It’s been eleven years since Avery, Idaho resident Milt Turley struggled through thick brush high on a rugged table in the Bitterroot Mountains, shoving a long steel rod into the ground, probing the earth with the hope of finding evidence of six ancient stone pillars reported by several eyewitnesses over the last century. Turley had reason to believe Idaho’s ‘Stonehenge’ was entombed somewhere under that dirt.
His grandmother, a Blackfeet Indian adopted by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, told him about the circle of pillars in the 1950s. She recalled seeing ‘The City of Rocks,’ during her family’s hunting and gathering expeditions in the mountains; and when he read an article about the legendary monuments more than two decades later, Turley decided to see if he could find them.
Armed with a handful of vague clues and an intimate knowledge of the St. Joe Forest, he scoured its lofty peaks for three years with no success. Then he headed for the archives of Silver Valley newspapers and volumes of handwritten mining claims sequestered in Shoshone County offices.
There he found a report in the Wallace Free Press of December 18, 1887, by a man named William Herman Frazer, who said he stumbled on a sacred site, located about 15 miles southeast of Mullan, during the summer of that year.
“It is a wild, weird spot,” Frazer wrote, describing it as tucked above a tributary of the St. Joe River, in a narrow canyon where the long beams of morning and evening sun washed over what he presumed to be a prehistoric chapel of worship and sacrifice.
Frazer said he found a circle of six identical seven-foot pillars hewn from basalt, each with a shallow dip in its square top, and hieroglyphic-type images with a moon theme inscribed on their east-facing sides. Nearby, he saw an amphitheatre carved from solid rock worn smooth as polished marble.
Based on that description, Turley researched mining claims in the area and found the record of an old copper mine located on its southeast corner by “natural or manmade stone pillars.” “However,” he says, “other delimiters were less useful since they referred to landmarks such as ‘the large rock in the bottom of the creek to a pine tree with an X on it.’”
After more trips to the mountains yielded only puzzlement, Turley enlisted the aid of the late psychic, George McMillan, recommended for his ability to find lost objects and elusive artifacts.
“In a last ditch effort to find the pillars, the psychic, myself, and a few other people made the journey to the suspected site,” Turley says. “On approaching the site, which the psychic had little knowledge of, he began to fidget, blink his eyes, and make no sense at all in his conversation.”
During the ensuing six hours of milling around the area, he described a group of people who were stranded by high water while prospecting.
“At 5,600 feet above sea level, needless to say, I had some reservations about his qualifications at that point,” Turley says.
However, geologists confirmed that ice flows once blocked the Clark Fork River and caused great flooding in the area, so the monuments, if they existed, could have been on a peninsula. That and the fact that McMillan found the copper mine named in the claim, and honed in on a buried dump of old bottles and other artifacts from the 1920s, served to redeem Turley’s opinion of his abilities.
“The last thing I asked him was ‘where are the monuments?’” Turley says. “He pointed down the draw, about a mile and said, ‘There.’”
Turley searched the area, but never found the elusive pillars.
But that didn’t stop him from speculating about their origins or the builders’ motives. For inspiration, he turned to the works of Harvard’s Dr. Barry Fell and others who have written extensively about Bronze Age miners who sailed here from Europe and the Mediterranean, leaving rock inscriptions in ancient European alphabets, and fragments of their languages in Native American tongues.
Once Turley met a retired Panhandle park ranger who claimed the monument was in plain view after the 1910 fire, then, one day in Wallace, he ran into the last man to see the Coeur d’Alene’s mysterious megaliths standing.
“His father was the prospector who originally found the pillars and staked the claim,” Turley says. “I befriended this man, but over the next five years he refused any knowledge of the monuments.”
Until shortly before his death in 1989, when he finally confessed to Turley, “I buried the damn things.”
He knocked them into a trench and hid them under a blanket of dirt, fearing that government officials would someday take an interest in the historical edifice and shut his mining claim down.
“He made me promise never to reveal his name,” Turley says, noting that he was “a hell of a nice old guy.”
The claim has since reverted to government ownership, but Forest Service officials refused Turley a permit to dig in the area because he doesn’t have enough proof the pillars exist, he says.
Magazine Article |
Most of us only dream about spending an entire season chasing our favorite outdoor pursuit, leaving it to a few hearty souls to make a life out of the sport they love. You’ve seen them before, the unshaven guy sleeping in the back of his truck up at the resort parking lot, the young woman washing her hair in the ranger station bathroom, or that bumper-sticker plastered van loaded down with snowboards or skis you’ve passed hundreds of times on your way up some Pacific Northwest pass. It takes a certain level of dedication to become a full-fledged mountain freak; to learn the secrets of comfortable, fulfilling, mountain living; to gain the privileged knowledge of a select few whose commitment has earned them a life pass into the hidden depths of an ever-evolving mountain culture. For the rest of us, we have our choices: stand back and watch or jump in-skis, board and passion first.
