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Peyton+Manning+Oakland+Raiders+v+Denver+Broncos+D7_5AHwRZZSl

Dear Editor:

I am no proctologist, I only play one on the internets, but my casual observance of the general health of this old, stiff town that we call Aspen is that we need a major shot of B18 in our collective glute.

The gears that make this place fun have gotten rusty over time. Our very identity has shifted generationally, from bustling silver town to Andy Griffith’s Rocky Mountain Mayberry doppelganger, to burgeoning post-war ski dream, to Fat City — the last bastion of hippy ideals, to Bogata North, to our current status as POG Run (Playground Of the Elite,) until time and attrition has zapped us of our collective zeitgeist – FUN!

So, like any good Aspenite (who has never actually LIVED in Aspen, mind you,) I have an idea…a cure for the common suck.

The Aspen City Council should officially rename Main Street into Manning Street.

Think about it!

Peyton Bleeping Manning (PFM) arrived in Colorado as a battered, but determined man of honor, a proven leader who could Get Shit Done at the exact time that we needed a winner to look up to as we meekly emerged from the Great Recession, hanging our sporting hopes and dreams on the noodle arm and cloud-based head of Tim Tebow.

He immediately went to work, whipped our asses into shape, and transformed our Broncos from a curiously talented, poorly-led laughingstock into a dominant force that is now on the verge of our first Super Bowl championship since most of us still had hair. He has become the very face of Colorado. He is our state symbol. The Rare Bird.

Furthermore, I would posit that we hardy Aspenites identify with #18 as well as any place in this great state. I leave you with the following points to consider:

  1. We, the people, identify with our Sheriff here as positively as any community I’ve ever seen. He is our bell cow. Our eyes. Our ears. Our back. Our gun. And, as it would turn out, Peyton Manning, the great Hall of Fame Bronco quarterback, has earned that very nickname in his time here. PFM is The Sherriff of Colorado.

    2. If any town has an issue with hapless helmet head, it is Aspen: Ever been to après and seen the coiffure catastrophe post-powder day? (Why did I even ask that question?) When Peyton flashes that Big Red Forehead, it is like our personal Bat Sign has been shot up from Denver to bounce off of the Maroon Bells and shine back off of the face of Red Mountain. It is something that we can all rally behind and identify with.

  2. Unfortunately, like our pro-fused (but never confused) hero, if any town in Colorado has a problem with a stiff neck, Aspen is it! *This town boasts less spinal flexibility per capita than anywhere in the universe.
  3. Nobody who lives here has any idea what the streets are named. Not only will this move garner Aspen some good press, on the practical side, changing the actual pronunciation of Main Street to Manning Street only requires a slight verbal tick, an Elvisian drawl that most citizens here take on after 9pm out of circumstance anyways. Say it with me…Main Street. Manning Street. Am I right?
  4. Above all, we MUST keep it weird, here, folks. Always. As the soul sisters and brothers who look after the livability and reputation of the world’s greatest ski town, this is our prime directive, our collective task, and our duty.

I hereby ask the good citizens of the Aspen City Council to take this request into official consideration. After the Orange Crush puts the clamps on that brutal ox Cam Newguy and his upstart Panthers, and PFM leaves his all-time great career and any hope of ever feeling his extremities on the field by leading the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco/somewhere north of Fresno, we can all celebrate with a Super Bowl championship parade right down Manning Street, USA.

GO BRONCOS!

Corby Anderson

Emma

(*The preceding orthopedic “statistic” likely has no factual merit.)

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The Phantom

Stalking the Phantom: Elk hunting in the West Elks

By Corby Anderson

(*This story was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Edible Aspen magazine)

There is nothing in the world like silently moving through pitch-black wilderness on opening day of elk season in the Rocky Mountains.

The first mile in is a willful test of mind over body as your back, legs and lungs protest against their toil. If you packed right, you will easily haul 25 or more pounds of water and survival gear in a pack that is cinched snugly to your hips. Your brain, tired as it may normally be at the 5 am hour, reels with adrenaline as you get further away from your truck, and the comforts of civilization.

