Friday, August 30, 2002

August 29, 2002
Left the house at 7:40 and drove to Wickenburg (65 miles) to do a radio interview on KBSZ. Typical small town radio station, with the on-air guy, Pete Peterson in a room just off the lobby with the door open and the receptionist just turning in her chair to say, “Hey Pete, he’s here!” Really quaint and refreshing from the big, corporate Phoenix scene.

Crystal Creel interviewed me. We sat at the back of Pete’s console and she held a mike and passed it back and forth. No headphones. It was fun. Talked about me buying True West, my Wickenburg memories (I scored 15 points against a Wickenburg JV basketball team in 1963), my art shows at the Desert Caballeros Museum (I have a Wild Women of The Wild West Show coming up in May of 2004). Posed for pictures and took off back to Cave Creek. Desert is dry but quite pretty. I really enjoy looking at the long views. It centers me.

Got back to office. Lined out several sidebars and hangouts. Came home and finished the painting of Butch & Sundance’s Final Shootout and whipped out the O Homo card painting (by the way, I use gouache). Started another quick study of beer bottle with can of sardines, got some great passages going, but had to leave at three.

Drove back up to the office, plugged O Homo, answered some questions, then took off in the other direction to go visit Mort Fleischer’s home and his legendary saddle collection. Got there around four, very stately ranch, huge electronic gate. long driveway, attack dogs (scared the piss out of me. Mort said, “Stand perfectly still, don’t make any sudden moves, they just want to smell you.” And of course they came lunging up to me and smelled my armpits—they were that big!—and I’m sure they would have smelled something more pungent, a little lower, had they not been so happy to see Mort). Looked at his incredible collection. I never knew there were so many types of saddles. It is literally like the car biz and the differences between a ‘57 Chevy and a ‘93 Ford Bronco. Very dramatic and amazing. He has actual Confederate Cavalry saddles, Maxmillion’s saddle, just jaw-dropping. Then he took me to his house where he had the really good saddles. Mort said, “On a scale of one to ten, these are twelves.” And they were. We will probably do several photo essays utilizing his incredible collection.

Then Mort showed me his machine gun collection, but that’s another story.
August 28, 2002
Drove down to Scottsdale at 6:30 and met Pat Hollingsworth who is the art coordinator for Woodbine. They are building a huge resort at Keirland Commons, and are naming a suite the Bob Boze Bell suite. Ha. I brought her seven art prints, including two TW covers, plus a photo. We walked over to the hardhat area and looked at a sample suite. Really an honor. They also want a series of art prints on various Arizona bad men, like Old Man Clanton, Pearl Hart, etc., and lawmen, Bucky O’Neil and Commodore Perry Owens. Very exciting. Going to be cool.

Got into office at 8:30, had another snap shot meeting to go over problems with Christmas issue. Went home and bailed right into painting. Finished Two Mules for Butch & Sundance and shot it, started the climax to shootout scene. Stole a Frank Tenney Johnson color scheme from one of his nocturnes. Got about half done, needed photo reference for Bolivian soldiers, so took two rifles, a pistol, and two hats and drove up to the office. Shot photos of Gus, Rolan and Ted in back of offices on Robert’s digital camera, he printed out copies. Came home and finished painting around 7:30. Long day. Longer one tomorrow.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

August 27, 2002
A video company out of Hollywood is doing a Billy the Kid project and they want to use my artwork. They may fly me to Santa Fe for a taping on Sept. 5th.

Got some good painting done, working on beer bottle and sardine can. Did five roughs, worked off the kitchen sink, painting from life. Opened the sardine can and painted that, ate some, gave more to Big Tom, the cat.

Had a quick meeting at 4:30, with production staff to go over editorial status. Lots hanging out. Feel a tad stressed.

Still need to finish several scenes: Butch Cassidy in final shootout, O Homo Fly card, one more sardines and beer scene, and if I have time, the Cholila tea party scene.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

August 26, 2002
Got into office at eight, had a snapshot meeting at nine, Then bailed into a major overhaul of Butch & Sundance package. Daniel did two cover designs. The most dramatic one, “Butch & Sundance Ride Into Hell” seems to be the one.

