A documentary by Nicholas Robespierre
The American cowboy isn’t dead; he’s driving an 18-wheeler and his name’s Ed Wintersteen.
At age five Ed was abandoned, at ten he was cleaning spittoons in a pool hall and sleeping in the backseats of used cars. At twelve he took his birth mother to court and proved her unfit to parent. At fourteen he was hauling hay following the wheat harvest from the Dakotas to Texas. At sixty-three he overcame the injustices of the American legal system. In between he logged over seven million miles, in rain, snow or sleet, through every city and town in the United States, saving lives and sometimes forced to take them, bearing witness to the rise of the Interstate and an everlasting change to the American Landscape.
Running Heavy is the story of a man from a bygone era, living in a time when America was newly mapped and still open for exploration. It was a time when resourceful, independent men of adventure carved out successful and productive lives. Fifty years prior and Ed would have been a real cowboy but back in the early Fifties, the American West with its wide-open ranges was more fiction that reality. What was open to a man like Ed Wintersteen was the open road.
Structured along the arc of a cross-country journey with Ed at the helm of his 18-wheeler, we’ll see the country through his well-traveled eyes. With a simple glance at an unpainted barn or a car up on blocks, Ed could tell the economic status of the town. We’ll hear about feats of unflinching courage during some of the worst snowstorms of the past five plus decades. Towns and lifestyles erased during that era will come alive again in a language as florid as the times retold.
As we travel across America we will come to understand more clearly where we came from, where we are and where we are going. This wonderfully rich and enlightening picture of America will be drawn by Ed, his friends, family, academics, environmentalists Hollywood figures, famous song writers, fellow truckers and even by his enemies. It will be a dramatic, sometimes violent but always entertaining portrait, populated by colorful individualists, the likes of which we may never see again.
The American Cowboy of John Wayne and Red River is history. Within a few years the independent trucker will be, too, but as long as Ed Wintersteen and his kind are here to tell us their story… the American Cowboy will continue to ride into the Sunset.