Essays: My ECOnfession

I am sitting at a desk in a cabin near the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains. I am reading two books. The Forgotten Botanist, by Wynne Brown; the amazing story of Sara (Plummer) Lemmon, for whom this mountain is named. What a tale! What an incredibly motivated and talented human being who did it all in a time when being a woman, to some, in society was best served by serving your man. And The Monkey Wrench Gang, by the legendary Ed Abbey; I was remembering what it was like to have real gut emotion in defense of Mother Earth.

It took me back… to the mid-seventies when I was enjoying the glories of the Rocky Mountains. Day trips to ghost towns, hiking in the fall through the aspens, skiing like a madman on the weekends. I skied weekends because that was when the locals got access to the slopes because the ‘customers’ were all in transition. Going and coming. Oh, yeah, I waited tables to make money. Lived in the hotel where I worked some of the time. Did some menu calligraphy and portrait gigs whenever they popped up.

I had just seen Rancho Deluxe, with Jeff Bridges and a new to me Sam Watterson. Roxus fun with a little scam shenanigans thrown in. A soon to be hot newcomer named Jimmy Buffett did the music. My girlfriend at the time and I were talking afterward. Seems the rich fatcats were ruining our playground. It was all about status and time share condos.

Aspen was going to get a taste of enough is enough. Seems the Dodge Corporation was coming out with a new ‘sporty’ sedan and were going to call it the Dodge Aspen. Seems they had proposed to the Aspen City Council an arrangement whereby they could promote their new product in the city with the name they hoped would sell a ton. They would park it in a prominent spot and promote the shit out of it. The local paper, The Aspen Times wrote all about it. I even wrote to the editors on what a dumb idea it was and sent them a cartoon against it. Which they published. The city council was aghast. How DARE they parade their engines of doom in their little boutique town movie set. No way. So what did the marketing maestros do? They went next door to little upstart townsite Snowmass where the dollar went farther. They parked their chrome and leatherette turd on the pedestrian mall in downtown Snowmass, my current abode. I was steamed.

I was alone in my hotel room late one night and had a flash–a stoned moment—where I hatched a plan to show a little resistance to that marketing ‘magic’.

I went to the store and got gloves and a couple of cans of spray paint, pulled out my ski mask, and set my alarm. In the middle of the capitalist night, I headed out. Stealthy, Viet Cong stuff. No one was around. I sprayed “Detroit Go Home” all across the side of the shiny beast. Headed home happy. An EcoTerrorist I was! Into the night and into many quiet days and nights of silence to come I sat. There was a big Hub bub. The automobile was quietly pulled from the street display. Shortly thereafter Dodge pulled out of its sponsorship of the US Ski Team. That let upstart Subaru get in and create a new legacy of sports/auto promotion. So it goes.

Eventually, I let a few of my friends know. I moved back to Tucson. When the eco-raiders were chopping down billboards and burning new custom homes under construction in pristine areas, I was silently remembering my little attempt to squelch the beast. I still love Tucson, but I fear that our modern lifestyles will eventually make the desert uninhabitable and destroy its fragile natural network. Myself, and my dog Abbey, hope that fear is wrong.

Since I wrote this, Dave Foreman, the man I associated with the heart of ecoterrorism, has passed. May his spirit defending the Earth from the genius monkey live on!