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Black Thoughts For Multi-Cultural Readers

BLOG: Necessities, Amenities, Luxuries


We Require The Basic Necessities, Food, Clothing And Shelter; We Value The Amenities, Life, Liberty And Happiness And We Desire Luxuries, Wealth, Leisure And The Esteem Of Others.


Eugene Stovall

Oakland September 2021


The long running National Geographic documentary series, Life Below Zero, produced by BBC Worldwide, films residents of the Alaskan wilderness living at the subsistence level trying to get what they need to survive. Life Below Zero highlights the adventures of Alaskans, Sue Aikens, Chip and Agnes Hailstone, Andy Bassich and Ricko DeWilde, as they cope with subzero weather, avoid the treacherous ice and snow packs and fend off hungry predators. To some, Life Below Zero dramatizes class, culture and race struggle in American.


The Necessities: Food, Clothing And Shelter


Ricko DeWilde

Ricko DeWilde was born and now lives in the Eskimo village of Huslia. Ricko’s Welsh father moved from San America. Francisco to the Alaskan wilderness in the mid-60s. His mother was a Ko-yukon Atha-baskan native. Ricko was raised as a native Alaskan and taught the traditions of native Eskimo culture. Ricko and his friend, Kriska, also a native Alaskan, canoe down the Nenana river in search of new sites. After shooting a goose, they beach their canoe to prepare their midday meal. Kriska prepares a fire as Ricko plucks the goose’s feathers, cuts off the head and pulls out the gizzard, heart, intestines, stomach, lungs, and windpipe. Once the goose has been cleaned, Ricko pierces it on a wooden spit and roasts it over Kriska’s fire. There are plenty of geese around, but Ricko’s heritage requires that he kill only what he needs for food.

After thanking the spirits and eating their goose, Ricko and Kriska climb back into their canoe and resume their journey. The banks of the Nenana are lined with cottonwood, spruce, willow, and alder. The water is filled with debris, vegetation, chunks of ice and logs as big as their canoe. The swift muddy waters swirl around rocks and curve around bends. Boulders, lying just below the river’s surface, could pierce their birch bark animal hide canoe and pitch Ricko, Kriska and their supplies into the icy waters. Seasoned by years of canoeing, Kriska navigates around the Nenana’s dangers. Ricko has not Kriska’s canoeing skills.  A lifetime of living in the Alaskan wilderness has taught Ricko his limitations and that overconfidence in Alaska inevitably leads to disaster.

Chip and Agnes Hailstone


Agnes Hailstone is a native Eskimo. At 19, her husband, Chip, moved to Alaska from Montana. Chip and Agnes live with their seven adult children and grandchildren in the Eskimo village of Noorvik. Located on the Kobuk River, Noorvik has been home to Agnes’ Iñupiat people for thousands of years. When Chip settled in Noorvik, Agnes taught him her family’s nomadic traditions: fishing, hunting and building shelters. During the differing seasons, Chip and Alice follow the moose and caribou and fish for grayling, pike, trout and salmon. Though Chip is not allowed to hunt seal, Agnes and her children provide the seal oil and blubber that give the native people the nutrients they need to survive the subzero temperatures. Agnes and her daughters tan animal skins for clothing, blankets and tents. They use animal parts for goods, jewelry and handicrafts that Agnes sells to tourists.

Andy Bassich

Andy Bassich was born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. In 1980, at the age of 22, Andy moved to Alaska, bought land on the Yukon River at Calico Bluff, and built his dream home. In addition to his two-story home, Andy has cabins, land and water vehicles, heavy and light duty equipment and a supply of building materials, power tools and furnishings. Andy knows the dangers of living so close to the Yukon River, but he is fully confident in his ability to survive.

During the winter, the Yukon River is a highway of solid ice, but in the spring, the ice breaks up and moves westward from British Columbia across Alaska into the Bering Sea. During the spring breakup, millions of tons of ice grind, push and slam down the Yukon River forcing water over the riverbanks, inundating the land on either side. Every year, Andy watches as ice and water flow past Calico Bluff, threatening his dogs, his home and his life.

In 2009, the weather bureau announced the ice break up on May 3rd. and Andy and his wife, Kate, began their preparations for the seasonal event. Andy and machinery hauled the guest cabin that sat on the river bank, seventy feet further up into the yard in front of his home. He fastened his riverboat to its mooring and brought his two skiffs and two canoes up from the river into the yard near the dog kennels. Then Andy secured his vehicles in the garage and machinery in the tool shed.

