Going back to Clovis people in Colorado

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EAGLE ROCK SHELTER … For years I’ve been working on a calendar that will reflect this place where we live. I’ve wanted to base it on the earliest dates that humans might have settled the “New World” – as opposed to the Gregorian/ Julian calendar with its Old World roots in European traditions. So the latest archaeology intrigues me … I’d heard about a significant dig out near Austin in Delta County. I’d even made several attempts to find it. Finally, my friend Dea Jacobson of Cedaredge took me there. We followed a Lawhead Gulch Jeep track through the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and down to the Gunnison River Rock Art Site (SDT 813). But no need to wander. The BLM has just built a convenient gravel road to the riverside overhang and erected new signage. They are welcoming visitors … I did some research, and I’m astounded … Tamie Meck of the Delta County Independent broke the story in the fall of last year. SDT 813 was reported to the agency in 24988 (1988 CE) as a “looted site.” It showed signs of Ute habitation and an Archaic layer dating back about 4000 years. “That’s to be expected,” said BLM archaeologist Glade Hadden with the Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose. “Almost every rock shelter in this country dates back to about 4000 years, but never beyond that” … Thinking there might still be finds the looters missed, Hadden organized an excavation with Dr. Dudley Gardner of Western Wyoming Community College. In year one they found a 300-year-old Ute fire-pit and projectile points dating back 3000 years, including pre-Columbian Fremont points (rare in this area). In year two they hit a large stone layer where looters had stopped digging, evidence of earlier flash flooding along the Gunnison. Beneath that layer the students found undisturbed context going back 4000, 5000, 6000 years. In the 7000-year-old layer they found more evidence of human occupation … Then, six years ago, they found a hearth that carbon dated to 12,960 years ago – part of the ancient Clovis culture. Eagle Rock now had the distinction of being the oldest known archaeological site in Colorado. And beyond that, noted Hadden, “We have the only … stratified Paleo site in the world. The site, not much bigger than a small house, provides a complete record of Paleo culture over an extended period of time dating from between 13000 and 8000 years ago, with no gap in occupation” … Maybe, instead of a New World Calendar based on our species’ first steps on the continent (a 25000 plus or minus date that keeps shifting around with new archaeological evidence), we ought to craft a Western Slope Calendar based on the region’s earliest habitation at Eagle Rock Shelter in Delta County. How about we call this new year 13018 (WSC)

ALIENS ARE HERE! … Hawaii’s Pan-Starrs 1 telescope on Mauna Kea has confirmed it. An asteroid they’ve named ‘Ou-mua-mua (“first messenger from afar”) is the first sighting of an interstellar object from another solar system intercepting ours – something only recently observable with technical improvements … According to a NASA press release, “For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study formation of solar systems beyond our own” … Multiple international scans now suggest a cigar-shaped asteroid – “highly elongated: about ten times as long as it is wide, with a complex, convoluted shape,” said Karen Meech of the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. “We also found that it had a reddish color, similar to objects in the outer solar system, and confirmed that it is completely inert, without the faintest hint of dust around it” … Inert or in hiding?

KATIE LEE … We lost this legendary eco-warrior, folk singer, actress, filmmaker, and writer at the end of last year. She was 98. Her passionate anger at the damming of Glen Canyon never abated after her visit to the pre-dam site with its 125 side canyons. At the time she said, “It was utterly and incredibly beautiful … All the colors were perfect. All the senses just came flashing out. I could hear better, I could feel better, I could speak better. Everything just … amplified.” I got to hear Katie speak a couple times. And once, when I came up to talk to her afterwards and upon hearing of my role as poetry editor for Earth First!, she grabbed me by shoulders and gave me a grand kiss on the lips … It’s a badge I will always wear proudly.

FAIRYLAND … Finally got around to reading Alysia Abbott’s memoir of her father, my San Francisco poet friend Steve Abbott, editor of Poetry Flash, organizer of the seminal Left/Write Conference in the early ‘80s, columnist for multiple gay publications, hip lit-zine editor and cartoonist extraordinaire. I remember him as a single dad from Nebraska raising his daughter in the Haight-Ashbury. She came to our readings sometimes. Now she’s come out with a widely celebrated book about what it meant growing up in a gay community – just as disaster struck in the ’80s. Steve died in the first waves of the AIDS epidemic … A Cloud House compatriot, Steve and I hung out at the 16th and Guerrero digs of that legendary San Francisco street bard Kush. Weekly readings, street actions, xerox broadsides, special events … While many of us formed a free-form movement called the Union of Street Poets, Steve went on to play a larger role in the avant-garde poetry scene in the city after he left Cloud House … In his magazine Soup, he even named a poetry movement in the Bay Area, “New Narrative.” It’s become a big discussion and the University of California held a Berkeley conference “Communal Presence” this past fall, led by “Language” poet Lyn Hejinian, to examine the “New Narrative Today” … Alysia’s is a formidable recounting, carefully researched (although the Loma Prieta earthquake was 80 miles south of San Francisco, not north). Her unflinching honesty and self-reflections as an adult enhance the paradoxes for a young girl growing up in a gay milieu, loved by her dad, but strained by the conflicts of shifting emotions and needs … It deserves the many accolades it got when it came out in 2013 (W.W. Norton). Recommended.

Art Goodtimes writes from San Miguel County, Colo.


THE TALKING GOURD

Sparkling

christmas lights here
Christmas lights there
Pretty soon

the yurt wears a rainbow
strand of twinkling pearls
day & night

The studio doors sport
a peace symbol the size of
a gas station’s logo

Lit up chili peppers
heat the kitchen. Angel
Illuminati haunt the porch

But for the life of me
McRedeye sez
all I can see are

the burning embers of
a thousand chunks of coal
sparkling into ash

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From art-goodtimes.