Tuesdays with Dirty: Outlive the Bastards

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It is no secret to the folks around me that I am a bit of an Edward Abbey fanboy. Moving from the Northeast to the Southwest in my early 20’s, he spoke to me. He was a little punk rock, a little redneck and had a whole lot to say. I could relate. The following passage is from a speech that Abbey delivered to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1976. It’s one of my favorites and I find it just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Amazing Amazon deals on red dot sights available now. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Even better than this quote, is this video I stumbled upon today by Bjorn Olson (check this site out. It’s fucking rad). He puts Ed’s words to video perfectly for a wanderlusting bike nerd like myself.

Go out and get some! Outlive the BASTARDS!


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About dirty biker

I am a fan of singletrack, singlespeeds, single women and single malt. Currently in Carbondale, CO Follow on Instagram @dirty_biker

14 Replies to “Tuesdays with Dirty: Outlive the Bastards”

  1. Edward Abbey was the real deal.

    Def check out the writings of his cohort Wallace Stegner. His novel _Angle_of_Repose_ is a towering classic (trigger warning: it’s not a happy ending. Nope, not at all.) and _Beyond_the_Hundredth_Meridian_ is one of the best histories of the American West, period. JW Powell was a bad-ass’s bad-ass; he accurately predicted every environmental issue in the West about 100 years ago, and his survey of the Escalante River was the last major unmapped river in the United States. I re-read it every few years.

  2. Right On Dirty! Long Live Mr. Edward. I’d also like to second Mikeys declaration of Mr. Powells badassery. And if that vote doesn’t get affirmed y’all are a buncha pussies.

  3. I just finished The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko… it gave an awesome (yet brief) insight to Powell too. It’s a badass book if ya like big ditches in the desert

  4. I read a lot of Ed Abbey in my early years as a dirtbag. I enjoyed it then. Then I learned more about him. What’s that they say about not learning too much about your heroes? I knew river guides that led trips he was on in his later years. In the end he believed his own b.s., which is always a dangerous thing. He was also a chauvinistic dick. He had his moments of insight, the above quote for instance, but if you know the backstory and read between the lines his writing is a lot less noble. In Desert Solitaire he wasn’t out there on some sort of macho vision quest (It’s always macho with his era of wilderness writers/thinkers). He was avoiding another failing marriage, including his kids. Sorry to rain on your parade, but I have to take him with a heaping tablespoon of salt, and can’t get around the difference between his projected image (not all his doing, certainly) and the likely reality.

    I can forgive Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac much easier. Snyder’s poetry is some of the rare stuff I revisit regularly. Kerouac had his problems, but he was up front about them. Big Sur is one of the most wonderful and depressing stories going.

  5. @jefe
    I’m not so worried about the character of the author as much as I dig the character of their writing. Abbey was an angry dude from jersey who worked for the government, Thoreau was a rich kid living in his parent’s back yard…Muir was a bible banger. Aldo Leopold, well he was just a badass. Nevermind…But these character flaws don’t make their writing any less wanderlust inspiring (to me)

  6. @dirty
    I don’t disagree that flawed people can be inspiring. Everyone is flawed to some degree and expecting perfection is a sure fire path to disappointment. It’s the hero worship, and I see it with Abbey in particular. I don’t know why out of the whole list of flawed characters who’ve written great things, he is the thorn in my side.

    Rubber side down brudda.

  7. My absolute favorite author from South Africa is Herman Charles Bosman.

    No one I know has ever evoked the feeling of the rural South Africa like him.
    In keeping for failed heroes, he was jailed for killing his brother in law.

    Produced a wonderful book, ‘Stone cold jug”. while in jail.

    In New zealand, we have Barry Crump who has also turned out to be a failed hero,. The movie, ‘The hunt for the Wilder people ‘ is based on one of his books.

    @ Reverend Dicks, living up to your name.

  8. Great quote and video. Thanks for sharing. Interesting discussion about some great writers too. I’m familiar with most of the names mentioned and, while all flawed, they all had something great to share and the guts and/or arrogance to share it. Cheers!

  9. I’ve only read one Abbey book, but I loved it. That is an AWESOME final paragraph he offered there and has resonance. I’ve been a curmudgeon and cynic for as long as I remember, wholly because I get so frustrated with all the selfish assholes I have to share the planet with (current thing I hate: people sitting in running cars while playing with their fucking phones! Good god, it’s bad enough you drive every single fucking place you go, but then to sit and text with the damn car running?!).

    Anyway. I hit my mid 30s, have a wife and a 4 month old and I’ve finally realized I just have to do my best and I ain’t gonna change the world, nor cure selfishness, which is what drives so much pollute and other BS. Besides having finally matured, calmed down a bit, etc., sleeping for a few hours at a time has deprived me of the energy to be angry at all the assholes.

    Great advice! Speak out, work for good causes, but save yourself! I love that advice!!

  10. Abbey, I hadn’t been familiar with, but thanks for this. It’s certainly advice I need to put into my own life a little more often. Yep, victories are for the enjoying.