Friday, February 28, 2003

February 28, 2003
Rain, hail, snow, we had it all yesterday. Big storm rolled across Cave Creeek in the afternoon. Wet, wet, wet.

Great day in office yesterday. Bob Brink brought in Allen Waxenberg one of his star publishers at Hearst. The three of us sat in the conference room and Allen asked many questions about True West. He was quite complimentary of our efforts and had good suggestions and observations. We went to lunch afterwards and I heard many war stories about life in the big leagues. It’s a rough business we are in and the moral I got is it doesn’t get any easier at the top.

Holding our breath on ad sales for May-June issue. Deadline is today. Mike Melrose is really gutting it out in a very short cycle. He is a very hard worker and I have faith in him. He’s also very funny. When I asked Bob Brink if it was true that Hearst paid Bill Clinton $250,000 to speak at the recent Hearst confab in Phoenix, Mike quipped, “Yes, and two interns.”

Came home at 3:30 and tried to get untracked on art. Really frustrating. I have a Custer image in my head, I have oodles of photo reference (Custer was one of the most photographed men of his time. I have two books that are all photos of the boy general). Worked until around 10 trying to discover the secrets of his face. He has the long hair and drooping mustache but his cheekbones are extraordinary. They really are pronounced. Here’s a few of my attempts.


All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

February 26, 2003
Rained all day yesterday and today. Three storms rolled in, one on top of the other and it has dumped a ton of rain on us. Washes running bigtime.

We had our True West victory party down at Rawhide last night and we all had fun celebrating our biggest issue ever. Dave Daiss danced with Jana. They were hooting and yelling on the dancefloor like a couple of kids. Had a great time. Excellent staff.

Left at seven to go down to Community College for Conversational Spanish. Poured all the way down there. Ran onto campus with no umbrella, got soaked, came in late, Kathy wasn’t there either. I got worried (Donde esta mi esposa?” Where is my wife?). After about ten minutes, she rang me on cell phone so I was one of those jerks who gets a call, disrupting the entire class. I had the decency to speak in Spanish though, “Pardona me, por favor.” as I ran out into the rain. I won’t say why Kathy was late except to say, this morning we were waking up and she looked out the window at our cat, Big Tom, and our dog, the French Floozy Peaches, standing together and she said, “There’s our two kids who were easy to raise.”

“Raising kids is like squeezing lemons. No matter how you do it, the little squirts get you.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

February 25, 2003
It’s raining this morning. Soggy out. Did two paintings of Custer in sky last night. Not happy with either. Both had potential but I ruined them.

Virtually all of my remaining relatives in Mohave County are leaving Arizona. My Aunt Jean and Uncle Bud are moving to eastern New Mexico (near Vaughn). They bought a big ranch over there and are selling off their holdings in my home town of Kingman. My cousin Craig Hamilton (one and the same cowboy who writes the column for TW) is moving to Texas.He has similar reasons. Craig said when he goes to town in his cowboy hat people look at him funny. “Not that I give a damn what they think,” he told me, “but I want my son to grow up with some cowboys and they’re all gone from this part of the country.” Jean and Bud express the same concerns. Most of the ranches are now subdivisions. When they go out to eat, Bud often comments, “I’m the only one in the whole place wearing a cowboy hat.” When I was growing up there it was the other way around. The subdivision trend started in the mid-nineteen fifties (in fact I think some ads appeared in True West) when I was in high school and I guess there isn’t much left up there.

Of course, New Mexico is not far behind us in terms of “progress,” but it’s far enough behind that Bud and Jean are willing to make the tradeoff. They have lived and ranched in the Kingman area for fifty years. Craig was born and raised there. Amazing.

Peaches and I went to the creek last night. Questioned her about going down the trail with everyone she meets, but she didn’t seem to get it. I put on a coat and hat to go get the paper in the rain this morning and she ran right out into the rain to go with me. Jumping around likes it’s Christmas Day What a great attitude dogs have.

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
—Will Rogers

Monday, February 24, 2003

February 24, 2003
Most of us who write journals just hit the high points, or the very low points. Many trite and mindless activities make up a day so, just for fun, I thought I would just tabulate those events. Here’s what Sunday looked like:

• Picked up dirty clothes on my side of bed and actually put them in two piles, light colored and dark. Like most men, I expected a medal for this, but, after 24 years, I don’t think one is coming.

• Looked at leaky float in studio bathroom and thought about rolling up my sleeves and fixing it. Then thought better of it.

• Landscaper Chuck Bune told Kathy yesterday at Lou Murphy’s birthday party that if you have any trees over your leech field you had better cut them down or you’ll have root problems up the ying yang. Tried to decide if we should borrow a chain saw and do it ourselves. Walked out to south side of house and looked at the jungle that has grown up there and decided to think about it. Put it on my list of things to do after the magazine is in the black (might make a nice project for our grandkids, if we ever have any).

• Found three piles of dog doo doo in back part of studio. Had so much fun cleaning this up (loose, green stools). Managed to blame it on Kathy, proving my creative powers are still intact.

• Made bacon and pancakes for breakfast, utilizing my famous lemon and baking soda trick that produces extra light and fluffy cakes. Ate too many (7). Also felt guilty about eating the bacon. Reminded myself that the orange juice I drank probably counterbalanced all the fat and cholesterol, proving my rationalization powers are still intact.

• Made a list of things I need to do today and stared at it for many minutes (finally decided to do this list you are reading instead of actually doing items off the worklist).

The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.”
—Thomas A. Edison

Sunday, February 23, 2003

February 23, 2003
I miss my chickens! This morning I had gathered quite a bowl of strawberry stems, extra pancakes, green onion stalks, old bread and there is no one to give it to. I’m so sad.

There’s an old saying or question, to the effect, “What parent knows the true life of their children?” And vice versa. I guess the same could be said for dogs. In spite of Peaches’ chicken issues, I always assumed she was a loyal pup and that she waited for me patiently while I’m at work, just pining the hours until I return. Well, after printing yesterday’s journal entry I got this E-mail from a jeep tour guide from the area: “I am a disturber of your Saturday mornings once a month from October to April, when I and other stalwarts of the DFLT [Desert Foothills Land Trust] haul a gaggle of Terravitistas or Boulderites or Desert Mountaineers [these are resorts and developments in Carefree] out to the cave to introduce them to the splendors of Cave Creek and to pass the collection plate for The Cause. Peaches frequently accompanies us on our tours, and once even scared up a rattlesnake in the creekbed for us to use in our spiel on the Wonders of the Sonoran Desert. She is much appreciated by us, and we try to remember each time to bring her a biscuit. She's not been too impressed by them, but does her best to appear grateful. Now we know what she would really like —a live chicken.”

