Tuesday, September 30, 2003

September 30, 2003
Very busy. Missed yesterday’s posting. Finally finished the introduction for the Classic Gunfights book at about 11 yesterday. Meghan is still finding mistakes in the Pinkerton-Younger gunfight, which went out the door with the magazine at three.

Big hub-bub over a list of names I quoted for the History of True West article which also appears in the new issue (Nov-Dec). One of my employees was quite upset at being left off the “shortlist.” I tried to explain it wasn’t a list of my best employees, but a list of people, if you took one person out, there would be no True West. I also pointed out that there were people on the list I don’t even like, but, looking back, they were integral to our survival at a critical time. Employee was still upset.

Kathy’s take is that my staff is too small and it’s like planning a wedding. You say you want to keep the guestlist small, but it’s either four or 400, there is no in-between. So I huddled with R.G. at 8:30 and he agreed on who to add to the list. I still have three or four who are not on it, and they’ll probably be upset now. Kathy’s right: it’s a big, fat True West wedding. Ha.

Update on pending items I often talk about in here:
• no word from the History Channel on the TV show. They are supposed to get back to us in October, so we’ll see. Bob Brink says, “Be patient young man, everything comes to the man who is patient.”
• The Westerns Channel is also considering a True West moment, but no word from them either.
• The Classic Gunfights book goes to press in two weeks. Good meeting yesterday to discuss our hangouts. Book is going to be very strong.
• The experimental plane that crashed last month in Carefree ran out of runway. The official report is that the pilot set down with only 25% of the runway left, when he tried to power up, the plane stalled. Just like business, only you lose your life, instead of your money.
• Thomas is enjoying all the “hot girls” in Spain. I assume he’s referring to the climate.
• I need to exercise my drawing muscle more. I go hot and cold, but I need a gym regimen where I draw everyday. Make it hurt, have fun.
• Deena brought a boyfriend home for dinner last night. He was nervous (this made me gleeful). Nice kid, a full blood Serb, ex-marine, major tattoos. I made my patented tacos (Taco Boze, patent pending). When he said he got out of the Marines just before his unit shipped out, for Iraq Kathy commented that he sure was lucky. He agreed. I then asked him if he was disappointed on some level that he didn’t get to go. He totally agreed. This was shocking to Kathy (this also made me feel gleeful).

"I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine."
—Bertrand Russell

Sunday, September 28, 2003

September 28, 2003
Finding a ton of stuff as I’m cleaning up the studio. I’m trying to find an image of Billy shooting Olinger from my second Billy edition, and of course, I’m finding everything but that. A museum in Australia wants the image for an outlaw show they’re doing.

I keep finding half-finished paintings that are far superior to my “finished” product. One in particular is of Sheriff Jim Roberts (I got the photo from Marshall Trimble). I did the painting for the Westin Hotel series on Arizona Western outlaws and badmen. When I started the project last year, I did two quick studies of him. I found both today and the second one is stiff as a board (trying too hard) but on the first one I wasn’t even going for a likeness, I was just trying to get a sense of the form, etc., His eyes don’t line up correctly, his neck is too skinny, but for all the mistakes, he is alive, he’s got attitude. His skin is believable, the planes of his face have depth and while it’s certainly not perfect as a likeness even, it’s sooooooooo much better than the painting I handed in. What does that say? For starters, probably not anything I want to hear. Ha.

Well, here’s a possibility: stabbing at shapes is akin to hacking at a side of beef. You will get it off the bone, but it isn’t edible (needless to say, I’m making this up as I go along).

While many predicted the death of irony after 9•11, I think it certainly took a big bite out of it. I was watching Turner Classic Movies (one of my favorite channels) and the beginning of a 1940's movie started with the big orchestration and it sounded so righteous, and full of conviction. We are too jaded today to even allow that. Too bad, it sounds so good.

“Your sons weren't made to like you.  That's what grandchildren are for.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, September 27, 2003

September 27, 2003
Got an E-mail from Mark Sankey who told me he went on Amazon recently and they are selling my 1st edition of Billy the Kid for $160 to $190. He writes, “The hell with my IRA . . . I'll hang on to my book!”

Finally finished this issue’s Classic Gunfights at about three yesterday. Came home for lunch and knocked out a sweet little painting of Pinkerton detective J. Wright fleeing across a field as Jim Younger shoots off his hat. In the background we can see John Younger with his shotgun trained on Captain Lull and Daniels, and they are in a small grove of trees, as per Wilbur Zink’s specifications, and down the road to the left we can see the hog pen where John Younger fell at the end of the fight, and the McFerrin cabin is across the road, and at the left is the grove of trees where Lull fell after being shot by John. All in all, a nice little historical diorama. And of course, now that I got to this point, I could paint all of the action, and it’s too late, and production is making snide remarks about CG being chronically late (which it invariably is). This is such a dilemma for me. It takes me so long to get untracked with the art, and then when I finally get going, because of the impending deadline, I reach the “zone” at the last possible minute and then it’s time to go on to the next gunfight.

Ironies of ironies: this weekend I’m trying to reclaim many of the scenes I wanted to do on the first go-round for each of the 24 Classic Gunfights we are featuring in the book, and I’m not sure how many I’ll be able to salvage or re-do, but here’s my wish list:

• “Get in, you sons of bitches, get in!” Jesse James yelling at Northfield citizens at the beginning of the infamous, botched bank robbery. He’s got reins in his teeth, a Smith & Wesson in each hand and the First National Bank is in the background. A signature image I have been wanting to do since I went there in 2001.
• Charley Pitts standing at Hanska Slough, proudly proclaiming, “I can die as game as you, let’s get it done!:
• Wyatt Earp, dismounted with his gunbelt down around his knees, shooting into a grove of trees (Mescal Springs) at Curly Bill.
• Hickok and Tutt
• A big Sam Bass
• Bat Masterson shooting in Dodge City railroad shoot-out

”Talent in cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
—Stephen King

Friday, September 26, 2003

September 26, 2003
Carole got an E-mail at the office from a fan from Pennsylvania who wrote:

“The staff at TW appears to be a very sincere and dedicated group of individuals. Having purchased a pocket watch from the shop in Red Wing, Minnesota tells me a lot about your devotion to Mr. Bell. A gesture that rarely takes place these days.”

