The Postojna Cave, near Postojna Slovenia, is an amazingly beautiful natural formation. The tour takes you underground, by train, through 27 kilometers of jaw-dropping tunnels and galleries full of huge stalgtites and stalagmites.
This performance took place in a cavern they call “the Vivarium” where visitors can see live specimins of a few of the more than 150 species of animal which have been discovered in this cave, including the cave olm or “human fish,” a pale, blind salamander that can live to the age of 100 years, and go without eating for up to 10 years. Amy and I found ouselves alone in the vivarium, which had very nice acoustics.
In case you missed my interview with co-directors Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller about their new film, Meow Wolf: Origin Story, on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine last week, here it is.
…and don’t miss the Mendocino Film Festival coming up June 1-3 in the Village of Mendocino where you can see Meow Wolf: Origin Story along with a lot of other great movies. You can see the whole schedule of screenings at http://www.mendocinofilmfestival.org
Monday May 14, on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine (7-9am), I will talk with movie director Morgan Capps about her new movie Meow Wolf: Origin Story, from 7-7:30. Meow Wolf is an “art collective, a scrappy, anarchist-bent, psychedelic art collective which began in a Santa Fe basement and within ten years has grown into a multimillion-dollar company.” Meow Wolf creates large-scale interactive art installations that surround and envelope the observer. Their latest work, The House of Eternal Return, a 20,000 sq ft installation that’s part fun house, part black-light theater, and a whole lot of what their benefactor, George RR Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, calls: “Like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Martin has become Meow Wolf’s biggest fan. He bought them a bowling alley so that they would have a permanent home. The group then began a 14 month buildout involving more than 140 artists culminating with the opening of The House of Eternal Return. In its first year in operation more than 400,000 people have visited The House of Eternal Return, earning the group more than 7 million dollars.
“Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is a unique art experience featuring a new form of non-linear storytelling that unfolds through exploration, discovery, and 21st-century interactivity. The 20,000-square-foot art exhibit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contains dozens of rooms and secret passageways with interactive light, sculptures, video, animation, and musical objects to explore. Within this setting is the mystery of the Selig family, who disappeared one night after conducting a forbidden experiment in their Victorian mansion. This maximalist showcase creates a space where art becomes everything you see, hear, and touch.”
Morgan Capps and Jillann Spitzmiller created Meow Wolf: Origin Story to show us how it all began. Meow Wolf: Origin Story shows us how Meow wolf works, how they came together, and tells the story of their success. “The film follows artists whose identities have been shaped within this group dynamic, blowing the lid off stewing conflict between diverse egos, artistic freedom vs organization, individual passion, and the good of the collective. They must walk this fine line between chaos and order, inspiration and mental illness, and finally, success and destruction as they navigate their future together.”
You can see Meow Wolf: Origin Story as part of the Mendocino Film Festival, June 1 – June 3 in the village of Mendocino, with some screenings up the road a piece, in Ft. Bragg. The festival has scheduled screenings of Meow Wolf: Origin Story at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 2, in the Main Festival Tent, and again at 3:00pm on Sunday, June 3, at the Matheson Performing Arts Center in the Mendocino High School. They will screen a lot of terrific movies over the entire weekend. You can find out more about the Mendocino Film Festival at: http://mendocinofilmfestival.org
The trailer to Meow Wolf: Origin Story looks amazing, and the shots of The House of Eternal Return blew my mind. Next Monday, May 14, I’ll talk to director Morgan Capps about making Meow Wolf: Origin Story and about how an anarchist art collective turns into a multimillion-dollar business. You can hear it all on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine from 7-9am Monday May 14.
I just got back from the East Coast where I spent a week visiting my elderly mother. She’s 82 years old and has Parkinson’s disease, and as the things she used to enjoy doing become more difficult for her, she tends to watch more TV. She’s very liberal, and quite politically active. You will occasionally still find her behind the table, at public events, encouraging her fellow Virginians to vote Democratic, so of course, she loves The Daily Show, Late Nite with Steven Colbert, and Samantha Bee.
She watches plenty of news, and she also enjoys several British mystery and drama series. She especially likes the Big Bang Theory, a sit-com that revolves around the fictitious lives of four very brainy, but socially awkward young professionals. The show is very popular, has been on for a long time and now runs in syndication. I got the impression that if you have enough channels, you can find an episode of the Big Bang Theory to watch any time of day or night, and in the week I spent with my mother, I saw so many episodes of that show that the theme song, and it’s bizarre, objectified, reductionist myth about the history of the universe is still ringing in my head days after I’ve returned home.
I haven’t seen that much TV in a long time, and I noticed something interesting about TV programming in general, that lies at the root of what’s wrong with political discourse in America. It comes down to the difference between facts and ideas. You can learn a lot of facts by watching television. TV will give you historical facts and up to the minute facts. You’ll get scientific facts, medical facts, and even the facts of life. Not only will TV give you the facts, but TV rehashes the facts, debates the factuality of the facts and quibbles about the details of the facts.
