Former USDA official Shirley Sherrod took part in a panel discussion and press conference at the 2010 NABJ Convention (National Association of Black Journalists) on Thurs. July 29, 2010 in San Diego, CA. She discussed her forced resignation from her position at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture official, and her decision to sue Andrew Breitbart of Big Government who published a video excerpt of a speech she gave to a local NAACP chapter in Georgia which gave the misleading impression that she had discriminated against a white farmer, leading to her ouster.
Click to see the video and a photo slideshow.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Image via Wikipedia
I was just thinking how many Kates there are in the acting industry. Kate Hudson, Kate Winslet, Kate Beckinsale, Kate Hepburn (she's dead but her work lives on), Cate Blanchett (spelled differently but a "Kate" just the same).
Each is talented and beautiful in her own right, sophisticated, intelligent, with high cheekbones and smoky eyes.
Each has won attention and honors for her work and thrives in the limelight when it suits her.
Each has an unpretentious inner beauty that shines forth in whatever role she chooses to play.
Isn't it nice to have so many beautiful and talented Kates on the big screen?
Monday, July 26, 2010
home to Old Faithful, petrified woods,
hot springs and mud baths.
Not a volcanic peep
for a billion years
though who knows what will spill over
all that matters is this hunger
for mud pies,
this tug to a spot
where the earth vows
to suck the poisons from
Galway, you and me.
We each are dunked
in a pudding pot
of peat moss and lava,
At first I cannot tell
where my body ends
and the mulch begins.
It is something like sex.
We are suspended
only our faces
from out of the fudge,
content enough to die.
Tomorrow a detail of dirt
remains in my hair.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Cover of Two Mules For Sister Sara
A little-known fact about me is that my favorite movie genre is Westerns. I enjoy every film starring Clint Eastwood in a poncho and sweat-stained cowboy hat. "Unforgiven" is extraordinary in its gritty realism. The scene in which several gunslingers are involved in a gunfight at the saloon, shooting and missing, is a delight to behold.
I've probably seen "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" 15 times, and almost as many showings of "Two Mules for Sister Sara." It's a true shame that Clint and Shirley never teamed up again after that one because they had better chemistry than he and Sondra Locke.
Friends and I have often made a game out of naming all of Clint's movies. And there are quite a few. And they're all good. "Pale Rider," "The Outlaw Josie Wales," "A Fistful of Dollars," "High Plains Drifter." Good stuff.
Then you've got "Tombstone" with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott. That movie is rife with memorable lines: "I'll be your huckleberry," says Kilmer who plays Doc Holliday, racked with tuberculosis. "You tell them I'm coming, and Hell's coming with me!" says Wyatt Earp (Russell).
As far as I'm concerned, Kevin Costner's best film was "Dances With Wolves," a western.
And "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007) were both delicious treats after what seemed like a dearth of westerns for several years, since "Tombstone" and "Young Guns" with Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland.
Cover of Young Guns (Special Edition)Maybe it's because westerns give an impression of huge territories to be explored, gold to be found, wild horses to be tamed, strong women to be loved, that I really appreciate them. They're raw and down to earth. Maybe if we're lucky, Clint will decide to come full circle and don that scratchy woolen poncho and dusty hat just one more time.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Image by Beyond the Trail [Gary] via FlickrYou and I are far from humanity.
Snow obscures everything, even
our trail to the banks of Foster Lake,
at the center of Trinity Alps.
We set up camp, hike to the crater
lake, luring a baby trout that swipes
all our salmon eggs. We keep tossing
him back until he's belly-up.
We fry him with Rice a Roni,
and carrots. I think he is the protein
that triggers my strange dream that night
in our tent below the Milky Way:
A tidal wave swallows San Diego.
Highways clogged with fleeing vehicles
I am desperate to find you.
Suddenly I am on a bullet
train zooming to where
I believe you are waiting.
I awaken, body drenched
in my sleeping bag, beside you,
sky so blue the stars are gone.
