The Second Resurrection


            The disappearance of  “The Legendary Under The rainbow Gang” and ideological forerunners of the “Citizen Screwed” mentality occurred during an historically strange 178 year period in which not only scores of isolated people vanished under mysterious circumstances never to be seen or heard from again but not out according to U.S. Naval records, entire ships some with hundreds of men on board disappeared minus a single survivor or any visible signs of wreckage.  The year 1878 was a banner year in terms of so called “Sun crafts” and other phenomena that defy logic and strain the limits of human reason.   History and folklore is replete with eerie accounts down through the ages of unsolved mysteries unexplained vanishings, unusual sightings and chilling occurrences.  Whatever you’re belief in terms of the paranormal or the possibility of some unfathomable cosmic otherness being out there – clearly there is sufficient evidence to conclude that someone or something “not us” and very much unlike Uncle Sam “wants you!”

One memorable individual who claimed to have some direct knowledge as to the

Clan destined activities of “The Under The Rainbow Gang” and the fate that befell them was a man who was himself as much or more of a Legend of The West than they were.

He however lacked the sinister connotations associated with these outrageous out-laws who seemed to magically vaporize when the approached that multicolored bow in the sky for which they were named. Perhaps the media and the hype surrounding him tended to obscure and eclipse the hoopla they had previously generated with their obvious and anti-social behavior and highly unorthodox approach to lawlessness.  In particular their spectacularly unique and incredibly fast getaways! Even without a rainbow in sight, in a cloud of dust with the Thundering hooves of the magnificent steeds they rode they were gone before any lawman could sufficiently gather their wits about them.  But stars though they were in the celestial configuration of Western Mythology, they received more than their unparalleled performances as part of an extended frontier family circus ensemble and so unlike other outlaws seeking to make a name for themselves, they instead sought to hide their questionable activities as The Italian American One Eyed Jacks who moonlighted as the revolutionary Robin Hood Outlaws who stole from the rich to give to the poor and defiantly fought the corrupt and the powerful in order to protect the weak.   Or so the Machiavellian Wild Bunch would have their underground army of gullible supporters believe!  Were they instead more “Robbing Hoods” than “Robin Hoods?”              

Whatever they were good guys or bad – black hats or white – obviously they totally under estimated the public relations value or power of the press or the mesmerizing and magnetic appeal of The Dime Novel.

William F. Cody on the other hand, ever a man ahead of his time, made no such historical blunder.  When destiny presented itself in the somewhat grotesque shape of Ned Buntline who discovered a dormant hunk lying prone under the axle of a U.S. army meat wagon, where one tall muscular and lithe Indian Scout lay in a semi-conscious alcoholic state his handsome features blurred by the cloud of insects buzzing about him curious to discover if he tasted as good as he looked.  It was one of those historical watershed events known as “Luck at First Sight”!  Ned Buntline was in search of a Hero and William F. Cody was in search of Heroics.  The Hand of Fate meeting the Glove of Fame and Fortune that was made for it.

         William F. Cody having been thus fortuitorisly blessed with his very own Boswell at the relatively young age of twenty-three was soon to be instantly recognizable as “Buffalo Bill The King of The Border Men”.  The young virile scout shared a toast to their new symbiotic partnership with the man who would make him a household name, as per their Code of The West agreement, “Billy” was to risk life and limb in pursuit of every ostentatious opportunity to prove his extraordinary courage and bravery and when at all possible in the most appropriately flamboyant frontier attire he could muster.  God forbid that his death defying feats and his daring in the face of impossible odds could ever be mistaken for the courage and bravery of another.

In covering all the bases, it’s a crying shame that the dynamic duo never thought to capitalize on Buffalo Bills signature look with his own line of Sombrero’s and Western Clothing or for that matter neglected the golden opportunity to market their preferred beverage of choice, Rot Gut Likker, to which both bore a fond addiction.  A liquid substance about which Ned Buntline had done considerable research. 

On these rare occasions when Ned Buntline was actually sober, he moonlighted as a hellfire and damnation temperance advocate the revenues of which were obtained by passing the hat.  Alms, which some distant missionary outpost consecrated to celibacy, sobriety and Jesus would never see.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and “Buntline The Boozer” needed some socially acceptable means of deferring the mounting costs of his ongoing love affair with the bottle.  As the impassioned male forerunner of Carrie Nation – Ned was as colorful and disreputable a character from the East as ever roamed The West in search of his fortune. A man on a mission tempting the fates and seeking by whatever means possible to catch The Brass Ring as a replacement for the gold nuggets everyone else seemed to be scrambling for.

  Panning for gold or even digging for it was too much like work for a man of his sensibilities.  He was seeking some less strenuous means of striking it rich. A resounding financial bonanza in some endeavor not requiring much physical exertion or sustained effort on his part was the kind of Gold Mine he was in search of. It would help ease the pain of a wasted life and numb the memories of a near death experience for which he bore an angry red scar and a permanent crick in his neck.  Reminders of how close he came to Judgment Day.  Lifetime souvenirs of a near fatal lynching which caused him to seriously rethink his priorities.   One of the very few literary figures ever to have survived his own hanging, apart from the sadistic lynchings authors sometimes endure at the hands of critics.   However… before shedding any crocodile tears over the likes of E. C. Judson A.K.A. Ned Buntline A.K.A. innumerable other aliases, one has to give serious consideration to the question of whether or not a person so devoid of moral character, so despicable in his lifestyle and so unsavory in his habits could ever be adjudged to have been unjustly victimized in any situation let alone as the victim of a Lynch Mob, given the Twenty one souls who have him to thank for their speedy departure from this Earthly Realm.

Given the circumstances of their deaths and the sheer madness that precipitated their eminent demise – they have little to be grateful for.
By whatever name Ned Buntline became the principal architect of a politically inspired Mob Riot of extreme brutality and perverse purpose – it ultimately accomplished little more than to leave the streets running with blood and littered with bodies, clearly this once and future architect of Wild West Mythology had “it” coming to him –whatever “it” might happen to have been!

Hangings whether by a legal lynch mob or by popular demand were such lucrative show business attractions in “The Good Old Days” when teeth were extracted and limbs sawed off without anesthesia, it was inevitable that sooner or later in the rough and tumble world of Ned Buntline, he was bound to become The Main Attraction.  Besides, a well-promoted hanging was an instant cure for failing economies (Something like World War II was for President Roosevelt) and Buntline had to find someway to contribute to society!

When the Big Day finally came however, Buntline ever open to new and innovative ways of doing things took a Never Say Die approach to his own impending demise.  At the 11th Hour, The Dead Man Walking snatched victory right out of the jaws of defeat.  Having bribed Hangman, Preacher, Casket Maker and Undertaker in advance of the much anticipated Chamber of Commerce event when with feasting and merriment all those gentile, right living, God fearing folk came to gawk and gape in self righteous holier than thou attitudes of spiritual superiority at the soon to be twitching, writhing, dangling, scrambling watches, choking and gasping for their last breath of air, who, along with nasty Ned were scheduled to meet their maker on that appointed day of reckoning.  Then Lo and Behold – the crafty Mr. Buntline outfoxed them all!  Just when the world had rid itself of one more incorrigible reprobate it appears there was a second resurrection! Ghost like, at the very witching hour a totally unchristlike figure rose from the dead, resurrected in rags from the unholy depths of a shallow grave and the suffocating confines of an unsecured coffin to claim immortality in The Wonderful World of Pulp Fiction.
          “God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform”! 

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