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Kaboom!

 

Up in Smoke

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Think of it as an explosive love story– with sparks.

Rich and Dee Gibson are a quirky couple who have built a career out of doing what they love:  playing with fire and blowing things up.

As the owners of Rich’s Incredible Pyro, the Oshkosh couple spent more than 30 years traveling around the world planning explosions for air shows, before they semiretired in 2013.

The two met sky diving and bonded over their shared military backgrounds– Rich is a Vietnam vet and Dee worked in the Army Corps of Engineers.

They started their business in 1981, traveling from their home in Illinois to air shows across the country and around the world to create elaborate explosions for locals, who generally pay an entrance fee to watch the pyro-spectacle.

It took Brooklyn-based filmmakers Colin Sonner and Brady Welch a year to finally catch up with the couple in El Salvador, where they filmed this video at the Ilopango air show.  Rich and Dee periodically emerge from retirement each year to work there.

Going into this project, Sonner and Welch said there were two love stories at work.  One, of course, was the love between Rich and Dee; the other was simply the love of wantonly exploding stuff to smithereens.  But what the filmmakers also found was something deeper and more philosophical than what they had anticipated.

You see, Rich and Dee’s dedication to exploding things sky-high goes beyond mere flame and retort.  They call it The Boom, and it has to do with the rhythm, ambience and certain things too beautiful to be put into mere words.

It’s the same mesmerizing quality that led Rich to try to get as close as possible to fireworks displays when he was a kid.  It’s hard to turn away; and it sheds light on our primeval human fascination with all things that go up in smoke and thunder and flames.

~Via NYT, Fence Check, and Vimeo

 

 

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Smile to the World

 

“It’s Your Choice”

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.
  ~Dr. Seuss

 

When you smile to the world, the world smiles back.

People are basically good, and good-hearted.  And when they’re good and good-hearted, they smile.  It’s the curve that sets everything straight.

Smile to the World is about the power of a simple smile.  55 filmmakers from 31 different countries took their camera to capture shots throughout the world of just one simple thing: smiles.

Holzleiter Fanny, seen at right and at the end of the video, is a young Hungarian who was the inspiration and ambassador for Frédéric Viau-Davodeau’s universal film.  Fighting against her debilitating disease with a smile, she reminds us of something important in her three short words: “It’s your choice.”

It’s a good reminder to keep close.  While we will never know all the good a smile does, it’s a light in our window telling others there is a caring, kind and good person inside.

 

 

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Blasting Away on Motorized Drift Trikes and Blokarts

 

Humming Thru New Zealand
Footloose and Fancy Free

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Devin Graham, aka Devin Supertramp, takes us on yet another
fun-filled awesome romp.

This time, we’re in North New Zealand, where the locals have rethought the use of their spin trikes (which we covered previously here) by adding motors, making for some wicked twists and spins and occasionally, collisions.

Knowing how to have more fun on the island, the New Zealanders also invented blokarts– small three-wheeled highly maneuverable land yachts capable of some tight sailing in small urban settings. 

Using only handheld controls, they’re easy to sail, turning and spinning around in tight circles.  They’re also highly transportable, folding up into a tight package you can carry, stuff into your car trunk, and take anywhere.

Landing near Papamoa two weeks ago after a direct flight from Utah, the team from Devin Super Tramp got straight to work filming their newest video at the locations of Mount Maunganui, Pilot Bay, and the Main Beach.  They also filmed the action on the streets of New Zealand and at the Blokart Recreation Park, setting the film to some bumping music. 

And for all you techno-film geeks out there, Devin and his right-hand man Parker Walbeck used the RED Dragon camera in 6K resolution, a Glidecam, a GoPro Hero 4 with stabilizing poles, and some way-cool quadcopter aerial photography capturing the action.

It looks like the Kiwis know how to have some shredding fun. 

We can’t wait until these trikes and blokarts blow onto our shores for us to wickedly try out in short order.

Below is Parker Walbeck explaining the Behind-the-Scenes filming
of how it all went down:

 

 

 

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The Little Drive-In With A Big Heart

 

The Choice:  Go Digital or Fade to Black

 

**Award-Winning Short Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Longtime projectionist Roger Babcock has been threading
film through the Hi-Way Drive-In’s projectors for more than
40 years.

However, with Hollywood studios no longer offering film prints of their releases, Roger faces an ultimatum:  upgrade all four of the Hi-Way’s 35mm film projectors to expensive digital systems, or close the gates which have warmly welcomed moviegoers since 1960 forever.

The drive-in has relied on historic RCA Brenkert projectors for more than 60 years, two of which have been there since it opened in 1951, Babcock said.  Babcock, 67, and his wife, Sharon, 65, bought the Hi-Way in 1996.

The Hi-Way Drive-In on U.S. Route 9 in Coxsackie, New York, opened in 1951, joining a growing trend when television was just starting to catch on, and the Thruway was under construction.  “We are one of just 400 remaining drive-in theaters in the U.S., down from a peak of over 4,000 in the late 1950s,” Sharon Babcock said.

But now, “Studios are preparing to stop making 35 millimeter prints of their feature films,” Roger said, “shifting to digital projectors that rely on computers with special encrypted hard drives, allowing them to save up to one billion dollars each year.”

Changing to digital would come at an enormous cost.  “It would cost $300,000 to convert all four of our screens to digital projection,” he said.

Roger remains steadfast and defiant in the face of closing down.   “We have no plans on shutting the drive-in down, none whatsoever,” he said.

But finding the money for digital projectors won’t come easy.  Babcock tried donation boxes and a fundraising campaign to the raise money, but these efforts netted just $4,160– which doesn’t even begin to cover the $26,000 to $40,000 deposit required just to get the digital projectors delivered, he said.

Babcock has turned to Social Security to help allow him to offset the cost of digital and keep the movies running for the community.  “Social Security at my age is going to help pay for this,” he said.

“The Hi-Way is going to an absolute extreme to show movies to customers that want to see movies in an outdoor setting,” he said.  “With Social Security, the monthly payments are reasonable enough for us to convert two or three screens, but not four.”

Babcock said the future of the fourth screen is still up in the air.  He said he’s considering buying a used digital projector for about $39,000 to show older movies that aren’t subject to the complex rules and regulations that first-run movies are.  Showing 35-milimeter films on the fourth screen is not an option, he said, because the movie studios prohibit theaters from showing digital movies and film at the same time. “With digital it’s all in, or nothing,” he added.

Digital projection will bring brighter, clearer and crisper pictures to the drive-in, but with many strings attached, he said.  Cost is the biggest factor.  Babcock won’t see anything on his bottom line for seven to 10 years if he switches to digital.

“Right now, our movies are affordable.  A double feature is $9 for adults and $4 for kids for new movies,” Sharon said.  “We don’t want to have to raise our prices to exorbitant levels to pay for digital,” she said.

Over the years, since Roger Babcock started at the drive-in as a box office attendant in 1971, he has learned how to fix just about anything on the 60-plus-year-old projectors in his projection room.  He keeps a warehouse of parts, a place he said he hardly ever has to visit. 

“These projectors are real workhorses,” he said.  “All I replace is bulbs and a gear here and there.”

He takes pride in maintaining the old projectors, and setting up films, which can stretch to 1.5 miles for a feature length film.  He said he loves it when guests assume a movie is digital because the picture quality is so clear.

The manufacturers expect the digital projectors to last just 10-15 years, Roger noted.  “Bulbs that cost $2,000 would only last for 75% of our outdoor movie season,” he said.

Roger also said he needs an internet connection for studio monitoring, something he never had to worry about with the old film projectors.  The projection room must also be a ‘clean room’, too– with heating, air-conditioning, and filtered air year round.  As for doing his own maintenance, that’s off the table, also.  “My contract would not allow me to do that,” he said.  “I would have to bring someone in for $1,400 a day.”

One thing that’s not an issue for the Babcock’s is attracting guests.  There’s a line of cars outside the gate every night before every double feature begins.  He said it’s thriving because they’ve focused on making the Hi-Way a great experience.  It’s popular with nostalgic baby-boomers, young people, and families who can be sure that one screen is devoted to kids movies each week.

“Many regulars come every week to see a new film,” he said.  “We even get people from the city.”

In the face of digital adversity and an uncertain future, Roger is refusing to quit.  He just won’t let the community and his movie-going public down.  And he doesn’t want to retire. 

Simply put, he and Sharon love what they do.  They understand they will have to go digital– or end up fading to black.

“We’re looking forward to seeing everyone during the 2015 season,” he said, with pride.

~Via Tansy Michaud, Adam Carboni, the Hi-Way Drive-In,
   Daily Freeman, Vimeo

* * * * * * * * * * *

Our appreciation goes out to Roger and Sharon Babcock, Joyce Lehnert, and John Waters for being the underdogs and saving a little piece of Americana community.

 

 

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Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka

 

A Wrestling Life on the Ropes

 

**Award-Winning Short Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1970s, everybody arguably believed wrestling was real.

By the 1980s, people suspected the outcome of the matches were predestined, but they didn’t care because the grapplers were so damned entertaining.

One such star, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, was arguably the best wrestler of his time.  That’s saying a lot when you consider he came up through the ranks at a time when names like Hulk Hogan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, “Ravishing” Rick Rude and countless others also did, all vying for the same spotlight of fame.

Snuka is a one-man highlight reel.  After winning the Mr. Waikiki, Mr. Hawaii and Mr. North Shore bodybuilding titles early on in his life, Snuka set his sights on pro wrestling and shot to the top of the wrestle mania charts. 

Whether it was jumping 15 feet off the top of the steel cage in 1983 at Madison Square Garden, settling ‘feuds’ with others in the ring, or being on the receiving end of a coconut smashed against his head by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Snuka made his mark in the wrestling world by putting his body on the line, night in, night out.

Jimmy could fly off the top turnbuckle higher and faster than any wrestler ever seen.  He was supposed to be a villain, but everyone loved the guy.  He was the underdog.  And an entertaining one at that.

From a childhood of abuse in the Fiji islands to his rise in the ring, divorce, cocaine addiction, and the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Superfly Snuka endured– barefooted, in leopard print tights, and with a matching bandanna for the roaring and adoring crowds of fans in the stands.

That was then, this is now.  His children, a son and daughter, have grown up to become pro wrestlers themselves.  He teaches and mentors young wrestlers entering the game. has written a book, and raises money for causes and charities whenever he can.  He likes to sign autographs for young fans while touring the B circuit of state fairs and carnivals.

But like a bloom that has come off the rose, Jimmy sees his glory days as fading.  He’s older now; slower, mellower, and in constant pain from years of abuse in the ring.

But, in true Superfly style, Jimmy refuses to give up and throw in the towel.
“I have to fly for the fans,” he says.

From Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story, he reflected on his highflying career:

 

“The word fear is not a part of my vocabulary.

Growing up in the Fiji Islands, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and eventually Hawaii, I was never afraid. Danger means nothing to the Superfly.

I live my life to the max without giving much thought to how dangerous something can be or how impossible it might be.  I make the impossible possible—I always have, long before I jumped off the top of the steel cage at Madison Square Garden.

I can’t tell you how many times I used to dive off cliffs as a kid.  I loved birds.  I’d always look up to the sky, and I was fascinated with them.  I wanted to know how it felt to fly. 

My whole career I’ve soared like an eagle, brah!  As a kid I would dive off boats and cliffs and yell “Superfly!”  That’s how I got my name.  It was only natural that when I needed a gimmick as a wrestler, I used something from my childhood.

I wanted to swing tree to tree, just like my idol, Tarzan.  I remember in Fiji, my mother, Louisa, would take my brother, Henry, and me to the movies to watch Tarzan, and I wanted to be just like him.  Oh man, I loved that guy right away.  

I remember telling her, “I want to be like that man.”  When you see me in the ring today or on video, you’ll notice I always wear a headband and leopard print as a tribute of sorts to Tarzan.  I often wore shells around my neck as a tribute to my culture.  I also went barefoot, just like he did.  I admit, though, that I didn’t wear boots in the ring partly because no one from the islands wants their toes to be trapped in a pair of anything other than flip-flops.

When I got into the wrestling ring, I’d swing rope-to-rope and perch myself on top, just as I did as a kid on those cliffs.  Everything just came so natural.  I was an explorer and the islands were my playground, my education… my everything.

Like Tarzan, I never could sit still. I always need to be moving, and I need to be in the ring locking up with somebody and feeling the energy of the crowd.

I love the fans.  Everything I’ve ever done is for them.  That’s what makes my life these days so hard and extremely frustrating.  Feeding off my fans made all the pain go away, bruddah.

But as I’ve gotten older and the matches have gotten fewer and fewer
over the years, the pain has caught up with the Superfly.

I can honestly say I haven’t been 100 percent for ring action in many years.  Like I said, I masked the pain.  I tried not to see how swollen my body was after each show.  I pretended everything was okay, and that it didn’t bother me.  I ignored the pain.  Each time I’d work an independent show and couldn’t get to the top rope to do my signature Superfly leap, it reminded me how hurt I really was.

There were way too many times I had to do it from the second rope, or worse, the first rope.  I didn’t like that.  My wife, Carole, told me fans didn’t notice, but I knew they did.  That’s what they came for — to watch me fly!

