From cap gun to wheel gun, a cowboy searching for a western.


The Western and Freedom

or When Freedom is Gone

One of the appeals of the western is a sense of freedom. The protagonist of most westerns has the ability to control his or her own fate. It’s this freedom to make his own choices that allows the protagonist to live a particular way. But what happens if the lifestyle the protagonist wants to live is contrary to the greater society’s way of life? What happens when the freedom once enjoyed is no longer an option?

Easy Rider movie poster 31
Easy Rider

At first glance the movie Easy Rider may not appear to be much of a western, but if you look closely you will find many features common to traditional westerns. What makes Easy Rider an exceptional movie is that Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda take these common features to their logical conclusion. Many traditional westerns have an underlying plot line regarding freedom. The protagonist, although he may not fit in with society, has the freedom to make his own choices. The protagonist is allowed to make his own way through life as long as he doesn’t stray too far from the law and order that is required by civilized society. Easy Rider addresses this idea of freedom. The protagonists Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) are two men perusing their idea of freedom and although they can be viewed as outlaws they have not strayed too far beyond the law. The movie shows us how their search for freedom is contrary to what civilized society allows and the subsequent  fallout of that conflict (that may be a bit vague but I don’t want to ruin the movie for anybody who hasn’t seen it).

This month’s “Dose of Dr. Gonzo” is a telling quote concerning freedom. It is important to use our freedom lest it die, but the good doctor didn’t mention that freedom is something  people will try to take away from you. Easy Rider, a modern western, takes a close look at how important freedom is and how others may try to take it away.


Easy Rider (1969) with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. Director by Dennis Hopper.

Some Thoughts on The Western

Dated or Timeless?

Have you ever thought or dreamt of riding off into the sunset? Do you wish the good guys and bad guys could be easily identified by the color of their hats? Would you aprreciate it if people were true to their word and a handshake actually meant something? These are just a few of the common elements of the western. Although some aspects of the western genre may be dated others are timeless.

I grew up watching westerns (and play acting them too). I remember watching old western show reruns on Sunday mornings as a child and buying western movies on VHS as I grew older. I played cowboys with cap guns as a child and saved my money for snake skin boots as I grew older. I took certain elements and ideas of those western shows and movies to heart at an early age. Someof them remain while others didn’t stand the test of time and experience. This month will focus on the western and examining what about the genre is still relevant.

Sunset Drive (DV8800-editj20.64)
“Sunset Drive”

Good guys and bad guys may not be so easy to identify these days, and it would be nice to live in world where a person is true to his/her word.  Of course, wouldn’t we all like to ride off into the sunset for an adventure?


A Final Thought on Vanishing

Before July 2020 Disappears

It’s a few hours before another month vanishes, nothing left but memories and an old calendar page (if you are one of the few who still use paper calendars). I hope you have some good memories to take away from July and can scratch off any bad experiences as easily as deleting an old appointment form you calendar (for those of you who have gone digital).

Blue Morning #1 (P7000-editx19.04)
“Blue Morning”

I spent some time this month exploring the topic of vanishing, both literal and metaphor. Some things that vanish impact the individual and others an entire culture. It’s important to take notice of what vanishes whether it be a person, place, or something that we hold dear. We are all recorders of history in one sense or another. Maybe that is what history is, just trying to remember what has vanished.


Unanswered Questions and Obsession

The Allure of Wicker Park

Have you ever had a girlfriend or boyfriend leave you without any warning? She or he just vanished without a handwritten note, a text, a pair of burnt boots on the front steps? The end of a relationship is a difficult time but not knowing why your girlfriend or boyfriend left can play with one’s psyche (it’s like failing a test but not being told what questions you got wrong). The movie Wicker Park may have a few flaws but it does a fine job capturing the feeling and fall out of a relationship that ends unexpectedly when a love interest vanishes.

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Wicker Park

Wicker Park may have a few flaws concerning plot and structure but overall it is a solid movie with fine performances by Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger. Harnett and Kruger play a couple that splits after one of them vanishes without an explanation. The movie, presented in both present day and in flashbacks, is a story of obsession, of needing to know why somebody would leave without a word, a reason, or a clue. The movie shows us that we may believe we have moved on after a relationship ends but not knowing why it ended has a way of pulling us back in time.

When there is no word, no message, no final gesture before somebody vanishes from a relationship the resulting feelings and fall out can weigh heavily on the mind and heart. Wicker Park shows how such an event can follow us even after we feel we’ve moved on. A person may vanish quickly, but feelings don’t fade as fast.


Wicker Park (2004) with Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger. Directed by Paul McGuigan.

Always at the fringe of a party more afraid of being invited in than being left out.


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