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KNPR

River Mysteries and New Friends

River riddle

“I have run these canyons for six million years,” begins a stunning video by photographer, writer and filmmaker Pete McBride. Titled,“The Colorado River – the Most Endangered River in America 2013,” the piece is written as a first-person riddle, with cryptic lines read alternately by female (Amy Beatie) and male (Duke Beardsley) narrators. McBride lays hints like, “I am not the strongest or largest, but I am the hardest-working” over aerial shots that showcase the Colorado’s aesthetic and utilitarian wonders — Utah farmland to Grand Canyon. And it’s presentation with a point: “Use me wisely, and I will sustain you. Use me like you have, and I will break.” McBride has taken nonprofit American Rivers’ designation of the Colorado as the country’s most endangered waterway and created a powerful homage to a natural resource whose strength is being tested. Although the designation came more than a year ago, current events — such as last week’s announcement that Southern Nevada may need a third pump to suck water from Lake Mead’s dead pool in order to sustain the population going forward — demonstrate its unfortunately persistent relevance. — Heidi Kyser

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Friendsgiving

When Thanksgiving rolls around, what do the strays do? The people without a deep bench of family or network of local meat-world friends cultivated over decades, the luxury of the longtimer — you know, a significant wedge of the Southern Nevada population? They do Friendsgiving.

As distinct from the family-centric Thanksgiving — with its humming emotional background radiation of co-produced dramas, conflicts, triumphs and shames that can reallllly sour a promising party vibe — Friendsgiving is a holiday gathering of strays and singles. And in Las Vegas, a city of strays and free radicals, I’d argue that freewheeling, ad hoc Friendsgiving is a tradition much more relevant to the Vegas experience than forking awkwardly at mom’s walnut stuffing while Uncle Bill regales you with his recent medical history. At Friendsgiving, superficial connections make for deep festivity: We’re not gathering here out of obligation, forced to scootch around our ungainly backstories (the breakup, the accident, the job they think you still have) over bean casserole; we want to be here, and this is the story. Thus the guy inexplicably, you know, just hanging out in overalls and Rollerblades, and your new friends chasing whiskey shots with pickle juice (“It makes it like it never happened!”), and people with otherwise not even a residue of interest in boxing loudly betting a fancy-schmancy dinner on the Pacquiao/Algieri fight as it blorps out, digitized and chunky, from some sketchy graynet streaming service. What is this Amaro Montenegro stuff? Taste like grapefruit. Whose flaphat is this on my head? Whose cigarettes are these and can I have one? Who are these people? They’re your new friends; give thanks for them. — Andrew Kiraly

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