• More and more I find myself repeating Don Edwards’ lyric, “I thanks the lord I wasn’t born no later than I was…”
The wimpification of America continues apace, with this from the Pittsburg Post Gazette:
A backpacking trip in the Rothrock State Forest and day hikes in the Laurel Highlands and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia were among the Penn State Outing Club’s 2018 spring-term events.
After this weekend, though, the 98-year-old organization has nothing on its calendar, and unless things change, it won’t.
The Outing Club isn’t allowed to go outside anymore.
According to an announcement posted by the club on its website last week, the university will not allow the club to organize and run outdoor, student-led trips starting next semester.
“This is a result,” the announcement said, “of an assessment of risk management by the university that determined that the types of activities in which PSOC engages are above the university’s threshold of acceptable risk for recognized student organizations.”
That’s right, the land once roamed by Shawnee, Delaware and Long Knife warriors, is now deemed too dangerous for college students. As mi hermano John Cornelius notes, “Somebody has a serious rectal-cranial inversion. Possibly terminal.”
• The History Channel’s SEAL Team drama Six returns Memorial Day Weekend. I’ve taken History Channel to task recently, but this series is pretty good, thanks in large part to the presence of Walt Goggins. That dude has a penchant for surviving shots to the chest. Just ask Raylan Givens.
• A couple of weeks back I listened to a podcast featuring Don Winslow, author of The Power of the Dog and The Cartel. I love his dark and powerful work and I respect the man. If you are a writer, this podcast will inspire the hell out of you. Listen here.
• I owe a great debt of gratitude to our own Breaker Morant for introducing me to the works of T.V. Bulpin. His narrative histories of the Southern Africa frontier are just a delight — solid history well told, with an eye for eccentric characters. Get yourself a copy of To the Banks Of The Zambezi, his history of what is now Zimbabwe from the Age of Exploration through the founding of Rhodesia. Pour yourself a beverage, smoke a cigar and be transported to another time and place…
• Thanks to Bulpin, I am now hot on the trail of “the Prince of Frontiersmen,” one Johan Colenbrander. Raised among the Zulu and fluent in their tongue, Colenbrander was one of Cecil Rhodes agents in securing a mining concession from Ndebele King Lobengula. Trusted by the African tribesmen, he led a native contingent in the 1896 Matabele Uprising and was Rhodes’ translator at the great indaba (conference) that ended the rebellion. A British loyalist, he led a counter-guerrilla force in the Boer War, chasing Commandant Scheepers in the Cape and some of the last Boer bitterenders in the Transvaal.
A crack shot, an ace rider, he was one of the great Frontier Partisans — and a man with a fine mustache. Bulpin wrote a narrative biography of the man in 1961, based on research by Colenbrander’s son. It’s on its way…
• Also ordered up The Cowboy Capitalist by Charles van Onselen — a reassessment of the 1896 Jameson Raid into the Transvaal and the workings of John Hayes Hammond in that great filibustering disaster. I’ve been reading van Onselen’s book Masked Raiders about the highwaymen (mostly Irish) of 1880s/90s South Africa. The man sure can follow a trail. It’s quite fascinating to tease out the connections between and among the various frontiers of the Age of Imperialism — the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, Southern Africa, Australia. Not only are there many similarities of conditions and social and cultural activities and outlooks, a lot of the characters involved actually spent time on multiple frontiers, especially those involved in mining.
• The Cherokee Civil War is getting the mainstream Big Book treatment in John Sedgwick’s Blood Moon. I’ll get to it, eventually, when I return from the veld. It’s gratifying that some of these less well-known frontier stories are getting mainstream play, as with Autumn of the Black Snake.
• The ace badass lawman Bass Reeves is going to get his moment on the big screen. According to Deadline:
“(Chloe) Zhao is writing and will direct the pic, which will follow Reeves’ journey as a young man born into slavery in 1838 who fled to the Indian Territory in search of freedom and went on to become one of the greatest lawmen of the American West. Zhao made her directorial debut with the film Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which was produced by Forest Whitaker and debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Her follow-up feature, The Rider, premiered at Cannes and won the Art Cinema Award. In addition, the film earned her a nom for Best Feature and Best Director at this year’s Independent Spirit Award, where she also picked up the Bonnie Award for innovative vision and breakthrough work of female directors.”