And you and I the only ones alive.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Image by cleopatra69 via FlickrI have enjoyed every movie in which Hilary Swank has appeared. She is the type of actress who completely inhabits each role and makes you, the viewer, forget that she is acting. That is no small feat.
I met her once, when I had the pleasure of interviewing her for a segment on Extra. Just like her character on "Million Dollar Baby," she was humble, personable and seemed to easily balance her fame with a spirituality that is sadly lacking in other celebs like oh, say, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears or Megan Fox who wear their entitlement on their sleeves.
Hilary perfectly nailed Amelia Earhart, from her looks down to the very tenor of her voice. She had the close-cropped hair and even the movements of the Aviatrix down to a tee. Richard Gere as her husband, George Putnam, added a necessary human dimension to a woman who had dreams, desires, determination and fallibility, especially when she stepped into the arms of Gene Vidal (played by Ewan McGregor) despite the fact she was married to George.
Cover of Amelia
Conflict makes the world, and movies, go round, but her extramarital affair was a slight bump compared to Amelia's biggest conflict, which was to complete her flight around the world. This, alas, was not to be, due more to mistakes outside her control, that seemed designed by Murphy's Law.
Death and loss have a way of searing into memory those people who otherwise may have just been forgotten by time. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart has always fascinated a world audience, and how fitting that her story has been lovingly set to celluloid by Mira Nair, one of our best living female producers.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr
Now that we've been home from the river for a few days, I am feeling withdrawals from being in the nice cool water, just bobbing and floating along, as though life were just a dream (and we all know that it is, right?)
We spent four days camping out beside the Kern where the constant rush of water subconsciously soothes you. Mark and I went out on our raft twice a day for the first three days. On one occasion, I gave up my seat on the raft so that Mark could take our friend, Lance, down the "Swamp and Stomp" which is a gnarly, white-watery section of river above where everyone else usually puts in, and it's rather intimidating. I'd done it with Mark that morning, so I borrowed someone's tube and experienced a whole new intimacy with the river that afternoon. Mark and I faithfully wore our life vests for those six intoxicating trips down the river.
On Sunday, our last day at the river, some of us went on one last float down the river. "Oh, we won't need our life jackets this time," Mark and I agreed. The Kern had been so smooth and tame, what was the point? Yeah, right.
Later we conjectured that there must have been storms up in the mountains that melted more snow which cascaded down into the river and raised it by about three additional feet. That river was much more fierce than on those prior three days. Four of our fun-loving friends toppled off their tubes within the first five minutes of launching onto the water. One was so intimidated, we decided to put him into the raft, and I would take his tube.
Image by cleopatra69 via FlickrDown the river a ways, another of the amateur floaters in a one-man Sevylor was clinging to my tube and I realized that we were now moving at a pretty good clip right towards a "strainer" - tree branches dipping down into the water on one side of the river - very dangerous - so I grabbed one of the oars out of his raft and shoved him towards the center of the river. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which I proved, by heading straight into the strainer. There I was separated from my tube, but I reached out and grabbed it while moving at a swift pace through the tree branches. I clung to one that jutted out and felt myself getting peeled away from it by the laughing Kern.
Mark, who had been like the rafting rescue Daddy all morning, now headed in my direction. He said later that at first he could not see my head above the water, and felt his heart nearly pop out of his chest. But there he came, straight for me, as I clung by the fingertips of one hand to that branch, my other arm clenched around that tube, and he plucked me from the jaws of disaster.
Later at a Bakersfield sports bar where everyone had gathered to watch the last game of the World Cup, those cute neophytes bought Mark and me several rounds of beers for saving their lives, and we all laughed and sighed our breaths of relief.
Still, I can't help but think that I just crossed off another one of my "nine lives" from the chalkboard. And you know darn sure I'm wearing a life jacket the next time I get on a river that's big enough to kick my ass.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Anyway, when we got invited to a River Tubing Trip at the Kern River over this last weekend, we said "Sure!" We were hesitant at what we'd find when we unfurled the old raft, but she looked as good as new and inflated up without any leakage. The trip was on!
After stopping for dinner at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Lupitas where everything was excellent (and huge), Mark, several of our friends, and I arrived at camp very late on Wednesday evening, set up our tents in the dark and then crawled into them. At 3:30 in the morning the sprinklers started. Two of them pelted our tent for the next hour. Good thing we had the rain fly on. It was a miserable sleep and inauspicious beginning to what would turn out to be a series of amazing days on the river.
This story will continue... Meanwhile here are a few pics to "wet" your appetite.
Mark quickly remembered how to handle the oars while it took me a bit longer to figure it out.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Image via WikipediaThe plums are coming. Yum!
The tree naked through California winter
Small blossoms appear,
Juicy, red, sweet, due July.
A fluid wind ruffles the leaves.
Hurry plums, hurry. Come!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Landon has created this beautiful screen print, called "Gulf Ghost" that pretty much eulogizes the animals that are suffering and dying due to the effects of the Gulf Oil Tragedy. Landon says:
I'm making 100 copies and selling them for $50 a piece. The prints are on a 15"x18" Reeves BFK watercolor paper. All proceeds are going to GNOF (Greater New Orleans Foundation) for local fisherman affected by the Gulf Oil Spill.
Contact me if anyone is interested in a print, as I will be setting up a PayPal account in the next couple days on my website LandonLott.com
Monday, July 5, 2010
Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr
Thus it follows that I am an environmentalist, a nature-lover and free spirit. I was out on a "destination ride" with my husband last Sunday. We rode our mountain bikes to a place we call "White Beaver Dam" where we play in a stream with a pool (that amazingly very few people know about) and hang out on a picnic blanket under the shade of a big old oak tree with a nice bottle of wine and a tasty lunch. We started this tradition back when we met, in the early 80's, before we learned about the sport of mountain biking, when we were hikers.
We had a little conversation about how most people do not give themselves the opportunity to take an afternoon off, away from civilization, and just "be" in nature. There we were, surrounded by wildflowers, sage, grape soda lupine, butterflies, hummingbirds and ladybugs. An idyllic, peaceful place.
Several friends have accompanied us to "White Beaver Dam" on occasion, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Some have ridden their mountain bikes; some have hiked. They know that by summer's end the water hole will be dried up, so they have taken full advantage of the opportunity for fun while it lasts.
Isn't that quite the analogy for life, when you think about it? Enjoy it now for tomorrow you may die. I highly recommend taking the day off and spending it at your local swimming hole. Some crackers and cheese, a bottle of wine, and the one you love. It'll remind you, once again, why you are here on this lovely blue planet.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Image via Wikipedia
Many of you know that I edited a music video recently called "Black Black Blood." If you have not yet seen it, please take a look, give it a thumbs-up, comment favorably and forward it to your friends.
This was a collaboration with a musician named Katherine Archer who lives in St. Augustine, Florida, the place where Conquistador, Ponce de Leon, first searched for the Fountain of Youth. My own feeling is that the Fountain of Youth is pure spring water. How ironic is it then that the Gulf and its formerly pristine shores are getting ravaged by the "Swamp Monster," a gargantuan amoebic mass of oil that threatens every living thing in its path. And it has the capacity to turn into a black rain filled with toxic dispersant that BP dumped all over it, in its Cat-in-the-Hat attempts to make the massive ink blot go away. This is something you would expect to see in "Supernatural," where Dean and his brother, Sam, would have this all wrapped up in an hour.
This thing ain't going away any time soon. And now hurricane season is revving up like the DeLorean in "Back to the Future."
I know that most people are busy watching "America's Got Talent" or the "World Cup" and that the news from the Gulf has not penetrated their busy schedules. But I believe we all need to get on the same page very soon. Maybe it will be easier to sense the gravity of the situation of you hear some of the voices from the Gulf.
My friend, Bob Byford, writes a blog called "Plainolebobanswers." He once worked on an oil rig and knows better than most what is getting decimated on the southeastern flank of our nation. This is something he wrote in response to the rig explosion that consumed eleven people and precipitated the oil gusher.
It is a quick flash, a heartbeat, a turn of the wind, the blink of an eye, we take for granted. A moment is lost,the fire dies out, the sun sets, the tide rushes from the shore, heartbreak sets in, tears begin to flow, from a window of memory we reach. Eleven souls now rest in the sea, they ride the crest of the next wave, they lie on the sea bed, they ride on a pelican's wings. You are their only shout for justice. The sea never judges, it never forgets, it is very unforgiving. This morning the memories flood in, the sea smell is tainted, the beaches are covered by the foul folly that has been committed. I hear Eleven voices calling, remember me, remember my family, and pray for our sea.
Just after this event, Bob started a Facebook page called "can we stop the oil leak before it covers the entire gulf" which as of this writing has 1,026 members. Bob has tirelessly posted all news he has discovered that relates to the oil spill and shared it with the cyber world. Here is an exchange that I saw today that will give you a glimpse as to how the people of the gulf are feeling.
Bob Byford: Day after day, as the oil rises, so does the feeling of loss. loss of faith, in a government that is supposed to be there when needed. Loss of trust in big company promises, not just the oil field but rather any large company ruled by a board of directors with nothing but profits on their mind. Loss of hope, by the people who need to have faith, who need to trust, oil. And profits are not the biggest loss here.
Candy G: Everyone who experienced the aftermath of Katrina knew that the Federal government would not be there to do anything except create obstacles for those who most needed their support. It's a disgrace that the US feds are so quick to respond to foreign countries in their time of need but abandon those on American soil.
Beverly B: Bob...your words have said it all. I do not think I have ever felt such a sense of loss and depression and just plain helplessness. The fact that it just goes on and on with no end in sight is very difficult for me to get my thoughts around. I always believed that my Government would be there for us in times of disaster...but I realize that we have made so many laws and regulations supposedly to protect ourselves... that there is just no hope for anyone to do the right thing. I also agree with Candy...if this were in a third world country..I believe that we would be there with all the relief and aid that we could gather.
Bob Byford: Beverly, I believed you just nailed it. Our elite attitude of burying ourselves in laws to protect us, has in fact buried us instead. Follow me here. Third world countries are so free to being open that it makes it easy to come to their aid. When they have a disaster, their government usually has very few laws in place to hinder them from assistance. We are like doting parents who have stifled the adventure of growing, being so over protective, that the citizens' rights have been impaired. Maybe?
Candy G: I don't know where either of you live but I'm a little surprised at the remarks that resonate feelings of the realization that there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy -- do either of you remember VietNam? Watergate? Ollie North? McCarthy? JFK - Bay of Pigs? Government, as far back to the first 'tribes', has always been about control... More people, more need for control = more laws. Nothing new, here. I'm not depressed or sad, I'm pissed that human kind has not evolved but instead the world's powers continue to be driven by greed & corruption.
Bob Byford: The statement you make is true Candy, governments have never been a cure all.
Here in the United States, we have always elected our officials freely, accepted the winner, expected that elected official to do the right thing. We are a government, of the people, by the people, and for the people, are we not the people?
If, we are the government, then have we held our expectations too high? Have we let ourselves become too complacent with the outcome of those we have elected?
Government must act and react as the need arises; at this moment, I am sorry but I am terribly disappointed in the whole affair.
Beverly B: Bob..I have been saying exactly that in so many of my conversations. All of our rules, laws, regulations, committee approvals, Senate approvals are actually what have buried us. Even to give aid, our Government has to fight amongst themselves to see if it is the correct thing to do... I think your sentence about says it all... "Our elite attitude of burying ourselves in laws to protect us, has in fact buried us instead." ie...The Jones Act...the act that is keeping foreign vessels a certain distance from our shores....Legally that is the law..and to get that waived is just a huge quagmire.
Our legal system has so many laws that supposedly protect us from so much that we cannot even do the correct things to help ourselves. What is the answer? Bob, the only answer that I see truly scares me....because I really do not think that without a complete dismantling and rebuilding of our Government there will ever be a good answer for any of us.