But calm your mind you must, for The Phantom is out there watching, waiting for the slightest aberration in its forested view before melting away, vanishing outright. As centuries of successful elk hunters have found, only the mindful can have this dance.

The first hill is the hardest. Here, on these first few climbs, all of those summer bike rides, trail runs and CrossFit “WOD’s” will pay off. We elk hunters eat miles like trail mix, often post-holing in knee deep snow or bush whacking through dense underbrush. When we get tired, we chug some water, crank down on the pack straps, and log some more. Later, if the Great Spirit blesses us with an elk, we will retrace our steps over these mountains with a hundred pounds of meat strapped to our backs. It is the nature of the beast. At some point in the course of a long week of hunting, we all ask ourselves why we are here at this ungodly hour, stalking phantoms through the snow.

The answer becomes crystal clear when pulling a packet labeled “Tenderloin, Bull 13” from the nice, neat rows of white paper packages in your old Frigidaire freezer. There is no tastier, healthier protein than elk. Despite (or because of?) the hard work, there’s no more satisfying way to spend a week than hunting in the high country. Few complain. Those who do generally eat fast food all winter.

You climb on—the plan is to be stationed somewhere on a mountainside overlooking one of the many meadows, or “parks” right at daybreak. The Phantom is a day sleeper. At night, the herd browses the meadows for the last tall grass before the snow piles high. When the western sky harkens a new day, the herd will move from the open meadows to the relative safety of deep green pine forest cover.

But on this day, the plan has changed before the sun even had a chance to yawn. Ullr, the Norse god of winter has blessed you with almost a foot of fresh snow overnight. The old foot and hoof traffic have been covered up. Even in the featureless murk of the pre-dawn forest, fresh tracks are visible. Close inspection of the scene reveals a shiny black pile of elk dung. If the nuggets squish, it’s recent. If it is warm, lock and load.

It’s warm.

So begins the dance. The Phantom is on this mountain.

You are well off the established trail now, following several tracks uphill through mixed aspen and pine. The sun is at your back, its rays splashing haphazardly in vertical sheaths that kiss the white aspen bark. A low blanket of haze hovers over the snowy forest floor.

The forest is NOT a quiet place. With the right ears, the wilderness can hold an almost deafening cacophony of sounds. Woodpeckers hammer their beaks into solid wood. Crows swoop and caw. Trees sway to and fro in the breeze, their branches creak and howl like rocking chairs on an old cabin porch. Squirrels screech their warnings as you traverse their neighborhood. “Busted,” you whisper to yourself after every startling rodent war-whoop.

Your mantra has taken over your thoughts. “FEEL,” you say to yourself with every tenth step. It is a trick a mountain climbing friend taught you way back when. FEEL. There in the middle of the fresh tracks is a cantaloupe colored hole in the snow. You reach down into the snow and smell. The urine is warm, the smell strong. You rub the scent on your coat to help mask your own. The native drums are strong in your head now.

BOOM BOOM BOOM boom. BOOM BOOM BOOM boom.

FEEL.

Breathe deeply. Smell the cold morning air. The musk of elk wafts in amongst the piney breeze. Your pace quickens. Instinctually, you walk on the balls of your booted feet, avoiding the alarming snap of a broken branch underfoot. Luckily, the new snow is soft enough to walk quickly but quietly.

Cresting the hill, you notice a few strangely colored boulders lying in the open slope. Like any forest animal, your instinct is to stop and study the strange. The rock nearest you is an umber color, almost orange, and shines in the light. Slightly further away are a cluster of brownish stones. Stock still, you watch for a few seconds, minutes, or is it eons? The drums in your head march on, louder now.

The rock stands up.

Before you know it, you have leveled your rifle at The Phantom that stands majestically before you. Though you won’t remember doing so later, you have already flipped open the plastic covers to your scope, racked a 180 grain, .308 inch Springfield bullet into your elk rifle, and flipped off your safety.

