Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Write Every Day, Without Hope, Without Despair, Then Grab A Bean at The Heatwave

June 18, 2019
   Thanks to my curator, Kristi Jacobs, I've been reviewing my old comic strips about the Heatwave Cafe.

  All of which reminds me that when I was trying to make Honkytonk Sue into a movie the last time around, my muse, Kathy Sue Radina, told me I needed to learn how to tell a story, so she signed me up for a writing class at ASU.

The Queen of Country Swing in action, circa 1987. Dang that girl could move and she made every guy she danced with look like a country prince.

   Yesterday I was purging crap out of my studio and I stumbled across a blue, "Expert Steno Notebook" 80 sheets, 6" X 9", greentint and something called "Gregg Ruled." Inside, were all my notes from the class I took.

   I carved out time from my art director job at New Times Weekly in order to drive out to the Tempe campus for the classes. This was in the fall of 1987. I missed a few classes because of deadlines and other commitments, but I did write down the teacher's office hours: (11:30—1:30), and my notes indicate he had a keen sense of knowledge about the architecture of space and third person limited narrative.

The Handlebar J Band kicks it
while Honkytonk Sue Cuts A Rug

   Here are a few highlights from the class:

"You'll end up in jail again." (implying something we'll perhaps never find out in the story).

"What keeps us reading is not the same thing as what keeps us writing."

"Not every snap needs to be buttoned before the story is sent off to school."

"When you are building a house, you don't start with the door. it makes sense, but that's where you go in. Start on page 120 with something you know."

"We're responsible for interpreting the world in a new way."

"Our secrets are all the same." [I use this example ALL the time!]

"We're writing so we can see."

"You always think everybody has more information than you, but they rarely do."

"Write a little every day, without hope, without despair." [This is my favorite saying in the world, period. In fact, it's why I write this blog.]

The 16th and final class came off on December 8, 1987. I learned a ton from the teacher and, irony of ironies, the two of us are now talking about working together on a project, which has the working title of:

"The Last Fandango at The Heatwave Cafe"

New story, same old heartbreak.

"Success is the ability to work."
—Ron Carlson

Monday, June 17, 2019

Four Is The Toniest Number

June 17, 2019
   Four is a magic number to the Apaches. Here we see the G-Man with four distinct stars in a grizzly bear sky.

Daily Whip Out:
"The G-Man Rides Under a Grizzly Bear Sky"

  I bought a bunch of lillies before I left for Deadwood last week and when I returned they were all in full bloom. Made for a nice homecoming treat.

Lillies of The Field

  Got this flashback photo from the Top Secret Writer of a book signing in Prescott a couple years ago when Paul Andrew Hutton (in vest) launched his "Apache Wars" book at the Peregrine Bookstore. Some big dogs, right there.

Three Giants of History and a Humor Ringer

  Watched the Bob Dylan "Rolling Thunder Revue" doc by Martin Scorcese, on Netflix last night. I knew most of the story, but I was intrigued by the great hat Bobby Zimmerman wore for the tour.

Dylan hat trick

  And I must say I was quite intrigued by the massive amount of seemingly random, non-sequitur lyrics that boy from Minnesota was able to spout off so succinctly in song after original song.

"Someday everything is going to be different when I paint that masterpiece."
—Bob Dylan,

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Warning: Old Man Rant Ahead

June 16, 2019
   Received a forward from my artist pard Buckeye Blake, who, in turn, received it from his Cowboy Artist son, Teal. According to Buckeye, Teal woke up this morning and snapped this photo of Shiprock on a cool morning and sent it to his dad as a Father's Day greeting. 

Shiprock Sleeping Bags

   And so now I'm sending it on to you to do the same. According to his dad, Teal and another Cowboy Artist camped out last night on their way to an artist ride in Logan, Utah and woke up to this sight.

   A thoughtful son he is.

Daily Whip Outs: "Hatzell Times Two"

   On Saturday, after my book signing at the Adams Museum in Deadwood, I hung out with another one of my artist pards, Jim Hatzell. We had dinner at Legends Restaurant, in the basement of the Franklin Hotel. Jim showed me where Pete Dexter wrote most of his classic book, "Deadwood," and I made a point of going back there for breakfast the next morning, so I could soak up the vibes. When I asked the waitress about it, where he sat, etc., here is what she said: "I don't know."

   Not even a, "I've never heard about that." Or, "Where did you hear that?" Or, "That's interesting. You old people sure know a lot for looking so clueless."

   Now, is it just me, or is there a creeping lack of polite, personal exchange skills among a significant part of the Millennial kids? Is it the phones and living on them? I must say I had this encounter several times over the weekend, every time with young, service staff where they just couldn't be bothered with talking to you on even pretending on a superficial level. A level that was drilled into us on any job where you had to deal with the public. Somehow, it seems to me, that old ethos is being lost: The customer is always right.

