Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

From the floor of the dry lake, sunrise began with the flaring upthrust of Lonely Mountain…. Silhouetted ramparts in deep shadow rang brightly with the fireball impact of the sun. Etched by early morning dust, sunlight stabbed through crevices as huge glowing shafts across the vast desert floor…. clumps of of scattered tumbleweed hid their brambled . . . → Read More: Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

The novel of the homestead cabin writes itself. 

It was a prologue of possibilities, of quails and tarantulas and Joshua tree groves and sunshine. Since then, its chapters, experienced at a 2,500-mile distance, waver between comedy and tragedy and tearjerker, with the love of my life, the cabin, being both beautiful and ugly, stoic and needy, a magnet . . . → Read More: Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

Home on the Range; or, Prologue–Getting Western in a Homestead Cabin

I type these very words on land I recently purchased. “Land” is the glint in the eyes of Glenn Ford in Cimarron. The glow on the faces of pioneers racing their wagons to stake their claim. It was both a glow and a glint in my heart for a year and a half–and I couldn’t stand . . . → Read More: Home on the Range; or, Prologue–Getting Western in a Homestead Cabin

Brand Fires on the Fridge; or An Out-West Pin-Up Souvenir

What to do when your long-awaited field trip to the West didn’t produce lanky cowboys dropping into your lap?

Buy one.

Take this tall glass of cool water I found at a Long Beach bookstore.

A twofer special from Monarch, from the collection of es

Monarch Books doesn’t reveal the illustrator of this western by King of Cowboy Lit . . . → Read More: Brand Fires on the Fridge; or An Out-West Pin-Up Souvenir

Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

Nothing makes my day more than drifting through a town that has mojo already and finding a shrine to the West. Like discovering the Mithraic alter beneath a Roman church, it means that I have uncovered a power so potent it can’t be hidden.

So here was Atlantic City: slots, mobsters, boardwalk, 1940s-sailors-on-leave / bad-1980s-haircut feel.

And . . . → Read More: Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

On Blizzards and Canceled Flights; or, The Holing Up of Cowboylands

Bemoaning a canceled flight is uncowboylike.

Would the Duke have crabbed about a few snowflakes and a change in travel plans? Would Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn have groused about downscaling from flight to bus, which exponentially increases the chance of seat mate with bad breath, fartage capability, and/or x-treme chattiness?

No!

As a poet friend reminds . . . → Read More: On Blizzards and Canceled Flights; or, The Holing Up of Cowboylands

Death Valley Daze; or, Just Abandon Hope Already

Poor Real just wanted to see palm trees and movie stars. What Real got was Corpus Christi.

I’ve been there. Beautiful vistas and epic moments have sparkled like stars in my eyes and then been ground into affluvial dust in slogs up and down ridges with a laden pack and no trail and wondering if my urban . . . → Read More: Death Valley Daze; or, Just Abandon Hope Already

Ten Feet from Hell; or, Tell It to the Vintage Postcard

Here’s another vintage postcard, courtesy of Bob Heman. Its hokiness portrays one of the most desolate, awe-inspiring, and dangerous national parks in the United States, Death Valley. (Well, dangerous for the unobservant tourist who forgets water or relies solely on their car’s GPS system.)

For me the front symbolizes those postcard-selling havens of air-conditioning that . . . → Read More: Ten Feet from Hell; or, Tell It to the Vintage Postcard

The Good, Bad, and the Fugly; or, Silver-Screen Western Clichés in Ten Wanted Men

I thought I liked westerns until I saw Ten Wanted Men, 1955, directed by H. Bruce “Lucky” Humberstone, who never wasted a shot, even when it was shitty.

But if you can sit through this slog-fest of clichés and stilted dialogue and incongruous shots and dead airspace, westerns are your life.

Bad western clichés, gawd . . . → Read More: The Good, Bad, and the Fugly; or, Silver-Screen Western Clichés in Ten Wanted Men

Classic Western Props; or, Saguaros Gone Wrong

There are good saguaros and bad saguaros.

Good saguaros (in films) are those that highlight the epic awesomeness of a shot.

From an otherwise cardboardish Ten Wanted Men (1955), this scene features the grand stoic himself, Randolph Scott, amid the scattered saguaros above Old Tucson Studios–I mean Ocatilla. He is of the land, by the land, and for . . . → Read More: Classic Western Props; or, Saguaros Gone Wrong