Winter Rights of Passage. Many of us are drawn to the mountains for the solitude and satisfaction of grappling one-on-one with nature. Yet there is something about the great, frozen outdoors-the vast open space and sky, the high, indifferent peaks and dark forest wildness perhaps-that moves us to seek community shared with like-minded companions. Such gatherings may be secretive, strange, even a bit clique-y. Others are a simple mouse click or page turn away in your favorite outdoor rag or web site. Assuredly, wherever people and mountains collide, a wild, creative spirit is lurking near the surface.
We Don’t Need No Stinking Lifts. What do you do when you can’t wait for the official resort opening date? Or the season ends before the snow stops calling? You break out the rock skis and hoof your way up the hill, that’s what. Most serious skiers own a pair or two of old skis, known as rock skis, for hitting the first and last few precious inches of snow. Ron King, an avid pre- and post-season skier had already skied up at Mt. Spokane three times by the middle of November this year. “I just love skiing so much,” King explains, “and if you’re not too lazy, the first snow can be pretty decent.” This lift-less tradition includes a few potential hazards: hidden rocks, stumps, holes and other obstructions. But a shot at a few happy turns while most people are at home raking or mowing their lawns is something to think about.
Two Chances to Puke Your Guts Out at 49 Degrees North. The annual Epic Adventures sponsored Hill Climb race, which is in its sixteenth year, was once known as the “Puke Your Guts Out” race. The rules are simple. Participants gear up with the tools of their choice-skis and skins or board and snowshoes-for a race to the top and back down to a mob of thirsty spectators. Several classes for men and women keep it competitive. “It’s an excellent time, a real communal event,” said Epic’s Jon Wilmot, who’s been coordinating the climb for the past four years. “The beauty is that somebody usually pushes it so hard that they crash at the finish. We’ve had some great photo finishes like that,” adds Wilmot. Beer, awards, and cash prizes await winnersand participants of this 2,000 foot climb set for Saturday, March 3. Visit http://www.ski49n.com for more information.
Another 49 Degrees North tradition is the Bavarian Race, which got its start as an unofficial, ski hill drinking game. The toned down version of the original event begins with teams of four drawn at random from the pool of racers. “They start at the lodge deck where everyone is given a glass of beer, and each team can’t leave the table until fellow members have finished their drinks,” explains Rick Brown with 49 Degrees North. Next, racers have to put on all of their gear and ski clothes, ride up the lift, and race back down through a slalom course before waiting until every team member is back at the table. Then it’s one more round of beer, which tops off the race. “It’s a really fun event that people come from all over the state to be a part of,” adds Brown.
Sacrifices to the Ski Gods, Naked Racing and Other Ways to Hurt Yourself. Just about anywhere snow meets the mountains, anxious skiers and boarders gather each year to give thanks to whatever god or gods grace the Earth with snow. Several regional ski hills host such events, which typically include a large bonfire fit for sacrificing old ski gear. Jon Wilmot, a past participant of Big Mountain’s locals-only version, describes the sacrifice scene near Whitefish, MT: “There’s a stage with live music, bonfire, kegs, people jumping bikes, packs of dogs running around-it’s a good time.”
Up north of the border, there are several traditions worth a look-see, that is if you don’t mind some blood, guts and a little nakedness. You’ll find the potential for broken bones, blood and a lot of guts at the Jeldness Cup Luge race the Rossland Radicals Luge Club puts on. The race, which is on snow rather than ice, is part of the Rossland, B.C. Winter Carnival held each January. “It’s quite psycho,” admits Mitchell Scott, co-Editor and Publisher of Kootenay Mountain Culture. The event does include luge lessons for beginners, however. For more information visit http://www.rossland.com/Events/Carnival.html.
Whitewater Resort out of Nelson is where you’ll see some skin if you’re up on the mountain for “First Chair,” an unspoken tradition where the first person up the lift each year must ride back down beneath the lift with nothing on. According to Mitchell Scott, who has witnessed a First Chair run or two, Nelson area free skier Moss Patterson got the honors a couple of years ago and made quite a spectacle of himself. “When he came down he was wearing nothing but a sombrero. He got some big air and did a spread eagle ball grab right under the chair.”
An Off-Piste Tradition. Preferring the out-of-bounds ski life to what some perceive as an over-groomed family feel at the locallodge and lift lines, backcountry skiers and boarders aren’t exactly known for overly social behavior. As one anonymous backcountry junkie put it, “backcountry skiers are notoriouslyindividualistic, so they don’t lend themselves well to clubs. They are, perhaps, a bit like Iraqi insurgents-shifting alliances of shadowy figures with illdefined loyalties.” Occasionally though, they band together for a few days of fun and festivities at events like the Kootenay Cold SmokePowder Festival set for the Nelson, B.C areaFebruary 23-25. The festival bills itself as “a grass-roots gathering of skiers and snowboarderscelebrating the deep, untouched snow onlyfound in the backcountry.” Heavyhitters Mountain Gear and Arc’teryx are working with backcountry skier Nils Larsen to make it anational affair, including clinics, demos, exhibitors, competitions, and socialsall weekend. For more informationvisit http://www.mountaingear.com/coldsmoke.
