Friday, January 31, 2003

January 30, 2003
I’ve been going into work at seven and doing my journal at night. Been getting a lot more done in the office. Today is the first day out at Winter Range (Single Action Shooting Event at Ben Avery Shooting Range) and we have a booth. Cowboy Dan is manning it for us. Dave Daiss said he is doing a good job.

Whipped out another Classic Gunfights (the copy) today. R.G. and I decided the Zip Wyatt rundown was not going to fit on two pages comfortably, so I shifted gears and found a good short shootout between Bass Outlaw (his real name and a Texas Ranger!) and John Selman. It’s got soiled doves, Texas Rangers and a saloon death speech. You can’t ask for more than that. Called Bob McCubbin about getting two of his original photos of Bass Outlaw for the piece. Also called Selman expert Leon Metz in El Paso and asked about the location of the Tillie Howard Sporting House on Utah Street (the fight took place in her back yard) and where was the Barhnam Saloon where Outlaw died. Leon said, “Give me a minute to find this and I’ll call you back.” Two hours later, Leon calls back and says, “I went down to the library and found the deed map for 1895 and the saloon is not listed but the Barhnam bros. have a lot on the corner of San Antonio and Utah. I think that has to be the location.” Wow! The guy stopped what he was doing, got in his car, drove down to the library, looked it up, came back and called. I’ll tell you, for every asshole I’ve met in this biz, there are some real first class guys and Leon Metz is one of them.

Had lunch with an ex-employee of Rawhide. Lurid tales of fortunes lost. The founder of Giant Industries (gas stations and oil) and the owner of Rawhide was worth $100 million a year ago. He was riding high and we were in talks to do a museum there. But he got crossways with his board at Giant and they kicked him out of his own business and in the process he lost Rawhide and just about everything else. Filed for personal bankruptcy, had to attend a hearing where everyone’s lawyers grilled him for two and a half hours. “Where did the $68,000 go? “I don’t remember.” “Where did the physical assets go?” “I don’t remember.” “Where did your first wife go?” “To hire you.” Excruciating to say the least. A warning tale to be sure. Ouch!

Got home around six, made tacos. Read the new Rolling Stone about the lost Beatle tapes that were just recovered. It’s amazing. I know almost every second of their lives and yet I read every word. The petty fighting on the Get Back sessions is just as excruciating as ever. Everyone beats up on Paul, but I’ve always thought he was right. Of course I rarely admit this to my hippy-musician friends because to them John is the Man. And they always maintained Paul was spoiled, arrogant and used to getting his own way. Which is probably why I have always identified with him.

"You know ‘that look’ women get when they want sex? Me neither."
—Steve Martin

Thursday, January 30, 2003

January 29, 2003
Several employees on the bubble. Tough decisions but it has to be done. Record territory on Travel Issue. Going to be huge. Meghan whipped out a jackalope piece that is just a stunner. Very funny, witty, where she got all the stuff, I don’t know. She’s amazing. She was a good hire. The Feb.-March issue is on the newsstands and the phones are starting to ring. Many people have just now found us (1,100 new accounts didn’t hurt). Got calls from Alaska, Georgia and Michigan. Very promising.

It’s hard to stomach parents bragging about their kids. I know because I can hardly stand it when some of my friends cut loose with their incessant “my genius offspring” chanting. It makes me want to puke. With that said, I have to say I am so proud of my son. One of his friends was going off on how the English and the Australians are different “races,” and Tommy tried to tell him they are different “Nationalities,” but the friend wouldn’t listen. Finally, Thomas said, “Dude, you’re smoking too much weed.” It affected the guy so much that on the way home, the lad confessed he has been smoking too much, and rolled down the window and threw out his stash and his “pipe.” Now here’s the good news: if you look in the ditch along I-17 south of Flagstaff you could find a free bong. See? Life works out for everyone.

One of the people who changed my life is coming to Scottsdale this weekend. Julia Cameron, the woman who wrote “The Artist’s Way” is appearing at Scottsdale’s Radison Resort and I may go by and just thank her. Back in the early nineties I felt totally blocked by fears and procrastination, the usual. Someone, I think it was Will Heywood, recommended I read “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” In it she gave this gem of wisdom: “Write every day, without hope, without despair.” She recommended that you sit down and write, even if you don’t feel like writing. Write that—”I don’t feel like writing.” Ever since I have written every day and it actually led to this journal and now you know every time I fart. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

“Thanks, but some things we’d rather not know.”
—Everybody reading this

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

January 28, 2003
Bumpy financial stuff, but good crew looking at all the data. Very competent comrades. We’ll be fine.

Had lunch with Pam and Debbie from They are going gangbusters with over 350,000 hits a week, 16 countries, 29 shows and counting. A complete bookfest radio network online. Just amazing how these girls have made a mountain out of a molehill (meant in a very good way). We ate at El Encanto, and a Playboy playmate ate about five tables down from us. Really striking blond (looked like Faith Hill). Three problems (four, if you count that I’m married): first she had one of those damned barbed-wire-arm tattoos. Two, she was with her lesbian, butch, blond girlfriend, and three, she chain-smoked and it just looked—not sexy. Other than that, she was a knockout.

Started on Travel issue Classic Gunfight: Zip Wyatt Vs. Everybody in western Oklahoma. Going to be a good one. What a fight, what endurance some of these bad boys had.

Kathy decided she wants to take conversational Spanish, so we drove down to Paradise Valley Community College at 6:30. Jim Ramsay is the teacher ($100 each). “Yo soy Capitan. Yo soy de Kingman. Yo soy estudiante de Mexicano. Yo soy una humorista.” We talked about Mexican food (the final is in a Mexican food restaurant. How cool is that? “Donde esta el quarto del bano?” “Where is the bathroom?”). The teacher asked me one of my favorite Mexican cafes and I said Pepe’s Taco Villa. Then we went around the room. Unfortunately we have a woman from New Mexico in the class and like everyone I know from the Land of Enchantment (David K. Jones, Paul Northrop and Bob McCubbin come to mind) they have this pompous, irritating attitude about their Mexican food being superior to, well, everything on the planet. When someone said she should try Richardson’s on 16th Street, she scrunched up her nose and said, “Oh, I tried that, but it’s not the same.” I knew it was no use, but others tried to tell her different places to try but she said in a snotty voice, “I guess I’m just kind of spoiled.” And I said “No. You’re just kind of uninformed.” Maybe it was the tone of my screaming but she avoided eye-contact with me for the rest of the class.

Went to Rolberto’s afterwards and had the adobada burro and a chicklay drink. Kathy had the bean burro, enchilada style ($7.30 cash). Got home at ten, muy tired, but happy.

“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.”
—Old Vaquero saying

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

January 27, 2003
Finished the travel issue editorial, proofed the final output of April issue, found several mistakes. It went out the door at four. Process is getting better and better.

One of our oldtimers, Boyd Schwartz, sent me a nice letter saying he is too old to subscribe, can’t find any articles to read, etc.. I wrote him back and told him he can’t leave now. I paid his subscription. He’s a funny, snotty reader and I love his opinions.

Came home for lunch, had leftover spaghetti. Worked on artlist and items I need to get on track with. Bob Brink rewrote my Ford letter (I wasn’t asking for the order). Much stronger.

