Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekend Meander

40 comments:

  1. While Gintaras is away, and we wait for the book discussion to get underway, hope some of our other participants will hang in here....

    Barton, untermensch, jabel, donot? Anyone out there?

    Anyone heard from Robert?

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  2. And while we wait for Gintaras, I'm already looking for my next book. I think it's going to be this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Nature-Life-John-Muir/dp/0195166825/

    Worster is one of my favorite historians and I really liked his bio of Powell. Reading Brinkley -- whom I'm constantly questioning -- makes me realize that I need to start getting serious about finishing my dissertation, so this might be a good read and help with more background.

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  3. I am reminded of this passage in Nash's "Wilderness and the American Mind":

    "A comparison of the reputations of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau among their contemporaries dramatizes the appearance of a wilderness cult. Both men made wilderness their dominant concern, yet the extent to which they were successful and influential figures in their lifetimes differed markedly. In 1853 Thoreau was obliged to find storage space for the seven hunded unsold volumes of . . . his first book, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers." Just over forty years later . . . bookstores could not supply the demand for [Muir's] initial book-length work, "The Mountains of California. . . ." While he lived, Thoreau's supporters consisted of a handful of personal friends. His writings went unsold and his lectures were sparsely attended. The general public regarded the Walden Pond episode as incomprehensible at best. Muir, on the contrary, was highly successful and nationally acclaimed in spite of the fact that most of his thoughts were simply restatements of the Transcendentalists' case for wilderness."

    I haven't read "The Mountains of California."

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  4. Thanks Rick! I was beginning to think it was just me and Gintaras.

    I have that book next to me now -- Nash not Muir. Guess I should revisit that one, too.

    Interestingly, I've read somewhere that John Burroughs was far more popular in his day than Muir -- and that Muir was adopted much later as the spokesman for the environmental movement. Not sure how that syncs with Nash's comments which seems to be pretty specific.

    Actually, I've also read that Burroughs was far more popular than TR when the two of them traveled in the West. The Burroughs fan clubs would come out to greet him, not TR. I haven't reached that point yet in Brinkley. Curious to see if he acknowledges that.

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  5. This hang glider by the way is about to take off over my valley -- which looks just about like that this a.m. I'm sure I'll see some of them take off this afternoon. Weather seems perfect for it.

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  6. So you own that valley? Ted Turner aint got nothin' on you.

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  7. I own most of that view -- almost as good.

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  8. Hey now no one owns a view.Haven't you learned anything from the native tribes in your area.Insert sad smiley face emoticon here.

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  9. Ah, but you see I have. We _all_ own the view -- not the land.

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  10. Actually this is more the view I own around here:

    http://www.centric.net/parkside/missoula.html

    No snow on Snow Bowl now, but otherwise, that's about the one I call my own. I'm owning it now.

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  11. I guess your right but you are viewing the land.Ask an Indian what he or she thinks.I don't think I'm going to run into any in Los Angeles.

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  12. Actually you might be surprised...! There used to be large communities of Native Americans in L.A. I don't know if there still are or not. As the Indian museum in DC went out of its way (way out of its way) to make clear, Native Americans are everywhere now.

    I may not own the land, but "owning" the view as a shared heritage is something I think would be understood.

    I'm assuming the "owning" is the word you reacted to -- and most of my Native friends would probably as well.

    That said, all my Native friends own land and/or homes in town now too.... Even people who live on the reservation -- although a lot of the undeveloped land is held in trust.

    We live, alas, in an "ownership society" even though GW is long gone. We can't even get shared responsibility for our nation's health.

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  13. The hang gliders are lining up on the top of Mt. Sentinel -- they look like giant white moths up there. They'll soon be enjoying my view, too.

