Wild West

For the newfound Albuquerque crowd too lazy to go out and pick up the morning paper and too impecunious to subscribe (you know who you are): I commend your attention to Leanne Potts’ story in this morning’s paper (secret decoder ring link) about the Wild West show opening at Magnifico downtown next Friday.

I’ve always had a vague understanding of the power of Wild West iconography in German culture, on account of the German tourists one always meets traipsing about the desert of the Four Corners (a friend jokes that you can always tell the German tourists – they’re the ones wearing sandals and dark socks). Leanne’s discussion with Stefka Ammon, the German artist who organized the show, added a great deal to my vague understanding:

So why does the mystique of the American West hang on long after we all should know better?

“I think it is- oh, my Native American friends, forgive me this – because people still perceive (the West) as open and empty, a screen for all our imaginations, like a promised land,” Ammon says. “Like, ‘If I only were there I could be doing what I really wanted, I could really be myself.’ ”

That speaks volumes, I think, to our own understanding of The West.


  1. John,

    Hello there! Long time no talk… this entry reminds me of the time my wife and I were visiting the parks and national monuments in Utah and Arizona. It was near September and the funny part was the pretty much every tourist we ran into was German. Given my ability to speak German, it was our joke that I should just start speaking in German to anyone we met on the trail, as odds were that it was their language!

    Having studied German culture a good bit, it did always intrigue me that they had such a fascination with our “Wild West”. Your comment may be quite appropriate.

    Dan York (‘dyork’ on Advogato)

  2. My wife and I were camping in a campground at Navajo National Monument. Far too close to us and late into the evening, two Germans were have an animated discussion auf deutsch. Fed up, I yelled “Schweigen!” (shut up) — and they did, danke.

    As for the German fascination with the US Southwest, there was a German author, kinda their Zane Gray or Tony Hillerman, who did much to popularize the Southwest — I can’t recall the name and I’m too lazy to research it.

    bis später,

    another Mothers fan (especially Flo & Eddie)

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