Friday, February 24, 2006

beta grande

In the same way that the Wu-Tang Clan watched tons of chop suey Shaolin monk flicks and made such Tiger claw styles into the hip-hop vernacular, I'm hoping someone will do the same for Rio Grande. I have a ways to go to check in with all of John Ford westerns, but this is a good start. The Calvary outfit in the movie answers everything with a boisterous "YO!!!" and there's plenty of dialogue comprised solely of "YO!"s bandied about through the canyons. You can also harvest any number of lines about men as "sol-juhs" and have a new sub-species of dialogue ripe for that next wave of over-sampled movie snippets. Expect Scarface-esque John Wayne embroidery on leather jackets blowing up in the Fader soon.

There's plenty of Sons of Pioneers tunes here as well, marching in and harmonizing at odd intervals. They even sing a song that makes me think of the Animal Collective, called "She was my Purple Gal." How appropo, since that was the obsessive color of Feels, even though they themselves sound way more like the bellering Apaches on the warpath in the movie. (Aside, yet another dispatch from that one-man PR firm that is myself for the Animal Collective runs here.)

Watching this classic John Ford/ John Wayne western, it rekindles an old ritual I once shared with my father. One of my fondest memories was spending his lunch break watching westerns together. Every afternoon, they used to play these old Gene Autry movies and we partook of each and every matinee offering. As I grew more appreciative and adult, we switched to Clint Eastwood flicks (I forgot how diabolical and severe High Plains Drifter was until I re-watched it recently).

For a certain generation, John Wayne was the male archetype supreme, the epitome of masculinity. Christ, what's more American, more manly than John Wayne? Familiar mostly with his drunken swaggering and slurred speeches of later Western boilerplate, he's so young and statuesque here, as if chiseled from granite. As Rio Grande's plot hinges on a father-son relationship, I wonder what my father imagined his father-son relationship would be like in the future when he first took in the film. That I'd one day follow in his footsteps? Prove myself on some imaginary battlefield much like John Wayne's son does here? Make things right in the eyes of the father? We all know about the flame that killed John Wayne though, right?


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