Mullan, Idaho, made national news last week when a section of the Lucky Friday silver mine caved in, stranding a miner and member of the Mullan community, Larry Marek. While signs of Marek have yet to be found, community and mining company efforts still continue vigorously.
I ventured through the Silver Valley to Mullan yesterday not in search of hard-hitting news but to search for signs of hope.
Signs posted at Mullan city limits report a population of only 840, and like many small towns, the people here are private and self-reliant. While the town's mining history runs deep, that's not the only thing that makes the place special. Residents of Mullan, it seems, have invested their mining dollars in a community center, bowling alley, indoor swimming pool and gymnasium, and made it their own. It's a source of pride and a place for community.
Like most small towns (and big cities for that matter too), there are favorite bars, daily routines, sign of progress, and also signs of despair. Residents of Mullan seem to love their town. It's not a place where people end up but a place where many have chosen to be.
I tried to tread lightly with my camera this week. When people have something they cherish, the instinct to protect it is fierce. My heart truly goes out to the family of Mr. Marek and to the entire community of Mullan.
Situated just a quarter-mile off 1-90, which runs through the panhandle of North Idaho, Mullan sees its fair share of travelers passing through each year. While most keep going, a few stay.
A signature M stands watch from the hillside over Mullan.
The Coyote Cafe is famous for serving guests good food, and more than they can eat. Despite the Grinch picture hanging above the line, Head Chef Michael (a Gonzaga alum and transplant to Mullan) is anything but grouchy.
Talon Rupp Conners rides his bike through downtown Mullan. He and his mom, Melissa, moved here shortly after Talon's father passed away. Melissa, a social worker, says the community — with its pool, the playground and all the things they do for families — is really good for children.
Reasonable housing prices made it possible for Mike, a boilermaker from Colorado, to buy a fixer-upper on Finn Gulch just two years back. Mike spent most of his youth surfing throughout California, Baja Mexico, and Central America. He now calls Mullan his home.
With a graduate degree in social work, Jeff is a grant-writer who works from home. As a former boilermaker and somewhat eccentric jack-of-all-trades, he's traveled extensively throughout the world but says the natural environment and slow pace of life in Mullan make the town special.
Some describe Mullan as a town that takes care of itself. Its fire department is staffed exclusively by volunteers. It's also home to one of the best mine rescue teams in the nation, and community members travel yearly to participate in competitions.
The Outlaw Tavern is a popular local bar in Mullan that serves what's rumored to be Idaho's best burger.
Eric was born and raised in Mullan. He visits his family and friends there when he needs a break to get grounded. As a graduate of the University of Idaho, he worked four years in mining before moving to Missoula to play professional poker full-time, and while he has no desire to return to the mines, he says he'd rather work underground than live in Spokane.
Mullan may appear slow by day, but locals are quick to pick up the pace by gathering for happy hour at one of the town's three bars.
Originally from Maryland, Drew moved to Mullan four years ago and worked as a traveling phone book salesman. He recently took a job at the newly opened Silver Dollar Bar and is excited about working just three blocks from his home. He loves the mountains, the snow, and everything about life in a small town.
ABOUT WANDERLUST: This photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: [email protected]
The Washington state Senate concurred with the House today on a bill intended to clarify the state's 13-year-old medical marijuana law, by a 27-21 vote.
Though last week she threatened to not sign the bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she would "review the bill to determine any parts that can assist patients in need without putting state employees at risk."
Media outlets are reporting that she's said she'd veto sections of it, but not the bill in its entirety.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, was the primary co-sponsor of the bill.
In her own statement today, she said:
"This is a huge step forward in ensuring that qualifying patients have safe, consistent and reliable access to their medicine ... Currently, unless patients grow for themselves or obtain medical marijuana from a designated provider, the law doesn’t offer a legal pathway for patients to access their medicine. This bill creates a much needed regulatory framework so both patients and law enforcement have a bright line in knowing what is legal and what isn't."
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, voted for the bill, as did freshman Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley, voted against it.
Here's the governor's statement in whole:
“I realize the value that medical marijuana has for patients and support the voter-approved initiative. I also agree with the intent of the Legislature to clarify ambiguity surrounding search and arrest as well as concerns around dispensaries and access. We need to create a system that works.
I asked the Legislature to work with me on a bill that does not subject state workers to risk of criminal liability. I am disappointed that the bill as passed does not address those concerns while also meeting the needs of medical marijuana patients.
I will review the bill to determine any parts that can assist patients in need without putting state employees at risk. No state employee should have to break federal law in order to do their job.”
