Local cyclists shred Garden of the Gods

Jason MemmelgnarGARDEN OF THE GODS, COLORADO SPRINGS– Mountain bike X-tremists and thrillcraft eco-vandals Jason Memmelaar and Chris Heath weren’t apprehended by the El Paso County Sheriff or the CSPD, but interrupted by off-duty park ranger Stephanie Stover, who saw them cutting tree limbs to expand an illegal downhill run. When she scattered the limbs across the trail to ameliorate erosion, she later found a note which warned:
“Why would you do that? You will hurt my friends. If I see you do this I will hurt you and no one will hear you scream.”KHS rider Chris Heath
Reached by the Gazette via Facebook, Heath denied he left the note, or that he’d built the mile-long trail across protected park land, though he did brag about using the trail “a bunch.” So there it is, CSPD, let the citations fly. Trail repairs won’t begin until May, so there’s still time if you want to make their downhill track a surprise obstacle course. Will screams go unheard? We can test that hypothesis.

I don’t really recommend leaving malicious booby traps like tire spikes, barbed-wire, or a chest high bailing wire strung with tensioners because that could injure others, for example children on bikes however errant, and then too, wildlife. Branches across the path are enough to interrupt the course and can be seen and avoided by hikers. Best of course to safeguard the vicinity by hiking nearby with a camera and cellphone and report the offenders directly to park authorities. Curious to see what the bikers would do if they came upon YOU scattering branches, if you’re not a woman alone on that stretch of the Garden of the Gods.

In the case of Messrs. Memmelaar and Heath, they’re not just asshole despoilers of nature, they’re pro-racers for some kind of circuit for environment-scarring sports. Probably the exposure in Barry Noreen’s column is the last thing their sponsors want. It will be interesting to see how much they care about a public outcry.

I should think they might want to orchestrate a public apology for their “rogue” bikers. Maybe the white Dodge Spirit van with New York plates mentioned in the Gazette is already ferrying friends to the site where they are volunteering to repair the damage before official efforts begin.

If not, keep a lookout for the two elsewhere around town. Perhaps with the heat on Rampart Range Road, they’ll now be looking to foul fresh topsoil of other open spaces, like that of Red Rock canyon.

Have a look at this photographic confession offered at Memmelaar‘s website:
Jason Memmelaar rides in Garden of the Gods

Support UFCW Local 7, shop elsewhere

UFCW signUCFW Local 7 workers, the people who look after you at Albertsons, Safeway and King Soopers, may have to go on strike on Saturday in a bid to save their retirement, benefits and hours. As it is they’ve already conceded to wages and work schedules much worse than yours. Do you support them in this fight? Well, you’ll have to figure out where to get your groceries for the next little bit. The more we deny the supermarket chains our business, the shorter the strike will inconvenience us.

Meanwhile however, the search for alternate sources of provisions just might expand your horizons. After you’ve found natural food, fresher produce, or more variety, the big three will have to offer us more of that to lure us back. There are plenty of more traditional grocery stores in town, specialty, natural and discount, where we could be shopping for our food. Check them out.

SPECIAL NOTE: DO NOT go to Walmart, Sam’s Club or Costco, because that’s who’s driving the wages down and giving the supermarket chains the idea that they can treat their workers as terribly.

As a rule too, do not use the auto-checkout machines because they are taking jobs from everyone.

Alright here’s an incomplete list:

Asian Pacific Market, 615 Wooten Rd, at Powers and Platte
India Bazaar, 3659 Austin Bluffs Parkway #35
La Cusquenita, 2031 E. Bijou
Rancho Liborio Market, 1660 S. Circle
Little Market, 749 E. Willamette
Mountain Mama Natural Foods, 1625 W. Uintah
New Han Yang Oriental Supermarket, 3835 E. Pikes Peak
Sammy’s Organic Natural Food Store, 830 Arcturus Dr
Seoul Oriental Grocery Mart, 2499 S. Academy
Thai Orchid Market, 2485 S. Academy
Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, (2 locations) 1780 E. Woodman
+ 1825 S. Nevada Ave, Southgate
Whole Foods Market, 7635 N. Academy, Briargate
Whole Foods Market, 3180 New Center Point

Extreme Bargains, (3 locations) 3112 E. Platte
+ 3190 N. Stone + 2727 Palmer Park
Westside Bargain Mart, 3135 W. Colorado Ave
Community Market, 56 Park Ave, Manitou

