Friday, March 20, 2015

Cowboy Culture: Exploring the Wild West in ALS

The straight line of this guy’s nose ain’t really straight; he’s been fightin’ real trouble a long time. He hooks that nice stitched boot against the round corral’s bottom rail, leaning into its sunned glare. Those heels have nudged many a horse through rushing water. Kicked sometimes, too, if that’s what it took to get listened to.

He’d always be listened to. You know that by the way he looks out at that Quarter Horse churning in the pen, its head swinging side and back, fast as a fist. Can’t see the man’s eyes—the shade of his hat keeps throwin’ angles down over them. But that’s not the way to tell about a person. Nah. It’s more the way a man’s held up. Even if he been beaten down all his life, some won’t admit they’re losing. It’s them you like to be around. It’s ‘cause you can pretend maybe you’re winnin’ too.

This one’s got his neck stretched tall from the shoulders. Them shoulders are spaced out wide, one from the other. Means he’s got something to say to the ground. It’s him saying, “I ain’t going yet” to his grave. He climbs the rail and stands in the pen, saying nothing but saying everything to the horse. It twists an ear his way. It listens to his body speak.

It’s no mystery who this man is: a cowboy, suede chaps and all. The iconic image of the cowboy is both historical and romantic. It’s as much a part of America’s history as it is a part of Americans’ wistful dreams. The cowboy is raw-hide tough and respected for it; he won’t take any bull—sometimes literally. Who hasn't wanted to be the one riding off into the sunset, gun holstered at the hip?

Celebrating the cowboy (or cowgirl) in all of us, here is a compilation of various Wild West materials in the Arts/Literature/Sports (ALS) department that will get you yee-hawing before you know it.

The Top Shooter’s Guide to Cowboy Action Shooting
Taking Up Riding as an Adult
Line Dancing (Instructional DVD)
Will Rodgers Rope Tricks

The West of Buffalo Bill: Frontier Art, Indian Crafts, Memorabilia, from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center
The West of the Imagination
Indians: The Great Photographs That Reveal North American Indian Life, 1847-1929, From the Unique Collection of the Smithsonian Institution
Singing in the Saddle : The History of the Singing Cowboy
For a Cowboy Has to Sing : A Collection of Sixty Romantic Cowboy and Western Songs, Covering the Fifty-year Golden Era of Popular Standards Between 1905 and 1957 (Score)

That's Black Entertainment: Celebrating Legendary Black Westerns (DVD)
The 100 Greatest Western Movies of All Time: Including Five You've Never Heard Of
I Was That Masked Man (Memoir of Clayton Moore, the actor who portrayed the Lone Ranger)
John Wayne: Bigger Than Life (DVD)

Cowboy Poetry Matters
The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays
Horses That Buck: The Story of Champion Bronc Rider Bill Smith
How to Write Western Novels

Cowboy High Style: Thomas Molesworth to the New West
Beading in the Native American Tradition
Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures

Bethany Mitchell

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