Tuesday, December 31, 2002

December 31, 2002
Last day. What a year! I can’t complain about much of anything. I’m doing what I love to do. How many can say that?

The Arizona Republic is doing a new year wish list for the state and they asked me to contribute. The assignment was, “What do you wish for Arizona in the coming year and how would you pay for it?” I knew all of these “civic” politico types would go on and on about the usual pie in the sky blah-logna, so I decided to be short, sweet and even more full of blah-logna. My contribution:

Arizona needs respect and cash, here’s a simple, cost-effective way to do both: Pit the Tombstone Vigilantes against a group of pedophile priests in a demolition derby in Sun Devil Stadium. Give them all Crown Vics to drive. The pay-per-view revenue alone should cover most of our budget woes thru 2010.”

Of course, they declined to run it. Too offensive.

Every exit is an entry to somewhere else.”
—John Lennon

Monday, December 30, 2002

December 30, 2002
Brad Radina (EJ’s dad) sent me the Top Seven Reasons Not to Bait Javelina for A Relative:

7. Once you're made an official member of the Javelina Biker Gang there's no getting out.
6. They think the way they smell turns you on.
5. The relative is afraid to look at them.
4. They think you like them, really really like them.
3. You give them a bowl of dog food and they take a garage and chicken house.
2. Relatives get to go home and just admire pictures.
And the #1 reason --- Sean Penn doesn't know where you live.

The finance committee met this morning and the knives are out. Lots of good discussion on where True West needs to be in 2003.

Finally got all our Christmas cards out. Went out in mail today. Actually kind of early for us. Sometimes we foal in January.

Sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you're really strangers.”
—Mary Tyler Moore

Sunday, December 29, 2002

December 29, 2002
I rarely get headaches but I had one almost all day yesterday. Didn’t get jack done, just vegged around and took two naps. Kathy thinks it’s some sort of flu bug (she had a headache all day Friday).

Last night I read and perused my Film Noir poster book which I got for Christmas. Wonderful stark, sexy images. Very inspiring. As I finally drifted off to sleep my mind was racing with plot points for my own noir graphic novel. It’s the story of a drummer in a honkytonk coming out of a bad relationship who goes off the deep end and begans a saatar soaked search for the perfect sex.

As I turned off the light and floated in and out of concsiousness I hit upon scene after scene of events that happened to me when I was a drummer in Tucson. The only thing missing is the voice and the bare bones story. Actually, which one.

I had a great day. Made bacon and eggs for Tommy. Looked at an Atlas about where he can go snowboarding near Boulder (he’s going there to see a girl). Went for a walk with Kathy.

I want to do a snow story and a rain story, or at least stories where the weather is the co-star. A major author recently did a short list of things that will never work, and one of them was a book, or short story starting out with weather. However, in Raymond Chandler’s stories, the rain in LA is absolutely mesmerizing! I can’t get enough. I also love the snow in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and the rain in “Two-Lane Blacktop.” The snow in “Dr. Zhivago.” It reminds me of snuggly warmth and love. Or, the proof against it.

"An old thing becomes new if you detach it from what usually surrounds it."
—Robert Bresson, French film director

Saturday, December 28, 2002

December 28, 2002
Studio woes. Another bird in here this morning (two yesterday). They’re coming in thru the dog door, then they fly around and literally shit on everything before I can get them out. The dog is shitting in the morgue room on the floor because Kathy can’t sleep if the dog barks and Peaches barks when coyotes or javelina come near, my printer is on the fritz and is possibly broken, I don’t have a port on my home computer for my digital camera and Robert Ray won’t be coming out until Monday and the place is generally a pit. Other than that I’m happy.

The javalina didn’t attack last night. Now I’m wondering if maybe they stole one of our credit cards and spent the night at the Boulders. Maybe not. Brad R. just called and he’s emailing a jpg of the photo he took of the little biker gang on Christmas and I’ll forward it to Bernie and maybe you can see it right here before Monday.

Mare and Dan Rosenbaum came by yesterday (they are visiting from Brazil). Dan came on his bike in the morning and signed the dissolution paper for his stock. Mare came after lunch (she had lunch with Betty Huff and DeAnne G.).

Don Radina came out in the afternoon and we gave him the tour of the TW offices, then Kathy came and we went to El Encanto for dinner (he bought, we left tip, $10 cash). Don had good advice about stock and business.

Came home around seven. Built a fire in fireplace and watched some TV. Dropped in on the middle of “The Last Picture Show” and it was so good. Jeff Bridges, Cybil Shepherd, Randy Quaid were just little babies (it was filmed in 1971). That is the movie and kind of stories I want to tell. So small town Western.

I seem to have settled on “Endlessly OK” for the Tombstone trime travel piece. I think it says what I want to say about my lifelong obsession with the OK Corral.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
—Malcolm Forbes

Friday, December 27, 2002

December 27, 2002
We got hit hard last night by the Javelina biker gang. All the doors were shut, but they pushed in the side door of the garage (evidently it wasn’t shut tight enough) and just made a mess, ripping open bags of cans, newspapers, everything. I’ll take a photo of it and if I ever get the computer interfacing down, it will go up. They also ate through the sideboards on the chicken house, dug under the chicken wire, and got inside, rooting up all the food dishes in there and turning them over. I assume the two hens survived by hiding in the brooding portion of the house which has tiny doors, just big enough for a chicken. I haven’t gone out there this morning, but I suppose I should. Yep. Just checked (7:29 a.m.), and they rooted right around my makeshift rocks and flipped everything upside down again. Big gouge marks everywhere. Hens are fine, but rattled. This means war. No UN inspectors, no fly, pig sty zones. The gloves come off tonight

Interesting parallels. We armed Iraq when we hated Iran and now they are using those arms against us. We fed the javelinas so we could amuse E.J., now they are coming back for more and we want to kill them. Hmmmmmmm. Where’s Sean Penn when you need him?

