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No lessons from the Old West

Letter from Slim Wolfe

Old West – October 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

In September’s edition Martha doubts that the Old West has any lessons for the troubles in the Old World. I’ll up the ante here: I doubt if a nation which can’t maintain order in its own refrigerators has any business trying to impose order overseas. And why is she alone or nearly alone among news analysts to remind us that the current crisis area, South Lebanon, has been full of displaced Palestinians since the creation of the state of Israel? Is it any wonder that region bristles with rocket-launchers? Without the context of history as a background, the voting public is more likely to be gulled by pie-in-the-sky politicians and their agenda.

Cartoon by Slim Wolfe
Cartoon by Slim Wolfe

Nor does the Old West seem to have many lessons for the rest of us, if Hal Walter’s account of his four jobs is any indication. The jobs of the Old West, the eighteen-hour days, were often directly connected to one’s own sustenance; now we don’t so much hoe our potatoes and notch our logs as we do any damned thing to fatten our checking accounts.

It doesn’t have to be that way, neighbors. We’ve just got out of those Old West habits, and bought our rustic charm second-hand.

The more correspondent Ide Trotter excoriates the high priests of environmentalism, the more he sounds like a high apostle of Reaganomics. By their omissions shall we know them, and as he distracts us with hypotheses about the Middle Ages, et cetera, he omits whatever he finds inconvenient — such as ozone depletion.

Reaganomics strikes me as just one more religion; you chant the appropriate stanzas over and over until there’s no room left in anyone’s brain for the basic laws of physics, chemistry, math, or anything else. I, for one, have not taken that blind leap of faith to the ultimate divinity of Saint Free Market.

If you want a game in which the ones with the muscle can tilt the table and make the ball go in the wrong pocket, you can always play pool, but there’s no need to force your predilection on the whole damned planet. Some of us might just like to get through to next week.

My recurring nightmare is that Slim’s folly (my odd-looking stone and glass survival earthship, now nearing 4000 lumpy square feet) is being swallowed up by a development. Though much has been said in defense of modulars and trailers, a person who has slaved away for nearly fifteen years hauling in and assembling raw materials into an abode has a hard time not seeing instant housing as a thing from outer space, and the inhabitants as mere cannon-fodder in some Reaganomics footnote.

So far most of the aliens have decided to land elsewhere, thank Allah. Perhaps we have succeeded in emitting some sort of repulsive aura here on Desolation Row, and we might be looking for a good patent attorney in the near future.

Finally, score some points for Ms. Hiemstra’s cogent and compelling account of bi-cultural Leadville. It’s nice to know that some people are building bridges of understanding! Keep writing, please.

Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove