Saturday, May 31, 2003

May 31, 2003
Unseasonably hot for this time of year, but we had a very cool spring. In fact, the Palo Verde trees are just now blooming (they normally bloom in April). Went for a walk with Peaches and Kathy around seven. Cloudy, muggy, supposed to get up to 100.

I’m afraid we lost our cat Big Tom. We got back from our New Mexico road trip and he wasn’t here, but he’s done this before. But as the days mounted I had a sinking feeling the coyotes finally got him. He was very old and had survived where no other cats had made it, but he was a step slower and the predators in the desert are so unforgiving. Kind of like the magazine business.

Speaking of business, I had a couple Coronas with an old friend in the book chain biz after work last night. We met at El Encanto and talked about history and Tombstone, then we got around to the book biz. He said the chains are still suffering from post 9•11 and internet sales (Amazon), and that they have a chainwide 20% discount on everything. However, he told me (after the second beer) one of the aggressive, guerilla business strategies they have developed to survive is they open temporary calendar stores from September to January 15, hire temp help, no advertising and it brings about $50 mil to the bottom line. Yikes! I was intrigued (because we have been flirting with the calendar biz and we could use $50 mil) and asked him how they were able to do this and he basically told me the skinny. Currently they are bidding on a closed Hallmark Card shop in Durango (“great fixturization” as he put it). The owner desperately needs to keep his cash flow up, so they negotiate a low lease, or even better yet, a percentage of the sales and they are off to the races. Multiply this by 600 markets and the math is easy. It just proves there are opportunities in the worst of times (in fact there are probably more opportunities). The difference is attitude. When the big water hole dries up, most people stand around like cattle, mooing and bitching about the poor service.

Speaking of cows, I’m on a new diet. It’s called the “South Beach Diet.” When you think about going to the beach your appetite goes south. Bad joke. No, it really is a diet.

Came home for lunch yesterday and banged out a portrait of Pancho Villa. Got some very nice effects. Nice fade on edges. May use it for a white background cover. Still have ideas of Pancho on a white stallion charging out of a cloud with skeleton Villistas riding with him. Hope to get something like that today.

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
—Mark Twain

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