Almost 30 years ago, not long after I’d started The Zephyr, one of my favorite parts of the paper was the ‘Feedback” section. I always looked forward to the letters—and in those days they really were letters, on real paper, written with real ink. Pro or con, I loved them all. My all-time favorites were the brilliant smack-me-downs from Moab’s Rose Fryer. Re-reading them all these years later, I agree with every pithy comment and observation she made. And yes, I was a snarky little shit for sure.
Anyway…early on, I began to spot the ‘regulars,’ those who liked to stay in regular contact with our weird and sometimes edgy little rag. One of them was a fellow named Ned Mudd. How he found The Z is still a mystery. He thinks he might have wandered into Moab in the summer of 1997…or was it 1996? Or earlier? Or later? …and found a mustard-stained copy of the Z at the Main Street Broiler. Who knows.
I wrote to Mudd, seeking more information and he informed me he was a lawyer, who specialized in environmental law, but then he sent me a photograph of himself and I wondered if he wasn’t just japing me.
But he claimed he contained multitudes and he was right. Subsequently, Mudd became a regular letter writer. His wit and witticisms, his timely observations, his ability to out-Hunter Thompson Hunter Thompson left me, honestly, in awe of the man. Finally, I suggested that Mudd move his scribbling from the letters page to a location more worthy. Since then, Ned has contributed countless essays, polemics, poems, observations, short stories, and rants, often under the moniker of. His timely observations under the moniker…
Welcome to the Dimformation Age
From the desk of Ned Mudd
Reporting from the Crawlspace of History
…are pure Mudd at his best. There are no sacred cows in Ned Mudd’s world.
All this would be enough to satisfy any man’s desire to express himself via some creative outlet. But then I realized… Mudd’s not really human. He’s not of this world.
In 2005, a couple of documentary filmmakers from Montana showed up at my door. They were interested in The Zephyr and were possibly interested in making a film about it. As it played out, it was Mudd who had made the recommendation. And what was Mudd’s connection, a country lawyer from Birmingham? Well, Mudd was also a musician and songwriter and he’d written countless compositions for High Plains Films, including eventually, much of the soundtrack for the documentary, Brave New West…
(You can watch the whole thing on Amazon Prime Here)
I learned that High Plains has over 400 Mudd compositions, including these selections…
But Mudd remains an enigma, wrapped in something of unknown composition or origin. Mudd loves the music but even in these shamelessly self-promoting social media times, Mr. Mudd couldn’t care less. He was interviewed once, in his home state of Alabama, over a decade ago about seeking a wider audience. Mudd summed it up like this:
“I don’t want to play live and I don’t want to play in bars… I made a conscious decision years ago that I wasn’t going to be a professional musician. I don’t have the fan base, and I don’t promote myself much. I’m not 20 years old, and I don’t have tight jeans.”
Music for the pure satisfaction and pleasure that it brings him and others. Like I said…extraterrestrial. Not of this world.
A decade ago, Mudd introduced us to his poetry, via “The Teachings of Ji Bo,” and only recently did we discover his talents as a gifted artist, painter and illustrator. He embraces all genres.
In an attempt to delve more deeply into the hidden soul and motivations of the Man Called Mudd, The Zephyr may or may not have arranged for this far-reaching interview with the elusive Alabaman…
The exclusive interview with Ned Mudd, on September 5, 2019. was conducted by Hobart Clems of Nebraska for the Canyon Country Zephyr. All rites reserved. Quote at your own risk…
Q. Is your name really Mudd?
A: My brother claims I was swapped at birth. So I could just as easily be a McGillicuddy, Henderson, Campbell, or Cooper.
Q. When did you decide to become an artist?
A: I think the green acid probably was the deciding factor. Or maybe it was the weekend I spent drinking vino with Picasso in Mouans-Sartoux. Let me tell you, that was a game changer.
Q. You actually knew Pablo Picasso?
A: He was a fan of my blueberry jam period, when I cranked out over 100 paintings using nothing but Smuckers’ finest. Only problem was, the paintings tended to attract flies like crazy. Smelled pretty funky, too.
Q. How about music? Is it true you were born with a guitar in your hand?
A: Hell no; that’s a wad of cornball bullshit. I was 12 before my folks bought me a $29 Stella flat top that’s now probably worth $10,000. Unfortunately, the thing was a piece of shit. I finally blew it up with a cherry bomb out in the front yard.
Q. But you obviously kept at it, as you’re credited with scoring over a dozen documentary films.
A: That’s fucking fake news.
Q. So, how would you describe your music?
A: My old guru, Fat David, called it, “music to execute criminals by.”
Q. Let’s talk about your work as an environmentalist.
A: Jesus, anything but that!
Q. You worked with a radical enviro group during the 90s. Can you tell us what your role was back then?
A: I was responsible for making sure we had plenty of nutritious junk food on hand 24/7. In fact, I invented the goat cheese and chicken skin pizza, extra crust. I heard they still sell like hotcakes out in Boulder. Can you trademark a pizza?
Q. You should know; you’re a lawyer.
A: That’s a dark subject. I’ve been in recovery for seven years, three months, and two days. AAA — Attorney Assholes Anonymous.
Q. Okay, that about does it. Any last thoughts before we end the interview?
A. You got any weed? I’m down to roaches and banana peels.
As the plumber said to the rabbi: “That should make it clear as Mudd.”