So, in addition to being French, evidently my faithful dog is also a French floozy!

Every day is Christmas Day to a dog.”
—Ray Bradbury

Saturday, February 22, 2003

February 22, 2003
Well, Peaches finally got the last hen. Happened yesterday morning before I went into the office. Went out to feed at about eight and Peaches got in behind me. Normally, the little chicken doors, or openings, that separate the pen from the brood part are too small (at least for the javelinas), but Peaches shot right through there and before I could even turn around she had that hen in her teeth. Yelled and screamed and kicked Peaches about six times as hard as I could, but I couldn’t deter her. Finally got her out and incredibly the hen was still alive. Locked up and went into work. Came home for lunch and there sat Peaches by the front gate peering out with a mixture of pride and dread. As I got closer I saw all the feathers. Head gone, ugly and sad. I was worried I may have hurt Peaches because I kicked her pretty hard, but she just looked at me with those big brown eyes, as if to say, “I did good, didn’t I? Huh? Didn’t I?”

Finished writing “50 Things You Didn’t Know About Wyatt Earp” for July issue. Then re-wrote May-June editorial. I heard a criticism of the former editor of Cowboys & Indians. The beef was, “He was writing about his daughter. It had nothing to do with what the readers want.” That hit a little too close to home. I had written an editorial that began, “One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done is ride a horse into a crowded ballroom.” I had photos of it and thought it was pretty clever, but I ultimately thought, “Maybe I should be directing people into this issue rather than drawing attention to myself.” I also tend to think most editorials are mindless and I can’t even remember one that I thought was half-way engaging. Anyway, I rewrote it, utilizing bullets and small tidbits about the writers and great things in our May-June issue (we have developed a new department called “Photo Sleuths” which will feature Bob McCubbin and Craig Fouts evaluating old photos. The first one up is about an execution photo allegedly of Texas Rangers killing a Mexican). I still may run the ballroom riding story, but not right now.

Thanks to Dan Buck I read a fascinating piece in the New Yorker about how the movie Bonnie and Clyde brought the cinema back from France. An incredible story of how the New Wave French ideas of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and Francois Truffaut and “The 400 Blows” and other movies totally captivated two Esquire magazine writers, one from East Texas (Robert Benton—his father actually attended the bank robber’s funeral) and a New Yorker, David Newman. .And how they wrote their movie as a homage to Truffaut and wanted him to direct it and got a Communist to deliver it to him and how, through serpentine turns, the movie ended up with Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn. And most incredibly, how the movie fell through the cracks of the Production Code, which stated that a director could not show a gun firing and a person being hit in the same shot (think about it, all those Westerns and not one same shot, shot). Remember the scene where Bonnie and Clyde come out of the bank and C.W. Moss took a parking spot instead of staying double-parked, and as they are delayed and barely escape, the bank teller jumps up on the running board and Clyde shoots him in the face through the window? That was revolutionary. No one had ever done that (they couldn’t because of the Code), but the Code was in limbo and the next year the ratings system would replace it, but Bonnie and Clyde snuck in under the gun, as it were. The other amazing Code breaker was the ending which also broke the cardinal rule that “the camera is not allowed to rest on a dead body,” so Penn created his memorable bodies “twitching agonizingly, in various degrees of slow motion, as the bullets mow them down.” Penn used four cameras, filming at different speeds and spliced the sequence with real-time sound. Of course, the twitching bodies aren't dead yet, so technically, Penn wasn't breaking the Code. Ha. Now it’s a cliche, but that was the first time it was done.

Also, the movie was initially a bomb and failed but then a cover story on Time, which used images from the movie, brought it back and it was re-released and went on to earn millions for Beatty (the creators only got $75,000). The French. They are so crazy and we love to hate ‘em. So many people hate them right now, they have gained underdog status to me. I can’t prove it, but somehow I think my dog Peaches is French.

I deed good, Mas-tuer, deedn’t I? Huh? Deedn’t I?”
—La Peaches

Friday, February 21, 2003

February 21, 2003
Wrestling with masthead issues. One of our key people is quite upset about his new title and position in the staff box. We are changing it on the next issue to comply with his wishes. I have memories of being on the other side of the table. When I was “Visuals Editor” at New Times back in the seventies, the editor, Mike Lacey, hired someone (I can’t even remember who) and put them above me in the masthead. I was livid. I marched into his office and he and I screamed at each other for about a half hour. I took my case to the publisher, Jim Larkin, and threatened to quit. They ultimately changed it and gave me my rightful position on the masthead. But I noticed in the next issue, Jim Larkin put his name at the very bottom of the masthead (it has remained there to this day). It was a telling move. He essentially told me and everyone else, “These are just titles, lines on paper. I know what my true value is here and I’m so confident I’ll put it at the bottom.” It was a class move and I have always admired him for it. I, on the other hand, am not that mature.

I met Whitey Brayer yesterday at the Rotary lunch. Whitey’s TV was a major business in the Valley after WW II (he still has a video business at the same location, 19th St. and McDowell). Whitey told me about how he had the first TV in Arizona back in 1947. Remembering how we brought our TV out from Iowa in 1956 and couldn’t get any stations until the next year when a relay station was installed in the Hualapai Mountains south of Kingman, I said, “Whitey, what did you watch?” He smiled and told me the story about how he had a TV in his showroom and it was playing shows from Texas and back east. The conventional wisdom at that time was that TV signals only went about thirty miles. The news media and everyone in town thought it was fake and that he had a camera or film projector in the back of the set. After all, there were no TV stations in the state of Arizona at that time. Electricians and media barons would come in the store and demand to see the back of the set and he would take it off and they would see it was just tubes. Still, no one believed him. How could it be? “How’d you do it Whitey?” I asked him. Whitey smiled like the fox he is and said, “I was in the signal corp in WW II and I knew the guy who created the communications for the pacific fleet. The generals needed to be in constant communication with Washington and they discovered these waves that bounced (he had a more technical name for this but I don’t remember it) and I got it thru the Library of Congress for $1, bought the necessary equipment and used it on my TV in the store. I was picking up programming from Oklahoma and it hit the news media there and the station said it couldn’t be, so I called ‘em and said, ‘Here’s what is playing on your station right now,’ and they were dumbfounded. That’s how I did it.” Great story. I love oldtimers and their stories. It gives me much needed training for when I’m an old fart (in about six months).

