Friday, July 26, 2019

Reexamining Brad's post from 11/24/2007 now that the North Fork Store has been transported away

Link to North Fork Store article

brad9:07 AM

Great little flashback on our Clint Eastwood musings. You handled that letter well. I was a "little" disappointed that writer Dave didn't jump at the chance to make this leg of his investigation a personal one. Who wouldn't want to write off a trip to the Sawtooths and a stay in Ketchum as part of your livelihood income?

Also, I kinda wondered about why he would ask you to take photos (with the implied attitude that he'd be working on the book at home or with his laptop on a round table near the pastry counter of his local LA Starbucks.) Maybe it's a good thing that you only had time to offer him a low-res cell phone shot of the mining sign. Even though you took the "high mining camp trail" and pledged that you'd do all things to help, hopefully he will see the kerosene lantern and get personally involved with the site research of maybe Eastwood's most out of the way and special Idaho portion of his film pursuits.

I had no idea you worked so hard to gather info for Dana, only to have the information evaporate. I'm sure Aimes would have been thrilled to have run across that file.

I agree with you that Eastwood does not make frequent trips to the Valley. When I had his wooden hot tub on my spa route from 1992 through about 98, it was only apparent that he was here when there was Jazz music blasting through the house, though I never laid eyes on the man, unlike my coworker Lou Ann. I did meet his son briefly, (Kyle?) and his then new dark haired wife, an assistant, and heard the noises of his little baby while in the house resetting the spa heater button sometime in the early or mid 90s. He had an interesting collection of old-time pinball machines on the lower level of his house.

Interesting that the hits to our Eastwood musings sort of have a continuous life. Wow, great to realize.

Just got back from a successful trip to Colorado. The plan to fly back "on" Thanksgiving Day paid off well. Even some of the employees were talkative at the airport. By offering to work on T-giving, they got double-time pay, sparse crowds and an easy day. They were as easy to engage as a checker at a small town independent grocery store. Joyce and I wandered leisurely through the Denver Airport shops. I was pleased that they had reduced some music cassettes to $10 off, (so only 3 bucks), and we got instant service at coffee shops and food vendors. Even though the planes were not empty, fellow fliers were not crazed and edgy. Then, we got back for a long weekend to finish up the holiday mood without any feeling of being rushed in masses of humanity.

As the vacation started, Dad surprised me with tickets to Warren Miller's latest movie "PLayground" in a massive old-time theater in downtown Denver, called the Paramount. The last time I was there, my ears were ringing for days at work after a George Thoroughgood concert back in about 1981.

The lastest Warren movie was like a concert party. They threw out LED-lighted frisbees from the stage to rally the crowd. There was lots of ski giveaway stuff including free ski passes and a Jeep. There was an active bar on both levels of the huge old-time theater. The energy of the crowd was infectious; every time the film would change to another ski area, such as Steamboat Springs, that portion of the crowd (that liked to ski that area) went into a cheering hoopla. The Mile High City must definitively be the epicenter of Warren Miller mania. They needed it, as the snow hadn't come to the high country by Nov. 18.

"Playground" was an interesting Red-Bull charge of cinematic adventures mixed with garage-band music, and fists of fluffy snow flying at your face after every action shot. Warren himself is in his early 80s, so he's retired, but you still get audio clips of his gentle style of humor, even though his son is more involved and it is under a new group. The chief guy is Kim Schneider, 53. Warren Miller started in SV with his first one-man film in Sun Valley, called Deep and Light, 1949. This current film involved a crew of 52. The length in miles of film shot before editing was 22 miles, the cost per second of film was about $1. Apparently, the new man, Schneider used to make Super 8 movies based on index card ideas when he was a kid.

