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Free History Night in Freshwater

 

Jerry Rohde: The Infamous 1964 Flood

A Unique Perspective of Disaster

 

Friday, September 19: Freshwater Grange

Potluck at 6 pm

Presentation at 7 pm

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

There will be good times in Wrangletown tonight. 

Jerry’s back by popular demand for another free potluck and history presentation at the Freshwater Grange.

Pierson Building Center in Eureka is funding a free series of historical lectures as part of their celebration of the business’s 52nd anniversary.

Celebrating Life in Humboldt County is a series of 10 PowerPoint presentations being held at Grange halls, town halls and community centers throughout the county.

Jerry Rohde, local author and premier historian, will give an hour-long talk tonight on “The 1964 Flood,” highlighting different aspects of Humboldt’s infamous and catastrophic natural diasaster.

With over 60 images and interesting anecdotes, stories, and facts about Humboldt’s infamous 1964 Flood, Jerry may amaze and mesmerize the audience yet again like he did before.

Yes, as bridges were swept away, the National Guard was called in, entire communities were washed away down the rivers, and Humboldters rallied to help one another.

Jerry will tell us how history repeats itself: only 11 years earlier, the 1955 ‘Hundred-Year’ flood provided a warning of what was to come; while way back in the winter of 1861-62, the North Coast was hit with what may have been the biggest flood of all.

Come to the free presentation and Jerry will fill you in on the exciting history and take your questions.  Everyone is welcome and we’d love to see you.  And your family and friends!

There’s a community potluck at 6 pm, so bring a dish to share.

Jerry’s presentation starts at 7 pm.

Thank you Pierson Building Center for sponsoring Jerry’s gig.  Last time, it was fun for everyone– in a history sort of way.  Who knew history could be that fun?

To get there, take Myrtle Avenue/Old Arcata Road. At 3 Corners Market, turn east onto Freshwater Road and drive 2.2 miles to the Garfield Little Red School House, and turn right onto Grange Road.  You can’t miss it: it’s the big, big building at 29 Grange Road.

If you know Jerry, it ought to be a great presentation in Wrangletown,
a very friendly and beautiful community just outside of Eureka.

Admission is free.  For more information, you can contact Rohde at 445-3844 or jerry.rohde@gmail.com .

 

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Scotland Votes on Independence

 

Historic Turnout at Polls Today

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The once vast empire of the United Kingdom may be less
united and vast once the votes are cast and counted.

Scotland’s voters are heading to the polls today to cast their ballots in a landmark referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

There, they will face a straightforward and simple yes or no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

More than 4.2 million people have registered to vote, the largest electorate ever in Scotland, and the historic turnout in the referendum is expected to be high.

A vote for independence means Scotland, with its population of about 5.3 million, would split apart from the rest of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  A simple majority is all that is needed for either side to claim victory.

Voting will take place at more than 5,500 polling stations across 32 districts nationwide, from the remote highlands and islands to the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Some ballot boxes must be collected by helicopter, plane or boat from remote polling stations on distant islands.

Results from the different areas will come in overnight on Friday morning local time.

Voters in the referendum do not have to be British citizens; Commonwealth, Irish and EU citizens who live in Scotland and are registered to vote there can cast a ballot.  However, Scots living outside Scotland do not have a say.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who has led the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign, cast his ballot Friday morning in the village of Strichen, Aberdeenshire.  Labour lawmaker Alistair Darling, who has headed the pro-union “Better Together” campaign– backed by the main parties in Westminster– voted in Edinburgh.

Nearly 790,000 people applied for a postal vote– the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland. 

For the first time, the vote has been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds living in Scotland.  Nearly 110,000 people younger than 18 have registered to vote.

The vote for independence is too close to call as thousands of tourists and journalists poured into Edinburgh for the historic day.  Some believe the vote for independence represents the greatest threat to England since WW II.

No one will know exactly what the results will be until after the votes are tallied.  Media must follow strict rules forbidding the reporting of details on campaigning and the exit numbers until after polls close.

“Democracy will win at the end of the day,” resident John Donnelly declared.

“Obviously not everyone will be getting the result they want, but I’d like to think that they’d be happy that we’re getting what we voted for.”

 

UPDATE Sept. 19 The results?  Scotland Voted ‘No’.

~Via Google News, Simon Straetker, Vimeo

 

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I Think It’s Going to Rain Today

 

 

Rain, Blessed Rain, is Here

 

**Music VIDEO by Peter Gabriel**

 

 

Broken windows and empty hallways
A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it’s going to rain today

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
With frozen smiles to chase love away
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it’s going to rain today

Lonely, lonely
Tin can at my feet
Think I’ll kick it down the street
That’s the way to treat a friend

Bright before me the signs implore me
To help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it’s going to rain today

 

* * * * * * * * *

We have rain in Humboldt.  Thank goodness. 
It’s a welcome relief and everyone is happy.  For now.
If it isn’t raining where you are, the message is the same.

Sung by Peter Gabriel, I Think It’s Going to Rain Today was written by Randy Newman.

 

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The Bored Kids on the Block

 

‘Daybreak’

 

**Award-Winning Short Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Daybreak is a beautifully horrific film about kids and their
pack behavior.

Surrounding the curiosity of a group of bored pre-teens in an affluent Montreal suburb, director Ian Lagarde captures the thought process and point of view of today’s kids with minimal dialogue.

The kids themselves carry the performance with a unique combination of maturity and innocence that lend itself toward the film’s success.  But what makes this film particularly special is Lagarde’s ability to capture the authenticity of the children’s point of view.

Based on Lagarde’s personal experience which he says “pretty much guided the narrative point by point,” he captures the social and sometimes violent dynamics of the pack.  They spend much of their time discovering limits and pushing one another to see how far they will go.  While there is clearly a leader, they seem to operate as fluidly as a collective in which general curiosity supersedes morality.

Lagarde says:

 “I didn’t want to make a moral film, I wanted to make something more subjective, from the kid’s point of view, shot at their height and concentrated on their faces.

I don’t think it even makes sense to judge an event of children based on morals.  I am way more interested in group dynamics and the loss of reason, or independent thought, in these contexts.”

 

Daybreak carries with it a distinct reality.  While the point of view is that of children, the film doesn’t focus on how an adult might perceive a child’s perspective.

Children aren’t aware that they think or behave like children, and Lagarde does a good job of staying true to the inner workings of a child’s mind. 

We’ve all had similar experiences during our childhood:  what it is like to push ourselves to the limits, watching others push themselves, and ultimately, knowing what it is like to get caught.

And without parents parenting and a community watching over us, we often find ourselves in trouble.

~Via Ian Lagarde, Short, and Vimeo

 

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Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Speaks Out

 

The Duck Commander Quacketh On

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

He’s blunt, opinionated, and funny with a wry taciturn wit.

Phil Robertson, who first found wealth as the inventor of the Duck Commander duck calls and then fame as the patriarch of a clan of Louisiana duck hunters on A&E’s Duck Dynasty reality series, is no backwoods bumpkin.  

He’s a multi-millionaire with a master’s degree in education.  He’s also perhaps the best athlete ever to come out of the little town of Vivian, La.  He could been a pro football quarterback– but he left the game to start the family business.  Call it Duck Destiny.

The controversial pop culture uber-darling Robertson briefly answered some questions covering the gamut of correctness, politicians, parenting and religion, toning it down from previous interviews in anticipation of the release of his new book, unPHILtered: The Way I See It.

 

You’re not a fan of political correctness.

Phil Robertson:  Listen to the definition according to Noah Webster.  You gotta remember, right or wrong, I’m a guy who believes in Biblical correctness.  Political correctness is this according to Webster’s dictionary:  ’Conforming to what is regarded as orthodox liberal opinion on matters of sexuality, race etc.  Usually used disparagingly to connote dogmatism, and extreme sensitivity to minority causes’, so if you read the definition according to the Webster’s dictionary, it’s not real favorable.

It’s just liberal opinion and I’m like, ‘Well let me give you the Biblical view.’  I love all men and women on this earth, including by the way all the current terrorists who are lopping people’s heads off.  I would rather sit down and have a Bible study with ‘em and put ‘em to Jesus because he’s all about life and what they seem to be into, it’s all about death.  It’s just a sad situation we found ourselves in world wide.

You’ve got to remember, I’m not a preacher.  I’m just one guy living on the river looking around saying, ‘We might ought to try loving God and loving each other for a while and I think all these race problems would disappear.’  Of course, I have the Biblical view of marriage.  In the beginning, God made male and female and he said marriage is between the two, but I love all people.  I just give them the Biblical view.

The last thing I am is a man who hates people.

 

You’re talking about the GQ interview?

Robertson: If someone comes to you and walks in your living room like that guy did about a specific sin you say, well let me think about it.  Would I go to a medical textbook, a dictionary?

He asked about sin.  He asked did I think homosexual behavior was a sin.  I said, ‘Well, where would you go to find out about sin?’  In other words, what’s amazing is if he had asked, ‘Do you think stealing is a sin?’ I would have given him the same text.  If he would have asked, ‘Do you think drunkenness is a sin?’ I would have given him the same text.  

By the way, the news media didn’t even know it was a text for a week.  The text is First Corinthians nine and ten.  I just gave him what the apostle Paul said.  I don’t know what else I would have done in that situation.

 

You write that we the people are to blame for our politicians.

Robertson:  The people are at fault because we elect leaders and then we whine and bellyache.  My belief is we need spiritual men making political decisions.  I just think based on the Founding Fathers, you can read them at length, I was amazed at how godly and how they revered the Bible.

Somewhere between there and I’m sorry to say, my generation, we got here, we started smoking dope, tune in and turn out, make love not war.

There are about 90 to 100 million of us who claim Jesus.  The problem is only half of you register to vote and out of the half of you that registers to vote, only half of that group actually goes and votes.

Therefore, when you’re looking up there and griping and complaining about what you see in Washington D.C., you might as well shut up.  The reason they’re there is we’re putting them there.  If you don’t get anything else out of this, remember this — register to vote for crying out loud.

The bottom line is we have really screwed this thing up.  I just think we need to get back to what our Founding Fathers told us.  Get back to God, love our neighbor.

We’ve lost it folks.  We ran God out of our schools.  We ran him out of the entertainment business.  We ran him out of the news media.  We’ve run him out of the judiciary, and we’ve run him out of Washington D.C.  Well, what you get is what is left up there.  They’re ungodly.

By the way, I do have a master’s degree in education.  A lot of people keep calling me a backwards redneck.  I’m well read; I’m no dumbo.

I just think we’d be better off with Biblical principles, keeping our families intact.  I think the reason our TV show went ballistic is because people saw a family group, it’s all intact, no divorces and we all love one another and we thank God for being alive and our food, and amazingly in our time, the 21st century, it’s an aberration in-
stead of being normal.

You think about that, that’s pretty scary.

 

It would surprise some people to read that you and Kay didn’t raise your boys with a lot of rules.

Robertson:  We read the Bible.  All scripture is useful for teaching, for correcting, for rebuking, for training in righteousness.  So we trained our children in the Biblical ways.  There’s just one race here on planet earth kids, it’s called the human race…. Love is the greatest gift a human can have.

You’re right, very few rules.  Jason always says, ‘I love the way you raised us.  The only rule is there are no rules!’

I always say that some people are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.  There’s moderation and common sense.  We’re no prudes, like alcohol is the devil’s firewater.  We say, Jesus turned like 135 gallons of water into wine at a wedding so he’s making it for people to drink, so the bottom line is a person can have a glass of wine or beer, we’re not jumping up and down.  

Christianity is not as ruled and regulated as people would have you believe.

~Via Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty, 411/AETV, I Am Second and YouTube

 

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The Heart of Blowing Glass

 

The Art of Balance and Movement

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Gravity, heat, movement, teamwork.  Fire and light.

All of these make for the difficult-to-master profession of blowing glass.

This is the story of a young glass blower with a singular and rare natural talent from workshop to the art gallery: Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert.

This film is the short preamble to the documentary Heart of Glass by director Jérôme de Gerlache, which offers a road trip through several countries on two continents in the pursuit of glass making.

Gerlache’s longer documentary follows him in his daily life working in the studio and on the road where Jeremy recounts growing up in Africa and drawing inspiration for his first pieces.  He speaks of his family of Franco-American origin, the difficult events he faced, and the challenges he had in returning to Europe.

His first encounter with glass came at the age 19.  The first time he saw hot glass moving at the end of a blow pipe was an emotional moment, a true epiphany.  Molten, fluid, delicate, dangerous and mysterious, the way the glass that danced that day changed Jeremy’s life forever.

The passion became his livelihood, taking Jeremy to the famous Murano glass studios in Italy, the Czech Republic, Florida, California, Washington, and currently, France.

Glassblowing is a demanding and rare specialty; there’s only a few hundred glassmaking studios in the US and newcomers struggle to make a living by it.  For Jeremy, however, it was always more about the passion, love, and the process more than it ever was about the money. 

 

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Never Say Never

 

Alex Zanardi’s Drive Refuses to Quit

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

He lost his legs, but not his attitude.

Racing fans knew for a long time that Alex Zanardi had the drive and determination to win world championships.

His American Formula 1 Champ Car championship victories in 1997 and 1998 were testimony to that.  But few would expect a driver returning from an accident like the one he suffered in September 2001– a horrific and near-fatal 200+ mph crash at Germany’s Lausitzring in which Zanardi lost both his legs and nearly died from a lack of blood.

He has since returned to motor racing, won an Olympic gold medal, and will return once more to compete once in the prestigious Blancpain Endurance GT Motorsport series.

This wasn’t a decision Zanardi took lightly following his accident.  The racer wasn’t even self-sufficient for his basic needs after his accident, let alone jumping back into a car again.

With support from friends, Zanardi returned to racing in 2004, campaigning for BMW for the full season of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).

His BMW was equipped with hand controls:  a brake behind the wheel, a throttle above it, and a clutch lever on the gear shifter.  Zanardi and the team quickly realized the limitations the newly-modified car imposed.  Having to take corners with one palm held tightly against the outside rim of the steering wheel was highly problematic; so they subsequently moved to a foot-operated brake pedal custom built for his prosthetic legs. 

It was an emotionally cathartic experience for Zanardi when he put on his old race suit for the first time and realized that he was still a race car driver.

And, apparently, he was still a winner.  Zanardi consistently returned impressive results in the WTCC that year, followed by consecutive wins for the next five seasons in a row.

During this time though, the Italian racer had also begun to compete in hand-cycling, taking victories in several events.  This culminated in two gold medals for the men’s road time trial at the London Paralympic Games in 2012, and recently two more hand titles– earning him worldwide support and respect far beyond that of the race car community.

Zanardi is now making a return to motorsport in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series–once again racing for BMW– and this time in a specially adapted BMW Z4 GT3.

“When I saw that car for the first time, I just fell in love with it,” Zanardi gushed.

He has lost none of his desire.  “No race driver lines up with the goal of finishing last,” he said.  “I obviously want to be up there with the front-runners, and maybe for victories.  But that is not the be-all and end-all for me.  It is more important to go about a new challenge with enthusiasm.  And that is definitely the case here for me.”

A phenomenon, Alex Zanardi came back and did the impossible.  Drawing on his cast-iron determination and his enormous will to live, the 47-year-old Italian fought his way forward.

He explains his determination and attitude throughout his return to racing and his handbike cycling success like this, and it’s truly what real champions are made of:  

“I am out to prove that there are no obstacles for the disabled, ” Zanardi said.  “What happened to me is behind me– it cannot affect my future if I can take advantage of the experience.”

~Via Alex Zanardi, BMW, Motorsport, Tim Hahne, One Hot Lap

 

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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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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

 

George Harrison

1943 – 2001

 

*VIDEO*

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

All things must pass.

George Harrison was diagnosed with throat cancer in August 1997.  Undergoing radiotherapy and surgery, he battled the disease throughout the 1990s, having tumors removed from his throat and lung.

In December of 1999 a mentally unstable intruder, Michael Abram, broke into the Harrison home at Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames.  He stabbed George several times, puncturing his lung. George and his wife Olivia fought off Abram and restrained him until the police arrived.

The assailant, who believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill Harrison, was acquitted of attempted murder on the grounds of insanity.

Harrison was deeply traumatized by the event, and later joked that
the man was “definitely not auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.” 

Harrison subsequently largely withdrew from public life, and worked on his final recording session.

“People say I’m the Beatle that changed the most,” Harrison mused in an interview, “The whole thing is to change, to make everything better and better.”

Harrison’s cancer recurred in the same year, and found to have
spread to other organs.  

Although treated aggressively, it was diagnosed as terminal.  He arranged to spend his final months with family and close friends, and worked on songs from an album with his son Dhani, released posthumously in 2002 as BrainwashedBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, above, was a song from that album, originally recorded by Cab Calloway in 1931.

“Whatever his faults were, he had karma to work out,” Olivia Harrison said.  When I first met him he said, ‘I don’t want you to discover something about me I don’t know.  I’m not claiming to be this or that or anything.  People think they’ve found you out when, you know, I’m not hiding anything.’”

George Harrison died on 29 November 2001, at the age of 58.

During a CNN interview with Larry King in 2007, fellow Beatle Paul McCartney described visiting Harrison on his death bed and sitting silently with him, stroking his hand to comfort him.

Following his death Harrison was cremated.  His family released a statement, saying:  “He left this world as he lived in it: conscious of God, fearless of death and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.”

 

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White Guys Can Jump

 

– With Trampolines –

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

They leave audiences in awe with their uncanny precision
of moves and juke.

Lords of Gravity is an energetic, gravity-defying acrobatic basketball show team based in Budapest, Hungary.

YouTube uber-darling Devin Graham, aka Devin Supertramp, filmed the video above highlighting some of the jumps, flips, choreography and teamwork they do to some bumping music.

It’s not exactly street ball by any length of the imagination. 

They’ve become the most well-known acrobatic slam dunk team in Europe after breaking the new world record for the “Farthest Basketball Slam Dunk” set at the NBA Europe Live Tour in 2012.

LoG’s members come with various professional sport backgrounds incorporating the best tumblers of Hungary, first class gymnasts, and European fitness champions, all of whom have several years of competitive experience under their belts in
different disciplines.

Performing in Europe’s biggest sports arenas, the team crosses the borders of different countries playing basketball games, street shows, festivals and other events busting out some insane tricks while going to the hoop.

Jump on.

 

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The Shifting Landscape of Earth and Art

 

Zaria Forman’s Stunning Portraits of Climate Change

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Her mission, work, and art are spectacular.

Zaria Forman’s works take up to a month to complete, creating portrait landscapes to document the ever-changing beauty of regions affected by climate change.

Forman, from Brooklyn in New York, USA, led an Arctic expedition to the North West coast of Greenland with the aim of creating fine art inspired by the dramatic geography.

