Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Did An Amazon Warrior Woman Name California?

August 14, 2018
    Another cool day in Flagstaff. Had breakfast at this little cafe, Carmels. Fresh squeezed orange juice, huevos rancheros with homemade pinto beans. Excellent food.

Breakfast at Carmel's

   And then dinner here:

BBB at Tourist Home

Rush hour weather in the rain

Queen Califia 
  Doing research on Baja I ran across a reference to an Amazon queen named Calafia (also styled as Califia) who allegedly lived on an island—California was thought to be an island until abut 1710—and it is from her that the name California resulted. 

 Queen Califia of the Baja Amazons

Here is a quote from the first published reference to her is mentioned:

“Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies [the American Continent] there is an island called California, very close to that part of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited by black women without a single man among them, and they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body with strong passionate hearts and great virtue. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks.”
—Spanish writer, Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, in 1500 in his novel, "Las sergas de Esplandián" (The Adventures of Esplandián)

    Some 30 years later, Hernan Cortez, who was very familiar with the popular novel, mounted two expeditions to find this island and the Amazon queen. The first expedition was marred by mutiny and the leaders were wiped out when they went ashore to find water, but Cortez himself succeeded in the second expedition and this is where the name The Sea of Cortez originated.

 From Wikipedia, we get this: "The name of Calafia was likely formed from the Arabic word khalifa (religious state leader) which is known as caliph in English and califa in Spanish. Similarly, the name of Calafia's monarchy, California, likely originated from the same root, fabricated by the author to remind the 16th-century Spanish reader of the reconquista, a centuries-long fight between Christians and Muslims which had recently concluded in Spain."

"Once you go black you'll never go back."
—Rejected early California state motto

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Making more mistakes

August 12, 2018
   Kathy got in from Korea at seven last night. We drove up the hill this morning to escape the heat and celebrate 39 years together.

   At 11:30, we checked into our hotel with a suite overlooking the San Francisco peaks.  

Kathy's Rack in Flag

   Check out those massive tetons, the Chi-Chi’s the Tatas, the big ol’ rack on those peaks in the background.

   We had a celebratory brunch at one of our favorite little restaurants, The Cottage, which is in an old house, and then we walked in the rain back to the hotel. For scorched flatlanders from the Valley of the Sun, this is as close to heaven as we can get.

Blessed Rain and 71 degrees

   As Charlie Daniels sings in one of my favorite tunes, "I know where heaven is, it's just above the trees."

   Heading out tonight to hear some music, The Grass Fed Giants, and the Americana folk group The Kruger Brothers at the Opheum Theater.

    I've made some mistakes in my life, but this isn't one of them.

"Some mistakes are just too much fun to only make once."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, August 11, 2018

You talkin' to me, Pendejo?

August 11, 2018
    Worked on a variety of images today, including this one:

Daily Whip Out:
"Tall, Dark Rider"

   Also worked on a back story for Gringo Eyes:

   "His mother is Indio. His father was a missionary from the States who ended up teaching her the missionary position. There was a scandal in the church and he was sent home. 

Daily Whip Out: "The Missionary Position"

   The boy grew up as an outsider. The Mexicans don't trust him cuz he's a half-breed and he's got the Yankee eyes. The Gringos don't trust him cuz he looks too Mexican. We trust him a little, cuz he's my cousin."

   Ojos is shy, like most of us Indios. He don't make a scene. One time I seen a group of toughs from Ensenada try to bully him and his friends. They punched a friend of Ojos in the face and then beat another boy, knocking him in the dirt. They didn't think Ojos was a threat. Finally, after one of the cavrones was laughing at how weak our boys were, Ojos calmly pulled a pistol out of his jacket and said,

"You talkin' to me, Pendejo?"

   That changed their tune. "Don't hurt us, Gringo Eyes!" they yelped like the dogs they were. It was very funny.

   Ojos didn't hurt them but he put the hurt on their manhood, and they don't like that down here.

   He grew up to be a first rate vaquero and horse trainer. He has the magic hands. He got that from his mamacita. She was a healer.

Daily Whip Out:
"You talkin' to me, Pendejo"

   Kathy flies home tonight. We're headed to Flagstaff for a couple days of coolness.

"We don't have a lot of Latinos in Canada. It's too cold. We don't need a wall. We have winter."
—Sammy Sugar

Friday, August 10, 2018

Jaw Droppers & Random Renderings

August 10, 2018
   My son, Thomas Charles, wants to know where he got his jutting jaw and I told him it most likely came from this Norsky guy:

Carl Marvel Bell

   That is my farming grandfather on my father's side, from Thompson, Iowa, who I greatly admire.

Daily Whip Out: "Ojos Quest"

   I was going through my sketchbook and found this little gem:

   I was impressed with the Ed Borein art gallery at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum when I was attending the Hutton wedding a couple weeks ago. I did a couple sketches while I was there. The wedding was on the grounds and I had some time before it started.

   I have always loved the song "Peter Gunn," and that's where this sketch ended up.

Daily Whip Out: "Peter's Gun"

   I'm also still dealing with word balloons and how to do them effectively.

Daily Whip Out: Mexicali Balloons"

My sketchbooks are full of notes and excerpts from articles that inspire me, like this:

   This was very impactful. How? I'll show you tomorrow.

