Archive for James Bishop, Jr.

Bombarded by Junk

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

By Bishop, Special Dumpster Devil
(March 19, 2015)

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves
— Goethe

photo_bishopAll sorts of records are being set these days in sports, in finance and for endless flatulent political bum fog. However, one record being set this year, as Christmas fades into memories’ is nothing to be amused at. Each of us will have received almost 560 pieces of junk mail out of 38 billion sent, and an average of 54 catalogues out of 14 billion mailed (an of 54 per American) and 38 billion pieces of junk mail, and I bet you even receive more! Altogether, that’s 4.5 million tons of junk mail produced last year!

Hold on to your hats, patient reader. Think of 100 million trees ground up each year to create these outputs, the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain Park every four months. Imagine nearly six million tons of paper waste which, in fact, end up in the U.S. municipal solid- waste stream, enough to fill 420,000 garbage trucks. If those trucks were to be parked bumper-to-bumper, they would extend from Santa Fe to Atlanta. Read More→

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Endtime for a Singular Arizona Author

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

“The future isn’t what it used to be”
–Charles Bowden (7/20/1945-8/30/2014)

photo_bishopBy James Bishop Jr.

He savored hikes deep into the Sycamore Wilderness. He treasured the Cottonwoods along the Verde and the elk antler he once spied under some leaves off the trail in West Beaver Creek. All the while, he wrote dozens of books- from Killing the Hidden Waters to Sicario The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassins. They are powerful tomes brimming with a fierce love for Arizona and the people who have left their mark on the land, the missions, developers, sacred rock art, as well as the wild borderlands and the drug lords he wrote to expose. Read More→

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Artists of Sedona, 1930-1999

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

By James Bishop, Jr.
(September 28, 2014) 

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists.
— Ron Hubbard (1911 – 1986)

photo_bishopOnce upon a time not so long ago  Sedona was a dusty little community of folk encircled by awe-inspiring  expanses of national and state lands and blessed with sunsets that often dissolve the hardest of hearts. No wonder that artists beginning in the 1930′s arrived from far and wide to create their dreams whether in paint, bronze, wood, music or dance. By 1980 it was widely regarded as a cultural mecca.

Today, the land still thrills and while it is no longer a little town, and tourist buses crowd the streets many of those artists are here:  Joella Jean Mahoney, Susan Kliewer and many others remain to dream dreams that enrich the culture—now featuring its very own book festival set for Saturday October 4th  at the Sedona Elks Lodge. There, books of all sorts will be on display including Gene K. Garrison’s Artists of Sedona 1930-1999, a long-awaited comprehensive compendium of interesting artists, many still alive, others such as Bob and Mary Kittredge and Nassan Gobran, departed for good. Read More→

By James Bishop Jr. and Kate Hawkes

Sedona AZ (August 16, 2014) – Red Earth Theatre and Sedona Recycles are creating a one-of-kind experience never seen before in Sedona and the Verde Valley. A clever, new, live theatre play, written and performed by locals will happen inside the Sedona Recycles Yard at 2280 Shelby.

Imagine the scene: one brings their own chair to sit among the bales in a venue one would never imagine could be a theatre space and there to share the spoken word, music, dance, and sheer energy of live performance. It could be life changing. One will always think of recycling with a visceral response right from their creative core. Simply shifting one’s imagination into a new paradigm (theatre in the recycling yard?) will be a sensed example of shifting thinking about how we live on this planet and use the resources available to us. Read More→

Is The Lone Ranger Returning?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

By James Bishop Jr.
(June 3, 2014)

photo_bishopGive me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes

As buzzards circled through the smoke above City Hall, a tourist from Maine mumbled to a lady of the night, “so this is what the end of the world looks like!” “Not so,” reported Josh, an expert member of the legendary, mythical Monkey Wrench Gang, “It’s just Ed. He said he come back, someday. He said he would settle for the sedate career, serene and soaring, of the humble turkey buzzard, the only known philosophizing bird.” Read More→

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Boom in Birdy Valley

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

By James Bishop, Jr.
(April 16, 2014)

If I had to choose between airplanes or birds, I’d rather have birds
— Charles Lindbergh


So do more and more people everywhere, especially in The Verde Valley where birding has passed golf and is catching up with gardening as top pastimes. Birders, once regarded by many business interests as tree-hugging dirt worshipers are now being joined on birding adventures by those very same business interests.  With the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival looming on April 24-27 the merging of economic interests and nature’s gifts is music to Chip Davis, Yavapai County Supervisor, who told me years ago that “If we can just understand that preserving what’s important in nature can be an economic engine. Hopefully disappearing are those two opposing groups who contend that resource conservation is the enemy of business and economic growth and visa versa.”  It is time to celebrate what birding has brought to the Verde Valley. Across the nation, business and political interests have conservation programs under the gun. Here, once odd bedfellows share the glories of nature together—both with advertisements and birding itself. Read More→

A Whiskey-Golden Time

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

By James Bishop, Jr.

