THE IRREVERENT GUIDE THAT TAKES NO PRISONERS
Well for all the new, wet behind the ears followers of this rancid page, we haven't tipped our flat hat lately to The Master, Rick Bates.
Here he is, was, will be, in all his faded and present glory. An enigma wrapped in a riddle dressed in a hot legend that melts pages, so is usually just spoken. Just another one of the bigger than life characters that made The Big Out There what it was, when it was, a sunburnt, alkalai drenched Mecca for the shiftless, nomadic vaquero, the transient wino reduced to cooking hash and pies, the crosstie walking hobo and the flush cheeked coquette doing time in a brothel, back when it had an aura of respectability to it and you showed some of those girls more respect than you did your cowboss.
Folks usually worshiped Bates or hated him. Rarely was there a lukewarm feeling or a whispered quip for The Hawg. If you got on the hindside of the back of his cantle on along around sundown, the silver reflecting the sun could damn near blind a man at half a mile.....it was rumored his wildrags were really castoff tablecloths, and he's credited as the man who began the excess big rag fad. Beady of eye, steely of gaze. An unabashed poet who could regale for hours with tales, poems, sagas rivaling the Knights of the Round Table and Aesop's fables. Spur rowels bigger than a pie pan with a ring just as sweet as fresh peach cobbler. Wrist cuffs sweat and sun had turned into chocolate molds on each wrist, and a Fu Manchu 'stache waxed off at the ends.
His followers included TJ Symonds, who went on to make his own name and legend, and a cavvy of young punk, aping 'roos hanging on his every word, move, dress code deviance and jaded thought. You don't and won't find guys like Bates on the buckaroo circuit anymore, for better or for worse; but close your eyes, listen hard enough however and you can still feel their hot breath on the back of your neck in a mind bending 103 degree day rodear, or perhaps while slumped six sheets to the wind at the Stockmen's bar; the gone, the forgotten Viejos watch you, yes still, from afar: ever rating, sizing up, betting on who will last, who will fade, who'll flat out die, and who's the next cocky heir to their silver coated, centerfired thrones...
JULY IN THE SAN JOAQUIN
The viejos claimed Bako was hotter back in their time, and 115 degrees was nothing; maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.... But you know Rojas was inclined now and then to wink and grin via pen and ink. But true: maybe a lad hasn't lived until the rubber sole of his Paul Bonds have become soft and gummy walking the streets of Fresno, Chowchilla or Tehachapi on a mid-July day, leaving footprints on the sidewalk, and he has to dunk his spade bit in a water bucket to cool it before he can bridle his horse...lessen he burn his tongue.
The Elko cusses brag of surviving 45 below - their cocky stab at a title to matchless extremes. Cold be damned - you can always pile more clothes on and tough it out. But the heat? How naked you become to cool off is somewhat curbed by social mores. Suddenly, wearing that thrift store white shirt buttoned up to your chin loses all it's glamour and you ponder a tank top and Panama. The boys from the land of fruits and nuts, steers and queers were and still are, often dismissed as limp wimps. But stick a high elevation Tuscarora boy down in some paved burg like Fresno's Tower District at high noon when it's not even peaking yet at 112, and as you shade up under the awning of the Tower Theater, then ask him then if he's as tough as he thinks.
The Prunies know what I speak of... Sitting in a rodear baking in your chinks, the sweat gluing your Levis' to the seat of your SA Brown...hat band stuck to your forehead, lips cracking, ...that putrid stench of Manteca beets coming off the feedlot, the brown haze from tractors way off in the distance, raping dirt, the chirring crickets in oaks, the shimmering mirage coming off old 49 as you pull into Hornitos....Angel's Camp... Raymond...Oakhurst...Oildale...Weedpatch...Arvin...Glennville...Tulare...
