Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 22, 2007 Bonus Blog
Working on comments for an address I've been asked to give at the John Wayne 100th Birthday commemoration on Saturday in Winterset, Iowa. I'm torn between giving the Duke the usual bigtime gushing that no doubt will go on with everyone else, and the fact that the guy mostly wore clothes that the studio told him to wear, stood where the director told him to stand and spoke words that a writer had written for him. Yet, somehow, someway, the guy is as big a legend as Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Custer, put together. How did that happen?

Of course his critics say he pretended to fight for his country while he ducked military service to make movies in WWII. And, they will point out, he was a right-wing warmonger who only managed to threaten hippies when he saw them on the street wtih a Vietcong flag, but for that small gesture he gets my undying admiration and I don't think I'm alone (and I was a weekend hippie!). Personally, I like him for other reasons. That he was an eagle scout, that he was a jock who dared to become an actor who put makeup on, that he always helped his mother (even though she never thought he was good enough), that he had a great sense of humor and he worked hard and played harder. It's more than ironic that when I was a boy, the real old west was fifty years in the past and fading fast, and today we are fifty years from The Searchers and that past is becoming as treasured and honored as the actual history the movies John Wayne made were allegedly portraying. Amazing. Happy Birthday John, you big, bad Iowa son of a gun!

Needs work. I'll take another stab at it tomorrow.

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