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EXCLUSIVE: Lettuce’s Jesus & Ryan Zoidis Talk Jamming Beyond The Clouds, Laser Beams, Fine Wine & More

first_imgDating back to their halcyon days at the Berklee College of Music in mid-90’s Boston, Lettuce has forever been an improvisational band. But in this current era of Lettuce-funk, the trajectory of their jamming has launched skyward; a trend that began with 2015’s mammoth LP Crush and has continued steadily ever since. It is readily apparent on this winter’s Beyond the Clouds tour that Lettuce’s hive-mind dynamics and fierce, fearless improvisational mojo have cross-pollinated, creating an alchemy that has the band plugged into and transmitting from an entirely new portal.  After standout January performances on the annual Jam Cruise and at Arizona’s Gem & Jam Festival, Lettuce has been in the midst of a grueling run, sometimes teaming up with the likes of Galactic, The Motet, and Chali 2na for dates across the US. At each and every stop, Lettuce has been leaving their proverbial mark, crushing rooms from Atlanta to Austin, NOLA to Las Vegas, California and the whole way up through the Pacific Northwest. This leg of the tour ended with a bang: a sprint through St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland with their NOLA-based funk brothers.  Reminiscent of Type-II jamming, Lettuce’s newer approach to collective improvisation allows them to depart from the parameters of a song’s structure, key signature, chord complexes, and tempo, offering free-form, free-wheeling, freestyle jam excursions that are composed as they happen in real time. A concept first embarked upon onstage by jazz artists in the post-Bop era, this sort of thing is commonplace the jam band world, first crystallized by the Grateful Dead for the better part of thirty years. This approach was later perfected by Phish in the late 1990’s—it’s artistic implementation has been referred to as Type II jamming in the resulting improvisational diaspora for two decades since. Forget taking solo after solo and wearing out chords and grooves for interminable amounts of time. That is not (and never was) this squad’s identity; though historically Lettuce does take funk songs for thorough calisthenic workouts, each player in the group is a virtuoso so they are decidedly not immune from supernatural soloing either. But in recent times, a focus on a collective “move-as-one” approach has served to spark this revolution in LETT jamming aesthetic and prowess. The focus on dynamics, or “making the space”, has had a dramatic effect on the band’s modus operandi. The proof and the truth lies in the music.Consider the multitude of influences that inform Lettuce’s craft; the thrusting funk of Herbie’s Headhunters, the powerful bombast of Tower of Power, the head-nod grittiness of Pete Rock and DJ Premier, the dubby bass tombs of Kingston’s King Tubby, the emotional R&B thrills of Earth, Wind and Fire.  The laundry list goes on, as Lettuce are among the deepest-schooled and woodshedded cats in the game. Unless they are outright covering another artist’s song, Lettuce simply does not sound anything like their influences whatsoever. Instead, they reformulate their spiritual DNA through individual and collective musical voices. In doing so, Lettuce may have given birth to a gumbo genre by creating their unique sound, styles made of fabric and colors all their own.In addition to upping the ante on the jamming, Lettuce has spent the Beyond the Clouds tour unveiling slab after slab of hot new music. Having put nearly two albums worth of original, new material down on tape for their (still untitled) album due sometime in the next year, the band was anxious to take a bunch of these new compositions out on the road for some test runs. Naturally, fans have been flipping out online and on the dancefloor; soaking in bangers “Moksha”, “KHRU”, and the appropriately-titled “4th Dimension”—the latter song best representing the band’s magnificent new colorways. Add still-hot-off-the-press joints from this fall like “TRAP”, “House”, and “Shmink Dabby Kane”, and the band has dropped merely a few doses of the forthcoming interplanetary joyrides.Beyond devouring the tour soundboards that the band has fortuitously made available on Nugs.net, this writer was blessed to take in two shows on the Beyond the Clouds tour: the Bay Area stop at The Fox Theater in Oakland and a raucous affair at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon. After the second gig, we got a few minutes with founding members Ryan Zoidis (sax and synths) and Jesus Coomes (bass). Clearly excited and vibe’d up, the duo known as DJZJ pulled back the curtain on the LETT magik just a little bit, giving us a peek into just how these cats continue to drive the lane and elevate the game in 2018. [Photo: Brad Hodge]B. Getz: The band is firing on every cylinder! This new music is exciting. Was there a concerted effort to unveil a new era of the band on this tour? Ryan Zoidis: More like we have a lot of new music to play—so much new music we are bringing out. On this tour, now we are starting to flesh it out live, and it’s enabling us to have a lot more fun every night onstage. We can, you know, be free, improvise more, and vibe more. BG: The catalog is so deep, even without the new shit. You have a large canon of material to mine from when creating the setlists, which are different each and every night with Lettuce.  Zoidis: The more songs and albums you have to choose from makes the whole thing way more fun. It keeps it fun for us, keeps it fun for you.  