Came home at noon, had lunch and painted. Got a good image going of Butch & Sundance eyeing sardines and beer (you’ll know why when you read the issue). Faces are good, can is a bit weak. Need to tweak tomorrow.
Went back to office around three, worked on editorial. Wrote up a page on Departments for the media kit. Wrote a letter to Bob McCubbin. Worked until around seven.

Got home and cooked salmon, watched a “Sex In The City,” went to bed around 9:30.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

August 23, 2002
We almost killed Peaches today.
I had told Kathy about a good friend of mine [from radio days] who went to her mother-in-law’s funeral recently and within hours, her husband’s sister got sick and died mysteriously (I think within 36 hours of the funeral), then when they came home, the husband took a fever and when they rushed him to the emergency room, the doctors couldn’t find anything unusual and sent him home. He almost died. All three had contracted the hantavirus from merely breathing in rodent feces (in fact, a tv newsprogram will cover this very case tomorrow after 60 Minutes on CBS). Well, this got Kathy really motivated to attack the pack rats in the garage [we live in the desert north of Cave Creek]. She put out a box of rat killer (little turquoise pellets), went to dump the trash, came back and saw Peaches (our border collie) gobbling them right up like they were, well, delicious rat poison. Kathy, panicked, threw her in the Escape, rushed our purple-nosed-hyena to the vet hospital in Cave Creek. I got the word in a budget meeting at the office.
I went down to visit our little snuff wagon at about four, and there she was in the “run,” looking sheepish and guilty. I took her for a walk up the hill in back of the vet clinic, came back, paid the bill ($227 Kathy's debit). The vet told me we were lucky. This happens all the time. And we were even luckier the poison wasn’t the new stuff, something called Def Com II, or something, because if it was she would have died in minutes, and even if we would have gotten the rats, the cat and dogs would probably have chewed on the carcasses and died anyway. Holy Guacamole! Talk about a no win! I thought about all of this as I walked Peaches back to the True West building. Of course all the women in the office fussed over her and she went around to all the work stations to get a big dose of sympathy and a tummy rub. Then she came into to my office, jumped up on the couch (she had never set paw in my office before this), put her chin on the back of her paw and sighed. She was asleep in about two seconds. Long dog day.

Lots of art to do. Need to burn.

Friday, August 23, 2002

August 22, 2002
Finished another art piece on Butch and Sundance of them at their last holdup in Bolivia wearing dark red corderoy suits and hats with narrow brims pulled down. They look more like gangsters, but that’s the point. Tried to stay true to the eye-witness description of them. Had to fight the urge to make them into cowboy outlaws.

Had another image review in office to try and make sure we don’t miss any main photos. There’s so much stuff to plug I’m afraid we’ll miss something big. Deadline is tomorrow. Going to be tight.

Subscription expert Allen Greer came in from San Diego and took Carole and I to lunch at Tonto Bar & Grill (he bought). Good talk about the tough biz of mag circulation (he thinks it's the toughest business in the world, bar none). He had several good ideas for us. He’s going to work up a proposal.

Picked up photos at Foothills Photo ($14 Sue debit), then drove cover roughs and scans down to Daniel Harshberger’s (art director) in Phoenix (27 miles). We mulled two cover concepts: a dramatic cover (Butch & Sundance Ride Into Hell!) and a more traditional take (Butch & Sundance: The Last Ride). Anxious to see what Dan comes up with. He also redesigned our logo and we’ll introduce that on this cover (Nov.-Dec.).

Drove back out to Cave Creek, listening to NPR. Heard a great story about the minor league catcher who threw a peeled potato in a game in Williamsport, PA. He was fired, fined, the town hated him, wanted him banned, etc., then Paul Harvey did a bit on him, the town invites him back, retires his number, has a potato night, of course, everyone in town remembers being at the game and how much they approved of what he did. The event becomes legendary. So telling and instructive about events. They are so organic. Also it's insightful about fame, legends, fickle audiences, group dynamics. The kicker: the catcher is now a real estate agent in Phoenix. Ha.

