Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Meeting Paul Andrew Hutton for The First Time

 December 2, 2020

   He's a big deal now in history circles but I remember when the Top Secret Writer was just a lowly professor of history. Not distinguished at all.

BBB Meets The Top Secret Writer

   I met Paul Andrew Hutton at the El Dorado Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico, back in 1996. Ed Mell, myself, and our two sons, Carson and Tommy, were in town for the Maynard Dixon Art Show and someone (I can't remember who) said, "You've got to meet this college professor. I think you might hit if off. He is a fan of the Razz Revue." Well, that did it. That this crazy guy would even know WHAT the Razz Revue was blew my mind. And so we met in the dining room of the brand new El Dorado Hotel, off of the plaza, and I wasn't disappointed.

The Razz Crew (yes that's Ed Mell,

second from left, and Dan The Man, far right).

   Hutton and I hit it off immediately, trading war stories and talking trash about history, what we loved and hated. We've been friends ever since and I don't ever take on a project, without talking to him first.

Hutton and BBB at Festival of The West, Scottsdale, Arizona, early 2000s

Hutton, The Ranter
   One of the things I love about Paul is his ability to go off on a rant at the drop of a hat. It is a thing of wonder to see and hear. The boy can literally just spin out an answer about history, fluidly, loquaciously, and seemingly without effort. We will be driving along some back road and I'll ask him about the American revolution and I will get this answer, totally off the cuff: 

   "The American Revolution was the only truly successful Revolution—Russia, France, and Mexico all failed. And while we have huge disparities of wealth we also have an open and free society where anyone can prosper with hard work, smarts, and a little luck. We do not have a class based system. Even cutups from Kingman, Arizona and orphans from Frankfurt Germany can realize their dreams—and that, my boy, is why I am so in love with this country."
—Paul Andrew Hutton

Postscript: the orphan from Frankfurt Germany is this guy:

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Seeking Common Ground

 December 1, 2020

   In the next issue of True West (January, 2021) I am going to do my editorial on Seeking Common Ground, with this subhead: When it comes to the future, History is our best guide. And, by that, I mean, we've been here before and the guideposts of history will show us the way out of this current funhouse we find ourselves in.

Daily Whip Out:
"Red State, Blue State Cowboy #9"

   The good news first: after the 1918 Influenza pandemic ended in 1920, it led almost directly to the Roaring Twenties because everyone in the country was so ready to kick out the jams after all the death and depressing times. You know, bathtub gin, flappers, the Charleston and non-stop parties. So, let's hope in this case that history repeats itself this year. Of course—full disclosure—the Roaring Twenties led to the Crash of 1929 and that led to The Great Depression, so there is that red light looming up ahead.
A Clear And Still Present Danger

   To me, the biggest danger we face is the extreme polarization, of believing that if the other side wins, the country is lost. But, in fact, the real danger is if we can't see the other side's point of view, we are lost. That is the real danger we face. Blind rage mixed with certitude is not the answer to our problems. Never has been.

Clowns to The Left of Me, Jokers to The Right. . .
   Someone I work with referred to my Geronimo art opening at The Scottsdale Museum of The West last year as "a clown show." True, there were technical problems, but the dig got to me. Of course, I know this is kind of weird, given that my nickname is derived from being known in high school as a clown. That's where "Bozo" came from, when I ran the bases backwards, and then cruel teammates shortened it to "Boze." Still, I really appreciate this love-hate take on the clowns:

"No one's laughing at the [circus] clowns. Because we all know somewhere underneath all that bright color, there is a man who is not right. And I don't want to be too down on the clowns. We are colleagues in a certain sense. I think a certain professional respect is appropriate."
—Jerry Seinfeld, "Is This Anything?"

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Root And Meaning of True West Maniac

 November 30, 2020

   Still on the hunt for right mix of Red State-Blue State highlights.

Daily Whip Out:
"Red State, Blue State Cowboy #8"

   I have a hunch it's going to take another five before I can land this puppy.

   We just got another new True West Maniac today and here is what he said about it.