"We want to know what happens next."
—Adam Kirsch

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Truth About The Truth

August 9, 2018
   A local historian, William Porter, dropped into the True West World Headquarters yesterday and paid me a high compliment. Two, actually: he told me he admires the fact that I always strive for accuracy in the magazine and that as far as he can tell it seems like I'm having a good time doing it.

   Both are true, to a point. Like everyone, I am fighting other battles I don't seem to be winning. I'm not alone. As the writer Sam Anderson put it, "No one is ever truly out of the woods." 

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"A New Old Vaquero Logo"

   As for the constant struggle for accuracy, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Ingersoll:

"The grandest ambition that can enter the soul is to know the truth."

—Robert Green Ingersoll

   I have dedicated a good part of my life to seeking the truth about all the Old West characters we cover. The quest has been satisfying and, by turns, frustrating. For one thing, no one can ever get it completely right and then to make matters really frustrating, nothing changes more than the past. 

   We used to believe Billy the Kid was left-handed based on the only known photo of him with his holstered pistol, on his left hip. 

A big iron on his left hip

   Articles were written to back it up (some old-timers even testified to him being left handed), some psychologists claimed his being left-handed contributed to his delinquent behavior, which then led to a movie, "The Left-Handed Gun."

   But then someone noticed the buttons on his vest in the photo were on the wrong side and someone else noticed the loading port on the Winchester was on the wrong side and eventually it dawned on everyone that the photo was a ferreotype and the image was reversed, and, well, scratch all of the above.


   When I was in Prescott last weekend I spent some quality time with Paul Hutton talking about how so much of our history is being twisted and bent by forces hell bent on destroying our heritage. I asked Paul to write up an editorial for our 65th Anniversary Issue, which is November. I asked Dan the Man to take a run at some cover ideas and as usual, Dan covers the dog, as we like to say out here.

   He's since done two more cover ideas and I'll share those later.

"Truth is the shattered mirror strown in myriad bits; while each believes his little bit the whole to own."
—Richard Francis Burton

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Make No Mistake I Make Plenty of Mistakes

August 8, 2018
   Okay today is 8•8•18, that is kind of cool. 

   Frustrating day drawing today. made lots of mistakes and just couldn't get it where I wanted. It happens (see Ralph's quote, below). 

   So, to back up a bit, I drew a series of sketches a couple weeks ago, imagining what Ojos de Gringo would look like. I ended up here:

Ojos de Gringo Sketch #10

   Moving on from there, I had two problems: One, I needed the hat to model different angles, and two, I needed a good Mexican model.

   So, R.J. Preston solved the first problem and my neighbor Tom Augherton fixed the second problem. Tom sent over a friend of his named Ramido and the sugarloaf fit him perfectly.


Ramido Smiles

   From there I was off to the races.

"Ojos de Gringo And The Mexicali Stud"

"There is no such thing as a mistake. A mistake is an opportunity to do something else."
—Ralph Steadman

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Buck Sanders Hunts A Hat

August 7, 2018
   Growing up around cowboy storytellers I noticed early on they have a rhythm, style and cadence peculiar to other storytellers. This is a good example, told by a Texas cowboy:

"Buck Sanders Hunts A Hat"

   This fellow I know—Jake the Snake, we call him—runs a horse outfit up in Montana. He run a herd down into Nevada and on the way he lost his hat in a dust storm, dang thing sailed right down into a deep canyon up near Battle Mountain. Rough country. Anyways, he had a neckerchief around his head, like those Mex peckerwoods sometimes wear. I met him goin’ over to get a new hat in Bodine, which was a ninety mile ride and after he got himself a new hat he got on a good drunk and he laid in the middle of the street all afternoon and everybody in town had to walk around him. So, then he gets on the train and goes down to Reno where he proceeds to go on another bender and then he took another train to Stockton, California and he knew a gal down there who used to live in Nevada, so he went over and looked her up and asked her if she would like to get married and she said, ‘All right,’ and so he gives her a hundred dollars and told her to buy some duds and he’d go and shave and be right back so they could get hitched. Instead he went and bought another bottle of rattler juice and got on the train back to Reno, fooled around there some, then came back up to Montana where I saw him on the street and told him I admired his new hat, which was a Boss of The Plains type deal. Simple, but not too extravagant like some folks are fond of wearing (looks at Ojos). Anyway, I asked him what it cost him and he said, “Oh, 'bout $2,500 and change,” and when I told him that was plumb loco, he told me that wasn’t the half of it. Turns out the father of his intended bride came clear up to Montana to sue him for breach of promise. Cost him three horses and $150 in court costs. He told me he was wearing that damn hat 'til the day he died. And I damn sure believed him.
—Buck "The Texican" Sanders

Full Disclosure: I poached this from a story Ed Borein told in a booklet, "Vaquero," I bought at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum last week. Frankly, it was a pretty bad story, but I was struck by the odd turns he took and strange specifics he added, and although I felt I had to improve on it with the ending and give it some sort of punchline, almost all the locations are intact from the original story. And, frankly, that's the part that's almost unbelievable (the cowboy went from Montana to Reno, Nevada to Stockton, California and back!), and yet those old-time cowboys thought nothing about those kinds of distances and it was not uncommon for those old boys to stay drunk for days.

   I rest my case.

"If you can't improve on a story you've got no business telling it in the first place."
—Old Vaquero Saying