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

April 19, 2014
   Back from our quick babysitting gig with young Weston. We flew into Pasadena so his mom and dad could go downtown LA and see Nico Case and have a wild night at the Ace Hotel. We had to get up at two in the morning for a feeding (the young lad is only 10 months old) and it was a ton of fun. I'm serious. I wouldn't want to do it every night but we really enjoyed it.

Grandma Goose and Weston watching the cars go by (the only thing that makes him more excited is the dogs going by).

   Took off for home today, flew into Sky Harbor, and, since we were in downtown Phoenix we tried out the new offshoot restaurant Otro (The Other) which is a satellite eatery sponsored by Gallo Blanco. Had the mole negro:

Mole Negro burrito, at top, and mole chicken, bottom. Homemade tortillas and guacamole (in empty dish). Capped it off with Happy Hour margaritas and we were having fun.

On the plane home I read more of the new John Wayne bio by Scott Eyman. Just finished the cancer operation and the Alamo debacle before that. Not sure which was more terrifying. Both were brutal. The Alamo for its financial and artistic boneheadedness (something I can truly relate to) and the cancer for, well, the same thing: he had a lung taken out and still continued smoking! As for the financial bath he took on the Alamo, a young filmmaker he wanted to support suggested comparing the new film to the Alamo and Wayne said:

"That picture lost so much money I can't buy a pack of chewing gum in Texas without a co-signer."
—John Wayne

Bob Boze 6:29 PM

April 18, 2014
   We woke up in Pasadena this morning and first thing on the agenda: watch the cars go by and point at them. The only thing more entertaining to Weston is to see dogs go by. Oh, my, how exciting.

Weston Allen Borscheller digs the cars zipping by on Sierra Bonito

"I was raised by coyotes."
—Weston telling me a windy

Bob Boze 10:52 AM

April 17, 2014
   Kathy and I flew to Burbank today on business. After a visit to the Huntington to see one of my favorite paintings by John Singer Sargent we headed north:

We ended up at the job site in north Pasadena. It was my job to read four picture books and I must say I think I enjoyed it even more than my little charge:

G-Paw reading Weston's favorite picture book "It's Time To Sleep, My Love"

"The otter utters by the lake
'Tis getting hard to stay awake."
—Nancy Tillman, "It's Time to Sleep, My Love"

Bob Boze 7:25 PM
April 16, 2014
   Some artists are an acquired taste. In my own case these would include, John Prine, Van Gogh, Jim Jarmusch and George Herriman.

   John Prine won me over with one song: "Angel From Montgomery." And once I got that tune, I realized nobody does song lyrics better than Mr. Prine. Nobody.

   I hated Jim Jarmusch movies after seeing "Dead Man," with Johnny Depp and Robert Mitchum. In my opinion it's one of the worst Westerns I've ever seen. Neil Young does the music and it's just a series of distorted twangs and open chords, perhaps inspired (Hey, I love The Horse!) but ultimately just really, really irritating. I think I gave him another try on a winter Western about gold, but it was so bleak and non-narrative I just couldn't enjoy it all.

  For some reason, after reading a positive review of his new movie, "The Last Lovers" I decided to try "Broken Flowers." So, last night Kathy and I watched Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers," with Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Julie Delpie and Chloe Sivegney. Prepared for its odd flow (from the review), I actually enjoyed it and after watching a special features on the making of the movie and hearing Jarmusch talk about his method I am slowly, acquiring a taste for the artist, although I still hate "Dead Man." Here he is talking about his process:

"Filming is like sex. Writing the script is like seduction, then shooting is like sex because you're doing the movie with other people. Editing is like being pregnant, and then you give birth and they take your baby away. After this process is done, I will watch the movie one more time with a paying audience that doesn't know I'm there, and then I will never see it again. I'm so sick of it."
—Jim Jarmusch

"The beauty of life is in small details, not in big events."
—Jim Jarmusch

   Meanwhile, I'm doing a True West Moment on another dude who's an acquired taste, at least to me:

One Crazy Cat
    George Herriman was born in New Orleans in 1880. His parents were Creole (their marriage certificate labeled them as "mulatto") and although it seems obvious George was black, he passed for white his entire life (many assumed he was Greek). He was said to wear a hat inside and outside to cover his "kinky" hair.

