A conversation with Chuck Bowden from 2002

The late writer discusses the 'cannibalism of society' and other ills.

 

Charles Bowden, whose writing investigated cross-border issues between the U.S. and Mexico, including heavy criticism of the U.S. war on drugs, died Aug. 30, 2014, at the age of 69. Bowden was a prolific journalist and author who published numerous books on the Southwest, as well as features for national magazines and for High Country News.

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Journalist and author Charles Bowden died in August 2014. Photograph by Jack W. Dykinga.
HCN Radio, a weekly broadcast in the early 2000s, aired this interview with Bowden in September of 2002. Adam Burke interviewed Bowden about his then-recent book Blues for Cannibals: The Notes from Underground, environmental politics, deserts, survival and hope. Bowden reads two passages from the book and discusses the "cannibalism of our society" – excessive consumption and the destruction of the environment.

"The changes I've seen in my lifetime should normally take a couple generations," Bowden said. "Where I used to go out hunting with my .22 now is endless miles of subdivision."

He said of living in Tucson and the desert: "It's impossible to live in this town without a sense of guilt, without a sense that you're failing; that you're going to have to answer to someone someday. That nobody will ever accept your explanation of why you let this obliteration of such a beautiful place occur. You're like a beaten person half the time and an enraged warrior the rest of the time." And yet: "My glass is always half full; I may not like to drink but at least it's half full."

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