Archive for July, 2008

July 29, 2008

A Good Crop of Top Pop Cowboys

by cowboylands

National Day of the Cowboy brought out all the panting western fetishists who love their cowpokes dearly, as well as the more serious side of cowboying, embodied by the rodeo riders and horsemen and horsewomen of the good old days–the 1980s, that is. “Proud Cowboys Still Tall in the Saddle” is the headline. The photos say it all.

I have to go into more serious reportage soon or drown in pop-culture-flavored brew, but before I talk about something serious in the next post, like western water rights, or the dizzying dynamic of environmentalists and ranchers (or maybe just post another beefcake shot), here’s another fine list of favorite pop culture cowboys, compiled by tastemakers Entertainment Weekly on July 26, just for the Day of the Cowboy. Glad they can stretch themselves now and then and move from boob shots to holster shots. 

CLAYTON MOORE
The Lone Ranger (1949-57) Kemo Sabe copyright 2007 es

Thumbs up. Obvious, but he does personify the white-hat style of good. His type is for the clean-cut kind of man or woman. But they really should’ve included Tonto, who was an icon of patience with Caucasian folly. 

CLINT EASTWOOD Thumbs up. Naturally. From TV star to movie figure to director: He’s West 24/7. Looks great in a holster and ages well, like a good Californian wine. 

JOHN WAYNE Thumbs up, but only because of which movie the Duke liked. This is another ho-hum, of course, but best not to be too flip about this great pop culture cowboy–his own favorite movie he made was The Searchers, in which he played a lonely, embittered, vengeful asshole. Who turns out okay in the end. it showed that he does have acting chops. Unless he really was a lonely, embittered…naaah. 

ROY ROGERS AND DALE EVANS Thumbs sort of up. A sweet inclusion. For those who like their cowboys and cowgirls with sugar frosting on top. 

BUFFALO BOB SMITH
The Howdy Doody Show (1947-60) Thumbs down, way down. I’m sorry, but ventriloquists’ dummies are creepy, Howdy Doody or not. Well, especially Howdy Doody. 

CLEAVON LITTLE
Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles (1974)

courtesy the Everett Collection 

Thumbs up! “Somebody help that poor man!” This guy made a good part in a satire interesting, and it was the first movie that told me that cowboys need not be white. Another one who looks good in a holster. And those threads rock. 

HEATH LEDGER AND JAKE GYLLENHAAL
Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain (2005) Thumbs up. They were hot and bothered much of the time, and self-tortured the rest, but for a short while, they were able to ride the range together. 

JOHN TRAVOLTA
Bud Davis in Urban Cowboy (1980). Thumbs I don’t know. Maybe you have to be a two-step fan to go for this one. Although seeing the move would help decide….

JACK PALANCE
Curly Washburn in City Slickers (1991). Thumbs down, although he was good. But come on…this over his portrayal of the gunslinger in Shane????

JON VOIGHT
Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy (1969). Regretfully, thumbs down, although he was a fantastic character. He personifies the next stage of pop culture icon–the wanna-be cowboy and so he just doesn’t fit. Ennis and Jack had it easy compared to Joe Buck and Ratso.

JAMES ARNESS
Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke (1955-1975). Thumbs up. There are a couple of reasons Gunsmoke was one of the longest-running shows on TV, and Arness is one of them. 

YUL BRYNNER, HORST BUCHHOLZ, BRAD DEXTER, STEVE MCQUEEN, CHARLES BRONSON, JAMES COBURN, AND ROBERT VAUGHN
The Magnificent Seven (1960). All of them? Not all are magnificent. Thumbs up and down. McQueen and Coburn get the prize.

RANDY JONES
The Cowboy in the Village People.

courtesy Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis Thumbs way up, sweet Jesus, thumbs way up. My favorite memories of my stultifying high school years are of the big jocks of the school shaking their fannies to “YMCA.” If they only knew….or maybe they did? 

LORNE GREENE
Ben Cartwright in Bonanza (1959-1973). Thumbs forgetting what they are doing. He didn’t do it for me, but I guess he’s for a different generation. Maybe if he took off his shirt more? 

KURT RUSSELL AND KEVIN COSTNER
Both as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone (1993); Wyatt Earp (1994). I have to say thumbs down, but Kurt Russell was quite respectable as the gun-happy Earp. 

ROBIN WEIGART
Calamity Jane in Deadwood (2004-2006).

Thumbs way up, cocksucker. This motherfucking broad finally was portrayed by an actor who could fucking shoot and shoot the shit as well as Calamity could.

CHUCK NORRIS
Cordell ”Cord” Walker in Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001). Thumbs down, because he is an alien. No self-respecting cowboy would get plastic surgery, bucko. 

TOM HANKS
The voice of Woody in Toy Story (1995). Aaaaw. Thumbs are sucked here. But a great story. Okay, okay, why not. Thumbs up. Sheesh. 

BETTY HUTTON
Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (1950). Thumbs down. The real Annie Oakley wasn’t a showboat like this one. 

YOSEMITE SAM
Looney Tunes. Thumbs down, but I know this little guy has shouted his way into many hearts. Just not mine. 

ROBERT DUVALL and TOMMY LEE JONES 
Augustus ”Gus” McCrae and Woodrow F. Call in Lonesome Dove (1989). Thumbs down to Duvall, but great actor. Thumbs up to Tommy Lee Jones, who personifies West Texas. 

VAL KILMER
Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993). Thumbs up. He emoted that crazy-dangerous “getting Western” feeling. Tourist stores in the town of Tombstone actually sell ceramic tiles of his likeness. That is totally getting Western. 

All in all, not bad, I think! EW gets a thumbs up for bringing the pop culture cowboy list into the millennium. There are a few more I would add, but the virtual trail calls….

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

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July 26, 2008

The Day of the Ur-Cowboy

by cowboylands

In honor of Day of the American Cowboy, I hereby proclaim New York City the official Urban Cowboy State. Someday to join the real Cowboy State, Wyoming, and receive a parade of cowboys up Madison Avenue (fuggeddabout astronauts and sport teams). This day should be for cowboys of all creeds, genders, ethnicities, sexual persuasions, or anyone who can stay on a horse. That should be the only qualification, which means I wouldn’t ever be in the parade.

 Cowboy in Spur, Texas 

courtesy of Library of Congress 

In honor of this special day, emblazoned across American blogs and small-town newspapers in the cyber-frontier, I have a list of Ur-Cowboys. There are many lists of Real Cowboys, Honorary Cowboys, Cowboy Heroes, usually centered around a couple presidents and  John Wayne. For this list I wanted to move away from the usual suspects and round up a different breed. 

In no certain order, the Ur-Cowboys 

Elmore Leonard: I can hear you now–“What? The guy who wrote Get Shorty?” Why, yes, he wrote that, after writing a herd of impeccable, classy westerns without an ounce of sentimentality or one wasted word. He may not be able to ride a horse–I have no idea–but his spare and rhythmical prose has created more than its share of classic celluloid cowmyths. I’m not the only one to think so.

From The Law at Randado. 

Frye felt the anger hot on his face.  “Doesn’t killing two men mean anything to you?”

“You picked yourself a beauty,” Sundeen said to no one in particular.  “Why does he pack that gun if he’s so against killin’?”

Jordan said, “Maybe it makes him feel important.”

“Now if it was me,” Sundeen said, “I wouldn’t pick a deputy that whined like a woman.”

Jordan was looking at Frye.  “Maybe that’s what this deputy is…only dressed up like a man.

Sundeen grinned.  “Maybe we ought to take his pants off and find out.”

Frye held his eyes on Sundeen.  Just Sundeen–he felt his anger mounting.  “Sundeen, if you want to try, stop by the jail tomorrow. 

