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Zephyr Best Stories of 2019: The Publishers…

New Year’s Bonus
of 2019!

Part 1: The Publishers…

This has been our best year yet at the Zephyr. In 2019, we released six creative, thoughtful and informative issues of the Z, and thanks to you, the articles in them have reached a wider audience than ever before. So this week and next week, in addition to our regular Zephyr Stories emails, we want to highlight some of the favorite and most-read stories we published in the past year. Next week, we’ll be listing the top 10 articles from our incredible contributors–Damon Falke, Stacy Young, Paul Vlachos, Bill Keshlear and Harvey Leake. This week, we’re spotlighting the top 5 from the Zephyr publishers, Jim and Tonya Stiles… 

Thanks for reading…

Edward Abbey Needs No Defense:

A Response to Amy Irvine’s “Desert Cabal”

… by Tonya Audyn Stiles

This article has received more comments than any in Zephyr history…

From the article…

The subsequent media promotion for Desert Cabal unleashed Irvine to dig even deeper and more personally into her sentiments for and assessment of Abbey and Desert Solitaire. She had been enlisted to offer a 21st Century assessment of a man who has been dead for more than three decades. In her interviews, she didn’t pull any punches:

In an interview with Orion Magazine‘s Nicholas Triolo, Irvine declared, “Abbey’s take on wilderness was a useful construct at a time when the nation needed to lay the brakes on Manifest Destiny. But his views were just as colonialist. The way he wrote about wilderness normalized what was actually a narrative about white male privilege and dominion.”

To Adventure Journal‘s Katie Klingsporn, she remarked that Abbey’s views “helped to elevate the white, ‘lone wolf’ male supremacy at the heart of the modern day wilderness movement he helped inspire.”

And speaking about Ed’s book to Pacific Standard magazine, she professed, “Somebody asked me the other day if I thought Desert Solitaire would be published today. Certainly not in its existing form—I think there’s enough racism and sexism and just exclusivity, which I referred to as the ‘ivory cabin’ syndrome.”

When Desert Cabal received some criticism from other Abbey readers and friends of Ed’s like Doug Peacock, who were uncomfortable with the Irvine’s prominence in the 50th anniversary commemoration, Back of Beyond’s Andy Nettel dismissed them. He told Outside Magazine, “Amy’s run into a couple of old-school white males who have taken her to task. I sense that there was this very protective feeling, of protecting Ed, protecting Ed’s legacy.” And Irvine told her interviewer at The Paris Review, “Whatever reasons Desert Cabal’s critics give for being so opposed to its publication, their opposition looks an awful lot like an attempt to preserve their places at the table inside the ivory cabin.”

“The pushback,” of people like Peacock, she maintained, “has come from a select few who belong to an older generation of wilderness writers and activists—all of whom are very white and privileged, all of whom have been at the center of the wilderness movement for decades.”

Publishing Desert Cabal was an interesting choice, certainly, for a bookstore that has profited so well over the years by the popularity of Abbey’s books and reputation. Releasing a Desert Solitaire remembrance by a woman who accuses its celebrated author of “colonialism” and “white supremacy” was certainly not what most Abbey readers would have expected.



(Ranger Stiles #6 1975-1986)

…by Jim Stiles

From the article…

For reasons that I have never been able to fully grasp, some men are destined to search for holes in the rock. I don’t know if this is some kind of affliction—with all the New Disorders facing American Society, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until arch hunting is diagnosed, given a name and a treatment is developed—but certainly, something happens to some men when they come to Arches National Park (note: I do not mean to exclude women–I simply don’t see this illness affecting the female gender).

I was unaware of this phenomenon, or affliction (depending on how you look at it) when I first assumed my duties as a ranger at Arches National Park. For many of us, the arches were more of a distraction than an attraction. After all, it’s the absence of rock that actually creates the arches in the first place. We often wondered, if we could fill up the holes with rock, and convert them into simple Entrada sandstone walls, would the people still come? Or would they find all this un-holey scenery boring? Would the arch-less Arches lack the cachet it needed to be popular? By today’s standards, with social media driving Industrial Tourism and the ignominious demise of our culture, it’s difficult to say.

In 1976, however, there was an unshakable cadre of “born-to-be-arch hunters” that had mystically made their way to Southeast Utah…


The Other Lonely Rangers:

The Forgotten Lives of America’s Basque Sheepherders

by Tonya Audyn Stiles

This article has been read more than 10,000 times in the three weeks since it was published. Our thanks to all who shared it via Facebook or word of mouth! Sharing Z stories is the best way to help us reach more readers…

From the Article…

It was the trial of the year in Moab, Utah. The courtroom was packed full by Ten in the morning, November 18th of 1921. Tensions had been brewing a long time between the cattlemen of Southeast Utah and the encroaching sheep herders from the south. The previous February, one sheepherder had crossed the line. Or so the defense attorney argued before the assembled crowd.

