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Christopher Columbus, in his log dated 28 October 1492, reported stepping ashore amid the forests of Cuba. ‘I have never seen anything so beautiful,’ he wrote…It was an idyllic scene – but not what he had come for. From the day they first set foot in the Americas, the Spanish were seeking gold. Columbus had persuaded his Royal patrons back home that his journey, to what he presumed to be Asia, would deliver the contents of the ‘gold mines of Japan’. So, rather than lazing under the palm trees, bird spotting or fraternizing with the natives, Columbus got down to business: ‘The search for gold began the day after our arrival.’
As Columbus, his fellows and successors spread out across the New World, conquering the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru, and scattering the numerous tribes of the Amazon, there was a manic fervour about their search for gold that combined the mercenary and the spiritual. Columbus himself was clear about his dual motivation: ‘Whoever possesses gold can acquire all that he desires…with gold he can gain entrance to paradise.’ As one of the most successful conquistadors, the cruel and handsome Hernando Cortez, put it after sacking the Aztec capital: ‘We have a sickness of the heart for which there is only one cure – gold.’
… To put a missionary spin on things, the priests argued that God put gold among the primitive forest people to encourage Christians to seek them out and convert them. As one priest put it: ‘A father with an ugly daughter gives her a large dowry to marry her, and this is what God did with that difficult land, giving it much wealth in mines so that by this means he would find someone who wanted it.’
... even more than the mythology of the Amazons, the conquistadors came, most of all, to believe in the story of El Dorado, a city of gold deep in the Amazon jungle. Nobody knows quite how the myth got going: some say it had its origins in the traditions of the Chibcha people in the mountains of modern-day Colombia, who said the mountains had once been ruled by an Indian chief who was so wealthy that every morning he got his servants to cover him in gold dust, which he washed off in a lake. However it arose, the myth of El Dorado soon lost all its geographical bearings as conquistadors went up the Orinoco and down the Amazon, over the Andes and into the forests on the continent’s Pacific shores, seeking out the fabled king and his city.
… Walter Raleigh, the sometime favourite of Queen Elizabeth of England, twice sailed up the Orinoco in search of ‘that great and golden city,’ which he called Manoa. He eventually wrote a best-selling book, The Discovery of the Empyre of Guiana, that did much to popularize the legend of El Dorado across Europe.
… Thanks to their earlier sacking of mountain empieres, many of the conquistadors became some of the richest people in Europe – like the billionaires of a modern dot-com boom, which, not coincidentally, has itself often been called a gold rush; and the story of the the search for El Dorado spoke to the heart of a new yearning in Europe to explore and conquer the world in pursuit of personal fortune. According to some commentators, El Dorado was the first great symbol of what became the American dream – ‘a myth of self-creation, personal escape and social transformation’, as writer Mark Cocker put it. But while we can recognize that yearning, it is hard today to understand how the myth of an El Dorado in the jungle persisted against all the evidence. Somehow, the failure of each expedition seemed simply to raise the stakes and embellish the original tale. Was it all madness? Well, perhaps so. But, as we shall see later, all those stories of great jungle cities were not necessarily myths. They may have been there, though they disappeared into the jungle almost whenever and wherever the conquistadors went.
… In the interior of the vast, unexplored island of New Guinea … two Germans, William Dammkohler and Rudolf Oldorp, found the precious metal in 1909…
… in 1922, legendary Australian loner and explorer William ‘Sharkeye’ Park went back to New Guinea and found gold while panning among the trees on Koranga Creek, in Morobe province on the remote, far side of the central highlands…one of the more unlikely gold rushes…all against a backdrop of head-hunting and cannibalism.
… Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, an eccentric British army surveyor…in 1925…he and his son headed into the (Amazon) forest and were never seen again.
… an American bush pilot and aeronautics wizard from Missouri called Jimmy Angel … spent much of the 1920s and 1930s in the headwaters of the Orinoco, looking for a ‘river of gold’ in ‘a land where the plesiosaurs roam’. The story is told that he once found gold on a mountain top, with the help of an Alaskan prospector, James McCracken, whom he had met in a bar in Panama City. But McCracken died soon afterwards and Angel could never find his way back to the right mountaintop.
