Bad Day at Black Rock, Chicago Style

by cowboylands

In politics there is plenty cowboy derring do-do. On days–sometimes weeks–of arid blog-writing time (good for wrangling the novel and etcetera), I take heart when good friends send me snippets of the kind of stuff you can’t write, unless you’re Howard Breslin and and Don MacGuire, putting together a taut script for the psychological western Bad Day at Black Rock, a killer study in racism, served straight up, neat, in classic 1950s style. 

(Back to the subject. But it is a good movie.)

It pleases my sense of fairness that Democratic governors can be as clueless about ethics as Republican ones, and so I decided to do a better-late-than-never Blogojevich post, especially because he walked right into what I’ll have to call “The Cowboy Trap.”

What seems like years ago, on January 23, 2009, Associated Press reported that the pre-impeached Governor Blagojevich compared himself to “an honest, hardworking cowboy and said he was about to be lynched by a band of black-hatted political insiders eager to raise taxes.”

Lordy, how wrong he is came clear when the article went on to describe:

Blagojevich, a fan of Western movies, drew a long analogy Friday between his situation and that of a cowboy falsely accused of stealing a horse. His story ended with one cowboy suggesting the accused thief be hanged, with the other suggesting he first be tried, then hanged.

The cowboy who calls himself (or herself) hardworking and honest probably has a better sense of how to run a ranch than a state, but the idea that Blogojevich equates himself with a hired hand is less likely than his drawing a parallel between his actions and those of a lone sheriff against a passel of vigilantes.  

The Alpha and Omega of politicians using these kinds of situational comparisons is that they are talking about MOVIES. As in SCRIPT. CINEMATOGRAPHY. DIRECTORS. ACTORS. By John Sturges’s thumb (director of Bad Day at Black Rock), these politicians are talking about fake dirt, fake sweat, and fake blood. Oh, right, as in the writing adage, you “write what you know,” after all. 

I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on him–he did get impeached (and interviewed on major networks)–but every time a politician gets drilled between the eyes or caught fussing with income taxes, I can’t help but feel like the actor on the left in the following photo, from Dodge City, a late-1950s tourist trap in Long Island.


“Keep your hands up where I can see ’em, bucko, or I’ll drill ya full of lead!”

Aaah, that felt better. So much better that I’ll leave you with a Bad Day at Black Rock trailer Bad Day at Black Rock tour, posted by a knowledgeable fan on Youtube. He shows some stunning vistas and brings up some good stuff–notably, that a lot of what people tell you could be hocus pocus. 




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