The Official Page of Justin Bienvenue
|Posted on March 19, 2018 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
The Reconstruction Era, it was a time period between 1863(or 1865 which ever you prefer) to 1877 in which the United States attempted to recover following several issues including the Civil War, slavery and the transition of states back into the union. While the era had it’s benefits and good days, the era was mostly hard on mostly everyone and left it’s mark as a hard way for people and communities to recover. Whether it was slavery, recovering from the Civil War or a transition from a south state back into the union the progress was the same for all, difficult. I could write a small book on this because of the amount of information on it but instead I am putting my focus on reconstruction in connection with the Civil War and western states and how it effected them. I also want to focus on the down side to reconstruction because it was certainly not a walk in the park or breath of fresh air, it was a time where the society that once destroyed themselves only years before had to come together to rebuild. One question haunts me however, has President Abraham Lincoln not been assassinated would reconstruction have been different? Easier? A smoother transition for the entire united states?
The Civil War, it’s one of the most fascinating yet most ridiculous wars we’ve ever seen. Fascinating in the sense of now as you look back at it as nostalgia and rustic feeling but ridiculous in the sense that it was a war that we fought...against ourselves. The aftermath of the war was just as hard on people as the war itself. People had to reclaim land, property, but most of all they had to clean up and rebuild their towns which turned into utter decay and wastelands of rubble. For some it took a mere few months, for others they simply moved on somewhere else and for most it took years to not only reclaim but to replace what they once had. You can add all the treaties, policies and acts that you want that factor in but in reality what is a piece of paper to something that needed to be physically done, fixed and rebuilt? The years after the Civil War were just a cruel to people who battled in it. It’s hard to imagine what was worse, a soldier who survived and went through reconstruction or a person who didn’t who lost someone and had to carry on through an era to which they never wanted to go back into. The Civil War left imprints and foreshadowed the U.S to a massive cleanup that no one could have seen coming despite a horrendous war.
The violence didn’t end when the war did. Let that sink in. When some men returned from the war they just weren’t the same men they were before they left. Some could get over what they felt was right but none could recover from what they saw or felt. One reason violence still reigned supreme was because there was still tension between the North and South states. Many southerners would kill after the war because they still believed in the confederacy and northerners would kill simply out of spite, hatred or because it’s all they knew. It was called reconstruction but tell that to the countless lives lost well after the war ended.
To them it was resuming and continuation of something that was just pointless to begin with. Small towns were sometimes swallowed whole with three reasons to their downfalls, wreckage, politics and other people coming in to destroy what little remained. One book that does a great job of portraying people against one another during reconstruction is Skin Medicine by Tim Curran, a horror western. The main character Tyler Cabe who fought comes into a town where the Sheriff is someone who punished him during the war. The point is that thr Wild West and reconstruction go hand in hand and they have violence to that for that.
The Civil War era, The Wild West and Reconstruction era were a deadly time in our history which as we look back we ask, why did some of it if not all of it need to happen? All accounted for bloodshed, death and destruction that never needed to happen. Perhaps the only benefit is the shape and direction our country took after the war and the era. The horrors of reconstruction impacted so many people, rich and poor, well known or not well known, it just didn’t matter. If you were anybody you accounted for everybody and the effects were felt by all those who involved or were bystanders to the destruction. Was reconstruction supposed to be an easy clean up? A simple era? A time where we could simply move on and forget the war ever happened and live happily ever after? Not in the slightest. The error with man is that it is in our nature to destroy ourselves even if it means actually fighting our own people in our own country in our own backyards because in the end, we will move on slowly and we learn. We learn from our errors and our ways...
|Posted on February 19, 2018 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, “Curly Bill” Brocius, Butch Cassidy and Henry Longabaugh aka The Sundance Kid. These were some of the most notorious and well known outlaws of the wild west but for every well known outlaw there is one of equal crimes but lesser known. The men listed above are known throughout history for their bad reputations, their countless run-ins with the law and their violent crimes. There is however other men and even women who had just as bad as reputations and committed just as unspeakable of crimes as their notorious counterparts. Below I will name several unknown outlaws that history hasn’t necessarily forgotten but doesn’t really polarize as much as the famous ones.
