Archive for October, 2008

October 30, 2008

Our Mother's Relations; or, Tony Hillerman, Jim Chee, and Joe Leaphorn

by cowboylands

  Tony Hillerman, from laurieroberts.net 

My mother read Tony Hillerman’s books–one after the other, like eating potato chips.* One quiet day in her condo**  I stretched out my hand and picked up a creased paperback and immediately fell into Hillerman Country

Hillerman Country is red and ochre and brown and yellow. Dusty and windy. Populated by buttes and washouts, hogans.  The people population, in tune with nature or out of tune as people can become, engages in small rituals like reheating bad coffee, tracking down murderers, deflecting said murderers’ knives or bullets, and honoring ancestors with a pinch of cornmeal and a prayer to the corners of the world. That’s a lot to get into a series of books, yet each title holds the microcosm of modern-day Navajo policemen Jim Chee or Joe Leaphorn’s lives and their macrocosmic counterparts. 

I barely looked up until I finished that first book about Jim Chee, or maybe it was Joe Leaphorn, or maybe the book that finally brought the two together. From that one on to another, all the novels filled with crisp writing, nuanced and slightly self-tortured characters (Hillerman was a WWII vet, which seems to lend gravitas to the reluctant but oh-so-capable warrior-shaman-police officers). Both Chee and Leaphorn wore the conflict of tradition and modernity like a badge on their chests. I read all of Hillerman’s books, not only because of the smart pacing and thrilling mysteries, but because his characters knew that each footfall we make in this world is a choice. 

The books held significance, especially after my first trip out West to New Mexico, where I read one of his novels in between hiking to petroglyphs and eating beans from a can.*** With a pitch-perfect ear Hillerman caught the fluid cadence of Navajo and the sputter of two-way radios, wind rushing over sage, chants over rodeo loudspeakers, and even that particular dry chime that occurs when your foot clips a rock on a trail.

When I heard he died, it was as if a relative of my mother’s had died. My mother loved her armchair adventures, loved the time she visited Indian Country, and loved giving a capsule summary of any one of Hillerman’s books at the drop of a hat, cowboy or otherwise. Any mystery novelist who could inspire such enthusiasm for the original Westerners, deserves a drink, on me. 

Happy heavenly trails, Tony Hillerman. (May 27, 1925 – October 26, 2008)

 

 

*the spicy, dense, crunchy, flavorful kind I’ll sometimes buy from the store that sells soy milk, not the corner bodega kind of chips

**the rooms were all white, painted white, everything, including rugs, like a cloud but for the tan drip stains of tea by the steps

*** Overrated. I now suggest Trader Joe’s curried tuna. 

 

October 26, 2008

Buffalo Gal; or, Palin's Civilizing Influence

by cowboylands

Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance. –General Philip Sheridan

 Buffalo skulls, mid-1870s, waiting to be ground into fertilizer

Here’s a more recent quote:

“I am especially concerned,”  [Governor Palin] said in a written statement in August 2007, when her administration submitted documents to fight the [endangered species listing of beluga whales], “that an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area.”

A governor is the one to advocate for the economic well-being of his or her state, but environmental concerns also need a fiery protector, especially now that history, science, and common sense are showing the close interdependence of flora and fauna, up to and including humankind and sea mammals. At at time when “independence” and “maverick” are thrown around like lariats in tries to hook the horns of voters, the idea that human beings are stewards of the Earth is still viewed as hippie-gibberish, better suited for bong hits in basements than government policy and individual responsibility. 

O that Palin’s words were purely a desire for succor for the human population of Cook Inlet! (Much of which is predicated on jobs and services in the area) That kind of request must be heeded and play a part in negotiating the tricky terrain of living and working with endangered species (kind of like a “leave no trace” ethos for businesses and homes–hard enough to do when one is backpacking alone, and so imagine striving for that with asphalt roads and piers and trash pick-up and sidewalks). But alas, there are echoes of the sweeping late-nineteenth-century pronouncement made by Sheridan before the buffalo were nearly decimated by big guns and bigger egos. 

The original buffalo hunters didn’t follow good herd conservation. Plains tribes, before the horse arrived on the continent, relied on cunning and steep cliffs, duping vast swaths of buffalo to bolt toward a precipice and fall to their deaths. Note that the fabled buffalo herds of the past, which covered the grasses from horizon to horizon, were an anomaly–a brief swell in population between hunting and blizzards. But while cliff-hunts left their mark on local herds, they allowed the migrations to continue, permitting the Plains ecosystem to sustain itself under the hooves of the buffalo.  

