Monday, October 11, 2010

Deadwood, South Dakota. Buffalo Bodega Steakhouse. Dinner And A Good Story.

Deadwood, South Dakota. Good, hearty dinner. And a hearty good story from our waitress, Arlene.
Our first night in Deadwood, we had a hankering for some red meat.
We surveyed our options and ended up here - the Buffalo Bodega Steakhouse Saloon. Or something to that effect.
Very casual, laid back. The eatery opens up to outside.
The usual display of neon on the wall.
The ubiquitous collection of license plates on the wall.
I ordered the Jack Daniels Blackened Ribeye which came with a baked potato and Texas toast. Couldn't taste any Jack in the steak but it was perfectly cooked. Tender and very flavorful. My hankerin' for red meat has been sated. Oh, and take the foil off my tater. I like the skin best. And I like crispy skin.
Mr. Hawthorne had the Buffalo Burger. Tasty. Tad dry. (What do you expect when you order a burger medium to medium rare? You're gonna get more on the side of medium. Not rare.) Still good.
I don't know what this canoodling couple was doing on the roof across the street.
Now for the good story. Here's the stage area where local and not-so-local talent can get up and perform.
I liked the signs.
Here's our wonderful waitress, Arlene. She sat down with us and gave us a little local history. In turning to the notes I scratched down, it so happened that country duo Big and Rich performed on this stage, years ago, singing for food and drink. Oh golly. How many times have I done that? For some reason, I scribbled down the following quote at the top of my pad: "When the legends die, the dreams end. When the dreams end, there is no more greatness." This sounded familiar to me, so I started Googling it trying to find a Big and Rich song about it. Interestingly enough, it's a quote by Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor of the Crazy Horse Memorial. Now, I've figgered out what I did.. I was at Crazy Horse Memorial and wrote this quote down while watching the movie, then I started the Buffalo Bodega Bar notes on the same page, so the quote actually has nothing to do with Big and Rich. I need to take better notes. And date everything. But anyways, this is a very interesting read and goes into a little more detail than I had in my blog post about Crazy Horse. And if you didn't click on the "very interesting read" link above, here's what it said:

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse

by Bill Trench by Bill Trench


Mount Rushmore, with its carving of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, is in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Visitors find the sight impressive, but few know that its history provides a good example of the failure of a government-funded project.

From 1927 to 1941 the sculptor Gutzon Borglum worked on carving the heads of the four presidents on the mountain. From the start the project was beset by problems, mainly financial. Of the 14 years of work, only 6 1/2 were spent on actual carving. In order to raise funds Borglum personally lobbied state officials, congressmen, cabinet members and presidents, and eventually, of the total cost of nearly $1 million, the federal government, i.e. taxpayers, contributed $836,000.

As often happens with government projects, Mount Rushmore was never completed. Borglum's original design was for a sculpture of the four presidents to their waists but, we are told, "time and money only provided for their heads." In addition a planned "Hall of Records" was never built.

A few miles from Mount Rushmore, by contrast, is an inspiring example of the power of free enterprise. In 1939 a young sculptor named Korczak Ziolkowski was contacted by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who asked him if he would carve a sculpture in the Black Hills. "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also," he wrote. Korczak had worked for a short time on Mount Rushmore and had subsequently won first prize for sculpture at the 1939 World's Fair for his bust of Paderewski. Intrigued by the unusual request, Korczak finally accepted the challenge and in 1948, with only $174 and a dream, he began work on a memorial to the legendary Chief Crazy Horse.

"Gutzon Borglum taught me a lot," Korczak said once. "To not take government money!" Korczak had seen what had happened with Mount Rushmore and was convinced that if the government got involved the job would never be completed. He twice rejected government offers of $10 million. At one point, when the work was fairly well advanced, he was approached by the Secretary of the Interior who promised government funds, to be guaranteed by an "iron-clad contract." Korczak replied: "Mr. Secretary, tell me about those iron-clad treaties you did with the Indians."

The Crazy Horse Memorial, when completed, will dwarf any other sculpture on the planet. Already it is an awe-inspiring sight. Carved in the round, and depicting Chief Crazy Horse astride his steed, it will be as high as a 56-story building and longer than two football fields. And the project is more than just a sculpture. A museum, the Indian University of North America and a medical training center are planned for the adjacent land.

Although Korczak himself died in 1982 the work continues, carried on by his widow and several of their children. The project has been under construction for 60 years now, and continues to be financed by admission fees to the site, the sale of giftware, and private contributions of money and equipment.

Discussing how he devoted his life to a project he would never see completed, Korczak once explained his amazing dedication in inspiring words: "The world asks you one question, only one… Did you do the job? And in my book there's only one answer: 'Yes!' You don't answer 'I would have done the job if I'd had the money. I would have done the job if people had been sympathetic, or understood what I was trying to do. I would have done the job if I hadn't gotten hurt, or crippled', and God knows I've been crippled. You don't even say 'I would have done the job if I hadn't died!' … I don't buy it! There's only one answer: 'Yes!'"

Unlike Mount Rushmore, which is named after a New York lawyer and was paid for with money taken from the public, Crazy Horse is being paid for with funds given voluntarily by people who want it to be completed, even if it is only after they have gone. It is a superb tribute, not only to Crazy Horse – a genuine American hero – but also to the private enterprise system itself, and to what a single individual with a dream can achieve.

Korczak said, "When the legends die the dreams end. When the dreams end there is no more greatness." Anyone interested in helping keep the dream alive, or just to learn more about the project, should visit

Now, back to Big and Rich. According to my crappy notes which I was hurriedly scratching down as Arlene related the story, there was a guy in the audience that night when Big & Rich performed at the Buffalo Bodega Steakhouse Bar/Saloon in Deadwood. He was so impressed with Big and Rich that he likened them to the "new Brooks and Dunn." The guy from New Orleans brought out a guy from Warner, they showcased Big and Rich, and there you go. The rest, as they say, is history. Now, my story, or rather, Arlene's story, doesn't end here. There was a bartender at the Buffalo Bodega by the name of Niles Harris. Once a year, on November 8, Niles, according to Arlene, would don a tuxedo, drive his sports car down Main Street, go to the Buffalo Bar, and down a drink in honor of his buddies killed in Viet Nam. When Big and Rich heard about this, they were so taken by the story that they wrote the song The 8th of November. Lyrics here. And my notes say that Big and Rich actually bought Niles a motorcycle. I hope to goodness I have all this right. But wait! There's MORE!! This is the historic Franklin Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota. I thought Arlene said Big and Rich did a video of Ride a Cowboy Save a Horse in Deadwood which started at the Franklin Hotel. But I couldn't find it. I did find this video though. That must be what Arlene was talking about. Big and Rich also wrote Deadwood Mountain.
Note to travelers: Always talk to the locals and pick their brains. You will be rewarded. Thanks Arlene. It was a pleasure talking with you and I hope I didn't mess up your story too much.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Hathornes Buffalo Burger was dry because Buffalo has little or no fat content. Fat content = favor . Think about a Ribeye is more flavorfull than a N.Y. Strip

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Anony, I know the buffalo has little fat and that contributes to the dryness. But still, Mr. H. orders his burgers medium. That's the nail in the coffin.


steakhouse said...

I think that in such kind of food also have fat content.