• Will the Real Fake John Muir Please Stand Up? EVERY TIME Chautauqua season rolls around, I feel compelled to rant about this bizarre cultural practice, which Teddy Roosevelt once called “the most American thing in America”—never mind that this honor deserves instead to be shared by baseball, blues, and bourbon. Chautauqua is defined by its practitioners as “a public humanities educational event in which […]
  • It Started With a Pile of Stones THE JOB SOUNDED AGREEABLE: film the Cliff Diving World Championships in Lana’i, Hawaii, for a network sports show. I didn’t know Lana’i from Louisiana, but someone in the office had honeymooned there and called it heaven. Lana’i, just a stone’s throw across the Auʻau Channel from Maui, is so small that in 1779 Captain Cook […]
  • Climbing to Freedom IN THE SUMMER OF 1972, I was living the simple life of a normal dirtbag, disaffected, counter to the mainstream-culture, climber of the time. The mainstream of the time, exemplified by Vietnam, conspicuous consumption, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, ran counter to the values, dreams and humanity of many but certainly not all American climbers of […]
  • The Greening of Alex Honnold GO AHEAD: ASK ALEX HONNOLD about his unprecedented solo ascents, and watch how he reflexively flips the toggle switch to autopilot. He’ll rhapsodize about climbing – sure he will – he loves scaling walls — but he’s painfully aware of how these conversations swirl into dialogues about his putative dance with death. In a recent interview on the main stage of the […]