Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts

July 12, 2020

The Mountain Gazette is Back (Again)

I missed out on the original 1960s Mountain Gazette — too young, but I subscribed during the M. John Fayee era (the 2000s) and still have my "When in Doubt, Go Higher" T-shirt someplace.
The last person to resurrect Mountain Gazette in 2000 after a more than 20-year hiatus was M. John Fayhee, a legendary journalist and scribe who spent 12 years at the helm of the magazine. His insightful eye reshaped Mountain Gazette, with irreverent barstool insight, an abiding appreciation of the West’s characters, an razor-sharp criticism of interlopers seeking to get rich on a town’s culture and landscapes, and a stable of the region’s top writers. His approach celebrated the artistic and literary heritage forged by its founder, Mike Moore, with long-form essays — think wandering 25,000-word explorations of Western culture, weather, and life and death in high-elevation towns — and a definitive rebuke of flashy outdoor mags heavy with gear reviews and top-10 lists.
That quote is from a Colorado Sun piece on the Mountain Gazette's third incarnation, now in the womb.
Appreciation for the Mountain Gazette never died, even when it stopped publishing. Older issues can be found in curated collections in antique stores. Lovers of the magazine collect them like precious vinyl records.

And now the journal of culture and commentary is getting a second, second chance.

Mike Rogge, a 34-year-old skier and new dad from Lake Tahoe, is breathing new life into the idled magazine, hoping to revive the glory days when Mountain Gazette harbored the stories and characters that defined high-country culture.

Rogge bought the dormant Mountain Gazette and its website in January from Summit Publishing Co., which prints the popular, free Elevation Outdoors magazine seen on racks all over Colorado.
The new plan is for a glossy, semiannual sort of "coffee table magazine," not sold on newstands, with "long-form stories, essays, and poetry capturing mountain town culture" and  "stunning, large format photography" for $60 per year. More information here. 

Clothing and accessories (merch) are already available, so if you are unsure about the magazine, you can get the bumper sticker.

April 27, 2020

Corvids Are Smart and Have a Better PR Agency

Crow with tool (Cornell University).
Corvids (crows, magpies, ravens, jays) are smart birds. So are parrots. But what I notice is that the Corvidae are better at getting their message out. Now why is that?

Take this article from Science Daily, "How Birds Evolved Big Brains." It seems even-handed:
The two groups of birds with truly exceptional brain sizes evolved relatively recently: parrots and corvids (crows, ravens, and kin). These birds show tremendous cognitive capacity, including the ability to use tools and language, and to remember human faces. The new study finds that parrots and crows exhibited very high rates of brain evolution that may have helped them achieve such high proportional brain sizes.
But then the photo (not the one here) is of a crow, and the closing quote is this bit of corvid triumphantalism:
"Crows are the hominins of the bird kingdom," says co-author Dr. Jeroen Smaers of Stony Brook University. "Like our own ancestors, they evolved proportionally massive brains by increasing both their body size and brain size at the same time, with the brain size increase happening even more rapidly."
Corvids are better than parrots at manipulating the news media, after all, but maybe it's not that hard. 

April 02, 2020

Springtime, Vultures, and Snow

Spring is an iffy business on the Eastern Slope of the Rockies. Dad had one all-purpose adjective for it: "putrid."

There are areas of the Western Slope that have fiercer winters yet almost manage a proper spring. Like right now it is 59° F. in Durango while it is 40° F at my house, and both are at approximately the same elevation: 6500–6600 feet.

Turkey vulture
But there are signs. Driving toward Pueblo on Monday morning, March 30, I saw a turkey vulture eating a roadkill skunk by the highway, while M. spotted one overhead as she was out walking back at home.

Today a letter to the editor in the county weekly proclaimed "Vultures are back." (The message was to watch where you park your vehicle in town.) I like living where vultures are worth a headline.

Monday evening a little rain-and-graupel squall blew through, complete with thunder. The first thunder of the season. With thunder comes lightning — back in April 2011 we had to evacuate in front of a lively little (2500 acres) forest fire that was put out by  . . . a snowstorm.

Maybe Dad was right. Putrid.

So we look for wildflowers — only spring beauty (Claytonia) has shown up yet. M. picked a few early dandelion leaves and put them in a salad largely for what she admitted was symbolic value, but we have to obey the hunter-gather imperative.

I am expecting one or two more snows, in the natural order of things. And hummingbirds.

April 20, 2019

This is the Best Bigfoot Podcast

Earlier this month I was in a bar in San Marcos, Texas talking about Bigfoot, as one does. Some friends who teach at Texas State University there had organized a conference on "monsters" in literature, religion, folklore, cryptozoology, etc.

I was trying to come up with the last name of the late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist, but having a brief memory lapse when the guy sitting next to me supplied it. An instructor at the U. of North Carolina at Charlotte, he was a walking Bigfoot database.

My connection to Krantz was just that I had worked at Johnson Books in Boulder, which published his Bigfoot-is-an-actual-ape book Big Footprints: An Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch.  (Johnson is now part of Bower House.)You can read about Krantz and Bigfoot in Smithsonian.

