September 2011

Celebrating fungi with the fungophiles

By Art Goodtimes

SHROOMFEST31 … The spacious Palm Theatre hosted this year’s Telluride Mushroom Festival. A bigger venue to fit a bigger crowd. And the monsoon rains, although spotty, brought enough moisture to fill the free display tables at Elks Park with hundreds of varieties, and a few choice edibles … The annual parade was bigger and wilder than ever before, with the Amanitamobile leading the assemblage of tricked out fungophiles. A costume contest, sponsored by Fungi magazine out of Wisconsin, added to the excitement … There are many mushroom gatherings around the country, some older than Telluride’s. But none is as celebratory as Shroomfest. In Telluride mushrooms aren’t just studied and displayed, but lauded and celebrated … Visionary myco-wizard Paul Stamets won standing ovations for both of his Friday talks – one about his discovery of pre-sporulating mycelia of some shroom species that can be used as natural, non-toxic pesticides (he’s just won several patents that have the capacity to change the face of insect control all over the world), as well as his dazzling Life Box invention to turn packaging into carbon sequestration, and the other talk focused on the medicinal and anti-viral properties of other fungi that have been shown effective against many human diseases … As one young woman expressed, “Paul is so wonderful. In the face of so much environmental destruction, his talks give you hope” … Not only were there reputable mycologist types lecturing – Dr. Michael Beug, professor emeritus at Evergreen College, and Gary Lincoff of the New York Botanical Garden – but budding scientists like teenager Devon Enke talking about soil health and young idealist myco-remediationists like Danny Newman and Lindsay Ofrias-Terranova alerting us to the ecological Texaco/Chevron oil disaster in Ecuador and current attempts to clean up what American corporations have done to the rainforest there … The Wilkinson Library partnered with the Telluride Institute to sponsor several culinary events – including a Thursday Chef Mushroom Cook-Off that saw a Mushroom Ice Cream (made with Candy Caps) win first prize … Valerie Mojeiko wound things up on Sunday with a rundown of the work MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has been doing to highlight and prove the therapeutic value of entheogenic mushrooms and drugs like MDMA, LSD and Ibogaine. Their goal, said Mojeiko, is to get these substances delisted as dangerous drugs and made available for healing use by a doctor’s prescription … Good ideas, good shrooms, good times.

THE TALKING GOURD

Of breasts and mushrooms

A loose jowled, broad shouldered woman in black wanders our camp with large handled basket and pendulous breasts swinging freely beneath peasant blouse above thin legs. She asks in lilting accent, perhaps French, “May I have your mushrooms?” as though they were ours only for camping for a price on a mountain where air hums with RV generator songs. Admiring her trespass of parceled campground boundaries, her astute respect for American habits of possession in a quest for fungal delicacies, and having enough delighted in their frumpy company peeking at my pointing children from tiny mosses and pine duff, I say, “Yes, of course,” and notice her basket nearly full, soil clinging to creamy sponge roots below dozens of burnt red waxen caps, echoing her own robust form. She squats and pulls. Wanders. Squats and pulls some more, looks up at me, around me, as I write. I want to walk with her, watch her cook these mysteries over fire, taste her Rocky Mountain dreams of French cuisine. I imagine, instead, her crossing into other camps, ambassador, visiting my rough brothers-in-law, their blonde wives, leaning against red trucks and silver mini vans, not far from here, through lodge pole pines, her gentle request, their eyes upon her passing swaying breasts, crude comments chuckled beneath beer breath, relieved their own wives’ tits are tucked away, firmly compressed, hiding their age, padded and wired from wandering eyes, mushrooms unable to rise, no nipples greeting the duff of day.
-Rachel Kellum Brush

MONTHLY QUOTA … “To make living itself an art, that is the goal.” –Henry Miller

PETER BERG … One of my San Francisco heroes, Peter Berg died in July, surrounded by his family. He was one of the Haight-Ashbury’s original Diggers who did street theater and handed out free food in the Sixties, along with Peter Coyote and Emmett Grogan. Peter’s Planet Drum Foundation played a big part in exposing me to the concepts of Bioregionalism and Reinhabitation – two big picture ideas that have been guiding factors in my own life path ever since … His Listening to the Earth Conference in 1976 was seminal in leading me to Earth First!, the Green Party and Deep Ecology … I was delighted to bring Peter to Telluride for Mountainfilm in 2006. He gave a talk in Telluride, and then led a workshop for many interested participants in Norwood … He was a visionary and both a gifted writer and speaker … Our condolences go out to his wife Judy Goldhaft and his daughter Ocean.

SHEEP MOUNTAIN … Finally climbed San Miguel County’s iconic environmental symbol last week with my two boys, Rio Coyotl and Gorio Oshá. We’d been trying for several years and kept running into lightning and thunder, bad schedules or weak knees … But last month we made it. The wildflowers were divine, the views spectacular and I remember why I love living in the mountains so much … Find me on Facebook for photos.

GORDON GLOCKSON … It took three years but we finally got the administrative building in Norwood named after San Miguel County’s deceased Finance Director. A fitting tribute. Gordon spent his career keeping us in sound fiscal shape – building up a multi-million dollar operating reserve that’s helped buffer the current economic nosedive and allowed the County to keep minimum levels of service. Eagle County laid off 80 workers. Towns of Telluride and Mountain Village had to let a dozen folks go between them (a small part of the 1000 jobs lost in the County this past year) … But thanks to Gordon and his policies, we didn’t have to lay off anyone. And we just got a clean bill of health from our annual auditor, as well as praise for our fiscal responsibility (thanks also to the efficiencies and dedication of our County employees in every department) … Gordon was a visionary. His son Chris pointed out that Gordon couldn’t have done anything less. That was his nature. Finance was just his job, and he did it well … Next time you’re in Norwood, stop by the Gordon Glockson Building and admire the bronze plaque that Gordon’s son Michael helped design.

Art Goodtimes is a county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.