Last week, I wrote about Greg Stump’s The Blizzard of AAhhh’s, the rambunctious, ground breaking film that introduced a generation to extreme skiing. It screens twice this evening, at the Sheridan Opera House.
A sober bookend to that movie, also on the subject of skiing, arrives in Telluride just four days later, when author Porter Fox visits Jagged Edge. Fox is an editor at Powder and the author of Deep: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. His work as an editor at Powder sent him around world. “The Powder gig allowed me to ski on five continents, vanish into neck-deep powder into Japan, walk through Istanbul with ski boots around my neck and spend the night on mountainsides so remote I couldn’t see a single light except for a single spray of stars overhead. I walked to the headwaters of India’s Holy Yamuna River at 18,000 feet to ski down the snowfields that fed it; was introduced to aliens on the flanks of Mount Shasta by a spiritual guide before climbing and skiing the spectral peak; guarded a high-alpine ski camp in Bolivia with a Luger pistol as our guide walked to a nearby farm to butcher a goat for dinner; and hiked with skis on my back through valleys in Peru once held by the Shining Path – to ski 20,000-foot mountains, up which I had to take three breaths for every step,” he says in Deep. What he noticed “more than anything was a brotherhood that extends far beyond the borders of North America…skiing is your passport, language and kinship.”
It is in the spirit of that kinship that Fox wrote his book. He got the idea from two ski buddies from Wyoming (Fox used to live in Jackson) who were curious about the impact climate-change had on snow. They gave him an advance to travel around the world and interview scientists on this subject. What Fox heard was not good. The data was sobering; in the last 50 years, he learned, the Northern Hemisphere has lost million square miles of snowpack, and if the climate keeps heating up, within less than 100 years the Western snowpack could decline anywhere from 25-100 percent. And that was just the tip of the (dwindling) iceberg.
What he found out in his interviews galvanized Fox: he had his story, and wanted to publish it quickly and spread the news. Instead of a big publishing house, he worked with a group of friends to help get his book – part travelogue, part ski history and part urgent call to eco-action – edited, funded (in part through a Kickstarter campaign) and distributed. To learn more about Fox’s reportage, his travels, the stake skiers have in climate change and how this author thinks you can help, come meet him at Jagged Edge Monday evening at 7 p.m.
Wordplay in Ridgway
Poetry is increasingly popular in this region, and two classes are coming up within the next week or so to help you learn more. One is for aspiring poets, to be taught by Rosemerry Trommer at the Ah Haa School. Another is simply “for people who aren’t poets” – and who don’t necessarily aspire to be – “but who like words,” says Beth Paulson, who will instruct. The class, entitled WordPlay, is an introduction to four of the most famous poetic forms – the ode, the sonnet, the pantoum and the abecedarian – which writers from ancient Greece to the Renaissance have used in their poetry. And you can, too. “People think of formal poetry as difficult – something that only academics and those who lived 100 years ago can do,” Paulson said. “Not true: a lot of contemporary poets are playing with these forms and having fun with them. Tony Barnstone wrote a whole book called Sad Jazz: Sonnets, some sad, some funny, some bittersweet about his divorce,” Paulson pointed out. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, meanwhile, wrote odes to a large tuna in the market, to his socks, and to the artichoke. The latter reminded him of a vegetable ready to do battle, “dressed up like a warrior/Standing at attention, it built/A small helmet/Under its scales…”
Until, that is, a woman named Maria comes with her basket to the market and chooses the artichoke – and it becomes something altogether different. “She’s not afraid of it/she examines it, she observes it,” she buys it and she cooks it, Neruda writes. “Thus ends in peace/This career of the armed vegetable.”
Scale by scale,
We strip off
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.
“Poetry doesn’t always have to be serious,” Paulson said.
Over four weeks, she’ll introduce forms written by poets both classical and contemporary. You’ll get to try writing your own versions of these classic poems, if you like. “When a form and a subject come together,” the poet W.H. Auden wrote, “you have a poem.” Cost for the course, including all materials, is $75; everyone goes home with an anthology of poems written by class members. To register for Wordplay, which will be held at Weehawken Ridgway, visit weehawkenarts.org.
Telluride Theatre Try-Outs
An open casting call for Urinetown, Telluride Theatre’s Spring production, is this weekend. The play began life in the New York Fringe Festival (“Given its toilet-centric plot, a reasonable point of entry,” noted New York Times critic Bruce Weber) before making its way to Broadway. Urinetown is a satire “and as in all good satire, there’s a sober point lurking in its heart, in this case a kind of admonishment of human wastefulness,” Weber wrote. “Did I mention it is hilarious?”
Tryouts for Urinetown are at the Palm on Friday from 5-7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 3-8 p.m., with callbacks on Sunday. See this week’s edition of the Calendar for more information.