Right Now in the West


Once Upon a Right Now in the West

The photo above is from the movie “Once Upon a Time in the West” by Sergio Leone. Considered by many to be his opus magnus, in it, the railroad and increasing modernization, i.e. Change with a capital “C” sweep away all vestiges of the so-called “Old West.” Only Jill, the eternal whore according to Leone (the whore is also maiden, mother, and crone; that is, WOMAN) survives.

All the men with their cruelty, misplaced romanticism, their vicious rapine natures and their twisted so-called humanity get pretty much killed off, thank God. This much mourned “Old West” was about grazing rights, land ownership, the capitalist pigs vs the worker, the Civil War and the dubious influences of the Church.



This photo by Guardian reporter Jason Wilson,  was taken a couple of days ago at a place my husband and I hold sacred; it’s the domestic terrorists who have taken over one of the last best places for wildlife in the US–Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters.

If there is a woman there to survive the standoff of the coming days, she’s nowhere in evidence, so no Jill to Ammon Bundy’s Jack.

The themes here are disputes over land ownership, the capitalist pigs vs the worker, disagreements over the interpretation of the Constitution, illegal occupancy of federal property, all given a twist Leone didn’t foresee–the self-styled “militia” leaders are the sons of a rich rancher.

These domestic terrorists are all grown up sons of survivors of the 1970s, whose values Leone was also conflicted about. These “kids” grew up watching westerns, spaghetti westerns, and western spoofs like “Blazing Saddles.” PLUS they grew up in the REAL West, the one that in spite of Leone’s violent nostalgia, still very much exists.

My point is that their heads are so full of a mishmash of cultural images from the movies that I suspect they don’t know what is real and what is Miramax. They’ve invented their own sense of what is right and acted on it. And nothing good can come of this as-of-this-writing unexploded powder keg.

If you want to watch a real life spaghetti western, turn on the news and crank up the sound track of your choice.

3 thoughts on “Right Now in the West

  1. maria says:

    We’ve had some coverage of this in NZ – valuable to have your big picture views and cinematic references.

    1. Sandy Brown Jensen says:

      Thanks, Maria. Malheur–that very specific piece of land being occupied the domestic terrorists–is very sacred to Peter and me. The whole situation is so surreal! So good to hear from you!

  2. Kevin Hodgson says:

    It’s taken me some time to find my way back to this post, as this event still unfolds in the news. I am not sure what to think of the real intentions there, other than some odd notions of the West that no longer exists. And I am not sure of what kind of Fed response there should be — certainly, no shooting, please. But, something .. can’t cooler heads prevail? Or are they so caught up in their narrative that they can’t see what we can see from the distant hills?


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