Rhino's Blog : Political activism, commentary & satire from a 5th generation San Franciscan,
                                    filmmaker, father, paramedic, and Indigenous rights activist
Updated: 1/8/07; 10:42:28 AM.



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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rhino sunrise

"You have noticed that the truth comes into this world with two faces.

One is sad with suffering and the other laughs;

but it is the same face laughing or weeping."

— Black Elk, Lakota Sioux


First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for their letters, emails and kindness to our family during the last year.

Nearly a year ago, on Sunday January 15th, 2006, Rhino was laid to rest. As with everything else about Rhino, even that has a story.

The Saturday before the service my dear friend Audrey Wells rented a suite on the 39th floor of the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in San Francisco. She promptly ordered tea and cookies and started a bath. I lay soaking feeling totally relaxed … taking a temporary detour from the week's hurdles.

Suddenly, an alarm went off.

I leapt out of the bath and into a robe, and quickly joined Audrey as we were ordered to evacuate the hotel. Half-naked and partially relaxed, we started down the stairs thinking, “What else could go wrong?”

When we reached the 29th floor we still hadn't see any other people so we decided to duck into a Bank of Canada office and call the hotel desk. They told us it was a false alarm and sent someone to rescue us. I couldn't help but thinking this was Rhino reaching out to help from some sort of adjacent afterlife, venting his anger for not getting to be here with us.

The service was very much like this anecdote and Rhino himself: Honest, caring, full of integrity, happy, embedded with comedy. The friends, family, and colleagues who spoke at the service all made evident the irrevocable reality that there is now an empty space in our lives. But what he gave to us is invincible, and immortal. Gary “Rhino” Rhine made life muscle-like, ever-evolving, ever-growing, ever-stronger. He dedicated himself to love and compassion, and the pursuit of truth in a world full of vagaries. His endeavors continue to blossom in the thousands of lives he has touched — especially mine.

Recently, I was sifting through the archives on his computer when I found the Valentines Day card he gave me in 2002. Sharing it here is the best way to describe our relationship and love for each other:

"V" is for how valuable you are to me and for the Value you put in the things I believe in.

"A" is for how you Adore me like no one else ever could or would.

"L" is for, what else, the Love we have together.

"E" is for how we Evoke the best from each other.

"N" is for the Naughtiness that makes you laugh and cry with delight.

"T" is for all the Time we have left to spend together.

"I" is for the Intimate life we share with no one else.

"N" is for the New things we still learn about each other, and

"E" is for the Elation we felt when we realized we'd found our soul mates.


Amorously, Rhino

There aren't words big enough to give tribute to this man, or to his blog. How do we leave things the way Rhino would have wanted?

I offer a word: Respond.

Respond to your environment, to your culture, to your government, to your love ones, and to yourself. Make yourself an active participant in the shaping of history. Fight complacency. Inquire about decency. Employ compassion, and denounce cruelty. Give more than you think you can, help more than you think possible. Respond to the global community.

And love . . . recklessly. Love with intention. Find the words that articulate that love. Find the gestures. Make sure those you love know it.

Through Rhino I've learned that when a child has a bad father, she or he never gets over it, no matter how long that father lives, but when a child has a great father, even if he leaves too soon, the child is prepared for life. What a great father give you is in you forever and cannot be taken away.

Speaking of family, I want to thank mine — Casey, David, Leah, Emmy, Odessa, Demian, Jeremy and Joshi — for helping me endure these difficult times. To Casey, special thanks for coming to live with me for the last year. It's the kind of selfless sacrifice that Rhino would have been proud of.

Finally, I want to ask all of you, Please, be good to each other. Time is unreliable, and we must use it wisely. My hope is that you read this letter, and it will inspire you to push harder in your endeavors, to continue to steer yourself and the world towards what is right.

And now, in closing, I'd like to end with a classic Rhino joke: "Why does King Kong have such big nostrils?" "Because he has such big fingers!"

And for me? I had perfection, a Rhinolicious life. Gary, I love you and miss you.

With love, Ms. Rhino (Irene Romero)

Rhino and bird cross road at dusk

"There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestial ball,

and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all."

— Ogden Nash



I forwarded to Mike and Gail. I would like to say that after 1000 letters from

many people I have not met, Peter Coyote was right,  Gary was a "Voice

for the Voiceless." He was an amazing human being who cared more for other

people and their problems. Not very many of them left in this world today.

Let’s all take a lesson from Gary and do a good deed for another human

being this year and pass on his blessing of caring for others. I do not have

his gift of writing what he felt about the ills of the world, but I am trying.

His Mother,


Rhino sun

“I would rather be ashes than dust.
I would rather that spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dryrot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper function of man is to live, not exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”

— Jack London (1876-1916)


— Michael Rhine

Gary was so important to so many people. Father, husband, filmmaker,
activist, pilot, the list goes on and on. He was always busy and always
involved in so many projects.

So as his little brother I always cherished the times I had with Gary,
which were few and far between. As his younger brother my time with him
was fleeting to begin with and now a year removed from his passing I
continue to think of the little things we did together that made me
admire and love him so.

I think about the times where he and I were by ourselves, just hanging
out for a few hours talking and laughing. I took so much pride in
getting Gary to laugh instead of him throwing joke after joke at me.
When I made him smile or break-up I relished in that.

These moments are mine and nobody else.

Time in the edit bay, a drive up Highway One, hanging out at the house
or even the one chance I had to fly with him. None of these moments
were important or life changing or accomplished anything.

They were just about getting to spend quality time with my big brother
who I saw so infrequently and miss more and more as life moves forward
without him.

Trippy Rhino

"O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

William Shakespeare
"The Tempest"


                        — Benjamin Bratt

The first time I met Gary, I thought he was a trippy dude. It was at a party at the Mill Valley Film Festival in the early nineties and he was telling me about Irene, his Chicana girlfriend. He shared that he had three lovely daughters from another relationship, and that Irene had two sons of her own. Made for an interesting household, he said.

And because he was Jewish and Irene was Mexican, they dubbed themselves "the Jew-cano Brady Bunch." He was funny and smart as he peppered me with a handful of jokes (most of them corny, all of them charming). In this crowded room of the too-hip-to trip, he had a look of bemusement on his face, a closed-lip half-smile and a twinkle in his eye that said he was in on the joke . . . all of the jokes.  

I fell in love with him immediately.

The truth is so did most people who had the pleasure to meet him. It was easy to do. He was the best kind of human being.  Because he recognized how good he had it, he was eager to share it with others. He had a wife that he was crazy about and who loved him back with equal ferocity. He had children who could burst his heart with pride. He was rich in family and in friends, and if you were lucky enough to call him "brother" you were always welcomed as one. Their home was forever open to you, and there was always "a seat at the table," as he later titled one of his famous documentary films about American Indians.  

But for Gary, that wasn't enough. Here was a man who was as peaceful and contented in his own life as he was restless in his efforts to make life better for other people.  Not satisfied to live a life of complacency, Gary became a kind of cosmic hippie-super hero, the ultimate defender of social justice and a true champion of the disadvantaged. His efforts on behalf of Native Americans and the protection of their sacred sites and religious freedoms earned him great renown, and more importantly to Gary, the respect and support of Indian people everywhere. His love of Native culture is reflected in his award-winning documentary films, and there are countless other acts of his including his involvement with Amnesty International, Progressive Democrats of America, and Dreamcatchers, Inc., to name a few, that have literally helped thousands. And Rhino's Blog, with its combination of Farmer's Almanac and political insight, biting satire and real reporting, stands as proof that one man truly can make a difference.  

There are many people here today who can attest to the power of Gary's positivity. Many of us saw it first hand on the set of "Follow Me Home," my brother Peter's film directorial debut. Whether he was giving us his basement to shoot in, or introducing us to real-life angels like Jennifer Newell-Easton, or single-handedly shooting all of the behind-the scenes action, Gary had a way to solve any problem and did it with boundless enthusiasm.

Yes, he was brilliant and one of the gentlest, kindest men you could ever hope to know. But what many of you don't know is that he was also a ruthless ping-pong player. With that paddle in his hand, it was the only time our dedicated vegetarian looked a lot like a hungry carnivore. I could never beat him. Not surprisingly, the only one who could beat him with any consistency was Irene. And it was not because he would let her win; they simply brought out the best in each other.

Gary had a mind-boggling skill set and always sought to expand it. And for that reason, I will always think of him as a seeker:  A seeker of knowledge, a seeker of good, of justice, a seeker of truth, and of spiritual connection. If it had a spirit in it, Gary was curious about it.

But mostly I will remember him as a drummer. That's what Gary was, a drummer. He loved drums, and he collected them from all around the world. African drums, Native drums, Southeast Asian drums, European drums. If you walked into his home you would see drums in his living room, his bedroom, and on the walls of his  house. He loved a good jam session about as much as he loved anything. And man, he could play.

See, Gary knew that for many indigenous cultures, the drum represents the heartbeat of the people, the heartbeat that connects all nations and all races. It can be found in nearly every human culture in the world.  He recognized that the drum speaks to all people through the global language of rhythm, music, prayer and dance. The drum is often used to heal, and so Gary too, was a healer. He never ceased fighting for social justice. He was constantly trying to build bridges between people... all people. He knew the drum was sacred to native people. With its wood frame and the skin of an animal, the drum is  connected to the natural world, the earth, and Gary too, was connected in the same way.  He loved the earth. He fought to protect it. He recognized that the drum was often used to communicate with the spirit world, with the creator. Sometimes I would watch him jam, and he would just go off to another realm; his eyes would roll back in his head and he would bliss out, enjoying the connection to ancient histories and people and even God himself.

And finally, the drum is round... a circle. And so is life.

Now that Gary has completed his circle, his life, in this world, we will remember him with fondness and with love, and take from him the example of his life. It’s an example that teaches us to celebrate each day, to laugh, to cherish your family, to respect the earth and its people, to be of service to the greater good.

Earlier this week, Irene shared with me a conversation she and Gary had just a few weeks ago. Remarkably, it had to do with Gary's request for when this moment came. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of man he was. She told me that he had said to her, "When I die, I want you to throw a big party for our family and friends. I want a reggae band, and lots of good food, and corny jokes and funny stories told about me. And I want chocolate! And last but not least, there has to be a drum with drumming circles and jam sessions. And I want people to dance."

Rhino Spirit

"Compassion and justice are companions, not choices." — William Sloane Coffin, Credo


Dear Rhino's Blog Readers:

If there's a singular attribute of Gary's I harbor as his son, it's an anecdotal nature.

When Shrub won/burgled the election for a second time, my mother, Irene, warned me, “You have to call Gary, but be gentle, he's devastated.”

So, knowing he wouldn't pick up, I called his cell phone and left the famous quote of Martin Luther King Jr. “The bend of time is long . . . but it bends towards justice.” Gary “licked his wounds” for a week, and got back on his course. This was his nature.

Gary was a wild optimist, a believer in change, and the inertia of love. He was a staunch advocate for humor in times of imminent darkness, conversation when speech seemed impossible, love when anger seemed inevitable.

He was blessed and burdened with a sense of political clarity, but did not sit on his hands. Rhino invested time, money, and love into turning that bend towards justice — towards love.

In the wake of this unspeakable loss, I look at my family, and friends of our family and see the outer crust of wreckage —profound loss left without language to articulate the space left where he once filled.

