Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
Tom Chaney: Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt
Of Writers And Their Books: Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt. Tom comments on a comic extravaganza about four environmental warriors who are united by dismay at the destruction of the west. This column first appeared 13 June 2010.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: The Battered Innocence in Us
By Tom Chaney
Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt
When I have enough of oil company executives who spew crude oil from deep beneath the Gulf and wish they could get their lives back instead of having to explain why their action is destroying life with the largest man-made environmental disaster in the history of the known world; then I retreat to the work of Edward Abbey, and long for a latter-day Monkey Wrench Gang.
Abbey's 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang is a "comic extravaganza" of eco terrorism. Four environmental warriors take aim at the worst invaders of the pristine desert of Utah and Arizona.
We have Seldom Seen Smith -- so called because his three wives each seldom see him as he makes his way between their farms and conducts a rafting/outfitting business on the Colorado River. He is a rather casual Mormon.
George Washington Hayduke III, ex-Viet Cong Medic, ex-Green Beret is appalled at the changes development has brought to his native land.
Doc Sarvis, M.D., graduates from billboard destruction to bridge and railway demolition and brings along his assistant, driver, and lover Bonnie Abbzug.
The four meet on one of Seldom Seen's rafting expeditions and are united by dismay at the destruction of the west.
Anything is a target: strip mines and their automated railroads; unnecessary new roads with their accompanying new bridges; any bulldozer parked any where. They eschew sugar in diesel fuel in favor of corn syrup, for it dissolves better with diesel and makes a finer carbon layer in the engine -- leaving a trail of seized engines as they go.
The novel sold hundreds of thousands of copies upon its publication and has been touted as a major influence in the environmental movement over the past 35 years.
It is outrageously funny, I think, because of the care for life that the quartet observe in their vandalism.
As an automated train trundles to its destruction, the gang is appalled to see an observer on the engine. But the timing of the explosion is off. The bridge was to collapse plunging the engine into the canyon, but the engine crosses the bridge before the explosion. The whole train goes in the canyon -- from the back -- and the loaded cars pull the engine backwards into the abyss giving the lone passenger time to step off and watch the destruction.
Ultimately the gang is chased by just about every imaginable law enforcement and industry agent from the FBI to the park service and forestry police to the county and state and industry cops.
The most relentless pursuer, however, is the good Bishop Love. That stalwart Mormon has it in for Seldom Seen not just because of his destruction of the agents of capitalism, but, one feels, for his flaunting of the tenets of Mormonism.
All ends well. The good doctor and his Bonnie befriend the Bishop at the point of a gun. Three of the four are brought to trial and given light punishment. Hayduke is seen plunging off a cliff into a swollen river.
But the bulldozers run again; the bridges do not fall; Glen Canyon dam has no fatal crack.
We want to say with Richard Shelton,
". . .but oh my desert Yours is the only death I cannot bear"Or Walt Whitman,
"Resist much. Obey little."Abbey died in 1989 leaving a posthumous novel with the hopeful title, Hayduke Lives!
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney - email@example.com
This story was posted on 2015-06-14 03:30:34
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney: The Battered Innocence in Us
Tom Chaney: Rolling Down the Rivers
Tom Chaney: It's Not That We Forgot - We Never Knew
Tom Chaney: Scotching the Fast Fading Past
Tom Chaney: Billboard Dreaming
Edward Petko differs on article on Joseph Altsheler
Tom Chaney: Down these mean streets
Tom Chaney: Fragments of Deceit
Tom Chaney: Five Years and Going Around Again
Tom Chaney: Even If It's Broken, Don't Fix It
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.