The Phantom snorts the air, smelling for the direction of the danger that it instinctually feels. You count the tines on one side of its fearsome rack. One, two, three, four, five, SIX! It stands still, quartering away from your position. It’s muscles tense and ripple under pelt. But it does not see you, yet. Silently, you wait, watching through the crosshairs of your scope. Calm. Be calm, you tell yourself. Your heart races, the drums in your brain beat on.

BOOM BOOM BOOM boom.

The Phantom turns slightly, showing you its right shoulder. Its vitals come into view.

BOOM BOOM BOOM boom. FEEL.

BOOM.

*Corby Anderson is a writer, videographer, teacher and musician who works out of the A-frame loft of an old cabin in Emma, Colorado. His short stories, essays, poetry, and assorted works can be enjoyed at corbyanderson.wordpress.com. His first novel, Washing Out, is nearly complete and will be available in the winter of 13-14.

Making the sausage sidebar:

Step 1: Beg, borrow, buy or buy a commercial grade meat grinder. Your neighbor with the big muddy truck has one, and will gladly trade its use for some fresh elk or venison bratwurst.

Step 2: Pick up some sausage casings. Epicurious in El Jebel usually has them. Soak for two hours (the casings and yourself, if either of you are just coming in from the woods) and wash away the brine that the casings are packed in when you get home. While you are out, stop by your local grocer and scoop up several pounds of good ol’ pork fat. If your local butcher is fresh out, ground pork will do. Mix this with the naturally lean elk or venison to keep your homemade brats moistened when cooked. A good rule of thumb for the mixture is 60/40 meat-to-fat ratio.

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground elk or venison

2 lbs pork fat or ground pork

1 large onion, minced

½ teaspoon sugar

2 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoons caraway seed

½ teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup milk

Making the sausage: Pour yourself a tall, refreshing beverage and turn on the Broncos game. (Due to the hands-on nature of the brat-making process, this will be the last time you touch the remote until the brats are in the freezer.) Mix all of your ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. (This might be a good time to enlist a loved on as an assistant.) Scoop the mixed meat into the grinder. Place the casing over the stuffing tube and hold fast. Turn the grinder on. If the casing fills with air, squeeze it out. Fill the casing with the ground meat mix and tie it off at the end. Fill with mix until approximately bratwurst-length, then gently pinch and twist four or five times, and start on the next link. Let the sausage links coil as you fill. When done, throw a few links on the grill and freeze the rest in plastic wrap and butcher paper.

*Be sure to give a pack or two of bratwurst to your hunting buddies who helped you haul 300 pounds of delicious meat out of the backcountry!

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Editors Note: This letter was initially sent to the two local papers here in the Aspen area, though neither paper chose to publish. The issue in question is whether our small community should or should not vote to approve the taxes to fund a killer new rec center, which I believe is sorely needed in our “mid-valley” area. 

Don’t Believe the Greedy: Working Class Residents of the Mid-Valley Need the Crown Mountain Recreation Center

Bro’s and dudettes,
It is with fierce urgencyness that I write to the editors of this steamed journalistic endeavor in high hopes that my personal evacuations can be spiked into the public record.

Rockers, I urge you all to get your reps in like big dogs and vote often to pass Measurables 4C and 4D and let the mid-valley finally have the sweat factory it needs and deserves. It’s time to stop the bitching and start the lifting you Sally’s!

That wet, white stuff is falling again, and with it I find myself seeking an indoor place to push some iron, shoot some hoops, and make some waves. The prob is, to do so, we working-class mid-valleyerianites have to travel from here to Muscle Beach and back just to use the sweet facilities that our bro-munities have built for themselves. That’s a lot of time on the roads, bros!  We loc’s need the Crown Mountain Recreation Center to get our groove on here in our own burly neck of the woods without wasting all of that fuel and GTL time getting to the rack and back.

