Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Las Montañas Sí Tienen Memoria

The mountains remember us, they are attentive to our thoughts and moods as we pass near and within their domains. Some of my best trips to the mountains never had any possibility of actually getting up high, much less attaining any technical summits. I have felt fortunate to climb mountains, and I have felt fortunate to see them in the distance. Such was my trip to Torres del Paine, Región de Magallanes, Chile, South America. Me acuerdo mucho de mi experiencia con el macizo de Paine. I remember the mountains for what they remind me of as much as for what I touched and felt when I was there. I hiked the W, as it seemed fitting at the time, and I did amazing day hikes into the glacial carved valleys, solo trekking with always interesting company if needed to be found in other campers and trekkers. Torres del Paine in March and April 2003, can you imagine, an austral fall paradise, a dream trip, surreal and hard rock, with the USA invasion of Iraq as the backdrop. I had been working in the field in the Aysén Region of Chile before trekking south through Argentina and into Magallanes upon finishing my contracts, finally seeing Fitzroy and Torres on my own time, free to take advantage of the gorgeous austral autumn, colder weather, shorter days, but less wind, and incredible colors. It was a culmination of many months of planning and work, and an extra bonus after having finished my masters work at the University of Montana. There are times that I just feel fortunate to cast my gaze on world class mountainscapes, and this was definitely one of those times.

I was escaping, as we always do to some degree when we go to the backcountry, but I was still tuned in, literally and figuratively. In the fall of 2002 I had repeatedly made my opposition to the possibilities of a USA war in Iraq very public and clear. I still stand by my position with greater conviction everyday. Though there would be little I could do to halt such ill conceived madness, in early 2003 from Southern South America I was going to track this historically tragic moment closely. For my travel south that year to work in Central Chile and Patagonia I kept a small, energy efficient, and effective shortwave radio in my pack at all times. I could follow the travesty of the invasion, listening from my tent to BBC and Chilean and Argentine news sources, and still confer with the mountains watching our petty human conflicts erupt with their global ramifications. The mountains remember, las Torres del Paine se acuerdan de nosotros, y valoran nuestra pasión para un mundo silvestre que conoce una paz verdadera.
Valle Francés

Valle del Silencio

 Torres del Paine
A note on the photos -- this series of images are digitized but it is from a time before I had a digital camera, I think I had one roll left of the bag of good slide film that I had brought all the way from Montana with me, and maybe a roll or two of cheap print film that I had picked up in Puerto Natales. I must have all of the originals stashed in a box in the attic, but these are the digitized ones that I could find on my current drive. Only a few of these are really quality images. But they are worth a great deal to me, they remind me of all that I had thought and felt during that time, my love for the mountain, and my angst regarding the premonition that the invasion of Iraq was not just violent, that it would have unforeseen repercussions that our communities would be reeling from for decades. The mountains help us see the truth, and they see our true selves. Las montañas sí tienen memoria.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Messengers Have Been Telling Us Something -- But Are We Listening?

There is little doubt in my observations of art and culture that cinema is one of the most powerful mediums for capturing the events of our existence and packaging them in stories that resonate and clarify the reality in which we reside. There is a movie coming out in a few weeks, on October 10, 2014 (the same night that Calle 13 will be at the Warfield in San Francisco!) that will be a powerful example of how film can illuminate and convey stories that are important for understanding our past, our present, and the possibilities in our future. This movie is called Kill The Messenger, and it is about the experience of California based journalist Gary Webb as he broke his Dark Alliance series in 1996 regarding the Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA, and cocaine and crack dealing in California.

This is history that I have been observing in real time since the 1980's when my efforts in Central America solidarity activism taught me in very real terms the sordid reality of US intervention in Central America and other locales around the world.

There are a number of great articles that explore the history and experience of Gary Webb that deserve reading both for the information and as background on the Kill the Messenger film:

The Pariah -- the 1998 story by the incredible writer Charles Bowden.

Hollywood's Gary Webb Movie and the Message that Big Media Couldn't Kill -- a recent story by Narco News founder Al Giordano on his blog The Field about how the story of Gary Webb arrived to the big screen.

Gary Webb: Vindicated -- a recent Narco News story about the perspective of Webb's family on his experience and the soon to be released film.

Managing A Nightmare: How the CIA Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb -- a recent article on the amazing new national security state newsite The Intercept regarding the recently released documentation that describes how the CIA handled the PR issues around the Dark Alliance story.

The release and distribution of this film will be important -- one hopes that we can hear the messenger!

Speaking of Messengers...another film that is awaiting release and distribution is the new film Aluna.

This is the film that is the follow up to the amazing BBC documentary about the Kogi people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia (see embed below) entitled Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning.

The message was clear decades ago when the Kogi first endeavored to try to communicate to us little brothers about what we are doing to the lifesystems of our planet.

When will we listen? Aluna the Movie looks to be a really good opportunity once again for film to help wake up the mass of people in human society that simply seem to not only have no compass, they really seem to be resistant to hearing the words of the messengers. I think these films will help.

You can see the trailer to Aluna on Vimeo.

Watch the original of Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Precita Eyes - Snapshots in The Mission District

Summer vacation 2014 will be long remembered as an active and adventurous family focused season. One graphic theme has been the murals spicing up the streets of The Mission District in San Francisco, which happens to be one of our natural habitats. There is a very cool gallery and muralist support and advocacy organization in The Mission known as Precita Eyes, which also does walking tours of the murals. They can certainly tell you more about the murals then I can -- I just wanted to post these snapshots here because the colors of the images look good on the blog page, and because we really love the mural art in The Mission.

"Murals are the people's art, because you don't need to have money to appreciate them, just walk down the street and take a look, learn, share and understand the story, the message."


Saturday, July 26, 2014

California Summer 2014 #digitaldetox

The alienation of the high tech life is rarely quite so apparent as it is once one can get the devices and screens out of ones face. The depraved depths of the tech addiction is easier to perceive once you get off the junk. This summer I am by no means fully disconnected, but I know better than ever that the accelerated tech world provides a false sense of involvement and productivity, when much of all the social media and internet activity we are so busy with all the time is just so many bits of irrelevant and useless data dust blowing in the wind. I mean, I would like to think that my posting on Facebook about some messed up situation in the world and how something must be done about it is of any use for keeping humanity from plunging off the cliff like the lemmings we are, cynically I know now how superficial such activism has proven to be in this high tech age. I am by no means the first to dig into the concept, but I am fully working these days with the ideas and concepts captured under the umbrella of the #digitaldetox. The Millenium Curse affects not only the under 35 crowd (more on that later!), "internet-centrism" is also ailing all sorts of people in the crusty generation. Whatever, I am not anti-tech, I am just highly sensitive to the ineffective reality in which everyone is connected but no one is united. We need to be organic in the building of our networks and community, and then the tech tools are an extension of that real grounded foundation, not the other way around. So here is a digital contribution of images from my hand held device, edited down and organized on my laptop, for what it is worth, a new vozsilvestre blog post with a sample of summer 2014 photos. In my circles this summer we are trying to be active like we were when I was a kid and these crazy phone and internet tools were just Star Trek imaginings of what might be available in the distant future while we went out and fished and rooted around in the woods and played with balls and did real three dimensional things as the animal kids that we were. Feel the earthly presence. Please, be a role model for the young people you love. Enjoy these images ~ then turn off your device, and get outside. It is summertime, let's enjoy!

Keith Haring Cousins

Mission Girls

Dolores Park Best Slide In The City

Redwoods and Novelties

Alcatraz Adventure

Summertime Snapshots