Because we have a lot more to choose from, out there, you don’t know what to expect from us. You have to be excited, right?! We are excited. We have to be comfortable and excited as shit to be there. You can’t be like… [shrugs and backs away]Jesus Coomes: “You can’t be like [makes face], ‘Oh, Whatever…’  You got to be stoked! And we’re very stoked right now. Playing all this new shit makes us happy and excited. That translates onstage and out there to you guys. Now, that’s not saying you can’t play an old song and make it brand new, just to throw a couple changes into the set to make it fresh. So by constantly doing that—playing new music and changing up the old shit—it makes us put some of our other songs down, put them on the shelf for a long time. And then when we bring them back, they are fresh again. So yeah, we are definitely stoked on that.BG: I noticed that you guys are constantly re-working and rearranging old stuff. What makes you decide you’re going to work out an old tune and rewire it? Jesus: What was the one we did the other day? ‘Chief’? No, ‘Rule the World’. We did it like Dilla style. [beatboxes a bass line to the new “Rule the World”] I dunno, man. We just hear shit, get inspired, and something new comes out of it. It’s just our flow. It’s organic. BG: You know what comes off organic? This new frontier, new portal of jamming you guys have reached in 2018. It’s been a steady ascent starting with the Crush material, but the improvising is really confident right now. What did you guys lock into recently that has affected the improv excursions so markedly? Zoidis: The vibe has been soaring on this tour. We are looking for that zone, and I think we all have embraced group improvisation. Those are our favorite moments, and now we realize that. BG: Loving this heavy focus on a “move as one” approach to the jamming.Zoidis: Yep! Exactly. Other than just a featured solo or just one person soloing—those moments can be great too—but we are also inviting the group improv into those solo moments as well. One person is featured but the group is also coming together in that space, in that zone. Jesus: Yeah, making the zone… trying to find the place… and then going there.Lettuce – Wiltern Theater – Los Angeles, CA – 2/15/2018[Video: Pat Myers]BG: Ryan, let’s step into the “Zoid Void” for a second and talk about what you’re doing on sax, specifically with the Korg X-911 synth rig and the various sound patches you are working with. I mean, space is the place, as far as how all that sounds to us on the dancefloor. It’s fascinating. Very psychedelic. Zoidis: Yea man, I’ve been working on my sounds and creating some new things for a long time now, so I just have some textures to pull from, you know? Textures that as a sax player I wouldn’t have if I didn’t put this whole synth rig together. I’m just learning more and more where ‘the place’ is for it, you know what I’m saying?Like, now I can play higher than everybody, so now I’m not getting in the way of Benny [Bloom]’s solo or anybody else’s. I can actually comp like a keyboard player with it. But also just with psychedelic textures, I can create a mood with just a few notes, like only three or four notes. And the breakdowns and the hip-hop sections are just more lit because I don’t have to play sax; I can just chill out on the synth and vibe out.[Photo: Brad Hodge]BG: You can see the other cats onstage get inspired when you really blast off with that thing. You can hear the stoke.   Jesus: Really, if you think about it, the X-911 has been a freeing, liberating, “let-go” thing for Zoidis to step out of the box that’s just calling yourself “a saxophone player.” Because now you are taking a sax, and you’re using it to trigger an analog synthesizer, and the sounds are crazy. Now what we are talking about is really undefined territory. Zoidis: And I’ve always been a knob turner. I’m just a guy who loves turning knobs. I love being in the studio, making sounds, and creating different textures. That creates a ridiculous palette of analog sounds to use on the gig—and I’ll tell you, it works! You know, [Adam] Deitch can sing me something on his little mic into in-ear monitors and I’ll play it, you know, with Portamento! Up two octaves, you know, whatever. And then it’s gets crazy when me and Jesus will throw down double bass lines—Jesus: —When we start doubling bass lines, that’s when I know the vibe is going on. I mean, he’s playing bass on the saxophone, but there’s a lot of times I’m in the zone just freaking out from what I’m hearing over there. I don’t know what he’s playing. I don’t know where or sometimes even who the sound is coming from. I’m hearing a lot of stuff, and I don’t know what the hell is going on. And that’s dope to me!BG: Fellas, the future is looking mad bright. And let me tell you, so are the lights! You know, I’ve got shades on but your lighting designer is really going “beyond the clouds” too.  