I had left Johnson Books by then, so I did not get to meet him, but the editorial director sent me a copy. I read a lot of it by lantern light at night, curled up in my van, parked at some duck-hunting spot in the San Luis Valley. It helps to be alone in the dark when reading any Bigfoot book.

The guy sitting next to me offered another piece of information: Lauren Krantz, Gover's distant cousin, a former National Public Radio reporter-producer, started a Bigfoot-related podcast last year, Wild Thing

Wild Thing is the best-produced podcast that I have ever heard. So many of the podcasts out there consist of one person ranting, or two or three buddies Skyping or calling via cellphone, so that sound levels are inconsistent as they can be. They trash-talk each other or swap in-house gossip or talk about what they are for lunch, and it just drags on.

I can think of one podcast where the main hostess is trying to answer questions in a chatroom while her guests are talking, so you hear the tickety-tock of her keyboard all the time.

Not here. When it comes to production values, Krantz's podcast sounds as good as Radio Diaries or This American Life, if you ever listen to any public radio.

Wild Thing
Nor is Krantz a "true believer." She describes her subject as " our collective fascination with Bigfoot," and the first episode is devoted to learning about her cousin Grover, whom she never knew when he was alive. Read summaries of episodes here. Mostly she follows the issues raised by Grover Krantz's hypothesis of a surviving giant ape, as opposed to UFOs and "interdimensional beings."

Hear her interviewed on Skeptic magazine's Monster Talk podcast. And here is Krantz interviewed by the Seattle Times: "Bigfoot Hunters Aren't Crazy, Just Curious."

She talks to experts, visits Bigfoot sites, and sits down for an interview with Bob Gimlin, now in his late eighties, but still willing to discuss the social and economic price he paid for being half of the famous "Patterson-Gimin" film of 1967, which purports to show a minute of a female Bigfoot striding through a Northern California riparian zone.  There is the world of Bigfoot hunters and their disagreements, and of course, she goes on a Bigfoot hunt of her own.

You can find it on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Android, and on its own website. And buy T-shirts.

June 09, 2018

"One of Our 50 Is Missing"

Click to enlarge.
The current Southwestern drought does not stop at the border but extends into northwestern Mexico. Sitting here with a mid-day temperature of 98° F., humidity of 8 percent, and only a tenth of an inch of rain, if that, for the week, I was wondering When will it end?

So I went looking online for 2018 Southwestern monsoon forecasts and found one from The Weather Network. Pretty informative — but also geographically "challenged."

I scrolled down through the charts and graphs and found this video: "Must See: Time Lapse of the Monsoon Season in Mexico."  Late summer rains do start first in Mexico and then move northward. And ponderosa pine trees do grow in the Mexican Sierra Madre.

But wait — that logo says "Angel Fire Resort," which is in northern New Mexico, admitted to the Union in 1912.

And who will appreciate that error more (I hope) than the editors of New Mexico Magazine, which for decades has run an item in every issue titled "One of Our 50 Is Missing" (archived here).

Even today, traveling in the USA and elsewhere, New Mexico residents are complimented on how well they speak English, while postal clerks in other US states tell people that they must fill out a customs form to send a package to Las Cruces. And so on.

Should we cut TWN some slack because they are headquartered in Ontario?

January 21, 2017

When Liberals Turn Preppers

A new meme has been going around news media lately, the "liberal prepper."
The signs of change are surely in the air. Groups that cater to gun-toting bleeding hearts — such as the aptly named Liberal Gun Club — say they’ve seen a surge in paid membership since the election. Candid talk of disaster preparedness among progressives is showing up on social media. Even companies that outfit luxury “safe rooms” — which protect their wealthy owners from bombs, bullets, and chemical attacks — attribute recent boosts in business to the incoming administration.
Terrified by the so-called "Trumpapocalypse," this (presumably) Hillary voter is stocking up on guns and canned food — example: Colin Waugh of Independence, Mo., an "unapologetic liberal . . . no fan of firearms."

Read the article, watch Colin Waugh make a string of newbie mistakes, but don't be too judgmental.

And remember, we don't say "survivalist" any more; we say "prepper." 

For instance,  Waugh has been "browsing real estate listings in Gunnison County, Colorado, which he’s determined to be a 'liberal safe-haven.'"

Does he know that the average low temperature this month in Gunnison is -6° F. (-21° C)?  Does he know how short the growing season is? Or how expensive the college town/resort-area real estate is?

In the event the "Trumpapocalypse" occurs, does he plan to drive 750 miles across lawless prairies to his Secret Mountain Hideout?

He would be a lot better off staying in Missouri. I recommend Moniteau County. It's close by, has no large cities, and land is much more affordable.

To protect himself against "state-sanctioned roundups of Muslims, gays, and outspoken critics," Waugh has purchased two guns, a 9mm pistol and an unspecified shotgun.  I hope that he gets some serious instruction and practice with them. Start with the assumption that everything you see in movies and TV about guns is wrong. (People do not fly through the air when shot, for one thing.)

But here's the thing. Planning for disaster is a good thing. Sure, there is plenty of apocalypse porn out there, even "Trumpapocalypse"-porn, but you don't have to wallow it it.