Yes, the staff bought me a custom pocket watch for my birthday last year. Unfortunately, Kathy and I were playing volleyball with it and it broke (this is Melrose’s joke; it was sitting on the nightstand and Kathy knocked it off by accident). It is a very cool thing, and Jim is correct. My staff is quite devoted to quality first, then me.

Case in point: we're running a full page ad for the Classic Gunfights book and we whipped up a real nice, clean ad with plenty of white space, etc. Well, Bob Brink hated it, didn’t think it asked for the order, thought it looked like it was designed by a high school newspaper (if I could only get him to come out of his shell). We took another shot at it, then Mike Melrose gave the second design a scathing review, thought it should feature the iconic gunfighters, not the towns or locations of the fights. So we re-attacked it and came up with a third version. We are currently, as of last night, on the fifth version of this ad, and I appreciate it that everyone cares. In many companies it would be: “We’ve spent enough time on this, give it up, it’s done, I’ve got other things to do.”

The Roscoe Gunfight, which we are calling “Chalk Level Shoot-out” has taken a third turn. Gus discovered the coroner’s report online and it is at odds with several things in the Zink version. I have been E-mailing Wilbur and he admits that some of his quotes and versions of the fight come from oldtimers in the area who he interviewed long before this report re-surfaced. I spent most of yesterday re-writing the narrative to bring it into line with the coroner's report which has a long, juicy narrative from Captain Lull himself. He told exactly what happened before he died. Amazing.

I stayed late at work and drew up about four versions of John Younger in death with a bullet hole in his neck. Also Daniels. I used the famous photographs of the dead Northfield robbers as reference. Also a great shot of Cole Estes lying on a slab, from the Time-Life series.

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
—Albert Einstein

Thursday, September 25, 2003

September 25, 2003
Yes, I was quite buggy writing yesterday’s blog. I’d been up since 2:30 and put in a double day. I didn’t realize how buggy I was until I got up this morning, read some E-mail, one from Julie in Wyoming suggesting I get some sleep, and I reread my entry and thought, “Man, that guy is fried.” Did finish some much needed illustrations. Have more to do this week for the CG book.

Deena came in last night to visit her dog. Going to wrap up Classic Gunfights this morning. Finally have all the art and copy. Shoe-horned in some key tidbits last night before I came home.

“People need trouble -- a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don't mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy.”
—William Faulkner

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

September 24, 2003
Buddy just came in with a big cholla (pronounced Choy-ya) thorn stuck in the end of his nose. He is a stray from Manhattan. No joke. He was found running in the mean streets of the Big Apple, and now he runs along the dusty streets of Cave Creek and the colored girls go, “Do, do, do, da, doo, dooto, doota, hey doggy, take a walk on the cholla side.”

Deena is supposed to come out tonight to visit him. I probably won’t be awake (see next paragraph).

Woke up at 1:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. Started thinking about Lance Armstrong. I read an interview with him in Time before I went to sleep where he said champions make it hurt every day. I thought, Hey, I can make it hurt, so I got up at 3:30 and started painting the hanging out pieces for Classic Gunfights. Worked until around seven, walked the dogs up the hill and back, made breakfast for Kathy (Canadian bacon and eggs), then went into work. Came home at 10:30 and finished artwork by 2:15. Took it all in, had Gus go up to Foothills Photo and drop it off to be developed.

Went into Executive Session at 2:30. Decided the fate of many people, went back to my office and finished laying out Classic Gunfights, went up at 5:15 and got finished film. Talked to Robert Ray about “consistency” regarding the new book. He’s concerned. I’m thankful he’s concerned. We’ll pow wow in the morning.

Came home at 5:30. Kathy wants me to join her at yoga. Don’t want to go, but I want to be a good partner. She loves this stuff (being healthy, what a concept!). May go up to humor her, but I hate that Dog Boy Down thing. What is it called, Emma? Dawn of the Dog? Dog Dawning On A Dogpile? Something.

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

September 23, 2003
More computer problems. I tried posting today’s blog from the office and a nice little box told me AOL is not accepting my browser any more. Robert Ray came in, loaded up one, didn’t take (or, more specifically, it took, but then wouldn’t recognize my old computer), went to his desk, pulled out something, loaded that. Eventually, I could get online, but I could only read one E-mail and then the screen went blank. I just hate this stuff!!!!

More problems at home. Studio lights blew out. Can’t find problem in fuse box, plus studio cooler doesn’t appear to be getting any water. Called Steve at Grant’s Appliance. He showed up tonight at 6:15 (still waiting for verdict).

Big staff meeting at 8:30 this morning. Lots to talk about, both good and bad feedback. Read a couple letters, one praising us and the other damning us.

Mike Melrose wanted to go over next year's travel issue. He forced us to come up with some new angles. I like that about him.

Jana back from vacation. She’s working on a big photo project. She’s really quite amazing and it looks like it’s going to be a benchmark piece. We also received a batch of letters from fourth graders writing to the U.S. government on why Vera McGinnis deserves a postage stamp. One little girl said Vera deserves a stamp because she “was the first woman to ride a horse.” Jana laughed until she cried, or maybe it was the other way around. We were touched. May run a page of the letters, they are priceless.

Several of us went to lunch at Satisfied Frog (Jana’s fave place). Had the Caesar salad and an iced tea. Bill came and it was $71 for seven people. I put in $10 but then realized The Old Restaurant Group Law: the larger the group, the less each person thinks they owe. Everyone was putting in $10 but that only got us to $70, and no tip (should be $84 total). Put in another $5. Too much for lunch. Irritating.

Wrote up all the extra info Gus and I have gleaned for the Pinkerton-Youngers gunfight. Got to get the artwork finished. Hanging out on three images. Meghan and R.G. hounding me now. Here’s what Mark B. had to say about some of our names at the mag: “Bob Brink. Mike Melrose. Roland Robertson. Bob Bell. What is this, the alliteration publication?” Yes it is.

”When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”
—Eric Hoffer

Monday, September 22, 2003

September 22, 2003
Pain. Wrenched my back on Sunday morning picking up a stack of papers from the studio floor. I probably strained it on Saturday when I was carrying boxes to and from the Sharlott Hall Book Festival.