I’m 68 years old as I write this, but all this pain has had nothing to do with getting older.  Yes, maybe the years took their toll, but never my ability.  I never wanted to be without wrestling.  I always needed to be in the ring.  That’s my home, bro.

Sometimes being trapped with my thoughts can be more painful than any injury I’ve suffered in the ring.  I miss being in the ring.  That’s what I love.  That’s what I’m here to do.  I’m supposed to be resting and out of the ring for a long time, but I know I’ll be back doing what I do best.  I love entertaining the fans, watching their faces, and seeing them have fun.  I enjoy the friendship I have with the boys.  They’re like my family when I am on the road.

The way I live my life is, I want what I want, when I want it.  All that runs through my mind is the past and the future.  I love what I’ve done, and I want to do more.  As I sit here, I remember all that I’ve accomplished in my career and personal life, and I want more of those moments.

But as I look back, I can also look ahead, and that takes the sting away.  Anything I’ve ever wanted in my life — whether it was using the Fiji Islands as my playground or learning the wrestling business in Portland, Oregon — I’ve had to figure it out on my own and bust my ass to own it.

I’m not ready to change that mind-set.

What this time has made me remember is all the things I’ve done– my highs, my lows, my failures, and my regrets.”

 

 

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Pioneering Philanthropists Launch Clean Energy Initiative

 

 

Limiting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants–
While Spurring Clean Energy Investments

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Move over, climate change deniers.  More change is coming your way.

Just days after Time’s Editor-in-Chief declared climate change deniers were having a bad day following study after study pointing out that it’s a very real and happening problem, the smart money is now moving to the other side of the aisle— finding solutions to fix the problem.

Two charitable groups will spend $48 million over the next three years to help states figure out how to reduce emissions from electricity production, an effort to seize the possibilities that are opening up as the cost of clean power falls.

It’s a relatively small amount of money for an enormous problem at hand.  But it has the potential of leveraging large-scale planning towards cleaner energy, stabilizing power delivery, and reducing greenhouse emissions.  The goal is for planning a regional energy infrastructure that is clean, affordable, and reliable.

The Clean Energy Initiative plan was announced this morning in New York.  Half the money will come from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization set up by Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City. 

The other half will come from Mark Heising and Elizabeth Simons, a California couple who have taken a strong interest in reducing the risks of climate change.  The couple advances sustainable solutions in the environment, education of children, and supports groundbreaking research in science and mathematics.

“Advances in new energy technologies make it possible to achieve all three goals at once.  A stronger, cleaner energy system will also pave the way for improved air quality and help fight the damaging health and economic impacts of climate change,” Michael Bloomberg said.

 

The Energy Plan

The Clean Energy Initiative will include analysis to determine grid optimization for different power types, potential for enhanced efficiency, and methods to make the grid more robust.  

It will identify the biggest opportunities for new technologies and support regulatory strategies for reliable and affordable energy, focusing on collaborative, state-based approaches and encouraging utilities to adopt new technologies.  

A key feature of the plan is it will allow states to choose the best combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, and improvements in current power plants.

Since 2010, solar energy prices have plummeted by 80 percent, wind energy prices have been cut in half, and the cost of LED lighting has fallen by 80 percent.  American consumers stand to benefit from these developments if state policymakers can work with utilities to accelerate their adoption, and the Clean Energy Initiative hopes to provide the technical assistance for the impending transition. 

More than half of the grant funding will go to support more than two dozen state and local partners, including the Institute for Energy Innovation and the Respiratory Health Association.  Additional funds will provide support to national organizations such as the Center for the New Energy Economy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Obama administration is expected this summer to make final its emissions-cutting targets for the power industry.  If that plan survives expected political and legal challenges, it may require extensive revamping of electricity markets that are largely regulated by the states. 

The low cost of natural gas, the falling cost of renewable energy and the rise of technologies that can shave electrical demand are all putting pressure on electric utilities, especially those dependent on coal.  Even without the impetus of President Obama’s plan, those factors would require adjustments in the electricity markets, energy analysts have concluded.

That’s where the smart money comes in for planning and tapping into alternative energy solutions.

 

Heising’s Goal:  Cleaning Up the Grid and Stabilizing Power

In an interview, Mr. Heising said that state governments need to seize the moment and take full advantage of the coming possibilities for “cleaning up the grid”– and, at the same time, avoid undermining the economics of the utilities that Americans depend on for a reliable supply of electricity.

“The utility businesses are being heavily disrupted,” Mark Heising said. “That’s creating some real stress for the utilities and their revenue model.  It needs to be addressed in a fair and comprehensive way.”

Heising feels climate change is the most important issue facing the world today– an impact that, if not corrected, will have devastating results for both the environment and the economy.  He intends to help fix the problem.  He also expects exponential results.

“This initiative is designed to accelerate solutions,” Heising said.  “The science on climate change makes it abundantly clear that carbon pollution poses a deep threat to society, to agriculture, and to nature—and that early action is required to avoid these threats.  New technologies ensure that the solutions to climate change can be cost-effective.”

The disruption is most evident in Europe, where utilities were slow to embrace renewable power.  Ordinary citizens, responding to government incentives and falling costs, did so in droves.  The stock market valuation of Germany’s big utilities fell drastically, and they’re scrambling to catch up to the changes on the grid.

American states are generally behind Europe in the rollout of renewable power.  Experts say that gives them time — a few years, at most — to get ahead of the coming changes.  In several states, utility companies have begun to sense the oncoming ‘green’ threat and are trying to roll back state rules favoring solar and wind power.  Environmentalists are fighting back, and in the process, the utilities have had their share of disruptions, turmoil, and failed investments.

 

Dovetailing with the President’s Idea

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, will most likely require most states to discourage coal-burning while encouraging the greater use of natural gas, renewable power, and efficient buildings and appliances.  

States will have some leeway to design their own strategies, but any state government that fails to do so will run the risk of having a strategy imposed on it by the federal government.

Thus, even some of the states that intend to challenge Obama’s plan in court are expected to hedge their bets by coming up with a backup strategy.  Currently, power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for about 38 percent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.  Carbon pollution is already causing long-term impacts on the economy, including increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather patterns.  Climate change also exacerbates health risks due to worsening smog, causing a range of respiratory illnesses.

The $48 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons family will not go directly to state governments:  instead, the money will fund groups that can help the states with their planning.  Their aim is to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels.  This approach will also have public health benefits, including reducing smog pollution by an estimated 25 percent and avoiding up to 150,000 asthma attacks each year.

The pioneering philanthropists know there is a potential to increase renewable energy production three- to four-fold by 2025, an amount of growth that could power 28 to 41 million homes a year.  

Depending on state policy choices, existing efficiency programs and wise investments also have the potential to grow dramatically, with energy savings equivalent to the annual output of 35 to 60 coal-fired plants.

 

Heavyweights on Board and the Same Page

Two national environmental groups with technical expertise in the electricity markets, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are expected to be among the grantees.  

But the bulk of the money will go to groups with a state or regional focus.

Among the likely grantees, for example, is the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, run by a former Democratic governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, who signed dozens of clean-energy laws during his term.

In an interview, Ritter said his group was working with both Republican- and Democratic-led states to scrutinize the Obama administration’s plans, as well as to weigh the broader issues.  A crucial priority for the states will be keeping electricity costs reasonable, Ritter said.

“I think it’s fair to argue that there’s economic benefit to states that make the transition to a clean-energy economy,” Ritter said.  “How do you do it so it’s not on the back of middle- and lower-income ratepayers?”

Others have also weighed in on the beneficial direction the plan takes.

“The Clean Energy Initiative taps into the spirit of entrepreneurialism unleashed by new opportunities such as distributed generation, demand response and energy efficiency programs,” said Dan Scripps, President of the Institute for Energy Innovation in Michigan.  ”As states implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the coming years, they will be able to tap into tremendous opportunities to save consumers money while cutting carbon.”

Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, had her take.  

“Climate change is here and now,” she said pointedly.  “Tackling this central environmental threat of our time is an enormous task, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity.  The Clean Energy Initiative will help America reinvigorate our economy and protect future generations from the dangers of climate change.”

“I’m grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons Foundation for their show of support,” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp.  ”The Clean Energy Initiative will propel smart, cost-effective reduction of carbon pollution from the biggest source:  power plant smokestacks.  We know how to make affordable clean energy.  This initiative will speed the day when turning on a light doesn’t mean dirtier air or a legacy of dangerous climate change for our children.”

Joel Africk, President and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association in Chicago, offered an additional perspective.  “The Clean Energy Initiative is a big step forward for public health,” said.  ”Not only will the initiative help cut carbon and curb climate change, it will also result in fewer asthma exacerbations, heart attacks and strokes throughout the US.”

More surprising was Jim Rogers, Former Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy, also came on board.  “The power sector is in an exciting period of transformation as we build out the 21st century energy grid– a time of opportunity as states and utilities write the roadmap for a smarter power system that cuts carbon pollution while providing affordable and reliable energy,” said Rogers.  “The Clean Energy Initiative will help power companies get this right– and ultimately that’s good for the consumer.”

“With the price of clean power falling, and the potential costs of inaction on climate change steadily rising, the work of modernizing America’s power grid is both more feasible and urgent than ever,” Michael Bloomberg insisted. 

“Pollution from power plants takes a terrible toll on public health, and it’s the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint.  But smart investments can reduce it while also strengthening local economies,” said Bloomberg.  “These grants will help states meet new federal clean power requirements in ways that save money and lives.”

Climate change deniers, please move towards the exits. 
Your day has come and gone.

~Via Bloomberg, NYT, National Sierra Club, YouTube

 

 

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Study: Ocean Life Faces Extinction

 

Multiple Pressures on a Fragile Environment

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found.  Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report.  “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty:  It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land.  And changes that scientists observe in specific ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.

Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining.  While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.

A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.

“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.

There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found.  Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already.  Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey.  Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges.  At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said.  “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years.  Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble.  Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.

Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean.  Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000.  Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change.  But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before.  “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.

Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace.  Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land.  But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.

Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished.  Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.

While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.

“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said.  “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”

Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.

Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans.  The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.

“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said.  “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”

Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones.  “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.

The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.

 “It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said.

“But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can.  We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”

~Via MSN News, NYT, Rafa Massieu, Vimeo

* * * * * * * * * *

The climate change deniers are having a bad day.

 

 

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Growing is Forever

 

A Redwood’s Muse:

Trinidad and Patrick’s Point Park

Humboldt County, Northern California

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

“A very long time ago, there were no groves– because everywhere was a grove with no roads to bisect and no people to erect stones and fences and bridges.

The trees were very, very young and had much living ahead of them.  The enormity of their lifespan loomed in wooly mists around them, so they stretched out their root fingers and wrapped them around each others’, intertwining and holding very tight.

The ferns found pockets of root fingers where they could nestle in and the moss stretched itself out over the soil and everything became very soft.  The trees grew and made patterns of light and dark on the ground and the vines swirled in to trace the patterns.

Spotted spiders moved back and forth and up and down, making nets to catch the mist, and the mist would linger on the nets in drops that cupped the light.

It was very quiet all the time because the trees needed to focus on their lives. It is not easy to grow so much, for so long.  Some trees became tired and lay down on the soft ground; others leaned and rested their tops on another.

And when one tree had to stop, another would grow out of it and reach very high into the grey and gold sky.

Growing is forever, they whispered.

* * * * * * * *

~Via Jesse Rosten, Kallie Markle, and Vimeo

 

 

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The Vanishing Monarch Butterfly

 

90% of the Population has Disappeared

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

They are the butterflies we remember fondly from our childhood. 
And they are disappearing in large numbers.

Monarch butterflies may warrant U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because of farm-related habitat loss blamed for sharp declines in cross-country migrations of the orange-and-black insects, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday.

An estimated 1 billion monarchs migrated to Mexico in 1996 compared with just 35 million last year, according to Marcus Kronforst, a University of Chicago ecologist who has studied monarchs.

Monarch populations are estimated to have fallen by as much as 90 percent during the past two decades because of destruction of milkweed plants they depend on to lay their eggs and nourish hatching larvae, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The loss of the plant is tied to factors such as increased cultivation of crops genetically engineered to withstand herbicides that kill native vegetation, including milkweed, the conservation group says.  Some believe poisonous GMO corn pollen has significantly contributed to the loss of monarchs.

Monarchs, unique among butterflies for the regularity and breadth of their annual migration, are also threatened by widespread pesticide use and logging of mountain forests in central Mexico and coastal California where some of them winter, said biologist Karen Oberhauser at the University of Minnesota.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday a petition requesting federal protections for monarchs – filed by the Xerces Society and others – “presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.”

The agency’s initial review will take about a year to complete.

The butterflies, revered for their delicate beauty after emerging from a jade green chrysalis ornamented by gold stitching, are roughly divided into two populations in the United States according to their fall migration patterns.

Monarchs from east of the Continental Divide wing across 3,000 miles to Mexico, while those from west of the Divide in Rocky Mountain states like Idaho make a relatively shorter journey to California.

Monarch populations are tracked by an extensive network of professional and citizen scientists who make up part of the butterfly’s vast and loyal following.

“Almost every person I’ve talked to about monarchs has expressed a deep love and admiration for them that was often formed in childhood,” said Beth Waterbury, regional wildlife biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The monarchs’ navigation remains mysterious.  While they are known to orient themselves by the sun’s position and by the Earth’s magnetic field on cloudy days, it is unclear how new generations find their way to wintering sites they have never seen, Oberhauser said.

