Monday, July 21, 2014


Many of you who have known me for a while are aware of this: PREACHER is my favorite comic book of all time, but I got more fun out of HITMAN. What you might not know is this: my favorite Western TV show is GUNSMOKE, but I got more fun out of MAVERICK.

Let me shift for a moment. Not a lot of people know this, but MAVERICK creator Roy Huggins, who also co-created THE ROCKFORD FILES, was fond of saying that James Rockford is a direct descendant of Bret Maverick, and it totally makes sense. Sometimes, I wish Rockford would tell Angel (or any of his other friends/acquaintances) about things his grand(-grand)-pappy might have said.

All of that said, I'm almost certain that everyone who knows me now has no idea how much influence James Garner has had on my life. Maverick and Rockford are huge ingredients in my personality. I don't even know where to begin with this.

Let's start with cowardice. I can't tell you how many people I've casually admitted my cowardice to. Bret Maverick (and Brother Bart) did this on a routine basis. Here's the thing, though: none of the Mavericks were cowards, and neither am I. It's just that we hate violence.

Hold on a minute! You all know, through my fiction, that I depict a lot of horrible, psychotic violent scenes in my fiction. I'm sorry, but that's the way of the world. Personally, I abhor violence, just like the Mavericks. I am a pussy-hair away from being a pacifist. But the problem is this: violence exists, whether I abhor it or not. Like the Mavericks, I will resort to it . . . but only if I have to. Unfortunately for them, it's happened a lot. For me, I haven't struck anyone out of rage for more than twenty years. I still feel guilty about that last incident, because I heard that guy hasn't been the same since. It makes me sick to my stomach. But I had to do it, or someone I loved would be hurt even worse.

I'm also kind of mercenary when it comes to money. Maybe I learned that one from my father, because he's much the same way. Regardless, I have done quite a few things that went against my nature for monetary gain, just like the Mavericks and Rockford.

Like Maverick, I have siblings. Bret only had Bart (and there were cousins, but never mind that). In all actuality, my brothers and I have more in common with the Earps. Most of us look the same. Take a look at the Earps and try to point out Wyatt. Try to point out Virgil. Try to point out Morgan. Try to separate me from Dan or Alex or even Bob. (Frankie and Rachael look different from us, mostly because they had different parents. I love them both, but I've only seen them in person a few times, and on each time, they gave me the impression that they could handle anything that came their way. My father and Ann--my stepmother--really did a good job of raising them. My own mother and Bill--my stepfather--were fucked in the head. I loved Mom, but she was never ready to raise kids.) Here's the thing: if any of my brothers got into a fix, I'd let them figure it out for themselves. How many times did Bret abandon Bart to figure his own shit out? Even if Bret caused the aforementioned shit? At the same time, if it was really ugly, something beyond the respective siblings' abilities, Bret would step in and help. Just like me with my brothers. Whenever something happened with them, I'd feel an initial rage, but I knew that they could handle it themselves. If there was something (and there never was) that they couldn't handle, I'd handle it for them.

Rockford shared a lot of these qualities with his ancestors. I'm sure you don't need further explanation from me. You get the picture.

A lot of my friends say that they don't like westerns. It's all the same shit, and for the most part, they're right. For the wrong reasons, because they're blinded by the stereotypes, but still. For them, I recommend MAVERICK. The Mavericks were so unconventional for their time it was ridiculous. It was a western show where the leads were self-professed cowards who used their minds to thwart their enemies instead of quick-draws. They didn't even drink booze. Ask a common person what they think of when they think of westerns, and in the top five is whiskey.

I don't have any enemies today, but the ones I used to have? I never threatened violence. I always outsmarted them. That's the greatest lesson anyone can learn from the Mavericks. If you want to kick someone's ass, don't do it. Just fuck 'em over with your mental or social skills. That will work 100% of the time. No kidding. I've exercised this a lot of times AND IT WORKS.

A lot of my friends say they hate crime shows. It's all the same shit, and for the most part, they're right. For the wrong reasons, because they're blinded by the stereotypes, but still. For them, I recommend THE ROCKFORD FILES. Rockford, like his ancestors, was very unconventional. Given the choice between fighting crime and relaxing while eating tacos? He'd always choose the latter, even though the former would get him some money to survive. The guy lived in a trailer on the beach, for fuck's sake. For the most part, he had to come to a decision between hanging out with women he wanted to fuck or hanging out with his father, expertly played by Noah Beery, Jr. That's how most of his days went. (For those who didn't watch the show: he always chose his father.)

James Garner played regular guys, not superheros like Matt Dillon or whoever the fuck is in charge of LAW AND ORDER. That's why I identify with his characters over anyone else in Hollywood. Watch his episodes of MAVERICK. When he deals with dumb fucks or idiots of any variety, watch him. You'll know exactly how I would respond to the same dumb fucks and idiots. I recently watched an episode of MAVERICK with him in it that I hadn't seen before, and I literally--AND I MEAN LITERALLY--finished his sentences.

Wow. This went on for too long. Didn't mean that. I just meant to say that I'm sad Garner is gone. Did you know that Efrem Zimbalist Jr. died a couple of months ago? Neither did I, until today. I don't know why a big deal wasn't made about Zimbalist's death, because he was--once upon a time--an incredible actor. More importantly, he was one of the biggest villains/friends of Bret Maverick. He played Dandy Jim Buckley, who worked with the Mavericks several times but who always had his own motives. Sometimes, Dandy Jim won. Which is ridiculous for a Western back then. How could the good guy lose? Well, sometimes the Mavericks came up short, despite the well of knowledge Pappy left for them.

I like to think that James Garner found Jack Kelly in the afterlife, and that they're working together to bilk the devil for all he's worth. And I desperately hope the devil is really Zimbalist. Come on, he's got the perfect voice for it.

*sigh* All right. I'll go to bed. Goodnight, fuckers.

Are they gone? Good. This one is only for James Garner: rest in peace. You were great, and for the most part, you were underrated. Time will tell for you. If there's a motherfucker out there who disagrees, they're wrong. If they don't want to look into Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford, there is always SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER. Those will change their mind.

Seriously, though. Thank you, James Garner. Without you, I wouldn't be the man I am today.

To those of you who have read this far, here's a bonus. My TV Western hero was James Arness as Matt Dillon on GUNSMOKE. He died not too long ago, and here's my tearful goodbye to him.

You might also wonder why I led this piece with a picture of POKER ACCORDING TO MAVERICK. If you want to know the truth, I'm a really good poker player because of this book. At one point I decided to become a professional poker player, but I was too afraid of the slapdash lifestyle, so after winning about $3,000 at it, I chickened out. I mention this because I feel I would be lying if I didn't. But I saved it for last (and put it so far down in the piece) that I didn't think anyone would see it. Therefore, if I got involved in a poker game, no one would know about this . . . unless they paid attention to this. And who the fuck is actually still reading this? To those of you who have gotten this far, goodnight. Not fuckers. Goodnight, friends.

You're still here? I'm glad. Thank you for reading this far. Here is the real emotion of what has happened. I'm crying my eyes out right now. Maverick and Rockford were heroes to me, and I can't stop the flood from my eyes. It is a bold reminder of my own mortality.

Goodbye, James Garner.

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