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

January 28, 2015
   Got a new book in the mail yesterday: "Ridin', Ropin' & Recipies" by the legendary Arizona cowgirl Nancy Sheppard. It is a hoot and a half! Full disclosure: she features "The Guess Girls Cowboy Beans" which is my mother's and her mother's and her four sister's recipe. The names in the book are worth the price ($25), including recipes from Clyda, Boog, Tuff, Dally, Beldora, Skeeter, Dixee, Jinx and Cotton, among others. You can't make up better handles!

Nancy Sheppard in the 1950s. She is 84 and still going strong

   Dan The Man Harshberger, Robert Ray and I are working on my next book: The Best of True West Moments. Dare I say "Volume I"? So far I have done a couple hundred of these suckers. It all began some 13 years ago:

The History of True West Moments
    In the summer of 2002 I attended a writer conference in Gunnison, Colorado. One of the perks of the event was a field trip to the ghost town of Tin Cup. On the trip up the mountain, aboard a bouncing school bus, I was regaling a couple friends in the back of the bus with stories about being on the movie set of  "Tombstone" (1993) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994). About half way up the mountain, the bus stopped and we all got out to see a woman setting up a tripod in front of a broken down cabin. On top of the tripod she mounted a big ol' video camera. A guy with a clip board, standing next to her, asked me to come forward and look into the camera and talk about Wyatt Earp movies just like I had been talking on the bus. Fifteen minutes later, Jeff Hildebrandt—a producer at the Westerns Channel—told me to shut up and we got back on the bus and went on up the mountain.

    I didn't think any more about it and, In fact, thought the whole trip was a waste of time. About two weeks later I got a call from Jeff saying they had gotten some good response to my comments that ran before the movies, "Tombstone" and "Wyatt Earp" and the response was good. And so Jeff asked me if I wanted to do "bumpers" and I said, "Absolutely." Before adding, "What is a bumper?"
Dan Harshberger's original layout ideas for True West Moments

    Well, a bumper is the space between two movies and often the channel needs a short filler to set up the next movie, thus a bumper, where two movies bump together. So by the fall of 2002 my career with True West Moments had began. We filmed many of these short informative True West tidbits, from locations in Tucson, Tombstone, Pioneer and Cave Creek, Arizona. Also, Wichita, Kansas, Durango, Colorado and the area around the National Ranching Association in Lubbock, Texas. The short and punchy True West Moments ran almost daily for the better part of ten years and we filmed around 75 of them and they ran thousands of times.

True West Moment filmed at Cowtown, AZ: Can a bullet go through a water trough?

My Favorite True West Moments still available on CD

   As the Arizona Centennial came into view (1912-2012), I pitched our hometown newspaper, The Arizona Republic on doing a print version of True West Moments as a run up to the festivities on February 14, 2012. My editor, Ken Western (could an editor of True West Moments ever have a better name?) gave me the green light and the first True West Moment ran on March 7, 2010 and proved so popular, the newspaper has continued to run the weekly history lesson to the present day (2015) and as of this writing there have been more than 200 that have appeared in the Republic.

    In the spring of 2014 I was contacted by the new director of Spirit of the West: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Michael J. Fox, about utilizing my True West Moments in a permanent exhibit of the proposed museum. Some 75 of these True West Moments are displayed in the Abe Hays Exhibition, which opened on January 10, 2015.

   And speaking of True West Moments, I'm working on a new True West Moment about drunk posses. it was a bigger problem in the Old West than is usually portrayed in movies. For example, in the Elfego Baca siege in Frisco (Reserve), New Mexico, two large cowboy posses rode up from The Blue and drank all night all the way, then stopped at a saloon and tanked up during the fight.

Daily Whip Out: "One Drunk Posse"

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a True West Moment."
—my signature sign off on the Westerns Channel

Bob Boze 12:14 PM
January 27, 2015
    Just read that fellow drummer, and one-time inspirational bandmate, Dallas Taylor, has died at age 66. I had the privilege of playing "Midnite Rambler" with Dallas playing my drums and me singing lead with Hans Olson and Jack Alves back in 1981 at a hipster watering hole in Scottsdale. Dallas sat in using my Ludwigs and I must say, they never sounded so good. He had the touch and he will be missed.

   It rained last night. Got up this morning and went out to get the newspaper and saw this scene, looking up Old Stage Road:

A Slice of Light On Sugarloaf

   Worked this morning on throwing away weak art and making three piles: Has Potential, Patina Perfect and the Do-Or-Die pile.