Really laid me low. Came home from Prescott early so I could get some artwork done, but couldn’t even draw. Tried several times but gave up. Took two aspirin and went to bed. Got up at four and tried to paint a Tranter and Smith & Wesson #2 pistol, but only got background in. Found a position on the couch that didn’t hurt and watched Ride With The Devil, looking for horseback rebel shots to use for the Younger-Pinkerton shootout. I forgot how good Ride is. It’s twice the movie Open Range is. Toby McGuire as “Dutchie” and Jewell, as a sexy widow, are both very good. Perhaps Toby was a tad too poetic for mainstream success. You can see how a young Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood would have made it more “commercial” as an action pic, but for my money Toby is great. When Jewell is undressing him on his wedding night, she asks, “Are you a virgin?” And Dutchie stammers around, completely helpless, and then states emphatically, “Girl, I’ve killed 15 men!” As if that matters in the bedroom. The idea that he’s 19 and killed a platoon of men but never been with a woman says more about the Civil War and the Old West than most Westerns ever have or ever will. Sometimes life is very unfair, and the failure of this movie is one of them. We all need to buy it on DVD. Ang Lee will thank you.

Hope to make up for lost time today. My back feels slightly better and I took the dogs for a walk this morning. Finished “Goofs, Gaffs & Cons” a sidebar for True West Comes Clean, an article we have been working on all year to document the times when we printed fiction, or worse. John Boessenecker gave me several good gaffs.

Bob Brink is very unhappy with the ad we created for the Classic Gunfights book. We are taking another look at it today, to see how we can improve it. I wanted to do something very clean and simple, and maybe I got too clean, and too simple, or as we like to say, “Too hip for the room.”

”There’s no place where success comes before work, except in the dictionary.”
—Donald Kimball

Sunday, September 21, 2003

September 21, 2003
Conversations I wouldn’t recommend having in a car with your wife:

“I heard on NPR that there’s this book called The Red Tent and it’s about this tribe where the women all go there at that time each month when they need support and comfort.”

“That is a tent I wouldn’t want to be within five miles of.”

“That’s a real sexist comment.”

“Well, you have to admit, a whole tent full of cranky women doesn’t sound like a fun holiday.”

“The women in the tent aren’t cranky because they don’t have irritating men around.”

“Oh, there’s a real non-sexist remark.”

People, people, people, if you are ever driving to Prescott, don’t have this conversation. Trust me, if you are a male, I would recommend saying the following, “Boy, that sure sounds interesting,” or “Where can we get a tent like that?” Never say what that anonymous guy in the example above said. Also, never say, “Speaking of red, how ‘bout those Cards?’ Thank goodness the anonymous guy had the sense not to say something stupid like that.

”Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, September 20, 2003

September 20, 2003
Went up the hill last night to Prescott. Stopped and had dinner at Young’s Farm. They were trying to close (7:40 pm!), but we snuck in to the dining room. Kathy commented she hasn’t had that good of a salad in over a year (Turkey salad, I had the bar-b-que beef sando, $25 cash, includes tip). Got into Prescott around 8:30, went up to Ed M.’s cabin. Big horse trailer in his driveway (Ed’s house sits about 50 yards up the hill). Had to rouse the neighbor to move it. Irritating. I actually wanted to park behind him and make him have to come up to the cabin in the morning and wake me and then I was going to tell him to go to hell, and if he wanted to fight I was going to grab a tire iron and cave in his skull and throw his lifeless body across the fence and let the buzzards pick at it all day until his wife found him and called rural metro but it would be too late because I’d be back in Maricopa County beyond the reach of the law. Instead, Kathy talked me into braving his dogs and yelling at him over his back gate. His wife came over and moved the gooseneck so we could get in. This morning as we left he met us out by his garden and gave us four fresh cucumbers from his garden. I gave him a Bad Man book and a True West. We bonded and will probably be friends for life.

At nine this morning, I took Kathy out to the Kingsland Racquet Club so she could do a palates class and I went down to Sharlott Hall Museum for the Second Annual Book Fair and set up our booth. Nice people. Met the owner of the Palace Bar on Whiskey Row. Also a Virgil Earp researcher who does a first-person narrative on the Earp bro. Sue H. and Mike came up from Phoenix to help out. Sue made several great contacts for us.

Picked up my wife from the gym at 12:30 and brought her back to our booth. Kathy went across the street and got coffee and lunch to go at a local bakery. She asked if they had weak or strong coffee and the waiter said, “There is no such thing as weak coffee, only weak people.”

Only sold about five books, but turned on quite a few Prescottonians to True West magazine. I gave each person who stopped and looked a test: “Are you really interested in the Old West?” All those who hedged or gave me that mamby pamby, “I like a lot of things,” didn’t get a free mag. My favorite response was from a big ol’ Earth Mama gal who said, when I gave her the pop quiz, “I lived in a tee pee for fifteen years, does that count?” Here’s your magazine, Ma’am, you are True West.

Took off at four for Cave Creek. Sailed down the Black Canyon until New River when everything came to a crawl. They’re building an off ramp to deal with all those Anthem jerks (Hi Ted) and it’s causing major traffic problems. Sue and Mike said they had an hour wait coming up.

Got back around five. Had dinner at El Encanto ($41 cash), came home, walked the dogs and came out here to write this up.

“I dream for a living.”
—Steven Spielberg

Friday, September 19, 2003

September 19, 2003
Yesterday’s photo came off great. We have become a pretty large family. I think there were over 20 of us lined up along the porch. Board meeting also went well. Hashed out stock value, etc. always tricky. Think we came up with a decent compromise. Had a victory dinner at R.G. and Karen’s house in the evening. Fun time, except my flaming liberal wife got to cranking on Bush and it didn’t exactly go over with all the Fox News Hounds at the table (two vets, one marine, and three conservative spouses, and that would include me). Fortunately Bob Brink finally let Kathy out of the hammerlock and we were allowed to go home.

Mark Boardman is visiting from Indiana. He is the president of WOLA (Western Outlaws & Lawmen Association). Fun talking to him. He told me of a new book coming out on William S. Hart, which is going to be an eye opener. The guy was flat out weird.

Talked to my old band mate and childhood friend Charlie Waters yesterday. He’s the editor of the Fresno Bee and related a story about assigning one of his new copy editors the homework assignment of how to get data on news subjects. He instructed her to go on the internet and find some dirt on someone. The woman came in the next day, handed him a piece of paper and said, “Is this you?” Charlie read it and this is what it said:

“In 1963 I helped form a rock & roll band with my friends, Charlie
Waters and Wendell Havatone. We got our name when Charlie and I
were walking out of history class and in the hall, we saw the Exit sign
and Charlie said, "Why don't we call ourselves the Exits, because when
everybody hears us play, that's where they'll go."

Charlie asked the intern how much it would cost him for to pretend she never saw that paragraph. They laughed. It is from my life story which appears at bobbozebell.com.
In a related incident, I asked Gus if he’d look up Tranter pistol on the internet and see if he can find any info on it. He plugged “Tranter” into Dogpile and the first entry to come up was my blog entry right here, explaining how I was looking for a Tranter pistol.

Expanded our Johnny Cash coverage yesterday with Jana writing up a good homage. Larry Johns wrote the obit and also did a very fine job. Here is a quote about Johnny from the new issue of Time that I think is just brilliant:

“His was not the rocker’s shriek but the dark, deep voice of a man counting out his demons and his losses with the stoicism of a poker player dealt a bum hand.”

Jana also interviewed Billy Bob Thorton on the phone yesterday. He laughed when he heard Dennis Quaid’s remark that the producers of the Alamo got a hillbilly celebrity (Billy Bob) to play a hillbilly hero (Davy Crockett).

”You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.”
—Hank Williams, Sr.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

September 18, 2003
Big day today. Having our commemorative 50th Anniversary photo taken out front. Bob McCubbin is in from Santa Fe. Marshall Trimble is coming out. Ditto for Jana Bommersbach and Daniel Harshberger. Going to pose them (all 20-something) across the front porch. John Beckett will shoot it (with himself in it, of course). The photo will appear in the November-December issue (our last 50th anniversary issue) and will run in the History of True West article.

Stock meeting at 1:30. I feel confident we will be able to deal with the issues on the table which basically are: how do we protect the stock holders who bet on this enterprise when it seemed loony, and how do we reward the people who made it the success it is today (hint: they’re not the same people).

I’ve been working on a small Doc Holliday for Mike C. of San Diego. He really wanted the title page piece from my Doc book but it is long gone and I told him I thought I could do a better one anyway. Here it is. What do you think Mike?

Dawn from Culpepper Cattle Co. in Troutdale, Oregon called yesterday and doubled their order of magazines, telling Carole, “We can't keep them on the shelves.”

Finished artwork for The Long Riders critique (Did Hollywood Ever Get It Right?). Looks kind of cool, if I don’t say so myself. I’ll post an image tomorrow.

“I took a speed reading course and read "War and Peace" in twenty minutes.  It involves Russia.”
—Woody Allen

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

September 17, 2003
Had an MRI this morning. Fasted for 12 hours and no coffee. Felt surprising okay. Didn’t even have a headache. This is my second MRI, so I was a veteran. Refused (or begged) them not to have my arms over my head when they slid me into the mailing tube. Surprisingly, they acquiesced. Chose jazz to listen to, instead of Howard Stern this time. Not much better. Got real tired of James Earl Jones crooning, “Cooooooool Jazz On The Coyote.” Not sure anything would be soothing with that infernal machine beeping and grinding for a half hour.

Came home last night at about six, walked to the cave with the dogs, then vowed to do two things I didn’t want to do. The first was, swim. Water too cold, but I need the exercise. Did it. Felt good—afterwards. Next, I fired up the VCR and played The Long Riders tape where Robert Carradine and Keith Carradine meet the Pinkertons. Instead of tracing these, I hit pause and sketched the scene in my sketchbook and on several pieces of watercolor paper. Then turned off the tv and worked until around 10, laying in quick washes on top of the loosey goosey sketches. Didn’t even try to get a likeness, just kept my hands moving. I want the scenes to be a direct continuation of Classic Gunfights and I think I’ve got it. I’ll post one of the more odd ones of Keith Carradine pulling a big ol’ hogleg out. It ain’t him exactly, but it’s him, if you know what I mean.

Finished my editorial yesterday afternoon, put in a homage to Johnny Cash. Gus found two old illustrations I did of the Man In Black for our now defunct Old West Journal . Used one on the editorial page.

“Each of us brings to our job, whatever it is, our lifetime of experience, and our values.”
—Sandra Day O’Connor

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

September 16, 2003
Here’s the illustration Robert Ray, Kathy and Mad Coyote Joe chose for the editorial page (it may go up late in the day as it has to go to Jason and then he posts it after work). Now on to Classic Gunfights and the Pinkertons, and a logo for Jana, and two Northfield paintings of the James boys escaping, Hanska Slough new paintings, big, montage of all the gunfights, dust jacket copy. And other stuff.

Got an E-mail from the Tom Bomb in Spain. Is he studying hard? Is he breathing in the ancient culture? You decide:

“So I just had a cafe con leche and my neurons are firing fairly rapidly. People here in Spain aren’t ashamed to check other people out. Atmore (my Mexican friend) and I both agreed that in the Americas you don´t blatantly stare at people and you immediately look away if your caught. Here it´s normal and hot girls almost expect you to stare or they might think something’s wrong with them.”

I’m not too worried. I didn’t have a non-sexual thought until I was 35.

“Oh, if at every moment of our lives we could know the consequences of some of the utterings, thoughts and deeds that seem so trivial and unimportant at the time! And should we not conclude from such examples that there are no such things in life as unimportant moments devoid of meaning for the future?”
—Isabelle Eberhardt

Monday, September 15, 2003

September 15, 2003 Bonus Blog
Came home at lunch and finished two of the lonely surfers. Took both back to the office and had Mad Coyote Joe and Robert Ray pick one. They didn't pick this one ("The Surfer With No Name"). I'll post the winner tomorrow.

"I got a '34 wagon and we call it a woodie."
—Jan & Dean
September 15, 2003
Really juicy piece on me in the Scottsdale Republic zone edition this morning. They did a very nice job. The quotes are correct, the photo is okay (who is that old, grizzled fart. Oh, wait, that’s me!) and it’s great exposure for the magazine.

Worked all afternoon yesterday on surfing illustration for my December editorial. Makes me sigh. I must have spent four hours on four different versions (this is supposed to be a spot illustration!). Still not done. Two have potential. Here they are. Your thoughts?

Speaking of your thoughts, please go vote on your favorite Vera stamp image. You can click right here. We are going to publish the results and send them along with our formal proposal to the U.S. Postage department.

Watched Sex In The City and the premiere of a new show Carnivale on HBO last night. Man, the sex in Sex makes me pucker, and I’ve always thought of myself as a liberated, worldly male. Really enjoyed the opening of Carnivale, but I don’t think the actual show quite lives up to the hype and the imagry. The opening, montage of old film clips and weird tarot cards and classic paintings where the camera goes into the painting and it has depth, going over character’s heads (in the painting!) until we see a new image and then it cuts, it was all just amazing.

Kathy posted our house on a vacation service website to see if we can house trade with someone in Europe. After posting this at the TW offices, we stopped for an early dinner at El Encanto. Had several margaritas and split a Sonoran enchilada plate ($41 house account). Fun talking to my honey. After all the events of the last two years it’s sometimes hard to believe we’re even friends.

"To keep a fire burning brightly, there's one easy rule: Keep the logs together, near enough to keep warm and far enough apart for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule."
—Marnie Reed Crowel

Sunday, September 14, 2003

September 14, 2003
Worked all day yesterday on artwork. Got some good stuff done. I did a prep sketch-image of Captain Lull of the Chicago Police Department, who was undercover for the Pinkertons when he was shot down near Roscoe, Missouri by John Younger. It must have been like going undercover for the DEA in Mexico, at that time. He is always portrayed as a villain, or a Pinkerton stooge (because we all love those bad-boy Younger brothers), but I have a feeling Lull was a formidable guy. Here is a sketch of him as a police captain, holding his Tranter pistol (no photos of him have surfaced but since his shooting death was a big deal in Chicago, I believe someone will find a photo of him. This is my guess at his likeness). I have to thank Duane Kyler of the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma for locating an image of this exotic pistol. I’m also sketching a #2 Smith & Wesson, the backup sidearm Lull pulled from his coat to start the fight.

Swam laps and walked the dogs twice yesterday. Kathy actually wanted to go to a niteclub, so we went up to the Territorial Bar & Grill last night to listen to Los Dos Dons, a trio of local guys (the first Don, was Thomas’ principal at Foothills Academy, the only school who’d take T-boy when he was kicked out of all the others). So, to us he’s a saint (the Don guy, not Tommy). I really enjoyed the music! Normally I hate listening to bands in bars because they are so damn loud (it’s payback for all the eardrums I busted in my bands), but these guys were coffee house cool, and Don #1 did a tribute to Johnny Cash, (“Someone to Hold”?) and it was magical. I have been humming it in my head all day today. The power of good music is really an amazing thing.

Triggered many memories of basically living in bars from about age 18 to 28, and from the time I got up (at the crack of noon) to the wee hours of the morning, 24-7, playing in bands, playing with women, playing with my...Sorry. I have grown up and really reformed. In fact, I get up at 5:30 every day, but some of that juvenile, immature, bathroom humor behavior is still in there (Hey, it saved my marriage!).

Two quotes today:

“Dad, I want to be a musician when I grow up.
“Son, you have to choose one or the other.”

“The invention of the teenager was a mistake. Once you identify a period of life in which people get to stay out late but don't have to pay taxes—naturally, nobody wants to live any other way.”
—Miss Manners

Saturday, September 13, 2003

September 13, 2003
Everyone working hard on twin deadlines. Our big Westerns issue is on track to be a monster and the CG book is hanging out with an October 11th deadline looming. Robert Ray and I are working this weekend to get caught up, and, of course, I’m thinking of groovy additions to the layout at the last minute that drives everyone crazy.

And speaking of driving everyone crazy, Kathy and I had a frank discussion this morning about our savings, or lack thereof. She was reading aloud from an article in Time called “Housebound,” and the dilemma of the current housing prices vs. savings and how you shouldn’t be paying more than 36% of your total income on your house payments and this led to our stormy past when I was riding high one day on the radio and the next day unemployed and borrowing from our IRA just to make the house payments, and in my mind this was about a three month period of tough times, but in Kathy’s mind it was “a decade of insecurity and grief.” We both came to the same conclusion: we’re damned lucky to still be married. Ha. She chalked it up to one thing and one thing only: my sense of humor (see quote below).

Went for two walks with the dogs, once alone and another when Kathy came back from the gym.

I want to do that surf illustration this weekend. I asked the staff if they had any surf magazines at home. Gus and Abby laughed, but Jerry J. stuck his head around the corner and said he’d bring in one. Yesterday, he brought in the newest issue of Transworld Surf, one of the many surf mags proliferating on the newsstand. I wanted good art reference to marry Davy Crockett to a surfer hanging ten (putting all ten toes off the front of the board while riding a wave). Well, Hello Old Man? Nobody surfs like that anymore. Everyone “shreds”, going back and forth, up and down. All the shots are of guys in contorted, inside out angles, ripping and reef-stroking (sorry, made that up). The very idea of a guy standing on a board and going straight in, is so 35 years ago.

That got me to thinking about motorcycle jumping. I remember going to Manzanita Speedway in about 1969 to see Evel Kneival (sp?) jump 15 cars. What I remember is that his ramps covered up about 13 of the cars and that the actual distance he was jumping was maybe 30 feet (I’m being generous). Ooooh! We were so impressed. What a crazy, danger guy! Well, today, the jumpers, and this includes little kids, are doing mega-distances while turning flips! Virtually everything is so much more radical.

I remember being at Eastside Cycle Park outside Tucson and coming over a jump on my Triumph TT Tiger (500cc) and when I pulled into the pit, my riding mate, Hank W., said, “I think you got air! I think your front wheel was actually airborne for a fraction of a second!” I felt like Neil Armstrong, but judging by today’s standards I was actually more like Tip O’Neil.

“You can’t be angry at someone who makes you laugh.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, September 12, 2003

September 12, 2003
Wrote up my editorial on Western Waves. I’m going to do a surfing illustration of Davy Crockett, Kevin Costner, Pancho Villa and Tommy Lee Jones hanging ten on huge mirage wave crowning over the desert (it’s a surf-Western movie metaphor via Kingman).

Had a Manager’s Meeting yesterday at 10 to disucss production flow and how to make next year’s Best of the West issue better (or “best”). Some people think we really whored out and others just think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Who to believe, that is the question.

The Man In Black is gone. Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison” is playing out in the production room even as I type this. Makes me sad. He was a great friend of True West and in fact did an album called “Songs of the True West,” as in the magazine.

