Jeff Bridges visits “Extra” at Burbank Studios on Dec. 13, 2019 in Burbank, Calif.Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Jeff Bridges announced Monday night that he is battling a possibly life-threatening illness. He broke the news on Twitter, with a reference to the iconically laid-back character with whom he’s long been identified.
Lymphoma is a form of cancer that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects “tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells that fight infections.”
Bridges’ tweet went on to say: “I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.” He has not announced publicly whether it is Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — or at what stage the cancer was diagnosed.
The Oscar-winning Crazy Heart actor has been a fixture in Hollywood since he first appeared with his father, Lloyd Bridges in the TV series Sea Hunt in the 1950s. Nominated seven times for an Academy Award, he’s had starring roles in such films as True Grit, Starman, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and The Last Picture Show. And he is indelibly identified with the unflappable L.A. slacker, The Dude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.Article continues after sponsor message
He is now in production on the drama series The Old Man, in which he stars and is executive producer. The series will debut on FX and Hulu in 2021, and is produced by Touchstone Pictures and FX Productions. Those organizations issued a statement:
“Our thoughts go out to Jeff and his family during this challenging time and they have our love and support. We wish him a safe and full recovery. And, as Jeff always says, ‘We are all in this together.’ Jeff, we are all in this together with you.”
The actor used that phrase in a second tweet, to draw attention to an issue he has championed: “Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. And while I have you, please remember to go vote. Because we are all in this together. Vote.org. Love, Jeff.”
The largest and most intense drought in years is engulfing the West and threatens to grow larger and more severe in the coming months.
The drought has already been a major contributor to record wildfire activity in California and Colorado. Its continuation could also deplete rivers, stifle crops and eventually drain water supplies in some Western states.
Nationwide, drought has expanded to its greatest areal coverage since 2013; 72.5 million people are in areas affected by drought. More than one-third of the West is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two most severe categories, according to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor.
In its winter outlook issued last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cautioned drought conditions are expected to persist or worsen over large parts of the West during the December through February period, and expand farther east into the central United States.
Dry conditions have fed devastating fire season
In recent months, drought has surged to extreme levels along parts of the West Coast, including Northern California, much of Oregon and the Cascades in Washington.
Soils have been sapped of moisture, with intense heat waves drying out vegetation even further. This has led to rampant and sometimes explosive wildfire growth.
Elevated temperatures have further helped to dry out the soil, exacerbating the drought and making fire weather conditions even more hazardous. California, for example, had its warmest August on record, and a severe heat wave in early September led to a deadly spate of wildfires.
In Colorado, wildfires continue to rage along the Front Range, with evacuations west of Fort Collins and northwest of Boulder. The Cameron Peak Fire, which has torched more than 200,000 acres, is now the largest wildfire in Colorado history, and the CalWood Fire became Boulder County’s largest fire on record when it exploded in size over the weekend. That fire has burned at least 26 homes, though the toll is expected to increase.
There is no precedent for wildfires this severe igniting so late in the season in the Centennial State. It’s no coincidence that the entirety of Colorado is experiencing a drought for the first time since 2013. Fifty-nine percent of the state is enduring an extreme drought or worse.
THE DEAD ARE ARISING The Life of Malcolm X By Les Payne and Tamara Payne
Les Payne’s “The Dead Are Arising” arrives in late 2020, bequeathed to an America choked by racism and lawlessness. The book’s subject, Malcolm X, knows this place well, though he died in 1965. Readers may pick up this biography hoping for a celebration of Black pride and resilience in the midst of madness. Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who devoted nearly 30 years to the book before his death in 2018, meets these needs intermittently, but that is not his primary goal. Malcolm’s presence is beautifully rendered, but “The Dead Are Arising,” which was ultimately completed by Payne’s daughter and principal researcher, Tamara Payne, is not a tribute or enshrinement of achievements. Instead, it reconstructs the conditions and key moments of Malcolm’s life, thanks to hundreds of original interviews with his family, friends, colleagues and adversaries. Nobody has written a more poetic account.