Hidden Huts and Outlaw Hideouts. Outlaw huts-these quirky, rustic shacks often resemble homeless encampments more than alpine chalets. In true outlaw spirit, these highly secretive, typically illegal shelters are excellent places for those in-the-know to escape the winter elements, toss back a cold one, or warm up the lungs next to the oft-included wood stove. They come in all shapes and sizes, from sauna-sized hovels to 30 – 40 foot cabin structures hacked out of the woods. And while they’re free and unofficially open to the public-at least to anyone who can find them and make friends with the locals-you shouldn’t expect a Best Illegal Huts of the Inland Northwest to be published anytime soon, thank god.
One such shelter in the Colville National Forest was known to some throughout its brief life as the “Visquane Villa.” The popular gathering place was cobbled together by backcountry skiers way back in the lawless 90s, before such secret places began appearing in the pages of major ski magazines. One anonymous Villa frequenter recalled its construction fondly: “It was a simple A-frame with 3-4″ poles, tarps and plastic sheeting. Eventually, canvas was added along with a wooden floor consisting of pallets with plywood laid over top and two bunks that slept four, although three was better.” Unfortunately, like many of the hidden huts that never met the approval of various land management agencies, commercial resorts, and their insurance providers, the Villa was recently dismantled at the public’s expense.
Other outlaw huts reportedly pop up from time to time anywhere skiers and snowboarders congregate, and, apparently, are burned down or hauled off by the local authorities as soon as the impact becomes too obvious or the word reaches the resort cafeteria lunch line. So, if you’re one of the few who cherishes the rustic splendor of your own hidden hut, a word of advice: Shhhhhh.
Disclaimer: While some of us at OTM might think the DIY, outlaw hut thing is a really neat idea (in theory), we do not endorse, condone, or encourage such illegal activity-especially when the construction includes green-tree logging and other sketchy environmental consequences and/or we can’t find the damn things for our own personal use and enjoyment.
Public Huts and Yurts: For those that prefer to play by the rules, there are a number of legal winter warming options scattered about the Inland Northwest. Close to home, several day-use, on-mountain shelters are open to the public at local resorts-check web sites or call your favorite resort for details on how to find them. Honorable mentions go to Mt. Spokane for the Vista House at the top of Chair 1 (http://www.mtspokane.com) and 49 Degrees North’s new warming yurt at the Nordic trail system parking area (http://www.ski49n.com/nordic.asp).
Overnight backcountry hut and yurt rentals within a days drive are too numerous to cover here, so we included a few web sites with all the info you’ll need to plan a trip this winter:
Alpine Club of Canada’s British Columbia Huts & Lodges: http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/facility/info.html
Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains Yurts & Shelters: http://www.wallowahuts.com and http://www.wingski.com
North Cascades Rendezvous Huts: http://www.methow.com or 1-800-257-2452.
If you want the scoop on local mountain culture you’ll need to look further than the national glossy mags such as Outside, Backcountry, and Powder. These rags are great but they fall short on the local scene. Here are five pubs guaranteed to jumpstart your season.
Kootenay Mountain Culture is a beautifully put together bi-annual pub from Nelson, BC that focuses like a laser on mountain lifestyle. “Mountain culture didn’t have a voice,” says editor Mitchell Scott describing the impetus for launching the magazine five years ago. Along with lush printing, great photos, and extended recreation features in KMC you’ll find content on mountain history and the environment.
“I’m very interested in the relationship between people and mountains,” says Scott. “We want to look at what’s happening in the transition from resource economy to tourism economy.” Did he mention getting major freestyle-air? They cover that too. You can pick KMC up from time to time at local gear shops, or subscribe and order back issues online at http://www.kmcmag.com.
If you don’t know what the term Off-Piste means you ought to pick up a copy and see why the magazine of the same names describes itself as “The Backcountry Adventure Journal.” Founder David Waag started the magazine eight years ago because “I couldn’t find what I wanted in other backcountry magazines.”
Off-Piste is a great read for anyone interesting in backcountry skiing, telemark and touring. “You are not going to see people hucking themselves off cliffs,” says Waag of the publication that comes out four times a season between October and March. While Off-Piste covers the world in its goal to “capture the spirit of backcountry skiing” there’s often great info about the Inland Northwest. Like KMC, you can pick up Off-Piste from time to time at local gear shops, or subscribe and order back issues online at
Sandpoint Magazine is published twice a year by Keokee Co. Publishing and is a great resource for mountain culture in the Lake Pend Oreille area. The latest issue has articles on Schweitzer Ski Patrol and Selkirk Snowcatting. “It’s a lifestyle and recreation magazine about Sandpoint,” say publisher Chris Bessler. “We are trying to make it for both tourists and locals.” If the Winter 2007 issue is any indication they’re doing a good job. You can pick up a free copy at the visitor information centers in Spokane, Post Falls and Coeur d’ Alene or go to http://www.sandpointonline.com. Keokee also publishes books including local recreation guides.