As soon as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience oblivion of care, and a freedom from concern…there is nothing which has yet to be contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced by a good tavern.
photo_bishop— Samuel Johnson, London, 1777

Sedona AZ (March 3, 2014) – The news spread faster than a Tea Party Lie. In legendary London, and in villages nearby, 7000 pubs are being closed—forever leaving local quaffers and boozers to face a dreaded, dryer future: No local community gathering place to have a nip, hear the gossip and bet a bit on Cricket.

Longtime Sedonans know that feeling, those that remember the Wrenwood, the old Rainbow, or the Turtle. Then there was the Lemon Peel started by Dick and Peggy Olsen, a young couple from New York City located near where Biddle’s Nursery stands today; the smell of popcorn always filled the air and a mesquite fire crackled in the fireplace whatever the weather outside. Most nights around midnight, the Olsens grilled rib-eye steaks, and a local performer always closed the evening by singing “God Bless America.” One night a local celebrity was in his cups at the bar, quaffing away when a stranger wandered in and asked Dick whether he was the town drunk. “No,” he replied. “Sedona is too small to have a town drunk. So we all take turns.” Read More→

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Thursday, January 30th, 2014

By James Bishop, Jr.
(January 30, 2014) 

photo_bishopMan invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.
Lily Tomlin (1939 – )

Day dies into night wrote the great Tertullian “and is everywhere buried in darkness…and yet again it revives, with its own beauty, its own dowry, the same as before, whole and unimpaired.”

Is that a fair description of Sedona? Read More→

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Neighbors and Other Ironies

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

By James Bishop, Jr.
(January 2, 2014)

The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out alive.
— Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)

photo_bishopNow we know, with John Keats that there is no point in waiting for warm days, now comes a dose of reality as the New Year dawns. Don’t look now, gentle reader, but you, we, every Tom Dick and Harry are knee deep in irony otherwise called incongruities. Consider the principal threats to a healthy community, namely our own.

Some say it’s the tree huggers, others cite liberals or Tea party strategists, or ex- Stalinists or uninformed, vision-less mayors. Truth be known the threats are among us. They are to be seen at the post office, Judi’s and the Grape. No not tourists, not ADOT, no our neighbors; not all our neighbors, maybe less than ten who arrived here from Chicago and from Michigan where they could control the noises around them. Noises like music, chanting, school kids yelling and shouting. “Ironically we came here seeking tranquility—and we thought we’d killed the beast,” shared one former corporate panjandrum with a home near a public park known as the Posse Grounds. Now the city is still considering some sort of performance building up on the Posse Grounds. We are not going away.” Read More→

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Are Political Labels Extinct?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

By James Bishop, Jr.
(November 25, 2013)


In politics absurdity is not a handicap
— Napoleon

In his cups, Doug Rigby, an author in Sedona’s early days, before all the experts in planning and parking arrived, loved to talk. In particular, he loved to tell visitors at the Rainbow Inn saloon that planet Earth, with all its wars, tyrants, dictators, half-wit politicians, crooks and gamblers, battle-hungry generals was here for the simple reason that the Gods needed something to amuse them, so easily bored they can be, from time to time.

Indeed, with all the cutting and running nowadays in Washington where Nixon, a conservative, is now being as a attacked as a left wing liberal for having signed environmental laws; where the U.S. Congress is on the verge of cutting food stamps to the poor, while at the same time handing more benefits to corporate farmers for them not to plant—and calling themselves conservatives. Read More→

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On To Fiddler’s Green

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

By James Bishop

Sedona AZ (November 10, 2013) – In this land the Spanish called the Northern Mystery, rumors  are fast becoming facts: climate change is a myth, a creature of the left-wing press, the proposed National scenic area would threaten small children and private homes while there’s plenty of water and clean air if KSB would just leave town.


Welcome to the new wisdom. It a far, far better thing to know nothing than to know how things truly are in National Forest land in and Sedona. At bottom, it doesn’t take another dance of the seven veils to unveil the ineluctable truth: Nowhere enough people love this special place enough and whatever love they do feel is often offset by dislike of one another. Read More→

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Butterflies Rivers Beauty and Books

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

By James Bishop Jr.
(August 11, 2013)

photo_bishopBeauty is everlasting and dust is for a time
—Marianne Moore

Depending upon who discusses butterflies as this astounding summer winds down either they have disappeared or they are seen everywhere in Camp Verde. Next, either the Verde River is safe from developers and deranged politicians, or it may soon run dry. Finally, either beauty has become a mere commodity separate from commercial hustle and bustle or deliberations about arts and culture remain dominant in political and public discourse.

Well, not just bees are in danger butterflies are too. Take Monarch butterflies those beautiful and storied creatures that migrate south for the winter and north for the summer, just as do many humans. Shockingly, this year the number of Monarchs that took up their habitual winter quarters at a forest in Mexico fell to a two-decade low. Imagine the chagrin of Mexican wildlife authorities and tourism officials who count on the vast clouds of butterflies as a big draw. Experts blame the drought and heat of climate change, as well as farming practices that have wiped out much of the milkweed that nourishes the butterflies during their commute. Read More→

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The Sedona 25 Revealed

Friday, June 28th, 2013

By James Bishop, Jr.
(June 28, 2013) 

photo_bishopSomething wicked this way comes
–W. Shakespeare

Now it can be revealed amidst the numbing glare of quick-hit social-mediated bits and bytes, clouds of tweets and texting: The Great Gatsby was NOT great. Actually, by calling his character “great,” Scott Fitzgerald was being sardonic, even sarcastic.