-Black Bart: Real name Charles Earl Boles, Black Part was an English outlaw who was one of the most notorious stage-coach robbers of his time, robbing stage coaches in Oregon and California in the 1870s and 1880's. He was considered a gentlemen because he would leave poems and messages behind after his crime, be polite to people while sticking them up and he would even decline money offered to him during robberies as he would state he only wanted the money of the Wells Fargo stage coaches he was robbing. He served eight years for his crimes and supposedly died in 1888. It is claimed Wells Fargo paid him off to keep him from robbing them but Wells Fargo denied any such claim.
-John King Fisher: While he was a lawman for a very short time, John King Fisher was an outlaw and one of the most violent. Fisher is known for wearing bright colors, uncommon for outlaws who mainly wore dark colors. He was known for his violent streak as he would kill members of his own gang, beat people down and even shoot and kill unarmed people. Fisher was gunned down in 1884 being shot thirteen times after getting into a dispute with a theater owner and known gunslinger.
-Elmer McCurdy: McCurdy was a bank and train robber but not a very good one. He used explosives which usually backfired on him as he never knew how much to use and usually had to flee escaping with no money. McCurdy was killed by police during a train robbery in 1911. McCurdy’s body was mummified and put on display in an Oklahoma funeral home and would become a popular attraction during carnivals and side shows. Coins would be places in his mouth as a gesture to see him. McCurdy’s body would be used for shows and as a prop for more than 60 years until a film crew for the show of “The Six Million Dollar Man” found it was a real body in 1976. He was finally buried in concrete in 1977 so no one would disturb his remains.
-Pearl Hart: After her abusive husband left her to fight in the war, Pearl Hart fell in with the wrong crowd. She and a man she met who was a gambler would go around robbing stage coaches. She was eventually caught but would charm her way out of prison. She would dress in men’s clothing and aside from stealing money would also steal firearms. She was in and out of prison for most her life. She supposedly settled down and opened a store under another name. She is said to have died in 1955 but as late as 1960.
-Belle Starr: Belle Starr aka The Bandit Queen was from a rich family and told to act like a proper girl however she wanted nothing to do with such a lifestyle. She got into a dispute with her family when she married fellow outlaw Jim Reed. She was also associated with the James-Younger gang. She was known for house and horse theft and caught where she spent time with her husband in and out of prison. She was ambushed and murdered in 1889 by an unknown assailant and to this day the case remains unsolved.
These are just a few of some of the most unknown and underrated outlaws of the wild west era. While they may not be as popular or have a catchy name, their crimes leave a mark today as a blemish in our countries history. Some tried to make an honest life for themselves either before or after becoming outlaws but it seems the life always finds them again and they are back to their crime killing ways until it caught up to them and was the reason they ended up dead. Here are a list of some more lesser known outlaws and some of the ones mentioned here.
|Posted on February 19, 2018 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Ghost Towns, you know of them or even know of one, heck you may even live in one yourself but what exactly is a ghost town? Sure, it could be a town inhabited by ghosts but that’s not what I’m talking about here, although the tv show Ghost Wars does a good job of this. In this case a ghost town is a town, usually a small one that gets destroyed, taken over, or in most cases the people leave out of their own free will or they are driven out. But why? What could possibly make people simply live in a town one minute and be gone from it the next? Well there’s a lot of factors here but the biggest one is that sometimes abandonment is inevitable or even necessary in order to live, it’s seen as a ways to move on. In this article we will find out what makes a town go from booming to ghost town but more importantly why it happened so much during the Wild West Era, an era that was cruel, rugged and in many cases, lonely and drove so many people from their homes. So what makes a small western town go from booming to a desolate and forgotten place?
