Archive for December, 2009

December 6, 2009

The West's Westness, Part 2

by cowboylands

Westness is in the eye of the beholder.

I was on the hunt for the most western of western images and I discovered westness in

cactus-shaped cookie jars, by God.

In vast space encircled by mountains. (People find this openness either really scary or really refreshing. I recommend bringing a gallon of water per day either way.)

Westness is even at tourist towns with High Noon Hamburgers and narrow-gauge railroad rides up gorges.

At silent ruins.

Even, unfortunately, in genocide, in battles won and wars lost.

Battle of Little Big Horn by Kicking Bear (Mato Wanartaka) c. 1898 Lakota (born c. 1846, unknown; died May 28, 1904, near Manderson, South Dakota) The Southwest Museum

I swept through images of cowboys riding into sunsets and Colorado powwows, faded pics of glassy-eyed miners and grinning Golden Girl of the Pecos snapshots, shots of desolate small-town streets and squint-eyed sheepherders. I pondered and fretted. Do I choose sequin-spangled rodeo/cowboy west or grimly determined Navajo or rancher? Do I look for uranium, or Hollywood royalty, or mansions with mountain lions in their backyards? Vast plains or blighted landscapes? A live buffalo or a hill of whitened skulls?

Where is the West?

2 b continued….

December 3, 2009

The Real Deal; or, What Real Cowboys Do

by cowboylands

Let’s see, where was I? Why yes, hip deep in Lorne Greene’s pillow lips circa Bonanza…

Sigh, no. I was in deeply in the wonder that is the Gene Autry Museum (aka the Cowboy Museum) and writing up another draft of the novel. Unlike movie cowboys, who seem to either

a.) multitask–fix barbed wire fences, herd cattle, woo women, and shoot bad guys


b.) wreak vengeance in a single-minded fashion, a la Eastwood’s Man With No Name

I can’t rewrite a novel without everything in my life making the Big Pause.

Herewith, no further ado: Cowboys at the Gene Autry Museum who are the REAL DEAL.

First off, 1980s style.

I dunno if these gents listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Heart, or George Michael, but even without features, they still rock the lariat.

Next, you have to honor the lawmakers, especially when they were tribal police. Drop that cactus and put your hands in the air.

There’s something about a real-life gal who isn’t afraid to ride the bucking bronco–and win prizes for it. Mabel Strickland, Queen of the Rodeo.

And one of my personal faves, Wild Bill Hickock. His Dead Man’s Hand says everything worth knowing in life–Do not, repeat do NOT sit with your back to the door.

Real cowboys don’t write novels. They’re not that dumb.