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Onward to the Sea! (And Back to Boulder)

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In the end, my nephew Noah and I were on the road for 4 weeks and 6,500 miles. In the last post I got us from North Carolina to the Badlands of South Dakota. Here we pick up in North Dakota…..

Meeting off-duty Teddy and Edith in Medora, NC.

Noah on the Maah Daah Hey Trail above the Little Missouri (where we camped for two nights.) Continue reading →

Into the Badlands

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My nephew Noah graduated three weeks ago. The two if us have spent the last couple of weeks following the trail of Theodore Roosevelt (when not going to Celtic games or playing ping pong). Here are a few highlights from the last 13 days…(Pardon the preponderance of photos of me, often wearing the same shirt, but Noah is the one usually taking the pics.)

Morning writing spot in the Badlands

 

TR’s journal at Houghton Library. Here he tersely describes turning in the boat thieves in Dickinson, ND.

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Rough Beauty by Karen Auvinen

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Long time, no talk Bill and Davers. I’m coming out of seclusion because a very special book is due out a week from today, June 5. With Scribner’s behind it and three starred reviews already (calling it “Breathtaking” and “a beautiful contemplative memoir,”) Karen Auvinen’s Rough Beauty is poised to be a break-out book. And it deserves to be.

I was lucky enough to read it early to blurb it. Here is what I wrote:

         This beautiful and elemental book is an invitation into a life of nature and ritual. Her existence scoured to simplicity by a home-destroying fire, Karen Auvinen sinks into the seasons, watching the world turn from her isolated mountain home, battling loneliness and her own stubborn self, but through contact with the natural world–including the neighborhood bear– achieving moments of illumination and profound truth. At the center of the rituals that make up this mountain life–including walks in nature, meditation, and gourmet dinners—is a high priest named Elvis, a white husky who is tethered to Karen by devotion (and the occasional leash) and fills her days with love, teaching her that she isn’t quite the tough loner she fancies herself to be. 

There are many books about seasons in the wilderness but this is one about a life in it. Henry Beston wrote:“The world to-day is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot.”  Not Karen Auvinen’s world. Rough Beauty has the power to change lives. It stands as an antidote to the brittle and the electronic, the hurried way we rush through our days.

So there it is. Read this book and change your life.

 

Mueller Time

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To put it in terms my people can understand: All the others are writing blogs, or at best flash fiction.

Robert Mueller is working on a novel.

 

Just a Thought….

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“An exploration of the questing desires of the young heart, ‘Ultimate Glory’ should be recommended reading for every college student. A 20-something, unsure whether to listen to the yearnings of the soul, might find answers in Gessner’s chase of a flying plastic disc.”

The Washington Post

Read Full Review

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Fighting for Bears Ears: The Freedom of Restraint

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The Harasser-in-Chief is heading to Utah today to announce that he’ll shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, possibly by as much as 85%. According to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, this will be “the largest rollback of protected areas in U.S. history” and “an appalling affront to Native American tribes who sought healing and cross-cultural understanding through protection of their sacred sites and ancestral homelands.”

 

A year ago I was part of a group of writers who contributed to a chapbook, edited by Stephen Trimble and put out by Torrey House press, that was distributed to congress and other decision-makers in the build up to President Obama declaring Bears Ears a National Monument. To find out more about the project click here.  And I’ll post some more information about the book below.

 

Here was my offering:

 

The Freedom of Restraint

 

I remember the moment exactly and I remember the word that came with the moment. The word that the moment all but summoned:

 

Freedom.

 

For me, for many Americans it is a word that has had any true meaning hammered out of it by rhetoric and commercialism. It has been worn down and out by too many truck commercials and blowhard politicians, a fine and shining word now left behind on the ground like an old soda can.

 

But now it was back–filling my mind.

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Meditating with Labs

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I have been meditating in the mornings recently. After years of mocking those who claim to want to “be in the present moment”–“Cows, for instance, are good at being in the present,” I wrote in one book–and agreeing with Ed Abbey that I liked Gary Snyder’s work “except for all the Zen bullshit,” I have embraced my inner monk. It’s really more of a return than a new beginning, however, since past versions of me have spent a good deal of time with my eyes closed and legs crossed. The first time was after seeing a psychiatrist as a twelve year old when an obsession with the idea that “everything is nothing” ballooned out of control.  The second was after my bout with cancer at thirty when none other than Mr. Mindfulness, Jon Cabot Zinn, led my post-operation meditation sessions in the hospital with a voice that was meant to be soothing but that I found annoyingly adenoidal.  My reaction to his commands to calm myself was an urge to strike him, though how much that had to do with my shock over my sudden turn of medical fate I am not sure. On neither occasion did the practice take. Unlike napping in the afternoon, a staple of mine, it did not fit my day’s rhythms. Sitting never quite fit my constitution the way the more active meditations of biking and running did.