   "I have never understood the name for True West club members: the Maniac. I think what might have served better would be the True West Wranglers, or Gunslingers, maybe.
   "I've been telling you how with all the changes and challenges that have come to True West, 
the magazine stands strong. I say that True West has been running for over 60 years and is as robust and 'true' as ever. True West has become a respected source of western history. 
   "It occurs to me that I might back this bet on a long life to come for your magazine with substance, put my money where my mouth is so to speak. So count me in, I am now a True West Maniac.
—Rex Rideout

The Root Meaning of True West Maniac
     Here's the back story on how we came up with the Maniac handle. Back in 1991 when I was pursuing the publishing of my first Billy book, I called up the late, great publisher Jim Earle of College Station, Texas (publisher of The Early West books) and he advised me against doing color in my books with this admonition: "There are 5,000 maniacs out there who will buy anything that has to do with the history of the West." He went on to say he believed his customers, the "maniacs," wouldn't pay extra for color pages in old west books. He was wrong about that, BUT the name stuck and I am proud to be one. And now you are too, Rex!

A Tantalizing Aspect That Brought Another Maniac In to The True West Fold
   "When people would write in and say they knew or saw so and so, it captivated me.  It made True West even truer or at least produced evidence of it being true. It was kind of surreal. 
   "It would be interesting for the magazine to do a 'flashback' and look at some of those old letters.
   "Keep up the good work."
—John Volz, Lagrange, KY

Daddy's Home

   "There are two basic male domestic instincts. First, we see our daily return to the home as the event of great momentousness. We annouce at the door, 'Daddy's home!' As if family members will drop to their knees and weep at their good fortune. They do not. Because they know once our coat is off, that concludes our involvement with anyone or anything in the house. Which is the second mail domestic instinct: Avoidance. The only thing ever heard about Dad around the house is, 'Where. . .is. . .your. . .father?' I saw him at the wedding.'"

—Jerry Seinfeld, "Is This Anything?"

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Endpaper Musings In The Year of Going Nowhere

 November 29, 2020

   What do I have to say about a book I probably shouldn't have reprised in the first place? Just this: it's too late to back out now! What a crazy bastard I am, primping and prancing around like some grade school show off. That's what I feel like three days after Thanksgiving. 

   It's called buyer's remorse.

Daily Whip Out:
"Red State, Blue State Cowboy #7"

 Yes, I'm still noodling Red State-Blue State Cowboys, but back to my existential angst.

  And, so, now I have to make a decision as to whether I am going to personally bankroll a special edition hardbound version of "The Final Word." It's going to be massively expensive, like $5,000 for 200 books, or, $25 a book! (So, if you get one, be sure and marvel at how much I love you.)

   And, then, there's this: if I do pull the trigger on this egotistical printjob, then I have to write endpaper copy to fill up that space on the inside front cover flap and the inside back cover flap. Yes, you know, that cover paper that's added on to the hardbound edition. None of this is on the paperback. Such a pain. And since the hardbound version will not be on sale in traditional bookstores, I am free to write about whatever I feel like.

   Here are a few ideas.

• What a crazy bastard I am. Primping and prancing around like a grade school show off.

• This is a total pain, writing up this phony endpaper copy, but since this is not going to be sold in stores, here's a chance for me to tell you what I really think about the Kid and the imbeciles in New Mexico who refuse to give him his due. If I was the King of New Mexico I would make all those Santa Fe snotheads do community service until they got a little appreciation for Billy the Kid. I'm not saying they need to pick up highway litter, or, that they lose a digit on their writing hand, but something on that level.

• Where did I fall short in the book? The leadup to Tunstall's death is a mess and it's my own damn fault. It's complicated and I tried to get it all in, and, well, take my advice and skim past it.

• The strongest aspect of the book is the solid updates from over two decades of new research published in True West magazine since the last book was published in 1995. There has been plenty of shifting meaning and honest scholarship going on and it's almost all in the book. And that's part of the reason the Tunstall stuff is so truncated and unsatisfying. Something had to go, and, well, you know.

• One realization I had doing the book is that I have lived so much longer than the Kid (21 years vs. 73)—that's more than two extra lifetimes—and so I had all that extra time to figure out what's going on in this life and what it all means. Did he have a clue about any of this? Yes, I believe he did. Would he have traded places with me? We'll never know the answer to that, but I doubt it, and somehow that's the most enlightening part of the exercise, to me. He died as an example of what not to do, at least for me. Part of why I am even writing this endpaper crap is that I took his admontion: "Advise persons never to engage in killing." Thanks Billy! It's been a ton of fun, and I'm still here doing books on you! Sorry you missed out on all of that.

