks, the Grand Canyon is nevertheless regarded as the touchstone and the centerpiece of the entire system. And rightly so. Because nowhere else has nature provided a more graphic display of its titanic indifference to the works and aspirations of man.

The walls of the abyss comprise at least 20 separate layers of stone that penetrate more than a mile beneath the rim. The bloodlines of that rock extend 17 million centuries into the past — more than a third of the planet’s life span, and about one-tenth the age of the universe itself.

Beneath those towering ramparts of unimaginably ancient rock, visitors are reminded that regardless of how impressive our achievements may seem, we are tiny and irrelevant in relation to the forces that have shaped the cosmos, and that we would thus do well to live humbly, and with a sense of balance.

That message may carry a special relevance to us as Americans, if only because we tend to be so impressed with our own noise. The canyon has things to say that we need to hear. It should therefore stand as axiomatic that the insights imparted by a journey into the abyss would be radically diminished, if not entirely negated, by making the trip inside a gondola.

0810COVER-master495In essence, what Mr. Whitmer’s plan would amount to is the annulment of a space whose value resides not in its accessibility to the masses, but precisely the reverse. It is a violation of the very thing that makes the space holy.

Buried within the Tusayan and tramway proposals is the belief that a tiny circle of entrepreneurs has the right to profit at the expense of everyone else by destroying a piece of the commonwealth — a landscape that is the birthright and the responsibility of every American.

That principle was first laid down by Teddy Roosevelt in 1903, when he delivered a speech on the South Rim of the canyon.

“I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it, in your own interest and in the interest of the country — keep this great wonder of nature as it now is,” Roosevelt declared. “I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

If what is now unfolding seems grotesquely at odds with Roosevelt’s message, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is hardly the first time something like this has happened to the canyon.

Back in the 1960s, the federal Bureau of Reclamation came within a hairbreadth of constructing not one but two colossal hydroelectric dams directly inside the canyon — a project that would have transformed the most magnificent stretch of the Colorado into a series of stagnant reservoirs teeming with power boats.

Oddly enough, one of the arguments used to justify that boondoggle was that flooding the canyon would serve the same purpose as a tramway: creating access — in this case not by moving people on the rim down to the river, but by moving the river closer to the rim.

The absurdity of that logic was exposed in 1966 when the Sierra Club took out a full-page ad in this newspaper asking if we should also flood the Sistine Chapel to enable tourists to get closer to the frescoes.

That campaign created a firestorm of opposition to the projects, and when Congress killed the dams, the victory marked a watershed moment in the history of wilderness conservation. It also underscored the principle laid down by Roosevelt: that the Grand Canyon should not be messed with — not now, not ever.

And therein, perhaps, lies the crux of the problem we are now facing.

Because the national park system has rightly been called this country’s best idea, we might assume that the parks themselves are sacrosanct. In the case of the Grand Canyon, this illusion of inviolability is further reinforced by the architecture of the terrain itself. If those walls fail to convey the weight of eternity, then nothing on earth can.

But as the Tusayan and tramway projects illustrate, the status of this park, like the status of all our parks, is as ephemeral as virga, the ghostly plumes of summer rain that stream from clouds above the canyon’s rim, only to evaporate before reaching the ground.

Conservationists often lament the inherent unfairness of fights like this. Whenever a developer is defeated, nothing prevents other developers from stepping forward, again and again. But for those who love wilderness, the loss of a single battle can mean the end of the war, because landscapes that fall to development will never return.

If you care about places like the Grand Canyon, there’s something inherently wrong about that. But there may be something reaffirming about it, too, because these threats call upon us to reassert our conviction, as a nation, that although wilderness is an asset whose worth may be difficult if not impossible to quantify, without it, we would be immeasurably poorer.

Every 15 or 20 years, it seems, the canyon forces us to undergo a kind of national character exam. If we cannot muster the resources and the resolve to preserve this, perhaps our greatest natural treasure, what, if anything, are we willing to protect?

In Time Of Drought, Arizona’s Alfalfa Exports Are Criticized

Unknown

As the West moves more into a record-setting drought, many are taking a look at how water gets used. Alfalfa grown with Colorado River water is a case study of how and why water gets used as it does.

~~  LISTEN  ~~

In Peru, Trading Boats for Boards

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 8.35.01 AM

On Peru’s northern coastline, the long history of reedboats is threatened as a new generation looks beyond fishing for careers and opportunities like surfing.