Zoidis: Yep! Thanks, I wanted to touch on that. One thing that’s been really fueling the shows is Blake Addington, our lighting director.Jesus: Also known as Blazer Beam! [laughs]BG: During the Vegas show on Mardi Gras, on the live stream, people were commenting about his lights nearly as much as they were the music! Jesus: That’s what I am saying! We are heavily influenced by visual artists these days. It is starting to inspire me musically. Heavily inspired by lots of paintings. We love museums and shit, and then there are painters who have come into our lives—a lot of artists doing cool, cool visual stuff. All those shapes are in music. The music is colors; if we could look at music, we could see that. So a lot of that shit Blake is doing with the lights and lasers, he is working with us also playing “live” and spontaneously creating. He can hear the jams and knows where they’re going, he knows where to take it, and sometimes, we vibe off what he’s doin’—Zoidis: —Blake, he just will sit on a look for a long time while the band sits on a vibe for a while. And he’s really listening, he’s really involved, and technically, the guy just a genius. He can do anything. He is a part of the team. Blake Addington, [shakes head] he’s ridiculous. [Photo: Brandon Weil]BG: What kinda tunes are you guys bumpin’ for inspiration? Where’s your head at musically as far as what’s hot in the LETT city streets? Or on the tour bus for that matter?Jesus: The Attention KMart Shoppers shit is the shit. It’s made by Juicy the Emissary. All the shit from Street Corner Music with Houseshoes. We’ve been fans of Houseshoes for a long time and supported him since the beginning. I love that Derty Dan Cheap Thrills, also on Street Corner Music.. Nah, mean? And then our friends Khruangbin too. They have a hot new record out.BG: I saw a bunch of vinyl on the bus, and a little portable turntable too. Do tell.Jesus: Between hunting for cheese and hunting for records, hunting for wine, that really takes up all our time.Zoidis: Now, we have a 45 collection with us on tour—just a stack of vinyl that me and Nigel have just gathered on the road. We were in Nashville and hit all the good record stores. We are just getting 45s: James Brown, The Isley Brothers, mad reggae records. All over the map!Jesus: I gotta mention my brother’s music too. Ty Coomes (Tycoon Beats) has really influenced me my whole life, and he’s influenced all of us. Deitch’s beats too, of course. But, mainly I listen to my brother Tycoon Beats. Probably seventy-five percent of what I listen to is Ty Coomes—he’s the shit. He’s my big brother, you know, I don’t get to change the radio! [laughs] That’s what I get influenced by. Then the rest of the shit I’m listening to is that Street Corner Music, that’s also my shit. And then these dudes on the bus are always playing everything from 1941 to 1978.[Photo: Brad Hodge]BG: I’ve noticed the natural wines have been prevalent in the mix on recent tours. Is that how you like to prepare for these sonic explorations into outer space?Jesus: Well, it’s more of a celebratory thing. We usually drink them after the shows. But yes, lots of natty wines!Zoidis: It’s really just treating ourselves to premium stuff, and we are learning about it too. Learning is a big part of why we love it. And it is fueling the music too, and you know, the hangs, man…Jesus: It’s just interesting to have muses and to have female energies with male energies—just heady motherfuckers coming through and saying crazy shit to me! The random stuff, like last night these dudes were calling down from the tenth floor in the parking lot. They were going “‘Jesus! It’s going to be an awesome show!” Just those really good vibes—that shit helps a lot! Right before that, I was a little tired, being on the road so much, but then after hearing that, I got a rush of energy, I just started getting stoked for our show!BG: You know that there’s a LETT Army now. There are people all over the country getting hype, and new peeps steadily getting hip to what you’re doing. The fan club online is jumpin’ too.Jesus: Yeah, we’ve been really noticing. It’s coming together, it’s coming together.Zoidis: I think the next big step ahead of us, our next goal is being able to curate a real party for every show we play. Like when we play these rooms, we bring on our favorite bands like JAW GEMS or Khruangbin. And if we know we’re going to sell out the room, we are going to be able to bring a cool opener, somebody we vibe with—we are going to turn people on to them, you know what I mean? Then, we are going to play two sets and take our time and hold that room. When people walk into the lobby of the place, there’s going to be a dope art installation and the merch booth is going to vibin’. We’ll be hangin’ out there, meeting people. There’s going to be dope art everywhere. Vibes, everywhere.Jesus: It’s going to be like when someone throws a dope-ass festival, like Hulaween or Electric Forest in the woods. But, we bring all the cool shit they want to have available from city to city.Zoidis: You know, there’s gotta be natty wine available and really good food options, healthy ones. Plus, we want to have tea service. Just imagine if we could just post up in each city for two nights and create that and have an afterparty set up outside the gig for something we might be playing with—a side project.BG: Like say, maybe, a DJZJ?Zoidis: Yaaasssss!BG: Sounds like a field of dreams. If you build it, they will come.As told to B.Getz on February 18, 2018.In addition to on the road with Lettuce during their Beyond The Clouds tour (tickets and tour dates available here), you can catch Ryan Zoidis down in New Orleans during the highly anticipated musical mecca that is Jazz Fest. On Sunday, April 29th, he will team with members of the Disco Biscuits, Brazilian Girls, and Break Science for J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation) at Maison (tickets available here). On Sunday, May 6th, Zoidis will return to Maison along with members of The Motet and Snarky Puppy will join forces for Joey Porter’s tribute to Herbie Hancock (tickets available here).last_img read more