Ceres’ Kitchen, 9475 Briar Village Point, Briargate
Staff of Life, 65 Second St, Monument
Carniceria Leonela, 3736 E. Pikes Peak Ave
Carnizeria Y Taqueria La Eca, 216 E. St. Elmo Ave
Arirang Supermarket, 3830 E. Pikes Peak
Back to the Basics Natural Foods, 2312 Vickers
Briar Mart, 1843 Briargate Blvd
Carniceria La Trigena, 217 N. Academy
Euro-Mart & Deli, 4839 Barnes
Wimberger’s Old World Bakery & Deli, 2321 Bott
Mollica’s Italian Market & Deli, 985 W. Garden of the Gods Rd

Nana Longo’s Italian Market, 1725 Briargate Blvd
Spencers, 1430 S. Tejon St

All Natural Meat and Fish Market, 1645 Briargate Parkway, Briargate
Ranch Foods Direct, 2901 N. El Paso, Fillmore/El Paso
Andy’s Meat Market, 2915 E. Platte, Platte & Circle
Rocky Mountain Natural Foods, 2117 W. Colorado

Farm Crest Milk Stores, (7 locations) 4095 Austin Bluffs Parkway
+ 5050 Boardwalk Dr + 2105 W. Colorado Ave + 5510 S. Hwy 85/87
+ 3945 Palmer Park Boulevard + 2129 Templeton Gap Rd
Robinson Dairy, (delivery) 120 S. Chestnut, 719.475.2238
Royal Crest, (delivery) 1385 Ford St, 719.596.1986

Great Harvest, (2 locations) 101 N. Tejon St + 6942 N. Academy
La Baguette, (4 locations) 2417 W. Colorado + 117 E. Pikes Peak
+ 4440 N. Chestnut + 1420 Kelly Johnson
Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, 4935 Centennial
Entenmann’s/Oroweat Bakery Outlet, 4715 Flintridge
Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop, 847 E. Platte

Falling onto the sky….

Hairy Christmas and a Hippie New Year.




People popping off fireworks and the occasional firearm, making the poor stupid little dog next door bark insanely.

Ok, headphones on, music, relaxing ahhhh…

Anyhow, these are some of the jewelry pictures.

So, how they evolved, when I was recycling some computer parts, I had the magneto from a floppy drive and was trying to visualize how best to take it apart, strip the copper wire from it efficiently.

One of my nieces and her friend were there, the little girl said “Oh, that would make a really pretty necklace.”

And she was right.

So I started making them like that, there’s about a hundred dfferent kinds of these magnetoes in various disk drives. Plenty of creative room using circle patterns.

Me likey muchly.

And then, I moved up here.

People told me about the Medicine Wheel, which I had never seen.

So I looked it up.

There’s one up near Sturgis which has been a prayer site for centuries, best guess is just before the Spanish came up from Mexico, and the Anasazi had just faded into the desert pueblos.

The tradition is, when you go there, you’re in the center of the Heart of the Earth.

Meaning the Black Hills.

The Sioux and the other northern nations say that it’s alive, this heart.

And, when you look down on the Black Hills, from high enough up, and can see the whole thing, it DOES look a whole lot like a human heart.

Some of the prophets, like Black Elk, say and said that this land could be killed. Maybe they’re right.

The name Bad Lands only means that it’s not any good for farming, you can’t grow much there, it’s “bad land”.

The blood-soaking and general rape of this Heart of the World didn’t really start until the early 1800s.

First it was over the Fur Trade.

Indians took what furs they needed to survive, leave the rest.

The French and especially the English had a huge market for it back in Europe, so Money reared it’s ugly head.

Then gold was discovered there.

Standing Bear Butte, where the Great Medicine Wheel is, was suddenly the center of a raging war.

For centuries, 500 years at least, people had gone there to experience the strongest of Medicine.

Medicine is a catch all translation of a huge number of Indian words, spirit and magic and life and it’s all woven together, no part is separate from the rest, it’s the Great Circle.

One of the translated words is manitou.

Another is the garden of the Gods.

See, most of this I only learned once I came here.

The kokapelli, for instance, it’s a bizarre coincidence like the medicine wheels I put together….

But when I was crippled up, recovering from the first surgeries like 16 years ago, sitting in a wheelchair, at my sister’s apartment, feeling sorry for myself… and one of my nieces had gotten a bag of toys from her school… and one of the toys was a Recorder. Ein Zauber-Flut. La Flauta Inglesa.(the English Flute) La Flauta Dulce – sweet flute.

The kids were running around blowing it like a whistle, really annoying in a cute way, but I had a sudden idea, I said “Gimme that, I’ll learn how to play it right” and the next day I checked out a book from the library on How To Play The Recorder and started in.

