an interview with Mike Meese
Mike Meese, co-founder and current campaign coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, has a singular focus: protection of the world’s largest wild buffalo herd, roaming throughout Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Buffalo enjoy protection while in the park itself, but as they migrate outside the park during the winter months, the buffalo are either slaughtered or hazed back into the park, for fear that the wild buffalo will transfer the brucellosis virus to Montana livestock, though, according to the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), no single such transfer has ever been documented.
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Interview conducted by Philip Krohn and Tom Webb
Note: This interview is reprinted from The Bear Deluxe Magazine #3 (1994). Magazine co-founders Krohn and Webb met with Gray before his evening performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. Gray arrived over two hours late for the interview but eventually shared lunch on Tom McCall Waterfront Park, talking on tape for another two hours. For background on Spalding Gray, visit.
Spalding Gray is the internationally acclaimed performing artist and writer responsible for such gems as “Swimming to Cambodia” and “Monster in a Box.” A story collector and wayfarer, he is propelled by an insatiable curiosity and pursued by the bizarre. In addition to being brutally honest and side-splittingly funny, he may also be one of America’s most complicated thinkers. Orlo is grateful to have had the opportunity to spend some time with Spalding Gray during his recent stay in Portland, OR.
Orlo A couple of years ago you interviewed the Dalai Lama. What is the extent of your interest in Buddhism?
Spalding Gray I’m not so interested in being a Buddhist, I’m interested in being an individual. I’m a New Englandian, I’m a Thoreauzian. You know, I’m for bowing down to the mystery.
Orlo You started your interview with the Dalai Lama talking about being on the road all the time, both of you. And trying to get comfortable. It made me think of someone else who is interested in Buddhism, Gary Snyder. And he’s very interested in the discussion of homelessness in a broad sense and trying to find a sense of place, because to him that hasn’t happened in America.
Spalding Gray Gary’s different than I in the sense that Gary has found a place. I like Gary Snyder, but I think that he’s coming from a preachy place. I can’t quote him, but his attitude is this: “Look at me, I was able to integrate myself with the environment. I now go and argue with Congress about the spotted owl. I’m an environmentalist, I’m Gary Snyder, I found a place. The rest of you are wandering idiots.” We did a Buddhist Conference some years back, and Gary said, “I can’t tolerate it any more, that these people on the road don’t know how to roll their rucksacks.” And I go, “Oh my God.” That’s why he couldn’t hang out with Jack Kerouac after a while. He was a little anal retentive for me. Read more »
by Casey Bush and Tom Webb
Carolyn Finney is a geographer who has discarded maps in favor of storytelling. The UC Berkeley assistant professor has abandoned cartography for cultural narrative. She looks to expand our green horizons with a populated landscape including people like former slave Israel Parson Jones, whose family lived for generations in the lowland that is now Biscayne National Park, and who died as one of the first African-American millionaires. Finney’s forthcoming book, Black Faces, White Places: African-Americans in the Great Outdoors (University of Georgia Press), expands the color palate that is the history and the face of modern environmentalism.
Finney’s unusual career route included 12 years pursuing acting in New York before trekking in Africa and Asia led her to re-enter academia and attempt to redefine the “white wilderness” that has led to a racialization of environmental concerns. As part of that work, she counted the faces of color in 10 years of Outside magazine, finding only 100 out of 4,000 that were not white. But Carolyn Finney is not an outsider herself and instead is working to change the place of African-Americans in the green movement as a member of the National Park Advisory Board and the Second Century National Parks Commission, among other appointments and awards. Finney earned her undergraduate degree from Western Washington University and her Ph.D. in geography from Clark University.
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