This book reveals more of Malcolm’s childhood than we have ever seen. The Paynes’ research elucidates a family history of American racial terror that preceded his birth in 1925. Malcolm’s middle-class parents moved several times, often into neighborhoods they knew were hostile, confronting the Ku Klux Klan, local officials and bigoted employers. His father, Earl Little, died when Malcolm (born Malcolm Little) was 6, the victim of a streetcar accident that Malcolm later suspected was a cover-up for the work of a racist mob.
His mother, Louise, kept the family together as long as she could, but eventually succumbed to poverty and mental illness. Malcolm, then 13, and his seven siblings were scattered into foster care and other arrangements. Still, the influence of his parents, who were steeped in the teachings of Marcus Garvey, cannot be overstated. They could not nurture Malcolm through childhood, but they steeled him with the truth: He owed white people nothing. Not deference, or trust, or gratitude for whatever comfort he might find in life. Malcolm’s character and beliefs changed over the years. Defiance of white supremacy was his essence.
Les Payne wrote “The Dead Are Arising” in part to correct the record in Malcolm X’s autobiography, as is evident in his treatment of Malcolm’s troubled adolescence. Malcolm’s time as a hustler is subject to debate. The historian Manning Marable’s award-winning biography, published in 2011, argues that Malcolm’s autobiography embellishes his early crimes to dramatize his later redemption. “The Dead Are Arising” does not directly engage Marable, but it refutes his interpretation and fills in gaps in Malcolm’s own account. Though he was rarely violent, Malcolm was embedded in a social network of thieves, drug dealers, racketeers and prostitutes as he split his late teenage years between Boston and New York City. His tragic and frequently despicable behavior marked him for early imprisonment, if not death.
Incarceration at 20 was the pivot of Malcolm’s life. He accepted the teachings of the Nation of Islam while behind bars, thanks to evangelizing correspondence from his brothers Philbert and Reginald. Upon his release, Malcolm dedicated himself to his new religion and its captivating and duplicitous leader, Elijah Muhammad. He quickly became the group’s most effective and recognizable spokesman, with fierce criticism of white America and a gospel of Black self-respect. Malcolm’s political celebrity and unapologetic approach ultimately turned the leadership of the Nation of Islam against him, and Muhammad gave the assassination order that led to Malcolm’s killing.
One possible criticism is that Payne does not provide an exhaustive account of Malcolm’s political philosophy. The book contains little analysis of Malcolm’s most celebrated speeches, debates or interviews. Instead, Payne most fully presents Malcolm’s ideas in contrast to those of both Muhammad and Martin Luther King Jr.
This discussion unfolds in one of the book’s strongest sections, a retelling of a bizarre arranged meeting between Malcolm and the leadership of the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta in 1961. Muhammad sent Malcolm and his colleague Jeremiah X to attend the meeting on behalf of the Nation of Islam, and Malcolm never forgave him. Payne puts readers in the room, and Malcolm’s disgust at being forced to negotiate with terrorists is palpable. But Payne also shows how enthralling it was to watch Malcolm improvise and argue. In this scene and others, we are exposed to Malcolm’s teachings within the rhythm of Payne’s masterly storytelling.
The portion of the book that may receive the most attention is Payne’s account of Malcolm’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. The details of the killing have never been totally clear, but Payne’s narrative is exacting. He spotlights key figures and examines the possible involvement of the F.B.I. and New York City police. But I found myself less intrigued by the loose ends of Malcolm’s assassination than devastated by the indignity and simplicity of the killing. Malcolm knew he was in danger and did little to protect himself. He had broken from the Nation of Islam, dedicated himself to Sunni Islam and begun experimenting with new tools for a global, human-rights-based movement for Black liberation. He was forceful, fine and weary, but not finished. And then three men rushed the stage, bullets ripped through Malcolm’s flesh and he bled to death on the floor. We lost him, again.
It is hard not to want Malcolm back, because his charisma is undeniable. His heroism grew from his courage, but also from his delight in his Blackness and his cause. Whenever I see footage of Malcolm, he seems on the verge of smiling, no matter how fiery his words or powerful his enemies. He can’t help laughing at white America’s hypocrisy, and mocking the calls to bargain with a government that wanted him silenced. There was an amused confidence that attracted his followers, along with his rhetorical genius and love for Black people.
