It’s been a year to remember! Click the link below to view The Sheet’s annual Year in Review issue, and we’ll see ya next year!
Posted on 30 December 2011.
It’s been a year to remember! Click the link below to view The Sheet’s annual Year in Review issue, and we’ll see ya next year!
Posted on 14 October 2011.
By: James Sallis
Mariner Books, 176 pages
For many of us, fall is the best time of year, when town gets quiet, locals take their vacations and you have one more chance before the crazy winter season to sit down with a great book.
For my fall “trashic” selection, I suggest “Drive,” a hardboiled noir with a modern twist by author James Sallis.
Like George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” (my summer’s Trashics pick), “Drive” is a piece of genre fiction that manages to do more with its genre than most. In this case, “Drive” belongs firmly to the Raymond Chandler tradition of sharp and poetic detective novels, although this protagonist isn’t a fedora-wearing tough-guy P.I., but a young stunt driver who moonlights as a heist getaway man.
Like any good noir, the drama kicks into gear when Driver, as the protagonist is simply known, finds himself double-crossed on a job, and has to track down the ones who double-crossed him in order to save his own life. The book has a lot of other things you’d expect from a noir: a beautiful but possibly treacherous broad, a sweet wife whose husband has a habit of getting into trouble, a secretly soft-hearted gangster. But through a combination of elliptical narrative and spare, lyrical prose, Sallis manages to turn the story into something that feels almost profound: a meditation on chance, and how apparently simple decisions can change the course of one’s life. Take this opening passage:
“Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there’d be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn’s late light at the windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room….”
Sallis continues in this fashion, with rhythmic lines that lull you like the backseat of a car cruising down a dark and lonely road.”
Now I’ve always been a sucker for noir, and this one doesn’t disappoint. But I was actually turned onto “Drive” by a friend who’d seen the recent film adaptation (with Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman), and said it was every bit as stylish and even philosophical as the source material.
Like “Game of Thrones,” this slice of genre fiction offers something more to the non-genre reader: beautiful prose, if nothing else, and a dream-like narrative that reflects on chance and fate. But for anyone who enjoys a good book, “Drive” is a compulsive read that keeps you guessing until the end, unsure whether Driver has a chance in hell of surviving his increasingly violent vendetta.
Look for “Drive” at your favorite local bookstore – The Booky Joint in Mammoth or Spellbinder Books in Bishop
Posted on 15 April 2011.
I can’t take it anymore. I have held off in the hope things would get better, but it is killing me.
“American Idol” is just atrocious. I’ve loved Idol in the past, but not this year.
First, no Simon Cowell. Like him or hate him, he was brutally honest. Instead, the producers have stacked the judge’s table with people who will shower even the worst talent with praise just to make the show look good and keep from hurting the feelings of these screeching banshees.
Randy Jackson, God bless him, tried to blow some of them up, but Steven “Claymation-face” Tyler and J Lo are all about blowing sunshine and hugs up everyone’s sorry ass. J Lo is as silly as Paula Abdul was and she only took this show to revive her own Code Blue career, not make someone else’s. And J Lo was recently voted the most beautiful woman alive? Now, that is just silly.
Note: The Sheet editorial staff disagrees with Hartley on this point.
Meanwhile, all that Aerosmith-ing in the ‘70s has finally caught up with Tyler. That brain dead pedophile is only there to chase around the 15- and 16-year old chicks.
And is Randy married or gay? Seriously! Whoever dresses him should be taken out back and flogged. It’s like he’s trying to relive his youth. Hey, Randy … dude, on the way to the stage, there’s this thing called a MIRROR! You should use it and avoid embarrassing yourself every night. Stop dressing like Boyz II Men. You’re over 40. Come on, now.
And these kids who keep making the cut, they are not ready. They sound and perform badly. And the judges keep pumping them up. Pitiful.
The best singer, Pia, already got eliminated. Guess the fans decided to stick it to the judges for saving that hillbilly with the beard the week before. Well, they sure got them good. Now we’re left with:
1. Haley Reinhart. Every year there is a blonde that the little boys and girls, and perverted old dudes such as Tyler, love. They vote them through, even when they are terrible. “Haley, welcome to Hollywood!” She should have never been allowed to leave home to go to the audition! The fact that the judges compared her to Janis Joplin was laughable. Tyler did a lot of drugs, but he was around when Janis was hot and ought to know better.
2. James Durbin. Come on now. Nice story with the Tourettes and all, but really. I am sick of listening to him screech and scream and then hearing the judges act like the punk invented heavy metal. He is not Rob Halford. Okay? Enough!
3. Casey Abrams. I actually kind of like him. I hope he finds a niche, just not on this show. Does anyone remember Taylor Hicks? Casey has more talent. Unfortunately he looks like a hillbilly. Gotta clean that up, Casey. No one wants to buy an album from a gnome.
4. Jacob Lusk. He’s got a great voice. Unfortunately, he makes so many runs up and down the scales he always sounds as though he’s gargling instead of actually singing. How do you add so many runs in the word “the” that it becomes 9 syllables long? Give it a rest! He’s also really arrogant. Last week he said that if he was in the bottom 3 at the end of the night it would be because America needs to look in the mirror, not because he might’ve sucked. Newsflash: last show, he was in the bottom 3. If he gets voted off, it’ll be in part because people just don’t like him. Jacob, you need to shut up.
5. Lauren Alaina. Another kid who’s not ready. Every time she’s on the mic, she looks confused and scared to bloody death. So, the pretty blonde gets the pretty white blonde girl vote, and black males under 18 because she’s packing some booty. But that still doesn’t change much … she’s confused and scared and NOT READY.
6. Stefano Langone. He flat sounds like Elmo. He is not good. And he also looks dazed and confused. Next.
7. Paul McDonald. Every year at this point in the show, there are at least a couple of contestants that for the life of me I can’t figure out how they are still there. Paul is one. They talk about the tone of his voice. Oh, he has a tone … it sounds like a garbage disposal with a spoon in it. And he twirls around and dancing like a character on one of those bad animated Christmas specials. Then there’s that beard! Here’s some advice, dumbass: trim the beard or quit using OxiClean on your teeth. It looks terrible. If you bought an album from this guy, chances are you also went to Bernie Madoff for investment advice. What a joke!
Note: He just started dating some girl from the Twilight series, probably in an attempt to shore up a few more votes.
8. Scotty McCreery. Are they seriously trying to make this guy a star? First thing to tell him: stand up straight and straighten your neck. I am tired of looking at that crooked scarecrow. Is his head too heavy for his pencil neck? Damn. And get him some singing lessons. He can hit the low notes, but that’s all, and you can see him working pretty damn hard to do that. I love country music, but I hate this bumpkin. If the producers want a true country star to make it so badly, they should have kept John Wayne Schulz. Now that boy could sing! Scotty, man that dude has a neck problem. It’s a pain in the neck for me just to watch!
Posted on 28 February 2011.
I love birds, but — full disclosure — I’m not a birdwatcher. What I know about ornithology you could fit in a birdfeeder. I do know, however, that in the world of birdwatching, or “birding” as it’s more commonly known, two persons qualify as the undisputed founding fathers.
One is obvious: John James Audubon (1785-1851), the French-American naturalist, ornithologist, hunter and painter, who catalogued, described and depicted North American bird species in a manner far superior to anything that had been done before.
The second has to be Roger Tory Peterson, whose amazing life and work is the subject of “Birdwatcher,” Elizabeth Rosenthal’s very detailed and yet very personal biography.