Within days ice began flowing down the Yukon River past Calico Bluff like magma from a volcano. The ice floes moaned, groaned and screeched as they collided with each other. The volume of noise increased until the racket became deafening. Then catastrophe struck! Downriver, at Six-​Mile Bend, the ice floes, piled upon each until the ice dammed up the entire Yukon river. As tons of water and ice began flowing back towards Calico Bluff, water and ice swept over the riverbanks and a lake began forming in Andy’s yard. First the dog bowls then garden tools, a picnic table, oil drums, logs, tarps and bits of lumber all began floating across the yard towards the river. Andy’s river boat along with the entire riverbank disappeared; water and ice were everywhere.

Sloshing about in icy water, Andy lashed his canoes and skiffs together to form one large floating raft. He maneuvered the makeshift raft across the yard and tied it to his front porch. Kate began radioing for help, but there was no response. Andy’s dogs had all climbed up onto the roofs of their kennels. Andy unclipped the dogs from their leashes and urged them towards his makeshift raft. In the confusion, one dog, Vixen, was not unleashed and drowned. Another dog failed to make the raft and was carried off by the icy water.

In the meantime, the ice dam at Six-Mile Bend gave way and the break up resumed its downriver flow. But suddenly, water burst up from the cellar into the inside of the house. Water began covering the first floor, forcing Andy and Kate to abandon their home and join the dogs in the makeshift raft moored to the front porch. In the gloom, chunks of ice appeared eerily in the beams of their flashlights, then disappeared in the darkness.

In the dawn, though waters were receding, they were still deep enough to tumble a two hundred-pound Rotavator across the yard towards the Yukon river. Then Andy heard a sickening thud; the tool shed floated into the side of the house. One of the canoes, swamped with water, flipped to its side. As it sank, some of the dogs fell into the water. With one foot on the porch and the other on the submerged canoe, Andy tossed drowning dogs onto the porch. Five dogs struggled up the porch onto the deck; three made it, two didn’t. The submerged canoe threatened to sink the entire contraption.  Andy used an axe to hack it away from the remainder of the raft. When the waters disappeared, the yard was strewn with chunks of ice as big as trucks.

Sue Aikens

Sue Aikens operates the Kavik River Camp, a barren refueling depot for bush pilots and helicopters. Located near the arctic circle, Sue’s Kavik River Camp is 500 miles from the nearest city and 80 miles from the nearest road. Living alone, Sue has experienced the loss of electrical power in the dead of winter and the loss of her runway during the spring runoff. But Sue grew up in Fairbanks and loves Kavik’s solitude.

When Sue purchases items through Amazon, they are delivered to Fairbanks and then a bush plane takes three months to deliver her purchase to Kavik. Once, during an emergency, Sue journeyed to Fairbanks to pick up 900 pounds of supplies. A bush pilot dropped Sue and her supplies 10 miles from her camp.  In order to get her supplies to her compound, Sue separated it into 20-pound parcels, and with a wolf pack howling nearby, she threw each 20-pond parcel as far as she could towards her destination. Sue continued the process until she got to her home. But just as she got to there, a bear caught her off guard. Though Sue shot the bear with her .357 magnum handgun, the bear mauled and nearly killed her. Sue used her camp radio to call for help, but no one answered. So she cleaned and stitched her wounds and then waited ten days for help to arrive. 

The Amenities: Life, Liberty And Happiness

Andy Bassich

Andy lives on fruits and vegetables available from his own garden and the surrounding forest. He eats fish from local rivers and streams and, with the help of his dogs, he hunts moose, bear and caribou. Andy’s wife, Kate, left him and Calico Bluff in 2015, complaining that Andy abused her mentally and physically. In 2018, Andy had a snowmobile accident that nearly killed him. Hospitalized in a Florida trauma center for the treatment of his seriously damaged and infected hip, Andy became reacquainted with Denise Becker, a trauma nurse, whom he had met in Alaska some years earlier. When Andy returned to Calico Bluff, Denise accompanied him.


Alice And Chip Hailstone


In 2011, Chip lodged a complaint with local authorities against an Alaskan state trooper, Christopher Bitz, for physically assaulting his daughter Tinmaiq. Later Chip complained about another incident when the same state trooper threatened Tinmaiq with a rifle. Christopher Bitz denied the charge. The local authorities accused Chip of lying to the police and arrested him. A judge sentenced Chip to three years’ probation. When Chip appealed the ruling, the judge revoked Chip’s probation and sentenced Chip to 15 months in prison. Chip was released in 2017. Though a white man, the Alaskan criminal justice system treated Chip Hailstone as if he was a native American. Just like in the lower 48 states, native Americans are subjugated and exterminated so their land and wealth can be stolen.


