Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"Me And The Senator"

I just received my “2020 Charles Russell Illustrated Calendar”, and it reminded me of this story.  (Who’s Charles Russell?  A 19th Century American painter, known for his classic tableaux of “The Vanishing West.”)

I had been to Cody, Wyoming, visiting a dude ranch with my family.

I once encountered now former but back then actual Senator Alan K. Simpson. 

What’s the connection? 

Now former but back then actual Senator Alan K. Simpson lives in Cody, Wyoming.

Putting one and one together, I figured right there is my conversational “in.”

Let’s back up a bit, so you’ll know where I was, and how I was feeling.

I was working as “Creative Consultant” on a show called Lateline (co-created by Al Franken and John Markus), a satirical sitcom, modeled on Nightline.  A lot of politicians appeared in “cameos” on the Lateline.  One of them was now former but back then actual Senator Alan K. Simpson. 

Of Cody, Wyoming.  (Which I somehow knew.)

I don’t know, Al and John are running the show.  I’m just the guy helping with scripts.  Hungry, I’m embarrassed to say, for some ego-boosting attention. 

Spotting a beckoning “Moment of Distinction”, I made my way to the Senator, who was waiting to go on.

“Senator,” I said, introducing myself.  “I’m Earl Pomerantz.  Another person on the show.”  (I find faux humility often generates a chuckle.  Though that was also the way I felt.)  

Senator Simpson was open and friendly.  And we started to talk.  It looked hopeful.  I may have been “Status Starved” on Lateline, but when it came to “Who’s been to Cody, Wyoming?” I was “Top of the List.”  (A list, likely including just me.)

Simpson seemed truly intrigued that I had trod his neck of the woods.  Warming to the subject, I said how much I’d enjoyed touring the “Buffalo Bill Historical Center” (containing original Charles Russell paintings, and a rebuilt replica of his actual studio.)  I revealed that we’d spent the night in the landmark Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill, containing a cherry wood bar, Cody received as a gift from Her Majesty Queen Victoria of England.

Sensing we were really hitting it off, I got somewhat garrulous, if I hadn’t been garrulous already, in which case I got even more garrulous.  It was like we were buddies.  Me and the Senator. 

And nobody else.

I explained how we had spent a week at Valley Ranch, a few miles north of Cody, eating giant breakfasts prior to the first of our twice-daily trail rides.  Rather than being stabled, the ranch horses grazed out on public terrain, where, every morning, real-life cowboys rounded them up and herded them in.  The giant breakfasts were actually for them, but being giant breakfasts, there was plenty for everyone.  

What did I tell you about “garrulous.”

I went on to mention – because it was an interesting name – that the man in charge of Valley Ranch was a fellow named Oak Thorne.

“Oakley Thorne”, said the Senator. 

Wow!  “Extra Points” for me, for knowing somebody he knew.  I was really cookin’ with gas!

And then he went on.

“Oak Thorne ran off with my sister-in-law.  It was a huge scandal in town.”

And “Thud!” (The sound of a man being suddenly “thrown” from a conversational horse.) 

Trying to score points with the Senator, I had run straight into a family buzz saw.  I dearly wished I had never walked over.  I was like, “Rewind!  Rewind!  Rewind!

Unless he was “covering”, which politicians can do sometimes, Simpson appeared lighthearted about the matter, almost like he was glad his cheating sister-in-law had permanently vamoosed.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s how things are in Wyoming.  I couldn’t say.  I was only there once.

All I know is, the conversation ended right there.

With a “Nice to meet you”, and a man, starved for attention, slowly backing away.
Message to Curt and whoever else who is interested.

I do not know what is available anywhere.  Hearing that Major Dad made me happy, but also since it is offered for free, it is unlikely to nudge the show toward profitability.  Oh well. At least it is seen. 

I wish Best of the West were available as well.  But there were just 22 episodes, making it too flimsy a produced "package" to bother will.  Still, it would be nice if you could see it.

My other show "Family Man"?  It was barely broadcast at all.  The tapes, I believe, are in my garage.  Since there is now one less car in there, we could set up chairs for a screening.  Though I am unsure about the quality of the tapes.  They may have been nibbled by rodents.   


Curt said...

Oak Thorne, what a great name for a western story! Did you make this up?

Which reminds me, I accidentally discovered that Major Dad is available on the Tubi channel, for free. That means there's about 3 minutes of commercials. Is Best of the West out there, too?

Anonymous said...

Curt, I can confirm Oak Thorne was the actual name of the owner of Valley Ranch. I was one of the “cowboys” who wrangled horses back and forth from the ranch to the BLM grazing land across the river. 4 times a day we had to ride across that freezing cold snowmelt stream called the Shoshone river, sometimes deep enough to come up to our saddle horns. Then we’d casually gather 70-75 head of horses wherever we could find them on 5,000 acres of Forest Service lease. My foot hit the stirrup at 5:30 am 6 days a week. “Yellowstone” is total bs folks.