The near-extinction of the beasts came not from hunting–even with the heavy Sharps rifles of buffalo hunters–but from policy based on nineteenth-century belief in the superiority of human beings over other races and species and in an unshakable perception of the availability of the limitless world of resources. 

The next buffalo hunters were a scrappy lot who started their businesses when the market for buffalo robes and fertilizer were high. They were the entrepreneurs who ventured forth with rifles over their shoulders to kill the beasts and harvest what they needed, leaving the bodies to rot by the hundreds and thousands. When the buffalo bubble burst, they were the ones stuck with mountains of bones and stiff hides on their wagons. 

Enter people like Sheridan and the reckless sportsman types, who got a thrill out of sending these lumbering animals crashing to the ground with a well-placed bullet. Enter the thin rails of train tracks arcing their way across the land, allowing egress into the herds that had not been possible before. Enter the idea that the land is a ripe plum for the taking, if only those pesky natives were out of the way. Enter the possibility that policy and law will tout an extermination of a species and a people, all for the greater glory of civilization.

I was happy to hear from a like-minded opinionator, Verlyn Klinkenborg, in the New York Times, October 22:

What makes Ms. Palin an especially effective anti-environmentalist is that she comes from Alaska. She touches the expansionist chord, the ancestral American feeling that there will always be enough nature, although it is already clear that the systemic balance of nature is beginning to break down over much of the globe. I picture Governor Palin as an old-time buffalo hunter, wielding a Sharps buffalo rifle as skillfully as she wields a misstatement. “There will,” she says, “be time” — BOOM — “to protect those buffalo there, but at the moment” — BOOM — “it is premature.”

But we need to let off the hook the earlier buffalo hunters, those small-business owners who, yes, wasted mountains of carcasses in the hopes of gaining some ground fertilizer and warm hides. I would instead skewer the policy-makers who condoned extermination, those in government who put to paper words that permitted summer sportsmen from the big cities to hang from trains and blast away, all for the sole purpose of permitting white men to walk from sea to sea without impediment. 

Sheridan (short and seriously suffering from a Napoleon complex) purportedly said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” He was also the Union general who pioneered “scorched earth” tactics in the Civil War (condoned by President Lincoln). For all his leadership ability and battlefield heroics, he was a product of a racist and close-minded time. For all of progress made since that time, we still allow a century-old perspective to dictate how we tread in the world (heavily)–or we embrace its ethereal and unrealistic nature-is-untouchable reaction (I guess we’re supposed to float above the Earth?). 

 

Whether one fights for a mild-mannered owl or fishermen’s rights, the best policy is one that has come to being through argument and dialogue. Yes, laws from policies are always flawed, always compromising one side for the other, but they ever inch closer to a goal of wise stewardship. Arguments based on the bald assertion that where corporations roost, all beings will benefit are old-school nineteenth-century, are End-of-Days kind of thinking. They show a lack of foresight and because of the us vs. them stance, they donot permit the kind of dialogue and future-oriented problem-solving that is needed in order to ensure that the human population can sustain itself much beyond 2075. 

 

It’s easy to rant when the whole wide virtual prairie is open before you…

 

Many thanks to Batboy42 for the canny and hilarious channeling of the Hero’s path in not one but three parts. I also have to give a fond good-bye to Batboy42’s namesake, who joins the cat herds in the sky. Eaten by coyotes–not some weird things-are-getting-west fable, but a real and sad possibility when you live in the rural world. Happy heavenly trails, Batboy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

October 22, 2008

BOWLING WITH COYOTES; or, the Hero's Quest Complete

by cowboylands

Reach for the sky!

 Cowboy Shoot ’em Up with Stagecoach ©2008 es

Hey, that’s good advice.

 

All movies and stories (all that are worth hearing) have the common theme of conflict that leads to resolution and the return. A theater play with no conflict at all resembles virtual reality. Where’s the fun in watching that? Might as well watch a saguaro cactus grow. At least it has a plot, even if it takes 100 years to develop! A radio play with no gunfight, no terse and clichéd argument, no shot-up stagecoach driver, is just one long Marlboro commercial.

Just hand me that cold Canada Dry, buckaroos and buckarettes, here come the coconut shell hoofbeats again!

And now, all you boys and girls, it’s time for the last thrilling episode of the Phantom Empire, 1935 Mascot serial! Gene Autry is facing death! 

  

Everything in the movie has mythic significance. This is the storyteller’s way. The Hero comes to life again as the last cliffhanger rebirth flickers on the silver screen. His vegetative self has evolved out of his mineral self. His aura is pure now, and his strength of will formidable. He vanquishes the dragon, or is it the disintegrator? The queendom of Murania is destroyed–all its inhabitants and its advanced science. But the heroes keep their home, Radio Ranch. 

(Lean stories are good stories. Even if the action is in the back lot of 20th Century Fox.)

When the heroes return from Murania to Radio Ranch, no one believes where they were. No one says anything about seismic activity. No Geiger counters pass over them after they come out from the primal cave, where they withstood all their trials and came out onto the Surface World once again. (Whatever happened to the Queen’s Thunder Rider Valkyries anyway?) 

Disbelief On Return From Underworld.

I’ll say.

The modern myth, the Western movie, stars the hero, with a quick draw six-gun and a prancing horse with lots of chrome, back in the mythological frontier days of the Old West. If you say the Western legends are not all true, I think you missed the point. Heroes are to be admired, emulated, because you can rationalize all the fun out of it. A pair of spurs doesn’t make you a Cowboy Hero, while an altruistic deed will (although the spurs and cool horse don’t hurt a bit). Happy endings and altruism are common in Westerns. The Hero, when he is hardest up, discovers people that give those shining human qualities of loyalty, kindness and generosity. You can’t be a hero unless you plan to give up everything. Unless you make choices and live by them. Even if it means destroying a disintegrator that sounds like a Jiffy Pop popcorn popper.

 

by guest blogger batboy42!


 

October 15, 2008

DRIFT RUN CEMETERY ICE CREAM SOCIAL; or, the Hero's Quest

by cowboylands

Mythology and ritual are the same thing. Take a look at Phantom Empire, 1935 Mascot serial. This twelve-episode serial is the worst Western of all time. But buried beneath its trick riding and kid-style secret club is a message as deep as the secret underground queendom of Murania. That’s about twenty-five thousand feet, way down where the Queen’s Imperial Guards speak with a New Jersey accent.

 Phantom Empire…The Cliffhanger!

Myths help humans get through the rites of passage that are common to all social levels, all tribes, and all countries. The universal issues of Birth, Death, and Rebirth are hard to handle for volatile adolescents. Hard for staid adults too. We all need role models to teach us how to deal with ourselves and others.(Lemme turn down the shoot-em-up on the TV, I can’t quite hear you. What did you say? How are cowboy movies like myths?)

Look, pilgrim…You take a semi-divinity like John Wayne. Put him up on the silver screen, giant size. Then put him through the Hero Quest, where he must find meaning in the conflict of guns, rustlers, and bar girls. He finds the true meaning of life after the big barroom brawl, and goes on to ride into the sunset, a changed and wiser man. A Hero. Up there on the altar in the theater temple.

And if ya don’t like it, I want ya outa town by noon tomorrow!

In Phantom Empire, the Hero, played by Gene Autry, descends to the Scientific City of Murania. The kids and the two ranch hand clowns follow him there. The Hero finds a secret tunnel and gets blown up, starting his underground journey.

(Perils of Post-Adolescent Pauline! The Queen holds on to her rank the way she holds on to her stiff foundation garments.)

Queenie spies on Gene Autry, a lot, and commands that he be brought before her ALIVE.

(Go for it, Queenie!)

Who needs the breathing mask, and where? Ahh, who cares! After six episodes in a row, I had a hard time telling telling Gene Autry from the weaselly uranium prospector from the Queen’s evil henchman. I look at the horse to make sure. The one who sings is Autry.

Archetypes are the shorthand of storytellers. The Hero/Trickster confronts the Evil Queen, and also the Dastardly Scientist Uranium Rustlers.

The Hero survives many cliffhangers, cycle of death and rebirth, where the tapestry of reality is torn and rewoven. Did the Hero die in the Place of Peril, the Lightning Chamber? Did he find his way to the Cavern of Doom? Will he still be able to speak the Language of the Dead when he is reborn?

Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode, boys and girls!

And now a word from our sponsor…remember that Rice Krinkles makes your breakfast as much fun as a circus! So get your mom, the semi-divinity, to buy you some the next time she goes to the grocery store!

by guest blogger batboy42!

