I have always found people with multiple passions more interesting than single- subject obsessives.
I first became aware of Jameson Parker… well, a LONG time ago, when he starred in our generation’s finest California TV mystery series Simon and Simon, playing the preppier younger brother and partner in a PI business to Gerald McRaney’s Marine veteran and hipster in an uncharacteristically smart show, written with a light touch that never quite forgot the darkness that lurks beneath SoCal’s sunny surface.
After the show I heard about his involvement in various projects. Apparently he was a hunter and bird dog man, and knowledgeable about guns — despite his California antecedents, no surprise, because my friends and I had discovered one of the secret delights of S & S was that everyone used appropriate guns, and handled them as though they used them off-set as well. Somewhere along the line — I don’t remember which happened first — we discovered we had mutual friends, and collaborated on a couple of radio conversations on, naturally, the virtues of various fine shotguns and other sporting matters.
He then wrote a book, an unusual memoir called An Accidental Cowboy. I suspected that I would like it, but it was better than that; not only a fascinating tale about how an educated urban intellectual (forgive me, JP!) suffered through a shocking incident of violence, and somehow not only recovered his equilibrium but became a working cowboy good enough to earn the respect of lifelong professionals. As a westerner who is not a cowboy, but hangs out with plenty of them, I have some idea of how hard that is. He also revealed himself to be a natural writer — as he is also an omnivorous and voracious reader this somehow doesn’t surprise me either. His unpretentious but serious little book is one of my favorite present-day memoirs.
He hasn’t rested on his laurels yet. He has been producing everything from e-books and short stories to editing a book on dead dogs, while hunting and fishing with a passion that can’t endear him to his erstwhile Hollywood comrades. He also writes on western and cowboy matters for the new western magazines that often feature my other literate semi-cowboy colleague, songwriter Tom Russell.
Now he has started a website to among other things sell his various books, and a blog, titled Barking Backward. It’s only been out a short while, but its mixture of literacy, dark humor, and eclectic subjects will I suspect appeal to any fan of Q. Please check it out. And if you have the slightest interest in why someone with impeccable establishment roots might want to become a cowboy, or if you just like horse work, get yourself a copy of An Accidental Cowboy.