Even though it’s very Colorado-centric we would be lame if we didn’t mention the venerable Mountain Gazette in a mountain culture pub round up. The mags motto is “When in doubt, go higher.” The Mountain Gazette is literary with a capital “L”, but without a hint of stuffiness. Think Edward Abbey and Hunter S. Thompson. The Gazette features writers like Charles Bowden and last year’s OTM Outdoor Writing contest winner Ana Maria Spagna-as well as poetry in every issue. Always entertaining, the Mountain Gazette can be found at Mountain Goat Outfitters and Mountain Gear or at
North Columbia Monthly may not have the wider regional reach of the some of the previously mentioned titles, but it’s a must for anyone out and about in the Chewelah, Colville, and Kettle Falls area. Covering Northern Washington arts, entertainment and recreation NCM also has an excellent monthly calendar that includes some events from Southern BC. Readers are treated to regular offerings from local historian Jack Nisbet, too. You can find North Columbia Monthly free at locations in Spokane, or at
Mountain Music Scene
If you’re the kind of mountain freak who gets to the mountain early, eats three solid meals in the lodge, and has a few drinks in the bar before heading back down to reality, you know that live music forms the backbone of apres-ski socializing. After all, what could be better than jiving to a local band without paying cover and without having to get dressed up?
The area mountains aren’t planning on letting you down this year, Mr. I’m-So-Hot-Dancing-In-My-Snowtights.
According to Jim Schreiber, Lookout’s Marketing Manager, there won’t be much dancing in Lookout Pass’s lodge this winter, but there will be plenty of music and fun. “Most of the music starts in January,” Schreiber says, “we’re just geared toward putting them in the day lodge and letting them play the music.”
Ole Oleson, a Coeur d’Alene band, is the one confirmed act at Lookout; they’ll be playing in conjunction with the brew fest, February 3, but Schreiber says to expect music on the mountain throughout the season.
At Silver Mountain, the main stage is under the snow, but “once the season gets cranking we like to have live music at Terrible Edith’s,” says Stephen Lane, Marketing Manager. Silver also hosts local bands from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene in the Moguls Lounge throughout the season. No specific bands have been booked to play yet, but “we like to offer a mix of good bar bands,” says Lane, and (like the other mountains, as well) the roster will be posted on the website as soon as bands and dates are confirmed.
According to Patrick Sande of Schweitzer, “there are two main venues: Taps in the lodge, and we also play music in the Chimney Rock restaurant.” Most of the live music happens in Taps, the lodge bar. This year, “we’re starting a monthly music series,” says Sande, that would include at least one headliner each month, such as the Clumsy Lovers, who will play on New Year’s Eve.
Schweitzer also has an open mic night every Thursday, starting in December, and various local bands in Taps throughout the season.
At Mt. Spokane this year, you can expect about six nights of music throughout the season in the Foggy Bottom Lounge, says Gabe Lawson, Marketing Manager. Lawson also mentioned the prospect of Wired Wednesdays, a “kind of club night” with like-named sponsors. If partying it up in your downhill attire interests you, keep an eye on the website for more information.
49 Degrees is still putting the finishing touches on their music calendar for the season, but no details were available when this article went to press. Please visit their website on up-to-date information.
Most of the music at Mt. Spokane will be “a very wide mix-everything from acoustic folk rock to local alternative bands,” says Lawson.
So, if you’re one of those people who likes to spend a lot of time on the mountain, take a hat so your helmet hair doesn’t obstruct the view of people behind you in the bar, don’t forget a little change for local bands’ tip jars, and check out the mountain music scene.
Information on events will be posted on the websites of each mountain, at http://www.mtspokane.com, http://www.skilookout.com, http://www.ski49n.com, http://www.schweitzer.com, and http://www.silvermt.com.
Magazine Article |
When it comes to getting through the long cold Inland Northwest winters, most of us treat our cars better than we treat our bodies.
In preparation for sub-zero temperatures and icy roads, we winterize our Subarus wth a flush and fill, replace the windshield wiper blades, head to Les Schwab for snow tires, and make sure we have extra batteries for the flashlight and trail mix in the glovebox (does anyone actually use these for gloves?).
And yet our bodies tend to take a lot of extra abuse from November through February. Pumpkin pie, extra gravy, fudge and an abundance of alcohol combine with less activity to contribute to lower fitness levels, seasonal weight gain and possible added stress and depression. Yes, we are hard-wired to hunker down for the dark days of the coming season and put on a little weight to keep us warm through the ancestral “famine” of winter, but should we really let our summer activity levels die off only to start up again (often painfully) come spring?
