The Pipeline

Want to help two cool and creative women make a short film about Alaska, oil addiction, native culture, and the secrets of family? Course you do, and so do I.

The film is called “The Pipeline” and it is being written and produced by Caitlin Kazepis and Alexis Iacono. I met Alexis at Sundance 2013, when we were launching Blackfish, and was impressed by her energy and the wide range of projects she was engaged in, from horror to World Of Warcraft. She and Kazepis go way back and decided to collaborate on a film project. Voila. The Pipeline (that is their Kickstarter trailer above).

I always love it when anyone just sets out a goal and goes for it. And Kazepis and Iacono have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the funding they need to turn their script into a film. They are trying to raise $25,000, and with less than a week to go they need to raise about another $10,000.

How about helping them get there? Film-making needs more women producing and creating, and supporting a project like this is one way to help make that happen. Every donation, no matter the amount, will make a difference.

I’ve signed on to do what I can to help The Pipeline get made, and while there is a long way between a Kickstarter campaign and settling back into a screening room chair to see a finished film, I have no doubt that Kazepis and Iacono will get there, and produce something both interesting and special.

Good News On “Talk To Me”

Last night I got an e-mail informing me that “Talk To Me” had been selected for the 2013 edition of Best American Science And Nature Writing. That’s always a welcome e-mail, especially on a slow Sunday evening.

This year’s volume is being edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a doctor and the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about cancer, The Emperor Of All Maladies. I’m not sure how or why an article about trying to communicate with dolphins caught his attention. But I’m glad it did because “Talk To Me” was a story that I thoroughly enjoyed reporting and writing.

More important, being published again will hopefully result in wider awareness regarding the intelligence and sociability of dolphins, as well as the work of the Wild Dolphin Project.

The Killer In The Pool made it into the 2011 edition of Best American Science And Nature Writing, and my story about cave diver Dave Shaw was featured in the 2006 edition of Best American Sports Writing. So I guess you could say I am a big fan of the entire “Best American” series.

Program Update: Facebook Page Action

In the ever-shifting world of social media platforms I realize that I am increasingly posting and sharing links, news, and short commentary on my Facebook page instead of here.  It’s quicker, easier, and more “social.” Thinking it through, I realize that makes sense.

So in terms of daily content and energy, the Facebook page will be where the action is, and if you are interested in daily news, links, and updates, I urge you to “like” my Facebook page and follow via your Facebook news feed. Or, if you prefer to follow via an RSS reader, just click on this RSS link. Or copy this URL into your favorite RSS Reader:

If you are not on Facebook, apologies (and I’d urge you to try it–it is incredibly useful and will connect you with many worlds).

I will still post here on WordPress, but I will use WordPress for longer, reported, posts and analysis.

As always, thanks and stay tuned…

Reporting Break

Off on a reporting trip until early next week, so limited (if any) posting.

Magazine: Outside

Location: Niagara Falls, Canada

Topic: A man and a walrus called Smooshi.

Should be interesting.

In the meantime, here’s a haunting and thought-provoking song that I have been giving heavy playtime. Anyone have any suggestions to match it?

#MuckReads = #MustReads

Can’t believe I just discovered this: ProPublica has been curating the best of watchdog journalism, via the Twitter hashtag #MuckReads.

This is the kind of journalism I love to read. It’s not good for your blood pressure, or for your view of humanity. But it’s the kind of journalism that’s essential in mobilizing people to tear down the status quo, reinvent, and rebuild.

The best #MuckReads of this week include stories about the poisonous legacy of factories, the degree to which the derivatives industry is putting a fierce smackdown on regulators, and (yes!) snow plow corruption in Montreal.

Time to get deep into the muck and start spreading it around.

Fields Of Friendly Fire

Forget the Oscar overload, and whether Jennifer Lopez’s dress covered all the right parts of Jennifer Lopez. If you are going to read one story today, you should make it this one: the story of a father who refused to let the US Army whitewash the friendly fire death of his son.

I had a number of very powerful reactions to the story, but I will let you read it fresh, with no preconceptions.

Here’s how it starts (in case you need any further inducement to give it a read):

Dave Sharrett Sr. still sees his son in his dreams.

In one, the son is home on leave from Iraq, a warrior, a man. His boots are caked in mud. His fatigues are dirty. “And as we talk,” Sharrett says, “I realize I have to tell him that I know how he is going to die.”

Read on….

Henry Miller On Writing

Every writer has his or her own formula for getting the work done, and making writing a profession that sustains.

So I am always interested in what writers have to say about how they go about it.

Here is an excellent set of “Commandments” from Henry Miller, who wrote a lot and wrote well (and appeared to have quite a bit of fun while doing it):

Work on one thing at a time until finished.

Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”

Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.

Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!

