A Mexican-American photographer’s divided view of L.A. ~ The New Yorker

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A woman in Las Adelitas de Aztlán, a women’s organization that supported the Chicano movement, in Lincoln Heights, 1969.

Photographs courtesy Hat & Beard Press

Last week marked the fiftieth anniversary of the East L.A. “blowouts,” in which thousands of Mexican-American high-school students protested their crowded, understaffed classrooms and outdated textbooks with an organized walkout. At the time, George Rodriguez was a thirty-one-year-old photographer working at Columbia Pictures. It was a good job, working on the publicity stills of stars like Frank Sinatra and Jayne Mansfield. Rodriguez, who is also Mexican-American, had grown up at a different time, and in a different part of the city—South L.A., not the Eastside, which was the hotbed of the burgeoning Chicano movement. But he recognized that something important was happening. During lunch breaks, he grabbed his camera and drove across town to take pictures. Who else would document this moment? One photo features a teen-ager, his hair parted down the middle, holding a sign in each hand: in the right, roosevelt chicanos demand justice; in the left, fuck the pigs. A visual reminder, in light of the recent Parkland student protests, that teen-agers have long been at the forefront of demanding political change.

The student walkouts, known as “blowouts,” in Boyle Heights, 1968.

The Chicano Moratorium, an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, in East Los Angeles, 1970.

As Rodriguez’s career evolved, so, too, did his interest in these seemingly disparate L.A. worlds: one fantasy-filled and glamorous, the other gritty and politically attuned. He continued to work for studios and record labels but also began working as a photojournalist, covering protests, speeches, even the L.A. riots. As he later remarked, “I was really living two lives.” “Double Vision: The Photography of George Rodriguez,” a new book from Hat & Beard Press, puts these lives side by side. There are images of iconic performers: Van Morrison staring off into space while jamming with the Doors; the Jackson 5 playing basketball in the driveway of a house up in the hills; Eazy-E with a “Compton” baseball cap, sunglasses, and leather gloves, trying to look as tough as possible (a facing image, where you can see the rapper’s soft eyes, might actually be more chilling). Rodriguez’s work is earnest and professional, full of the angles and lighting tricks that make people seem worthy of the album covers and magazine spreads he’d been commissioned to shoot.

GR_NewYorker_11Cesar Chavez in Delano, 1969

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San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast ~ Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 11:10


An update from my Wednesday forecast. This next storm that is currently sliding down the Pacific coast picking up good moisture will begin its migration inland later today into the Great Basin on southwest flow. Today will be warm with increasing cloudiness this afternoon and cooling temperatures.

Probably a few snow showers tonight and early tomorrow morning with minimal accumulations in the mountains then kicks in Sunday as the low pressure trough moves into the San Juans. This storm has colder temps than our Thursday/Friday storm so maybe squeeze a few more inches from it … We could see up to a foot of new above TL but the average is probably closer to 5-10″.  As the storm moves east and the flow switches to NW late Sunday, the northwest side of the San Juans (Uncompahgre Gorge in particular) should get a final shot of high precip rates to finish off the event.

GFS – US – 500mb – Loop


Visible Water Vapor – GOES West 12 hr Loop


67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump ~ NYT


Since taking office last year, President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration — with help from Republicans in Congress — has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change.

To date, the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules, according to a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker and other sources.


Reggie, famoso perro de avalancha de Portillo ~ Feb/March 2004 – March 2018 ~ What a Great Dog!


Cover Boy for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Portillo Chile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReggie’s first winter in Silverton as a avalanche intern along with his saddle pal Mark Rawstoned


Reggie’s 1st CDOT explosive training March, 2004 with Don rōbert


Another season in the San Juan’s with Mark and friends 

Mark Rawsthorne and Reggie, Powder Hound

Getting seasoned in Portillo during a big Andean storm with avalanche forecaster & handler/compay, Mark Rawstoned


killing time in Silverton with the master 


                     Taking a nap after a long day of avalanche mitigation


Visiting el jefe (Henry Purcell) office Portillo Chile


Enjoying his retirement in the Andes with best friend Winnie.


The Koch Brothers Tried to Spread Fake News in Black Churches. It Did Not Go Well. ~ Mother Jones

2018_march-18_pastorandkochs1Amelia Bates/Grist


In December 2016, gospel music stars descended on a local community center in Richmond, Virginia’s East Highland Park neighborhood. Hundreds of residents from throughout the area had answered the call to attend a concert marketed as an opportunity for enlightenment, both spiritual and environmental.

As a sea of hands waved through the air as eyes closed in prayer, what many in the crowd didn’t know was that they were the target of a massive propaganda campaign. One of the event’s sponsors was a fossil-fuel advocacy group called Fueling US Forward, an outfit supported by Koch Industries, the petrochemicals, paper, and wood product conglomeratefounded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The gospel program was designed to highlight the benefits of oil and natural gas production and its essential role in the American way of life. During a break in the music, a panel discussion unfolded about skyrocketing utility costs. The lobbyists and businesspeople on the panel presented a greater reliance on fossil fuels—billed as cheap, reliable energy sources—as the fix. Later, a surprise giveaway netted four lucky attendees the opportunity to have their power bills paid for them.

The event was one big bait and switch, according to environmental experts and local activists. Come for the gospel music, then listen to us praise the everlasting goodness of oil and gas. Supporting this sort of pro-oil-and-gas agenda sprinkled over the songs of praise, they say, would only worsen the pollution and coastal flooding that come with climate change, hazards that usually hit Virginia’s black residents the hardest.

“The tactic was tasteless and racist, plain and simple,” says Kendyl Crawford, the Sierra Club of Richmond’s conservation program coordinator. “It’s exploiting the ignorance many communities have about climate change.”