Daily Whipout, "George Herriman, Comic Strip Genius"

   The family moved to California allegedly to escape the increasingly harsh Jim Crow laws of Louisiana.

   Mr. Herriman created a very eccentric comic strip that first appeared in 1913 and ran to 1944. People didn't get it (I was one of them) and, at best it was "likeably absurd." Krazy Kat is set in the ever changing landscapes of the imaginary deserts of Coconino, Arizona and the plot is simple: a doofus cat of hazy gender (referred to as both "he" and "she") is in love with Ignatz Mouse, who, in turn, despises Krazy and constantly schemes to throw bricks at Krazy's head, which Krazy interprets as a sign of affection, uttering grateful replies such as "Li'l dollink, allus f'etful". Meanwhile, Offissa Pupp, as Coconino County's administrator of law and order, makes it his unwavering mission to interfere with Ignatz's brick-tossing plans and lock the mouse in the county jail. And this premise ran for 31 years.

   So I went home for lunch today and took a try at Herriman's distinctive abstract style:

Daily Whipout, "Ignatz slings a brick at Krazy Kat in front of the Monument, a well-known butte near Monument Valley"

   Supposedly Woodrow Wilson and Picasso were fans of the strip, but not too many others. In fact when the strip fell below 50 newspapers (the threshold to cancel a comic) William Randolph Hearst would not allow it. when editors mentioned they wanted to kill it he yelled at them. When Hearst tried to give Herriman a raise, the artist refused saying it was too easy to draw, but Hearst forced him to take the raise. I dare you to name another business situation where a capitalist of Hearst's standing (Citizen Kane!!!!) not only supported an artist to do what he wanted to do but demanded raises because he appreciated the art and humor so much. I dare you!!!!!

   Known for its offbeat surrealism and poetic, idiosyncratic language, the comic strip Krazy Kat, was more influential than popular. Herriman empolyed idioyncratic language. Here is an example:

"Agathla, centuries aslumber, shivers in its sleep with splenetic splendor, and spreads abroad a seismic spasm with the supreme suavity of a vagabond volcano."
—George Herriman, in Krazy Kat

The actual Agathla Peak north of Kayenta during a dust storm

   And here's my take on the same scene but with a lone hogan at the bottom, a scene I remember as a kid traveling through the area with my folks.

Daily Whipout, "Dust Storm at Agathla Peak"

  And here's another take:

Daily Whipout, "Agathla Peak Dust Storm #3"

    The strip Krazy Kat features other characters, Mrs. Kwak Wakk, "Bum Bill" Bee and Don Kiyote, and the ever-changing landscapes of the imaginary desert of Coconino County, Arizona.

   Picasso was reputedly a fan. But the artist's most ardent supporter was William Randolph Hearst who refused to drop Herriman's Krazy Kat even when it was carried by fewer than 50 papers. Hearst kept the strip alive and It was Hearst who ordered the strip to be cancelled in 1944, when Herriman died of "non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver" and, at Herriman's request, his ashes were scattered over Monument Valley, Arizona. In Hearst's opinion, no one could replace the artist and Krazy Kat was possibly the first strip to die with his creator.

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: 'It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to.'"
—Jim Jarmusch

Bob Boze 4:39 PM
April  15, 2014
   As I mentioned I got a sneak peek at the Wetherill Guest Ranch registry book last Sunday and the page that absolutely rocked is the page Gunnar Widforss painted in the guest book. Here it is:

Gunnar Widforrs, Daily Whipout, "Agathla Peak"

   Crazy amazing painting. Even more stunning in person to realize it's just on a random page of a guest book. Made a mental note to myself: "Paint better pictures!"

