Everyone knows the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the OK Corral. It’s possibly the most iconic story out of the “wild west.” But there are many more stories yet untold. I’ve been following the trail of this one for a while. Doc Holliday. Wyatt Earp. Bat Masterson.
Where did they meet? How did Doc Holliday — legitimately a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and apparently a good one — wound up best friends with Wyatt Earp and his brothers? How did this polite, educated gentleman become a gunfighter and a gambler? When did Bat Masterson get into the mix?
John Henry “Doc” Holliday (August 14, 1851 – November 8, 1887) became a gambler and gunman out of necessity.
Not quite the killer his reputation made him out to be, Doc’s reputation was part truth, mixed with a lot of rumor and publicity. Often credited with killing people he never met, the rumors were fueled by Holliday’s own publicity.
He wasn’t fond of killing people. Being a notorious gunman made it less likely he’d be challenged. He was famous for shooting opponents in the hand or foot, thus ending a duel without killing anyone.
Doc Holliday was otherwise known as a mild-mannered, well-bred southerner who would have rather been a dentist. Except for being tubercular. Tuberculosis is a career-ender for a dentist.
Exactly how he met the Earp brothers and with which of the many Earps did he connect first? Lots of speculation, but no evidence that can stand up to scrutiny. When and where did Bat Masterson come into the mix?
Bat Masterson is a great character. He pops in and out of the story, shows up in the nick of time to pull someone’s iron out of the fire, then disappears back to his own story. Sounds like a supporting actor Oscar to me.
The OK Corral has been done to death. Can I convince someone to write this story? No zombies, no werewolves, no vampires. Let’s keep it all human, in the just-before-the-turn-of-the-century west.
Interesting Factoid: Doc Holliday was a cousin by marriage to Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With the Wind.”
There is a history for which the facts are known, but we don’t know who said what or when, What we know are the players, dates, and locations. Documentation exists about that, but not about what they really did. Or how they behaved together. Whether they were really friends, or lovers … or casual friends when they happened to meet.
You might as well print the legend.
On the other hand, once you realize the facts don’t form a solid story, you can pick your favorite version of the tale. Or write your own. At some point, when you get into Western mythology, your version might be as good (and as true) as any other.
So as the surreal non-reality show called Real Life continues, I’ve been reading and hearing all sorts of people saying variations on the same theme.
“Is this real?”
“Are we in some kind of Tom Clancy novel?”
“If you wrote this as a movie nobody would buy it. It’s too unbelievable”
“Can I actually save 15% on my car insurance?”
The idea for this blog popped into my head a couple of days ago. I thought it was a “tad out there.” Even for me. Then “Ole 45″ staged a “so-called” press briefing.
After watching it I realized that my idea wasn’t a “tad out there” at all. (And I am rather proud that I’ve managed to use the word “tad” in two sentences).
It was so crazy that even on Fox News the first thing the reporter said after it was over was. (and I’m not making this up), “Well all righty then.”
We are not living in a Tom Clancy novel. We are not living in a badly written movie. We are living in an episode of “Chicken Boo”.
I have to assume most of you at this point are going “who”? It’s understandable. Chicken Boo was a recurring feature on a brilliantly funny cartoon show from the 1990s called “The Animaniacs.”
You can get the whole series on Netflix. The show was written as much for adults as for the kids. Chicken Boo was a minor feature of the show.
The premise was simple. Boo was a six-foot-tall chicken who lived on a farm. Because of this, all the other chickens ran away from him because he was, well, a six-foot-tall chicken. So in every episode, he would run away and try to fit in with humans by putting on a disguise.
And it always worked! He would become the CEO of a company, a famous actor, a politician, and so on. He never talked.
He clucked. He never acted like a person. He acted like a chicken. A very big chicken.
People adored him, except that one person would always go “Hey! That guy’s a chicken!” Then everybody would laugh at him. Then, something would happen that would remove the disguise. Like his glasses would fall off.
Everybody would look wide-eyed and scream. “That’s a CHICKEN! At this point, they would all turn on him and drive him out-of-town. As he walked off into the sunset they would play the theme song:
Chicken Boo, what’s the matter with you?
You don’t act like the other chickens do.
You wear a disguise to look like human guys
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
In the course of the last week, it seems the press, media and most people I’ve talked to have been surprised to notice that our “so-called” President IS not only an out-and-out racist but is honest-to-god nuts. What other explanation can there be for his insane behavior? You can only put down so much of it to “pandering to his “core.”
The rest of it is madness. Is he narcissistic? Sure as shootin’. More than slightly demented? That too. Sociopathic or maybe even psychopathic? Your guess is as good as mine … and mine says “yup.”