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  14. I had a friend in high school who did hang gliding and the glider planes.We would drive down to Dansville NY early sat mornings for the gliders.Even though I had no drivers license then he would let me take his parents 73 Mustang Convt and I would go tool around the dirt roads in the hills top down music blaring.One spring morn I came upon two black caddies parked one with trunk up and these 5 guys in suits standing in a farm field with a shovel.Everything went slo mo as I thought this looks like a mob get together and I have no idea what or who they are putting in the ground or taking out.They looked at me and I at them and then I drove away as fast as I could without appearing to panic.Kept looking in the rearview mirror even after I made it back to the glider lot.This was a period when the Rochester mob was quite active so it wasn't just from the movies.

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  15. Amazing! I think the hang gliders in my neck of the woods had their own scare today as a plane just jetted through. Not sure if that's a flight running late or what -- I know they are required to coordinate with air traffic control. It definitely is a thrill seeker's sport. But I love watching them. There's three of them circling the top of the take-off hill in the photo above right now.

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  16. I've been reading Twain again. The man's use of the American language is simply amazing. I use the term "American language" advisedly. If anyone differentiated our language from English, in print, Twain did.

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  17. I'm a big fan of Bernard DeVoto. (Thanks for the book, Av!)I was really surprised when it was revealed, in "Julie & Julia",that Child's pen-pal, Avis, was DeVoto's widow.

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  18. Chartres, I thought of you when I heard that in the movie, too. It really is a small, small world.

    Nice to see you back to Twain. I think you first introduced me to him, too.

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  19. The description of Avis DeVoto's papers makes for fascinating reading:

    http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~sch00551

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  20. I enjoyed that film. Streep did a pretty good job of convincing me that she was Julia Child.

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  21. I usually don't like Streep, but she was amazing in this film. A fun summer movie.

    I also enjoyed the cold war back story, and assume there's lots more to that one.

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  22. How could you not love a man who came up with the phrase "soul-butter and hogwash" to describe the preaching of a pious hypocrite?

    Peggy still hasn't read "Huck...". I don't think she should be allowed to have her teacher's credential until she reads the damn book.

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  23. Mary I'm still partial to Twain's non fiction.So I think Roughing It is the one she has to read especially the Mark Twain Library edition from Univ of Calif press.The one with all the original drawings in it.Avrds the latest Daedalus Books flyer has the Bernd Heinrich book about his life and family"The Snoring Bird" for under 6 dollars in hardcover I think it was.

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  24. Thanks, John. I have the Snoring Bird -- still haven't read it, though.

    Do you remember we read Roughing It at the Times? I really enjoyed it, but I'm still discovering his even more political work. I think that may be a big reading project at some point. And Huck again which truly is amazing.

    I listened to the Ron Powers' biography on tape on one of my road trips. Really enjoyed it.

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  25. Sunned and relatively relaxed after a week at the seaside. We had surprisingly good weather at Palanga, which given the vicissitudes of climate patterns in this country is something to be thankful for. We took bikes and peddled a little way out of town to avoid the madding crowds, using the dunes as wind breaks to sun ourselves and taking cold plunges in the Baltic.

    Big De Voto fan myself. I have to say that Douglas Brinkley is no Bernard De Voto or even Doris Kearns Goodwin for that matter. Wilderness Warrior is quite a slog, so I found myself turning to Selkirk's Island while on vacation. Still managed to read 150 pages of young Teddy as he is now grown up and married Alice Lee and is a young Alderman in New York. I do so hope things start to pick up.

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  26. It seems we need to file a missing persons report on Robert. Anyone heard anything from him?

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  27. Welcome back, Gintaras! Glad you had such a good and relaxing break.

    Hang in there with TR. The book is not what you would call inspiring, but there's lots of good information in there. I'm sort of reading it footnote by footnote -- he's VP now in my reading.

    Maybe the book put Robert to sleep? I sure hope he's okay -- as I recall he said he had some health problems recently.

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  28. I hope Robert is well also. Not like him to abandon a forum.

    Yes, WW has its redeeming qualities. It was interesting to read who was at Harvard at the time TR was there but Brinkley doesn't exactly capture the collegiate spirit except for his anecdote on Wister writing up TR's bid for the lightweight boxing championship.