The Wild West was a time where people would gun you down simply for looking at them wrong. It was a time where people were dirty, reckless, ruthless and savage. Also during these times it was so easy to build a town from scratch. Watch any western tv show from the fifties and look at the buildings. Sure these are tv shows and props of buildings and what not but to be honest, it wasn’t much different during the real western era. Buildings were usually all constructed the same and took little to no time to put up. So why were they left abandoned sometimes? There’s a few factors.
-Outlaws/Crime: We all love a good western story but knowing that outlaws were real sometimes hits all too close to home. One reason a town became a ghost town was because crime was just not unavoidable. Outlaws would come in, stake their claim and simply wipeout or run out the townspeople including the sheriff. They would either kill everyone, use guerilla warfare and burn the place down or in the most common fashion, run everyone out and leave themselves, leaving only the buildings of what used to be a promising town.
-Change/Reconstruction: During this time it was always about location. Sometimes were you set up a town may not have been the safest or financially the best, so when it became time people would move out all together and build elsewhere or go on their own way. What did they leave behind? Probably nothing, maybe everything but one thing they just left without a second thought was the town, becoming a ghost town, a shell of it’s former glory and lively populous reputation.
Booming during the wild west era was temporary. Many towns were like small businesses today, one day they could be on the top of their world but eventually time and bigger businesses will come along and just wipe them out of existence. What was once popular and the place to go or be will become sad memories and remnants of what used to be. Don’t let the wild west fool you though, ghost towns happened all over in many different eras not just the wild west to which they are mainly known; in fact some ghost towns are still popping up even today. Abandoned places are one of the most sad and yet most beautiful places you will ever come across as they have so much history left behind and if they could talk would tell you of many a tale. Ghost towns are just one of many abandoned places, they tell you of either a simpler time or a just as hard enough time if not even more hard time to live.
Ghost towns remind us that of the past but they also tell us that unless we want to end up just like them, we need to slowly adapt to our surroundings, to better ourselves, to make the most of our opportunities. A story called, The Ghost Town Gun Ghost by L. Ron Hubbard tells of a man who rides into a ghost town and finds another man. The man asks him where he can stay and if he can talk to the sheriff and finds that the man is the only one in town and serves all duties of the town. It’s an odd but fun story and the reason I bring it up is because it’s a great representation of not wanting to let go of the past. Even when only a ghost town surrounds you you try to make the most of it but in most cases people don’t stay they leave behind ghosts. So the next time you see an old western ghost town or perhaps your car breaks down in an old rundown town, take a look at it all and take it all in. Perhaps the history of the place will reveal itself to you, or you can create your own story of what it used to be like there.
|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 11:50 PM||comments (21)|
Weird West is a literary subgenre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre, usually horror, occult, fantasy or science fiction.
Steampunk, a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
"if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you"
a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
"the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist"
Now that we have the definitions of each genre the big question is this, are weird west and steampunk similar and if so just how similar are they? Yes they do have similarities and we will go over them and see just how alike and even how unalike they are.
-They are both lesser known underrated sub-genres
-Both can be considered to be a form of a sub-genre of Fantasy
-They both are weird, odd and unique in their own right and share a specific quality to them
-They take place during a certain time period
-They both introduce and contain the use of magical technology such as weaponry, forms of transportation and machinery
-Both tend to be associated with and combine Historical Fiction either using real people or places
-At times both create various situations involving the use of time travel
-Both tend to at times be set in their own utopia or interesting world
So in many ways Weird West and Steampunk are similar and sometimes tend to draw in the same audience. They are both unique genres that really capture the essence of creativity, magic and technology. They, like other small sub-genres tend to go unnoticed or underrated however over the last few years the popularity in each of them.
Here are some popular authors of each genre:
-Joe R. Landsdale
-Eric S. Brown
Paul Di Filippo
|Posted on January 23, 2017 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Weird West, what is it? According to a definition it’s a literary subgenre of Westerns combined with another, usually horror, science fiction or fantasy. The weird west genre is distinct because it is known for blending not only a typical western with outside elements but also combines fictitious settings and characters with real ones. Meaning you could see a made up character interacting with a notorious western outlaw like Jesse James or riding the western front with Teddy Roosevelt. Despite it’s “weird” term it is to be taken with a grain of salt and a person who wishes to write it should remember to not stir away from the “western” aspects of it because after all westerns in themselves are certainly unique. The western genre really doesn’t need any added tropes or coating so to speak and in many ways seems stern to itself like a firm law book in the crime genre. However the intrigue and fact that someone came along and did change the western genre and did add a fun and strange yet captivating and unique twist makes it all the more powerful and interesting. The genre was first introduced in the 1970's and while it’s hard to imagine it being smaller and virtually lesser known than it already is today it does in fact trace all the way back to the 70's. It became popular during the 1990's by author Joe. R Lansdale who usually combines the original western with a violent and graphic type of horror.
One question one might ask is what goes into making it “weird”? Well aside from the settings and characters there’s a few things that make this so. For one it usually involves a typical Western plot created into a unique one whether it’s a sci-fi element or fantasy one. Also technology is a big factor as weapons are usually modified to a fictional aspect but defined and told in a manner which seems plausible. When you take a strange place a western would not normally take place, add cohesive characters with real life historical figures and give them or have them use modern or created technology you make a weird western. Let this not be all you take from it, there is so much more that a weird west is besides oddities there’s still the gritty feel and aspects that make it a western and this cannot be ignored. A weird western is still a western and I feel many forget that and some just assume it’s crap because they are ruining what makes a western great, not true. You can still have a true to itself western and have the added features that add the weirdness it’s just the author has to be able to create the balance of both. It’s just like any two genres that come together or weird tag that gets added onto a genre, you can still stay true to the core and have a little fun in the process.
One thing that has perhaps given the genre it’s niche of people is the tv shows and movies of it that have been released over the last decade. This like many genres has helped it resonate and find it’s fan base. It could be argued all day long whether or not people read as much as they used to or even read westerns as much as they used to but one thing can be certain is that the weird west has helped bring a lot of younger readers to the western genre. Some tend to ride the line and border of what classifies as a “weird western” meaning despite not having to do with a straight up western the plot and idea is still that of one. This doesn’t seem like a weird western but rather a show or book of another genre. One genre that has evolved from this and people tend to confuse or blend with the weird west is “Steampunk”. In some ways steampunk can be weird west at times but over the last few years it’s taken on it’s own things that make it so. Hollywood has definitely helped in making these genres more profound and acclaimed and while the genre is still relatively unknown there is a group and fan base for it as well as writers and the more exposure it gets then the more the genre will grow. What makes any genre popular is the readers, they cannot be forgotten or be given less credit. A genre can have a ton of writers of it but without readers it’s merely a catchy hobby writers wish to take on together. The readers are what get the writers to write more and give the genre exposure and it seems very evident that this of all genres would be the very definition of this statement.
As a writer of the genre I admit it’s a challenge. Not to write but to write knowing the fan base isn’t out in the open like most but deep within the confines of what classifies as sub-genres. When I read my first weird western I was intrigued and it wasn’t until I wrote my own, A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West that I gained a new found appreciation and understanding of what the genre is and how it could potentially work if enough people tuned into it. What I did however was stick to the basics of what people love about westerns and what Joe R. Lansdale did, write a western and then coat it with weird features. I stuck to what makes a Western a western and only when I did that did I feel it was okay to add the weird elements to it. When you write in such a genre it’s necessary to tackle the main genre first so this way you stay on point and on course. Also like Lansdale I felt the Western horror was the best way to go, for me more so because I feel as though horror is at an all time high right now. So I took a lesser appreciated genre and combined it with one of the most popular and that makes for what? A Weird Western, a genre not really known but appreciated and growing more and more everyday.
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