Thu, 06/30/2005 - 16:57

JOHN WAYNE'S TEETH

"John Wayne's Teeth" by Sherman Alexie.

John Wayne's teeth ya ho, ya ho.
John Wayne's teeth ya ho, ya ho.
Are they fake or are they real
Are they wooden or maybe steel
John Wayne's teeth.

Hollywood hollywood
How does it feel,
Ya ho, ya ho, how does it feel
How does it feel.

Republican fascism ho, ya ho.
John Wayne's teeth, ya ho, ya ho.

Democrat fascism, ho ya ho.

John Wayne's teeth ya ho, ya ho.
John Wayne's teeth ya ho, ya ho.
Are they fake or are they real
Are they wooden or maybe steel
John Wayne's teeth.

John Wayne's teeth ya ho ya ho
John Wayne's teeth
John Wayne's teeth

After reading "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" with my tenth graders, we started the movie in class today. It is a very good film based on some very good short stories. Alexie is a writer worth the time to read. He is tragic and funny without being sentimental. The short story I read in class is from the book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. A young man from the Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho has learned of his father's death and must travel to Arizona to retrieve his remains. A boyhood friend and misfit storyteller joins him on the journey. The movie is based on the basic plot of "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" with material from other short stories blended in. I cannot recommend both the author and the movie more highly.

Alexie walks a fine line with his prose. It would be easy for him to write stories that played off the novelty of being a Native American and pulled a few heart strings. Instead, he transcends his culture by weaving many universal themes and makes poignant and dead on social commentary. Coming of age, broken families, the burden of guilt, tradition, community, isolation, bigotry, and domestic violence are all present at this table. My favorite scene is when one of the characters describes a basketball game. While shooting hoops he recounts the hardwood exploits of his son as the play round ball against two Jesuits. Some of the very mild levity at Catholic expense was a real contrast to my viewing of the Passion of The Christ last week-end. It was refreshing and disturbing. I was thinking about the shock many whites experienced at the the site of many Native American rituals a la A Man Called Horse. When asked about the crucifixion of Spanish overseers at a gold mine on Hispaniola in the 1492: Conquest of Paradise, the Arawak character Utapan replies, "You did the same to your God." Fundamentalism is a dangerous thing. Just ask Jesus.

Fry Bread

Ingredients

3 Cups flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 Cups warm water

Shortening for frying

Powdered Sugar

Directions:
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add water and mix until combined. With oiled hands, knead until dough is smooth. cover and let rest for 30 minutes. In skillet, melt shortening (about 1/2 inch). Shape dough into 2 inch balls. Flatten by patting or gently pulling balls until thin and about 8 inch circle. Drop into skillet, frying until light brown. flip with tongs until other side is browned. Drain on paper towels and top with powdered sugar. En