Monday, July 16, 2018

When The Rurales Rode

July 16, 2018
   I have always dug the Rurales and their association with the Arizona Rangers, fighting crime along the border in the early 1900s.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"When The Rurales Rode"

   I was looking through my Mexico files and re-discovered a little booklet by the artist Bill Leftwich who apparently self-published "Los Rurales de Porfirio Diaz" in 2007. The author-illustrator wrote his forward from Fort Davis, Texas in 2004.

   The small pamphlet has some cool little nuggets of history:

   "The Guarda Civil horse troopers of Spain served as a model for the Rurales. Hard, disciplined men with unlimited power, keeping a close watch on the people with only the President's interests in mind." That would be Porfirio Diaz who ruled Mexico for 30 years and his dictatorial regime led almost directly to the Mexican Revolution. So, the Rurales have a bit of a fascist bent as Porfirio referred to his main man in Sonora as his "mailed fist." This presumes to "mailed" as in a suit of armor, but unfortunately, to English speakers, it comes off as he Fed-exed his main man to the sites of contention.

   According to Leftwich, "the first rural constabulary was in the 16th Century and was called 'Santa Hermandad,' or, Holy Brotherhood. This outfit was formed by landowners to eliminate the lawless elements in their areas. Another forerunner of the Rurales was an organization of 1710 called, the 'Acordada.' The purpose of the Acordada was to 'apprehend and jail highwaymen." Bill translates "Acordada" as "decision, order, and to resolved by common consent."

   Leftwich died in 2009 at age 85. He worked in Mexico in the 1960s and met guys who knew the Rurales and the pamphlet has little nuggets in it, like, during the Presidency of Benito Juarez they were called "Cuerpo de Caballeria de Defensa Rurales" or, Body of Horsemen For Rural Defense. They were famous for wearing leather pants and jackets and were often referred to as "Los Cuerudos," the leather guys. Ha. Love that stuff.

   Tomorrow, I'll get into their uniforms, which were designed by Porfirio Diaz himself and based on the charro rig. Ay-yi-yi! You are going to dig this.

   Here's another gem from the pamphlet:

   "God is good, but He is better in Spain than in Mexico."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Those Texas Boys Stood In The Moonlight And Reloaded

July 15, 2018
   Flailed around this weekend on painting. By "flailed" I mean, I just don't know if I ended up with anything, so it's flailing and wailing and I just don't know if I'll ever get this painting thing down.

"Those Texas Boys Stood In The Moonlight
And Reloaded"

"Home Corral"

   Ever think about an old flame? I've got about five girls I'm still trying to impress. It's not like were ever going to the prom, or anything, but I will never forget them.

"An Old Flame"

Here's a painting I could have sold 18 times already. Pat Fotos, you own a hot one.

"Rita Mamacita"

  So, what to make of all this crazy effort? Well, I think ol' Dag has the answer:

"Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either, It will neither give back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now."

—Dag Hammarskjold    

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Three For One: Caught With His Pants Down

July 14, 2018
   It was on this date in 1881 that Billy the Kid caught a bullet in Pete Maxwell's house in old Fort Sumner, New Mexico. I have illustrated the events leading up to this weird killing numerous times.

   Three lawmen rode up from Roswell, New Mexico to Fort Sumner. Sheriff Pat Garrett and two deputies, Kip McKinney and John Poe went to Maxwell's house.

   In the Garrett-Poe version of the killing, Pat leaves his two deputies outside the Maxwell home and goes in Pete's bedroom to ask about the whereabouts of Billy (full disclosure: Maxwell wrote Garrett a letter basically saying the Kid was porking his sister and to please come take care of him). While the deputies are waiting at the gate, they see a lone figure come walking across the parade ground in his stocking feet and buttoning up his pants.

  I have always thought this was a crock. Two words: bull heads. Or, is that one word: bullheads? You know, stickers that hurt if you are walking without shoes, at night, and buttoning up your pants.

Billy Metaphorically Zips Up

   I don't believe any of this. It doesn't make sense. The men, and I mean all of them: Garrett, McKinney, Poe and Maxwell, but especially Maxwell, wanted to avoid the dishonor to young Paulita's virtue, and, so, in a Victorian laced concocted story, they got him out of the house, walking barefoot. This was a tortured way to explain why the Kid was in his stocking feet when he was shot down.

