About

Craig Medred is an independent Alaska journalist who has worked out of Fairbanks,  Juneau and Anchorage. By car, truck, airplane, snowmachine, pack raft, sailboat, skis, snowshoes and foot, he has traveled much of the state from Ketchikan in the south to Barrow in the north and from Nome in the west to Eagle in the east.  He ran away to Alaska in the early 1970s intending to escape into America’s last untracked territory only to discover a greater untracked territory exists in the world of human behaviors and ideas. He’s been asking questions ever since.

If you enjoy his work, feel free to make a donation via PayPal or by check:

Craig Medred News
PO Box 110918
Anchorage, AK   99511-0918

 

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29 replies »

  1. Dear Mr. Medred, although your article has some elements of truth, I believe your tone tended to get a little aggressive when it comes to your argument about Chris’ and the value of his journey and tactics to stay alive.
    Yes it is true that Chris McCandless had a big ego on the beginning of his journey. As you said, he did abandon his family, ditch his car, and burn his money. However, the reasons were not unclear. You state that all of these actions were a result of mental illness when in fact, Chris was actually quite an intelligent individual. Chris was very smart from a young age. He was creative and figured out ways to make money as an eight year old, selling vegetables and making copies for the people in his neighborhood.
    A second point I would like to make is that you say McCandless had not “shown the sense to take risks in his journey” which might have helped him stay alive. This is incorrect. Mr. Medred, Chris already knew that taking such a journey had risks. Again, Chris was a smart kid. He was aware that taking a journey without the resources he needed was a leap of faith essentially. What Chris was blinded by was his ideals and his hubris, not ignorance, which you seem to focus on for the majority of your paper.

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      • Did you know him well?

        I’m not defending Chris. I never met him. But, I’m sure you can agree, discussions regarding the young man’s journey are mostly speculative. Maybe he was a freeloader as you describe. Maybe he was a poacher, petty thief, and a narcissist for believing in himself as much as he seemingly did. Or maybe this confidence allowed him to follow his own path. Rejected a life carved out by society, a future constructed exactly as those before. Work. Raise a family. Hate your job. Jerk-off in the shower. Die of cancer. I’m not saying he was right or noble. His choices were curious, hurtful. And yet, oddly inspirational. Could you follow your own path? Could you face the criticism of your family and peers for rejecting what they believe is best? Could you listen to yourself? As I said, I don’t defend Chris, but I do admire his courage in that regard. My question is why such angst toward him? What are you afraid of?

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      • What am I afraid of, Jill? Unroped climbing falls, avalanches, Class IV and up whitewater swims, 55 degrees below zero and colder. I could probably name some more if I had to, but it’s easiest to list things with which I’ve had experience in Alaska.

        As for your list of “coulds,” I can pretty much answer “yes” to them all, and I am far from alone in that here in this state.

        So let me put it back to you: Being a poacher, petty thief, and a narcissist is your definition of “believing in yourself”? Do you really want a society where this is the standard?

        Remove Chris from the wilderness, where incompetence will get you killed, and plunk him down in the American Southwest, or wherever you live, and consider that petty thieves and narcissists can survive quite nicely in developed America.

        How many of them would you like in your neighborhood demonstrating their belief in themselves?

        And please don’t confuse “courage” with foolishness or mental illness. I’ve been around people who displayed courage. It’s not about what you do for yourself; it’s about what you do for others:

        “If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it. And you had a lot of luck, he told himself, to have had such a good life. You’ve had just as good a life as grandfather’s though not as long. You’ve had as good a life as any one because of these last days. You do not want to complain when you have been so lucky.

        “Then he took hold of his left leg with both hands and pulled on it hard, pulling toward the foot while he lay down beside the tree he had been resting his back against. Then lying flat and pulling hard on the leg, so the broken end of the bone would not come up and cut through the thigh, he turned slowly around on his rump until the back of his head was facing downhill. Then with his broken leg, held by both hands, uphill, he put the sole of his right foot against the instep of his left foot and pressed hard while he rolled, sweating, over onto his face and chest. He got onto his elbows, stretched the left leg well behind him with both hands and a far, sweating, push with the right foot and there he was. He felt with his fingers on the left thigh and it was all right. The bone end had
        not punctured the skin and the broken end was well into the muscle now.

        “The big nerve must have been truly smashed when that damned horse rolled on it, he thought. It truly doesn’t hurt at all. Except now in certain changes of positions. That’s when the bone pinches something else. You see? he said. You see what luck is? Youdidn’t need the giant killer at all.

        “He reached over for the submachine gun, took the clip out that was in the magazine, felt in his pocket for clips, opened the action and looked through the barrel, put the clip back into the groove of the magazine until it clicked, and then looked down the hill slope.

        “Maybe half an hour, he thought. Now take it easy.

        “Then he looked at the hillside and he looked at the pines and he tried not to think at all.

        “Then he looked at the stream and he remembered how it had been under the bridge in the cool of the shadow. I wish they would come, he thought. I do not want to get in any sort of mixed-up state before they come. Who do you suppose has it easier? Ones with religion or just taking it straight? It
        comforts them very much but we know there is no thing to fear. It is only missing it that’s bad. Dying is only bad when it takes a long time and hurts so much that it humiliates you. That is where you have all the luck, see? You don’t have any of that.”

        If you’re interested in courage, I’d suggest “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” from which those quotes come. Much better book. Much better writer.

        And it is about courage, not narcissism which has absolutely nothing to do with courage.

        That said, I also see no reason to believe Chris McCandless’s behavior had much to do with narcissism.

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  2. Go to Hell. Your opinionated excerpt you wrote in 2013 about Christopher McCandless shows little creative thinking and lots of charged language, proving your points to be little more than literary garbage.

