Sin in the Wild Outdoors, June 1997


Pardon me, but would you mind a little constructive criticism?
By Bryan Di Salvatore

You lookin’ for anger? You came to the right place. You lookin’ for anger, just look in my face.

I don’t care who or what you hate, sport — I’m doin’ the talking here, and I got a shitlist longer than your arm, older than dirt, and growing by the second.

Nothing escapes my wrath, burning hot as ten thousand suns: not Bhopal, not Chernobyl, not a lentil-eating fart-factory of a tent partner, not the deodorant-disdaining reek-hound Trustafarian who thinks stink equals harmony with nature.

Hey! I’m talkin’ to you, pal. Yeah, you: the one with the wimpy-aphoristic bumper sticker. Visualize this, twig boy. And you, the weasel in the $30,000 sport-utility vehicle telling me to Love My Mother Earth and Kill My Television. And you, the pious vegetarian with a leather belt — you make me spew. That means you, the tweaky Hacky Sacker, and you, you, and you, the
half-wit misunderstanders of Thoreau, the half-smart skimmers of Abbey, the chicken wee-wee misinterpreters of Snyder who can’t keep a sock in it. O ye puerile amateur-hour whiners, shut up and hearken to the voice of perfect rage.

Who else? Let’s see … Heli-skiers. Jet skiers. Owners of bandanna-wearing dogs. Two-plankers who hate snowboarders. Knuckledraggers who hate skiers. Skinny-ski snobs. Disdainful barbless catch-and-release bores. My-synthetic-outfit-is-warmer-drier-lighter-more expensive-cheaper-more-environmentally-friendly-than-yours bores. Wooden-canoe bores. Microbrew bores. Seattle

Oh yeah — and intolerance in any form.

Grim and graceless fun hogs, you are legion. But the searing tip of my laser-like ire I save for the only thing worse than numbskull old-timers: you nouveau, know-it-all newcomers. Don’t tell me how big my sky is now that you’ve moved to Bozeman from Illinois, you ghastly Peorian pantload! You high-tech, gold-card, soi-disant adventurers who galavant around the world,
appropriating as fast as you can. You are young, fit, mobile, and pious. You hike the obscure hikes, paddle the hidden whitewater, discover the undiscovered reefs, trek forgotten plateaus, bargain with colorful natives from the seat of your mountain bikes before pedaling off through the back of the back of the back of beyond. Third World, schmird world — if it’s exotic, it’s
your playground.

You notch it, then lord it. Your me-me stories give me apoplexy. You watched Hale-Bopp while drinking single malt with Khampa horsemen, smoked a Montecido in the Arunachal Pradesh, rode hard with Mongolian nomads and got put up wet, let the Futaleuf” weave its spell, learned the secrets of darkest Turkestan, had multiple orgasms in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, sea-kayaked
the Andamans (or was it the Nicobars?), went atavistic in Borneo. You rucksacking pigs, the only ism for you is superlativism: farthest, deepest, highest, warmest, most beautiful, most untrodden, most dangerous, most expensive.

You and you, every mother’s son, every father’s daughter of you, listen up. It’s my way or the highway: Off Earth Now!

You leave no stone unturned, no demographically tuned enticement unanswered. You are compelled to tamper with every postage stamp of earth on each of the seven continents.

Then you return, you co-opting dogs, don sackcloth and ashes and howl exquisite elegies for all the paradises lost.

Illustration by Hungry Dog Studio