 

The Beefcake Cowboy. Nearly naked, usually with a sheen of clean, honest sweat. Nothing can match the smolder of his stare. He has launched many a romance. The Beefcake Cowboy makes both genders say “ride ’em, bucko!” I’m not the only one to think so! And because ND of the AC is for everyone, these folks think so too.

My personal favorite is well, a personal one. Stopping off at a western reenactment tourist trap in Wyoming,and wandering far from the madding crowd made up of khaki-shorts-wearing tourists, I came across a rather unassuming man braiding a lanyard. He was politeness personified, and we fell into lengthy conversation. At last he stood and asked if I wanted to take a stagecoach ride. Turned out he was the guy who drove the stagecoach for all the tourists (including me), and he proudly introduced me to his team of horses and the beautiful vehicle itself. He then asked if I would like to “ride shotgun,” which effectively separated me from the riffraff for good and joined me forever with him, my Ur-Cowboy. He is the kind of guy who was at the end of a long, illustrious career of wrangling Hollywood actor butts in and out of his stagecoaches, as well as raising horses in Texas, and now, plodding around in the center of a trailtown with mind-numbing regularity. “I used to be able to run the horses along the riverbed,” he told me in his slow, ambling voice, which to me says everything about the changing of the West. His hands were the size of Christmas hams, and he had a rodeo champion belt buckle that flashed like a laser in the sun. I’ve written about him time and again, never quite finding his combination of humor and deference, acceptance of his lot and pride at his accomplishments. He is the Ur-Cowboy of the modern West. I have no pictures of him. He may have been in my imagination. 

The next is an institution. Call me crazy, but geddaload of this: I chose the San Juan Historical Society, whose list of accomplishments doesn’t have to be laced with tall-tale hyperbole: those people out-Pecos Pecos Bill. So far, the SJHS in Silverton, Colorado, has asked for and received funding of well over $600,000 from national, state, and local organizations. They have not only transformed a jail into a museum, but also created an archive and a building to house it. They have saved the Durango-Silverton narrow-gauge train depot, rebuilt the town hall completely from just a burnt-out shell  (an effort which has become a national model for restoration projects), negotiated with a local mining company and the EPA to acquire a mill and run tours, and amassed one of the most complete collections of mining equipment and artifacts in the world.

Silverton Museum copyright es 2007  

To house it, they bought a rundown boarding house that was listing under the weight of rockfall, and trucked it from high along the timberline, around winding mountain passes, all the way to Silverton. And they have more plans. They embody the make-it-so spirit of the Ur-Cowboy. 

Those are three.  I also think of Bill Pickett and Calamity Jane, both of whom require posts unto themselves. May they soon receive their due! Happy virtual trails, and Happy National Day of the American Cowboy!

Badlands, by Bennett Foster
cover illus. Norman Saunders
Bantam Books, late 40s, early 50s
from the collection of ES

July 24, 2008

The Day of the Cowboy Approacheth

by cowboylands

 

And Where the Trail Split in Two I Looked Back…   copyright es 2008

My heart is a-tremble with anticipation for this Saturday, National Day of the American Cowboy, although I don’t plan on going to any hootenanny or getting on a bucking bronco this weekend, unfortunately. Like many cowpokes, I’ll be working! If I wanted to hop on a plane, there are plenty of places to choose from, from Austin to tiny little towns in Oklahoma. Rodeos and parades. Cowboy poetry gatherings and barbecues. But I can go on a virtual walkabout, thanks to the Picksburg Kid’s kind offer of a virtual trip with him into a legendary Western landscape. This Saturday I’ll be dreaming of cowboys, and of America’s favorite “things are getting western” state, Idaho, an August destination.

 

Another offer sounds just as fine, Cowboy Night at the Jalopy in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July-25th-9pm. Idaho is pretty damn far, but so is this far-flung Kings County territory. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 22, 2008

Fight Like a Girl

by cowboylands

The Wonder of Linda StirlingHow to follow up the menace of Jack Palance in Shane? Only by providing a cowgirl sexpot, thanks to a Batboy42 comment, which I, with my itchy trigger finger, mistakenly deleted. Bad Bucko. 

