On the Trail of Everett Ruess – This Time on Twitter!
So I’m sitting at my computer yesterday and I get an email. It’s from Everett Ruess. He’s on Twitter, and he announces that he’s following me. So I checked his profile, determined he wasn’t a threat or a security risk, and now I’m following him.
Ruess, of course, is the wanderer who disappeared into the Utah badlands in 1934, became a Western environmental icon and whose remains were recently identified and now reside no more than a half mile from my house on the CU campus. Twitter is the popular mobile internet messaging service that allows you to say anything you want as long as it’s less than 140 characters. (Which, if you’re wondering, is exactly the length of that last sentence.)
Wonders never cease. We spend two vacations chasing Ruess around Utah’s hinterlands, and now I’m following him down here on my computer. So far he just quotes (pithily) from his own works, but I’m hoping he’ll start answering some of the many questions left by the discovery of his remains. I won’t hold my breath.
Perhaps this is part of a new social networking trend. Doing some research for “Roots and Branches,” the Americana radio show I host on KGNU, I found that Gene Autry has a MySpace page, where he lives on even though the Singing Cowboy died ten years ago. With the right social networks, you no longer have to die – you can live on in MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. Maybe someone will develop a special app for that.
If you don’t know about Ruess’s disappearance and discovery 75 years later, it is a compelling story. National Geographic Adventure takes far too much credit (one headline reads “After 75 years, National Geographic Adventure solves mystery of lost explorer), which is really stretching it, since the story belongs to a Navajo family who tried to tell people the real story to no avail.
But the magazine’s coverage is excellent, with a short video of the pre-excavation, a photo gallery documenting the site and cache and Dale Roberts’ story about the discovery.
For some journalistic balance, however, The Navajo Times puts the tale of the discovery into its proper context without the Geo hype.
And my own personal feelings about the discovery and its connection to one of my favorite Dave Alvin songs.