Friday, September 05, 2008

Turn On Your Heart Light, Just Be Careful

A few days ago in Colorado Springs, we had the chance to enjoy a real antidote to the tortures of the Democratic Convention in Denver. The Denver, oops, the Ft. Denver Convention, which ended with a pretty swell evening at the football stadium (two days later the C.U. Buffaloes played an early season game and there were many complaints about how torn up the turf was... sorry guys, and I didn't even use my monopod!) Yet, even a week later I am, with continued assistance from the storm trooping lads of Minneapolis and St. Paul, still nauseated by the 'show of force' tactics which the police and “forces of order” used to try and maintain a peaceful venue for the host delegates. Now, a few days after the fact, might'nt it be wise to try and engage in some kind of actual dialogue with the police chiefs of the localities involved, out of the glare of spot lights and grenade launchers, and really see if there is, in the country of ours, any thing resembling Free Speech. I could have sworn that in the public schools I was raised in there was a mention of the Bill of Rights (Mr. Bigler, my 8th grade history teacher nailed me on a spot quiz – “by what other name are the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution known?” -- and since 1960 I have never forgotten) and how, in theory at least, they annoint the common folk with as much right to make their case known as that of any land owning oligarch. It would be a worthy experiment to see if any of the heads of the two main police departments have any sense of what the “Bill of Rights” is about. I do not buy for a minute that “since 9/11 everything has changed...” Sure, much has changed since 9/11 but there is nothing which takes away the rights of a public to be heard in all those changes. And I suppose if there is, then why do we bother to try and pretend, to convince ourselves, that this is still our parents' country at heart. It won't take much to figure that out. A couple of questions, and a few corresponding answers.

Headin' south outta Ft. Denver
But that is, as Iris oft notes, another blog (though it may be the really important one at hand.) Having suffered through that week in Denver, and watched the even more harassing shenanigans in St. Paul (by the way, I do agree that folks with sledge hammers in their hands – in this case the anarchists who did want to bust things up – deserved to be challenged and arrested once they make it clear that they are going to whack a dept. store window) it seemed to me that I could use a few days of chillin'. I didn't actually do the Trifecta (as Tim Zielenbach calls it...) -- the Olympics and both conventions back to back. I chickened out on the Republicans, and decided to stay in cool & peachy (amazing peaches!) Colorado for a few days. In Colorado Springs (the home of Colorado College, my alma mater) there was a wonderful gathering of balloonists this past week. Literally dozens of balloons – at one point I counted 30 inflated ones – all gathering in a park right in the center of town. It was quite a spectacle.

And because the festival operators must know that folks like me won't make it up at 5am to do a sunrise ascension (we did it a year ago in Sedona and it really was fantastic!) on a regular basis, they decided to put together a soiree version,

called something like Balloonglow or Duskglow, or WowThatsAHelluvaLotOfPeopleGlow. Just about 8pm, as the sun was gone, and the sky was that kind of rich blue you only see in the paintings of Maxfield Parrish,

the balloonists would all start to fire up their craft, using those flame spitting hot air emitting gas torches. The flames would leap 5 or 6 feet into the air, causing a rush of hot air to fill the thin silk balloons, and in just minutes give it a full, round, puffy look. Then as the overly chatty lady on the P.A. system would do a count down from 5 back to zero, we all stood in rapt attention, waiting to see just what it would look like when 30 balloons lit up at once. The amazing thing is, the flame projects not only hot air, but the most beautiful golden light into the interiours of the balloons, and it's as if the large round forms, having emerged from their Cherokee hauled trailers, have suddenly come to life, E.T. - like, glowing with a visual richness rarely seen. The first couple of times the large crowd (ten thousand, twenty, perhaps?) would gasp in unison. It was a great combination of sight and sound. I wondered what little kids would think of it, and watched a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds. They're at that age where they are ready to absorb anything cool that's out there. It was fun to watch their expressions. And my own, I suppose. The random quality with which the balloons would glow and then darken, each like some kind of giant cocoon, gave an additional air of surprize. Each one, fired by its captain, would come to life for five, ten seconds, then darken (they have to be careful not to let the fire get anywhere near the balloon material, obviously) again. It was as if there was a higher force, dispatched by the good people at Twilight Zone (thanks, Rod!) who wanted to somehow purge all that bad behaviour in Denver. To use the beauty of those flaming moments to burn away the ill wind of bad judgement which had clouded the Convention. I was quite ready for it. And there are plenty of cool corners in Colorado which are just right for washing off the official B.S. to which we are so often obliged to pay homage. So take a hint: get a cheap car (hey, the gas it plenty out there) and head to the rockies. You just never know what treat awaits. We're just sayin...David

as always,
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