Sometimes having a central point of focus helps sharpen the mind. As Osmium started to come together, I realized (with a friend’s kick in the pants) that I needed an inspirational image as a foundation.
After some concentrated over-think, I realized that Jack London, was the perfect point of focus. Most known for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, his life and his writing explored the human side of adventure and social issues. A prolific writer, a socialist and an explorer, he spent his youth in the San Francisco bay area, first as an oyster pirate, then as a young pirate chaser. Tales of the Fish Patrol, his stories of that time, are not to be missed. He hoboed around the eastern US, riding the rails and got thrown in the slammer in my home town of Buffalo, NY. Holding her Down, a great read, details the antics of outsmarting the railroad dicks. His more political writings speak to the suffering of the poor and the inequality of class society.
A big part of Jack’s experience was adventure. He traveled the Klondike at the time of the Alaskan gold rush, spending enough time up north to develop scurvy. His early sailing experiences in the Bay Area made a big impression on him and he sailed widely in the Pacific. The Sea Wolf is perhaps the most classic of his sea stories, though there are plenty more.
Jack was an interesting guy and many of his passions are passions of mine. I’ve ridden the rails (without going to jail), spent plenty of time in the mountains and there are more than a few thousand miles under my keel. I’ve recently found pictures of him engaged in another of my passions, cycling.
Jack brings to mind clothing that is hard wearing and handsome. Clothing that might be worn on a boat, on horseback, in a saloon. Next time you’re looking for something to read, find one of Jack’s lesser known works and you’ll experience some serious turn-of-the-century down time.