… Finally, during the 1990s, the forests of Borneo became the scene of the biggest business fraud of all time – a fraud over gold. An obscure Canadian mining company called *Bre-X rose to be one of the most valuable mining companies in the world. Stocks soared on the basis of claims from its small team of explorers that they had found the world’s richest gold mine at Busang, a tiny airstrip in the middle of the jungle, 1,500 kilometres from Jakarta. Thousands of investors, including the ruling Indonesian Suharto family, bought into the company. At their peak in 1997, Bre-X shares were worth more than $4 billion, and the entire gold hoard was valued at $25 billion. El Dorado was back in the headlines, this time on the business pages.
Then doubts crept in: questions were asked about the authenticity of the ore samples being assembled and analysed at a remote jungle laboratory. Sceptics suggested that the samples might have been adulterated – not a difficuolt task since there was no outside supervision and local streams being panned by tribesmen routinely contained small amounts of gold that could be used to ‘salt’ the samples. Then, on his way to answer accusations, the chief field geologist Michael de Guzman – a karaoke-loving Filipino with a prounced limp and four wives – leapt from his helicopter into the jungle. By the time they found his body, half-eaten by forest animals, a few days later, the mine had been deemed worthless and the company’s value had crashed to nothing. (From the chapter entitled, In Search of El Dorado, at pgs. 22-35)
The Globe and Mail 'The end of the trail' Ten years ago, $6.1-billion vanished when tests found next to no gold in an Indonesian mine. Now, the only man to stand trial has been cleared of $84-million in insider-trading charges. Civil suits are pending, but for many investors Tuesday's ruling means just one thing.
By Paul Waldie and Janet McFarland
Investors burned by the world's biggest mining fraud were dealt a blow yesterday when John Felderhof, former vice-chairman of *Bre-X Minerals Ltd., was found not guilty of illegally selling $84-million worth of shares in the company.
Mr. Felderhof, 67, was the only former Bre-X official to stand trial over the firm's collapse. He was charged with four counts each of illegal insider trading and issuing false press releases but was not accused of involvement in the fraud that saw $6.1-billion of shareholder wealth eradicated in 1997 when tests found virtually no gold at Bre-X's much-touted Busang site in Indonesia.
... The ruling means that 10 years after the company's collapse, Bre-X shareholders know nothing more about who was responsible for the fraud, and have now been told one of the key people at the centre of the case was not negligent in allowing the fraud to occur under his watch. It also means the long fight by investors to recover money from company insiders has been dealt a significant blow.
... The quasi-criminal charges against Mr. Felderhof were laid by the Ontario Securities Commission under the Ontario Securities Act. The OSC argued that Mr. Felderhof was ultimately responsible for misleading investors because he authorized press releases touting the amount of gold at the site. OSC witness Graham Farquharson, a geological expert, said there was a "basket of warning signs" in test results that should have served as red flags to Mr. Felderhof.
In his ruling, Mr. Justice Peter Hryn of the Ontario Court of Justice concluded the so-called "red flags" were only visible in hindsight, and said Mr. Farquharson seemed to be the only expert who saw them. He noted numerous other mining companies, engineering firms and experts were also duped by the same data.
in fall fields,
in rumpy bunches,
saffron and orange and pale gold,
in little towers,
soft as mash,
sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,
full of bees and yellow beads and perfect flowerlets
and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose
much notice comes of it, except for honey,
and how it heartens the heart with its
I don’t suppose anything loves it except, perhaps,
the rocky voids
filled by its dumb dazzle.
I was just passing by, when the wind flared
and the blossoms rustled,
and the glittering pandemonium
leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business
when I founc myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,
and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,
that is better than these light-filled bodies?
on the airy backbones
they toss in the wind,
they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.
The Globe and Mail Report on Business A Game of Risk Lukas Lundin is betting the family business on a breakneck expansion plan, high-stake ventures into politically unstable regions and a fervent hope the resource boom doesn't go bust. His father would have been proud.
