go on

I’ve watched a couple of John Wayne westerns recently ,  the very early ones .   Maybe  he was still part Marion Morrison the football player at USC ; maybe  he was still trying on  John Wayne for size . The old actor Gabby Hayes was in one ; but Gabby Hayes wasn’t old . Was that possible , dog- nabbit ?  The films were made , I’m pretty sure  ,  in the Alabama Hills just outside  of Lone Pine , California .

Dumb plot . Fifty -minutes or so of horse chases , mustached bad guys , ” gangs” of bad guys holding the damsel prisoner , holding the town hostage , waiting for the white-hatted hero to finally save the day —- and to save the damsel , of course . No ,  the Kid  wasn’t the Polka Dot Bandit as the sheriff thought ! We knew that all the time , though ,  that John Wayne was an undercover federal marshal . Don’t worry , it all is revealed at the end to the sheriff and the townsfolk ; and the hero  gets the girl . Of course . They kiss , presumably , behind the ten-gallon hat , because cowboy heroes don’t kiss on screen in those early one-reelers . We  wouldn’t want to turn the stomachs of the boys in the theater audience , now , would  we ?Horse and girl


About this time another actor-to-be , Ronald Reagan , was life-guarding in Eureka , Illinois .  People in Germany were reading Mein Kamph .   Clark Gable had not yet become a star . Babe Ruth was the highest paid player in baseball . Lindberg has already flown solo across the Atlantic and  he’s now making speeches  around the country . My father finds a skunk in the wilds around his North Dakota town , brings the stinker  home , and asks his mother can he keep it . All the intricate pieces of a puzzle are being arranged on a cosmic table . Britain is now sending troops to China . The USA is soon going into what will be  called  the Great Depression . Another world war is beginning to percolate .


I included here some historical context  , not because it’s needed , but so that I  sound somewhat erudite . Sounding erudite , I think , is helpful . I had a comment from a loyal fellow blogger over at No Facilities , who told me to continue my thoughts . Thought ? , I thought . That’s a weird interpretation of my chattering , my flippant bloggering . I thought I had been upfront about it , made it abundantly clear throughout  about the lost -in- the- woods character of my silly  blog .  Thought ? Lost in a blog . Did you read the post about the philosophy paper I wrote while at UCLA ? Now generalize a bit . Eh ? Eh.

Maybe making sense out of nonsense can be done , but it is not one of my talents . It’s stone soup to me . I enjoy, on the other hand ,  wallowing in the thickly  feathered nest of nonsense . It’s warm and cozy inside there and it provides a sense of safety . I can’t see just beyond the nest unless I make the effort to peek and I don’t usually peek . I’d rather not spot the squirrels and the cats and all of the  rats and  the other predators , and  I’m not much one to pay attention to hawks . There seem to be more and more hawks around these days . Have you noticed ? I’d rather just pull the wool over my own eyes and hope for the best .  It never bothers me to pull my own leg .

I never was much good at puzzles , anyway . Others can put  all the pieces  together quick and sensibly , can make sense of all the world’s stuff . Stuff . Could be worlds’ stuff ; I don’t know . To me , I guess , it’s just stuffing —- nice cozy warm stuffing .  One can float comfortably on a cushion of such stuffing . I think so , if you don’t sink down into it and suffocate . Glance at  your web device and you’ll see what I’m talking about . Information . Lots and lots of information . I’ve been warned ( on Facebook ) not to confuse information with knowledge . I used to tell my students not to confuse knowledge with wisdom or wisdom with knowledge ; but I’ve moved beyond those admonitions . Every man for himself now . Sink or swim ; pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps , and all that . No one can help you now ; but , there’s the almighty internet . Anything at your fingertips ! Who needs any other god  ? Seek truth and ye shall find what ye want to believe  !

But what does this all have to do with cowboys ?  you ask .  Cowboys ?  Twelve short and critical comments , already , and two blog posts explaining what’s been missed and the tragedy of that , and a long , intelligent essay about mistreatment of American Indians . What about Indians ?  Why aren’t I  mentioning Indians ? Got something against Indians , apparently .

The Navaho extras in the silent movies used to call the white actors , directors , etc. silly and sometimes profane names  and mercilessly made  fun of them  when  the Navaho actors  spoke in their native tongue during filming  . Remember : these were silent films . In recent years  Navaho speakers have been reading the lips of those old Navaho  actors  .  The movie  screen might read in that old silent era script : ” How ! We surrender to the Great White Chief ” , but what was really being said might have been : ” These stupid whites slither like snakes .”

Native American irreverent humor . It’s funny , too , that the old jokes were discovered after so many years . Unless the so-called lip-reading Navahos are the ones playing the joke . Maybe those old guys never said any of that after all . Maybe they just translated the idiotic script lines and left it at that . Who knows . Maybe the so-called lip readers wouldn’t be able to read lips to save their lives ; or they can read lips from old silent films but  lied about what was said .  Who knows .   Ah , but the Navaho  knows .  One way or the other it’s funny , isn’t it ?  Isn’t there a trickster motif in the mix ?

I wasn’t ever really a big John Wayne fan . I guess you either loved him or hated his film character .  The Searchers , I read on the internet , is one of the best films of all time . I watched an interview with him on his yacht just before his death in 1979 . His yacht had seen service in World War Two as a mine sweeper .  Wayne and Reagan had seen service , too , on the back lots of major studios . Clark Gable joined the air corps  and flew bombing sorties over Europe as a B-17 gunner .  Lindberg cozied up to the Nazis  and had a secret German lover . My father joined the Navy and his ship took Marines over to Guadalcanal and such places .  Navaho soldiers became the famous ” code talkers ” . And the cosmic puzzle pieces lifted and shifted .us army traffic only

Did you want to hear , also , that I recently watched the 1945 film  And Then There Were None  ?  and all the  rambling thoughts  that that experience provoked ? I haven’t dragged this post out of the 1940’s yet , after all .  No ?  Okey .  Some other time then . Yer durn tootin’ .


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2 responses to “go on

  1. Thanks for the link to No Facilities. I was never a big Wayne fan but I like a bunch of movies he was in. I’ve never gotten flak for accusing someone of thinking – I’ll be more careful 🙂

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