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
—Steven Wright

Thursday, December 26, 2002

December 26, 2002
I plan to finally get our Christmas cards out today. Here’s the fifth paragraph (written in third person of course) “Bob is going into the fourth year of owning and running True West magazine, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2003. He can actually read a spread sheet now and often spouts capitalistic phrases at dinner like, “pass the gravy or I’ll cut off your fully vested equity.” and “accrue this!”

Christmas day, most of Kathy’s family came out for dinner and my nephew E.J. was excited about seeing the javelina. At about six, we put a tray of dog food out in the driveway to entice them in and periodically checked it, but they didn’t come. After dinner I got the ladder out and EJ and his sister Cedes went up on the roof and waited for about a half hour but it was just too cold. So we gave up, went back inside and had dessert. At about nine, Grandma Betty and Don’s boys left and the kids were wrestling on the couch (that would be E.J., Cedes and me) when Brad came in from the kitchen and said, “They’re here!” We all ran to the door and peered out, but couldn’t see anything. Sneaking through the garage we could hear them grunting and chewing. Slowly we all got closer and there they were in all their stinky glory! Ten javelina, lined up and eating dog food which was scattered across the driveway because one of them had grabbed the tray with his mouth and tried to run off with it, but another hippo clotheslined him and it spilled out. I got a digital camera for Christmas so I ran inside and got it. Shot off about seven shots and if I can figure out how to interface with this computer, I’ll post them for all to see.

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

December 24, 2002
Soggy and soaked. Sky socked in with clouds. Still dark (6:54 a.m.). Expecting snow on Black Mountain. Thought is might snow all the way down, but I went out for the paper and it’s just mighty juicy out.

Rained all day yesterday. Wore a wool vest and tie. Big business pow-wow at two. The Daiss, The Brinks, R.G. and the Bells went over plans for 2003. Very promising and productive. Afterwards called Bob McCubbin on a conference call and told him the news. He was quite receptive and we are all on the same page.

I read a very insightful interview with comedian Bernie Mack in the current Rolling Stone. The question was, “When did you feel like you finally nailed your act?” His answer: “I stopped listening to other people. And that’s when I came into my own. I was honest with myself and became honest with my comedy. You ever had a fight, and you’re scared to death, and the other guy throws a punch, and every punch he hits you with ain’t fazing you, and the next thing you know everyone’s around you going, ‘Man, you knocked the shit outta him,’ but you can’t remember what you did? That’s what happened. It just clicked, man, and I didn’t look back. I became Bernie Mack.”

This anecdote triggered a similar memory. When I turned 30 I knew what I wanted but I couldn’t seem to get it. A friend told me, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” After another failed relationship, I found myself at a wake and there were bonfires in barrels in the front yard. I felt alone, vulnerable, unsure of myself. Well-meaning people were giving me advice: “be nice, be gentle, be diplomatic.” Instead, I started yelling that I had a pickup and a big cock (in actuality a rooster). Most of the women closest to me recoiled in disgust and moved away. One pretty girl hung with me for a while, and traded zany comments, but I was on fire, burning white hot and she couldn’t take the heat and finally moved off into the darkness. I stood in the doorway of the house and continued yelling. Mourners were fleeing in cars and on foot. Others shook their heads in dismay, but I kept going, turning off even my longtime friends from Kingman. One person didn’t flee, wasn’t grossed out and actually thought I was funny. It was Kathy.

When you do not know what you are doing and what you are doing is the best --that is inspiration.”

Monday, December 23, 2002

December 23, 2002
Wet and soggy out. Still dark (7:23 a.m.). Great day yesterday. Had the staff Christmas party at the Daiss spread. Abby went horseback riding. Cowboy Dan and Christina came. It was fun to see them. Gus and Patty were the only no shows. Played games, told lies, laughed, came home around 7:30.

Had a rough morning. Wanted to get some things accomplished in studio but it was cold and I wanted to flee, go back to bed. I forced myself to stay. Thought about some scenes I want to do, of snow, cold, rain. Grabbed a stool and plopped it in front of the stove and started culling cartoons and snippets of dialogue from The New Yorker. That felt somewhat productive.

Also, put the head phones on and listened to T’s CD and using free thought association wrote down words and thoughts that came into my mind as I listened to the music. Of course the lyrics had the most sway, but some inspiration came from the instrumental passages. A few of my random ravings, cleaned up for publication, of course:

Shotgun wedding at a desert crossing, niteclub venting, beefcake daunting, burn down the trailer park, don’t dare be shot in that Bozo nightmare, cocaine nose ring, body heat bren-a-dore stinkin’ up the highway, cycle goin’ sideways on a oil slick highway, fast track thumping, get a grip grab on your fake ID, come upstairs honey, so scared of hangin’, flag bending iguana, do what I wanna, don’t ry to stop me, cause I’m gonna, grinding, groveling, grabbing all the loin cloths, all the nos and nods spare my life, can you see me later? leave it on my window sill, empty homescape, white boy pain in a European brain drain, turn the lights down, in the days of my youth, what does it mean to be a man? brown-eyed-man, T-minus five, so hard to see, what we could be, double G stupid, black man’s cupid, rollin’ down Rodeo’s main drag, born on a slit-eyed pony, doin’ bar-b-que roasted, howlin’ down gasoline, slappin’ up a soft machine, tryin’ to keep my motor clean, saintless eyes, fightin’ for a fair shake, quakin’ like an earthquake, don’t you dare die down, eradicate that seduction line, take another live round, fakin’ all the honey down, all night shootin’ match, lay the mutha downtown, ridin’ on a meltdown, jump daddy, pump pappy, get off of that divorc—aye, tell me what I wanna hear, cuz it’s true, I like you true stop, go dot, run down battlefield. Blow by gimme thigh, driving down every damn useless road, stoppin’ at the juice joint, they tell me no gas or lubrication, no highway rest stop, laughin in the sunshine, a bullet in the brain pan, hairline fracture, this town is fuckin’ crazy, just like a loony bin tracers after me, I’m tired of fighting, wanna flee over that last ridge, lost cause, anti-freeze, I warn you, that’s some shoes I can’t wear...

Is there a thread of narrative in there? Is there a juiced up story to tell? Probably. It’s up to me to dig it out. Like a crevice of gold dust, hidden in a bank of rock (or a dry hole). But I never know when these thought fragments will come landing in the middle of a problem, a concept, or a story idea. I call it reticulated retention (I stole this from Kathy’s psychiatry vocab). I never know when it will coagulate or masterbate. Ha. Listen to Rappin’ Bozeman.

I like to read your diary. It makes me feel normal.”
—Allen Fossenkemper

Sunday, December 22, 2002

December 22, 2002
One of my best friends celebrates his birthday today. Charlie Waters is 55. I sent him Tommy’s CD (Tommy’s middle name is Charles after the birthday boy).

Very cold out. We met JD on the road and he said it was 32 last night. Got a fire in the studio stove. The cedar is popping and snapping. Feels quite snugly.

At four yesterday Tommy and I drove in to El Conquistador for a Saturday lunch. Listened to his CD all the way down. Kathy drove in her car (so she wouldn’t have to listen to it and so she could make a deposit, or so she said) and met us. I lost a bet with Kathy that T. would know what Texans do with day-old chicken fried steak, but alas, he didn’t know the answer (they put it on bread with steak sauce), so I had to pay for lunch ($36 cash). From there Tommy drove to Tempe and we went by Wonderful Russ’s house and I played him the “Gin And Juice” cut, but he wasn’t nearly as enthused or excited as I was. From there Kathy and I motored down the 51 to downtown Phoenix to attend Robert Ray’s block party. Empinadas (or what are those deals—candles in sacks) lined the streets, Had a great time talking to D’s and Daiss, Carole and Bud. Robert showed me the April cover that Dan designed. Needs work (Sorry I looked at it because I mulled it all the way home). Listened to the LSU-U of A basketball game on the way out. U of A lost in the last second, 65-64.

Intrepid Dan Buck found a great snippet on Arizona Charlie’s Wild West Show where the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals protested his show in Denver. The incredible angle is that this was in the 1890s. The more things change...

Got the inspiration to do a feature on Monuments to Nowhere, after finding a photo I took in Northern Colorado two summers ago of a huge monument to some railroad barons. Not long after the monument was built, the train tracks were moved farther south, killing the shortlived town and today the only thing that remains is this huge monument in the middle of nowhere. I have a hunch there are probably others out there. And eventually, all monuments will look like that.

Finally wrote our Christmas letter yesterday. Here’s the first paragraph: “This is our first year of the Empty Nest Syndrome and we are suffering the usual symptoms: the 7:30 bedtime, the weekend naps and snoozing, the giddy choices on TV without teenage interference. Back in play are the nude bacchanals, the coffee table dancing, the jumping up and down in the driveway and shouting “We have our life back! We have our life back!” Of course this is a Christmas letter, so we are exaggerating some of this.”

A happy home is one in which each spouse grants the possibility that the other may be right, though neither believes it.”
—Don Fraser

Saturday, December 21, 2002

December 21, 2002
Business meetings all morning yesterday. I have been wearing a tie for the past three days (much to the shock of my staff, especially Abby who keeps betting I am going to run out of ties very soon). I just feel more professional. And I need all of that I can use.

Went over cash flow spread sheets with Carole and R.G.. One shows us losing $90K and the other shows us making $110K. As they say, “The Devil’s in the details.” Or, is that “God’s in the details”? Either way, it’s a pig in a poke (I’ve never quite understood that saying). So how about “Don’t let an art pig poke around in your cash flow spread sheets.”

The bank mixed up our debit card IDs (personal accounts, not TW’s), so every time I have debited art items they have been coming out of our house account. Kathy exasperated. I had to go up to the bank, stand in line for twenty minutes (Okay it was probably seven minutes, but I was irritated) and got cards reversed, deposited enough to cover balance. Did run into Gregg S. who is in on the Rawhide deal and he told me their master plan. Smith & Wesson is proposing a 50,000 square foot museum. Big ideas, hope they can pull it off. Right now they’re battling “404 flood plain drainage” problems, or some such governmental crap. I can just imagine the hoop jumping and agony they must be going thru.

Listened to Tomcat’s CD in my office. The parody song “Gin And Juice” is credited to Phish, but someone told me Dave Mathews is in on it. Whoever they are, these incredible musicians took a rap song and redid it as a hillbilly, mountain song, complete with honey dipped harmonies and Southern accents, mandolins, the whole nine yards. When you hear the music you think you’re getting something off the “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack, but then you start listening to the lyrics with lines like, “Dr. Drey brought some bitches from Compton, Hos keep on talkin’...I got a pocket full of rubbers and my homeboys do too...rollin’ down the street smokin’ endo...with ma mind on ma money and ma money on ma mind...” You get the idea. I’ve listened to it about ten times now and I laugh every time. Just flat out genius. Oh, to be that outrageously funny and good.

Went up to Bashas’ after work and it started to rain. Got ingredients for green chile stew, came home and Tommy built a fire in the fireplace and Kathy came home around seven. We snuggled in and talked about fictional heroes (they are both reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ann Rand). Watched a show on Instinct and went to bed around 9:30.

Creation is a drug I cant do without.”
—Cecil B. DeMille

Friday, December 20, 2002

December 20, 2002
Great birthday yesterday. Deena and Kathy took me to lunch at the Cracked Crab, then came back to the office and Carole had cooked up a birthday deal and Robert Ray’s mom made a rum concoction (very good). The staff got me a 1918 7 jewel Waltham pocket watch (maybe as a hint to be on time occasionally). Very sweet.

Came home at five and Kathy and kids were in the house making chicken fried steak (Texas style) with green beans and mashed potatoes. Thomas made me a CD half full of some of my favorite rock tunes and half full of his. We went up to Dairy Queen after dinner with the boys in the front and the women in the back, and as “Stray Cat Blues” by the Stones blasted out of the speakers with T. Bell and I playing air drums (while I drove!), I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the girls trying to breath through all the testosterone. They didn’t complain (as a guy you gotta love that). The CD also has “I Hate to Say I Told You So,” by the Hives, and “Hello Operator” by the White Stripes (opening for the Stones on their current tour). Led Zep’s “Good Times, Bad Times” (which has the single most amazing drum playing in the the history of Rock—triplets on the footpedal!). From there it was all downhill with “That’s What I Like About You” by the Romantics, and “You Shook Me” by AC/DC. You can just imagine how badly the girls wanted to get out of that car. Thomas and I didn’t even go into Dairy Queen. We just sat there and punched around, listening to snippets. He included “Gin & Juice” a hillbilly parody of a rap song that is just hilariously fantastic.

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
—Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, December 19, 2002

December 19, 2002
Wall to wall meetings yesterday. Started at the Cave Creek Museum board of director’s meeting at 8 a.m. and ended with a numbers crunching session with R.G. and Carole at five. Many stories to tell, many fascinating people I met, reminders of things I did in the past I can’t remember doing. For example, someone at Dillon Precision showed me their tattered copy of “The Lighter Side of The Kennedy Assassination” which I produced for New Times Weekly at least a decade ago. As you no doubt have surmised it was in very poor taste. My favorite was “The Zapruder Film I’d Like to See” and it was a colorized version of the famous sequence (I can’t believe NT sprang for the full color!). I mimicked the grainy green infamous 8mm film, but in my frames when Kennedy’s arms go up to his chest, he reaches in, pulls out a .45, turns and shoots Oswald and lights a cigar. Can you believe the Dallas Observer (also owned by New Times) ran this piece (in Dallas!) and I got no death threats or ass whuppings? Amazing. And I barely remember dong it. No comment.

Got up at six this morning and Kathy served me oatmeal in bed. Argued about Trent Lott. I love to argue with Kathy about politics, but I hate to argue with her about money, especially our money, and really especially money I have lost. Ha. Carole called on cell phone to wish me a happy birthday.

Curve ball on the business stuff. Nothing is a slam dunk. More on that later. Got to get into office.

Do not waste a minute—not a second—in trying to demonstrate to others the merits of your performance. If your work does not vindicate itself, you cannot vindicate it.”
—Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

December 18, 2002
Feeling almost giddy. If you go back and read the business timeline you will see many very dark moments when it seemed like everything was going down the drain (actually, it was a daily, sometimes hourly fear). There seemed to be no logical way to salvage anything and yet I still felt “resilient.” Call it delusional, call it ignorance on steroids, but somehow I knew this was going to turn out alright. Of course, in today’s business climate and world uncertainty, our business is a long way from being bomb proof, but you could say the same thing about Microsoft. Or not. The difference is now I have solid, financial help. Ay Carumba! Or, as we say in our house, “Cinchi Coogie Cahgie.” (mindless syllables which somehow mean something to us).

Big meetings today. Got a Cave Creek Museum board of director’s breakfast at 8 a.m., then a meeting at Dillon Precision at 10, and another business pow-wow at 2.

Yesterday, John Beckett shot a photo of the staff out front. Afterwards we all went to El Encanto for lunch ($10 cash). There were 19 of us. Marshal Trimble came out, Dan H. came out from Phoenix. John also took individual shots of these outlaws so I can post them here and when I mention them, you can click on their name and go get enough info to stalk them. Groovy, eh?

Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's.”
—Billy Wilder

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

December 16, 2002
That darn Santa is amazing. After asking for $100Gs (see Sunday’s entry), I came into work yesterday and was immediately approached by two new investors who say they see the potential of True West magazine and want to buy in. Amazing to say the least.

Had a long business meeting with Dave Daiss, R.G. Robertson, Bob Brink and I about the offer and how to handle it. We will be meeting again tomorrow to finalize details of a new company. Very exciting as I’ve been pulling this wagon all by my lonesome for almost two years. Thankyou Santa Claus and any other beings or spirits (hello father Bell!) who had a hand in this. I have long believed that the Universe is always trying to help us, but that we are sometimes too stubborn or stupid to see it. And as a recovering cartoonist and Lutheran I admit to a certain belief system that borders on mystical goofiness, but that’s my truth and if you don’t like it, go create your own damn universe.

"Everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance."
- Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, December 16, 2002

December 15, 2002
I did absolutely no work yesterday. I had big plans, but I was a slug. Built a fire, took a nap. went for a walk, fed the chickens, petted the dog, but no artwork.

Now I’ve got birds in my studio. I’ve had about six of them, two at a time on several occasions. I think they’re coming in through the dog door, attracted to the dog food in Peaches’ dish. They get in and can’t figure a way out. I have very high ceilings so they fly back and forth, pooping on all my artwork (some actually look better for the additions). I have to get the pool skimmer and drive them to the crow’s nest and after opening the roof hatch they eventually hop up the ladder (I’m not making this up) and go out onto the deck and fly off. Weird.

Carole G. emailed me and said: “We had 5 coyotes chasing quail in the back today (at the same time). We have lived here since 1985 and never have seen anything like that. Food must be scarce.”