He met Warren Miller in 1974, (who Dad also met when I was a kid and once came over to our house in about '68) when Kim was living in a truck in the Heavenly Valley parking lot. He was filming a freestyle competition, and stayed late, where there were only a few shooters left. He heard "the voice" behind him, and it said "Did you get anything good?" They skied down to his truck, where Miller said something like "this is yours?" (an old early 70s Dodge stretch van.) Warren added, "I used to live in a trailer." Apparently it didn't matter if Kim knew anything about movies, it was a done deal. He offered to work for Miller for free, but Miller insisted on paying, and he has been working on Miller films for 29 years.

Aside from the expected extreme snowboarding and helicopter skiing in Canada or Alaska, we were treated to such oddities as rednecks doing fierce jumps and flips using snowmobiles, and then shooting skeet from them at the edge of cliffs overlooking a wilderness river. Then they jumped a snowmobile through a burning outhouse. One of the guys pulled a Moose carcass out of the deep freeze and bit into its head. He calls it "Bush Sushi". But who says Rednecks don't recycle, even if need exceeds altruism? He paused to collect $224 from the bottle depot an endeavor earned in 15-cent increments.

We also got samplings of the life of a batch of 12 year old snowboarders called "the Smalls" of Mammoth Mtn, CA. One kid, 14, joked that he had to carry an airline-assigned badge that said "unaccompanied minor" on it, and then reported to his coach when they were reunited, "Thank God you're here. They were making me a pedophile magnet !"

On the first day of the shooting, someone grabbed and ran with their camera bag enclosing a $25,000 Arri SRII camera and $8000 in lenses. As soon as the rest of the crew was radioed, one of the other camera men zoomed in on the crowd with the powerful zoom lense, and captured the equipment grabber running. With a megaphone, someone yelled, "drop the bag, you're surrounded by police!" It wasn't true, but the thief dropped the bag.

One guy in the film wears a wing suit that turns him into a sort of flying squirrel. He flies with a snowboard and sort of skips down snowfields off precipitous faces. He just interprets the terrain and comes up with was to interact, going airborne when encountering 2000 ft. cliffs. At the end of his segment, he was asked tongue-in-cheek why he isn't dead yet. He countered with, "Well, I eat right and exercise."

They also filmed in Dubai, apparently the Las Vegas of the Middle East. Apparently they have a year-round indoor ski area. Everything is in reverse, we ski outside and come inside to warm up, they ski inside and go outside to 77 degrees to warm up. One of the Canadian skiers there was lectured because he was walking around with his shorts rolled up, and warned because he could have been sent to jail for showing a lack of modesty.

Another sequence was shot at the sculptured house at Genesee, CO where the odd Woody Allen movie was shot back in the 70s. The house looks like a giant stretched egg pod up on the mountain ridge. One guy strapped on a jetpack for a gag shot, one of the few people in the world who know how to fly the thing. You have to wear earplugs within 50 feet of the thing. In the film you could tell that the rocket wash blew apart these huge paving stones used in the patio, tossing it a couple feet, and it looked like bits of tinfoil were shooting out the exhaust. Funny.

When they shot in Japan, they were amused with "English attempted" bumper stickers, such as one showing a leaping trout, and the words: "The wild nature glow up the land." Another button slogan read "Don't worry, be smile." and a store clerk at a shoe store had an English one that said "May your satisfaction sincerely be aroused by me." Apparently with Japans 300-plus ski areas, copies amounts of snow that stays around all season, and some of the best tree skiing around, it's a great place to film. At night, they light up the whole ski hill with halogen lights.

The movie tickets were a great welcome from Dad, and he put up with the loud punky music like a trooper. The downtown Denver walking mall was a Christmas lit party when we exited the 14 story parking garage. Dad got disoriented and we turned out of the garage the wrong way, and entered a one-way the wrong way driving on the shuttle train tracks. Dad said, in my years of working downtown, I sure got turned around this time ! We corrected our errors and finally got Dad's fire engine red VW Golf headed in the right direction.