The Final Piles

   Grabbed a board out of the latter pile and finished it for good:

Daily Whip Out: "The Lawman"

"There are a whole list of mistakes, peripheral traps that pull you away from the central and only important concern—music. Money, glory, fame, sex, adulation, peer group approval, competition and one's own emotional baggage all distract you from your original purpose. As far as I know, Dallas didn't miss any of these mistakes. They crept up on him, and jerked the rug out from under him and derailed him and almost killed him."
—David Crosby, adding that Dallas got clean and became a counselor for other addicts

Bob Boze 1:30 PM
January 26, 2015
   Saturday I started my new goal of doing five warm up sketches and paintings, utilizing my Do-Or-Die pile, and executing them without hope, without despair. Results to follow.

Daily Whip Out: "The Ernest Cowboy"

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse James All Alone"

Daily Whip Out: "Into The Draw"

    Last weekend, Kathy and I booked a hotel in downtown Phoenix in order to go see Eric Church on Saturday night. We got a room at the Fairfield Inn just south of Virginia and Central, so we could have access to the light rail, which runs into downtown Phoenix and by the US Airways Arena, where the concert was being held.

   Before we went to the concert we treated ourselves to a late lunch at Gallo Blanco where I had a flight of tacos (as opposed to a flight of wine). Had the carne asado taco, a puerco taco and a shrimp taco:
A flight of tacos from Gallo Blanco

   We then caught the light rail into downtown Phoenix and fought our way into the sold out US Airways Arena. We had decent seats ($75 each) stage left, halfway down, and as we found our seats, we caught the opening act, Hailstorm, who did a heavy metal set, with the red-headed drummer throwing his sticks about fifteen feet in the air and catching them, in stride. I haven't seen that much drummer flair (i.e. ego on parade) since I saw The Young Rascals at High Corbett Field in Tucson in 1966. After the Hailstorm set, the drummer jumped over his set and ran along the far side cat walk to hand slap all fifteen of his fans.

   Next up was Dwight Yoakam, who put on a great set of old school Bakersfield twang, with the traditional set up of a drummer at the rear-center of the stage with a wall of amps to either side. Dwight closed with "Bad As You," a rousing set. After his set the house lights came on and the roadies cleared the stage. I went to the bathroom, came back and the stage was still empty. I wondered what was wrong. Surely, Eric Church has a band and a drummer? Where are the drums? Where are the amps? Fifteen minutes later, the lights went down and a lone guy approached out of the darkness at the back of the stage and approached a microphone. Slowly, four other git pickers came on stage from the same direction and spread out, without cords, or visible amps.

Old Man Freaked Out By Lack of Amps and Drums On Stage.
   Eric went into the opening refrain from "The Outsiders," one of my favorite songs. In fact, on the train ride down, Kathy and I rode with four high school girls also going to the concert. Out of courtesy, one of them asked me what I wanted to hear at the concert and I said, "Springsteen" and "The Outsiders." Just when the slam-bam opening hit, the scoreboard opened up and the drummer descended from 75 feet up in the ceiling, as he played his heart out on the riff heavy song. I couldn't imagine being that high up on a drum platform with a 75 foot drop on all four sides. Crazy. Scary. Amazing:

The Eric Church Stage: all catwalks and no amps, or DRUMS!

   The show was nonstop laser-sharp, choreographed lighting and set changes, with Eric running to every corner to sing, while his guitarists (one guy appeared to be a refugee from Metallica, another a castoff from ZZ top) went to their assigned positions to rip out a lead break. It was also non stop adrenalin for two-plus hours. I have seen the Beatles, the Stones, Frank Sinatra, The Who, Jethro Tull and the Beach Boys (6 times) but I have to say this was right up there with the best I've ever seen, or heard. Great music and a great show.

Eric gets the crowd to sing along

A Giant Blow-up of A Nashville Devil appeared during a song about Nashville and the devil.

Put Another Drink In My Hand, indeed!

   One favorite moment was when Eric said the last time he played Phoenix was at the Cajun House and Graham Central Station, both night clubs (the Cajun House in Scottsdale and Graham in Glendale) and the crowd went wild at the local mentions. Eric chided the audience saying, "You weren't all there because I remember." The essence being he had graduated from some very small venues to this sold out show. I believe his first album was in 2007.