~~  WATCH  ~~

New Mexico’s Northern Landscape Gets A New Burst Of Color

three-fingers-canyon-016_wide-aaaad2ae5516d4a675fdcd344d297d721c630e6b-s5-c85

Much of the American West is suffering from extreme drought this year. California is running out of water and wildfires have raged through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But there is a bright spot out West — or, rather, a green spot. In New Mexico, unusually heavy late-summer rains have transformed the landscape.

It’s a remarkable sight. The high desert is normally the color of baked pie crust; now, it’s emerald.

Kirt Kempter, a geologist who lives in Santa Fe, says this transformation is far from ordinary.

“We now have this green carpet covering all the mesas, the lowlands,” Kempter says. “And we’re just not used to seeing a pistachio-green color in the landscape out here. It’s very, very unusual.”

Kempter takes frequent hikes in the Piedra Lumbre, the valley of shining stone near the town of Abiquiu that captivated the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. In the shade of a pinyon pine, he looks out past 165-million-year-old cliffs of yellow cream and red, onto a positively verdant desert floor.

It’s not just the yellow paperflowers, Indian paintbrush, verbena and snakeweed that have exploded. Other living things are thriving, too, Kempter says.

“The insect population is good. I’ve seen a tremendous surge in the swallow colonies building on the canyon cliffs,” he says. “There’s good food everywhere. Lots of rabbits out — coyotes then are plump and healthy. So it’s just good times in the desert.”

~~  READ MORE/LISTEN  ~~

Richard Nixon’s long shadow

Nixon_Resignation-Tapes-001c2

Former president Richard Nixon talks about his 1974 resignation in a series of interviews conducted by former White House aide Frank Gannon in New York City. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and the privately held Nixon Foundation are co-releasing a trove of videotaped interviews with the former president to mark the 40th anniversary of his resignation following the Watergate scandal. (AP/AP)

 

 Opinion writer August 6

At about 5:15 p.m. on June 17, 1971, in the Oval Office, the president ordered a crime: “I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”

The burglary he demanded was not the one that would occur exactly one year later at the Democratic National Committee’s office in the Watergatecomplex. Richard Nixon was ordering a break-in at the Brookings Institution, a think tank, to seize material concerning U.S. diplomacy regarding North Vietnam during the closing weeks of the 1968 presidential campaign.

As they sometimes did regarding his intemperate commands, Nixon’s aides disregarded the one concerning Brookings. But from a White House atmosphere that licensed illegality came enough of it to destroy him.

Forty years have passed since Aug. 9, 1974, when a helicopter whisked Nixon off the White House lawn, and questions remain concerning why he became complicit in criminality. Ken Hughes has a theory.

Working at the University of Virginia, in the Miller Center’s Presidential Recording Program, Hughes has studied the Nixon tapes for more than a decade. In his new book, “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate,” Hughes argues that Nixon ordered a crime in 1971 hoping to prevent public knowledge of a crime he committed in 1968.

~~  READ MORE  ~~

Kiitella Project: Mt. Sneffels Marathon/Half Marathon Trophies

Kiitella_Sneffels2014_650

Elegant, minimal and solid characterize these all-steel trophies by Kiitella, custom made for the Mt Sneffels Marathon/Half Marathon. Silhouettes of runners are held high atop railroad spikes, celebrating the rich mining culture of the area. The race is this Saturday and is a fundraiser for the Mount Sneffels Education Foundation.

A Dylan Insider’s Back Pages

10DYLAN-master675

LOS ANGELES — On a bright, cool afternoon in July, Jacob Maymudes sat on the deck of the small guesthouse he rents in the Los Feliz neighborhood here, reflecting on the strange journey of his first book, “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” which will be published on Sept. 9 and has already excited interest.

“It was never my intention to write a book about Bob,” he said, summoning up the difficult period in his life when he resisted completing the memoir left unfinished by his father, Victor Maymudes (pronounced may-MOOD-es), a longtime member of Mr. Dylan’s inner circle who had bitterly fallen out with him in 1997 and died four years later, leaving behind 24 hours of taped reminiscences.

Now 34, Jake grew up long after the Dylan legend had been formed, but he comes honestly to his casual “Bob.” He was 7 when he first met Mr. Dylan, at the back lot of Universal Studios. Jake was with his father, who was continually on the road with Mr. Dylan, carrying out an assortment of essential backstage assignments: as tour manager, chauffeur and body man, not to mention chess-playing companion.

