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Author Archive




~ Ellen Hunter for Ouray County Commissioner ~

The last time we connected about Ellen Hunter and her candidacy for County Commissioner, it was about the issues she wanted to emphasize: Attainable housing, High Alpine regs, Child care, County Roads, and Broadband.

These are all big issues, and as an example, I want to draw attention to one of them as a difference-maker.

It often matters who casts the vote as your County Commissioner. When the BOCC recently decided to establish a six-month moratorium on development in the High Country and on mining claims to propose regs, Don Batchelder was the lone ‘no’ vote. Ouray County was a sacrifice county being subjected to building applications in inappropriate areas for inappropriate sizes.

Commissioners Ben Tisdel and Lynn Padgett knew that we needed regs comparable to our neighboring counties, San Juan and San Miguel, and we needed them soon. Commissioner Batchelder voted no.

Fortunately, the Planning Commission has deliberated, had a Public Hearing, and passed on recommendations to the BOCC.
I can remember 10 years ago when the XPUD was proposed — it would have doubled the development density in the county and gutted the Land Use Code. Don Batchelder took no leadership on an obviously bad proposal, and it took 3- 400 people showing up at the public hearing to have the BOCC remove it from consideration.

We need a County Commissioner who will look out for Ouray County. We need to elect Ellen Hunter for County Commissioner. I encourage you to send donations to: Ellen Hunter for County Commissioner, P O Box 91, Ridgway, CO 81432.

email: ellenhuntercountycommissioner@gmail.com

Sincerely yours,

John Hollrah


meltdown …


Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey ~ A feature documentary




This all began when I decided to hand-write a letter that I figured would never be read. I definitely did not expect it to be answered.

First, I had to find the address of a man I wasn’t even sure had one.

I’ve always been intrigued by the pioneers of the sports I love. The adventurous few that broke trail for the rest of us into the unknown when maps were sparse and gear was heavy. Real explorers. As a documentary filmmaker, these exceptionally tough men and women frequently had me daydreaming about the perfect film character.

Support this project on Kickstarter
The groundbreaking life story of Fred Beckey is being told for the first time in Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey. Please support the making of this exclusive documentary film by backing the Kickstarter campaign before August 25, 2016.

Over a decade ago, I read an article about Fred Beckey. It mentioned that he used to promote Dick Barrymore’s ski films in the northwest to make a little extra cash. Fred piqued my interest. As a climber, there was no one more mysterious than Beckey. Rumors swirled around his secret black book of climbs, more first ascents than anyone ever, the forever bachelor and the original American dirtbag. I knew Barrymore from a previous film project, and I asked him what he thought about a documentary on Fred. He laughed, “I’d pay to see that movie made!” and gave me Beckey’s address.

A few months later, I’d nearly forgotten about the letter when the phone rang. A grizzly voice shouted, “This is Beckey. I’ll be skiing in Utah if you want to meet me.”

I was floored! After a six-hour drive, I headed straight to Alta to get some runs in before contacting Fred. As I skied to the lift, I had to navigate through a yard sale of poles, skis, a backpack half-packed with gear strewn across the snow, when I suddenly realized this was Fred Beckey himself getting ready to ski.

I nervously introduced myself, excited to finally meet one of my climbing heroes. He looked up and snarled, “I don’t want to talk to you right now. Can’t you see I’m busy? Call me later.”

First impressions … forget about them! Discouraged but determined, I went skiing alone. A couple days and 13 phone messages later, I still couldn’t reach Fred. Warming up my car to drive back to Colorado feeling defeated and that I’d missed my chance, my ears perked up when the phone rang. It was Fred on the line.

“Great skiing, there was no time for phone calls. Wanna get a donut?”

I met up with Fred and pitched him on the importance of documenting his life over some bad diner coffee. My filmmaking mind was running wild with ideas.

“No one cares about any of that. It’s not important,” he murmured dismissively before his eyes lit up. “We should go climbing sometime.”

And that’s what we did. We tied in together many times over the next year before a camera was ever turned on. Fred became my friend and climbing partner long before he was the subject of a documentary.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~


Dave O’Leske

Below average monsoon season for the San Juans …


This weak monsoon season is not producing up to average for this the wettest time of
year for the southern and central zones.

NWS forecast discussion this morning..

Waterfalls by Chikuto, Taizan, and Kodojin


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Behind every fortune

Unknown-1.jpegBehind every fortune lies a crime.” Balzac

Flooding in the South Looks a Lot Like Climate Change


Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like.

That’s what many scientists, analysts and activists are saying after heavy rains in southern Louisiana have killed at least 10 people and forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes, in the latest in a series of extreme floods that have occurred in the United States over the last two years.

