Have a ‘Heart’

Ed's first collection of his Denver Post columns.

Ed’s first collection of his Denver Post columns.

Ed Quillen left the party way too early.

Every time some greedhead with a talent for skinning the rubes floats a Barnumesque balloon full of canned farts and damned little else, I miss Ed and his quiver of curmudgeonly arrows.

Here’s one Ed aimed at tourism back in 1993:

“Tourism is the biggest industry in the world, and apparently it functions like any other industry — if there’s a conflict between telling the truth and making money, so much the worse for the truth.”

Writing of the perils of “health-care rationing” in 1994, Ed said:

“Here’s some news for our protectors in the U.S. Senate — unlike you, with your excellent, government-funded health plan that covers everything, most of us already have rationed health care. It’s rationed by what we can afford, or by how much our insurance companies will pay.”

And in discussing a plan to raise Colorado’s gas tax by a nickel per gallon back in 1987, Ed said the only problem he had with the concept was that it was about $9.95 short of what was needed.

A gas tax of $10 per gallon, he argued, would reduce street crime, air pollution and penny-ante tourism while giving a boost to carpooling, public transportation, cycling, walking, and something called “telecommuting,” which he confided was “how this column gets from Salida to Denver.”

“Raising the tax won’t even be a good start, though,” Ed concluded. “Get it up to $10 a gallon, and see how Colorado prospers while becoming a vastly better place to live.”

All these examples of Ed’s savvy come from his Denver Post columns circa 1985-98, compiled in the 1998 book “Deep In the Heart of the Rockies.”

Ed left us last year, but his words remain. And a new collection of Ed’s work from 1999 to 2012 is being assembled by daughter Abby Quillen, along with her husband, Aaron Thomas, Ed’s friend and colleague Allen Best, and friend of the DogS(h)ite Hal Walter of Hardscrabble Times, among others.

The book is a Kickstarter project, and if they don’t raise the minimum funds needed (a pittance of $5,500), the book won’t happen. I think it’s a thing worth doing, and have kicked in a couple of bucks.

Abby hopes to use the proceeds to fund a memorial bench, and perhaps a scholarship in Ed’s name for students interested in journalism or Colorado history.

But perhaps the best memorial to Ed would be the book itself, a reminder that the smart guys will not always be around to slap the hands of the hucksters trying to pick our pockets, or worse, and that we will have to start paying attention and raising a ruckus on our own behalf.

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25 Responses to “Have a ‘Heart’”

  1. Steve O Says:

    Something that never ceases to amaze me: you pick a topic, and some smart guy already told us all we need to know about it back in ’94, or ’87, or 1887, or sometimes even 387 BC.

  2. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Or, 550 BC.

  3. Larry T. Says:

    I dunno, POG, I agree with all three of the quotes you posted from this fellow. Makes him seem like some kind of “wild-eyed, communist maniac” as I’m sure he was described as long before now. Perhaps I need to wander over to that fund-raising campaign? Being in the tour biz I especially liked the first quote – so true.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ol’ Ed took his fair share of the heat, for sure. Some dull-witted, poorly educated types think the Post is part of the Vast Llb’rul Conspiracy, and Lord, how they used to rave whenever he’d let some of the smelly air out of their pointy heads with a well-placed jab.

  4. Derek Lenahan Says:

    My pittance has been added, I agree the book would be a more fitting legacy. Along the lines of it has all been said before, if you are technically geeky I recommend a book by Archibald Sharp called “An Elementary Treatise on Bicycles and Tricycles” I would pay special attention to the suspension designs. Oh and it was written in the 1800’s so it is sort of English.

  5. Debby Says:

    Hmm, a $10 per gallon gas tax would go over like a turd in the punchbowl. Could be a good thing though if it would get people out of their Escalades and taking other options seriously, like riding bicycles or telecommuting. In the tech industry, there has been a strong movement AWAY from telecommuting in recent years (yahoo for just one example). There’s no reason for it except the bosses like to have us all in the office so they can keep us under observation. So their we sit, staring at our computer screens and communicating to each other by IM and email. That would work just as well with all of us working remotely. Just imagine if all those DTC workers could work from home every day instead of clogging I25 driving to the office. Then imagine that all over the country. But no. The bosses are dead set against it.

    • Larry T. Says:

      Gas already IS $10 a gallon in Italy. Plumbers drive tiny Fiats and might have to pop over to a supply place for parts rather than hauling a whole truck full of ’em over to your place to replace a faulty gasket. There is NO drive thru – anything (except for Mickey D’s and there aren’t many cars idling away there waiting for 4 euro burgers) and urban sprawl is kept to a minimum so one doesn’t need a car to deal with everyday life stuff. We’ve spent the past three winters living there, each time without a car. Renting one is easy when you need it, and not having one is great. No parking issues, no insurance policies, no worrying about it being towed, stolen or broken into. The old-world folks were smart – when the fuel crunch of the 70’s eased off, they added a ton of taxes to reduce consumption and nobody seemed to mind much as long as they didn’t have to wait in line for dead-dinosaur juice. We missed that opportunity in the US of A, sadly.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Strange, isn’t it, Debby? For lots of us, telecommuting makes almost-perfect sense, and yet The Man would rather have us where he can keep one steely eye on us, as though we were unruly kindergartners in need of adult supervision.

