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Joshua Tree:
Desolation Tango

"It's not that I need an excuse to visit Joshua Tree National Park, infinite vessel of my life's touchstones, but when two of the twelve dice on my clock form the Westward Ho Casino fell off, and the hands got stuck, I knew it was time for a trip. Now, this was no ordinary clock. And Joshua Tree is no ordinary park. My clock with dice that marked the hours made the march of time as hypnotic as any hourglass, but it also rang a hopeful note. At any moment, said the dice, I could get lucky. With the clock stopped, ther ewas no change of this happening, yet even in this condition it was sending a message: Go to the desert, it said, that's the place where time really stops, and that's the place where you can count on getting lucky. So I threw a few things into my ragtop, cranked up the surf version of Exodus, and made like an ancient Hebrew fled - away from Los Angeles, and into the Mojave, where the glitter is refracted not in the sheen of a limousine, but in flecks of obsidian, pyrite, and quartz; the Mojave, where the perfume is not of money but of creosote, ocotillo, and sage; the Mojave, where the silence is marked not by the thunder of an unreturned phone call, but the flap of a butterfly's wings in the springtime.

"'Hey, slick,' a Joshua tree says when I come into the park's orbit, 'it's been way too long.' 'I know,' I say, 'thanks for waiting.' My breathing slows, my lungs expand, and I step on the gas. I may not be in Vegas, but I just got lucky..."   [top]

Praise for Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango

“Deanne Stillman has a lock on the desert. After her brilliant and troubling take on Twentynine Palms, she has created a vivid meditation on the adjacent Joshua Tree National Park. Deanne reveals a deep empathy for the bizarre beauty of this rocky and spiny wonderland. Her snappy commentary is embellished with magnificent photographs by Galen Hunt.“

—Kenneth Anger, author of Hollywood Babylon

“I love Joshua Tree. There is no place like it. This book captures, remarkably, the mystery and beauty of this special park. Deanne Stillman's text is beautiful, understated and precise. Galen Hunt's photographs are truly artful. This is great introduction to one the most special places on Earth.“

—Percival Everett, author of Wounded

“The darkness that Deanne Stillman conjured up out of her book Twentynine Palms is the stark contrast to the way that she portrays the sacred land that we know as Joshua Tree monument. It's a poetic document along with excellent photographs.“

—Eric Burdon, founding member of The Animals and long-time Joshua Tree resident

“This tribute reveals the landscape of a startling country whose visa requirements are resolute inquisitiveness, an active imagination, and simple curiosity. As Stillman and Hunt show, Joshua Tree can be unsettling, provocative, and ultimately gratifying. May your visa to Joshua Tree never expire.“

—Tom Miller, award-winning author of On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier


all material © Deanne Stillman, 2002-2020