Top poet, writer, and cowboy philosopher Baxter Black dedicates his latest book, Scrambled Wisdom: Almost isn’t is … is it, to the late, much-missed funnyman and cowboy poet Pat Richardson. Baxter describes Pat, “…He was droll, with a monotone delivery and every time you’d take a breath he’d drop a knee-slappin’, dog barkin’, rarin’ back, stomp on the floor till the possum is dead ‘one liner’…that brought the house down!”
There are “Pat stories” sprinkled throughout. Baxter famously once said of Pat’s poetry, “If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what’s worth savin’, this is what the stew would smell like.” These two larger-than-life comic geniuses have inspired so many.
Scrambled Wisdom… lives up to its title. There are pithy observations on life, some with “afterthoughts” (“A cowboy without a horse is like a bird without wings. A cowboy without wings is like a bow-legged ostrich!”); aphorisms; quotations; jokes; asides; life lessons, advice (“If you can’t be kind, at least be vague”); and more. Always known for loyalty to his friends, there are mentions of and derived wisdom from many familiar names, such as Dave Stamey, Les Buffham and Mike Fleming, Elmer Kelton, “Vikki’s Grandpa Bill,” and many others. Shakespeare, the Bible, and Theodore Roosevelt are represented.
The wacky wisdom is served up in one-page commentaries and sprinkle of poems, loosely collected in chapters: “Cowboy Up,” “Cowboy Logic,” “Horses,” “Rodeo,” “Farmers,” “Vets and Dogs,” “Workin’ Cattle,” “Cow Bidness,” “Mumbles,” “Out There,” “Flag and Family,” “Riding Drag,” and even “Seriously, Sort Of” (fear not).
With pieces as varied as “On Cowboy Advice to the Lovelorn,” “On Carpooling the Cowboy Way” and “On Lizard Abuse,” there are definitely more topics than a sane person could imagine. The illustrations (inside by Charlie Marsh and Etienne “A-10” Etcheverry, cover by Bob Black) are also wild and numerous and even the credits are laced with hilarity (“Bob lives in Arizona with his beautiful life and sneezes for a living.”).
Don’t look for political correctness and there is plenty that would make a librarian clutch her pearls. Most would say that is what they value in Baxter Black’s humor.
The small-format hardcover is chock full of fun, and a perfect gift. Visit baxterblack.com for order info and special holiday deals.