 

Until now. Now, older and grayer, I find I can suddenly put in 40 morning minutes on the yoga mat, and head to my desk feeling as if I’ve popped half a Xanax. True, I have adapted the practice to fit to my personality by making it more active and athletic, adding in some sessions of Wim Hof breath holding.  And it’s also true that there are still challenges. One is the persistence of our two yellow labs, who seem equally amused and attracted by the fact that I, after feeding them and letting them out to pee, choose not to retreat to my writing desk, as I have since they have known me, but instead sit down on the floor and lounge with them, part of the pack. The issue is compounded by the fact that they, being labs, like to stay close. And while I try to focus on my breathing I hear not just my own inhalations and exhalations, but two others sets of the same echoing mine. And so my attempts at oneness start with three-ness. Luckily the sounds they make don’t spark the Pavlovian response that Zinn’s did. Together, sometimes in rhythm and sometimes not, we pant our way toward Nirvana.

Father Throws Best

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One of the fun things about having Ultimate Glory come out has been the unearthing of pictures of events from the book. Yesterday I learned that there was this documentation of the incident from the book (described below):
During my last year “off” I played with a team of older players, many of whom had children, on a team called Father Throws Best. Father had several ex-Rude Boys on the team, and at the end of one tournament in Amherst they indulged in an old Rude Boy tradition of diving after discs into a big mud puddle. One player would flip a disc into the air and another would come running up and lay out for it, “getting horizontal” as it was known in the sport, then splashing down and sliding in the puddle. I refused to play along; it was a Rude Boy thing after all, and I, in my heart, was still a Hostage. But then a bunch of them grabbed me by the arms and tried to drag me over to the puddle. I told them to let me go, that I’d do it, only I’d do it my way.

 

I whispered instructions to one of my teammates, an ex-Rude Boy named Toby Lou, and then began my running approach to the puddle. Toby did what I’d asked him to do, tossing not a Frisbee but a half-empty case of beer into the air. I took off and flew toward the case, getting horizontal, ready to make a spectacular catch. But our timing was a little off. Toby’s underhanded beer case toss was a little ahead of my dive. The beers were out of reach and they landed and shattered upward just a second before I landed on them. For a second the puddle was a mess of water, blood, mud and flesh. Then in became clear that a good chunk of my left forearm, a scrag of flesh, was hanging down where it wasn’t supposed to hang. Fortunately, we were on the whole a more mature team, and we had our very own doctor playing for us. Dr. Gil immediately set to cleaning out my wound and picking glass out of my arm before accompanying me to a nearby emergency room.

HAPPY TRUMPIVERSARY

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My Summer of Ultimate–a Wrap-Up

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I have moved on to a new book (a novel about Cape Cod) but I wanted  to take a moment to do a wrap up of my summer of ultimate.  Also maybe to remind you what a nice present Ultimate Glory would make as the holidays approach. Give it to any and all of those relatives who never understood what the hell ultimate was. As the Washington Post put it: “An exploration of the questing desires of the young heart, “Ultimate Glory” should be recommended reading for every college student. A 20-something, unsure whether to listen to the yearnings of the soul, might find answers in Gessner’s chase of a flying plastic disc.”

Here’s the  full Washington Post Review. It’s title is “NEW HARVARD GRAD TELLS DAD: “NOW I’M GOING TO PLAY ULTIMATE FRISBEE.”

 

Here is No Disc-Respect, my article in Outside magazine about Ultimate and Beau Kittredge.

 

Here is the Slate podcast of Hang Up and Listen where I talk Ultimate.

 

Here is the great Wall Street Journal Review.

 

Sin the Fields is a wild, fun podcast from Ultiworld.

 

This is my Longform interview, where we touched on a lot of non-ultimate topics, including “immortality.”

 

Here’s a brief but fine review from Harvard magazine.

 

Here is the website I created, but honestly never visited much. But it has a very cool connection to Stu Beringer’s vintage photos, which you can also go to through UltiPhotos….