Her second book, Rosenthal’s riveting, revelatory read about the father of modern American birding, should be considered essential reading not only by birding devotees, many of whom probably have some Peterson books in their collection, but also by anyone who just loves to read about fascinating historical figures.
Peterson, as did Audubon in his day, revolutionized birding, inventing the modern bird guide. Born in 1908, the same year President Theodore Roosevelt invited members of the Audubon Society to the White House to watch the first motion pictures of birds, Peterson was the anxious, rebellious son of working class immigrants.
According to Rosenthal, Peterson was captivated as a youth by a woodpecker sleeping on a tree trunk that seemingly “burst to life” upon being touched. It is that single event, maintains Rosenthal, that is the touchstone for Peterson’s self-taught, homegrown evolution into one of the most important naturalist/scientist of the last 100 years.
From there, his story really soars. A teenage transplant from upstate Jamestown to New York City, he worked his way through art school, and palled around with a group of local boys — the Bronx County Bird Club — who were similarly into birds.
At just 22, in 1934 he conceptualized, and single-handedly authored and illustrated, the first practical (and portable) field guide to birds in world history. His landmark “Guide to the Birds,” was the first guidebook designed to be taken outdoors and help people identify the elements of nature. An instant smash hit, “Birds” sold out its first printing of 2‚000 copies in a single week, and immediately generated six additional printings.
Rosenthal, herself an avid birder, tapped into her passion when it came to writing about Peterson. She may blush a bit at the comparison, but her storytelling style isn’t unlike that of fellow biographer David McCullough. As if modeling her book using Peterson’s own methods, she opts to break down the story and examine the self-proclaimed “student of nature” via his “several lifetimes” as field guide author, painter, photographer and filmmaker, natural history teacher, scientist, conservationist and mentor. She exhibits a knack for place, time and flow; the book’s six-part, 19-chapter structure follows Peterson’s remarkable life from “Fledgling” to “Bird Man of Bird Men.”
Whether he was at his desk or in the field, Peterson was on the cutting edge of the modern conservation movement. This was true not only in the U.S., but also in far off locations, such as Spain, Africa, Midway Island and the most pristine (and remote) place on Earth: Antarctica, where he brought to light the need for real studies of the indigenous bird population there. This earned him perhaps his most prized nickname, King Penguin.
Rosenthal balances his fame and notoriety against the realities of both life with and being Roger Tory Peterson. As are many geniuses, Peterson was complex, and Rosenthal did her legwork, collecting more than 100 interviews to develop what is without question a definitive portrait. Included are observations from friends, colleagues, peers, members of Peterson’s family, and fellow pioneers such as Keith Shackleton, who hailed Peterson’s 1954 European bird guides as “the absolute bible.” Others consulted included Kenn Kaufman, author of “The Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America,” naturalist sculptor Kent Ullberg, and PBS journalist and producer George H. Harrison.
Peterson was the most sought-after ornithologist and conservationist of his time. Brilliant as he was at the art and science of birding and conservation, Rosenthal doesn’t shy away from the toll his career took on his family life, including three marriages.
Interesting facets of Peterson’s life include his fascination with and mastery of the camera, amassing a catalogue of roughly one million photographs of birds from all over the world. And I also found his perfectionism a curious part of his character. On the day he died, July 28, 1996, one month shy of his 88th birthday, he was in the middle of revising his Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America for the fourth time. (It was finally published posthumously in 2002.)
You don’t have to know beans about birds to reap the rewards in “Birdwatcher.” It’s a marvelous account of Peterson, a historical giant who forever (and for better) changed the way we look at and document our world, and a book that should appeal to the historian and indeed the naturalist in all of us.
Order a copy from the Booky Joint in Mammoth or Spellbinder Books in Bishop.
Posted on 25 February 2011.
MOUNT ST. ELIAS
(2009, Red Bull/VAS, NR, 100 min.)
“If all goes well, you’re a hero. If all goes wrong, you’re dead,” extreme skier/mountain climber Axel Naglich remarks during the early moments of the new documentary “Mount St. Elias.” The true adventure follows a 2007 team of skier/mountaineers determined to make “the planet’s longest skiing descent,” first ascending the Alaska mountain and then skiing from the summit at 18,008 feet down to Icy Bay at 0 feet.
Not yet on DVD, Mammoth locals will have an exclusive opportunity to see the finished film on the big screen. Minaret Cinemas owner Bill Walters has obtained a print of the film for one day only this coming Thursday, March 3.
Based on an idea by Naglich and writer/producer/editor Gerald Salmina, “Mount St. Elias” is a visually stunning, dramatic and all-around jaw-dropping feature documentary following three of the world’s greatest ski mountaineers to Mount St. Elias in Alaska. Situated right on the Yukon and Alaska borders, the mountain, which is also designated “Boundary Peak 186,” is the second highest mountain in both the United States and Canada, reputed to be the highest mountain covered with continuous snow from peak to base.
The film centers on three main climbers: Austrian ski mountaineers Naglich and Peter Ressmann, as well as the American freeski mountaineer Jon Johnston. Surveying their target, the three observe that, “there are so few real climbing challenges left in the world.” Perhaps for us mere mortals, it’s hard to understand why this special breed of human tries something so terrifyingly hard. Naglich recalls four failed attempts at the same thing on New Zealand’s Mt. Cook to help make that point. But the film’s message is straightforward: there’s simply no greater challenge than attempting something massive that’s rarely or never been done. Just two other attempts had been made before, and only one was successful. Mountaineers Lorne Glick, James Bracken and Andy Ward pulled off the first ski descent of Mount St. Elias in 2000. Every now and again, Salmina also revisits a tragic 2002 attempt that claimed the lives of skiers Reid Sanders and Aaron Martin, whose bodies are still somewhere on the mountain.
There’s no way to convey in words how unbelievably physically demanding and life threatening such an effort is … but “Mount St. Elias” comes damn close! The mountain is as dangerous as it is beautiful, and one of the most interesting aspects of the film is watching the climbers react to the extreme amount of mental pressure that push them to the absolute limit. The conditions: raw … on both the climb up and the ski down, you’ve got unstable rock faces, avalanches (the climbers watch one go right by them while setting up base camp), ice fields, sub-zero temperature, cornices, and weather that can go from picture perfect to ravaging and raging in a matter of minutes. Rescue: not a chance. When their drop plane flies away, they’re on their own.
As Naglich notes, “The summit alone is dangerous. Every step can be fatal. Every grasp can be the wrong one. And every turn can be your last.”
The film originally finished editing and underwent a limited release in 2009, but at more than two hours was deemed to be too long. This version, a much leaner and meaner one hour and 40 minutes, is a much more satisfying experience. Not lost in the re-edit, though, is the spectacular photography and phenomenal sound. The dramatic music score employs a lot of big, “Survivor”-like percussion, and is mixed with the occasional rock track, but avoids becoming cliché, a la the average trick-centric snowboard or ski movie.
The only shots that aren’t absolutely real are a handful of recreations depicting what might have happened during the Sanders-Martin disaster, though there are several interviews with surviving team members and camera crew.
Of the three, Naglich clearly emerges as the film’s protagonist due to his charismatic personality and, and strong, polarizing demeanor, oth against nature, and at times against himself. Johnston, conversely, is a total team player, but suffers a rude awakening when dealing with the headstrong Naglich. The film reaches its’ adrenaline-fueled climax when Ressmann and Naglich, the two of the trio who made the entire climb, click in and start their descent.