What fascinates me is the “surprise.” It’s like they’d just seen the end of the first act of “Springtime For Hitler.” Even after more than two years or maybe it’s longer … I’m losing track of time … we never cease to be appalled, astonished, shame, flabberghasted. How many times can we be shocked? Apparently, quite a few and we ain’t done yet.
It’s been right out there in the open ever since he started running for office. And just like in the cartoon, lots of people adore him.
Meanwhile one …
or two …
or a few hundred thousand people are saying: “Hey! That guy’s a chicken!”
I went online to look for an episode. This is the first one I found. This is an actual episode. Made over 20 years ago.
It’s amazing.! You have to watch it. It’s only a few minutes long. The wigis the disguise.
If you don’t have time to watch it, here’s a quick re-cap. Boo is pretending to be a Russian Ballet star who has defectedto New York to work for the New York City Ballet. His entourage and his director gush over him while one press reporter asks, “Are you a chicken?”
He goes on stage and everybody loves him until his wig falls off and everybody screams “That’s a chicken!” The audience leaves in disgust. The director kicks him out into the street. As he walks away you hear:
You wear a disguise to look like human guys
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
Reality is now looking more and more like this cartoon. 45’s wig has fallen off. It was concealing a pile of mixed nuts.
I figured that I was probably the first person to make this rather obscure analogy. But then I Googled “Chicken Boo is Donald Trump.” This is what popped up.
Well, all righty, then.
You wear a disguise to look like a Presidential guy
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
Every nation revises history. They leave out the bad bits — slaughters of the innocent, unjust wars against minorities and civilians. They invent heroes, turn defeats into victories.
American history is no different. It’s relatively easy to make our history match our myths when such a large percentage of U.S. citizens haven’t learned any history since third grade. There’s some question about how well third grade lessons were absorbed. Recent studies show a troubling pattern of ignorance in which even the basics of history are unknown to most of our natural-born citizens. Ironically, naturalized citizens are far better educated. They had to pass a test to become citizens. The rest of us got a free pass.
College students don’t know when we fought the Revolution, much less why. They can’t name our first president (George Washington, just in case you aren’t sure). Many aren’t clear what happened on 9/11. I’ve been asked which came first, World Wars I or II — indicating more than ignorance. More like deep stupidity.
All over Facebook, morons gather to impress each other with the vigor of their uninformed opinions. They proclaim we fought the Revolution to not pay taxes and keep our guns. Saying that’s not how it happened is insufficient. I lack the words to say how untrue that is.
Why did we have a Revolution? How come we rebelled against England rather than peaceably settling our differences? Wouldn’t it have been easier to make a deal?
Yes, it would have been easier to make a deal and we tried. Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible. We fought a revolution when we exhausted every peaceful option. Petitions and negotiations failed, but we kept trying, even after shots had been fired and independence declared.
We didn’t want a war with England. There were lots of excellent reasons:
Our economy was entirely dependent on trade with England. Through English merchants, we could trade with the rest of the world. Without them, we were stuck with no trading partners or ships
We were ill-equipped to fight a war
We had no navy, no commanders. No trained army. We barely had guns
Our population was too small to sustain an army
We had no factories, mills or shipyards
We relied on England for finished goods other than those we could make in our own homes, including furniture, guns, clothing, cutlery, dishes, porcelain
We needed Britain to supply us with anything we ate or drank (think tea) unless we could grow it in North America.
All luxury goods and many necessities came from or through England. We had some nascent industries, but they were not ready for prime time. It wasn’t until 1789 we built our first cotton-spinning mill — made possible by an Englishman named Slater who immigrated from England and showed us how to do it.
Our American colonies didn’t want to be Americans. First of all, there was no America to be part of … and secondly, we wanted to be British. We wanted the right to vote in parliamentary elections as equals with other British citizens. The cry “no taxation without representation” (remember that?) didn’t mean we weren’t willing to pay taxes. It meant we wanted the right to vote on which taxes we paid. And how much.
We wanted to be heard, to participate in government. Whether or not we would or would not pay a particular tax was not at issue. Everyone pays taxes. We wanted seats in Parliament and British citizenship.
King George was a Royal asshole. His counselors strongly recommended he make a deal with the colonists. Most Americans considered themselves Englishmen. If the British king had been a more flexible, savvy or intelligent monarch, war could have been averted. We would be, as the Canadians are, part of the British Commonwealth. There would have been no war. A bone-headed monarch thought a war was better than compromise. He was a fool, but it worked out okay.
We declared war which many folks here and abroad thought was folly. We almost lost it. We would have lost were it not for two critical things:
British unwillingness to pursue the war aggressively
French ships and European mercenaries.
Without French assistance and hired mercenaries from central Europe, we would have been squashed by the British who were better armed, better trained. They had battleships with guns and trained seamen to man them.
