Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Theme from Deadwood - David Schwarz (mp3)
Cowboy Romance - Natalie Merchant (mp3)

"Why do you watch that awful show?" my wife asked me as I was enjoying yet another trip through HBO's deceased show Deadwood.

"Because it's the best show ever made is why. It's the closest thing to Shakespearean drama I think I've ever seen."

"But people don't talk like that," she said, referring to the non-stop string of foul language emerging from the TV speakers. "Especially back then."

I shook my head and rolled my eyes. As if people were more noble in the Wild West. "They sure as f*#k did," I said. Except I only said the F-word in my head.

"No. No way. Real people don't talk like that. Not then, and not now."

Deadwood was a town of, like, 95% men. And prolly half of the few women there were prostitutes. There's a reason they coined the phrase "cuss like a sailor." Cowboys, sailors, no matter. Any environments overrun by testosterone can't be anything but vulgar places. Still, I said nothing. I finished my IBC Black Cherry soda and stuffed my mouth with a big bite of STFU. Sometimes it's better to forfeit an argument than win it.

Last Saturday I returned from a road trip with three co-workers. The four of us, all regular participants in our neighborly monthly poker tournament, hopped in a Honda and headed for Tunica, Mississippi, and stayed at the Wal-Mart of casinos for two nights. We were each prepared to gamble away an amount hovering around $300. In other words, we could only afford lose, in 48 hours of gambling, 3/4 of what John Edwards pays for a haircut. Yup, we must be in education.

Three of us are heavily involved in our churches -- each a member of significantly varied Protestant denominations -- while the fourth is a semi-practicing Catholic. Yet not even God or our belief in Him could protect that car from six hours of the foulest, filthiest, most disgusting kinds of words pouring out of our mouths. You would have thought we actually cooked and ate Linda Blair from The Exorcist before entering that car. When we finally got home and and went our separate ways, that poor Honda prolly drove itself to the nearest car wash and idled in pelting hot sudsy water for hours trying to erase the offensive stuff we said. It probably wept battery acid.

It's dangerous and foolish for me to say that all men do this, but the exceptions prove the rule. If you place a handful of men who are on similar levels socially and economically into a semi-private environment, 95 times out of 100 those men will cuss their brains out with no reservations. They'll say stuff so vile their grandmothers up in heaven would wail (although the grandfathers would chuckle and think about those times with their platoon overseas and think our generation had lost the ability to cuss good 'n' proper. We'd lost an artful flair for cussin' and traded it in for ostentatiousness, dammit!).

The topic of conversation has no bearing on this. Sex, work, religion, love, hate, war, pretty flowers, beautiful and innocent small children. Anything can be garnished with foul language like ketchup on meatloaf.

If we're talking about how much we love our mothers, we confess how damn much we a-f*#kin'-DORE our f*#kin' mothers. Holy s&#t we owe those women every f*#kin' ounce of success or joy we've ever f*#kin' had! And then someone else has to make a comment about how many ounces of successful lovin' they'd give our mother. And then someone inevitably digresses with a comment about the value of length versus weight versus thickness. And then one of us says something about having to stand outside of a bathroom stall in order to take a piss without getting their d*#ks wet from the toilet water.

And downward into the hellish spiral of mantalk we descend. Even in our most tender and sincere f*#kin' moments, men can't help but be vagrant, uncouth cowboys out on the plain. I only censored most of these 'cuz there's womenfolk around.

"Cowboy Romance" came off Natalie's biggest-selling and solo debut, Tigerlily. That album and the Deadwood soundtrack can be purchased through iTunes and Amazon.com's mp3 site.

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