The star of Republic’s 1944 Zorro’s Black Whip, Linda Stirling thrilled young boys with her sultry, glamorous derring-do. 

First off, there’s no Zorro. Nope. Nada. Instead we get a plucky heroine who inherits spangly getup from her brother who was killed, and she takes on his persona. it’s top secret, so much so that even when bad guys fight her in hand-to-hand combat they can’t guess she’s a woman. Now that’s equality of the sexes!

It’s pre-statehood for Idaho, and the Black Whip is fighting for the right of the populace to vote for the future of their territory, against the greedy-guts who have a firm grip on the money, power, and therefore future of Idaho. An interesting spin on the typical role of women in Westerns, who also try to persuade their men to fight for the cause of civilization, but are usually armed with tears and wringing of hands, not pistol and bull whip. 

At one point she is nearly unmasked (unmanned?) but government agent Vic assumes the identity of the Black Whip in the knick of time so she can continue in her secret role of manly woman. As Batboy42 says in the lost post*, there is a bit of cross-dressing going on. Woman to man, man to woman to man to woman. To man.

Next time I need to fight like a girl, I’m dressing like her. 

     

Hammond: Barbara Meredith, she’s the Black Whip!

Baxter: She couldn’t be! The Black Whip’s got to be a man! He’s outshot us, outrode us, and outfought us, stopped at us every turn!

 
 Chapter Nine, Zorro’s Black Whip: Avalanche

 

*Lost but not forgotten. Take heart. Abraham Lincoln’s “Lost Speech” in 1856 helped launch the Republican Party and drew the figurative line in the sand between those for and those against slavery. 

July 20, 2008

Bad Cowboy; or Cowboy Fact #26

by cowboylands

Steamy urban heat waves makes me the anti-Cowboy. I get mean and petulant. Kind of like Jack Palance in Shane, but without the lethal grace. How did the real cowboys handle the smells, the dust, the boredom, the loneliness of the West? They couldn’t have just dismissed the heat with an airy “oh, but it’s a dry heat.” I Don’t CARE. I just want it to end, so I will think of myself in a cool theater, grooving along with some Westerns.

Here’s a wish-I-was-there, with Batboy42 and the Picksburg Kid:The thirteenth annual Bicknell International Film Festival* in the town of Bicknell, Utah, west of Capitol Reef Park has the theme “Wild, Wild Worst: Bad ‘B’ Westerns.” Worst? Bad? Westerns?? Hmmm. Sounds familiar.

Here’s their line-up:

The Outlaw, 1943, directed by Howard Hughes (with an uncredited assist by Howard Hawks)
The Master Gunfighter, 1975, written by and starring Tom Laughlin (“Billy Jack”)
The Terror of Tiny Town, 1938, famous for its all-dwarf cast riding Shetland ponies

All good bad movies, but they really should consider including Gone with the West, which, in my humble opinion, is not as much in the “so bad they’re good category” as in the “so bad they’re offensive category.” Things get truly western in that movie, although Jane Russell’s Grand Tetons are a sight to behold in The Outlaw.

Which leads me to Cowboy Fact #26:

26. Cowboys see the West in everything.

From The Outlaw, in which Pat and Doc rescue Rio (Russell), whom Billy has left bound, gagged and strung up by wrists within sight of a desert waterhole
Doc Holliday: You know, I think he’s in love with you. 
Rio: What are you talking about? 
Doc Holliday: The crazier a man is for a woman, the crazier he thinks and the crazier he acts. 
Rio: He’s only crazy about one thing – himself. 
Pat Garrett: Hey, that gives me a thought. Maybe we’ll get Mr. Billy after all. 
Rio: How? 
Pat Garrett: Like you said – if he’s crazy enought to do you like this, maybe he’s crazy enough to come back to turn you loose. 

 
*One nicely modern touch is the Bicknell festival kickoff, a “Ride Off Into the Sunset” parade, billed as the world’s fastest parade because the speed limit on the eight miles of road they are traversing is 55 mph. Welcome the the New West.

 

July 17, 2008

Gone, Gone, Gone; or, Picksburg Kid Picks

by cowboylands

Any western where the Hero bombs a town with trebuckets, and a TNT-dropping kite…

Well, folks, from the dead-eye aim of the Picksburg Kid, that can only be Gone with the West, a ’70s-porn-soundtracked, leather-clad-Sammy Davis Jr.-co-starring, James Caan-must-have-had-to-fulfill-a-contract-mumbling, weird-debauchery-flavored, shaky-camera-for-drunk-scenes, can’t-recall-the-woman’s-name-starring-but-she-became-famous-and-for-this-role-spoke-only-badly-accented-breathy-Spanish-and-got-pushed-around-by-James-Caan, naked-whip-smacking-opening-scene movie.

You’ve got to see it to believe it. It took me a while to appreciate, only because after I first watched it I had to find my eyeballs that had popped out of my skull and roll up my tongue (brushing off dog hair) when my mouth had dropped open. What a weird, weird movie. 

It uses/abuses a two-fold Vengeance plot in a truly skanky-’70s way, with porn-groove soundtrack, alarming views of men pawing women, and with an odd meta-movie ending: “You killed everyone but the cameraman.” “Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord, and in this movie James Caan and his mugging co-star take it with homemade catapults while two giants battle in a pig sty. I’m serious. Nothing made me happier than getting a link to this weirdo. 

An even brighter side to this is another list! 

From the Picksburg Kid, ever a discerning movie enthusiast. 

Here’s my list of Top Putrid Shoot-em-ups, culled from many sleepless nights in front of the entertainment center

 

Cry Blood Apache
It Can be Done Amigo
Gone with the West
(split on this one, I liked it, Bucko didn’t) *see above, amigo. I am in awe of its awfulness
Dan Candy’s Law
The Hanged Man
Dead Aim
Kid Vengeance
Deadwood 76
Hawk of Powder River
The Trail Beyond

And other pithy comments. And my comments. Good thing about blogs is who gets the last word? The last person who posts does! 

I don’t mind saying, I really like Clint Eastwood. The cinematic style of his westerns set the trend for most westerns to come. (He’s also a right good pi-ano player) *Truth! His jazz-inflected mannerisms are true originals. 
My all time fav is Outlaw Josie Wales, but one particularly weird one is The Beguiled. *weird, in a good way!

One thing always on my playlist is my mentor and hero: MacGyver. Before you spit on the ground and drawl “what’s HE got to do with westerns?” He made 3 or 4 western episodes that are classic nice guy w/o a gun fighting off the baddies. *hmmm. will ponder. But if Star Wars is a space-western, and the late, great sci-fi TV series, Firefly, why not? A scrappy hero who doesn’t need a gun is always welcome…  BTW, on Spitting…I’ve stepped in someone’s hawked hoohaw too many times in my best cowboy boots to ever do it myself. 

The one I wanted to see but couldn’t get a copy–Cowboy in Africa, a 1967 series starring Chuck Connors [The Rifleman],a hatchet-faced good guy with a repeating rifle… Hi-ho, Jumbo, away! …This was made into a comic book, believe it or not…… Wow! In which Cowboy Jim battles the green plague and a plot to silence him!

It’s rare to get such a cornucopia of crap…I mean cinematic glory such as these! Thanks, Kid! (and make sure you spend some time playing stickball or something, in the sun)

 

 

 

July 15, 2008

Westerns 101; or, What Owen Wister Gave the World

by cowboylands

Yesterday was Owen Wister’s birthday, the man who almost single-handedly created the Cowboy mythos. He’s both a masterful wordsmith and a cautionary example against using the Cowboy indiscriminately. 