But Malcolm’s power was more than embodied charm, and he need not rise from the dead. His diagnosis of calamity is enough to guide us. America has never been a nation of laws for Black people, he said. A country that is conditionally lawful is not lawful at all. It is weak, and will eventually be exposed, no matter how much wealth and military power it amasses. And in such a country, he wondered, what good is it for Black people to ask for trim legal solutions to police violence, electoral theft, segregation and poverty?
An epilogue to “The Dead Are Arising” comments briefly on Malcolm’s legacy, but it doesn’t take a Pulitzer Prize winner to see Malcolm’s inheritance in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter isn’t asking for anything. Like Malcolm, it demands everything that Black people deserve, by any means necessary. It does not advocate violence, but will not abide the sick moral logic that condemns destruction of property as “too extreme” a response to the police shooting us in the back. And thanks to the leadership of Black women and Black L.G.B.T.Q. people, the imagination of the current movement is even more expansive than its predecessors in the mid-20th century. This is the promise they keep, and the idea that pushed Payne to write until death took the pen: We will exceed even Malcolm’s wildest dreams.
Michael P. Jeffries is the dean of academic affairs and a professor of American studies at Wellesley College. He is the author of three books on race and American culture.
JR. I was having a discussion with Chino Martinez and John Clendenin, both of the Aspen Mtn. Ski School about the evolution of ski teaching.
Chino is currently featured in the current issue of Forbes Magazine; so appropriately “Aspen” !I also shared this email response with Dick Dorworth.
He suggested I share it with the rŌbert Report. If you wish….. It is getting on time to start thinking about all things snow. God Damn a Potato !Burnie
To Chino Martinez, international and global ski guide. Is it time to embrace a New World Order of Ski Instruction ?
Chino, In the New World Order you will become a Shaman of Skiing. Your job will be to research how we perceive the universe and how we build our values and beliefs and subsequently arrive at our sense of TRUTH. Your skiing Demos, PSIA certifications, Aspen Ski School Passport do not mean shit anymore ! Now you must understand WHY you ski. Your skis or clothes or boots or fancy sunglasses, they don’t mean fuck all anymore either. Now you must understand your RELATIONSHIP to the cosmos. Its up to you as a shaman how you wish to manifest and express your love.
More info: The Aspen Art Museum will host an in-person screening of the film on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The event is sold-out. Public festivities for “Freak Power Day” and a voter registration drive will begin at noon at the Pitkin County Courthouse and will run throughout the day downtown and at the Gonzo Gallery.
Coinciding with the public release of “Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb” on Oct 23, the Aspen Times will publish a special 16-page insert reprinting the newspaper’s original contemporaneous coverage of Hunter S. Thompson’s campaign for sheriff in 1970. Look for it on newsstands and at aspentimes.com
An old film canister labeled “Hunter Thompson for Sheriff” turned up in artist Travis Fulton’s barn off Ute Avenue in Aspen three years ago, setting off a series of archival discoveries that have shed new light on the gonzo journalist’s influential 1970 campaign and led to the new documentary “Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb.”
The film, co-directed by Aspenites Ajax Phillips and Daniel Joseph Watkins, will be released to video-on-demand services, Oct. 23.
In all, the filmmakers found about seven hours of film footage shot during the campaign by Robert E. Fulton III. It had never been seen by the public — some of it never developed — and was spread between his archives in Aspen, New Jersey and Los Angeles.
“It’s been a treasure hunt,” Phillips said during a July 2019 editing session.
The revelatory footage — along with photographs by David Hiser and Bob Krueger — brings the viewer inside Thompson’s campaign headquarters at the Hotel Jerome, into the legendary debate between Thompson and incumbent Sheriff Carrol D. Whitmire and out to Thompson’s Owl Farm as threats of violence against him mount. It vividly captures the Nixon era scene on the streets as Thompson leads a youthful, peaceful revolution to get young hippies and “freaks” to vote and take control of local government.
“It seems to me the way to cope with power is not to ignore it but to get it,” Thompson says of his aims in the film.
INSIDE THE CAMPAIGN
The film opens with a scene of young Aspenites pouring into the Isis Theatre in downtown Aspen for the 1970 Thompson-Whitmire debate. On stage Whitmire claims not to understand what “freak power” is, while Thompson proudly brandishes the label.
“I am not at all embarrassed to be called a freak,” Thompson says. “To deviate from the style of government that I deplore today is not only wise but necessary.”
From there “Freak Power” is off and running, moving at a breakneck pace through Election Night.
A quick-cut montage sets the local and national scene of 1970 — war in Vietnam, assassinations, President Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, political violence from the Weathermen, racial inequality and activism, student protestors killed at Kent State. It’s cut against the dawn of the drop-out ski bum era in Aspen, when hippies fled cities for the Roaring Fork Valley and clashed with the conservative tourism industry establishment epitomized by Whitmire.
Thompson, radicalized by the police brutality he witnessed and fell victim to while covering the Democratic National Convention in 1968, sought to try a new kind of politics and law enforcement here in his backyard, in the hopes of inspiring national change — a voter-driven revolution that could be duplicated elsewhere around the U.S.
“What we’re trying to do is to make the vote work, to bring people back into the government,” Thompson’s campaign manager Ed Bastian says in archival footage.
Police harassment of hippies and “land rape” by developers were local signals of troubling national trends, Thompson notes.
“I don’t think we can afford to ignore the national political realities any longer,” he says.
“Freak Power” offers a play-by-play of the campaign as it happens from Thompson, Bastian and “minister of information” Alex Sweetman, explaining the Freak Power philosophy and strategy. The film also shows up close the campaign’s fear and paranoia as the opposition begins to play dirty, death threats roll in and the FBI starts spying on the Thompson campaign.
The film cogently explains Thompson’s flamboyant platform to change the name of Aspen to “Fat City,” sod the streets and ban traffic from downtown, control drug sales and forbid non-residents from hunting and fishing. But it also outlines the more serious and prescient reforms he pushed for, like disarming sheriff’s deputies and down-zoning construction to save the local landscape from development.
The film makes pointed use of footage from prominent Aspenites of the day who criticize Thompson, Mayor Eve Homeyer and the notorious anti-hippie restaurateur Guido Mayer among them. It also suggests that the population of Austrian and German immigrants who had helped found the ski resort here in the 1940s included former Nazis whose intolerance had pervaded local government and politics by 1970.
The issues at the center of the campaign, as captured in “Freak Power,” are shockingly relevant 50 years later. Scenes of voter suppression and post-Kent State protests are strikingly similar to those playing out today nationally during early voting and at Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The viewer is often reminded of how little has changed, but also of how ahead of their time Thompson’s proposed solutions were, including police reform with oversight by an ombudsman, a “community policing” model that finally gained mainstream national traction this summer amid the nationwide protests over police brutality.
Here we see Thompson call for “preventative work” by police, arguing “unless you get at the cause you are never going to control the effect.”
People scoff in the film at Thompson’s drug decriminalization platform, but viewers will notice some of those proposals have became reality in the 21st century as well.
The film will help solidify Thompson’s legacy as a serious and wise political thinker. The man at the center of “Freak Power” is not the drug-gobbling cartoonish character of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” but a clear-eyed, committed and imaginative reformer (with, of course, a genius sense of humor and flair for political theater, showcased as Thompson shaves his head so he can call Whitmire “my long-haired opponent”).
“Freak Power” races to its conclusion with a gripping tick-tock of the rising tensions and many scandals of the campaign’s final days, including the arrival of an undercover federal agent who attempts to infiltrate the Thompson campaign and the specter of dynamite bombings against the Freak Power faithful.
“Having worked on the campaign, the movie brings out a lot of stuff even I did not know about, especially that paranoia,” former Sheriff Bob Braudis, a volunteer for Thompson in 1970 who went on to become a close friend and to implement many of Thompson’s ideas during his 24 years in office, said Wednesday.
Among the most stunning things in “Freak Power,” Watkins and Phillips noted, is the realization that the iconoclast Hunter Thompson was actually the candidate playing by all the rules in this race, the one using the legal tools of democracy as intended.