Trailering down off the Tejon down 99, hitting the edge of Bakersfield, the wall of heat hitting you like a 100 pound ball bat smack in the face, and you can't make it through traffic to Dewar's fast enough for that Coke float. Dragging tired ass to the big orange stands and fat laced burgers and orange juice that were like Holy Grails to be conquered by hunger and sugar lust, dotting old 99, like mini Meccas. Trotting over the Carizzo Plain on an empty canteen and no potable water to be found, and not a breath of breeze...
The skeleton of what was once French Pete's service station mocking you as you look ahead down to the south, contemplating the gruesome snaking Grapevine grade before you, back before they lined it out...the Three Brothers burger and fries churning in your gut like an off kilter washing machine. You think you are tough? You consider yourself able to stand about anything Lander County or Burns or Bruneau can dish out? O come hither, ye sons and daughters of the silver sage, for a July in the San Joaquin: let the ghosts of 1,000 vaqueros show you what makes the man and slays the pretenders.
I remember back then, Rick Bates always calling it The Big Nasty. Another dubbed it The Big Lonely. The old guard called it “The Desert”. As if all others paled in comparison. And to a degree, they did…..
I remember Sally Marvel saying we were “going down to The Desert” as if it were a five star resort destination for the privileged and Chosen Few. Which for some of us, it was. We liked it that way – the mystery of it, the unattainability of it all. It was a closed society back then, ignored, unknown by outsiders who either feared it or found it not worth their spittle.
RANGE Magazine refers to it as “the empty quarter”, the nuance of which will mean a big, fat nothing to most ranch folks, lest they have read Wilfred Thesiger and T.E. Lawrence. So probably, it’s safe to say, there aren’t many buckaroos with copies of Seven Pillars of Wisdom or Arabian Sands stuffed into their bedroll or on their bookshelves, like me. But maybe it was the common denominators Northern Nevada once had with Arabia, back in a time, back in the day – countless aching hours and kilometers of desolation, heat, sand and silence - that drew me to buying and devouring those classic books.
The Big Out There. It’s the land of extremes. Roughly encompassing the terrain West of Salt Lake City, South of Boise, North of Tonopah and East of Bishop. Oh, sure you can argue some about the actual boundaries, but its really the place where, as you’re driving along, you slowly begin to feel very small, extremely insignificant, and you start looking around and realizing, there ain’t shit around ‘cept for you, your truck, and maybe a road killed rabbit, some shitters or range cows.
Some could have successfully argued once, it’s not just about place, but a mindset, too. But that time has passed, more or less.
But this is a country so vast and empty, that when some pissing stop hellhole like Denio looms up on the horizon, you practically fall out of your rig and kiss the parking lot.
So as to make the non-initiated feel a tad more comfortable, let me tell you that even after years or decades living in it, the honest locals will admit they still occasionally succumb to that fleeting feeling of, “Oh God, in heaven will I ever get there?”
Who the hell hasn’t been coming East on I80 out of Lovelock back to Winnemucca, thinking hey, only 20 or so miles to go, only to start to waiver, sweat and crumble at the Humboldt Exit, when you realize, you still can’t see the W on Winnemucca Mountain? Hell, you can’t even see the mountain, yet.
Will you ever get there? What does the gas gauge read? Are we out of water? Didn’t we already pass that tree? And of course, about now, because you didn’t stop in Lovelock, you need to pee. Badly.
Oh sure, there are locals who will brag that “you get used to it”; some are even cavalier enough to claim they’ve “been everywhere” in it. Truth be told, not a man alive has stepped foot on every inch of The Big Out There. How could they in one lifetime?
Truth be told, you can be here most of your life, and still never cease to be awed, shocked, bored, scared shitless, or have your mind blown to pieces by it – in some instances, all within 24 hours. It’s that kind of a place.