Got home, swam laps. Looked for art reference for a dusk scene of Butch & Sundance riding into doom at San Vicente. Found several good ref., one an Andrew Wyeth, another a Frank Tenney Johnson scene. Hope to bail into this in the morning.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

August 21, 2002
I was going into the office at about 8:25 this morning and was following this gray pickup, when it suddenly swerved, then sped up, went into the desert, disappeared in a cloud of dust, hit a power pole in a wash about fifty yards in. I pulled over and got out. Called 911 on my cell phone. Me and another woman got down to the wreck and it looked bad, I just knew someone was dead. Truck upside down, smashed flat, water leaking out of radiator. The truck took out a saguaro, two palo verde trees, hit the pole, then flipped. After several moments, the driver crawled out the passenger window with a tiny scratch on his arm. The operator told us to tell him to sit down. But instead, he crawls back into the window and we hear the motor turn. I tell him to get out, but he says "I need my keys." I notice that his pants are wet. Did he pee his pants, or did he spill his coffee? He is in the cab, with his feet sticking out for some time (it was my impression, he was retrieving something or hiding something). When the sheriffs and the paramedics arrive, they know the guy (evidently he's an ex cop and current town council member). One of the officers asks for my name. I say, "Bob Bell" and he looks up and says, "Hey, nice magazine. I need a subscription." As he’s taking down my vitals, a shirtless local, named Richard, stumbles out from a nearby house. His hair is cuck-a-rooed and he tells us the power pole shut off his AC, waking him up. The officer continues his interogation of me: “How old are you?” he asks me. I answer "55," and at this point Richard winces and says, "Ouch." I had to laugh. After witnessing all the carnage in his back yard, the thing that makes him shudder is my age. It was funny.
Got into work around nine. Went over gift guide and Butch and Sundance layouts. Lots of holes. Sage and Robert shot my artwork (3 pieces) for possible cover images.
Dan Buck sent me a great quote from Kurt Vonnegut (in reference to the TW timeline published here on the site): "There is no reason goodness cannot triumph over evil, so long as the angels are as organized as the Mafia."

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

August 20, 2002
Good art day. Actually got untracked on a failed image, resuscitating the damn thing and getting some good passages (this is the Butch & Sundance at Cholila ranch image). Also fleshed out a twin portrait image that I thought was finished but wasn’t (took a photo of it before I added more paint in case I ruined it). Feel good about both. Art boards everywhere. I’m in the zone, could do this around the clock, but have other responsibilities, like running a business. Ha.
Went into office and had an image review going over all the hangouts. There must be fifty images for the Butch & Sundance package, and we’ve got to squeeze it in 18 pages. Going to be tight.
Kathy came at 5:15 and we drove down to Desert Ridge. I ran into an Aaron Bros. art store and got some new watercolor rag paper (140# and 300#, plus two tubes of gouache paint, $74 Sue debit), then down to El Conquistador for dinner ($32 house debit), had the green chile pork chops and two Coronas, then up to library, where Kathy checked out some books and I read the competition (other magazines like American Heritage, which I got some good ideas out of). Stopped at yogurt shoppe on way home ($7.25 cash), and I got a small caramel Sunday. Too much. Felt guilty.
Got home around 8:30, laid in bed like a beached whale and read Vanity Fair. There is a female sex club in Manhattan called Cake, where women act like men. Sort of titilating but ultimately it just made me tired (to think about moving to NY).

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

August 19, 2002
Had a good staff meeting at nine. Went over some of the nuggets I got out of E-Myth and we discussed better systems, especially in production. Also had a spirited discussion on whether to have a dress code (one of the "must have to succeed" systems from E-Myth). Of course, we are quite casual, with most everyone in shorts and t-shirts. Gus told us his experiences at the Arizona Republic (where he went thru various regimes, mandatory ties, then no ties, then jackets, etc.) Ted and Roland both worked in severe dress code environments and are not thrilled about the prospects of returning. Much said about "creativity" and how it's nourished by casualness. We may try it one day to see if it works for us.

Got staff lined out on work, then came home to studio and started doing a possible cover illustration of Butch & Sundance riding into Hell. It didn’t start there, but I was using a color scheme off the new movie ads for “Signs” and it just naturally evolved to there. It looks like the Boys are riding thru hot lava. I put in one of those crop symbols in the background to give a tip of the hat to the source. Going to send it down to Daniel today and see if he can make a good cover. The cover blurb would be: Butch & Sundance Ride Into Hell. Hmmmm.

Got an email from Dan buck this morning, saying: “Guess what time the sunset in San Vicente on November 6, 1908? 5:47 p.m. How do I know that? The U.S. Naval Observatory website. Your tax dollars at work.” I love this! That means, the entire gunfight where B&SK bought the farm, happened in the dark. They arrived in San Vicente at 6:30. Amazing. Going to be a great issue. Very strong.

I need to finish a slew of illustrations this week. They are:
• O Homo
• sardine tin and beer bottle
• Butch & Sundance at Dead Cow Hill (the Pero holdup)
• Butch & Sundance at Cholila (when they were gentlemen ranchers)
• Butch & Sundance riding into San Vicente in the gathering doom
• Butch shooting out the doorway at the Bolivian troops
• The Bolivian posse and what it may have looked like

One of my problems is I'm wearing three hats: I'm Emperor ("Hey gang, here's some groovy new ideas we're going to do!") and I'm a Manager ("Jesus! Is this realistic? Come on people, get those assignments in on time!") and I'm an artist and writer ("Hey, back off! I'm working as fast as I can!"). Ha.

Monday, August 19, 2002

August 16, 2002
Started reading “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. Great stuff and insights about running a small business. The fatal premise of most entrepreneurs is this: “If you understand the technical work of a business (I know the design, layout and editing process of magazines), you understand a business that does that technical work.” Not only is that not true, but Gerber postulates: “Rather than being their greatest asset, knowing the technical work of their business becomes their greatest single liability.”

Why? Because if the technician didn’t know how to do the technical work of the business, he would have to learn how to get it done and would also see the other parts of the business that needed learning. Like marketing, finance, circulation. Instead, what techies do is hide inside the work they know how to do and let the rest of the business go to hell. And to hell most of them go, with Gerber rattling off the nasty statistics, like: 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Ouch!

Other insights are: most entrepreneurs start a business to escape having a boss, and then they discover they don’t own a business—they own a job (and in that job they are doing five times as many things as they did when they worked for someone else!). Guilty as charged!

His advice is to work on your business, not in your business (plan out your systems and operational dynamics, don’t get caught doing all the work, because you can’t). And he quotes various execs of successful companies like Tom Watson of IBM who said, “I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done.” And “I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.”
More later.

Friday, August 16, 2002

August 15, 2002
My mom’s birthday. She’s 81. Sent her the Sandra Day O’Connor book, “The Lazy B” since both she and Sandra grew up in the Duncan area. I think she’ll enjoy it.
Our neighbor JB came down with his tractor and graded the driveway with the sand we bought several months back. Looks great. Decided not to go with a culvert. George Coppock and his boys also finished the water softener pad and adobe wall and it looks great ($550 Kathy’s account).
One of our guest editors, Dan Buck is very upset that we cut his “Not Much of A Bunch” piece. He feels it is their best article and we feel it’s just a list of robberies and we were going to put it in a Gus doubletruck. Talked to Dan on the phone for about 45 minutes, arbitrating and compromising. We will add a page to the piece and put back as much of his writing as we can.

Bob Brink came in and was alarmed at my journal entries on the website (it’s actually the temporary site Bernie put up). I gave Bob the unexpurgigated version of the entire history of True West (40 pages) and he sat in my office and read it. He did say he thought it was amazing that I’m still sane. He still doesn’t think it’s going to be interesting to an average reader. Hmmmm. Not sure what to think about web stuff. I went to a lot of trouble. May have been a waste of time.

"You are successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal."
---Charles Carlson

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

August 13, 2002
Lots of reorganizing in office. Trying to get a handle on production problems. We get projects going and then they fall through the cracks. Put Abby in charge of doing this, then had a pow-wow at nine with sales about the new media kits for 2003 and how to get 20 printed out by the end of the day. Also had Gus work on a Jan. postcard design. Both were completed by 4:30 and we all felt quite successful.

