PRINT March 1986

The Cowboy Philosopher


Late in 1978, a record by four post-Sex Pistols bands from Manchester, England, arrived in the mail; inside the sleeve was a perforated sheet of four stickers. One, titled “The Return of the Durutti Column 1967” (the Durutti Column was one of the bands), caught my eye: a cartoon credited to “Situationist Group,” made from a movie still of two mounted cowboys and comic-strip speech balloons filled with dialogue in French. I couldn’t read French, neither “Durutti Column” nor “Situationist Group” meant anything to me, but I was somehow taken with the thing–with its dreamtime, deadpan incongruousness. It was a metaphor of something; I didn’t know what. I tore on the dotted line and stuck the picture on my tape recorder as a talisman of whatever it might eventually reveal.

I know now that this metaphor had been taking shape for almost 20 years, and that it is still changing shape today;

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