The trip went from 68 degrees walking the Boulder Mall to a lunch at Dad's favorite Golf Country Club sports bar as the clouds loomed and we were headed for a 22 degree night. I loved it. A little bit of sticker shock when we visited the ski shop were Dad part-timed about five years ago: Most skis were retailing in the mid-thousand dollar range. Yikes. It has become the sport of the wealthy. Thankfully the ski swaps in ski towns of American live forever.

Met up with my high school buddy Tom, where we headed to Denver's Fresh Seafood Company where I presented him with a fly fishing beer mug. Joyce and I took brisk early morning walks in Denver, and I read and completed a book called Instant Karma, the heart and soul of a ski bum by 49 year old Wayne Sheldrake.

Here's a sampling: "Larry skied on brown skis, plain brown skis. He liked steep runs, near rocks, as steep as staircases and steeper.... all variety of chutes. Chutes that zig-zagged between rocks, chutes that swizzled around rocks, chutes that hopscotched rocks, chutes that dived below cliffs. I finally refused above a sliver of snow narrow as dental floss that plunged into a crack no wider than a turnstyle.

"No way," I said.
"It's been skied," he nodded.

Here's another excerpt:

Here was the time I really wanted to die. Both bones of my lower right leg snapped like driftwood, completely through. I went into shock. It was almost dark by the time the patrol got me off the mountain. Everyone was freaked out by the amount of pain I was in, and they knew getting the stiff plastic boot off my foot without making it worse would be almost impossible. The could also see that I was horrified. They tried so hard not to hurt me. When the boot did come off, the muscles in my lower leg spasmed, and my whole foot squirmed grotesquely toward my knee.

As I was attended to, I realized that the small room was crammed with people who stayed late after work to help me. This had a profound affect on me. These wild-assed renegades I'd only known for a few months really cared about me. As I was slid into the back of the old Datsun wagon for the long dark journey to the hospital, the driver kept asking me, "Are you okay?" I wasn't crying because of the pain. I was crying because I never felt so loved. It was four hours before I got morphine...."

(Wayne started college as a music vocal major, and went on to work as a Wolf Creek Ski School Instructor, where he was hired to teach at $36 a day plus $1 a head.)

Here's another portion, Jim, that way you can get the gist of the book without committing:

"I took a year and a half, three thousand dollars in long distance bills, several trips to Texas, and a proposal to get Vreni back to Colorado. Ske knew she was coming back to marry a ski bum, but I'd gone straight. I'd finally bought car insurance, earned a Colorado Teaching Certificate, and settled into respectable work, teaching literature, writing, speeach and drama to the sons and daughters of dry land farmers and migrants at a high school in a dust bowl town barely in Colorado, just twenty miles from the Kansas border, and not too far from the highest point in Oklahoma.

Every Friday night, we'd pack our 1985 VW Jetta, make the long drive, sleep in cheap motels, and ski from opening to closing Saturday and Sunday. I always thought of Wolf Creek with mixed emotions. It was my Normandy, site of difficult passage. Confident our toughest struggles were past, Vreni and her boys and I lived happily, day by day, paycheck to paycheck. Then there was a sign that something was seriously wrong..."

Anyway, Jim, to cap this all off, it has been a pleasure writing to you this Sunday. The author of this book is the son of the woman of my Dad's "golf course" affection, Marion Sheldrake. They are in some ways closer than my Dad's second wife Ann, yet they've never done the deed, nor do they plan do. Just great friends in their stages of life. Lunches only at her house. Dad reports it as "affectionately platonic" and for now, I believe him. Dad's met the author at Wayne's book signings, and had asked some great questions, as Marion reported back to Dad.

Alright, Jim, carry on. Will catch up with you once again. Tomorrow I pick up a load of artwork at a private guy's house in West Palm Beach, and with a partner drive an exclusive run to his new house in San Francisco. I haven't mapped out my route yet. No motels on the way out, easier on the way back. I'll see more of Texas than I want to see, and not enough of New Mexico. I'll slice though NV somewhere. Stories to come, I would expect.


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