Call me kooky, but it seems to me that the greedy yup’s writing to the paper to complain about having to pay $2000 per year extra on their property taxes either made that number up, did the math wrong (what with the published $60 per year per $100,000 of appraised home value proposed as funding for the killer new gym) or, if I did their math right, have houses worth millions and maybe not oughta complain about not being able to pay for their kids’ schoolitation. Like, maybe have the kid get a job at the Rec, yo? That should help get their college fund AND their bod’s pumped up!

We regular Joe Old Snowmastadons, Basaltines, Emmaites, and El Jebelinarians have suffered enough from the migratory greed that has flowed DV ever since The Crippler got 86’ed. Give us and our kids a spot and let’s pass these Measurements and build this prime slice of radness so that we can reach our maxes here at home in the MV!

Sensationally,

C. Madison Anderson

Emma, CO

 

  

“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.” – Thomas Jefferson

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I’ve never used Down Canyon as a place to simply link to other content, but today I am making an exception. 

My buddies Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers have recorded a GREAT GREAT rock song, and I want to share it with you. 

“It’s A Little Too Late to Die Young” – now streaming for free at Relix. It’ll go live for download on Jan. 15. Check it out!

http://www.relix.com/news/2013/01/14/premiere-nicki-bluhm-and-the-gramblers-little-too-late

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July 11, 2012
Metallica, Inc.

Dear James, Kirk, Lars, Rob, and the rest of the Metallica crew and management:

Hi. I see on your Facebook page that more than 26 million people are Metallica “likers”, which is an astounding number, and an indication that you must get hundreds, if not thousands of letters a week. I hope that this one makes it.

Many, many huge congratulations to you all for sticking with your dreams and making shit happen. Metallica is one of, if not THE best rock and roll bands in the history of music. And that, my friends, is an amazing thing when you put it into historical context based on where we all came from.

Note that I did say we. Like yourselves, I grew up California, in my case in the Bay Area. When I was 14 years old, my brother Ody, who was three years older, started telling me about this band called Metallica that was playing around Oakland and The City. Every chance he could, he would go see you guys play. I still remember the ticket stubs that stuck out of the border of the mirror on his desk like paper spokes. Metallica, Metallica, Spastic Children, Metallica, Primus, Slayer, Grateful Dead (!) Metallica….so on.

He knew about you cats because he happened to be a DJ at the only heavy metal radio station in the Bay Area (that we knew of), 90.5 KVHS FM out of Concord – actually, out of Clayton Valley High, to be geographically factual.

You see, KVHS was a high school and college radio program at a particularly metalheaded high school right smack dab in the middle of, or perhaps right there on the screaming, bleeding, serrated blade tip of the Metal Revolution of the mid-80’s.. Mark Osegueda (singer/band leader for Death Angel) was Ody’s CLASS PRESIDENT fer chrissakes! He was also our next door neighbor. It was undoubtedly a cool time and place to grow up, and your music was one of our major guides and sources of inspiration (and good/bad hearted debauchery!)

I had the good fortune of following my brother into the radio program at KVHS when I was a sophomore at CVHS. By then, Metallica was a staple. You were actually FOUGHT over since DJ’s could, by rule, only play the same band every other show. I personally watched a fist fight occur outside of our studios between a DJ who “slipped” one of your songs in as he was about to get off the air and a DJ who had based his whole show around the theme of Fire and was going to lead off with Fight Fire with Fire.

When I joined KVHS, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be in radio – to be a broadcaster, and they gave me that avenue, that opportunity: To help people rock to their fullest. Thankfully, I was surrounded with a whole bunch of likeminded folks there. EVERYONE at KVHS wanted the same. And for years, KVHS trained countless professionals how to get into and succeed in the business. Our alumni includes actors, DJ’s, station managers, TV personalities, musicians, sound men and women, and hundreds of other media professionals.

I am writing to let you all know that KVHS is being killed off by unrighteous bureaucrats of the Mount Diablo Unified School District. Clayton Valley High School, where KVHS has been located since its inception, has turned into a charter school, and subsequently both the support and funding for the program was pulled and all options for moving the station to another school were dashed – called “too expensive.”

I do not believe that it is presumptuous , nor is it an exaggeration to say that in some ways, the success of Metallica as a band was spurred on by the wholehearted support of both KVHS and its personnel as they/we moved into the professional ranks. We loved and still love your band and what you stand for.

I wonder if the band might care to comment, intervene, or otherwise remark upon this development in some way? Things are that dire. There is talk of selling off the frequency. The Wilson’s, who have administered the program for many years, have already been given their walking papers. In no way do I intend to guilt you all or anything of that nature – but rather to bring to your awareness a situation that I think, and many of my colleagues think, is just a G$^#%$d shame. And, importantly – something that should absolutely be avoided and corrected if at all possible.

I, and I am sure all of my colleagues, wish Metallica many years of continued success. You are all inspirations for every single rocker who ever lived. Keep shredding! Long live Metallica, and long live, even if in our memories, The Rock, 90.5 KVHS FM in Concord, California.

If I can help with any of your questions and concerns, please feel free to have anyone in the Metallica organization contact me.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this letter and to consider the request.

Corby Anderson

Director of Sales and Marketing

RadioCMC

Colorado Mountain College

1402 Blake Street

Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

 

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Joel Belmont, at the bellows during a Labia Project photoshoot in San Francisco.

*This previously unpublished story was commissioned as the prologue to a book of photography by my friend and incredible photographer, Joel Belmont. As the subject matter is pretty, er, different, Joel thought that I would be the perfect observational writer to put his project into perspective. Joel’s book, The Labia Project, is an awareness-raiser in a concerted effort to put an end to a terrible practice known as Female Genital Mutilation. He hopes to publish it sometime this year.

 

Prologue

On a remarkably clear, beautiful summer day in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, boisterous crowds of social activists march and carry on in an impressive show of support for their common cause. It is a day for both emotional protest and wild celebration. The prior for the ongoing persecution that has united these people and sparked a movement, and the latter for the improvements to the situation that have finally been made after years of bitter struggle.

Above the teeming throngs, three floors up in a modest suite of the Opal Hotel, a social movement of equal importance but with comparatively miniscule exposure quietly advances one revealing flash at a time.

The white-hot flare comes from the dual strobes set to fire off simultaneously when fine-art photographer Joel Belmont finds his critical focus. The image is up close, upside down and backwards within the viewfinder of his large format camera. Under the black hood that is thrown over Belmont’s head, he finds his subject poised in gynecological repose, her back resting on a pile of pillows at the edge of the bed.

She is a model from neighboring Alameda. Her name is Gracie, a name that fits in a variety of ways. She is calm and serene, and she was named after the late, great Gracie Burns, George’s wife. She is not nervous. She trusts the photographer and is proud to be a part of his project.

It is early in the afternoon, and as the marchers pound their drums and make their statements far below on the streets of San Francisco, Joel works expeditiously at the bellows of his large-format, Wisner 4 x 5 view camera. Crafted from wood, brass, leather and glass, extraordinary sharpness and detail is achieved by the large size of the negative, combined with the tack sharp focus from the camera’s European-made lens.

Belmont’s camera looks old timey, but is in fact rather new, which is sort of the opposite that could be said about himself. Joel’s hair is not quite red, nor blonde, but is a mixture  of both in Brillo form, as is his goatee and disconnected mustache. He is slight of build but not unathletic, and works in regular old blue jeans (not the pre-stained kind) and a blue-black t-shirt with no chest pocket. He exudes a pragmatic artistic presence that at times belies his youthful appearance. In his thirties, he is blessed with the healthy sheen of someone ten or more years his youth, which may be in part due to his love of the outdoors lifestyle that his Colorado home affords, and which he readily imbibes.  His manner is easy going, on point, and very professional, which is necessary in nude fine art photography, but which is also Joel’s nature. He is not a cocky rock star photographer, is not in the least bit demanding or too self-assured, and his subjects consciously appreciate these qualities.

