Encounter with an Angry God: BEST CHRISTMAS BOOK selection for Western Lovers


Lovers of the West and Westerns: The best gift book this Christmas is Carobeth Laird’s, Encounter with an Angry God, Recollections of my Life with John Peabody Harrington. It’s 190 pages of excitement. And, it’s neither on a best seller list nor by a well known author.

This is the real thing. The American Indian West as it was documented by the greatest linguist-ethnographer, John Peabody Harrington, a genius who was so obsessed with recording data that he ignored traditional routes of academic prestige. Today he would probably be labeled a manic-depressive.

Carobeth Laird, writes an intensely personal reminiscence of the seven-year period (1915 to 1922) when she was married to Harrington. The couple traveled the West as field ethnographers during the formative years of American anthropology. This was the beginning of the time when the Indian family consisted of a father, mother, some children, maybe grandparents and—an anthropologist. A scholar in her own right, Laird wrote this fascinating book in 1975 when she was days away from age 80. That in itself is noteworthy.

Harrington’s notes were meticulous and copious. The nature of his relationships with his Indian informants is filled with contradictions, but you’ll meet those informants. You can solve for yourself the riddle of his personality—and Carobeth’s as well.

COWBOY TALK VERSION OF THE SLAM MASTER


Boulder’s Naropa University has me buffaloed.  The Naropian slam masters had never encountered Western Fiction or the Cowboy Poets.  I’m not a poet, but I registered for slam master Bob Holman’s class.  The New Yorker has dubbed Holman “The Ringmaster of the Spoken Word.”   He had us translating and slamming poetry written in dead and dying languages into contemporary English.  

They knew nothing of Cowboy Talk, an endangered language barely hanging on here in the West.  As an effort in preservation, I translated one of the slam master’s sonnets into our Cowboy Talk.

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Original by Bob Holman, 2001

Mark my words

Leven the bread

Half a century’s nothing, the Wise Man said

When the slam slams

When the blowback blows

Lights speed action rolls rolls rolls

The Party will Last

                                The Future’s simulcast

And we’ll Babble On

                                With our Icon O’Class

Mark my words

Leaven the bread

Half a century’s something, the Wise Man said

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Cowboy Talk translation, 2010 

Mark my palaver

Leaven up the bannock

Your cinch ain’t getting’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed

When the rustlers rustle

When the coulies overflow

Foot up in the stirrup and getty-up-go

The Roundup’s gonna Last

                                        Ta’morra’s comin’ Fast

And we’ll jus’ Gallop On

                                         With our Cowboy Lexicon

Quit spittin’ on ya lasso

Saddle up the Paint

Your cinch is gettin’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed                           

                                                     

 

A Secret Gem of Arizona: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum


         


 

THE NAVAJO Charles M. Russell 1919

Permanent Collection of Desert Caballeros Western Museum

It’s hard to believe that the tiny town of Wickenburg, Arizona (population something less than 7,000) could have one of the best and most comprehensive collections of early Western cowboy art. Just about anybody who is anybody as a 20th century Western artist is represented here. In this charming setting, you’ll find the entire panorama of Western art including works by the early explorer artists: landscape painters, the Taos Society, founders of the Cowboy Artists of America, and examples of more recent schools with new perspectives from impressionism to realism. You’ll see George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar Berninghaus, Joe Beeler, Harrison Begay, and even a stunning large bronze by Earle Heikka.

This museum took my breath away! It’s small and intimate. You feel you belong there. You can almost hear the artist’s voices spinning tall tales. I know my favorite Charlie Russell was there telling one of his yarns filled with his delightful profanity. Bob Fjeld, a handsome docent, said he preferred Russell’s bronzes, but for me, Heikka is the prize winner. I think Bob must be one of my long lost Norse kin from Montana.

And then, before you can catch your breath you’re over at The Old Livery Mercantile, Inc. on Tegner Street trying on Cowboy Hats and buying real Arizona silver and turquoise jewelry. Brett and Mary Ann Gerasim at the Old Livery have a motto. “Don’t hurry—this is Wickenburg!”

I love Wickenburg.


Charlie Russell’s Ghost Horse


Charlie Russell never gave up his Cowboy Image. He let be known around Great Falls, Montana that his beloved horse, Monte, had been a Crow Indian buffalo pony. This is the story he told.

 

A Blackfeet warrior named Calf Rope stole the pony from the Crow Indians one night. Trouble was, while Calf Rope was escaping with the pony, he was killed. So—as was Indian custom—Calf Rope’s fellow Blackfeet warriors shot the pony so Calf Rope’s spirit wouldn’t have to walk in his afterlife.

 

But—the damned pony survived the bullet wound and became what the Indians call a GHOST HORSE. Since the pony was supposed to be dead, no Indian would ride him. The pony’s medicine was too strong.

 

So—the Indians played a trick on Charlie, a tenderfoot white boy newly arrived from St. Louis. They sold him the horse.

 

Is the story true? It sure makes Charlie appear to have strong medicine, doesn’t it?

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT OF THE BUFFALO


Did you know that the historical U.S. buffalo population had twice the carbon footprint of today’s dairy industry.

I’ll bet you never thought about it, did you? Well, this news comes from Robert Hagevoort, Ag Sense columnist, at New Mexico State University. I had to consult Wickipedia to make sure I knew what a carbon footprint was in the first place.

Carbon footprints are a little like women’s shoe sizes: the smaller the better. A tiny carbon footprint is better than a great big hulking footprint. And what this is really all about are those dreaded green house gas emissions. 

Gosh darn it, quit being so sad about the buffalo. If those forty million bison were still hanging around on the grassy plains of North America, wouldn’t we be in a pickle? 

The last Sioux hunt was in 1883 and Eunie’s Blog on early day hunting stories gives us some grim details of General George Crook’s sportsmanship. 

So, not to worry when you read farm animals produce more greenhouse gases than the world’s entire transport system.

Thanks for the interview Heidi


What great fun doing the blog interview with Heidi Thomas.  I met Heidi last month at the Arizona Festival of the West.  We’re both members of Western Writers of America and were there signing our books.  I didn’t get a picture of Heidi but I’ll post some of the other participants.  Can anyone give me their names?

A Trailer for my historic novel, “BUFFALOed”


  CLICK TO PLAY THE PREVIEW

 

 

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Which painting below is a forgery of a famous Charlie Russell painting?


russell-forgery2russell-painting1        Make a guess.  Send me a comment with the reasons for your choice, and I’ll give you some insight into art forgeries.

How do you know when it’s a forgery?

 

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm  Comments (4)  
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SPIRIT OF THE WEST


   

Our Spirit of the West <b>ARIZONA DEEUUD</b>

Our Spirit of the West ARIZONA DEEUUD

 I went to a meeting of my Meet-Up group “Spirit of the West” last night. Most of us go dressed in western gear. One of these days I’ll learn how to put pictures on this blog and I’ll post them. My novel BUFFALOed is about the famous Cowboy Artist, Charlie Russell, who was in large part responsible for creating the all-American hero, the cowboy. So, I like to hang out with these people. I met a fellow there, C. L. “Lee” Anderson who is a true 1880’s Arizona Cowboy. He’s a re-enactor and does he ever look authentic. In programs for schools and at special events, Lee and his trusty horse Dusty bring 1880’s Arizona back to life. The real Arizona cowboy, not the Hollywood or Charlie Russell myth. Lee says the American cowboy never would have existed without the Spanish Colonial Vaqueros, the ones who knew how to handle horses.