Saturday, September 27, 2008

Circuit Riding Rabbi

I think I want to write a western.  That's odd.  A Manichean myth.  A child's play.  A chiaroscuro morality tale done in chalk shadows and super-white light, just short of cartoon or lampoon.   Historical era?  My childhood, p'haps.  Horses?  Yes, damn right.  Did you know that there were circuit-riding Rabbis in the old west as well as circuit-riding christian clerics?

There's a hook.  I'd enjoy f@#!ing with the anti-semites on both the left and right.   


I'd love to film in Butte, Montana.  Sam Shepard set a few scenes there in a film a couple of years ago....  Butte had a Jewish mayor, early on, and one of the first bimas west of the Mississippi.  What if a traveling theater troop had once proposed to do Merchant of Venice in a western mining town and set into motion consequences that still rippled a hundred years later among the inheritors of a now dying town?  (I'd love to explore the theatricality of both the old and new west.  I've been to a couple of cowboy poetry contests in Elko.  I've seen ranchers dolled up in boots and hats and handlebar mustaches in coffee shops and bars hundreds of miles from nowhere and looking as if they're headed for a Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco.)

Deadwood comes to mind, of course, but I'm thinking of broad streets and faded Rexell Drug Store and Sears Roebuck signs under hot Sunday light.  The only door open on an alley to a gravel parking lot leading to a row of slots and Keno machines in the back of a dark bar.  Lots of pawn shops.  Dreams of gentrification just around the corner.  Rural population numbers at their nadir.  Still no speed limit on I 84.   Forest fires.  Teenagers working as Hot Shots out of Missoula.  What was that novel about a nearly-dead mill town in Maine?  Movie made with Ed Harris and Paul Newman?  In that ballpark.  Richard Ford, Rick Bass, Louise Erdrich, Bill Kittredge, Cormac McCarthy, James Welch, Raymond Carver, Russell Banks, Rick DeMarinis territory--with a little Saul Bellow thrown in.  Gun violence something restricted to myths of the past and contemporary domestic quarrels and Elk hunting.  Conflict between taciturnity and loquacity--the former more trusted in the mountain and pacific northwest to this day, the later more of a northeastern and southern (and Jewish) virtue.  

Manly with a soft, chewy center.


Harold Phillips said...

So, nothing quite as "western" as this:

Nifty idea... gentlemen, start yer typewriters!

Jeremy said...

Funny you should bring it up, but I just bought "The Frisco Kid" last week . . .