Now a word from bucko, the blog sponsor. You go on out and act heroic now! Stay tuned for part three, on Death, Rebirth, and what does it all mean anyway….

 Plastic Hero in Orange ©2008 es

 

October 13, 2008

THE JUNIOR THUNDER RIDER'S CLUB TO THE RESCUE!; or, the Hero's Birth Announced

by cowboylands

…the strange Thunder Riders gallop across the desert. Their tracks lead back to the mysterious mountains–where no one has ever come out alive…

 Plastic Hero in Red ©2008 es

by guest blogger batboy42

The rules of life are different for a hero, no matter how hard he tries to remain with the old neighborhood. 

He’s walking like a hero along the wooden sidewalk of his little town, and then tense and dark villain music begins to play. Next thing he knows, he’s in the middle of a barroom brawl. The ground rules of his life are about to change.

When you look for myth, you search for yourself. Totems or role models, larger than life or just an ordinary joe, heroes aren’t always easy to discern from their appearance. Of course, in novels the hero is ineffably charismatic and male, and on the silver screen he usually sings, too. Of course, he also shoots well and looks great on a horse.

How to save the day, wearing high-heeled cowboy boots and spurs?

(Hey, if Tex Ritter can do it…)

The cowboy movie is the American ritual re-enactment of the hero quest.

All follow the hero quest formula:

  • Conflict with routine life
  • Journey to an unknown place where the hero dies and is reborn in some sense
  • Return to the people, who won’t listen anyway.

In the Mascot series’ Phantom Empire, twelve episodes of the worst Western ever made, the greed is personified by outsiders–non-ranch people. As the conflict takes shape, the Junior Thunder Riders describe their spiritual vision of the Valkyrie-like Thunder Riders to the radio audience, and the archetype roles get handed out. The conflict is either the takeover of Radio Ranch by greedy uranium prospectors or the death by design of the kids’ father. Gene Autry is framed by the murderer. If he misses singing on one single daily broadcast, he will lose the contract…and Radio Ranch!

The Hero, resplendent in singin’ cowboy clothes, reveals a lot of Trickster characteristics in order to get his singin’ spot every day, but the real clowns are two of the ranchhands and band members. They do the slapstick and farce, leaving the Hero with his dignity as well as the starring role.

The Queen of the underworld gestures imperiously and snaps out commands to her underlings. (What does she want with Gee Nautry anyway? And that magic mirror thing…pure Romper Room! I see Gene…and Betsy…and Frankie…)

The underworld, objectified as the Scientific City of Murania, started life as some kids’ hamster Habitrail, with about as much realism as the yellow cheese on a cheap pizza. (Hey, that reminds me, punch the button on the microwave, willya?)

Cowboy movies illustrate the eternal cowboy. People can see the role model right in front of them–the archetypical Hero. The snorting, lunging horse and his skilled rider riding through a land of strange rock cliffs and ferocious vegetation. The birth of a legend.    

(Pass the popcorn, please.)

Blindness is a common characteristic in the first part of the hero’s journey, and it is referred to twice in the first six episodes of this awful Western series. Gene Autry substitutes himself for a villainous underling while the actual underling staggers around the desert. The underling is presumably left in his long johns, because Gene borrows the airman’s bulky coverall to aid his disguise. The underling, who is the uranium prospector’s pilot, is blinded by tear gas when the two ranch hand clowns dose all three of them with tear gas canisters. In another vision-related incident, an underworld subject, a Muranian man, is blinded.

Blindness symbolizes being born. The first part of the Hero’s journey is Birth.

*And only in terrifically bad westerns is something so profound portrayed in such beguiling ways. Stay tuned for Part Two: The Hero’s Quest–Bucko

October 11, 2008

All My Heroes Might Be Cowboys

by cowboylands

plastic hero copyright es 2008

Plastic Hero © 2008 es

Anything can look heroic–it’s all in the way the lights and camera work. Maybe that’s why cowboys in movies don’t say too much. All candidates on Campaign Trail ’08 have to keep talking, but the more they talk, the less heroic they seem. It’s a problem, buckaroos and buckarettes. I think they know it, but their words (except for any hate-mongering-type words) bring them to the status of mere mortals. So I hope the candidates are investing in good lights and camera. And a shiny white horse. 