They were roles he had been playing, off and on, since the early 1960s, when he was known as Mr. Dylan’s protective sidekick: together with him in London for Mr. Dylan’s first overseas concert; in a Manhattan hotel suite for a marijuana-infused summit with the Beatles; in Malibu, where Mr. Dylan’s first wife, Sara, is said to have poured out her marital troubles to Jake’s mother, Linda Wylie, while the unreleased “Blood on the Tracks” played on the stereo and Mr. Dylan suddenly walked in.

(“He said the songs were so painful, he didn’t know how anybody listened to them,” Ms. Wylie said in a phone interview last week.)

Not quite six years older than Mr. Dylan, Victor, an imposing, dark-haired six-footer, was an established figure on the folk scene — a promoter, manager and club owner in Los Angeles — when he came to New York and met the singer in 1961 or 1962.

The two instantly connected, and as Mr. Dylan’s career took off, Victor moved in and out of his orbit — drifting away to pursue projects of his own, but always circling back to Mr. Dylan.

“He was perceived as the keeper of the secrets,” said David Hajdu, a music historian whose book “Positively 4th Street” describes the early ’60s folk scene. “His reputation was for being enigmatic, closemouthed, trustworthy, impenetrable.”

Victor’s presence at the creation mattered to Mr. Dylan, said Sean Wilentz, the Princeton historian and author of “Bob Dylan in America,” a 2010 best seller. “It’s a sense of loyalty, of kinship,” he said. “You were brothers together. You were scuffling. That’s why Dylan brought him back.”

Brought him back even after an episode involving a teenage girl that led to Victor’s being fired as tour manager in 1995. Another star might have banished him. Instead, Mr. Dylan had Victor scout for and look after his real estate holdings. A quarrel over one property caused the final, acrimonious break in 1997.

~~  READ MORE  ~~

1959 Ariel Cyclone motorcycle

Waylon Jennings’ Birthday Present from Buddy Holly

June 15, 2012 – By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  14 Comments

Out on the road, Waylon’s crew was known for pulling some pretty elaborate pranks for the big man’s birthday. For a while, a staple of Waylon’s live show was to have Waylon’s wife Jessi Coulter walk out from the side of the stage near the end of a show singing the duet “Suspicious Minds” on a wireless microphone. Well one night in Salem, OR, the crew dressed up tour manager David Trask in one of Jessi’s dresses with a wig, and while Jessi sang on the wireless microphone backstage, the transvestite-looking Trask sashayed out of stage left toward Waylon holding the core of a paper towel roll. “I almost swallowed my guitar pick,” Waylon said later.

But possibly the most memorable Waylon Jennings’ birthday moment came when Waylon kickstarted a vintage 1958 Ariel Cyclone motorcycle inside a hotel room at midnight in 1979.

As a lot of Waylon Jennings fans know, Waylon and Buddy Holly were big friends back in Lubbock, TX in the late 50′s. Waylon played bass for Buddy when Buddy’s Crickets took a hiatus, and Waylon was the one that gave up his seat to The Big Bopper on that fateful night in 1959 when a plane crash took Buddy, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens lives, memorialized as “The Day The Music Died” and put to song in Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

1 1/2 years before in May of 1958, Buddy Holly and his original Crickets flew in to Dallas’s Love Field airport on a connecting flight back to Lubbock after a big tour.

“They loved Marlon Brando in “The Wild One,” and when they got to Dallas…they decided on the spur of the moment to buy motorcycles and drive back home on them.” Waylon recalled. “They took a cab into the city and walked into a Harley-Davidson shop. They had their eyes on a trio of 74-inchers, but the proprietor didn’t think they had any money and treated them like a bunch of bums. “Hell, you boys couldn’t even begin to handle the payments on that.”
“Then they went over to Miller’s Motorcycles, which specialized in English bikes. There, Joe B, and J.I. (Allison) bought a Triumph each, a TR6 and Thunderbird, respectively, while Buddy picked out a maroon and black Ariel Cyclone, with a high compression 650cc Huntsmaster engine. They paid cash, bought matching Levi jackets and peaked caps with wings on them, and rode home through a thunderstorm.”