 • I traded up wherever possible on artwork. That means I took a new swing at as many weak images from the earlier editions as I could.  The best trade-up in my estimation is this snow sequence which was poached from a Graphic Cinema, on the Kid done in the magazine quite some time ago:

• In spite of my best efforts, some paintings didn't make it in to the third and final book and that includes this one:

"Regulators On The Run"

   Of course, I won't be able to run half of this proposed endpaper copy on the book cover endpapers, but at least you got to see the unbridled, uncensured version.

   And don't forget if you get one of these hardbounds in the mail, it's because I think the world of you. And, if you don't, well, I have a hunch you might agree with Jerry.

"I believe that all of the objects and possessions that we own really just exist at different stages of becoming garbage. To me, the world is comprised of garbage and pre-garbage. I hate the garbage and I love to throw it out. That is my personality type. I love to throw anything out. I wish there was a store where you could buy something, pivot, and just throw it down a chute into an incinerator. Complete the whole inevitable process right there."

—Jerry Seinfeld, "Is This Anything?"

Saturday, November 28, 2020

An Ass On Wyatt Earp And Other Epic Narratives

 November 28, 2020

   Digging deep in the photo archives, found this old, faded photograph and it made me smile.

An Ass On Wyatt Earp
"Brave, Courageous And Bold"

   Photo taken on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas in the fall of 1995, by Paul Northrop, who drove me out to this arena-stables area and showed me his favorite mule, "Wyatt Earp." Paul then asked me if I wanted to take him for a spin. The ride was smooth as silk, but if you love mules you already knew that.

Where Did Left Wing, Right Wing Originate?

   The terms "left" and "right" first appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president's right and supporters of the revolution to his left.


   What if I told you the left wing and the right wing belonged to the same bird?

Daily Whip Out:

"Red State, Blue State Cowboy #6"

   If you can see some cracks, it is intended. If you see someone reaching across, that is intended. If it seems hopeful, perhaps I'm being a little unrealistic.

"America needs an epic narrative right now. Painters are working on it."

—Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Good Day for A Steaming Bowl of Green Chile

 November 27, 2020

   Nippy out this morning (for Arizona). Low forties. Brrrrrr! Oh, what I would do for a bowl of homemade green chile.

Daily Whip Out: "In Search of The Green"

   Actually, a couple months ago I made a big, batch of Hatch, and we froze half of it, and, so, that was an easy call to defrost it this morning. Speaking of defrosted hot stuff:

   Annual meeting of the Hat Nazis, L to R: Rusty York, Thom Ross and Paul Andrew Hutton, the latter showing off his hot-off-the-press book, "The Apache Wars," which he had not seen until he came to my studio warming party on this very day: January 11, 2016.

   The moral: time flies when you are seriously hung up on correct hats in movies.

   Started a fire in the Big Bug Creek Stove and my studio is a toasty space. Still noodling ideas for Red State-Blue State Cowboy, which I want to make as the theme of my editorial in the January issue.

Daily Whip Out:
"Red State-Blue State Cowboy #5"

   Still not there. Needs more of a dichotomy to it. You know, like this.

History vs. Old News
"The worst news is definitely anything thought of as old news. History is fine, but if it's in the past and not yet history, don't ever talk about that. People go, 'Oh, my god, that was like a week ago, what's wrong with you?'"
—Jerry Seinfeld, "Is This Anything?"

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanks Be to Reconciliation And Forgiveness

 November 26, 2020

   Thanksgiving. A time for reflection and reconciliation.

A sneak peek at our next issue. Making peace fifty years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Hopefully, we too are on the road to reconciliation and forgiveness. I am thankful for both and the people on opposing sides in history who eventually made peace.

Some were not so lucky.

Daily Whip Out:
"The Kid Negotiates With Lew Wallace
at Squire Wilson's Jacal"

   A pardon for the Kid would have gone a long way towards redemption, although it would have probably thwarted the legend. A small price to pay?

   My hope for 2021 is that these two guys can get it together.

Daily Whip Out:

"Red State-Blue State Cowboy"

"Peace Out, Bro"

—Blue State Cowboy