Just as we considered ourselves English, albeit living abroad in a colony rather than in England, British soldiers and commanders were not overly eager to slaughter people they considered fellow Englishmen. They didn’t pursue the war with the deadly determination they could have … and if they had? Who knows how it would have worked out?
Did we really win because the British were inept and couldn’t beat an untrained ragtag rabble army? That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
I side with those who think that the British found it distasteful to shoot people with whom a short time before they had been friends and with whom they hoped to be friends again. Many British soldiers had family in “the colonies” and vice-versa. It was a painful fight, not unlike a civil war.
Many British citizens sympathized with the colonists including a goodly percentage of troops. Sympathy ran high even in the upper echelons of the British government. Many important people in England were none too happy with King George. So they did as they were ordered but without enthusiasm.
Then there was a huge miscalculation. The British did not expect the French to show up. As soon as the French fleet arrived, a few more battles were fought and the British went home. Had they pursued the war with vigor from the start, we wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the French to get here, much less save our butts.
The mythology surrounding the American Revolution is natural. Every nation needs heroes and myths and we are no exception. But as grown-ups, we can apply a bit of healthy skepticism, read a couple of books. Learn there’s more to the story than the stuff we learned when we were eight. Like, the second part of the Revolutionary war known as “The War of 1812.” Part two of the Revolution which we lost fair and square when the British burned Washington D.C.
We did not win the Revolution. We survived it. Barely.
This is why our current government is more than a mere miscalculation, a bad election. It’s not something we’ll “pull out of” after which everything will go back to normal. I’m not sure we have a normal to go back to.
It’s not only how the evil underbelly of America has been exposed for all to see. It’s also that the planet is under attack. Americans — and everyone else — need to fix it if we want to continue to live here.
We need to be very careful about how we move “forward.” We have to tread carefully. We have to work with our allies and our non-allies because everyone needs to put their shoulders to the wheel to keep our world livable.
We used to have the good fortune to live in a nation of laws but I’m not sure this is a nation of laws anymore. I’m not sure what we are. I’m not sure what the world is or whether there will be a world in another 100 years. Or for that matter, in another thirty.
Ignorance is the enemy of freedom. And our current government is the enemy of education, learning, and truth.
We are having our national moment. Well, really, it’s more than a moment. The past three years have been one, long tormented “moment.”
As someone who loves history, it has forced me to go back and look at our history and realize that this catastrophe in which we are engulfed didn’t just “sort of show up” in 2016. It didn’t drop by without giving us plenty of warning that this calamity was lurking.
We’ve been building towards this calamity for our entire history.
American has done great things. We have also done horrendous and unspeakable things. We allowed slavery as a start — and we’ve never recovered from that. We slaughtered the Natives who lived here — and we pretend we didn’t.
We have, as all countries do, glossed over the most awful parts of our history and focused on greatness. We have — and we are by no means alone in this — pretended our failures never happened or really weren’t that bad. We have held ourselves up as a beacon of light to other countries. And thus we failed to accept responsibility for the bad stuff and never grew up.
One of the many important things Obama said his final lecture was because we made progress, we assumed this progress meant that we had left “the bad stuff” behind and moved on.
But that isn’t what happened. Briefly, our better selves dominated but the bad stuff was stuck where it has always been. We fought our Civil War more than 150 years ago and it’s not over. The war will never end because we never accepted racial equality, no matter how many laws we’ve passed.
Despite the obvious that this entire country — unless you are Native American — is built on immigration, we have lost ourselves. We’ve forgotten where we come from and where we drew our energy, drive, and willingness to “go the distance” that gave the United States its vitality.
We also forgot that we got our huge emergence of industrial power from the decimation of Europe following two devastating wars. Sure, we fought in the wars, but the fighting was not here. Never on our shores.
Pause briefly and think about Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Imagine how different this country would be if both world wars had been fought in this country, on this continent. Who would be the great industrial power then? It would not have been us.
We never had to rebuild our entire infrastructure from the rubble upwards. We’ve elected fools to run our government. Not just now, but in many earlier years when we elected immoral, mentally challenged morons as leaders.
It matters more today because our executive branch has gotten so much more powerful than it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be one-third of a balanced government. Instead, it manages everything. News and events have increased to the speed of light. We don’t wait for news anymore. Everything is instant.
We didn’t become this disaster accidentally or through one bad election. We never demanded citizens vote or get a decent education. We never required our people to act like grownups. Why should we be surprised we find ourselves in this unreal and terrifying scenario?
This is our time to consider who we want to be.
Do we want to be the perpetual international fools? Do we want to pretend that all the really important things — decency, morality, safety, protection, equality, liberty and fair government — are trivial? That the only thing that matters is greed? As long as someone promises to lower the taxes of the rich, nothing else matters?