    So much time spent on TR collecting bird skins for god's sake. As impressive as his thirst for knowledge was, I imagine "Naturalism" was still relatively new terrain so any book on a specific region of the country was welcome within the Naturalists' community. I think TR's book on Naval History was far more impressive.

    I also got a kick out of how Brinkley jumps from TR's Thoreau-like obsession with Maine to his Parkman-inspired journey Westward, as if TR tossed Thoreau away like a soiled handkerchief.

    I think the connection with Thoreau was mostly Brinkley's invention anyway, as it is hard to imagine TR interested in transcendentalism.

    I'll get the discussion thread started.

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  29. It should be a fun discussion since you seem to tune into totally different aspects of the book than I do -- but then I'm mining it for an entirely different reason.

    I'll follow your lead whenever you're ready to start. Look forward to it.

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  30. Since Rick's blog is down, I wanted to alert everyone (again) to Slings and Arrows just in case there's someone as nutty as me out there when it comes to theatre in general and Shakespeare in particular.

    When I couldn't get season three in 10 minute interludes on youtube, and haven't found the complete series I once purchased sight unseen (I think it's long gone), my daughter took pity on me and rented the third season for me from netflix.

    This one focuses on the production of King Lear. I've only watched the first episode but already it's brilliant. The actor he wants to bring in to play Lear appears to be perfect in more ways than I can describe (including the fact that he appears to have a little problem with drugs). I always wonder why Americans can't do t.v. like this.

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  31. And speaking of American t.v., who knew that the sheriff in Deadwood is based on a real sheriff that TR hired? I sure didn't but thanks to Brinkley, I do now. Maybe I'll try that *&^%$^%#@#$% series again this fall.

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  32. John, I hope you and Avoice are far from that wildfire. It appears to be getting scary down there. I am coming down to OC for another music reunion and the 100th anniversary of Huntington Beach at the end of next month. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

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  33. And speaking of wildlife, add a raccoon to my neighborhood watch list. I just saw the biggest raccoon I've ever seen climbing my willow tree. It's so big, I'm keeping my dog in until it leaves the yard. I think even I will stay in since I'm not interested in a run-in with a raccoon.

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  34. Haven't been here in quite a while. Will check the new discussion board about Wilderness Warrior tonight. I'm started it weeks ago but am only 14% through (no page numbers in Kindle). Am doing some lighter reading on the side and spending too much time on the computer.

    I'm also reading a new one about a gay man's experience of being in the Army during the Vietnam era. It's written in 3rd person, but the author is the main character and it's about what he went through. It is "Surviving an American Gulag" by Edward C. Patterson. It's not like any of his other books, but then it's the first of his that I'm reading. He wrote the Jade Owl series.

    I saw Coraline on DVD last week and liked it enough to buy the book by Neil Gaiman for kindle. Have read two chapters and like it.

    Now I have the large kindle dx as well as the original kindle 1. I'm only using the dx for at home reading. It's really just like the kindle2 but larger, so I can have more large font words on one page. I don't have the K2.

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  35. I just sent an email to Robert. That doesn't mean I'll get an answer, even if he is fine. But I'm also wondering how he is.

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  36. Welcome back, Marti. Good to see you here. Let us know if you hear from Robert. I never heard back, but the address I have is from back the NYT days, and may not be current.

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  37. Or.... he may just have had enough of all of us amateurs.

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  38. Av, you seem very professional to me.

    I used a newer AOL address for Robert, but I'm not sure what he uses these days.

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  39. Thanks, Marti, but this is the very narrow area of history I actually know something about. I had to take 12 hours of exams so I read for an entire year to prepare for them.

    But everything else we discuss here is relatively unknown to me -- which is why I so enjoy the discussions since everyone else here knows WAY more than I do and I'm always learning something new.

    I hope someone hears from Robert. Those discussions we all had at the NY Times were what started me down this path to begin with.

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  40. Eureka! Today I found a bargain on Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars." I was fascinated by his "The Bin Ladens" and now that Afghanistan once again looms large in US policy, I'm primed to dive into this. If anyone else is likewise inclined sometime, I'd be delighted to discuss it.

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