Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Black Buffalo Woman

Little Big Horn River, Montana

All of my heroes are pathetic losers.  You have G. Gordon Liddy, General Robert E. Lee, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and Jim Morrison.....not to mention Sonny Bono....General George Custer makes the list without breaking a sweat.


Custer made Major General during the Civil War at the age of 25. He had eleven horses shot out from under him during the Battle of Culpepper Courthouse. He was 37 on June 25, 1876 when his career came to an abrupt end in Montana.

I'm not one to criticise a great military leader, but it seems odd that Custer would divide his forces into three prongs at the banks of the little Big Horn River and then subdivide his remaining third into two wings.

He asked his second in command, Major Reno, to attack the Lakota camp from the South.  Reno's men were routed as the Lakota boiled out of camp like hornets.

Custer's own 209 men, after attacking from the North,  moved to a hilltop, shot their horses in the head and used their carcasses for what has been described as well-organized breastworks and last ditch bid for survival.

The whole thing was the result of a rather shameful land grab by American authorities who had reneged on a previous treaty because of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills.

The slaughter of the buffalo  upon which the Lakota depended for food was just another shameful chapter in the history of the American expansion....but we may feel collectively no more responsible for those outrages than today's Germans are responsible for the excesses of the 1930s and 40s....all those old krauts are dead too...maybe we should try harder to be a force for good?


 The Bighorn Mountains were off to our left as we moved up though Buffalo and Sheridan...antelope and deer browse the grassland with no apparent fear...


 They've placed dead soldier markers all over the battlefield where Custer's last command was wiped out. A CSI type investigation of firing pin marks on cartridge cases and arrowhead types and broken finger bones and crushed skulls was also done...it all jives very closely with contemporaneous Indian accounts of the battle...and they were the only ones talking...


There is a National Cemetery here. The first 200-300 graves are for Custer's soldiers, civilians and Crow Indian scouts ...

 
after that you start seeing old Indian Scouts, Spanish American war vets, WWI soldiers and eventually WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan...totally cool...I could be here someday...or not...LOL...My outfit was the 7th Military Airlift Squadron running cross-Pacific missions in and around Viet Nam...we used to joke that we were the offspring of Custer's 7th Cavalry.


This is a shot of The Little Big Horn River today....The Lakota and Cheyenne had established a large camp on the river in search of antelope when Custer decided to try to force them into a smaller reservation...



Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were two of the best known Indian leaders. They engineered Custer's ignominious defeat. Below is an actual photo of sitting bull....Sitting Bull fled to Canada after Little Big Horn. He returned five years later and in 1890 was killed by Lieutenant Henry Bull Head. Sitting Bull's death coincided with the massacre at Wounded Knee and may explain the Ghost Dance movement that spread widely at the time.


This is an artists rendition of Crazy Horse. A gigantic statue of Crazy Horse is being carved out of a granite mountain  in the Black Hills. The project has been underway for 70 years and may take another 500 to complete. The effort makes Gaudi's church in Barcelona seem fast-paced by comparison. Here is a link to my Blog about the Crazy Horse project. When finished it will be the largest statue in the world....bigger than the pyramids...carved from the hardest rock in America...



Wiki has this story about Crazy Horse.....
""In the fall of 1867, Crazy Horse invited Black Buffalo Woman to accompany him on a buffalo hunt in the Slim Buttes area of present-day northwestern South Dakota. She was the wife of No Water, who had a reputation for drinking too much. It was Lakota custom to allow a woman to divorce her husband at any time. She did so by moving in with relatives or with another man, or by placing the husband's belongings outside their lodge. Although some compensation might be required to smooth over hurt feelings, the rejected husband was expected to accept his wife's decision. No Water was away from camp when Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman left for the buffalo hunt.

No Water tracked down Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman in the Slim Buttes area. When he found them in a tipi, he called Crazy Horse's name from outside. When Crazy Horse answered, No Water stuck a pistol into the tipi and aimed for Crazy Horse. Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse's first cousin and son of Lone Horn, was sitting in the tipi nearest the entry. He knocked the pistol upward as No Water fired, deflecting the bullet to Crazy Horse's upper jaw. No Water left, with Crazy Horse's relatives in hot pursuit. No Water ran his horse until it died and continued on foot until he reached the safety of his own village".

A bronze statue by James Ford imagines Black Buffalo Woman....as she might have been...I took a long walk along a dirt road this morning just after sunrise...it's beautiful country...a herd of about 20 mares and colts stared at me strangely on the road...they were "paints"...the creek here is named after Major Reno....After Custer asked him to attack from the South he led his men in a mad scramble to run away from the Lakota camp and lived to fight another day and bury Custer...


