What did you do over the last 48 hours? If you were the editors of Longshot Magazine, you might have edited, designed, and published a magazine.
Over a 48 hour period from noon August 27, 2010, through noon August 29, 2010, hundreds of writers, editors, artists, photographers, programmers, videographers, and other creatives from all around the world came together via the Internet, and in offices in Los Angles, Portland, and San Francisco to make a magazine from start to finish. Welcome to Longshot.
The theme for issue 1 was "comebacks". Coincidentally just a few days earlier the Vancouver Sun had reported on the estimated 25 million salmon headed up the Fraser this summer. 12 hours after it started I sent in my piece, and 36 hours after that I found out it had been accepted.
The edited version in the final magazine certainly reads better, but I still have a fondness for my original, slapdash copy.
Consider the Salmon
This summer, 25 million sockeye salmon will return to the Fraser River, fighting their way upstream to its source. Then, in an act that should put all non-fornicating endangered species to shame, they will deposit and fertilize their eggs and die. Viewed without any other context 25 million is a lot of fish, but, when one considers that only 1.5 million arrived at the Fraser last year, that number seems more like a miracle. Somehow 23.5 million more salmon will find their way to the river, a number representing, in people, two thirds of the population of Canada. That is equivalent to Ontario and Quebec moving to Vancouver or, as reflected in an actual migratory pattern, the city of Calgary crossing the Rockies twenty times.
Canada’s venerable old man of science, David Suzuki, claims that sockeye represent a mystery so deep and abiding that we may never be able to control or predict them. Consider the many ways the Fraser sockeye fit that mythical description: they are anadromous, meaning they move from salt to freshwater for breeding; when they make that move, their mouths change to beaks and their colour from blue to red; in order to breed they swim back to the exact same river from which they were spawned; they fly through space. Consider now that only one of those facts is completely made up.
Birds are usually the first animal that come to mind when considering long-distance travel, but most are little more than tourists abandoning nests at the merest hint of cold for sunnier climes down south. No wonder they are considered the fat, poorly dressed photographing bumpkin of the animal kingdom. Emperor penguins suffer cold, collapsing ice, and Morgan Freeman to mate on their ancestral breeding grounds, but everyone thinks they’re adorable. No one pities the poor salmon, who are, technically speaking, gross.
There are many factors that contribute to reducing salmon populations, including habitat loss, warmer waters, and disease. And yet the salmon perseveres, as all survivors do. Even if the Fraser was pristine it would be a challenge to even the most dedicated, amorous osteichthyes to survive long enough to navigate it. Unfortunately, according to the BC Ministry of the Environment, “coliforms, chlorophenols, and copper in the river, and dissolved oxygen in side channels, are most likely to not meet acceptable levels.” What this means in simple terms is you will find it hard to see through a glass of Fraser brew.
And yet, a possible 25 million sockeye salmon will find their way up the Fraser this summer. They will go back to the place where they were spawned. They will lay eggs and fertilize them. And then they will die.