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

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