Who the hell is Owen Wister? One of my favorite places on the Wild Western Web for all things Americana, The Library of Congress’s American Memory site describes him succinctly:Robert Vaughan copyright 2008 es

Novelist Owen Wister was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 1860. His 1902 novel The Virginian helped create the myth of the American cowboy. Reared and educated on the east coast, Wister first visited the West in 1885. Set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, The Virginian‘s tender romance between a refined Eastern schoolteacher and a rough-and-tumble cowhand, with its climactic pistol gunfight, introduced themes now standard to the American Western.

Simple. But anyone who has not read the book cannot conceive of the power of the Virginian and Molly, his schoolmarm. Their actions reverberate throughout literature of the West and the silver screen. 

The Virginian’s plot is fairly straightforward: woman meets man/man meets woman; woman conquers man; no, wait–man conquers woman!

We have in this scenario one of the major themes in all Westerns: civilization versus the wildness of the West, played out through a battle of the sexes.*

Owen Wister was a total Dude until he lived a while in Wyoming (the most Cowboy of states, I would argue, for good and bad). He found in the West what he could not find in his rather unhappy relationships with his parents—who either squelched his wish to become a musician (father) or relentlessly criticized him in the interest of helping him become the best he can be (mother). Wyoming allowed him to find himself, to put it in a clichéd sort of way. But he was the one who created that cliché, by moving his personal experience into words on the page. Then he got married, and by all accounts every day was a shootout for Mr. and Mrs. Wister, and more of the sniping kind than the romantic full-frontal confrontation….

The final shootout of The Virginian, Jane Tompkins argues in West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns, has a two-fold climax: the Virginian takes on his enemy, and he disobeys the woman whom he loves. (She has told him that she will leave if he goes to battle.**) The enemy soon lies in the dirt, but Molly also flies into his arms. Why, he has succeeded both in becoming an individual by separating himself from this strong female figure, and by still keeping the female in his life! Amazing!

Wister’s life wasn’t quite that nicely wrapped up. (Westerns are part of the romance genre, after all.) He had a difficult relationship with his wife, and he never quite found the “self” he had while he was living alone in the West, just him and the other virile cowpokes.

His world of The Virginian and the successful shootout is just a romance, yet perhaps because its images contain the real frustration he felt, these images literally echo through the century, since 1902 repeated again and again in scripts and books until the real world and real people have taken on tinges of this romantic view.

But caution, caution. The author was doing what all authors do: working out his own fear and rage and love and horror with vivid characters and situations. Those who use the tough Cowboy—stoic, forthright, master of all he surveys—should know that…just perhaps…their motivations might mirror Owen Wister’s. Might they also have a little fear and rage and vulnerability inside?

*In this novel, it is described in a rather elevated tone that is like the ballads of the Court of Love of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Indeed, as mentioned by Jane Tompkins, Wister argued that the cowboy was directly descended from the Anglo-Saxon knights. (What happened to the Spanish knights, guy? And Saladin? And he must have forgotten that all the knightly tales of derring-do came from the mouths of women in the Court of Love, not the uncouth knights the women wanted to civilize.)

**Very un-Eleanor of Aquitaine of her. 

 

July 13, 2008

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

by cowboylands

At least like this one…

Click on this fine bucko for a large image. Enjoy.

Sublime? Or ridiculous? You judge. 

July 10, 2008

The Cowboy Code

by cowboylands

It’s difficult to be perfect, and when I was young that’s what I thought Roy Rogers and his singing cowboy comrades were. Too clean, too prissy, and too good. Now I love these Nudie cowboys, although personally I’ll take a grim James Stewart with a holster any day. Universal Pictures/Photofest

Now where was I? Oh yes, Roy Rogers and perfection. How could he not be as perfect as the Roy Rogers Club motto?

