Sunday, November 13, 2022

Eight seconds to pain or glory

...Rodeo celebrates the raw skills of ranch work. It is an enunciation of dignity and of nostalgia for a lifestyle that feels far away in modern America. It also provides a respite from the isolation that persists in rural regions like this one. About 150 spectators are gathered here in late August at the Albany County Fairgrounds in Laramie to celebrate “the western way of life.”

“This is the time of day for a cowboy when all the hard work was being done. The bronc stompin', the fence buildin', the well diggin’ and the cattle tendin’,” an announcer says in a treacly voice at the start of the show. “It was this way of life that the sport of rodeo came to be, and folks, we are about to embark on one of the nation’s greatest feats of history. Because for a cowboy, this is his story.”

...Buffalo Bill, as Cody came to be known and immortalized, was the person most responsible for popularizing the lore of the Wild West in the late 19th century. His highly produced and scripted Wild West show recast cowboys from undesirables into figures of romance and virtue, says Richard White, an emeritus historian of the West at Stanford University.

A new narrative of American manhood was born — a highly profitable one.


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