Her mother, Rena Bass Forman, originally came up with the idea but died before her daughter could see it through, and so Zaria promised to carry out the journey in her name.

After formal training at Skidmore College, Forman now exhibits extensively in galleries and venues throughout the United States and overseas.  Her pieces typically range about $9,000 each and she donates some of her commission to climate change organizations.

Her main focus are pictures of the ocean, with much of her art taking the form of pictures of sea spray on the shore, or water cascading over rocks or icebergs in different lights.

Using layers of paint and chalk to make the distinctive shadows and ripples that make her works of art look so real, she can paint waters that are incredibly choppy and others that are serenely still.  They may be warm and inviting, or cold and hostile.  It’s a unique challenge in her work as an artist.

“Being out in nature is certainly what gives me perspective, “ Forman said, “it means the whole world to just see the ocean and look at its vastness and, like oh right, this is what life is all about.”

~Via Zaria Forman, Jesse Brass, Francois Lebeau, and Vimeo

* * * * * * * * * *

You can find out more about Zaria here:  zariaforman.com
and see more of her stunning work here.

 

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Grateful Dead’s Truckin’

 

America’s National Treasure

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Truckin’ got my chips cashed in.  Keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street.
Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; Houston, too close to New Orleans;
New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be…

Most of the cats that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they better get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man.  Once told me “You’ve got to play your hand”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a dime, if you don’t lay’em down.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of Sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to Buffalo.  Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again.
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin.  They just won’t let you be.

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of travelin’ and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home.  Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ on.
Hey now get back truckin’ home.

 

What a long strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead, first appeared on the 1970 album American Beauty and was recognized by the United States Library of Congress in 1997 as a national treasure.

Written by band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and lyricist Robert Hunter, Truckin’ molds classic Grateful Dead rhythms and instrumentation with lyrics that use the band’s misfortunes on the road as a metaphor for getting through the constant changes in life.

We all are familiar with the happy refrain: What a long, strange trip it’s been. 
The widespread message has traveled across the globe since the song was
first released.

It’s a reminder for all to be happy.  We’re only dancin’ on this planet for a short time.

 

~The above extended version of  Truckin’ was performed at the Hollywood Palladium, 1972. 
  If you’d rather listen to the shorter traditional piece more often heard, hear here

 For fellow Dead lovers everywhere–

 Thanks for the happiness, music and memories, Jerry.
 Happy Harvest, Humboldt.

 

 

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The Forgotten Community

 

The Gypsy People Called ‘Roma’

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s a documentary that brings to light a community
that has largely been forgotten.

Intrigued by how such a large group of people could live out of shacks built from anything they could find– as well as earn a wage from endless begging and trading in recyclable materials– 22-year-old Sam Davis filmed Roma, a short and moving documentary about the Roma gypsies living in Albania. 

This Roma community was forced to move due to war in 1997 and resettled themselves in the slums of Tirana, the capital of Albania.  They are a people who have nowhere to go; nomads without a country and shunned from society as a
whole. 

Living in abject poverty and surviving on only a few dollars per day, they eke out a meager living in the urban slums around Tirana’s trash heaps and dumps.  They barely have any shelter and live without electricity or running water. 

Most have dropped out of school and are illiterate.  Because of racism and discrimination, most Roma have very little opportunities for meaningful and successful work.  

Unwelcome wherever they go, they spend their day digging through trash, collecting plastics and metals to trade in for a few dollars.  Women and children are often seen on the streets begging for what little money they can get.

A highly informative and incredibly sad short documentary, Roma provides as much information as possible within its 11 minutes about their difficulties: the emotional struggles, the poverty and economic issues they face, and the few legal and governmental options available for them.

The picture painted here is one of quiet desperation– where no one knows what to do, or how to help.

~Via Sam Davis, Five Dills, DocX and Vimeo

 

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Jimi’s Machine Gun

 

Hendrix’s Famous Star Spangled Banner Shred at Woodstock

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix did a startling take on the national anthem.

He was the last act of the festival and scheduled to close the show on Sunday night. 

He didn’t take the stage until 8 am on Monday morning.

Of the 500,000 young people who were there during the weekend, only a handful — about 30,000 — were left the next 
day.

Wearing a blue-beaded white leather jacket with fringe, a red head-scarf and blue jeans, and flashing a peace sign to the crowd, Jimi took to the stage and did a wailing extended rendition of Francis Scott Key’s signature work on his guitar. 

Many fondly remember waking up to a rudely blaring Star Spangled Banner in the early morning hours.

It was a far cry from the traditionally-held tune.  Jimi’s version was loud, dissonant, inharmonious; and yet touchingly soulful, all at once.  The audience was clearly stunned.  No one had dared do anything like this before and it completely blew their hearts and minds.

 Upon leaving the stage, Hendrix collapsed from exhaustion. 

The New York Post later wrote his performance “was the most electrifying moment of Woodstock and probably the single greatest moment of the Sixties.”  Others called his screaming guitar Jimi’s Machine Gun.

The choice and arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner was unorthodox to say the least.  Irritating to many, it caused consternation for those who thought Hendrix had desecrated and shredded a sacred piece of work– the country’s national anthem– to pieces.  He had been playing this version for about a year, beginning as part of a guitar solo he played during Purple Haze.

When playing in the southern states of the US, Hendrix was often warned not to do the number because of the constant local threats made against him.  Jimi disregarded the threats and played it anyway.  Every time.

He tried to record his version for an album but was never satisfied with the results in the studio.  After he died, engineer Eddie Kramer mixed a version from Jimi’s studio takes which was released on the album Rainbow Bridge

The Woodstock performance seen above, however, remains by far his most famous take of the song.

Hendrix’s version is seen by some as an anti-war song about Vietnam.  Halfway through the song, Hendrix often imitated the sounds of bombs dropping, machine gun fire and people singing.  

To note, his version of the Star Spangled Banner was the first song played when a propaganda radio station called “Radio Hanoi” went on the air, broadcasting to American troops serving in Vietnam in an effort to lower morale and have
them desert.

Three weeks after Woodstock, Hendrix said he wasn’t expressing an anti-American sentiment whatsoever.  He explained why he performed his groundbreaking version in only a few short words:

“We’re all Americans … it was, like, ‘Go America!’  We play it the way the air is in America today.  The air is slightly static, see,” Hendrix simply said.

Considered to be one of the best guitarists of all time and a pioneer of using electronic effects that are still in use today, Hendrix wrote, performed, and produced his own material.  Self-taught, he never had any formal music lessons– and he didn’t know how to read music. 

His musical work encompassed only four short years until his untimely death a year after Woodstock, due to a barbituate overdose.  He was 27.

The images of Jimi playing Woodstock are widely regarded as iconic pictures capturing the defining moment of youth and the Vietnam era of 1969. 

In 2011, the editors of Guitar World placed his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock at number one on their list of the 100 best performances.  Rolling Stone named Hendrix as the greatest guitarist of all time.

 

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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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Struggling for a Parent’s Affection

 

’1982′

An Award-Winning Film

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Leave it up to cinematographer Frank Buono and he’ll transport
you into the window of a young boy’s life in ten minutes.

Leave it up to writer and director Jeremy Breslau and a beautifully poignant story will slowly unfold before your eyes.

Constructed like an uninterrupted dream, 1982 floats into the memories of a young man as he reflects on the pivotal year of his life when he struggled for his parent’s attention.

As you might imagine, creating a film like this wasn’t an easy task.  

Working with a budget of only $25,000, director Jeremy Breslau recruited an amazing cast and crew of industry veterans to support him. 

His cinematographer, Frank Buono, was uniquely prepared for the complex shots having operated the infamous car sequence on Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men.

Production designer Patrick Sullivan’s contributions were also critical to the film’s success—the short’s wonderfully nostalgic and detailed feel is largely due to the fantastic art direction and prop choices in each frame.

For those interested in how exactly some of the shots and transitions were pulled off, Breslau employs a variety of techniques from practical effects to a fair amount of digital trickery to keep the film so smooth and seamless.

It’s no wonder 1982 swept up 14 film awards across the country.

As to the reasons why he made the film, Breslau simply said:

“I created the film because I wanted to explore the universal pang in childhood when we realize our parents are fallible, and the sense of loneliness that can accompany that awareness.

I wanted to explore that transitional period in childhood when we begin to realize that our world is a lot less secure than we thought it was.  I was also interested in how strong childhood memories can unexpectedly bubble to the surface and influence our choices as adults.

My goal was to create a piece that would be emotionally resonant and visually stunning, with the challenge of capturing the feeling of seamlessly drifting through a memory.”

 

~Via Jeremy Breslau, Variety, Short of the Week, and Vimeo

 

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My Big Brother

 

Living Life with a Giant

 

Award-Winning Animated **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

You usually have it two ways living with a big brother:  living in their shadow or living in their glow.

My Big Brother is a Savannah College of Art and Design short directed by student Jason Rayner.  His  film toys with the idea of what a ‘big brother’ is– and one who isn’t just biologically older but actually physically gigantic.

Inspired by childhood author Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant, the CG short marries the fantastic and the believable, yet adds a touch of whimsy into an otherwise grounded universe.

We liked it because the film’s distinctive animated design retains a low-key charm for a relatable story to be told.

But make no mistake.  It’s a commonly expressed and rather nice romantic notion that we even have “big brothers.”

Let’s be real.  The fact is we might be better served if we accepted the idea that we’re all siblings.

Siblings fight, pull each other’s hair, steal stuff, eat all the food in the fridge including what’s ours, tease, tattle, bully and bother, and accuse each other indiscriminately.