   I believe the Kid was in the Maxwell house in Paulita's bedroom just before the shooting. There is contention about where exactly that bedroom was in relation to her brother Pete's bedroom. Some say, across the hall, others claim her bedroom was upstairs. There are those that argue there wasn't a second floor at the time of the killing (Poe says in his write-up that it was a single story adobe). In McKinney's version, they simple went to the Maxwell house, tied up the girl and waited for the Kid to appear in the doorway and shot him down (Garrett supposedly hid behind a sofa. There's an image).

   As I was writing this, I looked up above my desk to see the original of this unfinished sequence:

"Three for One"

   I found this old playing card in an antique store with that writing on it—3 for 1—and thought it needed to be in the center of this allegorical sequence of the events leading up to the assassination, I mean, needed-killing, of Billy the Kid. Yes, that's Jesus in the painting and yes, that is my rendering of the knife the Kid was allegedly carrying when he was dispatched. And, yes, that is McKinney and Poe at the front gate.

"To cheat wolves is to promise vultures"

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, July 13, 2018

Le Secret du Jugs Iced Free!

July 13, 2018
   Got a big surprise in the mail this week from the Top Secret Writer, who found, on eBay, a very rare photo-comic book on "Le Secret du Grand Canyon."

The French Know How to Sell Weak Movies
On Paper!

   This classic photo-comic is based on the 1959 movie, "Edge of Eternity" which was filmed in and around Kingman, Arizona.

  The sequence, above, was filmed at Gold Road, but the sequence The Top Secret Writer was interested in, came later in the first act:

Jugs Iced Free, Baby!

   Yes, not only is that my father's Flying A gas station in the bottom left-hand corner, but I'm actually standing about 40 feet to the left of this frame watching them film this. My dad got me up at four a.m. to go open up the station with him so they could film this and I stood in the lube room in my little league Yankees baseball cap and watched the whole deal. I met the star Cornel Wilde (the guy in the sheriff's outfit). He said to me between one of the takes, "You're up kind of early."

   "Yes," I said, in an exclusive interview.

    Here is the next page, below, showing part of the POV shots at my dad's gas station and that is the Hualapais and the Smokehouse parking lot behind them. The other scenes were shot around downtown Kingman and the bottom right photo was taken at the El Trovatore Motel, which is on Hilltop.

Kingman A Go Go!

   What a treasure, thank you Paul Andrew Hutton for snagging this cool time capsule.

   Now here's what I want to know. These photo-comics thrived in Europe up until about the 1980s, and I know they were also a big deal in Mexico, but I don't recall ever seeing them in the U.S. Am I wrong about this? They sure seem cool, but I don't remember them on the newsstand. Do you?

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."
—H. G. Wells

A Wicked Cross: Line Breeding Is Dangerous

July 13, 2018
   Working on a variety of characters and scenes for "The Mexicali Stud."

Daily Whip Out: "Mexican Card Player"

   Trying to push the color in a muy Mexicana way, yet stay true to the form.

Daily Whip Out: "A Wicked Cross"

   Down on the border at the border crossings they invariably have these funky uniforms that look like they came out of a Prussian War movie. And, what exactly is "a wicked cross"?

A Wicked Cross
  Line breeding is cross breeding where the selective breeding of horses for a desired feature by mating them within a closely related line. When breeders use this basically inbreeding technique it usually breaks into threes. You might get three offspring that have superb traits, three that are so-so, then three that are not quite there but there's a strong chance that at least one of the latter is flat out wacko. They may look good, but they are irredeemable. They will hurt you. Somebody coughs and they jump ten feet sideways.

Daily Whip Out: "The Mexicali Stud"

  With all of the rain I am inspired to do some deluge paintings, emulating pouring paint:

Daily Whip Out: "The Deluge"

Daily Whip Out: "Bar Drifter"

Yes, he is drifting off to the right. This is part of an effort to have more neutral space in a painting or artwork, to give the eye a rest. Very important.

"You can't redeem a locoed horse."
—Craig Hamilton

Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Army of Hats and Mestizo Magnifico!

July 12, 2018
    Got rain last night for the second time in as many nights. The rain was great but heavy winds knocked out our power for five hours and that was not fun. Carole's son Bill said he power was out in Mesa for 20-some hours, so I guess I should feel lucky.