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Jamestown Furniture Maker Anticipates Hiring More Workers

first_imgJAMESTOWN — Officials from Bestar-Bush say they are anticipating the addition of 30-40 employees to the workforce in the coming weeks at the company’s recently reopened facility in Jamestown.Mark Weppner, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Design and Engineering, says the move is a result of the company’s growing sales through e-commerce. Bestar and Bush Industries, Inc. previously merged in January, which Weppner says resulted in the furniture manufacture accelerating in recent months such as desks, file cabinets, chairs and bookcases.“Both Bestar and Bush were growing rapidly prior to our merger due to our excellence at selling furniture online, and now more than ever that’s where consumers are buying,” he said. “Although our Jamestown manufacturing facility was closed for several weeks, our distribution centers in Erie, Pennsylvania and Sacramento, California remained open, and our sales continued to climb. Now that our factory is open we to need replenish our inventory to meet the demand – at a time when many people in our region are looking for work. It’s the perfect time to grow our team.”Positions will be posted on the careers page under “contact us” at Bush.co as specific needs are finalized. Contact [email protected] for more information. Employees in Jamestown, Erie, and Sacramento as well as in Bestar-Bush’s Canadian facilities must follow new safety protocols including social distancing, frequent hand sanitizing and washing, wearing face masks, entering and exiting through specific doors only, and mandatory temperature checks. Office employees continue to work from home.“Our employees’ safety and wellbeing has been our top priority throughout this and will continue to be as we move forward,” Weppner said. “Our team has done an outstanding job of meeting our customers’ needs while working from home, and our distribution centers are doing excellent work shipping a record number of products and most importantly staying safe and healthy.”Weppner does not expect the company’s growth to slow down. New finishes for many of the Bush Furniture brand’s most popular collections including Cabot, Salinas, Somerset and Key West will debut this summer to give customers a greater color variety for their homes. Meanwhile, he expects a surge in commercial-grade Bush Business Furniture orders as companies elect to keep their employees home permanently, and those that return to work reconfigure their offices.“Now that companies are more comfortable with remote work, we’re expecting further growth in home office sales as many of them make a permanent shift to work from home. We’ve added many contemporary finish options to our commercial-grade products as well to make them accessible to the work from home professional,” Weppner said. “We’re also anticipating many office redesigns in the near future to focus more on giving employees personal space. You’ll see less open plan or shared environments and more private offices, cubicle panels or privacy screens, all of which we provide.”E-commerce continues to drive Bestar-Bush’s success with online retailers such as Wayfair, Amazon, Overstock and Cymax leading the way, along with the websites of office superstores Office Depot and Staples. Weppner credits that success to the company’s e-commerce capabilities, including same-day shipping with products designed and packaged for nationwide delivery in three to five business days.Bestar-Bush has also invested in sales and marketing professionals who are experts in e-commerce, Weppner said. These positions include 3D graphic designers who create photorealistic product renderings, content writers, sales analysts, a robust inside sales and customer service team, along with engineering and product development personnel focused on quality and safety.“Our immediate need for additional staff will be in manufacturing, but we expect to add more office positions to continue to drive our e-commerce business,” Weppner said. “This is an exciting time of growth for our company and we’re thrilled to continue our long history in Jamestown and to add to our team here.”In January, Novacap – one of Canada’s leading private equity firms – announced that Bestar, one of its portfolio companies, had acquired Bush Industries. Together, Bestar and Bush have over 130 combined years of experience in the furniture industry and employ more than 600 people.Bestar, with manufacturing facilities in Lac-Megantic and Sherbrooke, Quebec, is a designer, manufacturer, distributor and online seller of commercial office, home office, storage, bedroom, tables and garage storage furniture across North America. The company was founded in 1948. For more information, visit Bestar.ca.Bush Industries’ corporate headquarters and U.S. manufacturing operations are located in Jamestown, New York, with additional facilities in Pennsylvania, California and China. The company designs, produces and distributes home and commercial office, entertainment, bedroom, storage, seating, occasional and entryway furniture. Bush Industries was founded in 1959. For more information, visit Bush.co. 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Extensions Announced at Public Theater Off-Broadway

first_img Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on Oct. 9, 2016 View Comments Updates from the Public Theater off-Broadway. First up, the final two installments in Richard Nelson’s acclaimed The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family have been extended an additional week. The second play of the trilogy, What Did You Expect, will now run through October 9. Tickets are now available for the final play in the cycle, Women of a Certain Age, which has been extended through December 4.What Did You Expect is scheduled to begin performances on September 10, officially opening on September 16. Women of a Certain Age is set to start on November 4 and open on Election Day, November 8. The company features Meg Gibson as Karin Gabriel, Lynn Hawley as Hannah Gabriel, Roberta Maxwell as Patricia Gabriel, Maryann Plunkett as Mary Gabriel, Jay O. Sanders as George Gabriel and Amy Warren as Joyce Gabriel.Meanwhile, Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book by best-selling author Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos with direction by Thomas Kail, has been extended two weeks to December 31. The new show is co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Kail and Vardalos, and will also feature Vardalos as the anonymous online advice columnist “Sugar.” Tiny Beautiful Things is scheduled to begin previews on November 15 and will officially open on December 7.center_img Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play Two: What Did You Expect? The Public Theater.last_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: Bald Eagles trashing Seattle + Hiker Deaths and Injuries

