Dedicated to Steven Ronald Jensen
Chato, to Julie: “You’re here now. Here and now is better than wherever you were.”
~ Painted Woman (2017)
This is a comparison essay between American cowboys and the original punk rockers. The cowboy days were only ten years give or take. Also, the original punk scene I am referring too ran about the same time of ten years. So many films, tv shows and stories are based on this core time of our American cowboy history. Possibly just before and after barbed wire when the open range started to close in along with the law. As many of the cowboys died so many just grew up and moved on, some becoming law men themselves.
Many of us original punks grew up in the punk scene. Together we moved in hubs among hubs.Yes, the cowboys rode their horses and wore their Colt Peacemaker. Punks rode their music and wore their guitars and drums. Cowboys with their wild ways, a mission with cattle, drinking whisky and having women. Punks in their touring bands, downing whiskey with punk women galore. Both represented a scene or movement of youth gone wild.
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can’t change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can’t help it if I was born late.
~ Urban Struggle, Vandals
Cowboys and punks stood for something and I guess they still do. I love watching westerns and reading stories about the many characters at that time. I loved being round the many characters in the punk scene. I watched their wildness as I do any episode of Gunsmoke or The Rifleman. Yes, a mixture of good cowboy storytelling and punk reality move through this essay. I love both. I believe I was a cowboy hanged in my past life as in The Ox-Bow Incident. I seek justice in a mystical way.
“A man just naturally can’t take the law into his own hands and hang people without hurting everybody in the world, ’cause then he’s just not breaking one law but all laws.”
~Reading Donald Martin’s letter: Henry Fonda as Gil Carter
Or maybe I was a saloon dame who had too many men because I did have to keep my shirt on, with a strong belt, during my early punk days. It is the old saloon stories of the cowgirl ~ poverty or prostitution. Lastly, I feel I once was an American Indian who broke free from war due to the kindness of a stranger cowboy or mustanger as in the story The Mustanger and the Lady (The Brandiron) as a 2017 film called Painted Woman.
Vince Wagner, after one of his mustangs throws Julie: “I told you not to ride that horse.”
Julie: “I don’t need you to tell me anything. I have spent my whole life having men tell me what to do. And I’m done!”
~ Painted Woman (2017)
Cowboys and punks both share a colorful and delightfully confusing message of morality, wildness, and experiences. Maybe breaking free and growing up, if one survives, makes one a wiser person. Good, bad, and indifference moved through the cowboys. Justice, jail, or no hope moved through the punks.
Lucas McCain: So long, old timer!
Mark McCain: Bye.
Mr. Jonas! He’ll sure have a lot of believers now.
Lucas McCain: All he needed was one.
~ The Rifleman 1958