Where are the Sons of the Pioneers when you need them?We dropped the girls off for an afternoon of touristing amid the concrete handprints of Hollywood Boulevard. Their favorite? Cary Grant. Very classy of them I think.

While they stared at a mile or so of sidewalk, we circumnavigated awful Griffith Park to see what Gene Autry was up to in his National Center of the American West (which is sort of a funny oxymoron). We hoped to find many a painting like the one by Frederic Remington above, Only Alkali Water (1905), in which we see a horse reluctantly giving his cowboy the bad news about the potability of the spring they’d been so looking forward to. Our hope, unlike that of Mr. Horse and Mr. Cowboy, was rewarded: There were a goodly number of such Western paintings, bronzes and carvings, all well worth trotting around the debased eastern end of the Santa Monicas known as the Hollywood Hills. A lot of work from the 19th century, and surprising number of first-rate contemporary pieces.

Mostly, though, it was western artifacts: saddles, branding irons, and lots of ol’ time weaponry. Here, for example, is Annie Oakley’s pearl handled sidearm:

The gun Annie got.

Frank Butler — now there’s a man who knew what women want.

We especially enjoyed the two Gatling guns. A thousand 45 caliber rounds per minute. Dang!

We enjoyed it all… up to a point; an indeterminant point when all the mining equipment, moccasins, feathered war bonnets, movie costumes, household goods, horsey items, a full-size chuck wagon with mannequins, and… and, well, everything hit that dread critical mass of Too Much Museum. Our eyes glazed, our information banks started smoking and throwing off sparks, our attention wavered then broke: We had been Museumed.

Nothing for it but to run to the Gift Shop, which is the Best Ever!


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