That increase in heavy rainfall and the resultant flooding “is consistent with what we expect to see in the future if you look at climate models,” said David Easterling, a director at the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Not just in the U.S. but in many other parts of the world as well.”

The flooding in Louisiana is the eighth event since May of last year in which the amount of rainfall in an area in a specified window of time matches or exceeds the NOAA predictions for an amount of precipitation that will occur once every five hundred years, or has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any given year.

Louisiana joins five other states, most of them in the South, that have experienced deadly flooding in the last 15 months, including Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia.

In the last three months alone, floods in Maryland, West Virginia and Louisiana have combined to kill dozens of people and damage tens of thousands of homes and vehicles.

The National Weather Service reports that parts of Louisiana have received as much as 31 inches of rain in the last week, a number Dr. Easterling called “pretty staggering,” and one that exceeds an amount of precipitation that his center predicts will occur once every thousand years in the area.

Dr. Easterling said that those sorts of estimates were predicated on the idea that the climate was stable, a principle that has become outdated.

The third National Climate Assessment, released in 2014 by the United States Global Change Research Program, showed that “the amount of rain falling in very heavy precipitation events” had been significantly above average since 1991.

However, the research did not identify the South as one of the areas of greatest concern; the increase was found to be greatest in the Northeast, Midwest and Upper Great Plains regions of the United States.

Some climate researchers warned Tuesday that it was too early to explain why so much of the country has faced sudden flooding.

“It’s really hard to attribute things like this without a larger body of evidence,” said Barry D. Keim, the Louisiana state climatologist. “And, of course, the question keeps coming up: How large does that body of evidence have to get?”

But others said that the situation was quite clear.

“This is exactly what scientists have been predicting,” said the climate activist Bill McKibben. “The basic physics are simple: Warm air holds more water vapor, something that is turning out to be one of the most important facts of the 21st century.”

“And while Louisiana was flooding, there were also huge flood events underway in Moscow (biggest rains in 129 years of record-keeping), the Sudan, Manila, and probably plenty of other places,” he added.

~~~  MORE  ~~~

Up the Wall


Sometimes, you’ve just got to go off the wall. No, this is not a Vans commercial—it’s the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Dutch people are biking horizontally on walls to avoid the French. Laurine Van Riessen, the Netherlands’ competitor in Keirin—which Deadspin tells us is a two-kilometer biking event where “racers start behind a motorized pace vehicle”—was actually only the latest victim of French rider Virginie Cueff’s errant driving.

After sending an Australian and a Spaniard tumbling to the floor, Cueff tried to get up on the outside ahead of Van Riessen. That forced Van Riessen into some evasive action:

~~~  WATCH  ~~~

From Bare Knuckles to Idealism in ‘Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon’

Books of The Times


Reading about the life and death of Robert F. Kennedy, the reader can’t help but be reminded of the striking parallels between the late 1960s and today — polarized politics, racial tensions and growing social anxiety and tumult. It’s also impossible not to think about the vast gulf between the idealistic hopes Kennedy inspired among his young followers, and the fear and cynicism that have marked this year’s presidential campaign.

No one has captured Kennedy’s 1968 race with as much visceral immediacy as Thurston Clarke did in “The Last Campaign” (2008), but Larry Tye’s absorbing new biography, “Bobby Kennedy,” does a compelling job of showing how a tough-guy counsel to the red-baiting, demagogic Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s became, in the next decade, “a liberal icon” beloved for his dedication to the poor and disenfranchised.

In light of the abundance of works on Kennedy (including Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s massive “Robert Kennedy and His Times” and Evan Thomas’s “Robert Kennedy: His Life”), there’s not a lot substantially new in this volume, but Mr. Tye — the author of a critically acclaimed biography of Satchel Paige — has a keen gift for narrative storytelling and an ability to depict his subject with almost novelistic emotional detail.

Instead of echoing the young Kennedy’s own proclivity for seeing things in absolutist Manichaean terms, Mr. Tye does not rely on the reductive “good Bobby” and “bad Bobby” dichotomies that the scholar Ronald Steel employed in his judgmental 1999 book, “In Love With Night.” Instead, the fair-minded Mr. Tye thoughtfully maps the many contradictions in his subject’s life, and his gradual evolution over the years, as he began to clarify his own beliefs (as opposed to those handed down by his father and older brother), shedding his “Cold Warrior” reflexes and growing increasingly concerned about the poverty and injustice that plagued his country.

The assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, is frequently cited as the watershed moment in Robert’s life — the grief cracked open his “hard-as-nails shell” and sent him into a profound depression from which he would emerge transformed: more fatalistic, more empathetic, more inclined to display in public the tenderness his family and friends knew at home. He immersed himself in reading (Camus and Aeschylus and Shakespeare) and contemplated going away to study for a year, and there was a gradual softening of his hard edges and righteousness.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

The Decay of American Politics ~ An ode to Ike and Adlai.



This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.

My earliest recollection of national politics dates back exactly 60 years to the moment, in the summer of 1956, when I watched the political conventions in the company of that wondrous new addition to our family, television. My parents were supporting President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a second term, and that was good enough for me. Even as a youngster, I sensed that Ike, the former supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe in World War II, was someone of real stature. In a troubled time, he exuded authority and self-confidence. By comparison, Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson came across as vaguely suspect. Next to the five-star incumbent, he seemed soft, even foppish, and therefore not up to the job. So at least it appeared to a 9-year-old living in Chicagoland.

Of the seamy underside of politics I knew nothing, of course. On the surface, all seemed reassuring. As if by divine mandate, two parties vied for power. The views they represented defined the allowable range of opinion. The outcome of any election expressed the collective will of the people and was to be accepted as such. That I was growing up in the best democracy the world had ever known — its very existence a daily rebuke to the enemies of freedom — was beyond question.

Naïve? Embarrassingly so. Yet how I wish that Election Day in November 2016 might present Americans with something even loosely approximating the alternatives available to them in November 1956. Oh, to choose once more between an Ike and an Adlai.

Don’t for a second think that this is about nostalgia. Today, Stevenson doesn’t qualify for anyone’s list of great Americans. If remembered at all, it’s for his sterling performance as President John F. Kennedy’s UN ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Interrogating his Soviet counterpart with cameras rolling, Stevenson barked that he was prepared to wait “until hell freezes over” to get his questions answered about Soviet military activities in Cuba. When the chips were down, Adlai proved anything but soft. Yet in aspiring to the highest office in the land, he had come up well short. In 1952, he came nowhere close to winning and in 1956 he proved no more successful. Stevenson was to the Democratic Party what Thomas Dewey had been to the Republicans: a luckless two-time loser.

As for Eisenhower, although there is much in his presidency to admire, his errors of omission and commission were legion. During his two terms, from Guatemala to Iran, the CIA overthrew governments, plotted assassinations and embraced unsavory right-wing dictators — in effect, planting a series of IEDs destined eventually to blow up in the face of Ike’s various successors. Meanwhile, binging on nuclear weapons, the Pentagon accumulated an arsenal far beyond what even Eisenhower as commander-in-chief considered prudent or necessary.

In addition, during his tenure in office, the military-industrial complex became a rapacious juggernaut, an entity unto itself as Ike himself belatedly acknowledged. By no means least of all, Eisenhower fecklessly committed the United States to an ill-fated project of nation building in a country that just about no American had heard of at the time: South Vietnam. Ike did give the nation eight years of relative peace and prosperity, but at a high price — most of the bills coming due long after he left office.

The Pathology of American Politics

And yet, and yet…

To contrast the virtues and shortcomings of Stevenson and Eisenhower with those of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump is both instructive and profoundly depressing. Comparing the adversaries of 1956 with their 2016 counterparts reveals with startling clarity what the decades-long decay of American politics has wrought.

How did the party of Eisenhower, an architect of victory in World War II, choose as its nominee a narcissistic TV celebrity who, with each successive tweet and verbal outburst, offers further evidence that he is totally unequipped for high office?
In 1956, each of the major political parties nominated a grown-up for the highest office in the land. In 2016, only one has.

In 1956, both parties nominated likeable individuals who conveyed a basic sense of trustworthiness. In 2016, neither party has done so.

In 1956, Americans could count on the election to render a definitive verdict, the vote count affirming the legitimacy of the system itself and allowing the business of governance to resume. In 2016, that is unlikely to be the case. Whether Trump or Clinton ultimately prevails, large numbers of Americans will view the result as further proof of “rigged” and irredeemably corrupt political arrangements. Rather than inducing some semblance of reconciliation, the outcome is likely to deepen divisions.

How in the name of all that is holy did we get into such a mess?

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

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Mujeres desesperadas en Desperado Estates