But siblings also know the undeniable fact that they are the same blood, share the same origins, and are family.

Even when they hate each other.

And that tends to put all things in perspective.

 

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Remembering Playland at the Beach

 

San Francisco’s Long-Forgotten Icon

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

 

 

Playland view to the south, 1940

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young family enjoys cotton candy at Playland, 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playland died along with blue collar image that once embodied a gritty San Francisco.

San Francisco has always been somewhere people come to enjoy themselves, and tourism has long been a mainstay of the city’s economy.

Nightlife, culinary delight, amusement, erotic adventure and family entertainment are all contained within its 49 square miles.  Anything a visitor may seek, San Francisco can provide.  Echoes of fun and amusement ring throughout the city from the cable cars atop Nob Hill to the sea lions barking at the wharf.

Turning back the clock to the Depression, we find San Francisco bubbling as a haven of fun even then.

 

    Bathing beauties laugh it up at Playland, 1940s

The place to go was a now-vanished amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach.

During the Depression and World War II, Playland thrived.  Adults and children, families and couples on dates, sailors from all over the world went to Playland to ride bumper cars and roller coasters and explore the thrills of the Funhouse.  For many San Franciscans, Playland was, and still is, their childhood, 42 years after its demolition.

Playland was located at Ocean Beach, just north of Golden Gate Park, below the point where the land rises to Sutro Heights.  The attractions in this corner of the city had the added novelty of being where Western civilization meets the Pacific Ocean– in a way, at the end of the world.

From the mural-bedecked Beach Chalet at the western end of the park to Playland to the Cliff House and Sutro Baths, the recreational options lined up in a long row.  Much of this ended up as part of the pleasure empire of the man called the Barnum of the Golden Gate, George Whitney.

A little amusement area named Ocean Beach Pavilion had existed since 1884.  In 1912, Arthur Looff and his partner, John Friedle, built Looff’s Hippodrome, housing a grand carousel built by Looff’s father.  In 1922, the two added the Big Dipper roller coaster and the Chutes-at-the-Beach water ride.  Whitney and his brother Leo came to town and opened a photofinishing concession booth in a smaller version of Playland.

In 1926, Whitney became general manager, and the park became Whitney’s Playland-at-the-Beach.  He bought out shaky concessionaires during the Depression.  By 1942, he owned everything from Sutro Baths to Fulton Street.

 

 Funhouse Mirrors at Playland

Whitney’s Playland grew to more than ten acres of amusements next to the Great Highway.  It included Topsy’s Roost Restaurant, which later became Skateland; a midway of games and vendors; and, of course, the Funhouse with long wooden slides, a human turntable that spun and threw people off if they didn’t hang on, and distorting mirrors and air jets that blew women’s skirts up.

Many fondly remember the Carousel, the Big Dipper, the Diving Bell, Chutes at the Beach, Dark Mystery, Limbo, and Fun-tier Town, too.

Playland was also the birthplace of the It’s-It, Whitney’s invention of ice cream sandwiched by two oatmeal cookies and covered in chocolate.

 

 

View from Sutro Heights, 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only the newly remodeled and now far more upscale Cliff House and Beach Chalet still stand.  A condominium development erased any trace of Playland.

Anyone who remembers Playland is wistful, or maybe just nostalgic, for the gritty, blue-collar San Francisco.  “It wasn’t just toys for the rich.  It was toys for everyone,” said Dan Fontes, a muralist working in El Cerrito on a large rendering of Playland and the surrounding area.

San Francisco has changed.  The blue-collar neighborhoods are mostly gone, and amusement is often more solitary than when the Playland fun house rang with screams and laughter.  Still, Playland has not been lost.  Anyone can find it.  Its fragments are scattered all over the city.

 

Laughing Sal

 

Playland is best remembered by a laugh, the one that belonged to a huge mechanical woman who towered above the entry to the Funhouse from the 1940s until it closed in 1972 and she was auctioned off.  Her name was Laughing Sal.

Anyone walking down Playland’s Midway — even nearby neighbors — heard Sal’s bellowing laugh.  She had devilish curly red hair and huge freckles all over her fat, terrifying visage.  In the middle of it all was a gap-toothed smile that provided nightmare material for countless children.  This was creepy, the same way a ventriloquist’s dummy is creepy.

“She would stand there laughing and laughing, and you would stand there laughing and laughing, and you didn’t know why,” said Sharon Jessup, a San Francisco native who grew up going to Playland.  Sal’s continuous laugh was a drunken yelping guffaw, an evil cackle, the uninhibited outburst of someone going out of her mind.  With arms extended, she heaved back and forth with a bit of a bobbing motion in her huge glass box.

Sal was constructed by the Old King Cole papier-mache company under commission to the Philadelphia Toboggan Co., maker of amusement park furnishings. Old King Cole started with a mechanical laughing department store Santa Claus.  They fitted the Santa with a woman’s legs, breasts that jiggled on the end of springs and custom-made heads.  With the addition of a 78 rpm recording of the most memorable laugh in the world, Laughing Sal was born.

 

 

The Big Dipper roller coaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playland: “The favorite in action!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the 1960s, Playland was run down and a little seedy.  Some say it started downhill when Whitney tore down the Big Dipper roller coaster in the late 1950s.  Sutro Baths burned during its demolition in 1966, and Whitney stopped operating Playland in 1968.

The park took on a roving carnival feel, said Marvin Gold, who grew up nearby, going to sleep every night to the sound of Sal’s cackle.  In 1972, Playland was put up for sale.  When it closed on Sept. 4, 1972, Herb Caen wrote a column called, “We’ll Never Go There Anymore.”  He reminisced over It’s-Its, Bull Pup enchiladas, a 40-cent corn dog and a ride on the carousel.

Today, Playland is covered with housing.  A Safeway stands on the site of the old diving bell.  Gold said he remembers when workers came to smash the concrete foundation and heard a clang.  They found the concrete lined with a steel tank, filled it in and built on top of it.

“One hundred years from now when they tear Safeway down, they’re going to find an old steel tank sitting there and have no idea what it was,” he said.

“Oh, and those slides, those beautiful wooden slides,” he said of the long hardwood slides in the Funhouse.  “When I saw them cutting those slides into pieces … I nearly cried.  ”Playland was our second home.”

For the next 30 years after Playland closed, people didn’t have to look far to find Laughing Sal.  Although the main Funhouse Sal went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for $50,000, Playland’s back-up Sal found a home in the basement of the Cliff House, along with the penny arcade machines.  They all were put into the Musée Mecanique, a collection that Ed Zelinsky obtained from George Whitney. 

All of the machines were still working, offering love tests, telling fortunes and showing the first silent films.  Video games were added to a small arcade at the back — early games like Pac Man and eventually the 3-D driving and shooting simulators we see now.

In 2002, the Musée was imperiled when the Cliff House was renovated.  San Franciscans came to the rescue with a petition carrying more than 25,000 signatures.  They were outraged that the Parks and Recreation Department, which owns the Cliff House, hadn’t tried to find the historical Musée a new home.

Thanks to the public outcry, a home was found at Pier 45, where a row of crab stands leads to a building painted with a giant version of Laughing Sal’s face.  Her missing tooth is the entry to Amusing America, which chronicles San Francisco’s place in the country’s cultural history of amusement parks.

Playland, Sutro Baths and the 1939 World’s Fair are all featured in displays, with the Musée Mecanique collection in the back.  And at the door, as in her two previous homes, Sal is the greeter and gatekeeper who still bursts into laughter for a quarter.  Maybe she’s laughing at her luck, having survived the urban development that has put her into a museum version of a city that no longer exists.

Maybe she’s laughing at what amusement in San Francisco has become around her: a Fisherman’s Wharf that has become a commercial tourist center with many of the same type of attractions as Playland. 

Dan Fontes, the muralist and a good source of history on Sutro Baths and Playland, says that when Playland was alive, “Fisherman’s Wharf was a fisherman’s wharf, with fishermen.”  Now, it is the Playland of today, the city’s waterfront amusement center, even if it is there mostly for tourists. 

The ghosts of Playland live in the hearts and memories of so many grown-ups.   They ensure that Playland isn’t entirely gone and that childhood won’t be forgotten.

~Via SF Historical Museum, San Francisco Public Library, YouTube, SF Gate

 * * * * * * * *

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

 

Nick Geddes’ Long Road to Recovery

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In April of 2011 while racing the Sea Otter Classic in California, I had an unexpected crash during the Dual Slalom finals that ended up changing my life.

Following a minor concussion I was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.  A routine blood test revealed that I had leukemia.

I was immediately transferred to Stanford Children’s Hospital and after three days of further evaluation, I was transferred and admitted to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.  Following a bone marrow biopsy and more testing, I was officially diagnosed having T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

I began chemotherapy, the first stage of my treatment. On August 9th, 2011, after months of chemotherapy and six sessions of total body irradiation, I was ready for a bone marrow transplant.

The marrow came from an anonymous 24-year-old male donor because no one in my family could be a tissue match.  A small bag containing the bone marrow was transfused though a catheter implanted in my chest.  

It was going to take a long time for my body to accept the donor’s bone marrow.  In the meantime I would need hemoglobin and platelet transfusions plus numerous drugs and painkillers keeping my body alive and vital signs stable.

One of the side-effects of the transplant were large sores that developed throughout my mouth and throat making it feel like I had been chewing on glass for hours.  This, in conjunction with nausea, weakness and other flu-like symptoms, took a toll mentally and physically.

