Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

No true West in New York City

by Julie Carter

We who live on the sunset side of this country tend to forget there is a great big world out there that has absolutely no idea what the West really is.

True West magazine hit the "big time news" (their own words) when they became the topic of review by MediaPost's "Magazine Rack."

Headquartered in New York City, you have to surmise this was an adventure for the writer that began as soon as she flipped open the glossy cover of the magazine and proceeded thumbing through the pages.

Her journey commenced with the True West's reputable variety of Western features, illustrations, photos and travel opportunities.

"We get the occasional cowboy," New York writer Fern Siegel said in her review, "but he tends to be more Village People than Buffalo Bill. That's not counting the Naked Cowboy, who corrals Times Square in his underwear."

Siegel lives in downtown Manhattan and claims the Empire State Building as her "true north"-- a world foreign to the real cowboy as illustrated by Siegel's use of Buffalo Bill as a measure of authenticity. The reference to the Naked Cowboy is pure entertainment without any serious evidence of anything more.

A NYC icon, the Naked Cowboy is some dude who performs on Times Square wearing only his BVDs, boots and hat, with a guitar strategically placed to give the illusion of nudity.

Now he is licensed to perform marriages. For a mere $499, you can get hitched by Reverend Naked Cowboy in Times Square.

With acerbic wit, Siegel winds through True West magazine's history, then down a trail to that particular issue's overviews of "extreme historic getaways."

She skeptically doubts the validity of the term "eco-tour" listed on the description of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train ride. For her, the giveaway was in the photo that showed, as she put it, "black steam belching coal dust in the pristine sky."

However, she was enlightened with the offering of an Arizona Cowboy College in Scottsdale where "hopefuls learned roping, shoeing and horsemanship."

Siegel's fascination was captured with a feature about the fight for Geronimo's remains and his great-grandson's argument to have them returned from Fort Sill, Okla. to Silver City, N.M., per Geronimo's wishes.

In her written tour through other parts of the magazine, Siegel recognizes True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell's desire for historical accuracy, the same that he touts on his "True West Moments" show on Encore's Westerns Channel.

Siegel points out instances in Western movies that might cause Bell's factual meter to quiver.

"I'm guessing the washboard abs and over-pumped biceps Brad Pitt sports whenever he swaggers onto a horse in Ralph Lauren chaps or Clint Eastwood's precision beard, which has clearly made friends with Hammacher Schlemmer's $400 electric razor, are two quibbles," she wrote. "There could be more."

Siegel said the magazine was the "real McCoy" for aficionados. I took that to mean, in the realm of her New York knowledge, it was the real deal ... if you like that kind of stuff.

Remember those popular Pace Picante ads where the Southwestern cowboys made fun of the greenhorn who bought salsa that came from New York City?

While my intent is not to belittle Siegel's review of the magazine, I do find a hint of disdain buried in the flow of her verbiage. So, it was with great delight that I noted the listing of her title at MediaPost. "Deputy Editor."

In the merriment of the moment, I paused to wonder if that position came with a tin star badge; the signature of lawmen of the West.

Nah, not from New York City. Get a rope!

Julie can be reached for comment

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