Washington’s Independent Physical Therapists are launching a statewide campaign recommending “Active Hibernation” as a method of staying fit and happy during these slower months. According to Debbie Peterson, physical therapist with Northside Physical Therapy in Spokane, the concept of “Active Hibernation” is being promoted in an effort to encourage people to reduce common springtime strains and sprains by remaining active throughout the winter.
Peterson recommends people not only take advantage of indoor exercise facilities like gyms, swimming pools and climbing walls, but that we get outside during daylight hours, as well. A lunch-hour walk in the sunshine or an afternoon at a favorite local ski hill can not only maintain fitness, but reduce stress, anxiety and the northern-climate “winter blues,” or more seriously, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, commonly known as “SAD.”
Rebecca Bohn, M.A., a Spokane licensed mental health counselor who specializes in anxiety and teaches classes in stress management, says a sedentary lifestyle increases the likelihood of depression, and depression increases the likelihood of a sedentary lifestyle. “Chronic stress can lead to depression and anxiety, which can increase in winter months due to decreases in activity and sunlight. Exercise is not a magic bullet but it is a powerful remedy for realigning brain chemistry by increasing production of feel-good neurotransmitters, and by burning up hormones produced when our bodies are under stress,” says Bohn.
Finding the time to exercise can be difficult in our busy lives, especially during the harried holiday season. Peterson says that new research shows that shorts bursts of intermittent exercise are beneficial in bringing about changes and maintaining current fitness levels. “The hardest thing about exercising is putting on your shoes,” maintains Peterson. “Once you’ve done that, you have made the commitment to move. You don’t need to set aside a full hour-I tell my patients to make appointments with themselves for exercise, even in 20 or 30 minutes blocks of time.”
The “Active Hibernation” campaign is also suggesting we mitigate weight gain due to lower activity levels and holiday temptations with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, water and lean sources of protein. Peterson recommends we make an “eating plan” at the beginning of each day, planning meals and bringing healthy snacks to work so hunger pangs won’t steer us toward the holiday cookie platters in the break room every afternoon.
Washington Independent Physical Therapists recommend using a physical therapist for consultation with winter exercise programs to avoid strain or injury when participating in a fitness routine, particularly running where proper alignment is important. “It’s like driving your car around with the wheels out of alignment,” says Peterson. “Eventually, you will do damage to your tires and vehicle. It’s the same thing with our bodies.”
For more information on Active Hibernation please visit http://www.itsyourmove.com.
Magazine Article |
At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market my favorite exhibitors weren’t the big names like North Face, Columbia, or Teva. I love visiting the little guys in the small booths with nothing more than an innovative idea and a prayer.
Vaughn Outdoor makes the CZIP glove. These are sweet winter gloves with leather fingers and Primaloft insulation. What makes them different is the zipper spanning the back of your palm. In an instant you can unzip the gloves and free up your bare fingers for anything you might need them for without taking off your gloves. This an excellent feature for skiing. Any quick adjustment that needs your fingertips can be completed before your hands have a chance to get cold and without the possibility of dropping your glove. Hello Mr. Vaughn, where were these things in 1981 when I still had a paper route?
Another gimicky product that I proudly use was also introduced to me at a small table at OR Winter Market. The Snot Spot is a wearable, washable fleece nose wipe. Sounds gross, but innovation isn’t always pretty. It’s basically like a partial sleeve that fits over your wrist and one finger that you can use to wipe your nose. You know how they say a bird can eat three times it’s weight a day? Well the fleece Snot Spot can absorb triple its weight in nose mucus. How do I know? Let’s just say I’ve tested the product extensively. My snoz runs like a faucet when I’m outdoors in the snow. Now I’m covered with the Snot Spot instead of covered with snot.
An item that I will not be testing anytime soon is the Avalanche Backpack System. It’s like a parachute-if you are caught in an avalanche you pull the rip-cord and large inflatable pillows deploys enabling the wearer to rise above the falling snow to safety. The company boasts a 95% survival rate on their website. My question is who field tested this thing? It’s something ‘Q’ would be proud of. Just imagine the world’s greatest spy eluding persuers in the Alps. Bond purposely triggers an avalanche-the bad guys eat snow while Mr. Bond whips out his Avalanche Backpack System and gently floats to the top of the mountain where some hottie in a helicopter awaits.
Any of these items could be great for the hottie in your life.
Happy Holidays. Think snow.
Editorial, Magazine Article |
Paper Television (K)
You know the frustration you feel when you KNOW a piece of music sounds EXACTLY like something else you’ve heard but you have NO idea what it is? Enter the Blow’s latest disc. This voice sounds so familiar, these beats, reminiscent. I have suspicions that I have heard something similar, though maybe it just reminds me of something I’ve dreamt about, because I’m also convinced that the Blow is a safe/frickin’ sweet bet regardless.