We’re really hanging out on editorial and I’ve still got to paint a cover.
Bob Brink and I went to lunch at Carefree Conference Resort with Dave Oglesby. He’s a great guy. We went over our plans to do an awards weekend for our 50th Anniversary next year. Dave picked up bill.
Got some diary entries from Tombstone, circa 1880s, from a character named Hairlip Charlie. Almost too good to be true. Specific entries on Wyatt and Doc seem amazing. Need to call some of my friends.
Finally finished the True West journal entries going back to 1999 when we bought the company: 40 pages worth. They are raw and uncensored and I am going to have to run it all by a lawyer, because I tell everything: who farted, who is an asshole, who is a loser (and that’s just about me!). Going to post them up on the web for all to see. Scary but exciting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

August 12, 2002
Emptying My Mind

Yesterday, I finally got going on art after I made breakfast for Tommy. I started with two mug shots of Butch in Front and Sundance slightly behind him peering out at us (not bad, got a decent likeness, and I emulated, or stole, some postcard color schemes with soft turquoise skies). Then I thought maybe if I do the two of them riding along the bottom of the cover on their mules, with a composite image, or collage, which is quite popular on movie posters right now (big heads floating in sky, silhouette of riders at bottom). Then I gravitated towards the latter image being the only cover representation of them (on their mules), with a big sky, either stormy, dusty, or cloudy (or all three). They are almost in silhouette, riding upwards, left to right, with the cover blurb: Butch & Sundance: The Last Ride.
That led me to a possible solution for the past tense vs. present tense in Classic Gunfights. We might do two articles: the first one, The Last Ride of Butch & Sundance, which chronicles the Aramayo holdup and the ascent to San Vincente.
Then, in Classic Gunfights, I'll deal with the actual fight, in present tense. I’m finally in the water and it feels good.
At 4:50 Kathy and I drove over to the Boulders for dinner with Russ and Wendy. Found out the Latilla Room doesn’t open until six, so we sat in big couch room and I had a glass of wine. At six, they seated us and we had a very nice dinner. Lots of laughs. Had the beef tenderloin and romaine salad (we split bill, $69 house debit, plus $5 cash tip). Afterwards we sat out by the pool and talked until around 10. Russ said I have to get the book “The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I am.

Monday, August 12, 2002

August 11, 2002
Struggled all day yesterday with trying to get up and going on Butch Cassidy art. It’s too hot, so I swam, I didn’t have the right reference so I took a nap.

Finally got untracked around one (after my second nap!) and started a gouache of Butch and Sundance, based on the Cholila ranch photo. Got a good pencil and wash in for background.

Kathy and I went in to Phoenix at 4:30 and met Tommy at Harkins 14 to see “Signs,” the new Mel Gibson, Night Shalayman film ($15 cash for tickets, $6 for popcorn and a diet coke for T.). I didn’t like it (5). I think Night is a pompous ass.

Afterwards we went over to El Conquistador for dinner. No one there (on a Sat. night!). Had two margaritias and two tacos ($36 cash).

Talked to Don this morning, and preliminary numbers for July are way down.
August 10, 2002
Emptying My Mind

Worked all day trying to get a new media kit out. Abby took the day off (she only worked three days this week!) and left Gus and I to man the store (Robert is on vacation). We struggled to help Mike get out a media kit to the Buffalo Bill who are planning their 2003 budget, but we didn’t have the calendar done. I worked with Mike, but we got stymied by not having specific timeline info which is with Sage (she’s also on vacation!). Sigh.

For lunch had leftover Cobb salad and then Carole brought in two slices of pizza. Worked until around 6:30, inputting more of business journal stuff. Kathy came by and we went to El Encanto for dinner. Had two Coronas and split a mole chicken burro. Ate in bar (they were slammed). Fun.