Besides that, TV glorifies facts in fictional programs. Clues turn into facts that solve mysteries. In dramatic series, the hero pulls some obscure fact out of his deep memory and applies it to his current dire predicament to save the day, and in sit-coms, like the Big Bang Theory where four science geeks bludgeon each other with scientific facts as ridiculously as the Three Stooges did with face-slaps, head-bonks and eye-pokes. Even the commercials tell you to “get the facts,” because “facts matter,” and “that’s a fact.”
On the other hand, I saw very few ideas on TV. For all of the facts TV spews, they all came at me from within a very narrow perspective, divorced from context. TV does not present nearly enough ideas to make sense of the facts they bombard us with. We get the Republican perspective and the Democratic perspective, neither of which contain enough ideas to make sense of the world, both of which share the same fundamental belief system, which is always assumed, and never questioned.
You will see lots of programs on TV about the latest scientific breakthroughs, and we marvel at the new products they hope to create with them. Why do we never see programs about alternative economic systems or alternative political ideas, and marvel at the potential improvements in society? Why don’t we see programs about Social Ecology, or even biological ecology for that matter? TV buries this paucity of ideas beneath an avalanche of facts. As a result, instead of debating ideas in our public dialogue, we bicker about facts.
That’s why I don’t believe that journalists help us much. The facts don’t matter if you don’t have enough ideas to make sense of them. Without context or perspective, this parade of facts becomes a blinding snowstorm of distraction.
Meanwhile, this is what people have come to expect from political discussion, a rehash of recent facts, and two, superficially different knee-jerk reactions to them. While TV may have expanded our horizons, by showing us images from around the world, this constant barrage of information warps our perception of reality, narrows our perspective and diminishes our ability to think.
Biologists have found 27 different species of pseudo-scorpion living in the twiggy mounds which dusky-footed wood-rats build to raise their young. 27 different species of pseudoscorpion!
That just boggles my mind. First off, a pseudoscorpion is a tiny little arachnid, about the size of a tick, but a pseudoscorpion is not a parasite. Pseudoscorpions hunt and eat small parasites and mites that the rats attract. That explains why scientists find so many pseudo-scorpions in a rat’s nest, but it doesn’t explain why they find 27 distinct species of pseudo-scorpion in rats’ nests.
All pseudo-scorpions look pretty much the same. They look a little bit like ticks, except that instead of the long pointed mouth parts, a pseudoscorpion has a pair of large pincers on it’s foremost appendages, like a scorpion.
In fact, a pseudoscorpion looks just like a scorpion, except for its tiny size, and the fact that pseudo-scorpions have no tail, and no venomous sting. They are harmless little creatures who spend their time in dark shadowy places, like rats’ nests. Besides that, they can barely see with their very tiny eyes.
When two pseudoscorpions meet, they do a sort of dance where they face each other and engage each other’s large front claws.
If the dance goes well, they might mate.
If the dance does not go well, one pseudoscorpion, the larger, usually, will drive the other away. Most of the time, the dance does not go well, and this amazes me. How did pseudo-scorpions get to be so particular about who they fuck?
What makes one pseudoscorpion clasp claws with another, gender-compatible, pseudoscorpion, and go “Eewwww, yuck, gross! I wouldn’t fuck you in a hundred-million years!”? I don’t understand that at all. I’m like, “Come on, it’s dark. We’re both pseudoscorpions, We’re both horny. Let’s do it!”
To get 27 species of pseudoscorpion, the female pseudo-scorpion, and you know it’s the female pseudoscorpion, has to say, “You’re not my type.” categorically, at least 26 out of 27 times.
That tells me that female pseudoscorpions strongly disagree with each other about what they find attractive in a male pseudoscorpion.
Apparently, these strong preferences have almost no effect on the species’ ability to survive, since they all continue to thrive together, as they’ve done, through multiple extinction events, changes in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, and climatic shifts, for something like 400 million years.
Pseudoscorpions can be counted as some of the earliest known terrestrial animals on Planet Earth and their descendants have changed very little in the ensuing eons.
Probably only a female pseudoscorpion or a knowledgeable aracnologist would recognize the difference between a 400 million year old fossilized pseudoscorpion and a modern living specimen. To the rest of us, they’re just another bug.
What could a pseudoscorpion possibly be so picky about?
It’s not like one of them has a nicer pad, or takes them to better restaurants. They all live in the same rat’s nest, and they all eat the same mites and parasites. They’ve lived together, side by side, for eons, and endured many global changes, but they’ve never learned to find each other any more attractive, so each species continues to pursue it’s own aesthetic, it’s own habits and it’s own proclivities, and each individual pseudoscorpion selectively chooses from individuals of the same species, even if that means a pseudoscorpion has to endure 27 categorical rejections, just to get one real rejection.