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    • I suggest you open your mind a little and reread it, Jason. It wasn’t an exercise in creative thinking; it was an examination of how the facts of the case might be viewed by an unbiased observed – someone who doesn’t suffer from the delusion that Chris was some sort of modern-day Christ child. What he was, plain and simple, was a poacher. Chris killed a bunch of animals out of season and without a hunting license. He was also, if Krakauer’s book is to be believed (though it’s pretty clear good parts of it are fiction), a thief, a trespasser, a litter bug, a freeloader, and worst of all and sadly, a failure in the wilderness. The latter failure killed him. If you wish to admire failures, at least pick one who failed trying to do something of significance. Poor, misguided Chris hung out in a bus apparently unwilling, unable or simply afraid to save himself, and so he died. Here’s the link: http://www.adn.com/voices/article/beatification-chris-mccandless-thieving-poacher-saint/2013/09/21/

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    • Jason– internet “comments” are a haven for hateful cowards. The critical words and opinions of anyone who doesn’t use his full name are worthless and wimpy. What and who are you afraid of? Grow some huevos and take personal responsibility for your words. YOU go to hell, punk. –David Petersen, Durango, CO

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read your beautiful tribute to Gwen Truax this morning. I wanted to leave a note thanking you. Gwen was a good friend to so many of us online–a great friend to me. Grateful to have known her, but still very devastated by this tragedy.

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  4. I worry about the published report that Roman himself carried his sons remains out of the jungle. The chain of custody within law enforcement/medical examiner who collected the remains, etc. would be interrupted. I am surprised they would have let that happen. Since Roman has spoken publicly about the homicide theory, uninformed people may accuse him of altering the remains to make it look like foul play. He may never get an arrest of conviction if there is a perpetrator if evidence is not protected. I hope this news is untrue. Prayers for the family and what an incredible set of parents to do whatever it took to find him. Hopefully, LE will do their job and find justice for the Dials. What an incredible family. What a painful lesson. The Dials will change lives and help others still looking for their missing loved ones. Bless the Dials and their friends who mourn.

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  5. Would like to contribute Craig & would also like to get updates. I don’t do PayPal. You can set up an optional credit card on PayPal, but I’m not sure of the cost to you.

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    • thanks. i’m a terrible businessman. i need to cut back on the writing and work on the business, but in the online world you almost have to be there everyday to stay relevant. it’s all proving interesting as a one-man show.

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  6. I am amazed you handled your neighbor so well ……. I would not have, I would file a lawsuit ….. It would only be the beginning. I am tired of hearing the word “threatened” as an excuse to kill ….. Your neighbor has no respect for you or anyone when he did not come to you or your wife to ask about your dog. Your neighbor’s behavior is inexcusable. Your dog was NOT “just a dog” …… Justice for your pup …… she deserves it !!

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  7. Craig,

    A few years ago you and I engaged in a political colloquy, the subject of which was total government control (communism) vs. anarchy (no control). My position was that the republican form of government was toward the right of the spectrum but to the left of anarchy. You unexpectedly decided to argue that Germany’s National Socialist Party was not a leftist organization, but a far right one. The discussion terminated since I had not a clue where you got such an idea. That is, until recently when I chanced upon this article:

    “Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg’s great book “Liberal Fascism” cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists’ consistent pursuit of the goals of the left, and of the left’s embrace of the fascists as one of their own during the 1920s.

    It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the left distanced themselves from fascism and its Nazi offshoot — and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.

    What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people — like themselves — need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/06/12/socialist_or_fascist/page/full

    Not the means of production in the hands of government, but absolute control of the management and labor involved in the means of production by government regulation.

    What I need to investigate is how the Left “verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.”

    Best Regards,

    ric

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    • Richard: If you want my personal view, the right and the left meet in some dark place on the back side of the circle of politics in that place Christian’s call hell. It’s overrun with people who want to control the chaos. Stalin ran a neat, orderly and brutal system; so, too, Hitler. Historically, one could argue that’s the model for governmental success. American democracy is an anomaly in that regard, which is why Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” should be required reading in every school in the country.

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  8. You disappeared, no email, no articles, nothing. Kalean Sullivan just found your blog, I want it also it is better than that ‘leftist rag of a newspaper’ called ADN. I will send $50 but don’t deal in play/pal or pay/pal only cash or maybe VISA. Bill me once a year. Glad that you resurfaced but don’t know how you will survive with such a low profile. I will get my daughter to help me with this. Dick Griffith

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    • Thank you, thank you, Mr. Griffith. I left the new ADN under “negotiated” circumstances. I didn’t think it was right to start a website that might possibly say things negative about the new ADN, or things perceived to be negative about the new ADN, or simply things viewed by some people at the new ADN as unfavorable or unkind while still being paid by new ADN. And yet, with the new ADN devoted to the goal of taking over and controlling the new media market in Alaska, it was obvious the new ADN was part of a story a serious journalist couldn’t avoid visiting from time to time. So I enjoyed a summer of peace and now I’m back at it because I can’t help myself. I try, and hope, to write as little as possible about the new ADN, but a news organization that thinks reporters should be jettisoned for catching public officials committing felonies needs someone watching over it’s shoulder. It would be nice if one could count on other Alaska media to perform that function, but that doesn’t appear to be happening as I discovered when I went looking for an imaginary bear in a ice cave at Portage. The new ADN just couldn’t bring itself to say another news organization, a competitor at that, had been hoaxed, because that wouldn’t have been nice to other journalists. That kind of nice, that kind of good-old-boy nonsense, is not my kind of journalism, but it was the warning that the new ADN and I probably weren’t going to stay together long. In the business of journalism, I value honest above nice.

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