      I worked with Andrew Hood at VeloNews for more than a decade before I finally met him in person. He lives and works in Europe, I live and work in Colorado. But thanks to the Innertubes, we could have the same back and forth that we would have enjoyed had we shared a newsroom somewhere.

      Herself works two days a week in Denver and telecommutes the other three days. She gets everything done via Google Chat, IM, conference call, what have you.

      I think that’s pretty much close to ideal. It’s nice to have some face time with your coworkers — it can be useful to bounce ideas off people in person, where you can gauge facial expressions and body language.

  6. Dale Says:

    I have one little problem with the $10/gal gas tax. How are your carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc, and etc going to telecommute themselves an their tools and materials to the job? A little perspective for the proles please. That said, I have no problem with the late gentleman’s philosophy. I think our embracing the “service industries” makes us all whores.

    • Steve O Says:

      Not saying $10 is the magic number, but will humbly submit that somewhere between 50-100% of carpenters, plumbers, etc would be better served if they traded in their 4WD F-350 for a panel van, maybe a 40 mpg turbo diesel that would actually haul more gear.

      Neighbor is getting a new patio as we speak. Eight guys showed up in four pick ups, and they hauled maybe half a bed’s worth of supplies.

      At this point, somebody will always chime in with, you need the four-wheel-drive to get to work on those bad days. A cursory tour of the Internet will show you study after study where they’ve demonstrated that front-wheel-drive with snow tires outperforms four-wheel-drive with all weather tires every day of the week, every month of the year

      Got two competing goals here. Free enterprise says that competition should punish those working inefficiently. Unfortunately, we’re also inefficient but that never really happens. But in theory, to some extent, I’m all in favor of letting the market sort things out… To a point. But when that point is something that has national security and foreign policy implications, then maybe gubbermint show get involved. Throw in urban planning and possibly saving the planet for our kids, and now we’re at least in “meriting discussion” territory.

      • Dale Says:

        Concerning the over trucked part: I’ll concede that to you.

        Most tradesmen are as suckered into the consumer society as any lawyer driving his Beamer 8 blocks to work. But most of these guys go to one location on one or two days a week and another location or two for the rest. It ain’t easy to carpool that way. And all the guys need to live fairly close to one another to make it feasible.

        I’ll concede another point. All the tradesmen I see that have 4WD usually don’t show up for work if it snows too much. I must plow though 18 miles in my Scion Xb however.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      This is one of the problems with excerpting a complex argument. Ed — who was himself a Salida-dwelling prole rather than a Mile High media elite — was aware that people who drove great distances to work would suffer “at first.” But he argued that the high cost of gas would encourage them to form carpools, move closer to where the work was, or demand more efficient public transportation.

      A potential side benefit would be that as people began to work in their own neighborhoods, they might take a greater interest in its activities, local government and service organizations, being spared the long daily drive to wherever and back.

      Steve also makes a good point about some folks driving bigger rigs than they need. We’ve had a parade of carpenters, painters and plumbers through here this summer, and some of them were seriously overtrucked. I bet a Ford Transit Connect would serve a lot of ’em quite nicely. Shit, if it weren’t a Ford, I’d think about driving one myself.

  7. Dale Says:

    Boy, this is veering off topic. But I see the perfect tradesman carpool, and I see it nearly every day with the mow and blow industry.

    Boss gets several contracts with various property owners to “fulfill” landscape expectations.

    1. Purchase or rent from slumlord a property for a dormitory.
    2. Obtain some labor from way south of the border, and rent them space in the above property.
    3.Purchase or lease (consult your accountant here) a humongous van with towing capacity.
    4.Pick up your crew at 5:00 AM. Have them hook up the trailer with the mowers, blowers, trimmers, and take them from job to job.
    5. Pay them something decent or get them drunk at the end of the day and pay them less (screw them).
    6. Take them “home”.

    Perfect commute.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You forgot:

      7. Any of them gets lippy, call La Migra.

      And they said Lincoln freed the slaves.

      • Dale Says:

        Oh yes. My bad. Damn their lazy asses anyway.

      • Dale Says:

        I forgot step 5.5. Before they get “home” they’re dropped off at a payday loan operation which happens to be oned by – guess who?

      • Dale Says:

        You may have guessed by now that it is hard for me to let this go, but it wrenches my gut sometimes. Now I’ll take my meds and say no more about it.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        That is what I like about living on the border. All the immigrants want to do is get through Cochise County alive. They don’t stop, although we used to get one stopping for directions every now and then. Go after employers? Hey, the best Congress money can buy won’t let that happen.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        PS: Dale you have every right to be pissed. A few years ago we were in the garage, door up, getting ready for a ride. It was about 0530 or so in the summer time. 18 year old girl comes up and asks us to hide her because the Border Patrol is looking for her. About that time here comes the BP truck rounding up stragglers from a group they stopped about 1/2 mile away. She said her brother paid her way, and she had a job waiting in New York city. Coming over here through our area involves considerable risk, and the coyotes don’t give a shit if you get sick or injured. They will leave you to die. I was thinking at the time if her brother and McLame were both in the garage, I wouldn’t know who to cold cock first.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It’s shameful, for sure. An ongoing tragedy driven by the endless Yanqui appetite for cheap shit.

        A saying often attributed to seven-term president Porfirio Díaz has always stuck with me: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”

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