~Via Yahoo News, Reuters, DisneyNature, and Vimeo

* * * * * * * * * *

People should make a point of planting some milkweed on their property, even in flower gardens. 
It’s a pleasant looking plant, easy to grow, and it’s good having the monarchs around.

 

 

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The Christmas Miracle of Charlie Brown

 

 

And the WW II German Pilot Who Saved Him

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit. 
He froze in terror.

He blinked hard and looked again in disbelief.  His co-pilot stared at the same horrible sight.  ”My God, this is a nightmare,” the co-pilot said.  ”He’s going to destroy us.”

The young pilot, Charlie Brown, agreed.

The men were looking up at a gray German Messerschmitt 109 fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip.  It was five days before Christmas, 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber, Ye Olde Pub, honing in for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission.  His bomber had already been shot to pieces by swarming fighters following a successful bombing run over Bremen.  Severely damaged, it fell behind the rest of the bombing squadron as they quickly headed for home.  His plane was now alone, limping along and struggling to stay afloat in the skies above Germany.

Charlie and most of his crew were wounded and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen over in icicles on the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something very odd happened.  The German didn’t pull the trigger.  He simply stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect.  What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry ever recorded during World War II.

Instead of pressing the attack, the German nodded at Charlie Brown and saluted.  It was a Christmas miracle.

 

Two Pilots, Two Foes

Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other: An ace German pilot named Franz Stigler.

Stigler wasn’t just any fighter pilot. He was veteran Luftwaffe fighter pilot with over 480 missions, 25 kills, and a successful North Africa campaign to his credit.  Stigler had already shot down two B-17s that day.  One more kill and he would earn the Knight’s Cross, Germany’s highest award for valor.

Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory.  Stigler’s older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war.  American pilots had killed Stigler’s comrades and were now bombing his country’s cities.

Stigler was initially refueling and rearming his fighter on the ground of a German airbase when he had heard a bomber’s engine.  Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low he thought it was going to land.  As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman, and took off in his BF-109 in pursuit.  Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943.  

As Stigler’s fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind.  He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger.  

He was about to fire– then he hesitated.  Stigler was baffled.  No one in the bomber fired at him.

He came closer to look at the tail gunner.  He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood.  Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber.  The Plexiglas nose was shattered by flak, its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns were knocked out.  One propeller wasn’t turning.  Smoke trailed from the other engine.  Half the tail was gone.  He could see injured men huddled inside the shattered plane tending to the wounds of the other incapacitated crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber’s wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide open in shock and terror, his hands fumbling at the controls to keep the plane aloft.

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket.  He eased his index finger off the trigger.  He couldn’t shoot.  It would be murder.

 

A Higher Call of Duty

“I didn’t have the heart to finish those brave men,” Stigler recalled.  “I flew beside them for a long time.  They were desperately trying to get home, and I was going to let them do that.  I could not have shot at them.”

Stigler wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day.  He also lived by a moral code of honor.  He could trace his family’s ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe; he had once studied to be a priest. 

Stigler considered his options.  He knew a German pilot sparing the life of the enemy would risk certain death by execution in wartime Nazi Germany.

Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him:  ”You are fighter pilots first, last, and always.  You follow the rules of war for you– not your enemy.  You fight by rules to keep your humanity.  If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.”  

Stigler later said, “To me, it was just like they were in a parachute.  I saw them and I couldn’t shoot them down.”

Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mind and his mission.  He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber.

Stigler escorted the bomber out of harm’s way over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot.

Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away, and returned to Germany.  “Good luck,” Stigler said to himself.  ”You’re in God’s hands now…”

He also said goodbye to the German Iron Cross that he richly deserved.  Franz Stigler didn’t think the big B-17 could make it back to England.  He wondered for years what had happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.

As for Charlie Brown and Ye Olde Pub, it was a truly bewildering moment.  As he watched the German fighter pilot escort him to the coast, salute in farewell, and then fly away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn’t waxing philosophical about enemies.  He was thinking of survival. 

Before the bizarre encounter with Stigler had occurred, Brown, lacking oxygen, had lost consciousness and awakened to find Ye Olde Pub in a dive at 5,000 ft.  He struggled to regain the controls and pulled the bomber out of the dive at 1,000 ft, beginning the long flight home in the shattered bomber when Stigler happened to show up.

Charlie flew his crippled plane, filled with the wounded, back to his base in England.  Not knowing if they would make it back home or not given the poor conditon Ye Olde Pub was in, Charlie gave his young crew the choice of bailing out.   They all chose to stay.

The 21-year-old captain nursed the warship along as best as he could.  The B-17 landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing, and with barely any fuel left.  The bomber’s internal oxygen, hydraulic and electrical systems were sorely damaged; only half of its rudder and port side elevator were left remaining. 

After Brown’s bomber came to a stop in England, he slumped back in his chair and put a hand over the pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket.  Then he sat in silence, exhausted, flak wounds to his shoulder.

Brown reported the incident to his superiors but was ordered to keep the matter secret.  His commanding officers did not want any word of a chivalrous German pilot sparing the life of an American soldier to get out.  Brown kept it to himself and never spoke of it, even at postwar reunions.

Stigler, likewise, never reported the incident for risk of a court martial.  He told his superiors that he had escorted the bomber over the North Sea where he shot it down.

 

‘We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day’

Brown flew more missions before the war ended.  Life moved on; he got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War, and eventually retired to Florida earning the rank of Colonel.

Later in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot gnawed at him.  He started having nightmares.  But in his dreams there would be no act of mercy.  He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.

Brown took on a new mission in his remaining life.  He wanted to find that German pilot who spared him and the lives of his crew.  Who was he?  Why did he save my life?  He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England.  He attended a pilots’ reunion and shared his story.  He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.

In January of 1990, Brown received a letter.  Opening it, he read:

“Dear Charles,

All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home?  Did her crew survive their wounds?  To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy.  I was the one.”

 

It was Franz Stigler.

Treated poorly after the war and working as a lowly brick mill laborer, Stigler left Germany in 1953 and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a prosperous businessman.  Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and that ”it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.”

Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn’t wait to see Stigler.  He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler.  He dialed the number, and Stigler picked it up.

They spoke on the phone for hours.  Stigler described his plane, the escort, the salute, and confirming everything Brown needed to hear to know that he was indeed the German fighter pilot involved in the incident.

“My God, it’s you!” Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.  

Brown had to do more.  He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said:  ”To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate.”

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler met and had a summer reunion together.  Both men looked like retired businessmen; they were now plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each others’ arms and wept and laughed.  They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.

Then the mood changed.  Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown.  Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened.  He began to fight back tears before he haltingly said in heavily accented English:  ”I love you, Charlie.”

Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country.  He was virtually forgotten by his countrymen after the war.  While there were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force, only 1,200 of them survived.  Losses were also heavy on the other side:  30,000 Americans roughly the age of 22 lost their lives in B-17s during the war. 

The war had cost Stigler everything.  “Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II,” Stigler said.  “It was the one thing I could be proud of.”

 

Brothers, Heroes, Foes

Brown and Stigler became best pals.  They would take fishing trips together.  They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans’ reunions.  Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.

Brown’s daughter, Dawn Warner, says her father would worry about Stigler’s health and constantly check in on him.

“It wasn’t just for show,” she says.  ”They really did feel for each other.  They talked about once a week.” 

As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says:  “The nightmares went away.”

Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he wanted to show the extent of his gratitude.  He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families.  He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.

During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived – numerous children, grandchildren, relatives, crew members – because of Stigler’s act of chivalry.  The former German pilot, watching the film from his seat of honor, cried.

 ”Everybody was crying, not just him,” Warner says.

Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008; Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87.  They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then became something more.

After he died, Warner was searching through Brown’s library when she came across a book on German fighter jets.  Stigler had given the book to Brown.  Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.

Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Charlie Brown:

“In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter.  On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.

The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my brother was.”

Thanks Charlie.

Your Brother,
   Franz

 

 

~Via Hub911, Aerial Chivalry, Wayne Freedman, Sabaton, and Youtube
  A sincere appreciation goes out to Valor Art Studios and John D. Shaw

  And don’t miss this head-banging piece of the incident and the 
  young, brave B-17 crews that we especially liked, here.

 

 

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Happy Xmas

 

(War is Over)

 

John Lennon’s VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1960s The Beatles delighted their fan club members by sending them
a specially recorded 45rpm single every Christmas filled with comedy, music
and festive fun.

The following decade the Christmas single as we know it– a one-time seasonally themed hit—had arrived.

Fittingly though, it was ex-Beatle John Lennon who changed the whole Christmas game.

Lennon was born October 9, 1940, at a time when World War II was raging across Europe.  Liverpool was under attack, bombed by Nazi Germany when John was born.  The rest, as you know, is history.

Sung by John and Yoko Ono and accompanied by the Harlem Community Choir, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released in the States on December 6 of 1971.  It was released in Britain the following year, and again following Lennon’s death after being violently gunned down outside of his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

The Vietnam-inspired sing-along was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by the couple that began with the bed-ins they convened in 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. 

President Nixon had said at the time that the Vietnam War would soon be ending “as a result of the plan that we have instituted.”  In April 1970, however, he had expanded the war by ordering US and South Vietnamese troops to attack communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Northern Vietnam.  The resulting outcry across the United States led to a number of antiwar demonstrations– and during one of these demonstrations the National Guard shot four protesters at Kent State.

The couple had launched an international multimedia campaign preceding the song in December of 1969 – at the height of the counterculture movement and the massive protests against America’s involvement in the war– by renting billboard spaces in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters declaring, “WAR IS OVER!  –If You Want It– Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.”

Lennon said he conceived the antiwar campaign to promote social unity, peaceful change, personal accountability and empowerment, and writing the happy holiday tune to convey a sense of optimism but without the glowing sentimentality typically associated with the holiday music season.

“I was sick of White Christmas,” he said, and “I wanted to pen the peaceful anthem using the lyrical lesson I learned while recording Imagine.  I understood what you have to do:  Put your political message across with a little honey.’”

By the time Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released, Lennon’s antiwar activism had brought him under the scrutiny and ire of the Nixon administration and the FBI.  Lennon had already returned his “Member British Empire” medal back to Queen Elizabeth, citing Britain’s support of US troops in Vietnam and its own involvement in Biafra.  He was involved in so much radical activity in the US that the FBI had 216 pounds worth of files about him. 

In 1972 he received his ignoble payback– a deportation order to leave the United States.  It was later stayed due to his broad popular support and the issuance of a green card for US residency. 

By 1973, the Vietnam War was grossly unpopular.  After extensive negotiations and the bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January of 1973.  The war was finally over– after nearly 20 years of US involvement.

Yoko Ono later wrote:

“Never in a million years, did we think that promoting world peace could be dangerous.  Were we naive?  Yes, on that account, we were.  

John said:  ‘Nobody told me there’d be days like these.’  That was his true confession.  These songs have become relevant all over again.  It’s almost as if John wrote these songs for what we are going through now.”

Among the many items Yoko donated for an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame following his death were the bloodstained glasses he was wearing when he was shot.   Lennon was legally blind without them.

Yoko refused to hold a funeral for Lennon.  By not doing so, she said, ”his spirit would live forever.”

 

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The Moped Diaries

 

Hope, Loss, and New Beginnings

 

**Award-Winning FILM**

 

Keith Cartwright
A Life of Gratitude.com

 

 

Levi is a boy growing up on Collington island off the coast of North Carolina.

When a new bridge is built connecting his island to the mainland he has to come to grips with both the change and opportunities that come along with it.

There’s the love of home, love of a partner, and the love of family.  And they’re falling apart– pushing him towards a dead end or crossing that bridge to see what lies beyond the horizon.

 

Twenty years ago I started a job that changed my life.  And although I’ve been gone from that job for eight years now, I was reminded it hasn’t finished changing me.

The job was with Eckerd Youth Alternatives.  I was a counselor working with middle and high school students in a wilderness program.  The kids were labeled at-risk, troubled, hopeless, and countless other terms to suggest they were much better suited to live in the middle of the Croatian National Forest than their communities. 

The first year I spent with those kids I was all about the labels.  There were days I coined one or two of my own that were far less complimentary than the standard ones.  Over time, though, as I got to know them better and built relationships with them, I came to understand the label they really deserved was, well– just plain kids.  

Kids who needed someone to listen to what made them mad in the world and not tell them why they should never be angry at all.  Kids who needed someone to identify a thing or two they were doing right to soften up the endless lists of failures others had attached to them.

They needed someone to give them permission to dream.  And not just because that’s what “normal” kids did, but because someone believed those dreams could come true. 

But this week I was moved by one of those young men who’s always held a special place with me.  Several years ago I actually had the privilege of officiating his wedding. In the Virgin Islands, no less.  At the time, I thought he and I were caught up in one of those crazy circles of life that loops us around from a point of chaotic introduction to an inexplicable point of connectedness.

But this week, that young man, Tyler, showed me that the circle back then was filled with gaps.  They felt more complete when he shared something– making this mentor suddenly feel like the one
being mentored. 