Here’s our Old and In the Way squad. We got a silver at old-guy Nationals in July and (hopefully) will be reuniting for Worlds.

 

Here is what the Rude Boys did to my book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here, once again, is the book trailer, edited by daughter Hadley.

 

This website, Big-Hearted Boy, asked me to create a playlist of the music that goes with my book.

 

And speaking of beautiful music, here are some pics of our post-game singalong (and book signing):

 

One with Dancin’ Dave Smith….

 

A Bunch of old guys…

 

From my reading in Maplewood:

“If Springsteen were an ultimate player he would have played for the ‘Boro.” Timba

Boulder:

Brookline:

My pardon. I can play in D.C. again!

My Dad  (Telluride):

San Francisco:

 

Thanks for everyone for coming out this summer. It was a blast.

 

Here is/was the tour, more or less:

 

TUESDAY JUNE 6, 2017
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH BREWERY 6201 OLEANDER-
EVENTS ROOM
7:00 PM Event HOSTED BY POMEGRANATE BOOKS

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7 – DURHAM
THE REGULATOR BOOKSHOP
7:00 PM Event 720 Ninth Street, Durham, NC 27705

SUNDAY, JUNE 11 – ALBUQUERQUE
BOOKWORKS ALBUQUERQUE
3:00 PM Event 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

MONDAY, JUNE 12 – TELLURIDE
BETWEEN THE COVERS
6:30 PM Event 224 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435

• They would like to organize an outdoor Frisbee mini-match or demo or interactive target throws in the pocket park near them. The reading itself will likely not be in their shop.
• They are thinking that the interactive part would start at 6:30pm and the reading will start at 7:30pm.

THURSDAY, JUNE 15 – EDWARDS
BOOKWORM OF EDWARDS
6:00 PM Event 295 Main St, Edwards, CO 81632

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 – BOULDER
BOULDER BOOKSTORE
7:30 PM Event Pearl Street Mall, 1107 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 – DENVER
TATTERED COVER BOOKS
7:00 PM Event 2526 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 – FORT COLLINS
OLD FIREHOUSE BOOKS
6:00 PM Event 232 Walnut St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

MONDAY, JUNE 26 – PORTLAND
POWELL’S BOOKS ON HAWTHORNE
7:30 PM Event 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

TUESDAY, JUNE 27 – SAN FRANCISCO
BOOK PASSAGE at the Ferry Building
6:00 PM Event 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

THURSDAY, JUNE 29 – SEATTLE
EAGLE HARBOR BOOKS
12:30 PM Event 157 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

THURSDAY, JUNE 29 – SEATTLE
ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY
7:00 PM Event 1521 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Rantin’ time

AND……

OTHER GESSNER BOOKS

Come along as I follow the trail, both physical and biographical, of two great western writer-environmentalists.

A wild ride down the Charles River with a different sort of environmentalist.

Follow me down to the Gulf during the BP oil spill.

A Year spent intertwined with the lives of beautiful and daring birds of prey.

MORE GLORIOUS ULTIMATE

FRIDAY, JULY 28 – MAPLEWOOD, NJ, THE BIRTHPLACE OF ULTIMATE!!
[words] BOOKSTORE
7:30 PM Event 179 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood, NJ 07040
http:/​/​wordsbookstore.com/​2017/​01/​ultimate-glory/​

MONDAY, JULY 31 – BOSTON–MY RETURN TO THE STORE WHERE I ATTACKED THE CUSTOMER!
BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH
7:00 PM Event 279 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA
https:/​/​www.brooklinebooksmith.com/​events/​2017-07/​david-gessner—ultimate-glory-frisbee-obsession-and-my-wild-youth/​

TUESDAY, AUGUST 1
HARVARD SUMMER SCHOOL
THOMPSON ROOM BARKER CENTER 12 QUINCY STREET
6:00 PM EVENT

TUESDAY, AUGUST 8 – PORTLAND, ME–WITH BILL ROORBACH
PRINT: A BOOKSTORE
7:00 PM Event 273 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
http:/​/​www.printbookstore.com/​event/​david-gessner-discusses-his-new-book-ultimate-glory-bill-roorbach-author-girl-lake

Aug. 16: Ultimate Frisbee, Steve Rushin, and Sports Stadiums
Varsity Letters is back at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, August 16 with an eclectic evening of sports authors, including David Gessner.