What actually makes a hero? Tune in over the next week as guest blogger Batboy42 describes the hero’s journey. The hero, that is, of the worst western ever made. Call it a mash-up between Joseph Campbell and Gene Autry. Call it a story of Everyman. Call it what it is: brilliance. 

With eyes that hide the man within
You see behind the eyes of other men
You’ve lived and died and come to life again
And now you stand alone at the crossroads of your mind
You’ve left your yesterdays behind..
But which road leads you to tomorrow?
Charro…

        

    

You’ve turned your back on yesterday
Betrayed a man who swore he’d make you pay
For when you left you took his pride away
You know he’ll never let you break away so easily
You’ll have to fight, before you’re free
But how much more time can you borrow?
Charro…

 

Now in a single moment your past grows dim
One thought goes racing across your mind
You ride to meet the woman you stole from him
Oh no!…Charro don’t go!…
Charro don’t go!!…

 

There’s something hanging, in the wind
Your past is catching up and closing in
You’ve been halfway to hell and back again
And now you laugh in the devil’s face
with your last breath…
You’ll run a race with life and death…
But will you live to see tomorrow?

Charro…To prep you for the birth of the hero were the words from Elvis western Charro (for a full review and a multitude of factoids, check out Aussie fansite For Elvis Fans Only). He sang the title song, but otherwise he just moved his lips to mutter his lines, and to give a sexy pout. Those eyes, those eyes. Remember the mystery eyes? Those were pure Elvis smolder.  

View CHARRO. Enjoy. 

October 8, 2008

Maverick; or, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

by cowboylands

MAVERICK. Ask not how many times you can say a word, but why you need to say the word so many times in the first place.

“Maverick.” Thou shalt not repeat a word in the hopes that it sticks. 

“Maverick” took on a pop culture tone in the 1950s with James Garner’s hat-pushed back, insouciant gambler. The middle class may well look askance at the connotation of “gambler”; I, for one, would not hand over my hard-earned cash to a gambler. I wouldn’t hand over thousands to myself without some sort of “understanding,” much less some person who has a moniker that means a motherless calf.

October 7, 1979,  was the last day that the Ninety-Six Ranch ran a round-up. Northern Nevada was home to buckaroos and cattle-punchers bringing home their bacon–er, beef–for a century at least, and these 1979 photos (minus the Maverick TV show still, show colors from the cusp of the twilight of the twentieth century that are richer than any digital camera. The figures more dense and alive, the villains and heroes less everyday. 

A cattle drive had its beginning in the birth of calves. You can imagine the difficulty in figuring out whose calf belonged to whom. Just picture the satisfaction in being able to brand the animals whose mothers had died or gone MIA–they were mavericks, whose provenance was unclear. 

Maverick connotes a being who does not have a master, but the conception of it is rooted in animals whose uncertainty drives them erratically from dam to dam, looking for the suckling milk. Unless the brand sears them with a place, name, and all-around sense of well-being, they are driven by need to be liked, wanted, and appreciated. 

The TV show does its share of creating a devil-may-care feeling toward the name “Maverick.” The reality of bawling calves suggests the opposite. 

Just a thought: It’s time for twenty-first century politicians to publicly acknowledge the bawling calves and the gambler when they appropriate the word “maverick.”  It’s only right. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 6, 2008

HEEL; or, Cowboy Boot Odyssey

by cowboylands

Cowboy boot hunting is a lot perseverance and a little luck. You have to have boot-mind. You have to have patience. You have to have a high degree of tolerance for cheap-ass mall-rat boots. You have to have a discerning eye, and the feel for boots within your fingers. 

Some of my jillion boots were picked up in Salvation Armys across this great land. Some waited behind the man-made leather-like purple pumps to practically fall off the shelf onto my toes. Others, coy, shelved themselves above eye level, as if knowing that only the best cowboy-boot wearers would look up above the dirty children’s tennis shoes. 

Quite a few of my jillion boots were found in piquant places. Tombstone, the shop of a cowboy poet, down the street from the OK Corral and Boot Hill. Sweet, slim black and gray jobs, thin leather (kangaroo, someone mused), high heels. My uncle of the motorcycle in his garage although he’s too achy to ride it anymore touched the boots with his big hands, reverently. 

