“A Slow, Strange and Grueling Thing”: Daniel Chamberlin on the Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race (Arthur, 2004)

Originally published in Arthur No. 9 (March, 2004)

A Slow, Strange and Grueling Thing
Writer-photographer Daniel Chamberlin ventures behind California’s Redwood Curtain to experience the three-day triathlon of the arts that is the Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race

In the late 1930s frustrated residents of Northern California declared their intention to wage “patriotic rebellion” against California and Oregon. Tired of dealing with state governments that seemed more concerned with distant population centers—and not with repairing the decrepit bridges and mud-choked roads leading to their sparsely populated mining, fishing and timber communities—the people of Northern California and Southern Oregon took steps to secede from their respective states. The new state would be called Jefferson—a name arrived at by way of a newspaper contest—in honor of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the U.S. and patron saint of Libertarians and states’ rights crusaders. On December 4, 1941, Jefferson State’s residents set up barricades on the highway and elected Judge John L. Childs governor. At his inauguration he was photographed with a bear on a chain that appears to have a severed human hand in its jaws. Three days after Childs’ inauguration Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor and the Jefferson State movement was swept aside as the United States entered World War II. Though small in number, benign Jefferson State secessionists still hold meetings, run a Web site and paint slogans on their barn roofs. Recently, they tried to use the California’s gubernatorial recall fiasco to drum up support for their cause.

The Jefferson State movement points to a spirit of individualism that thrives in Northern California, especially in Humboldt County. People who live up in northernmost California like being away from it all: there’s time to develop interesting ideas, and enough of a community for those ideas to take root. Hobart Brown, a tiny, impish, 69-year-old man who lives in Humboldt, at the southern end of what could’ve been Jefferson State, is one of those people. He’s an aircraft mechanic, astrologer and wild pig hunter. He’s also the self-styled “Glorious Founder” of an event called The Great Arcata-to-Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race (KSR), an event has run every year since 1969.

The KSR is a vigorous all-terrain art parade held over the course of Memorial Day Weekend. Participants take three days to travel 38 miles in vehicles known as kinetic sculptures—usually recumbent bicycles frames mounted with some sort of sculptural art that’s often conspicuously wacky: poop-filled toilet, braying donkey, KISS Army Camaro, etc. For the 2003 race, the least noteworthy of the entries appearing on the starting line in Arcata is a gray-haired, bearded guy wearing a suit and riding a bicycle. The most imposing sculpture-vehicle is the 2,000-pound “Surf & Turf,” a dramatically psychedelic Day-Glo lobster. A bull’s head that bears a close resemblance to the distressed animal in Picasso’s “Guernica” is grafted on to the back of its abdomen. Six pilots sit inside dressed as chefs, complete with poofy white hats.

In order to complete the full race course in accordance with all of the rules—to “Ace” the course, in KSR terminology—the machines must maneuver over city streets and sand dunes, navigate across a mile of open water in Humboldt Bay and slog through the murky depths of a backwoods bog. They do all of this at an average speed somewhere around 2-3 mph, meaning the race never gets much faster than the wheelchair-bound vets in the Memorial Day Parade that precedes them at the finish line in Ferndale. The KSR combines the tedious pace and muddy wallowing of a tractor pull with the budget-minded engineering of a demolition derby and the physical punishment of an Iron Man triathlon. Dozens of participants return every year. Some have two decades of consecutive races behind them. The race means many things to many people, but as far as Hobart is concerned its primary purpose is to serve as a weapon against suicide.

* * *

You have to be seeking Humboldt County in order to get there. Garberville, the largest town in southern Humboldt, is 200 miles from San Francisco. The two largest towns in Humboldt—Eureka and Arcata—are over 70 miles further north. Though Jefferson State is now mostly history, it is a given with locals that Northern California, particularly Humboldt, is separate from the rest of California. This is attributed to a phenomena known as “the Redwood Curtain.” Thousands of people do make the trip to Humboldt though; tourism is one of the area’s trademark industries along with timber, fishing, folk art and marijuana cultivation. For his part, Hobart Brown subscribes to the theory that, along with Hawaii, Humboldt is one of the last outposts of Mu, a mythical lost civilization akin to Atlantis.

The best road to Humboldt from the rest of California is U.S. 101, though what is an eight-lane river of traffic down in Los Angeles is a two-lane trickle 500 miles up the coast in Hopland. The same freeway serves as a 25 mph main street further north in Willits and Laytonville. The towns stay charming, but as you move north there are fewer high-priced bistros and more stores selling generators, solar panels and livestock supplies. Outside towns, the road is flanked on either side by acres of farmland and deep forests. Country lanes open up throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, lined by roadside invitations to join the landed gentry in their wine tasting rooms from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Once you’re in Humboldt, the grape arbors are mostly gone, replaced by what local drug folklore suggests is the scent of local marijuana crops wafting over the highway. The Eel River rides alongside the 101, and in the summer it’s not uncommon to see people pulled off to the side of the road and going for a dip. “Bigfoot Country” coin purses and redwood burl carvings are readily available, and there are several opportunities to drive your car through hollowed-out redwood trees. Local highway cleanup projects are sponsored by the Harley Riders Association, the Humboldt Area Pagan Network and a store called The Blessed Thistle. Logging trucks hauling gargantuan pieces of timber, farmers driving tractors between their fields and rusted VW buses filled with vintage hippies discourage speedy drivers. The archetypal Humboldt vehicle is a mud-spattered 4WD pickup truck with a Grateful Dead sticker and a National Rifle Association decal sharing the same bumper.

In Denis Johnson’s metaphysical California noir, Already Dead, the suicidal philosopher Carl Van Ness wanders this stretch of highway and describes these remote towns as “like little naps you might never wake up from—you might throw a tire and hike to a gas station and stumble unexpectedly onto the rest of your life, the people who would finally mean something to you, a woman, an immortal friend, a saving fellowship in the religion of some obscure church.” I didn’t begin to understand the Kinetic Sculpture Race until I was drunk, stoned and stumbling with a party of veteran racers spewing history and KSR gospel in equal measure as they camped on an isolated, driftwood-strewn beach. You don’t call yourself a local up here until you’ve been dug in for at least a generation, but there’s no better description of the appeal of Humboldt life to an outsider—or a more dead-on assessment of the cult that has risen up around the race that Hobart Brown started in 1969—than that of Johnson’s troubled pilgrim.

* * *

Hobart Brown claims the title of Glorious Founder of the Kinetic Sculpture Race, but race director Bill Croft runs the thing. Croft is a sewing machine repairman who moved to Humboldt County with his wife when he retired from the Coast Guard ten years ago. Although the racers are following an arcane set of rules that Hobart and others have developed over the last three decades, it’s up to Croft to make sure the race follows the rules in terms of city permits, traffic safety, insurance and crowd control. In a phone interview a week before the race he tells me that he knows a lot about Porta-Potties, that Hobart is “the worst businessman ever,” and that without his organizational assistance it was only a matter of time before the race was going be shut down.

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Cosmic Christmas

It is a powerful celestial moment, the moon is full and just fully eclipsed, the winter solstice is upon us, and the Earth is soon to reach perihelion where we are closest in orbit to the sun. The shortest, darkest day of the year is today so what better time to duck into the dark alignments of the universe and make magic.

The full moon amps up all of our psychic abilities and is perfect for dream spells, fertility spells and spirit conjuring. Consider setting your intentions and goals for the new year not on New Years Eve but tonight with the power of the cosmos at your back!

Or borrow a solstice ritual, perhaps you’d like to:

*Cover your doorhandles with butter for Beiwe the Saami goddess of sanity and fertility, who needs fat for her journey through the dark sky to dispel winter and seek spring’s greenery…

* Repel unwanted ghosts by preparing Patjook and sprinkling it around your home or office, as the winter solstice is a notoriously haunted day on the Korean calendar…

*Give gifts of salt, coal or whiskey to your  friends or neighbors to bring luck and plenitude to their households in the year to come, a tradition my pagan Irish grandmother celebrated on the solstice rather than Yule designated to the 1st by the Church.

An all-nighter with BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT in Joshua Tree (Arthur, 2006)

Country Life
For the beatific country-soul musicians of Brightblack Morning Light, there’s no place like Nature
By Daniel Chamberlin
Photography by Eden Bakti

Originally published in Arthur No. 23 (2006)

When they weren’t slumming it with us youngsters at the all-ages hardcore shows, the older dudes at my Indiana high school would spend their weekend nights going “country cruisin’, reminiscin.” They’d all pitch in on a six-pack, score a dime-bag and then pile into somebody’s old car—preferably a late ’70s model sedan with stained plush upholstery and bench seating in front—and drive slowly down the deserted gravel roads and empty dirt tracks that criss-crossed the corn and soybean fields that spread for miles in every direction from the small town we called home. Though I never went on these sentimental rides—I was too young, pot-phobic and already knew that drunk driving was trouble—I was in love with their soundtrack: long-form blues from the Allman Brothers and heartbroken redneck ballads from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

These days, I score my drives back from walks in the San Gabriel Mountains north of my home in Los Angeles with the same music, maybe a bit more Neil Young and Fairport Convention in the mix. It sets the tone for the silent trekking to come and eases the re-entry into the urban landscape on the way back down. The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and Will Oldham’s Ease Down The Road are ideal albums to soundtrack trips to the deserts and mountains. I’ve added Brightblack Morning Light’s new album of organic wilderness soul to the list of music perfect for such peaceful expeditions.

The two core members of Brightblack are Rachel “Rabob” Hughes, 29, and Nathan “Nabob” Shineywater, 30. Their self-titled debut for Matador Records has the dense harmonic blur of My Bloody Valentine but the music is made with the kind of instruments you’d expect to find the world famous session musicians—the Swampers—of Muscle Shoals putting to good use behind Aretha Franklin or Mavis Staples. (The album actually features two of the Staples Singers along with a trombone player from Nashville, Andy McLeod of White Magic on bongos and Paz Lenchantin—the Argentinean-American multi-instrumentalist known for her work with A Perfect Circle, Silver Jews and Entrance—on guitar.) It’s perfect for coming down from the mountains, and custom made for coming down on Sunday morning. It has an almost gospel feel—since soul music is just gospel without as much god—that invites comparisons to the lonely space-age-blues of Spaceman 3 or Spiritualized. But where Jason Pierce put opiates on the altar formerly occupied by the Holy Trinity, Brightblack has placed a respect for nature, an amalgam of environmental convictions and Native American spiritual practices. Which is sort of obvious from song titles like “A River Could Be Loved” and “We Share Our Blanket With The Owl.”

Their live performance is as quiet and intimate—maybe even more so—than their album. The most recent incarnation of their touring band includes Oregonian Elias Reitz on congas and tablas and West Virginian Ben McConnell behind the kit, with their friend Mariee Sioux, who Nabob is careful to identify as a full-blooded Paiute, opening each show. They often bring sticks and other woodland artifacts onto the stage, erecting small lean-tos or tipi-like structures. All of it swirls and refracts in the rich, resinous sound of Rabob’s Fender Rhodes organ. The vocal harmonies are chorus of whispers, while the brushed percussion is more of a sparkle than a clatter. The instruments are so quiet that cash registers at the bar interrupt the spell. Nabob’s slide guitar work hangs in the dim lights of the stage, glowing and vibrating in the air. On his instrument, a wolf cub suckles at a woman’s breast.

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Inter-Dimensional Music on KRTS Marfa


Moonlight on Ranch Road 2810, aka Pinto Canyon Road


Join Arthur vaultkeeper Daniel “Chambo” Chamberlin and longtime Arthur amigo David Hollander tonight and every Sunday night for a two-hour dose of classic New Age, modern psychedelic drone and outer-limits cosmic ambience, specially formulated for navigating through the clean air and dark skies of Far West Texas.

Whether you’re riding on the 10 between Fort Stockton and Sierra Blanca, or waiting for your man down by the Rio Grande, you’ll want to point the dial in your pickup truck or on the pocket transistor radio you’ve got duct-taped to your bicycle to KRTS Marfa, 93.5 FM from 9-11pm CST. For those of you not fortunate enough to claim residency out here in the high desert grasslands, direct the internet-connected audio device of your choosing to http://www.marfapublicradio.org.

Here’s the long-form jams we were zoning out to last week:

“Wednesday” by Malachi from Holy Music
“Mad Music, Inc.” by Mad Music, Inc. from Mad Music, Inc.
“Epsilon in Malaysian Pale” by Edgar Froese from Epsilon in Malaysian Pale
“Memory Vague” by Oneohtrix Point Never from Caboladies/OPN split cassette
“Memory Theater” by James Ferraro from Marble Surf
“The Voice of Incorporeality” by Dolphins Into The Future from The Music of Belief

79-minute GRATEFUL DEAD MIX Volume 2 by Greg Davis

gratefuldeadmix2

Grateful Dead Mix – Volume 2
by Greg Davis
(April / May 2010 – Burlington VT)

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-Grateful-Dead-Mix-Volume-2.mp3%5D

Download: Grateful Dead Mix Volume 2 (mp3, 146mb)

track listing:
Yamantaka (from Mickey Hart, Henry Wolff & Nancy Hennings Yamantaka) + Bill Graham Presents… (from The Bugs – unreleased radio play 1982)

Ollin Arageed (from Rocking the Cradle – live at the Pyramids Cairo Egypt 09/16/78)

Stage Banter / Technical Difficulties (live at Woodstock Festival Bethel NY 08/16/69) + Seastones (from Seastones Sessions 11/28/73)

Fire On The Mountain (live at the Pauley Pavilion UCLA Los Angeles CA 12/30/78)

Bugs On Broadway (from The Bugs – unreleased radio play 1982) + Magnesium Night Light (from Infrared Roses)

Casey Jones (from Workingman’s Dead Sessions)

Franklin’s Tower (from Blues for Allah)

…Quick, the Baby Is Crying… (from Home Recordings Summer 1969)
The Barbed Wire Whipping Party (from Aoxomoxa Outtakes)

Seastones (from Seastones Sessions 11/28/73) + Magnificent Sevens (from Diga Rhythm Band) + Music To Be Born By (from Mickey Hart Music To Be Born By)

Stella Blue (from Steal Your Face – live at The Winterland San Francisco CA 10/20/74)

Eyes Of The World (from Wake Of The Flood)

Crowd Sculpture (from Infrared Roses) + The Bells The Bells (from The Bugs – unreleased radio play 1982)

Ollin Arageed (live at Uptown Theatre Chicago IL 11/18/78)

China Doll (from From The Mars Hotel)

Drone Collage includes The Revolving Mask of Yamantaka + Yamantaka + Solar Winds (from Mickey Hart, Henry Wolff & Nancy Hennings Yamantaka) + Love Scene Improvisations (Take 4) (from Zabriskie Point Soundtrack outtakes by Jerry Garcia)

Touch of Grey (from In The Dark)

So it Came To Pass (from The Bugs – unreleased radio play 1982) + Seastones (from Seastones Sessions 11/28/73)

Dark Star (studio version from What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been)

Dark Star (live at The Family Dog San Francisco CA 08/30/69) + Dark Star (live at The Fillmore East New York NY 01/02/70) + The Bells The Bells Reprise (from The Bugs – unreleased radio play 1982)

Estimated Prophet (live at Barton Hall, Cornell University Ithaca NY 05/08/77)

Star Spangled Banner & Closing Remarks (from The Fillmore Acid Test San Francisco CA 01/08/66)

Bird Song (from Ladies and Gentlemen live at The Fillmore East New York NY 04/28/71)

Love Scene Improvisations (Take 3) (from Zabriskie Point Soundtrack outtakes by Jerry Garcia)


Previously: Grateful Dead Mix Vol 1 by Greg Davis

GREG DAVIS IS A MUSICIAN:

http://www.autumnrecords.net
http://www.myspace.com/gregdavismusic
http://www.myspace.com/suncircle
http://www.myspace.com/cwgd

¡Verde Terlingua! part three

¡Verde Terlingua!
Life off the grid in a wild West Texas border town
Words and photos by Daniel Chamberlin

In April of 2009, Arthur contributing editor Daniel Chamberlin got down with the DIY homesteaders and off-the-grid outsiders of Far West Texas at the first annual Terlingua Green Scene. Find part one “No Winners, Only Survivors” by clicking here.

Part Three: The Warmth of the Sun

TerlinguaGreen1_229

Now go out and get yourself some thick black frames / With the glass so dark they won’t even know your name


John Wells is a sixtysomething contractor, photographer and sculptor from New York, and a self-described press whore. He’s got a blog, The Field Lab, chronicling the last year and a half of his life, building a compound north of Terlingua on a plot of land surrounded by mountains and canyons. He’s been profiled by Make Magazine and his website’s been BoingBoinged, so he’s a celebrity by Terlingua standards. It doesn’t hurt that he’s remarkably photogenic with an epic beard, and reflective sunglasses under a sun-bleached straw cowboy hat.

He smokes cigarettes while standing around jawing with some portly good ol’ boy-types who are bitching about Obama and what they fear will be an increase in property taxes. Wells’ primary reason for leaving his giant house in upstate New York was an aversion to such expenses. Out here he pays about $100 in property taxes per year for his 128-square-foot hut and 40 acres of pristine Chihuahuan desert.

They’re gathered around Wells’ solar cooker, a giant wooden contraption lined with reflective panels that amplifies solar rays, directing them today onto a chicken sitting in a glass dish. It’ll be ready for sampling in two or three hours at about 210 degrees, though some heavy clouds may delay dinnertime. “Clouds are not your friend when you’re solar cooking,” he says.

TerlinguaGreen1_202


John Wells’ solar-heated chicken shack.


Wells uses the cooker out on his compound—it’s officially known as The Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory—for baking most of his meals, which range from heated up cans of vegetables to home-baked bread and lasagna. He invites me to swing by and check it out tomorrow afternoon, and then rejoins the conversation with his buddies, which has turned to aquaponics, or the use of fish tanks to fertilize and irrigate the greenhouse he’s building right now. For the fish in the tanks he’s considering catfish or tilapia, as they’d also make for good eating.

“There’s full systems you can buy for $5000,” he says, “but of course I found a YouTube video, some guy who built one with $20 in materials and his fish are there and his plants are growing. And so I’m gonna try one little setup of that, see how it works.”

He plans to live in the greenhouse once it’s set up. I ask him what he wants to grow and he talks about marijuana and meth. He’s kidding, but I’m also curious about what seems like a lack of meth-heads out here. They’re a staple in the California deserts, half-toothless burnouts in torn-up sleeveless T-shirts, often seen riding to and fro from their toxic trailer labs on ATVs and dirt bikes.

“It’s mostly just drunks down here,” he says. ” I haven’t seen anybody with any really rotten teeth—except for if they’ve never been to a dentist.”

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¡Verde Terlingua! part two

¡Verde Terlingua!
Life off the grid in a wild West Texas border town
Words and photos by Daniel Chamberlin

In April of 2009, Arthur contributing editor Daniel Chamberlin got down with the DIY homesteaders and off-the-grid outsiders of Far West Texas at the first annual Terlingua Green Scene. Find part one “No Winners, Only Survivors” by clicking here.

Part Two: Hot Tubs and Poop Buckets

TerlinguaGreen1_240


Shannon Carter and her sunflower hat.


Green Scene organizers Shannon Carter and Mark Kneeskern—both somewhere in their 30s—met in Terlingua seven years ago. Carter grew up in Baytown, a city located on the humid coastal plains east of Houston, home to several massive petrochemical industrial complexes. She recalls the year that the river behind her house caught on fire and their family had to be evacuated. In high school she got involved with Future Farmers of America, where she worked with calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys and lambs.

After two years at the community college in Baytown, Shannon moved to Alpine, one of the two small towns north of Terlingua—Marathon being the other one—that offer the last chance for ranchers, hunters and hikers to patronize anything resembling fast-food franchises or fully-stocked grocery stores before heading out into the West Texas wilderness. She tells me she wanted to get as far from Houston as she could while still paying in-state tuition, and Alpine’s Sul Ross University satisfied those requirements. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Health Management and Wildlife Biology. She tried grad school for a minute, but soon dropped out and moved to Terlingua in the spring of 1999.

“I’ve lived lots of beautiful places,” Shannon says, and happily recounts an adventure-job-circuit C.V. that includes six seasons of sea kayaking in the Virgin Islands, four seasons as a river guide in Colorado and a year in Moab.

“But none of those places compare to the solitude and vastness of this desert,” she says.

Mark Kneeskern hails from Audubon, Iowa where he had what sounds like a fairly idyllic childhood, adventuring on the East Nishnabotna River and roaming the pastures around his parent’s farm. He got a BFA from a state university that he decries as “worthless.”

DSC_0078


Mark Kneeskern handles Green Scene traffic control.


Mark first came to Terlingua to visit a friend who was working in the Chisos Mountains, the high country of Big Bend National Park. They hiked and camped and Mark got to see a bear. His friend took him on a tour of the local drinking holes and they had what he describes as “crazy times” that left him “shook up.” He moved to Terlingua three years later to become a river guide.

“Terlingua is a hard place to live,” says Mark. “No running water or electricity on most properties. Flush toilets are rare. At first, these factors seem like obstacles, but when you get used to things, you realize that ‘simple’ is the best and happiest way to live. You learn to make it work if you have the will. When it’s nice, it’s paradise. When it’s not nice, it really is a living hell.”

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¡VERDE TERLINGUA! part one by DANIEL CHAMBERLIN

¡Verde Terlingua!
Life off the grid in a wild West Texas border town
Words and photos by Daniel Chamberlin

In April of 2009, Arthur contributing editor Daniel Chamberlin got down with the DIY homesteaders and off-the-grid outsiders of Far West Texas at the first annual Terlingua Green Scene.

Part One: No Winners, Only Survivors

DSC_0046


The entrance to Terlingua’s community garden.


The tiny settlement of Terlingua lays in the Big Bend country of Far West Texas, just north of the Rio Grande, a place that remains one of the most remote areas of the continental United States. In the interest of continuing to lessen the town’s ecological impact, in April of 2009 a group of local homesteaders and off-the-grid-types organized the first Terlingua Green Scene, a conference of sustainable living strategies, including demonstrations of cob house construction, solar cooking and desert farming. The events took place in and around the town’s thriving community garden, a refuge for vegetables, sunflowers and other plants that would otherwise quickly expire in the arid Chihuahuan desert climate. A sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi, created by a Vietnam vet named Spider and painted by local folk music icon Collie Ryan, looks on from a small ridge just to the west.

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The beneficent gaze of Spider and Collie Ryan’s St. Francis.


The Green Scene organizers’ aim — at least in part — is to strengthen community ties as well as to establish Terlingua as a hub of homesteading and DIY sustainability, and to give the town’s other legacies a run for their money: Terlingua has been a footnoted way-station in tales of smugglers heading from Mexico into the United States from the days of candellaria wax and sotol cactus moonshine up to the modern era of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and migrant workers. It’s also known for an annual chili cook-off that attracts thousands of Budweiser-swilling “chiliheads;” as a retreat for the Texas country and folk music scene; and of course there’s the world-class river rafting, mountain biking, birding and hiking of Big Bend National Park — over 800,000 acres of mountains, deserts, bears, antelope and alpine forests whose boundary is 10 miles to the east.

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Chambo's Internet Activity Pages for February 5, 2010

On the Liberation of Spores


• MYCELIUM ON THE RUN, EATIN: The Spore Liberation Front is here to show us how the study of mushrooms can help us all have more meaningful lives, aid in subverting “capitalist economic structures”, and prepare us for the coming “mycelial revolution” in human existence. The SLF makes amazing films (see the above embedded video) and ‘zines, such as the first issue of Radical Mycology, available for download here, or you can buy a hard copy at Little Black Cart. [MycoRant]

• MUSHROOM-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 1:
We always look forward to year-end/decade-end lists from niche publications like The Wire and When You Awake, as they’re usually full of way-out tunes that have slipped beneath our radar. One such genre-specific list that’s most definitely worth checking out comes from the techno nerds at Resident Advisor, in the form of their Top 100 Albums of the ’00s. It’s not all good — we would advise you to avoid anything that includes the term “nu-jazz”, for example — but the RA dudes get lots of credit for putting us on to the organic techno melodies of Trentemøller’s The Last Resort, the cavernous dub of Rhythm & Sound and reminding us to dig out Drexciya’s various Detroit-born dystopian “aqua-funk” menageries. [Resident Advisor]

• MUSHROOM-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 2: We know everybody’s already been checking Greg Davis’ amazing Crystal Vibrations blog for the freshest in retro-New Age jammers, but did you know Davis just started another blog to help everybody keep up with the most lifted of Indian ragas? It’s called Raga Vibrations, of course. We recommend starting with Brij Bhushan Kabra’s Indian Slide Guitar, and going from there. [Raga Vibrations]

• SNOWY SKY ISLANDS: The Davis Mountains of Far West Texas are a kind of ecosystem known as a “sky island,” a term that only hints at the beautiful escape they offer from the high desert grasslands that surround their rocky heights. Hike up to a good vantage point and the concept becomes all the more apparent, as one stands in a foot of snow amidst tree branches sagging with clusters of ice, looking out over arid plains thousands of feet below, dry and dusty under the same sunshine. We’ve been paying visits to our friends at the Davis Mountains Preserve, and documenting any number of lichens and bryophytes encrusted in snow and ice. More photos at Chambo’s photography blog, Into the Green.