I also see the future — the kernels of Rhino embedded in everyone he has made contact with. I vowed to myself, as we laid him to rest, that I will turn this grief into art, that I will take these unspeakable dark days and make them into something palpable and positive.

I urge you, as his devoted brethren of progressive thought, to think of time as fuel and orient yourself with its brevity. Use these moments we have to make this place inhabitable . . . and negotiate love back into our national conscious.

I urge you - make Rhino's legacy one of propellant movement, to Bend Time Towards Justice.


David Perez

Rhino Protecting Spirit.jpg


"Our first teacher is our own heart."
    — Cheyenne proverb


A Poem for Rhino

— James Botsford
January 15, 2006

“We are diminished by the loss
of this great, selfless man.”
Huston Smith                                                        

Such a deep soul
Such a high spirit
Who found so much of life
And filled up the world with it
In the most sharing and caring of ways
You were among those special ones through history
The most fully human
And the path they’ve taken
Is the one I’m sure you’re on
In the timeless realm of fine fates
While we remain blessedly here
For now
I walked out of my northern Wisconsin home
On my way here thinking of you
And saw my yesterday’s footprints in the snow
And wondered what my family would feel
Seeing those footprints
If I were you just now
And I wept, I wept again.
My heart floods to your loved ones.
There is nothing like this
Though it happens every day
There is nothing like this
Sweet  Steady  Gary
Your boundless heart
Your most playful wisdom
Who would’ve thought that someone
with such an expansive mind
could poke his head through such a small hole
as I saw you do wowing the kids at the Sundance?
        I want to acknowledge
        Something special about you Gary
        How you got yourself  — somehow
        With adventure and fortitude and love —
        To truly understanding the fine art of living and giving.

The best passed-down teachings
Of traditions worldwide…
You understood. You got it.
You found their rhythms
And you delighted humbly
And so generously
In that rarified space

              Rhino looked down at the same wide-eyed kids again
              with his gentle teasing easy style
              asked them if they knew how to catch a unique rabbit…
              simple, he said, unique up on it.
              and how do you catch a tame rabbit?
              tame way…unique up on it.
              The kids rolled their eyes and groaned with big smiles
              They thought he was great
And of course he was.
Dear  Simple  Easy  Trustworthy  Gary
We are here today to say Thank You
And bow in your direction
You leave us all enriched
With your gentle generosity
In this beautiful and painful world
That you so patiently understood
I say Thank You to you

Renaissance rhino.jpg

"The perfect mystic is neither an ecstatic devotee lost in contemplation of Oneness
nor a saintly recluse shunning all commerce with mankind.
The true saint goes in and out among the people, eats and sleeps with them,
buys and sells in the market, marries and takes part in social intercourse,
and never forgets God for a single moment."

Abu Sa'id


by Audrey Wells

Gary Rhine was so many things to so many people.  

At the top of his blog, he described himself as a political activist, satirist, fifth generation-San Franciscan, filmmaker, father, paramedic and Indigenous rights activist.

There was more, of course, He was the greatest husband in the world, an excellent percussionist, pilot, precious friend.  

What a Renaissance man! Like Leonardo Da Vinci, he was not just an artist, but also a man interested in the weights and measures of things. He liked to explain, and understand, and challenge himself and learn. He loved knowledge.

And Rhino wrote. He wrote the way most of us breathe in and out.  It was part of who he was at his very core.

A few months ago, Gary finished a script he was writing based on a book called Ember from the Sun.  It’s the story of a girl who was born into our present day world, but who was actually a Neanderthal. Because she is different, she quickly becomes hunted. But she uses her instincts to return to her ancestral home. How did she do it?  She let the truth of who she was be her guiding light.

It seems to me that Gary cared about that theme a lot.  He cared that “the truth of who you are will guide you in your life.” By this he meant the truth of your ancestors, the truth of your family, the truth of your actions.

Gary frequently wrote about those themes in Rhino’s Blog. He threw his net wide, brought in a universe of information, and somehow distilled it for the rest of us so that we could read his blog and know more afterwards, understand more, make more sense out of the world.  

Sometimes his blog was a call to action, sometimes a scathing satire, especially when he beat up on the  “Dubya Shrub”  one more time.  Always, it was an act of empowerment, a refueling station for activists, emotional shelter for the hopeful, for anyone who believed that together we could change the world.

Rhinos Blog was read in Panama, Indonesia, Hungary, Egypt, Greece, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Norway, China, India, the Philippines, Italy, Japan, Sweden, France, Mexico, Korea, Australia, the UK, Canada and of course, right here where we needed him most.  About eighty-five thousand people a day read his blog. Gary’s web master, Jim Woolen, told me that.  He had only met Gary once in person. But when I called to tell him Gary had passed he said to me, ”Gary Rhine was one of the most enlightened men I have ever known.”

Rhino’s Blog was an important political meeting place in cyberspace for progressives. Gary love to quote Will Roger’s famous line, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” Rogers was a man Rhino resembled in many ways.

Rhino’s Blog was brilliant, encyclopedic, fearless, and funny, such as this one from December 21, 2005:

“Holiday Season Insight.  According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November.  Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be female.”

 “We should have known,” Gary writes.  “Only women, while pregnant, would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night, not get lost, meet an impossible deadline, and do it all out of good will.”

Gary loved women, starting with his mother, from whom he inherited a capacity for life and joy, and who raised him to be a friend to women.

Gary loved his daughters. "The Rhinettes," he called them. He talked about his daughters all the time, talked about them like being their dad was the adventure of a lifetime, which included the river crossings, the mountain climbs and double rainbows, the dangers, victories and rope bridges, the blessings, the rigors, the fun of being father to three beautiful, brilliant women.  

On the day, three months ago, when Leah got married, his chest actually swelled with pride.  Calm, even, unflappable Gary was flustered with excitement, almost foolish with love and pride for Leah.  He spoke of Odessa with the awe and respect usually reserved for hurricanes. He loved her brilliance and power. He believed she could do anything. And then there was Emmy.  

One day I took a walk with Gary, the most modest guy in the world, but he could not stop boasting about Emmy. She had a job at the General Accountability Office, which reports directly to Congress, and they wanted to give her high security clearance. In order to do this, they were going to have to investigate her background. Gary just knew they were going to get to him.  What if they found out about the time he got arrested at Disneyland for smoking marijuana on his eighteenth birthday? What if they found out about all his protesting?  What about the blog? He was worried. “Tell them you’re just like the girl in ‘Dharma and Greg,’” he said.  “It’s not your fault who your dad is.”  She got the clearance, by the way, I know you’re all worried about that.

Yes, Gary loved women. But he really loved one woman.  

“Mrs. Rhino” he called her in the blog.

Splitting Irene from Gary, Gary from Irene – how is that possible? It’s like ripping the sun from the sky and telling it to live elsewhere. It makes no sense. No sense at all. Anyone who knew them knew they had the most extraordinary husband and wife bond, one that spanned the spectrum of the love that’s possible between two people. The French writer Antoine St. Exupery said, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other – but in looking together in the same direction.”  That was Gary and Irene.  They looked at the world together, discussed what should be done, and did it. They were lovers. Partners. Friends.

What Gary didn’t give to his family, he gave to the rest of us – his extended family – and to humanity at large. And he wanted us to do the same.  

Listen to Rhinos’ Blog from December 19th, 2005:

“In this stretch of history, when a gang of neo-robber barons have been so successful in their efforts to blatantly steal from so many, give to so few, and be so uncaring as to how many may suffer and die as a result, it is that much more important for those who still believe in the power of love over money to reach out and offer some warmth and nurturing to our friends, relatives and fellow inhabitants of this flying rock we call Earth. “

Gary Rhine.  Rhino. Like the animal whose name he took, he was rare.  There aren’t many like him on the planet. So we have to make more like him, by raising our children, raising ourselves to the level of his expectation.  We have to fight apathy and negativity and do good work in his name.

How do we go on without our friend? This was so cruel, so sudden. None of us are prepared. Is he still here? Can we still talk to him?

Well, here is what Gary wrote in his blog.   Irene, Shirley, girls, sons, sister, brother, this is for you:

“When the night is longest, the sun is farthest, and the earth the barest, I’ll be there with a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit, a flashlight, or if need be, just me, by your side.”

I want to leave you with this:

Rhino’s Blog July 20, 2005 — Know Your History

•  On this day in 1952 – MRS. RHINO exits her mother’s womb

•  On this day in 1989 Burma military orders house arrest for Aung San Suu Kyi

•  On this day in 1923 – Inspired hero of the Mexican revolution Pancho Villa dies, ambushed in Parral, Mexico.  Villa had teamed up with the anarchist Emiliano Zapata to overthrow the corrupt conservative government. Pancho Villas’ dying words were:  “Don’t let it end like this – Tell them I said something!”

Gary, You said something.

And we’ll never forget it.     

— Audrey Wells

The Horned Avenger

"How could you describe this heart in words
without filling a whole book?"
Leonardo Da Vinci


by Emily Romero

    I have many memories of my Uncle Gary.  He was more than an uncle to me.  He was one of my best friends.

    One of my many memories of Uncle Gary, is whenever we would have a party, he would grab one of his drums, and drum the night away.  He was always in a good mood.  He never thought he was too good for someone, or someone was too good for him.  He liked everyone for who they were, not for wealth or poverty, or looks.

    He would like it if I called him "Tio Rhino."  If I called him Uncle Rhino, he would ask me, “What’s my name?”  I would say, “Uncle Rhino.”  He would say, “No, Tio Rhino!”

    He helped so many people, and most of them were Native Americans.  Once in a while, he helped himself, and I’m glad he did.  I’m also glad he enjoyed flying, as most people would enjoy something.  He risked his life to do what he loved, but I hate that it took him from us.

    I remember when he took me and my brother, Nick, flying on his airplane, 224 Papa Rhino.  I had a blast on that plane ride, and will not ever forget it.

    Even though Gary is gone from us, he is not forgotten.  I know that he is in heaven with God, and that is a better place for him.  I know someday we will all be reunited with him, just like he was reunited with his dad, Gerald.  I will keep his memory alive in any way I can.

    He will be in my heart forever and always.

    Emily Romero

9:04:10 PM    comment

Rhino community

"The only thing we have is the now. You begin from the now, what you know,
and move into the old, ancient ones that you did not know but which you find
as you go along. I think you only find the past from yourself, from what you
are experiencing now, what enters your life at the present moment."
— Martha Graham


All thoughts emerge as clichés as I sit to write on the loss of my father.

When it came to him, I always wanted more: more walks, more hugs, more advice on how to live, and love, and be free.  

Time with my dad was consistently precious, because he was so much more than a father, dedicating himself to people, projects, movements, and visions much larger than his own.  

And just when the restless drive that propelled his work in this world began to settle, he was called away in a flash, as if to say, "Rhino, there is no time to rest; greater feats remain to be achieved!"  

My solace is in picturing him riding the winds, hearing his tranquil voice and drumbeat in my heart, and sharing in the circle of love, generosity, and compassion that lives on through his people.

From his heroic true love, Irene, to his dear friends the world over, your sincerity and kindness are the greatest bequests my father could have given.

— by Emmy

Rhino tracks

"The day we die, the wind comes down to take away our footprints."
— Southern Bushman Proverb


Dear Friends:

Many of you have already heard the sad news...but just in case anyone is still un-aware.

Our beloved Rhino is gone.

It is with great sorrow that we inform the readers of Rhino's Blog that Gary Rhine has passed away.

Gary died while doing something he loved - flying a small plane. The plane crashed in Lancaster, California, on January 9th at 1:40 p.m. The funeral will be in San Francisco on Sunday the 15th of January: Congregation Beth-Israel-Judea 625 Brotherhood Way San Francisco, Ca. 94132 Services will begin at 1:30. A memorial will be held in Los Angeles at a later date. That information will also be posted here when we know more.

If you would like to contact Gary's family, then you can e-mail his wife, Irene Romero, at: imromero@kifaru.com The family thanks you for your concern. In lieu of flowers, you may choose to honor Gary by sending a contribution to one of the following two charitable organizations that Gary cared deeply about: The Friendship House 56 Julian , Francisco, Ca. 94103 and Plenty USA PO Box 394 Summertown TN.

On the memo line, please indicate that the funds should be directed to the Rhino/Katrina Building Fund)

Trusting rhino

         "Every man prays in his own language,
and there is no language that God does not understand."
— Duke Ellington, Grace Cathedral, 1945

                     “FUNERAL BLUES”

                        by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Submitted with love
by Lois and Frank

Rhino released

"Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people
and have always in view not only the present
but also the coming generations, even those whose faces
are yet beneath the surface of the earth —
the unborn of the future Nation."
from the "Iroquois Book of the Great Law," 1916


Greetings from Onyota:a:ka Territory to the family and friends of Gary Rhine.

Among our people, the Six Nations Iroquois, the passing of a person whom we have loved and respected is a time for reflection, sadness and release.  We have been told by our Creator that all life has a certain number of days in which to walk about the earth; that our time in one of awareness, sensuality and emotion. We are taught the world is a place of beauty and we have everything we need to live in happiness here.  There will, however, come a time when we must leave to continue our journey by leaving the earthly things behind.  We are told the dying of the body is not the end of things but a release. We leave the body but may feel the sadness of those whom we loved.  It takes time for the departed to adjust to the spirit world.  We mourn their passing since we will not see them again in this place but we are told that we will be reunited in the spirit world when our own time comes.  

We believe the spirit takes a great journey along the path of stars above us; that the spirit will enter the Creator's land to be greeted by those who have gone on before.  We are told to use our natural gifts wisely as it makes the celestial journey easier.

Gary Rhine was one who used his gifts wisely and caringly.  He created a way for people to celebrate life by stimulating their creativity and liberating their imagination.  He raised the spirits of Native peoples and restored our pride.  He gave us an opportunity to tell our stories and share our beliefs through film. His film, "A Seat at The Table," has set an impeccable standard for movie making of this type.  Joanne and I (Douglas George) were honoured to have it shown at the World Parliament of Religions, in Barcelona.

Among the Akwesasne Mohawks, Gary was a saviour.  In a time of great division marked by violence he brought to our community an ambulance and his knowledge as an emergency medical technician.  Without choosing sides he provided essential medical training which enabled us to recover from our crisis and work together for the good of us all. Gary's work saved many lives and effected us deeply. He left as quietly as he came but we remember and are forever grateful.

Gary leaves us but for a short time. We know we will walk with him in the Creator's land where we may reflect on  the wonderful journey which has intertwined our destiny with his.


Joanne Shenandoah
Wolf Clan
Oneida Nation
Douglas George
Bear Clan
Mohawk Nation
Six Nations Iroquois

Next generation rhino

"All true wisdom comes in the form of a riddle."

Henry Miller


I met Gary Rhine through Phil Cousineau and for me the two are inseparable.

Gary always had a smile, a laugh, a quick response and when it came to

politics a biting and deeply truthful need for justice. Gary was a great

father with an amazing love for kids. The last evening I saw him we had

dinner in Corte Madera after a booksigning with Phil, Huston Smith and

Gary, on Monday November 7th, at Book Passage, in Corte Madera, California,

for their remarkable book, A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation

with Native Americans on Religious Freedom.

My son, Cassiel Chadwick, was there, as was Jack Cousineau, Phil and Jo's son.

Gary kept the two of them laughing all night from the first course to the last.

Jokes and puns flew around the table as if Gary and the kids were in a verbal


The final riddle proved to be sadly prescient.

Gary riddled Jack and Cassiel: "If an airplane crashes on the border between

two states, on which side of the border will the survivors be buried?"  

Jack and Cassiel were at first stumped, then they both laughed at Gary's riddle.

Of course, the survivors will not need to be buried at all.

Gary would smile at the memory of this evening and the laughter of young boys

growing into men. In a very real way, even though there was a crash, Gary lives

on in through his films, his writing, his activism, his friends and family.

Thanks to all involved for gathering thoughts on Gary. He is sorely missed.

— Gregg Chadwick

6:33:39 PM    comment

Sky rhino

"There is no death; there is but a passing on into another world."

Joseph Campbell


Huston Smith


   Rhino was — and is, for part of him will always be part of me — one

of the ablest, most effective, most dedicated and most compassionate friend

I have ever had. I say always because I am reminded of what modern science,

our physicists, tell us, which is that we are made up of pure energy, which

can neither be created nor destroyed. If that is so, and I believe it is,

Rhino is still with me, with all of us, though in another form.

    That he met his end in a plane crash is symbolic, for

his final hobby and passion was flying, and the sky is (again symbolically,

it being lofty, clean, clear, beautiful, and infinite) is where he belonged.

    When at his funeral, someone referred to him as in

his casket which was heaped so high with flowers that they slithered far off

onto the floor, I protested that no box could contain Rhino, for he was not

earthbound. His abode was the sky that he loved and which opens onto the infinite

and eternal where he now is.

    There and in the hearts of all who will always love him.

Rhino and friend

"A long time the Creator came to Turtle Island and said to the Red People,

'You will be the keepers of Mother Earth. Among you I will give the wisdom

about Nature, about the interconnectedness of all things, about balance

and about living in harmony. You Red People will see the secrets other people

of the Earth because they will stray from their Spiritual Ways.

The time to start sharing is today."

— Mohican Prophecy


    Today, we mourn the passing of filmmaker and friend

Gary Rhine, who died last week in a tragic plane crash.  This remarkable

man was a different breed of Hollywood filmmaker and in his death, Indian Country

has lost an important champion of Native American justice issues.   His

award-winning documentary films  include Wiping The Tears of Seven

Generations (1992), The Peyote Road (1993), The Red Road

to Sobriety (1995), Your Humble Serpent: The Wisdom of Reuben Snake (1996), Rez

Robics (2000), and A Seat At The Table (2004).  Equally

important, he worked to bring indigenous issues and Native-made films to world

audiences through his groundbreaking First Peoples film series aired on Link

TV. At the time of his untimely death, Gary was making a film to document the

life and contributions of the late Vine Deloria, Jr. First and foremost, Gary's

films addressed pressing Native American social justice issues and featured

some of our Generation's most powerful leaders, such as Oren Lyons, the late

Reuben Snake, Jr. and the late Vine Deloria, Jr., as well as hundreds of Native

American participants who appeared in the films to speak in their own words.   Importantly,

each film is marked by collaboration with Native leaders and lets Native peoples

present Native issues on their own terms.  Uniquely, the films address

vital issues from an unabridged Native American standpoint and with that unmistakable

Native heart.  

    Through his work, Gary left a wonderful legacy.  For

instance, the world is a better place for the 250,000 members of the Native

American Church, who secured a landmark federal law to protect their way of

worship, in important part, through the public education made possible by The

Peyote Road.  He selflessly devoted literally thousands of hours to that project alone, because he understood

how important it was.  His films empower Native Americans by giving their

voice on their issues.  First Americans are no longer "invisible" people.  Gary's

close collaboration with Native Americans illustrates how media can effectively

support Native social justice issues; and it shows how non-Indians can truly

work to empower Native Americans in the world today – a sorely needed

model that those in Hollywood and other mass media should take note of.

    Last week, we lost an important friend who championed

Indian Country.  Gary Rhine, a non-Indian friend and brother, was a good

man who did so much for so many, in so short a time.  He was so rare that

we wonder, who will step up and continue that work on issues that lay ahead?   We

urge the National Museum of the American Indian to show the historic films

made by Gary Rhine for all the reasons stated above.  We also hope that

the families involved in making the film on Vine Deloria, Jr. will continue

that important project as intended by Gary and Vine, both of whom now reside

in the Spirit World, in order to memorialize them.

— Walter Echo-Hawk, Native American rights Fund

James Botsford, Attorney for Native American Church of North America

Phil Cousineau, Co-director, The Peyote Road

Fearless rhino

"To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being of being wrong."

— Joseph Chilton Pierce


Tuesday Jan. 17, 2006

1:30 p.m.

Dear Irene,

    I am sitting here at work during nap time with my Pre-schoolers

and wanted to write you this letter.  It’s all been so overwhelming

that I feel I didn’t get to tell you how I feel.  I felt inadequate

to speak at the reception, having heard so many eloquent speakers, etc.  Everything

that was said I whole heartily agree with.  Especially when people spoke

about you and Gary!  Elissa and I were in awe of you both with all the

amazing accomplishments you both have obtained throughout your lives.  Both

of your families are amazing and ever so special!

    Irene, when Gary met you and you joined together, he

really did become a complete person.  Gary was looking for someone special

for a few years and was kind of searching for a uniquely special and spiritual

person to team up with.  It was truly good fortune when you entered his

life.  I remember him calling me all excited about a really wonderful

person he had met.  He ws a happy man!  The two of you joining together

to raise those amazing children of yours was a challenge.  Through it

all, each and every one of them is a remarkable human being.  As they

found their partners, more exciting experiences have been unfolding, one more

amazing than the last.  It’s hard to keep up with everyone’s


    I loved to call Gary every so often, just to talk about

what was going on with you all and who was doing what.  I miss him because

he was my brother.  You and Gary made my family feel special and part

of your extended family.  The trips we took to Malibu to visit and party

with you are some of our best memories as a family.  My children, Darin

and Natalie love you both and are grieving for you and all the family.  I

hope we stay in tough thoughout the coming years to chronicle the amazing paths

our children will be taking.  Hearing about Leah’s pregnancy was

a great joy, even though it was tampered by Gary not being told.

    Your new year in New York also sounded like a really

amazingly fun time for you all.  A typical Gary & Irene adventure

with ever so cool connections, the suite, Madison Square Garden, etc.  We

can only dream of experiences like those you have shared over and over again.  You

and yours have wonderful like moments to remember.  I’m sorry we

couldn’t get to Mexico for your wedding, but I have my own superstitions

and fears about travel, etc.  I miss a lot in life because I am not fearless

like Gary was.

    When Gary was here in Corte Madera at the book store

[Book Passage] last November, with Phil and Huston, I was fortunate enough

to go and spend a few minutes with him. I heard the wonderful compliments bestowed

upon Gary from Phil and Huston for his work and dedication to the “cause.”  Gary,

ever so humble, looked great and was so proud.  I learned a lot about

Gary that night I did not know before.  He really did make a difference!  I

will always cherish the friendship we had and the memories of great, happy




Elissa, Darin, Natalie


Rhino on path

"My face turns from the darkness,

my eyes turn to meet the dawn, whitening the sky."

