Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country is…
…set on the Northern Territory frontier in the 1920s, where justice itself is put on trial when an aged Aboriginal farmhand shoots a white man in self defense and goes on the run as posse gathers to hunt him down.
It’s due out in the States in March.
• Felonious also mentioned Matthew Restall’s new book, When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History. Which reminds me…
A legendary Sisters artist named J.Chester Armstrong recently complete a triptych depicting the Spanish conquest. It is an absolutely breathtaking work of wood sculpture, carved with a chainsaw.
In the summer of 2012, Armstrong created a massive five-panel depiction of the Mayan creation myth, which is housed at Javier’s Mexican Restaurant in the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thousands of people have seen that work. One man in particular, a resident of Belize, fell in love with it.
“He saw it whenever he went to Vegas,” Armstrong told The Nugget. “Every time he went to Vegas he made a point of making a pilgrimage to see it.”
Finally, he commissioned Armstrong to tell his own Mesoamerican story – the story of the Conquest of Mexico. The client is of Spanish Castilian descent – the blood of the Conquistadors flows through his veins. Armstrong’s work, which flows across three panels, offers up vignettes from the saga of his ancestors.
Each panel is nine feet tall; five feet wide. Unbelievable. A real privilege to write the story.
• Speaking of the early Americas. From BBC:
Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Mayan ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.
Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications.
The landscape, near already-known Mayan cities, is thought to have been home to millions more Mayans than other research had previously suggested.
The researchers mapped over 810 square miles (2,100 sq km) in northern Peten.
Results from the research using “revolutionary” Lidar technology, which is short for “light detection and ranging”, suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilisation more akin to sophisticated cultures like ancient Greece or China, National Geographic reports.
• And just because Felonious keeps hitting the x-ring and deserves a hat-trick — a tribute album for the 100th birthday of blues great Elmore James. Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James features Rodney Crowell and Jamey Johnson, and also the sisters Shelby Lynne & Allison Moore (who I had a crush on long before she became the 6th ex-Mrs. Steve Earle). I’m in.
• No sooner do I say something nice about The Intercept than they run a piece of tripe that requires pushback:
Over at Running Iron Report, I recommended The Intercept for its investigative reporting, allowing for a clear left-wing bias. I like listening to podcasts featuring a Marxist critique of contemporary economic and cultural realities and such. And, while I had some problems with its lack of historical context, I thought Matthew Cole’s The Crimes of SEAL Team 6 was a solid and worthwhile piece of reporting. But when the sheep start bleating bitter about movies “glorifying outmoded models of masculinity,” my hackles go up.
“You can see Rambo and John Wayne return to life in the latest war blockbuster, 12 Strong, which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who also brought us Black Hawk Down. 12 Strong is an extravaganza about a Special Forces team that fought the Taliban in Afghanistan in the weeks and months after 9/11. During the movie’s pivotal scene, the leader of the Green Berets, played by Chris Hemsworth (the grievously handsome star of the Thor franchise), decimates a hive of Taliban fighters with his rifle ablaze as he gallops ahead on his fearless horse (yes, he’s riding a horse). In the same way that Hemsworth’s assault weapon goes rat-tat-tat and the bad guys fall like bulleted dominoes, the scene itself checks off one born-in-Hollywood cliché after another: of the rugged gunslinger, the warrior in camo, good versus evil, the modern vanquishing the profane, a man at his fullest.”
I admit, I’m not erudite to know what the hell this snide little fucker means by “the modern vanquishing the profane.” Not woke enough, I guess. But anyway, Peter, hero tales “of the rugged gunslinger, the warrior in camo, good versus evil… a man at his fullest” are older than Beowulf and they’ll outlive this sorry Age of the Wimp (hat tip to Jeff Cooper) you seem to desire to embody. Thank Crom for that.
• From the BBC, the untold tale of one of the most famous photographs in history. A valuable reminder that human stories are complicated and defining, symbolic moments may not be exactly what we’re led to believe they are.
“The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”
— Photographer Eddie Adams
…the photo did not — could not — fully explain the circumstances on the streets of Saigon on 1 February 1968, two days after the forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. Dozens of South Vietnamese cities were caught by surprise.
Heavy street fighting had pitched Saigon into chaos when South Vietnamese military caught a suspected Viet Cong squad leader, Nguyen Van Lem, at the site of a mass grave of more than 30 civilians.
Adams began taking photos as Lem was frogmarched through the streets to Loan’s jeep.
Loan stood beside Lem before pointing his pistol at the prisoner’s head.
“I thought he was going to threaten or terrorise the guy,” Adams recalled afterwards, “so I just naturally raised my camera and took the picture.”
Lem was believed to have murdered the wife and six children of one of Loan’s colleagues. The general fired his pistol.
“If you hesitate, if you didn’t do your duty, the men won’t follow you,” the general said about the suddenness of his actions.
Loan played a crucial role during the first 72 hours of the Tet Offensive, galvanising troops to prevent the fall of Saigon, according to Colonel Tullius Acampora, who worked for two years as the U.S. Army’s liaison officer to Loan.
Adams said his immediate impression was that Loan was a “cold, callous killer.” But after travelling with him around the country he revised his assessment.
“He is a product of modern Vietnam and his time,” Adams said in a dispatch from Vietnam.
The photo — and people’s interpretations of what it meant — would haunt Loan and almost kept him out of the States post-war. Adams testified on his behalf to lift a ban on his entry. An ugly, complicated episode of an ugly, complicated war. Hat tip to the BBC for digging a little deeper.