Welcome to the Start of Telluride’s Action-Packed Summer Fest Season.
MOUNTAINFILM … Welcome outdoor enthusiasts and adventure film fans. This is one of Telluride’s best events. Political, but discriminating. Extreme, but always entertaining. You’ll see more Patagonia than Ralph Lauren on Colorado Avenue this weekend, and you’ll find yourself deeply moved by the movies … and maybe even motivated to get yourself up into the mountains to trek, hang-glide, kayak, or climb. Because, in the end, that’s where this celebration of alpine celluloid should lead you – out into the mountains we all love.
KNOW YOUR MUSHROOMS … Last year filmmaker Ron Mann of Toronto <www.sphinxproductions.com> previewed a rough cut of a playful film about fungi at the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, which occurs in late August. That’s because most of the film takes place at that event, and features several of the event’s more interesting characters, including the inimitable fungal philosopher, Gary Lincoff, and a Montana myco-roustabout, Larry Evans (and yes, I have a bit part too) … The finished film has been playing to delighted audiences in Canada, and is starting to make the rounds in the U.S. … I will be introducing the film on Sunday night, so I hope you’ll come join me and have a good time learning more about our fungal allies: the ‘shrooms.
DOUG BONTEMPI (1948-2009) … My younger brother passed away in California last Friday night. He’d been suffering from pancreatic cancer, one of the most intractable and painful of illnesses ... I’d gone out to see him in April, but even then he was in terrible shape, hardly getting up out of bed, taking lots of pain medication, sleeping most of the day … That was a far cry from his heyday as a Hell’s Angels. “Dirty Doug” had quite a reputation, and he gained the respect of a pretty tough crowd … But there was more to Doug than outlaw and rebellion. After 25 years as an Angel, he finally grew discontented with the club. It wasn’t a true family. They didn’t take care of their own, and that bothered him … So, he left. Not in anger. But of his own free choice. Found a straight truck-driving job. Gave up his bad habits – alcohol, cigarettes, and all the other drugs available. In short, he turned his life around. A remarkable accomplishment … He came to Telluride several years back and we made him King of the Mushroom Parade, which he loved. And at mushfest he discovered drumming. In particular, djembes. And they fascinated him. He took this new avocation up with a passion, traveling to Africa with a friend, finding a new family of drummers in San Jose … Drumming was a pleasure that we both shared when we got together – like at Burning Man three years ago … We talked once of his coming out here to live. But the south Peninsula remained his home, and where he died … We’ll be spreading his ashes at Sutro Point in San Francisco next month, at the edge of the entrance to San Francisco Bay, where 26 years ago, we spread our mom’s ashes … I’m going to miss you, bro.
POWERLINE … Sounds like Tri-State may start bids and engineering on the Nucla-to-Telluride transmission line this summer, with construction likely to start next year (target date for completion – 2012). What a relief that will be for those of us who are paid to plan for emergencies. I keep worrying about another Ophir avalanche taking out our main line at the height of ski season. Not a pretty sight (or maybe beautiful, if you’re like some of my rainbow family, and love the dark sky stars). But it would be an almost guaranteed economic disaster. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen … Good job to everyone on the Intergovernmental Powerline Task Force for reaching a settlement that appears to have worked, so the line will be built and can start carrying distributed alternative energy around the grid (no end to projects like that being planned). It proves once again how valuable it is for the large governments in this county to collaborate together in our Intergovernmental group (although, to be honest, there were times in this powerline process when I wasn’t sure we were going to ever get to the shovels).
TELLURIQUE … Steve Treacy has been telling me over and over again that we ought to consider the French adjective as emblematic of Telluride ecological perspective, for in French, tellurique speaks of energy from the earth (literally, “of the earth”). What more fitting metaphor for this hard rock town gone all palm and jazzy?… Film (Godard, Herzog, Kurasawa) led to Mountainfilm (films of the earth). The high art of the Chamber Music spawned the wild hunter/gatherer Mushroom Festival. And, first the town secured Bear Creek and then the Valley Floor. All very tellurique … (thank you, Steve.)
IRIS IN ASIA … (Continued) … We happened to arrive in Bagan (Burma) the day before the full moon festival, which brings numerous Burmese visitors to Bagan to make a pilgrimage to the temples. Our first day we were quite surprised to see large camps of people sleeping outside the temples in makeshift tents. We didn't realize they were temporary, so at first the poverty seemed overwhelming, but the next day all the camps were gone. There was also a huge market set up for the festival outside of one of the most famous temples. It was crazy to see a temple lit up with a neon sign like a casino. One night we went to the market and rode on a very rickety Ferris wheel, made from wood and without a motor, which we didn't realize until we were rocking fifty feet up from the ground! They made it turn by transferring the weight, one acrobatic man acting as the motor jumping around to make it turn. It was exhilarating, but probably one of the most sketchy things we've tried. We visited numerous temples while there, always removing our shoes, as is required at all religious sites in Burma … Something I found a bit disturbing about Buddhism in Burma was the inequality of women. Only men were allowed to climb up to the Buddha statues and pay respect by applying a gold leaf. When I tried, they told me women weren't allowed. But after seeing my disappointment they allowed me to apply a gold leaf to a smaller Buddha image, further from the center of the temple. This was a reoccurring theme. In other temples we visited, there were signs saying women weren't allowed to go up to the altar.
THE TALKING GOURD
The intensity of her lover
exploded Pinon’s heart.
cones flung away
green robe burned
her once supple boughs
lie strewn on slickrock
as seed and ash blow East on the Wind.
her twisted, weathered,
silvery bones reach toward
a blue-black storm-strewn sky
fearless in the face of her sure defeat