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 ?
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 .
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’ .