As I mentioned earlier this week, Wilbur Zink saved our bacon on the Youngers vs. Pinkertons Classic Gunfight. His account, which he calls “The Roscoe Gunfight” is by far the best. I rented The Long Riders to see how they handled it and got so inspired I copied off the dialogue and we might run an extra page asking the question: “Did Hollywood Ever Get It Right?” The answer, and grades we give it, might surprise you.

Tim Koors, a photographer from the Arizona Republic came out and photographed me for a piece in next Monday’s Scottscale Republic section. I’ve known him for a long time and he has been with the paper for 26 years. The reporter, Daniel, came by at two and talked to me at length. I was drawing a bathtub race illustration for a t-shirt design and tried to do both. Knocked it out and gave it Ron McGee at four (it’s for the Cave Creek Wild West Weekend next month).

Had lunch yesterday at Tonto with Deena and Kathy. Had a half a cobb salad and iced tea (Kathy bought). Nice talking with the girls. They’re both damn cute.

More frustrations with our well. The well guys came back and redid the pipe ($160 house account). Still no water pressure to speak of. So they called me back and wanted to replace the tank. I gave them the approval ($450) and of couirse the water pressure is the same. So we’ve spent over $2K on all of this and the problem is still here. Their advice: call a plumber. How about I call in the dogs.

”"Reality continues to ruin my life."
—Calvin & Hobbes

Thursday, September 11, 2003

September 11, 2003 Bonus entry
Since I missed Monday’s entry, here’s a bonus entry for today.

I asked Carole to track two days of orders coming in over the phone. Here’s the results of where the 21 orders came from:
• Nine just found the magazine on the newsstand
• One works for Barnes & Noble and saw the mag come in
• Two saw me on the History Channel and looked us up
• One had a wife who heard me speak in Phoenix
• One had a mother who “came back from Toronto with one.”
• One found us on the web
• One visited Tombstone and saw the mag on display at Boothill Cemetery store
• One saw it at a doctor's office and "took it with him."
• One got it at D Bar J Hatters in Las Vegas and loved it
• One stayed in a Bed & Breakfast and it was in the room (they stole it)
• One reads this journal and got tired of not knowing what the hell I was talking about

"Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man
is innocent in his own eyes."

—Daniel Defoe
September 11, 2003
Lots of trips in the planning stages. May go to Deadwood for a writer’s conference in early October. I have a speech in Kingman on the 11th with a photo session for Arizona Highways (one of their freelancers is shooting me on the roof of the Beale Hotel for an upcoming issue) and we are going to the Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso. Kathy’s got a big trip planned for Christmas for us to go to Spain and see the “Muy Caliente Chicas” Kid.

Deena came home last night to see her dog. Fun talking to her. She misses Buddy. She also has much angst about what to do with her life (this makes a parent so happy—when your kids are miserable for the right reasons!).

Here’s a page from my sketchbook. Loosey Goosey stuff. Now if I can only translate that looseness to the bigger stuff.

Worked hard on several projects yesterday. Gus and I are up to our ears in Classic Gunfights, both for the upcoming book and the current issue. In addition we are doing one for High Sonoran Style Magazine. Bob Brink helped me decide on a cover image. I was totally overproducing and trying to re-invent the wheel and he came in and found an image I had already done (Elfego Baca) and we popped it in the template Daniel had designed for the History Channel presentation and Bang! It is a beautiful thing.

"Charlton Heston admitted he had a drinking problem, and I said to myself, 'Thank God this guy doesn't own any guns!'"
 —David Letterman

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

September 10, 2003
Qwest came out yesterday and finally got our phone lines back up. Now the well guys are coming back tomorrow to redo the well. It has a leak already and the water pressure is nil.

Here's Monday's blog (which I couldn't post because it was on the home computer and no phone line):

Beautiful sunrise. The monsoon clouds have been extraordinary and it makes for some stunning moments out here on the high Sonoran Desert.

Sketched and drew all weekend. Finally got loose about four PM on Saturday. A quote from Toulouse Lautrec has been echoing in my head. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “as long as my hand is moving the drawing stays alive, but as soon as I stop to fix something, everything dies.” This is harder to do than it sounds. When every skill you’ve learned depends on being in “control” and “exact” it’s scary. It’s kind of like balancing on a highwire four stories up and someone says, “Hey, why don’t you just enjoy it up there and start dancing.” I’ll post some of these loosey goosies so you can judge for yourself.

Peaches and Buddy Boze Bell (Kathy’s new name for the hound, in fact she went to Petsmart and got it engraved on his dog collar tag) treed a squirrel in one of the yucca trees next to the pool. I felt sorry for the scared little booger even though squirrels cause untold damage to the outbuildings and garage, etc. Decided to walk to the cave with the dogs and they blasted out into the desert and immediately forgot all about the doomed little critter. Hotter than hell out, walked over and back. The two dogs ran all the way, jumping over each other and play fighting. Came back a half hour later and the squirrely squirrel was still in the same spot! He didn’t believe the reprieve, or was too scared to move from his precarious perch. I wonder how many times we do that? The Universe gives us a reprieve and we stay frozen to a wobbly branch, afraid to move, or do anything.

"Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: 'Mankind'. Basically, it's made up of two separate words - 'mank' and 'ind'. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."
 —Jack Handey

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

September 9, 2003
Big rain. Big problems. A storm knocked out our home phones (again!) and I can’t access the internet or my blogger. Had a journal entry ready but couldn’t post it yesterday. The well diggers came and pulled off the pump house roof Monday, redid the pump and line. My estimate was $103 off. The bill came to $1,397. However, the water pressure is kaput so Kathy wants them to come back and do it again.

Finally got the ‘49 Ford started and then it overheated and blew off the radiator cap. Somewhere my dad is laughing. Or cringing. Or both.

We passed on the photo shoot with Billy Bob Thorton. He was coming off his rock and roll tour yesterday and we are just getting too close to the deadline. The good news is we have a great shot of Billy Bob as Davy Crockett from Disney. Supposed to interview him this afternoon on the phone. Here’s one of my questions: “John Wayne must have personally killed 175 Mexicans in his Alamo. How many do you kill in this movie?”

Kathy got a new dog collar tag and it says, “Buddy Boze Bell.” Funny girl. He got his stitches removed this morning. He’s moving kind of slow.

