Edward Abbey Postage Stamp, art by Josh Randall*
How A Rusty Nail
I first encountered Ed Abbey in 1963 or '64, although I didn't know it at the time. I was ten years old, fooling around by the creek behind our house on a sunny afternoon when I stepped on a nail sticking up from an old board. Hopped back to the house, the doctor came, I got a tetanus shot and orders to stay indoors for awhile. Pretty boring, but at least the Saturday afternoon TV western was about to come on. Sounded promising, just the kind of blood & guts title to attract a ten year old kid... Lonely Are The Brave...
If you can be "radicalized" at ten, I guess that movie did it to me. The idealistic underdog, paradoxically breaking into jail; chased by the modern mechanized system, trying to escape into the natural world. Jeeps after horses, rifles shooting down helicopters. No happy endings, either. It stayed with me and gave me lots to think about.
I guess over the years Lonely Are The Brave has become a sort of black & white classic in the "offbeat western" category, even among those who've never heard of Abbey. You find people smiling and nodding as they remember it. There's a reference to it in the play True West by Sam Shepard, and Kirk Douglas, who financed and starred in the film, always cites it as his favorite role. Personally, I'm glad that week's western wasn't the standard horse opera.
A few years later, I read Desert Solitaire. It got me thinking more, and hiking. Eventually I connected, with delight, the author of the source of my old favorite movie with the author of that great book of essays, and went on to read everything I could find by him.
This postage stamp started out as a black & white photo accompanying a eulogy by ecologist Peter Warshall on page 114 of the Summer 1989 issue of Whole Earth Review. The photo was credited to a "Suzi Moore" - Ed's oft-mentioned daughter, with a married name? I added the colors, type and postage stamp accoutrements with Adobe Photoshop, part of a series of postage stamp portraits of people I admire. If you wish, you can see more (once I get them finished and up there!) at my (Cob)Web Site.
The price of the stamp is, of course, the amount of his that Ed Abbey was always willing to pitch in.
Original material ©1995 by firstname.lastname@example.org.