— Orpingalik, from Netsilki Eskimo


by Jeremy Donnell

For more than a decade, Gary has enriched my life and taught me how to be a

better friend, a better husband, a better son, and how to, one day, be

a better father.  Even Rhino’s tragic final act and the extraordinary

outpouring of love and sorrow that ensued have taught me important life

lessons, two of which I would like to share.  

First, do what you love and do it fearlessly.  

The best way for each of us to honor Gary is to pursue our dreams and fulfill

our beings just as he did each and every day.  We admire Gary for embracing

his passions and bringing them to bear, while never hesitating to jump into

the fray to confront injustices and effect positive change.  Rhino’s pursuits

brought us many different incarnations of the man we love so dearly.  We

loved Red Rhino the hippie, Gary the selfless paramedic, Gar Bear, the husband

who loved Irene so sweetly and completely, Papa Rhino, the father who glowed

in the presence of his children, Kifaru Gary, the award-winning documentary

filmmaker, Gary the humanitarian, and 224 Papa Romeo the Pilot.

I am angry and so, so sad that Gary’s love of flying took him from us,

and I can not help but wish that I or someone had stopped him. Yet, painfully

and regrettably, I accept that caging the Rhino would have been an even worse

fate for him.  I believe that Gary needed to be free to graze in his field

of dreams, and I find great solace in hearing similar things from so many who

loved him.  

Gary, your unwavering pursuit of your passions and beliefs defined you and

we respect, admire, and honor you for that.  Sadly, I realize that if

I were judged today, the same would not be said about me for I have hesitated

before acting and wavered when challenged by life . . . but, as you chased

your dreams, you left giant footprints to guide us now that you can no longer

carry us. I will follow your path, hoping that along the way, I can become

a little bit more like you.   

When we are happy and we know that our loved ones are secure, time slips away

from us and our priorities can become misaligned.  Since Monday, time

has stood mercilessly still and the irrelevance of things that seemed important

a few days ago has been revealed.  Losing Rhino has taught me that I need

to slow down and cherish the moments I have with those I love.  I find

myself wishing I could get back missed opportunities to spend precious moments

with Gary.  Even a simple car ride to the store would invariably turn into

a stimulating conversation, for Gary and I shared a similar intellectual curiosity.

 Often our curiosity exceeded our intellect, but that was neither here nor

there.  We were content carrying on a healthy, uninformed debate, each

suspecting that neither of us really knew what we were talking of us about.

 I’m surethat many of you had similar debates with Gary and are quite familiar with

the usual ending: a Google dual.  Just who turned out to be right, or,

in many cases, who was less wrong, was of little importance.  We simply

enjoyed engaging and learning from each other, challenging each other’s

assumptions and views, and growing closer and more intimate as a result.      

Gary, I want to speak these words for all to hear and I hope you can too: Gary,

I love you and I cherish the time we spent together.  You loved me in

return and made your family and friends my family and friends.  I promise

you that I will treat each of these people with the same kindness, care, and

respect that you showed me.  I will not take any one of them for granted.  

This remarkable, eclectic group gathered today — the culmination of Rhino’s

54 beautiful years on this planet — is his final gift to us.  Most of us

do not know each other, yet we all have one thing in common: Gary accepted

us into his life.  Look around you and you will find hundreds of prescreened

potential friends.  I look out at each of you today, open my heart and

say welcome.  Come inside with your sorrows, your pain, and your fears,

and I will embrace them with my love for Gary.  

All I ask in return is that you share your love for him and your memories of

him with me.

3:04:54 PM    comment

Rhino with kid

"On the beach at night,

Stands a child with her father,

Watching the east, the autumn sky ...

— Walt Whitman


Almost a year has gone by since my dad’s passing. New Years Day last

year was the last time I saw him. Words can not express how much he was loved

and the pain and loss that fills our hearts.

My dad had a happy heart. He loved making people laugh and he enjoyed living.

It breaks my heart that my son will never know his grandfather. My dad loved

kids and was going to be a spectacular grandfather. My four-month-old son Elijah

looks like my dad, He has red hair and those soulful eyes. I’m collecting

all of the amazing stories, kind words and photos people have sent me and putting

them in scrapbooks so that when our children are old enough they will be able

to look through the books, and in that way, know their amazing grandfather


He will always be in our hearts and I know that wherever his journey has taken

him he continues to sing, drum, and on occasion, sail his plane over our heads

to check in on us.

Love to you all,


Rhino couple at sunset

"I quote others only to express myself better."

— Michel Montaigne, French philosopher


GARY RHINE (1951-2006)  

by Michael Helfant

For me, Gary’s story begins with Irene.  I have known and adored

Irene for over 22 years now. As it happened, I met Irene in the closing of

my very first film transaction, on the same night that I had my first official

date with my wife.  Coincidence? I don't think so.  One thing led

to another and, within a short time, I was in a serious relationship with my "soon

to be" wife, Loretta. Soon, I adopted Irene as the sister I never had.  Two

of the best decisions I ever made.   

For the next seven years, I watched Irene devote herself to her boys and her

career.  Irene didn't have time for a personal relationship. And then

one day she told me she met a guy and she had that look in her eyes. I recognized

it immediately. You all know the look: excitement, wonder and anticipation.

But I hadn't seen that look in Irene's eyes before.

I needed to meet this guy. I first met Gary about 15 years ago at the Sundance

Film Festival.  We were at the condo Irene was renting. Within 20 minutes

of meeting, Gary and I realized we shared a common passion: percussion, at

which point we went into the kitchen, rummaged up a metal pot and a Tupperware

container and started drumming.  Rhino and I have been drumming together

ever since.   

In the months and years that followed, I really got to know Gary. And as I

did, he became one of my favorite people in the world.  He was just the

right guy for Irene, and she was the perfect woman for him.   Over

these last 15 years, I watched these two people build something incredible.

They didn't just get married like most of us; they merged two very diverse

and equally amazing families. They created a home like no other — a place

where everyone feels welcome and loved and safe. Think about it. Jeremy chose

to propose to Odessa at the annual July 4th gathering in front of the whole

family. It was a very special moment that I will never forget. Like many of

you, I love this Rhine/Romero/Perez family very, very much. And it is with

great humility that I stand here before you trying to bring meaning to something

that is so painful.  Rhino was truly an amazing one-of-a-kind individual.  I

respected and admired him so much.  He was so many things to so many different


How can I describe Gary? He was a loving husband, father, son, brother and

friend. He was a great humanitarian. He was an activist, a pacifist, a defender

of religious and cultural freedom, a vegetarian, a percussionist, a joker,

a filmmaker, a pilot, a blogger, a Native American Jew, a true mensch, a really

good soul and a deeply spiritual person.  He was a man of incredible integrity,

honesty, sincerity and sensitivity. He was my colleague, my brother and my

conscience. He always inspired me to want to be a better person. He was one

of my best friends.   

Gary truly embodied three of the most important concepts in Judaism:

Chesed, "kindness," Tzedukah, "charity," and Tikkun

Olam, "the healing the world." Many people talk about doing

the right thing, but Gary actually followed through and did it. I think Gary

was one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  

Irene, I can't thank you enough for bringing Gary into my life, and for sharing

him so generously with me and my family, and with all of us.   Last

Saturday night, Loretta and I were so very fortunate to have been with Gary

and Irene, celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. It was an amazing night

for so many reasons. We laughed and played and talked about so many things.

On reflection, our conversations were so much more significant than they seemed

at the time. Gary talked a lot about how much he loved flying and being a flight

instructor. He talked about how the whole family, including Sherlee and Damian,

had been together in New York on New Year's Eve to see Joshi play in Madison

Square Garden. What a great time they all had. How proud he was of his last

film, "A Seat at the Table," and the companion book of the same name

that he had just had published with his good friend Phil Cousineau.

How busy Rhino was over the last several months, with moving up to Mendicino,

with Leah's wedding, the new job, and the new house; how happy he was with

his life; and how very proud he was of all of the kids. He believed that everyone

in his life seemed to be in a good place and on a good path.

He was the proud Jewish dad, kvelling about all of his kids. It's

so comforting for me to know that he felt so good about everything, and that

he was truly happy with where he was in his life. He and Irene were looking

forward to relaxing for a while and just enjoying time together in their new

house.  When Loretta and I left that night, we turned to each other and

agreed that there wasn't anyone else that we enjoyed more, that we simply loved

hanging out with the two of them.   

It's hard to believe that the world has changed so much in just one week. When

I thought about what I would say today, I tried to imagine what Gary would

say and what he would want us to do.  He would probably start by telling

a corny joke.  Then he would probably tell us some wonderful quotation.

He loved quotes — all different kinds of quotes — even absurd and

ridiculous ones because he wanted us to know who said them.  But mostly

he liked quotes that inspired and challenged us.   

In that spirit, Irene collected and assembled the most wonderful tribute book

for Gary's 50th birthday. I found a few excerpts from his family that I wanted

to share with you today.   

The first is from David: "The one fact I denied at the time to deprive

Gary of ammunition is that he truly loved my mother. I knew the one thing I

had to give up was my resentment and my fear that I was being replaced. My

mom had found a man who adored her, listened to her, made her laugh, and more

importantly, let her have her way. Gary has been a teacher, a mentor, an obstacle,

a punching bag, conspirator, joke machine and parent to me for these past years

with affection and patience."  

Here's Casey who wrote the following: "I would like to take this opportunity

to thank you. To thank you for yelling, complaining, screaming, fighting, nagging,

pushing and yes bitching throughout the years when I needed it most. I would

also like to thank you for doing the most important thing in the world for

me — making my mother the very happy lady she is. I don't think I can

thank you enough for that. Damn, I didn't think the first time I met you that

you would be in my life forever. I am sure glad it was you. I truly thank you

for that from the bottom of my heart.

Odessa wrote about her memories growing up with Gary a wonderful reminder of

Gary's playful sense of humor. She remembers her dad wrestling with her and

drooling loogies in her face (Nice one, Gary!) She also remembers pointing

out that he had food in his beard and Gary replying, "I'm saving it for


Leah reflected: "What I love about my father: his courage, his love of

adventure, his passion, his devotion to activism. We all know that Gary marched

to the sound of his own drums. He was so 'true to himself' in everything he


Emmy's quote which she originally wrote when she was 18 years old captured

that notion for me. "He listens so fully to his soul, his drive, that

at times all else is but a whisper echoed from a distant realm. At 18, my father

made a promise to dedicate his life to doing good, to walking a path of self

and world betterment."  Inspired by her father, at age 18, Emmy committed

to live by her father's example.  How lucky for all of us that the apple

didn't fall far from the tree.   

After the inspiring quotes, I imagined that Gary would remind us that he has

now transcended the limitations of the physical Rhino, and his love and spirit

will be with each one of us always. I am certain Gary would encourage us all

to do something to make the world a better place because that is who he was.

Sometimes I think there are people who are put on this earth to be a guiding

light for the rest of us. I believe Gary was one of those people. He was truly

a gift from G-d, a blessing for all of us, a real life reminder of what it

is to be a good human being, to do the right thing, and to follow your heart.  He

led by example and set the bar so wonderfully high for all of us.   

There is no way to make sense out of this whole thing or to rationalize the

painful reality that Gary was taken from us all way too soon. I'm convinced

that if we try, it will just make us angry and bitter, which is why I have

decided not to try. I don't want anger and bitterness anywhere near my memories

and love for Gary because he so enriched my life during the 15 years we were

friends. I wish it was much, much longer, but I wouldn't give up those 15 years

for anything.

Gary, the world is a much sadder place without you, but so much better off

for having been graced with your presence.  There is no doubt that we

will all miss Gary terribly and it will take a long time for the pain to subside.

But I believe that the best way to give meaning to Gary's death is to honor

and celebrate his life and the ideals that he stood for. And the best way to

do that is simply to listen to his voice and hear his words:  Help out

someone in need. Write a letter or send an email to a government official.

Make sure you vote against a bad law or a bad politician. Make a donation to

a worthy charity. Or stand up against injustice and oppression wherever and

whenever injustice and oppression may take root.  How great would it be

for each of us to celebrate Gary's life by resolving to do some act of kindness

or mitzvah in his honor? Gary loved to soar, and every good deed we do in his

honor will elevate his soul to even higher heights.   

Gary, I will miss all of you: the jokes, the tofu, the walks, the words of

wisdom, the big smile, the Rhino hugs, and of course the drumming.  You

are in my heart forever and I will listen for the sound of your drums always.

Running rhino

"I never met a man I didn't like."

— Will Rogers



Christopher Zelov

A Whirling Dervish of life energy

Sparking the passion for metamorphosis in all those he encountered

Gary, I only met you for a brief page in your multi-chaptered lifetime

However, your joyful glow stays with me where ever I go

May you rock the Heavens into a new fathoming

Bird on rhino

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,

freedoms, and ways, who share with us their milk,

self-complete, brave, and aware in our minds, so be it."

— Gary Snyder


We all lost a very dear friend and ally when Gary Rhine passed into the spirit

world.  We were touched by his humanity and passion and were better human

beings for it.  It seems like sometimes the young and the good die at

an early age and it makes one wonder how that plan evolves.

Gary made an impression with his vision and we were included in it.  His

vision certainly put us with “a seat at the table” with everyone

throughout the world.  

We miss him and think of him often and my deepest condolences to his wife and

his family and relatives.  

Lenny Foster


Rhino and bird cross road at dusk

"Can our world survive without gratefulness?
Whatever the answer, one thing is certain:
to say an unconditional yes to the mutual belonging of all beings
will make this a more joyful world. This is the reason
why yes is my favorite synonym for God."

- Brother David Steindl-Rast


by Peter Schweitzer Plenty

Dearest Friends of Rhino,

Irene Romero (Gary's wife) called me and asked if Plenty would establish the

Rhino Katrina Rebuilding Fund that folks could contribute to in Gary's name.

It's an honor. Gary did so much for Plenty, since the beginning. But one of

his most impressive achievements was the work he did as a young Farm EMT and

Paramedic, to help establish the Akwesasne Emergency Medical Team and Ambulance

Service in upstate New York. He broke new ground with his award-winning Native

American documentaries and films ("Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations," "Red

Road to Sobriety," and "The Peyote Road," among others).

Gary (aka "Red Rhino") set out on his own Red Road in the mid-eighties

after visiting Pine Ridge Reservation. Tom Cook can tell us about some of Gary's

strong contributions that had their seeds in that first visit, after which

Gary never looked back.

It's fitting to establish the Rhino Rebuilding Fund. The night Gary Maclaughlin

arrived on the Farm on his way to New Orleans after Katrina, Gary Rhine called

us and pledged $10,000 to Plenty's Katrina response. The man had a big heart

of gold and he laid it all on the line for those he cared about which just

happened to encompass humanity with a special attention to Native Peoples.

His immediate family is very large, and his greater family boundless.

We love you Gary and we thank you for everything.

11:44:11 AM    comment

Rhino charging

"Music is your only friend, until the end ..."

— The Doors



R. B. Morris

I know I was really lucky to have met Gary, and share the hospitality of his

home for a day and a night, and have a series of conversations with him. His

presence was immediate and gentle, engaging yet lighthearted and easy. He was

deceptively observant, effortlessly entertaining, a real pleasure to hang with.

Through his close friend and collaborator (and co-conspirator) Phil Cousineau,

I was able to learn a lot more about Gary, about his illustrious past in my

homestate of Tennessee living and working at the Farm, all the great and adventurous

deeds and services he provided there, the invaluable work he did with Native

American causes and other political and cultural endeavors, his great love

for his wife and his girls, which extended to the broader family of humanity.

He was a sweet and caring soul, but he was a warrior too.

I think of Gary as one of the truly great ones from our generation, as one

who fulfilled the dream of being active and able, of being innovative and courageous,

of staying in tune and tuned in, of practicing what he preached and going the

extra mile. The world is a different and better place because of him. He was

just a blessing all the way around, and will remain an inspiration.

I hope this can be of help to those he left behind. It's off the cuff but straight

from the heart. I know everybody misses Gary and has felt a big hole in their

existence since his death. Hell, I miss him too and barely knew him. I'll always

remember him and Karly getting down on those big African drums in the den of

his home, in Malibu, just as we were about to head north to San Francisco that

beautiful day, back in the fall of 2005.

Rhino and bird cross road at dusk

The only ones for me are the mad ones,
the ones that burn like crazy Roman candles."

Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Progressive Democrats of America

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

by William Rivers Pitt

The only screw-up during the whole journey turned out to be mine. I thought

I was being so clever.

It was Friday morning and I was tired; I never sleep well before big trips.

I was walking through Logan Airport waiting for my flight to Oakland, contemplating

the weekend ahead of me: speech in Berkeley on Friday night, and then to Sacramento

on Saturday morning for another speech and a panel discussion, then a flight

down to Los Angeles on Saturday night for yet another speech, wake Sunday morning

and fly to Santa Rosa for another speech and panel discussion, and then Oakland

again for the flight home.

I knew I would need the rest, so I asked the airline people to put me in the

exit row, thinking the extra leg-room would be key. The leg-room was nice,

but I had forgotten that exit-row seats do not recline back at all. The flight

to California saw me bolt upright for several hours, chin banging into chest

as I tried to sleep. Lesson learned, I guess.

That was the only glitch, though. The intricate logistical ballet that carried

myself, PDA National Field Director Sherry Bohlen, and PDA Political Director

Kevin Spidel to four events in three cities in three days across the length

of California and back again, plus airport pick-ups, drop-offs, and sleeping

arrangements, was arranged and handled flawlessly by California PDA organizers

Mervis Reissig, Anna Givens and their crew. Anyone who thinks putting together

and holding together a schedule like that is easy should try it sometime.

The PDA trip to California this past weekend was a resounding success from

beginning to end. Sherry, Kevin, and I met PDA activists and organizers from

one side of the state to the other, and saw to our great joy that the PDA folks

in California are well-organized, inspired, and running together at speed.

We saw a group of people working hard to build the PDA base, to get our message

out. We saw our California activists coming together around a variety of vital

issues and pushing them as hard as they can be pushed.

A speech in Berkeley was first, and came off well. The organizing principle

behind my message that weekend was the call to get our troops out of Iraq,

and to give the Iraqi people their country back; this message was well-received

the first night. Discussions went into the night as we gamed out scenarios

and plans as to how to get this done, where the political pressure-points are,

who our allies are and could be, and what PDA is doing to accomplish all this.

Saturday morning greeted us with bright northern California sunshine and that

quality of air you just don't find anywhere else. We piled into the car and

headed for Sacramento, where that city's PDA chapter was hosting us as part

of its first general members' meeting. The event was remarkable. The Sacramento

PDA chapter is led and run by activists who have been dedicating their lives

to the progressive movement for years and years. They were, to put it bluntly,

all business, established upon a backbone crew of labor and education activists

whose experiences stretch back to Cesar Chavez and La Paz. Keep both eyes on

Sacramento, because great things are going to come out of that crew, and soon.

When that event was over, I jumped into another car and went to a small Sacramento

airport. It was here that I was privileged to meet one of the most remarkable

and excellent people I have come across in all my days on the road.

Gary Rhine is a noted documentary filmmaker who has focused much of his work

on the life, politics, and struggles of Native Americans. One of his films, The

Peyote Road, was central to the successful effort [in 1993] to overturn

the Supreme Court decision barring the use of peyote in Native religious rituals.

When not behind a camera, Rhine runs Rhino's Blog, an excellent place for news

and commentary on the day's events.

Gary is, among other things, an accomplished pilot, and volunteered both his

plane and his time to get me down to the Saturday night event in Los Angeles.

He piled me into his plane and instructed me solemnly on what I could touch

(the little fear handle by the door) and what I could not touch (everything

else). We leapt into the sky and made our way south, talking politics, strategy,

and documentary filmmaking over the headset microphones. All the while I listened

to the roger-wilco communications coming over the headset from various airports

along the Sacramento Valley. The view from the plane was simply staggering,

and we landed in Santa Monica without a hitch.

The event in Los Angeles was organized by Mimi Kennedy, Chair of the PDA National

Board, and several other PDA leaders from that city. It was organized around

a play titled "Stuff Happens," which I will get to in a moment. Kennedy

had arranged for a large group of people to come together before the play to

hear my talk and to discuss strategy. As with Berkeley and Sacramento, this

PDA chapter is incredibly strong and well-organized, filled with people of

great energy and passion.

The play's the thing. "Stuff Happens" by playwright David Hare will

be playing at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles until July 17, and I cannot

recommend it strongly enough. It is an historical perspective of the Iraq occupation,

beginning on September 11, and running through the American and British push

for war up to and beyond the "Shock and Awe" attacks of March 2003.

The characters in the play include George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Condi Rice,

Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Tony Blair. I am no Hollywood

buff, but even I recognized virtually every actor on the stage. Bush was played

with eerie accuracy by Keith Carradine, Powell by Tyrees Allen, Rice by Lorraine

Toussant, and Blair by Julian Sands. This was a powerful ensemble, and they

carried the story off with a power and depth that is difficult to describe.

You just have to see it. Much of the dialogue is taken from actual statements

made by these individuals in the run-up to the war. "Stuff Happens" will

enrage you, make you laugh, make you think, and most of all, make anyone who

sees it understand just how broken and devious a path the Bush administration

traveled to bring us into Iraq.

On Sunday morning, Gary and I were in the plane again and headed for Santa

Rosa for the last event of the trip. It was on this leg that the only real

bump of the weekend was crossed, and hard. Gary and I were at about 9,500 feet

just above the San Francisco Bay area. The city was glittering below and to

our left. We were talking over the headset microphones, when WHAM! The plane

jolted hard, slamming Gary and me into the ceiling of the cockpit.

Imagine driving over a large speed bump at 200 miles per hour. The earpiece

of my headphones was over my face and Gary's whole headset was in his lap.

As it turns out, we either crashed into the Spirit in the Sky, or crossed a

belt of wake turbulence left behind by the passage of a larger plane. The jolt

was better than a hot cup of coffee, and the autopilot corrected for it immediately

so there wasn't even any time to get scared. We landed safely a few minutes

later, and I had a nice lump on the top of my head to commemorate the journey.

The event in Santa Rosa was remarkable for all the same reasons that made the

other events of the weekend so special, with an added bonus. After I finished

my remarks, we were joined by Representative Lynn Woolsey, sponsor of H. Con.

Res. 35, the legislation demanding that Bush immediately organize and implement

a plan to get our troops out of Iraq. She addressed the crowd for several minutes

and then took many questions.

At one point, Rep. Woolsey spoke of the five Republicans who voted for the

amendment she added to a Defense Appropriations bill a couple of weeks ago.