Making “Mount St. Elias” was undeniably a herculean work. Salmina and his camera and sound team brilliantly captured the gritty reality of high altitude mountaineering.
The audience is made a part of the team, whether debating a climb up or a line down, or almost being buried alive in a snow cave by a killer snowstorm that dropped 9 feet of snow in a matter of a few hours. These guys could figure out how to shoot some guys skiing behind the space shuttle. Put it this way, dress warm or bring a blanket … it’s that vivid.
My only caveat: the film is unrated as yet, so parents wishing to avoid any “colorful” language that’s still intact should use appropriate guidance.
“The ones you have to fight for, they stay in your memory forever,” said Ressmann, who lost his life in a May 2010 climbing accident in the Austrian mountains. So will this compelling, powerful film experience.
“Mount St. Elias” will play on March 3 only at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Call the box office at 760.934.3131 or go to www.mammothlakesmovies.com for more info.
Posted on 20 February 2011.
By: Matt Taibbi, 2010
Spiegel and Grau, 250 p.
If you’re like me, the whole economic meltdown of 2008 elicited a few general reactions:
1. Wow, this sucks.
2. How the hell did it happen?
But really, you didn’t wonder so much about the second part, because you innately knew there were a bunch of unethical, greedy bastards behind the whole thing. You just wondered what the heck they’d done, exactly.
But when the punditocracy started talking about credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities, your eyes glazed over. Because no one either had the time or the skill to explain in layman’s terms what these financial instruments were.
So none of us really knew how much we’d been screwed by the Wall Street banks (with the complicity of our fine representatives in Washington, D.C.).
And then along comes Matt Taibbi.
Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and, quite frankly, the best political journalist they’ve had since Hunter Thompson.
And for a taste of Taibbi’s gift for explaining things, this is how he defines a credit default swap.
“A credit default swap is just a bet on an outcome. It works like this: Two bankers get together and decide to bet on whether or not a homeowner is going to default on his $300,000 home loan. Banker A, betting against the homeowner, offers to pay Banker B $1,000 a month for five years on one condition: if the homeowner defaults, Banker B has to pay Banker A the full value of the home loan.
… So Banker B has basically taken 5-1 odds that the homeowner will not default. This is gambling, pure and simple.”
In his opening chapter, Taibbi scorchingly lays out his premise, which I’ve tried to condense here:
“There are really two Americas, one for the grifter class, and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land, the world of small business and wage-earning employees, the government is something to be avoided, an overwhelming, all-powerful entity whose attentions usually presage some kind of financial setback, if not complete ruin. In the grifter world, however, government is a slavish lapdog that the financial companies … use as a tool for making money.
The grifter class depends on these two positions getting confused in the minds of everybody else. They want the average American to believe that what government is to him, it is also to JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
… The insurmountable hurdle for so-called populist movements is having the nerve to attack the rich instead of the poor. Even after the rich almost destroyed the entire global economy through sheer unrestrained greed and stupidity, we can’t shake the peasant mentality that says we should go easy on them, because the best hope for our collective prosperity is in them creating wealth for us all.
… Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not worth saving and have taken on a new mission that involves not creating wealth for all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains. They don’t feed us. We feed them.”
If Taibbi had then proceeeded to hammer me mercilessly with variations of the above, I may have soon tired of the book. But Taibbi is not a one-trick pony. It’s not one’s professed political affiliation which draws his ire so much as the backroom dealing, the shortsightedness and the naked opportunism.
He rips President Barack Obama and former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel just as vehemently as Goldman Sachs’ bankers in his denunciation of the Obamacare legislation, which he calls “The Trillion Dollar Band-Aid.”
“Obamacare,” writes Taibbi, “had been designed as a coldly cynical political deal: massive giveaways to Big Pharma in the form of monster subsidies, and an equally lucrative handout to big insurance in the form of an individual mandate granting a few already-wealthy companies 25-30 million new customers who would be forced to buy their products at artifically inflated, federally protected prices.”
Matt Taibbi is a gifted writer and journalist, and it’s refreshing to read someone who digs underneath the platitudes to try and tell you the whole story. I had no idea how important the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1944 was or how it continues to impact the regulation (or lack thereof) of the insurance industry today and why the failure of Obamacare is really the failure of politicians to not take on the insurance lobby and amend this legislation.
Pick up a copy of Griftopia at your favorite local bookstore.
Posted on 12 February 2011.
The other day, someone saw me toting around a copy of Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (published by Little, Brown & Co.) and asked, “So what’s all the hype about? Is it any good?”
One would hope that when members of the Bishop community decide to organize an almost two month-long series of events stemming from one novel, the book is actually decent. The answer, by the way, is “Oh, yeah, it’s well worth the read.” Put it this way, typically a novel isn’t translated to more than 10 other languages, nor does it win almost 20 awards, if the content is subpar.
This novel has engaged readers and earned praise by tackling touchy issues like adolescent angst, racism, poverty, sexuality, alcoholism and death. As a work of fiction, the story could stand on its own as a powerful piece of work. The fact that it also happens to be semi-autobiographical makes it all the more inspiring. By choosing this particular novel, Bishop Community Reads hoped to spark local dialogue about sensitive issues apropos to the area. Conveniently, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is inspiring and racy enough to do the trick.
Junior is the story’s protagonist, a zit-prone 14-year-old cartoonist with a sharp sense of humor, who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior is born hydrocephalic, or with “water on the brain.” As a result, he undergoes surgery that will leave him with physical problems, making him an easy target for teasing. The novel takes an interesting turn when Junior decides to transfer to an all-white high school off the reservation. He then confronts the conflict of betraying his tribe while hoping to steer his life toward a different, ambitious path.
What makes the story so poignant is Alexie’s way of confronting controversial topics. He doesn’t sugarcoat or hold the reader’s hand. The protagonist’s raw honesty seems as personal and exposing as a genuine diary. But at times, he shares more than some readers — or parents and teachers of young readers — can handle. Junior doesn’t omit the lewd or scandalous details, which is why some schools have banned the book. In one case in Oregon, a parent deemed the book “trash” for some of its risqué messages and offensive language.
It’s true that Alexie throws in a couple racial slurs and discusses the perks of (gasp!) masturbation. But, these references are never gratuitous. They stand to prove certain points about a teenage boy navigating his way through bullying, racism and adolescent sexual exploration. Alexie also examines some uncomfortable truths about poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence. But as seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old protagonist, these elements of the story take on an almost profound quality of discovery about the world. The truths of reality — even a teenager’s reality — can be shocking, sad, enraging, and at times, worth celebrating.
Another unique quality of the book is how Junior communicates his thoughts through not only words, but images as well. Illustrated by Ellen Forney, the cartoons scattered through the book uncover one more dimension of Junior’s mind. The reader is able to understand certain ideas and thoughts that Junior wouldn’t be able to convey as clearly through pure prose.
What readers might find interesting is how much the novel mirrors Alexie’s own life. Like Arnold, Alexie was born with “water on the brain.” A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, he was born in October 1966, and by age three, had learned to read. At age five he read John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath.”
He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and attended Wellpinit High School until he was assigned his mother’s old text book from 30 years prior. Rather than feel condemned to read outdated textbooks, Alexie decided to transfer to the all-white school, Reardan High, 20 miles away from the reservation. At Reardan, he did well in school and became a key player on the basketball team.
