Sunday, March 11, 2012

An Accidental Cowboy, Barking Backward

I have always found people with multiple passions more interesting than single- subject obsessives.

I first became aware of Jameson Parker... well, a LONG time ago, when he starred in our generation's finest California TV mystery series Simon and Simon, playing the preppier younger brother and partner in a PI business to Gerald McRaney's Marine veteran and hipster in an uncharacteristically smart show, written with a light touch that never quite forgot the darkness that lurks beneath SoCal's sunny surface.

After the show I heard about his involvement in various projects. Apparently he was a hunter and bird dog man, and knowledgeable about guns -- despite his California antecedents, no surprise, because my friends and I had discovered one of the secret delights of S & S was that everyone used appropriate guns, and handled them as though they used them off-set as well. Somewhere along the line -- I don't remember which happened first -- we discovered we had mutual friends, and collaborated on a couple of radio conversations on, naturally, the virtues of various fine shotguns and other sporting matters.

He then wrote a book, an unusual memoir called An Accidental Cowboy. I suspected that I would like it, but it was better than that; not only a fascinating tale about how an educated urban intellectual (forgive me, JP!) suffered through a shocking incident of violence, and somehow not only recovered his equilibrium but became a working cowboy good enough to earn the respect of lifelong professionals. As a westerner who is not a cowboy, but hangs out with plenty of them, I have some idea of how hard that is. He also revealed himself to be a natural writer -- as he is also an omnivorous and voracious reader this somehow doesn't surprise me either. His unpretentious but serious little book is one of my favorite present-day memoirs.

He hasn't rested on his laurels yet. He has been producing everything from e-books and short stories to editing a book on dead dogs, while hunting and fishing with a passion that can't endear him to his erstwhile Hollywood comrades. He also writes on western and cowboy matters for the new western magazines that often feature my other literate semi-cowboy colleague, songwriter Tom Russell.

Now he has started a website to among other things sell his various books, and a blog, titled Barking Backward. It's only been out a short while, but its mixture of literacy, dark humor, and eclectic subjects will I suspect appeal to any fan of Q. Please check it out. And if you have the slightest interest in why someone with impeccable establishment roots might want to become a cowboy, or if you just like horse work, get yourself a copy of An Accidental Cowboy.


Anonymous said...

Steve, A quick FYI ... the first three seasons of Simon & Simon are available online at the Hulu web site. No cost or apps to download, just have to watch an occasional, brief commerical.

The Black Dogs Love it!

Anonymous said...

It does not suprise me that he has such well rounded, and devloped interest. As the father of a Beloit College grad and a current Beloit freshman, I am well aware of what the "Liberal Arts in Practice" produces. Jameson is a Beloiter also, as well another hero of this blog Roy Chapman Andrews.

Matthew in Missouri

Reid Farmer said...

Does he still live in the Tehachapi area? When we lived there back in the 90s he was one of the occasional "celebrity" sightings we used to have, there, along with the late Jack Palance who also lived in the area

Steve Bodio said...

Matthew-- knew both but hadn't consciously thought of the connection- thanks!

There is also a lot of St John's (and a little MIT) around, plus everything from dropouts like me to Yalies. Q is eclectic-- but it is a nexus of connections and very close "degrees of separation".