   The show got out at 11:40 and Kathy and I were flat out giddy, because we were still awake! We got on the light rail at Washington and First Street and lo and behold, there were the same four high school girls we rode downtown with. One of the girls said, "When we heard Eric begin with 'The Outsiders' we knew there was one happy old man in the audience." The way she said it, stabbed me right in the heart.

Old Man and Trophy Wife Ride The Midnite Train to Virginia (and Central)

Light Rail Carrying Heavy Traffic

   To celebrate staying up past midnite I treated Kathy to a nightcap at the legendary Durant's which was a stone's throw from our hotel:

A nightcap at Durant's at Central and Virginia

   They were actually closing but I begged the bartender to help an old man celebrate his long lost youth. He complied although he charged me $24 for two martinis.

"You will live and you will die. Both are good."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Bob Boze 2:33 PM
January 23, 2015
   It's my son's birthday today. Thomas Charles is 32 years old. Happy Birthday to the newest and soon to be best World History teacher in the history of the world!

Tom Bell acknowledging an imaginary crowd from behind a random podium he walked by in Peru

   Spent this morning sorting out the piles and piles of semi-finished artwork in my studio. Moved it all out to the breezeway and made four stacks, with the biggest one, the "Do-Or-Die" stack. Meaning, don't be afraid to dive in here because I was going to throw it away anyway.

Five piles: The Has Decent Potential file, the Iffy Pile, the Do-Or-Die Skies pile, the Bitchin' Patina pile and the Can't Bring Myself to Throw These Away pile.

   Did manage to throw away a couple dozen boards, but intend to plow through the Do-Or-Die pile at a clip of five a day, just being as bold and crazy as I can possibly be. At the least it will be a warm-up exercise (we called them "gesture drawings" in college) and perhaps there will be a few that land in the winner's circle.

   Here are examples from each pile:

Daily Whip Out: "The Ola Puto page"

   I have long experimented with how to creatively attack a page of panel drawings for a graphic novel that isn't the same ol' same ol'. I like the amber glow of this page, which emulates my love for old photographs to a degree. And, as a matter of fact, so does this one:

Daily Whip Out: "Patina Orogrande"

   I love the richness of the golden tones and the random, erratic border. Not a false note in the piece. Now to find the appropriate portrait, or scene to place within the frame.

   Here's an example from the Can't Bring Myself to Throw This Away Pile:

Daily Whip Out: "Dust Storm Riders"

   Yes, the Duke of Dust just can't stop doing these little studies of infernal dust storms. This one seems almost too thin, but I'm afraid to touch it and try to bring the riders into any more detail for fear it will ruin the effects.

Daily Rip Off: "Ed Mell Sky"

   Fitting, of course, because yesterday I had lunch with my former studio mate, Edmundo Mell down at Z Texas Grill. I bought ($35 plus $7 tip) to help assuage my guilt over this egregious rip off.

   Last and certainly least, are the studies that were better than I thought they were when I did them.

Daily Whip Out: "Cowboy Ground Zero Study"

   This is haunting because I think it's better than the image I ended up using on the cover and echoes a comment made recently that the first painting on the Severed Heads cover was the best and I should have let it go right there. Dang! Wish I knew what this all means.

"The more one sows, the more one may hope to reap."
—Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Boze 1:12 PM
January 22, 2015
   Reading "Van Gogh, The Life" a massive biography of the Dutch mad man artist. On this assessment, I can totally relate: "He littered his career with half-finished completed projects undertaken in fevers of enthusiasm that always rejected half-measures."

Daily Whip Out: "A Half-finished Stagecoach Scene"

   So much promise, but hit the wall and chucked it.

Daily Whip Out: "Rusted Bones On The Great Sonoran Desert"

   Whatever. Couldn't apply this to any scene I was doing, so just left it at this stage. I often start off painting sessions by pushing paint around just to see where it goes. This is one of those experiments where it outstripped my talent. Ha. True.

Daily Whip Out: "Fire Ball From Hell"

   Fire effects are elusive and difficult to achieve. This is pretty strong, but I didn't apply it to anything.

Daily Whip Out: "Storm In The Sierras"

   Like this build up but never had the guts to finish it, yet.

Daily Whip Out: "Vermillion Cliffs"

   Nice mood, not sure how to finish it. And thus ends today's frustrating comparison to someone who I will never match. As crazy as he was, though, I admire his attitude toward painting:

"Go to Hell! Go away, you are standing in my light—to hell with anyone who wants to hinder me."
—Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Boze 10:42 AM
January 21, 2015
   As I mentioned yesterday I am in the middle of reading a massive Van Gogh biography and it is an almost moment by moment riveting slow-motion account of his train-wreck of a life. I am so immersed in the Dutchman's inner life that I find myself often wondering "What would Vincent do at this point?"

