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Home Explore Telluride Magazine Summer/Fall 2020

Telluride Magazine Summer/Fall 2020

Published by deb, 2020-06-23 14:52:16

Description: Featuring stories about microdosing, economic recovery after COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and fiction by Curtis Sittenfeld and Emily St. John Mandel.

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52 • FICTION The World Has Many By Curtis Sittenfeld, from her short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It Art by Kellie Day Julie and Graham had known each other for eight years before they ever played I’ll Think It, You Say It, then they played I’ll Think It, You Say It for a year before Julie decided—decided, realized, idiotically fabricated the belief that—she was in love with Graham. Graham worked at the same investment banking firm in Houston as Julie’s husband. Also, their respective kids all attended the same private school, which meant Julie and Keith saw Graham and his wife, Gayle, regularly, in a way that (for almost a decade!) had barely regis- tered with Julie. They showed up at the same soccer games and school fundraisers and Christmas parties and dinner parties. They greeted one another in a friendly fashion, and—in retrospect, Julie went over it repeatedly, that innocent earlier era before she became obsessed—she thought of Graham as slightly more appealing than most men, but neither fascinating nor smolderingly handsome. Even later, Julie considered Graham and Keith comparably attractive, if your thing was preppy middle-aged men, which hers apparently was. But neither of them was, like, hot. Nevertheless, for a stretch of several months, whenever Julie had sex with her husband, she pretended he was Graham. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


It was at Bret and Tracy Hutchinson’s twen- sip of her champagne before adding, “To be fair, Graham gave her a dubious look. “Surely if tieth anniversary party, at River Oaks Country Tracy does look great tonight. Her Spanx must be you put your mind to it?” Club, that Graham appeared beside Julie and killing her, but she looks great.” said, for the first time, “I’ll think it, you say it.” “Graham, she’s the director of an organiza- Julie was standing alone, momentarily, because “What are Spanx?” Graham asked. tion that finds families for foster kids. Plus, she the babysitter had texted to ask if her youngest “Seriously? They’re ‘shapewear.’ ” Julie has a sense of humor.” child was allowed to go to sleep with the light on in his room. Graham nodded his head once, made air quotes. “They smooth out your womanly “Fair enough. Doug Green.” toward an unofficial receiving line that had lumps and bumps.” “For Doug, we go to the multiple choice for- formed around the party’s hosts. mat: (A) super-snobby and aloof, (B) intensely “And here I thought womanly lumps and awkward, or (C) on the spectrum.” Julie looked “Well, for starters,” Julie said, “I’m surprised bumps were one of life’s great gifts,” Graham said. at Graham. “Don’t tell me you haven’t considered they decided to throw this party because I was all those possibilities.” always under the impression Bret and Tracy “Depending on the location.” When Julie and “A combination of A and B,” Graham said. “Is kind of hate each other.” She glanced at Graham Gra- ham’s eyes met, she said, “Who else?” that permitted?” before adding, “I assume they’re celebrating, “It is,” Julie said, “although it’s a cop-out.” what, a total of three happy years together?” Graham nodded toward another guest and “Jennifer Reilly.” said, “Anne Pyland.” “Well, she can’t stand Anne, so it’s funny Graham raised his eyebrows. “I’d have esti- they’re talking to each other right now,” Julie said. mated one, but, sure, let’s round up.” “Anne is an interesting case, because every “Were you guys at the school auction last spring?” other time I interact with her, I either get a kick out Graham nodded. “And even though they’re both tedious, of her or I can’t stand her. So in the end, even though “I think Jennifer had just had a lot of the they’re tedious in such distinctive ways,” Julie she’s better and worse than most people, she’s aver- punch, but Anne spread rumors that she’d said. “With him, it’s like, all roads eventually age. When she’s in a bad mood, she doesn’t hide it, snorted coke.” lead to a disquisition on the pleasures of hunting and I’m not sure if I’m jealous or appalled.” “Man,” Graham said. “You’re good.” white-tailed deer. But apart from being blood- “By which I assume you mean I’m a huge thirsty, he’s really gentle and has such good Again, Graham nodded once. “Rob Greffkamp.” bitch who usually manages to keep her bitchi- manners. Whereas with her, all roads lead to “He’s wondering how many drinks he needs ness concealed?” her gifted children, and she’s so aggressive and to consume before he can forget his moral ambiv- Was Julie a huge bitch who usually managed braggy. Literally, she’s probably told me twelve alence about working for Halliburton.” From to keep her bitchiness concealed? She truly times that Mr. Vaughn said Fritz is the most tal- across the room, Rob Greffkamp let loose with didn’t know. In the eight years she and Keith had ented math student he’s ever had.” Julie took a boisterous laughter, and Julie added, “And he’s optimistic that he’s at least halfway there.” “Sherry Chessel.” “Bad news,” Julie said. “I really like Sherry. I have nothing critical to say.” SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 53


54 • FICTION lived in Houston, she had never talked like this there was much football, hunting, and Chris- Julie laughed. It wasn’t that talking to Graham to anyone. She was simultaneously shocked by tianity, though Houston was big and diverse had made her feel lovestruck, not remotely, not the conversation, shocked to be having it with a enough that she could sneak away for a solo then. It was more that it had made her feel big- man, shocked by its effortlessness, and not sur- lunch at a Sri Lankan restaurant, or do phone boobed, curly-haired, high-spirited, and Jewish. prised at all; it was as if she’d been waiting to banking for a pro-choice congressional candi- Even if it was only by that point symbolic rather be recognized, as if she’d never sung in public, date in a tight race. than literal, it had made her feel like herself. then someone had handed her a microphone and she’d opened her mouth and released a full- In her younger years, when single, Julie had For many months—for the next year—Julie throated vibrato. Except that her only audience thought of herself as a big-boobed, curly-haired, was fine. She’d look for Graham at parties or was Graham, a familiar semi-stranger, which high-spirited Jewish girl, and she had heard on the sidelines of athletic fields, but casually, made the game a secret, which was the most rumors of men who appreciated these qualities, not frantically, and sometimes they’d speak for fun part of all. Neither on that day nor in the but she had not encountered them personally; twenty minutes and sometimes just for three future did they ever discuss the game’s rules, yet perhaps, she thought, they clustered on the or four. They never played the game in front of clearly they both agreed what they were. Julie coasts. By the time she and Graham started other people, including either of their spouses, considered this complicity amazing, though she playing I’ll Think It, You Say It, she was no lon- but in some ways the suspension of the game wondered if her bar for amazing was low. ger big-boobed (the one procedure she under- created an even more pleasing undercurrent went, after nursing three kids, was a breast than actually playing it. She did have friends, and they did gossip reduction and lift), not curly-haired (she had about people, but the way they gossiped felt regular blowouts and tried to believe that the Once, at pickup after a seventh birthday superficial, imprecise, and gratuitously mean; formaldehyde in the straightening lotion was party attended by both of their youngest chil- talking to Graham felt sin- offset by purchasing almost exclusively organic cere and only incidentally produce), and barely Jewish (Keith was Episco- dren—Julie’s son, Lucas, mean. Also, there was a pal, and while Julie’s attendance at temple was was in the same grade as physical sensation Julie spotty, they always celebrated Christmas). Also, Graham’s daughter Macy— often had near the end of she wasn’t really that high-spirited anymore, Graham sidled up to her and parties or kids’ soccer games, though neither was she unhappy. Keith worked said, “I’ll think it, you say it?” what she thought of as tired long hours but made a lot of money, and he was face—she’d exerted herself, rarely grumpy, often boyishly upbeat, and gen- Julie smiled but shook received little in return, and erally appreciative of the ways in which she her head. “There’s no time.” now wished to be alone, or exerted herself on behalf of their household. The party had featured a at least to be in her car, with When initiating sex in bed at night, he’d say in a bounce house on the host fam- only children, and preferably warm tone, “Is your vagina open for business?” ily’s enormous front lawn, and only ones to whom she was Which, admittedly, caused her to cringe but was already the children’s shoes related—and this sensation the result of a time years before when she’d had were back on and goody bags seemed, after she and Gra- a UTI and told him her vagina was closed, so she were being distributed. ham started playing I’ll Think was at least partly to blame. It, You Say It, like nothing but “Oh, please,” Graham boredom. Was it possible she At the Hutchinsons’ anniversary party, Gra- said. “There’s always time had been bored for the entire ham said to her, “I hope you’re a huge bitch who for a quickie.” time she and Keith had lived usually manages to keep her bitchiness con- in Houston? For her entire cealed. Otherwise, what’s the point?” “In that case,” Julie said, adulthood? Because, alarm- and she began quietly laying ingly, I’ll Think It, You Say It into the birthday boy’s par- left her as cheerful and ener- ents, evangelicals who owned gized as a Zumba class. a national chain of highly successful fast casual restau- Julie and Keith had met rants. But Graham’s expres- in graduate school—he was sion of possible amusement or getting an MBA, she a degree skepticism made her pause, in speech and language and she said, “Although pathology—and they’d mar- maybe you disagree with me?” ried while living in Chicago, which was where their two daughters were born. “No, no,” Graham said Their son was born after they moved to Houston quickly. “Unless I tell you oth- for Keith’s job, and at first it amused Julie and erwise, you should assume Keith that they’d spawned a Texan. There were we’re in total agreement.” things about the white, moneyed version of Hous- There was something strange about the ton that Julie didn’t love and, even more, that she happiness this comment induced in Julie, and didn’t love herself for not resisting. it took her until later in the day, long after her departure from the party, to figure out what it Already, by the time they’d moved, she’d was: Despite the location of its origins, it had stopped working. At the school where they been a happiness wholly unattached to her chil- enrolled the children, lots of mothers did drop- dren; it had been a grown-up happiness. off in expensive exercise wear that flattered their svelte figures, then did pickup in the On the October night that Keith came home same expensive exercise wear; whether they from work and mentioned that Graham had exercised in the intervening hours wasn’t and Gayle had separated and were getting a clear. Their hair was stylishly cut and dyed, divorce—he seemed to consider the news sad and some of them underwent cosmetic surgery but unremarkable, and was surprised Julie procedures, procedures other than Botox, with didn’t already know—Julie’s agitation was so which Julie had previously been unfamiliar: immediate, extreme, and difficult to conceal hyaluronic- acid lip filling and laser resurfacing from Keith that surely something untoward had and abdominoplasties. In the air she breathed, been percolating in her all along. The upending of her equilibrium—it was disastrous and thrill- ing. She truly had not known it was still possible to feel this kind of physical excitement. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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56 • FICTION In bed that night, she lay awake hour after It was early November, and she decided to she was planning on Graham being the one to hour and considered the situation from every maintain the status quo until January because she suggest the adjournment. She’d contacted Gra- angle, vacillating between lucidity and crazi- didn’t want to actively be cheating on Keith for ham by email, the first email she’d ever sent him, ness. She and Graham were, obviously, in love what was probably the last Christmas that their and she’d guessed correctly at his work email with each other. He had left Gayle for her. youngest child would believe in Santa; she wanted address based on Keith’s. I wonder if you’re free (Obviously, he had not left Gayle for her.) They to enjoy the holidays with a heart that was, if not to have lunch next week, she’d written, and he’d needed to be extremely careful, to treat their uncorrupted, then only passively corrupt. She’d written back, Hi Julie! I can’t do next week, but I attraction like a pipe bomb. Or maybe life was move forward with Graham in the new year. can do Tues or Fri of the week after. short and they owed it to themselves to take advantage of every precious moment, For the lunch where Julie was planning to con- Graham arrived ten minutes late, seem- possibly by fucking in a supply closet at fess her love, her criteria for the restaurant ing preoccupied in exactly the way Keith River Oaks Country Club. had been a place where (1) it wouldn’t be weird was when his attention got pulled from to order a glass of wine and (2) they were unlikely office matters during the day; if anything, They would never acknowledge it. to run into people they knew. She decided on the Graham seemed less chipper than Keith She would say something the next restaurant inside the Four Seasons, which soon would under such circumstances. Later time she saw him. After three a.m., Julie seemed humiliating—of course she’d considered she guessed that Graham had imagined she fell asleep, and she woke before five, reso- the convenience of adjourning to a room, though was about to ask him to, say, join the host lute. The next time she saw Graham, she’d committee for the annual gala of the home- say nothing out of the ordinary and simply less shelter on whose board Julie served. use the opportunity to acquire data. Or possibly he’d thought she was hoping to At no point had she previously consid- fix him up with a single woman she knew; ered cheating on Keith; indeed, she’d felt no doubt this had begun happening, which slightly terrified by the divorces of other was part of why Julie couldn’t delay. At the couples, as if they were a communicable time, though, Julie had thought that Gra- disease. But apparently life contained ham knew, more or less, why she’d invited surprises. Second acts! She was forty-four. him to lunch, and even afterward she wasn’t convinced she’d been wrong. Oddly, Julie couldn’t remember whether she and Graham were in the By the time he sat, she’d already con- habit of embracing when they greeted sumed most of her glass of white wine. each other. Usually not, she concluded, or They discussed Graham’s older son’s col- maybe not during the day but sometimes lege applications (his first choice was at adult events, at night, when alcohol Duke, though Graham considered this was or would be involved. unrealistic). After they’d placed their orders with the waiter, Graham leaned in Gayle came without him to a black- and said, “What’s up?” tie fundraiser for cancer research, after Julie had taken particular care with her He was wearing a gray suit, a light appearance in anticipation of seeing him blue shirt, and a dark blue tie with red there. (Uncomfortably, Julie actually stripes, and he was painfully attractive liked Gayle. She was pretty and kind, a to her. He had hazel eyes with crow’s- petite woman with a brunette bob, and feet around them, a strong jaw, and com- she’d always struck Julie, though maybe pletely gray hair, though he was only a this was erroneous, as someone who year older than Julie. found being a mother and a volunteer gratifying and sufficient.) She said, “This is hard to say—” and paused and looked at him, and there was Julie finally saw Graham at a high nothing encouraging in his expression. school girls’ basketball game on a Sat- If anything, a kind of cloudiness had urday afternoon; Julie’s oldest and Gra- over- taken his face. So should she have ham’s middle child were a year apart but stopped? Or was some ritual degradation on the same team. Julie climbed up the necessary, and if she hadn’t gone through bleachers and sat with him, her heart with it in the moment, she’d just have had hammering. He was alone, and she’d to enact it in the future? She said, “Lately, come with Lucas, who was scampering I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Ever around the basketball court’s periphery. since I heard that you and Gayle had sep- Julie frowned and said, “I’m sorry about arated—I keep picturing you and me—” you and Gayle,” and then she had diffi- culty listening to him because she was Six months after Lucas was born, Julie thinking about what she’d say next, what had been shopping alone at a boutique, it might reveal about her, and whether examining a tunic on a hanger, when a he’d find it funny. Also, when was the part fellow shopper, a chic woman about thirty when they’d have sex? years her senior, had said, “That looks comfy!” The woman had lightly patted her He raised his eyebrows in a rueful way own midsection and added with a smile, and said, “Divorce is the worst, Julie. The “Not much longer for you, I’m guessing?” very, very worst. But Gayle’s and mine has been That the woman assumed she was preg- a long time coming.” nant wasn’t as horrifying to Julie as the prospect of what they’d both do when Julie had to reveal “Everything is so complicated, isn’t it?” she wasn’t. She was flustered enough that it Julie said. didn’t occur to her that she could simply pretend the woman was correct, and her focus was on pre- Graham turned his head, and his expression venting the woman from explicitly articulating was odd—it was both mournful and a little arch. her assumption. Julie extended one arm, palm He said, “Thank you for existing with me in this out, as if to physically stop the next words. She cosmos.” TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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58 • FICTION said, overly warmly and loudly, “They sell so much She watched him retreat down the block, Lucas, along with his best friend, Drew, was great stuff here, don’t they?” Then she hastily and when he reached the crosswalk, she reen- climbing on a railing on the steps. She waved, rehung the tunic and bolted from the store. tered the lobby of the Four Seasons, found a and Lucas, who was the most easygoing of her bathroom, shut herself in a stall, and bawled. children, waved back; he didn’t feel the need to Graham did a variation on this. He said, inter- either publicly cling to or ignore her. Many times, rupting her, “Julie—no—I don’t think—” They Twenty days had passed since she and Gra- with other adults, Julie had winkingly referred to both were silent for a few confusing but probably ham had had lunch, and Julie was, when Lucas as her oops baby, because of the age gap terrible seconds. “I don’t—” Graham said, then by herself, still crying frequently. This was why, between him and his sisters, but she didn’t antic- paused again, then said, “You and Keith seem like on the morning of chaperoning the field trip to ipate using the term, with its subtext of sloppy you have a good marriage, and God knows how rare the Butterfly Center, Julie told Lucas’s teacher spontaneous marital passion, ever again. those are. That’s not something to trifle with.” that she needed to pick up a prescription and, instead of riding the bus, would meet them Julie found Mrs. Ackerburg, who was She shouldn’t have offered a counterargu- there. Because Julie stopped crying when she Lucas’s teacher. ment, right? But she said, “I think about you all passed Dunlavy Street, she had enough time the time. I feel a way I haven’t felt since I was to recover and look mostly normal before join- “Here’s your group.” Mrs. Ackerburg handed a teenager.” ing the students, teachers, and other parents Julie a piece of paper with a typed list of names on (which, of course, meant other mothers). it and added, “I’ve paired you with Gayle Nelson.” “Keith is my co-worker, Julie. And with our kids and school—” They made excruciating eye In the last three weeks, Julie and Graham Julie hoped her sunglasses concealed her dis- contact, and Graham said, “It’s a nonstarter.” had had no contact. Though she’d seen him from may: She hadn’t known that Graham’s wife—or a distance at the girls’ basketball tournament, ex-wife, depending on what stage of the divorce “Do you not feel like we connect in some proceedings they were in—would be here. Gayle unusual way?” they hadn’t spoken; the sight of him across the definitely hadn’t been part of the group emails high school gym had made her realize that in He shrugged. “You’re fun to talk to. But that the short term, she would miss him as the per- Mrs. Ackerburg had sent. doesn’t necessarily mean son she’d lain awake in the middle of the night Aloud, Julie said, “Great,” then anything beyond itself.” imagining being naked with, but in the long looked around to locate Gayle. term what she’d miss was their conversations. Sure enough, she was standing Although her internal near her daughter Macy. organs had begun to liquefy At the natural science museum, Julie parked and collapse, it seemed on the north side. Like the majority of women Julie pretended she hadn’t important to conceal this she knew, she drove an SUV, hers a black BMW. seen her and approached from him. She pulled off her sunglasses before peering at Lucas. “Hey, squirt,” she said, her face in the mirror on the sun visor. Her eyes and he said, “Hi, Mom.” Lucas “So,” he said. Another were only marginally more bloodshot than usual, was four feet tall, with blond silence ensued, and he and her lips, which sometimes swelled when she curls. added, “An eighty-five-de- cried, were their regular size. She put her sun- gree day in January, huh? I glasses back on and climbed from the car. “We were out of cheddar, guess it’s getting pretty hard so I put Swiss on your sand- to dismiss global warming.” The school buses had discharged their wich for lunch today,” she said. Astonishingly, they segued freight, and when she joined the throng on the “Just so you’re not surprised.” into an ordinary conversa- plaza in front of the museum, the second graders tion, a conversation that were leaping around and jostling one another. “Okay,” Lucas said. under normal circumstances, “And there’s chips,” Julie with anyone else, would have said. “And an apple.” given her tired face. He had Lucas looked at her with ordered shrimp risotto, and benign curiosity, and Julie she had ordered salad, and he thought that this might be picked up the check, which her lowest moment yet— seemed unsurprising but still worse than all her lustful day- gracious. Also astonishingly, dreams about a man other even though the lunch had than her husband, worse been worse than she possi- than her recent months of bly could have imagined, she preoccupation, worse even didn’t wish for it to be over; in than unsuccessfully throwing spite of everything, she liked herself at Graham. being in his presence. “Darth Vader is stronger than Sidious and Obi-Wan Outside, on the sidewalk, put together,” Lucas’s friend Drew said. “And he in what was obviously their last minute together, survived in the river of lava.” he said in a serious voice, “I want to make sure A whistle blew, and the children lined up; you know”—and she thought he was about to Mrs. Ackerburg and the two other second-grade provide consolation—“that it’s not like I wish teachers took turns reading names aloud so the we could be together under different circum- kids knew where to stand. stances. I was never romantically interested in Gayle appeared next to Julie and mur- you. Never. At all.” The sentiment seemed more mured, “There’s something I want to ask you.” legalistic than mean, not that the two were Julie tried to sound neutral as she said, mutually exclusive. There was also something “Sure.” She had no idea whether Gayle had ever legalistic in the way he seemed to be awaiting suspected anything; it was possible she hadn’t her acknowledgment. and also possible that Gayle had suspected before Julie herself did. But Julie doubted that “Okay,” she said. Graham had told her about their lunch. “You realize, don’t you, that you weren’t say- “This spring is Mrs. Ackerburg’s twenty-fifth ing what I thought? You were saying what you anniversary at the school,” Gayle said. “Paula and thought. I was just listening.” Jen and I were thinking all the families in the class “Okay,” she said again. should go in on a gift certificate, but do you think Clearly, they couldn’t kiss or hug. He looked she’d rather have one to a restaurant or a spa?” at her with trepidation and concern, said, “Take care of yourself,” and patted her shoulder. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


60 • FICTION “Oh,” Julie said. “Well, you could split the differ- even boob-lifted and hair-straightened. Some- long time ago, after Julie and Keith had been dat- ence, right? And do both? I’m happy to contribute.” times, in the last few weeks, she had thought ing for a month, they’d gone for drinks one night maybe he’d been denying his attraction to her with a bunch of his business school classmates, “If it were me, I’d prefer the spa. I think as an act of chivalry, in order not to destroy her and the next morning, while the two of them were Sanctuary is really nice.” marriage, too. But Beth Brenner offered rather still in bed at Keith’s apartment, Julie had begun convincing evidence that he’d said he was never describing her impressions of his friends—that It was like cortisol—or something—had romantically interested in her because he was guy James had been a blowhard, and Ross had been released into Julie’s bloodstream in prepa- never romantically interested in her. made a weird comment about affirmative action, ration for a showdown, and though the cortisol and clearly Nick’s girlfriend was anorexic or had proved unnecessary, she was compelled to The children made butterflies out of paper, bulimic or both; in fact, Julie wondered if she’d deploy it. She said, “Gayle, how are you doing? glitter, and pipe cleaners, and Lucas tried to puked in the bathroom at the bar, because she’d In terms of, you know, Graham?” Even now, give her his to hold as they left the classroom. been gone twenty minutes and returned to the there was a certain illicit thrill in saying his Julie shook her head. “You can hang on to it like table wobbly and minty-smelling. name aloud, as if he were a regular person. everyone else,” she said. From his side of the bed, Gayle rolled her eyes. “Have you heard that In front of the doors to the “rain forest,” Keith had said, without looking he’s moved in with Beth? He was Julie, Gayle, and the ten children in their group at her, “It’s not that you’re wrong. staying at a residential hotel for a were told by another docent that they should But when you say stuff like this, it while, but now he’s at her place. not touch the butterflies, even if one landed on makes life a lot less enjoyable.” Frankly, I’m not sure what she sees them. Before exiting, they’d need to make sure in him. What does a gorgeous thir- no butterflies were clinging to their clothes. Julie had felt chastened, which ty-year-old woman want with a man Already, Julie could feel the humid air. possibly had been his intent, or having a midlife crisis?” possibly that was only a by-product Julie had been to the Butterfly Center sev- and the intent was simply to get Julie’s heartbeat had picked eral times. Inside its tropical clime, a walkway her to stop. That she had stopped, up. “Who’s Beth?” snaked around massive nectar plants and fruit and remorsefully rather than pet- trees, below a three-story roof of windowpanes. ulantly, she’d interpreted as a sign “Beth Brenner,” Gayle said. “In At first, the children shouted out on glimpsing of her own maturity, the maturity mergers and acquisitions.” a butterfly—someone identified a zebra butter- of their relationship. That Keith fly, then a green swallowtail—but they were so had wanted her to stop she’d inter- Julie had a dim idea of who this plentiful that the children soon settled down. preted as a sign of his decency. was—an employee of the firm where both Graham and Keith worked, an And yet, Julie thought, the world did not have She was just a few feet from up-and-comer who was, if Julie was many butterflies. Or at least for her, it hadn’t. A the exit when the butterfly landed thinking of the right person, her own on her forearm, on top of the physical opposite. Her mental image thin sleeve of her white cotton of Beth Brenner was of a tall, slen- sweater. The butterfly had wings der blonde wearing a short-skirted of mostly iridescent blue, edged business suit and high heels. in black with tiny yellow flecks. She raised her arm, the way she “I’m sorry,” Julie said, which of would if another person were course was true. about to hook his through hers. She expected this to make the Gayle shook her head. “He butterfly depart, but it remained claims it started after we sep- in place. “Mom!” said Lucas. arated, but come on. You know “There’s a butterfly on your arm! what, though? She can have him.” You guys, there’s a butterfly on my mom’s arm!” Because the children and adults were entering the museum The second graders were in a horde, it wasn’t the moment ecstatic. They exclaimed to for Julie to burst into tears again, her and one another as they though there was time to discreetly approached, inspecting the check her phone and confirm that insect, and still it didn’t move. It Beth Brenner was who she was quivered a little, but it didn’t fly picturing. Half the second grad- away. Gayle, who was also nearby, ers were led to the Butterfly Cen- said, “That’s good luck, Julie. You ter proper—basically a tropical should go buy a lottery ticket.” greenhouse—and the other half, If there was a kind of person who believed including Lucas’s group, started in in the magic of butterflies, Julie was not one of a classroom, where they were each them. She had no use for this small moment of given a sheet of orange paper that ostensible enchantment. read, across the top, THE WORLD HAS MANY “Or maybe it’s that you get to make a wish,” BUTTERFLIES. Below that were the words Did Gayle said. you know . . . and an assortment of facts: But- It was rude to stare, Julie knew, but for terflies have four wings, fold them when resting, many seconds, she stared at Gayle anyway, won- and live during their pupal stage in a chrysalis. dering just what it was the other woman imag- ined she would wish for. \\ A docent led a discussion among the children Reprinted from YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY while Julie and the other adults stood against a IT by Curtis Sittenfeld. Published by Random side wall. She can have him. Would Julie ever in House, an imprint and division of Penguin casual conversation say that about her husband Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by and another woman? It felt unlikely. She had Curtis Sittenfeld. wondered, in retrospect, if she had been hoping to leave Keith for Graham, hoping she and Gra- ham would marry. She thought but wasn’t cer- tain that she’d only been trying to have an affair. Though how embarrassing, in light of the news about Beth Brenner, that Julie had imagined Graham might desire her forty-four-year-old self, TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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62 • ESSAY I NEVER SAW A DISCONTENTED TREE. THEY GRIP THE GROUND AS THOUGH THEY LIKED IT, AND THOUGH FAST ROOTED THEY TRAVEL ABOUT AS FAR AS WE DO. THEY GO WANDERING FORTH IN ALL DIRECTIONS WITH EVERY WIND, GOING AND COMING LIKE OURSELVES, TRAVELING WITH US AROUND THE SUN TWO MILLION MILES A DAY, AND THROUGH SPACE HEAVEN KNOWS HOW FAST AND FAR! —John Muir RX FOR ALL Forest bathing for better health These are the trees you think of in times of By Michelle Curry Wright and reduce type 2 diabetes. How does this occur? The stress, or loneliness, or when your phone rest on the endless seas of green or yellow or white. scents (phytoncides) given off by trees (their citrus-y has become your ball and chain. Your Down lower, in dappled sun and shade, you’ve felt oils) have proven, with adequate exposure, to positively happy place is populated by these trees, the camaraderie of trunks lining your walk, as you affect the human endocrine and immune systems and standing by, steady, calm and vibrant—and, as it slip between the light and dark of vertical sentries. boost natural killer cell activity and the production of happens, ready to serve. On a spring day, when the world seems new, there anti-cancer proteins. Thus, trees, in their goodness, is a blinding brightness in the green of the new are serving us, whether we know it or not. My tree history began with a small fruit orchard aspen leaf quaking in a light breeze, and in the fall, of apples, pears, and cherries in France in the early a golden shower, as aspen coins rain on us—almost Sound farfetched? For many, it is not a stretch 60s during my dad’s last tour of duty there. At five through us, really—body and soul. at all. Because these are the forests a great many years of age, I lived among them, smelled them, have written and felt about, dreamed about, touched their bark, plucked their fruit, and generally What is the strength and goodness we derive researched, painted, spent lives experiencing, felt myself at one with their essence. This is what kids from trees? even, regrettably, eulogized. The forests of natu- do naturally and without effort: They take it all in. ralists, novelists, poets, hermits, athletes, walkers, “Forest bathing” began in Japan in the 1980s as and everyone else who loves them. These are trees After that came the dense, wet forests of the part of their national health plan. Though later scien- that have forever accompanied us, given to us in so Pacific Northwest; the lemon and orange groves tific work on shinrin-yoku (its Japanese name) was many ways, and we are still arcing upward to bet- in Southern California (before they all but dis- specific to Japanese conifers, some of the science is ter understand them. An aspen stand, in our neck appeared); and an urban phase of the plane and applicable to forests the world over. The practical of the woods, for instance? Its clonal root system, maple trees of Central Park in New York City. In steps are simple, but for many Coloradans, not easy, which can last 80,000 years, is one of the oldest liv- each of these places, I found dreamy but tangi- as they involve non-aerobic and non-goal-oriented ing organisms we know of. Trees are insanely cool. ble solace and nourishment from trees, whether activity: Go into the forest for a long but slow walk. through pores, olfactory receptors or eyeballs, Practice a combination of no-mind and mindfulness, When we are standing still in our majestic forests whether subtle or strong, sere or misty. by being as present as possible with all five of your here in Colorado wondering why it is we feel so alive, senses. Be alert beyond the space of mental distrac- so protected, so well accompanied, it is because for- For many years, however, it has been these south- tion and into the stillness of nature. Then, receive est bathing is good for the full spectrum of health, western Colorado forests that have filled me up like what Mother Nature is intending for us to receive. seen and unseen, felt and unfelt. All we have to do is a balloon. The large swaths of pine and spruce and Repeat. (You can take it up a notch—or down a slow down, slow way down, and be open to it. \\ seeming continents of aspen groves. Their rippling notch—by “Earthing,” or removing your shoes for Suggested reading: beauty, their smells and feels, their relationship to more amplified connection and grounding.) Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find the ground and to the sky. And yes, their vibe. Health and Happiness, by Dr. Qing Li A number of scientific studies over the years, The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben There is magic in our forests, as you may already which continue today, have shown the practice of have sensed. You’ve probably already hiked a num- shinrin-yoku to lower concentrations of cortisol, ber of trails, gotten up high enough to let your gaze lower blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular disease, TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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64 • ESSAY BUTTERMILK ON RIVER-RIGHT Seafood enchiladas with Jud Wiebe By Maple Andrew Taylor | Photos by Melissa Plantz two-night trip; and I am almost tempted to say it of the gear at the boat for meticulous loading, has been a lazy day. Truth is, for the river guide, including the very heavy food boxes and ice chests. We aren’t far from the evening’s takeout. there are no lazy days. Carefully pack up the communal potty can. Tie For the last half hour I have kept the raft everything down doubly secure. Climb in and push in the main channel and pushed on the A river guide’s day goes like this. Awaken at off and navigate the heavy raft through the sharp oars to increase our speed. There are six guests first light. Potty. Get the coffee going on the gas rocks and booming water. on this trip down the wild and remote Gunnison stove. Wash the face and clean the body a little in River just below the Black Canyon of the Gunnison the (cold!) river. Start breakfast, which some days It sounds like a lot already, but this is only one- National Park. Two are serious fishermen, and so entails getting a batch of coals lit in the firepan third of the day. There will be a pullover for lunch we stopped numerous times throughout the day so and slicing potatoes, dicing and chopping onions and the preparation thereof, then cleanup and that they could get out of the boat and flycast their and peppers, and whisking a bowl of eggs for a repacking once again. After more miles down the nymphs, while the others, including a non-paying dutch oven breakfast casserole. On some morn- river there will be the final pullout for the night’s guest of one of the other guides, sat sunning them- ings we might whip up some batter for pancakes camp, which, of course, will include unpacking selves on rocks or took short hikes up the side can- or make biscuits from scratch. Serve the meal. everything from the boats, setting up the clients’ yons. We’ve only had a few miles to cover today to Clean up the dishes and pots and pans, including tents, our own tents, the kitchen, and then cook- get to our last overnight camp on this three-day, the ashy dutch ovens. Repack the kitchen. Knock ing and cleaning up after a formal meal and des- down all the tents and pack them up. Stage all sert for nine people. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


This morning’s menu: biscuits, eggs to order, with little effort or even discussion. Sometimes we which there are only a few, do not abide by this pro- patty sausage, gravy with the leavings, chunked enlist a guest to help. Mr. Michael! Do you have any tocol, nor would any backpackers who occasionally grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar. Coffee of aptitude at peeling potatoes? Miss Cheryl, can you descend into the canyon to camp along the river’s course, and more coffee after that. cube these peppers and onions for me? edge—so the campsite you are counting on could still be occupied when you get there. For the dutch oven biscuits, cut the lard into the Buttermilk on river-right is our destination. flour, pat-out on a floured bandanna on the top of an There is an informal system of reserving a “camp- I crane my neck on this last bend in the river ice chest. Tin can with the bottom cut out to make site” down in this remote and wild canyon, which is before the long approach to our river-right camp- the rounds. Line the greased dutch with them. to say a flat, sandy spot big enough for a few tents site near Buttermilk Rapid, a raging sluice riv- and a couple of small kitchen tables and maybe er-left up against a big wall, guarded river-right Flour, butter, salt and pepper, and canned a tree or two for a little shade and the illusion of by rocky shallows. And, yes! Buttermilk’s broad, milk in the sausage grease for some simple and shelter. The commercial guides keep track of each sandy bench tucked into the trees is unoccupied. good gravy. Spoon a quick taste; add more pepper other and the rule is the first boats on the water get The commercial group that passed us while we and butter, then even more butter. the best campsites. Tradition has it that the other were fishing stuck to the protocol most honorably, boats must take a less desirable site, regardless of and camped around the corner downriver in a The other two boatmen and I are constantly who actually gets there first. It’s first on the water, cramped, treeless little spot. doing. Not in angst and not frenetically, but steady as not first at the site. But non-commercial trips, of she goes. After working together for a dozen trips this Empty of people and dunnage, tied securely summer, we have each gravitated to our strengths and oars shipped, our three boats, diagonal in the river’s infernal push, are a perfectly matched flo- tilla. The two fisherman fish. The others sip beer or wine that has been chilling in the water. They sit and visit and watch the waters. Some with their toes snug in the sand, warm and comforting now that the sun has sunk below the canyon’s rim. But- termilk, now, in shadow. Seafood enchiladas tonight. Sopapillas for des- sert; from scratch of course, and there’s a honey bear to pass around. I speak with a fellow, Jud, who has been riding in one of the other boats as a guest of one of the other boatmen. He is quiet and unassuming; those traits seem to be born out of something between confidence and contented- ness instead of any kind of shyness. He’s of average size, wiry but muscular. Although he has spoken very little and has done nothing to bring any atten- tion to himself, Jud complements the group and is an indispensable part of this little community. He takes in this evening, this place, like a sponge. Quietly, he tells me this is his first time down this river. Tells me it’s remarkable and he can’t believe he’s waited so long to float it. The dough is made for the sopapillas. One of the other guides has long since started the char- coals in the fire pan where we will place the dutch oven to bake the enchiladas. Blue-orange flame roils between the charcoals, ash white and ready. SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 65


66 • ESSAY Colorado, and his area of expertise is public rec- reation. Placing his plate on the sand beside him I make a sauce of garlic, butter, cilantro, peroni and Italian sausage pizza begins to smell and looking most calmly out onto the darkening cumin, tomatillo, green chilies, and shallots. I like deep-dish pepperoni and Italian sausage waters of Buttermilk, he doesn’t volunteer much, add cream. Grate a small mountain of Monte- pizza, then it’s time to take the dutch off the coals. but when he does, he speaks only of this evening, rey jack and put to the side a handful of freshly If camp starts to smell like apple cobbler, then it’s this river, this meal, this now. chopped cilantro. Salt and liberally squeeze lime time to take the apple cobbler off the coals. In this on canned crab and whitefish, then plop it into the case, camp was smelling a lot like seafood enchila- The waters lazily, almost imperceptibly, fun- sauce. After lining the dutch with corn tortillas, I das, so I took the coals off the dutch and the dutch nel down from a huge quiet pool, flecked here and dump in half of the sauce; then after some cheese off the coals and readied the sour cream and then there by the evening’s last trout, constricting along and another layer of tortilla, add the other half, chopped up some sprigs of cilantro. Each serving a dark, glassy tongue, then dropping, whitening into then a final layer of cheese and tortilla. I take the of enchilada gets a dollop and a sprinkle, and a fast peaks and troughs, sluicing madly along that tongs and place enough coals to cover the entire few cherry tomatoes. wall on river-left. Beneath that fast and dark roil of lid of the dutch, then put just five on the fire pan narrowing waters a secret: Jud, still in his thirties, and place the dutch on top of them. The oven gets Her toes are buried in the sand, a bottle of is dying of cancer and would in fact be gone from turned a quarter of a turn every ten minutes or so Pacifico scrunched down beside her. Her fork this world within a couple of short months. to prevent the bottom coals from scorching. freezes in front of her lips. Eyes closed, she says, “These … are … amazing….” To which her boy- I did not learn of this for a very long time. Of In a city so far from this wild and virtually friend sitting next to her replies, “Food always course, I had no way of knowing the U.S. Forest Ser- inaccessible river it may as well have been on tastes better when you are camping.” vice, years later, would name a most spectacular trail the backside of the moon, I once attended a after him: the Jud Wiebe Trail. The trail was Jud’s world-class symphony where I was struck by this There was a silence. He had spoken badly, and vision to provide those visiting and living in Telluride one thought not long into the very first piece: was merely repeating something that people like access to extraordinarily wild public lands, right Even though there were many instruments in the to say around the campfire. If we were eating a from town proper. The trail was a tribute to him, his orchestra, I did not hear any one instrument per peanut butter and jelly sandwich, maybe so. A can good work, and his passion for the outdoors. se. I heard the symphonic whole and absolutely of Vienna sausages or hotdogs on willow sticks, none of its instrument parts. I heard music! Like okay. But not this meal. Not this evening. Not on All I knew was that I was in the presence of a the aroma is to a good pot of ham hocks and beans, this river and not with the things as yet unknown human being who looked very much at peace with or cornbread when it’s ready for the toothpick to me. himself, those around him, and with the inexora- test. Ingredients lose their individual selves, alloy, ble pull of this very river. I knew this too: I knew meld, bleed into one another like finely tuned Then Jud, with whom I had been visiting ear- those enchiladas hit some remarkably high and instruments, and become something beyond the lier, turns to me and breaks the silence in a voice fine notes. It was a meal commensurate not only mere sum of their parts. Horns of all shapes and loud enough for all to hear, “These enchiladas are with that one magnificent evening shared by us sizes: ham hock, bean, brown sugar, and onion. better than Sofios’.” (Sofios, back then, was one handful of souls at a place called Buttermilk, but Strings the same: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, of the most popular restaurants in Telluride; their with the secrets that must accompany every meal milk, oil, and honey. No less than music when the seafood enchiladas were superb, and I ordered shared on the waters, and off. heat’s next to perfect and the proportions are them along with a cold bottle of Pacifico every right and no one ingredient overwhelms another. time I went there.) Judson Baird Wiebe loved those enchiladas. That was almost thirty years ago now, and as one Interestingly, an old river guide—my mentor Jud finishes the enchiladas; I take his plate thing has led to another, and then another, I hav- on all things river, in fact—told me that you know and serve him a fresh, puffy sopapilla, fried in a en’t made them since. \\ to take the oven off the coals when your nose can deep pot to a honey brown by one of the other tell exactly what’s cooking. When deep-dish pep- boatmen. I sit, and we visit again for a while in the gathering dusk. When asked, he tells me he works for the U.S. Forest Service in southwestern TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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68 • INNOVATION LAUNCHED AND LOADED Moiz Kohari starts data security firm Manetu By D. Dion During the pandemic this their address, see what data is held. vacy and security is front and cen- very real issue that we believe pas- spring, most people in Tel- All of that is done with the highest ter across the planet. Many, many sionately needs to get resolved in an luride were trying to stay levels of cryptography that exist out organizations have been breached appropriate manner.” busy at home by cleaning out clos- there, and the enterprise has a full and consumer data has been stolen ets, cocktailing with friends over audit of it.” without repercussions. And sec- Locals who know and respect Zoom, or helping their kids with ondly, look at how large enterprises Kohari only as the longhaired online school. Moiz Kohari had big- Consumer control was the inspi- have leveraged our data and created climber and backcountry skier might ger plans: on April 28, tech startup ration behind Manetu, an Iroquois an asset that they trade without our not realize how esteemed he is in Manetu launched their first product. word meaning “identity” or “spirit.” consent. All your behavioral patterns his industry—he is one of the most Kohari and his team wanted people and info is actually being leveraged elite professionals in the computer This, despite the fact he was per- to be in charge of their own online against you to sell services. This is a science world. He studied at Roch- sonally affected by the coronavirus. identity. “We believe that data pri- ester Institute of Technology, was He was one of the first people in our the founder/CEO of Mission Critical community who was infected with Linux, became the global tech leader COVID-19—he was very sick, and for the London Stock Exchange, and in a fevered fit, even cut off his long most recently was the global chief hair. Fortunately he recovered, and tech architect at State Street. State since he and his team work remotely, Street is one of the largest custo- they were able to push forward. The dial banks on the planet; it holds timing was essential. assets for institutional investors like E-Trade, Morgan Stanley, Charles Manetu is a data privacy plat- Schwab, and Vanguard. form, an enterprise solution for businesses that have been struggling Since his time at State Street to comply with recent, strict data and prior to that, he has been work- protection regulations passed in ing with the same legion of tech- the European Union, California, and nology experts, some of the most elsewhere. “These regulations are renowned computer scientists in the forcing enterprises to provide appro- field, and now they have assembled a priate data management solutions,” dream team at Manetu. “These guys says Kohari. have been around the block. I’m very lucky that this team has actually There is some financial incentive moved with me for the last 20 years. for businesses to do the right thing and I’m also grateful to have Telluride protect consumer data. EU’s GDPR local Rick Hurwitz as one of my busi- regulation has already yielded nearly ness partners, as well as the support $174 million in fines, and Google alone of the Telluride Foundation.” was fined more than $56 million. So the data protection market is growing Having such a veteran group fast, and Manetu is not the only tech of friends working together and so company vying for a foothold—but much local support has been integral their solution is unique. to Manetu’s success. Even during the pandemic, it was business as Manetu’s platform uses a combi- usual—Kohari continued to manage nation of distributed ledger technol- the team remotely, on Slack, Zoom, ogy (a.k.a. blockchain) and machine and GitHub, 100 percent online, he learning algorithms (ML, a subset said. And as far as his work-life bal- of AI or artificial intelligence) to ance, juggling his family and three protect data and audit its use. Other kids, his passion for mountaineering, solutions being marketed are less and being a tech entrepreneur, his nimble; data requests and reporting colleagues are pretty used to it. They still have to be handled manually, know he needs to maintain his equi- taking an excess of time. Manetu’s librium by climbing in Indian Creek, solution offers end-to-end service— skiing the San Joaquin couloir, and it puts consumers in direct control taking advantage of the fact that he with a dashboard portal so that can live in Telluride and still launch an individual can see and manage a technology startup. Says Kohari: how their data is being used. “We “Climbing and skiing has to happen, automate that entire process,” says otherwise pretty much nothing else Kohari. “Consumers can come in and can happen.” \\ self-service through a portal, edit TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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70 • ESSAY A Fairy Tale 2005–2008 Ed. Note: The following is an excerpt from Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel. SSwan Dive anity depends on order. Within a month of leaving the Hotel Caiette and arriving in Jonathan Alkaitis’s absurdly enormous house in the Connecticut suburbs, Vincent had established a routine from which she seldom wavered. She rose at five a.m., a half hour earlier than Jonathan, and went jogging. By the time she returned to his house, he’d left for Manhattan. She was showered and dressed for the day by eight a.m., by which point Jonathan’s driver was available to take her to the train station—he repeatedly offered to drive her to the city, but she preferred the movement of trains to gridlocked traffic—and when she emerged into Grand Central Terminal she liked to linger for a while on her way across the main concourse, taking in the constellations of stars on the green ceiling, the Tiffany clock above the information booth, the crowds. She always had breakfast at a diner near the station, then made her way south toward lower Manhattan and a particular café where she liked to drink espresso and read newspapers, after which she went shopping or got her hair done or walked the streets with her video camera or some combination thereof, and if there was time she visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a while before she made her way back to Grand Central and a northbound train, in time to be home and dressed in something beautiful by six p.m., which was the earliest Jonathan would conceivably arrive home from the office. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


She spent the evening with Jonathan but childhood home, and then later you realize that and extended it in a get-out-of- the-pool kind of always found a half hour to go swimming at some there’s a way of getting from the bedroom to the way, so Vincent felt that she had no choice but to point before bed. In the kingdom of money, as kitchen without ever setting foot in either of the climb the ladder and accept the towel, which was she thought of it, there were enormous swaths two living rooms or the downstairs hall. irritating because she’d wanted to swim for longer. of time to fill, and she had intimations of danger in letting herself drift, in allowing a day to pass In her hotel days, Vincent had always asso- “You must be Claire.” without a schedule or a plan. ciated money with privacy—the wealthiest hotel Claire didn’t dignify this with a response. Vin- guests have the most space around them, suites cent was wearing a fairly modest one-piece swim- “People clamor to move into Manhattan,” instead of rooms, private terraces, access to exec- suit but felt extremely naked as she toweled off. Jonathan said when she asked why they couldn’t utive lounges—but in actuality, the deeper you “Vincent’s an unusual name for a girl,” Claire just live in his pied-à-terre on Columbus Circle, go into the kingdom of money, the more crowded said with a slight emphasis on girl that struck where they stayed sometimes when they had it gets, people around you in your home all the Vincent as uncalled-for. I’m not that young, Vin- theater tickets, “but I like being a little outside time, which was why Vincent only swam at night. cent wanted to tell her, because at twenty- four of it all.” He’d grown up in the suburbs, and had In the daytime there was the house manager, Gil, she didn’t feel young at all, but Claire was pos- always loved the tranquility and the space. who lived with his wife, Anya, in a cottage by the sibly dangerous and Vincent hoped for peace, so driveway; Anya, who was the cook, supervised she answered in the mildest tone possible. “I see your point,” Vincent said, but the three young local women who kept the house “My parents named me after a poet. Edna city drew her in, the city was the antidote to clean and did laundry and accepted grocery St. Vincent Millay.” the riotous green of her childhood memories. deliveries and such; there was also a chauffeur, Claire’s gaze flickered to the ring on Vin- She wanted concrete and clean lines and sharp who had an apartment over the garage, and a angles, sky visible only between silent groundskeeper, who maintained everything cent’s finger. “Well,” she said, “we towers, hard light. outside of the house. Every time Vincent looked can’t choose our parents, I suppose. up, someone was nearby, sweeping or dusting or What kind of work do they do?” “Anyway, you wouldn’t be talking on the phone to the plumber or trimming happy living in Manhattan,” Jon- a hedge. It was a lot of people to contend with, “My parents?” athan said. “Think of how much but at night the staff retreated into their private “Yes.” you’d miss the pool.” lives and Vincent could swim in peace without “They’re dead.” feeling watched from every window. Claire’s face softened a lit- Would she miss the pool? tle. “I’m sorry to hear that.” They She reflected on the question as “I’m glad you’re enjoying the pool,” Gil said. stood staring at one another for a she swam. Her relationship with “The pool design consultant spent so much time beat or two, then Vincent reached the pool was adversarial. Vincent on it, and I swear no one ever used it before you for the bathrobe that she’d left swam every night to strengthen got here.” on a deck chair, and Claire said, her will because she was desper- sounding more resigned than ately afraid of drowning. She was in the pool when she first met Jona- angry now, “Did you know you’re than’s daughter, Claire. It was a cool evening in five years younger than me?” Diving into the pool at night: April, steam rising from the water. She’d known “We can’t choose our ages in summer Vincent dove through Claire was coming over that evening, but she either,” Vincent said. the lights of the house, reflected hadn’t expected to surface and find a woman in “Ha.” (Not a laugh, just a spo- on the surface; in cold weather a suit staring at her through the steam like a ken word: ha.) “Well, we’re all the pool was heated, so she dove goddamned apparition, standing perfectly still adults here. Just so you know, I find into steam. She stayed underwa- with her hands clasped behind her back. Vin- this situation absurd, but there’s ter for as long as possible, testing cent gasped aloud, which in retrospect wasn’t no reason we can’t be cordial with her endurance. When she finally endearing. Claire, who had obviously just come one another.” She turned away and surfaced, she liked to pretend that from the office, was a very corporate-looking walked back into the house. the ring on her finger was real woman in her late twenties. and that everything she saw was Ghosts hers: the house, the garden, the “You must be Vincent.” She picked up the lawn, the pool in which she treaded water. It folded towel that Vincent had left on a lawn chair Vincent’s mother had read a lot of poetry, hav- was an infinity pool, which created a disorient- ing formerly been a poet herself. When Edna St. ing impression that the water disappeared into Vincent Millay was nineteen years old, in 1912, the lawn or the lawn disappeared into the water. she began writing a poem called “Renascence” She hated looking at that edge. that Vincent must have read a thousand times in childhood and adolescence. Millay wrote the Crowds poem for a competition. The poem didn’t win, but it nonetheless carried an electric charge Her contract with Jonathan, as she under- that transported her from the drudgery of New stood it, was that she’d be available whenever England poverty to Vassar College, from there he wanted her, in and out of the bedroom, she into the kind of bohemia that she’d dreamed would be elegant and impeccable at all times— of all her life: a different kind of poverty, the “You bring such grace to the room,” he’d said— Greenwich Village–variety, poverty but with and in return for this she had a credit card late-night poetry readings and dashing friends. whose bills she never saw, a life of beautiful homes and travel, in other words the opposite of “The point is she raised herself into a new the life she’d lived before. No one actually uses life by sheer force of will,” Vincent’s mother the phrase trophy wife in conversation, but Jon- had said, and Vincent wondered even at the athan was thirty-four years older than Vincent. time—she would have been about eleven— She understood what she was. what that statement might suggest about how happy Vincent’s mother was about the way her There were adjustments to be made. At first, own life had gone, this woman who’d imagined living in Jonathan Alkaitis’s house was like those writing poetry in the wilderness but somehow dreams where you find a door in your kitchen found herself sunk in the mundane difficulties that you never noticed before, and then the door of raising a child and running a household in leads into a back hallway that opens up into a nev- the wilderness instead. There’s the idea of er-used au pair’s suite, which opens into an unused wilderness, and then there’s the unglamorous nursery, which is down the corridor from the mas- ter bedroom suite, which is larger than your entire SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 71


72 • ESSAY labor of it, the never-ending grind of securing as typical of a particular western subspecies of it, I’m tempted to suggest they follow your lead firewood; bringing in groceries over absurd moneyed people: as wealthy as their counter- and elope.” distances; tending the vegetable garden and parts in other regions, but prematurely weath- maintaining the fences that keep the deer ered by their skiing obsession. “There’s a certain efficiency to elopement,” from eating all the vegetables; repairing the Jonathan said. “Weddings are such elaborate generator; remembering to get gas for the “It’s so great to meet you,” they said, and affairs. We just didn’t want all the hoopla.” generator; composting; running out of water in Louise caught sight of Vincent and Jonathan’s the summer-time; never having enough money rings in the round of handshakes. “Oh my good- “I had to convince him to take the day off because job opportunities in the wilderness ness, Jonathan,” she said, “are congratulations work,” Vincent said. “He wanted to just go down are limited; managing the seething resentment in order?” there on his lunch break.” They were laughing, of your only child, who doesn’t understand your and Jonathan put his arm around her. She could love of the wilderness and asks every week why “Thank you,” he said, in such a convincing tell he appreciated the improvisation. you can’t just live in a normal place that isn’t tone of bashful happiness that for a disorienting wilderness; etc. moment Vincent entertained the wild thought “Was there a honeymoon?” Marc asked. that they were somehow actually married. “I’m taking her to Nice next week, and then What Vincent’s mother probably wouldn’t on to Dubai for the weekend,” Jonathan said. have imagined: a life—an arrangement—in “Well, cheers,” Marc said, and raised his “Ah, right,” Marc said, “I remember you which Vincent wore a wedding glass. “Congratulations to the both of you. Won- telling me that you love it there. Vincent, have ring but was not actually married. derful news, just wonderful.” you been?” “I want you close,” Jonathan said, at the beginning, “but I just don’t “Can I ask . . . ?” Louise said. “Big wedding, “To Dubai? No, not yet. I can’t want to get married again.” small . . . ?” wait.” And so on and so forth. She didn’t want to be a liar but His wife, Suzanne, had died “If we’d made any to-do about it at all,” Jon- his expectations were clear. As a only three years earlier. They athan said, “you’d have been the first names on former bartender, she was accus- never said her name. But while the guest list.” tomed to performing. The lies he didn’t want to marry Vincent, were troublingly easy. On the he did feel that wedding rings cre- “Would you believe,” Vincent said, “that we night when Jonathan had walked ated an impression of stability. “In actually got married at city hall?” into the bar at the Hotel Caiette, my line of work,” he said, “manag- someone had written terrible graf- ing other people’s money, steadi- “Good lord,” Marc said, and Louise said, “I fiti on the window, and she was ness is everything. If I take you out like your style. Donna’s getting married—that’s standing there polishing glasses, to dinner with clients, it’s better our daughter—and my god, the logistics, the counting the minutes till the end for you to be a beautiful young wife complications, all the drama, the headache of of her shift, wondering why she’d than a beautiful young girlfriend.” ever thought it was a good idea to come back here, trying to imag- “Does Claire know we’re not ine the rest of her life and get- married?” Vincent asked the night ting nowhere because of course Claire appeared by the pool. By she could leave and go work in the time Vincent had come in and another bar, and then another showered, Claire had already left. bar after that, and another, and She found Jonathan alone in the another, but leaving Caiette south living room with a glass of wouldn’t change the underlying red wine and the Financial Times. equation. The problems of Vin- cent’s life were the same from one “Only two people in the world year to the next: she knew she was know that,” he said. “You and me. a reasonably intelligent person, Come here.” Vincent came to stand but there’s a difference between before him in the lamplight. He ran being intelligent and knowing his fingertips down the length of her what to do with your life, also a arm, and then turned her around difference between knowing that and slowly unzipped her dress. a college degree might change your life and a willingness to But what kind of man lies to actually commit to the terrifying his daughter about being mar- weight of student loans, especially ried? There were aspects of the since she’d worked alongside fairy tale that Vincent was careful enough bartenders with college not to think about too much at degrees to know that a college the time, and later her memories degree might not change anything of those years had an abstracted at all, etc. etc., and she was spi- quality, as if she’d stepped tempo- raling through that familiar terri- rarily outside of herself. tory, sick of her thoughts and sick of herself, when Jonathan walked Accomplices into the bar. In the way he spoke to her, his obvi- ous wealth and his obvious interest, she saw an They had cocktails at a bar in Midtown with a opening into a vastly easier life, or at least a dif- couple who’d invested millions in Jonathan’s ferent life, a chance to live in a foreign country, fund, Marc and Louise from Colorado. At that a life of something other than bartending in a point Vincent had only been in the kingdom of place other than here, and the opportunity was money for three weeks, and the strangeness of irresistible. her new life was acute. Lying about being married troubled her conscience, but not enough to make her want “This is Vincent,” Jonathan said, his hand to flee. I’m paying a price for this life, she told on her lower back. “It’s so lovely to meet you,” herself, but the price is reasonable. \\ Vincent said. Marc and Louise were in their forties or fifties, and after a few more months with Alkaitis she would come to recognize them TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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74 • FEATURE BEING BLACK IN TELLURIDE A mother shares her experience of raising kids in a rural, white town By Angela Pashayan Iam one of the few blacks that thought he must be famous. When we live in San Miguel County. I ate at our top local restaurants, the lived in Telluride from 2003 to chefs would hand-deliver his order. 2005, and for the rest of the It was a nice bonus for a first-time time in Mountain Village. I am mar- visitor—but I contend it happened ried and have raised three sons here. because people imagined a black guy in When I first came to Telluride, I met Telluride who was that congenial must a black man from Kenya named Eras- be someone wealthy and special. Well, tus. At that time, we knew of no other Dumie was special, but not wealthy. He black people in the region; hence we lived at 2533 Compton Blvd., Apt. #D. called ourselves #1 and #2. In light of His life struggles were colored with all the Black Lives Matter protests after the things you’ve heard about in poor the murder of George Floyd, I felt a black communities. calling to make my voice heard in the community I love so dearly. By 2008, my husband and I real- ized that our three sons knew very little We all know that living in Telluride about the black community in general. equates to living in a protected bub- We had not been visiting Compton ble—for my half-black sons and me regularly due to getting settled in Tel- especially. My boys attended Mountain luride. So, we decided to move out of School and Montessori back when the “The Bubble” for a few years to help schools were located in the Mountain them become more grounded. Black Village core, and led by Ernie Patter- lives do matter; understanding and son and Karen Walker. Their friends appreciating the struggle is part of our were white. It was normal for them as heritage, whether we like it or not. I there was no alternative. Their dad is refused to raise our boys in absence of Armenian-Russian (quasi-white), so the realities that await them outside no alarm bells rang for our children of San Miguel County. In Telluride, in this all-white town. Our sons even- our boys were Johnathan, Kevin, and tually moved to the public school and Maxwell. Outside of Telluride, our boys have all since graduated. were Black. Shortly after we settled in Tellu- We moved to San Francisco. I fig- ride, my late brother “Dumie” came ured we’d pile it all in; black, Asian, to visit. Dumie was a personable guy, Latino, multi-racial, gay, straight, always smiling and starting conversa- rich, poor, homeless, drugged out, and tions with people from all walks of life. anything else in between. The point is Because of this, people in Telluride that Telluride doesn’t offer any of the TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


real-life experiences that most blacks live with. One Upon our return to Telluride, we drove past embraced by the town and never had any racial might think that’s a benefit, but not when you’re the middle-high school, where all of us were problems. My husband started Tellurideflights. black and have to leave Telluride. On our first drive aghast at Telluride’s whiteness. We’d forgotten. com, a private charter service that affords us our down Market Street in San Francisco, our sons The schoolyard was riddled with freckled-faced lives here. The community knows me for my work saw five black ladies crossing the street and said, white kids wearing plaid shirts. But we love those at Ah Haa with children, at the ski resort as a “Mom, are they your family?” In their innocence, white kids, and they love us. We had sleepovers mountain host, as a committed member at Christ our sons had demonstrated how whites honestly and playdates from the days of Rainbow pre- Church, an international festival producer, and for could not easily see differences in black phenotype, school up to the time we left for San Francisco. my life work for poverty reduction in the slums of nor understand that our minority presence does Nevertheless, stop for a moment and consider my Nairobi, Kenya (yodinternational.org). not mean that a gathering of two or more blacks point…that blacks raised in Telluride are unpre- equals family. Our sons learned about being black pared for the real world, where things can turn Black lives do matter in Telluride, and we are in America while in San Francisco. Trayvon Martin dangerous at any moment, especially for black grateful for that. \\ was killed during that time. He was the same age males. Can you imagine yourself living in two as our eldest son. Our church ministers at GLIDE worlds, one safe and one unsafe? People often ask me what they can do to help. mourned Trayvon’s death by preaching in hoodies If you are not from Telluride, consider hosting a the Sunday after his death. Even so, being black in Telluride has been letter-writing party requesting your mayor and one of the best life choices for our family. We were governor to institute statewide law enforcement After services, I gave them a lite version of “the not escaping outright oppression but instead, like rules regarding choke hold bans, the duty to talk.” I explained to them that wearing hoodies can most visitors, were captured by Telluride’s beauty. intervene to save a life, officers being fired/fined get you killed. Hands in your pockets can get you We, like many others, came for vacation and never for breach of public trust, harsher sentences for killed. And that more rules for blacks applied in returned home. We feel like our black lives mat- hate crimes, and the KKK and white supremacists places like Compton, where their Uncle Dumie lived. ter in Telluride—my children and I have been being designated as domestic terrorist groups. SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 75


76 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News SEAS OF TREES Local environmental crusaders give out free trees By Corinne Platt There aren’t a lot of 16-year-olds and is working to acquire rooftop solar who start a nonprofit to try to on the high school. Daniel, an artist make the world better, but Ayla and teacher at the Telluride Moun- Kanow, who established the Seas of tain School, is part of an alliance that Trees initiative, comes from a family brings resources to an underserved of environmental activists. indigenous community in Guatemala. Twelve-year-old Shai Ann organized The Kanows are 20-year locals the climate march at the Telluride who are constantly helping the planet. Mountain School and gives to people in After moving to Telluride from the red- need by working at the Telluride Food woods of California, parents Joanna Bank. And Ayla, the light bulb behind and Daniel Kanow started EcoSpaces, Seas of Trees, has raised thousands of a green building and design showroom dollars for juvenile diabetes research that sold reclaimed, recycled, and non- by riding 100-mile bike rides. toxic finishes in Telluride. They remod- eled their own house using recycled Seas of Trees is the family’s latest denim jean cotton insulation, bamboo mission; the idea is to lower carbon cabinetry, sustainably harvested floor- emissions by planting thousands and ing, Energy Star windows and appli- thousands of trees. “I’d been wanting ances, reclaimed barnwood siding, a to create a nonprofit for a while,” says home solar system, and more. Ayla. “I wanted to figure out how I could make a change in our little area.” Since closing EcoSpaces, they’ve divided and conquered the world of Trees breathe in carbon dioxide philanthropy. Joanna has been at the the way that we breathe in oxygen. helm of the Carbon Neutral Coalition In a process that is the opposite of TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


TELLURIDELOCAL.NEWS The Kanows raised enough money to buy 1,200 trees from the Colorado State University nursery extension, a batch of blue spruce, Engelmann, lodgepole pine, bristlecone pine, Southwest white pine, and juniper seedlings. human respiration, they exhale oxygen, and as Local News, Created Locally, they mature, a tree can consume up to forty-eight Delivered Locally, and pounds of carbon dioxide per year. The Kanows raised enough money to buy 1,200 trees from the Supported by Local Businesses. Colorado State University nursery extension, a batch of blue spruce, Engelmann, lodgepole pine, bristlecone pine, Southwest white pine, and juni- per seedlings. They initially wanted to plant as many trees as there are people in Telluride. “Our first-year goal was to plant 2,000 trees,” says Shai Ann. “Maybe our second year we’ll get 8,000 trees.” The Kanows planted a tree when Shai Ann was just a year old, and now they watch it grow, measuring it against their years in the valley. “Kids can empower other kids to be physically involved in some kind of tangible, attainable change for the climate,” says Joanna. “It’s a great goal to get trees in the ground and to know that every tree that gets planted on this earth is helping to combat the global warming problem that we are facing.” The 1,200 tiny trees found new homes in the Seas of Trees inaugural giveaway in May. Every high school graduate from Telluride and Ridgway was offered a tree, and they want the youth to be part of their movement. “I tell my friends that planting one tree is one small action—it’s not very hard. You just plant it and water it,” says Ayla. “But when you add up all the trees that you and your friends can plant, that is a lot of trees and that can make a big difference.” The rest of the trees were given away in a matter of hours and are now churning out oxygen all over the region. The four Kanows couldn’t have planted all those trees on their own and through a small act of mutual giving they feel like they’re addressing cli- mate change with spirit and community. Seas of Trees is forming partnerships in Costa Rica, Nepal, Japan and Guatemala, as well as with Telluride Arborist Services, which advises on the technical part of the tree planting. They hope to raise enough money to create jobs in indigenous communities growing and planting trees, where shade and soil health are as important as carbon sequestration. “We’re so fortunate here because when we look out our window we see more trees than people, more trees than buildings,” says Daniel. “But that’s not true everywhere.” \\ SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 77


78 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT Colorado bans discrimination against natural hair By Lorraine Weissman The CROWN movement gained national atten- for Natural Hair, was co-sponsored by a coalition of and the workplace based on natural hairstyles tion in December 2018 when sixteen-year-old African American women lawmakers, Rep. Leslie and head-wraps. “We get to make a political Andrew Johnson, a New Jersey high school Herod (D-Denver), Rep. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora), statement in this country that we belong,” Park- wrestler, was forced to make a difficult choice: and Sen. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora). At a gathering er-Robinson said, “and every person belongs. And forfeit his wrestling match or cut his dreadlocks. to celebrate the passage, Rep. Buckner proclaimed: a woman should be able to wear her hair the way Johnson chose the latter, allowing an assistant “Hair discrimination has no place in our businesses, she wants to wear it.” Governor Polis agreed, coach to take scissors to his head right there on schools, or our society at large.” acknowledging at the bill signing that “discrim- the gym floor. Johnson’s humiliating experience inating against people’s hair has often been a was captured on video and went viral, sparking The natural hair discrimination Johnson and stand-in for discriminating against their race,” a national conversation about the discrimination Arnold experienced is a common occurrence for which Colorado will no longer abide. many African Americans experience because of men and women of color. A 2019 research study their natural hair. Faced with a similar conun- sponsored by Dove Soap found that 80 percent of By enacting the law, Colorado joins California, drum in January 2020, Texas high school senior black women fear scrutiny and bias in the work- New York, New Jersey and Virginia at the fore- DeAndre Arnold was told his shoulder-length place based on natural hair. The data suggests that front of this movement. Governor Jay Inslee of dreadlocks violated the school dress code, which black women’s hair is more often “policed” in the Washington signed that state’s law just two weeks required male hairstyles to be above the collar. workplace and 3.4 times more likely to be perceived later, and CROWN Acts have been proposed in Arnold would be unable to walk in his graduation as “unprofessional” than their white coworkers. another nineteen states. Additionally, Senators ceremony unless he cut his hair. Unlike Johnson, These factors create a climate of hostility and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Sherrod Brown however, Arnold refused. underscore the importance of legislative action. (D-Ohio) co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit hair discrimination by the federal government. On March 6, 2020, Governor Jared Polis signed On February 5, 2020, the Colorado bill’s spon- CROWN Acts enable free expression of racial and the CROWN Act (House Bill 1048) into law, making sors, together with the Black Legislative Caucus, ethnic pride, without fear of prejudice. As Rep. Colorado the fifth state to explicitly ban discrimi- held a public hearing to evaluate the need for a Herod so eloquently stated: “Everyone should nation based on natural hairstyles typically associ- CROWN Act in our state. More than a hundred be their true beautiful selves, feel proud of their ated with race or ethnicity. The CROWN Act, which citizens attended, including legendary dancer/ culture and heritage, and be celebrated for their stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson of Den- self-expression.” \\ ver, sharing stories of discrimination in school TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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80 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News LIFE IN PRISON Colorado abolishes the death penalty By Lorraine Weissman Though news coverage of the event may have “You literally have someone’s life in been lost to the global pandemic, on March your hands. That shouldn’t be taken lightly. 23, 2020, Governor Jared Polis signed a momentous law to abolish the death penalty in That can’t be taken lightly.” Colorado. The statute applies to charges filed on or after July 20, 2020, having no effect on pending went on to emphasize the weight of the decision deserve to die,” Ring opined, “surely no one does.” cases, nor the status of the three inmates currently for everyone involved, juries, attorneys, witnesses, Her opinion was echoed in an August 27, 2015 awaiting execution on Colorado’s death row. These judges, and society as a whole: “You literally have editorial in the Denver Post: “The death penalty death row inmates include Nathan Dunlap, the someone’s life in your hands. That shouldn’t be in Colorado has effectively expired. And it didn’t so-called “Chuck E. Cheese Murderer,” convicted taken lightly. That can’t be taken lightly.” happen because of bleeding-heart lawmakers or of killing four people in the family restaurant in activist judges. It happened because juries them- Aurora in 1996. Despite the governor’s condemna- Ring points to James Holmes, the 2012 selves wanted no part of it.” tion of the killers as “despicable and guilty indi- “Aurora Movie Theater Shooter” as proof that Col- viduals,” Polis commuted their sentences to life oradans no longer have the stomach for the death Ring says she’s proud of the Governor and the without the possibility of parole, acknowledging in penalty. In his shooting rampage, Holmes killed state legislature for finally coming through with the a press release that the “death penalty cannot be, twelve people and injured dozens of others. He bill to abolish the death penalty. Her office was inte- nor never has been, administered equitably in the was unanimously convicted of over 150 counts, but grally involved in the lobbying efforts, and she cred- State of Colorado.” at least one juror refused to impose death, appar- its her predecessor Doug Wilson for his stalwart ently convinced that mental illness was at least in advocacy. She describes the passage as one of “few Capital punishment has an interesting history part responsible for his actions, and therefore his bright spots during the pandemic,” and says she in our state. As early as 1897, Colorado joined a life should be spared. “If James Holmes doesn’t looks forward to celebrating with her colleagues. \\ handful of states to abolish it. At the time, Gov- ernor Alva Adams praised the decision, calling it the “most forward step in criminal legislation” this state had ever had. But within a few years, a series of vigilante lynchings around the state reopened the debate. Then, as now, public sentiment was divided, with strong opinions on both sides. Ulti- mately, the pendulum swung back toward retribu- tion, and the death penalty was reinstated. Over the subsequent sixty-two years, Colorado executed sixty-five men by hanging, the gas chamber, and lethal injection. A number of these executions were later questioned for insufficient evidence or actual innocence. Joe Arridy’s execution in 1939 is a particularly shameful example; the only “evi- dence” put forth at trial was the highly question- able confession of a man with the mental capacity of a six-year-old. Seventy-two years after the exe- cution, Governor Bill Ritter issued a posthumous pardon, exonerating Arridy of all charges. Throughout the mid-1900s, public support for the death penalty in Colorado waned, and lawmak- ers on both sides of the aisle proposed abolishing it multiple times. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in. In the landmark decision of Furman v. Georgia, the Court invalidated death penalty statutes in numerous jurisdictions, rendering most applications of Colorado’s statute invalid as “cruel and unusual punishment” under the 8th Amend- ment. In the post-Furman years, Colorado has executed only one man, Gary Davis, in 1997. The Colorado State Public Defender’s Office deserves credit for much of this forbearance. In an inter- view, Megan Ring, Colorado’s first female State Public Defender, explains: “Juries have to lay down the sentence for death, and our office has been very successful in convincing them not to.” She TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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82 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News EASY AS PI Rico math tutor holds U.S. record for memorizing pi digits By Jen Parsons If you don’t remember from school, loose ends, stranded digits.” After he pi is an irrational number. It rep- got to about 5,000 numbers, he needed resents the distance around a to shift strategies again. Hearding circle being a little more than three furthered his technique into a hun- times its diameter, but that ratio is dred combinations of famous people. infinite. There is no repetition to its “Depending on where they fell next to sequence, no predictable pattern to each other in the sequence, it would the way the numbers extend out for- describe the picture in my memory.” ever. For all the reason and order For example, “36” came to represent you’d expect from math, this num- Michael Jackson. And “06” came to ber is the Wild West. It goes on and represent Steve Jobs. “If those two on, like a western sky. And what is it number sets were next to each other, about the great expanse that begs us I may picture Michael Jackson eating to stand up to a challenge, to test our an apple. If they were in the opposite best selves? Paul Hearding knows. order, I’d picture Steve Jobs doing the Hearding is a math tutor and a PhD moonwalk. candidate. He’s also, now, our local “pi You’d expect he thinks in numbers, “I’d imagine the people in spaces guy.” In February, the Rico resident but it’s so much more than that. I knew really well, like the campus bested the previous U.S. Champion in He’s thinking in tapestry; he’s thinking in of University of Delaware. It’s like the World Pi Rankings by 892 places, I’d walk from room to room, and the recalling 16,106 digits of pi in a local scene happening in each room meant home while many of the students he a different set of numbers to me.” He tutors watched. “Kids played games and patchwork quilt. He’s thinking in images, carried this technique all the way talked while he was like Rain Man recit- through to hit the U.S. record. ing numbers,” witnessed Jennifer Lord. in rhythms, in scenes. He is imagining The world record for memorizing You’d expect he thinks in num- a movie only he can see to interpret a pi is more than 70,000 numbers, and bers, but it’s so much more than that. number sequence most of us have known Hearding has further reached the He’s thinking in tapestry; he’s think- simply as 3.14, or maybe 3.14159 if we’re 18,000 mark after his U.S. record per- ing in patchwork quilt. He’s thinking formance. “I am working up to 20k. I in images, in rhythms, in scenes. He like showing the kids you can always is imagining a movie only he can see keep learning.” to interpret a number sequence most feeling a little adventurous. “When I’m tutoring, I always say of us have known simply as 3.14, or ‘Don’t memorize, learn how to under- maybe 3.14159 if we’re feeling a little adventurous. dard memorizing wouldn’t work.” Here’s where the stand the numbers,’” Hearding says. “And here “I like to push the limits of human memory to see creativity entered. He started to imagine numbers I’ve gone and made ‘pi guy’ my thing.” what it can do,” Hearding says. as sounds. A “3” when flipped horizontally, could That’s an irrational sequence for you. Throw- But how does someone learn such an incredi- look like an “m.” A “2” like an “n.” He’d memorize ing what you think you know about the yourself in ble amount of numbers? a sound a series of letters could make, like a 321 the world all out of whack, sending you out into an He didn’t just memorize. Okay, he tried that. would sound like “mnt.” “But it was the Wild West infinity that’s less comfortable, a challenge, to test “I hit a bump around 1,500 digits and realized stan- of number memorization. It left me with some how far you can go. \\ TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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84 • ENVIRONMENT VOTERS TO DECIDE FATE OF WOLVES WOLF REINTRODUCTION EFFORTS IN COLORADO By Deanna Drew Wolf No. 293F was a member of the Swan Lake Pack, one of the oldest and most successful packs in northern Yellowstone. She was still just a year old and only in her second spring when she set out from the protection of the park and her native pack to find a mate and establish a new territory of her own. Although barely mature, she hunted, slept, and traveled alone for over 500 miles south to Colorado searching for another of her kind. Her mission unfulfilled, she was found dead on Interstate 70 with a broken body but a belly full of meat, apparently killed by a speeding vehicle while attempting to cross the state’s formidable route through the Rocky Mountains. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


Colorado voters will make history this Novem- tiative is driven by the belief that a majority of Col- plays a significant part in its community—and there- ber when they cast a ballot about the rein- oradans are in support of the gray wolf’s return to fore is crucial to keeping the land healthy. Studies in troduction of wolves in the Centennial State. the state. “It’s on us to bring them home for good.” Yellowstone National Park reveal when wolf packs This marks the first time that voters in any state in But opponents of the initiative aren’t buying the are absent, elk herds move around less and overeat the country will determine the fate of endangered so-called ballot box biology, and are skeptical that valuable vegetation such as aspen and willow, espe- wildlife in their midst. these kinds of issues should be put into the hands of cially around rivers. Where wolves return to the land, In January, the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund voters. The Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition claims a ripple effect takes place: Elk herds are forced to (RMWAF) conservation organization submitted more the forced reintroduction of wolves into Colorado move around more, allowing shoreline shrubs and than enough signatures—in excess of 200,000—in would result in harmful consequences to innocent trees to regrow, in turn bringing back beavers to support of the reintroduction of gray wolves to Colo- animals and people, and create problems for the build dams and make ponds that store water for fish rado to qualify for a place on the 2020 ballot. state’s growing citizenry, especially those living and create habitat for birds and insects to flourish. Initiative 107 declares that gray wolves were an in rural areas. “Colorado made its choice: People, Although predators are considered the keepers essential part of Colorado that once reintroduced will pleasure, and profits,” says mountain lion hunter of nature’s balance, the gray wolf is an opportunistic help restore a critical balance in nature that has been Dick Gray, in a video on the Coalition website. hunter that could kill livestock depending on the avail- functionally missing for the last seventy-five years. If it “Wolves fit in better up in Alaska and Canada, where ability of its natural prey. Statistics from the northern passes, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission there’s still room for them. It’s not fair to the wolf.” Rocky Mountains indicate that gray wolf depredation would be required to develop a management plan In response, proponents of reintroduction are accounts for less than one percent of cattle and sheep for restoring and managing gray wolves in the state, relying on science and lessons learned from wolf losses there annually, and suggest casualties could and begin releasing wolves onto designated public reintroduction programs in other parts of the Rock- be reduced further with incentives to ranchers who lands west of the continental divide by the end of ies to secure the votes needed to win on November 3. implement non-lethal coexistence strategies. The Col- 2023. “Since the 1940s when Colorado’s orado measure calls for fair market value last wolf was killed, our ecosystem has to be paid to owners of livestock for losses suffered,” explains Rob Edward, president caused by wolves, but for some ranchers, of RMWAF. “When we succeed in safely because of the emotional toll and constant returning wolves to their home in west- worry of living with wolves, the gray wolf ern Colorado, we will have restored the may always be considered an enemy. missing link and the gray wolf’s historical Despite valid scientific evidence in range from the High Arctic to Mexico.” favor of wolf reintroduction, some wild- Gray wolves once roamed free life professionals say RMWAF should across almost all of North America, forget the ballot and let the wolves thriving in close-knit packs that hunted, move here on their own. “It is one thing traveled, and raised pups together in if wolves naturally return to Colorado,” the rich, fertile landscape. Back then, writes Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation game was plentiful and biodiversity was President and CEO Kyle Weaver in a high: Nature’s various species coexisted press release against wolf reintroduc- at sustainable levels with wolves play- BY 1914, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAD CREATED tion. “But it is something completely ing an important role as a top-tier pred- A SPECIAL BRANCH SPECIFICALLY TASKED WITH different if they are artificially placed ator in the ecosystem. EXTERMINATING WOLVES FROM THE NATION. AGENTS on the landscape to complicate a system However, as Europeans settled the that is already complicated by human country’s virgin land and voraciously DUG WOLF PUPS OUT OF THEIR DENS AND KILLED population and development.” hunted the wolves’ natural prey, wolves THEM, AND LACED THE LANDSCAPE WITH TRAPS AND However, official state wildlife records were forced to supplement their diet show there have been fewer than ten with domestic livestock. The pressure POISON. BY 1945, COLORADO’S LAST WILD WOLF WAS confirmed wolves reported in or passing on native big game by eastern market KILLED IN THE SOUTH SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS. through the state in the past twenty years. forces was so intense that many areas “That’s not enough to restore the popula- saw the local extinction of elk, deer, and bison. As Biologists argue that the role gray wolves play tion in Colorado and bring balance back to our ecosys- native prey dwindled, losses of cattle and sheep to as an apex predator is one that no other native pred- tem,” according to Edward. And like solitary Wolf No. gray wolves increased. By 1914, the federal gov- ator of Colorado can fulfill. Unlike mountain lions, 293F on her tragic journey, none of these dispersing ernment had created a special branch specifically which are solitary hunters that primarily prey on wolves has ever succeeded in establishing themselves tasked with exterminating wolves from the nation. deer by ambush, and coyotes that typically prey on or a breeding population in Colorado. He says Wyo- Agents dug wolf pups out of their dens and killed smaller mammals, wolves are pack animals adapted ming, from Yellowstone all the way to the Colorado them, and laced the landscape with traps and poi- to hunt larger, ungulate species by confronting prey border, is relatively open and devoid of game. “Making son. By 1945, Colorado’s last wild wolf was killed in as a group and making them run around, enabling that journey is a big gamble. Wolves need to be rein- the South San Juan Mountains. them to cull the more vulnerable members of the troduced in order for a population to persist here.” When the attitude of the nation shifted toward herd. If wolves are reintroduced to the state, elk are As for the argument that Colorado is too pop- conservation in the 1960s and 70s, the beleaguered expected to make up most of their diet. Colorado ulated for wolves, Edward refers to statistics from wolf evolved into a symbol of wildness and hope for has the largest elk population in North America— Minnesota and Wisconsin—states with popula- restoring the country’s natural heritage. After the gray nearly 300,000 elk—but humans are the state’s pri- tions similar to Colorado’s but with healthy and wolf was classified as an endangered species in 1973, mary control on herds. Yet unlike humans who often stable wolf populations—to help prove wolves can reintroduction projects by the United States Fish and kill the healthiest animals, wolves typically remove live in a relatively settled landscape. And with only Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Great Lakes, North- the weakest, sickest, or oldest from the herd, leav- 11 percent of the state’s population living on the ern Rocky Mountain, and Southwest regions of the ing the remaining population stronger. In addition, Western Slope, he believes there’s plenty of room. country have re-established the population to about data shows that the presence of wolves keeps coy- “The fact is, western Colorado is over 70 percent 6,000 total animals in the lower 48 states. ote populations in check, while carcasses left over public land and will never be developed. Why on Yet wolf advocates fear that recent efforts by from wolf hunts provide food for scavengers and earth would we think wolves wouldn’t work here?” the Trump administration to remove protections other wildlife that coexist with wolves including Even though the opinions of Coloradans for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act lynx, marten, owls, and eagles. In Montana and remain varied, preliminary polls indicate a major- could put the wolves at risk and threaten progress Wyoming where wolves were reintroduced about ity of voters support the return of wolves to the made to restore the species to its native habitats in 20 years ago, data shows elk populations are above state. “We’ve got the science and the good will of the Rocky Mountains. “We are determined to secure pre-wolf counts while hunter success remains high. the public on our side. No longer can the govern- a voter mandate for restoring the species to the Scientists say the wolf is a keystone species—an ment ignore the importance of the southern Rocky Western Slope of Colorado,” says Edward, whose ini- animal that exists in relatively low proportions yet Mountains for wolves.” \\ SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 85


86 • HISTORY TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL IN ITS SECOND DECADE By Paul O’Rourke | Photos by Phil Borgeson Viewing (films) for a And speaking of left field and hits…what better avant-garde was paired with the classic, both festival is a fascinating way to kick off a late summer Telluride festival silent and talkies, in a four-day program—not process; you always than a softball game in Town Park? According to made known until “opening night”—that pre- find something from left Sheila Benson of the L.A. Times, the Paris, Texas sented a little bit of everything and was made field that turns out to be team scored a resounding 14-8 victory over team available to just about everyone. The underap- interesting. Stranger than Paradise. As rumor had it, Ger- preciated, the undiscovered, and the neglected man Director Werner Herzog, a festival attendee but deserving films and filmmakers had a way, —TFF Co-Founder and Co-Director Tom Luddy in an just about every year since being honored in 1975, during Labor Day weekend each year, of receiv- interview with Peter Cowie, “One Man Who Influences played a respectable first base. And that Paris, ing newfound appreciation, or in one case in Texas director Wim Wenders—also German— 1984, finding new life. TMany Movies,” New York Times, August 26, 1984 made a spectacular catch in center field, made he film’s title may be one of the more more extraordinary by the fact he’d never played Repo Man—starring Harry Dean Stanton, the fitting descriptions for the Telluride the game, ever in his life, or so he said. focus of much buzz at #11 for his role in Paris, Film Festival (TFF), or, for that matter, Texas—had premiered at the Berlin Film Festival for the Town of Telluride. Stranger than It would be accurate to say TFF #11 was a earlier that winter, but died an all-too-quiet death Paradise comes at you from left field, distinct departure from #10. Every festival has its after its U.S. release in March and went out of perhaps even a bit beyond the fence. Directed by unique twists and turns; every year the festival’s circulation. But TFF Co-Founder and Co-Director Jim Jarmusch and starring John Lurie, this imag- directors are surprised themselves by what they’ve Bill Pence scheduled it for the festival anyway. Its inative and offbeat film, along with Paris, Texas been able to discover in the always evolving midnight Community Center screening on Satur- and its enigmatic star, Harry Dean Stanton, were world of cinema. But, also like every festival, the day was, according to TFF Production Manager big hits at the eleventh installment of the TFF. antecedents and the well-established traditions— Jim Bedford, a wild success. Noted film critic including an opening night reception, a Labor Day Roger Ebert just happened to be in the audience, picnic, tributes to notable film careers, and noon and later that week gave the film a favorable (two seminars with moderator Annette Insdorf—carry thumbs up) review. Universal subsequently re-re- over one year to the next. leased Repo Man, and the rest, as they say, is his- tory. The film remains one of cinema’s great cult From the beginning the TFF was meant to films, thanks to the magic and the wisdom of the be a celebration of film, film lovers, and the Telluride Film Festival. personalities on both sides of the camera. The ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: WHERE IS JOHN ALTON? HE’S SEATED IN A TFF COURTESY SAAB ON COLORADO AVENUE IN FRONT OF THE SHERIDAN OPERA HOUSE AND IN A MUCH DIFFERENT TELLURIDE STREETSCAPE A LA 1993. BUGS BUNNY CELEBRATED HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY AT TFF #17 IN 1990. BUGS’ CREATOR, TELLURIDE HERO CHUCK JONES, DESIGNED THREE CONSECUTIVE TFF PROGRAM GUIDE COVERS FOR FESTIVALS IN 1985, 1986, AND 1987. WERNER HERZOG WITH A PHOTO OF WERNER HERZOG AND HIS INFAMOUS STEAMSHIP THE SS MOLLY AIDA FROM HIS CLASSIC 1982 FILM, FITZCARRALDO. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


Our attitude is, just as it Bill Pence acknowledged in a 1988 KOTO radio haps more taken by Telluride than Telluride was always has been, every interview that the “missed opportunities” from affected by their presence. And that rather laid- festival could be the last, one festival do play a role in planning for the next. back reception for most of the talent who attended so we do every one of them In a way the festival itself becomes like an expertly the festival was what made it the attraction it was. the best way we can. directed film, invoking its own sense of literary/ cinematic foreshadowing. Legendary Jimmy Stewart was at the TFF in 1986, —TFF Co-Founders, Bill and Stella Pence with his wife, Gloria, and was as gracious and kind as French Director, Bertrand Tavernier, was a you’d expect him to be. Robin Williams was in town Scheduling the TFF presents unique challenges. special guest at the 1984 festival. His program of in 1986, too, and was as quick-witted and as zany as A film or a filmmaker that the festival direc- three films showcasing the acknowledged talents you would imagine. In 1990, Clint Eastwood—who tors have in their sights for a particular year of acclaimed and seldom seen film noir cinematog- was perhaps more confused by than appreciative may be for one of several reasons either unavail- rapher, John Alton, was titled, somewhat sugges- for the lack of attention he received—said, “In able, on some rare occasions unwilling, or as is tively, “Where is John Alton?” The answer wouldn’t Europe there’d be 9,000 lenses waiting for my next sometimes—but not often—the case, “unfindable.” come for another nine years. burp.” According to Sony Films distributor Michael Barker, Gerard Depardieu, 1990 Silver Medallion Following a chance encounter at the Cannes For me it’s like asking why recipient, was so excited by the reception for Cyrano Film Festival and with a little good luck and no is breathing important. de Bergerac at the Community Center, that Depar- small amount of persistence, the TFF was able to dieu, the “French Marlon Brando,” invited all in locate the reclusive Abel Gance, the iconic director —Bill Pence, when asked why cinema is of such attendance to a post-screening cocktail at—where of the 1927 epic film Napoleon, who had been on importance to him. else?—La Marmotte. Imagine the scene with a hun- the festival’s wish list for over five years and who, dred or so movie fans and a squad of curious locals when asked, agreed to come to Telluride in 1979. In 1985, the 150-seat Mason’s Theater was added making their way down Main Street and showing up to venues at the Opera House, the Community at the restaurant’s entrance, to the obvious surprise Center, the Nugget, and the Elks Park outdoor of the waitstaff, kitchen crew, and bartender. cinema in an attempt to accommodate an audience estimated to be nearly five times what it was just No matter what kind of ten years earlier. One of the more noticeable con- year I have had, sequence of the TFF’s growth was the recognition if I come to Telluride, that where in the 1970s just about everyone was it’s been a good year. able to view every film, by the mid 1980s things had changed. An expanded program, with more venues —Werner Herzog and more festivalgoers, made it nearly impossible for all passholders and ticket buyers to view every Attendance was a prerequisite for direc- film. And that reality butted heads with the festival tors whose films were to have their first directors’ long-held wish that no one who purchased North American screenings at the TFF. But a pass should miss seeing a film they wanted to see. for many of those whose work was principally When forty passholders were turned away from behind the camera, a first experience at Telluride Director Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls in 1986, the was often a prelude for numerous return visits, festival’s response was to stage an extra screening whether their films were to be screened or not. For of the film. And with that the “TBA” made its debut Herzog, Telluride was more than a film festival. “It at the TFF, the recognition—and the affirmation— is a wonderful family reunion” where filmmakers that the audience is king, and can and should play a actually have time to watch films because, he said, role in determining the festival’s program. “there are always discoveries at Telluride.” That program, unique as it was, coupled with Herzog was, perhaps, one of the more nota- the festival’s equally unique setting not only ble TFF discoveries. Honored at the 1975 festival drew an increasing number of film lovers but an for films like Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Herzog ever-growing legion of movie stars and industry was not, save for a select international audience, folks. But just about everyone in attendance who might be considered “Hollywood types” were per- ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: LAURIE ANDERSON WAS THE TFF’S FIRST FEMALE GUEST DIRECTOR IN 1991, A YEAR CONSIDERED TO BE THE “YEAR OF THE FEMALE IN FILM” AT THE TFF. THE STEWARTS AND THE PENCES AT TFF #13 IN 1986. THE 3:10 TO YUMA INTERVIEW. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: FILM CRITIC, ROGER EBERT, THE ENGAGING GLENN FORD, AND AUTHOR, ELMORE LEONARD ON THE SHERIDAN OPERA HOUSE STAGE AT TFF #18 IN 1991. BOTTOM: THE TFF BANNERS—REPLICATIONS OF THE 1983, 1984 AND 1985 PROGRAM COVERS—FLY IN FRONT OF THE NUGGET THEATER IN 1991, LENDING TELLURIDE A TRUE CARNIVAL-LIKE ATMOSPHERE. SUMMER/FALL 2020 TellurideMagazine.com 87


88 • HISTORY especially well known. His reception at TFF #2 With just two hours before the start of the prompted numerous returns to Telluride over 1987 Labor Day picnic atop Coonskin, inclement TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020 the years, including his memorable debut on the weather necessitated relocating the event into softball diamond in 1984. Moreover, his growing town, moving the folks in charge to take charge. notoriety in American film circles could be seen Tables, chairs, food, drinks, decorations, electron- as having resulted from his 1975 Telluride tribute. ics, and, of course, the ice cream, and a hundred other details all had to be reassembled at an impro- Spanish director Pedro Almodovar was a “must” vised venue in Town Park as though that had been honoree for TFF #15 in 1988. As Bill Pence told a the plan all along. “This was the single greatest out- KOTO radio audience, Almodovar’s Women on the lay of effort I was ever involved in,” Lynn Rae Lowe Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was scheduled for told the Telluride Times-Journal. opening night at the New York Film Festival later that Fall. The publicity following that screening, Working the festival was Pence predicted—quite accurately as it turned the most fun and the most out—was likely to propel the director’s career to challenging job I’ve ever had. new heights, perhaps making him all but inaccessi- ble for some time to come. Almodovar, like Herzog —TFF Lodging and Transportation Manager and other extremely talented directors such as Tav- Leslie Sherlock ernier, Ken Burns, Wim Wenders, Chuck Jones, and Kathryn Bigelow, due to the prescience of and some The behind-the-scenes acrobatics performed excellent timing from the TFF, saw their careers during the festival were replicated in equally blossom as a result of their appearances at Tellu- nimble heroics when arranging transporta- ride, all joining that extended Telluride family. And tion and suitable accommodations for the staff, vol- it wasn’t only the film lovers, actors, and directors unteers, and invited guests, the latter often proving who kept coming back, year after year. problematic, if not humorous (in hindsight), in the perfection of those arrangements. The Telluride Film Festival is built from a wide variety Glenn Ford and Jodie Foster had suffered of aspects, which include through one delay after another while waiting at chutzpah, pride, karma, the LA airport for their scheduled flight to Denver. showmanship, and just plain The former was to be featured as part of a retro- human energy and drive. spective program for the 1957 Western 3:10 to Yuma that would also include its author, Elmore —TFF Project Manager Lynn Rae Lowe to Leonard, and an interview with film critic, Roger Mavis Bennett in the Telluride Times- Journal Ebert. Jodie Foster, making her directorial debut with Little Man Tate, was to receive one of three Telluride fostered and sustained remarkable Silver Medallions at that 1991 festival. If, that is, loyalty among its staff and volunteers. Tom the two of them could get to Telluride. Sawyer’s fence remained the perfect met- aphor for such in the festival’s second decade, By 11:30 that morning, two hours after happy though more brushes were needed for a fence that hour had begun for Mr. Ford, TFF Transportation became a bit taller and longer as attendance and Manager Leslie Sherlock received a call from the the number of venues increased to six with the actor’s assistant, who informed her that Ford was addition of the 600-seat Strand Theater at the going home. “She,“ Leslie explained, “gave me Ford’s school gym in 1991. Nonetheless, the camaraderie private driver’s phone number and said, ‘do what and dedication exhibited at the first several festi- you think best.’” For Leslie, what was best, was to vals were everywhere in evidence during the 1980s get Ford to Telluride. “I called the driver and told and 1990s, said Community Center host, Rick Sil- him Mr. Ford had changed his mind and no longer verman, in “the tremendous effort of hundreds of needed a ride home.” Thinking Ford may be in need unseen people who make the seams go away.” of some encouragement in following through with the itinerary she had arranged, Leslie somehow That the number of staff and volunteers in the located Jodie Foster at the airport. “I asked her to 1990s outnumbered festivalgoers in the mid-1970s go the Red Carpet Room and hang out with Mr. Ford only amplified the fact, as Stella Pence pointed out until we could get them both on the next flight.” to the Telluride Times Journal, “the festival has become much more complicated. We need a lot Ford and Foster made it to Montrose and were more people to put it on.” In addition to screening loaded into two separate vehicles; Ford’s was what over thirty features, some twenty shorts, and at least Leslie remembers as “our big swanky rental car,” five special programs there was a pre-festival staff and the quite weary Glenn Ford headed to Tellu- party, an opening night cocktail reception, a patron’s ride. “Of course, the car conked out at the top of brunch, a Labor Day picnic, and three noon seminars Dallas Divide,” Leslie recalls with a smile. Hitch- to plan, stage, and pull off. A good number of those hiking, the disbelieving 75-year-old actor was told, special events, it should be noted, were held outdoors. was his only option. After arriving in Telluride hours later, Ford requested his room and a bottle of vodka. “We didn’t see him again until it was time for his interview with Roger Ebert,” said Leslie, “and he was completely engaging.” TOP TO BOTTOM: AT THE WOMEN DIRECTORS’ NOON SEMINAR AT TFF #18 WITH JODIE FOSTER (FOREGROUND) AND MARTHA COOLIDGE (RAMBLING ROSE). KEN BURNS WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS CELEBRATING TELLURIDE’S CELEBRATION OF FILM. THE 60TH SILVER MEDALLION PRESENTED AT THE TFF WAS AWARDED AT #20 IN 1993 TO JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, SEEN HERE WEARING HER 20TH ANNIVERSARY CAP AND A SMILE PERHAPS OUT OF CHARACTER FOR SOME OF HER MORE GRITTY ROLES, LIKE HEDY IN SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. HARRY DEAN STANTON (LEFT), HUNTER CARSON (MIDDLE) AND DIRECTOR WIM WENDERS OF PARIS, TEXAS.


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90 • HISTORY Telluride has been an extraordinary fountainhead for the revival of rare films and neglected reputations. I like festivals where the TFF personality was a presence that couldn’t be —Kevin Brownlow, responsible for the meticulous past confronts the future. replaced, either literally or figuratively. Everson’s restoration of Napoleon and for helping the TFF get in Telluride gives me this. No Community Center 16mm programs were an inte- touch with its director, Abel Gance. other festival does this to gral yet distinctive component of the overall festi- the same degree. val. Tom Luddy and Bill Pence saw the benefit in Finding and then honoring John Alton in Everson’s “doing his own thing” and rather than 1993 reminds one of the festival’s good —Paolo Cherchi-Usai to Jeffrey Ruoff in Telluride in hire a new director, the Guest Director was intro- fortune when locating and then paying the Film Festival Galaxy. duced at the 15th anniversary festival in 1988. The tribute to Abel Gance in 1979. Both became impact was immediate and enduring. The annual signature moments in the festival’s 20-year cel- Telluride’s film festival had always been Guest Directorship has been filled with an array ebration of film and its innovative showcasing of applauded for its exposition and celebration of talented individuals but not just those associ- rare classic films and underappreciated classic of silent era films, undiscovered master- ated with the film industry. Authors, musicians, film artists while also “pushing the envelope,” pieces, and its efforts to preserve rare cinematic and, in 1991, performance and video artist Laurie as Bill Pence phrased it, in featuring new films treasures. Yet, by the late 1980s the festival’s Anderson, assembled their own program of films and up-and-coming film artists. That 91-year-old directors recognized around them a declining that had the intended effect of complementing the cinematographer John Alton and 31-year-old appetite for classic films. To counter a trend that festival’s larger schedule. One of the Guest Direc- actor Jennifer Jason Leigh were presented Sil- challenged the very heart of the festival’s program, tors who had a significant influence on the festival ver Medallions at TFF #20 is testament to the Bill Pence launched the Student Symposium at during those five years after the position was cre- festival’s visionary adherence to that novel con- the 1989 festival. With early financial support from ated was the aforementioned Bertrand Tavernier. cept. Affirming the TFF’s consistent and uncanny Steven Spielberg, the festival provided fifty film sharp eye for recognizing talent, festivalgoer Joe students from around the world access to a curated The reason I did well in Tarabino said of Leigh’s tribute, “What inspira- schedule of movies and discussions with filmmak- the picture business is that tion to recognize her before most of us knew she ers, and in the process a young generation of film I took advantage of the was for real.” scholars became exposed to the TFF’s unique pro- power of light. gram of silent era and undiscovered films. And if It was this remarkable capacity to make the there was one year when the student attendees —John Alton inconceivable come to life that set the TFF apart. would elevate their appreciation for classic silent That is what great cinema is all about, after all. era films, 1993 just might be that year. Tavernier’s 1984 program “Where is John The conversion of the school gym into the 600-seat Alton?” included a challenge to all who were Strand Theater in 1991 may have seemed like a Paolo Cherchi-Usai and the Pordenone Silent in attendance: bring John Alton to Telluride logical next step in the development of a growing Film Festival—the first, largest, and the most and win a trip and passes to the festival, according to film festival. What it was, actually, was a great leap important international festival dedicated to silent Jason Silverman in the Telluride Times-Journal. The of faith. The Strand’s opening as a state-of-the- film—presented a special program in 1993 of two whereabouts of the elusive Alton remained a mystery. art theater, an extraordinary feat in its own right, restored silent films, “Treasures from Pordenone,” to “It became a running gag with Tom (Luddy) and I,” served as advance notice—to the audiences, the thunderous applause at the Opera House and Com- Tavernier told Silverman. “Every year we would say, film world, the town, and even the festival itself— munity Center. A portion of that response to one of ‘did you find Alton? Where is Alton?’” that the TFF would stretch its potential to be not the films, Sylvester, was due to its musical accompa- only bigger but better. The Strand was not only a niment, provided as it was by the Alloy Orchestra. In a reality-is-stranger-than-fiction narrative—a fine addition to a fine cast of characters, but could This 3-man ensemble used an astonishing combina- not uncommon occurrence at the TFF—filmmaker also be viewed as a sort of coming attraction, a tion of percussion and state-of-the-art electronics and Variety critic Todd McCarthy was in Telluride in foreshadowing of what the festival might become. to produce an inspiring confirmation that valuable 1992 with his documentary about cinematography, silent era films can be given new life through not only Visions of Light, that featured Alton’s work. As Tav- And, of course, it was the festival’s unique pro- painstaking restoration but also with a little contem- ernier told Silverman, Alton learned of the film and gram, always a bit different and fresh every year, porary magic by way of creative musical composition. instructed his grandson to contact McCarthy and and from one year to the next—coming at you as it inquire how he could see it. McCarthy was instantly often did from left field—that was responsible for An equally innovative tweak to the festival pro- in touch with Tom Luddy, who hopped on a plane the SHOW becoming the success it was through its gram occurred when Co-Director William Everson that same day and convinced the heralded cinema- first two decades. But at the same time, the 20th “retired” in 1987. This personable film historian, tographer to come to Telluride for festival #20, where Telluride Film Festival remained true to what it collector of hundreds of yet-to-be-rediscovered hundreds of film lovers came to understand just how had been every year from the beginning: a festival minor masterpieces, educator, and much beloved important it was that John Alton was here. for people who love film. \\ CREDITS In composing this history, the writer incorporated arti- cles from the Telluride Times, the Telluride Times-Jour- nal (1984-1993), Jeffrey Ruoff’s fine history, Telluride in the Film Festival Galaxy, and Jason Silverman’s “TFF History: The First 30 Years.” The writer thanks Jim Bed- ford, Vince Egan, Lynn Rae Lowe, Bill and Stella Pence, and Leslie Sherlock for their recollections of and their insights on the second decade of the Telluride Film Fes- tival. Special thanks are due Phil and Gerry Borgeson and for their wonderful archive of images that make the telling of the festival’s history a more visual and in many ways a more entertaining adventure. ABOVE: SOME LAUGHS AT TFF #12 IN 1986 AT THE SATURDAY NOON SEMINAR WITH, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, MODERATOR ANNETTE INSDORF, ROBIN WILLIAMS, AND JERRY STILLER. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL BORGESON) TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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94 • INDEX COLOR BY NUMBERS POORLY EXECUTED DANGEROUS DISEASE LESS IS MORE The number of death row prisoners Globally, 3.4% of COVID-19 patients died. In a study of 300 subjects In the U.S., the COVID-19 executed in the U.S. in 2019 was 22. microdosing hallucinogens, case-fatality ratio is 5.8%. Typically The number of black people fatally shot by fewer than 1% of seasonal flu 27% reported improved mood, 15% improved focus, police in the U.S. in 2019 was 235. cases are fatal. Black Americans are 2.5X more likely than and 13% improved creativity. whites to be killed by police. TOTAL RECALL NEWS DESERTS INSECURE The World Record for memorizing π digits is More than 2,000 of the About 3.5 billion people had 3,143 counties in the U.S. have no daily personal data stolen in just the top 2 data 70,030. The unofficial record for newspaper. 171 counties do not have memorizing words in text is 23,200. breaches in the 21st century. a local newspaper at all. 107 countries have data privacy The World Record for memorizing and protection laws. There were 1,473 data breaches in the U.S. in 2019. a shuffled pack of 52 playing cards is 12.74 seconds. Sources: Death Penalty Information Center, Statista, WHO, Johns Hopkins University, Medical Xpress, RecordHolders.org, CSO online, Data Privacy Manager, Pew, Nieman Lab TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


96 • LAST LOOK Take it to the Streets What happens when a party planner has to stay at home for two months with her family? Wendy J. Hampton, owner of Soiree Telluride event planning, managed to make it fun. With costumes, themes, props, and lots of improvisation, the Hamptons made quarantining during the pandemic their own personal party. TellurideMagazine.com SUMMER/FALL 2020


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