Sue Aikens

In December 2018, Sue Aikens sued Life Below Zero, alleging that the show’s producers, BBC Worldwide Televison and National Geographic, forced her to crash her snow machine while racing over an icy river. Though she suffered multiple injuries in the crash, the BBC film crew withheld medical treatment while filming additional footage as Sue lay in the snow, writhing in pain. Sue accused BBC and National Geographic of contriving scenes similar to the snowmobile crash in order to heighten the drama in the series. In her complaint, she charged that BBC Worldwide and National Geographic forced her to do whatever the producers wanted, regardless of the danger.

Life Below Zero producers contended that Sue’s contract released them from all responsibility and liability for her injuries. The producers pointed out that, in her contract, Sue agreed: “As a result of my participation in such activities, I acknowledge that I may suffer serious injuries, which could result in my death. Nevertheless, I am voluntarily participating in these activities with knowledge of the danger involved and I assume all risks of personal injury (including death) to myself associated with my participation in the Series [Life Below Zero]”

Sue settled the lawsuit by signing an agreement with BBC Worldwide, stating that she would not "hamper or delay the production schedule" of the Life Below Zero show or demonstrate any unwillingness to cooperate with the show’s producers. The new agreement prevents Sue from refusing to follow any directions of the producers even if she fears for her safety.

Ricko DeWilde

When Ricko was 18 years old, he moved from Huslia, a remote native Indian village of 275 residents, to Fairbanks, a city of close to 50 thousand. Ricko’s new world forced him to make life-shattering adjustments. Having lived a sheltered existence in Huslia, Ricko’s exposure to the life in Fairbanks was disastrous. Fairbanks street-smart kids easily took advantage of the naive eighteen-year old who sought acceptance from his father’s people. Ricko’s new friends got him hooked on oxycodone. Then they sold him cocaine. A snitch turned him into the local cops and before he knew what was happening Ricko had been arrested for possessing cocaine and given a two-year prison sentence for his first offence. After his release, Ricko fled to Huslia.

Luxuries, Wealth, Leisure And The Esteem Of Others


The top earner on Life Below Zero is Sue Aiken, whose annual salary is $200,000. In addition, Sue does the talk show circuit, appearing on "The Ellen Show", "The Joe Rogan Experience," "Sarah Palin's Alaska," "Flying Wild Alaska" and several others. As the owner/operator of Kavik River Camp, Sue earns a substantial income from the refueling business. She also offers Kavik during the summer for fishing and hunting tours. Andy Bassich receives an annual salary of a $100,000 from Life Below Zero. He also operates a wilderness survival camp charging $2000 a week for singles and $2500 a week for couples.  Chip and Agnes Hailstone earn an annual salary of $45,000 from the show. In addition, Agnes earns $25,000 from selling handicrafts, clothing and jewelry. Ricko DeWilde earns an annual salary of $45,000 from Life Below Zero. He has no other income.











Suppressing Voting Rights, Giving Corporations Civil Rights, Imposing Racial Restrictions On Immigration Rights, Denying Women Their Productive Rights___The Supreme Court Continues Its Oligarchic Tradition


Eugene Stovall

Oakland, California August 2021


An oligarchy [Greek olígos meaning "few," and arkhos meaning “rule”] is a government controlled by the few whether royals, nobles, aristocrats or wealthy, religious, military elites operating through secret societies.


From the republic’s beginning, the Supreme Court has defended oligarchs against the people enshrouding its decisions in legalisms. American jurisprudence based upon defending the few and no decision exemplifies the Supreme Court oligarchic tradition more than its Dred Scott v. Sandford decision.


The negro has for more than a century been regarded as beings of an inferior order; and so far, inferior, that they had no rights which the white man is bound to respect ...

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney


Though nowhere in the constitution are the concepts of negro and white man mentioned, Chief Justice Roger Taney, the Supreme Court’s first Catholic justice, ignored the law and called upon his Catholic tradition to impose the Vatican’s political bias on the American constitution. Following in the footsteps of Bishop Bartholomew Las Casas who captured Africans to slave in South American mines, Bishop Diego de Landa Calderón who tortured and murdered Mayans in Mexico and St. Junipero Serra, recently canonized by the current Catholic pope, Francis, who enslaved, tortured and murdered California Indians, Roger Taney imposed Catholic racism rather than constitutional law. Today the Supreme Court has a supra-Catholic majority which defends secret government surveillance, break-ins, abductions, interrogations, detentions, torture murder and the international terrorism required by America’s oligarchs.


When the laws allow evil men to triumph, the justice system is used to compel good men to submit



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