Reno was later charged with public drunkenness and with making unwanted advances toward another officer's wife. He was also charged with cowardice and drunkenness for his behavior at Little Big Horn and also indicted for peeking though the bathroom window of the daughter of his commanding officer...


 the hilltop of Custer's last stand....the last 50 or so of his 209 men fell here at the spots indicated by markers...after shooting their horses....

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Rainy day in Florence

Florence, Italy



It's raining in the morning so we break out the umbrellas and plastic raincoats and head for the market. Our hotel is centrally located a block from the market, train station and three historic churches. The Nerbone in the market sells Staccatto (slow-cooked beef stew), Lampredotto (stewed intestines) and Panino con Bollito (sliced beef on a roll)...


The Duomo has a line of umbrellas about four blocks long waiting to get in so we go to plan B and walk the back alleys to the Pitti castle...Luca Pitti (not to be confused with Luca Brasi) built this palace ...you should read about Luca, Machiavelli and the Medici clan...somewhere in here they came up with double entry accounting...


 Same deal...long lines...my Dad told me never to stand in line so we go to plan C and walk up the hill to the Pazzalle Michelangelo which has a super view of Florence and the Arno River bridges...


 Later I wash my sneakers and jeans in a laundromat...it was one wash too many for the sneaks and the soles separate from the tops...too bad but they were stinking too much to wear in public anyway...


 We buy a bottle of Chianti to drink in the room...


 Maybe a train ride to Pisa in the morning?


 A nice day for a white wedding...

Hey little sister, what have you done?
Hey little sister, who's the only one?
Hey little sister, who's your Superman?
Hey little sister, who's the one you want?
Hey little sister, shotgun!

It's a nice day to start again
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Desolation Angels

 North Cascades National Park, Washington

Not that many people still remember Jack Kerouac, the "Beat Generation" or Beatniks (How many even remember Sputnik?).

 
Jack spent a winter here up at Desolation Point in a fire tower writing "Desolation Angels". We could only handle two nights with no internet, telephone, television, FM radio, satellite radio, GPS, electricity, running water or sewer connection. The trees pressed in so closely overhead that even our satellite technologies failed to work (GPS, TV, Sirius Radio). It was kind of like the 1980s when all the National Parks had pay phones from which you could call your stockbroker...if you had a pocketful of quarters...


"No maps, packs, firefinders, batteries, airplanes, warnings on radios, just mosquitoes humming in harmony, and the trickle of the streamlet – But no, Lord has made this movie in his mind and I’m a part of it (the part of it known as me) and it’s for me to understand this world and so go among it preaching the Diamond Steadfastness that says: “You’re here and you’re not here, both, for the same reason,” – “it’s Eternal Power munging along” – So I up I get and lunge along with pack, thumbed, and wince on ankled pains and turn and turn the trail faster and faster under my growing trot and pretty soon I’m running, bent, like a Chinese woman with a pack of faggots on her neck, jingle jingle drumming and pumping stiff knees thru rock underbrush and around corners, sometimes I crash off the trail and bellow back on’t, somehow, never lose, the way was made to be followed – Down the hill I’ll meet thin young boy starting out on his climb, I’m fat with butchers, and it’s Springtime in the Void – Sometimes I fall, on haunches, slipt, the pack is my back bumper, I burnst right along bumbling for fair, what words to describe hoopely tootely pumling down a parpity trail, prapooty ........."...Desolation Angels"


Jack ended up living with his mom in Indian Rocks near Tampa. At the end he was best known for projectile vomiting cheap red wine.



The North Cascades National Park is a huge place that is a strange combination of dams to generate power for Seattle and hundreds of miles of lovely hiking trails.



There are three big lakes up in the Cascades. They are named Gorge, Diablo and Ross. Each lake terminates in an electrical generating dam that feeds into the next lake.


We did find two tennis courts. I played well against Mrs. Phred, but I prefer not to disclose the scores. It was sort of a sports movie and I was part of it (the part known as me).

“Pretty soon...do you realize there'll be so many additional childhoods and pasts with everybody writing about them everybody'll give up reading in despair-There'll be an Explosion of childhoods and pasts, they'll have to have a giant Brain print them out microscopically on film to be stored in a warehouse on Mars to give Heaven Seventy Kotis to catch up on all that reading- Seventy Million Million Kotis! - Whoopee! - Everything is free!” -Desolation Angels