Saturday, November 17, 2018

Buster Scruggs & The Heart of Darkness

November 17, 2018
   We had a stunner this morning.

Ratcliff Ridge Sunrise at 6:55 a.m.

   Finally got to see "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" last night.

Short review: loved the quirky, peculiar story turns. Funny in parts, hilarious in one or two instances, but overall, uneven. On the other hand, it never goes where you think it might and I loved that. Did not care for a couple of the endings (it's an anthology, not a single story), or rather, non-endings. Still, God bless those Coen boys, it's a full fledge Western.

   Working on narrative sequences this weekend:

Olive Sequence:
"Riders On The Talking Rocks"

   Meanwhile, it took me five years, but I finally finished reading a classic short story this morning:

"Kurtz discoursed. A voice! a voice! It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart."

"...their multitude of secular trees looking patiently after this grimy fragment of another world [their steamboat], the forerunner of change, of conquest, of trade, of massacres, of blessings."    Joseph Conrad just summed up the march of civilization in one sentence. This totally nails the conquest of the Western United States.

"Perhaps all the wisdom, and all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible." In other words, when we die.

"I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams." Welcome home!

"She had a mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering. The room seemed to have grown darker, as if all the sad light of the cloudy evening had taken refuge on her forehead."

And the last lines of the story: "The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."
—Joseph Conrad's classic short story, "Heart of Darkness"

"I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing."
—Cormac McCarthy

Friday, November 16, 2018

Nobody Knows Anything

November 16, 2018
   Working on a tribute in our February issue of True West to this guy:

The Cowboy Who Wrote
The Best Rodeo Picture Ever

   The picture is "Junior Bonner" and the writer is Jeb Rosebrook.

Jeb Rosebrook at age 10 in 1946

   Jeb passed last August and he was a great friend (his son is our senior editor). Although Jeb knew a great deal about Prescott and cowboying and Hollywood and history, he agreed with a fellow screenwriter, who just passed:

“Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”
—William Goldman

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Maxfield Parrish at Castle Hot Springs

November 15, 2018,
   Had the pleasure of finally going out to Castle Hot Springs which is about an hour west of my house in Cave Creek. It is a very historic, old-school resort that was closed for many years after a fire burned the main building. New owners have invested millions of dollars to bring it back to life.

   I have driven by the turn-off for at least 35 years and every time I do, I say to myself, "One of these days. . ."

   Well, yesterday Kathy and I took off from work early and drove out to Castle Hot Springs Road and made the turn. It's paved for about five miles and then it turns to dirt for the last ten miles. The bottom line is, you really have to want to go there. It is isolated.

Sunrise over Castle Hot Springs, Arizona.

   This is from the front porch of our casita (#20) parked on the hillside below the hot springs. Kristin Atwell is doing a documentary on the history of the resort and she asked Marshall Trimble and myself to come out to the property to talk on camera about the place. I knew Marshall would cover the cowboys and the cavalry so I offered to talk about one of my artist heroes who found himself, literally, at the hot springs.

   In 1901 and 1902 a young artist with tuberculosis came to stay at the resort. He was impressed with the air and the skies. He claimed the vastness of the Arizona scenery transformed him and his career.

"Cowboys at the Waterhole"
by Maxfield Parrish

BBB at Castle Hot Springs

   I certainly saw and felt the inspiration Maxfield felt. By the way, the water behind me is 110 degrees, coming right out of the rocks.

   The irony is that a certain dentist with TB rode right past this place on his way from Prescott to Goose Flats in 1880. If only he had stopped here, he might have lived longer. We will never know.

   By the way, the third edition of the book on this same dentist just arrived at our door and it looks mighty fine. Over a hundred of the pre-orders went to the post office about an hour ago, so if you ordered one, it should land in a couple days.

