August 2011

A healing gathering for peace

By Art Goodtimes

RAINBOW … Every year it’s a different spot, and a different event. This year’s Rainbow Gathering on the flanks of Mount St. Helen’s in Skamania County, Wash., not far from the mountain town of Cougar, had its own flavor. Parking was far from the camp – some four to five miles. Gorio and I made it close, but we ended up camping outside the gathering, in a lovely spot in the trees. We walked into the camp on the 4th and made it for the noon circle, although because of late snows the big meadow was actually a bog, and there were several circles, which meant things were a bit disconnected. But we did dance around the peace pole in the second meadow, and we did meet up with our good friend Jim Rosenthal from Norwood … A lovely (very cold) stream wound through the forests, meadows and camps of the site. Chuck and Linda Parry, formerly of Telluride, were there with their Bread of Life kitchen – feeding thousands of people. Jim volunteered and helped them, as he’s done for several years. We’d hoped to join them this year, but we weren’t able to get our load of stuff into the site, due to the distance and a late start. Still, we got great hugs and lots of loving energy from everyone. And met up with a number of special friends … Rainbow’s healing love energy continues strong, even with 20,000 strangers gathering in the woods year after year. And that’s a beautiful thing, no matter how hard the way in can be.

THE TALKING GOURD

Blink
— for Red Bird

I blink my eyes
& Red Bird’s there
Blink again

The fireball’s imprint
behind the lids
tells me lies

about a land
I want to love
Takes me back

to a river of sorrows
A slickrock
desert trench

Let’s blink together
& remember the flame of
Leonard’s hair

His passion to share
How he loaned it
with deep interest

Made a safe place
for student deposits
Taught

Shakespeare
& folded cranes
Even in death

each blink
brings more of his gift
alive

GREEN PARTY … It’s a good measure of a group if it can weather controversy and conflict. The state Green Party has had its share of both, and for the last year or so been mired in internal issues … But a day-long meeting in Longmont last month served to heal some of the rifts and provide majority support for a restructuring of the party … I was pleased to be elected cochair, along with Poudre Valley Green Bill Bartlett, for the next several years (an earlier election was only temporary). For more info, check the state Green website www. coloradogreenparty.org.

SHROOMFEST 31 … The Telluride Mushroom Festival happens Aug. 18-21 this year, with the legendary free costume-party mushroom parade down main street on Saturday afternoon … Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti is one of the featured speakers, along with mycologist Gary Lincoff. Expect lectures, slide shows, forays, cooking classes, growing workshops and lots more. If you want to learn about good edibles, medicinals, all aspects of the fungal world, this is the event for you… Visit the website for more info, www.shroomfest.com

THUMBS DOWN … Former California Governor and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Teflon”, whose Hollywood charm and 20-mule-train “Mr. Clean” look (while pimping for General Electric) made him an American icon of the Right (in an ironic spin of the universe at its most resilient, it’s Ronald’s John Hancock that seals my Bachelor of Arts degree); when, for those of us on the Left, it was the Raygun administration (so named for his boondoggle Star Wars proposal to militarize space) that began the rise of what many are calling the “imperial presidency,” starting with his illegal drugs-for-guns Contra operation — funding guerrilla thugs to terrorize the Nicaraguan countryside, killing doctors, nurses and teachers, in a proxy war with Russia … Now comes even our own progressive hope for president, Mr. Barack Obama, continuing to bomb Tripoli without seeking congressional approval, as our Constitution and the War Powers Act demands … Left / Right – it doesn’t seem to matter. When it comes to power, both sides of the aisle are seduced and act unilaterally … Someone in Willapa Bay on our recent trip to the Northwest suggested that the Tea Party and the Green Party ought to unite and form the Green Tea movement, and see if we can get our federal union back in control of the people, instead of the banks and the military-industrial complex.

TENDERLOIN … Back in the Seventies (which were really part of the Sixties — at least the first half), I spent summers traveling. Mostly hitch-hiking (loved those college ride boards). Sometimes with a cheap car (which, combined with cheap gas, made such adventures affordable on a dirtbag budget) … One year I made it to the nation’s capital. Stayed with a buddy from the seminary who was into film, Michael Anderson. The seminary had been a strong bond, and most guys who’d left were generous with each other. I stayed a week or so … Lots of images flood back from that time … Hitting a kitchen cockroach the size of a small rabbit with a frying pan, and feeling the frying pan bounce off the hard shell, as the critter skittered into the shadows … Joking with the streetwalkers in front of Michael’s digs and taking late-night solo ambles all over town, tensed for any trouble (none came) … Waiting out a tornado watch, the sky’s clouds turning an angry obsidian, on the lawn of a Maryland barn-turnedsound studio & basketball gym … Beating a serious big city leftie (buddy of Michael’s) at chess, to both our astonishments … Drinking Stolichnaya vodka into the night with a clutch of Russian engineers, toasting everything under the sun — quite delightful fellows … It was 1976. It was summer and I was adventuring. I’d just come Tenderloin: Live or Start Dying to D.C. from a demo at the Bicentennial Celebration in Philly, that I’d bussed down for from Maine and then missed (not unpleasantly lost in Fairmount Park and the Museum of Art) … A few years later Michael stopped by my second-floor railroad apartment in Noe Valley on a pass through San Francisco, where I lived. I wasn’t home. But he left a 3x6 foot Russian poster of the Red Army hammer & sickle outside my door. Having been called a “commie” more than once for my liberal communitarian views, I loved the poster. In fact, still have it. Out in my own barn now … Michael and I have stayed in distant touch. He’s continued on in film. Heard when he got blown up in a car in the Middle East on assignment. Seriously injured. His buddy killed … A couple weeks ago he announced a new film on the upper-class seminary listserve (we have two – my class has its own). I wrote him, bought a copy. And watched it the other night … What a sweet film and quite well done. An indie, <www.tenderloinmovie. com> featured a lovely, well-written story (damaged vet takes slum-hotel-manager gig to escape unraveling marriage and falls in love with his kid), great character actors, nice editing (quick cuts, multiple camera angles), and a sad/happy/ almost triumphant (if unresolved) finish. Nothing flashy. Just strong performances, a strangely appealing camaraderie among disparate characters, and a modern-day morality play of the most appealing kind … Kudos to my buddy Michael. Highly recommended.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.