We are going to be lost to history, a blip on the timeline. We are not an island, nor do we exist alone and separate on this planet.
No Man is an Island – John Donne
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
MEDITATION XVII Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne
I know last night’s debate was a mess in a lot of ways. Too many potential (and unrealistic) candidates and a really annoying and abrasive set of television hosts who refused to ever let anyone actually SAY something that might be important. I think it was Colbert who said it was just as well these guys weren’t moderating Lincoln-Douglas because no one would have gotten a word in, edgewise or otherwise.
I also agree with Garry that they need to sit down in a big, comfortable room with plenty of coffee and other drinks, pizza, sandwiches, and dessert. Then, point out to the people who are not going to really run for president (because they don’t have the money, backing, or support to do it) that there are other important jobs to do.
Senators. Governors. Mayors. Judges, who run for offices in many areas. The people who aren’t going to make the final cut need to make their moves on other Democratic platforms.
They all had something to say — and some of it was reasonably intelligent, too — but they have to find another place to say it. There’s only one president, but we need a lot of senators.
As far as the actual debate went, there were too many people. The moderators were intrusive, mindlessly controlling and apparently not listening — and I was ready to whack them. I understand they were trying to maintain control, but some commonsense in letting people make a point before cutting them off would not have gone amiss. Thirty seconds is NOT enough time for anyone to say something sensible.
All this being said, I was overjoyed with a sense of optimism this morning and it was the first in a long time.
Optimism? Yes. Really. Because mostly, they agreed with each other and didn’t spend all their time trying to chop each other down. They talked about what needed doing. The didn’t agree with exactly how, but they agreed on what was important. It was the first positive feeling I’ve felt to date.
I needed that. Maybe I wasn’t overjoyed … but I felt better. A little less glum. A little less angry and depressed.
I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.
I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.
This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.
Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.
Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.
Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.
I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.
I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.
Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.
There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.
We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.
Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.
Yup. Lots of assuming going on.
I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.
All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.
The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.
War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.
We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.
Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations. I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.
I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.
My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.
Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.
But, I digress.
My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:
I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.
Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.
Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.
I have been a-wandering in a strange, alternative universe called Facebook. It’s a place where anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.
At some point yesterday evening I stumbled into a heated exchange about the Civil War. That it was about ‘states rights,’ not slavery. I was surprised no one was denying that slavery existed at all since anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.
At some point, someone said: “In this country majority rules, so if most of the people in a state want to fly the Confederate flag, they can. It’s IN THE CONSTITUTION.”
No, it isn’t.
Along the way, someone else suggested the losers of a war don’t typically get to fly their flag. Because they lost.
The south lost the war, a point often overlooked in these discussions. I think they should get over it, but I clearly don’t understand the issue.
I asked if the majority in a state favored slavery, would that be okay too? Most of the combatants in this discussion said yes, which proved my fundamental point. That I was trying to have a conversation with a bunch of morons.
No, it isn’t in the Constitution. There’s nothing at all about flags in the Constitution. Not a word. Nothing guaranteeing rights pertaining to flags. As far as the other stuff goes, the Constitution is not designed to protect the rights of the majority. Quite the opposite. Its intent is to protect the rights of minorities because otherwise, you have tyranny.
Sorry. I digressed.
This brought a flurry of rebuttals and name-calling, brought to a head when someone offered a golden nugget.
“The Confederate flag was a battle flag and had nothing to do with slavery. In fact, the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. It was about taxes.”
Although I know arguing with idiots is a waste of perfectly good time I could productively use playing mindless games, I had to say something. There is so much historical evidence proving that the Civil War was about slavery and nothing but slavery.
The Civil War was predestined and the framers of the Constitution knew it. Our founding fathers made a deal with the devil to allow slavery. If they had not, there would never have been the United States. The Constitution would not have passed. It might well never have been written at all although these days, I’m not entirely sure it matters anymore.
Slavery was the burning issue during the constitutional convention in 1788 and it tore the country apart two-generations later. They knew it would. The guys who wrote the Constitution may have wimped out, but they knew their “solution” was just a band-aid. They knew the issue would come to war and blood and death. It was that kind of issue.
To declare otherwise is sheer ignorance. There are lots of aspects of history that can be argued, but this is not one of them. There is so much evidence in the form of diaries and writings — not to mention correspondence between famous guys like Jefferson, Adams, and Washington.
Sometimes, I think Americans must be the happiest people on earth because we are certainly the most ignorant. Since we all know that ignorance is bliss, we live in universal bliss.
My statement was quickly swallowed by passionate southerners declaring I was an out-of-control left-wing lying Yankee liberal socialist commie. I retreated to a stupid pop-the-bubble game and the battle went on without me.
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