Phoned Dan H. about upcoming cover images. Need a strong one for travel, then one for 50 Discoveries. I love the word “Eureka!” I want something that would emulate that.

"More people succeed with great purpose...rather than with great talent."
—Billy Sunday

Monday, January 27, 2003

January 26, 2003
Took off from Tucson at seven. Nice, peaceful drive. We ate at El Dorado on Saturday night. Great change of pace. I had a tasty seafood relleno salad and a mole chicken enchilada ($25 cash).

Stopped at the Iron Skillet near Casa Grande and had coffee and a biscuit ($10 cash). Cruised on in, stopping at the Westin at Kierland Commons to see my paintings and look at a blank spot where they want me to do two more pieces. Got into a fight over the map. Kathy thought I was being condescending about her map reading abilities (I actually was. I’m a total map snob). By the time we got to the hotel (which is very posh) we were walking through the lobby in our white trash sweats and talking very loudly:

“Was I right about Riggs Road going through, or not?”

“That’s not the point. I asked you if the north-south access at Ray Road went through and you got pissed and started getting snippy. That pissed me off!”

“You are so condescending to me! Does Riggs Road go through from Arizona Avenue to Price, or not?”

“This is ridiculous. You know you can’t read a map to save your...oh, hi, can you tell us where the Marshall’s Outpost is? I have some paintings there and I’d like to see them.”

"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"
 —Vince Lombardi

Sunday, January 26, 2003

January 25, 2003
I had breakfast with writer Tom Miller at Micha’s back on Fourth Ave. this morning. Over huevos rancheros and menudo we caught up on all things Old Pueblo. He told me about the ex-lead singer of the Dusty Chaps (one of the first Country Rock bands in the nation and local legends). How he now does a radio gig on public access KXCI, as Petie Mesquiti (I caught it at noon and it made me smile. So un-reconstructed hippie—so Tucson).

I also wanted to confirm a story I heard. Two days after President Bill Clinton “walked,” as Tom put it, from his impeachment, the White House wanted to get him out of town and do something where the president could bask in unconditional love. Knowing that South Tucson is a bastion of Democratic zeal, the West Wing staff cooked up a trip to the Old Pueblo so the president could present some award and feel good. The Old Democratic Guard in Pima County immediately started gearing up for the visit. It was understood that Clinton would eat at the old and prestigious El Charro in downtown Tucson. But someone, thought to be a Latino in the New Guard, sabotaged the plan, and instead, the president’s motorcade ended up at Mi Nidito on South Fourth Avenue. The staff at El Charro waited, but the president never showed. Today you can sit where Bill sat (his photo eating there is over the booth) at Mi Nidito and eat what Bill ate. I did. The Presidential Platter includes a tamale, a chile relleno, a tostado and a green chile burro. It would be unfair to say that Mi Nidito unduly profited from the visit because the Mi was always popular, but today there are waiting lists every day of the week. It’s quite amazing when you think about it. The ripple effect of a blowjob can touch so many things.

“Chile Today, Hot Tamale.”
—The Dusty Chaps
January 24, 2003
Kathy and I took off for Tucson last night. Hit all the worst traffic going through Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler. Took an hour on the 101. Bumper to bumper, stop and go all the way. Makes me glad I don’t have to wade in there daily. Got to Tucson at around eight, debated which Mexican food icon to hit first. Finally decided on El Charro in the barrio. Great old place. It’s in an ancient rock house (1920s). The walls are covered with Aztec-Mexican calendar art. Very lively and loud. Had a margarita, no salt-on the rocks, and the barbacoa (Mexican goat meat from the head). Kathy had the topopo salad (unique to Tucson, it’s a teepee of guacamole, carrot sticks, cucumbers and chicken salad, ($29 pus $7 cash tip). Got the hotel at around nine and checked in.

I gave a talk at 10:30 this morning (Friday) on writing fiction and non-fiction. I told them the Cliff Notes version of my journey and how I came to own a large chunk of True West magazine. Then we talked about their problems, what they wanted to achieve. One woman is writing historical-fiction and wanted to know how to get around the plot point of having a cave-in in the Copper Queen Mine (a real mine in Bisbee) and then the character visits Tombstone in time for Morgan Earp’s murder. Well, right off the bat she is locked in to the date of 1882 and yet was concerned that the horizontal mineshaft that existed at that time wouldn’t have produced a cave-in (historically). The class, which was full of seasoned writers, tossed out solutions and ideas. “Change the name of the mine.” And “Change the name of the town.” And “Who says a horizontal shaft wouldn’t have a cave-in?” It was fun. They were a good bunch.

Had lunch in the Seville Room with 350 other writers and wanna-be writers. Boxed lunches. Heard an author, Stephen Mertz talk about multi-genre writing. He had lots of good, solid info: “Show, don’t tell. Don’t write, ‘She was clumsy,’ when you can show her falling into tables and off curbs.” And, “In Mystery you can’t have a coincidence in the solution. Don’t do it.” Unfortunately, Stephen used the word “ir-regardless” not once, but twice. So there went his credibility. Ha. Imagine. A cartoonist castigating a writer for using a word that isn’t really a word.

In the afternoon Kathy and I swam laps in the hotel pool and listened to writer gossip at the surrounding deck chairs: “Most people don’t know the Japanese had their own A-bomb program (WW II). I pitched it as a high-tech piece, but they don’t care. Now if it was the Germans...”

For dinner, Kathy and I tried to beat the crowds to Mi Nidito down on Fourth Avenue. Got there at 5:30 but there was already a one hour wait. Got two Coronas and sat in the cramped waiting room and bonded with the other waitees. One couple was from Seattle and had heard about the food. Another couple was from Michigan, many locals. I had the Presidential Platter—there are photos of Bill Clinton everywhere (I’ll tell that story tomorrow). The chile relleno was the best I’ve ever had. Period. ($22 plus $5 tip cash). Unfortunately, when we finally got seated and the waitress took our drink order, I said, “Here, I’ll speed it up” and gave her my order. She gave me a funny look and left. Kathy said, “I don’t think that she took that the way you meant it.” When the food came I said, “Did you think I was commanding you to ‘speed it up’?” And she kind of shrugged like, “Well, duh, yeh.” And of course, all my backpedaling just made it worse. What she heard was, “Here’s my order, now SPEED IT UP!” We did get the food pretty fast.

“Silence may be as variously shaded as speech.”
—Edith Wharton

Thursday, January 23, 2003

January 23, 2003
Thomas Charles’ birthday. He’s twenty. Yikes! Took him and his friend JJ out to dinner last night at his favorite Thai place, The Pink Pepper. Deena and her old boyfriend Pete joined us. Laughed it up pretty good. Had two Thai iced teas (should have stopped at one, very rich). Got soaked pretty good ($110 house account, includes tip).
Gave T. a birthday breakfast this morning. Pancakes and bacon, orange juice, strawberries and Jimmy Dean sausage. Mmmmm, healthy.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Mike P., going over video for a possible series on Classic Gunfights. I’ve got some pretty good video snippets from Minnesota. We’ll see.

Javelinas wrecked the chicken house again. Tore up everything. Final hen is still alive. I don’t know quite how she does it. She’s a tough old bird.