Taking care of yourself and yours is a good plan. Government cannot do it — at least when disaster first strikes. Even with good resources and planning, it takes at least 48 hours for the wheels to turn, and that is a best-case scenario. 

(As a member of my county's emergency services board, I have seen plenty of planning and discussion, not to mind that I have been evacuated from my home four times in the last eleven years.)

As blogger Liz Shield writes, "Are we sure this guy isn't one of us? . . . . Welcome to the world of 'taking care of yourself and your family.'"

Anyone who is serious about self-defense, about food, and about general preparedness — "keeping your wits about you," etc. — is going to be a more effective citizen and less of a drain on public resources.

Unfortunately, bullets will not stop a Missouri ice storm.

July 12, 2016

Some Actual Journalism about Wildfire

Hayden Pass Fire, Fremont County, Colo.,
as of July 11, 2016.
Three years ago, after the Royal Gorge Fire, I was complaining that no one ever seemed to assign a cause to some of the big fires in southern Colorado, such as Waldo Canyon (2012) or Black Forest (2013).

Reporters go to the twice-daily fire briefings, they all file the same stories, be they print or electronic or web, and then there is no follow-up.

But here is one exception to that pattern: some actual reportage from the Colorado Springs Independent. The headline, however, is not too promising: "Waldo, Black Forest Fire investigations lurch to a standstill years later."
Four years later, though permits have been issued to rebuild 309 homes from Waldo and 311 from Black Forest, the causes of both fires remain a mystery, and barring a new revelation, they might go unsolved forever.

"I would love to say an arrest is imminent, but I can't say that," said El Paso County Sheriff's Commander Richard Hatch, who oversees the still-active Black Forest Fire investigation.

Colorado Springs Police Sgt. John Koch, a former investigator on the Waldo fire, says investigators are at a stalemate without a tip or new development that would unlock the puzzle.

"We still encourage members of the public with knowledge of suspicious activity to come forward," Koch says.
At least someone was arrested for starting the Cold Springs Fire, still burning west of Boulder. But really, don't we have enough homegrown idiots without having to import them from Alabama?

Further south, our skies are smoky from the still-rolling Hayden Pass Fire, which has passed 12,000 acres in size. (4,900 ha.) Blame lightning for that one. You can't arrest Thor.

I blame the reporters for passivity, but there is more than that. I worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, but I have also held an institutional public relations job.

Since I got into the emergency-services scene, however, I have been shocked at how these people seem to hate the news media.

When you consider the passivity of most reporters these days, that's sort of like hating springer spaniels.

Hence my moment of glee at seeing an actual follow-up story. Even though it offers no revelations, at least it is a progress report.

December 29, 2012

Bad News from Mountain Gazette

If you have been picking up free copies of  Mountain Gazette at your favorite high country coffee house, store, etc, or if like me you subscribed, those days are apparently over.

A recent letter from from MG speaks of a "pause" in publishing and a "next iteration of Mountain Gazette."

None of this sounds too encouraging.

Subscribers are being offered T-shirts and/or bumper stickers.

October 27, 2012

Under the Volcano (3): Random Fire Jottings

Residents arrive in a tour van to see ruins of their homes.
(Why I use the term "volcano.")

When M. and I went to Pueblo on a supply run, I had forgotten my cell phone, which is why I did not know about the fire until we started back and saw the big, horizontal smoke plume. At first I thought — hoped — it was a big grass fire out by Pueblo Reservoir. The first state patrolman who stopped us set me straight.

* * *
Stopped at the last of four roadblocks on Tuesday afternoon as we tried to get home, I talked with one of the local sheriff's deputies, who said something like, "Good luck with your house. I lost mine." And he clapped me on the shoulder and sent us through. Outwardly calm, doing his job.

* * *
Overheard at the one of the many folding tables in the firehouse: "Does anyone have, like, a team leader badge?"

* * *
From the latest update on InciWeb: "Incident Commander Jay Esperance expressed his gratitude for local firefighters and agencies saying, 'It's been an honor working with everyone.' "

It is nice to be recognized, no doubt as much for my folding-table hauling (facing the threat of arrest!) as for putting water on fire.

* * *
Listening to radio chatter, I decide that some sheriff's deputies take a positive pleasure in denying access to reporters, particularly TV reporters. (Someone from the local weekly, however, is escorted by the sheriff himself.)

TV people crack me up though: One reporter does a stand-up in front of a bare foundation. It is, however, the foundation of a roadside tavern that burned to the ground in 1948, if I have the date correct.

For print and television both, if you read the news release on InciWeb and then read or listen to the broadcast, you will see where almost every word comes from. One reporter at the Cañon City Daily Record seems to have no qualms about putting her byline on a news release without even making a telephone call or two to "put a new top on the story."

* * *
Some animals died in the fire. Some fended for themselves. On Thursday, when I was taping fliers to front doors, I came to one mobile home and found dry cat food scattered on the front steps. As I turned from the door, a tabby cat circled my feet, meeowing. "Sorry, kitty, the folks are not back yet — but they'll be here soon."