FILM FEST … It’s ironic. It was the Film Festival that gave me my first job in Telluride. Managing the Nugget. Even if only for a weekend … But, over the years, I’ve drifted out of the organization and away from September’s Labor Day extravaganza, when the town becomes a Rocky Mountain satellite to Hollywood’s hub. I used to love seeing all kinds of edgy cinema at FilmFest: Abel Gance’s Napoleon, Andre Gregory’s My Dinner with Andre, Werner Herzog’s Where the Green Ants Dream … “Film,” as my seminary art teacher Sister Corita (Kent) once explained, “is the poetry of the age.” But movies seem to be more of an urban poetry. Cinema is a favorite pastime and a common language among most city dwellers. They know the industry by name. The Stars. The Studios. Even the directors … But living in the mountains for 30 years, I have to say, I’d rather be tending my spud patch in Norwood – keeping an eye on those Technicolor sunsets in the La Sals – than crammed into a darkened ice rink or a kids’ gym-turned-theater watching celluloid’s bouncelight … Shroomfest’s parade madness was tourist peak enough for me. But, if you’re game, like Alamosa’s Joel Kaufman, you’ll choose to enjoy FilmFest’s full dose, night and day, for a four-day-weekend orgy of poetry.
LABOR DAY … While FilmFest is usually a great boost to the economy, it’s a shame it has overshadowed Telluride’s history of labor struggles stretching back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. No good film has captured the romance of young Kentuckian Vincent St. John galvanizing the grizzly miners – immigrants and underground veterans – into a union local of the Western Federation of Miners and taking on the mine-owners over an eight-hour working day and fair wages. How, Harvard-trained Buckeley Wells allied with National Guard Gen. Sherman Bell (at Gov. Peabody’s behest) in imposing martial law in To-Hell-U-Ride and running all the union miners out of town … A few of us have proposed a statue of Vincent St. John at the site of the old Miners Union Hospital. He went on to become the first president of the radical union, the International Workers of the World (Wobblies) and died in obscurity after serving time on trumped-up charges for his activism … That’s the Labor Day that doesn’t get celebrated in Telluride. For a special historic district, one wishes we spent more time remembering our own past than Hollywood’s.
IRAN … The CIA just admitted they’d had a big hand 60 years ago this week in overthrowing the democratically elected regime of Persian nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh – an action that Pres. Truman repeatedly nixed, even as Mosaddegh nationalized all of Britain’s oil assets. It wasn’t until the Republican Pres. Eisenhower won election that the Dulles brothers convinced him to set in motion Operation AJAX, leading to the reinstallation of the Shah Reza Pahlavi. The rest is history, one might say (and a classic example of spy agency blowback) … But the connection for Telluride is that I once had a chance to ask an honorary Tellurider about his father’s involvement with that CIA coup. I’d read that Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.’s dad, also a general, had been assigned to train the SAVAK, the Shah’s security forces in the wake of Mosaddegh’s overthrow. Having a chance one day to speak with him alone, I asked Norman about his father’s involvement in the toppling of Iran’s democratic government. His reply was a question. “Are you a supporter of Mosaddegh?” he asked. When I replied yes (see <http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/biography>), Norm smiled and suggested that he wasn’t. And that was it … A very polite exchange. An American leader much admired both nationally and locally. Casually suggesting that reinstituting monarchal rule over a functioning democracy was driven by those whom our nation deemed a friend, not by a nation’s adherence to our own form of democratic political system.
FRACKING … Natural gas extraction is big business in Colorado. And some in San Miguel County. Although most of the big money is being made in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale deposits these days … Nevertheless, it sounds like we can’t wait for the energy-friendly State of Colorado to implement tougher fracking safeguards. Especially in light of the current Scientific American (Sept. 2013) where Senior Energy/Environment Editor Mark Fischetti revealed the results of a July study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, “In Pennsylvania, the closer you live to a well used to hydraulically fracture underground shale for natural gas, the more likely it is that your drinking waters is contaminated with methane.” A worrisome statement. But the data behind that statement is even more worrisome. Continues Fischetti, “Robert Jackson, a chemical engineer at Duke University, found methane in 115 of 141 shallow, residential drinking.” And tests showed that the gas wasn’t from microorganisms but from heat and pressure deep in the Marcellus Shale … If we want to protect our precious water supply in a region where water is a scarce commodity, maybe it’s time San Miguel County took on Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration’s support for fracking?
AT&T … Got word from AT&T folks a couple weeks back that the Norwood cell tower is finally “operational.” While this will be sad news for some, others will be happy to know it and will take advantage of the increased communication ability it offers ... And that’s how it is in a democracy – some folks are happy from changes, some aren’t … I just hope we can continue to exercise civility in our disagreements, whether we lose on an issue, or win … One caveat … In ordering a smartphone from ATT, I had to use a Telluride addy, as the Norwood zip still registers as “no service” on their internal system. I’ll tell you when it arrives if it works.
ROTARY GOLF … Help out Rotary’s great youth programs and have a great time by entering the Telluride Rotary Club Annual Gold Classic in the Mountain Village, Saturday, Sept. 7. There’s a noon shotgun start, barbeque and prizes. $500 entry fee for a four-person team … For more info, contact Robert Bledsoe of San Juan Wealth Services, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 970.901.7862
PLACERVILLE DINNER … San Miguel County hosted the tri-government dinner social at the newly restored Placerville Schoolhouse last week – a chance for electeds and staff to mix and mingle a bit. If you haven’t stopped by for a looksee, you’re in for a delightful surprise. The historic structure from 1908 shines … Kudos to Linda Luther and all responsible for bringing this essential Downvalley meeting-place back to the community, looking as good as it does.
THE TALKING GOURD
Champignon gives way
to champagne yawn.
We sleep, replete.
– David Oyster