BLUES SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS
Love is Not Enough (King of Hearts)
Portland has so much great music happening right now-The Thermals on the national end, the local side rounded out by the greatness of The Shotgun, Adam Gnade, Wet Confetti, Dave Allen’s various offerings, and on, on, on, on. There is so much happening there, so much to focus on, that we really don’t need to dwell on the have-nots. So, close yr eyes, plug yr nose and disregard this one, as it’s offering nothing of the mindbending energy of which Portland is capable.
Talk to Your Kids About Gangs (Skin Graft)
By past resumes alone, Holy Smokes could easily be a band that one need pay attention to. With a collective of experiences including Pinback, Hella and The Advantage (supergroup, anyone?), the band began in 2003 as a project to write the soundtrack to founding member Zach Hill’s book (released on Seattle stamp Suicide Squeeze that year). But forget it all. Mixing elements of shoegaze, experimental, psych and pop, Holy Smokes, and this, their amazingly, perfectly titled disc, are something of note all on their own. Fans of any of the aforementioned bands and styles should most certainly check it.
Emergency at the Everday (Secretariat)
Any band brave enough to travel out on the road with a band called Green Milk from the Planet Orange has to win some points. The Mall is that band. I’m favoring punk tunes lately-deal with it! The Mall mixes in the keys and tambourines in generous proportions, making the punk pill easier to swallow, and the wails a bit lighter to the ears. Check it out, along with its “My neighbor, Mika.”
I passed on writing about Mika Miko’s latest disc last month because it didn’t grab me when it strolled through the stereo. BUT! Minds change, and that mine did after seeing this LA-based band open for the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower a couple weeks ago in their native land. Mika Miko is a band of young lasses who have energy to spare, smiles a-plenty, and a sound that’s both unique and a welcomingly familiar-the early Le Tigre card is well played. Can the disc live up to the live show? I don’t know now, I gave it to a friend.
NOW IT’S OVERHEAD
Dark Light Daybreak (Saddle Creek)
When Now It’s Overhead forgets to be superficial and snooze-inducing, they can really manage something. Read: By song 6 I was grabbed, but it took that long. That’s not good. Saddle Creek’s Omaha empire has so much to offer, so much good taste. Pull an aforementioned “Portland” and try to forget Overhead, favoring instead the greatness of their peers, as there’s plenty to choose from. Bright Eyes? The Faint? Broken Spindles? TWO GALLANTS??? We could go on all day!
Do This! (Monktale)
This is the latest offering by the Seattle jazz sextet Reptet. You need to buy this cd for one of three reasons. A: You enjoy music that embodies the creativity of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and swings like a classic Charles Mingus session. B: You say you like jazz but are afraid of anything that might step out of the mainstream, well Reptet can introduce you to some of creative sounds you have been missing while keeping one foot well within “the tradition”. C: It has a decidedly hip Jim Flora cover. Whatever the reason, just Get It!, you won’t be sorry.
Tales of the Troubador (Silver Treason Records)
If you were alive and going to punk shows in the early ’80s you may remember art-punk enigmas M’na M’na. Former Spokanite and current Seattle resident Kevin Cameron was the lead singer of M’na and Silver Treason is his baby. It’s an uneven collection owing mostly to the fact it was written over a couple decades but there are some neo-folk/rock gems here including beautiful song about divorce froma kid’s view.
Revenge of the Killer Slits (S.A.F.)
After 17 years, the Slits return with a new EP, and a new slew of tour dates. Dmonstrations and Mika Miko share bill on select dates, which makes it a trio of terrificness. Back to the Slits. The new tunes are solid, heavily punked out, coming from a set of gals (how do we refer to ladies when they are this tough?) that know a thing or two about what they’re up to-the band opened for the Clash back in ’77, after all. The cover art also just happens to look like the artwork from Hedwig, so that’s an extra score.
The Centre Will Hold (Holocene)
Girls appear to be the theme this month, and a welcome addition to the roster is Swan Island, a group of five from Portland, OR. Vocalist Brisa Gonzalez channels Debbie Harry, while the rest of the group creates ’80s-flavored punk tunes that are being compared to the likes of former PNW “it” Sleater-Kinney. There’s a lot of power in this band, and the disc does well to preview what it will be that takes the band that one step further, their personality. They appear baby-faced in their promo photos, though it’d be hard to say just how fresh and young the band is-it’s also hard to see past the fact that one of the members of this “all-female” crew is clearly named Bob. Hmmm.
Umber Sleeping (Space Rocker)
Let’s throw out convention. Let’s lay our cards of influence on the table. Let’s write songs inspired by Three’s Company. What? Tacoma’s Umber Sleeping has released its most recent full-length, which includes three songs inspired by three distinct episodes of the Suzanne Somers’ cringefest. Luckily, the music outdoes its predecessor. The first couple songs will take a few additional listens, but songs three and four, “Downhill Chaser” (inspired by the episode of the same name) and “Arcade Days” (inspired by the late ’70s and early ’80s), are so good it’ll make ya scream for more.
