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Edward Abbey : Freedom & Wilderness I



"The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws."
--Edward Abbey, 1927-1989



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In honor of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Edward Paul Abbey, Radio Free Fundi presents four stories, written and read aloud here by "Cactus Ed", the late, great writer and essential voice of the American desert. I "obtained" these spoken word pieces on cassette while visiting Moab, Utah and Arches National Park for the first time in 1994. Each is a brilliant combination of memoir, fiction, polemic and adventure tale, composed in Abbey's singular voice -- a voice that balanced anger, humor, heartbreak, generosity and wisdom in his full-barrelled defense of freedom & wilderness.

Excerpt from Abbey's Wikipedia bio: "Sometimes called the "desert anarchist," Edward Abbey was known to anger people of all political stripes (including environmentalists). In his essays the narrator describes throwing beer cans out of his car, claiming the highway had already littered the landscape. Abbey has been criticized by some for his comments on immigration and women. He differed from the stereotype of the 'environmentalist as politically-correct leftist', by disclaiming the counterculture and the "trendy campus people" and saying he didn't want them as his primary fans, and by supporting some conservative causes such as immigration reduction and the National Rifle Association. He devoted one chapter in his book Hayduke Lives to poking fun at left-green leader Murray Bookchin. However, he reserves his harshest criticism for the military-industrial complex, "welfare ranchers," energy companies, land developers and "Chambers of Commerce," all of which he believed were destroying the West's great landscapes. Abbey refused to be ideologically pigeonholed by the left or the right; above all he was a staunch advocate for wilderness preservation and ecological protection. Abbey thrived on controversy; his popularity has proven to span generations. Abbey even had a FBI file opened on him on account of a 1947 letter he posted while in college urging people rid themselves of their draft cards."

I have another round of stories from a companion cassette that I will podcast at a later date. Feedback is welcome: djfundi@podcastcafe.org