That’s got to be rough on those little guys, who already kind of look like ticks, which can’t help their self-esteem any. You might even say that pseudoscorpions kind of look like ticks who work out too much to compensate for how little they are.
By being so particular, they practically guarantee themselves a lifetime of loneliness and I suppose that’s why, when you see a pseudoscorpion, say in the bathroom, behind the toilet tank, they are usually alone. If you do see a pseudoscorpion, however, take a close look, because they are really quite cute, and you should tell them so, because I’m sure they don’t hear it enough.
The Southern Humboldt Health Care District wants to know what I think of their plans for our local hospital. They sent me a survey to fill out, and when I didn’t respond, they sent another, reminding me that I had not responded to their previous inquiry. I haven’t responded to that one either. I suspect they want to know how I voted in the last election, and how I’m inclined to vote in this one, so they can decide whether to cut me out of the district or not. Last year Blocksburg voters voted more than 2 to 1 against the hospital tax. This year, Blocksburg voters, and land-owners, have been excised from the health-care district, and the potential tax.
Personally, just thinking about health-care feels like stepping into the La Brea Tar Pits. I’d rather not think about it at all, until, God forbid, someday I get stuck in it, after which I expect to struggle futilely, until death becomes my only escape. I don’t want to think about health-care; I want to know how to avoid the health-care system entirely because I know I’m fucked if I ever need it.
That’s how it is for most people around here. We can’t afford health-care, because the bills quickly become even more debilitating than the disease. Health-care in America is a dark, sticky pit full of twisted logic, untenable compromises, and vicious, heartless greed, dusted with a thin layer of boring-as-fuck. I can’t even pay attention to the subject of health-care, let alone afford it, and I am disinclined to throw any more of my money into that pit. Apparently, a lot of people around here feel the same way, and with good reason, I think.
First, we should never forget that the health-care system in the US was not designed to promote health, or even to treat disease. Our health-care system was designed to make money. Our health-care system has been so successful in this regard, that it has blossomed into a central pillar of our economy. Unfortunately, the success of our health-care system lies in it’s coercive ability to extract absurdly high fees from people, at the very moment when they are most vulnerable.
Because of this, our current health-care system has become both a major source of wealth and a major source of poverty here in the United States. The system creates wealth for health-care providers, hospital administrators, insurance companies and their share-holders, while it creates poverty for the unfortunate people who chose any other career path, but find themselves in need of medical services.
As health-care professionals become more enriched by this system, they find that they tire quickly of the time they must spend with poor sick people, and they start looking for ways to insulate themselves from us. They often move to more affluent neighborhoods, where they can charge even more for their services. Eventually, that leads to the extreme situation that we face here in SoHum. We have a building that looks like a hospital, but the only doctor there probably just flew in for his shift at the ER, and he has no intention of providing services to anyone, except to offer directions to the nearest real hospital, in Fortuna, where our closest local doctors actually live.
We can’t even convince a hospital administrator to live here, no matter how much we pay them. When Harry Jasper worked here, he was probably the highest paid man in SoHum who didn’t carry a gun, but we had to pay him an extra $30,000 a year, as a housing allowance, so that his family could live in a nicer community, and his kids would not have to associate with ours. No wonder it didn’t last.
Without a doctor, a hospital is just an expensive building full of expensive equipment and overpaid people with nothing to do. Even with a doctor, that’s pretty much what we have here in Garberville, because most people who live here already know that all they will do for you in Garberville is send you to Fortuna, and stick you with a fat bill.
If you live in Garberville, and you have a heart-attack, there’s a chance they could save your life at Jerald Phelps Hospital, because they have a defibrillator and know how to use it. For almost anyone else, you might as well forget about our local hospital because all you are likely to get from them is a fat bill on your way to another fat bill, so the hospital offers very little value, as a health-care provider, to the people here in SoHum.
On the other hand, the illusion of a hospital has an important role in propping-up property values. Prospective real-estate buyers notice signs pointing to a hospital, and the building itself. These features make many prospective buyers feel more secure about purchasing land in such a remote place. Few of them actually check to see if the hospital has a real doctor. Because of this, our mostly useless hospital mostly benefits real-estate agents looking to pad their commissions, and land-owners looking to sell-out. Fuck them!
The sooner our real-estate bloodsuckers move on to greener pastures, the better, and sell-out dope yuppies will take whatever they can get for their land now that the black market gravy train has left the station. For the rest of us, I think we should work on becoming the kind of community where a good doctor might want to live, because unless we can convince a good doctor to move here and open a practice, we might as well get used to driving to Fortuna to see one.
We aren’t going to attract a good doctor by waving our black market profits at them, even if we still had them to wave, and we aren’t going to get a good doctor by voting for a new tax. The only way we are going to get a good doctor in SoHum is by being better neighbors. If we can’t do that, we might as well save our money.