Vaxination (self-released) LOCAL
Already fast tracked for local superstardom, Vax Lavala’s debut disc comes on the heels of their mind-blowing BOBfest appearance last summer-a break from the screaming, wailing doofs was sooo very welcome-and a slew of dates that followed that catapulted them to the tip of every Spokane scenester’s tongue. Vaxination houses genre-mixing and line-blurring a-plenty (which appears a Spokane mainstay at this point), all with the underlying charm of a band of fellas who are excited, energized, and ready to continue their uphill climb in the scene (even if my copy had a few-literal-blips and stops along the way, xo). Keep up the good work, I say!
Magazine Article, Music Reviews |
A Mile In Her Boots: Women Who Work In The Wild
Jennifer Bové, Editor
Solas House, 2006, 296 pages.
After reading A Mile in Her Boots, I may never again complain about my aching back after a hard day at the laptop.
For the women who contributed to this compilation of true stories, “going to the office” can mean anything from waking at dawn to set nets for the pink salmon run, to jumping from an airplane into a forest fire far below. Editor Jennifer Bové has brought together an inspiring group of smart, strong and gutsy women.
The writing styles in A Mile in Her Boots is as varied as the profiled outdoor jobs and their natural settings. In “Caught for Sure,” a sweet and short story by Mary Jane Butters (of Mary Jane’s Farm) about her days with the Forest Service in the 70s, we are treated to an anecdote about a na•ve young woman with the fishing patience of a hungry bear. I especially loved Leslie Leyland Fields’ visceral “Hurled to the Shark” and the Old Testament passages weaved into a tale of a seasonal battle with herself and the sea.
Bové included a story of her own with “First Night at Field Camp,” a brief glimpse at her work as a field biologist, trying to act like “one of the guys” to get along with the summer crew, while simultaneously praying she remembered to tuck tampons in her backpack.
And I will never forget Lori Messenger’s “Milk.” The image of new mother Messenger sitting behind a tree, on break from setting controlled burns and smoke jumping, desperately cursing her inadequate hand pump while trying to express breast milk into a bottle had me laughing in sympathy and admiration.
The women’s work done in A Mile in Her Boots is all over the map. Literally. But a common theme in these stories is one of the intense satisfaction and the sense of being completely awake to their lives from working in nature and from using their muscles as intensely as they do their minds.
Angie Dierdorff Petro
Blossoms are Ghosts at the Wedding
Empty Bowl Press, July 2006, 165 pages.
Thoughtful people choose words carefully. Writers, particularly those engaged in responding as clearly as they can to the natural world, are fated with a privileged obsession: seeking the precisely right words to best illuminate their experiences.
Tom Jay offers a range of observations on attentiveness to words we choose to enliven our affinities in his new book, Blossoms are Ghosts at the Wedding.
Jay, also an accomplished sculptor and co-founder of long-lasting Northwest salmon habitat restoration projects, juxtaposes poems, essays and commentaries to lead a reader into understanding that an appreciation for the roots of language leads directly to connecting more fully with the place where you live. A surprise is that, for all the complexity in his writing there is not a whiff of abstraction; it is as rich and dense as the soil beneath your feet.
How does a book like this work? A favorite reference by Wendell Berry quoting one of his neighbors on the problem of being unable to tell anybody how to do something practical: “I can’t tell you how to do that but I can put you where you can learn.” Jay’s style achieves an unusual intimacy with the reader and you find you are discovering material that matters. It is very personal storytelling about a love of key ancestor words, about passionate involvements in place-based relationships and luminous poems of all of this nuanced reflection.
And, just a mention about the muse for all of you writers who care about that crucial relationship: Jay provides a definitive commentary on this subject that should be required reading for all introspective people seeking their way home.
Conventional wisdom, with its shallow roots and pathology for detached objectivity, has utterly failed us. Robinson Jeffers: “A little too abstract, a little too wise/It is time for us to kiss the earth again.” Jay shares some things to consider while deepening that intricate courtship with where you live.
Book Reveiws, Magazine Article, News |
There was six inches of fresh powder over a righteous base and I was seriously shredding-practically cliff-hucking, and that’s when I caught more air than I’d intended and found myself about to go tree-jibbing. So I bailed, dude.
I rolled off my sled.
Went home and had some cocoa.
See, I’m a sledder. I don’t even know what most of that stuff in the first paragraph means.
For too long, sledders like me have been ignored by the outdoors media and by the recreation marketplace. Where’s the sled swap at the beginning of every season? Where’s Warren Miller’s movie about extreme sledding? (With a wide shot of a sun-silhouetted crevasse as I sail over it sitting cross-legged on a ketchup-colored saucer.)
