Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Modern Day Heroes: John Wayne

John Wayne from The Comancheros. 1961.
John Wayne was the original movie tough guy.

He rode a mean horse. He carried a shotgun and a brace of pistols, and in most of his movies, he was pretty good with his fists, which meant he could punch out the bad guy’s lights without working up a sweat. 

Too bad his parents saddled him with a girl’s name. Marion Morrison[1] wasn’t a good name for a movie star. Especially, if he planned on specializing in tough guy roles.

Johnny Cash could very well have lifted the idea for "A Man Named Sue" from John Wayne’s life story. I have no doubt that name turned Wayne into the tough son-of-a-bitch that he became.

Not too long ago, another bad ass named David Morrell wrote a short book about John Wayne.[2] And, let me assure you, David knows a thing or two about tough guys. If you don't recognize the name, David is the man who wrote First Blood. That book unleashed John Rambo on the world. 

Johnny Rambo was a Vietnam veteran, who suffered from PTSD. In the book, Rambo got pushed a little too hard by a local sheriff because he had long hair. All I can tell you is big mistake. Rambo took out most of that town before he got taken down. 

John Wayne came from the same stock as John Rambo. 

He didn't take shit. From anyone.

A Moveable Feast, Hemingway on the Writing Life in Paris of the 1920s

A Moveable Feast covers Ernest Hemingway’s early years in Paris stretching from 1922 to 1925. He was poor then, often going hungry, but it doesn’t seem that way as you read the story. He always found money to bet on the races, and for travel, and dining out.

He had so many friends. Some famous, others like himself, crawling their way up out of the gutter. There was Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Sylvia Beach (the owner of the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore), and F. Scott Fitzgerald just after the publication of The Great Gatsby (when it wasn’t selling).

And, there was gambling and drinking, and literary talk, and Zelda Fitzgerald’s plunge into insanity.

Paris was good and evil combined. But, it was all about the people.

Gertrude Stein “was very big but not tall and was heavily built like a peasant woman.” She talked constantly, advising Hemingway not to worry so much about food or fancy clothes. He should save his money and invest in quality art. Don’t buy the every day, look for talented artists your own age, and invest in them.

More than anything, he needed to watch his wife. Her desire for fine clothes, shoes, and expensive food could ruin him.