Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brokeback War

I'm sitting in a Hastings Hardback Cafe, combination bookstore/coffee shop, in Kerrville, Texas. It's been especially cold here for several days, and now it's snowing and sleeting. Turns out this is a good place to consider the deep influences of cowboy culture on American culture and especially on this country's propensity to whip up a good war. Or slip in an extra bad war.

Cowboys fight the cold the way Bush fights. Not much of a jacket, probably unbuttoned some. No cap, no gloves. The cowboy types around here are leaning into the sleet with what look like cheap long sleeve underwear and some tough outer shirt over it, often not tucked in or buttoned up. No caps, no gloves, just a squint and a firm jaw, maybe a little brokeback grimmace, an "I don't need this shit, but it's the way it is. I can take this. I don't need no weenie fleece or gloves. Gloves are for sissies. Ear muffs? You're gay. A muffler, for chrissake? You're gayer than gay."

Bush fights his frat boy past, his blue-bloody family, and his lame legacy that way. And he fights his wars that way, too.

Legacies are like horses. Lame? See what's up. Bad? Shoot it.

Some wrenches and some rope, guts and guns help a man get a move on, ain't got the damned time to figure all that out and talk it over.

Here I am, about 40 miles southwest from where Lyndon Baines Johnson grew up, about 270 miles east/southeast of where George Walker Bush grew up, in a place where the backward fringes of the culture seem to be running the country and running the world.... Snow's coming down, and it can even hobble a semi and even put a Hummer on hold: there are rumors they've closed the interstate (I-10) and opened a shelter at the local Red Cross.

Want traction in all this modern snow shit, with all them fine print rules and the damned diplomats? Be an outlaw. Cut the fence. Break the gate.

War. War is like a sleet storm in Texas (or for a cowboy, even in Montana). It's a fight, ain't it? That makes it something to get through, not wuss out on. Lean in to it. Stiff chin, stiff mind. Squint. This too will pass, but while it's going, it feels ancient and famous and full of tech and men and duty and mortal pride, damn it.

And war's not for kid gloves or gloves of any sort. War's the time to take the gloves off, step up, be a man. But there's the rub. It's not the greatest of men who squint and lean into war. It's the crusaders, the gladiators, those not big on options and sitting around making conversation. War is for cowboys, and the cowboys don't mind.


At 1/17/2007 8:00 AM, Anonymous RQ said...

Yeah, but now's the time to mend some fences and sit around the pot-bellied stove in the general store and talk this thing out! RQ

At 1/17/2007 5:54 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Excellent comment, RQ, and thanks for being an ABN regular! Wah, boys, maybe wirr makin' fools uhr selves, gettin' all worked up to bein' the POlice for all them A-rabbs. Maybe clear outta here, and git on home. Damn, but all that oil we'd be leaving b'hine.


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