So in response to the Koch brothers’ attempt to sway their flocks, Wilson and others affiliated with black churches in Virginia have channeled their outrage into a new calling: climate advocacy. For Wilson, environmentalism has become a biblical mission.

“The climate is changing,” he says. “And it’s black folk in Virginia who will lose the most.”

The billionaire Koch brothers are one of the driving forces behind right-wing campaigns throughout the country. One of their primary activities is promoting fossil fuel production. According to Virginia environmental groups, that involves efforts to deny the existence of climate change and stifle renewable energy policies.


A Slightly Embarrassing Love for Jack Kerouac ~ The New Yorker



Every year on or around March 12th, acolytes of the Beat writer Jack Kerouac cluster at the Flamingo Sports Bar in St. Petersburg, Florida, to celebrate his birthday. Kerouac would have turned ninety-six this week had he not died just three blocks south, at St. Anthony’s Hospital, on October 21, 1969. The official cause was an abdominal hemorrhage, made fatal by several decades of ferocious drinking. He was forty-seven.

Two local acolytes, Pat Barmore and Pete Gallagher, have been organizing Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo for five years. Folk and jazz musicians play short sets, while poets read from battered notebooks. (Sometimes, in true Beat style, both things happen at once.) Patrons are encouraged to toss back “a shot and a wash,” Kerouac’s preferred tipple. (When I texted a friend in New York a picture of a menu board displaying the price of the Kerouac Special—two dollars and fifty cents for a whiskey and a plastic cup of beer—he texted back, “That should be illegal!”) The Flamingo, which opened in 1924, is more of a pool hall than a literary salon. A sign warns against gambling, profanity, lifting tables, throwing pool balls, and snapping sticks. Regulars, who tend to be over forty, gather at the bar to light each other’s cigarettes and discuss the weather. Kerouac’s novels are displayed on a rail in a side room. A mural, of him wearing a red plaid shirt and poking a cue ball, has been painted on the south side of the building. I liked the place immediately.

“The ghost of Jack Kerouac is definitely here,” Barmore announced at the start of the evening. The previous Sunday, he added, all of Kerouac’s novels “leapt off the shelf and fell on the ground,” apropos of no apparent stimuli. A similar event had recently occurred at Haslam’s Bookstore, a few miles away on Central Avenue. Per local lore, Kerouac used to wander into Haslam’s and rearrange his own books, jockeying for better and more prominent shelf placement; supposedly, this still goes on. A couple dozen people crowded the room. The guitarist Big Jim Mason opened the show with a handful of original folk songs. He was wearing a black T-shirt that promised, “It’s not a wrong note, it’s jazz.”

At a certain point in a person’s life, liking Kerouac—and liking “On the Road,” especially—becomes embarrassing. It’s not a particularly enlightened book. While there are a handful of female characters in it, these women are largely unrecognizable as human, and to say that Kerouac was inelegant about matters of race is generous. The plot isn’t particularly riveting. A disenchanted and heartbroken dude named Sal Paradise meets Dean Moriarty, a charismatic raconteur (he was inspired by Kerouac’s real-life friend, the poet-madman Neal Cassady) who strives for absolute liberation, no matter the emotional cost. Paradise buys it: “Somewhere along the line I knew there would be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.” Together they crisscross North America, hot for adventures.

I love “On the Road,” despite knowing very well that it’s a fantastical and likely toxic account, blind to both engines of privilege and the sacrifices inherent to endless meandering. Any ongoing affinity for the book is a way of signalling to the world that you are still enthralled by juvenile and illusory notions of freedom. Yet I’m nonetheless cowed by the rhythm and the elegance of Kerouac’s prose, how he taps into the wild energy of adolescent wanting. I was a brooding and sullen high-school freshman when I first read “On the Road,” still doing the hard and complicated work of figuring out how I fit into the world. It seems apt that the most quoted line from “On the Road” suggests we simply give in to our longings. To do otherwise is cowardly (or, worse, boring): “ . . . the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ”

The book was (supposedly) written on one continuous, hundred-and-twenty-foot scroll of typing paper—a savage and unmediated burst. In 1959, Kerouac told the talk-show host Steve Allen that it took him three weeks, although this, too, was later revealed to be an ingenious bit of self-mythologizing. (It turns out nothing shatters the glamour of genius more quickly than admitting that you spend hours every day moving commas around, or swapping out adverbs for different adverbs.)

“Kerouac cultivated this myth that he was this spontaneous prose man, and that everything that he ever put down was never changed, and that’s not true,” the Kerouac scholar Paul Marion told NPR, in 2007. “He was really a supreme craftsman, and devoted to writing and the writing process.” The book went through several drafts between 1951 and 1957, when Viking Press finally published it.


I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up.


March 16 at 6:00 AM

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He co-hosts “Loud and Clear” on Sputnik Radio.

I was inside the CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters on Sept. 11, 2001. Like all Americans, I was traumatized, and I volunteered to go overseas to help bring al-Qaeda’s leaders to justice. I headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan from January to May 2002. My team captured dozens of al-Qaeda fighters, including senior training-camp commanders. One of the fighters whom I played an integral role in capturing was Abu Zubaida, mistakenly thought at the time to be the third-ranking person in the militant group.

By that May, the CIA had decided to torture him. When I returned to CIA headquarters that month, a senior officer in the Counterterrorism Center asked me if I wanted to be “trained in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” I had never heard the term, so I asked what it meant. After a brief explanation, I declined. I said that I had a moral and ethical problem with torture and that — the judgment of the Justice Department notwithstanding — I thought it was illegal.

Unfortunately, there were plenty of people in the U.S. government who were all too willing to allow the practice to go on. One of them was Gina Haspel, whom President Trump nominated Tuesday as the CIA’s next director.