Newman’s Own

I was in love. He was the blue-eyed rascal, the master of the one liner. He was, by turns, cool and hot–matched by his partner who was hot and cool. The two of them wore their dusty britches like uniforms of hip scoundreldom, and they grasped six-guns in sure fingers. I didn’t even mind the girl . . . → Read More: Newman’s Own

Cowboy Up; or, Cowboy Fact #21

To cowboy up means to get going. Get the job done. Get into gear. No matter what.
Sundown Jim, by Ernest Haycox
Cover illustration by Jerry Allison
Pocket Books, 1958
from the collection of es

A good friend of ours has cancer–the late-stage, not-very-posterchild-like kind–and he and his wife have to cowboy up on a daily basis. I can’t always . . . → Read More: Cowboy Up; or, Cowboy Fact #21

Damn Grand; or, Cowboy Fact #22

The Grand Canyon has been ruined by T-shirts, mugs, and calendars. It’s easy to dismiss the vast chasm if your eyes have been tricked by two-dimensional snapshots. But even the best photographer can’t capture that scariness that is the presence of the West. It’s big, and if you stir from the confines of the concrete parking . . . → Read More: Damn Grand; or, Cowboy Fact #22

The Universe According to Annie Proulx; or, Fine Just the Way It Is

Don’t read Annie Proulx’s newest book. Don’t read it if you have a drop of sentimentality about the West, if you call cowboys heroes, or if you smile fondly at pictures of cacti and coyotes or eat funnel cake and ice cream as you buy souvenir T-shirts in quaint little western towns. Proulx’s Fine Just the Way . . . → Read More: The Universe According to Annie Proulx; or, Fine Just the Way It Is

Gunlock; or, From Cowboy to Taxi Driver

In times of moral confusion, I turn to my collection of a gajillion western paperbacks from the 1940s and 1950s*. Their bold colors and bolder titles (such as Action by Night, Gunsmoke Justice, Dig the Spurs Deep) bring me back to my center. Good/bad. Right/wrong. Yes/no.

The one-two punch of pulp writers, who must have banged these . . . → Read More: Gunlock; or, From Cowboy to Taxi Driver

. . . → Read More:

Shooting from the Hip; or, What Every Candidate Needs to Know

Shoot from the Hip, copyright es 2008, based on Italian movie poster for A Fistful of Dollars

Everyone’s jumping on the presidential and vice presidential candidates: too cool, too hot-tempered, too much woman, too little man. And like a phantom, the Mythic Cowboy rides through before fading away into the mists of the collective . . . → Read More: Shooting from the Hip; or, What Every Candidate Needs to Know

Of Drugs, Guns, and Succulents

What are the most likely things to be smuggled out of Mexico?




Saguaro Vista, Arizona. copyright es 2004            

X-mas Kitsch

Especially those funny-looking cartoonish cacti. The bright green ones with the long arms that look like Gumby with spikes. On menus, you might see them wearing . . . → Read More: Of Drugs, Guns, and Succulents

Wild Western News


In an American headline world dominated by an Alaskan governor, in the face of tragedy on the floodplains of India (three million people displaced), and escalating tensions worldwide, it’s time to escape into a good western, where problems can be solved in about ninety minutes. 

In this Wild Western world, a newspaper might have these headlines:

Top Headline:

. . . → Read More: Wild Western News

Cowboys and Aliens

Today’s real world has finally caught up to space westerns–the one place in the universe you could reliably find ethnically diverse crews, competent leaders who just happened to be female, and people of color who weren’t comic relief or cannon fodder. Whether you are red or blue, Campaign 2008 should be cause for back-slapping triumph and puffs of . . . → Read More: Cowboys and Aliens