Les Line

The material below got me thinking about the late great Les Line, who edited Audubon mag from 1966 to 1991.

I reminisced to a younger friend:

“Les Line: only genuine mag editor genius I ever knew- never met Pat Ryan– light when he weighed 250 pounds, walrus mustache, long hair, turquoise on a bolo tie– this in his office at Audubon in Manhattan, where his office decorations were a Weatherby bullet board, a giant photo poster of a Dirty Harry- type model 629 .44 mag, and another big photo of him with a dead warthog and another version of that revolver. For YEARS. And he commissioned John Mitchell’s The Hunt and Bob Jones’ African piece but also pieces from every great book Peter Matthiessen wrote, also for years…

“He once brought me to his local pub and ordered me a burger that weighed I believe a third of a pound, smothered with sour cream and caviar, to be washed down  with some Bavarian ale. He might have eaten three. What a man. I brought him up to Wildbranch years after his firing, and damn if the kids weren’t puzzled by “nature writing” as a subject. Not MY students mind you, but the ones in the other two sections. “

And then- Jungian synchronicity, anyone?–I looked up his NYT obit.

“Mr. Line’s visibility was undoubtedly highest when he was fired in March 1991. The society, which began in 1896 expressly to protect birds, naming itself after the naturalist John James Audubon, had decided that it wanted to be a bigger player among environmental  groups; consultants suggested that it could invigorate the magazine by de-emphasizing birds. The board replaced Mr. Line with Malcolm Abrams, a former managing editor of a supermarket tabloid, The Star…

“As editor of the newsletter of the Michigan Audubon Society, he helped persuade the State Legislature to end a 120-year-old bounty on wolves in Michigan. After Audubon printed his photograph of an endangered Kirtland’s warbler on its cover, the magazine hired him as assistant editor in 1965. He became editor the next year at the age of 31…. A large, exuberant man with a passion for toy trains, jazz and guns — he claimed to have a Tommy gun in his collection — Mr. Line relished controversy. As a young editor in Michigan, he would sometimes write an anti-cat editorial “

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