I was put on an IV for all of my nutritional needs because eating was impossible.  On top of the two IV lines for nutrition, there were anti-nausea, pain meds, antifungal and antibacterial drugs all running in my catheter.

For the first couple weeks I was so drugged up that I don’t really remember what went on.

Slowly, I started to become more lucid and aware as the days dragged on.  I was gradually weaned from some of the meds.

The hardest part was going into isolation.  It was such a long time and almost unbearable for someone like me who’s used to being outdoors all day long.  There wasn’t much I could do in my room– other than watch television, use the Internet, and sleep.

By Day 20 of isolation I was gaining a little bit of energy and started to use the spin bike I had in my room. After 26 days, I was finally able to leave my specially ventilated and pressurized 8’x10’ room.

The next 5 days were the worst because I was starting feeling a bit better and the doctors were talking about when I would get out.  But they were never able to give an exact date; only a vague guess.

Finally, that day came.  After much anticipation, I was sent home.  It was Day 31.

When I got home nothing felt more better than being able to get a full night sleep without being poked and prodded.  I felt revived and refreshed.  I was eating more and more, and improving little by little.

Although I wasn’t strong enough yet to get out and ride my bike or exercise much, it was enough to be at home resting, trying to eat normally, having an occasional visitor, and surfing the net until more normal activities were happening.  In the following months I got back to the gym to rebuild what I had lost over treatment. 

The most important thing in my recovery was simply looking forward to riding my bike the next winter and spring.

The latest episode in that recovery path was two months later after my release from the hospital.  Feeling more energetic and healthy and slowly gaining back my strength I made a trip out to Norco Headquarters.  It was wonderful. 

While I knew I’d have a long way to go, the first step was getting back on a bike.  While the snows were starting to fall in my hometown of Whistler, I was soon riding as much as I could in the Squamish trails that winter.  Now my dream is to race again.
 
I want to thank the guys at Norco, friends, family, my parents, the doctors and my bone marrow donor for all their support throughout my treatment period.

It’s good to be alive.

Cheers,
Nick

~Via Nicholas Geddes, Norco, Whistler News, Leo Zuckerman and Vimeo

 

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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.

 

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Pink Floyd’s Crazy Diamond

 

The Final Parting of Syd Barrett

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky
Shine on you crazy diamond.

You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze.

Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

     Pink Floyd “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”
     Wish You Were Here, 1975

 

He was the original crazy diamond that shined.

Born Roger Keith Barrett in Cambridge, the son of a renowned pathologist, Barrett changed his name to Syd at age fifteen in honor of local drummer Sid Barrett.

In 1965 he joined up with bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright in a new band Barrett dubbed Pink Floyd — in honor of blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.  Barrett quickly became the group’s primary songwriter and guitarist, composing their breakthrough singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play.

In 1967, the band released its first LP, the psychedelic masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  Ten out of the eleven songs were written by Barrett.

The next year, following a highly successful tour with Jimi Hendrix, Barrett’s mental state began to deteriorate, most likely related to his heavy hallucinogenic LSD intake.  Guitarist David Gilmour was brought in to aid the band as Barrett became increasingly erratic and unreliable.  

Gilmour and Barrett both played in the group for a few months, but Barrett’s onstage behavior became so bizarre he was forced to leave the band.

Amid reports that he was suffering from schizophrenia, Barrett managed to release two solo albums in 1970, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.  The bulk of the material from these albums, which gained a huge cult following over the years, was written during Barrett’s brief productive period of 1967-68.  An independent career proved impossible:  His one live solo gig was aborted after five songs.

In 1971, Barrett spoke about his absence from the music scene and attributed it to his deteriorating mental health. “I’m disappearing, and avoiding most things,” he said.  ”I’m treading the backward path.  Mostly I just waste my time… I’ve got a very irregular head.  And I’m not anything that you think I am anyway.  I’m full of dust and guitars.”

He cashed it all in, gave up music, sold the rights to his recordings and moved into his mother’s basement in Cambridge, where he lived out the remainder of his life.  For the most part, he gave up living in the outside world. 

Pink Floyd and his former bandmates went on to become one of the biggest gigs on the planet, releasing their best selling albums of all time, The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 and Wish You Were Here in 1975.

For all its craft and focus, Dark Side was the work of a group that had been adrift just four years earlier, after losing the linchpin of its sound.  Barrett had been everything to Pink Floyd:  the pretty face, the songwriter, the singer, the lead guitarist.

“He was the boy wonder,” says Gilmour.  Under Barrett’s leadership, the band went from arty, Cambridge-bred middle-class students to the heroes of the London underground.  In concert, the whimsical and catchy British pop songs populating the world at the time in 1967 would explode into a new genre of lysergic, psychedelic-driven interstellar improvisations. 

Barret and Pink Floyd would help change the direction of music, and the consciousness of a nation and its youth.

Barrett’s near-daily use of LSD and his underlying mental illness left him all but incapacitated by the time Floyd were recording their second album.  His songwriting output slowed.  He went through at least one show without actually playing his guitar.  He began to drift from reality into the inner sanctum of his mind.  He became an empty shell of his former self.

“When we parted I had written everything for the group,” Barrett said.  “My leaving sort of evened things out within the group.  I think young people should have a lot of fun.  But I never seemed to have any.”

Short of a brief appearance at Abbey Road Studios in 1975 as his former friends were recording Wish You Were Here (a tribute to Barrett), he hadn’t had any contact with Pink Floyd in decades.  He had remarkably changed and to their sudden shock, had checked out completely from any semblance of reality.

It was the last time they would see him.

Barrett spent a good deal of his remaining time painting and gardening.  “I’d like to have been rich,” he remarked, “and to have a lot of money to put into my physicals and to buy food for all of my friends.”

The original frontman and Crazy Diamond of Pink Floyd died in Cambridge, England, from complications related to diabetes in 2006.  He was sixty.

Shine on.

 

  ~For Tavin Anderson and White Manna. 
    Keep the faith and music alive.

 

Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond from Getaway on Vimeo.

 

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Small Cameras, Big Stories

 

There’s a Spy Amongst Us
In the Animal Pack

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s a whole new world out there.

Exciting developments in camera technology have distinguished the playing field between the professional and amateur photographer.

The current challenge now is making something novel and better than what the average person will do.

Understanding the behavior of animals and developing new ways to capture those unique moments requires a huge amount of research, inventiveness, and dedication as the above video by award-winning wildlife filmmaker John Downer
illustrates.

Big differences also come from the newer cameras that are now smaller, camouflaged in different ways, and have a higher picture definition in situ

The end result?  Small cameras make for bigger stories, showing a new chapter of animals in their natural environment– whether it be birds, dolphins, or polar bears– in a uniquely accurate and visually compelling way than what has traditionally been done in the past.

And the images by John Downer and his crew that you see here
are nothing short than spectacular.

~Via John Downer, Getty Images, and Vimeo

 

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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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Float Plane Barefoot Skiing Madness

 

Skating on Thin Ice & Thick Skin

 

** VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

What an insane way to beat the summer heat.

Can you imagine surfing over water barefoot while getting pulled by an airplane?

Three veteran barefoot water-skiers from the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida, joined stunt filmmaker Devin Graham for the above video with some gnarly barefoot waterskiing, the least of which was jumping ramps while being pulled by a float plane.

For Ben Groen, 23, and David Small, 30, it was their first time barefoot waterskiing behind an airplane.  For Keith St. Onge, 36, it was his first for taking a jump off a ramp while being pulled by a plane.

“It’s something that’s not done very often,” Groen said. “I’d say it’s only been done a handful of times.

“I was really excited to ski behind a plane.  I’d seen Keith do it in the past.  It’s always been something that’s been on my bucket list.  So to go out there and ski, and ski being pulled by a plane, and then ski over the ramp, that was pretty cool for me.”

The maneuver was a tricky one.  The water-skiers get in the water on two skis– and wait for the plane to pass overhead with the rope dangling behind.  Grabbing the rope they get up on both skis and as the plane increases speed, they drop one ski, then the other, and after a few practice runs they’re off and barefoot waterskiing.

“It was a little hard to coordinate,” Groen admitted.

“There were a couple of trial-and-error runs there for sure, trying to get the rope at the right time.  If we missed the rope the pilot was kind of committed to keep going.  He’d have to fly up, do a loop, and come back down again.”

One might think the actual barefoot waterskiing behind an airplane would be difficult, but that’s not the case.

“It’s funny– it’s a little bit easier because the plane is picking you up off the water so you’re lighter than you usually are when behind a boat,” Groen explained.  “It actually makes you lighter on your feet which makes it easier, but the plane can go a lot faster than a boat would.”

The barefoot water-skiers typically go about 40 to 45 mph behind a boat, but the float plane travels at 50 mph or more.  “You’re skiing light on your feet because the water is going by super fast,” Groen said.

That’s easier said than done, we’re guessing.

Below is the behind-the-scenes footage of how Graham caught the action.

 

~Via Devin Graham, Outdoor Grind/World Barefoot Center, YouTube

 

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30 Gifts for 30 Strangers

 

Better to Give Than to Receive

**VIDEO**

 

Lucas Jatoba
Filmmaker

 

 

Hello!

My name is Lucas and I’m Brazilian.  

Since I arrived in Australia a lot of beautiful things happened in my life.  On the day I turned 30 I decided to celebrate in a special way, being grateful to the people of Sydney. :)

When I approached people, at first moment they thought it was a bit weird.  But after I started to explain why I was doing it they were very receptive, warm and happy.

I think everyone loves it when they see that there are people in the world who care about their happiness.  We all share the same home, planet Earth, so we need to treat everyone as brothers, not enemies.

Thank you so much to all my friends who helped make this happen.  Without you it would not have been possible.  And thank you to everyone who lives in Australia, making this country such a wonderful place.

The gifts:  a Wallabies rugby ball, a 30 minute massage voucher, a painting, a skateboard, a scarf, “the doggy bank”, some chocolates, bottle of nice champagne, a plushy teddy bear, a mini-tree to hang pictures from, a Japanese porcelain tea jar, a set of mini garden tools for kids, a scented oil infuser for the home, a voucher for iTunes music, mini boxer shorts for a newborn baby, a colorful origami book, the “Happyland Village Vet” (a toy for kids), scented soaps and candles, an illustrated photo album, a big soft penguin, aromatic moisturizers and shampoos, books, DVDs, and other toys for children and more.

On the making of this film below, you’ll see some funny things that happened.  While giving the presents away, a woman gave me some bread, a little kid stole one of the presents running away, a group of friends gave me things, an Aussie girl was learning Brazilian Portuguese, and of course people were playing with their gifts.

The music for the above video is To Build a Home by Cinematic Orchestra; below, it’s Surrender by Ben Lee.  A big note of thanks to Melanie Hogan and Marcelo Maluf who helped me work the cameras.

A big hug,
  Lucas

Making of – 30 gifts to 30 strangers from Lucas Jatoba on 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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Robin Williams Crosses Over

 

Severe Depression Likely Led to Suicide

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“The loneliest people are the kindest
  The saddest people smile the brightest
  All because they do not wish to see
  Anyone suffer the way they do”

    ~Unknown

 

The Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams died Monday in California.  He was 63.

“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made,” the Marin County Coroner said in a statement. “A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.”

“Robin Williams passed away this morning,” the actor’s rep Mara Buxbaum added in a statement to ABC News.  “He has been battling severe depression of late.  This is a tragic and sudden loss.”

Born in Chicago, Williams discovered his passion for acting in high school, before moving to New York City to study at Juilliard alongside Christopher Reeve.

A few years later, he also began doing stand-up comedy and working in television, before landing a star-making guest role as alien Mork in Happy Days.  In 1978, he was given his own spin-off series, Mork & Mindy, for which he won a Golden Globe.

Around that time, Williams suffered a great loss:  His friend, John Belushi, died of a drug overdose in 1982, prompting Williams, who had struggled with alcoholism and cocaine abuse, to quit, cold turkey.

He would go on to make two trips to rehab, once in 2006, and again this past July. 

“Addiction isn’t caused by anything, it’s just there,” Williams said in 2006.  “It waits.  It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’  Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.  Then you realize, ‘Where am I?  I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’”

Meanwhile, Williams discovered a passion for film in the ’80s. With that came a litany of awards, including a Golden Globe for his role in the 1988 film, Good Morning, Vietnam, a Golden Globe for his 1993 film, Mrs. Doubtfire, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for 1996′s, The Birdcage.

In 1998, after three nominations, he won his first Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting.  “This might be the one time I’m speechless!” he quipped while accepting the honor.

President Obama said in a statement on the actor’s passing:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind.  He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  

He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

 

Williams also had a rich personal life.

In 1978, he married his first wife, Valerie Velardi, with whom he had one son, Zachary, now 31.  He and Verlardi divorced in 1988, and the next year, he married Marsha Garces, who had previously been a nanny to Zachary.

He and Garces, from whom he split in 2008, had two children, Zelda, now 25, and Cody, 23. Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schenider, in 2011.

Recently, Williams had been hard at work.  He starred in the CBS series, The Crazy Ones and recently finished filming several film projects, including Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

He also recently celebrated a birthday and, in his last Instagram post, wished his daughter a happy 25th.

~Via Vimeo, Looking Back and Google News

 

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The World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight

 

Christian Peeps Battle for Glory

 

VIRAL MUSIC VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Time out for a little fun and sun from an otherwise typical college day.

Thousands of young Mormons gathered on the field of battle in Provo, Utah, armed with nothing more than a few thousand water balloons and a strong sense of destiny.

The Brigham Young University students threw their virginal, uncaffeinated selves into the fray, thereby setting a Guinness world record for the Largest Water Balloon Fight in July of 2010.  They also made the viral video above, “You Always Make Me Smile” by Kyle Andrews, garner over two million views on YouTube.

In total, 3,927 Mormon faithful lobbed 120,021 balloons, unleashing a massive barrage of colorful cool frolic for six minutes.  It had taken the students three days just to fill that many balloons.

balloons awayMost water balloon fight observers thought the BYU record would last the ages.  It was certainly a stout and glorious victory that would be hard to beat.  But alas! A couple thousand Kentuckian faithful proved them wrong.

Mind you, Kentucky held the previous record– until the Mormons came along and stole it out from underneath them.

So the University of Kentucky Christian Student Fellowship led the charge to recapture the Mormon-held record once and for all.

In August of 2011, over 5,000 equally wholesome young people from the Bluegrass State launched 153,497 balloons.  Some, like the video below, claim it was really 8,957 people and 175,141 balloons, but you know how confused facts get in the heat of battle.  Especially when setting a new world record for college glory.

Whatever the numbers, the Guinness big wigs said Kentucky had it– and BYU lost it.

Below is the video of that epic winning event.  The Kentuckians, though, lost the video side of the competition to their Mormon brethren, capturing only one million YouTube hits.

 

 

CSF World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight 2011 Official Video from Kevser Tunçer on Vimeo.

 

 

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The Closeness of Summer

 

Cherish It While It Lasts

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days– three such days with you and I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”

     ~John Keats, Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems

 

It seems that summer passes by quicker than any other season.

For those of us fortunate enough to live in Humboldt, we experience distinct yet moderate climates.  We look forward and become ensconced in the warm welcoming weather only to have it ripped away all too quickly as our sun sets lower and the leaves begin to quietly fall from the trees.

June and July are distant memories.  Summer still has a month or more to bathe us in its glory.  Use it wisely.

As we continue to enjoy the soon-to-be fading rays of summer, we take a lasting glimpse of some of the end-of-season things we still look forward to: embracing the sunshine and living outdoors, enjoying the fruits and cool, cool water of a beautiful planet, our togetherness of family and friends, of barbecues, a sense of love and contentment, and a host of other tiny little things we hardly notice and often take for granted.

For now, however, there’s always tomorrow.  Another glorious summer day to enjoy.

Cherish it.  It will be long gone before we know it.

 

JUNE from Mark Mazur on Vimeo.

 

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The Band and Ball Brawl

 

Basketball Streetball Bonding:

‘We’re All in this Together’

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The Rigsketball tournament takes place every summer all
around Portland.

Here’s how it works:  The Rigsketball van is parked in front of strip clubs, skate parks, cul-de-sacs, alleyways—wherever you can brown bag it and hit the hoop.

Two bands face off until a champion emerges or the cops break it up.  The teams decide as they’re playing how aggressive they want to be.  Sometimes it’s streetball basketball and other times it’s more like rugby. Depends on who is calling fouls. 

Be sure to show up before the games devolve into a drunken Roman candle fight, like has happened in the past.  It runs the gamut on crazy stuff.  There were days where they played outside of a strip club and all the strippers came out to watch.  Then everybody started shooting roman candles at each other.

If you let 100 musicians do whatever they want it gets crazy most of the time.  No one leaves without at least a skinned knee.

All 32 slots were filled this year in less than a day. 

The band that makes it through to win the championship walks away with bragging rights, a bunch of media attention, and an obscenely large golden trophy topped with a statue of the van.  The band sets up a bunch of media stuff for the winner which helps them with visibility in the music community.

Past tournaments have included Portland royalty bands like Starfucker, Typhoon, AAN, Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldiers, Con Bro Chili.

Rigsketball is the brainchild of Bim Ditson, a lanky guy with a frizzy red mohawk who looks a bit like a punk version of the turtle guy in Master of Disguise.

As a 15-year-old high school kid in Eugene, Oregon, he was a loud and charismatic guy and running an oddly-successful chain mail jewelry business at local craft fairs.  He has an eight-inch stick-and-poke tattoo on his thigh of a slice of pizza nailed to a cross.  He calls it Cheezus Christ.

Bim moved to Portland to join one of Portland’s most-loved bands called And And And. For a while he was going to shows every night and reporting on them for local newspaper Willamette Week in a column called Bimstagram.

Then he decided to drill a hoop on the back of the And And And van to give the band something to do on tour.  He thought it was kind of funny.  Whatever other bands were on the bill that night would play pick-up games after soundcheck.  That was four years ago.

It was only natural that other bands would start challenging them to three-on-three pick-up games.  That grew into an insane 32-band tournament.  Many never touched a basketball.  Now they play all the time.

There are no permits.  Band members and friends sitting on cars drinking microbrews and tallboys of PBR, listening to old-timey jazz from someones car stereo.  It’s like a backyard barbecue.  

That’s the point.

“It’s getting bands to hang out. Bands don’t hang out enough,” Bim says.  “Bands in different scenes, or at different levels of popularity, don’t kick it, and they should because we’re all in this together.”

Bim’s always been good at making stuff happen.  And he’s always wanted to build a living, breathing music community.  Now all the bands in Portland are suddenly into sports.

“There’s such a strong community and camaraderie between Portland bands, even ones in different genres,” Bim says.

“It’s not uncommon to see psych bands on the same bill as a metal band.  That’s why I wanted to start Rigsketball.  It taps into that idea that we’re all on the same team when we’re at this level,” Bim says.