Came home and read Premiere (Salma Hyak is doing Frida movie) and studied my new Van Gogh book to get inspired to paint tomorrow
August 8, 2002
Emptying My Mind
Went into Border’s books with Bob Brink and we met Daniel H. and Robert R. there at 10 to have a cover seminar. We got coffee ($3.45 cash) then sat in cafe, next to the magazine rack and discussed our sell-thru ratio, what covers have worked and why, what hasn’t work, etc. Then we went over and looked at the different categories, history, travel, art, and looked at logos, heds, art vs. photography, color schemes, cover subjects. Got some good dialogue going. Daniel and Robert are convinced we need to streamline our logo for 2003. Bob Brink agrees. The W on our current logo is hard to read. After that, we drove to Bookstar and repeated the process. I wanted Daniel to see that sometimes he's designing in a vaccum. I think it’s easy to get insulated in our design world and not see what is happening in the real world. And the magazine business is a brutal, surreal world of its own.

Got back to office around noon, Bob invited me to lunch at his golf club restaurant. Had a cob salad and a cup of chili. Too much food. Good talk with Bob about how we made it through the year 2000 (we technically shouldn’t be in business because of all the boneheaded mistakes we made).

Worked on Classic Gunfights some more and media kits for 2003. Also had a quick meeting with Abby and Robert about production flow while he’s gone (he’s flying to Salt Lake then renting a car and making the loop through Yellowstone. He’ll be gone for 10 days).

Worked until around six, went up to Kathy’s, met her and Tommy, 19, drove down to Scottsdale. She dropped me off at Barnes & Noble while she went to buy a new computer. Bought a great book on Van Gogh and his portraits ($9.95, plus tax, $10.75 cash). Went to dinner at Ice Breakers where Deena was working. Had dinner and a good talk with them (Kathy bought, $32 debit). Her computer was a grand ($1,000)

On the way home, Tommy played me a new Hives song. Never heard them before. Really liked it. Very early Rolling Stones. Funny how the more things change....

Thursday, August 08, 2002

August 7, 2002
Emptying My Mind

Good morning in office. Lots of work on the media kit and museum program.

Went to lunch at one with Kathy. We drove down to the Boulder’s and had lunch there with my signature card (she bought, $26 debit card).

Picked up my pickup from Tobias ($110 for dome light switch and flat tire, house debit).

Finished copy for Butch and Sundance Buy The Farm in Bolivia. Need to email it to Dan Buck for corrections.

Worked until around seven on finishing up the year 2000 in my daytimer journal entries. Really excruciating stuff, with [one of my partners] hating everyting we were doing. Don’t know how much of this I can actually put up on the website. I don’t mind the personal stuff about me (it is quite embarrassing in spots) but it’s pretty raw about some of my ex-employees and may upset others. Plus, is it libelous?
Started reading Sandra Day O’Connor’s “Lazy B” (Bob Brink lent me his copy). Really interesting and, of course, my mother’s family was from the Duncan area so it has a strong pull on me in that regard.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
August 6, 2002
Emptying My Mind

Went for an early morning walk with Kathy. Cool out because of the monsoon rains. Good talk about our lives and balance. On the way back we ran into Toby (our blind dog, who we call The Tobinater). He was bumping into road signs and going off down another road. Got him back and guided him home.

Finally took pickup into Tobias to get rear tire and dome light fixed. Walked back up to office. Stopped in Big Bronco and got them to start carrying mag again and sold Faith an ad to boot.

Met with Bob Brink and Carole regarding cash flow. He asked Carole to do a best case scenario and worst case and then figure out where we can cut, etc. Very proactive.

Had lunch in office (Carole split a sando she bought with me). Worked on copy for Butch & Sundance shootout in Bolivia. That felt good.

Bernie came by to go over website with Carole. He said he wants to do homework on “blogs” and it may be an easy way to put these diary entries up on our site. We’ll see.

Had an image review with Abby, Robert and Gus re: B&S. Got good things going. Went down to get my truck at 5, but they weren’t finished so they gave me a dogshit Camray to drive. Went back to office and input more of 2000 business timeline material for website. Reads like a novel. I couldn’t stop doing it. Just amazing stress and ridiculousness. Hard to believe. If I hadn’t lived thru it I wouldn’t believe it. Worked until around 8, came home.

Had more leftover pizza and cereal and banana for dessert. Read Bruce Springsteen interview in RS and went to sleep.
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