1. Be neat and clean. Wear Nudie. 

2. Be courteous and polite. Easy when you have a six-gun in your hand. 

3. Always obey your parents. OK, but what if they don’t want you to Go West Young Man? 

4. Protect the weak and help them. Take notice all you yahoos who think you’re cowboys. 

5. Be brave but never take chances. I would quibble with this one. Maybe he means don’t act with reckless abandon? How can one not take chances in life? Bravery is hot, though, always. 

6. Study hard and learn all you can. This moves beyond the obedient rows of fifties-style children into being curious, filled with wonder, ambitious, striving. Some people will be astrophysicists, some people become president, and some people clean houses. But you always learn. That’s my emotional moment of the day. You always learn! P.S. I have cleaned houses, and I’m not sure an astrophysicist can do it well….

7. Be kind to animals and take care of them. Especially your horse, but I’m glad he includes all animals. Does he mean cockroaches? is my question. 

8. Eat all your food and never waste any. If he were writing this now, he’s say “Eat smaller portions.”

9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly. Ouch. Having gone to Sunday school regularly I know I can’t point at that institution as the reason I have a reverence for the world and sometimes, for people. Even for a reverence for a Something Else–although not a bearded man gazing down from on high. I’d point to my father, who was torn between becoming a Catholic priest or a scientist (guess you know what he chose), and who could imbue the sight of common dirt with wonder at the dynamic forces at work in its creation. 

Damn, I’m getting misty. I think these cowboy codes really work! I’ll try to be a better person, Roy, I promise! But I will not go to Sunday school!

Today the Cowboy Code is alive and well, even after the anniversary of Roy Roger’s Happy Trail into the sky. Noted in the Gilroy Dispatch, from Gilroy CA, a posse of “equestrians, cowboys, therapists, and five Santa Clara County students” recently rode into the mountains for a weekend of outdoor life. (full article here) It’s part of a longer program for students are socially or developmentally disabled, that stresses character development, wilderness skills, and–a worthy initiative–getting them away from the TV and computer into a rich interaction with life.  They have to do things that aren’t within their normal ken or comfort zone, the epitome of having to “cowboy up.” One of the students nicely sums up what they learn, the cowboy “morals” as he calls them: honesty, or being truthful; being respectful to your buddies; and taking care of your horse. That’s it, in a nutshell. 

And on the video you’ll see aother aspect of the Cowboy Code: Yes, damn it. It’s okay for the cowboy to cry. 

 

 

Still to Come: The Lone Ranger’s Creed.

July 6, 2008

51 Singing Cowboy Facts; or, What Roy Rogers Taught the World

by cowboylands

Channel a Mythic Cowboy who sings, and you can embody more Cowboy facts. 

Roy Rogers November 5, 1911-July 6, 1998

31. Cowboys get cool nicknames like Tex, Red, Ringo Kid, Cattle Queen, Bucko, or Roy Rogers–although I think Leonard Franklin Slye has a nice ring. 

30. Cowboys burst into Song. Mythic song. And often. Try it next time you are in a traffic jam, a crowded subway car, a wide-open wheat field, or a kiddie pool. 

29. Cowboys get longterm companions who like being called “Queen of the West.” 

28. Cowboys get to ride horses, which they somehow have learned to ride perfectly, without having to go through the tedium of getting bit, stepped on, scraped off the saddle in the rub-against-a-tree trick, or get flipped off and dragged, dangling from one stirrup for several rocky, muddy, and terrifying moments before the stirrup’s buckle slipped off (true story). 

27. Cowboys get Sidekicks, so you will always be accompanied by someone who thinks whatever you do is amazing, gets you out of scrapes, and makes you look handsome. 

Happy virtual trails to you, Roy Rogers! May we all embody the Roy Rogers Club Rules. Or at least some of them. 

1. Be neat and clean.
2. Be courteous and polite.
3. Always obey your parents.
4. Protect the weak and help them.
5. Be brave but never take chances.
6. Study hard and learn all you can.
7. Be kind to animals and take care of them.
8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.