"This is funny."
—Doc Holliday

"You never breathed such stuff in your life, it's right from the keg."
—Maxfield Parrish

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sharlot Hall and Olive Oatman

November 14, 2018
    Here is a story that turns on one historic fact: A researcher contacted Sharlot Hall in 1906. Joseph Fish related that Sharlot Hall, herself a noted historian of Arizona, had informed him that "Olive had two children while among her captors, [and] that one a Mohave sometimes visited Fort Yuma. But in her own rather extensive study of the Oatman story, Hall made no reference to Olive's children." 


   This is a story I am working on for a special little booklet I will be producing.

   She saw him in the moonlight on the banks of the river. 

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"One Handsome Mojave"

   I think it was because Sharlot felt Olive had suffered enough, but my hunch is that this would be a big, bitter pill to swallow for someone who seeks the truth in history.

"No story has a happy ending unless you stop telling it before it's over."
—Orson Welles

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Number One Collector of BBB Artwork

November 13, 2018
   It's time to praise people with great taste in art.
"It was 10 years ago this past March, I purchased my first BBB art work, the 'Digging Billy' cover, at Art Detour from Ken at Pravus Gallery on 5th street & Roosevelt! Ken, I believe, works with Ed Mell. I also happened upon your show on Whiskey Row and then paid you my first visit at the True West World headquarters."
—Craig Schepp

My number one patron, Craig Schepp,
with me at Bryan's BBQ

   I am holding an original BBB painting called "Mickey Free—Back With A Vengeance" (2016), a gouache which Craig bought that needed to be signed by me, so he brought it to the history talk at Bryan's last Thursday evening. He also took the opportunity to buy another original piece of mine, bringing his total to 70 original BBBs and three artprints. It's an honor to have someone so dedicated to collecting my work.

"The Red Light Patrol"

   I'm still trying to plow through "Heart of Darkness," and last night I ran across this passage that captures a certain captivo:

"She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. . .her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some struggling, half-shaped resolve."
—Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness"

Monday, November 12, 2018

Show Me A Sign

November 12, 2018
   Went home for lunch and answered the question, "If you were riding across Monument Valley in a dust storm, what would you see?"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Monument Rider."

Show me a sign

    In other scratchboard news, there's a prominent rock formation near Union Pass in Mohave County that I have long been fascinated with. 

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Finger Rock."

   I believe the Mojave In-dins consider it a sacred outcropping. Here are a couple more views of it, which Kathy captured on a rainy Sunday morning, right out the car window, on our trip back from Death Valley last month.

Finger Rock From Afar

Finger Rock Up Close

   Granted, it could be a falcon or, for that matter, a bald-headed monk kneeling to pray, but growing up in Kingman, when we were coming home from the lake, all of us kids giggled every time we saw it because, to us, it clearly seemed to be, Mother Nature, flipping us all off.

"Old myths, old gods, old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our mind, waiting for our call. We have a need for them. They represent the wisdom of our race."
—Stanley Kunitz

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Crazy Connections on Old Route 66

November 10, 2018
   What happens when you put a moratorium on speaking engagements? Well, in my case, you get booked like crazy. I made myself a vow I would take a break from speaking so I could concentrate on my next book. 

   Well, let's see, I just did an interview on RFD-TV yesterday at the Buffalo Chip Saloon, and I'm doing another documentary as a talking head out at Castle Hot Springs next Wednesday. And, here I am at Bryan's BBQ last Thursday night for a talk on crazy connections in history:

BBB at Bryan's BBQ

   One of the crazy connections I covered during my talk at Bryan's is how my passion for Old West history began at my grandmother's house on Jefferson Street in Kingman, in 1957, when we were watching "The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp," starring Hugh O'Brian, and how fifty years later I got invited to Hugh O'Brian's birthday party at his mansion in Beverly Hills, and, the guy who took this photo,  above, is the guy who got me invited there. That would be Pierre O'Rourke who was sitting in the front row.

   Small world, eh?

"Yes, it's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it."
—Steven Wright