Buddy Holly’s father had kept the motorcycle until 1970, when he sold it to someone in Austin, TX. Then in 1979 for Waylon’s 42nd birthday, the two remaining Crickets Joe B. and J.I. tracked down the 1959 Ariel Cyclone, bought it back, and had it hand delivered to north Texas where Waylon found it sitting there in the middle of his hotel room after walking off stage that night.

“What else could I do? I swung my leg over it, stomped on the kickstarter, and it burst into roaring life. First kick. It was midnight, and it sounded twice as loud bouncing off the walls of that hotel room. I knew Buddy wouldn’t mind.”

Blackhawk Jazz Club–San Francisco——–I saw Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis at this club.

 

San Francisco Jazz Landmark Recognized

Though it closed its doors in 1963, a half-dozen classic recordings made at San Francisco’s Blackhawk nightclub have ensured a secure, lasting renown for the club in jazz lore. Along with other, long-gone clubs such as New York’s Royal Roost, Chicago’s Blue Note, and Philly’s Showboat and Peps’, the Blackhawk enjoys a mythic status as a club where all of the great post-war small groups played; Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Ahmad Jamal, Billie Holiday… if they played San Francisco, they played at the Blackhawk. Last month a bronze plaque was set into the sidewalk on the corner of Turk and Hyde in the Tenderloin to mark the spot where the Blackhawk once stood. Previously, the intersection’s northeast corner offered no hint of the jazz significance of the site serving only as a parking lot and hang out spot for the homeless and wanderers. Now, thanks to the dedicated work of the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District, the corner has been marked as a pilgrimage site for jazz fans. On my recent visit, it was difficult to image the club or the night Miles and Hank Mobley burned through “Oleo” there fifty years ago–I was too busy deflecting appeals for pocket change and offers of “buds”–but it was nice to associate a physical location in the city with what I have read and heard about the club. While the Tenderloin has experienced gentrification in recent years, it seems unlikely that tourists will serendipitously discover the corner’s new plaque on their own; the site of the old Blackhawk rewards the more deliberate and devoted visitor.

The use of plaques to denote important jazz sites is not new in major U.S. cities. Philadelphia, for one, has markers for the house Billie Holiday lived in and the site of the Showboat club. New York is probably least sentimental about recognizing such landmarks (perhaps the weight of all of those plaques would drag Manhattan below sea level), but, then again, its most historic club still packs ‘em in seven nights a week in the same basement where they have been doing it since the 1930s. It is great news that San Francisco has decided to mark one of its most celebrated jazz sites in an enduring way. The city’s earliest jazz sites were clustered along the Barbary Coast and famous clubs also proliferated in North Beach (The Matador Club, The Jazz Workshop) and Western Addition (The Both/And), but the Blackhawk outranks them all for the roster of artists who worked there and the recordings made within its walls. Like the Village Vanguard, records made at the Blackhawk always mentioned the club’s name prominently: provenance suggests quality. Here are a few of the classics:

Miles Davis: In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk (Columbia)
Ahmad Jamal: Live at the Blackhawk (Argo)
Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus 2: At the Blackhawk (Riverside)
Shelly Manne: At the Blackhawk (4 volumes, Contemporary)
Cal Tjader: A Night at the Blackhawk (Fantasy)
Mongo Santamaria: Live at the Blackhawk (Fantasy)

Storm Chasing on Saturn

saturn-hexagonal-jet-stream

The sun is slowly rising over Saturn’s North Pole, exposing an immense six-sided hurricane. The storm, big enough to swallow four Earths, was first spotted by the Voyager missions in the early 1980s.

 

There’s always something strange going on with Saturn, the solar system’s most photogenic planet – from the famous rings that baffled Galileo 400 years ago to the methane dunes and lakes of its smoggy moon Titan.

In 10 years of cruising Saturn and its vicinity, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has seen kinks, braids and waves in the rings so high that they cast shadows across the other rings, and the spacecraft’s cameras recently counted 101 geysers of water shooting from a subsurface ocean through cracks in the icy moon Enceladus.

In its latest spins around the ringed planet, Cassini has focused on a lesser known but hardly less mysterious feature of Saturn, an atmospheric phenomenon whose description – the six-sided vortex – is more evocative of Harry Potter or “Star Wars” than your standard weather report.

When the Voyager spacecraft flew past Saturn in 1980 and 1981, they discovered that the planet’s north pole was capped by a gigantic hexagon-shaped storm, the mother of all polar vortexes. It is an immense hurricane four times the size of the Earth bordered by a jet stream blowing 220 miles per hour.

