Foto courtesy www.benzinga.com
Gunmen, Outlaws, Renegades
We the People of the USA love our guns. We totally fear death. Therefore, we love scary stories. We love stories where we human beings face all forms of death and either conquer it or succumb to it. We revere gunslingers, whether individual gunslingers or troops of gunslingers. We love security. Our security is that security that protects us from death. From the day we are born our parents or wards start teaching us about how to avoid death. From the beginning of our lives we are taught how to avoid confrontations with death. We become indoctrinated in the avoidance of death. We are taught that all of our professions, whether Sociology professor or highly decorated military commander, are professions that seek to save us from death. As a result, we love elaborate allegories and legends and fables that try and instruct us how to avoid death. All our holy books are revelations of salvation from death. All our laws and regulations (this past Congress passed approximately 34,000 new laws, bills, regulations, etc.) are geared to protect us from death.
From childhood until our own demise we love stories about heroes and heroines overcoming death either through real methods or supernatural methods. We love murder mysteries. We love detective stories and cop-bad-guy teevee shows. Back before teevee, one of the most popular publications in the US was the Police Gazette, a tabloid-type magazine chocked full of Public Enemies and FBI Most Wanted lists and stories about past solved and unsolved crimes, though especially murder. The most popular radio shows back in the old days were the murder-mystery-type shows: "Inner Sanctum," "Murder Inc.," "The FBI in Peace and War," "Sam Spade, Private Eye." The writings of Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler topped the bestseller lists. And yes, out in Hollywood stars like Jimmy Cagney, Eddie G. Robinson, Richard Widmark, George Raft had vast box office successes playing gat-carrying thugs.
Today, on any given night of television viewing you are going to see mostly shows concerning death or the avoidance of death. Cop shows. NCIS shows. CIS shows. Private (Blackwater ) or secret (special forces, CIA) military unit shows. Star Trek/Star Wars-type shows. 48 Hours mystery shows. America's most wanted shows. Missing persons shows. Serial killer shows--one of the most macabre shows on television is the very popular "Criminal Minds," each show depicting the antics of the most viciously mean and sorry serial murdering sons of bitches in the USA, usually a crazed nutjob of a man who loves serial killing young women--I don't believe I have ever seen a show where a woman is the serial killer--I'm sure there are such shows but I don't recall seeing one recently. Women are readily depicted as individual murderers but seldom as serial killers.
Since 9/11, We the People of the USA have been dipped in huge vats of overwhelming fear. Fear of what? What do we have to fear from these "Terrorists"? So they killed 3,000 human beings on 9/11? Why should that frighten us more than the fact that our US police forces might kill that many perpetrators or guilty-appearing human beings every year? Our own homegrown terrorists (including Tim McVeigh) have stacked up a pretty huge amount of victims over the past few years: the Virginia Tech shooter and the Fort Hood army psychologist shooter killed over 60 in their sprees. Or how about the fact that approximately 300,000 of us die each year from wrongly prescribed pharmaceutical medicines (toxins). Or how many of us die each year from automobile accidents (why are our cars made to go up to 160 miles per hour? one teevee commercial brags about how its cars go faster than the competition's)? Or how about the fact that We the People of the USA are the gun-totingest people in the world? Check out how many of us are killed each year by handguns? That doesn't frighten us? No. And you know why? We see guns as security. When you're packing a piece, you feel tough--as tough as Burt Lancaster in that great vicious-gunplay movie called "The Lawman." Why do White people so admire our Old West gunslingers? Because they represent to us our true love of rugged individualism. A Libertarian attitude of "By fucking golly, give me a good Buffalo gun and a couple of six-shooters, and, by God, I'll take care my own and myself, fuck the government, fuck the law, fuck the odds."