first_imgBald Eagles are trashing Seattle’s suburbs An Ohio woman who went missing on a trail near Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountain National Park last fall died of hypothermia, her autopsy reveals. Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements was returning on a hike to Andrews Bald when she failed to meet her daughter in the trailhead parking lot. Her daughter had been with Clements on the trail, but hiked ahead to complete the walk up Clingmans Dome. When her mother failed to emerge from the trail, she alerted the authorities. Clements body was found a week later in thick vegetation about two miles west of the parking lot where she intended to meet her daughter. Each year, the Smokies conducts about 100 search and rescue operations, most of which are completed in a day. Some unlikely residents in Seattle’s suburbs are causing quite a problem at a landfill in King County. The landfill, which was slated to reach capacity years ago, is home to about 200 bald eagles that regularly eat from the mountain of trash. But they don’t leave their lunch at the landfill. The bald eagles pick up the waste and carry it with them, dumping the trash around neighborhoods surrounding the landfill. Woman hiking on remote Arizona trail survives Rattlesnake bite The litter has become such a problem that King County has ordered a study to see what can be done to prevent the birds from trashing their surroundings. Drones and scarecrows have been used in the past to frighten the birds, but that method does not always work, as the eagles have begun to fight back and attack the drones. In other areas where eagles have become a problem, professional hazers have been hired to harass the bald eagles. No matter what King County decides, there’s no easy answer. “It’s like shoveling snow,” Dr. Kevin McGown of Cornell Lab of Ornithology told the New York Times. “You do it once, then you’re going to have to do it again.” Woman who went missing in Smoky Mountain National Park died of hypothermia, autopsy reveals. Vermont resident Kaija Johnson was hiking the Arizona Trail with a friend when she stepped on a rattlesnake and was bitten. Johnson said she never saw the snake and that the bite hurt no more than a bee sting. She realized the severity of her situation, however, when her leg began to swell. Johnson’s hiking partner ran five miles to find a cell phone signal and called 911. She was airlifted to Banner University Medical Center Phoenix and treated for a severe bite, receiving 26 vials of anti-venom. Johnson’s quick reaction to the situation saved her leg and possibly her life and she credits knowing “in the back of my mind what to do and who to contact” in an emergency with helping speed up her rescue. She is expected to make a full recovery.last_img read more

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Three Great Weekend Mountain Bike Backpacking Trips

