Curator’s Comment: Below is an excerpt from the Prairie Home Companion’s sketch “Cowboys.” Go here to read the entire script or listen to the archived broadcast.
SS: The Lives of the Cowboys, brought to you by Old Chisholm Trail Blazers —– if you come to town and need to wear a jacket and tie, reach for Old Chisholm Trail Blazers, it’s the jacket that holds everything you need with no unsightly bulges. And now the Lives of the Cowboys
GK: Well, we made it to New York finally, Dusty. I tell you, going through the Lincoln Tunnel on horseback is not for the timid.
TR: Where are we? Manhattan?
TR: How do you know?
GK: Tourists. People walking slowly and looking at things. You don’t find that in the Bronx.
TR: Hey look up yonder—– a statue of a man on horseback. Who’s that, Tom Mix?
GK: No, sir, that is Theodore Roosevelt. Grew up in New York and went west and became a cowboy and that toughened him up so he was able to come back to New York and get into politics. He was police commissioner here for two years and after that, being President was kind of a cinch. No sweat. That’s the Museum of Natural History, where he and his horse are standing on the steps.
TR: They allow men on horseback in the museum?
GK: No, but they’ll let us in because we’re going to be in a diorama.
TR: Diorama —- I had a bad case of diorama, after I ate some beans and fried raccoon—–
GK: Diorama is a three-dimensional display in a museum and the curator of the show, Miss Delilah Cheevers, is paying us an excellent sum of money to sit on horseback among the stuffed buffalo and antelope so that New York schoolchildren can come and observe a disappearing way of life.
TR: I wish it had disappeared sooner so I wouldn’t have to live it personally. Wish I coulda gone to a museum and seen it and gotten it out of my system. Woulda saved me a whole bunch of misery.
GK: Well, I guess we better go in.
TR: What do we do with the horses?
GK: I’ll ask this fellow right over here.
TR: What’s he selling?
TR: If it’s that bad, why sell it?
GK: It’s a noun, Dusty. It’s a patty made with chickpeas and fava beans served on flatbread. I’ll have one.
FN: Yes, my friend, coming right up.
TR: I hope it doesn’t come right up. Which it will if it gives you Diorama.
FN: There you go my friends. Where are you headed?
GK; Say, we’ve got to go in the The Museum of Natural History here. If we tie up the horses to the railing there, would you mind keeping an eye on them?
FN: It would be my pleasure. Salaam, my friends
(HORSES, STREET SOUNDS, MUSICAL BRIDGE)
GK: Well, here we are. And there’s the giant brontosaurus.
TR: So we cowboys are considered sort of like prehistoric?
GK: I guess so.
TR: Not the sort of thing that makes a fellow attractive to good-looking young women, is it.
GK: I don’t know. —– Hello—-
SS: Hello gentlemen, you must be Dusty and Lefty.
GK: Wow. I never met a Delilah before. (STING, BRIDGE) She was tall and lean and she wore a plaid skirt and knee-high stockings and tortoiseshell glasses and she carried a clipboard against her blouse and I never had wanted to be a clipboard before but now I did. She was a curator who could’ve cured just about anybody. So—– here we are —– looking forward to the diorama.
SS: It’s right down this way, our Wild West Exhibit.
TR: Excuse me, I feel some diorama coming on, I’m going to go find the men’s room.
SS: Right down that way—–
TR: Thanks. (BOOTSTEPS FADE AWAY)
SS: So—– Lefty —– there’s the buffalo and the deer and the antelope playing —– and there’s the flat godforsaken plain, and the sagebrush—– couple of cacti —–
GK: “End of the Trail” it says —– that’s nice. So you want me and Dusty to be in there, behind glass—–
SS: That’s the idea, yes. Sitting on those rocks, beside that campfire. Doing natural cowboy types of things. Sauntering, squinting, spitting, storytelling, eating your grub off a tin plate.
GK: And would we sleep here too?
SS: We’ve got some nice bedrolls for you.
GK: I see. And who is this man coming this way?
TR (BLOOMBERG): Hi there, I’m Mike Bloomberg, I’m the mayor of New York. Elected by popular acclamation and at considerable personal expense, doing my very best for the city I love. Hello Delilah—-
SS: Mr. Mayor—– like you to meet Lefty, who’s going to be an exhibit in our End of the Trail show.
TR (BLOOMBERG): Yes, I heard about the End of the Trail show and I came here to make sure it did not refer to yours truly.
GK: Hope it doesn’t refer to me either.
Why are history people notoriously bad with deadlines? Maybe it’s because we think of everything in decades and centuries. Or it’s because we’re too busy reading and too timid to write anything. Or because some of the calendars we use are a little dated.
The truth is we have been very busy reading. Fortunately, since the Hysterical Society doesn’t have a board, or funders, or meetings of any kind deadlines are dead to us. It’s a great way to work. We can’t recommend it enough.
Amongst the many pieces we’ve found during our various researches are the Captioned Adventures of George Washington, Duggoons (artoons), and People Behaving Appropriately in Art Museums. You can find these and many, many more on our Links page. As always if you have an addition to our links please feel free to email us at thgray at yahoo dot com.
It seems art has been very inspirational lately. First, in honor of his 62nd birthday, twelve classically-inspired scenes were created showing Vladimir Putin as Hercules facing the challenges of the modern world. Hercules, as you may know, died from a poisoned shirt, which might explain why Putin prefers this look
Lastly, we wanted to share a very personal story. Since the Internet is a haven for free speech and open sharing, we at the Hysterical Society spend time displaying some of our collection in the comments sections of relevant posts on other blogs. As you might expect (but we never do) some bloggers don’t appreciate our work. A few have even deleted or rejected our submission. This happened again recently on The Junto, a group blog made up of junior early Americanists who really want to be senior early Americanists. They posted an overview of one member’s attempts to establish a public history program at the University of New Hampshire. We shared the following text and item from our collection in their comments field:
We feel that before establishing a new history, public history, museum studies program, or the the like, all concerned should read the following:
Our comment was published and then unceremoniously deleted. We don’t understand why. It’s not as if we said the world doesn’t need more public history programs, or that public history is more concerned with theories on connecting the public to history than actually doing it, or that public history people are so self-obsessed they can’t but help work the words “public history” into every conversation they have. We didn’t say any of that. Even though it’s all true.
So much for an open and free exchange of ideas.