We are having staff photos taken on Tuesday and then I can post everyone’s photo when I talk about them so you can see all the geniuses and heroes I work with.

This morning Kathy and I went in early to Phoenix and had breakfast at the Matador. Had the huevos rancheros ($20 cash). Visited with the owner Mike and his son. They are Greek and he always remembers that Deena broke the first glass in their new location when she was a baby back in 1983. Supposedly it’s good luck, or maybe he’s been hinting for twenty years that we need to pay for the glass.

After breakfast, went to Jana B’s for her annual Christmas party. Tons of politicos and head honchos at her beautiful home. Met the art director at Phoenix Magazine who is from NY and she raved about our layout in True West. That felt good. Santa came at one and the kids went nuts and he had each one sit on his knee and tell him what they wanted. It was very touching, although I had to get a little rough with a five-year-old who got in front of me. The ambulance driver assured me he just had a mild concussion. I told Santa I wanted $100Gs in operating capital and he seemed pretty positive about making it happen. Some of this I made up.

Deena drove in from Tempe and we took her to brunch at the Good Egg ($13 cash). Then Kathy and I went shopping for a digital camera (my birthday present) at Best Buy. Placed just slammed. I told Kathy, “I’m in the wrong business.” Electronics cuts across all gender, class and ethnic lines. Everyone lined up buying sacks and sacks of goodies. Hard to believe the economy is not thriving.

From there we drove out to PV Mall and I got a new pair of shoes and two new sports coats. Kathy paid for them. Fun day.

"I worship the quicksand he walks in."
—Art Buchwald

Saturday, December 14, 2002

December 14, 2002
Missed a dental appointment on Wednesday. Didn’t check my phone messages until Thursday night and missed their tickler call. I hate it when I do that. So rude.

Our True West holiday-holliday cards came in yesterday and they look smashing. As promised, here’s a version of the real card and a version of the “whore” card I had Abby print up as a joke. As a special offer to you and for a limited time, I’ll send you one of the “whore” cards. First come, first serve, while they last.
Send me your address
and I’ll send one along. Impress your friends but don’t show it to your mother. And please don’t show it to my mom!

Last night Kathy and I walked up to the Nedoe’s for their neighborhood Christmas party. Very nice spread. Mark Nedoe has an Outlaw Josey Wales movie poster looming prominently in his living room. It is signed by Roy Anderson, who used to be our neighbor and is the artist who did the illustration of Clint with the two Navys held up in front of his face. Very cool (I'm jealous). At least four people said they read my javelina story in the High Sonoran Style magazine (culled from these very entries, see November 6, 17 postings). Also, our neighbors to the south asked about a “blood-curdling scream” they heard last week and we told them that was when Kathy was chasing the coyotes who were chasing Peaches (see last week.). And by the way, that is a scream they heard at least a half mile away. What a set of pipes on that gal (and her voice is loud too).

Numerous neighbors asked how the magazine is doing and of course I have my stock PR response, “You know I’m very excited Marilyn. We are paying the bills, we’re growing almost too fast. I really like our chances.” One woman named Marty said she thought it is amazing and special that a small town like Cave Creek (5,000) would produce so many “publishers.” It’s true. We have at least four newspapers, three magazines (and even magazine publishers who don’t publish here—the guy who started the Santafean magazine lives in Desert Mountain), several cataloguers, and a gaggle of writers. I didn’t say this at the party, but I think what it really says is that for some reason Cave Creek attracts humungous egos.

Successful people are very lucky. Just ask any failure.”
—Michael Levine

Friday, December 13, 2002

December 13, 2002
Lots of business to attend to. We just landed a major account that does 1,800 orders a day and they have agreed to put one of our sub cards in each and every order. This is wonderful and now we’ve got to get a big order of cards which we had printed last year and are on a dock in Virginia, and we are in the process of getting them sent out here, pronto.

Had a good production-ad sales round table yesterday. Asked each person to bring in 3 ads they loved, and three they hated. Very spirited talk about “white space,” vs. clutter, etc. When it got around to Gus, he put our house ad in the “borderline” area. This was an eye-opener and we all talked about taking our own advice. One of the criticisms of the magazine is that it looks too crowded and needless to say this hit close to home. I think everyone learned something and we all want the same thing: a good-looking magazine.

When we finished the Christmas cards two days ago, Abby had the card on the screen and we were all looking at it and critiquing it. I wondered if the copy “Happy Doc Hollidays from the gang at True West” was good enough and somone quipped we should change the word “gang” to “whore”. We laughed hard on that one. Later, I went back out to Abbey and asked her to print me out two of the whore version. I hand cut them and sent one to my partner Bob McCubbin and the other to Bruce Boxleitner with the inscription: “Here’s our new Christmas cards. We got a thousand printed. What do you think?” I’ll run the card tomorrow for you to see.

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: ‘meetings’."
—Dave Barry

Thursday, December 12, 2002

December 12, 2002
Got untracked yesterday and production finished the Christmas card and got it down to printer. Robert Ray ran herd on it from his sick bed at home, got us a better quote (saved us $250) and hammered out the mechanical specs, etc. That felt good.

Had a speech at noon out at 87th Ave and Bell Road (no relation). It was a Christmas party for the Space Challenger Learning Center volunteers (about 50) at Montecito Assisted Living Center. Very nice meal (in fact the best I’ve ever had at a speech and I do probably 250 a year). Speech was so-so. Got off on a weak track and stumbled to recover. One guy nodding off, two others got up and left (always a bad sign). Gave away about 50 True Wests. As an honorarium they gave me 12 passes to take my staff up in the Challenger flight simulator. Looking forward to that. Supposed to be quite fun until it explodes. Just kidding.

