Monday, March 8, 2010

The Shadow of the Eagle...and of Stolen Contraband on the Banks of the Marrowbone Creek

I love my cowboy boots. I realize that owning a pair makes me neither farmer nor cowgirl. I understand that sometimes my jeans look funny both over or folded into them (because I like to do a semi-tight role, circa 1992, and then pull my boots over). I know that I, for legitimate reason, invite critique from heirs of a John Wayne culture, when I put them on with my mom's deep turquoise baby-doll dress because I think it looks kinda cute (weird that I want to wear my mom's clothes? Not a chance. Jackie is as fashionable as she is unselfish and kind). And, if I may speak in purely practical terms for a moment, ice is no friend to the cowboy boot (well, at least not mine, that, while inspiring with their flare of bluish green exuberance, have very little tread); nevertheless, I tramped across UK's campus many a day making Nancy Sinatra proud. With all of that being said, I love my cowboy boots.

Historian Frederick Jackson Turner published a paper in the 1890s that has come to be known as "The Frontier Thesis." Turner's basic point was that westward movement was the key to creating and enhancing democracy. Thus, according to Turner, "the West" was the foundation of American exceptionalism; with land, came strength, both brute strength (which for many [white men in particular], luckily reinforced gender norms) and moral character (the self-sufficiency and work ethic required to "tame" the "unoccupied" area enhanced the particularly "American" democratic ethos). For Turner, then, "the West" was political even as it was mythic - a literal and figurative site of rugged individualism, a theoretical underpinning that helped explain and justify the thorns in American expansion. Removal/killing/assimilation of Native Americans, often unregulated industrial development, discriminatory labor policies (particularly toward immigrant labor), and environmental degradation were necessary to produce the sweet-smelling flower of dominance.

The mythic glorification of "the West" still exists. "Pick yourself up by your bootstraps" remains an American dogma; "Westerns" often romanticize an era that never quite existed; many a farmer has dreamt of cultivating his own plot of land, only to return to an industrial or corporate job in a matter of years; and... I love my cowboy boots. As the sarcasm in the preceding paragraph would suggest, I question the use of emotional thematics, like "democracy," "republicanism" (small "r"), and individualism. They often merely seem to disguise self-interest. However, tending toward skepticism does not mean that I am above subliminal messaging or vacuous rationales. I feel tougher when I wear my boots. I want to do chores on my parents' farm. For some reason, I do feel like a better person. I suppose I have convinced myself that both my brute strength and my moral character are enhanced when wearing my dark-brown, square-toed, suede Justins.

I've noticed that I typically have to write at the end of most of these entries, "So the point is..." (as I've mentioned, I am Curtis Turner's daughter and I like the occasional "for example" or "in other words" tangent). My apologies; I will work on conciseness and clarity. But for the time being...the point is: sometimes a pair of boots isn't just a pair of boots in the same way that a picture is rarely just a picture. There is a story behind them that we perhaps want to tell, an image or message we want to showcase, a reaction or emotion we want to inspire, either within ourselves or among our audience. It isn't necessarily political; I don't think I should feel the burden of Manifest Destiny when I look at my boots that so innocently rest on the brown rug by Mom's back door; I don't think my friend, Ben, should question the legitimacy of his images of Rosine even if those in the Alex Taylor video (from the previous blog)paint a more disheartening picture (at least, on-the-surface). Instead, I think we should consider the "whys" of our choices simply because it makes us think. This is rarely a bad thing.

These are some pictures I took this weekend in Marrowbone while out piddling and enjoying the beautiful weather - all likely the product of a subconscious hidden agenda and snapped while wearing my cowboy boots. ...
Marrowbone Clubhouse - What a wonderful place for community events. If any of you know of a revitalization/development committee, please pass along. This seems like the type of place where ideas are fostered and activities are carried out.
Carhart parking lot - I envision this as a prime location for a farmers market. If you have any ideas, let me know.
This was my pseudo-yard sale find of the weekend. Discovered on the banks of the Marrowbone creek, I think this is going to make a cute herb garden or flower box. This seriously made me so it did Lucy and Willie, who got to ride in the back seat of the Elantra with it.
Remember finding these as a kid, getting excited about coming across a diamond mine that for some reason no one had ever tapped, and then feeling disheartened when your parents told you that it was just a rock? Nope, me either...
Rock-skipping, creek playing extraordinaire.
House across from the Marathon. If any of you know the history or have any information on the design pattern in the square near the roof line, please let me know.


  1. Well...this sounds familiar...
    I enjoyed the review.
    And I very much enjoyed the use of "small r."

  2. I thought you would be impressed. Maybe you could incorporate it into your next essay? And turn it in while wearing leg warmers and cowboy boots.

  3. I was going to make a comment on your blog but I was too busy writing a poem about pudding ;)Next time we go on the bridge.

  4. Don't forget you are my daughter, too. Especially when you like to wear your cowboy boots with a "cute little" dress!! Seriously, I am blown away by your insightful, thoughtful, and philosophical writings. Have you ever considered compiling a collection of short stories? These blogs would make a great beginning.

    LOL(Lots of Love),


  5. A - Doug Stone would be proud.
    M - See amended first paragraph. I know moms are kind of required to stay stuff like you put in your comment, but it still means a lot to me. LOL right back at ya.

  6. I'm cutting the neck on my sweatshirt at this very moment.