After the Voyagers left, winter and darkness descended on Saturn’s North. The planet takes 30 years to complete one orbit of the Sun. Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004, just ahead of spring. Cassini scientists are eager to see how the hexagon vortex evolves as Saturnian spring turns to summer. The spacecraft will be passing directly over the north pole with its cameras pointing down later this month.

Scientists on Earth have been pondering what causes the vortex to take such an unnatural-looking shape.

In 2010, Ana Aguiar of Lisbon University and colleagues pointed out that the position of the hexagon on Saturn corresponded to the latitude of a narrow and very speedy jet stream. They suggested that friction with slower-moving atmosphere on either side of the jet stream would create eddies, miniature hurricanes, that would push the jet stream north and south as it went around the planet, resulting in a wave shape.

In laboratory experiments with rotating fluids, they were able to reproduce the six-sided shape, providing reassurance that there is nothing supernatural going on at Saturn.

The Cassini team hopes to learn more about how the storm works by paying particular attention to the corners of the hexagon.

At the same time, they can study Saturn’s aurora, the ring of northern lights caused by energetic particles guided by Saturn’s magnetic field crashing down into the atmosphere. This curtain of electrical fire comes down right on top of the hexagon, as it turns out.

It’s always something on Saturn.

European Spacecraft Pulls Alongside Comet

07comet-cnd-master675

The comet, as photographed by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, is 2.5 miles wide. CreditEuropean Space Agency

 

After 10 years and a journey of four billion miles, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its destination on Wednesday for the first extended, close examination of a comet.

A six-minute thruster firing at 5 a.m. Eastern time, the last in a series of 10 over the past few months, slowed Rosetta to the pace of a person walking, about two miles per hour relative to the speed of its target,Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

“It is like driving a car or a bus on a motorway for 10 years,” said Andrea Accomazzo, the flight director, at a post-rendezvous news conference. “Now we’ve entered downtown. We’re downtown and we have to start orienting ourselves. We don’t know the town yet, so we have to discover it first.”

Over the coming months, Rosetta and its comet, called C-G for short, will plunge together toward the sun.

An Auteur, in His Own Words The Director Robert Altman Tells His Story in ‘Altman’ on Epix

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.02.43 AM

Robert Altman was, by most accounts, a man who burned a lot of bridges during his long career as a director. That career receives a slick and enjoyable recapping on Wednesday at 8 p.m. when Epix offers“Altman,” a documentary in which Altman, who died in 2006, tells much of his own story via archival interviews.

He was far from the only prickly guy in Hollywood. He tells of an encounter with Jack Warner, who had reluctantly hired him to direct the 1967 film “Countdown,” even though Warner had told Altman to his face that he didn’t like him or his work. Sure enough, Warner was infuriated after watching some of Altman’s dailies, the raw footage from the shooting. A subordinate related Warner’s displeasure this way, Altman recalls, “If you want to hear what he said, he says, ‘That fool’ — meaning me — ‘has actors talking at the same time.’ ”

Altman’s use of multilayer soundtracks went on to become one of his signatures as he built a formidable body of work that included “MASH,” “Nashville,” “The Player” and “Gosford Par

Image

ojos vigilantes

IMG_2337

Democrats Seize on Social Issues as Attitudes Shift

HARWOOD-master675

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, last month. He has criticized his Republican rival’s “radical agenda” on abortion. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

 

WASHINGTON — Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, argued that Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic incumbent, was “making up my views” when Mr. Warner accused him of seeking to overturn abortion rights and ban some forms of contraception. In fact, Mr. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said in a recent debate, he wants contraceptives available (behind the counter) at pharmacies without a prescription.

Representative Cory Gardner, a Republican in a tight Senate race in Colorado, proposed the same thing after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case exempted some private businesses from covering certain contraceptives in health insurance plans. He was shielding himself from attacks by Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, who has spent months slamming Mr. Gardner’s “radical agenda” on abortion and family planning.

“Udall is running his entire campaign on social issues,” said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “All they talk about is birth control, ‘personhood,’ abortion.”

So will many other Democrats this fall. They aim to match President Obama’s feat in 2012, when the incumbent used topics such as same-sex marriage and contraception as weapons to offset his vulnerability on the economy. That they would even try while facing the older, whiter, more conservative midterm electorate shows how thoroughly the politics of social issues have turned upside down.