I grew up in West Texas in a gun's-a-plenty town in a gunless family, though guns were certainly prevalent in both of my families's historical pasts. My greatgrandmother on my mother's side was a tough-as-a-boot Pioneer White woman who on marrying at 13 a 75-year-old Texas Revolutionary War veteran became the stepmother of one of the most notorious of Texas gunmen, Wild Bill Longley. In a dime novel written about Wild Bill, it was rumored his gun butt contained 22 notches before he was hanged by his neck down in Giddings, Texas, back in the late 1800s. She herself became a gun-toting woman after being threatened by this elderly husband's other sons, one threat made on her life by one of the sons holding a pistol to her head. She escaped this marriage and these threatening sons by running by herself through a swamp to finally a week later get to a relative's house and safety. After she married her second husband, my greatgrandfather, for protection against Comanches, Night Riders, roaming drunks, roaming murderers, she took possession of a long-barrel Colt revolver and a Winchester rifle, which became her steady companions.
There was one story this old lady told over and over about how one Saturday midday her husband via horseback left she and her daughter (my grandmother) alone to go off to sing and play his fiddle at a local social, something he regularly did to make a little extra money since farming or cattle ranching in the area was a tough business and his school-teaching job paid next to nothing. Usually at these affairs my grandfather who was a natural-born heavy drinking Scotsman got smashed, depending on his horse to get him back home safe and sound. My greatgrandmother would hear the horse coming into the yard at a usual time and knew it was probably her husband and she'd open the spy hole in the dugout in which they lived to see that it was his horse bringing him home drunk. Except this particular Saturday night late, she waited up waiting to hear the horse bringing him home. She waited and waited, but still no horse. However, way past time for her husband be home though she was still sitting up waiting for him, she did hear a noise coming into the yard. It wasn't a horse coming into the yard. No. It was someone on foot. A heavy foot. It was a man. She could tell that further by his heavy breathing and deep-gruff coughing. She looked through the spy hole and saw a black image coming right at the door filling the spy hole with an imageless blackness. She was afraid--cold afraid--her Colt revolver loaded and cocked. Soon she heard this man messing with the door, pushing at it, shoving against it, then shoulder-butting against it. The door began to buckle and in a panic, she fired that Colt into the door, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, three fast shots. With the last shot she heard a mighty roar of pain followed by a sweet call for HELP. A sweet call for help she immediately recognized as the voice of her husband. She hurriedly opened the door and there was her husband, drunk as a Lord, writhing in pain on the doorstep. Two of her shots had hit him in the right thigh.
The daughter of that woman was my mother's mother. She was a gentle woman. A poet. A florist. A milliner. A librarian. She thought of herself as very civilized. As cultured. Guns to her were extremely primitive, old fashioned. Ironically, her eldest daughter, my mother's sister, did possess a pistol. She was a very pretty sexy and brazen hussy of a wild woman who played a mean honky-tonk piano and who loved to dance and who ended up marrying two rather wild men, the first one I never knew, but her second husband was my Cajun uncle Stub (his name was Stubblefield ), a very heavy drinker who had a bad habit of going off on benders that would take him away from home for days at a time. He would eventually sober up and limp back home seeking forgiveness. When he went off like that, he left my aunt home alone to fend for herself, except he did one day provide her with protection, a cool little silver-plated Smith & Wesson snubnose, which she kept loaded on a nighttable by her bedside. Most times, she sensed when he was due to come back and then she knew for sure when she'd hear his pick up come sputtering up the gravel driveway to park it under the carport by the kitchen door. One night, after Uncle Stub had been off a day or so--and she wasn't expecting him back for at least another day, she was awakened deep in the middle of a very dark night by her sensing somebody was just outside her bedroom door in the hallway. On caution, she grabbed the snubnose revolver and tiptoed over toward the door where she heard a strange sound right outside the door and then suddenly a BANG up against the door. She hollered out her husband's name but there was no answer. That's when she let go a blast from the snubnose. POW. It was followed by a deep morbid moan. A familiar moan. She opened the door and there lay Uncle Stub floundering in his own blood and piss--he'd been taking a leak against the hallway wall when she shot him--moaning in the pain from the bullet wound in the thigh of his right leg--the very leg her Pioneer grandmother had shot her drunken husband in the night he came home horseless and unannounced.