first_imgThe Southeast offers fantastic overnight mountain biking experiences. These user-friendly weekend routes are some of the region’s best.  bike packingForest service roads near Reddish Knob in the George Washington National Forest. Photo by Jess Daddio, courtesy of the TransVirginia Trail. bike packingPhoto by Leon McCarron, courtesy of the TransVirginia Trail.  The Ride: The prize run is a roughly 43-mile-long stretch that combines eight MTB trails by way of brief stints on forest roads and one annoying, but ultimately worth it, hike-a-bike. Start with the incredibly remote five-mile-long Mountain Creek trail on the periphery of the 36,977-acre Cohutta Wilderness. From there, it’s on to trails like Bear Creek, Pinhoti 1-5, and Dennis Mill, which end on the outskirts of the town of Chatsworth. Along the way, you’ll pass through Fort Mountain State Park. Scenery: In the 2,358-acre Blackwater Falls State Park, its namesake river drops about 60 feet at the head of Blackwater Canyon. The relatively little-visited national forest backcountry brings isolated high-elevation Appalachian red spruce forests and seasonal wetland areas that, during early spring and summer, attract rare species of migratory birds—like colorful cerulean warblers and red crossbill.      Learn More: For more info, including maps, visit the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association website, wvmba.com. Bonus: With lower trailheads located just 15 miles west of Interstate 81 and less than 20 miles from the city of Harrisonburg, access is incredibly convenient.  The Ride: Expect a hit-parade of about 40 miles of the area’s top trails interspersed by occasional gravel connectors. While there are some long climbs, efforts are rewarded with beautiful ridgelines and long, fast, and flowy descents. For instance, Tillman West brings 2.1 miles of modernized downhill thrills with loads of berms, rollers, and jumps. Parts of the Wild Oak Trail offer quick drops and rocky, technical sections.   Background: The northernmost portion of the 335-mile Pinhoti National Recreation Trail offers some of the region’s best mountain biking. Access begins in the southern fringes of the Cohutta Mountains, about 13 miles from the small-town MTB outpost of Ellijay.   The Ride: Pick your poison. For those that like to go big, starting at Blackwater offers an epic 38-mile loop combining trails in the park and the adjacent national forest. Known as the Rattlesnake, it’s based on the 2012 course of a longstanding annual race. (Luckily, shortening it is easy.) Cap off a day of riding with camping along the Allegheny Trail. From there, proceed to Canaan Valley Resort park, which added six miles of modern, machine-built flow trails—and a pump track—in 2019.  Camping: Options abound. You can nab a primitive site in either park, or pitch a tent between the two in the national forest. The former will run you $17 or $35, respectively. The latter is free.  Background: A 20-plus-year partnership between what is now the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the U.S. Forest Service has transformed the North River District of the George Washington National Forest into a mountain biking haven. Most trails were either purpose-built for bikes or retooled accordingly. Expect one of—if not the—best non lift-assisted systems in the state. Riding the Stokesville 60K route ensures a smooth, action-packed experience.   Background: Both state parks are staples of the West Virginia MTB scene and feature prominent trail networks. Both are surrounded by the Monongahela National Forest. Connect the two by way of a roughly five-mile segment of the 330-mile-long Allegheny Trail. The latter passes over the remote, high plateau of the Canaan Mountain Backcountry area, bringing 4,100-plus-foot peaks and a range of interesting habitats.  Learn More: Get trail-related info, maps and more from mulberrygap.com. Camping: Pitch a tent trailside throughout most of the riding area. Some well-established sites can be found on Reddish, Bother, and Flagpole knobs. Alternatively, the loop is designed to begin and end at the Stokesville Campground. Situated on the edge of the national forest on the banks of the North River, it’s a great basecamp for exploration.  Learn More: For trail maps and other information, visit svbcoalition.org.  photo by Chris Hunt Scenery: This section of the Shenandoah Mountain Range is highly rural and backs onto the border of West Virginia. Routes carry you into the Alleghany Mountains and some of the highest MTB terrain in the state. Peaks at Reddish Knob, for instance, bring about 4,400 feet of elevation—and panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley. Dense forest abounds. It includes one of the last remaining stands of mature Canadian hemlocks in the Southeast.   I love the scenic immersion of long-distance backpacking—the isolated vistas and pristine ecosystems, the wildlife, the backcountry camping along walks less traveled. Yet I often end up fixating: ‘Wouldn’t these trails be great by mountain bike?’ Spot a flowy downhill run and I’m consumed by the need to thrash. It gets unbearable, quick.   Seeking resolution led me to mountain bikepacking. On one hand, it’s about trekking into beautiful wild areas in the middle of nowhere and sleeping under the stars, but getting to the remote destination includes some righteous shredding along the way.  Here we round up a trio of superlative user-friendly routes in the Blue Ridge. Each blends MTB rippers with awesome camping and backcountry experiences.   For those seeking post-ride amenities, the Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way is located about 10 miles into the ride. Sites in their primitive campground run $19 a night. Facilities include a store (with craft beer), bath house and restaurant. They also offer shuttles, from $10.   Stokesville 60K Loop (Mount Solon, Virginia) Trails are maintained by, among other organizations, the Northeast Georgia chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. Look forward to loads of contemporary fast and flowy fun. However, creek crossings, technical sections, and climbs are found throughout.   Blackwater Falls to Canaan Valley Resort State Park (West Virginia) Upper Pinhoti Trail (North Georgia) Camping: Riders can pitch a tent trailside essentially anywhere in the national forest. That said, there are a few prohibited areas, all of which are marked.  Scenery: Trails are almost entirely surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest. They deliver riders into densely wooded backcountry areas characterized by 2,000 to 3,500-foot ridgelines and vistas, mountain streams, rhododendron thickets, hemlock forests, and more. last_img read more

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Interview with Brigadier General Adolfo Zepeda Martínez, Nicaraguan Army