Bob Brink came in and wants to do Honkytonk Sue as a comic in the magazine. I told him this was also Will S’s idea. Don’t know if I have the time. I sketched all weekend.

Samantha reports that we have sold 62 Native American sets (see ad, page 88 current issue). This is by far the most successful ad we have ever run. Just amazing. Marketing is so interesting. What sells? Why? When?

"Every child has many wishes. Some include a wallet, two chicks and a cigar, but that's another story."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, September 07, 2003

September 7, 2003
Got a nice write up in today’s Arizona Republic. Phil Boas wrote a piece on our Vera McGinnis cover story and our desire to get her on a U.S postage stamp. Nice pictures, too bad it’s all in black and white (editorial pages+black and white equals more integrity is such an old school, out-dated belief, but it’s still here, thanks in part to old fart editors and the New York Times).

Finished three paintings for CG book yesterday. Worked into the evening on finding reference for today’s work. Actually fun to look at old photo books and find the right look (hats, hair, beards, shirts, holsters, pistols, pants, boots and stance, in that order). What I like to do is marry an authentic photo from the right period (there is a huge difference between the 1860s and 1880s) with an action shot of one of my re-enactor photos. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, lookout! Right now I need an image of a Trantor pistol. Lull, the Pinkerton agent who killed John Younger, had one. Lull also had a “bulldog” which he pulled from under his coat and I have good reference for that.

Received our first E-mail from Thomas in Spain. Here’s what he has to say (see if you can spot what his priorities are in terms of learning): “Right now the dorms and the University are kind of quiet. It´s still summer for them. Like Deena and I noticed the girls are way cooler than the guys but I think that´s a world wide phenom. The Spanish girls that are in the dorm right now said they like my shoes (Old School Vans checkered slip ons). Boo Yah!”

Got some very nice rain yesterday. It’s especially nice when you have no running water. I stood out in it nude and took a pioneer shower. Ran up Old Stage Road to dry off. The Ratcliffs called the sheriff, but I hid in the cave until nightfall, then crept home via the chalk trail, sliding over the back wall and into the pool. Unfortunately there was a posse in our front yard so I hid under water and breathed thru a reed until the lawdogs gave up and went up to the Buffalo Chip for a line dancing lesson.

Not really.

Our dogs are still fighting to see who’s the boss. Peaches nips and snaps at Buddy’s ears relentlessly when we go for a walk. Even though he’s twice as big, she keeps him in line. Sort of like marriage, except the nipping is further south.

“There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, September 06, 2003

September 6, 2003
“We’re pioneers!” Kathy said on our walk this morning. She was half-joking but without running water in the house, it really gives one a clearer view of "roughing it," or the Little House on the Prairieville lifestyle.

Carole and I waited until 7:15 last night for the Best of the West issues to arrive from Kansas City. Carole was steamed. I was just tired. She E-mailed the following to Banta: “It is almost 7 PM here and we are waiting for the delivery of the 300 issues being shipped. We were first told these would arrive last Friday, then last Tuesday, then Thursday, then this morning, and then this afternoon.”

And to boot, the cover sucks. This is not Banta’s fault, it’s mainly mine. Weak color choice (that’s me), tepid, goofy illustration (ditto, en toto) and the typography is sophomoric (Daniel). Just a very disappointing mess. I got carried away with the New York TV stuff last month and didn’t get around to the cover until the last week of the cycle and it flat out shows. The end quote today is for me, and I probably should have it tattooed on my forehead backwards, so I can read it every time I wash my face from a jug in front of the mirror.

On the positive side of the ledger, the five-page-spread on Stacy as “True Cowgirl” is a winner. Daniel did a great job of laying this out and John Beckett’s photographs really tell the story. We were aiming for a 1950s Life magazine type feature and it totally succeeds.

Also, Robert Ray came out yesterday during a power outage at the office and fixed my home computer. I’m not sure what all he did but I can finally access my E-mail and address book. Thankyou Robert!

We also have a new quiz here on the website. Check it out.

After the mags finally arrived, I took my old roommates, Kathy and Carole, to dinner at El Encanto. I had two margaritas (to drown my sorrows for being such a lousy artist) and a No. 1 combo ($52 Sue debit, includes tip). Laughed, cried, counted our blessings (our children aren’t in jail). Kathy and I decided to go home (Mike booked us at the Carefree Conference Resort for the weekend so we could shower, etc.). Have too much to do (like get the next cover in on time!).

Got up this morning and went up to drop off recycling. From there Kathy and I went to the laundromat next to the Circle K to wash our clothes. I haven’t been in a laundromat for probably three decades. It costs $4 to activate the washers! Wow! It took sixteen quarters! The last time I was in it was three quarters. Actually, now that I think of it that is the same spread for the coverprice of True West. Ouch!

”They have a very clean management team and they have stuck to their core competencies.”
—An energy industry analyst referring to the rapid recovery of Kinder Morgan, a pipeline company

Friday, September 05, 2003

September 5, 2003,
First came the blood clot, then lightning hit the house (my computer still won’t access AOL), then it was a plague of no gas, then ATT messed up our phones at the office, then we got robbed. What else could possibly go wrong?

Yesterday the well ran dry. Literally.

The well digger called me on my cell, said our internal pump at the house is fried and we’ll be without water until Monday. They’re going to have to pull the roof off the pump house and it’ll cost 80 cents a foot for the wiring, plus $1 a foot for the pipe, plus replace the five horsepower engine, it’s a 400 foot well. I smell at least $1,500.

Plus, I smell. Period. We have no water and you don’t realize just how much you depend on “running water” until it’s gone. I think I’ll brush my teeth. No, wait, can’t wet the toothbrush without pouring a jug of water on it. I think I’ll wash my hands. Nope, where’s that jug? My watercolor jar is clouded, better refill it. Nope. Get the jug. I have to go number two. . .Ooops! Where’s that corncob?

Got an E-mail from one of the TV production companies. This is what it said: “Our company just got an angry call from the Arizona Film Commission demanding to know why our producer is yelling at the commissioner and harassing folks at retirement homes in Flagstaff. We told him that we haven't done such a thing, and they said that a company called "Pat & Billy Productions," headed by someone named Jonathan Weasel, has been making a ruckus in the past few days. Ever heard of them? It sounds like they might be on the trail of John Miller if they really are hunting down old-timers in Flagstaff.”

There are at least 20 TV “production companies” doing the Billy dig now. Just amazing.