Flash forward, and I come up here, to Manitou, and started learning the Indian ways.

Finding out that the Flute Player, Kokapelli, is kind of the local hero. And what the medicine wheel means.

A lot of medicine is what you feel, that’s how you “know” and “learn”it.

English doesn’t do it justice.

Meditation comes close. Intuition, which means you learn from within.

A line from one of the hymns based on Ode am die Freude, “Spirit, in our spirit speaking, makes us sons of God, indeed.”

I can get really mystical and misty eyed describing it.

A lot of the stuff you experience up here, how do you put it to where people would believe it? That you could be walking a path and have somebody, a stranger, join you, talking to you and walking along with you, a cloud-shadow passes over and you’re standing alone, no tracks beside yours…

A dream from long ago, perhaps.

In the Indian conscious state, and this varies from person to person how you experience it, live it… but the Dreamtime is just as real as something you can touch.

I saw a picture of the Great Medicine Wheel, taken from the air, and that’s the only way you can see the whole thing.

For centuries when somebody goes there to pray-make medicine-commune-learning spirit…

he puts a stone at the end of each spoke of the wheel.

The wheel is now about a mile across.

It takes hours to walk around the edge of it.

And, it looks just like the medicine wheels shown in the pictures, the ones a little child told me “that would make a pretty necklace”

It’s not something you grab intellectually, you just feel and see and hear and ARE the medicine.

The other side of these, they’re recycled. Something that would, if left in a landfill somewhere, the first thing they would do is run a bulldozer over it, breaking it up just enough to let the toxic parts ooze out…

To kill the mountains, and kill the waters.

We would follow, everything we know as Human would set its feet upon the rainbow, One way of putting it is “falling onto the sky”.

Following the sun every evening into the Dreamtime of the west, only, without the life of Earth or man, the Dreamtime, too, would die away.

One of Black Elk’s sayings is we would live long enough to know what we had done… and pass away in great sadness.

Mountain bikers in Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
GARDEN OF THE GODS, COLORADO- Some bastards don’t give a shit about ecology, they’ll enjoy nature as they ruin it for everybody else. These mountain bikers were despoiling a completely off-limits terrain on Sunday, and fortunately we had cameras handy.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
Mountain bikes are allowed only on the bike trail system around the South Parking Lot, in the SE corner of Garden of the Gods. And there, bikes are to follow special rules, including never to go off the trail. When we encountered these five, they were descending the rock formations completely off-trail, well NW of the Palmer Trail.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
To be fair, we were straying from the trail ourselves, even from the permissible “social” trails which require added diligence to avoid stepping on plants and loose soil. We encountered these mountain bikers riding directly on the rocks.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
They moved in this order: Mr. Black, Mr. Blue, Mr. Grey, Mr. Orange, and Ms. White.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
The attitude was congenial, probably due to the surprise of the encounter, and their being preoccupied with negotiating the descent. But we were very deliberate about snapping incriminating evidence.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
Immediately after they passed us and disappeared over the ridge, they stopped in a concealed low area just before the Siamese Twins rocks. They looked concerned that we might have gone to seek the park authorities.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
Seeing that we’d caught up with them, as opposed to having gone the other direction, the bikers may have surmised that we didn’t pose an immediate risk. They resumed their ride along the rocks to the Siamese Twin Trail, and down to the Springs Canyon Trailhead.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
From the Spring Canyon parking lot, they could most inconspicuously join the paved traffic on Garden Drive.

Garden of the Gods mountain bikers
The question of course arises about what to do with these pictures. Deliver copies to the park administrators? Post them here? Search online for other pics with which to ID these mountain bikers from their attire and bikes? All three.

Heading up to Garden of the Gods

Up by the Balanced Rocks. Gonna play the flute and make a little medicine.

Sell some jewelry too if I’m lucky.

I’ll be up there around 4 or so.

Probably the Drum Tribe will be somewhere around.

Earth day co-opted by corporations, yeah.

Jesus, even McDonalds is doing “green”.

Ah, well…

Maybe we’ll be able to play them like a finely tuned fiddle.

Kind of like when the empire co-opted Jesus way back when, well… when you try to just use the name of somebody who preaches peace, sooner or later, there’ll be followers who, you know, actually BELIEVE in peace and will take it back from you.

Maybe we can take back Green the same way, only without the 2000 years or so of truly unnecessary bloodshed.

Where are you from?