The tumultuous social changes that began in the 1960s supplied decades of political ammunition for Republicans. Beginning with Richard M. Nixon, they rallied Americans disturbed by noisy protests over civil rights, the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War.

“Acid, amnesty and abortion” was the epithet hurled at the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern. Republicans seized on concerns about welfare, school busing and crime — memorably with a black convict named Willie Horton in 1988 — to cement their grip on white voters. As recently as 2004, Republicans used a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to rally tradition-minded “values voters” behind President George W. Bush’s re-election.

Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats. Demographic change keeps shrinking Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress overhauled welfare. Fear of crime has receded enough that members of both parties propose more lenient sentencing.

American households have changed significantly. Nearly half of adults are unmarried. Fully 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples are interracial or interethnic. Acceptance of same-sex marriage has expanded with astonishing speed.

Legalization of medical marijuana has moved, in two states, Colorado and Washington, to legalization of recreational marijuana. College students from the Summer of Love are pushing 70, the elders who disapproved of their behavior are largely gone and young adults are wondering what the turmoil was ever about.

~~  READ MORE  ~~

Joshu Sasaki, a Zen Master Tarnished by Abuse Claims, Dies at 107

SASAKI-obit-master495

Joshu Sasaki, who died on July 27 at the age of 107, was one of the most influential and charismatic Zen masters in America, imparting a mix of paradox, PERSONALITY and transcendental insight to an estimated half million people during a 50-year career.

He earned the high regard of scholars in the field of contemplative studies. The beat poets Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg and the Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen were among his students. And he ordained dozens of Zen monks and nuns, who spread his teaching around the world.

 Then, in 2012, in his centenarian years, a tide of sex-abuse allegations emerged to cast his character and his legacy in a harsh light.

On website discussion boards, former students began voicing what turned out to be long-festering complaints about Mr. Sasaki, accusing him of engaging in sexual affairs with female students and Buddhist nuns, of molesting or coercing hundreds of others into having sexual contact with him during one-on-one training sessions at his Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles and at his retreat camps.

They said he would tell them that sexual contact with a Zen master, or roshi, like him, would help them attain new levels of “non-attachment,” one of Zen’s central objectives. If they resisted, they said, he used intimidation and threats of expulsion.

An independent panel of Buddhist leaders concluded in 2013 that the allegations were essentially indisputable. The panel report said that students had complained to Mr. Sasaki’s staff about his behavior since the early 1970s, and that those “who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed or otherwise punished.”

A few women went to the law enforcement authorities over the years, and one had reached out to a rape crisis center, but no charges were ever brought against Mr. Sasaki, the panel said.

Mr. Sasaki had retired from teaching a year before the allegations surfaced. Though he kept his title as abbot of the Rinzai-ji Zen Center until 2013, he never publicly responded to the charges. A group of his senior STAFF MEMBERS issued an open letter of apology, admitting that they had known about his behavior and had made only intermittent efforts to address it.

“Our hearts were not firm enough, our minds were not clear enough,” the letter said.

Not all of his adherents concurred in the apology. Some contended that the allegations had been investigated only superficially, or pointed out that no criminal charges had been filed. On websites and online message boards for Zen Buddhists, some argued that even if the allegations were true, Mr. Sasaki would never have acted deceptively or with intent to cause harm.

“The idea that he was a predator is mistaken,” said Harold D. Roth, a professor of religious studies at Brown University and a former student of Mr. Sasaki’s. “Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening enlightenment in his students.”

Professor Roth, who is director of a contemplative studies initiative at Brown and edited an upcoming first volume of Mr. Sasaki’s collected teachings, said Mr. Sasaki had never been well schooled in Americans’ shifting mores about sexual behavior. Referring to Japan’s last feudal period, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, he called Mr. Sasaki “a man of the Tokugawa era.”

Joshu Sasaki was born into a farming family near Sendai, in northern Japan, on April 1, 1907. He became a Zen Buddhist novice at 14, schooled in the 13th-century disciplinary traditions of Rinzai. After seven years of study in Hokkaido, he was sent to Myoshin-ji, the flagship temple of the Rinzai branch, in Kyoto, where he studied for 20 years. He was abbot of a temple in Nagano in 1962 when Rinzai officials in Kyoto, in response to a request from a group in the United States, dispatched him to teach Zen Buddhism to Americans.