When you can’t create you can work.

Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.

Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.

Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.

Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

The Art Of (Distaff) Travel Writing

Perhaps we will never again see the likes of Bruce Chatwin, H.W. Tilman, Rebecca West, and Fitzroy Maclean (whose Eastern Approaches is not well known, but one of the all-time greats). But this looks pretty good: The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011.

Here’s a taste from a piece about running whitewater in Costa Rica, from Bridget Crocker, a copy writer for Patagonia (full excerpt is here):

Demin BW Portrait Bridget
[Author and river guide, Bridget Crocker. Photo by Tony Demin.]

“This upper section is called ‘The Labyrinth,’” Roland says, cinching down his frayed lifejacket. “It’s been run maybe three or four times before today. I’ve seen it a couple times and I’d say it’s pretty solid Class V. Lots of steep drops through tight chutes. There are a few slots we have to make—it’s not an option to miss them. I think I can remember them all, but we’ll have to scout as we go. There’s no way out of the gorge once we start.”

Normally I would be anxious about taking a flaccid shredder down a little-run Class V boulder garden without the safety of other boaters along or even an evacuation route. Plus, Roland forgot his helmet and we have no throw bag. Oddly, I couldn’t care less. I feel no hint of the usual Class V jitters or concern for our lack of preparedness. It occurs to me that I may be spared a trip to Cathedral Point, as our little daytrip down the Labyrinth is suicidal enough.

[Chorro Rapid at stomping flow. Upper Naranjo River, Costa Rica. Photo by David Findley]We climb into the tiny craft and immediately drop into a sizeable chute cascading onto exposed rocks. It’s continuous maneuvering from there; the maze is relentless and we’re teetering and spinning off boulders, fighting each other’s rhythm. We catch a small eddy and Roland, who’s sitting on the left side of the shredder, shouts out, “Do you guide from the left or right?”

“Left,” I say.

“I guide from the right, let’s switch sides.”

[Keeping the flame alive – the late, great Costa Rican river legend, Roland Cervilla. Photo by Arturo Oropeza.]

We start to click after switching, powerfully stroking across current lines and straightening out for the drops. Paddling becomes like meditation; there’s only the hum of frenetic water and our focused concentration on the line.

We park on a rock cluster above the first big rapid, “Stacy’s Lament.” Roland explains that the last time he ran down the Labyrinth, he escorted some kayakers from Colorado who were insistent that Costa Rican Class V was really like Class IV in Colorado. After spending a good portion of the upper section upside down, the group became disheartened while scouting the first “real” rapid. One of the more intrepid Colorado paddlers probed it first, hitting the narrow, eight-foot drop on the far left side next to the gorge wall. Just below the drop, he inexplicably veered and smashed headlong into the curving monolith. He swam out of his kayak and was pushed by the funneling current into the collection of sieve rocks stacked against the right wall of the gorge. Submerged for some time against the rocks, he surfaced in a pool of blood minutes later, his face badly lacerated from the impact. That’s when Stacy, the least experienced of the group, began to cry uncontrollably, realizing that there was no way to portage our line around the rapid. There was only one way out: through the guts.

Read on….

Introducing Wetass Weekly

Image via Wikipedia

Every month, I read tons of of stuff about adventure and the outdoors. I watch lots of videos. And as a result I see a lot of pretty amazing content. But I also see plenty of terrible, eye-gouging, stuff. Not exactly cats-playing-with-a-ball-of-wool-type stuff, but plenty of material that is definitely a waste of time.

The good stuff I recommend in a sort of random way to my friends, and on Twitter. But I recently came across an interesting online service that makes it very easy to create and manage a newsletter. It’s called Letterly, and I want to use it to send out a weekly newsletter that will try to capture the best of the best in online content from the worlds of adventure and the outdoors.

The Wetass Weekly will aim to be a quick weekly guide to a small selection of great articles and videos about adventure, extreme sport, or the environment–content that will be well worth your time, and be laid out in a way that lets you click right to it. My goal is to every week send you something that will amaze or inspire you. Or simply make you laugh or slap your forehead in disbelief. And it will cost just $1.99 a month (subscribing is a painless snap, via the wonders of Amazon).

Ice climbing
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just created the inaugural Wetass Weekly, to give it a try, and it includes links to–among other recommendations–the best article you will ever read about mankind’s checkered efforts to control the waters of the mighty Mississippi (I know this because the author was placed on this earth to write about exactly this sort of topic), an inside look at danger and death in professional cycling, and a mesmerizing video about the devastating practice of shark finning. Plus, I tell you about the best documentary I’ve seen since Grizzly Man.

You can check it out by subscribing here. And don’t worry, if you don’t find anything I send you each week remotely interesting or worthwhile, unsubscribing just takes one click on the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of every newsletter.

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