By Timothy Taylor
There is a story Lucas Lundin tells about how he and his brother Ian ended up running the family business, the Lundin Group of Companies, which includes the Fancouver-based Lundin Mining Corp. His father, Adolf, the Swedish oil and mining entrepreneur who passed away late last year, had taken the family ot the French Riviera for a holiday. He took his boys - Lukas was 12 at the time, Ian 10 - to a cafe for lunch. Over dessert, Adolf, who had only just begun his own entrepreneurial career in investments, looked across the table at his boys and announced that the time for a decision had come. "Which of you will be my mining engineer, and which of you will take care of the oil? You have 10 minutes."
... "He (Adolf) really went belly up," Lukas says, with a shake of the head. But with a small chuckle, too, as he is now able to really empathize with his father's position, understanding that in a business renowned for radical ups and downs, you must take the long view. "We had a fancy house on the lake in Geneva," he continues. "So we sold that. We moved into some farmhouse in France. My mother was a good sport, but it must have been very hard on him."
No guts, no glory, Adolf Lundin would have siad, citing his personal motto. Still, he might also have acknowledged that a little old-fashioned luck never hurt, either. That same year, returning to Geneva from Canada, Adolf had one of those life-changing encounters of which Hollywood screenwriters are so fond . Ahmed El Dib was the man's name.
They met at Paris's Orly airport and got to talking, the way two travellers do. It turned out Ahmed had just been let go by an oil exploration company called Basic Resources, and had the foresight to take an option on a Qatari oil concession as severance payment. Ahmed, Adolf learned, listening raptly in the departure lounge that day, was in the market for partners with the appetite for risk and some negotiating savvy.
And he had found one. Later that same year, Adolf nailed down the deal. Not easily, of course. The Emir of Qatar needed $1 million (U.S.) for his trouble, but the money couldn't merely be handed over directly. That would have been bribery and beneath the royal dignity.
"So my father bet the Emir that it would rain the next day," Lukas says. "Of course, it never rains in Qatar, so...the Emir got his million and Dad got the concession."
The project became Gulfstream Resources, which became the North Dome gas discovery in the Persian Gulf, which by 1979 represented $15 million worth of share value in Adolf Lundin's pocket. (-- pgs. 57-59)
Yup and one more, too:
...(He (Lukas)'d started with the company (Musto Explorations) in 1977, going to Saskatchewan to stake uranium claims during his summer breaks from high school. "I was a terrible student," Lukas remembers. "My poor father." During his last year at school, he visited his brother in New Mexico - where Ian was working for another Lundin company - and had an epiphany. He wanted to quit school and enroll in the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He bluffed his way in without a diploma, then, a year later, went back to his high school in Geneva and negotiated for the certificate retroactively on the strength of his good marks from first-year university. Like father, like son. (-- p. 59)
...When economic opportunities start to narrow, towns have to cultivate a middle class, people who value security over the chance to get rich. In those circumstances, a bank looks more sensible than a poker game.
A variant of this system was documented in Yukon gold rush camps later in the century. It probably happened elsewhere, but we have no record. Miners would work all season, then play poker all winter. The winners could leave, having accumulated as much as they could carry, and as much as they needed to be wealthy for life. The losers would mine for another season and try their luck again. This is much more efficient than everyone working until he gets a required stake. By concentrating assets, some people got to leave early, which opened places for newcomers. (From Chapter Five, Pokernomics, at p. 143)
The famous Flaying of Marsyas, conserved in the gallery of the Archbishop's Palace in Kromeriz, is one of the greatest masterpieces of Titian's late style. The artist painted it towards the end of his life, between 1570 and 1576, with the large areas of almost incandescent color that were typical of his late work.
