The Real Deal; or, What Real Cowboys Do

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 . . . → Read More: The Real Deal; or, What Real Cowboys Do

Writing the West; or, the West’s Westness, Part 1

A recent trip to the LA’s Autry National Center of the American West, aka the Cowboy Museum, yielded huge Westness moments. I don’t remember much of it–being so transported in ecstasy I wasn’t on the earthly plane–but I know I took a lot of pictures.
What is Westness? It’s the romantic thing that anything West of the . . . → Read More: Writing the West; or, the West’s Westness, Part 1

Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"

The cover of Denis Johnson’s new novel Nobody Move screams KITSCHPULPNOIR with red and yellow letters and bullet holes spangling the jacket.
Famously serialized in Playboy, the story has plenty to like, or plenty to dislike, depending on how cooked you like your femme fatales, gun-toting heavies, and convoluted plots. I take mine hard as nails, so . . . → Read More: Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"

Mojave Desert Dream

The wash of wind. The flat land stretching to the mountains. Sunset.

Heavy work week. Nephew in trouble and I can’t do anything about it. No time to write. Barely keeping relationships intact. And then I dream. I . . . → Read More: Mojave Desert Dream

A River Runs Right Past It; or, Landing in Nebraska City

Walking Nebraska City’s main street from the Missouri River is a journey *cue swelling orchestra* filled with echoes of the hopes and disappointments of intrepid pioneers making their monumental trek across the wide country on the Oregon Trail.
O Pioneer!!!!

Freighters, Nebraska City, 1860 (Nebraska State Historical Society)

OK! OK, OK… sorry. Sorry for the purple prose.

. . . → Read More: A River Runs Right Past It; or, Landing in Nebraska City

Where the West Begins

Another blog hiatus, but another excellent reason–a writing residency “where the West begins.” Nebraska City, dear buckaroos and buckarettes, is the place where the frontier began.Dripping from a shallow crossing of the Missouri River, pioneers were invited on their trek across the plains by a wide main street that gently lifted them to level ground and feed stores . . . → Read More: Where the West Begins

An Alien Land; or, Happy Birthday, Arizona!

Arizona was birthed by treaty and the Territory of New Mexico on February 23, 1863 (how did they have time to work this out in the middle of a disastrous Civil War?). Pretty, shiny things brought prospectors and settlers, drove out Native American tribes (again), and opened the state to a future of retirement communities, faux frontier towns, . . . → Read More: An Alien Land; or, Happy Birthday, Arizona!

There Will Be Blood, Biscuits, and Big Hats

A recent trip to Tennessee revealed many truths.

Carter House (1000 Bullets)

Truth 1: There was a lot of blood spilled in Tennessee in the Civil War, and it spilled copiously on soil that now holds playgrounds and parking lots, historical markers and suburban lawns. Stories of battles (in this case, the famous Battle of Nashville) seem to . . . → Read More: There Will Be Blood, Biscuits, and Big Hats

Limited; or, The Wild West Made Mild

The usual happened on my way to the old Fort Hall and the Bannock County Historical Museum. “Usual” being that I had a certain goal in mind–look at strange-ass western stuff–and instead realized how much stranger the world is than we know. All this whilst looking at a replica fort and tipi, and faux Western town. . . . → Read More: Limited; or, The Wild West Made Mild

Beauty, Eye, Beholder

“…the beauty of things that can’t be known for sure.”

Mining Equipment (Throat Obstruction Demo), Mining Museum, Silverton Colorado © 2008 es

These words absolutely do not address the queasiness I feel when I wonder about the motivations of a certain plumber-cum-Republican mascot. Instead they describe the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a larger-than-life cabinet of wonders beside an . . . → Read More: Beauty, Eye, Beholder