Living too close to town

Edward Abbey died 20 years ago today.  The American Spectator has a nice essay that sums up my love-hate admiration for the Conservative Anarchist of the Desert Southwest:

Cactus Ed was a prickly sort; a conservative anarchist, if you will, who on one hand could support eco-terrorism (a favorite motto was: “Keep America Beautiful — Burn a Billboard!”), and on the other supported the National Rifle Association (NRA), and restrictions on immigration.

Much commentary on old Ed Abbey focuses on his essays, in particular the visionary  Desert Solitaire .  I’d heard the name before a friend of mine gave me a paperback when I was living in Bozeman, MT.  Still, Desert Solitaire hit me hard at that particular time and place.  I’ve been a Conservative all my life, yet I also have a deep, abiding love of the land, in particular that large landscapes of the American West.  Snow-capped mountains of Colorado.  Trout streams gracing the Big Sky of Montana.  Haunted kivas of New Mexico.

In Edward Abbey, I saw both the evil of environmental relativism and the promise of reconciliation—with those of us who value individual freedom and respect above mindless groupthink and junk science.

I don’t know the collective feeling at Patagonia regarding junk science, but their blog highlighted a special event this week for Abbey fans.  The host of The Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot radio show does an annual special memorial show, an “incomparable blend of tasty instrumentals, blues, folk, outlaw country, and a generous helping of Mr. Abbey…”

Starting Saturday morning, it will be available for a full week via podcast at the Hoot website. You can also listen live Saturday morning, 8 – 10 a.m. Pacific, by going to and clicking on the “Listen Live” button (on the right).

Kill your television and crank up the podcast.  If you don’t make it before the week is up, go find Tom Russell‘s song “The Ballad of Edward Abbey” on the album Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs; it’s a good take on a complicated legend.


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