Tag: What Would Edward Abbey Think

Oil and Gas Drilling Coming to Arches, Canyonlands

Utah’s Bureau of Land Management has stirred the ire of the National Park Service by announcing its plan to expand drilling in eastern Utah to on or near boundaries of Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument and Canyonlands National Park, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.  “We’re not anti-oil and gas,” said one Park Service official. “But we’re very much pro-park.” Should drilling begin in these parcels of land—including sections dedicated as wilderness as well as Nine Mile Canyon—tourists may soon be seeing oil rigs pop up in their photos, a prospect that has wilderness outfitters concerned. Said one cycling guide, “It’s not a world-class outing if you can see oil wells.”

Talking Antarctica Live and Online

Susan Fox Rogers, editor of the new Travelers’ Tales collection “Antarctica: Life on the Ice” and the subject of a recent World Hum interview, will offer a “live teleseminar” Thursday, I’m told. Viewers can register here

China’s Air Pollution Goes Global

Talk about a shrinking planet. “On some days,” reports the Wall Street Journal, “almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia.”

The Critics: The Grand Canyon Skywalk

Photo of the Grand Canyon Skywalk by Marcusman, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

First came the hype. Now comes the big-league critical eye. New York Times cultural critic Edward Rothstein shuffled in his yellow surgical booties along the see-through glass of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and he wasn’t too impressed. Seeing the Canyon from its natural edge, he suggests, transcends any man-made perch.

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Talking Books, Writing and Travel in New York and Los Angeles

It’s a good week for literature lovers on the East and West coasts. In New York, the PEN World Voices Festival kicks off tomorrow and runs through Sunday. It’s packed with compelling events featuring authors from around the globe. Among the highlights: Tomorrow, Pico Iyer and Billy Collins, both the subject of World Hum interviews, will discuss the environment. On Wednesday, novelist Don Delillo makes a rare appearance on a panel entitled Writing Home. (It was in DeLillo’s novel “The Names” that we first came across the phrase “world hum.”) Thursday’s schedule features Multiple Passports: Writers on Homeland and Identity, which includes Ian Buruma, author of the excellent Asia travel book “God’s Dust.” And Sunday brings two panels for travel literature fans: Voyage and Voyeur: Travel and Travel Writing, featuring Alain de Botton, among others, and A Tribute to Ryszard Kapuscinski.

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Jeff Biggers on NPR

World Hum contributor Jeff Biggers appears on NPR’s Latino USA this weekend to discuss his latest book, In the Sierra Madre. In fact, Maria Hinojosa’s interview with Biggers—or “Pancho,” as the Tarahumara called him—is already available online.

The Critics: ‘Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast’

If you love the oudoors, it’s hard not to love Edward Abbey, author of the classic Utah memoir Desert Solitaire. (“Since you cannot get the desert into a book any more than a fisherman can haul up the sea with his nets,” Abbey memorably wrote in “Solitaire,” “I have tried to create a world of words in which the desert figures more as a medium than as material.”) Abbey died in 1989, and now, a publisher has collected 236 letters he wrote over his lifetime, in a collection entitled Postcards from Ed. It was reviewed in Sunday’s New York Times. Writes Jonathan Miles: “If few surprises are embedded in this trim selection of letters, edited by Abbey’s pal David Petersen, it’s because Abbey, on the page, was always Abbey: free ranging, cymbal crashing, an anarchist in mind as well as politics, encased throughout his life in an ever-shaken snow globe of contradictions, provocations, bathroom-wall jokes and fortissimo declarations.” That may be so, but die-hard Abbey fans are sure to add it to their collections.

Readings by World Hum Contributors

Two of our esteemed contributors will be out and about in the coming days and weeks doing readings. World Hum books editor Frank Bures will be appearing at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison on Friday. He’ll be reading his story from the new Travelers’ Tales collection What Color is Your Jockstrap? Funny Men and Women Write from the Road. Meanwhile, contributor Jeff Biggers will be doing readings from St. Louis to Los Angeles and beyond in support of his new memoir, In the Sierra Madre, which is based on a year he spent with the Tarahumara in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. For a list of all his appearances, click “Continue reading.”

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Out: Palm Trees. In: Oak Trees.

Photo by Jim Benning.

Few features define the Los Angeles landscape more than towering palms. They’re the stuff of postcard images. They earn appreciative nods in just about every L.A. travel story—a quick Google search turned up this gem: “From sun, sand and palm trees, to hiking and biking in the mountains, the Los Angeles area has something for everyone.” But according to city officials, they couldn’t be less environmentally correct or more expensive. As a result, few of the dying trees planted before the 1932 Olympics are being replaced by young palms. A USA Today story about this—and how oaks just might become L.A.‘s new palms—offers a fascinating glimpse into the way economics and changing environmental attitudes can re-shape a landscape.

Twenty Secret Great Places Revealed!

Backpacker magazine’s cover immediately grabbed Bill Stall’s attention. “The Last UNKNOWN Places,” it screamed. “5 Hidden Paradises Where Nature Still Rules.” He bought the magazine in a millisecond. And then, as he writes in a thoughtful op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times, he began questioning the whole enterprise—the cover’s promise, the story inside by Tracy Ross. [W]ait a minute,” he writes. “Ross and Backpacker were tipping off the crowds, weren’t they? Hidden paradises aren’t hidden once they’ve been touted to the whole world on the cover of a magazine.”

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China’s Environmental Woes

Photo by Jim Benning.

Several years ago I visited China, and I enjoyed just about every minute of it. This photo I shot at a McDonald’s in Xian—Chinese food is great, but a guy needs a break now and again—captures a hint of the juxtaposition between old and new that is becoming such a common sight in the country. But the gorgeous, centuries-old building out the McDonald’s window here looks so gray because in Xian I encountered thick, gray-brown, throat-burning, eye-stinging air, the worst I’d ever seen. It was so bad I bought a cloth cover to wear over my nose and mouth, as many locals do, hoping to filter out some of the pollution. It’s ugly. The World Bank reports that China is home to 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. This week, the public radio show The World is airing a four-part series on China’s environmental problems, entitled “Paying for Prosperity.” The first report, broadcast yesterday, focused on air quality, among other issues. Listening to it, I almost felt like coughing as I recalled Xian and the kind of air that so many people in China have to breathe daily.

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Kili’s Woes, Our Woes

Salon reports on the melting snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which are expected to disappear completely in 15 years. According to the site, “It’s another unbearable loss on an overheating planet.”

Franz Wisner on Book Tour

Honeymoon with my Brother: A Memoir is one of those rare travel books that has cracked the New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List. This week, it’s 25 on the paperback list. Author Franz Wisner is now on a book tour of the country with his brother in a VW van. He just sent out an e-mail with his latest book tour dates, noting that his Web site will have updates. But for now, here are his scheduled stops:

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The Grand Canyon Skywalk: What Would Edward Abbey Think?

We’re big fans of the land. Mountains. Mesas. Wide open spaces. All of it. So whenever we come across questionable development on Mother Nature’s fine works, we often find ourselves wondering, What Would Edward Abbey Think? In this first installment of our new recurring feature, we ask what the environmental advocate and author of Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang would think of the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The Hualapai Tribe plans to open a glass bridge—it looks more like a see-through horseshoe to me—extending 70 feet beyond the rim of the Grand Canyon, 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. It was scheduled to open last month, but its debut has just been pushed back until the end of 2006. Read all about it in this press release. An artist’s rendering is above.

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What Would Edward Abbey Think?

Last September a group of international travelers descended on southern Utah to traverse canyons and ride horses and smoke their brains out. They went to Moab on a junket sponsored by Philip Morris, a company that has used the rugged land of the American southwest as a backdrop for its Marlboro cigarette ads since the early 1960s. The “winners” of the promotion were flown in from around the world - no Americans allowed - for 12 days of adventure, which was recorded for potential use in upcoming ads. The event drew the attention of L.A. Times reporter Charles Duhigg for many reasons, including the fact that this orgy of exploitation and commercialism takes place on public land. His story offers a fascinating look at the power of landscapes and multi-national corporations. It’s also absurdly funny. For instance, this quote from Philip Morris executive François Moreillon: “We want the winners to experience the freedom of America. And we find this is easiest when Americans are not part of the event.”

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