Sound familiar?

Indeed, great is the word many citizens toss around Tourist Town from Wrenwood to Rene’s, when they talk of Arizona’s great legislature, great Sedona City Council, great mayors and city managers in the Verde Valley. Read More→

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Asleep at The Switch

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

By James Bishop, Jr.
(June 3, 2013)


When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, circa 1890.

Sometimes it feels as though we as a people have entered into the twilight zone where what is an illusion is real and what is real is an illusion. Readers of the Los Angeles Times likely felt way not long ago, I am told, when a research study reported that rapidly melting ice sheets and warming oceans associated with climate change will raise sea levels by six feet or higher on the West Coast—by 2030.

Say what? Read More→

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Who Needs Earth Day?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

photo_bishopBy James Bishop Jr.

It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it. —Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire

“The sedge is withered from the lake, and no birds sing,” —John Keats

Pesticides kill bees sorely needed to pollinate flowers and vegetables. Honeybee populations are declining, air pollution fouls the air above cities from Phoenix to Beijing, Monarch butterflies are changing migration routes and West Virginia mountaintops are being destroyed by coal shovels.

Wait a minute?

What year is this?

It is now. Read More→

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Is Journalism on the Wane?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013


By James Bishop Jr.
(February 13, 2013) 

“It’s been the ride of a lifetime” –Steve Ayers

The esteemed Tom Jefferson himself might feel a modicum of gratitude were he to return today to observe the collapse of print newspapers across America, indeed around the world. As he wrote in the 1800s, “I do not take a single newspaper, or read one a month and I feel myself infinitely happier for it.” Read More→

Whither Sedona Recycles and the Verde River

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

photo_bishopBy James Bishop Jr.
(January 29, 2013)

“Beautiful weather isn’t?” said the postman standing in the rain. Indeed, mismatches between the expected and the actual result are seemingly everywhere. Think of the state politicians blaming teachers for allowing classes to be too large while lobbying at the same time to have more teachers laid off. Think of the professor who never answers questions and never explains the key concepts of the course; however he expects students to read the assignment, and be prepared to answer the professor’s questions. Then there is the issue of Mad Magazine showing Alfred E. Neumann face down in the desert crushed to death by a parachuted crate of first aid supplies. How ironic, a classic mismatch between the expected and the actual result. Sometimes you hear people say “that’s ironic,” when it is not. For example, rain on a wedding day is not ironic, just bad luck. However, if the weatherman predicts sunshine, and it rains cats and dogs, well that’s ironic. Read More→

Media Reporting: Asleep at the Switch?

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

By James Bishop, Jr.
(December 13, 2012)

photo_bishopOur doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt 
- From Measure for Measure

Sunlight is the best disinfectant
- Mr. Dooley

As time goes by, life is becoming so complicated that even Fourth Estate reporters shun delving into challenging conundrums. Consider our energy and our food distribution systems which often cause veteran reporters to stumble all over themselves trying to understand how the global economy actually works. Such is the case with the nation’s educational dilemmas asserts prize-winning Arizona teacher, Elaine Watkins: “In my opinion, the media does a surface job with education. It may be that they can’t understand it.” Read More→

Art Meets Recycling

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

By James Bishop, Jr.

Sedona AZ (October 30, 2012) – Sedona Recycles is proud to launch its latest program “Art In Public Spaces” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to feature the first recycle bin to be adorned with a copy of an original painting by a local artist. Longtime local artist Jack Proctor painted a beautiful Sedona landscape in a Plein air style, which was photographed and turned into a high-definition image to fit a recycle bin. Sedona Recycles’ Art in Public Spaces is in keeping with Sedona’s signature theme, “A city animated by the arts.”

Future bins dressed with art will make the streets of Sedona even more picturesque when viewed against Sedona’s magnificent backdrop. Mayor, Rob Adams and Chamber of Commerce President, Jennifer Wesselhoff will be invited to the ribbon cutting on Saddle Rock Drive at 3 PM on November 8th, 2o12.  Read More→

Creeping Socialism: Is fracking headed our way?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

By James Bishop, Jr.
October 16, 2012 

There was a time when politicians spread tales of women receiving huge taxpayer funds for their allegedly lurid lifestyles which included their refusal to do more with their time each day then wait for the next welfare check. “Welfare Queens,” as they were dubbed in the 1980’s, were leading America down the road to socialism. These days, amidst a nasty election campaign, cries of socialism ring out again about the new healthcare system, even though the new law creates a bonanza for private sector insurance companies.

Now we are hearing about big oil companies which may soon be threatening some of the most melodramatic natural treasures and favorites of many Sedona hikers and campers —- the Canyonlands National Park and even the Arches National Park in Southern Utah. Read More→