The amendment, like Resolution 35, demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from

Iraq. Those five Republicans, who joined with 122 Democrats to support the

amendment, have since come under intense pressure from GOP leadership to get

back in line. Woolsey described this pressure and the utterly shameless nature

of it; any GOP Representative who considers deviating from the party line is

threatened with a variety of punishments, including loss of chairmanships and

access to campaign fundraising. "That's blackmail!" shouted a member

of the audience. "No," replied Woolsey, "that's fascism."

The occupation of Iraq, the need for withdrawal from that country, the Downing

Street Minutes, the PDA demand for a Resolution of Inquiry into that scandal,

our addiction to petroleum, environmental concerns, labor issues, media activism,

and the need for PDA activists to take over the Democratic Party from the bottom

up in order to affect real change both within the party and the nation entire

- these were the meat and mead of our journey through California this past


Let the word go forth that change is coming, and that California is leading

the way. It was my pleasure and privilege to spend that time with the excellent

organizers and activists of the PDA chapters in that great state. My grateful

thanks go out to all who helped Sherry, Kevin, and me navigate the journey

seamlessly, who fed us and took us into their homes, who showed us where progressive

activism is today, and where it is going.

The game's afoot.

Young rhino playing in water

"Golden slumbers, kiss your eyes,

Smiles awake you when you rise.

Sleep, pretty baby, do not cry,

And I will sing a lullaby..."

— The Beatles


by Odessa

I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to each and every person who

has offered their love and support to our family during this difficult

time. Your stories about Gary have been healing, and I know that the

love for him that has been expressed since his passing is a reflection

of the love he gave throughout his lifetime. In this, I find some peace.

When I received the call about my father’s passing, I felt as though

the wind had been knocked out of me. My life seemed to come to a grinding halt,

and memories of him came flooding through my mind. I seemed unable to fathom

what had occurred. Now, almost a year later, it is no more comprehensible.

I have been looking at his kind face, hearing his soft voice, and laughing

at his silly jokes for as long as I can remember, and I cannot imagine my life

without him in it. My vision of the future is no longer what it was. There

will forever be an emptiness in my life.

Someone recently said to me that, when a parent dies, their energy passes into

and is absorbed by their children. If this is true, then my siblings and I

are filled with love, as that was the essence of our father. He lived his life

according to his firm belief that the energy you give off, whether positive

or negative, affects those around you. He therefore tried to be loving, open-minded,

considerate, and kind in all that he undertook. When I close my eyes, I feel

his energy inside me, and I know that he is forever with me.

In his speech at my wedding, Gary spoke of living life to the fullest. I will

leave you with his words:

“Never forget what is worth remembering and never remember what is best

forgotten.  … Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less,

breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less,  love more, and all good

things will be ours.  

Lihiam!  To Life!”

Rhino resting with oxpecker

"In the great night my heart will go out.

Toward me the darkness comes rattling.

In the great night my heart will go out."

— Papago Woman



by Phil Cousineau

My friend and colleague in many projects, Gary Rhine was “many men deep,” as

another famous poet was once described. He was a staunch activist, ambulance

driver, filmmaker, drummer, father, and friend, benefactor, philanthropist,

trickster, and irrepressible comedian. But if anything was a constant in his

many lives it was the fact that he was a brilliant, life-affirming storyteller.

In many times, many places, he reminded me of Stewart Brand’s famous

saying, “Don’t tell me the problem, tell me the story.” And

on yet another level Gary's life work reminded me of a parable told and retold

by one of his heroes, the author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel.

When the great spiritual leader Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov saw terrible

misfortune threaten his people, the Jews, it was his custom to flee into the

forest to contemplate their dilemma. While there he lit a fire, said a prayer,

and a miracle always occurred and the misfortune was avoided.

Later, when his student, the Magid of Mezritch, saw that his people were

imperiled, he took refuge in the same forest and said, “Master of the

Universe, listen! I don’t know how light the fire, but I do remember

the prayer.” And once again a miracle happened, misfortune was averted.

Later still, a certain Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, saw tragedy about to visit

his people and also wished to save them. He ventured into the same forest

and said, “I don’t know how to light the fire, I don’t

know the prayer, but I do know the place in the forest. This must be enough;

it must be sufficient. And once again the miracle happened.


Finally, the chance to overcome a terrible fate was given to Rabbi Israel

of Rizhyn. While at home he sat in his chair, head in hands, he whispered

to God, “I’m unable to light the fire and don’t know the

special prayer; I can’t even find the sacred place in the forest. But

I do know how to tell the story, and this can be and must be sufficient.”

And it was enough; it was sufficient.

God made man because he loves stories.

And I believe God loved Gary because he loved the forest, the fire, the prayer,

and stories. I like to think of Gary up in Heaven regaling God with his favorite

causes, jokes, and stories.

— Told at the funeral






The venerable old word comes down

To us from the Norse, like the prow

Of a ship splitting the fog.

The bog-rich roots of angr suggest

An emotion far more complex than fury,

Rage, ire, or wrath.

Instead, the sagas say, anger reflects

Profoundly felt grief about what’s

Gone wrong with the world.

Not blue-nosed and bad-tempered reactions

To life’s inevitable misfortunes, but red-faced insight,

And clear-headed responses into its unavoidable injustices.

Anger, for instance, about the loss of an uncommon man,

One who gave a voice to some, wings to others, medicine to many.

A man I like to believe was thinking about something miraculous,

Let’s say the heart-swelling news

From his wondrously happy daughter

That he was finally going to be a grandfather,

As his plane banked,

Sputtered, and fell

From the sky.

If you’re never angry, sang the Viking poet-warriors

In the great mead halls after battle,

You’re still unborn.

— Phil Cousineau

   January 30, 2006



Over the course of fifteen years, I worked with my friend Gary Rhine on six

documentary films about Native American religious freedom. During that time

he never complained about the usual difficulties, trials and tribulations that

go into filmmaking; he also never, in my presence, spoke about his own accomplishments,

ambitions, or film credits. In the spirit of Reuben Snake, Martin Luther King,

Jr., Nelson Mandela, and his other heroes, he lived for others, such as his

family, friends, and American Indian brothers and sisters. Because of this

selflessness he was universally loved and, as we’re all discovering,

if you were Gary’s friend, you were certain you were his “best


One measure of his great vision of life became manifest when he instituted

our open door policy to our films. Everything we did on a film project — from

the interviews to the scripts to the final cut — was vetted by the elders

of the tribes with whom we worked.

Every illustration, music choice, and publicity campaign was presented to those

we filmed as well as the elders.

His favorite phrase was, “Beat us up.” I think what he meant was,

Feel free to criticize us. We’re only trying to help; we’re only

trying to tell a story here. But you have the final word.

Needless to say this is highly unusual in the world of filmmaking. But it earned

us a huge measure of respect.

More than the many awards our films earned at film festivals around the world,

I hope this is what’s remembered about Gary Rhine’s unique and

soulful vision of filmmaking. I hope his honesty and dedication to giving native

people an opportunity to tell their side of the story is what becomes part

of his mighty legacy, what’s recalled as long his films are screened.

— Phil Cousineau





A rare old bird is the Pelican,

His beak holds more than his belican.

He can take in his beak

Enough food for a week.

I’m damned if I know how the helican.





“Well, Couz, you know what Groucho Marx said after one of his

books only sold a few thousand copies and the rest were pulped?

‘I only write first editions.’”

Being a fellow Marx Brothers fan I quickly replied, “Groucho also said,

“Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend.     

Inside a dog it’s too dark to read.”



Already I miss his daily messages on my phone machine, “Hey, Couz, it’s

Rhino,” which usually signaled an adventure was in the air.  I

miss those amazing adventures, even our many all-night vigils in the editing

rooms in Mill Valley and Malibu. Hell, I even miss his corny jokes. I also

miss the way he hugged my son, Jack, whom he loved dearly and said to me

the last time I saw him that if he’d had a son he’d have wanted

him to be just like Jack.

I was lucky, blessed, to have known him as long as I did. Fortunately, I have

a plethora of photographs of Rhino, with Jack, Huston, James Botsford, Vine

DeLoria, and Reuben Snake, and of course, the Divine Irene, splayed across

my writing desk and on my bookshelves. In such simple but soulful ways Rhino

will never be forgotten in my home, and, no doubt, many more homes around the


— Phil Cousineau

10:53:30 AM    comment

Great rhino searching

"The elders told us that it's the road of life that we're walking.
We're supposed to be holding up one another, supporting each other,
like having our arm underneath our brother's arm,
and walking down this road of life together."
Reuben Snake, Jr.
        from The Peyote Road


                                        by Tom Kanatakeniate Cook

Like each of you felt about the Great Rhino, I also considered Gary ‘my best friend.’ I knew he felt the same when he asked me to conduct his marriage to Irene Romero at Teotiwakan, north of Mexico City a few years ago [1995]
. He had three daughters and she had three sons, and they wove a wonderful and powerful life together from their vows at the Pyramid of the Sun.

In 1978 my sister Katsi, while staying with Gary and his family at the Farm in Tennessee, studying midwifery, called me one day saying, ‘You’ve got to meet this guy Rhino. He’s a master drummer and master everything else, funny and sharp like you hardly ever see."

Gary came into Indian country that year at Akwesasne, northern New York State, where my sister and I are from, and organized an emergency medical team which became the longest-running tribal program there. This program still continues, having saved countless Indian lives along the way, in work much needed and greatly appreciated by all.
I first met Rhino in the Bronx Plenty house in 1982, and from there we shared our lifelong interest in helping people help themselves. Gary was the true leader because he was always helping people get what they want.

While ironworking in San Francisco in 1983, I sought him out at Stinson Beach where he sat, despondent and by himself, wondering what to do with his life. He had found a center-tail eagle feather on the beach, and I told him he had found a power in the world unknown to nearly everyone. He responded with an intensity that characterized the man, and by the next year he came to our home in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, with his camera to meet and interact with the ones who held the eagle life in such esteem.

Gary so much loved the people and their altar of earth, that when his grandmother died in the late 1980’s he spent some of his inheritance building a church house in Potato Creek to replace the ancient log structure that had fallen down. The prayer house is still in use today.

In 1990 when the Supreme Court held that religious freedom does not extend to the use of peyote by Native Americans in their ceremonies, Rhino felt offended along with each of us impacted by the decision. He went on to make the film ‘Peyote Road’ with such intensity and respect that it reached the halls of Congress, and in 1994 President Clinton signed amendments to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act exempting Native American Church peyote use from the nation’s drug laws.

Reuben Snake called Gary and his work "A prayer to an answer."

Today, at the Bigfoot Ride Memorial I stood at the exact spot where sixteen years earlier we set up Rhino’s camera in wind whipping up to -70 degrees and filmed the 325 riders arriving to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre of about that many Lakota people in 1890. The result of that filming was "Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations," which became Gary’s signature work. My heart swelled with pride today when I greeted this year's 164 riders, for and on his behalf.

After many years of assisting us, Gary wanted to Sun Dance with us in the Black Hills, and we were talking about it again just weeks before he died. It remained one of the things he wanted to do, but didn’t get to.

We walk this journey of life together, supporting and sometimes holding each other up
along the way. Helping people attain the things they need and love about life describes the leadership of the man Gary Rhine. His spirit remains with us. Let us nourish and sustain this ruling principle of his life, wherever we are and whatever we do, so we remain connected to the things about our Great Rhino.


Chocolate rhino

"But my hand was made strong by the Almighty.
We forward in this generation, triumphantly.
Oh, won't you help me sing these songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have are redemption songs,
Redemption songs, redemption songs..."
— Bob Marley


by Neil Marlow

I had written a speech for this morning, but when I arrived at the temple, Irene told me that they had a lot of people who wished to speak and asked if I could keep my talk down to a few minutes.  

Now, I’ve never been known for brevity, but when I was sitting there trying to redesign my prepared speech and the Cantor started singing, I immediately flashed on Leah and Joshi’s wedding in October and how Gary sang for them at the reception that evening.  I knew instantly that I wanted to say something other than what I prepared for today.  

Ten years ago we celebrated Gary and Irene’s wedding in Mexico at the base of the Teotihuacan Pyramids. We partied later that night in a restaurant in a cave with Tre Generation's Tequila and “Brownie Mary” brownies. That evening I spoke of Gary’s spirituality and how, in the 80’s, he became exposed to American Indian cultures, religions and customs and, how he identified with them, embraced them and they became part of him.

I said it then and it is true today: “Gary wasn’t a wannabe, he was a true believer.”  Everyone knew it.

Until Leah and Joshi’s wedding, I hadn’t known that Gary could sing like that and it was very moving.  While the Cantor sang, I thought that Gary could have been a Cantor.  And then I realized; Gary WAS a Cantor.

To the Jew, Gary was a Jew.
To the Buddhist, Gary was a Buddhist.
To the Native American, Gary was Native American
To the Rasta, Gary was a Rasta.

That was Gary’s gift.

Gary was a very lucky man.

He had a great start.  When I first moved to California I did some work for Gary’s parents, Gerald and Shirley.  They say “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.” In this case it is the truth. When I met them, I could immediately see from where Gary got his heart.

His was lucky in having three smart, creative beautiful daughters, who he loved so much, Leah, Emmy and Odessa. Although there were a few bumps along the way, he was able to see them grow up into such wonderful women.  He was so proud of them.

Gary was also lucky that he gained two wonderful stepsons who were a big part of his life as he saw them through adolescence and watched them mature into men.

Gary was so lucky when he met Irene.  Gary had always been a seeker of oneness. Irene was the one.  When Gary met Irene, his life blossomed and he became the man we know today.  Irene completed Gary and Gary completed Irene.   Their marriage in Teotihuacan will never leave the hearts and minds of those of us who were there.

They say in the movie business that each character has an Arc.  Gary’s Arc wasn’t as long as we had hoped, but it was oh, so high and oh, so bright.

So, no matter what sacrament you partake of remember that Gary is there, partaking with you, whether you are Jewish, Buddhist, Native American or Rasta.  

Whenever you eat chocolate, and please make it often, think of Gary.

Rhino kids

“The imagination is a deep-sea diver
that rakes the bottom of the poet’s mind
and dredges up sleeping images …
If we go deep enough we may discover
the secret place where our key images
Have been stored since childhood."
— Stanley Kunitz


by Cat Stevens
and recited at Gary's service
by Casey Perez


It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow,
But your dreams may not.


How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.


It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

Away, Away, Away.
I know I have to make this decision alone,
No …

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them They know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

Stay, Stay, Stay.
Why must you go
And make this decision alone?    

From “Tea for the Tillerman,” by Cat Stevens
Copyright © 1970

Rhinos in the mist

“Work is done, then forgotten.
 Therefore it lasts forever.”
       — Lao Tzu


          by Jan Mundo

Going to celebrate
An idea occurs
Bring my drum
The one whose waves
Hit my chest
When turned around
Vibrate my heart
I cry first tears
You’re gone
I’ll do what you wished
Will gladly trip that trip for you
With you watching on
As always anyway
Still I feel so sad
We’ll kick out the jams
Lots more and
No less for you
My friend

I remember the times we’d hug
Or just pass at an event
Knowing we knew
We had history
We were and shared relations
In many tribes
Of many generations
Who got to be here
At the same time
For that and you
I give thanks

Hearing now all the stories
Like a virtual campfire
Of lives you’ve touched
Each tale of your
Giving just what each
Needed at the right time
Lightning speed
You did a lot
We’re sad but better
As they say
Deep sigh
Much better
For knowing you

Black rhino

about Rhino's Blog

10:37:27 AM    comment

Saturday, March 4, 2006


11:36:12 AM    comment

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It is with great sorrow that we inform the readers of Rhino's Blog that Gary Rhine has passed away. Gary died while doing something he loved - flying a small plane.  The plane crashed in Lancaster, California, on January 9th at 1:40 p.m.

The funeral will be in San Francisco on Sunday the 15th of January:
Congregation Beth-Israel-Judea
625 Brotherhood Way
San Francisco, Ca. 94132
Services will begin at 1:30.

A memorial will be held in Los Angeles at a later date. That information will also be posted here when we know more.

If you would like to contact Gary's family, then you can e-mail his wife, Irene Romero, at:

The family thanks you for your concern. In lieu of flowers, you may choose to honor Gary by sending a contribution to one of the following two charitable organizations that Gary cared deeply about:

The Friendship House
56 Julian Street
San Francisco, Ca. 94103

Plenty USA
PO Box 394
Tennessee, 38483
(on the memo line, please indicate that the funds should be directed to the Rhino/Katrina Building Fund)

Rhino at his daughter Leah's wedding in October

Rhino at Leah's wedding
about Rhino's Blog

2:01:17 PM    comment

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Who would Jesus bomb?"
- - An early 21st century bumper sticker

December 21st, Winter Solstace, 1996
-- After two years of denials, House Speaker Republican Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.
Dec 24th, Christmas Eve, 1914 -- Wilderness advocate John Muir dies, Los Angeles, California.
December 25th, Christmas Day, 1946 -- First of several years of White House Christmas demonstrations seeking amnesty for conscientious objectors (COs) convicted for refusing to fight in World War II.
December 31st, New Years Eve, 1970 -- The U.S. Congress repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, thus finally fessing up to having been hoodwinked by a pack of lies the US military, NSA & the government had used to convince them to support the war in Viet Nam. Well over 100,000 Americans dead. Rhino sez, "Those who don't know their history are likely to repeat their dumbest mistakes."
January 1st, New Years Day, 1960 -- The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, plays San Quentin Prison, the first of many concerts he will perform for to prison inmates.

According to the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-december. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a female.

We should have known. Only women, while pregnant, would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night, not get lost, meet an impossible deadline, and do it all out of good will.

The Rhino's understanding of the holidays that fall at the end of our calendar year, is that they are meant to encourage & inspire people to be good to one another. Falling near the Winter Equinox, December 21st, the shortest day and longest night of the year, the time when nature provides us the least amount of sunlight and edible harvest, the religious celebrations offered by so many of the world's wisdom traditions teach us to make up for the decrease in Nature's gifts by giving goodwill & love to each other.

In this stretch of history, when a gang of neo-robber barons have been so successful in their efforts to blatantly steal from so many, give to so few, and be so uncaring as to how many may suffer and die as a result, it is that much more important for those who still believe in the power of love over the power of money, to reach out and offer some warmth & nurturing to our friends, relatives and fellow inhabitants of this flying rock we call Earth.

So in that spirit, The Rhino wishes each & every one of you some special peace this holiday season. May your gatherings of family & friends be meaningful & fun, and may your endeavors in the coming year in behalf of goodwill toward mankind be successful.

With the following excerpts and links, I want to call your attention to a few lights on the political horizon, and a short piece by me on the now annual controversy of people saying the words, "Seasons Greetings." With that, I say, "Have a happy holidaze."


First, the beloved, fearless Senator Russ Feingold fights for America and wins a significant battle against the shrub gang.

Feingold Beats Bush In Patriot Act Fight
by John Nichols, The Nation, Posted 12/16/2005

Four years ago, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold distinguished himself as the Senate's premier defender of the Constitution, when he cast the chamber's sole vote against enactment of the Patriot Act. As a time when every other senator -- even liberal Democrats with long records of championing the Bill of Rights -- joined the post-September 11 rush to curtail basic liberties, Feingold stood alone in defense of the principle that it was possible to combat terrorism and protect the rights of Americans. But Feingold no longer stands alone. On Friday, he led a bipartisan group of senators that successfully blocked the administration's concerted effort to renew the Patriot Act in a form that maintains its most abusive components...
MORE AT: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat?bid=1&pid=43115

Senator Feingold's remarks from the U.S. Senate Floor
Ending Debate on Reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act
Commondreams, Friday, December 16, 2005

Mr. President, on Wednesday evening, I laid out in detail my concerns about the Patriot Act reauthorization bill that we are now considering on the floor. In its current form, I cannot support the conference report, and I cannot consent to limit debate on it. The leaders of this Congress need to figure out a way to change this report to address the important civil liberties issues that I and other Senators from both sides of the aisle have discussed over the past three days...

MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1216-29.htm


Here's a link to a page at Indianz.com which contains a list of links to articles following the Jack Abramoff/Tom Delay ripoffs. No wonder that in a recent interview with Faux News, the shrub stood strong for his fellow neo robber baron cronies.

Bush seeks to link Jack Abramoff to Democrats
Thursday, December 15, 2005

President Bush defended the Republican Party on Wednesday amid a series of corruption scandals in Washington, D.C., attempting to link disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to Democrats. In an interview with Fox News, Bush made his first public comments about Abramoff, a Republican insider who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the party. Although the president said he was "not all that familiar with a lot that's going on up there on Capitol Hill," he charged that Abramoff spread the money around in Washington...



The recent hubbub kicked up by the award winning liar, Bill O'Reilly, over what he calls the secularization of Christmas reminded me of remarks by the unindicted traitor, Robert Novak just one year ago. At that time, I wrote a short piece which I republish here now. Enjoy.

What does saying Season's Greeting really mean?
by Gary Rhine, Originally Blogged on December 27, 2004

Robert Novak sez, "What does saying 'Season's Greeting' really mean? ...But Merry Christmas, that's what it means, (you idiots!)" A simple minded WASP is he. Forgive him, he knows not what he is, nor who Jesus was.

Nor does Rummie, Georgie or Dick know Jesus, ...who, lest we forget, said, "Prophets of old said, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill,' ...But I Say Unto You, Thou Shalt Not Be Angry With Thy Brother ...For It Is The Same Thing."

What does saying Season's Greeting really mean? Rhino sez it means, "When the going gets rough, I'd give mine for you." That's what the J man was all about, right? Some then twist that into, "Support Our Troops." Extreme gall to use his sacrifice to justify their oily war.

What does saying Season's Greeting really mean? When the night is longest, the sun is farthest, and the earth the barest, I'll be there with a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit, a flashlight, or if need be, just me, by your side.

Happy Chronica!

Love, Rhino


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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

- Obituaries for Vine Deloria, Jr.
- Native Visionary Spoke For All Disadvantaged Americans, by David Wilkins
- Working With Wit and Wisdom for Native American Rights, Guardian UK

"Intellectuals are exiles, always in a state of  restlessness, movement, constantly being unsettled and unsettling others... The exilic intellectual does not respond to the logic of the conventional but to the audacity of daring, and to representing change, to moving on, not standing still."
- - Edward Said

Sunday, November 13, 2005
Theologian, historian, philosopher, comedic critic, author, activist, friend, father, grandfather and loving husband, Vine Deloria, Jr, passes over to join his ancestors.

