Ode to Billy Jack
It only seemed fitting that I name our cat after a hero of the southwest. Perhaps it was Billy Jack who inspired silver tongued wannabe's like Rambo and Dirty Harry. For you young sprouts, the Billy Jack saga was a string of movies made in the late 60's and early 70's. Back in that last century you've heard your folks and grandfolks talk about. An ancient time before the Internet.
You'll find my credentials on the subject manifest in the 4-volume set of VHS tapes stored in our television cabinet. I have to admit, I've only ever watched the first two all the way through. The last two (The Trial of Billy Jack and Billy Jack goes to Washington) were snoozers that I simply couldn't find the courage or patriotic duty to complete. I apologize to Mr. Jack.
Born Losers was the first in the Billy Jack quadology. About a 'nam vet loner living in a trailer, riding around a coastal community on a jap bike exacting vigilante justice on beatnik hooligans who were smacked out on dope and up to no good. It's like opening a time capsule from 1967 and smelling the fear of societal decay.
The second movie entitled, 'Billy Jack' actually had a plot. Although not always cohesive or believable, it contained necessary elements of controversy; self-righteous loner drifting through the the Arizona desert, a few conservative townsmen, implied native americans, and lots of hippies. The story almost writes itself, and might have been better if it had.
Here's a picture of bernerd who is about to willfully drive his Corvette into a lake, motivated by nothing more than the suggestive words of the shaman Billy Jack.
Even with all these combustive elements of this thriller, I recall the controversy of the film was over a !spoiler alert! rape scene containing Bernerd (son of the sheriff) and Jean (hippie school marm and ambiguous love interest of Billy Jack). It was all playground scuttle at the time (I was 8 or 9) but I would have to wait a few years before I could judge the film for myself.
Billy Jack died recently. Both the actor who played Billy Jack, and our cat. I'll miss them both for different yet similar reasons. Each was a method of kitch that I found amusing. My vocabulary would be forever enriched by the Billy Jack word spasms I could quote and re-quote on most occasions. That is, until the Big Lebowski came along with fresh quotables.
The cat was a different story. I have fond memories of playing him like a theramin. He would spread out on the armrest of the recliner under my arm to be scratched. As you worked down his back he would start to growl and the pitch would increase the further down his back you got. Then he got really irritated when you got close to his butt and would whip around to bite and claw. The high notes were a skill I had to develop over time and the multiple healings of shredded arm flesh. I got pretty good at 'playing the cat' and if YouTube would had been around at the time, I'm quite certain that Bill and I would have been a sensation. We would have upstaged keyboard cat I am sure.
Billy Jack went out the way he lived his life. He took no guff. You didn't mess with goodness without consequences. He got fat and repulsive during the middle years. Then kept the attitude throughout his retirement years while his kidneys slowly failed, rendering him a gaunt and caustic old geezer who pissed wherever he pleased. Billy Jack is truly an artifact of the contemporary desert south. Never forget.
One tin soldier rides away (thrusts a subversive fist high into the air.)