Wrote a letter to Ford’s ad agency, J. Walter Thompson, recounting how it is because of Henry Ford that there is still a True West magazine.

Off to Tucson tonight for a writer’s conference (Wrangling With Writing). Good excuse to eat Mexican food down on Fourth Ave. Probably hit El Torero tonight. Yahoo!

Hollywood Squares’ host Peter Marshall, “When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?”

Paul Lynde: “Make him bark?”

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

January 22, 2003
Staff meeting at eight. Very lively discussion about giving away mags at events like High Noon vs. holding the line and selling subs and issues. I can see both sides. The sales staff thinks we should get as many mags out as possible to anyone who is remotely interested in the hopes of reaching more readers. This is our competitors strategy (C&I and American Cowboy give out 1,000 mags at every show we have been at with them). R.G. counters this with the fact that each mag costs us 92 cents and when you give something away it has less value to the recipient. This also is true. I attended a writer’s conference in Gunnison last summer and got a packet with the usual bumper stickers, chamber brochures, Subway coupon, etc.. Also included was a Persimmon Hill magazine (which I happen to love), but when it came time to leave, I left everything in the room. The magazine became a throw-away. Or, as Thomas Paine put it: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

The sell-thru seminar on our covers was also quite enlightening. After I laid out the magazines by date, I then pulled all the losers and put them on the left, and made two tiers: the four very best sellers and the second tier with the almost as good, but slightly lower sales. The effect was stunning. At the very top were: Wyatt Earp, Custer, Wild Bill and Doc Holliday. All four had a singular image and a headline that you could read across the room. In the second tier were The Alamo issue, The Scouts, Texas Rangers, Jesse James, Butch & Sundance.

Win Holden, the publisher of Arizona Highways, came out at 12:40 and took a look at our next cover. Daniel H. has designed two different cover options. One with a close-up of John Wayne’s face, and the other a full body shot of the Duke, from Hondo, and it is stark black and white. Win said he would go with the close-up on the face. In today’s market there is strong statistical evidence that the singular, closeup on the face is the image that sells the most.

Jana B., R.G., Win and I went to lunch at Tonto. Win talked about the calendar business. Very enlightening. We want to do a True West calendar, but we may already be too late for 2004. In fact, Highways is already working up 2005. That’s how far out front you have to be. Amazing.

Drove in for a dental appointment at two. Survived cleaning and X-rays.

Came back and finished roughing in Classic Gunfights layout. R.G. gave me the word that there is room for “The Duke Is Born.” Got to finish that artwork before Friday because I’m going to Tucson for a writer’s conference. I’ll be looking for new writers and teaching a seminar. Imagine.

“I had a terrible education.  I went to a school for emotionally disturbed teachers.”
--Woody Allen

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

January 21, 2003
Went into office and got several items taken care of. Did sell-thru stats on each issue going back two years. Going to have a cover seminar tomorrow in staff meeting. Biggest selling issue has been Wyatt Earp (Feb., 2001) and lowest selling issue was Mattie Silks (January, 2001). Somewhat ironic that both issues were consecutive. The best and the worst side by side. Hmmmm. I’m going to lay out all the issues on the conference table with the sell-thru stats posted on each cover, then take the losers and put them on the left hand side, and the winners on the right. Then throw it out to the staff: “What are our readers trying to tell us?” Should be an interesting discussion.

Came home at ten. Looks like rain. Bailed into Buckshot Roberts spraying lead. Finished at 12:06. Need to keep jamming. Finished the overview of Blazers’ Mill at 12:53.

Went back to office at one. Good talk with Bob Brink regarding sales and where we need to be this year. He has big plans and a good vision. He’s very focussed. I want to be him when I grow up. Got Gus lined out on Classic Gunfights.

Came back home at two. Whipped out a portrait of Frank and George Coe (also for Classic Gunfights, April). Then shifted gears and worked on an illustration for an article about a guy who was stripped naked, his throat cut and he was thrown in a river along with everyone else in his party (happened in early Texas, of course). Incredibly, he lived, hid in a crevice on the river bank until the Mexican bandidos who did the murdering left. Then he walked, stark naked, to civilization. Tough one to illustrate, but I came up with the idea to show him in that crevice with the green water of the river running up to his chin. He has a look of horror on his face as he sees a set of toes coming in from the right, the water is a pink hue flowing out and downriver from his neck wound (which is below the water). It’s a clever concept but I don’t know if it works or not (I’m too close to it). We’ll soon see. Issue hits subscribers in about four weeks (if you buy it off the newsstand you'll have to wait seven weeks). Worked until about nine. Want to get up early and whip out two other illustrations for this issue.

"In the long run...we only hit what we aim at."
—Henry David Thoreau

Monday, January 20, 2003

January 20, 2003
The TV show I worked on runs this Wednesday. Unsolved History (History Channel) explores the Shootout at the OK Corral. They re-enacted it and then used modern police forensics to try and solve some of the big questions. For example, we know Doc Holliday used a shotgun on Tom McLaury and we know the location and size of the wound from the autopsy report. On the show they took a side of beef and a shotgun and by firing into it at different distances they determined how far away Holliday was when he fired (hint: it’s farther than normally believed).

Nice quiet day at home. Kathy, Peaches and I went for a long walk on West side of the creek. Huge homes going in over there. Land going for $140K. We paid $12K (and thought it was too much).

Went to Albertson’s for groceries ($113 house debit), came home and made salmon and salad.

Saw Barry Friedman at the High Noon Auction on Saturday. He was the co-creator of Bunkhouse Capers on the old KDKB back in the seventies. He now writes comedy in Hollywood. Has written for Seinfeld, Phyllis Diller and others. He has written a book on Navajo Rug collecting. I bought one ($40 cash), then stopped at Barnes & Noble on the way home and bought a book on Pop Art ($32 Sue debit). It inspired me, but had zero luck with assigned art. Need to find my path. I feel like I’m walking through the toolies.

“All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography.”
—Federico Fellini

Sunday, January 19, 2003

January 19, 2003
Strong day at High Noon Auction out in Mesa. Big show in Convention Center. Great Cowboy stuff. Jana B. came just as I was arriving. Had to sneak in (we only had two passes and I didn’t get one). I saw Jana walk away from the check in table towards the two armed guards and I scooted up behind her and said, “I’m with her.” Amazingly, they let me go in.

Ran into many old friends and Western celebs. Talked to Joe Beeler (one of the founding members of The Cowboy Artists of America) and David Stecklein (great photographer, has numerous best-selling books). Our neighbor at the True West table was none other than legendary record producer Snuff Garrett, who holds the distinction of having 50, count ‘em, top ten records. Today he lives down near Sonoita and has always been a big collector of Western memorabilia. When I said hi, he looked at me rather coldly and I thought perhaps he didn’t remember me. Back in the late 80s Snuff brought Rex Allen on our radio show (KSLX) to promote a roast Snuff had cooked up at the Biltmore. The proceeds were going for the Rex Allen Museum down in Willcox and Snuff had landed Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Pat Butram (the MC), some guy off Gunsmoke I can’t remember and several other heavyweight Western legends. Rex was a hoot on our show and we actually got him to sing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” acappella. It was just classic with his great Country pipes crooning, “Wayyyy down inside....woman, woman, need....Loooooooooooooooove.” We kept it on cart and whenever we had Led Zep coming up we would often slip in Rex Allen to prime the pump. We laughed and he told great stories: he said when he hit in the movies his hometown of Willcox had a parade for him and his dad was standing on the curb with a gaggle of local women. When Rex rode by on his silver saddle, one of the women said to Rex’s father, “My, I wish I had a son like that.” And Allen Senior quipped, “Well, if you weren’t so damned particular when you were younger, you could have.” Rex signed a publicity photo for me (“For Boze, a Hell of a Guy!”) and his visit to our radio show is one of the highlights of my life.

When there was a lull Snuff came over to our table and I said, “Perhaps you don’t remember me...” but before I could say my name, Snuff said, “Oh, I know who you are. You really pissed me off.”My heart sank. “Oh, shit," I thought to myself. "What did I say on that show that I don’t remember?”

“You really hurt Rex’s feelings,” Snuff finally said. I visibly cringed. On the show, when things would get too sedate, David K, our host., would give me the look (“This is getting flat, say something outrageous.”) Thanks to the look, and my big, fat mouth, I once made the Penthouse Pet of the Year leave in tears. The head of the Budweiser plant in Phoenix pulled a quarter of a million dollars in advertising because of some brilliant (stupid) thing I said. “I’m so sorry,” I said to Snuff. “I loved Rex. What did I say?”. He looked at me with narrowed eyes: “You asked Rex if there were going to be a lot of negroes at the roast.” I don’t even remember saying it, but this was a common ploy of mine. Scottsdale is so white bread, and the word “negro” is such a corny, harmless word, but the damage was done. Me and my big mouth. Fortunately, I’ve matured.

"It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it."
—Sam Levenson

Saturday, January 18, 2003

January 18, 2003
Intended to bail into art today but got none done. Instead, I had my hands full being the camp counselor, a job I do increasingly well (I force myself to actually listen to what others are saying rather than thinking of what I’m going to say next). I have a stable full of race horses and they are way high strung.

Today is ad deadline for April issue.and sales really kicked it, adding an additional ten pages of advertising by 5 pm. Ted, Stacy, Mike, R.G. and Larry were on fire and it really adds up when they get to crankin’.

Meghan is on my ass about art for Classic Gunfights. Funny how you hire someone to clean things up in production and when they do it and get down to the real problem it turns out to be the person who hired them. Actually, it’s not that funny.

Author and Butch Cassidy expert, Dan Buck weighs in on the “Brown” issue: “For what it's worth, I agree with Mark B., a separate ‘grey section’ is a bad idea, a retrogression. You can't go back. It's not there anymore.”

Went over to the Cave Creek Museum after lunch to go over a possible column to be printed in one of the local papers. I told the board I would help with creating a CC history column but they would need to get me the raw material and I would put it together. Much resistance to it. Very territorial, these “girls” and “their” history.

Someone forwarded me the list of favorite headlines of 2002, and of course, most of them are older than I am, but there was one I hadn’t heard: “Crack Found on Governor's Daughter.” That made me laugh. I guess I like it because it’s bush. And Bush.

My John Wayne art piece fell through because there is no room in this issue for it. Have mixed feelings about it, but I need to finish artwork this weekend and it’s also the High Noon Old West Auction out in Mesa and I’ve got to go out there. Need to work smart.

“Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true.”

Friday, January 17, 2003

January 17, 2003
The “Brown” discussion continues. Got an E-mail from Mark Boardman (NPR radio producer) who says, in part, “Yes, it's certainly possible to narrow the vision too much. But have you really done that with True West? I haven't seen your numbers or demographics of late, but my gut says "no, you haven't." You made a conscious and reasoned decision, set the course and let fly. You've taken flak over the last two or three years by doing that. But you've also gotten kudos from others. You've done well enough to attract new partners, fresh money. True West was the Caruso of its field forty years ago and more. But who wants to hear the old fat dead guy when you can get a sleeker, sexier and more vibrant model? That's what you've been turning the magazine into. It's becoming Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. . . .It seems to be working. Do you really want to see what happens if you try to turn back time? It may work for you and me...but what about that younger and hipper reader? So why would you take a step backward?” Excellent points.

Got a ton of artwork to do today and this weekend. Need to get beyond the bad artwork stage, just do them and move through it. One of my cartoonist friends, Dave Sim maintains, “Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him.” And the trick is to get those out of the way as a fact of life.

Somewhere I read that after Michelangelo died, one of his minions decided to destroy all of the Master’s drawings that didn’t measure up to his greatness. In other words, his bad drawings had to be destroyed so the myth of the great artist falling directly from heaven in one piece, could endure. As my good friend Bob McCubbin puts it, this is “fiction by omission.” Part of the mystique, and certainly one of the biggest myths, of being an artist or writer is that somehow the talent arrived without training, without instruction. So many bullshit artists, especially in Western art, claim they were “self-taught.” This is a bad joke really. Can you imagine a doctor leaning over you on the operating table and saying, “Don’t worry about your gall bladder, I’m self-taught.” But somehow with art this is preferred, like education is somehow cheating. From now on, if people ask me if I’ve had art training, I’m going to say, “Yes, but I didn’t pay attention.” Although I think it’s pretty self-evident.

“Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
—Mohammed Ali

Thursday, January 16, 2003

January 16, 2003
Wild & Wooly, interesting phrase, could be a title of something, could be part of a title, maybe the name of two characters. I’m always open for titles, seeking titles, always mulling random phrases. Most of it turns out to be junk, but then 99% of success is failure. Hmmmmm.

One of our target accounts backed out today. Really disappointing, because we had thrown a bunch of money and effort into building a relationship, but they walked. Bob B. assures me this happens all the time and I can’t take it any more personal than I already have (I want to fucking kill them!). I’ll be fine.

Captured stills off of Gus’s video copy of Stagecoach. Came home for lunch, turned on the TV, fast-forwarded to the scene where John Wayne first shows up, cocking his Winchester with one hand, with his saddle and gear across his other arm. To me, that is the moment the Duke was “born” and I want to do an illustration of it for our “50 Moments That Defined The West.” I literally held my new 3.1 Mega-Pixels Kodak digital camera (which I got for my birthday) up to the screen, with the setting on video. This little candy bar sized piece of metal actually takes stills and video! Unbelievable. Took it back up to the office, interfaced with my iMac and the next thing you know I’m frame-advancing to the exact ten moments I want to capture on paper. Of course, they are quite funky, with lines through them, warped, black bands at all the wrong places, but that is part of the charm and I hope I can do the imagery justice. I may even go down to Armstrong-Prior Printing (they have old, hand presses) and have them run off a series of chine collé, combining several images, including scratchboard, onto funked-up paper for the ultimate effect. I have a call in to them even as I type this (4:20 pm). Hope they can accommodate me. John called back (5:03) and we’re shooting for next week. He’s pumped. Great guy, very talented. I love chine collé (it means layered paper).

Came home at around 2:30 and got to work on art. It’s been over a month since I touched a brush and I’m very rusty. Forced myself to stay with it. Wanted to flee, take a nap, blah, blah, blah. Went for a walk to the cave (Kathy said I need to walk) to get some power from the Hohokam Indians who lived there. Channeled (stole) some of their power, came back, up the trail, hid from some horseback riders (I’m wearing goofy sweatpants and they were wearing goofy helmets), wrote this up (anything not to work!).

Carole called from office and some guy wants to buy the original of the Doctor Will See You Now (cover TW, Nov.-Dec., 2001) and “Doc In His Cups” (Val Kilmer as Doc spinning the tin cup scene, hanging in my office). She asked price, it’s $1,650 for both. Seems too cheap, but hey, I’ve got kids in college.

“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
—Jack London
January 15, 2003
Missed two appointments. The Cave Creek Museum board of directors had a meeting at 7:30 and I forgot, thought it was 8:30. Ironically I was writing this journal (yesterday’s entry). Had lunch with Kathy at China Joy ($15 cash, includes tip), then came home and got props for a photo shoot at office. Got back and found out I missed a finance meeting with the Big Four. Ouch! Also missed meeting the head of the British Hearst magazine operation (just retired). Bob Brink brought him by and I really wanted to meet him. So by 2 pm I was 0 for 3.

As I was waking up, Kathy spent an hour reading to me out of the new Newsweek about diet and exercise. Need to eat better and walk. Doing too much of the former and not enough of the latter. What happened to those studies where they had two groups and one group just thought about shooting baskets and they beat the control group who actually practiced every day? Huh? What about those of us who think real hard about jogging? That must count for something.

Too many of my friends are going down. Allen F. our marketing guy is in the hospital with a major heart bypass deal, and Paul N. is bedridden with some seizure, stroke deal. And Robert Urich is flat dead.

I’ve had two readers E-mail me about the “brown” issue. Larry from Texas and Lynn Allen W. who said, “I have been searching for words to try and express what I think is wrong with TW, and lo and behold Bob in his journal hit the nail on the head. Brown! That is what’s missing. there are enough Scottsdale fashion magazines out there. I realize that you need advertising from all those ‘BooTeaks’ but grit up the magazine like it was when I was a kid...I love True West and am only trying to offer positive suggestions. I wouldn’t waste my time sending this if you were not one of my three favorite mags.” Well, that’s damn persuasive.

Abby is working up Honkytonk Sue t-shirt ideas and she said she needed another Sue-sim, so I brought this one in:

“Go for younger men—you might as well, they never mature anyway.”
—Honkytonk Sue

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

January 14, 2003
Big staff meeting at nine to introduce the staff to the new company. Very positive and exciting. We are finally all on the same page and headed in the same direction (this is huge). Very strong game plan and our prospects have never looked better.

Ted is working on landing Tom Selleck for Festival of the West in March. Pretty amazing if he can pull it off. Some of it depends on security. It must be quite daunting to be so famous you really can’t go anywhere without body guards. And evidently Tom is at that level where he is mobbed everywhere he goes. Bruce Boxleitner, who is also famous, walks around anywhere, but he told me his wife Melissa Gilbert, of Little House On The Prairie fame, got mashed at one of these festivals and will not do another one without security. Fame is weird. I met Ben Johnson (he got an Oscar for Last Picture Show) walking around the Festival of the West and we exchanged pleasantries. He was just a shy cowboy really. Same with Lee Marvin and Jennifer Tilly. With Jennifer we walked all over Tombstone and went in places and the people would kind of do a doubletake (especially after she opened her mouth) and then they would stammer, “Hey, you’re that actress!” Someone else said,“Hey, aren’t you somebody?” But to be “mobbed,” and have your life in danger from “fans”, that has to be very odd.

At 10:30 Marshall Trimble showed up with his TV crew for Arizona Back Roads, a feature he does for KAZ on access cable. I asked long time Cave Creekers, Lew and Tara Jones to join us. We went up on the hill behind the True West building and they taped us trading stories about Cave Creek. Lew Jones has so many stories of the early days about Harold’s (Saloon) when Dick Van Dyke played drums and crusty cowboys rode horses into the bar to get away from the sheriffs (in the 1970s!). He also said that today people move out here to be somewhere but in the old days (the 1960s) that people came out here to get away from everywhere. I think that pretty much sums up the difference. We all moved out here to capture a little bit of the Old West and in doing so, killed it. After lunch at Tonto Bar & Grill, we walked over to the cave that Cave Creek is named for and taped in there. Got some really good stuff, not sure how they’ll edit it down to a half hour.

“Remember: the farther up the flag pole you go, the more people can see your rear end.”
—Dandy Don Merideth

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

January 13, 2003
Up and down day in office. Every path has its puddle and I’ve been getting my socks wet if you know what I mean.

Bob Brink had a clever solution to yesterday’s lament about the old TW being brown and compelling. He came in my office around ten and said, “Maybe we’ve become a little too much ‘magazine.’ We could easily run some of the older material in the center on the older paper.” Quite ingenious really, and I think it would play nicely. More history and on the paper the old timers love. And the paper is dirt cheap. No wonder Bob got a million a year at Hearst. Ha.

One of my famous artist friends, with my initials, just got his son out of jail in Mexico. The boys were partying and had sex with a drunken coed who woke up the next day and pressed charges. As anyone who has been in prison in Mexico (that would be me) can tell you, it is mighty scary. After my stint, I kissed the ground when I got back across the border. That story later.

Speaking of sex with coeds, at my age sexiness (and sex) has become very tenuous. My old friend Charlie Waters E-mailed me last week and said I looked like Wilford Brimly in our Christmas card letter.He said it was a complement. Call me a vain prick, but this did not make my day. The very next day I got an E-mail from a movie producer named Merlin (I’m not making this up) and he said, and I quote: “In your photo at the beginning of your journal, you look like Robert Redford as The Sundance Kid.” Now granted, that photo was taken two years ago before walking thru so many puddles, but guess which one I see when I look in the mirror? Kathy said, “I think Wilford Brimley is very cute.” Now that is one smart woman, eh?

“A woman will flirt with anyone in the world, so long as other women are looking on.”
—Oscar Wilde

Sunday, January 12, 2003

January 12, 2003
It seems like more and more of our culture and media is becoming fragmented snippets—magazines and newspapers are doing less and less long features and more sidebars and what we call potato chips. It seems like we just don’t have the time or the commitment these days.

On the other hand, I read today’s Arizona Republic in about ten minutes (this is a huge edition with mucho inserts and many trees died for the cause). It was all snacks and no main dish: No meat, all finger foods. It was very unsatisfying. Speaking of which:

We got a nasty letter last week from one of our cranky old guys: “I buy True West because I want to read new or better written stories about the Old West. If your Feb./March 2003 issue is a preview of things to come you no longer measure up to the job. This issue has 18 pages out of 120 total pages of rather mediocre stories I might think about reading and the rest is trivia, fashion and travel—you have become a very expenisve flea market catalogue which I can no long afford. Good luck.”

At first I was just very angry (the guy who wrote it is a pompous ass), but ultimately I didn’t want to be like Walleye Patti (see September’s Wyoming postings). As an exercise, I took a 1959 TW (one of my favorite issues when I was a kid, see cover) and put it side by side with our latest issue. While I think we have just as much solid, historical information as the old issue, there is a momentum the old magazine had that was very compelling. As much as I hate to admit it, the older TW had a gritty, authentic feel to it. You really felt like you were reading the real deal (of course, some of this may come from my feelings as a 10-year-old-kid—and I absolutely loved this magazine!) To boot, the older issue was very desert oriented in terms of old photographs of isolated ghost towns and seemed to have a bunch of stories that took place in harsh, desert locations. If I had to assign the issue a color it would be brown. Of course, the new issue is more lush in every way, and if I had to assign a color to it, that color would be green. Now that’s not a bad thing, but it did help me see perhaps why the old reader might feel abandoned (that and the fact we don’t publish his articles anymore). I don’t think it would hurt to get more “brown” back in the magazine and I think we can do it with articles on ghost towns, lost treasures, old trails, etc. Articles that we kind of got away from but still have power. I could go on, but I think Harry said it best:

“The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
—Harry Truman

Saturday, January 11, 2003

January 11, 2003
I have been contacted by two women who are writing a paper on Honkytonk Sue, the cartoon character I created in 1977. They have been interviewing me via E-mail. Here is a small snippet of the interview:

Q: Why a female as your main character?

BBB: Strong women have always attracted me. Both my grandmothers were quite resilient. My father’s mother was Minnie Hauan Bell, a full blooded Norwegian farm girl who settled in northern Iowa, and my mother’s mother was Louise Guess, but everyone called her Guessie, and she came through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and lived a pretty hard life on ranches. My wife Kathy Radina (the pretty girl I met at her boyfriend’s wake) is no one to trifle with either.

Q: What does Sue represent in the context of her time, the late 70's?

BBB: The idea of a woman comic strip hero seemed so ripe at the time. The ERA was first being proposed and it seemed so overdue to have women be the heroes of the story. Of course it’s a cliche now.

Q: Every cartoonist has a relationship with its characters, what would you say
yours with Sue is? How has it changed over time?

BBB: The Honkytonk Sue of the National Lampoon feature [where the comic first ran in 1977] is more of a kind of crass bar fly. Well, maybe bar fly is too strong but I was playing drums in a Country band at the time, and that had a lot to do with the character—seen thru the dark prism of the world I was living in at that time. This was also when my marriage was unravelling and the two form a sort of negative, black hole (in fact I want to do a graphic novel on that period of my life and my working title is: Nympho Rodeo). The later Sue, that ran in the comic strip became much more sympathetic because a.) I was, by then, in a good relationship with a good woman who looks quite a bit like Sue, and b.) women reading the strip responded so strongly to her it was shocking to me. I had no idea of the power lurking there! In fact if there is one theme running through this whole experience, it’s the fact that I have been consistently the last to know. Ha.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”
—George Moore
January 10, 2003
Office humming. Big pow-wow at 1:30 of the Committee of Four. We had numerous hangout issues, with accruing stock, outstanding stock, disputed stock, below the line stock, half-assed stock, just a mess. But R.G. came in with an item by item proposal that was inspired and smart. What I thought might take weeks to solve, was readily agreed to. Not one objection. It was very fair, neat, clean and solid. Really a home run and my respect for R.G. went up a notch or two or three.

I rewrote the Blazer’s Mill gunfight copy and made notes on the artwork I want to do for it. As I was doing this, several questions came up. “Buckshot” Roberts had a Civil War wound that prevented him from lifting his arm up beyond his waist. He carried a .44 Winchester and got into a fight with 13 Regulators, among them Billy the Kid. One guy against 13. He emptied his Winchester into this group, who were surrounding him at the time. Now, the question, as an artist is: which arm? And if you can’t raise your arm up above your waist, how do you fire it? I suppose like Chuck Connors in The Rifleman. If his right arm is crippled, might he shoot left-handed? Big questions. That’s why I e-mailed Fred Nolan in England.

Fred is the undisputed expert on the Lincoln County War and Blazer’s Mill. I waited patiently for his email reply. I didn’t have to wait long. He sent me his opinions and interviews conducted in the 1920s with Frank Coe and George Coe (both participants). Among many gems, here’s the answer to one of my questions:

Frank Coe: “I had on my six shooter but had not picked up my gun after dinner. [Roberts] came back and we sat down in the door with our feet outside. He had a Winchester in his hand all the time. He was over on the left of me with his gun laid across his knees and its butt over on mine [so he most likely shot right-handed]. I talked with him and tried to get him to surrender. I told him there were thirteen of us and that Brewer would take him or try it. I told him to give me his gun and come around with me and I would stand by him and see that they did not hurt him.”

Great stuff. And that’s why I love doing this because of the little nuggets you find (when you know the right people, ha!).

Finally, here’s the photos of the javelina damage to the garage from several weeks back. They have been quiet the past two nights and the chicken house has not been abused.

Kathy and I met Russ and Wendy S. at the Cheesecake Factory at 6:30 to celebrate Wendy’s birthday ($75 house account, includes tip). Lots of laughs.

Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.”
—George Foreman

Friday, January 10, 2003

January 9, 2003
Lots of rewriting on Blazer’s Mill. Brought in Fred Nolan’s book, The West of Billy the Kid. I don’t agree with his sequence, but he has much information that skews the story.

Went home for lunch and answered E-mails.

I came back from lunch and there was a new magazine called 944 on my desk. It had sexy women on the cover and inside were all these “cameo” shots from the various hipster bars in Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix. Of course, the women inside were all knockouts, but there was something kind of eerie or disturbing about them. I think it’s because we’ve entered The Land of The Surgically Enhanced. Some of the people don’t look like real people if you know what I mean. The publisher had a letter and I read it and thought it was stupid (he was bragging about the magazine being so hot and sexy and that they’ve started to get prisoners at Florence asking for it) so I brought it home to show to Deena. She took one look at it and said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been in that magazine.” Ouch! So I asked Deena to read the publisher’s letter and tell me if he is being serious or trying to be funny. She read it, looked up at me and said, “Dad, he’s trying to be funny. It’s so obvious.” That hurt.

Tommy came back from Flag. He went up there to go snowboarding for several days. Says the snow covering was a bit lacking and he nicked his board, but he had fun. Deena feels better and we had a family dinner at seven and then she went back to her hell hole in Tempe.

Every path has its puddle.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 09, 2003

January 8, 2003
Overcast and sprinkling (8:02 a.m.). Need to get into office. Deena is in pain from wisdom teeth pulling.

Long meeting of the new partners. Got heated at some points but progress was made. Signed initial papers for the new company. Felt good. We have a strong team.

Rained on and off all day. A production company in Hollywood contracted me to read their script on an upcoming show on the OK Corral fight. I made my corrections (they were minor) and E-mailed them back at about one. Show is going to be interesting. Airs in two weeks.

Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone ordered 26 of my Bad Men books. That always feels good.

Talked to Paul N. in El Paso. He had a seizure, the doctor told him he can’t drive for a year. Ouch! I told Paul “if only the doctor had said you can’t talk for a year.” We laughed.

Doing Gunfight at Blazer’s Mill for the next issue and need to E-mail the expert Fred Nolan in England to go over copy. He’s the best. People ask me how I do my research and I always tell them I try to suck up to the people who really know what happened and steal from them. So far it’s worked like a charm. Ha.

At seven, Kathy and I went to dinner at El Encanto with one of Deena’s new boyfriends, Nick. Nice guy. Ex-tight end from Ohio. Kids are so big these days. He’s six four, 225. It was so hard to get him down on the ground for the strip search, but fortunately I had Kathy to help me. Meal was good. Had albondigas soup and beans ($35 plus $7 tip, cash). Farted all night.

“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”
—Elizabeth Taylor

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

January 7, 2003
Windy and cold yesterday. Sprinkled but didn’t do much else. Good day in office. Still major planning for 2003. Went over trade shows coming up: High Noon in Mesa, Winter Range and Festival of the West. Trying to determine how best to promote these shows, do well, get our product out and make some money, or better put, not lose money.

Almost finished Classic Gunfight copy. Hope to finish today. Need to recharge and get going. We have come so far with the magazine but in many ways we have just begun. In my April editorial I talk about discovering True West as a nine-year-old in Kingman. The year was 1957 and the magazine was already four years old. To me it was brand spanking new, revolutionary. I imagine the same is true now. We are just coming onto the radar of some people. Bob McCubbin sent me two comments from friends in California and Texas about the January and February issues. Their comments were almost identical: “These last two issues were great but I don’t think you can keep up this quality.” That, is the goal.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
—Louis L'Amour

Monday, January 06, 2003

January 6, 2003
Deena came home last night. She’s getting her wisdom teeth pulled this morning. Fun having her for dinner with Tommy. Laughed and watched their favorite show “Jackass,” which is a tad too asinine for my tastes but I would never tell them that.

Got inspired to do a card sharp feature by an item in Bottom Line, a newsletter Betty sent me. Here’s card sharp tactics: “Belly-stripping—the card sharp shaves a fraction of an inch off all but high cards. To detect it: Run your finger and thumb along the edge of the pack to determine if wider cards stick out. Shiners—tiny mirrors or polished objects used by crooked dealers to reflect players’ hands. Marking—a cheat nicks cards he gets early in a game to identify them later. Flaws—can be built into decks‚the cards are bought marked. To detect them: Hold the pack in one hand, and run your fingers lightly over the top in a fast riffle to see if the pattern jumps or swerves.” Need to call Shamie Maxwell, who supplied the card decks in “Gangs of New York” and get him to supplement the piece. Will make a nice potato chip.

You are looking into the eyes of a vicious killer. Look deep into those evil pools of brown. Yes, this is Peaches, the Chickenkiller. Hard to believe this sweet little girl lives to take down chickens, but she does. How did this happen? Well, I trained her. Not on purpose, mind you, but I might as well have sent her to The Advanced Art of Killing Chickens College. Here’s how it happened. About six years ago, we got a cute little puppy from a dairy out in Buckeye. She was a hyper little border collie puppy and went thru her playful, attack anything stage. Unfortunately, while she was in this stage, I didn’t realize how fast she was and she got around my legs one morning and got into the chicken house and jumped on a rooster, killing the startled cock almost immediately. Horrified, I mentioned this on the radio one day and a caller gave me a piece of advice on how to cure her of this.”Simply take the dead chicken” the expert caller told me, “and tie it around her neck. As the chicken decomposes and stinks, the dog will go crazy trying to get away but she can’t and will never even want to see another chicken.” Wow! That totally made sense. I couldn’t wait to try it and I didn’t have to wait long. About a week later, Peaches got into the chicken house and jumped on a brood of chicks. She killed two. I was so mad. I tied her up and went and got one of the former little chicks and got some twine out of the garage. First of all, I must tell you, tying the string around the little chick’s tiny legs wasn’t easy, then tying it around Peaches’ neck wasn’t a picnic either. When I finished, Peaches started running around the yard craning her neck and trying to get at the unwanted necklace. I laughed and thought it was all going to work like a charm, but in no time she managed to work her neck around to get the little dangling chick into her mouth. She kept it there and continued running around. When I called her, she gave me a look that said, “Hey thanks for the all day sucker!” Not exactly the effect I wanted. So I called my friend back and told him the odd twist to the curing exercise and he told me to put the dead chick up around on top of Peaches’ neck so she can’t get at it. So I went back out and chased her for about a half hour, finally grabbing her and managing to extract the chick out of her mouth (not an easy task either). She had pretty much devoured that bon bon, so I went back and got the other dead chick and went thru the same torture of tying the tiny, little legs to the twine, then tying that around Peaches’ neck and putting the little guy up on Peaches’ back. This worked for about 75 seconds, until our blind dog Toby came over and started munching on the chicken right off of Peaches’ back as if it were a buffet table. That was it. From that moment on, Peaches became a died in the fur chicken killer and I’m the one who trained her.

Whenever I hear Pavlov's name, it rings a bell.”
—John Teets

Sunday, January 05, 2003

January 5, 2003
Had a good day cleaning and organizing. Kathy got me lined out in a dead file cabinet. I threw away many folders full of financial and freelance stuff, most of which was from 1994. Found some good stuff, found some embarrassing stuff (mostly letters where I was trying to be funny and I wasn’t—hey, kind of like right here!).

The Barros called and said they’d take our final hen, but I ultimately decided I’d give her the last days in a place she is used to. I’ve seen too many times how chickens don’t take well to newcomers, pecking their eyes out, etc. So, in spite of the nightly visits by the javelina biker gang, which must be terrifying to her with ten of them crowding in through the broken screen and rutting around in her house, I think I’ll let her live out her life in familiar surroundings.

We have done 30 issues of True West since we bought the magazine three years ago. This doesn’t count the three Old West Journals, or the NOLA book we also published. Each issue has been almost the equivalent of putting out one of my books and the only difference is now I’m doing it ten times a year, instead of once a year. I have fallen behind on the books, but I’ve also gained invaluable material to use when I do my books on Hickok., Jesse James, the Daltons, Custer, Wild Women and Geronimo. And there is certainly potential in doing a Classic Gunfights book and I also think my Cole Younger book will do well (at least as a movie vehicle). Same for my other projects. Will 2003 be the year I break out? I want it to be. What will I do differently this year to make it happen? Remember: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

What stops me from being successful? Fear, laziness, procrastination. Not wanting to leave my comfort zone. That’s it. How do I battle that? I have a plan and I’ll lay it out this week.

Successful people are very lucky. Just ask any failure.”
—Michael Levine
January 4, 2003
Very Springlike out. Birds chirping, quite nice. I still built a fire in my studio stove this morning, but mainly just for the look and sound of it.

I didn’t get much accomplished today. Had big plans. Went up at noon and dropped off recycling, with Kathy then we went to Bashas’ for groceries ($137 House account). Came home and made green chile, guacamole salsa and tacos. Tommy came home from El Encanto about four and we had a big feed. Drank three Coronas. It was fun.

Been watching too much TV. On Friday night we watched the Fiesta Bowl shootout between Miami and Ohio State for the National Championship. That started at six. Got pizza from Barros' ($26 cash). Went into double overtime. Really exciting to watch (Ohio State won), but then T. and I rented “Austin Powers Goldmember” off the dish ($3.99) and watched that until 12:15 (six hours of TV!). Did basically the same thing Saturday night. Watched an Actor’s Studio interview with Robin Williams on Bravo, then watched U of A vs. Oregon State game at nine. Channel surfed and read until about 11:30. Enjoyable but mindless.

I have so many things I want to do, affect, change, complete, tackle and aspire to. My mind burns to do them. Among the projects and goals I'm sitting on:
• I need to paint the cover for The Trophy Husbands new CD by Jan. 22
• I want to do a painting of John Wayne in Stagecoach, when his career "is born”
• I want to clean my studio floor, then clean off desks, file everything. stay on top of it
• edit Cole Younger project and make a CD trailer
• paint an oil cover of Doc and Wyatt at the OK Corral for July issue
• finish writing three Classic Gunfights, three editorials, three In The Works
• finish transcribing the Harry Carey, Jr. interview
• write the Peaches as chicken killer story for website journal and for High Sonoran Style mag
• straighten out daytimer mess, get 2002 complete and in shape, add speaking appointments and dental, etc. to 2003 calendar
• Get Chuck Case pistol shipped to Slovenia: call Steve Vannesdale and get that going
• Develop website BBB project, and add a significant number of original paintings and artwork for sale on my site and on True West site.

I need to risk more this year. I don’t want to get complacent.

People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
—Peter Drucker

Friday, January 03, 2003

January 3, 2003
We have a finance committee now at TW and it is in full gear, scrutinizing every purchase, examining mucho upcoming expenditures. It actually takes some pressure off me and I appreciate that.

Worked all day yesterday on April editorial and a road trip piece for the travel issue (Walleye Patti Changed My Life, culled from these very pages).

Magazine Wars: we are collaborating with the Hubbard Museum in Ruidoso on a Gunfighter show which will open in April. On a conference call with the new director we went over some of the parameters. One of the things we talked about was how our name would be displayed on the advertising. Not that it matters. Our so-called competitors are so petty that when the ads for these shows run in their magazines (that would be Wild West, American Cowboy and Cowboys & Indians), they either take our name off the ad completely, or, they take the word “magazine” off the bottom of the logo, as if that will somehow stop their readers from throwing down their magazine and running thru the streets to find ours. This is so high school, it’s not even funny. Of course, radio is even worse. One time on KSLX when I was doing the morning show, a program director ran in after a break and admonished us: “Stop telling what songs you have coming up!” My curiosity piqued, I asked him why. He actually said, “Because KDKB (one of our classic rock competitors) will hear we are going to play ‘Brown Sugar’ and then they’ll put on a P-1 (a stronger song) and steal our listeners.” I pictured a guy in a foxhole listening to our show and then ringing up his command center on a two-way radio: “Code Blue! Code Blue! KSLX is launching ‘Brown Sugar’. Stand by to cue ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Do you read me? Over!”

On a related note, one of the trade magazines we get at the office just ran a dos and don’ts for your website and one of the major don’ts was the admonition not to run information on your website about your upcoming plans because your competitors are studying your site to steal valuable information. So, with that in mind, here’s our secret plans for this year:

• Put out the best magazine we can, with the best information from the best writers, researchers and artists.

• Try not to take ourselves too seriously. Do you read me? Over!

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
—Muhammad Ali

Thursday, January 02, 2003

January 2, 2003
Got an E-mail from Darren Dickey who said he has been reading my journal and, “You were really in the dumps a couple of days ago, then on cloud nine yesterday. I've started to wonder if you aren't a little manic.”

Now the truth can be told. If you go back and read last week’s entries, you’ll see that I had a headache and that I felt lethargic and down. My comments were gloomy and negative. Come to find out, I was loading up the coffee maker every night with straight decaf. Ha. Carole Glenn gave me a custom bag of coffee for Christmas and I just assumed it was real coffee (the decaf was handwritten on the side). Incredible how much our attitude depends on body chemistry. Depression, elation, irritation, giddy joy (and that’s just what I do on coffee! You should have seen me in the seventies—Ay-yi-yi!).

Here’s a typical morning, actually this very morning: At 5:45, Kathy goes and gets two coffee cups and a decanter from the kitchen and brings them into the bedroom. I’m still under the covers. My wife asks me if she should pour my coffee and I mumble yes. She says, “Are you sure?” I say, “Yes. I’ve got to get going.” Ten minutes later she tells me my coffee is going to get cold. I lay there for another five minutes while she turns the light on and reads. I finally manage to sit up, reach for the coffee, take a sip of luke-warm java and ask for a refill. With my eyes stuck shut, I slowly drink the hot, fresh coffee. About 36 seconds later, I say:

“I’m reading the film noir book you got me for Christmas. Thanks. It’s great. A lot of those noir guys have something in common: they started with magazine writing. Well, actually going back further they were mostly crime beat reporters for newspapers, and they were demoted, or one of them was, because of an ink spot or something, then put on the night desk. They had to write crime stories on a deadline, then graduated to magazines, were paid a penny a word, churned out hundreds of these pulp pot boilers, then went to Hollywood, cranked out more, burned out, never made much money, and then thirty years afterwards, snobs with too much money and time on their hands start collecting the posters and the hack writers, actors and directors who couldn’t get arrested in Hollywood are suddenly revered as geniuses. But it’s too late for them, they’re dead or drunks. Or both. I got a call New Year’s Eve from a guy who’s making a new Western. He regaled me with the fact that it has no sex or dirty language, just good old fashioned violence, which reminds me of the 1960s saw: ‘kiss a breast, get an X rating, cut if off with a sword and get a G rating.’ I wonder if the culture is coming back around to a Victorian attitude, or is sex here to stay as entertainment? And how do you think this applies to me? I want to tell stories, illustrate graphic novels, publish books, run a successful magazine. What do you think? What’s your opinion? I want to know what you think.”

Kathy:”Can I go to the bathroom?”

When she comes back, she says, “What is your point?”

Me: “Actually, I can’t remember what I was saying, I’m 500 miles from there and I’ve got to go to work.”

Come to think of it, maybe Darren is dead on.

He who sips from many bottles, drinks of none.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

January 1, 2003
Lost a hen this morning. Went for a walk around 10 full of new year optimism and good cheer. Talked about what we want for our kids and the business. All the things we have to be thankful for, etc. After we got back, I told Kathy we should see if my latest fortification of the chicken house worked. As we walked out there, Peaches ran ahead and we soon heard a squawk and then I saw feathers flying. Not a good sign. I started running and as I got closer I saw that not only had the javelinas broken into my haphazard, Okie fortification, they had pulled one of the back walls right off the vertical struts (where’s my hammer and rip saw?). Peaches jumped in thru the open wall and got one of the hens in her mouth. As Kathy and I ran up, I commanded Peaches to “sit!” which she did promptly. But when I tried to extract the chicken from her mouth, she gave me a look that clearly said, “Hey, this ain’t part of the deal. I’m sittin’, but this is my chicken.” After several slaps on the head, Peaches reluctantly gave up her new “toy” and I held the hen up high and checked her out. Thankfully, she seemed mostly scared and appeared to be okay. So I walked around to the door while Kathy quickly tried to put the side wall back up against the gaping hole. Unfortunately, when I let the hen back into the wire pen, Peaches came running around the perimeter and scared both hens and the injured one freaked out again and flew out the narrow opening where Kathy was holding the wall up. This time Peaches ran her down and the ending was not as happy. As I hammered the nails back into the leaning wreck of a wall, the last surviving hen turned nervously on the long wooden perch and pondered her chances.

If that doesn’t sum up 2002, I don’t know what does.

“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance!”
—Marlene Dietrich