Other than Joel and Gracie, there are five models present, along with Joel’s wife Lili. While Joel and Gracie shoot their images, a fifteen-minute long process, the five wait across the oblong hotel room in an area that has been cleared to make an informal reception area. They sip bottled water and chat amicably, as women do. They pass around a clipboard with model releases to read and comment on. The conversation is tangential, and ranges from subjects as different as one’s experience running with the bulls in Pamplona, to a unique sculpture that one of the women is making for the upcoming Burning Man festival, to the value of various modeling social networks, and finally, to the subject at hand – labia, and specifically how they might, through their modeling of their own healthy labia, help to raise awareness of the human rights issue known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is the overarching reason for Belmont’s first book.

Rox is an artist, originally from Italy, where issues of human sexuality are often not as taboo as they are in America, where the issue of FGM is hardly known. “That is where I first read about this mutilating. It is a horrible thing to think of. These young women are stripped of their ability to have pleasure, or even children, in some cases.” A woman named Allison, who is a midwife-in-training, chimes in. “I found out about it (FGM) years ago through my studies. It is so infuriating. I feel helpless in a way. That is why I am here, posing.” The waiting models nod in agreement. They all hope that maybe someone involved with the practice of FGM will see this book, view these photographs in their stunning detail and elegance, and better understand just how beautiful and integral natural labia are. And, they hope, then that same person will read the accompanying stories about the practice, from women whom it has been forced upon, and change their perspective about this arcane and inhumane ritual. “It only takes one village doing the right thing to change the wrong thinking of an entire continent,” one of the models says in the midst of an energetic and frank discussion.

The bulbs make a loud pop, and the flashing lights of Belmont’s latest captured image punctuates the thought. It was the last of those he will take of Gracie, and he thanks her kindly as she fills out her release. The day started early, with models arriving in a steady stream right at 9 am. Since he uses film, there are required breaks in which Belmont changes and loads the film in a coat closet, his temporary dark room. When he emerges, Lili hands her husband a turkey sandwich bought at a deli down the street to help fuel him in the midst of a hectic shooting schedule, which he wolfs down in large chomps as he explains the history of his latest project.

Reading the Christian Science Monitor some time ago, Joel found an article written about the cultural and human-rights challenges with FGM, which led him to extensively research the subject. The idea that a culture would forcibly mutilate their youth as common practice, struck a deep, upsetting chord within his worldview.  His perspective is that all people—especially women and young children—should be valued, and treated with physical and emotional care.

 

Joel has made a successful career out of photographing the human form in all of its natural sanctity, and has done so with a pervading sense of respect and appreciation for the women that have posed for him. His joy for life and the human form comes across throughout his works, which he meticulously creates in a way that desexualizes nudity though careful posing of his subjects and the usage of black and white film.

“I try to make images that are not about a nude body, or sensuality, but about ideas. I also work to depersonalize the models in the images, so that others can relate more directly to these ideas. The Labia Project, to me, requires the Nth degree of depersonalizing and desexualizing the human form” he says as he poses the next model. In practice, Belmont accomplishes this by first framing out, and then digitally cropping out everything but the labia that he is photographing. He does so using small strips of black “gaffers tape”, common in film production, which the models apply as a frame around their labia minora. Belmont then makes sure there are no suggestive elements in the image, and works with lighting to find the most artistic angle to shoot from. Since it is film that he is shooting, there are no saved versions to work from as a form of error correction – he shoots in the old way, trusting his settings. He snaps four to twelve shots per model, and moves on.

Also important to Belmont is a second motivation for this series of photographs. With this book, he hopes to help women who have low self-esteem and a negative body image come to terms with their uniqueness and beauty. “Labia are the portal for the majority of human life, yet many people, including women, often won’t talk about this beautiful and integral part of a woman’s body. Why? Moralists long ago made the subject taboo, and the pornography industry has exploited and made it dirty, but I see it as just another unique part of the human body. Though it’s often considered solely sexual, of itself a woman’s labia is quite elegant in line and form” he adds, pointing out earlier artistic efforts along these lines, such as Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of flowers.

