I’ve been reading for years about monogrammed Red River belt buckles. An elite few (director Howard Hawks, John Wayne, screenwriter Borden Chase, et. al.) received personalized belt buckles as keepsakes after the 1948 western (actually lensed in ’46) finished shooting. Nine years ago Michael Cieply wrote about the matter of three missing Red River belt buckles in the N.Y. Times.

I’ve always wanted to see or better yet hold one of these real-deal belt buckles, which are about 4 x 3 inches. Knowing that to be impossible and fool that I am, I decided earlier today to buy a poor man’s version of one of the originals. Yes, I know — too shiny and brightly colored, but I’m figuring I can lacquer or grime it up when it arrives.

One thing I’ve always loved about Hanoi (which I’ve visited three times) is that it has its very own Red River flowing just north of the city.

An allegedly original Red River belt buckle.

Piece-of-shit Tijuana border crossing version.

Knockoff of Howard Hawks’ (HWH) RR belt buckle.