Rockin' with the Browns

For many months after the 1999 killings at Columbine High School, Randy and Judy Brown were steeped in a special kind of misery. They had tried to warn the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office about Eric Harris and his penchant for bombs and threats a year before the attack, only to be ignored and then branded as liars when the cops tried to cover their butts.

Although they didn't lose children at the school, they grew close to several parents who did. Their own son, Brooks, was vilified because Harris had spared him moments before the shooting began. They embarked on a long campaign to clear Brooks and help the families of the dead that eventually exposed a shameful cover-up by county officials of Columbine's ugliest secrets, much of it chronicled in our Columbine Reader.

To get away from all the horror, the Browns took to hiking in the mountains. And looking at rocks. And seeing faces in the rocks. And taking pictures of them. Years later, this search for solace has resulted in a massive, handsome coffee-table book called, yup, Faces in the Rocks: A Spiritual Journey, featuring dozens of the photos and appropriate meditative texts (e.g, "The question is not what you look at, but what you see"—Thoreau). The faces range from the sublime to the comical (check out Cigarman and Nixon), and the production values are so good you’d never guess the thing is self-published.

"A little folly is a good thing," says Randy. The couple has launched a web site that offers prints, postcards and books, as well as a blog for other trauma-weary travelers who want to discuss faces in the rocks.

Rock on. –Alan Prendergast

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Crystal Preston-Watson