first_imgBy Dialogo July 09, 2012 When Brigadier General Adolfo Zepeda Martínez speaks about Nicaragua, he does so in an almost poetic tone. The head of the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Directorate of that nation’s Army tells of a “land of lakes and volcanoes” and traverses its geography, mentioning geographical locations by name, as if he were enjoying an imaginary trip through each part of his country. In April, during the Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2012), sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, General Zepeda Martínez traveled to El Salvador to represent Nicaragua. On that occasion, during an interview granted to Diálogo, the military officer talked about the “Containment Wall,” a national strategy that seeks to keep drug traffickers within bounds, far from Nicaragua’s lakes, coasts, and borders. Diálogo: On several occasions during the CENTSEC 2012 sessions, there were mentions on Nicaragua’s implementation of a home-grown initiative for the fight against drug trafficking. Could you explain to us what this is about? Brigadier General Adolfo Zepeda Martínez: Nicaragua has developed an idea that we’re putting into practice and that we call the “Containment Wall.” It’s not a wall of stone andconcrete; it’s an idea. By means of this idea, we’re trying to keep drug-trafficking elements away from the coasts, so that they don’t spread across our borders. What we’re trying to do [with this idea] is to have controls along the coasts, at the border, and in our airspace, so that drug-trafficking elements or criminal elements are active as far as possible from our territory, because Nicaragua is neither a producer nor a consumer. Nicaragua is like a bridge that drugs cross by any of its routes, by land, by sea, or by air. So we’re trying to do our part. How can we do it? Isolating them, so that they don’t penetrate into Nicaragua, and that way other authorities with more resources, such as the United States, for example, can have more control at sea, in the air. Diálogo: In practical terms, what measures are you taking to implement this idea? Brigadier General Zepeda Martínez: Well, the commander-in-chief and the president have decided to create new units. Among them, we have created a battalion of Marines, who are going to have their base in Puerto Sandino. We’ll possibly be inaugurating it in the course of this year. This battalion is going to be in charge of developing a Marine force that can have better results along the coasts, on lakes and inland waters. Nicaragua is a country of lakes and volcanoes, and we also have inland waters. We have two large lakes: Lake Managua (Xolotlán) and Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca). We’ve found that drug-trafficking elements penetrate our southern border using the waters of Lake Cocibolca to penetrate our national territory. This Marine battalion is going to support the inland-waters detachment, which is the one that is going to cover the lakes, in order to also be able to better confront the threats, not only along the coasts and at sea, but also on our inland waters. There’s going to be approximately 500 personnel. The subject of the land border is still pending, but we’re already developing the corresponding controls along the border. To the extent that the fight against drug trafficking is waged in Guatemala, in Honduras, in El Salvador, in Belize, we believe that these elements may want to shift to other territories. So we’re paying attention to that phenomenon and building up our strength in some places, in order to prevent these elements from penetrating into our territories from the north and from the south. Diálogo: In protecting its borders, what kind of collaboration does Nicaragua have with its Central American neighbors? Brigadier General Zepeda Martínez: We share quite extensive land borders with our sister Republic of Honduras, along the Coco River to Gracias a Dios Cape, and on the south with our sister Republic of Costa Rica, from Naranjo to San Juan de Nicaragua. We also have two extensive coastlines, on the Caribbean and the Pacific. On the land portion, we’ve moved forward on meetings of border commanders, within the framework of the relationship that we have with Honduras. These are meetings that take place periodically. Every two or three months, the commanders of Honduran border units and the commanders of Nicaraguan border units meet in a city, sometimes in Nicaragua, other times in Honduras. There they exchange information, agree on coordinating some of the operations at a location of interest, and establish lines of communication that have proved to be important for greater control of these borders, which are effectively porous borders in some ways, due to their extension and to the small number of personnel the Armies have available with few means of transportation. Diálogo: Beyond Central America, how are you working with other countries in our hemisphere to counteract transnational organized crime? Brigadier General Zepeda Martínez: The Nicaraguan Army is part of the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), where we have different levels of cooperation, and we also have cooperation in different areas with the U.S. Southern Command, especially in the area of training for our officers, through CNIES [the Cooperating Nation Information Exchange System], in the transmission of information about the tracking of illegal movements by air and by sea, which can enable the interception or seizure of drugs along the coast, and following up on the possible illegal incursion of planes into our territory, among other collaborations that we have at the country-to-country level. This cooperation starts from the document that the Nicaraguan president signed with corresponding U.S. authorities, a document called “Fighting Illicit Trafficking at Sea.” This is a legal document, through which Nicaragua receives the support of the U.S. Coast Guard, by radio, or in whatever way may be already established; information is given to the Nicaraguan Navy, or vice versa. Diálogo: Could you cite an example of joint operations with military forces from other countries? Brigadier General Zepeda Martínez: At this time, we’re participating in Operation Martillo, which is being led by the Southern Command and JIATF-S [the Joint Interagency Task Force – South]. Practically all the Central American countries and others, even European ones, are participating in that operation. We’ve also been participating in that dynamic with the Southern Command when they invite us to take part in military exercises, such as Panamax, for example. Diálogo: What concrete benefits do you take away from participating in conferences like CENTSEC 2012? Brigadier General Zepeda Martínez: For me, it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve been able to listen to Military leaders, all the experiences that they have, at first hand, in person. We believe that from national results and operations conducted at the national level, if we’re successful with them, we can succeed in building up a good synergy that can make it possible to improve regional results. We believe and aspire to the idea that this effort should not only be a national effort, but should be transformed into a regional effort. General Douglas Fraser [the commander of the U.S. Southern Command] has said the same thing, that he hopes that this regional strategy can become a regional strategy to fight these illicit activities and be able to improve the results.last_img read more

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Guatemala Extradites Alleged Drug Trafficker to U.S.

