Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009
Woke up to rain on Saturday. Sprinkled on and off all day. Deena and Frank came out, along with James Radina and his new girlfriend Jessica. We had a big breakfast feed: fresh laid eggs and Bobby Cakes, along with strawberries and cantalope and black berries. Afterwards we hiked over to the cave, in the rain, and I was suprised to see a new sign that gives some of the history of the cave. I was especially suprised because the copy says that U.S. soldiers fought Apaches in the cave on Christmas Day in 1873. I knew this (and that the hunting party was led by Al Sieber), but according to the text they signed their names on the walls. I never knew this and I have been going over to that cave for 23 years. Made a fresh look along the walls but couldn't find it. Need to call someone to find out where exactly in the cave the inscriptions are.

Speaking of Al Sieber, I have developed a sweet little sequence of Remington on patrol with Powhattan Clark, Sieber and Mickey Free. They are in the mountains, coming up out of the Salt River Canyon, on their way to Fort Apache when, late in the day, they encounter a dust storm.

This is, of course, inspired by Remington's "Cavalry in an Arizona Sandstorm" which he painted in 1889. When I looked up the painting in Peter Hassrick's art book on Remington, I found this "old soldier" description of encountering one of these epic Arizona storms: "All in one moment the whole sky seemed to rush down upon us as if it were a big pepper-box with the lid off, and instantly all was dark as night, and I felt as if forty thousand ants were eating me up at once. You should have seen how the beasts whisked around to get their backs to it, and ducked their heads down! And how the men shut their eyes, and pulled their hats down over their faces, and covered their mouths with their hands! But it was no use trying to keep the dust out; it seemed to get inside one's very skin. When it cleared off we all looked as if we'd been bathihng in brown sugar, and you might have raked a match on any part of my skin, and it would have lit right away."
—David Kerr, Harper's Weekly, September 14, 1889

We'll probably have Remington describe it, utilizing some of that fantastic imagery.

Like the fire sequence this is quite cinematic, and I was inspired by an interview I saw with Anthony Mann (The Furies, 1950), who said, "What you see is the only truth. Then you don't have to say anything." He was commenting on how film audiences can't tell you any of the dialogue actors and actresses have spoken but they can often vividly remember what they did because they saw it and seeing is truth.

In addition to the Furies, with Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston (his last movie), Mann also did The Man From Laramie, Winchester '73, The Far Country, The Naked Spur and Where The River Bends. And, of course T Men and El Cid.

Mann also said, contrasting his style to John Ford's, that in his movies the hero is not exalted at the end, he is exhausted. he says Ford's characters in Westerns are often exalted and it works, but Mann prefers an exhausted hero because it rings more true to life. He also added that people enjoy watching someone try to accomplish something. We like to see this because we are stopped at almost every turn in our own lives.

I'll post the dust storm art tomorrow on the blog so you can see the progress.

"It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire from sight and afterwards return again."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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