THE END OF THE LAST
Today’s buckaroo more of a miner’s whore
Buys his garish overdone costumes from an online store
Lacking the uniqueness and balls to stand out on his own
He runs in a pack of yes men, like lemmings and clones
The worst will pull race cards if they hail from the rez
Or call on their women to protect their reps
Copycat flat footers, clinic and arena bred
Try to pass for real deals by what they slap on their heads
They trailer to everything and think a measly 1,000 pair
Is a mega-huge outfit with glory to spare
Where old timers could poke fun at themselves and their ilk
These selfie-taking brats never got weaned off of milk
Dare you joke about their skirts that as armitas now pass
Most couldn’t make a wart on Claude Dallas’ ass
Blame social media for their self absorbed romps
As they slop through small pens and in lettuce pickers stomp
Now this dork old page has them fuming like never before
That’s okay you dinks bring it, because Green King has plenty more
Don’t poke their egos as they’ll too quickly deflate
And if you try to roast them, they melt like cheese on a plate
Most of these dinks think Tejon’s a salsa out West
Or a Bakersfield outlet store their wives would like to molest
They surround themselves with sniveling like-minded clowns
To perpetuate myths – and real history, try to drown
Please don’t brag to me of pall bearing a man I worked for
Prouder I knew him alive and kicking, than six under the floor
They bristle at parody and flinch when poked
Even the girls in the houses have given up hope
What once was a calling for a chosen wild, offbeat few
Has turned into a pimp fest of wimpy wannaroos
Buck Banana Bread’s to blame and so are many others
They occasionally come in here from under their covers
There are no wagons left and big crews to hire
Or hardened tough cow bosses to draw blood and ire
It takes fifteen of these gunsels just to muster up and gather
A measly section with 200 head of cattle
Their fathers had wit, grit, humor and wry
But pussy whipped sons get offended if you wink at their fly
The false eye-lashed and horny groupie Roo-tarts
Spend more time putting on makeup, than they do on a horse
Don’t matter the state, they’ve invaded us all
Poppers, brush hands, Californios and more
To where now the old timers actually stick close to another
Better to be in bed with a Texan, than some posing Elko mother
All the while the thin skins bawl at least slight
Not a one of them could have stood Merv’s, Marvel’s or Kane’s might
You got a clinic dink from Montana in here crying the blues
And Mary Hyde can’t miss a chance to try to get followers or news
You gotta hand it to the photographers who turned us into a fad
But even they aren’t to be blamed for all of the bad
Allard, Markus, Dusard and Jahiel
Can’t be entirely blamed for this hot mess of a deal
For the measure of a man is how well he can take
The ribbings, the fame, jestings and roasts others make
No one is perfect but don’t tell that to these kids
They think they are God incarnate in their fucking flat lids
Makes you want to choke them with their “buckaroo knots”
Or take them behind the Silver Dollar and show them what old guys still got
Give me my Shorty again in that smoky Commercial back bar
Where White King watched over us like a stuffed angel from afar
Give Perryman plenty room with his arrows and bow
Bring me back the Brackenburys, Koepkes and Symonds I knew
Let me hear Iveson again pissing somebody off
Make way for the wagon crews coming in thirsty, rowdy, and hot
Let Bates be young again, cussing horseback and roping
Tell Laz Mendieta we all knew he wasn’t joking
Hear Sharon yell “Line Up!” and join Maupin in Stockmens
Give me Pat Merika again with his red hair and guns
Give me Martin a sexy young hunk in Bruneau
And legends Clark and Brian and Nate Morris in old Idaho
Bring back Craven and Souza, Marek, McGinnis and Tobias too
Who didn’t need to be PC perfect to be real buckaroos
Replay the days we could settle our disagreements
With a Picon at the Martin, or fist to cuffs - then some bar mints
Have Mikey Thomas passed out on my shoulder once more
As I picked him up off the Miner’s Club floor
Yah, you trailering dinks - don’t tell me you’re tough
You couldn’t last hungover on a circle, in the old days rough
I want to see John Harrison’s beautiful face at the bar
And hear the Matys Brothers voices carrying from afar
What happened to round bottomed chinks from Caps
All we got now is these Fagmitas and batwing squared chaps
Primping wannabe bitches lurking at the Poetry fest
Trying to pass as poets and singers with breasts
What now goes for talent is what we used to call trash
Don’t tell that to most of these kids; they’ll slander you fast
Dues? What dues? They want it all now