The folks at Disneynature have come up with their first solid offering that tells the stories of two cat families in Kenya: an aging mother lion and her daughter, and a lone cheetah trying to teach the ways of life to her five cubs. Cameras catch the action from every conceivable angle, and the film is wonderfully edited to keep the separate stories equally compelling. There’s humor and sadness and great danger. But the filmmakers keep the violence of nature completely bloodless, so the film works fine for all ages. (ES) Rated G | SHOWTIMES
BACK TO THE GARDEN
The hippies were right about some stuff. Not all things, but some things. Filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson stumbled on a group of hippies in the backcountry of Eastern Washington in 1988 and decided to film them, asking about their eco-friendly, flower child lifestyles (which was totally not cool to do back in 1988). Twenty years later, he found his subjects again and asked how their lives had changed. Combining the footage from 1988 and present day, Tomlinson has created a documentary that is impressively real and gives an honest glimpse into the struggles and merits of a sustainable lifestyle and hippie culture. (TH) Magic Lantern only. Not rated | SHOWTIMES
A documentary about the underground film scene that sprouted on New York City’s Lower East Side in the late ’70s and early ’80s, featuring film and archival footage from the era and talking-head interviews with the likes of Steve Buscemi, John Waters, Jim Jarmusch and Debby Harry. (LB) Magic Lantern only. Not Rated | SHOWTIMES
Did you know that this movie has been made no less than 15 times, not counting this newest version? And that the original novel has also given rise to nine musicals, 10 television adaptations and one graphic novel? The story of Jane Eyre — the lowly governess who falls in love with her employer and subsequently faces mysterious happenings while working at his mansion — clearly is begging to be told again, and apparently the newest movie is the most fantastic rendition yet. Lucky number 16! (TH) Rated PG-13 | SHOWTIMES
MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY
There have been, like, six of these movies where Tyler Perry dresses up as a sassy black woman named Madea and deals with comedic family drama. SIX. OF. THEM. If he didn’t run out of ideas before, he certainly has now, evidenced by a Maury Povich cameo and a scene where Madea runs her car into a fast food joint. And that was just in the trailer. This is basically the Ernest series with more sass and fat costumes. (TH) Rated PG-13 | SHOWTIMES
Frieda Pinto stars in this Julian Schnabel drama about a young girl who is raised within the sheltering walls of a school for Palestinian orphans in Jerusalem. When she turns 17, though, around the time of the first intifada, she is exposed to the horrific conditions Palestinians are living in and the violence that surrounds them, which makes her question the tenets of the school, which teach that peace and equality is achievable through education and tolerance. (LB) Magic Lantern only. Rated PG-13 | SHOWTIMES
THE UPSETTER: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF LEE SCRATCH PERRY
It has been 42 years since Lee “Scratch” Perry released his first album, The Upsetter. Since then, he has released 65 more. Filmmakers Adam Bhala Lough and Ethan Higbee got unfettered access to the reggae icon, who speaks in ramblingly mystical puzzle sentences. Benicio Del Toro narrates this chronicle on the life of a prolific dub pioneer, Rastaman and frequent asshole. (LB) Magic Lantern only. Not Rated | SHOWTIMES
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
Robert Pattinson is in this movie. He is sad. He drops out of vet school after his parents die and joins the circus as a vet. He is still kinda sad. Then he sees Reese Witherspoon. He is still sad, but also maybe now a little turned on. They have some sexual tension, but she’s married. This makes him … sad. Will Robert Pattinson ever be happy? Like, in a movie? See it to find out. As an aside, Pattinson said he cried while filming the love scenes with Reese because he was so moved by how “sexy” she was. (TH) Rated PG-13 | SHOWTIMES
Plans are in place to greet a small group of Native American and Canadian First Nations women who are bearing Pacific Ocean water on a long walk to the Great Lakes.
A welcome is planned for 4:30 pm Friday near the totem pole on Canada Island in Riverfront Park, says local water activist Rachael Paschal Osborn of the Center for Environmental Law Policy. The the group of water bearers is on foot, covering roughly 35 miles each day.
The walk, which began in Aberdeen, Wash., in early April, is part of an effort begun in 2003 by three First Nations grandmothers, who walked all they way around Lake Superior in an attempt to bring awareness to the myriad of threats to clean water, from industrial pollution to runoff to overuse.
The walks now cover much of America and Canada. Walkers depart from the four directions and meet at Lake Superior on the Bad River reservation in Wisconsin.
One of the grandmothers, Josephine Mandamin, Ojibway, accompanied the West group until Saturday. She traveled to Mississippi to lead the South group when it started from the Gulf Coast Wednesday, the anniversary of the BP oil disaster.
On Friday evening, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has tentatively committed to attend, Osborn says, and other city officials have been invited.
