By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Amen to Erik Baard's article, which spells out the many ways in which George Bush does not follow the Cowboy Code.
As a former amateur rodeo contestant and lifelong student of western lore and history, I find it particularly offensive that George W. pretends to possess the resilience, individuality, and depth of character of a real cowboy. Unlike Teddy Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan, this Texas-strutting dude can't even ride a horse!
For the record, most cowboys tend to be conservative in their beliefs, but as a group they are generally self-sacrificing and courageous whether on the ranch or in the rodeo arena. And they don't hide their disdain for bullies or cowards.
George W. and company do recall a certain type of western figure, however, that emerged in my part of the country a little over a century ago. The Johnson County War of the late 1800s erupted when wealthy cattle barons attempted to run the small ranchers (the real cowboys) out of northern Wyoming. These elite landowners wanted to keep control of the public grasslands that fed their cattle for free, yielding great profits. Indignant that democratically elected local officials protected regular citizens from big business's excesses, the cattle barons came up with a solution: They assembled an army of Texas mercenaries that began killing and burning its way across the prairie. This adventure was short-lived and ended with the cattle barons and their henchmen cowering in a bunkhouse, surrounded by a posse of enraged citizens. It was the taxpayers, in the form of the U.S. Cavalry, who finally rescued the well-heeled perpetrators.
I can envision George W. in a scenario like the Johnson County War, but not in a leadership role. He'd be the pampered cattle baron's son hiding under a bed while the real men outside dealt with the bitter realities of a changing world.
Erik Baard's "George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy" is a fabulous piece of journalism. However, Baard failed to mention that real cowboys never attempt to brainwash others.
Bush is a pseudo-everything. The two things he's good at are lying and thieving. Forget about anything else. He simply hasn't the brainpower for abstract thinkingtherefore, we get Iraq and the escape of bin Laden.
His entire campaign has been brainwash, or the attempt to. There is no way under the sun that he's unaware of the horrendous errors in judgment he's made. Yet he presents himself to the people as one who has had success in every endeavor he's undertaken.
A chai reverie
Re Tom Smucker's "Wilsonian Democracy" [September 29-October 5]: How has the United States failed? I'm not quite sure. Maybe Smucker's confused, as clearly the '60s are dead because the radicals who populated that generation have cashed inthis all coming on the heels of their Austin Powers-like "yeah capitalism" realizations. Meanwhile, today's younger generation throws rocks at its local Starbucks (after sucking down a chai tea latte) and condemns the Gap (after buying a cool pair of jeans) and wonders why nobody takes it seriously. But what this all has to do with Brian Wilson, I have no idea . . .
New Castle, New York
Congratulations to Gary Giddins, winner of the 2004 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in the Pop Articles category for "Swashbuckler" [June 4-10, 2003] and "The Academy's Pulitzer" [April 30-May 6, 2003]. The awards are presented annually to American journalists whose books, articles, and liner notes on the subject of music are selected for their excellence. The award will be presented at a ceremony in December.