Speaking of kidding, I just got word that one of my ex-partners read the business timeline and is livid. Even though I edited out his name he is reportedly madder than hell, never wants to hear my name again. Thinks this whole journal thing is stupid, unprofessional and wrong. Well, there’s someone else who agrees with Kathy.

Got back into the office at around 2:30, worked on several articles, lined up a staff photo for next Tuesday. Went over new circulation numbers. We have dramatic increase in outlets we will be in. Our next issue, Feb.-Mar., will have almost double the number of copies on newsstand. This is a great victory and took over three years to make happen. Everyone very excited, except for that one ex-partner. No kidding.

"No matter how much cats fight there always seems to be plenty of kittens."
—Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

December 11, 2002
The air feels wet and cold. It’s overcast. Started a fire in studio stove. Kind of grumpy today. Irritated at my production staff, not finishing their work, leaving early, being sickly.

I’m such a weenie. Our cat, Big Tom, jumped up on my chair and here I am on my knees on the floor, typing this so as not to disturb His Royal Purr-ness. What a Wuss!

“Everyone appreciates a full day’s work, especially if they’re paying for it.”
—Every small business owner who ever lived.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

December 10, 2002
Got a small Christmas tree on Sunday ($45 cash). Kathy decorated it. Looks very nice.

Jana and I went to lunch today at Tonto Bar & Grill ($15 cash). She told me she was in the Palace Bar on Whiskey Row in Prescott last weekend and as she was leaving she said she heard a cowboy at the bar say, “You know what the three big Cowboy lies are, don’t you?” Jana said she hung back, waiting to hear the answer. “I won the belt buckle at a rodeo, the pickup is paid for and I was just trying to move the sheep into the barn.” I laughed til I cried (you had to hear Jana, Miss Urbane Liberal, tell it).

Had a long Image Review meeting with Gus, Meghan, R.G., Jana and me, trying to find images for the “50 Defining Moments of the Old West.” Then went right into looking for images for “50 of The West’s Most Western Towns.” Took several hours as we combed our archives, my postcard collection and our collective brains. Tedious stuff, but I like it.

Gun wrangler Phil Spangenberger came by around five. He just got back from working on the new movie “Hidalgo,” a $100 million story of a pinto horse. Amazing. Going to be a big one. Disney made a mint off of the animated Spirit Horse movie and John Fusco (who wrote Young Guns) wrote this one also. Supposed to be out next summer.

I’m trying to develope a new style of illustration where I mimic old photographs, but it has a misty movement. (Here’s my first rough sketches.)

Everyone has talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.”
—Edward Degas

Monday, December 09, 2002

December 9, 2002
Had a very nice weekend. Took a big nap yesterday. Really felt good.

Peaches made it safely home from her coyote sprint yesterday. Her speed has saved her on numerous occasions. Bit as she gets older, well, I don’t think we can take her out on long walks.

Chis Simcox is in the news down in Tombstone. He bought the Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper and has created a Civil Homeland Defense effort for local vigilantes to stop illegal immigration at the border. In today’s paper is a photo of him walking into the O.K. Cafe for a meeting yesterday (see photo). This is the cafe where Bob McCubbin and I first discussed buying True West back in 1998.

Cleaned half my studio, need to finish this week. I’m trying some new techniques for Classic Gunfights and I’ll share those tomorrow.

“[Country Music’s] essential message is that life is difficult and so are most of the people we meet, including those we marry.”
—George Will, in Newsweek, writing about Buck Owens

Sunday, December 08, 2002

December 8, 2002
Went for a walk this morning and Peaches got attacked by two coyotes. We were coming back down the hill by Barros’ and Peaches took off out across the desert to avoid a house where the dogs are rather aggressive. About two minutes later, here comes Peaches back to the road about fifty yards ahead of us, and right on her heels is a big, rangy coyote and another one about ten yards behind. We, of course, started yelling, but they were not deterred and soon Peaches disappeared around a bend in the road with both coyotes in hot pursuit. Kathy took off running and screaming and I guarded the back trail (I was in my slippers, okay?). The noise and the excitement brought out Chuck Van Horn from his horse arena and he and I had the following exchange:
“They’re getting real nasty,” Chuck says, shaking his head.
“Brazen, really,” I say, walking past, hoping he doesn’t notice my fluffy slippers.
“Got any guns down at your house?”
“Yes. A Winchester and a Colt .45.”
“Well, if you need any help...”
“I think we can handle it, but thanks.”
“Maybe they’re riled up because they saw those slippers.”

Cut my finger yesterday while slicing a lemon to put in the pancake mix (you combine the lemon juice with baking soda and it makes them extra fluffy, like my slippers). I was trying to cut and talk long distance with Bob Brink in Florida. He was telling me he has hired us a sales rep for Santa Fe. I kept talking like nothing was the matter and dripped blood in the mix (made it a nice pink) and on my slippers (made a little Playboy bunny logo on the toe, see photo).

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”
—Mel Brooks

Saturday, December 07, 2002

December 7, 2002
Kathy and I took trash up for recycling this morning. Went by True West and Abby was there printing out the magazine for Monday proofing. Went to Foothills Photo and got film ($7 cash) and groceries ($57 house debit).

I cleaned off the floor in my studio. I counted 76 sketches, washes and paintings of the Daltons, not counting the six I actually ended up using. That’s not a very good batting average. Ha.

It felt good to get the tractor running (here’s a photo of my grandpa in 1974 riding it like a Norweigan prince).

They’re filming a movie outside, south of the house. Jeff Sherman is doing a scene from his indie film, “Nowhere, Arizona.” Got two actors and a two-man crew. I went out and watched some of the “dailies.” Interesting process. Even more tedious than painting.

“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, December 06, 2002

December 6, 2002
Did it. Finished all the art at 11:30 this morning. Did three more Dalton vingettes and a spot illustration for $10 Words From A $2 Cowboy. Went up to office and gave the scans to Gus, he shoe-horned everything in and we moved around several images to make it all fit, handed off to Meghan and she put her eagle eye on it, found some errors, she passed off to R.G. who nipped and tucked, and at about five o’clock we were done. Faxed all nine pages to Lue Barndollar in Coffeyville, Kansas for her approval. Robert is PDFing the files even as you read this.

Joe Yager came by at 10 this morning and cleaned out the carburetor on the John Deere (Series B, 1940) and we got it started. The sounds of that thumping takes me back to being a kid at grandpa Bell’s farm every time. Somewhere Al Bell is smiling.

The cover illustration I spent seven days on was just okay (I panicked and did a bunch of line shot items to give to Daniel). We sent the whole mess home with him on Wednesday, and yesterday afternoon he sent up the finished results. I held my breath as I went to look at it on Robert’s computer. And the verdict is—it is wonderful! Gus said it’s the best cover he has ever seen on True West. I agree. I’m not supposed to do this (we don’t even go to the printer until Monday), but here’s a sneak peek:

Allen Fossenkemper read my title ideas and offered several of his own. A couple have potential: KO'd at the OK Corral, and Hokie Pokie at the OK Corral. Funny.

Took Carole to lunch at Pei Wei ($17 cash). Fun talking about petty stuff with her. I’d be petty about someone in the office who is driving me nuts, then she’d be petty. Theraputic, really, since we have to act so “mature” around the troops. Well, at least she does.

The javalina gang struck last night at 1:30. They’re more casual now. Kind of a Happy Hour crowd. They know how to open the gate, they walk around, destroy a few plants, stink up the place and stroll out. Peaches of course, going nuts in the studio. Said goodnight and went back to bed.

“A dog always barks louder at his master’s door.”
—Bernie Poochlander, I think

Thursday, December 05, 2002

December 5, 2002
Trying to finish all the artwork for Daltons Debacle. Have about six pieces to go. Spent all day in office yesterday trying to wrap up loose ends. R.G., Meghan, Gus and I have been slaving over this Classic Gunfight piece for weeks now. Hard to believe how many hours go into some of these articles. Also created a new page with Gus developed by Jana called Living in the 1880s (Dan did logo). Went through one of my Punch annuals from 1882 and we picked out several items we are going to highlight under the heading “Nothing New Under The Sun.” For example, the term “La-di-da” which you may think was started by “Annie Hall” is in a cartoon from Sept. of 1882. An anti-smoking cartoon describes the horrors of cigarettes, there is a women’s rights cartoon, the lies of photo retrouching. And the drawings are magnificent. That is fun, finding and creating those kinds of things.

We are going to be increasing our print run significantly on this next issue and Carole, Bob Brink and I lined out costs. Banta came in with a very good bid on the increase issues.

Got photos back from Sunday’s shoot ($32 Sue debit) and we are trying to pick one for our Christmas card (here’s my two finalists). John Beckett did a great job.

Came home at five and heated up spaghetti. Wanted to bail into art, but ran out of gas. Went to bed at eight, woke up at two, got up at three, made a fire in stove and bailed in on Dalton images. Started at the end with an overview of death alley. I feel good.

"I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
 —Robert McCloskey, State Department spokesman

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

December 4, 2002
Yesterday I finished six black and white gunfighters on scratchboard (worked from about four until 8:45 am) and hurried up to office at nine. Staff meeting went well. We are adding 1,600 new outlets for the magazine and that will help everything and everybody. Now to pay for it. Need to go over numbers with Carole and Bob Brink this morning.

Added another page to Classic Gunfights (that makes it 9 pages, the largest ever). I certainly have the art to fill the holes. Need to finish. Daniel came around 11:30, went over cover ideas and elements. I’m counting on him to hit a home run with this one.

Went to lunch at El Encanto with Gus, Abby, Meghan, Robert, Carole, Jana and Daniel ($10 cash). Sat outside. It was kind of cool, so they brought us a heater, but it was fun to sit and chat about everything. Went back and Daniel critiqued the issue (Jan.) and had high praise for the design, etc.

Jana has scored a coup with a new Mountain Meadows Massacre article that claims Brigham Young did it. She is in touch with the Mormon Church about a rebuttal (they are writing a counter book). Very controversial, and I want True West to be part of that conversation.

Ran out of gas at about 4:30 and came home to take a nap. Got a disturbing call from one of Deena’s ex-boyfriends at 5:30. Kathy and I drove down to Tempe. Deena’s house is a total pit. Roommate passed out on couch. bare walls, Subway cups all over table, tv on floor. Exactly as my college apartments always looked. Took her out for dinner at the Vine ($35 cash). Good talk with her. She’s very honest and a good kid. I wouldn’t go back to that part of my life for a million dollars. Okay, maybe $1.5 mil. No, not really, because even if I had the money I would blow it because I was too naive and stupid. Better make that $16 mil.

Got home at 10:30 and went right to bed. Everyone is sick, and I’m trying not to get it. Still need to finish about seven more pieces of art for this issue. Want it to be good.

"You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance."
—Edward Flaherty

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

December 3, 2002
I’m in an art frenzy. Painted ten shooters yesterday on big watercolor board, very complicated design, no pencil rough, just painting figures right onto the board. This is cover art for “50 Guns That Won The West.” Very nerve wracking, workiing without a net. Got to keep leaping into the dark. Went into the office, fixed several problems, met with Bob Brink regarding bingo cards (return ad cards in the mag), came home at 11:30 and started painting again. Worked non-stop for about four hours, finished two big cover goauches by five, but, as I stepped back they both look weak. Panicked. Broke out the scratchboard and did ten images after dinner (in case Daniel hates the goauche versions, he can build a cover with the line shots, or so that’s my fantasy).