Tyler has been working in the movie and television and camera business for years.  And a handsome face it is.  Earlier this week he shared his latest creation on social media:  a short 10 minute movie called The Moped Diaries.

When I watched it I was struck by how much the story reflected his life.  One of overcoming challenges.  One of picking a story and living it out, refusing to let anything or anyone alter the plot.  

But, what stuck out even more– I was basking in the creation of a kid who once came looking for help and was now a young man offering it to the world with his movie.  

His story is timely for so many people in my life who’ve faced or are facing hardships.  This is a story of hope and determination and that they can be conquered.

Having children helped me understand the importance of living a life of gratitude, and how impossible that life is without saying “thank you.”

I hope you’ll take 10 minutes and watch Tyler’s film.  I hope you’ll consider his message.

I’m proud of you my friend, Tyler Nilson

Well done.  Thank you.

* * * * * * * *

Tyler Nilson played the adult character of Levi, and wrote, directed, and produced The Moped Diaries. 

He works for Lucky Treehouse, a San Francisco and Los Angeles based collective of filmmakers and artists working together to make films, commercials, and television content inspired by the stories of youth, the unknown on the road ahead, and the feeling of summer days, rope swings, experience & adventure.

~Via Keith Cartwright, A Life of gratitude.com, Tyler Nilson, Lucky Treehouse and Vimeo. 
   Photos courtesy of Tyler Nilson’s Facebook page.

 

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Colonizing the Red Planet

 

 

Mars:  The Epic Dream Vs. the Harsh Reality

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s a one-way ticket to Paradise.

In 2012, a Dutch nonprofit led by entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp announced plans to send four citizen astronauts to colonize Mars in 2023.

The motivation behind the project was later revealed to have little to do with the pursuit of science.  Instead, the organization— known as Mars One— plans to film the whole thing, turning the far-flung mission into a bizarre reality TV show.

The call for applications began back in 2013.  No previous intergalactic experience was necessary, Mars One said in their release.

Applying is easy.  Applicants just need to be over the age of 18 and comfortable with the notion of spending the rest of their mortal lives on a different planet.

In the first two weeks, more than 78,000 people applied for the one-way trip into space.  That number now tops a surprising 200,000 folks wanting to start a new life someplace else.  Mars One hopes to pick between 28 to 40 candidates by the year 2015 and train them for the final mission.

One small problem though:  The organization also needs to raise around $6 billion in funding to pull the whole thing off.  That’s one heck of a Kickstarter project.

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth rock from the sun and lies roughly about 140 million miles away from us– depending on our elliptical orbits with one another.  First recorded by Egyptian astronomers 4,000 years ago as “the Red One” due to its iron-rich rocky and dusty surface, Mars has always captured our imagination for travel, exploration, and potential colonization.

Mars has roughly the same landmass as Earth.  Martian surface gravity, however, is only 37% that of Earth– meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars. 

Mars, to note, also sports two moons.

The Martian year is 686 earth-days long, causing some extreme temperature variations in its four seasons.  At the closest point to the Sun, the Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun causing a short, intensely hot summer; while the northern hemisphere endures a brief, cold winter.  At its farthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere causes a long, mild summer with the southern hemisphere having a lengthy, cold winter.

Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system.  They can last for months and cover the entire planet.  The seasons are extreme because its orbital path around the Sun is more elongated than most other planets in the solar system.

There is no oxygen on Mars except in minor trace amounts and the atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide gas.  Water on the surface of Mars does exists in its polar ice caps but it’s prone to either freezing or evaporation.  There is abundant water trapped below the surface; enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 115 feet.

So, just how scientifically sound is sending four normal people, with no scientific background, to another frontier planet in the hope of making it habitable for future generations?

Not very much, according to a team of MIT engineering students.  The group made a detailed simulation of the Mars One settlement to assess the mission’s feasibility.   Their results, published last month, show that it will be virtually impossible for humans to survive on Mars with the current technology that exists.

“We’re not saying, black and white, Mars One is infeasible,” said Olivier de Weck, MIT professor of aeronautics and engineering systems.  “But we do think it’s not really feasible under the assumptions they’ve made.  We’re pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.”

The researchers began by looking at each component outlined in Mars One’s plan, from living conditions and life-support systems to logistics and emergency procedures in case of fire.

The first problem is food.  Mars One plans to build a series of capsule-like habitats to house the settlers, using solar panels to supply electricity and extracting drinking water from the soil with an irrigation system.

Using a typical work schedule and metabolic rate of astronauts on the International Space Station, the study estimated that a settler on Mars would have to consume 3,040 calories a day to stay healthy, subsisting on a diet that includes foods like beans, lettuce, peanuts, potatoes, and rice.  The researchers found that producing enough of these crops to sustain settlers would require almost four times an area as the one laid out in Mars One’s plan– 2,150 square feet, as opposed to the 530 currently allotted.

Further, if the crop-growing area is part of the settlers’ habitat as proposed, the crops would end up producing unsafe levels of oxygen that would need to be abated with a constant supply of nitrogen.  This process would require technology that has yet to be developed for use in space.

The same goes for water.  The Mars One plan is to melt ice for drinking water, but the MIT study found that current technologies that can extract and melt water from soil are not yet ready for use in Mars’ harsh environment.  Eventually, the study found, the total atmospheric pressure inside the habitat would drop to unsafe levels, suffocating the first settler within a mere 68 days.

Can Mars be colonized?  Undoubtably it will, someday.  And when it happens, it will be the farthest journey mankind will ever have traveled.  As of September 2014, there have been 40 unmanned missions to Mars, including orbiters, landers and rovers.  18 of those missions have been successful.  There have been many more flybys.

The Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter recently arrived on September 24, 2014.  The next mission to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars project, comprising of an orbiter, lander, and rover;  followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, slated for launch in March 2016 and with a planned arrival in September of 2016.

Essentially, colonizing Mars for humans is the kind of thing that presents great challenges and requires an enormous amount of preparation.  

“There are just so many unknowns,” said Sydney Do, one of the graduate students who led the MIT study.

“And to give anyone confidence that they’re going to get there and stay alive–  there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

 


 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Erik Wernquist’s award-winning film at top above, Wanderers, was made using actual digital images and real locations gathered from NASA/JPL, NASA/CICLOPS, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, European Space Agency, John Van Vliet and Björn Jonsson. 

It is best viewed on a full screen and with the volume cranked up.

‘Mars One: Introduction Film’ was produced by the MarsOne Project.

Images by Space.com.

 

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Adriatic Skate

 

Three Friends and The Goodship Galeb

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s good to be young and alive.

Heading out to the Adriatic sea and back onto land in some of the oldest cities in the world, skaters Donovan Piscopo, Daryl Angel, and Wieger Van Wageningen explore Croatia via the Goodship Galeb, while camping on the islands situated in the midst of crystal blue waters.

To coincide with their friendship together, we’re taken on a journey full of beautiful scenery, clear waters, barking dogs, and soaking up some Mediterranean rays, they show us plenty of their skateboarding skills.

Directed by Alex Craig and Dave Ehrenreich for Nike and Poler, The Goodship Galeb perfectly illustrates the strong ties between Croatia, its Adriatic islands, and with a subtle mix of skateboarding and diving and some great music thrown in for good measure, it sublimely blends together for a perfectly chill time.

Travel further, live longer, be healthy, and skate on. 
Life is as short– or as long– as you make it.

 

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Thank You For Vaping

 

The E-Cigarette Debate

 

New Yorker **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In 1963, a patent was filed for a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette,” but the invention never took off.

Forty years later, in 2003, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist whose father had died of smoking-induced lung cancer, patented a similar device—this time, reimagined with nicotine.

Fast-forward ten more years, to 2013, and electronic cigarettes—or e-cigs, as they’re often called— had mushroomed into a billion-dollar industry.  Last year also marked the moment when a leading manufacturer of the device, NJOY, aired an ad during the Super Bowl, to the tune of Avicii’s popular Hey Brother.  The ad reaches a crescendo with this line:  “Friends don’t let friends smoke.  Give them the only electronic cigarette worth switching to.”

E-cigarettes are not cigarettes.  As the name suggests, they simulate smoking and, via an inner heating element, deliver nicotine through the vapor of liquid nicotine instead of the combustion of tobacco leaves.  That’s why e-cigarettes are often promoted as a safer alternative to smoking.

But the public-health debate is in full bloom.  Trace amounts of toxic substances have been detected in e-cigarettes, and their usage among youth doubled in 2012.  Yet many cite the devices as remedies that can stop their decades-long tobacco-smoking habits.

In New York City, in the evenings, “vapers,” as they’re called, gather around a long table in the back of the Henley Vaporium, on the border of Nolita and SoHo, to discuss liquid-nicotine flavors (“Have you tried the new custard?”) and to “rebuild” their e-cigs.

The first time I passed the Vaporium’s cloudy windows, I peered inside to see beyond the smoke.

“Welcome,” a young, bearded man offered, as I sat down next to him at the table in the back.

The video above is a glimpse into that world.

 

~Via The New Yorker/Sky Dylan-Robbins and The Lost Ogle

* * * * * * * * *

Vape devices come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.  The main tube that holds the battery and odorless e-liquid, or “juice,” is ususually called a mod or pen.  The battery heats the juice to create an inhalable mist.  The process is more akin to ‘steaming’ than smoking.  That’s why it’s called vaporizing.

It’s quite the fad as of late and while it’s not likely to stop your nicotine addiction, it is a suitable and relatively inexpensive alternative to smoking tobacco. 

Is it safer?  The jury is still out.  It is, after all, nicotine, a substance that’s as hard to quit as heroin.

If you’re interested in the idea of vaping, check in with John’s Myrtlewood Liquors at 1648 Myrtle Ave. in Eureka.  They have the biggest assortment of everything vape you can imagine in Humboldt County and knowledgeable friendly staff to get you easily on your way.

 

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The Story of Place

 

 

The Greater Canyonlands

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“What is this place worth in oil?  Where do we want to steer our civilization?  What do we want left when we’re done?

~Craig Childs, The Story of Place

 

Canyonlands National Park, and the lands that border it, are part of a larger story.

It’s a complex tale of our natural environment, ancient mankind, current political horse-trading, increased pressure for resource and oil extraction, and a place of recreational and spiritual consideration.

The 1.8 million acres of public lands surrounding Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah is one of the largest remaining wild roadless areas in the lower 48 states.  

Its breathtaking beauty, spectacular geology and 12,000 year record of human history are both globally significant and irreplaceable.  These lands are under threat from oil and gas development, potash, uranium and tar sands mining, and irresponsible off-road vehicle use.

The land is the true Wild West.  It is a rugged and vastly untouched landscape, a geological wonderland of surprises found around every turn; a place of countless canyons, sandstone formations, rainwater pools, archeological ruins, mesas and buttes formed millenias ago. 

It is a place where we can find our true human spirit.

The Story of Place is a short film that takes us deep into the unprotected territory of the Greater Canyonlands region of Southern Utah and New Mexico, alongside Craig Childs, Ace Kvale and Jim Enote, who narrate the story of this grand landscape, how it has shaped each and every one of us.

This region is a veritable wellspring of human spirit, solitude, wonder and history.

“This place and its story are irreplaceable,” Childs notes.

“This land,” he concludes, “is worth protecting.”

 

 

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The Ambition of the Rosetta Mission

 

The European Space Agency Gambles Big

 

**Award-Winning Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ambition really took us by surprise.

Made in collaboration by the European Space Agency (ESA)—the European equivalent of NASA—it is remarkably unlike any other film NASA has ever done for its own space missions.

It is definitely something out of the ordinary: a big-budget-style sci-fi movie directed by Tomek Baginski with famous actors, such as Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones fame, and a subtle yet powerful message relating to the Rosetta mission.

On November 12th, something spectacular will happen in space history.  The Rosetta spacecraft, launched back in 2004, will drop its Lander onto the surface of comet 67P. 

Part of what has been so impressive is the length of time this mission has taken to finally get to the comet– 20 years since the planning began, and ten years since its launch.

It is a complex mission.  Rosetta could not head straight for the comet.  The remarkable feat of the Rosetta spacecraft is that it has been ping-ponging its way through the solar system, beginning a series of looping orbits around the Sun that brought it back for three Earth fly-bys and one Mars fly-by.  The mathematical calculations alone were mind boggling.  

Each time, the spacecraft changed its velocity and direction as it extracted energy from the gravitational field of Earth or Mars and then spiraled out on different trajectories to eventually meet up with comet 67P– a decade later.

Rosetta, reaching the bizarrely shaped rubber-duck icy comet, has spent the last three months mapping its surface in the hope of finding a suitable spot to place its Lander. 

It is the first time a spacecraft has entered into orbit around a comet, which is a celestial body formed during the Big Bang– and with almost no gravity.

The Philae Lander– packed with a science laboratory, harpoons, scrapers, computers, and even ovens – will obtain samples, do analyses, and beam the information back to the earth about the basic origins of the universe.  The hope is that Rosetta mission will help answer some of the most basic questions about our existence.

When the Lander touches down seven hours after its release on November 12, all manner of things can go wrong.  The gravity of 67P is so small the Lander could hit the surface, bounce off and be lost in the vast emptiness of space.

Rosetta is truly a milestone of mankind’s achievement.  And, in order to succeed, it’s a mission taking a true amount of… Ambition.