On my father's side of the family, his oldest brother was said to have murdered a man in Memphis and then gone on the lam for almost 18 years before showing back up at his mother's doorstep one day a changed man denying vehemently that he was a murderer, swearing that he had shot the man in self-defense. I don't ever, however, remember any guns among my dad's brothers and sisters. None of them were hunters; except my Uncle Roi (he was in WWI and wore his Croix de Guerre everyday no matter the clothes) who had a farm out in what was then called the rattlesnake capital of the US, Mulberry Canyon, and surely out there among the rattlesnakes, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and various crop-destroying varmints and birds he had a rifle rack in his house or at least in his pick up (I remember the most curious thing about visiting Uncle Roi's farm was he had taken a fairly new Nash automobile and converted it into a tractor. You could jump in the backseat of that tractor Nash and ride along with Uncle Roi or one of his sons as he ploughed his vast mountainside fields).
I remember as a very young kid (13) becoming fascinating one day with the rifles shown in a Sears & Roebuck catalog. I had just read a book on tiger hunting in India and I had been fascinating by this old British Colonel's description of his hunting rifles and windage and sighting in on these vicious death-to-human-threatening beasts. I decided I wanted my own big game hunting rifle and I found a Winchester .22 rifle in that catalog (I know it's not a big game rifle but I was a kid with a wide imagination) I soon desired beyond the dream stage. I went to my parents and asked them for the $90 the rifle cost and both went into tirades against guns. "There'll be no guns in this house," my dad declared.
Later on in high school I became best friends, he was a year older than I was, with this guy who just happened to be a gun fancier (he also had a world-class poisonous snake collection in a room over the family garage). It was with him one day that he came over in his dad's pick up with his new rifle he'd gotten that Christmas and one of his old rifles. We drove way out in the country south of my hometown in the range of hills called the Callahan Divide and out there in a lonely canyon I finally got to fire a rifle. A Remington single-shot rifle. After that, this guy and I got to regularly going out in that pick up, just after the sun had gone down, out on way-out-in-nowhere farm roads--dirt roads mostly--where we used the military spotlite this pick up had on the driver's side intending to spot big rattlesnakes, which we'd then get out and bag in a burlap bag in order to take it back for his snake collection. But also we'd spot on big fat jackrabbits, which when you shined a spot on them, like deers get caught in the headlights, you confused them to the point in escaping you they ran right straight dabbed down the middle of that light's path. We soon made a sport out of shooting at jackrabbits. We'd take turns laying out on one of the pick up's front fenders while the other one drove the truck and spotlit the rabbits. You'd fire at the rabbits off that fender.
One night way out south of town, again out in the Callahan Divide, we were spotting rabbits and shooting at them--we very seldom hit any in case you were concerned about the poor rabbits--and I was out on the fender with repeater rifle, eight-round clips, and I got a jack spotted and started firing at him. Suddenly, this wily jack jerked a hard right and headed out across a field. My friend kept the spot on him as he bounded madly across this field-- and I let go a blast of shots, wild shots wildly missing the intended target, shots echoing off lost in the dense solid wall of darkness. Next thing we know, suddenly, two bright heavy spotlites come on off the road in the vicinity of the field in which I'd been firing at the jackrabbit. The spotlites coming blindingly back at us were on the side of a large white framed farmhouse. We quickly turned that pick up around and dug the hell out of there. "You think I hit that house?" I was shaken. "Hell yes you hit the house. You missed the jackrabbit but you might have hit the farmer's wife or something. Wanna go back and check? Claim your kill?"
