BBB's Blog

Bob Boze Bell

If you've ever wondered what it's like to run a magazine or how crazy my personal life is, be sure to read the behind-the-scenes peek at the daily trials and tribulations of running True West. Culled straight from my Franklin Daytimer, it contains actual journal entries, laid out raw and uncensored. Some of it is enlightening. Much of it is embarrassing, but all of it is painfully true.

In addition to this current journal, my early journal entries show the rocky road and money lost in the True West Business Timeline.

Bob's biography - The Unvarnished Truth

December 19, 2014
   Got up this morning and decided to give myself a birthday present. Went out to the studio and started a fire in the stove and sat down and finished yet another take on the headhunter Mickey Free:

BBB Birthday Whip Out: "Mickey Free Heads Home"

   Sorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist. I have had this Mickey-With-the-Severed-Head of-Pedro theme on the brain for the past two weeks. One of our editors, Stuart Rosebrook, is very concerned about the image of Mickey on the cover with a severed head being too gross for our readers. Stuart likens it to EC comics (the gory 1950s comic books that led to a ban on comics), so I decided this morning to give it a more laid back, subtle effect. Not sure it replaces the cover we ended up with, but it is more "tasteful."

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on them. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."
—Johnny Cash

Bob Boze 11:42 AM
December 18, 2014

   A rainy day sunset last night as I drove home:

Rainy Day Sunset In Cave Creek, Arizona

   Found a batch of old photographs in the garage last weekend while I was looking for something else, of course.

BBB and the real 66 Kid,  Allen P. Bell at the annual Route 66 Fun Run in Seligman, Arizona

   Also found a photograph of me and Terry Townsend at Rau Advertising where we were hard at work on the Razz Revue magazine.

Terry Townsend and BBB sitting in the middle of the Razz business, circa 1975

   Here's another couple from that era, Tommy and Liz Vascocu of KDKB fame:

Tommy and Liz Vascocu, 1975

"The loneliness social media aspires to repair is the loneliness of empty streets, Dairy Queens, the loneliness of high school. the loneliness of Mexican gardeners, the loneliness of lawns. The advantage of shopping online, Silicon Valley encourages us to believe is, that one need not contend with bodies, with business hours, with complete sentences. The loneliness social media aspires to repair becomes the loneliness social media creates and exports to the world as 'connection.'"
—Richard Rodriguez

Bob Boze 4:23 PM
December 17, 2014
    Here's a grainy photo I found last weekend that was taken in Tucson a long time ago. It's hard to date these but I think it's safe to say this was at least 700 hats ago.

BBB 700 Hats Ago

"And that was his secret: he was always at play."
—R.O. Blechman

Bob Boze 2:39 PM
December 17, 2014
   The newest issue of True West magazine (February, 2015) has a link to a slide show on Gus Walker's work and photos from his life.

Gus Walker, BBB and Bob McCubbin posing for the back cover of our Classic Gunfights series

Gus Walker The Mapinator

"The pessimist sees a pile of horseshit and thinks that's all there is. The optimist thinks that if there is enough horseshit around, there must be a pony someplace."
—an alleged neighborhood wag, as quoted by Norman Lear in his new memoir "Even This I Get to Experience." Gus would have loved this joke.

Bob Boze 12:52 PM
December 15, 2014
   Went home for lunch and finished two cover ideas to illustrate Paul Andrew Hutton's hard hitting cover story in the next issue (March) on a little known chapter in the Apache Wars: "The Severed Heads Campaign," when Gen. George Crook paid bounties on seven Apache heads, literally. Both paintings depict Mickey Free bringing in the head of Delchay. Here is the original cover sketch idea:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free With The Head of Delchay Cover Sketch"

   From there I went with a little more obtuse angle, trying to difuse a bit of the graphic angle:

Daily Whipout: "Mickey With Delchay's Head, No. 2"

   I may have overworked it, here is the first version before I added the pistol, etc.

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey With Delchay's Head, No. 1"

   When I finished this morning, I worried that it's too comic bookish for True West and so I grabbed an unfinished portrait of Mickey and added Delchay a little more subtle like:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free With Delchay's Head Sitting On Crate"

  Scans went down to Dan The Man at 2:30 and we'll see what magic he comes up with to make this fly. This quote is a repeat, but bears repeating:

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do."
—Edgar Degas

Bob Boze 3:07 PM

December 15, 2014
   Brisk out this morning. Went for a walk about nine. Here are a couple more views of Cholla Central:

Cholla Central No. I

Cholla Central, No. 2

   Cholla sometimes takes over in areas that have been cleared or burned (it's the first plant to thrive). One of the local theories is that the Hohokam (or Sinagua) farmers who lived in the cave across the way, cleared the plateau we live on for farming. Makes some sense.

Warning: Manhood Cringing Story Ahead
   The worse case of cholla attachment I have ever witnessed was when our neighborhood dog Smokie came yelping into our yard with cholla thorns stuck to his hind legs and butt. I quickly removed them with a comb, but then I realized he had a more serious cholla attachment underneath. Peering between his quivering legs I saw it—right on the full length of his penis and scrotum. A long cholla shaft was jammed flat and the spines were all the way in at 45 degree angles to each other! Smokie literally jumped up on a picnic table and whimpered for me to help him. Every time I approached with the comb, he would growl, but then whimper, and I finally had to get a pair of pliers to finish the job. It was very traumatic for both of us, but I could not imagine the pain that must have caused him. We assume Smokie got into it with a javalena and he was pushed or fell into a cholla patch, probably in the area of the above photos.