   Rounding up a bunch of big hat pictures for a synopsis I'm pulling together: 

"An Army of Big Hats"

"Last Gasp of the Resolute White Guy?"

"The Kid"


Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Mestizo Magnifico"

   And this morning I took a stab at this guy:

"Teddy Scowls"

   Taken from a photograph of Teddy Roosevelt in El Paso, en route to Arizona for the dedication of Roosevelt Dam, March 1911.

   So what are all these disparate images aiming at?

"Give a book a bad name and it becomes a movie."
—Old Chuka Chuckle

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

History vs. Poetry

July 11, 2018
   The final pages of our September issue went out the door on Monday and I regret to say I had to swallow a couple bitter pills. I had a great quote for the cover that I thought really set up the entire package:

"Don't follow me. I've made a wreck of my life."
—Cole Younger

 But, on Monday morning I got an email from our editor asking where I got the quote, since it does not show up in his autobiography or anywhere else she could find. For the life of me I couldn't find it in my notes, which date back to September of 2001 when I was in Minnesota tracking the James-Younger Gang with master researcher Jack Koblas. Unfortunately, Jack has passed, but I contacted Mark Lee Gardner but he had never seen the quote, either, so rather than take a chance, I pulled it off the cover. 

   It gets worse. Another one of my favorite quotes from this story is: "We are rough men. Used to rough ways." I've seen it attributed to Cole, but more often to Bob Younger. I even used this quote on the opening spread of my Bad Men book back in 1999. Well, Meghan, once again finds a newspaper account that contains the quote and here it is:

   So, technically it's the newspaper reporter who says, quoting Bob Younger: "We are rough boys, used to rough work." Well, crap, that is not as good a quote. The first one is poetry and this second one is, well, certainly not as strong. So, rather than fight this (and try and find the genesis of the rough men quote), I had to let both quotes go for the sake of accurate history.

"History has ruined many a good story. This is one of them."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Mexicali Stud And The Vaquero Who Saved Him

July 10, 2018
   My cousin Craig Hamilton is a noted horse trainer and I called him in Kingman last night to talk about how my fictional character, Ojos de Gringo, might save a "bad" horse. In a nutshell, here's the essence of Craig's approach: "A horse can read your heart from a hundred yards away."

 Daily Whip Out:
"The Mexicali Stud and the Vaquero
Who Saved Him."

My Notes On Craig Hamilton's Philosophy:
    "You need to get their attention. They don’t expect a predator to communicate with them and that is the beginning and it’s all about the listening. 

My Kingman Cowboy Cousins
Chase and his father Craig Hamilton, at right, with me at the Diamond Bar Ranch, April 1, 2017

   "Most of the time, to a horse it’s like having a conversation with someone who’s throwing rocks at you. We are predators to them and when we put pressure on them, even by walking towards them, they are forced to fight or flee. I often say, 'don't just do something, just stand there.' If he wants to be 180 degrees from you, let him. If he starts to move, I start and when he stops I stop. I'm readin' his eyes, while he's watching me like a snake. If I'm patient, eventually he will give me that look that says, 'Are you tryin' to talk to me?' Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. 

   "That opens the door.

    "There are three keys: what you do, what he does responding to what you do, and then what you do next.

   "I once got a call about a problem horse that the owners were going to put down because he was attacking people and he put one person in the hospital. As I opened the corral gate, I saw this skinny, three-year-old thoroughbred with his head down. He wanted nothing to do with me. I took myself into a position of non-aggression. I sent my heart across that corral with empathy. Under my breath I was saying, "Buddy, I am so sorry. You weren't born this way." It took me several hours, but he finally 'bought me.' I put my heart in my hand and when I actually touched him, that's where the bullshit ends. 

   "I had a rough childhood. All the best horsemen have that in common. When I walk into a corral with one of these studs I know what they're going through. I was in the same way when I was young. I was at war with the world and I can feel their pain. Like those horses, you eventually have to put some trust in those two-legged bastards. It ain't easy. And, it needs to be said, they are far more courageous than we are.

   "Here are the seven aspects to good horse training: listening, respect, acceptance, obedience, faith, love and appreciation. There may be more, but those are the ones that work for me."

"In the end, you could say, horses healed me."
—Craig Hamilton