Again later on, this guy's little brother, he was 12 at the time, showed up at one of our shooting sprees with a pistol. It was a big pistol. Heavy as hell. We sat up some beer cans on some stumps and the kid handed me the pistol and showed me how to handle it, cock it, fire it, you know. I took the pistol. I didn't even know how to sight down it. I just held it out in front of me on the line I thought was aimed right at one of the cans and I pulled the trigger. Holy crap. The backfire (recoil) knocked me back on my ass. And that was the last time I fired a pistol the rest of my life. In the US Army as a second lieutenant, I was issued a sidearm, a handgun, a GI-issued .45, but I never fired it. I was never even issued ammo for it. This is the pistol that was so inaccurate, legend had it you had to be about three feet from your target to hit it with this piece. I did, however, handle (break down and clean) and fire weapons in the army. I did learn to shoot the M1 rifle. I also had training on the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and a 30-caliber submachinegun. I also was trained to fire and command the firing of several different sizes of Howitzers. And one summer at Fort Hood, Texas, I was trained on the Honest John missile--a truck-trailer consist that was capable of firing its huge missile upwards of 25 to 30 miles down range and on target. The one firing of the Honest John I was on (I was the commander--gave the order from command post to fire) missed the target by 5 miles hitting instead in a zone that was designated as a friendly fire zone. In other words, my Honest John missile would have killed my own men.
After I left the Army, I have not since owned or even fired a firearm.
Here in New York City, I'm actually pretty safe in terms of madmen with pistols firing randomly into crowds. If you get shot by a pistol in New York City, it's probably in the possession of a New York City cop. Remember this is the police department several of whose finest put 42 shots into Amadu Dialo, the poor kid who was trying to take his wallet out to show them some ID, wrongly suspected of being a drug runner they were after. Here's a list of the top ten states in terms of your getting killed by a handgun (per 100,000 population):
|# 1||District of Columbia:||31.2|
|# 8||New Mexico:||16.6|
Check out that list. The murder capital is the District of Corruption. And, why, lookee there, Arizona's #5. So the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords was nothing new in that state. And look at #2 state, why it's Sarah Paleface Palin's great lowly populated state of Alaska. Of course, you'd expect the lower ranked states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama to be guntoting states. So if you've got a hankering to do a little gunning down folks or blasting it out with the cops, like, you know, you wanting to get blown away--simply go down to one of these top ten murder states and if you want to do some killin' then you'll be able to easily purchase a brace of handguns, perhaps you might as well go ahead and buy an Egyptian-made AKA while you're stocking up. If you want to get shot, then get out in the middle of a street, say in the middle of Tucson, and declare you are an atheist abortion doctor who is in the state to help the illegal immigrants (Messkins) and indigents--you know, or perhaps you just declared yourself a secular humanist--then surely some Lone Ranger wacko will shoot your ass.
We love our guns. In his speech in Tucson, President Obama spread a lot of syrupy words over the whole mess, ending by calling on God, which God they never say, to bless America--another futile effort at compromise politics. Not once did he mention the lack of gun control in this whole country, or the obvious anti-Mexican racism prevalent among the Whites of Arizona, those who control the state that once belonged to Mexico and was taken over (invaded and occupied) by the USA in the deceitful and fraudulent Gadsden Purchase--La Frontera--the border on which G.W. Puddin' Head Bush decided to build a fucking thousand-mile-long fence--a boondoggle for the Boeing folks, a wall which President Obama has continued constructing, pledging to do so when he campaigned in that area of Texas during his run for office.
I kept growling during his speech, "Come on, Obama, why aren't you saying, 'I am, and I'm sure you are, too, sick and tired of this Teabagger bullshit and these deadly fucking games they are playing with We the People of the USA, the true government of the USA.'" Like I would have said, "Look, you traitorous bastards, you sons of bitches who refer to me as not a natural-born American. You who refer to me as a Muslim extremist...and do you remember when Rupert "Aussie Traitor" Murdoch ran that monkey cartoon where the monkey was ME and the cop shooting my ass was referring to me, too...I mean, folks, fuck compromising from now on...from now on you tear down my achievements and I'm going to veto every god-damn bill you manage to get through Congress...blah, blah, blah." But nope. Obama got out the soft-soap and instead turned the great gathering of people, 30,000, into a hypocritical joke session filled with huzzah-type propaganda--all this praise of these brave souls who either got shot by the Teabagger nutjob or almost got shot protecting other people but no condemnation at all of the Teabagger agenda that provoked this guntoting nutjob into action--and that's what these clowns are, US action-figures--like G.I. Joes converted to militiamen action figures.
