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Category: ponder

2015 – The State of M.A.N

2015 was a fascinating year in a multitude of ways. The most prevalent and profound themes I found were that our social networks have become too powerful to ignore, our societies aren’t as peaceful as we’d prefer to think, and human created changes to the chemistry of the ocean (very likely all coral reefs will collapse in my lifetime) and atmosphere (something I began writing about in 2013)  have let to an acceleration of the holocene mass extinction.

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On a lighter note – I would like to share a few of my key learnings and thoughts about my year. 

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The Lost City of Camello Gigante

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A great many fantastic adventures in life are conceived in inebriation. The quest for the Lost City of Camello Gigante began like most stories, three young men in search of fortune and glory – yet what we found in the bygone region across the border was beyond our wildest dreams.

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Earlier this month I heard from friend and head Sommelier at Osteria Mozza, Matthew Bostick that he was going on an impromptu adventure south of the border to drink wine in the burgeoning Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California. Not looking to be outdone I decided to drop my own wine key and head south to investigate.

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As I’ve not been to Baja California I knew that I needed to enlist an expert and guide. I got together with good friend and newly minted beverage director for Broken Spanish (soon to debut in the old Rivera space) Michael Lay. With Mike (the fixer) on board, I immediately got down to the business searching for ways to make the trip as absurd as possible. ‘We leave upon the tail of the Hour of the Wolf,’ or something silly like that I recall texting Mike. “Ok cool I’m in, but what time is that?” 5am.

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“The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are most real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. The Hour of the Wolf is also the hour when most children are born.” – The 1968 Ingmar Bergman horror film ‘Hour of the Wolf’
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Gary Indiana – City Of The Century

Elbert H. Gary was the chairman of the board of U.S Steel is the architect of Gary Indiana, in Lake County on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Thirty miles south of the Loop of Chicago. Gary Indiana was founded in 1906, several years before Henry Ford began production of automobiles at his Highland Park Ford Plant in Detroit. Gary was an inexpensive location for a massive new steel production center, the site of rampant land speculation it was billed as, “The Magic City”, “Steel City”, and “The City of the Century.”

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The poor planning led Gary to develop burgeoning slums fueled by waves of Southern blacks and Mexican immigrants in the 1920s and 30s, with Blacks constituting as much as 20% of the population in 1930. Unskilled immigrant steelworkers flooded the city from Southern and Eastern Europe until Federal restrictions limited their settlement; Mexican’s were the encouraged heavily to settle, and as many as ten thousand called East Chicago and Gary their home by 1920.

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The Great Depression which crippled the city with it’s over reliance on industry, as well as several steel strikes, segregation, and labor problems gave Gary a national spotlight as being a troubled mixing pot. Revived by the WWII boom in steel production the city continued to grow with a dramatically changing composition. By 1950, 30% of the population identified as Black. This was around the time my Grandfather movied to Gary from Natchitoches ParishLouisiana for an opportunity to work in the Steel Mills.

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A Castle in the Sky : Semivicoli

This is the second part of a series on my recent trip to Abruzzo and Rome to Masciarelli Winery. See Part One HereIMG_6465

In the long expanse of travel time to Italy I found myself wondering what it was going to be like to stay inside a castle. So much of my trip to Italy was about changing expectations and ideas. I certainly did not imagine that an ancient castle could be so luxurious, so modern like Castello di Semivicoli, rising out of the shoulders of an ancient medieval town almost 400 meters above the sea.

IMG_6547Just 20 kilometers away the Adriatic sea; I could see it in the early morning beckoning with deep halcyon blue waves. I could smell it beneath the aroma of wood smoke and the wet newly thawed moss. 

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In The Land That Time Forgot

title is a throwback to an Edgar Rice Burroughs Fantasy Novel of the same name

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My good friend let me know a few months ago that he was going to be in Vegas for the weekend and suggested that we go out to the Mojave desert to explore some abandoned mine shafts over Veteran’s Day weekend. A fellow veteran of the Armed Forces and an all around good dude, I didn’t hesitate to agree to a camping trip – but the Mojave?Image

Getting to the desert is a pretty easy drive, nothing really to look at on the way out from Los Angeles, except San Bernadino County and it’s high desert boom towns of yesterday. San Bernardino currently has the highest unemployment in California at 10% and roughly 160,000 people receiving food stamps. Image

If you’ve ever had the urge to try a Trucker Shower, or pay over $5 a gallon for someone to pump your gas at the end of nowhere, be sure to check it out. At a train track stop, I literally got out of my car and walked around for a few moments while the endless train of box cars went by.  

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Very few people visit the Low Desert, in fact it is the least visited national park in America. 18.5 Million years ago in the Late Tertiary period large volcanic eruptions occurred fairly frequently in the Mojave Desert blanketing the area in volcanic ash, the most recent explosion was about 8,000 years ago.

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