Every gain made by individuals or society is almost instantly taken for granted.”
—Aldous Huxley

Thursday, February 20, 2003

February 20, 2003
Had a good meeting with Gus and Carole this morning. Thanked Gus for all the extra work he has been doing and gave him a key to the building. I’m very proud of Gus and he has really stepped up.

Got a great phone message from Buck Taylor (he was in Gunsmoke, Tombstone, oodles of Westerns). Sue came in and told me about it. Dialed it up and it just made me smile. He loves what we’re doing in the magazine and that makes it all worth while. I think we’ll include him in the authentic Westerns section of the December issue where we’ll talk about actors who can really ride. Most actors are so-so riders but every once in a while there is a guy who you just love to watch ride a horse. I would put Tom Mix in that category. Also Ben Johnson and Buck Taylor. And, surprisingly, Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove. Man when they are astride a pony it is a thing of beauty to watch them cantor across the screen. I would actually pay $6.25 to see a movie called “Buck Taylor Just Rides Around.”

Of course not everyone loves me. Here’s a nice little reaction to my journal: “It is a bit disconcerting, in any case, that your wife is a flaming liberal anti-gun type and that you appear to go along with her for the most part. I can assure you that 99 percent of your readers are not gun-control advocates. These magazines will only succeed if those who are responsible for their content know what their readers want and what their needs are.”

The last time I looked Kathy wasn’t on the masthead and if she was I guess I’d have to shoot her.

Had a Rotary speech at noon, way downtown at 44th St. and Washington. About twenty guys. Mostly oldtimers. Very civil group. They are so polite and they introduce themselves and ask caring questions. I think Al Quaida could benefit from having a few Rotary meetings. The guy who had Whitey’s TV back in the forties and fifties was there. I had a great time talking to him. His story tomorrow.

Guns don’t kill people. Magazine editors on deadline kill people.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 19, 2003
One issue out the door and another right behind it. We put out the special travel issue last Monday, and we have the May-June issue deadlining this Friday. I’m trying to get ahead on my editorial assignments. Finished Classic Gunfights yesterday. I have an interview with Harry Carey, Jr. on video that I need to transcribe today or tomorrow. Also need to work on cover: The Man Who Killed Custer? Should be a strong one and I want it to be good.

Drove into Phoenix yesterday and dropped off Butch & Sundance painting to be framed. Ate at Adrian’s and spoke Spanish ($17 cash). Learned some new phrases and words. Had the albondigas de camarenas (shrimp meatball soup). AY-Yi-Yi! Me gusta mucho.

Financial meeting at two. Hurt feelings over masthead changes. Addressed that and came away with a possible compromise. I am not a numbers person, but I do know teamwork and I feel we need a little work on addressing all the changes with the staff. I had one of my managers tell me, “I think most of us have been handed a lot of change at one time and no map of how to create the change, and seemingly no authority to do so.” We decided to have a manager’s meeting on Wednesdays. I feel confident we can make our people aware of why we are doing certain things and encourage their participation, involvement and responsibility.

Came home around six and took the dog and walked to the cave. Very pretty out. Water in the creek. Went to bed around nine and read Newsweek. I hate to admit it but I agree with the French.

"Duties are not performed for duties' sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty- the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself."
—Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

February 18, 2003
Excellent editorial meeting with R.,G., Jana, Meghan and Robert Ray. Went over some minor tweaking regarding bylines. Planned out specifics for the rest of 2003 and even did some jamming on topics for 2004. Very productive.

Gus and I layed out Classic Gunfights for May-June. E-mailed Joe Rosa in England to help with corrections. We’re doing Wild Bill Hickok at Rock Creek Station and the McCanles fight. Really a short one. Lots of myth going on with this one.

The Fred Nolan correspondence between me and him is now online and you can finally read all of his incredible research right here (see home page).

I have seen our future and it isn’t pretty. I had a speech out in Sun City yesterday and it was in one of those assisted living places. Six floors, 350 units a totally self-contained world with its own post office, beauty parlor, bingo room, restaurant, etc. As I gave my speech on all things Old West I would see old guys smiling as I scanned across the room, then when I came back around they would be asleep! They were dropping like flies. Yikes!

I talked to the directer and she told me they have 350 rooms. The oldest person they have is 103 and the youngest was 64 when she moved in. This is two years older than Dave Daiss! Yikes! Yikes! When I speak to kids I always look for me in the audience (what would I have been doing while some old guy is yakking). If I see a kid with his hands folded and listening intently, that's not me. If I see a kid, tapping his feet, making truck noises and flicking the ear of the girl in front of him, that's me. I finally spotted myself in the old crowd. Guy had pants up to his ears, kept nodding off and had a pretty significant drool coming off his bottom lip. When his wife nudged him, he woke up laughing, pretending he had been awake the whole time. Hello Bob Old Guy Bell, I said to myself. Ha.

“I want to die peacefully in my sleep, just like my grandpa, not screaming and yelling like the people in his car.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, February 17, 2003

February 17 2003
Strong day working yesterday. Finished the Trophy Husbands’ CD cover paintings around four. Created about seven different versions based around the theme (and title) “Walk With Evil.” Kept listening to the CD and getting inspiration. Some scenes are a tad too dark, almost Marilyn Manson territory, but that’s what my ear told me to do.

At six Kathy and I drove down to Dave and Dorene’s for dinner. Dave made buffalo steaks. He hunted and shot it last year on a shoot in Kansas. Talked quite a bit about our magazine business and life in general. Dave and I polished off two bottles of wine so we were quite intelligent, and pretty much solved all the problems on earth..


One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
 —A. A. Milne

Sunday, February 16, 2003

February 16 2003
Had a total vacation day yesterday. Went into Phoenix around 8:30 and ate at the Matador for breakfast ($20 cash, plus $1 for parking), then went to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the El Greco to Picasso exhibit ($40, Kathy bought for Valentine’s Day present). Show was uneven and didn’t quite live up to the title (there was only one or two El Grecos and two Picassos, and not really stunning ones at at that), but there were several gems, including two Van Goghs (the headset narrator pronounced it “Von Gauckgh”), a small gem by Degas and a thrilling Gauguin masterpiece which I had never seen called “The Ham” (which the narrators pronounce “Tha Hom”). What’s so incredible is that someone could paint something so trivial and non-sexy as a plate of ham and make it so sensual, well, you’d have to admit that person is a major ham.

Here’s pictures of my three favorite paintings. Van Gogh’s the Public Gardens In Arles, 1888; Edgar Degas’ Melancholy, late 1860s (tiny little mother); and the aforementioned The Ham by Paul Gauguin, 1889.

After the show we decided to sneak in a movie and went to Harkins 16 to see “Shanghai Nights” the new Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson follow-up to “Shanghai Noon.” ($12 for tickets and $4 for popcorn). Not quite as funny as the first one, but funny enough. Of course, the outtakes at the end, a Jackie Chan staple, were almost funnier than the entire movie and then they played a cover of the Kinks “You Really Got Me Now” as the credits finally rolled and I had to stay to listen to the whole song as the entire audience left (Kathy went to the bathroom). The clean up crew kept looking around the corner and there I sat, playing air drums all by myself in the dark theatre. “Does the name Pee Wee Herman mean anything to you?” I wanted to say to the clean-up kids but I didn’t because the reference is probably before their time.

Came home, took a nap, got up and went to dinner at a new Italian food place up in Carefree called Alberto’s. It’s in the former Cajun place location and it was quite good, although a tad expensive for Kathy’s tastes ($77, she bought). Came home and read.


“Forget your mistakes, but remember what they taught you.”
—Dorothy Galyean

Saturday, February 15, 2003

February 15 2003
Rain finally stopped. We got two and a half inches. Really needed it. Cave Creek is running. It’s been dry for months.

Finished an ad for Festival of the West yesterday. We’re trying something different this year. You can win one of my cover paintings. We are framing and offering the Butch & Sundance Ride Into Hell original gouache painting as an incentive to buy subscriptions at the event. For every subscription you buy, we put your name in a jar and we’ll draw a name on Sunday, the last day of the show and hand over the painting to some lucky winner.

The gunfighter artist Richard Ignarski and his girlfriend Stella came around noon and we went to lunch at El Encanto. He is scouting locations for a gunfighter museum. He is moving his entire family from Albuquerque to Arizona and is looking at Tombstone, Prescott, Sedona, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Cave Creek to open a museum. My advice was whatever you do, have a business plan (we didn’t have one for the first year and it almost killed us). I don't think he thought I was serious (see quote below)

Delivered the Festival ad down to Mary Brown’s at about two. Got a haircut at Supercuts ($20, includes tip), then stopped at Bashas’ and bought roses for all the women I work with and the one I sleep with ($88 biz debit).

Looked at travel issue proofs late in the day. Very strong issue and huge: 136 pages. Several problems with ads on the same page as editorial reviews. We are moving several. This doesn’t make production very happy, but it just looks too whorish to me.

At 5:45 Kathy and I drove down to Buster’s in Scottsdale for a belated birthday dinner (for me) with Russ and Wendy Shaw. Place slammed, but we had reservations. Loads of fun laughing and joking with Wonderful and his honey (they bought).

“There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.”

Friday, February 14, 2003

February 14 2003
Rained and rained all day yesterday and all night. Had a book signing and speech at Borders at the Biltmore at 7 and drove all the way downtown on clogged and flooded streets. Bad wreck at Union Hills, traffic snarled and backed up. Took almost an hour to get down there. Hauled in a box of mags and ran through the rain, got inside and they had a very nice podium and four rows of chairs set up. Unfortunately only two people showed up (and they came only because they were already in the store and heard the announcement on speakers). One of the humility stressors. Keeps my ego pruned back to the nub. Jana came at the end and I gave her the new issue. Ran into Ed Mell and he was out shopping for Valentine’s Day.

Drove back out the 51. Rained all the way home. Made better time going out. Got home at around 9:15, watched U of A vs. UCLA. The Cats romped.

Woke up this morning with coffee, a Valentine’s Day card and chocolate kisses from my honey. Talked to Kathy about our kids, war and business. Rain finally has stopped (6:51). Looks like Hawaii outside. Tattered clouds hanging over lower elevations of Black Mountain.

Finally finished the last Classic Gunfights image yesterday around three. Tough getting it up to office because it was raining so hard and I work in Gouache (opaque watercolor) and raindrops are the kiss of death.

Something is different in the new April issue. First my mother thanked me for redesigning the magazine and yesterday I got this E-mail from Dan Buck: “Your crack team made some adjustments to the format; there's a much better graphic separation between editorial and advertising. Above all, the issue is a feast for the eyes. The Buffalo Bill and Cottonwood Canyon spreads, while as visually distinct as walnuts and lugnuts, were particular delights.” Although we are constantly tweaking, there was no major redesign. Interesting.

One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears -- by listening to them.”
—Dean Rusk

Thursday, February 13, 2003

February 13 2003
Woke up around four to the sound of heavy rain. Actually felt snugly as I drifted in and out of sleep until around 5:45. Kathy got up and got coffee and we talked about family and business as we listened to the heavy pounding on our flat roof.

Went out and got paper at 6:30. Still dark, had to feel my way around big puddles, road running pretty heavy with water. Surprisingly warm out.

Yesterday was a stellar day in office. Record revenues (we may be out of debt sooner than originally thought—but still at least a year or two away). Our office copies finally arrived (April issue) from Banta about three. Got a bucket brigade going out the door with Carole, R.G., Mike, Ted and Larry and me. Got them into the mail room. Issue is strong, and thanks to Robert Ray it has more “brown” in it. Especially the Living On The Land photo essay on a ranch down by Douglas. Great photos of roundups and cowboys, blown out in nice sepia tones. The piece also has air, white space, and I think that may somewhat account for the next item.

My mother called and said, “Thanks for redesigning the magazine so I can find things easier. It’s good you listen to your mother.” I told her it was the least I could do, but I’m not sure I know what she’s talking about. Ha.

Daniel put the final tweaks on the travel cover and there was some debate on whether to include Billy the Kid’s face in a distant Monument Valley butte. It is cheesy, kitsch and a tad bush, but I broke the tie and said it should stay in. I think it’s fun. Here it is. Can you see Billy?

Got a speech and book signing at Borders in the Biltmore tonight. May take Jana out to dinner.

Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell them so.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

February 12 2003
Finally got untracked with artwork yesterday. Finished two gunfight pieces for Classic Gunfights at about 11 A.M. Feels good. Stayed with it and knocked out a couple of whores also.

Received the biggest check ever from NSFS, our subscription service. Almost $10K for one week. This is record territory and makes me very happy. We are finally getting the broad circulation we need.

Went back in to office at one. Bob McCubbin’s special package arrived with two great photos of Bass Outlaw. One has rarely, if ever, been published and shows a Texas Ranger's camp with all of the Rangers mounting up, including Bass in front of his saddled horse. Just a stunning image. Laid it in, and tweaked copy with Gus. Worked until around 5:15 when Kathy picked me up to go into town for our Conversational Spanish class.

Ate at Rolbertos. Had the carne asado burrito, Kathy had a bean burro enchilada style ($7 cash). Ordered in Spanish and began by saying, “Soy estudiante de Espanol” (I am a student of Spanish) and this made everyone behind the counter grin. They were all quite helpful and corrected me when I said, “Quanto le debo?” (How much do I owe you?) and said it should be “Quanto te debo?” (our teacher told us either is correct, but the te is more familiar).

Class was fun. Learned some of the follies of Gringo-ization. Alto actually means high, but it ended up on stop signs as a bastardization of the anglo “Halto,” and since the H is not pronounced, Alto. The teacher told of being in a taxi in Mazatlan and as the driver approached the hotel, he yelled “Alto,” which the drive took to mean "higher," or “raise your speed, “ so they shot by the hotel at about ninety.

Another misconception is our own “Parada del Sol” which everyone in the Valley thinks means “Parade of the Sun.” Actually it means “Stop the Sun,” so I guess our teacher could have said, “Parada el taxi.”

Went by Aaron Bros. on the way home and bought some more watercolor paper ($31 biz debit). Got home around 9:46.

"The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

February 11 2003
Tough one yesterday. Had one of our stalwart writers threaten to leave. Most of the problems stemmed from previous staff, but still, it was disheartening to hear. Did as much damage control as I could. Hope he stays.

Bob Brink and R.G. came in my office and closed the door and wanted to talk to me about something of a “sensitive” nature. They are concerned about my usage of swear words in the journal entries. R.G. told of an advertiser who didn’t want him to send a December issue because it used the word “hell” on the cover. It’s true, I know my mom winced when she saw it. R.G’s point is: we wouldn’t run these words in the magazine, so why would we run them on the website. Good point, although it is the way I talk and think. Anyway, expect asterisks in the future.

Bonnie Bell from Thompson came by the office with her husband and a friend. Bonnie’s father was my grandpa’s brother. She really has the Bell look (made me homesick for lutafisk land). Fun comparing notes and catching up on all things Iowa.

Took Carole to lunch at House of Joy ($14 cash). Good talk about changes in office and business. Her role is changing and I’m excited about utillizing her many talents in a new and dynamic way.

Only got one piece of art done. Need to finish Classic Gunfights by tomorrow.

Totally redesignd the travel cover. Over the weekend Kathy, Deena and I stopped at the new ice cream, espresso place that used to be Jim’s full serve gas station. As we were waiting for our order, I saw a New York Times Travel section on a counter and it just clicked: this is what Kable (our newsstand distributor) wants. The Travel head was large and their logo was underneath, much smaller. Took this info into Monday’s session with R.G., Robert Ray, Bob Brink and Meghan. We all agreed it needed to be reversed, or changed out, but what to call it. Robert Ray said, “It really wants to be Renegade Roads.” And so it is. I called Daniel and he whipped out a new version and E-mailed it back. We are going to put Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Custer, Geronimo and Wild Bill in the clouds. The only thing we lost is the brand name of True West being the dominant image, which is significant, but I think it’s a smart trade-off. We’ll soon see.

You can analyze the past but you have to design the future.”
—Edward de Bono

Monday, February 10, 2003

February 10 2003
Got up at around eight. Read the paper in bed. Grandma Betty came and we had breakfast. Fun talking to her although Kathy and I got in an argument about my impression that she likes to fight. Betty got up to leave. She couldn’t stand it. Ouch! Kathy smoothly changed the subject (sometimes it pays to be a therapist).

Went for a walk, joined Kathy on the road. Talked it out. Felt good.

Made pinto beans. Best batch I’ve ever made. Really seasoned well. Had salsa, flower tortillas and pintos for lunch with Kathy. Decided we’ll stay married. Ha.

Worried about the travel cover. Bob McCubbin really dislikes it, thinks it has nothing to do with history. Going to take a look at it tomorrow.

Have a bunch of artwork I want to do. Finally got started around noon. Got a very good rough sketch of Bass Outlaw gunfight going, then switched gears and tried to get a blurry image. Ruined three or four. Want to show the fuzzy image Selman saw because Outlaw shot right in his face and the gunpowder blinded him. Can’t quite get it. That stuck me, or I got stuck. Couldn’t move. I hate when that happens.

Here’s scenes I want to do:
• Overview of Outlaw, Madame Tillie and Ranger McKidrick in back yard.
• long view of fight with Tillie fleeing and background buildings.
• Three lawmen, two soiled doves and a cartridge in a bidet
• Trophy Husband CD cover: Walk With Evil
• two illustrations for Westin Hotel
• Travel cover image
• Three riders from Buffalo Bill book
• Nympho Rodeo artwork

It’s good for me to list them because they kind of roll around in my head and overwhelm me. I’m writing this at 5:20. May take a shower. Want to get some good art finished. Did a sketch or two after a shower. Ate dinner, leftover salmon. Had chocolate milk for dessert. Watched the end of “The Importance of Being Ernest” then “The Banger Sisters.” Liked both.

Physicists and astronomers see their own implications in the world being round, but to me it means that only one-third of the world is asleep at any given time and the other two-thirds is up to something.”
—Dean Rusk

Sunday, February 09, 2003

February 9 2003
I have a real weakness for road movies. “Two Lane Blacktop” has been my naughty favorite for a long time even though it’s not a very good movie. I think it connects so deeply with me because they filmed it on Route 66. No fake locations like “Duel” or “Breakdown” where they go to one location (usually on the outskirts of LA) and try and make it look like the Midwest, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The other extreme is “Thelma & Louise” where the main exteriors are filmed around Moab, with the outskirts of LA standing in for everywhere else. To me, it seems static, like they’re not really going anywhere. Now they’re supposed to be in Texas, but it’s still Moab in the background. Now they’re supposed to be in Oklahoma but it’s the San Fernando Valley (with mountains in the background!). The beauty of “Two Lane Blacktop” is that they are actually on the highway, the camera is in the actual car as they are moving on the actual Route 66. The sound is rough like it would be in a real car. They have to talk over the roar of the engine. When it rains in the movie it’s really raining. Not that fake Hollywood rain where it’s raining around the actors but not anywhere else. The acting by Dennis Wilson and James Taylor is at best wooden, but Warren Oates is fantastic!. But the landscape is a major character in the movie. The scenery changes gradually, from LA to Needles, to Kingman to Flagstaff, thru New Mexico and into Texas and Oklahoma. I just love that. “Easy Rider” has that authentic feel also probably because they did the same thing. With that said, I now have a new favorite road picture which I saw with Kathy and Deena today—”Y Tu Mama Tambien” (And Your Mother too) is a stunner. It’s all in Spanish with subtitles and it was filmed on real highways in Mexico (we rented the DVD and watched the making of the film). I think it’s the most honest, brave movie I’ve seen in years. It is raunchy and over the top, but that’s part of what makes it amazing. As opposed to “The Mexican” with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, where they try to do real Mexico but end up with a kind of back lot, Hollywood version. The problem is they have too much money so when they try to do funky, it ends up as shiny, clean, Santa Fe funky. In “Y Tu Mama Tambien” it is so Mexican. They have the beggars, the unfinished buildings, the little funky cafes where no one waits on you (you get your own beer, etc.). It is muy fantastico and I can’t wait to see it again. And did I mention the sex? Ay-yi-yi! One warning: if you’re offended by group sex in motels, better stay away from this one.

Afterwards, we went up to Albertsons and bought fixins for pork green chile, pinto beans and salsa ($38 cash). It was rainy out all day, so we cooked in the kitchen and solved life. Watched the first half of the U of A Washington State game and went to bed around nine.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."
—Charles Schultz

Saturday, February 08, 2003

February 8 2003
Trying to tweak travel cover. Changed “Western Travel” to “Historic Travel” but our grammar king, R.G., pointed out historic is misused in this context since it implies that the trips are all very historic, but I wonder if that isn’t acceptable hyperbole. Or, a major rationalization. Also changed “Special” to “2003 Annual” but the type face on Annual is too hip for the room, and I asked Daniel to find something more legible. Dan has been reading the journal comments and he says he does agree with Allen F. that the cover has no traditional Western icons and seems a tad too “Route 66 kitsch.” We threw around ideas on the phone and I kind of wondered if maybe a classic cowboy riding a jackalope in a bucking bronco way, in the center of the highway, with legends like Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Geronimo peering down from the luminescent clouds might work. We laughed at the obvious overthinking, overworking culdesacs we get ourselves into. These covers really concern us, because when we get a turkey they just kill our cash flow, and when we get a winner it means literally thousands of new readers and dollars in the bank.

Had lunch with a very pretty blond at the Bakery Cafe at El Ped (she bought). Traded gossip about locals and flirted shamelessly over clam chowder and a salad. She has a very sexy laugh and the glint in her pale blue eyes really turns me on. It was all I could do not to make a move on her right there in the cafe. When we got up to leave (she had to get back before she was missed) I flat out asked her if she would sleep with me. She smiled and whispered in my ear that she would love to get the chance. Fortunately we are married, so after a movie (“Unfaithful” on cable, of course), we slept like babies. No sex, just hardcore sleeping. Man was it good.

I was actually inspired to take a new look at my wife by a letter in our upcoming travel issue. We asked for our reader’s favorite road trips right here on the website and one of the mini-travelogues told of a couple trying to wade across the San Pedro River down by Tombstone. The wife wanted to be carried, but when the husband got her out in the middle he stumbled and she got her butt wet. She commented, “If you had just met me, you wouldn’t have dropped me.” And that really impacted me. It’s true. We try harder in the beginning and then we get kind of lazy. I decided I would treat lunch with my wife like it was the very first time I ever saw her. Interesting experiment. For one thing, I had a tendency to actually listen to what she was saying.

"Bart, a woman is like a beer. They look good, they smell good, and you'd step over your own mother just to get one."
—Homer Simpson

Friday, February 07, 2003

February 7 2003
Will it fly? I’m talking about the proposed Travel Issue cover (see Feb. 6). Here’s the highlights of comments so far:

“To my eye, the magazine name gets scrunched between the ‘Special’ and ‘Western Travel.’ I'd make ‘True West’ stand out a bit more. Other than that, I give it a 7 because it's got a beat and you can dance to it.’
—Mark B.

“Minus the jackalope, the cover is great. I understand the use of the little critter, but it detracts from an otherwise very catchy front. Again, keep the title clear...his horn is bleeding into the lettering.”

“Cover has great appeal! I love the giant jackalope looming up in the distance as big as the rock formations.”
—J. Rae

“The special travel issue cover you show on the web page (to me) is the weakest cover since the purchase of TW.”
—Allen F.

“3 points nothing but net, this is a fun look...”
—Dawn S.

“It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear.”
—Dick Cavett

Paul Harvey, Jr. showed up in our offices yesterday. He, his wife, his engineer and the engineer’s wife were on their way to play golf at Rancho Manana and came lumbering into the mail room around 9:30. I saw them and just assumed they were coming in to see Ted, but Ted came up to me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but that’s Paul Harvey, Jr.” I took them into my office and Paul raved and raved about the magazine. His father has a house in Carefree and one at the Biltmore. Paul, Jr. writes and produces “The Rest of The Story.”

Had a speech at a new dental clinic (don’t ask) at 6:30. It was the hardest venue I have done in a long time. Party was in the patio of an office complex, with a fountain in the center (making loud splashing noises, of course), and then tables set up around the perimeter. A buffet line took up one wall and drink tubs the other. There was no way to command the room, because there was no room, and the event was a glorified cocktail party. When it was time to “tell fascinating stories of the Old West” I was talking to myself. Excruciating. Beat myself up pretty good on the way home.

“And know....the REST of the story.”
—Paul Harvey

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

February 6 2003
I met a great guy yesterday. He’s 86, still rides motorcycles (he attended the first Sturgis Run back in the 30s). His granddad is the famous LA Huffman, Montana’s most famous photographer (great cowboy shots, some of the best ever). Bill Felton told a great story about his dad which I intend to run in the mag at a future date. But here’s his story as I wrote it down and his photo which I took in our office library right after he told me the story:

“My Dad was a location engineer for the Milwaukee Railroad and he arrived in Miles City, Montana on a Sunday in 1905. It was hot and most everything was closed, but he found an open saloon and went in to order a beer. The bartender was wearing a hat like they did in those days and he poured a mug of beer and slid it in front of my Dad, who took out a nickel and placed it on the bar. The bartender picked up the nickel and threw it over his shoulder. My father watched the nickel plunk against the back wall and disappear. ‘What’s the matter?’ my dad asked, and the bartender boomed, ‘Enjoy your beer, but nothing’s a nickel in Montana.’”

Those old guys and their stories just tickle me to no end. I like the little details they put in, like “the bartender was wearing a hat like they did in those days.” Isn’t that priceless?

Dan H. designed a possible cover for our Special Travel Issue. It’s going to be on the newsstands for 90 days so it needs a special cover, but yet I want subscribers to realize it’s another issue of True West. Here’s Dan’s photo montage. What do you think? Will it fly? Would you buy it? E-mail me your comments right here.

It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear.”
—Dick Cavett
February 5 2003
One of the benefits of reading this is you get to read stuff that won’t be in the magazine for months. I just got word today that the old TV show “Paladin” is being remade for the big screen. The producer is Jordan Kerner and he is quoted in Variety as saying, “The creation of Paladin as a leveler of the moral playing field in the Old West caught my imagination as a kid His deep concern over using a weapon was a lesson for an entire generation … but when he was forced to do so, the outcome was certain.” Also according to Variety, Dan will write a screenplay “full of action, morality, deeply etched characters, humor and a number of profound twists and turns." We’ll soon see. If you’ve seen the new True West (Feb.-March issue) you know about all of the Western projects now filming. It’s going to be a tidal wave by next fall.

Added another page to Classic Gunfights. Also added another article on Thom Ross, the artist. Faxed a rough of cover idea to Dan H. down in Phoenix. Sales staff is breaking all records. Might even go bigger. Deadline is Friday.

Last night at five, Kathy picked me up and we went down to El Conquistador for an early dinner ($22 cash). It was mole night so I had the mole chicken enchiladas. Aichi-carumba! Muy bien! One of Kathy’s old school mates Michelle joined us and then we all went to our second Conversational Spanish class. The teacher handed out a Spanish Newspaper, La Voz (The Voice) and I glanced at several of the stories but what caught my eye was a piece on “Todoterrenos”, which is Spanish for SUVs, or “all terrain vehicles.” Funny. This session we learned the important stuff: “Hay tostaditos con salsa” (I’ll have the chips with salsa) and “Hay margarita sin sal, con hielo.” (I’ll have a margarita without salt and on the rocks). And, if you’re in Mexico and you have four or five of those, you’ll need to know how to say: “Quanto le debo Gordo?” (How much do I owe you, Pig?) And if you can say that correctly, your next phrase will probably be, “Muy bueno hoosegow, mi amore.” (Nice jail you got here, bitch.). Having spent quality time in a Nogales jail, I should know.

It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”
—El Jefe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

February 4 2003
Tobias called about three yesterday and told me the blinker relay switch is going to cost $350. Ouch! Evidently they have to pull out the steering column, deactivate the air bag (I wonder if the shuttle had one?). All from a deer.

Julie from Wyoming E-mailed me: “I had no idea there actually are deer in AZ. I thought they all lived here. Learn something new every day. Everyone here has massive steel guards built for the front of their trucks. That way when a deer jumps in front of you, you square up on it, smash it to smithereens and keep on going. The roadside carnage of exploding deer is amazing. The eagles really dig it though, it's the Las Vegas Buffet for them.”

Worked all afternoon on artwork. Did about seven roughs. I love doing art, but I have so little time to do it. Just as I got untracked it was dark and had to knock off.

My journal entries have benefits. Mark Boardman saw I am doing a Classic Gunfight piece on Bass Outlaw and E-mailed me the following: “The late Jim Browning found evidence that Bass was not his real name--instead, it was Basil or Bazil, shortened down to "Baz." But most folks wrote it down wrong. After all, they were more familiar with the fish or the outlaw. What in the hell is a Baz anyway?” Amazing. My source said it was his real name. Great catch and it’ll be in the piece. Thanks, Mark.

Sales staff is really kicking it. We are poised to have the biggest issue ever—136 pages! Just incredible. Great issue. Jana came in this morning and we had an excellent editorial meeting. Lined out our Wyatt and Doc issue, coming in July. Good jamming with R.G. and Meghan.

Went to lunch with Jana, Debbie and Pam from Went to Tonto Bar & Grill. Debbie and Pam brought true crime books so we could compare cover ideas. Jana has got the rights to her Winnie Ruth Judd book back and the Poisoned Pen is going to publish it. I told Jana I would help her design her cover. We threw around subheds. My favorite was “Everything you know about Winnie Ruth Judd is a lie.” The main title would be “The Trunk Murderess.” Jana also had a stunning never-before-published photo of Winnie Ruth on the witness stand. Sexy, intriguing and wrought with anguish. Book should be a barn burner.

Walked down to Tobias to pick up my truck. ($398, biz account). Came home, fed chicken (oatmeal and leftover homemade bread). Kathy and I have another conversational Spanish lesson tonight. I feel good. I’m about as happy as I’ll ever be.

“A computer beat me at chess once, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.”
—Gerald Ford (not really, but the idea of him saying this made me laugh)

Monday, February 03, 2003

February 3, 2003
Woke up with a bit of a headache. Kathy bought some of that Trader Joe’s $2 cabernet wine. Evidently there has been a glut of grapes and the wineries are selling off all the surplus dirt cheap. Had two glasses last night with spaghetti. Watched the “Sopranos” on HBO. They’re rerunning all the episodes in random order, I think. Laughed and laughed. It really is a black comedy, a (God)Father Knows Best with guns. Tony’s mama is a total hoot. Exactly like certain mothers I know, except it’s funnier when they’re in the mafia (as opposed to being in your house).

Went in to office at seven. Much consternation over comments made here. I’ve had several conversations about “the bubble” remark. Makes people uncomfortable, but that’s okay, it’s the truth.

Took my Ranger down to Tobias at 11:30. I hit a deer last year and ever since my turn signals have been screwed up. Dome light also clicks on at will and stays on as I drive down the road at night lit up like a perp in a crack house raid. I always thought hitting a deer was an idiot endeavor, because I’m such a good driver. I just knew I could swerve and miss them. But my conceit was short lived when I was coming back from a speech in Payson in the pre-dawn darkness at about seventy. All I saw was a strobe light sideview of a doe and then it was over. Maybe I had a quarter of a second to respond. Bang! Over. Dead. The body shop appraiser told me I was lucky. When the deer are bucks, or worse, elk, they have a tendency to jump and then they come into your lap, antlers first. I was reading an article on the Hell’s Angels and they were all saying that is what they are most afraid of. Not the Mongols, the Bandidos, the Dirty Dozen or other rival gangs, but deer! “They’re through you before you can even react,” the grizzled outlaw said, shaking his head. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I was on a bike. One thing’s for certain, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Anyway, at 11:30 I took the truck down to Tobias for them to fix it, then I walked home. Felt good to be out, birds chirping, horses looking fat and sassy. Checked up on my last hen. She’s fading a bit, squatted down in the corner of the chicken house. Peeled her a banana and took it out to her. I think that cheered her up.

A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance.”
—Anatole France

Sunday, February 02, 2003

February 2, 2003
I woke up this morning with random memories stuck in my head. Several of them seemed quite vivid. My father pulls up in a white 1953 Buick. I am standing with my grandfather in front of the Thompson grain elevator in Northern Iowa. Grandpa Bell has just given me a plug of black licorice (my favorite). My father gets out and talks with my grandpa. Something doesn’t seem right. My dad asks me to sit in the car and when he closes the door, he starts crying. I had never seen my father cry and it was very unsettling. He tells me my baby sister has died in the hospital. He hugs me and tells me he loves me. I really didn’t understand. My mother had gone into the hospital at Buffalo Center several days before and I had been staying with my grandparents on their farm. It was fun. I didn’t know how to react. Much later we learned my mother had a RH factor and she ended up losing another baby girl, after the hospital in Buffalo Center assured her she was okay and the first death was just a fluke.

Later, I had bad dreams of my father talking to another man in front of a oil bulk plant (my dad had a Phillips 66 gas station in Swea City, Iowa, see photo dated July, 1953). Behind the twin white tanks, a big face with a tug boat cap on loomed up over the top of the tanks behind my father. He couldn’t see the huge, menacing face, but I could. It was a terrifying, recurring nightmare. I didn’t want to go to sleep. This was in our last house in Swea City before we moved to Arizona. It must have been 1954.

I’m sitting on the couch in the same house. My legs barely clear the edge. I’m looking at a 1954 Montgomery Ward catalogue and it finally sinks in what 1954 means (it’s the first year I am aware of). I read in a newspaper that the favorite reading material for today’s college kids is Mad magazine. Adults and teachers are appalled, but I am excited and want to find one and read it.

My mother and I are in the Swea City Lutheran church and everyone stands to pray. I look down at all the liberated bench space and decide to stretch out for a little nap. My mom is horrified and after church she drives by the Phillips 66 where my dad is working and wants him to talk to me about being more pious. He laughs.

It’s funny what we remember. Of all the things, why those?

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 1, 2003
Woke up at 6:45, had coffee in bed and then Kathy drove me up to office so I could get my pickup (last night we went into Phoenix, ate at El Conquistador, $20 cash, and saw the movie “Chicago”, $17, includes popcorn.) Drove back home, had breakfast then came over to studio to work. Kathy came back from exercise class and told me the Columbia space shuttle exploded and they fear there are no survivors. My first reaction was I didn’t even know they were flying, but that is true of most of the history I have lived through (I didn’t know Kennedy was in Dallas either). Had the usual gamut of emotions, remembering the Challenger explosion, where I was (in production at New Times), how the more things change the more things remain the same. How dangerous it is to be alive, how fleeting it is. I saw a great Jackson Brown special last night where he sings, “they say in the end it’s just a blink of an eye.” Also caught the new video by Johnny Cash called “Hurt,” where he sings a Trent Reznor (sp?) Nine Inch Nails song. Just haunting. Here’s Cash looking like death warmed over and all through the song they flash images of him and his wife in younger days, cavorting and snickering at death. Very powerful song and images. Cash is so god-damn honest, he makes it fly with dignity to spare. Now, to me, that is the highest art, to flip the bird right into death’s face. Is there anything more noble?

At 1:30 I drove out to Ben Avery Shooting Range for Winter Range. We have a very big tent in a very nice spot, although the crowds have been so-so. It’s always nice to talk to the people and ask them what they like and dislike about the magazine. One guy nailed it: “I like your maps, especially your Custer map. That was amazing. How do you do that?” Well, we have the best map maker in the U.S., Gus Walker. I told him how that map took weeks to do and we spent a pretty penny producing it. He said, “Well, it was worth it. That’s why I read you guys.”

Another guy said he doesn’t like how we featured the mounted shooters (we ran fashion pieces on Jim Rodgers, his daughter and Annie Bianco, all mounted shooters) and have basically “snubbed the regular, ground shooters.” That was interesting. I didn’t know we were snubbing anybody. First, Kennedy in Dallas and now this. What else am i missing?

Went by Jennie Smith’s tent. She is selling off her incredible clothing collection. She has an 1880s corset, never worn, still in the box. Ditto for men’s garters, a Chinese outfit, all hand embroidered from 1881. I bought fifteen French postcards showing love birds in naughty (for then!) embraces ($20 cash). Plan to use them for a feature I want to do on Sex In The West.

The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
—Tallulah Bankhead

Saturday, February 01, 2003

January 31, 2003
Jennifer & Michele, who are writing the paper about Honkytonk Sue had another question: You told us about a printing of 5000 copies, but we're curious: how did you decide to distribute the comic, once it was printed? (Stores that carried the weekly paper the strip first appeared? Comic-book stores? Western shops?)

When I printed up the first Honkytonk Sue comic in the fall of 1979 I personally went around and put it in all the head shops and comic book stores in Arizona. I was very successful at this and got the comic in all three stores. Then I heard about a comic confab at a cheap motel next to the Black Canyon Freeway in Phoenix (I think it was Days Inn, but it was at Thomas and I-17). I called and obtained a "table" and showed up with a box of my comics.There were maybe ten people there, and I sold maybe three comics (at $1.50 each), but one of the attendees walked up to me and said, "I like your comic, here, send it to Phil Sueling." And he gave me the address in New York. I sent it and got a call almost immediately from the legendary comic raconteur and distributor Phil Sueling ordering 1,000 comics and inviting me to the New York Comic Con (I had never heard of such a thing) to be held at the Statler Hilton over the fourth of July weekend in 1980.

I had never flown before on a commercial plane, never been to NY, had to take dramamine (sp?) to get on the plane, flew into Kennedy airport and a taxi dumped me at the hotel right across from Madison Square Garden. I met all the legends, Phil treated me like a king. His gorgeous daughter, who had a shaved head—in 1980!—took me to a wild nightclub, Danceteria (Where the Stones had just premiered their latest album), and I saw the future. TVs everywhere playing rock videos (MTV was still two years away) and generally blew my mind. From that moment on I had wonderful distribution and met the other players like Bud Plant, etc. Needless to say, I appreciate and miss Phil. He was a great guy.

Amazing. All from a crummy motel with no attendance. Sometimes your boat comes in and it's a dingy, but, if it's floating—you better get on the damn thing! Ha.

"Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer."
—Old Vaquero Saying