Big ideas come a little easier in the desert wilderness. It’s quiet and it’s severe, and there’s space to think.
I lived alongside Joshua Tree National Park for some of this century, and toward the end of my time there became friends with Jay Babcock, the editor of the underground culture magazine Arthur. Jay was furious about a “Dollar General” chain store coming to our little crossroads town, a town already precariously balanced between its funky handful of locally owned businesses and the usual plastic-letter banality of self-storage units and Subway sandwich franchises.
We were drinking wine at my house one night while Jay ranted about the Dollar General and how people had to do something to stop it, but the only good option was years of effort away: elections, incorporation, and zoning to protect the desert landscape and little town’s feel. Meanwhile, a lot of otherwise-interested citizens didn’t even know which rectangle of desert along Highway 62 had been marked for takeover by this smaller-scale version of Walmart. (more…)