Mr. Sasaki was among many monks who immigrated to the United States after World War II to spread Zen teachings. He was among the very few, though, who hewed to Rinzai, which leads students toward enlightenment with 16-hour days of meditation, abrupt and sometimes shouted interrogations in the koan mysteries (“What is the blown hair sword?”) and occasional whacks on the head with a stick — all in the service of inspiring satoria life-changing shift (or awakening) of consciousness about themselves and the nature of reality. Samurai warriors used it to help them overcome the fear of death.

Anyone looking for the kind of easygoing Zen popularized by the British philosopher Alan Watts in the late 1950s was likely to decamp from Mr. Sasaki’s study centers and monasteries. But thousands of other flocked to Mr. Sasaki, the beginning of a surge of American interest in Eastern philosophy.

After opening his Zen center in Los Angeles, Mr. Sasaki founded a Zen retreat in 1971 at Mt. Baldy in San Bernardino County, Calif., and another in 1972 in Jemez Springs, N.M. (Mr. Cohen’s long relationship with Mr. Sasaki was chronicled in Armelle Brusq’s documentary “Leonard Cohen: Spring 96,” which was filmed during the third of Mr. Cohen’s five years in residence at the Mt. Baldy retreat.)

Zen monks and nuns trained by Mr. Sasaki have established roughly 30 loosely affiliated centers in the United States and Europe. A couple of them have formally cut ties with him in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal.

Mr. Sasaki’s death, in Los Angeles, was confirmed by a spokesman for the Rinzai-ji Zen Center. He is survived by his wife, Haruyo Sasaki.

As Ballot Deadline Looms, A Muddied Debate Over Colo. Fracking

 

istock_000037322342small_wide-350407b2b5dd7962301967da2cab7cd141768579-s40-c85

Just off Interstate Highway 25, Drill Rig 1548 of Encana Natural Gas stands near HOMES IN the town of Frederick in Weld County, Colorado.

 

“Hello. Are you REGISTERED to vote in Colorado?”

It’s a refrain many in the state have grown to loathe this summer – heard outside their favorite grocery store or shopping mall as signature gatherers race toward an August 4 deadline to put four energy-related measures on the November ballot.

With two of those measures backed by environmentalists, and the other two by industry-supported groups, all of the energy talk is leading to confusion among potential voters.

Among the hassled Colorado shoppers is Veronica Canto, a REGISTERED independent from Denver. On one day, she was approached by signature gatherers three separate times while visiting the downtown 16th Street Mall.

“They come up and out of nowhere. You’re like, uh, man,” says Canto, who works in EDUCATION  and says she hasn’t had a lot of time to research oil and gas development.

“The only reason I thought about fracking today, for like the two minutes after, maybe, they left, was because they had asked me,” she says.

Gov. John Hickenlooper had hoped to pass legislation that would stave off some of the ballot measures, but those efforts stalled mid-July. And lately, many Coloradans who don’t normally think about energy are being deluged with messages by groups with very different agendas.

Sometimes, voters don’t know what the petition they’re signing actually stands for.

“You have both sides of the fracking issue, and they’re putting out their talking points and they’re spending lots of money, trying to persuade the electorate to their views,” explains Kyle Saunders, a political science professor at Colorado State UNIVERSITY. “And all that conflicting information can really muddy the issue for voters.”

A few blocks away on the 16th Street Mall, signature gatherer Jessica Cerise is at work for the pro-environment group Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy.

Fired up, Patrick Klimper signs her petitions – backing a measure that would increase setbacks between wells and homes from 500 to 2,000 feet, and a second one aimed at giving communities that ban fracking more legal protections in court.

“All I know is that we need to get rid of fracking, that’s the big thing. I just think it’s not great for the environment,” he says.

So far voters in five Colorado communities have placed restrictions on fracking. But this July, a district court judge struck down one of those measures.

Inside a Denver high-rise office building, signature gatherer Telbe Storbeck talks to workers at the COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FIRM Cassidy Turley.

Storbeck explains his measure is supported by an industry-backed GROUP CALLED Protecting Colorado. The measure he’s promoting would prevent communities that ban fracking from accepting state oil and gas tax dollars.

“So it takes away that – so it’s this fairness issue,” he explains.

Most workers gathered in this conference room see their JOBS in real estate linked to the energy industry – including Managing Director Steward Mosko.

“We’re as close to being activists in these types of things as possible. We have to be because it affects our livelihood,” he says.

