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May 02, 2013 7:49 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Right from the bucking horse’s mouth

Written by Doug Blough

Well, the spirited brouhaha over Dante’s radio column finally subsided. Not to stir the pot, but I just never did understand what all the fuss was about and why so many radio supporters reacted so caustically to Dante’s opinion, which I happen to share.

Some said it took courage to express, even slightly, derision of radio in the so-called “Radio Capital of the World,” and I agree: Dante and I are courageous. If you missed it — and I’ll admit I only skimmed it, distracted by the TV — in a nutshell, this is what went down:

Dante gave examples of how radio can sometimes be dangerous to all involved, which caused many to get downright chapped. I thought, “So what’s the big deal? Millions of people never tune into radio anymore.” Sure, at one time it was extremely popular, but only because TV wasn’t yet evolved as it now is. I wouldn’t call radio dangerous or cruel … just unnecessary.

Well, the website lit up with terse reader comments, many repeating the “Radio is a way of life in Wyoming; a huge part of our culture …” mantra. Puleaze! We ain’t listening to radio and we ain’t moving back to where we came from. Can anyone say, “Freedom of speech?”

What? Oh, rOdeo? Neeever mind.

I was just funnin’. If you’re too young to remember Gilda Radner’s hard-of-hearing “Emily Litella” character on SNL, I’m jealous. Emily would always rant about the waste of money put into, say … canker research. Finally, “Oh, cancer? Never mind.” Funny stuff.

I did more than skim Dante’s rodeo column and the 52 reader comments, and found the ones not angrily redneck to be educational and illuminating to a few of my own misconceptions. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts many readers who previously, secretly questioned rodeo’s appeal, came away with a clearer image of livestock treatment.

I am certainly no stranger to rodeos, as you might have gathered from my old photo above. Further proof lies in the following reprint of a column published elsewhere back in ’02. You’ll see how rodeo household-name, Timber Tuckness, former Northwest rodeo coach Gavin Gleigh and I go way back. Let’s read an excerpt, shall we?


Gavin and I, cowboy and hippie, are good buddies, but few know of my own bull-riding days. It was, as we bulldoggers like to say, “Back when they still bucked.” I was known as “The Little Tick,” for my penchant of hanging on as if embedded in the bull’s skin. 

If you doubt my words, just ask Timber Tuckness. He believed. Two summers ago, it was cowboy’s night out as I joined Gavin and Rob Bright on the pro beer-drinking circuit. I spent the evening entertaining new friend Rob with tales of being voted “All Around Cowboy, 1986.” Bright isn’t dumb, but he indulgently feigned belief. Winding down at the Irma, Rob’s eyes lit up brightly when he spotted his old friend at the bar. He said, “Hey Blough, ya wanna have some fun?”

Gavin had to leave, so it was now just me and Rob: “Bright and Brighter.” The chap riding the barstool was Timber Tuckness, and Rob introduced me as “Ron Halverson,” whom I surmised must be a rodeo legend. Rob asked Timber, “Do you remember when Ron rode ol’ Widow Maker down in Rio Doso?” The awe-struck, ogling Tuckness was speechless. Finally he gasped, “Ye-e-eah. Man, I can’t believe it’s you. You look different.” I deadpanned, “Yessir. When my wife left me, I hung up the spurs, grew my hair and took to drinkin’ pretty hard. I miss the bulls though, I do.”

I fielded his questions and even added a few stories about wild rides in Calgary and Pendleton, Ore. Ol’ Timber just kept repeating, “Wow; you look so different. Great to see ya, Ron.” We really had that ol’ boy going until I began feeling guilty and finally confessed the ruse. On the rare occasion I cross Timber’s path, we still laugh about it.  

Gavin later explained ol’ Widow Maker was “registered as #666, and he looked like the devil himself. He slept with one eye open so he wouldn’t turn on himself in the middle of the night.” That’s what I miss most about the circuit — just shootin’ the bull with the rodeo hands. I was in it for more than just a grubstake.


So ya see, I’ve rarely been on a horse and never a bull, but I can sling it with the best of ‘em. Now that I’ve been educated, thanks to Dante’s column and reader rebuttals, I have no beef with rodeo. Maybe the bigger beasts do enjoy it, but I’m with Dante on the calf roping. A baby anything jerked to a rude stop, tossed around and tied motionless can make even hardened rodeo junkies cringe just a little.

So the buck stops here on the subject of rodeos. In the words of the immortal Rodney King, “Can’t we all just wear a thong?” Oh, “get along?” Never mind.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link May 08, 2013 5:19 pm posted by Steve Moseley

    I agree, radio has violent moments that can be uncomfortable. That calf being snapped around when it hits the end of the rope is certainly one, but in the radios I've seen in 63 years upon planet earth, I guarantee a whole lot more humans went out of the arena horizontal than critters. Just sayin'...

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