In 1985 Alexie graduated from Reardan and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane for two years on scholarship until he transferred to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Wash. He enrolled in WSU’s pre-med courses, but several fainting spells convinced him to redirect his career. Under the watchful eye of his poetry professor Alex Kuo, Alexie discovered his aptitude for writing. He began writing poetry and soon after graduating, Alexie published his first collection of poems, “The Business of Fancy Dancing” (Hanging Loose Press).
Since then, Alexie’s career has taken flight. He has earned high praise as a writer and poet, a celebrated filmmaker, and an inspiration speaker. Alexie’s first collection of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (Grove/Atlantic) received a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction in 1993. He published his first novel, Reservation Blues in 1995 (Grove/Atlantic) and his second, Indian Killer (Warner Books) in 1996, both of which won awards. His short story collection, “War Dances,” earned a PEN/Faulkner Award.
In 1997, Alexie collaborated with Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne/Arapaho Indian filmmaker, to adapt one of Alexie’s short stories into a screenplay. The film “Smoke Signals” was adapted from “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” a short story from “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” The film won the 1998 Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy.
Alexie writes mostly fiction, but bases his stories on experiences from his life and the lives of other American Indians. When his characters battle with alcohol, their struggles seem all the more real because Alexie himself had problems with alcohol in his early 20s. When he learned that Hanging Loose Press would publish “The Business of Fancy Dancing,” he swore off drinking and has been sober ever since. What makes the serious elements in his stories palatable though, is his signature sense for humor. Alexie currently lives with his wife and two sons in Seattle, Wash.
Sherman Alexie will make two public appearances during his visit on Feb. 23 and 24 in Bishop. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, the public is welcome to attend a talk, question and answer period, and book signing at the Bishop High School Auditorium starting at 7 (301 N. Fowler) p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Bishop Tribe Community Center (405 N. Barlow), the public is welcome to attend a dinner, talk, question and answer period, and book signing starting at 6 p.m. Spellbinder Books in Bishop currently carries his books.
Other related events:
Feb. 15-16: ”American Outrage.” Documentary of two Shoshone sisters and their heroic fight for their land and human rights. 7-8 p.m. at Inyo Council for the Arts (ICA) in Bishop (2/15) and Lone Pine Film Museum (2/16).
Feb. 17: Discussion, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” Facilitated by Sandy & Chris Langley. 7-8 p.m., Lone Pine Film Museum.
Feb. 22-23: ”In Whose Honor” Documentary about American Indian mascots in sports. at ICA (2/22) and Lone Pine Film Museum (2/23).
March 1-2: ”The Business of Fancy Dancing,” written and directed by Sherman Alexie. 7-8:45 p.m. at ICA (3/1) and Lone Pine Film Museum (3/2).
March 3: Discussion, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian,” facilitated by Sandy & Chris Langley. 7-8 p.m. at ICA.
March 8-9: ”Pow Wow Highway” Comedy/drama film about Native Americans understanding the past and fighting for the future. 7:-8:30 p.m. 3/8 at ICA (3/8) and Lone Pine Film Museum (3/9).
Posted on 13 January 2011.
(L-R) Mickey O’Keefe, playing himself, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale (Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures)
2010, Paramount, 116 min., R
By William Wiggins
I’m not exactly sure what it is about boxing and the movies, but for some reason Tinseltown seems to have a love affair with the sweet sport. In addition to football and baseball, films about boxing have yielded some great cinema. From 1949’s “The Setup,” to the 1962 Rod Serling classic “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” to 1976’s iconic “Rocky” and the 1980 Scorcese classic “Raging Bull,” which some have called the best film ever made, to modern day classics such as “Cinderella Man” and “Million Dollar Baby,” film fans and indeed Oscar voters love boxing flicks.
This past year, “The Fighter” stepped into the ring as the latest contender for the title of best boxing film. The third film collaboration for director David O. Russell and Mark Wahlberg (in addition to “Three Kings” and “I Heart Huckabees”), the biographical film centers on the life of real-life pro boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).
A welterweight from the wrong side of the tracks, Irish-American Dicky is the pride of working-class Lowell, Massachusetts. Living in his shadow is his half-brother and sparring partner Micky. After fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, Eklund plunges into a nightmare of crack addiction, a disappointment to his family that they try their best to deal with by buying into his talk of a comeback. Micky becomes their new hope, fighting his own fight and making his mark in the ring.
Wahlberg did the film in large part based on his friendship with Ward, the two having their blue-collar inner-city upbringing in common. Wahlberg considers Ward every bit the local hero, and wears it on his sleeve in his version of Micky, but it’s also to his credit that he’s nuanced about it, giving lots of room to his co-stars.
Nowhere is this more apparent that in his scenes with Bale, who took the part of Dicky when both Brad Pitt and Matt Damon had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. It’s the movie’s good fortune things turned out as they did. Bale immersed himself in Dicky, virtually disappearing into the part. He’s captivating, riveting, a dead ringer for Dicky, so much so that you have to look hard to find any trace of Bale himself. Best Supporting Actor should be a no-brainer for Oscar this year.
In the role of Charlene, the bartender who captures Micky’s affections, Amy Adams goes a long way to distance herself from some of her lovely, but otherwise fluffy work, driving home the character of a street-wise sexy bi**h, who’s still a sweetheart at her core when it comes to the man she loves.
Among the real-life Lowell, Massachusetts residents cast in the film is Mickey O’Keefe, who plays himself. A police sergeant by day, O’Keefe was Ward’s real-life trainer. O’Keefe, who had never acted, was hesitant at first, but Wahlberg convinced him to do it, and O’Keefe brings absolute authenticity to his part.
Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema’s documentary background serves him well here, intermixing the look of an HBO-style cable TV boxing program with a behind-the-scenes handheld style that isn’t overbearing, but puts you right in either the ring or the living room as if you were part of Micky’s entourage. Authenticity was a big part of telling the story. According to Russell, the boxing-match footage was created “in big, choreographed sections that were taken directly from [video of] Micky’s actual fights.” And the production licensed the original color commentary from HBO boxing hosts Larry Merchant, Roy Jones Jr. and Jim Lampley.
Hoytema also shot some of the film on actual Betacam [video-format] cameras that add to the period look, and Russell went so far as to hire the HBO director and his crew who had shot the actual Ward fights to replicate them, almost shot for shot in some cases. In the ring, the perfectly recreated boxing action scores points for a unique style that’s as original as Micky’s fighting.
And the movie doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to family drama, illustrating why reality TV is so much part of our modern culture. Micky’s relationship with Dicky — think an episode of “Intervention.” His relationship with his mother, sisters and Charlene — think “The Real Housewives of Lowell.”
Don’t worry if you think the film starts off a bit slow. I did as well, but as the saying goes, “A fight is rounds.” And like any good boxing match, this one is well worth staying to see how it ends. Whether it can be called a “knockout” is up to you, the judges, but from my corner, “The Fighter” delivers a solid body blow of a movie that goes the distance.
William Wiggins is a freelance entertainment writer from Los Angeles, who can’t see “Raging Bull” enough times. “The Fighter” is now playing at the Minaret Cinemas. Check www.mammothlakesmovies.com or call 760.934.3131 for show times and other information.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
Recessions hit Mammoth a little later than the rest of the country. Recessions also tend to hit the public sector last of all. Perhaps this is why Mammoth finally made some serious staffing cuts (as opposed to early retirements, furloughs, et. al.) 15 months after the recession was supposed to have ended. Ah well. In Mammoth, things take time. After all, it only took 57 public meetings to approve Old Mammoth Place.