first_imgBy Dialogo December 12, 2012 Guatemalan authorities extradited Horst Walter Overdick Mejía to the United States, a Guatemalan national wanted by the American justice system due to his alleged links with drug trafficking, informed the U.S. Embassy in a statement. “Overdick Mejía (also known as “El Tigre”) was extradited to the U.S. to face charges in New York for distribution of controlled substances. This represents an important step forward in the joint Guatemalan and American efforts to counter the scourge of drug trafficking in Central America,” the report claimed. In November 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) started an investigation against the Guatemalan and his alleged links with the Mexican cartel Los Zetas, according to the report. “This organization was allegedly responsible for the imports of several tons of cocaine from Central and South America to Guatemala, where the cocaine was given to Los Zetas, with the United States as the final destination,” it said. The U.S. Embassy explained that Overdick was operating “drug trafficking based at a large-scale” in the department of Cobán, about 300km north of the capital, where two years ago former president Álvaro Colom declared state of siege to recover the territory. The National Civil Police arrested Overdick Mejía on April 3, in the village of San Lucas Sacatepéquez, near the capital, after he was accused of distributing a controlled substance on January 19 in the Southern District of New York. U.S. authorities confirmed that Overdick helped Los Zetas to enter Guatemala in 2008, which is the strongest drug cartel to operate in this Central American country.last_img read more

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Bottoms up

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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US plans to turn back all asylum seekers at Mexican border, cites coronavirus

first_imgThe United States plans to turn back all asylum seekers and most other foreigners attempting to enter the United States from Mexico illegally, arguing the step is necessary to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, according to US media reports on Tuesday.The new rule, which is expected to be announced in the next 48 hours, would allow border patrol agents to immediately return to Mexico anyone who tries to cross the southwestern border between legal ports of entry without detainment or due process, the New York Times reported.Ports of entry will remain open to commercial traffic and to U.S. citizens as well as people with green cards and other foreigners with proper documentation, the Times reported, citing administration officials. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.President Donald Trump has made a reduction of immigration a central focus of his administration. His administration’s policies intended to diminish asylum applications have done more to slow immigration than his efforts to build a wall along the southern border.Immigration advocates and public health experts have voiced concern about the potential for virus spread among detained people, even before the coronavirus outbreak.More than 2,000 immigration detainees were quarantined after mumps and other diseases infected nearly 900 people between September 2018 and August 2019; most were infected within government facilities.Mexico has reported 82 coronavirus cases so far, compared with nearly 6,000 in the United States.Topics :last_img read more

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Developer matches home grant

first_img Mini farm for sale in Coorparoo RELATED: >>FOLLOW THE COURIER-MAIL REAL ESTATE TEAM ON FACEBOOK<< A brand-new home, less than 7km from the city, is a step closer to reality with first home buyers who purchase a Coorparoo Square apartment now eligible for a bonus $15,000 rebate. The developers of Coorparoo Square will match the $15,000 Queensland First Home Owners Grant dollar-for-dollar. Frasers Property’s offer will make a new home, less than 7km from the city, a step closer to reality for those eligible for a bonus $15,000 rebate.This means they will have $30,000 towards their new home.Cameron Leggatt, general manager residential Queensland for Frasers Property, urged buyers to book an inspection soon with only a few new apartments remaining. “Coorparoo Square includes 366 apartments across three residential buildings but the demand for homes at this enviable address means we are now down to less than ten, two-bedroom apartments left on the market,” Mr Leggatt said. Coorparoo Square Own your own motocross track More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus15 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market15 hours agoThe pool deck at Coorparoo Square.The remaining apartments are priced from $473,500, before grants and rebates are applied, and Mr Leggatt said it represented excellent value for money. Coorparoo Square residents have exclusive access to the Club Coorparoo recreational hub with facilities including two swimming pools, a full-size tennis court, gym and private dining room. They can admire the views over Brisbane’s CBD from the Club Coorparoo podium-level that also features landscaped gardens, communal barbecues and alfresco spaces.center_img Coorparoo Square will match the $15,000 Queensland First Home Owners Grant dollar-for-dollar for all eligible first home buyers who snap up an apartment in the residential complex, giving them $30,000 towards their new home. “The $15,000 rebate on top of the $15,000 government grant means many first home buyers can realise their dream of owning a home close to the CBD and in one of Brisbane’s most vibrant and liveable suburbs. “Each apartment is complete and ready for buyers to move in and make their own.” Gold Coast home most viewed in the state The mixed-use development is about 6km from Brisbane’s CBD and has injected renewed energy into the suburb, revitalising the site on the corner of Cavendish and Old Cleveland roads, formerly occupied by Queensland’s first Myer department store.Coorparoo Square Shopping Village and laneway precinct is anchored by Dendy Cinemas and ALDI with tenants including Beyond the Pale bar, Kivahan cafe, Tigerlamb hair salon, La Macelleria gelataria, Sense of Taste bottle shop, Barbacoa Mexican Taqueria plus more. Public transport connectivity is easy with the Brisbane Glider service now stopping at Coorparoo Square. The extra $15,000 rebate is available on contracts signed before December 31. Developer: Frasers Property MORE: Price: A limited number of two-bedroom apartments remain, priced from $473,500 Location: 26 Holdsworth St, Coorparoo Coorparoo Square residents have exclusive access to the Club Coorparoo recreational hub with facilities including two swimming pools, a full-size tennis court, gym and private dining room. THE BASICSlast_img read more

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