Lately, I’ve been broadening my knowledge. Some probably consider it necessary I do so.
A few documentaries have grabbed my undivided attention. In-depth mini-series documentaries relating to the opening up of North America’s west, in particular, have held me in awe.
Mesmerised by the excellent “Robert Redford’s – The West”, an eight-part mini-series Redford created in 2016, I became engrossed from the first episode of the true history of the opening up of North America’s West...held captive by the wonders, and by the horrors of what occurred.
As a child, I loved watching Saturday afternoon matinee glamorised, fictionalised westerns on the big screen in Gympie’s Olympia Theatre. Westerns starring actors such as Gene Autry, Audie Murphy, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Jock Mahoney, Kirk Douglas, Rory Calhoun, Gary Cooper, among other popular stars. The movies were marshmallow “soft sells” compared to the truth of what actually went on in the 1800s.
Some interesting facts in Redford’s informative documentary referenced frontiersman, lawman Wyatt Earp.
Around 3pm, 26th October, 1881, Earp and his good mate, dentist-gunfighter-sometime-gambler, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, survived the 30 second shoot-out at the O,K, Corral, Tombstone, Arizona.
Factually, the gunfight took place near a photographic studio, six doors west of the rear of the O.K. Corral.
Earp spent the last few years of his incredibly interesting life as a consultant on silent movie sets, where he befriended well-known movie cowboys of the silent era, such as William S. Hart and Tom Mix.
One young thespian eager to make shoot ‘em up, and knock ‘em down western movies...a young bloke named Marion Morrison, who later to became better known as John Wayne...learned a thing or two from Earp about the real goings-on in The West. Morrison/Wayne was a keen student and fan of the man.
In 1929, aged 80, Wyatt Earp bit the bullet.
In 1929, aged 80, Wyatt Earp bit the bullet.
Aged 102 years, Kirk Douglas has outlived most, if not all, of the cast and crew, I dare to declare.
The late Burt Lancaster stood alongside Douglas in the film, playing the role of Wyatt Earp.
Upon completion of Redford’s documentary I discovered another series about The West...“Ken Burns Presents - The West – a Film by Stephen Ives”, a 1996 production. Also an eight-episode documentary, no punches were pulled in this extraordinary exposé of what went on in the 1800s through to the early 1900s.
Stepping forward, not afraid to tell the truth, like an open book, the ugliness, the reality of what occurred is there for all to see, and learn.
Frequently, I was angered and disgusted by the ignorance and arrogance of those who believed their way was the right way. Often, tears filled my eyes.
I then came across another documentary series by Ken Burns – “The Civil War”. Presently, I’m watching the final chapter of this particular documentary series.
The story it tells also beggars belief. It's difficult to wrap one's head around it.
The documentaries by both Burns and Redford, in my opinion, are necessary viewing – not only for oldies like me, but for younger generations, too.
“Blazing Saddles”, they ain’t!
Both Burns and Redford deserve high acclaim – admiration of the highest degree - for having the guts to tell the stories...warts and all...not hiding from the truth; for not concealing or disguising the truth.
What occurred in the 1800s – in one century, in one country, for example – the incredible advancements; the massive mistakes (many of which are still being made today throughout the world – and, no doubt, because humans don’t learn from past errors, will continue being made), shouldn’t be hidden away, or glamorised; nor should they be forgotten.
In the 1800s, conflicts blotted the earth’s landscape, wide and far afield. The invasions, the bloodshed not only occurred in North America.
Humans are slow learners in many avenues.
The history of man...since the year dot...needs to be in the forefront of our knowledge; of our learning. Humans must be reminded of the ignorance; of the arrogance of their behaviour; of how brutal they have been, and continue being toward each other.
Religion in its many forms...and those who force their religious beliefs on others need to be held responsible for the unnecessary shedding of blood. The arrogance of believing their way is the right way...the only way...is the root of all evil, in my opinion. Far too much blood has been shed in the name of religion.
Read the history books...watch documentaries such as those described above.
The colour of one’s skin doesn’t make one right, either. “Caucasians”, “whites” have a lot to answer for and to. What a cheek the “white man” had forcing his beliefs on the American Indians, people of high intelligence with their own long-held convictions and traditions.
Quote: “The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. (the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska – long gone). A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed. Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, and their population declined precipitously mainly due to introduced diseases as well as warfare, including biological warfare, territorial confiscation and slavery. After its creation, the United States, as part of its policy of settler colonialism, waged war and perpetrated massacres against many Native American peoples, removed them from their ancestral lands, and subjected them to one-sided treaties and to discriminatory government policies into the 20th century. Since the 1960s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in changes to the lives of Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by Native Americans. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States - 78% of whom live outside reservations.” End Quote
Disappointingly, and frustratingly, one comes to the sad, upsetting conclusion humans will never learn from past and present errors – are incapable of learning.
The proof is in the pudding. We’re surrounded by the mire, with no indication of it dissipating.
What a wonderful a world it would be if the situation were otherwise.
Is it too much to ask...to hope for?
Spicy Cowboy Beans: Preheat oven 175C; lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Chop 8 thick bacon rashes, or speck into 3-1/2cm (1-inch) pieces; cook in pan until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside to drain. on paper-lined plate. Pour off bacon grease, leaving about 2tbs in pan. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 or 3 seeded, finely chopped jalapenos; cook until soft, about 5mins. Remove from heat. Add 2x420g cans smoked baked beans (or combination of baked, black and/or cannellini beans), 1/2c tomato sauce, 1/3c brown sugar, 1/4c molasses, 2tbs mustard, 1tbs cider vinegar, 1tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1tsp chilli powder, 1/2tsp cayenne pepper to pan; stir to mix. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle bacon and jalapeno slices on top. Bake 60mins, uncovered. If you like your beans really thick, bake an extra 20 minutes.
Marshmallow Peanut Tart: Process 250g choc ripple biscuits until finely chopped; add 125g melted butter; process until just combined; press into base and side of 3cm-deep, 23cm loose-based round, fluted flan tin. Chill until firm. Place 32 vanilla marshmallows, 2tbs milk and 3/4c smooth peanut paste in saucepan over med-low heat; cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool for 5 mins. Using an electric mixer, beat 300ml thickened cream and 1/2tsp vanilla until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cream to marshmallow; stir to combine; fold in remaining cream; spoon into prepared case. Sprinkle with 1/4c roughly chopped, salted roasted peanuts. Chill 3 to 4 hours or until set; serve.