“We aren’t hurting each other when one of us gets success, because we’re all in the same fucking boat.”

~Via And And And, Bim Ditson, Oregon Music World,
Vice, Juliet Zulu and Vimeo.

 

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Life, Death, and Happiness

 

Reflections By Philip Seymour Hoffman

 

Staff Pick Animated Flick

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Sigh.

The greatest interview ever recorded won’t get as many hits on YouTube as a cat giving a high five.

The people behind Blank on Blank want to change that.  They take the audio gems falling on the cutting-room floor, or low-fi cassette tapes that never aired, and create original animations of two to five minutes.

The animated short above and produced for PBS Digital Studios, is an example of their latest work, featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman reflecting on Life, Death, and Happiness.  A brilliant actor, Hoffman died in February of this year due to acute mixed drug intoxication, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine.  He was 46.

Producer David Gerlach selects the audio (everyone from Fidel Castro to Meryl Streep to Tupac), and gives it to animator Patrick Smith, who visualizes the words in charming lo-fi videos.

Blank on Blank is now drawing millions of views and their most popular videos have featured dead artists: Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin, to name a few.

It’s a daunting challenge for an animator.

“You know Hoffman is dead.  You know he’s brilliant,” Smith says.  “And you’re in charge of visualizing these words.  It’s scary.”

Smith finds that the hardest recordings to animate often yield the best results, forcing him to think past the obvious.  His animations– sketchy, vibrant, and witty, like the best New Yorker cartoons come to life– are unquestionably the secret to Blank on Blank’s success, but he defers to the strength of his creative partnership with Gerlach.

“I’m an animator who needs a producer who can push me,” he says.  “All artists are lazy.  Left to our own devices, we make the worst decisions.”

 

Via Blank on Blank, PBS Digital Studios, YouTube, Studio 360/Sideshow Podcast.
For more information and other Blank on Blank episodes, visit blankonblank.org

 

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John Oliver Takes On Native Advertising

 

The Raisins in the Cookie No One Wants

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It was an unusual, yet timely, subject to take on.

HBO comedian John Oliver took a hatchet to native advertising, arguing that the trendy marketing practice is a threat to the editorial independence of newsrooms, misleads readers and erodes trust, and is a disturbing symptom of journalistic news organizations reaching for additional profits to fill their coffers.

Among other things, Oliver hammered native advertising as a confusing camoflauge tactic for selling to the public a sneaky bill of goods they never wanted in the first place.  He also unmercifully skewers the media and advertising industry into some well deserved bits and pieces for eroding the traditional “church and state” partition separating the editorial wing from the business side of news organizations.

Along the way, he takes on the New York Times, Time Inc., the Atlantic, The New Yorker, Chevron and others, describing the fornication of news and advertising as akin to dipping Twizzlers in guacamole and comparing the results to botched heart surgery.

Oliver calls the trend “repurposed bovine waste,” another word for… well, you get the idea.  It’s the raisins in the cookie no one wants.

Edward R. Murrow would be turning over in his grave.

 

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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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The Last of the Neon Sign Makers

 

Todd Sanders and his Glowing Craft

 

Award-Winning *VIDEO*

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“When I went to buy the run-down fruit stand that is now Roadhouse Relics, I was offered $15,000 by an Austin investor to walk away from the deal.  My friends told me I was crazy not to take the money and run.  But I knew creating a space and life for myself in Austin was what I wanted to do.

The roof had caved in.  In fact, I am not sure it was even safe to go in.  The day I bought it, I moved in to the only room that still had a roof.  After a few months, I moved into a trailer out back where I lived for the next ten years.

Over the past two decades, I’m proud to say my gallery has become an Austin landmark. I f you had told me when I bought it that one day the New York Times would list it as a must-see place in Austin, I wouldn’t have believed you.

For me, I always knew I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Roadhouse Relics is an extension of who I am; it’s become the iconic name behind my work.  The people who come in my store and the collectors who buy my work, they’ve all become part of my story.  And the best part is I have this amazing space, life, and family– and
I get to do what I love.”

   ~Todd Sanders, Roadhouse Relics  

 

For Austinites, Todd Sanders of Roadhouse Relics is a household name.  His South Austin gallery is as iconic as are his signs.

Settling in Austin in the early 90s, it’s hard to separate Sander’s story from the scrappy, authentic story of the city of Austin.  An anomaly of Texas cities, Austin’s preservation of independent business and thinking sets it apart as one of the most unique places in America.

When visitors fall in love with Austin, they fall in love with the handful of artists who have dedicated their lives to this city.  There’s no doubt Sanders is on that list.

Before discovering Austin in 1991, Sanders pursued many different jobs:  art supply salesman, automotive paint and bodywork repairman, motorcycle painter, and a short stint as an antique auto builder.  The skills that were acquired in his seemingly unrelated jobs are applied everyday to the glowing sculptures at Roadhouse Relics.

His vintage neon murals and sculptures decorate and influence the Austin landscape, giving what Sanders likes to call a “crude charm.”   His work has played a role in giving Austin an eclectic, positive identity that is known worldwide as Austin Style.  For Sanders, it is modern vintage, echoed in each of his works.

“The art I create is rustic and garish and over-the-top,” Sanders says.  “These objects don’t harmonize nicely with others in their presence; they dominate.  Energy courses through them, electrifying their surroundings as well.  They’re like that guy at a party who dresses wildly and talks too loudly, but everyone in the room finds him utterly fascinating.”

His pop art has appeared in many movies filmed in Austin.  His work has appeared in Esquire, Fortune Magazine, Texas Monthly, and other publications. It adorns the walls of clients and
well known celebrities everywhere.

What separates Sanders from his contemporaries is that he has preserved the original methods for creating his signs.  Everything is made from scratch, by hand, and without the use of computer aided designs.

With a personal collection of hundreds of old magazines and books from the 1920s through 1960s, Sanders has given himself a master’s education in neon art through study and dedication to the craft during his 20-year career.

His knowledge of typography, style and craftsmanship of vintage signs is both extensive and uniquely self-taught. 

Amassing over 2000 photographs of antique neon signage and murals from countless miles of travel throughout the United States, Sanders has the inspiration and knowledge to create the works of neon art which cover his studio gallery.

He’s the last of his breed; a neon vintage signmaker practicing a once ubiquitous art that, unfortunately, is going by the wayside in the digital era. 

 

 

~Via Todd Sanders, Roadhouse Relics, Vimeo & YouTube. 
All pictures are examples of Todd Sanders’ work.

 

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An Engravers Art

 

The Beauty is in the Detail

 

Vimeo Staff Pick *VIDEO*

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

From Kessler Productions:

We recently traveled to Austin, Texas to collaborate on a shoot
with Joe Simon, Owner and Creative Director of The Delivery Men.

The subject of the mini-doc we filmed was engraver, Gerry Beathard.  Our goal was to learn more about the process he goes through and to capture the art form cinematically.

During the interview process, it was interesting to hear how similar a lot of his process was to editing or filmmaking.  Each one requires an almost fanatical attention to detail, patience, and above all else, passion for the process of creating something that makes you proud.

Below is the behind-the-scenes look of how we filmed it.

 

In The Field With Joe Simon from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.

 

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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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Run Jose, Run

 

Fleeing Africa’s Violence and Killing Fields

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

After being abducted from a marketplace as a child and forced to kill, Jose Maria Joao had a vision one night in a
dream.

Risking death, he acted on his conscience.  The decision that came to him in his dream was to stop the fighting and killing. 

And to do that he had to run away.   Far, far away from the killing fields of violence and murder that he had anonymously become part of.

He shares his remarkable and tearful story in this short powerful biopic directed by Dave Meinert of MacDuff Films, which aims to foster a dialogue about the lasting effects of war.

Having worked as a bouncer at bars for the last ten or so years, Jose is a well-known face in Cape Town, South Africa.

“I’ve always been amazed how someone who has been exposed to so much violence can be so peaceful,” says Meinert, who wanted to tell Jose’s story as simply as he could.

Collaborating with filmmaker Michael Cleary, Meinart’s approach to making the film was an instinctive one. “We took a DSLR camera, one lens and a bulb from the hardware store, and switched the camera on. Stylistically, I was influenced by an older piece, but the rest needed to come from Jose as much as possible,” he says.

Upon handing everything over to Lucian Barnard to do the editing, Meinart gave him zero briefing.

“I didn’t know if we had a story in it yet.  He devised the editing style purely on his own and I think it’s the strongest element to the piece.”

Tired of seeing narratives that glamorize war and fighting, Meinart believes filmmakers are responsible for the stories they tell.

“Jose’s story, coupled with his gentle nature and trademark smile, has made us weep many times and we are privileged that he’d share it with us,” he says.

“There’s maybe never been a more relevant time to start sharing stories about the real casualties of war.  Please share his story.”

~Via MacDuff Films, 10 & 5, We Are Awesome,
Rising Continent, and Vimeo

 

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The Angst of Being Cyborg

 

A Sci-Fi Android’s Bonnie & Clyde Tale

 

**Award-Winning SHORT**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 
Consider this the prequel to the coming blockbuster. 

Sometimes the end is just the beginning.

An android receives notice that he will be shut down the next day, effectively ending his dreary droidian life.  But an unexpected encounter of a different sort takes his final day in a direction he wasn’t fully expecting or prepared for.

Voila!  The story of Bonnie & Clyde is reborn for the post-future world.

A terrific short film written and directed by David Rosenbaum, The Trail’s End was created with a single goal in mind.  To get a feature film made.  It’s a science fiction project being groomed to sell.