“If bombing is the last resort I’m not against it,” he says in the film. “The point is that we are not at that last resort. I don’t think we are anywhere near it.”
The film colorfully captures the heady scene inside the Hotel Jerome on election night, with costumed freaks expecting to usher in a new political era. It also depicts the heartbreak of young Aspen as Whitmire pulls away, winning by 500 votes.
“I made a mistake in thinking the town could handle an honest political campaign,” Thompson says in his concession, wrapped in an American flag and wearing a founding fathers’ wig, adding: “The American Dream really is f—ed.”
BACKCOUNTRY USERS BEWARE, ‘THE MAN IS GONNA GET YOU!!!!’ ~ RŌBERT
The two snowboarders talk about snow conditions and route selection as they drop in, one at a time. Gusting wind is blowing snow across the ridge as they wind between reefy rocks.
“Avalanche!” yells Tyler DeWitt as he cranks to a stop below his friend Evan Hannibal.
The two watch the slide — captured on video by Hannibal’s helmet camera — grow from a small slough of wind-deposited snow into a deep avalanche that buries the service road above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnels with 20 feet of snow.
“F***, dude that is what I was worried about,” Hannibal says.
“F***, dude that is not good,” DeWitt says.
“I really hope nobody was on that road,” Hannibal says.And this time, for the first time ever in Colorado, the statements and video given by Hannibal and DeWitt are the basis of criminal charges filed by a prosecutor who is seeking $168,000 from the snowboarders to pay for an avalanche mitigation device destroyed in the March 25 slide.
“We called the authorities in on ourselves. We handled it in a professional manner and tried to be as professional as we could be when a mistake was made,” said Hannibal, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician in Vail who has been snowboarding in Colorado’s backcountry for more than a decade. “I think the backcountry community should be worried about the repercussions here when you report an avalanche and tell the truth and get charged with a crime.”
Boarders charged with reckless endangerment
The avalanche below the Continental Divide barreled down a chute directly above Interstate 70. It started small — 4- to 6-inches deep — and then stepped down to deeper, weaker layers in the snowpack, eventually scouring the ground. More than 400 feet of the Loop Road above the west portal of the tunnels was buried.
Bruce Brown, the district attorney for Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, said he studied the video of the accident. He points out that the two snowboarders were aware of the risk of an avalanche and discussed how to avoid that risk.
“We charged them with reckless endangerment because it was foreseeable they were putting other people at risk of serious bodily injury in that they recognized the potential for a slide and they could obviously see, right below their skis, I-70, where 100,000 cars go by each week,” Brown said. “They knew if there was a slide, it could end up on the roadway, endangering the traveling public.”
DeWitt and Hannibal had all the avalanche equipment needed for rescue and the video shows them practicing safety protocol — discussing safe routes, noting hazards, moving one-at-a-time and stopping in safe zones — as they navigated through avalanche terrain. DeWitt had been riding different chutes in the area the weeks prior, with no incident. The chute the two chose to descend on March 25 had two remote controlled O’bellx avalanche mitigation cannons, which the Colorado Department of Transportation installed in the fall of 2018 to bring down smaller avalanches to minimize the chance of a larger slide burying the interstate.
“The riders assumed that the avalanche mitigation to protect the tunnel infrastructure decreased the avalanche hazard on the slope,” the CAIC report on the avalanche reads, also noting the difference between avalanche mitigation to protect infrastructure, which reduces the potential for large slides, and mitigation at ski areas, which reduces the potential for small, human-triggered slides. “Backcountry travelers who are unaware of the differences often overestimate the hazard reduction from an infrastructure mitigation program.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation, which spent $371,000 in 2018 installing three remote control avalanche mitigation systems above I-70 around the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels and another on Berthoud Pass, had never lost an O’bellx or Gazex avalanche device in a slide.
The agency and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center use more than a dozen of the remote controlled systems on Loveland and Berthoud passes to reduce avalanche hazards above U.S. 6 and U.S. 40. CDOT has not replaced the O’bellx unit lost in the March avalanche. An agency spokeswoman said CDOT is looking at “alternative plans to ensure the slide path is safe” throughout the 2020-21 season.