SXB, Tina Cole, Janet Miller y Lisa Issenberg


Good news for Moab, Bears Ears gains momentum ~ thanks Chuck Tolton


~~~  DONATE  ~~~

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A solution to Nov. election

Chuck Tolton photo


‘For Better or Worse’ ~ John Prine new album


For his 2016 update of the 1958 George Jones composition, “Color of the Blues,” John Prine is joined by bona fide blues belter, Susan Tedeschi, who was last heard earlier this year on Wynonna’s gritty country-blues LP, Wynonna and the Big Noise. “Color of the Blues” finds Tedeschi and Prine harmonizing on a tune that expresses anything but harmoniousness, yet it fits neatly onto a project that’s all about togetherness, the soon-to-be-released duets album, For Better, Or Worse.

“There’s a rainbow overhead with more blue than gold and red, blue must be the colors angels choose,” Prine sings in the second verse, his slow, weathered crooning nicely contrasting the song’s light, airy bounce.

The song’s accompanying video, which opens at a drive-in theater, features a movie-within-a-movie, presenting a “trailer” that spotlights Prine’s For Better, Or Worse co-stars, including Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Iris DeMent, Holly Williams, Morgane Stapleton, Kathy Mattea, Alison Krauss, Amanda Shires and Fiona Prine, the singer-songwriter’s wife, with whom he sings the breezy, dreamlike “My Happiness.”

Other highlights of the collection include Prine and Mattea’s duet of the tender classic “Dreaming My Dreams With You,” his take on Vince Gill’s romantic “Look at Us” with Mrs. Chris Stapleton, and the teaming with Lambert for Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.” The LP includes two duets with DeMent, the Ernest Tubb-Loretta Lynn honky-tonker “Mr. & Mrs. Used to Be” and the comical “Who’s Gonna Take the Garbage Out,” and closes with Prine’s solo rendition of another Williams gem, “Just Waitin’.”
For Better, or Worse will be available September 30th, the same day as the first of Prine’s two-night stint at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

YA Author Wisdom: Sandra Cisneros


Sandra Cisneros is the author of “The House on Mango Street.” For our series, “Next Chapter,” she talks about how important it was for her as a Mexican-American woman to move into her first apartment.


A Waltz Across Texas in ‘Hell or High Water’ ~ Released Aug. 12th ~


Jeff Bridges plays a Texas Ranger in “Hell or High Water.”

If there’s such a thing as an easygoing thriller, then “Hell or High Water” is it. The stakes may be steep, but the characters can seem more nonchalant than nervous. Maybe it’s as simple as the heat: In the roasted landscape of West Texas, where this cops-and-robbers tale plays out, nothing moves faster than it has to.

That also goes for the adrenaline that the film’s hard-pressed thieves, Toby and Tanner (Chris Pine and Ben Foster), summon whenever their early-morning bank heists turn sticky. Grabbing only small-denomination bills from small-town branches of Texas Midland, the men are brothers whose plan — revealed over time in slow drips of casual conversation — turns out to be smarter and more complicated than we initially suspect. They’re trying to salvage something from a miserable childhood with no-count parents, neither of whom (for very different reasons) is around to notice.

Who does take heed is Marcus (a smashing Jeff Bridges), an imperturbable Texas Ranger kicking the doorstep of retirement. A tough old bird with a seen-it-all manner and smoked-’em-all drawl, Marcus and his Mexican-Comanche deputy (Gil Birmingham) exchange affectionately racist insults with gruff familiarity. Their jousting, like most of the film’s dialogue, has a verve and tongue-tickling texture (the screenplay is by Taylor Sheridan) that tells us more about the characters than any amount of exposition.

Furnished with faces as beaten as the vehicles the brothers drive and discard, “Hell or High Water” is a chase movie disguised as a western. Its humor is as dry as prairie dust (“Y’all are new at this, I’m guessin’,” remarks an unruffled bank employee, wryly observing the robbers’ unrefined technique), and its morals are steadfastly gray. The setting seems frozen in time, but the economic decline it showcases could not be more contemporary. As the brothers head toward Oklahoma, the resigned ranchers and deserted strip malls they encounter speak to a vanishing way of life, their journey becoming a parable of corporate exploitation and bleed-them-dry greed.

Proving an unexpectedly good fit for the material, the British director David Mackenzie was chosen on the strength of his previous feature, “Starred Up” (2014). But the sense of decline and drift that infuses “Hell or High Water” has more in common with his ferociously bleak 2003 drama, “Young Adam,” whose hero (played by Ewan McGregor) shares Toby’s broody inwardness. And Mr. Pine, in a quietly watchful performance (no Captain Kirk joshing here), gives Toby a cagey cleverness that allows Mr. Foster to shine as his gleefully lawless accomplice.

Photographed in New Mexico by the incomparable Giles Nuttgens, what will become Toby’s bid for redemption unfolds on a sweating canvas of baked yellow and pitiless gold. Women are glimpsed, and even given the occasional chewy line — both Katy Mixon and the great Margaret Bowman gladden as magnificently sassy diner waitresses — but this is a movie about man’s work. Like the similarly titled song by T. Graham Brown, it’s about showing up and standing firm.




two recent parolees on the loose in southwest Colorado … Don Mateo Wells & unidentified cellmate …


Milkweed Mandala

Bernie Arndt photo



CHUANG TZU ~ thanks Duncan

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