Thursday, November 09, 2006
BEST SKI BOOKS #2: The Cross Country Ski, Cook, Look and Pleasure Book; and welcome to the Alice in snowpeople land.
This is by far my most favorite ski book. In fact it might be the coolest book that I have ever seen in general. It is by Hal Painter. I have looked up Hal on Google a few times but have not been able to find anything else out about him at all. I can say this, the guy is a great visionary when it comes to writing a book on the culture of skiing, both on how to learn it, how to enjoy it and how to explain the people and the mind sets in it. He does it through Haiku poems, graphic design, straight forward information and some crazy humor as well.
Consider some of the chapter headings.
1.) Ski like the Cucumber-and leave the driving to the Jock in The Box.
2.) In the Beginning the gods wore skis.
3.)Keeping in shape like boiled asparagus.
4.)Snow freaks and the magic Himalayans with the gift of organic internal combustion.
It just goes on and on. Hal points out some pretty interesting things way ahead of his time. Things like going away from motors and gas guzzling machines. Things like fitness and health, love of nature and just plain having free wheeling fun and adventure. This is certainly a book derived from California, and Berkeley specifically in the early 1970's. It is fun to look at the books Hot Dog skier and Alice and Snowpeople land side by side because you can see where the two schools of skiing are starting to split. The Nordic crowd is starting to flee to the backcountry and the alpine crowd is going to the areas and to more big air, hard partying and the general public is joining them. So maybe that is how I see this book and also why I like it so much. It is truly a book that defines and captures the fringe that Nordic skiing is and always will be no matter how heavy the gear.
This is a book that makes me better understand my friends like John Dostal, John Higgins, Dicky Hall, Alan Moats, Poppy Gall, Todd Eastman, Kim Miller and their past friends like Ned Gillette and Alan Bard. In fact a very young Ned Gillette is in it! It is a glimpse of the sport at perhaps its purest and in its infancy. Incredibly there are copies kicking around in places as mainstream as Amazon so it must have been in pretty solid circulation in the 1970's. I was lucky to find my copy at a used book store in Duluth, MN but ironically it came from the out of circulation bin from the Berkeley Enviornmental studies library! The last person to check it out was in 1976.