... A self-portrait of Titian has been identified in the face of the king who could turn all that he touched into gold, but who belonged to the defeated civilization: like the mythological figure, the artist had also been granted the gift of turning any material into gold by means of his brush. The melancholy air of Titian-Midas seems to indicate his awareness that the gift is transitory and irrelevant in the face of the violence and tragic, inevitable progression of the history of mankind. (-- pgs. 160-161)
In the contest between Apollo and Marsyas, the terms stated that the winner could treat the defeated party any way he wanted. Since the contest was judged by the Muses, Marsyas naturally lost and was flayed alive in a cave near Celaenae for his hubris to challenge a god. Apollo then nailed Marsyas' skin to a tree, near Lake Aulocrene (Karakuyu Gölü). His brothers, nymphs, gods and goddesses mourned his death and their tears turned into the river Marsyas (in west-central Turkey, which joins the Menderes river (Meander) near Celaenae), according to the book Metamorphoses by Ovid. (From Wikipedia)
Mogie Yellow Lodge(voiceover of Mogie's final communique, a letter to his younger brother, Rudy, the vigilante cop, before dying of cirrhosis of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism in response to conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation): ... I'm not afraid to die. No, maybe I lied when I said I'm not afraid. I am very afraid. So be it. My brother, you must do one thing for me. You must take care of Herbie (Mogie's son). You made a life for yourself and you are someone he can look up to. When your turn comes, I'll be waiting to welcome you into the spirit world ... if that's where I am. That is what scares me the most. What if the Wovoka was right - that there IS a hell and I get shipped there? Ha-ha. Well, at least I've got a 50-50 chance.
... Henry Morgan had come to know the buccaneering soul. He lifted out the brains of his men and molded them for battle. He spoke to their fears.
"It is nine days' journey back to the river mouth where the ships lie - nine days, and no food at all. You could not get to the ships even if you wanted to run away. And here is Panama. While you were sleeping like hogs, the scouts were busy. Before this city, four thousand soldiers are drawn up, with wings of cavalry. These are not countrymen with guns and knives, but drilled soldiers in red coats. This is not all. There are bulls to be loosed against you - against you cattle hunters." A laugh followed his last words. Many of these men had lived in the jungle and had made their livelihood with hunting wild cattle.
The captain rubbed their avarice:
"Gold and jewels past hope of counting are in the city. Every man of you will be rich if we succeed."
"Think of the roasted meats, the barrels of wine in the cellars, the spiced puddings. Imagine them!"
"Women slaves there are in the city, and thousands of other women, God knows! Your difficulty will be only in judging which to choose from the multitude that will fall to us. These are not grubby field women, but great ladies who lie in silken beds. How will your skins feel in beds like those, do you suppose?"
And last, because he knew them very well, he raised the standard of their vanity.
"The names of those who take part in this fight will climb the stairs of history. This is no pillage, but glorious war. Imagine to yourselves the people of Tortuga pointing to you and saying, 'That man was in the fight at Panama. That man is a hero, and rich.' Think how the women of the Goaves will run after you when you go home again. There is the *Cup of Gold before you. Will you run away? Many will die in the field today, but those who remain will carry golden Panama home in their pockets."(From Chatpter Four, Part II, at pgs. 154-155)
Henry Morgan lifted a *golden cup from the heap of loot. It was a lovely, slender chalice with long curved handles and a rim of silver. Around its outer edge four grotesque lambs chased each other, and inside, on the bottom, a naked girl lifted her arms in sensual ecstasy. The captain turned the cup in his hands. Then, suddenly, he hurled it at a little fiery pyramid of diamonds. The stones scattered from their neat pile with a dry, rustling sound. Henry Morgan turned and went back to his serpent chair... (From Chapter Two, Part V at p. 175)
VO’s 2007-2008 touring production for young audiences will make a stop September 29, 2007 in historic Barkerville, B.C. And for good reason: the show is The Barber of Barkerville, an adaptation by Ann Hodges of Rossini’s famous opera. Set in Barkerville during the Cariboo Gold Rush, the story features Al, a young miner who has struck it rich; Rosie, a young woman of estimable beauty and wit, and the apple of Al’s eye; and Bart de Ville, Rosie’s over-protective boss and proprietor of the Hotel Barkerville. And of course Figaro, the town’s professional fixer. The Barber of Barkerville, featuring a cast of four energetic and talented young singers and a nimble-fingered pianist, will enthrall nearly 50,000 school children in schools and community venues across B.C. The show is proving to be extremely popular: it’s almost entirely booked, through to the spring of 2008, and the Barkerville show is nearly sold out.
Consisting of four rising young Canadian opera singers, a pianist and a stage manager, Vancouver Opera In Schools' touring ensemble travels throughout British Columbia, performing on stages and in schools. These talented artists appear at venues as diverse as school gyms, local firehalls and community theatres. Now in its 35th season, Vancouver Opera in the Schools has brought more than 1.6 million people to the magical world of opera. Each year, nearly 50,000 school children and families see a performance by the ensemble. Specially adapted for younger audiences and performed in English, these fully-staged and costumed operas last approximately 45 minutes, and are followed by a short question and answer period with the cast. A gym floor and an excited audience are all that’s required. Teachers are provided with a comprehensive study guide and excerpt CD to help prepare their students for the presentation.
The Barber of Barkerville
Adaptation written for Vancouver Opera by Ann Hodges.
Touring BC schools and communities
September 2007 - April 2008
Music Director, Kinza Tyrell
Stage Director, Ann Hodges
Adapted from one of the world's most popular operas, Rossini's comic masterpiece The Barber of Seville has been relocated to BC's historic Barkerville during the exciting Gold Rush.
To book a performance in your school or community venue, please contact:
Patrick LeBlanc, Education Manager. 604-682-2871 ext. 4835
He (Liebniz) settled in nearby Nuremberg, and had no trouble fitting into the learned societies there. One of the groups he became acquainted with was an alchemical society. The story is that he wanted to gain access to their society and secrets but, since he was an outsider, he did not have a way in. So he devised a plan. He consulted the most difficult alchemical textbooks he could find and wrote down the most obscure words that they contained, and he came up with a paper that was both impressive and meaningless. He later admitted that it made no sense whatsoever, even to him. But he so impressed the alchemists at his ability to write profoundly that they gladly welcomed him into their society and made him their secretary. For months, he joined them in discussion and debate. Later, though, he was to denounce the cult of alchemy as the "gold-making fraternity." (From The Affair of the Eyebrow, pg. 54)
That congested heaping up of the Rocky Mountain chain about Pike's Peak was a blank space on the continent at this time. Even the fur trappers, coming down from Wyoming to Taos with their pelts, avoided that humped granite backbone. Only a few years before, Fremont had tried to penetrate the Colorado Rockies, and his party had come half-starved into Taos at last, having eaten most of their mules. But within twelve months everything had changed. Wandering prospectors had found large deposits of gold along Cherry Creek, and the mountains that were solitary a year ago were now full of people. Wagon trains were streaming westward across the prairies from the Missouri River.
The Bishop of Leavenworth wrote Father Latour that he himself had just returned from a visit to Colorado. He had found the slopes under Pike's Peak dotted with camps, the gorges black with placer miners: thousands of people were living in tents and shacks, Denver City was full of saloons and gambling-rooms; and among all the wanderers and wastrels were many honest men, hundreds of good Catholics, and not one priest. The young men were adrift in a lawless society without spiritual guidance. The old men died from exposure and mountain pneumonia, with no one to give them the last rites of the Church.
This new and populous community must, for the present, the Kansas bishop wrote, be accounted under Father Latour's jurisdiction. His great diocese, already enlarged by thousands of square miles to the south and west, must now, on the north, take in the still undefined but suddenly important region of the Colorado Rockies. The Bishop of Leavenworth begged him to send a priest there as soon as possible, - an able one, by all means, not only devoted, but resourceful and intelligent, one who would be at his ease with all sorts of men. He must take his bedding and camp outfit, medicines and provisions, and clothing for the severe winter. At Camp Denver there was nothing to be bought but tobacco and whisky. There were no women there, and no cook stoves. The miners lived on half-baked dough and alcohol. They did not even keep the mountain water pure, and so died of fever. All the living conditions were abominable. (From Gold Under Pike's Peak, pgs. 244-245)
Just how Brown lost his money he never said. The cost of mining operations and commodities were certainly factors. During the summer of 1862, for example, The British Colonist, July 22, 1862, reported that shovels and axes sold for $10; coffee fetched $1.50 per pound; flour retailed at $70 per hundredweight; and whisky, the standard antidote for sickness, injury and despair, brought $12 to $18 per gallon, quality and strength unknown. With the advent of winter transportation costs rose, commodities grew scarcer and prices in the winter settlement around Williams Lake rose proportionately. Apart from the high prices for commodities or necessities, there were other ways of losing money. The temptations of gambling and strong drink were ever present, but at least one saloon in Williams Lake provided an additional innocuous attraction in the form of billiards at a dollar game. The British Colonist, September 10, 1862, offers another possibility, and simultaneously reveals the wide social variations characteristic of a wide open frontier community:
The prostitutes on the creek - nine in number - put on great airs. They dress in male attire and swagger through the saloons and mining camps with cigars or huge quids of tobacco in their mouths, cursing and swearing and looking like anything but the angels in petticoats heaven intended they should be. Each has a revolver or bowie knife attached to her waist, and it is quite a common occurrence to see one or more women dressed in male attire playing poker in the saloons, or drinking whisky at the bars. They are degrading set, and all good men in the vicinity wish them hundreds of miles away.
While life in Cariboo was hard and uncertain in its rewards, the very nature of the society which flowered in that remote vastness created condiions which spawned trouble. The prospect of easy money attracted men, and as The British Colonistst so pointedly observed, women of dubious character, with the result that brawls, robberies and even killings were not infrequent ...
For the next year and a half, trapping and mining fully occupied Kootenai. He toiled long hard hours in the midst of the great lonely splendours of mountains and rivers, making his way through the winter stillness, or playing cards, indulging in horseplay with friends and spending money in crowded saloons. By his own admission his efforts did not result in a spectacular strike or riches that may have been the stuff of dreams in far-off England and Ireland:
I had no money when I went into Cariboo and I had none when I came out in 1864, but I had a little fortune for awhile in between. Like thousands of other miners I made and lost a fortune in two years. When I left Williams Creek I had fifty cents in my pocket; my clothes were in rags; I had no shirt and no socks, but I had a pair of good boots. When I got to Boston Bar, a little village on the Fraser River, I still had fifty cents in my pocket. (-- pgs. 47-49)
I had been placer mining in the Cariboo district of British Columbia for two years and came down to Wild Horse Creek, where with four others I staked a claim near the mouth of the creek. It was not "panning" very well, so we sold out to a company of Chinamen for one hundred dollars apiece and one horse. We took twenty-five chips apiece and gambled for the horse - and I won.
... Having disposed of our holdings on the creeks, the five of us packed through the South Kootenai Pass and soon after started for Edmonton, where we heard they were mining placer gold on the Saskatchewan River. We had no very clear knowledge of where Edmonton was, and there was no one to tell us. (-- p. 56)
Every exile makes his own map. -- Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1992
Struck by the international community's culpability in the genocide of Rwanda, Linda Svendsen and Brian McKeown began their research into refugee stories six years ago.
They took their examination of refugees from war-torn African countries to Susan Morgan, CBC's Creative Head of TV Arts and Entertainment. What they had was a two-hour special. Morgan wanted more. She wanted to step behind the doors of immigrants and refugees. But she wanted to do so on a large canvas - a six-hour miniseries. And, Morgan had another important suggestion - shoot part of the story where it starts - on location in Africa.
Svendsen and McKeown attended refugee hearings, met with Immigration Refugee Board Members and Hearing Officers as well as refugee lawyers. They consulted immigrant service and settlement workers; read documents from Amnesty International, Lawyers for Human Rights, United Nations High Commission for Refugees. It was time to bring all of this together. In a rented boardroom on Vancouver's West Broadway, the writers placed six pieces of paper of their writing table - one sheet for each hour. Everything that happened in an hour went on its designated page. They constructed six interweaving stories about six strong characters, each of whom carries an ongoing story line.
"Linda and I believe that Canadian refugee hearings are profoundly dramatic. The claimant's case turns on something very primitive, very profound," McKeown said. "One person faces another and a judgment is made. Clear and simple or tainted with prejudice, presumption and misunderstanding. Either way, a life depends on that judgment."
The characters in Human Cargo are the conservative member of the refugee board, Nina Wade (Kate Nelligan); a driven refugee lawyer, Jerry Fischer (Nicholas Campbell); Moses Buntu (Bayo Akinfemi), a refugee fleeing Burundi's civil war; Nina's daughter Helen, an aid-worker (Cara Pifko); Naila, an Afghan refugee (Myriam Acharki) and Moses' sister Odette Kaba (Ntathi Moshesh), who is caught in the civil war with her three children. The six-hour series was shot in Canada and South Africa, features 125 speaking parts and over three thousand extras.
The main characters intersect, but the heart of the story is Moses Buntu, a Hutu schoolteacher, torn from his village and family, imprisoned and tortured. He escapes and embarks on a journey from hell to get to Canada. Moses carries with him a story that threatens to shake the power elite.
"The most humbling thing for me was to see how our material, material written for people from other cultures resonated with the actors," said McKeown "Our cast members brought history and experiences to the script. They made our material real."
"I think that every human being is, to some extent, a refugee," Svendsen commented. "We have all, at some level, experienced exclusion. That's what I wanted to explore." (From Production Notes)
"I happened into one of the leading saloons and gambling joints in Juneau in 1897 at the beginning of the Klondike rush. Dan McGrew, one of the most prominent gamblers of the camp, was dealing far, while Lou watched the game as his 'capper," [someone who helps players mark their bets with coin-like copper cap,"] Dr. Sugden recalled. "The door opened and a tall stranger with matted beard and bare at the throat came in the door. He was a striking figure of a man."
Dr. Sugden's version much resembles Robert Service's. The stranger ordered a couple of rounds of drinks and noted the "Rag Time Kid" was at the bar, so he sat down on the Kid's piano stool and gave a wonderful concert. "The rattle of chips ceased and he held the crowd spellbound," Dr. Sugden recounted. "He ran the gamut from the classics to rag and ended with a wild and crashing Russian overture."
Then, true to Robert Service, the stranger sprang from his still and faced the crowd. "There's a dirty hound from hell in this crowd and I came here tonight to kill him," he declared, looking squarely in the eyes of Dan McGrew, who quietly drew his revolver. The bartender, accustomed to gunplay, turned out the lights to ruin the aim of the combatants. Both McGrew and the stranger died in the shoot-out that followed, and Dr. Sugden recalled seeing "the lady that was known as Lou" take a poke of gold dust from the pocket of the stranger, just as the lights flashed on. (-- p. 269)
The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses
By Robert W. Service
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a rag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.
There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he'd do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.
His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway,
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A helf-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow, and red, the North Lights swept in bars? —
Then you've a hunch what the music meant . . . hunger and might and the stars.
And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowded with a woman’s love —
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true —
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, — the lady that’s known as Lou.)
Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through —
"I guess I'll make it a spread misere," said Dangerous Dan McGrew.
The music almost dies away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll bet my poke they're true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew."
Then I ducked my head and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark;
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I'm not denying it’s so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
The woman that kissed him — and pinched his poke — was the lady known as Lou.
(From The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses. [Also published in Britain under the title, Songs of a Sourdough by Robert W. Service. Publishers: Barse & Co. New York, N.Y., Newark, N.J.. Copyright, 1916 by Barse &&038; Co. [expired in the USA])
The Call of the Wild
By Jack London
Illustrated by Philippe Munch
One of The Whole Story Series,
annotated with an impressive array of drawings and
obscure historical photos of the Klondike Gold Rush
carefully selected and cited by Éditions Gallimard
That winter, at Dawson, Buck performed another exploit, not so heroic, perhaps, but one that put his name many notches higher on the totem-pole of Alaskan fame. This exploit was particularly gratifying to the three men; for they stood in need of the outfit which it furnished, and were enabled to make a long desired trip into the virgin East, where miners had not yetappeared. It was brought about by a conversation in the Eldorado Saloon, in which men waxed boastful of their favourite dogs. Buck, because of his record, was the target of these men, and Thornton was driven stoutly to defend him. At the end of half an hour one man stated that his dog could start a sled with five hundred pounds and walk off with it; a second bragged six hundred for his dog; and a third, seven hundred.
"Pooh! pooh!" said John Thornton; "Buck can start a thousand pounds."
"And break it out? And walk off with it for a hundred yards?" demanded Matthewson, a Bonanza King, he of the seven hundred vaunt.
"And break it out, and walk off with it for a hundred yards," John Thornton said coolly.
"Well," Matthewson said, slowly and deliberately, so that all could hear, "I've got a thousand dollars that says he can't. And there it is." So saying, he slammed a sack of gold dust of the size of a bologna sausage down upon the bar.
Nobody spoke. Thornton's bluff, if bluff it was, had been called. He could feel a flush of warm blood creeping up his face. His tongue had tricked him. He did not know whether Buck could start a thousand pounds. Half a tone! The enormousness of it appalled him. He had great faith in Buck's strength and had often thought him capable of starting such a load; but never, as now, had he faced the possibility of it, the eyes of a dozen men fixed upon him, silent and waiting. Further, he had no thousand dollars; nor had Hans or Pete. (-- p. 95)
The Chilkoot Pass
From the shores of Dyea and Skagway, there are two routes toward Dawson City, the heart of the gold basin, and the fabled Klondike, a gregion named for the river running through it. The first route is the White Pass. At first access here looks easy - the pass is low, the trail passes over hills - but farther on there are chasms and riverbeds to cross; in autumn the trail turns into a river of mud; in winter it's a virtual skating rink. The second route climbs to the Chilkoot Pass at a height of over 3.282 feet (1,000 meters), on a glacial, windswept trail that the 25,000 people who climbed it made legendary. At the foot of the pass, the Canadian Mounted Police required every newcomer to bring along a year's worth of supplies. Some gave up, others lingered trying to get these supplies, only to be duped by con men. Others began the climb, carrying part of their supplies. Once at the top, they had no choice but to climb back down and brave the wearying ascent again until they amassed all they needed. This process could last as long as three months. In 1925 Charlie Chaplin's film The Gold Rush immortalized this "climb to hell." (Cutline with photos and illustrations, pgs. 30-31)
Situated where the Yukon and Klondike rivers meet, Dawson City (top) became the gold capital. A mere trading post before the gold rush of July 1898, the city became one of the largest in the Northwest in a matter of three weeks: several banks were built, five churches, a theater, and thirty saloons that offered the miners means to squander their earnings quickly. The cost of living and services quintupled in just a few months. A carpenter, a cook, or a bartender could earn a great deal of money. Even if the miners didn't strike it rich, at least the merchants were guaranteed profits. Bags of gold arrived with mounted police escort (bottom left) to accompany them to the bank vaults. This spectacular entrance roused the hopes and dreams of the whole population stranded in this outpost where, in summer, the streets became virtual mud pits in which men and beasts alike wallowed (center left). Dawson City was no haven for the down-and-out: the Mounted Police made every effort to convince them to leave a city whose supplies, brought by small steamboats going upriver, could not be assured in the long winter months. (Cutline with photos and illustrations, pgs. 50-51)
Tensions between men were high. Disappointment and despair at failing to strike it rich, as well as alcohol and gambling, caused violent fights. Boxing matches for betting stakes were also organized in the bars. (Cutline under illustration, p. 91)
Gang ringleader Soapy Smith terrorized Skagway, where he controlled gambling and prostitution, until his slaying by a rival in July 1898. Skagway, like Dawson City, was a dangerus place; its money lured many con men, prostitutes, and professional gamblers. The Mounted Police were too few to maintain order in a city whose population could triple or quadruple in a matter of weeks. (Cutline above photo of a jauntily moustached Soapy, p. 94)
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