This Rhino's Blog entry is dedicated to my friend Vine Deloria, Jr. who passed away last month at the age of 72.  Deemed one of the 10 most influential theologians of the 20th century by TIME magazine, Vine was recently awarded the 2nd annual American Indian Visionary Award from the national Native weekly, Indian Country Today.  In his self-deprecating acceptance speech filled with entertaining stories & teasing humor, he credited the remarkable generation of leaders that it was his privilege to work with, beginning with his service withThe National Congress of American Indians.

To the end of his life, Vine remained a prolific writer & social critic. He recently refused an honorary degree from the University of Colorado because he disapproved of the school's performance during an athletic scandal. At the time of his passing, he was at work his 21st book, focusing on the miraculous deeds of American Indian medicine men.

It was The Rhino's pleasure & honor to get to work with Professor Deloria over the last couple years.  Working with Blackfoot filmmaker, Darren Kipp, I've been producing a documentary on Vine's life & body of work.  The memorial, which was held in Golden, Colorado, included hours of friends, relatives, Indian leaders & tribal representatives testifying to the influence Vine had had on so many people. He will be sorely missed.

You'll find below links to 2 obituaries published in the Guardian of London, and Indian Country Today.  For a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:


Native Visionary Spoke For All Disadvantaged Americans
by: David Wilkins,  University of Minnesota,  December 01, 2005

Vine Deloria Jr., our indigenous champion, has walked on, causing a tsunami of emotions that will rock the heart of Indian country, and beyond, for a long time.  He was never quite comfortable with the notion that he was, in fact, the principal champion of tribal nations since he wanted - no, demanded - that each Native nation express confidence in its own national identity, develop its own unique talents and together wield their collective sovereignty, that is, their dignity and integrity, in a way that enriches them and the nations around them as well.

Deloria's multitude of accomplishments, including two dozen books (beginning with ''Custer Died for Your Sins''), several hundred articles, thousands of speeches and testimonials, etc., covering topics as broad as federal Indian law and policy, anthropology, American Indian studies, education, theology, indigenous knowledge systems, science, and numerous other fields, are staggering for their depth and breadth. In recent years, he had reluctantly begun to accept various ''lifetime'' achievement awards for his sustained and prodigious intellectual and pragmatic efforts aimed at improving conditions for all oppressed groups - beginning with tribal nations. Still, his unique human quest cannot be easily summarized.

Above all, he fought tirelessly for human, not just indigenous, freedom and for ecological respect and common sense approaches to heal the environment's many wounds. Deloria believed that America's national soul would never be cleansed until justice had been fully achieved by indigenous nations, blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women, impoverished whites, any disempowered groups, and especially young people...
MORE AT: http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096412026

Working With Wit and Wisdom for Native American Rights
by Christopher Reed, The Guardian UK, November 24, 2005

The most effective weapon of the Native American historian and activist Vine Deloria, who has died aged 72, was the scathing and sardonic humour in his accounts of white treachery towards his people. He also knew that its novelty helped him to destroy myths, a major objective. Widely regarded as the 20th century's most important scholar and political voice in Native American affairs, Deloria was at his most formidable when demolishing cliches and stereotypes, and their associated thinking. Anthropologists were an important, and unexpected, enemy, and they suffered such an onslaught in Deloria's first book - for alleged laziness and limited thinking - that, in later references to their own scholarship, they would ask jokingly if it was AD, or after Deloria.

An equal target were Christian missionaries, whom Deloria attacked from a secure position, having undergone four years at a seminary and taken a degree in theology - and later, in law. He once said missionaries had "fallen on their knees and prayed for the Indians" before rising to "fall on the Indians and prey on their land". The book that made his name was Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969), described by one scholar as "the single most influential book ever written on Indian affairs"...
MORE AT:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1649218,00.html


Rhino's Blog is the responsibility of Gary Rhine.
Feedback & requests to be added or deleted from the list are encouraged.
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Rhino's Other Web Sites:
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http://www.kifaru.com  (Native American Relations Video Documentaries)

Articles are reprinted under Fair Use Doctrine of international copyright law.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

"On Friday I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher."
- - Robert Scheer 11/11/05

November 11, 1918
- On the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month, the world rejoiced & celebrated. After 4 years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over.
November 11, 1919 - Armistice Day is celebrated in the U.S.A. to remember the sacrifices that men & women made during World War I.
THANKSGIVING DAY 2005 - America is on a terrorist alert. It is now against the law to stuff a turkey, since everyone is now under suspicion of hiding explosives. George W. signed this into law as an emergency executive decree. During a patriotic speech he defends this decision, claiming "the evil doers are just looking for any opportunity to show up at your dinner table." This Thanksgiving take a real good look at your relatives... and report any suspicious behavior to the CIA, FBI or your local police... who cares if it's grandma... it's your duty as an American.
More Humorous Thanksgiving History At:

THE RANT: On Bush, the Dems, Jon Stewart, Hunter Thompson, Bill Moyers, and King (not Don)
by John Cusack

THE MOVIE: "Good Night, and Good Luck"
by George Clooney

"WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price"
by Robert Greenwald

THE BOOK: "A Seat at the Table:
Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom"
by Phil Cousineau. With assistance from Gary Rhine.

THE BOOK TOUR: "A Seat at the Table:
Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom"
Phil Cousineau on tour
November 13, 4 PM -- Cody's Bookstore, Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, CA
November 18, 7 PM -- 'A Seat at the Table" documentary screening
Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
November 19, 7 PM -- Transitions Bookstore, Chicago, IL
November 29, 7 PM -- A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books, San Francisco, CA

THE EVENT REPORT: Chet Helms Celebrated Along With His Era
By Joel Selvin

THE BOOK (& AUDIO BOOK): Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions

THE ANIMATION: The Indictment Circus
by Scooter

THE RADIO ADDRESS: George Dubya Bush on the recent local elections


As the U.S.A. prepares for the Thanksgiving season, the dubya shrub took advantage of Veteran's Day & his bully pulpit, to lash out at his critics who contend his war is such things as unnecessary, ill-conceived, mismanaged, illegal & criminal, accusing them of trying to rewrite history about the decision to go to war & saying their criticism is undercutting American forces in battle. Nice try guy but have you seen the recent poll showing a solid majority of Americans think you're a liar. If not, Click Below:

The day before Vet's Day, one of the few men among the Shrub Gang who ever saw active military duty, General Colin Powell, was participating in a 3 day college Celebrity Forum in Cupertino California. Meanwhile students from the nearby college campus were holding a mock war crimes tribunal to examine Powell's role in U.S. military actions in Iraq and elsewhere. Let us not forget that as the only real vet in the upper echelons of Bush & Company during the lie-up to the shock & awe attacks on the 10 million civilian inhabitants of Baghdad, Generalisimo Powell could have stopped the neo-con warmongers in their tracks. But apparently he didn't have the ethics.

Speaking of lack of ethics, someone in La Casa Blanca recently got the idea of having the staff attend a course in ethics. Rhino sez, "Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room!"

And finally, for your holiday reading pleasure, here's an interesting piece from an academic journal called Technology & Culture by Stanford Professor Fred Turner who focuses on how the 60's movements of freedom & individual expression contributed to the development of the internet culture that's all around us today. Rhino's Blog readers Matthew McClure, Cliff Figallo & John Coate are featured. Rhino leaves you with this thought: If the shrubbies really want to know about ethics, why not ask some hippies to explain the concept to them?

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Feedback & requests to be added or deleted from the list are encouraged.
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Rhino's Other Web Sites:
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Articles are reprinted under Fair Use Doctrine of international copyright law.
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11:49:41 AM    comment

Thursday, November 3, 2005

- No in November to Arnold's Groping:  A Short Animation From Arnoldwatch
- Vote "No in November", Arnoldwatch
- 'No' Vote is Powerful only If You Cast It, SF Chronicle
- The Secret Force Behind the Propositions, LA Times

"Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something...I don't have to take money from anybody. I have plenty of money."
- - Candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger (During the recall election)

"We would have appreciated if he would have done his fundraising after the Nov. 8 election, because you know we need now all the money in the world."
- - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Oct 20, 2005 speaking of W's recent Bev Hills fundraiser)

Greetings! 5 Days and counting Until the California Election!
Rhino sez, "Nix the 6 (Vote no on 73- 78) Or... Vote no down the line until you get to 79! "

Whatever the method for remembering, we all must vote and make sure our friends, neighbors, family vote too. This election is not just about California, it is about our nation. The ripple effect of some of these propositions will be disastrous. Let's keep California Blue so that in 2006 and 2008 we can turn Congress and the White House Blue too!


No in November to Arnold's Groping
Watch a short animation about the Gov's Nov. 8th ballot measures. Arnold propositions Minerva in the State Seal and, with the help of California's Bear, she defends herself against Arnold's advances.
SEE IT AT:  http://www.arnoldwatch.org


Vote "No in November"
No On Prop 73
Buried in his Deceptive Constitutional Amendment is Fine Print Which Will Undermine Legal Rights Under Roe v. Wade
No On Prop 74
Don‚t Let Arnold Punish the Parents and Teachers Who Stood Up to Him
No On Prop 75
Don't Let the Governor Use the Initiative Process to Shut Up Nurses, Firefighters, Cops and Teachers
No On Prop 76
Stop the Gov's Budget Power Grab & Save Education Funding
No On Prop 77
Stop Arnold's Partisan Redistricting Power Grab to Win More Legislative Seats
No On Prop 78
Stop the Drug Companies' Phony Plan that Will Lead to Higher Prices for Prescription Drugs
MORE INFO AT:  http://www.arnoldwatch.org


'No' Vote is Powerful Only If You Cast It
by Jamie Court,  SF Chronicle, October 30, 2005
Nurses, firefighters, cops, teachers and Planned Parenthood have called upon California's progressive voters to just say no to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger-backed ballot measures in the Nov. 8 special election. The problem for them is that getting out the public for a "no vote" is like turning vegans out for dinner at Harris' Steak House. Abstinence seems to be the only sensible course when there's nothing for you on the menu. But the main power of voters in the ballot measure process has been and always will be the power to say "no" to what they perceive as rip-offs, abuses of power and dishonest agendas...
MORE AT:  http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/co/?postId=5383


The Secret Force Behind the Propositions;
by Jamie Court, LA Times, October 30, 2005
When President Bush came to Los Angeles earlier this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger treated him like a rival Mafia boss crossing a turf line. Schwarzenegger didn't want Bush raising money from the same right-wing Beverly Hills donors who the governor wanted to help underwrite his November ballot measure campaigns.
"We would have appreciated if he would have done his fundraising after the Nov. 8 election, because you know we need now all the money in the world," said Schwarzenegger, who ran for office saying that he was so rich he didn't need anyone else's money. By turning to those donors, Schwarzenegger has revealed a truth about his proposals. He presented them as nonpartisan, but they are unquestionably rooted in a gene pool of conservatism. Some of the nation's leading conservative thinkers and strategists are seeking, through Schwarzenegger's initiatives, to alter the balance of power between the right and left wings of California politics. Their hope is to turn California red in '08 and pioneer a new gospel that can spread across the country...
MORE AT:  http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/co/?postId=5386


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Feedback & requests to be added or deleted from the list are encouraged.
See The Latest Greatest Political Cartoons
     While You Read Rhino's Blog AT :

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