"Cholla hand warmer? No thanks?"
—Old Vaquero Saying

Bob Boze 10:10 AM

December 14, 2014
   Back from Tucson and a book signing at the east Broadway Barnes & Noble. Whenever I walk into a Barnes & Noble, my first stop is the magazine section to see where a certain magazine is displayed. We request to be in the History section but, like here, we are lumped into the Current Events section. Can you spot True West in this crowded rack?

True West newsstand position at Barnes & Noble, Tucson

   Okay, here's a closer look:

True West battling it out with Wild West and Time-Life's Greatest Battles (and, Cartoons of the Year 2014)

   Had a respectable crowd and met some fine people, including this gent:

Flint holding out a custom made money clip he gifted me.

   Afterwards, John Langellier treated Kathy and I to a dinner at Pastiche on North Campbell and afterwards we had a nightcap at the classy, old school Arizona Inn. It was a beautiful evening so we sat outside and had a B&B before we went back to our B&B (The Adobe Rose Inn).

Kathy, John and BBB doing a selfie on the patio at Arizona Inn

   Last Wednesday evening as we were on our way to the Wingets Christmas party we came upon two cars blocking Old Stage Road. Come to find out several neighbors had heard a woman's screams and according to the driver of one of the cars, the woman was screaming, "Help me! Help me! Get a gun!" The women in the car, who I did not know, live about a half mile north of us and their quotes were confirmed by the woman who takes care of the horses at the old Van Horn Ranch. She, in fact, called the sheriff's office to come investigate. We drove further north and saw a guy out in his driveway and we slowed down to ask if he had heard the screams. "Yes, it was my grandson," the guy said matter of factly. "He fell in some cholla and was calling our for his grandma. She's got him fixed up and calmed down." So, apparently, "Help me, get a gun!" was actually something like "Help me, grandma!"

Cholla Rhymes With Goya and Coincidently, La Jolla
   At any rate, cholla cactus, or, as we called it as a kid, "jumpin' cactus," is a diabolically designed cacti with 45-degree angle fish hook thorns that appear to jump because when you brush by, even slightly, and you snag even one, the whole cactus seems to follow suite and jump onto you. Another neighbor was riding his horse and tried to go up a steep embankment, the horse went over backwards into a stand of cholla and the more he tried to roll out, the more he got cholla in him. They called the vet, but they couldn't save him and he had to be put down. If you've never seen one, my whole front yard is full of them and everyone who lives out here, my family, the kids, the dogs and the chickens give this plant a very wide berth.

Cholla Central

"There are many reasons we broke up. There was a religious difference: I'm a Catholic and she's the devil."
—Adam Ferrara

Bob Boze 1:37 PM
December 11, 2014
   My book editor, Stuart Rosebrook, took a couple of photos of me working the crowd at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale on Tuesday night:

BBB lays it on thick at Poisoned Pen on Tuesday night, part I

Poisoned Pen crowd number two, that's Jack Alves, far right, who played lead guitar in the Razz Band.

  A very spirited crowd. We sold 35 books by my count.

   Meanwhile, I was cleaning in the studio and ran across a contact sheet of photos from the 1920s that was in my mother's belongings. Lillie Louise Guess—everyone called her Bobbi—was born in Lordsburg, New Mexico in 1925. The Guess family ranched and farmed in the Animas Valley, also known as the Boothell of New Mexico, and for awhile, her parents, Bob and Louise Guess, had a house at Stein's Pass which is right on the Arizona-New Mexico line. These photos were taken when they lived there:

Bob and Louise Guess outside their house at Stein's Pass, New Mexico, 1926

   A couple miles north of Steins was the Volcano Mine, which I visited in 1977, but very little remained. The mine was close to Doubtful Canyon where numerous Apache attacks had occurred in the 1860s and 70s, thus the name, which reflected your chances of making it through alive.

The ruins of the Volcano Mine tent houses and the headquarters office.

Mary Guess on the ore track at the Volcano Mine

   I've always loved this photo for the design and the pathos, or loneliness of the West it conveys. it has such an emotion to it. The pose is so eloquent, to me, with her hand on her shoulder. So innocent and yet elegant. Mary grew up and married Choc Hamilton and is the mother of the rodeo champion Billy Hamilton.

My mother Bobbi and her older sister Mary at Stein's Pass.

Not sure who this old timer is but he's definitely Cowboy Kin.

"Art runs parallel to nature."
—Paul Cezanne

Bob Boze 11:30 AM
December 10, 2014
   Working on a cover idea this morning, based on this sketch:

Daily Whipout: "Mickey Free Headhunter"

   And here's a variation:

   Got up this morning and finished a little study I call "Another Dang Van Gogh Gunfighter." Full disclosure, I'm reading "Lust For Life" and "Van Gogh, The Life" as research for a Classic Gunfight featuring the Dutch painter and I've got Vincent on the brain.

Daily Whipout: "Another Dang Vincent Van Gogh Gunfighter"

   The "Lust For Life" book is a first edition, signed by the author and is a gift from the Top Secret Writer for my birthday. Pretty dang sweet. In the preface, the author, Irving Stone, says the original manuscript was rejected in the 1930s by every leading publishing house in America (17 by his count), "always on the same grounds":

"How do you expect us to sell the story of an unknown Dutch painter to the American public in the middle of a depression."
—Short Sighted Publishers, or, should that be Blind Publishers?

Bob Boze 12:08 PM

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