AFAIn college, when asked where I was from, I would proclaim, “I’m from Colorado Springs!” Eyes would light up in recognition. “Isn’t that…?” “Yes,” I would nod. Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak. The inspiration for America the Beautiful. Home to Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, NORAD, the Olympic Training Center. I could proudly claim them all.

My how times have changed. Still happy to reside in Colorado, I do not readily admit that I live in Colorado Springs. When my secret is uncovered, eyes narrow with suspicion. “Isn’t that…?” “Yes,” I say as my shoulders sag. Focus on the Family, New Life Church, Ted Haggard, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin.

My home town, my slice of purple mountain majesty, has become ground zero for war profiteers and religious zealots.

Although we don’t know many of them by name, they have a profound impact on our community. They shape local politics. They vote down cultural and environmental initiatives, and deny tax support for helping organizations. They control school boards and change school curricula. They chase away our artists and our young idealists. They drive our gay population back into the closet. And they profit from the spilled blood of our children.

They and their ilk put George W. Bush in the White House. They continue to support our country’s assaults on sovereign nations in order to advance their narrow ideologies and line their gaping pockets. The shame I feel when people discover that I am from Colorado Springs is the same shame felt by many Americans traveling abroad. “We are from the United States,” they mumble. Ground zero for war profiteers and religious zealots….

Colorado Springs future looking brighter

Mark Lewis took this photo of Gazette editor and hillbilly blowhard Sean Paige holding court recently in Poor Richards restaurant to discuss his leaving the city daily
Colorado Springs has several attributes which make it a pleasant place to live. Our dry sunny climate of course, and Garden of the Gods, Manitou, The Broadmoor, Colorado College, the Smokebrush Foundation, to leave out quite a bit. Pikes Peak, the Olympic Training Center and NORAD separate us from other provincial backwaters only by giving us a sense that we are on the map.

Since Amendment 2 Colorado Springs has been on the map for our unpleasant demographic. The sagging mental acuity of the Pikes Peak area is something of legend, and lo, increasingly deserved. We owe this to the abundance of military employers, to the continuing influx of fundy revivalists and of course the standard American low expectations for education. But no entity has played a more detrimental role in shaping our pinheads than our city newspaper, the “libertarian” Freedom Communications Gazette. Since the demise/absorption of its competitor the COS Sun, the Gazette Telegraph has warped our city news with impunity.

And none have done it with more mean-spirit and Rush Limbaugh alacrity than Gazette Editorialist Sean Paige. Our own top-tier asshole.

And he’s leaving! Hurray! I wish it had been with tar and feathers. And it’s a rather selfish joy, because doubtless he’s moving somewhere. Wouldn’t it be more noble to know to where, so that instead of passing him off, we could give them a shout and prevent Paige from wreaking his cynical damage in their unsuspecting community?

Landmarks in memoriam

Mount Rushmore public cafeteria
A past love of mine spent a couple summers working at Mt Rushmore at the visitor’s center. She longed for me to see it and eventually she took me there. I had already formed a vivid image of her youthful days there, serving food to plaid-clad tourists, taking her breaks sunning on the rocks between the ponderosa, chasing boys with her friends, away from home at this summer camp for Dakota high-schoolers off soon to college and new autonomous lives.

Her farm country heritage was a mystery to me, but her descriptions of the Black Hills and Mt Rushmore I could see clearly. When we finally made it there, the atmosphere was as charming as I had envisioned, aided too by preconceptions of the familiar dark wood trimmings of a US National Park with Yogi Bear. The restaurant really was a cafeteria, the workers dressed in white like nurses and the food was like they served in school. Except that visitors would carry their fiberglass trays to tables beneath huge plate glass windows with a view of the granite presidential face of Mt Rushmore.

Years later I would recognize the unchanged lunch room and viewing deck as filmed in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Nothwest. I could watch that scene and recollect our visit, especially the tour Kim gave me through the staff-only area, climbing paths around the workers’ dormitories which led us to the swimming hole. We watched squirrels and bears -I mean birds- and recalled her earlier days. She might have been thinking of earlier beaus, what would it have mattered? Now my recollections are of recollections.

Now many years later, another love asks me if revisiting the site of a cherished memory would diminish it. I said no, and I still believe it, but I have to add one caveat. It’s not that you erase one memory with another, you jeopardize the memory tape itself.

I thus revisited Mt Rushmore, without of course my making any todo about a past significance, and I came away changed and less happy because the visitors center is gone.

