Jack Spicer writes affectionately about ” the Kid.” Maybe his hero, definitely not a role model by any moral standards, but just the same he meant something to a good number of people. Billy was almost of Robin Hood status, although I doubt any money taken from anywhere by his hand had ever ended up in the house of the poor. Rather the kid became an icon of the rebel in every man and the heart of every child. Spicer writes about the kid as I myself might write of a beloved fallen ancestor or fellow soldier. Could it be that being that being so endeared to a man who is a myth might allow one to become part of that myth, to share in its mystery.
I myself have been told that I am a relative of the man who was Johnny Appleseed. I have never looked at apples the same. Of course Johnny appleseed and Billy the Kid are not quite comparable, the fact the I can get some type of connection out of hearing I am related to someone whom is only known as a legend, gives me a better understanding of how someone might write so colorfully about such a man as Billy the kid.” Billy The Kid love you back anything you say And there was the desert And the mouth of the river Billy the Kid (In spite of your death notices) There is honey in the groin Billy”I have read historical account regarding Billy and much of what I understood about who he was a far cry from how Spicer portrays his character. Most often I hand seen The Kid portrayed as an egomaniacal vagabond with rather reckless intentions. I have never taken these visions to much heart. People have created the kid to be the hero or the hoodlum that suits their own purposes.
Classical Psychoanalysis. Situation: Billy Bruce has been suffering a mild form of manic depression, or bipolar disorder and finally decided to seek help from a classical psychoanalyst, Michelle, who was a strict Freudian. Following is an excerpt of the conversations between Billy and his psychoanalyst during a typical therapy. M: Are you feeling comfortable on the couch B: Yes... M: Now, relax ...
It is not completely obvious as to what Spicers intentions and purposes are. It seems that Spicer has gotten something out of the Life and death of an urban myth. He writes in a way that one might perceive Billy the Kid as his brother. A certain pride that is detected in Spicers writing is the pride he has in what Billy was, or it could be the pride that he gets from knowing of Billy and feeling a part of the myth.
Everyone can benefit from having a hero, someone to identify with and for whatever reason care about. Jack Spicer gives us his creation of Billy, the Billy that he can relate to. We all have a Billy that we can relate to. Even beyond the tales of his courageous tangles with the law. The kid was said to have once shot a sheriff with a rifle loaded with fifteen dimes and than proclaim that it was “the best buck fifty I ever spent.” Although it is probably not a true encounter, this type of tale is the fuel that gives him this legendary status. He not only came out on top he did it with style.
I think the “style” was added by those like Spicer who create and mold the myth into a vision of who they would like to have been or have known. Spicer writes about giving Billy a poem to “hide” in, Is it that the true colors of this man are being hidden from the reader by flowered words. Is this a way to portray a man in an un-objectionable light long enough for the reader to be won over by another’s portrait of their own personal myth. “Let us fake out a frontier a poem somebody could hide in with a sheriff’s posse after him ” However many times “I choose” to be influenced by someone or something. I will always have the influence that is derived by my environment. No one can begin to understand the environment that belonged to Billy the Kid.
In this light a west (Kids environment) is created that is just as much Imagination as it was Billy the kid. As I reflect on Spicers poem and think of what I know of Billy the Kid all I see is the spray paint that has been laid down by eight or nine generations of our ancestors. “A painting Which told me about the death of Billy the Kid. Collage a binding together Of the real Which flat colors Tell us what heroes Really come by No it is not a collage… .” It is definitely literary graffiti of colors hand picked to fit our mood of the time. If we need a scapegoat we paint a criminal.
John Wayne was viewed as the embodiment of Americas spirit. He and the fictitious land he roamed is, says Louis Owens, The greatest dream of all, (La Puerta 109). The man was always trying to correct some wrong, avenge a moral crime, save a damsel in distress, or capture the bad guy. He followed his own path, made his own rules, strove for personal justice, and always came out on top (and usually ...
In need of support we paint a saint or a solid structure, an old sturdy house maybe. Its almost like when we write a resume, we paint a self portrait unlike any that those around might have ever seen because it serves to get us something that we need. In the world we live in there is a need for myths like that of Billy the Kid. It serves to fill a void or a vacant space in the lives of those who haven’t had the experiences that we want to believe were part of Billy’s life. So we write a resume for Billy as he applies for the position of American myth. We give him the job and we paint pictures of him in a golden light.
Make him employee of the year, let our children run in the streets and emulate him, because that is what we need to do. A man cannot choose to become a myth, and a myth cannot choose who it does affect, but we all choose our own myths to hear. We sift through applications written by men not for themselves but for others, not about the truth but about what truth is needed. This is “American Graffiti” so much more so than the image of a farmer and his wife portrayed in a certain painting by some artist whose name I do not recall, because it so much more to be painted than to be the painter. Even though the bulk of skill is in the latter of the two. Although I bet there have been over a hundred pieces of work pertaining to Billy the Kid I couldn’t name one of the authors from the top of my head.
But every one of them has had their hand in painting the collage of characters that I see as Billy the Kid. Was Billy a hero? Does immortal societal status justify calling a man a hero? Maybe Billy was a hero, If we happen to need a hero this week. Maybe next time around I can call him a crook just because I can. Some one else will definitely have their own mantle piece image of this man that would support my claim.
Jack Spicer was best of friends with a man he probably never knew, possibly he had a chance encounter with as a child, but he definitely found a connection to The Kid. I have my connection to Johnny Appleseed and someone else somewhere else is even now becoming a myth, needing a myth and getting what they want from its image. I can choose my own canvas, but it seems that after I am gone someone else will choose what colors to lay there. If we chip away at Billy’s portrait layer by layer a myth will become a man and in the end when all the oil based bullshit is shed a way we would most definitely be left with the truth, the original image, ” A Kid.”.
Midlife Crisis: Myth? Imagine being forty or fifty and asking yourself questions like: What have I done all of my life? Why am I sitting behind a desk? And what am I doing driving a 1994 Grand Am, when I could be driving a BMW z 3? Then you come home and your partner says, 'Honey, I set up and appointment for you to see Dr. Sherwood.' and you reply 'What for?' Going through some a midlife ...