My hero: Calamity Jane
I’d love to wax rhapsodic over this photo but I can’t improve upon perfection. Calamity was a war-hero, a frontierswoman, a pioneer in a literal and figurative sense.
A woman actually born with no fucks to give.
Wikipedia says it better than I could, particularly the last line:
Martha Jane Canary or Cannary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman and professional scout known for her claims of being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok and fighting against Indians… She was also known for her habit of wearing men’s attire. It is known that she was illiterate, an itinerant alcoholic, and an occasional prostitute.
An “occasional prostitute”. Because, meh. You just have to love a woman who wouldn’t let herself get pigeon-holed.
There is so much awesomeness in Calamity Jane that I don’t have the time to start. You’ll just have to trust that reading about her is, at once, terrifying, hilarious, triumphant and mind-boggling. And please do read about her. You can’t make this shit up. (I’m not all that keen on the whole Indian-killing part but it was the misguided-ness of the time; hindsight and all.)
There are many accounts that say much reputation was fabrication. Hers. Much of what she did, wasn’t. Who cares? We’re still talking about her. I can’t say the same about any of us.
Again, there is nothing I can say better than what has been said to who she was or to paint a greater character. I’m just sharing an inspiration. An inspired life once you run out of fucks to give.
P.S. I’ve never considered myself a fan of Westerns or pioneer U.S. history until I read this book. If you’re looking for, by far, the greatest Westerns and in-arguably one of the greatest historical novels ever written, try this:
Considering how often I’ve recommended this book, I deserve at least a “thank you” from Pete Dexter. Still waiting, Pete.
The HBO mini-series, Deadwood, was independently researched and not an interpretation of this book, by the way, and also fabulous. The dialogue alone is worth the binge.