 

Two spangly boots from a West Village consignment shop–high on the top shelf, more decoration than wares. I was heading to my own reading and something about the silver sparkles on one, something about the turquoise leather-red trim flash on the other… trying them both on, one pair then other other, clock ticking I’ll have to run and pray the subways are on time…I bought both, I ate PB&J for the next month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And still others are gifts from my own urban prairie man, whose hands have spanned my feet so often he can divine the size of a boot with a glance. Racy black and tan cut-out boots. Boisterous party Good Luck! and horseshoes, party animal boots. Lean python boots, cracked with someone else’s use. 

A friend and I will be going boot shopping in NYC–yes there are places where you can buy cowboy wares in an East Coast time zone–but there’s nothing like the discovery on the road, slipping off the freaking Tevas to push my foot into skin-meltingly smooth leather. 

October 2, 2008

True Romance; or the Life and Times of African-American Cowpokes

by cowboylands

 

Cowboys are white. Thus proclaimed the thing with greatest authority in my life: TV programs. Even the Indians were white, and so were the chiefs and chiefs’ daughters (who were white enough to be loved by the white heroes).  (Fact: Natalie Wood as Debbie Edwards in The Searchers, 1956)      So imagine my surprise, at some embarrassingly relatively mature age that can only be understood if you also grew up in a predominantly white and Christian suburb with little public transportation and one black student in the high school that I can remember, and he was Roberto Clemente’s son, so…where was I? Ah yes, when I found out that of course there were Mexican, Spanish, Argentinean, African-American, and Native American cowboys, I felt that truly the West was a land of possibilities. The movies rarely deigned to capture the diversity of the West, especially at a fluid time of frontier when what you basically needed was guns and guts in order to get a little glory, or at least a little ranch of your own. During that brief time, a good number of former slaves–having been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation–West-Young-Manned it away from the East Coast and found their niche as working hands, cowpunchers, rodeo riders, and range bosses. Some are barely known to posterity; others are some of the most famous names in rodeo and cowboy land. 

 

Mary Fields (Stagecoach Mary)  

Source: Sister Mary Rose Krupp, Ursuline Convent Offices

Here’s one tough lady: Stagecoach Mary “broke more noses than any other person in central Montana,” or so wrote the town newspaper where Mary Fields lived. She said she would fight or shoot any man who got in her way, and she frequently did, as most men at the time thought they could ignore, insult, or push around this six-foot-tall woman. She held off wolves, delivered mail in spite of snow, rain, heat, or gloom of Montana night (contributing to the steady growth of settlement in the territory), and retired to do laundry, drink and cuss with her pals, and knock out a tooth or two. 

 

For all who paid to come and see
Bill wrestled steers with his teeth
We’ve never seen such a mighty feat
‘Cause he left us long ago

Bill Pickett, a personal fave, invented bulldogging, or the art of biting the lips of cattle to subdue them in a rodeo ring. He was the Elvis of rodeo and show cowboying at the beginning of the twentieth century; “The Dusky Demon” commanded international crowds as a star. It’s an unfortunate fact that he had to list himself as “Indian” or any other ethnic background than “black” so that he could compete in events, but at least he has been honored by the National Rodeo Hall of Fame and inducted into the Prorodeo Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy. About time. 

 

 You Gotta Love Nat Love 

 

One of the truest cowboys of all is Nat Love. His stance is all bucko: hips cocked, grip on the massive shotgun at his side casual but masterful, broad shoulders, trim hips (they always mention that in western pulps–all heroes have to have broad shoulders and trim hips) and his wide-wide-wide-brimmed hat tipped back with great devil-may-care. (He out-cowboys most movie cowboys.) He worked cattle in Texas and Arizona, and once on a cattle drive drifted into the 4th of July celebrations of Deadwood City, North Dakota. My sources don’t tell me if he lapsed into profanity but he did wow the crowds with roping, throwing, tying, saddling, and shooting skills. It’s hard to believe that such a mensch would become a porter, ready to be of service to train-riding tourists and business travelers, but he did. Or tried. I can satisfy a couple of customers, he said, but not a whole trainload of them. Love led a romantic life, full of unrequited (then requited) love, brushes with famous westerners like Buffalo Bill and Billy the Kid, and he wrote a rollicking memoir titled, simply, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love

 Nat Love and family  

Cowboy Fact #20: Real Cowboys transcend boundaries. 

 

 

Thanks to a great site called www.blackcowboys.com, and 1soulger for the gut check. 

Soon to come! Musings on the heroes journey–through the holster of the American cowboy hero–by our own batboy42.