Ghost Wreck

Have Gut -- Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 13
Alley off the main street at the Mescal movie location. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Store has broken railings and the faux brick facing, somewhat like fancy wallpaper, is torn in spots, such as the upper corners. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

MESCAL, AZ -- On location, walking between and around the grubby constructions of an illusory movie community, I couldn't help but contemplate the films yet to be crafted on this turf.

I'm available to star in and direct my script of "Lonesome Dove Bar," the bold tale of the first ice cream pony in the west. I'd look so gallant Panavisioned against the clouds, bells on my hat tinkling "You Naughty Naughty Men."

It's an Oldies hat.

I'd ride into town to peddle cold treats to the school chillun and barter a frontier Chipwich to their marm.

There'd be three songs, a meltdown, and sprinkles.

Prominent structures seen in ''Buffalo Soldiers'' are ragged with roof problems and what appears to be fire damage. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Disheveled business is on the main Mescal street, but set apart from the parallel rows of stores. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

Then, after my Oscar and the Baskin-Robbins endorsements, I'd return to the scene to make my signature oater, "Ocean's One."

It's a clever caper where I use state-of-the-art 1882 technology to crack the safe at Caesar's Flophouse with an electric flat iron and no outlets. (The bobby pin wouldn't be invented for another 40 years and I'm in no mood to wait. We won't have that much film.)

(Besides, my shiny sharkskin cowboy suit and racing-striped palomino would be out of style.)

But before the cameras roll, someone will have to slap some paint on this dump. The Mescal properties have deteriorated significantly over the years, penalized by weather, neglect, plot lines, and, perhaps, Willie Nelson ("Once Upon a Texas Train," 1988) left a few burn marks.

We recall these buildings as the ranch in ''Monte Walsh,'' making them among the oldest structures on the property. The barn is near collapse. The house is a heap. Lee Marvin would not be pleased. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Sitting to the side of the Tombstone Saloon, this fixer-upper appears to have lost two huge sections of its housing, seen on the ground. The sign next to the door reads, ''For Sale.'' Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

The production in residence immediately before our visit, "Ghost Rock" (2003), with Gary Busey, Jeff Fahey, and Adrienne Barbeau, required a ghost town backdrop. My recollection is our guide said the set decorators spent all of $15 to whip the town into shape, less than half what they spent on Miss Barbeau.

Several buildings at Mescal have collapsed. More are sagging. Most need significant repair. The thriving, beautiful boom city which gleams in "Tombstone" was nearly unrecognizable with the rotten boards and missing shingles seen by our roving eyes. Time is a bleak force. I could use a coat of paint myself.

To Be Continued | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photos copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.

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