   Or, maybe they're just more direct and don't want to even pretend they care?

   For what it's worth, I tipped her 20% but I didn't like it!

   Left Deadwood at ten, drove back to Rapid City, South Dakota and met Jim and Jackie Hatzell for lunch at Perkins, then hoofed it out to the airport and took a puddle jumper to Denver with a two hour layover. 

   Used the time in both airports to sketch.

Rapid City Rapid Sketches

   Then hopped on a United flight down out of the Rockies and into the furnace (Phoenix) and then another hour drive out to Cave Creek. Eleven hours, door to door.

   Almost too old to do this anymore. Or, at least I'm more cranky about it. "Get off my lawn!"

   Or, what's left of it.

Early Morning Light On The Pumphouse

   Had a nice morning and watered. It's cool out (mid-sixties) until around ten when it gets oppressive.

"It's not what you make, it's what you get to keep."
—Jim Hatzell

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Deadwood Is Damn Grand!

June 15, 2019
   Had a glorious day in downtown Deadwood yesterday.

My gracious hosts put me up in the Deadwood Mountain Grand, high on the hill overlooking the entire town.

   I spoke at noon on the lawn at the historic Adams House to a packed, standing-room-only crowd. Afterwards, I walked down to the Adams Museum where I signed books and talked to all the locals and tourists who flocked in (we sold two cases of books and gave away three times as many copies of our True West Deadwood issue!)

   Two of my favorite people showed up:

The Jim and Kim Show!

   That's my artist compadre, Jim Hatzell, on the left (check out that fantastic rim lighting on his hat!). And between us is the dynamite tour guide, Kim Keehn who always styles it so cool. She has a Haunted History Walking Tour of Deadwood that is just the best. Check her out at:

   After we sold out of virtually everything we shipped to Deadwood, Jim and I walked over this historic hotel where Pete Dexter wrote most of his seminal book, "Deadwood."

Storm Clouds Over
The Franklin Hotel

      Special thanks to Rose Speirs and her crew for making my stay so delightful. I am inspired and I had a great time and now it's time to fly home and get back to work.

"If you don't think actors are animals, you've never eaten with one."
—Mel Brooks

Friday, June 14, 2019

Wild Women of The Wild West Back on the Burner

June 14, 2019
   Going back through some of my earlier projects that got waylaid when we bought the magazine (twenty years ago this September) I found this.

Daily Whip Out: "Latina Santina"

   So many women of the Wild West who need to be celebrated.

Daily Whip Out: "Hogtown Hussie #6"

   Yes, I almost could do an entire book just on Soiled Doves.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Hogtown Hussies #7"

Daily Whip Out:
"Hogtown Hussies Galore"

Daily Whip Out: "La Tules of Santa Fe"

   And then there were the big, I mean really big women.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western"

Daily Whip Out:
"The Great Western at Yuma Crossing"

Daily Whip Out: "Native Healer"

Daily Whip Out: "Sisters to the Bone"

Daily Whip Out (after Toulouse Lautrec):
"The Come On"

And here's something my Iowa kin would love. A bang board beauty. Otherwise known as a corn shucking Norsky big-bone babe.

A Bang Board Babe

   And, finally, here's my latest True West Moments doubletruck in The Tombstone Epitaph:

Wild Women of The Wild West

   Coming eventually to a surviving book store near you.

"When he once gives his word, nothing will turn him from fulfilling his promise."
—S.M. Barrett, on Geronimo

“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
—George R. R. Martin

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Apparently, Lummis Was A Swinger (yes, THAT kind of swinger!)

June 12, 2019
   Last weekend I finally got to visit El Alisal, the home built by Charles Fletcher Lummis (rhymes with hummis) who I have a few things in common with.

   Right off the bat, we both have a great love for the Southwest and want to preserve the history of the region and we both have published periodicals to that end.

Lummis is credited with saving the California missions, which were in severe decline at that time (early 1900s).

   Okay, I didn't do any of that. However, like me, Lummis really loved New Mexico and he took some pretty cool photos while he lived there.

Dig those taps, Baby!

   Like me, Lummis was always after the big story and this got him sideways with the super-secret society of Penitentes when he took the following photo.

Lummis Crosses (get it?) the Line.

   This didn't go over well with the self-flagilating-Hell-bent-for-secrecy-Penitentes and one of them allegedly knocked on Lummis's door one night and when Charles answered, he was blasted in the face and chest with a shotgun. Incredibly, he lived, and after he recovered, he moved to Los Angeles.

   As president of the Kingman Luther League, I once got sideways with a pastor who thought I was a little too hip for the room.