Again, our Nobel Peace Prize-receiving President is unable to bring peace to his own nation. Didn't the District of Columbia recently try to pass severe gun-control laws and Congress or a Federal court overturned them? "Hey, we gotta keep the District of Corruption tops in handgun deaths."
The safest states in terms of handgun murders: New York is one; New Jersey is one; Connecticut; Rhode Island...all original 13 colonies--you see, all the guntoters and gunslingers and hunters headed West--ending up in those Wild West White states, all of which have the most liberal gun-control laws in the country. Arizona is one of three states where you're allowed to carry concealed weapons. MSNBC a few months back ran a news feature in which they said ironically deaths by handguns were going down faster in states with no gun-control laws at all than in the ones with tough gun-control laws. Remember, it is so easy to lie with statistics. Statistics like your blood pressure change several times a day--hell several times an hour.
So better start packing heat. This is a gun-loving country. This is a country intrigued by murder mysteries. Intrigued by outlaws. Intrigued by the Mafia. Intrigued by James Bond types who have a privilege of killing with impunity. A White Male is supposedly unfortunately a human monkey with smaller than average penis. Could the White Man's love of guns be a denial of his small penis?
My late great best friend ever in New York City once dated a CBS executive who told us one day that every time she rode a subway, she had her pistol in her purse, which she had open and with her hand inside it with her trigger finger on the trigger of her pistol--just in case, she said.
I've had several New York City friends who've been mugged with guns to their heads, but none of my friends were ever murdered. I did recently, however, lose the only one of my brother's sons who became a gun toter. How was he killed? By putting the barrel of his favorite shotgun in his mouth and blowing the top of his head off.
It may be true that if you have a gun in your possession you're probably one day going to have to use it or have it used against you. (I refer you to a past Daily Growler post in which I related the story of Escar the Geologist who was awakened from a deep sleep by a clicking sound in his ear to find the clicking sound was coming from the pistol his wife, Helen, had pressed against his temple--fortunately for Escar the pistol misfired and he lived to tell the tale. Otherwise, dead men tell no tales.)
for The Daily Growler
One of the Great Old-Time Ballplayers, Red Borom, Just Exited the Coil at 95
I just recently sold a baseball that was signed by a mixed MLB and Minor League all-Star team of baseball players who played the army base circuit in World War II with Red signing the sweet spot as the manager of the team. I first heard of Red Borom when I lived in Enid, Oklahoma, a city at the time that had the US champion semi-pro baseball team, the Champlin Oilers (all the oil companies used to field baseball teams made up of old pros and young whiz kid athletes (I myself played semi-pro ball one year for one of my hometown oil companies--we played in the Brazos Valley Fast Ball League--we were the Drillers and we played other oil field teams, called the Spudders, Oilers, Gassers, Mudders, Flares, Wildcats (for Wildcat wells))--sponsored by the Champlin Oil Company--for several years back in the early 1940s--and Red was player manager of that team. He went on to manage other semi-pro teams, like the famous Wichita, Kansas, Bill Lear-sponsored team, and later down in South Texas where he managed the Plymouth Oilers out of Sinton, Texas. Then later in Dallas as a kid, I knew Red as a long-time Texas League player of championship quality. Red became one of the winningest semi-pro managers in the history of semi-pro baseball in this country. Red's now passed on. I'll never forget old Red though I'm sure the baseball history books have buried Red many a year ago. Lift one for good old Red Borom:
Red Borom, 95, American baseball player