~Via ESA, Vimeo, PhyOrg

 

If you enjoyed this film, you may like our other post:  Genesis

 

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Touchable Memories

 

Seeing Eyes, Helping Hands,
 and Winning Hearts

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

If you were blind, how would you “see” a photo?

This is how.

The third dimension can be the critical bridge for the visually impaired — the difference between the flat, indistinct, and illusive surface and the tactile one that provides an alternative to sight.

In a poignant mini-documentary produced by Singapore-based 3D printer company Pirate 3D, five visually impaired people are given the gift of preserved memories via 3D prints of photographs or images that have a personal meaning to each.

Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Marco AslanTouchable Memories features short snippets of five very different people, all of whom are blind — some since birth.

One is Gabor, a filmmaker.  He lost his sight about twelve years ago, but resumed making films despite the obvious impediments.  His first project after returning to filmmaking was a short movie shot in Bolivia.  His memory is a still image from the movie of an elderly woman seated alone in a room.  “I know all the room’s details in my mind but I cannot see it,” says Gabor.  The 3D-printed “memory” he receives is like a small diorama, a box with the top and front open.  Inside sits a stout, elderly woman in heavy garments.  Two of the box’s sides are pierced by windows and a small table under one window.

Mario, an Italian, is a musician.  In the documentary, he explains that music connects him with others in a very personal way.   He’s seen performing in a subway passage, and then is presented with his “memory.”  It’s a 3D print of his first CD cover, designed by a close friend who’s a graphic designer.  The lavish design is meant to describe the energy of his music.  There are two representations of Mario himself in the 3D piece along with musical instruments — his guitar, a tambourine, a xylophone.

Meritxell from Barcelona has been blind since birth.  She explains in the film that it’s a tremendous source of frustration for her not to be able to remember memories as most people do via photographs.  An array of Meritxell’s personal photographs appear in the documentary.  The one that’s printed is a photo from her childhood, created for her as a sculpture of two small figures.   She stands with her cousin; the two wearing festive, pointed caps at the carnival they attended together.

Yassine, also blind since birth, lost his father when he was five years old.  In the film, he’s given a 3D printed sculpture:  a father tossing his son high into the air.  Yassine is able to recall playing with his father, who would call him “my little bird” when they played.  It was a memory made tangible.

Daniela works with people with special needs.  She says, “If I can touch the picture, it brings all emotions to life,” reflecting on the differences between memories for a sighted and blind person.  Her 3D-printed “memory” is from a family ski trip; she, her older brother and her parents pose for a family portrait wearing their skiing gear.  “This creates a whole sensation, because I can really recall that moment,” she says as she lightly touches the figures, “it’s something that’s there forever.”

As each of the five individuals is presented with their 3D printed memories, they examine them slowly and gently with fingertips carefully touching every surface.  

The scenes and their reactions are emotional — brief, and with tremendous impact.

~Via Pirate3d/3D Design, Marco Aslan, Vimeo

 

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The Light of Boston

 

Clarity and Illumination for Our Favorite City

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

This is a completely different—and stunning– application of time-lapse photography.

It’s called layer-lapse photography.  What you’re seeing is the world’s first use of it here.

Julian Tryba’s Boston Layer-Lapse is a unique piece of painstaking work.  He explains it like this:

Traditional time-lapses are constrained by the idea that there is a single universal clock.

In the spirit of Einstein’s relativity theory, layer-lapses assign distinct clocks to any number of objects or regions in a scene.  Each of these clocks may start at any point in time, and tick at any rate.  The result is a visual time dilation effect known as layer-lapse.

Max Tegmark put it this way: “The past is not gone, and the future isn’t non-existent; the past, the future, and present are all existing now in exactly the same way.”

 

Tryba took 150,000 photos altogether at different times and placed down approximately 35 layers for each scene clip.  It took about 100 hours to shoot, but 350 hours for him to edit.  He made 800 drafts before settling on this one.

The pixel clarity and brilliance is remarkable when seen on a large screen.  The sound is superb.  The editing transitions are near flawless.

He did a nice job of capturing one of our favorite cities and letting the beauty shine through from many different locations and angles. 

But alas!  He might have made history, but he failed to capture Fenway and the infamous Green Monster. 
Sigh.

 

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Elvis on the Stairway to Heaven

 

Led Zeppelin Meets Elvis, 40 Years Ago

 

**Archival VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

40 years ago today the band began to play. 
And it was out with the old– and in with the new.

The Los Angeles Forum played host to some of the greatest shows Led Zeppelin ever put on.  It was also the place where, on May 11, 1974, the band came face to face with their legendary childhood hero for the first time.

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham were in Los Angeles for the launch of their own record label, Swan Song.  The night after the raucous launch party at the Bel Air Hotel, the band– minus bassist John Paul Jones– decided to attend Elvis Presley’s concert at the Forum.

Elvis was alerted to the presence of the rock group in the audience.  During the show, taped and later released as Live in L.A., he said to his band, “Wait a minute… If we can start together, fellas; because we’ve got Led Zeppelin out there.  Let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we do or not.”

Jerry Weintraub, their mutual promoter at the time, took Jimmy Page and Robert Plant up to Presley’s Las Vegas hotel suite following the concert.

For the first few minutes, Elvis ignored them.

Jimmy Page, who had first picked up a guitar after hearing Elvis’ Baby Let’s Play House on overseas radio in 1955, began to wonder and fidget.  What was going on?  Did he really want to meet them?  Should they say something?

Elvis finally turned to them.

“Is it true,” he said, “these stories I hear about you boys on the road?”

Robert Plant amiably answered, “Of course not.  We’re family men.  I get the most pleasure out of walking the hotel corridors, singing your songs.” 

Plant also offered his best Elvis impersonation, breaking the ice.  He reminisced that Jimmy Page also joked with Elvis by adding that, “We never sound checked, but if we did, all I wanted to do was sing Elvis songs,” Plant said.

“At that meeting, ‘Elvis thought that was funny.  He asked me, ‘Which songs do you sing?’’” 

“I told him I liked the ones with all the moods, like that great country song ‘Love Me:  ‘Treat me like a fool, treat me mean and cruel, but love me…’

For a moment Elvis Presley eyed them both very carefully.  Then he burst out laughing.  Then his bodyguards burst out laughing.

For two hours he entertained them in his suite.  He had never heard their records, he said, except for when his stepbrother played him Stairway to Heaven.  

“I liked it,” Presley said.

Later, walking down the hallway from the hotel room, Page and Plant were still stunned, congratulating themselves on a two-hour meeting with the King.  

“Hey,” came a voice from behind them.  Plant recalled what happened next.

“So when we were leaving, after a most illuminating and funny 90 minutes with the guy, I was walking down the corridor.  He swung around the door frame, looking quite pleased with himself, and started singing that same song, ‘Treat me like a fool…’

“I turned around and did Elvis right back at him.  We stood there, singing to each other.”

Plant later wrote about his impressions of Presley: “I met Elvis with Zeppelin, after one of his concerts in the early ’70s.  I sized him up.  He wasn’t quite as tall as me, but he had a singer’s build.  He had a good chest– that resonator.  And he was driven.”

Elvis’ and Zeppelin’s paths would cross two more times during the ‘70s.

The next meeting took place at Presley’s home in Memphis.  Jerry Schilling, a noted member of Elvis’ ‘Memphis Mafia’, wrote about the encounter in his book, Me and a Guy Named Elvis.

Elvis said it would be okay for them to come by the house.

Schilling was there on the night of the planned meeting and was surprised to see that Elvis was in his pajamas and robe– he and Sheila Ryan were getting ready to go upstairs.  Schilling reminded Elvis that Richard Cole, Led Zep’s band manager, and bassist John Paul Jones were coming.  Elvis remained downstairs to wait for them.

Schilling recalls:

“From the moment Richard stepped into the house, he was loud and profane, packing an amazing number of f-words into everything he said.

‘You know’, Elvis said to him. ‘I’d appreciate it if you’d watch your language in front of my lady.’  Things got very quiet.  Everybody sat down.  

And it stayed quiet.  Then Elvis decided to break the ice, and asked if he could see the fancy watch that Richard was wearing.  Richard handed the watch over, and when Elvis put it on, Richard quickly said that if Elvis wanted the watch, he could keep it.

‘Does it have any special meaning to you?’ Elvis asked.

‘Well, a bit.  Atlantic Records gave them to the group’, said Richard.

‘OK, thanks’, said Elvis.

I don’t know if Richard expected to lose his watch that easily, but about twenty minutes later Elvis went upstairs and came back down with another watch, a real piece of jewelry, covered in diamonds– a wristwatch you could trade in for a car.  Maybe a couple of cars.

‘Here’, he said to Richard.  ’Take this one’.

A very stunned Richard accepted.  From then on the night was nothing but fun, with a lot of laughs and a lot of quoting Monty Python routines (Elvis was the first Monty Python fanatic I ever knew).

Elvis and Richard obviously shared a sense of humor.  And I could tell Elvis also liked the much quieter John.  At one point, Elvis excused himself, went back upstairs, and returned with an equally impressive watch for the bassist.

Before the evening was over, Elvis said he wanted to make another exchange.  He was out of watches, but had another bit of fashion in mind.

So he stood, eyed John, and said, ‘Let’s swap pants’, while simultaneously, in expert Python fashion, let his pajama bottoms drop beneath his robe.

The loud Richard was shocked into silence, while the usually quiet Sheila and John burst out laughing. 

Nobody accepted Elvis’ offer, but it was a great note to end the night on.”

 

The final meeting between Zeppelin and Elvis took place on the Baltimore airport tarmac while both were on tour in 1977.

Presley’s stepbrother, David Stanley, later recalled the encounter:

“The other time the Presley tour ran across the band was while out on the road.  It was at the Washington-Baltimore airport.

We (the Presley tour) were playing in Washington and Led Zeppelin was playing at the Capital Centre.  We arrived on the Lisa Marie, Elvis’ private jet, and Led Zeppelin arrived on the Caesar’s Chariot.  

It was a hell of a sight to see these two private jets, sitting side-by-side, on the private tarmac.

I asked Elvis if I could go with the band that night for their Led Zeppelin concert.  He just looked at me and said ‘No.’

When I asked him why, he said, ‘look at the bottom of your paycheck.’

As I entered the limo with Elvis I said ‘they sure have a nice jet.’

Elvis leaned over and reminded me that ‘they lease their jet from Caesar’s Palace, I own mine.’”

 

Elvis Presley inspired many of the greatest rock and roll acts of the ‘60s, ‘70s and beyond.  Led Zeppelin, too, was no exception, and when their paths crossed it was a thrill for both the band and the King himself.

By August of 1977, Led Zeppelin was sailing at the top of the rock ‘n roll charts as the biggest gig in the nation. 

The King, his popularity waning, became a shadow of his former self.  Overweight, his mind and speech dulled by the pharmacopia he ingested daily, and suffering from glaucoma, high blood pressure, migraines, an enlarged colon, liver damage, paranoia, and abbreviated concerts, would be found dead in his bathroom at Graceland at the age of 42.

Each had taken their own separate stairway to heaven.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

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City of Light, City of Night

 

Coast to Coast:  From NYC to LA

 

**Award-Winning VIDEOS**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Cities are like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. 

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because they are created by everybody.

For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.  Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, a friendship, or an enmity.

Where one city will raise a certain individual to glory and riches, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality.  One city gives you gifts, another robs you.  One gives you the heart’s affections; the other destroys your soul.

Cities are as alive, as feeling, as fickle and uncertain as people. Their degrees of love and devotion are as varying as with any human relation.  Just as one is good, another is bad.

All cities are mad, but the madness is brilliant.  All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim.

In cities we know where we belong or not; where we are loved and where we are rejected.

As a famous man once said: 

Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light?  Or just another lost angel… City of Night?

 

ANGEL CITY from Sunchaser Pictures on Vimeo.

 

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Growing Up Tyler

 

Unreturned Love Hurts
When You’re Only 12-Years-Old

 

**Award-Winning Short VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Love is hard to find, hard to keep, and hard to forget.

However much you wanted someone to want you, there was nothing you could do to make it happen.

Whatever you did for them, whatever you gave them, whatever you let them take, it could never be enough.  Never enough to be sure.  Never enough to satisfy them.  Never enough to stop them walking away.

Never enough to make them love you.

He wanted to tell her.  Tell her he was glad she was back, that he was alive, that he was home and safe.

But words to him no longer fit right in his mouth.  Words which belonged in his ownership were no longer his to give.  Silence was the only acceptable state his heart would grant.

He would never know what he missed, because she refused to be heard in his presence.  All the words he could have had, all the phrases he might have danced with.  The smiles which would have been imprinted upon his heart, would never be.

And his lips would never be able to reply to the words she could not say.

* * * * * * * * *

Via Tyler, Sam Benenati, and Vimeo

 

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If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

 

Putting a Short Life Into Perspective

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s an incredible reminder of how short life really is.

Camille Marotte’s video offers a seamless interplay of beautiful images shot in locations such as Morocco, India, Senegal, and Vietnam, while narrator Tom O’Bedlam reads When Tomorrow Starts Without Me, a poem believed to be written by David Romano.

When we’re young, we often feel as if we’re eternal, and we’ll walk the earth forever.  There’s always tomorrow.  Then suddenly it all begins to change.  

The voices change, the faces become suddenly adult.  Then everybody seems old, suddenly older, and then they, and us, are in our final years.  We become faintly aware of the passing of time, of loved ones and a loved life, and the pressing mortality of it all as it creeps down on us like some ever-burdening vine.

Then it’s over.  Tomorrow never comes.  It can come and go like a feather in the wind.

The scary thing is life feels very long at the onset– and by the time you realize it’s short, you’ve already lived most of it.

Life is short and it’s here to be lived, to be made the most of– and it’s up to you to make it sweet.

 

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I Can See Clearly Now…

 

…The Rain Is Gone:

   Johnny and Jimmy’s Versions

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

1972 was a good year for Texas singer/songwriter Johnny Nash.

Nash, who recorded Reggae-influenced music, had gone to Jamaica and recorded his song Hold Me Tight and a cover of Sam Cooke’s Cupid with a local rhythm section.  Both songs became hits in Jamaica, and over the next two years charted in England and the United States.

By 1972, Cecilia and Mother And Child Reunion found success in the States, incorporating Nash’s Reggae rhythms.  Nash quickly followed up on the trend with I Can See Clearly Now, a single from the album of the same name.

Make no mistake, Nash had legitimate Reggae credentials:  Bob Marley– before he became crazy famous– was an assistant producer and session player on the album, and also wrote 3 of the songs, including Stir It Up, which became Nash’s next – and final – hit.  The musical partnership between Johnny Nash and Bob Marley is one of the more fascinating and overlooked periods in the history of reggae music.

A cover version by Jimmy Cliff, below, went to #18 in the US in 1994.  His version was in the John Candy movie Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team.

Nash wrote this song himself, recording it in London with members of The Average White Band.  Hitting #1 in the US for 4 weeks late in 1972,  the album sold seven million copies– yet arranger Martyn Ford received the paltry
sum of $70 for his services.

When first released it was widely speculated I Can See Clearly Now was about suicide.  Nash adamantly denied this was the case, insisting it was about hope and courage for individuals experiencing and overcoming adversity in their lives.

It all fit into the new and different awareness happening in the nation by 1972. Things, people, thoughts, ideas and movements were coming out of the closet. Music, film and television took on a different vibe;  art exploded with newer colors and more vibrant canvases.  

With the Vietnam War finally winding down and servicemen returning home, America became a nation comprised of young people wanting to heal and waiting to lead.  They were turning on and tuning in.  They weren’t dropping out.

There was a glimmer of hope things could change.

Women and minorities saw more empowerment and expression than had happened during the 60′s.  Conservative types became a twinge more liberal.  Social movements sprang forth everywhere with the notion of equality, peace, and love.  A more socially aware, just, and thinking country was just beginning to emerge.

We bloomed like flowers in the new age, able to see clearly a way foward towards a better world.

 


 

 

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Genesis

 

The Creation of Life

 

A Short and Stellar
Award-Winning Sci-Fi Film

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources,
Chased amid fusions of wonder in moments hardly seen forgotten
Colored in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenge
Amused but real in thought– we fled from the sea– whole

Dawn of thought transferred through moments of days undersearching earth and
Revealing corridors of time, provoking memories, disjointed, but with
purpose

Craving penetrations offer links with the self instructor’s sharp
and tender love, as we took to the air– a picture of distance

Dawn of our power we amuse redescending as fast as misused expression
Only to teach love as to reveal passion chasing
Late into corners, and we danced from the ocean…

Dawn of love sent within us colors of awakening among the many
Want to follow, only tunes of a different age

As the links span
Our endless caresses for the freedom of life everlasting…

 

~Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans, ‘The Revealing Science of God’ (1974)

* * * * * * *

Abiogenesis was a 4-year labor of love by NASA-loving artist and filmmaker Richard Mans.  Easily sweeping numerous film festival awards across the nation, Mans’ work is a science fiction epic with an extreme amount of attention paid to detail, seamless realism, high-production values, and an original dynamic Dolby soundtrack straight from the creators of District 9 that highly impressed us.

We were blown away and suggest seeing it on the largest screen you have. 

It was a long time in the making by Mans with different trial runs, software, using various models and camera angles, studying NASA Mars Rover film footage, and teaching himself 3D animation. 

He also spent $50,000 of his own money doing it.

Abiogenesis was a labor of love.  A doodle taken to the N-th degree,” said Mans, describing what was, almost unbelievably, his first animated short film.

“I wanted to create something that would advance my work and style, be unique to my sensibilities, and inspire a sense of awe and beauty, while touching on universal themes.”

We think he nailed it. 

You can read more about the details of how Mans created his spectacular work here and here.

~for Jake Sternhagen

 

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The Flying Squirrel

 

The Remarkable 6-Year-Old
Surf & Skate Wonder

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

At the tender age of six, Quincy Symonds is already
tipped as a future Layne Beachley or Stephanie Gilmore.

She may well be the best six-year-old surfer and skater on the planet.

They call her The Flying Squirrel.  The nickname comes from the time Quincy was a toddler living in the US.   A wild squirrel lived in a tree near her house and one day she jumped off the back of her dad’s SUV to mimic her furry friend.

The “Flying Squirrel” moniker stuck.

Stepping into the water at the legendary Snapper Rocks surf break on the Gold Coast, Quincy Symonds has already rocked Australia.  The Tweed Heads local only started surfing about 18 months ago and, in a very short time, has captured the attention of the surfing world, gaining multiple sponsors and a fanatical following on social media.

Her parents have nurtured her along.  Quincy’s dad Jake has been a surfer most of his life and his love for the ocean inspired her to get in the water.  Her mum Kim says it was the most natural thing in the world.

“The very first time I saw her out in the ocean she changed, she became a complete person,” she explains.  “To say that about a four or five-year-old might sound very strange, but I watched it happen.”

“It just doesn’t make sense to me, how she’s able to do what she does,” says Jake.  “I’m amazed by it.  I’m really proud of her but to be honest I can’t comprehend exactly how she does it so well.”

“She has no fear,” offers Quincy’s surf coach Anthony Pope.  “She just doesn’t fall off.  She has incredible balance and her ability to judge the conditions and adjust is at a level I’ve never seen before in someone of her age.”

Quincy also grabbed the attention of former world champion surfer Barton Lynch at the Hurley BL’s Blast Off, the world’s biggest surf festival for young competitors.  ”There is something inherent and instinctive in the way she surfs.  It’s quite mind-blowing and baffling.  She has an amazing sense for the ocean,” Lynch said.

While Quincy’s feats in the water are impressive on their own, they are even more inspiring given that she has battled a serious medical condition for her entire life.

Not long after she was born, Quincy was rushed into the Intensive Care Unit suffering adrenal crisis. After extensive testing, Quincy was diagnosed with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, a genetic disorder that affects her body’s ability to create cortisone.

Quincy’s condition means she is steroid dependent.  “Steroid dependency at this age requires medication three times a day,” Kim explains.  “In times of sickness, Quincy needs intensive medical treatment.”

While you might think it dangerous for a five or six-year-old to be surfing at all, every possible measure and precaution has been put in place to ensure Quincy is safe in the Gold Coast water.

“We always assess the conditions and the skill level of the other surfers in the water before we paddle out”, says Jake.  “When the waves are bigger, we have a custom-made life vest that she wears.  It’s quite thin but it offers a little bit of support for her if she takes a wipeout on a bigger wave.”

And it’s not just Quincy’s buoyancy vest that is custom made.  Quincy’s boards are custom-designed and shaped for her, so she has a variety of different boards to suit varying conditions and match her progress.  

To note, there are very few boards in the world as small as Quincy and they’re basically miniature versions of the performance surfboards one sees on the world tour.

When the waves were too big for her to surf, Quincy took up skateboarding.  As you’d expect, she took to boarding on land just as quickly as she did in the surf.

Looking over the edge of the 12-foot skate bowl as Quincy’s takes her skating sessions, most folks would feel immediately
uneasy.  But there was Quincy with her back foot planted firmly on her board– ready to confidently drop in and shred the concrete bowl up with a smile from ear to ear as her proud parents watched from the sidelines.

There is a constant stream of eager young skaters approaching Quincy asking how old she is.  Some know her from her profile on Instagram, where (with the help of her Mum) Quincy uploads photos and videos of her boarding adventures.

So, what does she think of her social media fame?

“It gets annoying.  People always ask, ‘Will you follow me?,’” she says, rolling her eyes like a teenager.

Quincy says she wants to be a pro surfer and skater when she grows up. 

The way she’s going now, we’re fairly certain the Flying Squirrel will make it there very soon.

     ~Via “A Small Surfer Makes Big Waves” by Scott Gamble,
       ABC Open, SMH, Daily Mail and Vimeo

 

 

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Choppers

 

American Freedom

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Choppers, and building them, are big.

A chopper is a motorcycle either modified from an original motorcycle design– “chopped”– or built from scratch to have a unique hand-crafted appearance.  Relieved of weight by removing excess parts making them lighter and faster, choppers have a low and sleek appearance making them look and sound totally badass awesome.

Choppers began in America when servicemen returning home from WWII started modifying bikes to their own liking, removing all parts deemed too big, heavy, ugly, or unessential to the basic function of the motorcycle, such as fenders, turn indicators, and even front brakes. The large, spring-suspended saddles were removed in order to sit as low as possible on the motorcycle’s frame.

The earliest choppers tended to be based on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, at first making use of the Flathead, Knucklehead and Panhead engines– many of which could be found in surplus military and police motorcycles bought cheaply at auction.  As new engines became available they were soon utilized in choppers.

Over time choppers became more and more about achieving a certain independence, freedom, and customized look.  It’s always the lines, the overall silhouette, the angle of the tank, the bars, and what gives it ‘The Look’.

Stripped down pretty bikes with just enough style, class, power and sound to stand out from the pack.

You can be the best welder/fabricator/mechanic in the world but if you haven’t got that bit of style it’s just an ordinary modified bike– rather than the true American chopper ruling the road.

 

BORN FREE from scott pommier on Vimeo.

 

For Joe King, Bear Marler, Trinia Cuseo, and the BLMC

Ride on.

 

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The World’s Largest Urban Zipline

 

One Heck of a Thrill Ride to the Bottom

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s one of his most fun stunts yet.

And it’s big.  That’s right; the man who constantly keeps us pushing ourselves to go bigger with our adventures has teamed up with his buddies to create the world’s largest urban zipline.

Director Devin Graham (better known as Devin Supertramp) put together this 3-minute, action packed video that has us questioning what we’ve been doing with our time slaving away at the normal 9 to 5.

In the above video, these totally whacked daredevils climb to the top of a 700-foot building in Panama City where they find themselves treated to the world’s longest zipline.  

As if riding the 10,000-foot length of barracuda cord wasn’t dank enough, these adrenaline junkie guys eject themselves from the line half way through, free-falling towards terra firma before deploying their parachutes at the last second.

It’s all too freakin’ scary and crazy and awesome. 

For you camera buffs out there, below is the behind-the-scenes take of how YouTube uber-darling Graham put it all together with skill and shill.

 

 

 

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Going Dark

 

The Final Days of Film Projection

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s another nail in the coffin of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Jason Gwynn and Jay Sheldon’s documentary short film, Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection focuses on two men for whom the change in theatrical projection from celluloid film to digital disk is particularly alarming.

With studios forcing theaters to convert entirely to digital projection or be left without content to screen, theater manager Clif Campbell makes the only choice he can:  to close down his theater.  On the eve of the closure, he and projection manager Patrick Jenson reflect on what it means to be a film projectionist and the reasons why film projection is more fulfilling, and better, than digital in the eyes of many.

As much as the film is a lesson in film projection, it’s also the study of the end of an era for those who have become experts in an extinct field.  When Patrick reflects over his many years as a projectionist, you can hear the pain in his voice when he laments relating his skills that are now useless.  There’s no need for a projectionist to even have to press a button anymore.

The Heartland Emmy-winning film also touches on the unique qualities of film projection and what will be lost when the conversion to digital is final everywhere.

For some, it’s the loss of a job.  For others, like Clif, it’s the total end of a business.  As many small theater owners face the choice of expensively retrofitting their theaters for digital or perish, Clif’s story rings on a painfully universal note.

Sometimes progress isn’t made by innovation. It’s made by lazy execs trying to find
a cheaper and easier and way to do something.  Convert or die.

~Via Vimeo, Google/Film Threat

 

If you liked this post, you may enjoy our other one:  On With the Show

 

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A New Life in the Saddle

 

The Story of Jonathan Field

 

 Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him participate in synchronized diving.”
        ~Cuthbert Soup, Another Whole Nother Story

 

His parents introduced him to horses when he was just a year old
and he’s been around them ever since.

Growing up in the rural community of Bradner, British Columbia, Jonathan Field spent many evenings and weekends with his family and friends spending time with their horses.  In a helmet and jodhpurs riding his small buckskin quarterhorse named ’Wee Mite Buck’ he jumped everything, raced friends, and competed in the local 4H club.

At the age of 13, a trip to a cattle branding with his family changed Jonathan’s focus, spurring him toward another path with horses.  He was determined to be a cowboy.