Woke up at three this morning, fretting, worrying about a weak cover, finally got up at four, did three more pen and inks on Essdee scratchboard. Really hanging out. I’ve done about thirty images so far, none are working.

“If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.”
—Woody Allen

Monday, December 02, 2002

December 2, 2002
Great morning. Talked to Tommy (who came in at three, had to get up at seven to go to work at El Encanto). Kathy has mapped out the courses he needs to graduate and there were some rough bumps in there (college level algebra) which made him and I groan (I’m not even in college but just the saying of the word out loud makes me ill). Went for a walk with Kathy and Peaches. Peaches got in a huge fight with Amie (Ratcliff’s dog who ambushed her as we walked by their stable), then she got into it with the two dogs of our neighbors down the creek. It was a real Yuppie dog fight.

Got a bunch of ideas on the walk, mostly about a time travel story I’ve wanted to do since the mid-seventies. What would happen if some history nut actually went back in time to 1881 Tombstone? I’ll bet it would be very funny. I’m thinking that OK needs to be in the title. Maybe No Way OK, Bad Karma at the OK Corral, Key word: OK, Kickin’ It at the OK Corral, Kickboxing at the OK Corral, OK Killers, D Day at the OK Corral, I’m Kidding OK?, Killed at the OK Corral, Historical Enema a the OK Corral, Emenem Is OK By Me (the rap version), OK By Me, French Kissing at the OK Corral. I’m only half-joking, hey, how about—Half-Joking at the OK Corral? Hmmmm, not quite there, but I’ll get it eventually. I want to tell the story of all the crazy, nutso, history goonballs I know and how they have so little clue about what really happened (and when I need extra accurate reference I can go look in the mirror).

I think I may have saved the florescent orange shooters piece (11:59). Hopeful, but need to move faster. Oops. No, didn’t save it, but ruined it.

Progress, but still too slow. I am still working on cover shooters and I wanted to finish by noon, so I could shift gears and knock out the other Dalton illustrations, but here I am plodding along (1:24). Sigh. Got to keep attacking. Painting very good, but I’m a long way from any goal (2:13). Got to shower and get ready for John Beckett coming at 4:30 to take our family Christmas card photos.

Took a shower, got the inspiration to do a different cover idea (a shower miracle), with a center broadside. Came over and quickly did a layout, measuring where the logo will go and having the center piece line down the middle. Put an orange background (or course), located a number of shooter reference photos.

Deena, Tommy and John Beckett arrived at about the same time (4:30). John shot us in the back yard (see digital image taken by Ken who is also a shooter and came with John), gave them the tour and paid John ($100 cash). Then had turkey dinner with kids. Very nice. They talked about all the dates they’ve had recently, not a real big problem I had in college.

Helped Kathy clean the kitchen, had a decaf espresso and started on the images of gunfighters going down the left side of cover. Got four in, including Wyatt Earp. So-so. Not sure it’s working.

Watched the Sopranos at seven. Second to last episode of season. Fun, really good. The kid, AJ is just a riot. Farting on his sister, just so real and funny. Tried to go back to work but it’s too late (8:20) really behind the eight ball now. I’ve squandered four days and finished almost nothing. Jesus Fucking Christ! Very angry with myself.

"History is a set of lies agreed upon."
—Napoleon Bonaparte

Sunday, December 01, 2002

December 1, 2002
Dedicated all of yesterday to art. Got untracked around 10 and did rough sketches, working loosely. Forced myself to stay on task, did about ten or fifteen gesture drawings. At noon, I shifted gears and created a florescent wash of orange (found the tube of paint which I had bought on a fluke, it was drying out so I cut it open with an exacto knife and dumped the drying lumps on my palate and went to town). Had a great florescent orange group of shooters, but then put in regular orange and yellow behind it and it killed it (12:53). Discouraged.

Put in a florescent orange wash, picking around sky until it was about half in, really underplayed it, then mixed up a complimentary blue-green and mixed it in, wet into wet. Clouds started to float, real potential happening, not sure what to do with it Hit the usual culsdesac(1:13 pm).

Crappy! Crappy! Crappy! Too much florescent orange, went too far as usual. (1:33). Focus wandering, fevered mind is going sideways, thinking of other designs, mutations. torn between following them and buckling down and just finishing the damn thing.

Saved it, or at least part of it. Went back to painting faces, got a real good Okie oldtimer nailed off of one of Bob McCubbin’s images (Jan. TW, number 41 from Top 50 photos, guy next to door, on left).

I’ve got a little rhythm going, but I’m running out of gas. Went for a quick walk, very soggy out. Got back in water (metaphorically), did another portrait. Looks quite good. May have overworked it. Shit!

Quit at five and had a piece of pumpkin pie. Sat on patio and enjoyed the sunset. Going to take a break. Closed my eyes but mind teeming with ideas and methods. Got up, went for a walk with Kathy and Peaches. Came back, got out my Essdee scratchboards and did a shooter (Tommy from the reference photos I shot). Decent image. Quit at seven and watched TCM’s Western Film Fest. It’s Clint Eastwood night, so I saw the end of “Pale Rider,” and “Two Mules for Sister Sarah.” Music was fantastic in Two Mules! They created this donkey bray from musical notes, and it had almost a rap rhythm. Just genius. The film was supposed to be a vehicle for Liz Taylor, but she backed out over money or something, so they got Shirley McLain. Clint was very good. I didn’t remember it being that good when it came out (1970) but I was a snotty college kid who knew everything. It really held up, great story of a prostitute pretending to be a nun Very clever and inspiring.

Got to finish all art tomorrow. I feel confident.

“If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him. Of course, no one would have remembered him either.”
—Some guy I can’t remember (probably because he turned back)