This aspect of the project is what most intrigued Rox, the model. “I used to be embarrassed by my labia. They are pretty big, and I had no idea what I was supposed to look like – what was normal,” she says, explaining how she believes that if women are able to see other women’s labia in a desexualized light, that they will likely feel much better about their own. A cheerful model named Alice agrees. “My sister used to think that she was ugly and that nobody would ever want to have sex with her. It was a hangup that I am not sure she ever got over,” she says.

“Katherine”, who prefers to remain anonymous, is originally from Latvia, and is by trade a scientist, working in the field of toxins. The lab where she works is a sterile environment that is not encouraging of artistic thinking. To satisfy her creative instincts, she models occasionally. She found Joel’s images to be striking, and volunteered to pose for The Labia Project based on the photographer’s reputation passed along by other models that she knows. She is long and lean, and possesses an angular face and short blond hair similar to that of the late Princess Diana. When she sits, her limbs sprawl out in spindly fashion, her back barely touching the couch that she sits on. She is wrapped in a loose fitting red summer dress with black hoops for straps and looks very much like a very tall, elegant bird. Asked if she is worried at all about being photographed in such an up close, personal manner, she laughs. “No, I am not nervous.” she says, and then stops to think for a moment. “Society is too focused on perfection, but there is no perfect shape or form. We are all so different. Some people are deeply shameful of nudity. If this helps change one persons perception, then it will be a success,” she adds.

The room goes briefly nuclear again. The Wisner’s shutter swings open and then is clamped down at once. A final image is gathered, and both subject and artist share a quiet laugh about something. After all of the paperwork is filled out and they have chosen whether to receive a gallery print or a signed book as compensation, the models all give one another hugs, gather their belongings, and scatter out into the still boisterous parade below. Other than the noise from outside, the room is still for the first time all day. Joel sits on the edge of the bed and sips a cold cup of water. This is how art gets made. Some movements have parades and vibrant parties which intend to unite society in protest of inequality and injustice, such as the one that blares on below this temporary studio of room #221 of the Opal Hotel. Others gather steam quietly, one frame at a time.

Joel Belmont’s artwork stands on the shoulders of the masters and reaches ever higher, striving to evoke thought and capture beauty all at once. In this book, he takes on a taboo subject with originality and purpose of mission. The photographer who worked two years to make this book happen, and the models who contributed to The Labia Project do so with hope that it will help uplift critical thought, and that it will challenge those who needlessly mutilate this necessary and beautiful part of human life to turn away from injustice, and strive towards more humane cultural practices.

Corbett M. Anderson

Marina, CA

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Mid-April, and finally snowing like the almanac says that it should be. It’s snowing so much that my satellite dish has gone haywire with the weight of the snow and the strange density in the atmosphere. It now beams me only old Star Trek episodes, on every channel. It’s been this way all night. I stayed up to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating, which is ironic in that now I am close to it due to prolonged sleep deprivation.

It is snowing like mad on the Last Day of Ski Season. The Aspen Skiing Company pushed up their closing days a full week due to a terrible dearth of that one substance required to actually slide down a mountain in a controlled fall.

The sky is pregnant, spitting heavy snow like a heavenly spitball fight. And here I am, having traded my old, battered Salomon skis to a bug-eyed Australian real estate scion for his ticket to a Tony Robbins conference and enough cash to buy gas enough to get there. Coming home will be another story. But that bit of desperation can wait: I get the feeling that arriving destitute and desperate for The Shove is the only way to visit the lair of a guru.

Nothing left to do now but consume inordinate amounts of black coffee, mute the intergalactic yammering that pipes in from the den, and sit down to Face the Music. It’s tax time. Time to figure out how to beat the piper.

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