January 2014

Moab profits from federal shutdwon

By Art Goodtimes

COUNTER-INTUITIVE … From what we heard in the media, the government shutdown was the bane of the tourist industry. Collectively, millions were lost, right? … Well, maybe in some places. But I was over in Moab last month to celebrate a buddy’s birthday, and shopkeepers there told a different story. With the park lands closed (Arches, Canyonlands), people flocked into town. Restaurants were busy. The hotels full. Things were hopping as folks shut out of federal lands explored all other possible options in and around Moab. Business folks I talked to said it was a huge infusion of cash … So, maybe some sociology major ought to do a study and see how the tourist community in the West really fared, thanks to the Tea Party tantrums in D.C. Not all of it was disastrous.

CULTURAL AMBASSADOR … For the last few years, Tellurider Rick de Selm has been traveling south of the border on a shoestring (or maybe a guitar-string) budget, meeting folks, living simply, writing reports back to a handful of friends. Some of the reports are enchanting, some infuriating. His accounts of visiting the Zapatistas during a march on Mexico City was riveting … Rick is his own man. And he’s a great gringo ambassador, people to people. I hope to share, with his permission, some of his stories, like this account from mid-December at the port town of San Pedro on Lake Titicaca.

THE TALKING GOURD

Everything
that is supposed to be
is better
atop the
mountain

— Jeffrey A. Lindenmuth
Philadelphia

AIR COMBAT GAMES … “A squadron of four big, agile birds surfed the gathering storm wind spectacularly just before nightfall, matching two or three now-remembered lifetime-best bird shows. Strikingly- marked in about equal quantities of black and white, a bit larger than the similarly- acrobatic Ravens of past-best airshows, they dive-bombed each other in breathtaking high-speed chases full of close calls, soaring high and fast into the big wind, circling and swooping back around high Eucalyptus trees and down over the lake. I pointed the birdshow out to two guys practicing juggling at the patio area uphill and they found no interest worth interrupting team-juggling. Even the matriarch coming up from a field with some load of produce found no moment to rest and watch; surprised me. I’d hoped to get lively comments and details about the birds, whose name Alfonso only knew in Aymara and I immediately forgot. A fine omen and prelude, I decided, to only my second San Pedro night in as many years. The air combat games proved their worth only the next day, as I watched one of these birds drive away a very big hawk or eagle. The acrobats must have nests in the many trees around, with the need to stay alert and respond successfully before the much stronger bird eats their young. The bigger bird could not match the quick high climbs of the acrobat, which then swooped down fiercely and repeatedly from above with a beak aimed at the head. The big bird looked very clumsy and slow at that point, flapping resignedly away and dipping quickly just before each attack from above.” — Rick de Selm in Bolivia

JOHN WINSLOW … One of the more brilliant, if eccentric, geniuses I’d met through Shroomfest, this Eugene veteran of the County Fair who ran one of the best natural vitamin operations in the country (his “Cognitol” was a morning must for staff every year he came). His research on Nymphaea caerulea amazed us. If you’ve never sniffed the Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile, then you haven’t experienced olfactory nirvana … This gentle good man passed this fall, though word just reached us. Bless him, as he blessed us.

NAMING … You gotta love Jeff Burch’s new self-published soft-cover coffee-table gem, “The Peaks of Telluride” (available at Between the Covers). Stunning full-horizon photos. Names for mountains you maybe once knew or hadn’t ever heard of. Cuttingedge research like the newly-uncovered journal of Juan Antonio María Rivera by Spanish Brig. Gen. Mariano Alonso Baquer which appeared as “En busca del río Colorado: La exploracíon de Antonio María de Rivera desde Santa Fe, año 1765” in Revista de Historia Militar (Madrid, no. 97, 2005). “Histories” from local history buffs Dirk de Pagter, Rick Trujillo, Senior Mahoney, George Greenbank, Johnnie Stevens, Ricky Denesik and Jack Pera. This is possibly one of the best $40 holiday gifts to ship to anyone interested in Telluride … But to tell you the truth, all the “unnamed peaks” threw me for a loop … How come Club 20 Coloradans – so proud of their state and yet often dismissive of federal interference in local public land management – have meekly submitted to the federal monopoly on geographic naming? Who cares what the U.S. Geological Survey names or doesn’t name the mountains we live with? Their maps aren’t the only maps floating in cyberspace … It’s time we locals took back the landscape … The guys in D.C. making the calls don’t live with these peaks. The people – who are supposed to have the power in a democracy – are the ones who should be deciding on appropriate names for the peaks that surround us … Maybe local governments will want to step in and pass resolutions giving local peaks our local names. Maybe someone will create their own map of locally named peaks. Maybe there will be many maps … However it plays out, it’s certainly high time we took back naming rights from our federal government.

BYRON “WHIZZER” WHITE … This was one of Colorado’s most famous native sons to make waves on the national stage. At the University of Colorado Boulder he was a star halfback who made the All- American team. Drafted into the NFL by the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Steelers), he led the league in rushing in his rookie year (1938). He attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1939, came home to play for the Detroit Lions in 1940 and 1941, and then enlisted in the Navy and worked as an intelligence officer. … After WWII, he chose law school at Yale instead of a football career and graduated magna cum laude. He practiced in Denver and was appointed by President Kennedy to the Supreme Court after serving as Deputy Attorney General under Bobby Kennedy. He served at the nation’s highest court from 1962 to 1993, and died in 2002. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954, named NFL Man of the Year in 2000, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and had the Federal Building in Denver housing the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals named after him … But when a bunch of Coloradans tried to get a mountain in the Rockies named after him a few years back, USGS shot it down … If Whizzer can’t get a mountain named after him in Colorado, who can? No one, as long as the Feds are calling the shots.

Art Goodtimes is a county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo., as well as a poet, writer, and gardener.