Guest contributor: Vince Passaro

Guy at the Bar: Vince Passaro on Post-Racial Life

categories: Cocktail Hour / Don't Talk About Politics / Guest Columns

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battle-flag-2a

It now seems undeniable to me that we have been living in a 50 year semi-coordinated backlash against the civil rights movement. There is no other way to explain how the conditions of economic and political life of African-Americans gets worse, while “racism” putatively wears away, and we become (laughs here) post-racial. I remember my working class white relations (largely but not entirely the males), furious throughout my childhood at the claims of African-Americans, the demands for equality. I remember the combined total of votes for Richard Nixon and George Wallace in 1968: 60 percent — even McGovern did better than Humphrey did that year, only four years after Lyndon Johnson’s landslide. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: A Lot at a Time

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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Okay, this one is the opposite of last week’s Bad Advice, “A Little at a Time,” in which I suggested celebrating incremental writing, since that’s mostly what we get time for.  “We” being we humans…  But let’s say you’ve got a novel started, or other book (or really any project humans get involved in, though hold off on the mass killings, please)… At some point, it’s going to be time to blast out a rough draft.  So accrete as you will, but when you’re well in, I suggest a draft vacation. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: A Little at a Time

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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A few years back--can we do it again?  Yes.

A few years back–can we do it again? Yes.

Every year it’s the same–I look out over my garden and wonder how on earth I’m going to get it ready and then planted in time to have any chance of food from it at all.  And every year, an hour here and five minutes there, a morning next week and an hour last week, the thing gets done.  And all the other things.  Including, like, parenting.  And novels. Continue reading →

A Reading with Ed and Wally

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Been a packed month of readings–one almost every other day. The  most recent was a great event at Between the Covers in Telluride with Ed and Wally in the flesh. Thanks Daiva Chesonis. And special thanks to Terry Tice as Ed and Ashley Boling as Wallace Stegner. Next up is the Bookworm in Edwards, Colorado on Thursday the 18th.

abbey stegner

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Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Lounge: “H is for Hawk,” by Helen Macdonald

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald

 

Living with a bird is an education. I recently heard an ornithologist point out that, regardless of how long a bird has been a member of your household, that bird will always remain a wild animal. I was reminded of this one Sunday last winter when our  morning coffee was interrupted by a wild cacophony of screams and shrieks from Ruby’s cage in the kitchen (Ruby is an umbrella cockatoo that we adopted years ago); rushing out we were astonished to come face to face with a hawk, perched on the railing of our deck peering in at Ruby. The hawk was magnificent–breathtakingly majestic and with both talons firmly planted in a world of unfettered wildness far beyond our limited and merely human comprehension.

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A Talk with Jack Loeffler (And Another Talk this Coming Wednesday)

categories: Cocktail Hour

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lofeller3Next Wednesday night I’ll be at Collected Works in Santa Fe at 6pm. It’s a long drive so we are starting tomorrow (Sunday) morning so we get there on time!

 

I will be introduced by, and in conversation with, Jack Loeffler, one of Edward Abbey’s closest friends. Loeffler lives in the hills outside of Santa Fe,and when I was traveling for the book my friend Mark Honerkamp and I dropped by and spoke with Loeffler in the open, book-filled study of his single-story adobe home.  (These are the pictures Mark took while we spoke.)

 

“What Ed and I knew, on some fundamental level, is that once you’ve been out in it long enough, it becomes the top priority,” he told us as we settled into the study. “When you’re out in it fully, you recognize it’s where you belong. We concluded that it took a good ten days in the wilderness. Until you began to change. You need to live in the spirit of nature, so that it’s totally and intuitively in your system. Then you don’t have any choice but to defend it.”

 

A handsome, fit 74 year old man with a big smile and white beard, Loeffler was innately theatrical. He wore an open Western shirt, kerchief and khaki shorts. His whole demeanor was what I can only describe as oddly joyful.

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Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Lounge: “All Involved,” by Ryan Gattis

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Gattis

All Involved, despite its rather pedestrian title, is an astonishing work of fiction chronicling the events around and in Los Angeles in the six days following the Rodney King verdict. Over two decades after the riots that ensued following the acquittal of the three white LAPD officers, author Ryan Gattis offers up a riveting, nuanced, multi-perspective account of the six days of rage. In the aftermath of recent civil unrest in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore and the inevitable question (raised by mostly white pundits and talking heads), regarding why “these people” would destroy their own neighborhoods as a form of protest, Gattis provides some possible insights… regardless of whether or not it’s what we want to hear. Continue reading →

O is for Osprey

categories: Cocktail Hour

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The 15th anniversary of Return of the Osprey is coming up, and it might be time for a little repackaging.  What do you think?

o for osprey029

A Reality Show You’ll Love. No, Really.

categories: Cocktail Hour

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ALASKANS-master315I’m not a big reality TV person, though we did watch the first season or two of “Survivor” (ironically at first, with cocktails aplenty, but then honestly into it, caught up in seeing if Richard Hatch could lie his way into the winner’s circle), so it was partly out of obligation that I tuned into my friend Jim Campbell’s new show, “The Last Alaskans.” But by the time the first scene ended, I knew something different was going on than the usual reality fare–“Hey, Mildred, look at this idiot spearing a catfish!”–and I soon understood that I was witnessing something beautiful. The scenery was one of the stars and real star, Heimo Korth, was funny,soft-spoken and smart. The pace wasn’t frenetic and Heimo wasn’t required to throw a hatchet that would hit a target that dropped another trapper into a dunking booth. Instead he talked about the challenges and pleasures of living on the land.

 

Listening to Heimo felt a little like listening to an old friend, since I had gotten to know him in Jim’s fine book, The Final Frontiersmen. But I didn’t know Ray Lewis, who speaks like a mountain man crossed with a poet, or Bob Harte, who at first seems like comic relief but turns out to be more than he first appears (part of that more being he is a lot of fun).  In just one small example of how the show flouts the usual reality conventions there is a nice moment when the usually invisible cameraman tells Bob that one of his plane’s wheels hit the water during a landing.  Somehow this breaking through the wall seemed more real than reality,a natural thing that someone filming up in the middle  of nowhere would say to the person being filmed.  It’s just one of many examples of how this show is better than the rest of its kind.

 

And if you don’t believe Bill and Dave’s, listen to the NY Times rave: Continue reading →