Posts Tagged ‘Ed Quillen’


January 29, 2023

Desert Oracle, Vol. 1. May there be many, many more.

Weirdos and those who love them, rejoice: Ken Layne says he’s reviving his Desert Oracle quarterly, which many of us thought had died and was buried without ceremony somewhere in the desert, like Cactus Ed Abbey.

I bought and enjoyed the first book, a collection, compendium, companion, whatevs. And I help underwrite Desert Oracle Radio, the only audio project I support, though I subscribe to a wide range of virtual and actual magazines.

My next step along this twisted trail is probably subscribing to the quarterly. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the fella says.

In his “An Ode to ‘Desert Oracle'” in Alta Journal, Layne cuts straight to the heart of the beast:

Publishing a little magazine is attractive to exactly one kind of person: a writer who doesn’t want to work for somebody else’s magazine.

My old Pueblo Chieftain bro’ Hal Walter, who didn’t want to work for somebody else’s newspaper anymore, did something similar with Mountain Athlete, which lasted about six or seven years back in the late Eighties and into the early Nineties. Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen did likewise with Colorado Central, which has outlived him.

I contributed to both efforts in small ways, once loaning Ed one of my trucks so he could make it to a speaking engagement.

“Now remember, Ed, you can’t smoke in my truck,” I told him before he motored off. The trip took him about twice as long as it would have taken me because I wouldn’t have stopped and climbed out to burn one at every other mile marker.

But the closest I ever came to “publishing a little magazine” is this comosellama you’re looking at right now. The deadlines are flexible and the audience tolerant, and I can bear the small expense without having to sell a few bikes or vintage Macs.

Not adding books, podcasts, and road shows to the to-do list helps, of course. Saves trees, eardrums, and gasoline, too.

Besides, someone’s got to rustle up the grub around here. There are only so many hours in the day.

Have a ‘Heart’

August 2, 2013
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.

Adios, Ed Quillen

June 4, 2012
Ed Quillen

Ed Quillen

Longtime Colorado scribe Ed Quillen went west on Sunday. He was just 61.

When I was a young punk in the journalism program at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, where Ed had run the student paper some years earlier, an exasperated adviser told me Ed was probably the only editor in the state who would hire me.

And he did, eventually — though not to work at the Longmont Scene, the Middle Park Times in Kremmling, the Summit County Times in Breckenridge or the Mountain Mail in Salida. I’d burned through a half-dozen newspaper gigs in 12 years and had turned free-lancer before Ed finally hired me to do a thing or two for his Salida-based magazine, Colorado Central, which goes to show you how much academics know about the real world outside their ivy-covered cloisters.

Once, when I was seriously overtrucked and living outside Weirdcliffe, my friend and colleague Hal Walter, then and now a Colorado Central columnist, prevailed upon me to loan Ed a vehicle so he could drive to a speaking engagement in Trinidad. At the time, Ed smoked like a landfill fire, and I asked him not to befoul my ’83 Toyota’s cab with nicotine (though I myself had smoked in the thing back in the Eighties). Ed agreed, and the trip took a good deal longer than it should have because he stopped every 15 minutes or so to step out and burn one.

When Ed and his wife, Martha, weren’t wrangling Colorado Central he wrote for The Denver Post, High Country News and HCN’s Writers on the Range syndicate. A selection of his Post columns was published in 1998 as “Deep In the Heart of the Rockies,” and you can read a number of his more recent pieces in the Post‘s archive.

Ed was always worth reading, an old newshound who sought to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Finley Peter Dunne had his Mr. Dooley — who is enjoying something of a renaissance at Charles P. Pierce’s Politics blog — and Ed had his Ananias Ziegler, media relations director of the Committee That Really Runs America.

Here’s hoping they’re enjoying smokes and jokes at the Thirty Club. Ed, you will be missed.

Ed Quillen is survived by his wife, Martha; their daughters, Columbine and Abby; and a few million words squirreled away on his website. My condolences to his family, friends and many readers.

More about Ed:

• High Country News: Farewell to a wise curmudgeon.

• The Denver Post: Ed’s obit.

• Westword: Michael Roberts pens a remembrance.