Young Felix Jesui had brought his sheep onto land he knew belonged to the Lazy Y Ranch, near Cisco. The ranch was owned by the powerful Oscar L. Turner. When foreman Charlie Glass warned Jesui to withdraw his herd and cease his illegal grazing, Felix drew his gun. Glass, in defense of his own life, returned fire. He quickly turned himself in to the local sheriff, and was now under trial for the murder of Jesui.

Charlie Glass was no ordinary defendant. The foreman was widely respected in the small communities of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah for his skill with horses, his bronc-riding courage and his intimidating build, which he used to great effect in subduing the sheepherders who threatened Turner’s large cattle operations.

But Glass was an oddity. He was a black cattleman with a gun. And while highly regarded by his bosses and fellow ranch hands—Mr Turner had paid his bail and now financed his defense—it was difficult to predict how the local jury would treat him.

If Jesui had been another kind of victim—a fellow cattleman, for instance, or a white man—then Glass’ fate would have been sealed. But Felix Jesui was neither. And Charlie Glass was soon acquitted of the charges against him. Glass returned to his work on the Lazy Y Ranch. He returned to his bronc-riding and his regular poker games. And probably, for him, the matter seemed safely in the past.

For sixteen years, both the trial and the sheepherder were forgotten. Until the night Glass found himself in a poker game with two cousins of Felix Jesui. These two men knew precisely who sat across from them at the table. After the game had finished, that late night in Cisco, Utah, the two sheepherders offered Glass a ride home. Charlie happily accepted.

The next morning, Charlie Glass was found dead, with a broken neck, after an apparent rollover accident in the pickup truck, which somehow left those two Basque men unscathed. And though no one could prove it for certain, the citizens of Moab wondered whether Felix had found his posthumous revenge.




(And now…their ‘solutions’)

…by Jim Stiles

From the Article…

“The problem with the conservation movement is that it has clear conscience.”  –Wendell Berry 

For 20 years, Utah environmentalists have managed to deny or ignore the impacts of “Industrial Strength Tourism,” and have even been some of its biggest supporters and promoters. They are Big Green Money’s enablers. The environmental mainstream has partnered with recreation industry giants like Patagonia and North Face and have advocated for tourism as a clean and sustaining alternative to other types of economies. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of environmental destruction from recreation, the mainstream environmental community has mostly stayed shamefully silent.

…But finally, in the Spring of 2019, , as Industrial Tourism wreaks havoc on the Moab community and the lands beyond the city limits, and as other communities across the American West buckle under similar stresses and impacts, it’s interesting to note that some of these same devoted “green” Utah spokespersons finally…FINALLY… are starting to hedge their bets, if even in the most tepid and milquetoast of ways. They have finally “come out” and agreed that maybe their beloved “clean and sustaining” the tourism/amenity economy has some drawbacks. And they come with some “solutions.” 

Let me offer some recent examples…


And For More From 2019 on Moab’s Transformation, Click Here…


…by Jim Stiles

Our Most Read Article of the Year!

From the article…

Abbey’s unflinching willingness to contradict himself confused and bewildered many of his admirers. Consequently, his readers have increasingly preferred to to edit and even sanitize their favorite author, instead of honestly weighing and scrutinizing his conflicting perspectives.

Now, as we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st Century, the Spirit of Abbey Lives (sort of). But can Abbey still be Abbey?

Consider this recent post by The Grand Canyon Trust. On what would have been Abbey’s 89th birthday, GCT Communications Associate Ellen Heyn wrote:

“In honor of Edward Abbey’s birthday, we’re celebrating his cult classic book The Monkey Wrench Gang—not as a guide to sabotage, but as a guide to some of the Colorado Plateau’s most spectacular places. Here we retrace the steps of George Hayduke, Seldom Seen Smith, Doc Sarvis, and Bonnie Abbzug in their crazy chase around the plateau.”

Fearful the Trust might look too radical, but still wanting to “honor” Abbey, they chose to take one of his most controversial but highly respected works and turn it into—god help us all—a travel guide. What could be more dis-honoring than that?


And, as always, feel free to VISIT OUR HOMEPAGE and see all the articles currently posted!

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  1. From the web - Jan 3rd | linked to this post on January 3, 2020

    […] An interesting selections of articles from the Canyon County  Zephyr from 2019. […]

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