I also ski a little, but my real winter sport is sledding. Honestly, skiing is too much work. With sledding, you don’t have to leave the city. It’s cheap. It doesn’t take all day. And best of all, you don’t have to endure snobbish and self-important skiers or snowboarders looking down on you because you don’t happen to own ski clothes and happen to be skiing in gray sweatpants and a suede coat.
With my kids, I go to the usual sledding resorts-Indian Canyon and Downriver golf courses, Mission and Manito parks. But for real extreme sledding, like skiing, you have to venture off the beaten path to those overlooked places-South Hill streets and ungroomed urban hillsides. My personal favorite used to be the Post Street Hill near Garland.
And to think I almost quit my favorite sport once.
It was many years ago. I had gone sledding with one of my previous wives and another couple at Mission Park in the Valley. At one point the male in this other couple made the seemingly harmless suggestion that I sled with his wife and that he go down the hill with mine.
So this attractive woman climbs on my plastic sled and nestles in behind me. Right away, I notice that she’s squeezing me pretty tight and in a somewhat unorthodox way. Then, as we’re soaring down the hill, one of her hands wanders and approaches my … uh, well, the demilitarized zone.
Like most men, I have a Pavlovian response when someone’s hand crosses the Mason Dixon line, so by the time we got to the bottom of the hill I had to stall for a few minutes before I could climb off the slide. (“No, I’m just going to sit here for a seconds until I remember where I put my car keys.”)
That’s when gropie’s husband came racing down the hill with my wife, and at first I was afraid she was going to see my condition through my gray sweatpants, and that’s when I noticed this other guy draped over my wife like leather on a cow.
Needless to say, we got out of there as quickly as possible. Uh, after ten or fifteen more runs. We had apparently stumbled on some kind of sledding swingers community, right here in Spokane. (I imagine their sick, cocoa-and-ecstasy fueled orgies and it disgusts me … well, actually it intrigues me just a little, but then I really like cocoa.)
Jess Walter’s new novel, The Zero, is available in bookstores
Jess Walters: The Urban Outdoors, Magazine Article |
Want to be a professional skier?
Step One: Learn to ski as soon as possible. Step Two: Continue to seek mountains that will challenge you. Step Three: Get your picture taken. Step Four: Keep pushing yourself.
At least, that’s what Cheney-grown Micah Black did. The freeskiing superstar got his start in the world of skiing at age three, conquering the lifts at 49 Degrees North. He skied Schweitzer and Silverhorn before giving up on the Northwest and moving to Steamboat, Colorado. He has lived in Jackson Hole, WY; Whistler, BC; Chamonix, France; and Alaska-continuing to specialize as a kick-butt couloir skier and big mountain bad-ass. What gets him down the slopes?
Skis: The Rossignol B4 in the 185 length. Black’s a big guy, but he says, “I don’t need a long ski, I like them shorter.”
Boots: Also Rossignol; Black uses their freeride boot, the Bandit. “Boots are the most important piece of gear-if my feet aren’t happy, I don’t ski well.” The Bandit B16 boot features a custom air fit, Velcro fit, a lycra toe box, and a 3D adjustable tongue.
Bindings: Also Rossignol (oh, the terrible monotony of being a sponsored skier). “I like the Rossignol setup because I can use them everywhere-on powder and crud, big mountain and groomers-they can go everywhere.”
Goggles: Smith Turbo Fan goggle. That’s right, there’s actually a small, battery-powered fan in them. “They’re great,” says Black, “because when they get all fogged up, you can get the fan going and you’re good to go.”
Helmet: “I don’t wear a helmet all the time, but when I go to a big mountain, I definitely do.” Smith recently started making helmets, so Black no longer has to worry about a goggle gap between his lenses and his helmet. The new Smith Holt helmet “features the Smith AirEvac(tm) drafting system: incorporated vents which help draw air up through the goggle to the back of the helmet,” according to a press release.
Long undies: “I don’t actually wear long underwear usually,” says Black. A t-shirt on top and surf shorts are his usual under-armor. If you saw Black’s ski/surf session in Morocco, featured in Anomaly, you might understand the logic here. Actually, Black says that with the knee pads and bracing system he wears, in addition to toasty ski socks, he doesn’t need any more layers. “If you overlayer, it’s like running your car when it’s too hot-it just doesn’t perform well.”
Outerwear: “A puffy jacket” (by Spyder), and pants (by Spyder), and gloves (by Spyder).
Backpack: Dakine’s Vertex.
Accessories: “I try to travel as light as possible,” says Black, “but when you’re a professional big mountain skier, that means also carrying avalanche gear (a shovel and a transceiver), a radio and a cell phone.”
If you missed Micah Black in person when he was touring with the latest Teton Gravity Research film, Anomaly, he’ll be back. “I just bought an RV,” he said, “I’m going to come back and do a sort of grassroots tour.” He’ll be hitting local ski resorts mid-December through New Year’s.
Magazine Article, What's Your Gear? |