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Pulling Up Stakes, by Kent Duryee*

Signed survey stake
(The text reads: "This is a stake (Fuckheads) Amen! Ed Abbey Don't hit!")

Back in the Reagan-Bush decade, my friend Jon ( and I lived in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles. Construction was booming, and the desert was losing ground, literally. Houses were going up fast, but they were being bought even faster. Everyday saw another parcel cleared of it's native Joshua Trees and creosote bushes, junipers and wild poppies. Jon and I were mad. That was when we began to read Ed Abbey.

It happened that Ed was having a book signing down in Pasadena for his new book The Fool's Progress, so Jon and I got prepared the night before. It's really amazing how many survey stakes it takes for a subdivision to be surveyed. The next day, we crossed the San Gabriel Mountains and descended into the Los Angeles basin, only to stand near the end of an interminable line of Ed's readers. Looking and feeling our best, Jon and I obediently stood in line with our new books, one or the other of us holding onto the survey stake pictured above, trying to look inconspicuous.

When we finally made to the front of the line, we were both awestruck in the presence of the man who had had such an influence on each of us. I shook his hand and mumbled something about how nice it was to meet him, and mutely handed him the book to sign. Ed's signatureHe inscribed it nicely, and handed it back to me. Then he glanced down, pointed and said "What's that?". I immediately began to recount the day to make sure I had remembered to zip up the pants after that stop up in the mountains. I quickly looked down and remembered the survey stake I was holding. Reality blinked back then. Thankfully, I had indeed remembered the fly, and I handed him the stake, making sure he noted the message inscribed for posterity by the surveyor. Ed grinned, and raised the stake over his head and waved it at the people in line ... did the people clap? I don't remember... Then he set the stake on the table and wrote his own message for posterity. Much more eloquent sentiment, I think than that of the surveyor.

Kent Duryee

Jon & Kent with stake
Jon and Kent, partners in crime

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