"No one has a cornerstone on great stuff."
—Steven Soderbergh

Bob Boze 11:56 AM
April 14, 2014
  One of the clockwork-like-phenoms of Hollywood is that there are invariably at least two projects with the same theme, or story line, chugging through the development pipeline at any given point. "Tombstone" vs. "Wyatt Earp" is a good example. In 1967-68, two films about the Wild Bunch were perking. The one with the biggest profile was William Goldman's "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" which Twentieth Century Fox was producing to great buzz. Warner Brothers had a competing film, "The Wild Bunch" and intended to get it in theaters before Butch & Sundance.

   Allegedly, the guy who thought up the basic story of WB was Roy Sickner, the original Marlboro Man. Then, of course, Sam Peckinpah got on board and everything changed. Believe it or not, Sam actually thought if you showed violence the way it really is, people would shun violence. The "bullet driven ballet" is a long way from the Goldman version and has very little to do with the historical Wild Bunch, but both films deal with the theme of changing times vs. the men who could not.

The Wild Bunch Walkdown

 "It ain't like it used to be, but It'll do."
—Freddie Sykes (Edmond O'Brien) to Pike

Bob Boze 3:41 PM
April 14, 2014
   Knocking down a kitchen wall this morning. The back story is this: when we built our dream house in 1987 the architect favored my fevered dreams of a Santa Fe adobe with humorous overtones. He did a very good job, but in the process he more or less insulted Kathy by insisting that a wall was necessary in the entrance to the kicthen to hide "Kathy's messiness." Needless to say, Kathy has issues with that wall. When she mentioned she would like to upgrade the kitchen a couple months ago I said, "It's all yours." So, the first thing the construction dudes have been tasked with, is this:

The Wall Destroyers, 8:30 a.m. April 14, 2014

   Last month marks four years of producing True West Moments for the Arizona Republic. Hard to believe, but the TWMoment that ran in last Saturday's Republic is the 180th moment.

A Letter From An Old Reader Who Found Us Again
   "I just re-subscribed to True West for another three years. While I’m thinking of it, I just wanted to thank you for the great job you’ve done with the magazine. It’s one of the few I read cover-to-cover each month. When I was a boy in the 1960s, I used to love reading my grandfather’s collection of True West. It’s where my fascination with the Old West was born. So what a treat later in life to find the magazine in such capable hands. I started subscribing last year, mostly as research and ideas for the Western novel I’m writing. Now I just can’t get enough. As a former magazine editor, I know how tough a job it is to produce such a high-quality piece of work month after month. Thanks, and keep up the great work!"
—John Hamilton, Eden Prairie, MN

My good friend Allen Barra wrote a very good review of the Scott Eyman book, "John Wayne, The Life And Legend," which I am reading now and thoroughly enjoying.

John Wayne review

"People who say they don't give a damn, do give a damn—because the ones who don't, don't say so."

Bob Boze 10:23 AM

April 13, 2014
   Here's another gem from the Wetherill collection, a movie still of a scene being filmed near Monument Valley:

Indian Attack On The Wagon Train, from the movie "Kit Carson" (1939)

   Working on the final tweaks of "The 66 Kid." I found this cartoon in my garage morgue this morning. I did this way back in the Razz days (early 70s) and may use it to illustrate the con man ways of some Kingman gas stations:

I totally forgot about cool cushions, those straw seats you strapped over your hot vinyl seat covers to keep from blistering your legs.

Oh, and it turns out Teddy Roosevelt visited Kayenta and the Wetherill's in 1913.

"Time is cruel. Her years are tragic. The pioneers could not stay the approach  of deadly civilization."
—Zane Grey's entry in the Wetherill Guest Ranch registry

Bob Boze 2:46 PM

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