March 2006

Back when Telluride was a haven for black crews

By Art Goodtimes

NICARAGUA … How easily we’ve forgotten the clandestine war we waged against the simple peasant folk of the Cordillera Isabella ... Matagalpa. Jinotega. Estelí. Ocotal. León. There was a time, not many years back, when those towns and villages were familiar names across America. The Time of the Contras. The ones Ronald Reagan hailed as “Freedom Fighters”. Back when black crews flew from an airport in Mina, Ark., in an arms-for-drugs scandal that continued on under Bush I’s regime … In Telluride, it was a small crowd that watched the Nicaraguan photo testimony project of two devoted Quakers, Paul Dix and Pam Fitzpatrick, at the Wilkinson Library last month. But it was the big picture they brought to town -- a wrenching slide show look back and forward in time. With Dix’s black & white photos of the civilian massacres and the terrorist campaign of the U.S-trained armed gangs (aka Contras) back in the late ’80s. Gangs that persist today on the Honduran border, where the U.S. spooks & military once maintained four or five guerrilla training camps. The original photos had accompanied testimony that Witness for Peace had gathered from victims of the terrorist attacks in the mountains. And over the last three years Dix and Fitzpatrick had gone back to Nicaragua to update the testimony they’d taken from the 20 victims a decade or more previously … I can’t think of a better way to underscore why America is now, itself, the target of terrorist attacks. For the last 100 years we have been waging terrorist campaigns all around the globe. Most on behalf of dictators, generals and shahs … As the great Democrat Franklin Roosevelt is reported to have said about Nicaraguan strongman Somoza, “He may be a sonuvabitch, but he’s our sonuvabitch.” … Sandino was the leader of the insurrection that pushed the U.S. Marines out of Nicaragua back in the ’30s, after whom the revolutionary movement of the ’80s was formed. The Sandinistas captured Managua from the Somoza’s feared National Guard and forming a government that included a Ministry of Culture where the poets Ernesto Cardenal and Daisy Zamora served … Terror. We exported it for generations in the barrios and hill country of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama. And in Nicaragua, where our agents perfected the art of hitting civilian targets, killing teachers and health-care workers, spreading panic and fear in the countryside … Is it any wonder that Al Qaeda now employs the same tactics against us?

PANDEMIC DRUGS 101 … Did you know that the only treatment shown to be effective at diminishing the symptoms of avian bird flu (Influenza A) and Influenza B is Tamiflu, which the Swiss pharmaceutical Roche manufactures from shikimic acid, and which is produced from star anise?… Some of my friends have started integrating Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) into their diets, as a preventive against a flu pandemic. But a couple years ago the FDA issued this bulletin: … “FDA is concerned that commonly available Chinese star anise, a product considered by FDA to be generally recognized as safe, may contain Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), which has long been recognized as toxic in many countries and which should be used for decorative purposes only. . . Japanese star anise in its dried or processed form cannot be distinguished from Chinese star anise through visual examination. . . Until FDA is able to differentiate between Japanese and Chinese star anise, it is advising the public not to consume tea brewed from any star anise.” … So, I looked up shikimic acid in my Wikipedia: … Shikimic acid, more commonly known as its anionic form shikimate, is an important biochemical intermediate in plants and microorganisms. Its name comes from the Japanese flower shikimi (Illicium. anisatum) from which it was first isolated and from which it is commercially produced today. Shikimic acid is present in most autotrophic organisms … That is, organisms that produce organic compounds from carbon dioxide as a source, either from light or from the interactions of inorganic chemical compouds – as opposed to a phototroph, i.e., plants that carry out photosynthesis, or a chemotroph, bacteria that utilize the oxidation of inorganic compounds ... Shikimic acid is a precursor for the aromatic amino acids. One of them, the amino acid-with-a-phenyl-hitchhiker phenylalanine, appears as white powder on lab glass. L-Phenylalanine is one of 20 amino acids in the body — coded by DNA — that form proteins biochemically. A form of phenylalanine appears in the American Pharmacopoeia as a prescription dietary supplement. The sweetener aspartame, found in supermarket sodas and chewing gum contains phenylalanine. Too much aspartame/ phenylalanine in the body acts as a neurotoxin … As Andy Weil used to tell us at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, dose can be the difference between poison and pleasure … Diets high in aspartame can lead to extreme emotional or behavioral deviance (aka hyperactivity in kids, paranoia in adults) … Phenylalanine uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier. In large quantities, phenylalanine “interferes with the production of serotonin.”

WEEKLY QUOTA ... Here's what the U.S. Senate had to say about the question of this nation being founded on Christianity back in 1797: From the administration of John Adams, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, ratified by the Senate in 1797 … “ARTICLE 11. As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” … Would that it were true today!

WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW … With the annual Rainbow Healing Gathering of Peace & Light coming to Colorado this year, I was delighted to get an advance copy of Melitta Tchaicovsky’s video documentary on the 2004 Rainbow Gathering in Modoc County, California … Like Benazzo and Day’s picaresque “Shortcut to Nirvana,” “Warriors of the Rainbow” is a charming travelogue slice of an event too big to capture, but too important to ignore … For 33 years Rainbows have been holding non-commercial gatherings every 4th of July – our American holy day — in national forests around the country. Drawing thousands of people together to pray for world peace and to experience living in a cooperative gift economy, if only for a week. The main rules (beyond no hurtful activities) — no alcohol and no mechanized tools or vehicles in the encampment … We experience the festive – dancing people, weddings and pickup jams — and the solemn – 10,000 people holding hands in silence on the 4th of July morning. There are interviews with Rez Menelek, Ram Dass and others – envisioning what this peaceful assemblage of a small city in the woods means — where there are no fees, food and drink are free, and the evenings are spent in yoga, conversation, dancing and drumming … The film is lively. Imagine Haight Street in the Sierras. And informative … Tchaicovsky was born in Brasil, and got her MFA from the University of Rio de Janeiro. She collaborated with Pepe Ozan to film and produce the award-winning documentary “Ganga Ma: A Pilgrimage to the Source” … “Warriors of the Rainbow” is entirely her own work, and she takes you right into the swirling crowds and colorful pageants. You can’t help but sense the excitement and power of such a gathering — the Hippie Era resurrected for a week each year. See for yourself what Colorado can expect this summer. Available by email at www.artnetwork. com.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.

THE TALKING GOURD
Nabokov

A brilliant finicky goat-footed
lepidopterist adept at snuffing
the life out of winged insects
he spent hours identifying
genitalia in museum labs
coaxing out genera
from spots & blotches
& lacquered his prose
with layer on layer of meaning
quick wit
& a portmanteau of erudition.
Delivering to our door
the unexpected twist
that trips itself up
before skating to triumph.
His beloved Blues
brought him to Telluride
where he chased down
a relict band
of Lycaeides by day
& tossed off a novel
that became legend
by night. Quite
simply, a genius.