Mosko signed the first initiative, and a second one that would require future ballot issues to have fiscal impact statements.

But back at the 16th Street Mall, Canto says her interactions with signature gatherers were unhelpful.

“I would say that even reading the information that they had and having them speak to me – they’re both just as confusing as each other,” she says.

Canto says she hasn’t made up her mind yet on the topic. She intends to weigh both sides of the issue, judging how it will affect her life. All she knows now is that she won’t be turning to signature gatherers for help.

~~  LISTEN  ~~

EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO) DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION

CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS 

and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society 

10 July 2014 

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Watch 

Synopsis: The chance of El Niño is about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and is close to 80% during the fall and early winter. 

During June 2014, above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) were most prominent in the eastern equatorial Pacific, with weakening evident near the International Date Line (Fig. 1). This weakening was reflected in a decrease to +0.3°C in the Niño-4 index (Fig. 2). The Niño-3.4 index remained around +0.5°C throughout the month, while the easternmost Niño-3 and Niño-1+2 indices are +1.0°C or greater. Subsurface heat content anomalies (averaged between 180º-100ºW) have decreased substantially since late March 2014 and are now near average (Fig. 3). However, above-average subsurface temperatures remain prevalent near the surface (down to 100m depth) in the eastern half of the Pacific (Fig. 4). The upper-level and low-level winds over the tropical Pacific remained near average, except for low-level westerly anomalies over the eastern Pacific. Convection was enhanced near and just west of the Date Line and over portions of Indonesia (Fig. 5). Still, the lack of a clear and consistent atmospheric response to the positive SSTs indicates ENSO-neutral.

Over the last month, no significant change was evident in the model forecasts of ENSO, with the majority of models indicating El Niño onset within June-August and continuing into early 2015 (Fig. 6). The chance of a strong El Niño is not favored in any of the ensemble averages for Niño-3.4. At this time, the forecasters anticipate El Niño will peak at weak-to-moderate strength during the late fall and early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index between 0.5°C and 1.4°C). The chance of El Niño is about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and is close to 80% during the fall and early winter (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts are also updated monthly in the Forecast Forum of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. Additional perspectives and analysis are also available in an ENSO blog. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 7 August 2014. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.

 

 

‘As Long As They Want To Play': Newport Jazz At 60

velmaandlouis-f331edfb0a10bc638e9de560d91150fd7694d75e-s40-c85

Velma Middleton is accompanied by Louis Armstrong at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival.Velma Middleton is accompanied by Louis Armstrong at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival.Velma Middleton is accompanied by Louis Armstrong at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival.

 

This year, the Newport Jazz Festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary. For most of that time, its guiding force has been producer George Wein, who remembers all too well the first event in 1954.

It was pouring rain. Wein was being urged to call it off but refused. The audience stayed, broke out their umbrellas, and the musicians played. The scene was caught by a photographer.

“And that picture went out all over the world,” Wein says, “of people sitting for five hours in the rain, listening to jazz.”

And who wouldn’t have stayed? The lineup included Ella FitzgeraldCount BasieDizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday.

After its soggy debut, it wasn’t long before the festival started making musical history. In 1956 Duke Ellingtonand his orchestra were playing the bandleader’s composition “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” when Ellington turned to saxophonist Paul Gonsalves for a solo.

Gonsalves blew for 27 choruses, turning the sit-down Newport audience into a surging crowd.

“We were sitting there and we saw this thing evolving and we couldn’t believe it,” Gonsalves says. “I was worried it was maybe too exciting because the crowd, for the first time, had left their seats and was coming towards the stage.”

The crowds actually did get too rowdy, and in 1961 the festival was cancelled. It resumed the next year, but audiences started to dwindle. As the decade wore on and musical tastes began to change, George Wein added rock to the lineup for the 1969 festival. Bands like Led Zeppelin drew an overflowing crowed to Newport — which nearly caused another riot.

The rock experiment was a mistake, Wein says. But he did have a KEEN ear for what might sell. In 1959 when the folk boom was taking off, he launched the Newport Folk Festival. Over the years, he watched as taste shifted back and forth between the two events.

“Next thing we knew, the folk festival was surpassing the jazz festival,” he says. “Then whenBob Dylan went electric, the folk festival went down and the jazz festival was coming up again.”

~~  READ OR LISTEN  ~~