Well, it’s changed, the wooden building is replaced by a bigger, improved center of granite, very attractive and swarming with more people, the grounds are now entirely covered in cement, comprising amphitheater, museum, Grecian monument and vast parking structures. No amount of smooching with a new love would have effaced my earlier nostalgia, but the physical anchor of my memory is broken away. It’s like the difference of a grandparent passed on, being cremated versus interred. You can visit your loved one in a cemetery, even if only in your mind, because you know where you can find them, still there.

My Mt Rushmore in not “there” anymore. I retain my memories, themselves of memories, but they have become intangible.

The same was done to our Garden of the Gods. We used to be able to goof off on its roads and paths, now they are paved and redirected into an uncompromising giant roundabout. And there’s now the giant visitors center, with its big window and stepped-back view, replacing the Hidden Inn which used to nestle right against the rocks.

In fact, I took a favorite photograph of a girl I liked very much on the weathered railing of the Hidden Inn looking out on the upended rock formation extending along the Front Range. But the historic inn is no more, just a few cuts into the red stone, now just a point-of-interest on a marker. At least the original foundation was meticulously removed, not buried under concrete. I lament never having kissed that girl, and I guess now the opportunity seems all the more gone.

News from the Pope… again…

I wonder if Bishop “vote republican or rot in hell” Sheridan is going to jump on this bandwagon, but the Pope has said that allowing Native Americans their own culture and religion would be a step backward, and made the preposterous claim that they were just “silently waiting and hoping for Christianity” to push them into the lowest levels of Latin American societies ooops I mean “liberate them from the slavery of having their own national identity” ooops again, I mean “from the slavery of their ignorance”

There hasn’t been much outcry from our Diocese about the fact that the Uber Rich buying up all the land bordering the National Forest and building an almost impenetrable fence of “No Trespassing-Private Property” to limit the Medicine People, including and especially Native Americans, from access to the Medicine Lands that were “given” to us by the Laramie Treaty and later reinforced by the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1973.

Pretty fucking bad when we had to have an Act of Congress to affirm that the First Amendment provisions about Freedom of Religion actually applied to ALL citizens, even Native Americans.

But for the past few years the Army, at the behest of the Gated Community Rich Bitches like the ones at Cedar Heights (which is technically on Garden of the Gods treaty land) has been enforcing arbitrary rules which keep the people off the people’s land.

The rich folks have had the National Forest set aside as a publicly subsidized private playground for them and their snot-nosed brats.

Palmer Park, hidden treasure of Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is blessed with having a spectacular natural setting, no doubt about that. I have now passed a little over 4 months of my life here and if I had to list one thing that the city has done well, it would be setting aside Palmer Park for the people’s use. It is defintely the city’s hidden treasure and my family and I use it on at least a weekly basis. Our dog is especially in love with the park (though not the official dog park there), and that’s part of what makes the park special. It is a special place for bikes and horses, too, and even the most incapacitated person can probably be wheeled down to the main scenic lookout for the big view.

Sure, there are other great parks here, but none is located so smack dab in the middle of the city. It is as central to Colorado Springs as Central Park is to New York City. What blows me away is that it hardly is mentioned in any tour guide and its main lookout is sometimes without a solitary visitor, even in the middle of the most pleasant afternoons. Out of state tourists and even other Colorado folk tend to head to Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the water falls, as most of them have not a clue that Palmer Park even exists and that it is someplace special. But there are many parts of the country where if such a park was available people would drive for hundreds of miles to visit it.

One of the things most lamentable about how our country has misdeveloped itself is how it has destroyed downtowns, central plazas, and people places of all kinds. So get out and use Palmer Park, for you are lucky to have it here. From where my family moved from, we didn’t have sidewalks in many neighborhoods, let alone a place like this park. Even now we discover new hiking trails every time we go there. There is variety at Palmer, if you go beyond what might first meet the eye.

Certainly, Palmer Park is a model for what every city needs to do. Every American city needs places to hike, not just more roads to drive on. Palmer Park is the crown jewel of Colorado’s interurban trail systems, but defintely not recognizzed as such. It has miles of safe hiking/walking trails that are something that’s a cross between city walks, and remote trails in the wilderness, yet still located in the heart of the city. Other cities would envy this city if only they new Palmer Park even existed. More than any other attribute of Colorado Springs, Palmer is what makes this city a more attractive place than Denver to live in. IMO, it’s definitely the heart of Colorado Springs, even if the Pentagon and Church have robbed much of its soul. It’s not downtown, it’s not speactacular like Garden of the Gods. It’s doesn’t have a lake in the center of it. It’s not high up like Pikes Peak.. It’s just Palmer Park, the best place in town for taking a walk.