23 January 2012

Fictional Billboard Burner – Monkey Wrench Gang

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, 1975, Excerpts

The Highway Patrol arrived promptly fifteen minutes late, radioing the report of an inexplicable billboard fire to a causally scornful dispatcher at headquarters, then ejecting self from vehicle, extinguisher in gloved hand, to ply the flames for a while with little limp gushes of liquid sodium hydrochloride to the pyre. Dehydrated by months, sometimes years of desert winds and thirsty desert air, the pine and paper of the noblest most magnificent of billboards yearned in every molecule for quick combustion, wrapped itself in fire with the mad lust, the rapt intensity, of lovers fecundating.
Doc Sarvis by this time had descended the crumbly bank of the roadside under a billowing glare from his handiwork, dumped his gas can into trunk of car, slammed the lid and slumped down in the front seat beside his driver. “Next?” she [Abbzug] says.

Introduction to 2000 Edition by Douglas Brinkley

The Monkey Wrench Gang is far more than just a controversial book – it is revolutionary, anarchic, seditious, and, in the wrong hands, dangerous. Although Abbey claimed it was just a work of fiction written to “entertain and amuse,” the novel was swiftly embraced by eco-activists frustrated with the timid approaches of mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.

Earth First! Rankled the public and even other environmentalists from the start. The group announced itself in 1981 by unfurling a hundred-yard-long black plastic streamer to look like a deep crack down the face of Glen Canyon Dam – a scene taken straight from the opening pages of The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Glen Canyon Earth First

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