Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008
One of the regrets of my prolonged recovery is I missed the True West Weekend at the Booth Museum in Georgia last weekend. I have never been to that part of the country and was looking forward to the art show featuring Thom Ross and BBB artwork, plus a variety of panels on the Old West.

This morning I heard from one of the attendees and panelists:

The impact Wild West personages have made on American or world culture was a thought that surfaced during the True West Weekend. That got me to thinking, what's the metric? How could we determine with something approximating measurable standards Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp's mark?

We could count the number of books written or movies made about each one. We could poll leading authorities. That, however, might not result in anything beyond more discussion, and, worse, would involve a lot of work.

I enlisted the assistance of my research Igor, Dr. Google, and we devised a simple, quick standard: number of Google hits. In order to provide some context we Googled not just Wild West figures, but other famous personalities from American history. The names were searched enclosed in quotation marks, and the number to the left of the period is millions, thus 2.650 represents 2,650,000.

The results speak for themselves. America is represented in the world by a ditz, a rock-and-roller, and a troubadour, albeit a Pulitzer-prize winning troubadour. We have to dip all the way to tenth before we can offer up an outlaw. The first officer of the law does not make an appearance until slot 21.

Wild Bill Hickock, inexplicably, came in last. He needs a new press agent.

Direct all complaints, quibbles, and hate mail to Google.com

Britney Spears: 97.700 (millions)
Elvis Presley: 22.300
Bob Dylan: 21.400
Johnny Cash: 13.400
Mark Twain: 12.800
Marilyn Monroe: 10.600
Abraham Lincoln: 9.410
Geronimo: 8.090
Dolly Parton: 7.290
Jesse James 7.190
Ernest Hemingway: 3.910
Babe Ruth: 3.200
Crazy Horse: 3.080
Anne Rice: 2.890
Al Capone: 2.470
Billy the Kid: 2.100
Jefferson Davis: 2.010
Buffalo Bill: 1.670
Butch Cassidy: 1.570
Sundance Kid: 1.260
Wyatt Earp: 1.220
Sitting Bull: 1.020
Joe Dimaggio: 1.000
Doc Holliday .531
Annie Oakley: .501
Pat Garrett: .432
Nelson Algren: .122
Wild Bill Hickock: .094

I wanted to add some non-American names to the list, but they don't have work permits and I didn't want to run afoul of the INS. But just between you and me, here are the numbers:

Harry Potter: 124.000
Shakespeare: 47.000
Jesus Christ: 31.300
The Beatles: 22.000
Emiliano Zapata: 1.430

John Lennon's remark notwithstanding, the Beatles are not more popular than Jesus, but Harry Potter and William Shakespeare are, as well as Britney Spears.

—Dan Buck

It's all fascinating, but what is especially interesting to me is that Geronimo out pulls Billy the Kid by some four times and Wyatt Earp is way below that. Nice to see that Nelson Algren is hanging in there, whoever that is.

"Hit me with your best shot, fire away."
—Pat Benatar

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