Now that may sound cynical, but let’s face it.  In Hollywood no one reads anything anymore.  They like things quick and easy and visual.  Got a good idea?  Show ‘em what you got and what you can do.  Upfront, up close, and personal.  And make it snappy.  We haven’t got all day.

Will it be made into a feature length movie?  It does show promise– it’s a premise that works and an idea that tweaks the imagination.

A robot who robs banks with the beautiful, impressionable dame by his side?

We enjoyed this short film and we’re sold.  Let’s see if Hollywood is, too.

 

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Going the Distance

 

Ronnie Goodman’s Long Run

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ronnie Goodman may well be San Francisco’s
most unexpected half-marathoner. 

He might not have a comfortable place to rest his aching feet at night, but that didn’t keep the homeless artist from running 13.1 miles in San Francisco’s half marathon for charity.

Drug addiction and prison time left Goodman without a home, sleeping on the streets of San Francisco.

Now, sober for more than a decade, Goodman trained for the city’s marathon, setting out to conquer the same streets on which he sleeps.  He finished the race
in 1:43, raising $10,000 for charity.

When he’s not out beating the streets, he paints.

Goodman, 54, has been living under a freeway in San Francisco for two years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.  Still, he trains two or more hours every day to fulfill his dream of running in the famed local event.  And his fans have found a way to make sure he will.

After reading about his love of running in the Chronicle’s original profile of Goodman, the fans stepped in and donated $120 to cover his entry fee for the July race.

While Goodman could have certainly used the race as a way to raise additional funds for himself, he’s decided to give back to the organization that’s helping him get back on his feet.

He collected money for Hospitality House, an organization that empowers homeless and low-income people through a number of initiatives including an art program that encouraged Goodman to pursue his passion.

The self-taught artist paints and draws works that explore both the beauty and diversity of his city along with images of human despair, according to his website.

Setting a pretty ambitious goal for himself of raising $25,000 for the organization, his donors were entered into a raffle to win one of Goodman’s original works.

Looking forward to showing the Hospitality House just how grateful he is, Goodman feels confident he can reach his goal.

This is my chance to give back to them,” Goodman told the Chronicle.  “That makes me very happy.”

~Via Ronnie Goodman, Google News,
SF Gate/Huffington Post, Vimeo

 

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The Church of Type

 

Letterpress Font and Beauty

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s been a long and archaic journey.

For 15 years Kevin Bradley lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, as co-founder of the design studio and letterpress giant Yee-Haw Industries, churning out fine-art prints, commemorative and promotional concert posters, album art and even wedding invitations, using 200-year old equipment in the same tradition as Guttenberg and the original printing press.

Kevin has covered the globe with a range of ephemera and custom typographic fine art prints for a litany of clients. His new company, the Church of Type in Santa Monica, California, represents his newest venture.  In 2013 he moved 30 tons of letterpress equipment across the country to bring his own vision and style to the epicenter of American Culture.

“I am using the old stuff, but I’m making a contemporary print with it,” Bradley says.  His slogan is “Art for the People, Since 1987.”

“I’ve rescued 200 years of beautiful type as well as plates …I always wanted to make a new print with the old stuff.”

He showcases a set of plates with images on metal.  

“In these drawers, I have the entire history of pro wrestling and boxing.  They would develop the photograph on the metal, put a line screen on it, match it with acid, and then they would mount it on wood for printing.  That’s how the newspapers were printed back in the day,” he says with pride.

For 25 years, Bradley has been scouring old barns and basements east of the Mississippi for these rare fonts and types from the 1800s and 1900s.  His business houses one of the most extensive wood and metal type collections in use today: multiple letters and sizes comprising over 1,000 fonts of moveable type and in-house, hand-carved woodblocks, all printed on a 4’x10’ Takach press.

He wants to bring to life the way the world communicated hundreds of years ago, only in a modern way — much like how modern folk musicians keep old songs alive, bringing them to contemporary listeners in new forms and textures.

He considers himself a graphic designer, an illustrator, a painter, print maker, editor, copywriter– even a janitor.  But at the most basic level, he’s a typographer — a last craftsman in a dying profession.

“I’ve got all this type, and I’ve got to figure out how to use it and get people to see it,” Bradley said.

Church of Type is much more than just a printing shop for Bradley; it’s a means of communication that steps into the mythology of man, to the campfire, to that archetypal yearning for the power of the word mixed with the smell of the ink and the wood and the dust.

Across the walls he has a series of original images — robots, dinosaurs, Godzilla.  Each of them is made with letters, which you can see when you look up close.

He’s constantly experimenting every day with the form.

“It’s a repository of the real stuff,” says Bradley.  “It’s my Church of Type.  The word on the page is a powerful thing.  When the power goes out, I will be king.”

~Via Kevin Bradley, LA Weekly, and Vimeo

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

 

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On With the Show

 

This is It– The Night of Nights

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s a silver screen, silent film sacred sort of place,
and it’s something out of time.

The Old Town Music Hall began in the 1960′s when two musicians, Bill Coffman and Bill Field, purchased the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ from the Fox West Theater in Long Beach, CA, and installed it in the quaint 188-seat El Segundo State Theater, originally built in 1921.

The “Two Bills” opened their doors in 1968, and to this day the Old Town Music Hall, a treasured cultural landmark and nonprofit organization, continues to entertain audiences with silent and sound films, as well as ragtime, jazz and pipe organ concerts.

All the silver screen films are accompanied live by the Mighty Wurlitzer, just as they were when the silent features were originally released.   

The massive circa-1925 machine messiah wind-powered pipe organ has been meticulously preserved so that silent classics can be experienced with live musical accompaniment, just as they did when they were first shown.  

It’s something you really have to see and hear to believe.

The Mighty Wurlitzer consists of more than 2,600 pipes.  The organ console has four keyboards, 260 switches, and an array of controls and pedals.  From the console, the organist controls the pipes and many percussive instruments, such as a xylophone, marimba, piano, drums, and cymbals.

The entire system is air-powered from a 10-horsepower Spencer Turbine Orgoblo.  This powerful source of wind pressure runs the entire mechanical system and also plays the pipes.  

It’s size and scope are beyond imagination– this is one instrument that can completely floor you if you’ve never seen one in person.  To make things even more interesting (and entertaining) they give audiences a “peek behind the curtain” with every organ performance.  By making each drum, bell, whistle, and special sound effect glow in the dark, audiences can gain a little insight into how this mighty organ actually works.

Needless to say, the old gal requires constant maintenance.

On stage with the organ console is a spectacular 9-foot concert grand piano.  The 92-note Bösendorfer was handmade in Vienna for the Old Town Music Hall in 1974.  The Bösendorfer company has been making pianos since 1828, and is perhaps finest acoustic keyboard instrument made.

But make no mistake.  It’s Hollywood’s films of the Golden Era along with the original musical complement that leave movie buffs in awe.  Charlie Chaplin Clark Gable, Lon Chaney, Judy Garland, Harold Lloyd, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis and a host of other celluloid heroes come alive once again for the night when the intimate venue at 140 Richmond Street opens its doors for all to see.

There is nothing more entertaining than witnessing a silent short and experiencing the artistry of the live organ accompaniment, and the entire gig is simply stunning and beautiful taken in all its majestic glory.

 

~Via Old Town Music Hall, Lost & Found Films,
  Vimeo, and Madeline40

If you liked this story, you may also enjoy our others: Going Dark and The Church of Type


* * * * * * * * *

‘Old Town’ was produced and directed by Ben Wu and David Usui of Lost & Found Films.

It’s one in a series of short films that explore the idea of home, or places that function as home – workplaces, hang out spots, etc.

Lost & Found Films want to figure out what makes them, how they represent us, why we need them.  They’re always on the lookout for dwellings of all sorts.  If you’ve come across any curious or eccentric homes or other curious places, feel free to send them along to:

thismustbetheplace.tv

mail@thismustbetheplace.tv

 

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Where Are Your Teens Tonight?

 

Studying at the Library?  Yeah, Right.

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Our youth now love luxury.

They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and they love chatter in place of exercise.

They no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents and chatter before company; they gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.

     ~Socrates

 

We think that only “bad” kids get into trouble.  And that “good” kids never do.

We’ve got news for you.  They all do. 

All kids get into trouble.  They’re risk-takers, seemingly invincible, and yearning to be independent.  The hormones are flaring and they’re out the door to do who knows what.  It’s called fun. Or angst.

A long, long time ago it used to be smoking, getting into a fight, skipping class, smashing mailboxes.  Today, it’s alcohol, drug, and prescription med abuse, sexually acting out, running away, and more risky stuff– like blowing your mind out in a way-too-fast joyriding car or stupidly handling a gun while too high or drunk.

There’s a Beast and We All Feed It, above, is by Jake Bugg,  a 19-year-old singer-songwriter out of working-class Nottingham, England.  His songs paint a vivid, realistic, and sometimes violent picture of fights, drugs, poverty, and heartbreak happening with kids today.

Black Sugar, below, is a flick of a different flavor.  All kids– even those nice quiet middle class white kids living in the ‘burbs in big homes with swimming pools– find themselves on the riskier side of things when you, and they, least expect it.

Don’t kid yourself.  Each one is portrait of what’s happening with kids today. 

Few, if any, survive their teens.  They take love, perseverance, tenacity, sweat, tears, prayers, lighting candles, and the list could go on.

Remember when you were young?

 

Black Sugar from Hank Friedmann on Vimeo.

 

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