We’re doing the John and Jim Younger vs. The Pinkertons gunfight this issue (December) and I had it nailed extrapolating between two good books on the James-Younger gangs (Yeatman and Brant). I wrote it up and sketched out a map of the basic location and towns: Rosco, Osceola and Monegaw, Missouri and told Gus to fill in the gaps. Well, Gus is so amazing. He comes into my office fifteen minutes later with a March, 1969 issue of Frontier Times and shows me an article by Wilbur Zink on the “Gun Battle at Roscoe.” Zink is an unimpeachable source, one of the giants in the Younger sphere of history and for this article he drew a great map of where everything was with rare photos, etc. And, the piece has numerous details that trump my narrative. For example: both books I used said the Youngers went up “into the attic” when they heard the Pinkertons ride up, so I naturally assumed they peeked at the riders through an upstairs window (you know, like in a Midwest Victorian farmhouse). Both books also stated that the Youngers had horses hidden in the Snuffer “barn” (you know, like a Midwestern red barn) Well, here is what Zink has to say: “The boys crawled up the ladder through a hole in the ceiling and positioned themselves so that they could see through a crack between the logs...” And “the Youngers went out to the shed where their horses were tied...” It totally changes the scene. There are more examples, but I won’t bore you with them (or embarrass myself more).

“Opportunity is missed by most folks because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
—Thomas Edison

Thursday, September 04, 2003

September 4, 2003,
Spent almost the entire day yesterday in meetings. Had lunch at El Encanto ($20 cash) with an old Kingman band-mate Mike Torres. He created 13 sound snippets of possible TV theme songs for our show. Track 3 is really strong. It’s sort of Duane Eddy meets The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Just what I ordered. It’s nice to ask for something and have it delivered, and then some. I hung up my drum sticks for good about five years ago, but Mike continues to pick (and grin). He is a monster talent.

Had an Executive Session at 1:30. Went over business. We are going to attend the Ruidoso Cowboy Symposium in October. Talked about logistics and budgets. Status of Classic Gunfights book, promotions, office changes, salaries and “negative vibes” over a huge desk brought in by one of the employees.

Met with Jeb Rosebrook at two. He listened to Mike’s CD snippets and my explanation and said, “Do you want the real Duane Eddy?” Turns out they’re best friends and Jeb asked me if I wanted to meet Mr. Rebel Rouser. Yikes! One of my guitar heroes, and from Coolidge, Arizona, to boot.

Talked to Jeb about several movie ideas that have been rattling around my brain for the past three decades. He liked two, took notes. We may join forces down the road. He is also going to be pitching the Vera McGinnis story (cover girl on the current issue) to Hollywood. He thinks it has great potential.

The new Cave Creek Chamber is putting on a Wild West weekend in October and Bob Brink thinks we should be involved. We attended a meeting this morning at Rancho Manana to offer our help. Our plea to them was, “We listed the Top 50 Western Towns in this year’s travel issue and we didn’t include Cave Creek. If your project becomes a signature event, we could honestly pick our hometown. Let’s work together on this.” I think they got the message.

Picked up Kathy at 6:30 after work last night and we drove down to Lou Grubb Ford to get her Escape fixed (engine light). They kept car overnight, gave her an Escort, and we met at Charleston’s (Scottsdale Rd. and Frank Lloyd Wright) for dinner. Had a glass of Cabernet and a blackened chicken Caesar salad, Kathy had the same (she bought, $52 cash, includes tip).

“The shortest answer is doing.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

September 3, 2003,
Turns out the two killed in the plane crash yesterday were flying an experimental plane. One was a parttime residence of Cave Creek, 44, and his father-in-law who just celebrated his 73rd birthday last Friday. Death is never at a loss for an occasion.

Just when we thought the Billy dig might be faltering, I got a call from a lawman up at Fort Sumner. What a live wire and funny to boot. He started off by telling me, “we’ve been kind of suckin’ hind tit over here.” Meaning the Lincoln lawmen were getting all the attention. When I asked him how he was going to get anything going because the Fort Sumner mayor and town council have stated publicly they will fight the dig with “every penny” they have, he said, “Yes sir, I may not get re-elected but they’ve got me for three and half more years and I’ve got warrants.” When he was describing the Kid’s last night on earth, he put it this way, “The gal he was bonin’ over here was Pat Garrett’s sister-in-law.” You can’t make up anything better than that. Jana will interview him. He is bucking the entire town and aims to get at the truth. Wonderful stuff.

Went home for lunch yesterday to work on artwork. Got some good stuff. Several deadlines looming. Still hanging on the Hollywood photo shoot. Supposed to find out today.

Mike Melrose is looking at hiring another sales person. We are also trying to reconfigure our office space to accommodate the extra body. We may kill the store and put in an office up there.

Tommy called from Spain yesterday and complained about the guys but said “the girls are hot.” And although his mother may not agree, that’s the real education going on over there.

“Sons have always a rebellious wish to be disillusioned by that which charmed their fathers.”
—Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

September 2, 2003,
Got into office at eight this morning. Someone broke in last night and stole our petty cash box ($120). Called the sheriff. They were late showing up because of a plane crash on Cave Creek Road. Evidently two killed taking off from Carefree Aiport. No other details yet.

Had a very nice weekend, painting and drawing. Really feels good to draw everyday. I’m almost done with a big overview of the McSween fight. It is too late to go in the mag, but will appear in the book. Probably the best illustration I have ever seen depicting what it looked like when the Kid and others jumped into the back yard of the McSween house and made their way to the gate. Did about three different sessions, layering in smoke. Very hard to do, but the atmosphere is very close to my mind’s eye picture. Only thing hanging out is Morris getting it at the gate. Everyone else is in and looking good.

Took off Buddy’s neck cone on Saturday night. Deena came out and did the honors. He is one happy dude. Taking him for a walk on a leash is like trying to hold on to the Hindenburg with a bad air leak.

Watched Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian twice this weekend. Really enjoyed it. It’s a documentary of Jerry building a new standup act. He retired all of his old material about three years ago and started from scratch. Really insightful. The doc featured an up and coming kid named Orny Adams who was supposed to be the next big thing, but the doc was filmed in 2000 and I’ve never heard of him. I wonder what happened to him? Did he make a bad career move like getting into drugs or publishing?

”In failing circumstances no man can be relied on to keep his integrity.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson