UP BEAR CREEK | Zoey Benally to Perform Sept. 2

08/26/14 | By | More

TALKING GOURDS … The Telluride Institute along with Telluride Literary Arts, the Wilkinson Library and Between the Covers Bookstore is happy to welcome Navajo poet Zoey Benally to town. This is not one of those stuffy academic-style “readings” where someone gets up and recites some unintelligible dreck in a soporific monotone. Zoey is a very dynamic performer … And her content is not your traditional Native-American poetry. One piece we’ve asked her to do is her “Navajo Zombie Apocalypse.” I got to hear her do it at the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale earlier this year. It’s killer – political and funny … When she’s not writing, Dr. Benally teaches veterinary science at Navajo Technical University at Crownpoint on the Rez. An old friend, she’s been coming to Telluride and Talking Gourds events for almost a decade … Talking Gourds Poetry Club goes back to its 6 p.m. time slot this coming Tuesday. Meet at Arroyo’s on Main Street next to the Mason’s Hall/Hardware store and bring something to read that speaks to this month’s poetry theme, “Choices.” Or any poem that you like, really. We poets are never big on inflexible rules.

SHROOMFEST … If you missed this past weekend, you didn’t get to experience a wonderful mycological conference of ground-breaking national import in several respects, and a marvelous fungal celebration that culminated in zany annual mushroom parade. Miss Stinkhorn won the top costume prize (including over $500 in product from Aloha Medicinals), while Team Chaga took the group costume prize. And there were many wild and weird costumes beyond that … As for the lectures, let me touch on one highlight.

ALOHA MEDICINALS … John Holliday of Aloha Medicinals gave a fascinating lecture on Cordyceps spp – the fungi that infects insects of many kinds and has proven medicinal effects. Shroomfest Director Rebecca Fyffe called Holliday the “pre-eminent mycologist in the West on medicinal fungi.” Cordyceps is an anti-viral compound that in much of the world is used for the treatment of cancer and HIV, Holliday explained. But in the U.S. it’s used as a dietary supplement. Many have used Cordyceps as a performance enhancer. And not just people. Holliday said that the racehorses that have won derbies in the last ten years have all used Cordyceps … But perhaps his most interesting claim involved studies of feed-lot cattle. Most are given antibiotics to increase bulk and to prevent disease. But feedlot cattle in the studies he cited showed comparable increased bulk when given a blend of Cordyceps, controlled disease better and resulted in no deaths, while antibiotics killed a significant percentage of the cattle treated. Plus, the Cordyceps blend was cheaper than the antibiotics … But that wasn’t his only amazing factoid. He had one more “wow” moment for all of us when he started talking about stinkhorns, a group of fungal fruiting bodies famous for their bad smell.

DICHTYOPHORA … The indusiata species of this stinkhorn genus is known in Hawaii as the Veiled Lady and according to a paper that Holliday, a specialist in tropical fungi, co-authored in 2001 in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, six of 20 women exposed to the smell of this edible stinkhorn experienced immediate orgasms, and the ten others had verifiable physiological symptoms, including higher heart rates. The 20 men in the study merely thought the odor “disgusting”. While some mycologists have dismissed this unusual effect, Holliday sticks to his guns. “It happens,” he explained on the Palm Stage … Not altogether surprisingly, a number of local women have expressed a desire to do further research. I’m looking forward to hearing all I can learn about this amazing hypothesis … The more common stinkhorn, Phallus indusiatus, which grows in many places around the world, was served up in a meal to Henry Kissinger when he first visited China.

RULES OF THE ROAD … Hey, I love bicycles. And I support Patrick Ray in insisting that cars keeping a minimum of three feet away from bicyclists on the highways … But traveling the Norwood to Placerville canyon last week with its 55 mph speed limit, I couldn’t believe two riders near the Specie Creek turnoff. As a pickup and I came around a curve, there they were atop their bikes chatting – both bikes on the pavement, taking up about a quarter of our lane. Narrowly I swerved into the oncoming lane around the blind curve. The pickup did too. They didn’t move an inch. Now I rarely honk except to prevent an accident. But I did this time … It was the rudest and most dangerous behavior I’ve ever seen by bicyclists since I’ve lived here. If you want to stop to talk while bike riding on Highway 145, fine. Pull off the pavement and talk. Don’t do it in the roadway, on a curve, where cars are traveling over 50 mph. That’s just incredibly stupid.





What Takes You to God


What’s to wait for?

McRedeye tells

the Red Monk



like you might never

get up again


Start that

singing inside

some call prayer


& others Ayahuasca


Cannabis sativa


Every chair

in death’s waiting room

attaches to a sacred ground


Be still as dirt

& let the mind become

Gaia’s quantum flowering


Beings pulsing

with the lyric electricity

of everything

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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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