Most couldn’t even tell you how to move an old cow
I feel sorry for these posers who never got near
The stuffed two headed calf in the old Pioneer
Who ne’er nursed a warm one with a wino or two
Yet got the audacity to call themselves real buckaroos
They want to preach scripture; run with a cowardly crowd
Meanwhile us sinners die laughing with gut busting howls
They come on this page bawling and it’s so plain to see
Their rants and ravings are out of pure jealousy
So they gotta kill the messenger lest the message get out
For the truth ain’t very pretty, and they are in a panicked pout
Green King’s been around since the year 2007
Most o’ these Facebook leppies missed out on that slice of heaven
When the Guide was a website that crashed from too many hits
And people fought like wet cats just to get mentioned on it
When being roasted by Green King was a measure of merit
Not a diaper wrapped pussy fest of kids who can’t bear it
When pissy women use non-extant photos of kids as an excuse to libel
It’s quite plain to see who really needs to start reading the Bible
Maybe it’s time for the lizard to come out of hibernation - and fast
And show this new lot of dinks what end of the lizard eats grass
BG’s been a tribute/roast of folks who had confidence, humility and humor
And the ability to weather a bunch of kids swarming them, like an ugly tumor
You whining punks you all missed out, but hey - just like we did
The old Viejos made sure we knew that, and there shuts the lid
On a chapter of history that was great while it lasted
When men were men, and sheep prayed they were castrated…
If you can’t laugh at yourself, primping dicks, go on, there’s the door
But us old geezers and farts know, you’ll crawl in here for more
Because about the time you dare think it’s us you’ve bested
You’ll find out what happens when the lizard and friends wake up rested
Green King ain’t the only one here with some deadly evil wit
You need only browse through this page to discover that
There’s plenty hands in here waiting to set your sorry asses straight
So come on - make our day - we can hardly wait
Yep, its gone now and over and done and all passed
I just thank God I was there at The End of The Last
A FLIP KIND OF WILDNESS
Back before being a 'Roo meant required slavery to Political Correctness and cookie cutter attire, there was a time a flip kind of wildness came with the label. The benign self confidence most exuded, had not yet slid into the gutter of cocky cheap arrogance.
For starters, we were poor. There was an addictive allure to $500 a month, room and board. Poverty was the pinnacle of greatness achieved by canned peaches and refried beans, endless bartering for gear and living in the moment, a nomadic horseback life that made an Arab in The Empty Quarter look civilized in comparison.
This was back when we drove junk old trucks and cars. These were times when you hit town only once every 6 or 8 weeks, and before you hit the bars and the whores, you hit the Thrift Shops. It was a contest to see who could snag the latest shipment in of used men's Van Heusen vests and sport coats and plain white shirts….when they were in supply, that news traveled as fast as a mass quitting at a big outfit.
We drank, we smoked, we cussed every other word and very few were hit over the head with scripture for it. And we slept around, we killed people and held up trains; some climbed on top of White King in the Commercial or shot arrows into his crotch; some of us let off cherry bombs in the Carlin Tunnels, a couple snuck out on the Gamble wagon when women were prohibited; we had no problem hanging out with winos, working girls, bum cooks, singers and poets, flat car riders and crosstie walkers, ex-cons and dethroned royalty; we roped and broke shitters without going to prison, respected the girls at Mona's and Sue's, dived off the second story balcony at the Stockmen's into the swimming pool, idolized old cowmen who chased cops around their own squad cars and beat the crap out of them with their own handcuffs.
The Big Out There was full of alkali dust coated cheeky characters, some quiet, some dangerous, some odd, some brilliant, some prophetic. We were quick with our laughter that came down deep from the gut, and just as quick with our tempers. Horses, cows, men and women….endless miles of nothing but sagebrush...long hard days...booze soaked and silver lined, rawhide wrapped and glued together with a silent code of honor and reverence for the things we were surrounded with and lived in, but never able to quite wrap words around….
ALL ORIGINAL MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHT BRENDA M. NEGRI © 2009-2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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