Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cactus Ed Lives!

Below you'll find a link to a rare video of the Thoreau of the American Southwest, Edward Abbey. This doesn't have much to do with Tucson, except that Ed lived and died in the Tucson Mountains, as I hope I will.

Here's the back ground, written by Ned Judge, the co-producer of an eight minute film essay about Ed's curmudgeonly perspective on the "improvements" to Arches National Park, the subject of Ed's book Desert Solitaire.

Essay by Edward Abbey "I Loved it...I Loved it All"

An eight minute film essay that I co-produced and directed with Ed Abbey in 1985. At the time I was working for a network magazine show. The executive producer took me to lunch one day. He told me that he was having trouble with his son who was 18. The son thought his dad was a corporate whore. He had told his father if he had any balls at all he’d put Ed Abbey on his show. That’s why the EP was talking to me. Would I see if it was possible? I had an acquaintance who knew Ed and he passed the request along. Ed responded that he’d give it a try. He signed the contract and wrote a script. We met in Moab and went out to Arches National Park to shoot some practice sessions with a home video camera. We would review them at the motel in the evening. After a day or two, Ed was feeling pretty comfortable on camera so we scheduled the shoot. We were all happy with the way it went. But then we ran head-on into network reality. Roger Mudd, the show’s host, was extremely negative about putting an “eco-terrorist” on the show. The executive producer caved (his son was right about him apparently). So this Abbey essay was put on the shelf and never aired. Abbey died 3 years later in March 1989.

And here's an endearing video of my hero, Cactus Ed. Steve got to meet him at readings. As a member of Earth First! he was even invited to Ed's memorial service. Unfortunately, I arrived home in Tucson in 1990, a year too late to meet this wonderful philosopher, anarchist and defender of wilderness.