A Lust for Strife
   Well, for starters Vincent would offend where it wasn't necessary, attack when it was innapropriate and savage something when he had nothing to gain. An artist friend (but not for long, as the Dutch madman drove away any artist who tried to help him) had this to say about eating at the Van Gogh parsonage: "Suddenly, [Vincent] got so furious that he rose from his place with the carving knife from the tray in his hand and threatened the bewildered old man." The old man being his poor father, who tried again and again to understand his son, but to no avail. Dorus Van Gogh was driven to an early grave—he had a stroke at age 62—and everyone in the town and the family knew something that Vincent would not accept: "Only his plainspoken sister Anna dared to say to his face what the others were whispering: that Vincent had killed his father."

   Well, what about his loving mother? Certainly, she saw the potential in her oldest son? "Even after his death, when fame belatedly found him, she never regretted or amended her verdict that his art was 'ridiculous.'"

   So, how in the hell did he end up to be one of the most famous and influential artists of the modern era? Well, that story is even more crazy than the above, and I will reveal the incredible turns as we go along.

   Curator Cal brought over some sunflowers on the weekend and we have been enjoying them. This morning I noticed they were wilting which gave a kind of urgency to perhaps trying to draw them before they faded for good (an extension of the "Old Hat" discussion of yesterday).

A Lust for Strife: Inspiration comes in many forms but usually strikes when the coffee is hot

   One thing I learned from reading Vincent's letters and the bio on his life is that bailing in, head first, often jars the creative juices.

Daily Whip Outs: "Vincent Van Gunfighter"

   One of my notes from last week wondered what his life would have been like if he had been born in modern times and become a rock star, but as I drew the pitcher of sunflowers, above, I got the inspiration to do him as a gunfighter, which in a way he was. Also, note I have added a notation after the photo was taken at 6 a.m. this morning. It is all a progression, isn't it?

". . .it certainly is very doubtful that I shall ever succeed. . .[and] if I fail, I want to leave my mark here and there behind me."
—Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Boze 10:16 AM
January 20, 2015
   I'm reading Van Gogh, The Life, a monumental biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. It is some 800 pages and I'm just now at the 524 mark, where the hapless, crazy-assed Dutchman is in Paris for the second time and is floundering as only he could. I must say this: nobody I have ever known or read about could ever piss off so many people, so quickly and in so many situations (he pulled a knife on his father at the dinner table!) and have absolutely zero to show for it!

    Reading it as an artist, it reads as a warning tale and as a human it reads as a tragedy to rival anything Shakespeare ever wrote. But either way, I often find myself looking in the mirror in the morning and asking the obvious question: "Just how flippin' close am I on the artistic continuum to this crazy bastard?"

   Which leads me to this quote from the New York Times on Sunday: ""The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry." And by "thugs" he—Leon Wieseltier—means the bastards who steal music and content online. He goes on:

   "The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past."

   Whether or not I resemble Vincent Van Gogh in any capacity, it's clear I'm closer to being in the past than I was yesterday or even two minutes ago. As my grandfather would say, "I'm old hat." Which, in itself is old hat (a saying that's so old, nobody even bothers using it today).

BBB is "old hat"

   There was a time when I was somewhat cutting edge. I did a series of cartoons in the eighties on how illegal immigrants could blend in:

A Special Report for Illegal Aliens from the 1980s

   When this cartoon ran in the Phoenix New Times, if memory serves correct, I didn't receive even one letter to the editor. But when it ran, later in the year in Tucson, the Tucson Weekly offices were firebombed and when the same cartoons ran in a Santa Barbara newspaper, the editors got so many threats they ran a front page apology for being so tasteless, and promised it would never happen again.

   Now I admit, that is not really in the same league as the events in Paris:

   But, then again, I am old hat:

BBB in an even older hat

"It was always the case that all things must pass, but this is ridiculous."
—Leon Wieseltier, in the New York Times

Bob Boze 3:52 PM
January 20, 2015
   As promised, here's a sneak peek at the final on the Severed Heads cover:

The final cover for March, 2015

    If you are a subscriber, it will be hitting your mailbox in about two weeks.

"We live in a world where you need a hook. The hook is either the talent, the premise or the title."

—Mark Pedowitz, president of the CW network

Bob Boze 9:52 AM

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