Prayers and hopes — Rescuers keep digging towards last known location of Pete Marek more than a mile underground at Lucky Friday, while community prays. (KREM)
No contact with miner yet — Rescuers search area behind cave-in with small camera. (SR)
Idaho governer rejects 'Obamacare' — Gov. Butch Otter prohibits state from enacting federal health care reforms. (SR)
Mortar blast kills photographers — Two acclaimed war photographers killed while covering conflict in Libyan city, (LATimes)
Chris Hondros' final images — A slideshow of house-to-house fighting in Misrata yesterday. (BBC)
NYT photo blog on Hetherington — A slideshow of images, and stories from other photographers. (NYT)
'Diary' — Tim Hetherington's final film, a reflection on 10 years of war coverage. (Hollywood Reporter)
Ryan Crocker, who has been the U.S. ambassador to both Afghanistan and Pakistan during the last decade, defended the school-building work of embattled Montana author and mountaineer, Greg Mortenson, against charges that he and his charity have not built all the schools claimed.
"I do know his work, and it's real," Crocker said while taking questions after delivering a speech Tuesday evening at the Millwood (Wash.) Community Presbyterian Church. "I do know the schools are there. I think he has made a great contribution, and I'm not the only one to think so — USAID thinks so; the U.S. military thinks so.
Mortenson, from Bozeman, is accused on the CBS news show "60 Minutes" of fabricating the number of schools built by his charity, The Central Asia Institute (CAI) and, more seriously, enriching himself through donations to CAI. Here's a link to the episode.
A Seattle Times columnist, Ron Judd, reflects on his early support for Mortenson and how he and others in the tight-knit mountaineering community now feel sold out. Read his column, Three Cups of Bull.
In it, Judd details how another former Seattle-ite, author and mountaineer, Jon Krakauer was also an early cheerleader for Mortenson (donating $75,000) but who now is so infuriated that he pitched the story of Mortenson's alleged misdeeds to "60 Minutes," and ladles out even more vitriol in his own report. Judd lists these examples:
Krakauer's screed can be seen here. It's not free.
Mortenson has begun to fight back this week, saying David Relin, who actually wrote Mortenson's NYT best-seller, "Three Cups of Tea," compressed events in order to create a more engaging narrative. This has resulted in fudged dates, Mortenson says. Read Mediaite's capsule summary of Mortenson's interview with Outside Online. See the Outside Online piece here.
Crocker says he is disheartened by all the charges and counter-charges.
"I'm sorry to see the stuff on Greg Mortenson. To me, this is a literary dispute more than it is a dispute about what he's done for education," Crocker says. "These allegations there are ghost schools are easy to check. You can send people out there. All the schools are in areas that are accessible without too much risk."
The BBC on Wednesday released a story that did just that. Two writers by and large found schools in operation where Mortenson and CAI said there would be schools. In places where the schools were empty, the reporters found interference from government officials, corruption or tortuous bureaucracy. Read the BBC story.
President Obama has taken the stage on the first ever Facebook town hall. How 21st century. He is taking questions via, you guessed it, Facebook.
And strange that today is 4/20, the international day of stoners. Er, I mean celebrating cannabis. He'll probably want to talk about a bunch of stuff — jobs, Donald Trump, stuff — but marijuana activists have promised to make some noise.
Check it out here.
Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)
The Viking, in north Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 2-6 pm. Specials inclu de: $3 pints of Choppers, Manny's Pale Ale, select IPA's and Apricot Wheat.
Post Street Ale House, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: half price food all day long and half priced drinks.
Hugo's on the Hill, in the south hill, ushers in happy hour from 3-6 pm and 9:30 pm-close. Speicals include: $3 draft pints, $4 signature margaritas, $3 glasses of house wine, $3 martinis and $3-$5 plates of food.
Gibliano Brothers, in downtown Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include: $1 off glasses of wine, $2 Coors Light drafts, $3 wells drinks, $5 quesadillas, $5 artichoke and spinach dip, $2 chips and salsa, $6 flat bread pizzas and $5 hummus plates.
Jimmy'z, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include: $1 off wells and draft beer and discounted appetizers.
UPDATE: Camera searches for miner — A narrow-view roto-rooter camera is being maneuvered in area where miner has been missing five days since cave-in at Lucky Friday mine. (SR)
Two bore holes reach cave-in site — Lucky Friday miner Pete Marek has been missing since a rockfall five days ago, but two bore holes allow rescuers to provide air and food. (SR)
In defense of 'Three Cups' — Local universities say Montana author Greg Mortenson was a good speaker, despite recent questions over accuracy of his claims, (SR)
Oil workers remembered — Families of 11 men who died in BP's Deepwater Horizon explosion to fly over the site. (BBC)
Off with the ballot! — Despite an appeal from Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, to keep it, Legislature ditches the presidential primary to save $10 million. (Seattle Times)
Annie pack yer bag — Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick reaffirms she may not stay much longer. (SR)
Parrot migrates home — Eight months after African grey flew out the door, CdA woman finds him in a want ad, (CdA)