For four seasons Jonathan worked at the historic Quilchena Cattle Company, one of the largest operating cattle ranches in Canada.  Living the cowboy life he rode the range by day and nestled in a cow camp at night, driving cows and branding calves come rain, snow or shine.  Each day was spent in the saddle.  A  teenaged-Jonathan could imagine nothing better.

In 1995 Jonathan’s family hosted a horsemanship demonstration at their ranch.  A cocky, brash young cowboy, Jonathan wasn’t prepared for what awaited him there.  The demonstrator was Pat Parelli; the legendary ’horse whisperer’ and trainer.   Witnessing the sensitive relationship between Pat and his horses turned Jonathan’s world upside down.  It opened his eyes to the unique possibility that one could have a special bond with horses.

Life so often shifts unexpectedly, and Jonathan decided to pursue a stable future with his family’s water well drilling company.  However, a well-drilling accident in the bush, 20 minutes from the nearest town, changed everything.

A 500-pound steel casing fell from 20 feet in the air after the supporting chain failed, landing on Jonathan’s arm.  Crushing and amputating all but the skin on his left wrist, he barely made it to the hospital as he witnessed the enormous loss of blood along the way.  Nearly succumbing to blood loss and shock during the ten hours of travel by plane and ambulance, Jonathan knew his horse career days were all but over.

Four doctors at Vancouver General Hospital decided to attempt the reattachment and rebuilding of Jonathan’s hand and wrist.  After a remarkable surgery, Jonathan awoke in a haze at the hospital’s Plastics and Burns Unit, uncertain of his future.

The doctors performed a miracle reattaching tendons, aligning bones and transplanting nerves in a surgery that wasn’t possible four years earlier.  The doctors phenomenally performed the technical work.  The real test, however, was that the future mobility of Jonathan’s hand would be entirely up to his own determination and attitude toward healing.

During the months of physical therapy and pain management that followed, Jonathan’s resilience and recovery were continually tested.  It played out on a day by day basis, continually marked by frustrating setbacks and delays.  At times it seemed as if it all were going nowhere.

His healing was arduously slow and painful.  He experienced phantom pains.  At times his hand and fingers would go numb, feeling no sensation or movement at all.  He struggled with post traumatic stress, recurring nightmares, and terrifying flashbacks.  He remembered the blood gushing out of his arm for hours on end on the long trip to the hospital.  It was a trauma that played endlessly in his head, over and over.

Struggling with the realities of his future and feeling sorry for what he had lost, Jonathan was about to encounter the one thing he needed most moving his life forward:  he listened to a good friend.

Late one night while working on his stretching exercises and martial arts conditioning with friend and Judo expert, Osamu Kasahara, their talk turned to Jonathan’s accident.

Osamu sensed Jonathan’s struggle and presented him with one of the most powerful thoughts he had ever heard.  

He said to Jonathan proddingly, “You have two choices: to suffer …or to heal.”

The reality of those simple words hit Jonathan like a rock.  Osamu had gently forced him to consider that the future was literally in his hands;  Jonathan would be the ultimate master of his own destiny.  It was an epiphany. 

Jonathan thought long and carefully and came to his decision.  He would turn a horrible situation around and heal; he would be a better and stronger person because of  the accident– instead of worse.

Jonathan will be the first to admit that prior to the accident he was neither a patient nor sympathetic man.  Had he been faced with a another friend in a similar situation, Jonathan’s reaction would have been different.  It would have been more along the lines of “Get over it,” “Cowboy up” or “It’s all in your head.”   That’s the cowboy way.

It’s often a different story when you’re the one who’s living in the saddle.  If not for Jonathan’s decision to heal, he would neither be as sympathetic as he is today nor the compassionate teacher for others.

The path of personal growth was a long journey for Jonathan.  It was one marked by difficult turning points and significant milestone markers along the way. 

A huge contributor towards his sensitivity and empathy, Jonathan now works and mentors both fearful horses and worried people in his new career.

It took a terrible accident and painful months of recovery to begin a journey that would change Jonathan forever, leading him to a new life with horses and a different perspective on life overall.

 

~Via Jonathan Field.net, Vimeo, Salazar

For Shannon Miranda, the Don Sampson & Mont Ellett families, 
and Navajo Trails Ranch

 

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Guardians of the Temple

 

Burning Man and Meaning

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s fairly simple, actually. 

Life is precious.  Life is short.  Life should be a celebration. 

And your temple of sacred space for the celebration and reflection of life is anywhere and everywhere.

Since 2002, the Guardians have held an integral role at the Temple of Burning Man.

68,000 people from all over the world turned out for the radical arts event set in the remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada.  They came, they heard, they saw, and they burned.  For some, it was one big party.  For others, self-expression and freedom.  And for a few, a place for self-reflection and insight.

The Guardians, however, have remained largely invisible; holding space and place from the mysterious shadows of the playa.

Until now.

 

 

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JFK’s Rant and Wrath

 

And the Little Guy Caught in the
Crosshairs of Presidential Power

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

A silly misunderstanding can have its consequences. 
Especially when you’re the innocent subordinate.

How would you feel if the president of the United States– your Commander-in-Chief– publicly referred to you as a “Silly Bastard” and wanted you shipped to Alaska?

Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie were expecting a baby.  In Washington, this was no problem as there were plenty of medical facilities to care for them.  In Hyannis, MA, however, the closest medical facility for the President was located at Otis Air Force Base, 17 miles away.

On July 24, 1963, The Washington Post reported that the Air Force spent over $5000 to refurbish a very poshy room especially for Jackie’s maternity suite, just in case.

Their article reported all the furniture was purchased at the upscale store of Jordan Marsh.  As it turned out, the story was greatly exaggerated, but it picked up speed in the nation’s media nonetheless. 

So JFK placed a salty phone call to the Air Force General at the Pentagon, demanding some answers as to how the financial fiasco and public relations disaster happened in the first place.

While looking at a Washington Post photo of Ernest Carlton standing next to a bed at Otis Air Force Base, JFK went into a scathing rant, referring to him as a “Silly Bastard” and saying the whole incident was a “Fuck Up” destined to hurt the Air Force budget negotiations with Congress.  

JFK ended the call saying the “Silly Bastard” should to be transferred to Alaska because he wouldn’t have enough sense “running a cathouse.” 

In the end, it was all much ado about nothing.

The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed is Scott Calonico’s seven-minute documentary short revealing an inside look at JFK’s presidential rant and the executive power and privelage of pulling rank.

And Ernest and Velma’s reaction 50 years later?
Well,  you can read that here.

~Via Scott Calonico, Awesome Stories, Lance Around Orlando, Vimeo

 

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Urban Surfing

 

 

Let the Fun Times Roll

A Soon-To-Be Viral Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Devin Supertramp’s team has put it’s own twist on surfing 
for what they call “Urban Surfing.” 

They hit the wicked streets of San Francisco to create what looks like a giant slip ‘n slide.  After laying down some plastic and spraying on a bit of water and adding a few toys, they started the fun rolling.

We like the idea that just about anyone can do this.  It’s an instant urban park slip ‘n slide, a gathering of kids who like to slip, surf, skate, and slide, courtesy of your local fire hydrant and whatever tunes you might have available on hand. 

Oh, it probably takes a lot of plastic, a city permit,  liability insurance and some porta-potties, too.  You know how San Francisco goes. 

And kids really can have too much fun.  Slip and slides have always been fairly notorious for more than a few falls, twisted legs, broken elbows and dented chins.  Nothing says Summer fun quite like tequila shooters and lost teeth.  Fortunately youth these days are very malleable.

We only hope they know the Golden State of Cali is headlong into a drought.  Perhaps taking their plastic sand pails and filling them up, they watered down some thirsty urban trees while munching down some Bear Naked Granola before catching the next performance of
Beach Blanket Babylon.

Slip on.

* * * * * * * * *

Film by Devin Graham. 

Shot in San Francisco using the Canon RED Dragon, Phantom Miro, Canon 5D Mark III,
and GoPRO Hero3+ with Goscope poles, and a Glidecam HD 4000.

The music is ‘Hang Out’ by Radical Something.

Below is the interesting Behind-the Scenes In ‘n Out Takes for you camera junkies:

 


 

 

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Growing Up Bayou

 

Everyone is Happy to Give

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

At 82, Anna Mae Doucet sounds deeply comfortable
with herself and her life.

Doucet is a Cajun.

“I wouldn’t want to be anything else but a Cajun.  I’m happy.  I’m a very happy person,” she said. “Maybe the happiest person in the world.”

On a morning last spring, she sat across a small table from her doting great-granddaughter, Elise.

Doucet is a country girl, having lived along Louisiana’s Bayou Lafourche for 75 years. 

She is Elise’s “Mommee,” the matriarch of a family extending five generations, including 10 great-great-grandchildren who still live in the twists and turns of bayou country.

Growing up in Golden Meadow, Doucet and her six siblings wintered four months a year in the marsh where the rhythms of trapping annually consumed their father.  Then it was back on the bayou to fish and trawl for shrimp.

At home they grew vegetables, picked citrus and peaches, and cared for chickens and two cows. When people baked, they automatically shared a bit with neighbors.

They had no car, Doucet said. Nor, it seemed, did anyone else.  They were poor but she or her neighbors didn’t know it.  They had enough; or as she saw it, they had plenty.  Sometimes the clothes were hand-me-downs; sometimes the bathwater was shared among siblings.

There was no washing machine, dryer or dishwasher.  The labor was hard, but there was also leisure time. Neighbors looked out for another, kept up after each other’s children, and helped one another when needed.  Things—and food—were shared when someone needed it.  Everyone seemed happy to give.  It was a way of life.

They were a community; a tight-knit community, loving of each other and understandably wary of the world outside and its strangers they didn’t know.  There was no crime, no drugs, and to their point of view, no poverty, either.  Rich in relationships, they felt blessed.

“We still had a lot of time to visit, because we had no television,” Doucet explained.  “Wherever you wanted to go, you’d walk.  And you had people sitting on the porches, and everybody wanted to know everybody.  So we’d never get to where we were going to, too early.  Because Momma knew everybody, we’d stop and talk at the friends, you know?”

In time, Anna Mae met and married a fine young Cajun man. He had served in the Navy, came home from World War II and settled with Anna Mae in Golden Meadow to work as a marine engineer for the shrimpers.

In their 52 years together, they lost two children, but raised two more.

Life was hard.  There were struggles.  Little money.  New things wanting to be bought from far away.  Keeping clothes clean and shoes for the children in good stead.  Getting to school could be difficult depending on the weather, impending storms, and the boat-taxi ride to the schoolhouse 45 minutes away.

When hard times came, they moved for a few years to Brownsville Texas, where some other families from the bayou country moved to follow the shrimp.

After their return there was another family move, when they arranged to have their house in Golden Meadow jacked up, trucked to the bayou, and barged 10 or 12 miles upstream to Cut Off, where it sits today.  Old traditions and community roots die hard in this part of the country.

Doucet explained they wanted the safety of being a few extra miles inland during hurricane season.  She remembered riding out Hurricane Betsy in a schoolhouse in Raceland in 1965.  A tornado hit the place, blew out the windows, and hurled glass at the evacuees huddled inside, she said. 

The children were terrified but the adults had weathered many storms like this before.  There was safety among themselves, and with others in number.  And when all else failed, they always had their faith to rely upon.

Elise asked her Mommee some questions.

Does she believe in God?

“Definitely.”

Do you pray?

“Yes.”

In English or French?

“Sometimes both.”

“And I’m your favorite, right?” teases Elise.

“Oh yeah,” replies Doucet, sweetly.

Then, thinking for a moment, she wisely adds…

“All of you are precious.  Whoever faces me is my favorite at that time.”

 

~Via New Orleans News, The Golden Age and Woodkid,
Vimeo, Jeremy Love and Zuda Comics

 

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Flowering Beauty

 

 

Stunning Time Lapse Photography

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

“Earth laughs in flowers.”
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

From earliest times, flowers have held a special place in people’s lives.

Observed in art, jewelry, stories and paintings, a rich love has grown up around flowers throughout the centuries.  We admire their beauty;  their varied aromas, colors, forms, and textures. 

We use flowers and plants because of their age old symbolism. They are dear to our hearts.  We use them to represent love and desire, celebrations, events, birthdays and feasts of all kinds.

Flowers continue to be used as love tokens because they remind us to open our hearts to life and love.

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

The beauty of a simple flower can move us profoundly on a very subtle level that we don’t always consciously recognize or understand.  They seem to rise up magically out of the bare earth or, more often, appear to emerge out of formless masses of stems and leaves.

We enjoy gazing at them.  We’re reminded of their humble beginnings eons ago and what is truly the crowning creation of Nature’s evolutionary glory. 

We’re also reminded of the fleeting nature of life– and how transient everything unfortunately is.

A blooming flower highlights the profound beauty that exists for only brief single moment.

The gloom of death and its decaying flowers will once again be with us– yet for now we are left with a positive feeling that, whenever the flower blooms, life goes on, springing hope eternal.

 

 

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Mad Max’s Road Warriors—With a Twist

 

Leave it Up to Those Aussie Bashers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We like the Aussie style of doing things. 
They’re a tough bunch.  And it’s oh so…
…Humboldt.

The NSW Variety Bash is Australia’s biggest motoring event, raising
more than a million dollars in August each year for kids in need.

It’s 110 weird, wacky, old and tricked-out vehicles run through 2,750
miles of Outback Hell and back. 

The 380 colorful characters who participate provide a unique spectacle akin to a circus caravan for the 17 towns that they visit along the way of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.

Given that the Bash criteria are that the vehicles must be pre-1974, the colorful convoy is truly something out of a Mad Max movie– but with a charitable cause in hand.

In the video above you’ll spot a spectacular array of vehicles spanning three decades from 1959 to 1974: cars, ambulances, buses and fire trucks.

The oldest car in the fleet is a 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon, while a 1964 ‘Chico Roll’ themed Wolseley 2480 MK2 proved to be the most enduring by having survived 25 previous rough and tumble Bash events.

Other classic cars hitting the road are two Rancheros, 32 Fords, 36 Holdens, some minis, a Volkswagen Beetle, Ramblers, two Chevy Bel Airs, an Austin, a ‘74 Ford F100 Ambulance, and 12 rugged, dirty and dust ridden rag-tag Mercedes.

They rock, roll, rattle and hum into the towns hosting them.  The Bashers deliver much needed resources like sporting equipment, play equipment or special needs/medical equipment along the way to the local schools they visit. 

Schools kids put on events.  Beer, games, Aussie camaraderie and celebration pour forth in great fanfare.  Hotels get into the act sponsoring their locales and favorite vehicles. 

In short, it’s one big party and a hella good time playing
Road Warrior along the dusty ruts of the Outback.  While
there are few real rules, blatant cheating and bribery are encouraged.  Please check your weapons at the door.

To take part in the Bash costs a tax deductible donation of $8,500 to Variety, the children’s charity.  Any amount raised above this may be used for the purpose of bribing and corrupting officials during the event.

Bashers travel in the guises of cowboys, hippies, mermaids, Indians, ladybugs, Smurfs, Shrek, the Flintstones, and Batman and Robin. 

The oldest basher is 80-year-young Beryl Driver; set to complete her 15th Bash dressed as a Mermaid and in her appropriately sea-themed 1963 EH Holden.  We said they were a tough bunch.

The Bash is not a race or a rally as much as it is a hellacious drive in the Outback with fellow like-minded fun raisers.  They drive the miles for the smiles; travelling to parts of Australia they wouldn’t normally see, ramshackling their vintage vehicles to all heck, driving like a bat outta hell, and at the same time raising money to support kids in need. 

Yeah, sounds like fun.  We like the Aussie style of getting things done. 

Since the first Bash began, the event has raised in excess of $115 million with who-knows-how-many miles piled on and cruisers wrecked. 

Someone should tell our local big money cannabis weed farmers of Southern Humboldt to put their jacked up 4X4s to a similarly good use and charitable cause.

~Via Vimeo, NSW Variety Bash,
and Australasian Paint and Panel

 

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Ashley Fiolek’s Unusual Ride to the Top

 

 

A Very Challenging Champion

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Don’t tell her she can’t do something.  She won’t take no
for an answer.  And she believes nothing is impossible.

Women’s motocross is a fast emerging sport.  Motocross has been a predominantly male pastime, particularly in the pro and international arenas. However, things are changing as the popular sport keeps on evolving.

Leading the charge is a young pioneering woman in the field: Ashley Fiolek, an AMA Motocross Champion and consistent top three finisher hailing from the sunshine state of Florida.

Ashley’s route into the sport wasn’t an orthodox one in the least.  Ashley herself has been profoundly deaf since birth.

Her family moved to Augustine, Florida, because it was home to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, the largest specialized school of its kind.  She studied ballet, ran track, and played baseball, which was about as wild and reckless as it got.  When she finished eighth grade, her parents decided to begin homeschooling her.

Some years before, as a child, Ashley’s parents noticed her passion for riding bikes.  She used to ride on the front of her mother’s 4-wheeler or her father’s bike, and they often went to her grandfather’s house in Northern Michigan where she rode through the woods for hours.  Around the age of three, her parents gave her a Yamaha PW50.  Despite not liking the training wheels, the youngster’s career path was irreversibly set from this point and no amount of ballet and athletics was going to change that.

She was originally misdiagnosed as “mildly retarded” by doctors and was shy and introverted as a young child, until her family encouraged her to join the amateur motocross circuit.

Ashley started racing in 1990 at the tender age of seven.  She soon shone as an emerging talent.

In 2008, Ashley won her first WMX Pro National Championship title, the youngest female ever to do so.  In 2009, she won her first X-Games gold medal, cementing her position as a top rider and taking herself and the sport to a bright new future at the same time.  In 2010, she won her second consecutive gold medal.

It didn’t come easy, though.  In 2009, she finished Pennsylvania’s Steel City Railway race in great pain due to a collarbone fracture due to a spill.  In 2011, at X-Games 17, Fiolek crashed during practice and knocked herself unconscious.  In 2012 she again crashed again, this time suffering a concussion and a fractured tailbone during the WMX Moto 2 race in Lakewood, Colorado.  Despite her injuries, however, Fiolek still continued to race; with determination, daring, an ongoing disability, and a whole lotta grit.

She became the first female rider featured in action on the cover of Transworld Motocross Magazine to advance women’s racing in the US.  In 2009, she made headlines again when she became the first female to be signed to the American Honda Racing factory team.

In 2010, Ashley met Noora Moghaddas, a top motocross competitor in the Middle East, and the two women became friends while riding.  They soon found out they shared similar goals for improving conditions for women and girls in their respective countries.

“Noora continues to help Iranian women learn how to ride, race and become stronger,” Fiolek said.  “I hope to be a part of that important mission with her so we can share our love of motocross with people in other countries.” 

“It is great to know our world is really not that big.  Even with different languages and cultures, we can all come together and share something we feel passionate about,” she said.

Today, the 23-year-old has to her credit  two X-Games gold medals, four AMA Women’s National Motocross Championship titles, garnered a shelf of racing trophies, has been featured in Vogue magazine, made a few appearances in film and on television, and published her first book, Kicking up Dirt.

We’re proud of Ashley and what she has accomplished, and we’re especially proud of her parents. 

Despite her obstacles and challenges, Ashley Fiolek just won’t say no.  She is determined to succeed, hitting life at full throttle and riding to the top of her game.

 

~Via Red Bull, AshleyFiolek.com, Vimeo,
Dirt Rider, Honda, and Chris Bloxom

 

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Friday Night Funnies

 

Have a Laugh on Us

 

Two-Chuckle Hee-Haw
Award-Winning **VIDEOS**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Thank goodness it’s Friday. 

Take a break, have a libation, relax and enjoy some slightly twisted humor right up our alley.  Or guttery curb.

In Shaun Higton‘s short film, What’s on Your Mind?, Scott Thomson uses Facebook status updates to embellish his life– offering some not-so-nice karmic outcomes.  It’s a pitch-black parable about life sinking into a tailspin and wanting the world to think otherwise.

If other people like our lives, does it matter that we don’t?   Our hero doesn’t seem to think so, and continues to use Facebook to delude his friends and ultimately himself.

As many of us can attest, validation on social media can be incredibly addictive.  Likes, Comments, Retweets, and Follows have become a kind of drug for the Millennial Age, so consider this a cautionary tale for the digital times.

Gunfighter, the surreal short film below seen best on your large screen setting for its superb production value, shows how life in a western setting can change dramatically– thanks to the malicious influence of one smart-ass narrator.  The voice reveals all the thoughts from the villagers, dragging them from happy times at the saloon watering hole into a true ballet of death.

Eric Kissack’s Django Unchained-like film features the voice of Nick Offerman.  And if you never thought of this before, it truly highlights why a world without secrets would end up very, very badly for everyone. 

Except, of course, for “Sally, the itchy…”  Well, let’s just use the word hoochie coochie tainted fallen angel here.  Life is like that.

Enjoy.

 

The Gunfighter from Eric Kissack on Vimeo.

 

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Who Are You?

 

Portraits of Gods and Beasts

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Remi Chapeaublanc is quite the rugged individualist.

He’s the French photographer who set out solo to traverse Mongolia astride a motorcycle for 17,000 miles, carting camera equipment along with his food, tent, and toothbrush to go find himself amid the primitive wilderness.

The renowned photographer stumbled upon a wild and sparsely inhabited place where men and animals are mutually dependent on each other for survival.  He returned back to his native Paris four months later, capturing many unique and wonderful images.

Chapeaublanc is known for distilling an enigmatic environment down to the basic two fundamentals:  its people and its animals.  His raw portraits, made outside the studio, leave the viewer to judge the man, the animal, and the divine.

By exploring their rugged visual relationship, Chapeaublanc marries portraiture with documentary to create striking images that are so beautiful, so sparse, so real, you’ll swear you can still hear the wind whistling through the barren Mongol wilderness.

 

Gods & Beasts — English teaser from Remi Chapeaublanc // LeCrapo on Vimeo.

 

We suggest seeing these two videos on your large-screen settings.

 

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Western Civilization

 

‘I Want It, I Want It, I Want It . . .’

 

Vimeo Staff Pick **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Lucas took one of those trips
That Americans of a certain rage

Must take—to find themselves.  In Utah
Lucas found himself marooned

In the wilderness, 50 miles
From society, covered in flop sweat

And Cheetos dust, perched on the roof
Of his teenaged Pinto as it neighed

A swan song.  His cowed cell phone crowed:
Out of range, where seldom is heard

A word.  Should he hike back to Moab
Should he wait for his satellite

To synch or should he scream like Job
And curse the day he was born?

To keep awake he stared at the sun
And sneezed.  After a week, he came to

Believe that snakelets were zagzigging
From his brain to his heart so that

He felt what he thought.  That was enough
To move Lucas from hood to the earth.

He mimed building a fire and cooking
A can of beans.  At dusk, Li Po,

Came down from the foothills, looking
For Keith Moon.  Lucas offered regrets

And faux joe.  They discussed The Who.
Substitute is their best song,” Lucas said.

The poet disagreed:  “Magic Bus
The version Live at Leeds.”

From the arroyo Steve-the-saguaro
Plucked his mesquite ukulele

As he sang, Thank My Lucky Stars
I’m a Black Hole  Lucas joined on

The chorus and Li Po shadow waltzed.
Later, over spirits, Li Po cupped

His ear and whispered, “Do you hear
The hoo-hah of hoof beats?  The great herd

Is here to lead Old Paint to that
Better place ‘where the graceful whooper

Goes gliding along like a handmaid
In a blissful dream.’  Lo siento.”

Then Lucas submitted to gravity.
When the highway patrol found him

He looked like a dried peach.  They emptied
Their canteens over his face until

His skin sprung back, like a Colt pistol,
To the lifelike.  On the bus ride home

Lucas slapped himself silly, chanting:
                                                                           I want it, I want it, I want it . . .

* * * * * * * *

Western Civilization is an animated poem written by
Peter Jay Shippy and Directed/Animated by Alicia Reece.

Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves’ Latin, Alphaville,
and How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic.

 

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Making Art and Shutting Up

 

Making a Statement on White Trash

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“There is a danger in overthinking and over verbalizing.

I can tell you, I know some artists that I really love their work but once they start talking about it, I’m like, shut up.”

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Kim Alsbrooks paints historical pictures and portraits on trash.  Although initially working out of Charleston, Kim now works and lives in Philadelphia.  Her work of important and well-to-do  people back in the day done on throwaway metal garbage has been exhibited in prestigious galleries throughout America, including the National Gallery in Washington DC.

Her style and philosophy of art  is unique.  Anyone can create it.  It can be made from almost anything you can find, she says.

Of her art painted on flattened cans that she calls Whitetrash, she notes:

“The trash is found flat, on the street.  One cannot flatten the trash.  It just doesn’t work.

It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered.  Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash.

Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era—the 17th-18th century more or less. The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, an image drawn in graphite, and then painted in oils and varnished.

I began in 2004 while living in Charleston, SC.  My friend, a Women’s history professor, got me thinking about historical biases and I began to consider the fallacies that lay before me.

What’s up with those people painted on ivory?”

 

 

 

 

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Stunning & Striking National Geographic Photography

 

Capturing the Human Condition in Pictures

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s a stunning photo essay.

A Tribute to Discomfort brings the viewer through National Geographic creative photographer and North Face athlete Cory Richards’ work, his unique sense of humor, and his quest to create photographs that relate to a common humanity.

It will hit you hard.  It’s made to. 

We’ve often heard how going beyond our comfort zones can be so rewarding, yet not many of us are ready and willing to do it.  We’d rather be in our cozy beds, safe and sound.

Richards is one of those brave few who constantly undertakes discomfort and misery to take awe-inspiring photographs and communicate the human condition for the rest of the world.

You could easily tell how passionate Cory Richards is about his craft in this four-minute-long video.  Fueled by his love for adventure and communicating by means of photography, Richards has been to all seven continents and rewarded by rare sights that only those willing to leave their comfort zones could ever see.

He definitely has gone a long way, both literally and figuratively, from being a homeless high school dropout at 14 years old to taking some of the most beautiful photographs on the planet.

Richards’ piece demonstrates the scope of his work, the passion, and the extreme athleticism that accompanies him in the field getting the shot.

Why do we push ourselves to extremes?  Why do we go on trips that can have so much suffering and pain?

Richards tell us, in a visual and visceral sense, with his own nuggets of wisdom as to the reason why.

 

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