In the end, it appears Mammoth Lakes Town Council lost faith in the Town’s administrative leadership.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, Council unanimously approved $902,146 in job cuts, much of this excised from upper management.
This new round of layoffs was made before Council adopted its 2010-11 budget.
The job eliminations will be staggered over the next several months.
The positions chopped, with the major, senior staff names in parentheses, were a Principal Planner (Steve Spiedel) at $156,251, an Engineering Assistant at $107,543, a Building Official (Alex Ramos) at $155,875, the Assistant Town Manager (Karen Johnston) at $218,381, a Police Officer position that is currently vacant at $139,121, an Accounting Assistant II at $81,565, the Human Resources Director (Michael Grossblatt) at $181,005, and the Finance Director (Brad Koehn) at $198,863.
These figures are what the above employees would cost in wages and benefits if employed for a full year.
The contract with the Town Attorney was also chopped by $50,000, but Town Attorney Peter Tracy is set to retire in December, anyway.
The Town will balance some of these layoffs by adding a new position, that of Administrative Services Director. This position will ultimately combine the duties of the Human Resources Director and Finance Director.
$94,967. The delayed implementation of these layoffs has already cost the Town $281,491 and the consolidation study that was outsourced to help come to this conclusion cost $10,000. These costs bring the total savings to the $902,146, nearly $200,000 more than Council actually needed to save. The overage will be put into the Council’s discretionary “wait and see” fund for future use with any unforeseen expenses in the Town’s future.
Prior to taking its vote the Council opened the podium to members of the public. Former Town Clerk Anita Hatter explained that she was disturbed by the thought of these drastic cuts not because she was worried about her friends who were on the list but because she was worried about what it would do to the Town and its services.
“You have stopped cutting the fat and are cutting into the muscle and bone now,” she said. “An action like this will have consequences that will last for years.” Hattar added that the last time Council made rash decisions the interim Town Manager ended up granting the largest pensions plans available for employees, which is why she was able to retire at 53.
/from The Sheet Sept. 4/
Not from Melmac
We are not alone. Felisa Wolfe-Simon from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration may not have found ALF or E.T., but believes a small, gnocchi-shaped microbe found in local Mono Lake waters is just as important. She announced her discovery on Thursday during a NASA press conference.
Bacterium GFAJ-1 was pulled from the bottom of Mono Lake and taken to Wolfe-Simon’s lab. The microbes were transported from the lake along with some mud and placed into artificial water that simulated the water of Mono. They were not given any phosphorous, an essential building block of life, but instead were doused with arsenic.
“Something grew where it should not have,” Wolfe-Simon explained during the press conference. “The fact that this microbe did something different than what we expected cracks open the door to life elsewhere.”
Why? According to Wolfe-Simon, the thought that an organism can survive without phosphorous opens the doors to exploration that life forms may be able to survive in completely different forms than were previously believed. Until now, it has been thought that every life form must contain phosphorous.
“We don’t know what makes a habitable environment on other planets,” said Pam Conrad, an astrobiologist for NASA. “Knowing that organisms can tolerate arsenic means that they might be able to tolerate other things as well. Things we may not have thought of yet.”
/from The Sheet Dec. 4/
During his first term as a Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmember, I gave Skip Harvey the nickname ‘41.’ It wasn’t a reference to any similarities Skip may have to our nation’s 41st President George H.W. Bush. Rather, it was because Skip often found himself on the wrong side of every Council decision made by a 4-1 vote.
On Wednesday night, Harvey returned to his roots. This time, however, he only lost 3-1 because Jo Bacon couldn’t participate due to a conflict of interest.
Does that make him Herbert Hoover?
The vote in question was over a district zoning amendment (DZA) for Old Mammoth Place.
Council voted to uphold a 4-1 Planning Commission decision to grant the DZA.
The most controversial part of the DZA was the part about measurement of height.
Though Council had initially approved (in June of last year) a maximum height for the site of 55’, site considerations and an architectural “oversight” prompted the developer, Jim Demetriades, to request an additional 9.5’ of height for some proposed buildings.
Mayor McCarroll and Councilmembers Sugimura and Eastman accepted the oversight. “The applicant’s already made plenty of sacrifices,” said Eastman.
MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory added that the plan is and has always been for five stories and a parking structure. Without a change in the height calculation, you’d have a project whose first floor would literally be underground.
Harvey didn’t care for the rationalizations. “This is about a manmade structure dominating the landscape,” he said. “This project will be 30 to 40 feet higher than surrounding properties … I need to show the people of this community I take our General Plan seriously.”
/from The Sheet April 10/
Mammoth moves in doobie-ous direction
Scott Calvert got the year rolling (ha ha!) by opening up his 420 Medicard Mammoth Lakes office on the 2nd floor of the Mammoth Luxury Outlet Mall (next to Body Works and down the hall from The Sheet) in January, even though the medical marijuana co-operative situation in Mammoth was on hold. That meant Mammothites could go through the process of obtaining their medical marijuana cards, but didn’t have anywhere to legally buy marijuana in Mammoth. Yet.
At the continued urging of Steve Klassen and other supporters of co-ops, Mammoth’s Town Council put Measure M on the June ballot. Measure M was a zoning code amendment that would, according to Town staff, “allow medical marijuana cooperatives within the Commercial General and Industrial zoning.” The measure calls for a maximum of two cooperatives in town, and requires a distance between them of not less than 500 feet.
Applying for a use permit involved first passing a Mammoth Lakes Police Department background check. If MLPD approved, the application went to the Community Development Department for use permit processing.
Measure M was approved by Mono County voters, 861 yes votes to 683 no votes. Those interested in running a co-op began filling out their applications. In October, Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission heard from three applicants vying for two available co-op spots. Robert Calvert and Steve Klassen ultimately walked away with the goods. Calvert’s co-op will be called Mammoth Lakes Wellness and Klassen’s is Green Mammoth.
Calvert opened his co-op in the Luxury Outlet Mall on Nov. 27, just a few short weeks after California voters voted down Proposition 19, which would have legalized pot in California and potentially disposed of the need for co-ops.
Klassen opened his doors in early December.
Deficits dizzy ESUSD
It started with an announcement from Eastern Sierra Unified School District (ESUSD) Superintendent Don Clark in March that called for the closure of 30 percent of schools in the Mono County’s rural school district due to a $2.2 million deficit in the District’s budget that staff had not anticipated. By the end of the month, 17 teachers had been notified that they may receive pink slips and the community was at each other’s throats.
Mono County Deputy Superintendent Colleen Wright warned the ESUSD Board in January that “because of the large deficit spending projected by the District along with the projected reduction in local property taxes, the county office encourages the district to carefully review property tax revenue projections to ensure future interim and budget reports are fiscally credible and able to be certified as positive.”
Another big factor in the deficit was the District’s disqualification from receiving a $301,500 class size reduction grant because of missing the Jan. 31, 2009 deadline. Former ESUSD Fiscal Director Jessica Denison took the blame for this mistake.
At first it seemed this grant was lost to the District for good since a statute had been added to the grant language stating that those schools which failed to meet the 2009 deadline were locked out of the program indefinitely. However, Mono County Superintendent of Schools Catherine Hiatt stepped in and convinced the State of the dire straits the District was in. The State eventually allowed ESUSD to fill out the grant form and the money was reinstated retroactively and was to be received for the 2010/11 school year as well.
The reinstatement of the grant, however, was not enough to save jobs and 15 teachers, plus 21 classified positions were officially let go in May even after the community had come together to try to find alternative ways of saving money. The loss of 15 teachers was the largest layoff the Board had ever initiated in its history.
By June, however, ESUSD was able to reinstate 3 of the teaching positions that had been pink slipped, plus it took action to consolidate fiscal management responsibilities with the Mono County Office of Education in order to save several hundred thousand dollars for 2010/11. On the down side, the Eastern Sierra Academy was forced to close its doors.
By the end of July, the community and the Board seemed ready to begin healing. Colleen Wright, Mono County Office of Education’s Deputy Superintendent started the meeting with a report on the 09/10 property tax receipts. In essence, the receipts had come in approximately $324,000 above what had been budgeted. When broken down, secure taxes were $203,000 over budget, prior year taxes were $83,000 higher, supplemental taxes were $56,000, and unsecured taxes were $18,000 under what had been budgeted. Wright recommended the District put the spare money in a contingency rather than spend it on bringing staff back that still may not be maintainable.
The community was able to have its say in the whole fiasco during the election for new Board members in November. Gabe Segura, who had taken over for Tad Roberts when Roberts stepped down from the Board several months before his term was up, was re-elected for a full term, while the other two seats up for grabs were filled with new faces. The community was clearly ready for change.
At the end of the year, the first interim report for the new budget was delivered by MCOE, but was full of uncertainty until the property tax projections arrived in January. The openness of how the Board functioned at the end of the year versus the beginning put the community at ease.
Rich McAteer is appointed interim superintendent of the Mammoth Unified School District following the dismissal of Frank Romero. He is succeeded six months later by Rich Boccia. Boccia, a native New Yorker, came to MUSD from the Pasadena Unified School District.
Mammoth High School Principal Mike Agnitch announces he will retire effective June 30. Middle School Principal Gabe Solorio is announced as his successor in March.
The Mammoth Community Water District warns the Town of Mammoth Lakes to stop approving projects at densities greater than anticipated by the General Plan.
“The big thing,” said MCWD Board member Gordon Alper, “is that the sewer system won’t be able to handle it [the increased density] … we’ve been told that the sewer main on Main Street won’t be able to handle the volume of effluent if the Village builds out to approved density … and the Dempsey corner (at Main and Minaret) hasn’t even been added to the mix yet.”
The Sheet launches its website, www.thesheetnews.com.
Town Attorney Peter Tracy announces that the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Appeals Court on the Town’s behalf, which he believes will be a great benefit to the Town’s appeal in the Hot Creek litigation case.
Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition won a $30 million judgement against the Town in 2008 for breach of a development agreement.
By year’s end, a decision has still not been rendered by California’s 3rd Court of Appeals.
The Mammoth Value Pass broke the $600 mark. Single year passes were priced at $639.
Mono County Board of Supervisors learn that Digital 395, the Internet superhighway broadband infrastructure project designed to bring cutting edge data transmission to a large portion of U.S. 395 and surrounding communities was denied funding from part of the $787 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package but is invited to apply.
The new application wins approval for an $81.1 million grant in August and will fund the construction of the D395 middle-mile fiberoptic network between Barstow, Calif., and Carson City, Nev.
Mammoth ties DiMaggio! At the 56th public meeting held regarding the proposed development since 2005, the Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission approved, with conditions, a use-permit and tentative tract map for Old Mammoth Place. The formerly named Clearwater project is planned for a six-acre site bordered by Old Mammoth Road on the east and Laurel Mountain Road on the west. It currently houses the Sierra Nevada Lodge, Rafters Restaurant and Frosty’s Mini-Golf.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appoints Robert Peters to the Mono County Board of Supervisors, representing District IV. Peters fills the seat left vacant by the death of Bill Reid in 2009 until elections allow the spot to be filled by the voters. The seat ends up going to Tim Hansen, who beats Tim Fesko in a runoff election in November.
Roy Flores, the Southern California man who shot and killed a four-year old bear on the shores of Lake Mary last fall (and also winner The Sheet’s Darwin award in 2009) was sentenced by Presiding Judge Stan Eller to 100 hours of community service and a $395 fine. The 30-day jail time was suspended so long as Flores obeys the terms of his probation. Flores must also complete a hunter’s safety course.
Work continues in the Town of Mammoth to develop a Destination Marketing Organization which will ultimately come to be known as Mammoth Lakes Tourism. The arrival of MLT means that the Town drops its Tourism and Recreation Department and simply retains a Recreation Department. Measure A dollars are steered toward MLT. The organization hires John Urdi as its Executive Director in July.
Michael Harris, the local Eastern Sierra man who was convicted by a jury in December of several sexual crimes against minors, was sentenced by Judge David DeVore to 285 years to life in a state prison. The number was based on the maximum punishment of 15 years to life, consecutive, for each of the 19 counts.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Randy Schienle announces his retirement with an effective date of Aug. 11. Chief Schienle worked in law enforcement for 29 years, 22 of them in Mammoth Lakes. The Town appoints interim Police Chief Dan Watson in July. Watson had spent the past eight years as Pasadena’s Police Chief.
The new South County Courthouse breaks ground. Local contractors are peeved that they were not given a chance to bid on the project. Mammoth Lakes Contractors Association President Troy Rowan said that no area firms were eligible to bid for the general contract, because one of the bid requirements was a $7 million bond, a figure out of reach for locals.
The Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission votes in favor of changing the General Plan zoning designation of the so-called “Bell-Shaped Parcel” from resort to “open space.”
During the final debate over the change in zoning designation for the Bell Parcel on June 2, Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmember John Eastman insinuated that outgoing Councilmember Wendy Sugimura and Mayor Neil McCarroll wanted to change the designation for reasons of legacy as opposed to logic. Council voted 4-1 to change the Bell’s zoning from “resort” to “open space.” Eastman was the lone dissenter.
Mammoth Town Council approves recommendations for a revised Development Impact Fee schedule. Modest hikes still leave fees about half of what they were in 2008-2009.
Mammoth’s Wildlife Specialist and acclaimed “Bear Whisperer” Steve Searles told The Sheet contracts with LMNO and Discovery Channel, which owns Animal Planet, were officially signed, meaning the Bear Whisperer had an encore this summer. There will be at least three more one-hour episodes of the show with the possibility of six if the ratings are good.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council votes 4-0 to end staff furloughs for FY 2010-2011, effectively approving approximately $1 million in new spending on staff salaries. Councilmember John Eastman realized the next day that he had not been fully aware of what he had voted on and tried to re-agendize the item, telling The Sheet, “We can’t afford a million bucks.” He was then informed by Town Attorney Peter Tracy that an item cannot be re-agendized if there has been no dissent. As the vote was 4-0, well, game over … for Staff. Eastman was reelected the next month and pushed for deep staff cuts.
Early reports saying that Mono County Public Works Director Evan Nikirk was “dismissed” from his position by Mono County officials are disputed. Sources tell The Sheet that the decision was due to differing opinions in management styles and called the move a “mutual” separation.
Nikirk had been with Mono County for roughly 10 years, first brought on as Solid Waste Director.
Measures M and U pass while Matthew Lehman, Rick Wood and John Eastman win Mammoth Town Council seats. Larry Johnston barely squeezes out the win for Mono County District 1 Supervisor. Sheriff Rick Scholl retains his position by a landslide.
The District 4 Supervisor’s race and the tightly contested Mono County Superior Court judicial race are thrown into December runoffs. Mark Magit ultimately bests Randy Gephart to replace the retiring Judge Ed Forstenzer.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council approves the Snowcreek Development Agreement despite Councilmember Jo Bacon’s futile attempt to filibuster the whole decision clear into the next millennium.
The Mammoth Scenic Loop is closed to traffic through November for reconstruction. The reconstruction project includes plans for road-widening and bike lanes.
Locals rejoiced as Sierra Sundance Whole Foods expanded its store. Owners and sisters, Tanya and Silena Mandich wanted to satisfy the local market yearning for greater health and organic food selection. As Silena puts it, “the community has really been begging for a change. Not only to expand what we were carrying, but people just wanted another option than Vons.”
Mammoth Town Attorney Peter Tracy resigns from his position effective at the end of the year. Tracy’s tenure with the Town began in 1985 and has extended for 23 years. During that time he has worked for 22 council members. He is ultimately replaced by Andrew Morris of the law firm Best, Best and Krieger.
The Mammoth Lakes Ice Rink is labeled “toxic.” Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmembers, Rick Wood and Jo Bacon, made it clear at Council’s regular meeting Wednesday that they were not on Council at the time and had nothing to do with the deal struck in 2007 to place the rink on property leased from the Mammoth Unified School District. The reason they are distancing themselves is simple. The Town’s spent well over $1 million on the project so far, and yet, would need to spend an additional $3 million to complete it. The estimated cost to abandon the project is over $1 million. Neither option is attractive.
While the Town determines what to do, the rink is shelved for operation this winter.
Two Turner Propane tanks were delivered to the new tank farm at the borrow pit on Sherwin Creek Road. The 30,000 gallon tanks were delivered empty, but once filled and tied into the propane line system, will double the amount of available propane in Mammoth Lakes.
The Hilton Creek Community Services District raises its fees 15% annually for the next three years. That adds up to roughly an extra $5 per month for Hilton Creek customers.
Mono County’s Board of Supervisors scuttle a move to enact rent controls in the Crowley Lake Mobile Home Park.
Inyo National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch, Mammoth Lakes Mayor Skip Harvey and Town Recreation Manager Stu Brown cut the ribbon to officially open the lower section of the Lake Mary Bike Path.
It was like something out of an Irwin Allen disaster movie. Heavy rains hammering the canyon area near Dunmovin’, a small, unincorporated community just north of Coso Junction, sent a wall of mud and debris estimated to be some 200 yards wide and four feet deep oozing over a sizable section of U.S. 395 just south of Olancha on Thursday.
The slide was strong enough to push a semi-tractor trailer off the highway, trap other large trucks and vehicles in the mud and snarl the traffic flow in both directions for hours.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area officially announced that United Airlines will be offering a non-stop, daily flight from San Francisco International Airport to the Mammoth Yosemite Airport this winter. The flight will be operated by United Express carrier, SkyWest Airlines using 66-seat CRJ700 regional jets. The first flight landed Dec. 16.
In the Mammoth Lakes Basin, a female bear (later identified as the infamous Blondie) broke into at least seven homes within 48 hours. The bear was eventually shot and killed by Sergeant Karen Smart under a homeowner’s depredation permit.
After seven years of housing the Beekley International Collection of Skiing Art and Literature, the Mammoth Lakes Foundation decided to remodel Edison Hall, ditch the Mammoth Ski Museum and relinquish the art collection.
Edison Hall will now be devoted to culinary arts and theatre.
Mono County’s Board of Supervisors voted to take “no action” on a resolution to support HR 6129, the “Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010,” legislation authored and introduced in Washington D.C. by U.S. Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-25th District). The bill essentially calls for release of the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area (WSA), which surrounds Bodie State Historic Park.
The contentious agenda item packed the Bridgeport Boardroom with both supporters for and opposition of the release, and drew fire from both sides.
Lupe Almaguer of Mammoth Lakes is arrested on the night of Oct. 5 pursuant to an arrest warrant. Almaguer, a daycare provider, was arrested for crimes of sexual abuse against two children who had previously been under his care but are now adults.
Two more victims came forward and Almaguer pled guilty in December to all counts.
Integration is the key in a draft plan called RECSTRATS that was introduced to the Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission. RECSTRATS is a vision for recreation in Mammoth and a strategic plan for its implementation. The plan was created by a local steering committee and facilitated by Carl Ribaudo of Strategic Marketing Group based in South Lake Tahoe and Danna Stroud. The Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation helped fund the process.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore announces that Kit Mullen will take over as Interim/Acting Forest Supervisor for the Inyo National Forest, in light of the scheduled departure of INF’s previous supervisor, Jim Upchurch.
Amy Cutter asks for an explanation as to why there is no longer a bus stop at Lupin Street.
Cutter, a Lupin Street resident for more than 10 years, pointed to what she said has become a problem since the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) took over the local transit system. “The appearance is that ESTA could easily add the stop back in without much trouble,” Cutter wrote. “For the businesses along the frontage road and homeowners on Mono and Lupin Street this is a hardship.” Apart from other concerns she voiced about the rehabilitation of Frontage Road, and the infrastructure that went into the walkways and related bus stops, she also griped about the unceremonious change in routes, which Cutter said she learned about while on her way home from a Village event.
ESTA Director John Helm said it was determined “unsafe to have that many stops that close together.”
Mono County is one weird place when it comes to politics. As Tom Cage said in June, “We’re a pot-smoking, tax-charging group of conservatives,” he said.
This was proven out in the November election. While the state turned down the pot initiative by a 54-46% margin, in Mono County, the electorate favored the measure by 13 percentage points
In top office races, Mono County also went for Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in the Governor’s and Senate races, respectively. Each candidate lost handily statewide.
With the defeat of Democratic Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon (R-25th District), Mono County’s representative, took over as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Brent Peterson nabbed nearly half of the votes for a Mammoth Lakes Fire Commissioner seat. Incumbent Richard Good held on to the other.
And clearly, campaigning from Mexico seems to work around here, at least if you’re Dr. Dennis Crunk, who won a seat on the Southern Mono Healthcare District (SMHD) by a landslide, despite zero advertising of any sort and a pre-election vacation.
Shortly after the election for the, SMHD Board Chairman Dr. Donald Sage abruptly resigned.
Part of the reason for his resignation is that he “did not want to see Lynda [Salcido] lost from the Board.” Salcido had finished 3rd behind Crunk and Jack Copeland.
Mammoth Mountain opened from head to toe on Nov. 11 with approximately 1-3 feet of natural and manmade snow, access to the Cornice Bowl, new park features and a brand new type of pass for individuals in the higher tax brackets.
The Mammoth Black Pass is a premium product that has been under development for several years, according to MMSA Senior Vice President Pam Murphy. The “cheapest” Black Pass costs a cool ten grand.
You know it’s been a big storm when you can call yourself a world champion when it’s over. Mammoth has defied the odds and not only topped the charts for the snowiest December on record (155 inches with still more than one week to go!), but it also made headlines by having the most snow of any ski resort in the world.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
JIM CORE (b. 1936): Jim Core, dubbed the “Bank of Mammoth” by the late Rick Blake and considered by many to be one of Mammoth’s three “icons” of the real estate and business communities (along with Dave McCoy and Tom Dempsey) passed away July 17.
Core, who co-owned the Inyo-Mono Title Company with his son Jerry, is survived by Jo, his wife of 57 years, Jerry, daughter Judy Markham, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Core was born in Paris, Arkansas in 1936. His family moved to the Ventura, Calif. area in the early 1940s. He was in the title insurance and escrow business for over fifty years, starting out in Ventura with stops in Concord and Merced before settling in the Eastern Sierra in 1983.
Soon after his arrival, son Jerry said that the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) determination that Mammoth had “volcanic issues” led to a tremendous amount of economic uncertainty and property foreclosures. No banks would lend on Mammoth property. So Core stepped forward with a group of fellow Rotarians to establish a funding source for builders and buyers. “I know we funded a lot of people’s payrolls in the ‘80s,” said Jerry.
As Jerry said, “He gave people a fuzzy feeling.” And he had a wonderful laugh. In a crowded room, you could identify where he was. Jo was her husband’s faithful caregiver from the time he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in January, 2009 until his passing.
EDITH BUCHANAN (b. 1920s): Edith Buchanan, ageless wonder and longtime local florist, passed away on Tuesday, July 13. Her exact year of birth is omitted because daughter Marcia says she’d want it that way.
Edith was born in Jackson, Mich.and moved out to California in the late 1930s with her husband Walter, who had just received a PhD in music.
They followed Walter’s parents, who had moved to Santa Barbara after a stint as missionaries in Japan. Ross Mather sold Edith and Walter their first Mammoth condo in 1967. They moved up here permanently about 30 years ago.
Edith was an extremely hard worker, and in fact, worked up to the very minute she died. She was found on the floor of her in-home flower shop, Celebrations. It is believed she may have collapsed in the middle of making a floral arrangement.
In fact, Edith had just done the flowers for a wedding the previous weekend.
“She thought work was good for you, because that’s what you were supposed to do,” Mather said.
“It was typical of Mom not to let a day go by without hard work,” added her daughter Marcia, who credits Edith with passing on her artistic enthusiasm to her daughters.
Edith, who married a man 13 years her senior, was married for more than 60 years. She had both her daughters while she was in her teens.
In addition to her flower shop, during her time in Mammoth, Edith worked as a concierge and arranged flowers at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. She also managed a haberdashery in the Mammoth Mall.
To the end, Edith was tough. In the past year, she’d had a few falls, including one where she broke her pelvis. Did she seek immediate medical treatment? No. She thought she’d stay at home and see if it got better. Her explanation to her daughter as to why she didn’t mention it to her for weeks. “Oh, I didn’t want to bother you.”
JOSH SOKOLOW (b. 1976): “Let’s see, I’m a 33 year old punk from Mammoth Lakes, Calif. originally the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been here for years and I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon. It is a small town but when you lived in Los Angeles for pretty much your whole life, a change of pace is damn nice.”-Josh Sokolow
Josh Sokolow, 33, died in January of complications from pneumonia at his home on Lupin St. He graduated from Trabuco Hills High in Mission Viejo, Calif. and made Mammoth Lakes his home starting in 2004. In town, Sokolow worked at Casa Diablo, A-Frame Liquor and Shell. You may have recognized him as the guy in the red and black hooded sweatshirt walking his Pit-Rottweiler Maggie through the ghetto. -penned by Randy Villarba
RHIANNON LYNN TAYLOR (b. 2009):
Rhiannon Lynn Taylor passed away Saturday morning, March 13, three days short of five months old. She was born on October 27, 2009 at Mammoth Hospital and flown to Renown hospital in Reno with complications. Testing revealed a terminal genetic disorder with severe heart complications. -Gabe Taylor
CARY SHIBLEY (b. 1972): Cary, 38, who passed away on April 6, grew up in Crowley Lake, and loved the outdoors and sports, engaging in cycling and snowboarding, bonding with her dad and brother during all-day fishing excursions, and enjoying long hikes with her mom. Her love for dogs and their owners was immeasurable. She was entirely dedicated to her Spoiled Rotten Pet Grooming business in Mammoth, cared about her customers, could work with any animal’s temperament, and was able to connect with and four-legged friends.
ROGER MORRIS (b. 1934): Roger passed away on April 11 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He grew up in Los Angeles and would make frequent ski trips to Mammoth Mountain during his high school and college years and honeymooned there with his bride, Myra, in 1959. He retired from government service in 1995 and moved from Washington D.C. back to California to enjoy his golden years in Santa Cruz. Roger and Myra made frequent trips to Mammoth visit his son John’s family.
He could be found playing beach volleyball with John at the old Grumpy’s, loved hiking throughout the Eastern Sierra and in Yosemite, and often commented on how much his trips to Mammoth meant to him. -John Morris
KATHY McFEDRIES (b. 1942): Katherine Reed McFedries moved to Mammoth Lakes in the mid-1970s, and for 20 years worked as Supervisor of Field Maintenance with the Mammoth Community Water District. She also served as a member of the Mammoth Lakes Hospital board. An accident in 1995 left Kathy a paraplegic, but she was one of the first participants in the Disabled Sports ski school. She designed and built her first wheelchair-accessible home in Crowley Lake, where she served on the local water board. In 2004, Kathy moved to Bishop, where during the summers she grew prize-winning zephyr squash. In recent years, she designed a series of greeting cards, which won numerous awards at the Bishop Tri-County Fair.
DAVE COX (b. 1938): State Senator Dave Cox, 72, represented the State Senate District 1, which includes the east side of California from the Oregon state border down to Inyo County. He spent two decades in public service and became a member of the legislature in 1998, and served as Assembly Republican Leader before his election to the Senate in 2004. Cox often made trips to the Eastern Sierra to speak one on one with local communities, including Mammoth Lakes. A fiscal conservative with a feisty wit, Cox’s family described him as, “A devoted man, who always found time to serve his community and constituents. He took great pride in public service and making government work for the people.”
PATTI INGLI REA (b. 1933): Patti Ingli was born in River Falls, Wisconsin but moved to California in 1940. She graduated from UCLA and married Ralph Rea the week after graduation. After marriage, Patti and Ralph lived in California. They also had stints in Arlington, Virginia, Tokyo, Japan and Sydney Australia. For the past eight years, they’ve called Mammoth home. Patti passed away the morning of Oct. 20 after the loss of her battle with internal injuries from an automobile accident. Patti was a Mammoth Mountain Lodge Host since the 1996. She was “Lodge Host of the Year” for the 2004/2005 ski season. In 2007 she received a Mammoth Mountain Black Diamond award.
Patti was a board member for Chamber Music Unbound and an ardent supporter of their music program. As a docent for the Valentine Reserve and the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), she continued to work to educate children.
JOHN NATHAN ADAMS: John Nathan Adams, a training and life coach and one of three SUV passengers who survived a horrific, fiery multiple-vehicle crash just south of Bishop on Aug. 9, died two months to the day of the crash that claimed two other lives in the SUV in which he was riding, as well as the life of another person in a passenger van that was also involved in the collision.
Adams, who lived in the San Diego area, was well known to many in Mammoth’s running and sports community. Mammoth locals Stu and Julie Brown were the last in town to see Adams and the four athletes traveling in the SUV prior to the accident. He was reportedly 39 at the time of the accident.
RICHARD L. JOHNSON: Hantavirus cardiopulmonary infection was responsible for the death of a seasonal state parks worker in Bodie.
According to recent reports from Mono County Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson, the victim, identified as Richard L. Johnson, who was known by his middle name – Laird, 61, had been sick with a flu-like illness for about 4 days, and after an examination at Mammoth Hospital, was quickly flown to Reno, where he died. (Ed. Note: Johnson shared the first and last name of Mono County’s Dr. Johnson, but there is no relation.)