Clement Saratoga

Hiking and camping are actually sidelines for Mr. Saratoga, a means to an end. His main stock in trade is philosophy, and in addition to his many books on camping, Saratoga has written eighteen books on the anti-grunge philosophy. All of those books were written in or near a tent, often by campfire. The most popular of these is the seminal Introductory Guide to the Promotion of Clothing Reform, which led the Hoxie Times bestseller list for a full year. "That's the one people often quote back to me," Saratoga notes, adding, "Clearly that did more for the anti-grunge movement that even I had expected."

It was in the early stages of writing that Saratoga knew he needed to be alone in a quiet place free of distractions in order to produce coherent arguments in favor of the anti-grunge position. Those arguments needed to withstand the test of time, and barking dogs and wailing sirens would not be conducive to deep thought and careful consideration. He first tried motel rooms, but those proved expensive, and he gave up that concept after a drug bust occurred in the room adjacent to his. Later, he tried the public library, but he quickly grew tired of teenagers in shorts and sneakers sitting near him, giggling about his suit and tie, and he scrapped that idea as well. Subsequently, Saratoga experimented with writing in a public telephone booth, on the premise that no one used public telephones any more, but too many people knocked on the booth asking what he was doing, and he failed to produce more than a few pages of writing. His next idea was to find a quiet beach where the gentle sound of the rolling waves would help him contemplate things better, but after a few tries of that and only another twenty-six pages of his first book complete, a body washed up on the shore right where he was writing, and again the police and medical examiner disrupted his work.

Not even having completed a single book after six months of trying, Saratoga conferred with his wife Stella, who suggested that he find a high mountain somewhere relatively inaccessible. "I knew nothing about how to climb mountains when Stella gave me that idea," Saratoga confided, "but she simply said, 'Go get someone else's book on camping and learn.'" One of the disappointing elements in that journey was that the existing books on camping were inadequate. "I quickly realized that while I could assemble bits and pieces of the whole approach from the literature that had already been written, none of it really told the whole story-- and none of it incorporated the anti-grunge philosophy at all," Saratoga recalled.

Thus, after finding a suitable place to write, his next project was what is now considered the bible of anti-grunge camping, The Transformation of Anti-Grunge Camping from Theory to Practice. This three-volume illustrated work gave anti-grunge camping credibility that it never before enjoyed and transformed Saratoga from an unknown philosopher into a respected author. Saratoga thought back to the early days of his writing and remembered them well, saying, "What was nice about that was that after Transformation came out, the phone at home started ringing and ringing and ringing. When I came home from a week of writing in the mountains, Stella complained even at night that all she heard was ringing in her ears. Eventually she decided to join me in the tent while I wrote after she promised that she wouldn't disrupt my writing."

Most important, the books began to flow from Saratoga's pen like a river-- and Saratoga knew that he had hit his stride and found a specialty as well. His works on general philosophy such as The Competent, Rational Synthesis of Aquinas, Socrates, and Plato were well-received, but it was his insights into the anti-grunge philosophy and especially anti-grunge camping that made the greatest impression on people, including Stella, who observed, "I knew that Clem had written something worthwhile when he insisted that we carry Transformation with us whenever we went to the campsite, and we had to follow it to the letter. Lots of people would write a book for other people to use, but not Clem. He followed his own advice."

Eventually, one of Saratoga's books found its way to the desk of the founder of the Anti-Grunge Channel, who immediately set out to talk to Saratoga at the Cement Creek Campground in Colorado, where, of course, he was working on another book. It was here that they sketched out the foundations of what would be the Camping with Clement series. Saratoga will never forget that; as he described it, "The founder of the Anti-Grunge Channel and I sat in front of my tent, and we made notes on some paper towels that I had with me. Those became the guiding principles of the format-- and darned if the picture of the set he drew on the paper towel was as good a rendering of the final set as I could have imagined."

Saratoga now produces a hundred new shows a year, and between those and the reruns that are shown daily, the show maintains its variety and usefulness. "It isn't a rerun if someone hasn't seen it yet, and we're always attracting new viewers," he noted with pride. Those include his twenty grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, who are regulars on the show. As the principles that Saratoga sets forth in his works are time-tested and well-proven, the program is likely to remain one of the Anti-Grunge Channel's mainstays for many years to come.

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