Sunday, April 18, 2010
Many of you may not know who J.P.S Brown, or Joe Brown, is at first glance. Joe is an author of numerous novels relating to life in the American Southwest. Joe is a prolific writer and yet that's just the tip of the iceberg in this mans fascinating life. A 5th generation rancher near the Mexican border, a cattleman, an actor, and an honest to God real live American Cowboy. His book "Jim Kane" was turned into a film called "Pocket Change", staring Paul Newman & Lee Marvin. Joe was also in the film "Tom Horn" with Steve McQueen and Slim Pickens. I had always found Joe's life story quite interesting and recently was having a discussion with musician Tom Russell when Joe's name came up. Tom had said "now there would be a interesting interview". A bit of time went by, till one day I decided to look Mr. Brown up. I found he had his own website (www.jps-brown.com) & a biography page at(jpsbrown-horseman.com) & decided to make contact. I was thrilled to find Joe willing to do an interview. It's Tom Russell who I owe this interview to, so we'll kick off the interview with the first two questions from Tom to Joe. It was quite a privlege to do this interview with Joe Brown & I think you're gonna find his story quite exciting and informative. I will be printing this interview over a couple weeks time in 5 parts. I hope you enjoy it !
1) Did you know any of the old bullfighting crowd from L.A or Tucson?
Yes, Chuck Henson and I have been close friends for 33 years. We worked together as Teamster wranglers and drivers on about 30 pictures that were made in and around Tucson, beginning in 1977. I knew Marge, his, mother and his Aunt Alice. As the Greenough sisters they were among the best and most famous lady bronc riders that pioneered American rodeo. I know a lot of Chuck's Greenough cousins, too, and knew Heavy Henson, his father. We haven't seen much of each other since I moved to Patagonia. Recently we've only visited each other when we landed in the hospital. I never tried to rodeo professionally. Did a lot of pumpkin rollers in the summertime when I was growing up, mostly to advertize our horses and get them sold. I had a lot of relatives that pioneered rodeo, among them, my uncle Buckshot Sorrells. We were all cowboys and did not take time off ranch work to rodeo except to advertize our horses in the summertime. I started boxing competitively when I was 12, so when I grew to professional RCA age I was dedicated to becoming a professional champion of the world and had no interest in becoming a pro rodeo cowboy. I never quit being an outside cowboy, though
2) Did you know Casey Tibbs or Slim Pickens
I knew Casey and Slim very well during their final years. Casey and I wrangled The Alamo, the TV version that starred Jim Arness, that our mutual friend Bert Kennedy produced and directed at Brackettsville, Texas. Casey liked my books long before we ever met. I worked with Slim Pickens on the movie Tom Horn with Steve McQueen. I was the priest who spoke with McQueen in the jail and Slim was the jailer. Slim and I had a lot of mutual cowboy friends in the cattle and horse businesses and in the movie business. I liked both of those guys a lot, although I didn't see Slim after Tom Horn. I kept up frequent phone contact with Casey, especially after he came down with cancer. I kept him supplied with Chapparral tea, a cowboy remedy for arthritis and cancer.
3) Are you still writing daily and are their any new books forthcoming?
I sit down with three fingers of bourbon and write two hours or a thousand words every afternoon at 4. Two years ago I completed a novel about a boy who is found in an abandoned wagon by a trail crew driving a herd from New Mexico to California. They keep him and raise him the Cowboy Way.
It's called The Spirit of Dogie Long. My agent in New York recently submitted it to Scribners, Will James' publisher.
For the past year and a half I've been writing the tale of an Arizona ranching family who were singled out as a target to ruin by radical environmentalists. These radicals intimidated the Forest Service into considering denying the ranchers' grazing permit on government land. The family put up sound scientific proof that they were first class stewards of the land and quieted the government. However, the radicals continued to defame them in newspapers and internet. The family took them to court, won a big chunk of money from them and left them for dead.
4) In 2008 Richard Grant wrote a book called "God's Middle Finger", and before he wrote it he consulted with you on the dangers of going into the Sierra Madre's in Mexico. At that time he had never ridden a horse and couldn't speak Spanish. Despite your warnings, and with your help, he did eventually go and write his book. Were you surprised that he wasn't killed and was able to make it out relatively unscathed.
I wanted Richard to stay away from the Sierra. Most of the decent people who ranched there for many generations have been forced to leave. I still have friends who stayed up there. I wanted Richard to stay away from the roads and truck traffic and to get to know the Sierra by using the horseshoe trails. He would have been a target on either avenue, but the roads are the most dangerous. He would have been protected and introduced to the most decent people who are still in the Sierra if he had gone horseback, but he went alone in his car and did exactly the opposite of what I advised.
No, I wasn't surprised that he returned unscathed, but I was disappointed that he only met villains. I wanted him to go into the bosom of the Sierra with my friends and learn something good. He came out disgusted with Mexico. Not everyone in Mexico is a villain. The family values still govern every individual who has not dedicated himself to crime, and even still influences those who have. Most of the people are happy and hospitable and God fearing in Mexico. He chose to look for the mean ones and by God he didn't have any trouble finding them. He went in there and made himself nothing but a great big target. The Mexican word for target is BLANCO, which word also means WHITE. He went in there as a great big six foot four white man. I'm convinced that his innocence and frankness saved him and maybe after the villains got to know him they figured him to be also a little bit daft.
Posted by Rod Norman at 4:53 PM