   I recovered as well.

   Like me, Lummis was into Country Swing before it was popular.

Lummis swings his honey in a pretty sweet
 cradle move.

   One time Lummis walked across the country to get a newspaper job.

Lummis wrote about his
"Tramp Across America" in a popular book.

   I actually read that book and once "tramped" across the street on Fourth Avenue in Tucson to avoid getting a job with an underground rag nobody read.

Lummis was actually a swinger.

   Yes, THAT kind of swinger. His wife divorced him over it, and, according to the docent I talked to at El Alisal, Lummis then lost the financial backing of Phoebe Hearst and almost lost his house.

   I almost lost our house because I invested our life savings in a sketchy magazine deal, and it was only through the help and love of two women—Kathy Sue Radina and Carole Compton Glenn—that we still have the house—and the magazine.

   I know what you're thinking: "Damn that Kingman kid is lucky in love."

   That I am.

   So, needless to say, I wanted to sit where Lummis sat, and I wasn't disappointed. Although the "Lion's Den" is off limits, the before-mentioned docent, took me into a back room where they keep his roll top desk and I was allowed to take a seat.

BBB channels Lummis

   It was cool to sit there, but, of course, it's always smaller than you think it is going to be.

"America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. . .It's time to demythologize an era and build a new myth from the gutter to the stars. It's time to embrace bad men and the price they paid to secretly define their time."
—James Ellroy, "American Tabloid"

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thin Skin vs. Brown Skin

June 11, 2019
   If you have been following along here, you know I really tortured myself and ended up way out in the weeds on the recent Billy the Kid cover. 
   So, forgive me, in advance, for perhaps overreacting to this email we got yesterday.

To the editor:

   Though I sure understand America's push toward 'political correctness,' 'inclusion' and 'diversity' I'm puzzled, perplexed and bewildered as to why Billy the Kid is portrayed as African American on your July cover.
—Dan Katz, Westport, Connecticut 

   This irritated me to no end and I quickly wrote this reply:


  I must commend your vivid imagination for seeing race where none was intended. I didn't paint my Billy cover portrait to make him look like an African American but then I didn't set out to perplex some blind idiot from Connecticut either.

   Before I hit send, I asked Carole Glenn to come into my office and read it. I asked her if it was over the line, and, without saying so, she said I might consider rewriting that last line. So I did:

   I must commend your vivid imagination for seeing race where none was intended. I didn't paint my Billy cover portrait to make him look like an African American and I'm a little puzzled how you got there as well.

   This morning, I received the following reply:

   Sorry, Bob, that you took my comment as an insult. I meant it to be humorous because I, and four other readers who contacted me, think the likeness does, indeed, look African-American. I regret the misunderstanding.

   I was picturing this guy as a young, angry Twitter-type guy, but with this sincere reply I suddenly felt immature and more than slightly chagrined. So I sent this:

   Oh that is too funny. Yes I took it as an insult. In fact I had a nastier response which I didn’t send, and I’ve got to send it to you because it’s so amazing what happens when you realize that someone is joking. Kind of insane but there you go. Thanks for being such a zany guy. I’ve got to go back and look at the cover. As you may or may not know I had a really difficult time with this drawing and had a better face on another image but at the last minute it was too late and I couldn’t exchange it. There you go. Thanks for being out there. And being so damn funny.

All The Damn Billys (21+ covers!)

   To which Dan replied:

   And thank you, Bob, for being so candid and accepting. . .very nice to have had the exchange.

   Now I'm really intrigued. Who is this guy? So I asked him and got this reply:

   I know you through Brian Lebel. He and Melissa are close friends of my wife and mine. I've known Brian for twenty-plus years, go to his auctions. I am a lawman-gun-badge and cowgirl memorabilia collector. You published an article some years back on the Wyatt Earp gun I bought at Brian's auction back in Cody and have subscribed to True West magazine since then (2002). I'm 81 and thanks for the funny compliment.

   I have always thought you to be unusually broad-minded in your approach to history and unusually curious about your present and past surroundings. Both of which have given True West the luxury of being a read for both the mental yahoo and the intellectually curious and liberal. A pleasure for that reason.

   So, for the record, here is the image, below, that should have graced the cover. 

Best Damn Billy

   A much better likeness and the vest is much better. However, it was too late in the game—Dan The Man did 24 covers!—for me to torture him anymore, and so that's how we ended up with Shaft on the cover.

  So, in conclusion, imagine how incredibly smart this wonderful man from Connecticut became to me. In my mind his IQ went from the low eighties to somewhere above 160. Isn't it passing strange how we react to perceived slights and digs?  Thin skin, oh yes. 

   Perhaps old Charlie said it best:

"In the end, everything is a joke."
—Charlie Chaplin