Gone, Gone, Like the Snows of Yesteryear

“The ugly fallout from the American Dream has been coming down on us at a pretty consistent rate since Sitting Bull’s time — and the only real difference now […] is that we seem to be on the verge of ratifying the fallout and forgetting the Dream itself.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

dogs

Turn around, puppy, she’s standing right there.

If you’re lucky in 2016, maybe you’re better off than your parents or grandparents. Maybe you got a better education, or are able to own a home. Maybe you’ve got a pension (ha, Google it). Maybe you’re simply able to negotiate a stroll without being harassed, beaten, tazed, or straight up shot dead. And maybe your own kids will be better off than you are. That’s what most parents hope for, anyway, but look at the rising costs and disappearing opportunity for nearly everything, and that hope might feel increasingly desperate.

Those of us lucky enough to be U.S. citizens have a heritage that’s the envy of the world. Millions of acres of wild land and clean water are bequeathed to all of us as a happy accident of birth, or the fortunate benefit of negotiating a long and costly immigration process. And in the absence of property or money or opportunity, we can at least pass this inheritance along to our kids, as long as we’re vigilant and the well isn’t poisoned.

And, you know, if it isn’t stolen by greedheads like the American Lands Council and their pet politicians, who are attempting to force the divestiture of our public land and water to the states, where they can be, or in some cases must be sold off to private interests who can keep your kids’ dirty feet from soiling it ever again.

Screw that. Start here, and here, but don’t stop there. Raise hell. Don’t be forced to tell the kids that you’re sorry, but you just didn’t do enough. It’s easy to type words about heritage and the home of the brave, but that doesn’t amount to a hell of a lot when they’re willing to set the dogs on you.

The Old Man And Pete Dexter

randall-tex-cobb-pictures

Early morning, Seeley Lake, Montana. The sun has touched the lake, but the air is dead still and cooler than the water, and the fog comes off the surface in curtains, hiding some of the Swan Range three miles to the east. And in doing that, it frames the rest. It is the design here, I think, that nothing is taken without compensation, except by men and fires. They leave all the holes.

Originally published in Esquire in 1981, just one year before Dexter and his pal Randall “Tex” Cobb got into that infamous bar fight in Philly, Pete Dexter’s interview with Norman Maclean The Old Man And The River.    It’s a sort of nature piece wherein Maclean is observed in his own habitat and is revealed to be a cranky old SOB, insightful and cynical, like everyones grandpa used to be.  Good stuff.