Tuesday, July 29, 2003

July 30, 2003
Good staff meeting yesterday morning. Stimulating conversation about funky ad placement. Solid discussion. Staff just about evenly split. The question: Is it okay to put a specific ad next to editorial about the product that’s in the ad? If there’s a column, let’s just say it’s Phil Spangenberger’s gun column as an example, and in the column he’s talking about a Colt, and across on the facing page is a full page ad for Colt. Is that cool? Or, might you be tempted to conclude that Colt paid for the ad and got the editorial as a bonus? Would you be less suspicious of “whoring out” going on if the ad were for a company that was not Colt, like say, Navy Arms? Well, what if you found out that the gun he’s talking about, the Dragoon Colt, is not even being made by Colt anymore (this is true), but a reproduction of it is made by Navy? (also true) Does that fact diminish your suspicions or change your mind? Or, the fact that travel ads are sold exactly that way (placement next to the destinations mentioned in editorial). Hmmmmmm. Not easy answers, but we all believe our credibility is very important and if readers get a jaded idea of how editorial is being swayed by advertising, one thing is for certain: that can be real bad news for all concerned.

Got the presentation binders and printing back from Technaprint at about 11. Robert brought in little, white gloves for his staff to put the pages together. Gus, Abbey and Robert carefully slipped each page into the appropriate sleeve and put together the three presentation binders in the conference room. They are a thing of beauty. Robert handed me his when it was completed and said, “Now bring home a TV show, or don’t come home.” Ha. Funny guy.

Finished roughing in copy for the next Classic Gunfights at about five. We’re doing the McSween House Fight and I forgot how incredible that fight really was. I want to do some new illustrations to help flesh out the new format. Going to be fun. We’ve got a quick turnaround on this one so I’ve got to work smart.

We leave at 7:15 this morning, and fly all day, getting into New York at about 7:30 tonight. We’re staying in an exclusive hotel where you can’t even walk thru the lobby without a tie, jacket, slacks and proper shoes. Needless to say, I’m a tad nervous about this level of formality. Bob Brink was in this same hotel about two months ago with hall-of-famer Jim Brown and Spike Lee (Bob is forming a new hip-hop group with them called “Brown-Spikey-Brink.” Not really), and they wouldn’t let Spike in the dining room with his neon sneakers. That part is way true.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.”
—Dag Hammarskjold
July 29, 2003
Kathy gave me a great card for our anniversary. It says, “If I hadn’t found you....I’d probably be driving somebody else nuts.” Ha. She also got me two great shirts and I got her cowgirl refrigerator magnets. We also treated each other to a trip to Bashas’ to get cereal and milk (instead of going to Dairy Queen and pigging out). We both felt serene and quite smug with ourselves.

Got caught in meetings all day yesterday. Rate increases, grand-fathered accounts, online polls, icon bios, Final Draft editing tutorials and whore mongering ad placement.

I’m excited about some dynamic changes that are going to be happening here to move our website away from a static site to a more active destination. Stay tuned.

Had a disastrous meeting with two very creative types. While I was upset and embarrassed for them, I had to reflect on the many times I have been on their side of the table. We creative types are constantly thinking of ways to improve ideas and this leads to risky leaps of imagination where we hand in something that is totally different than what the client has asked for (the movie Adaptation is probably the best example of this, where the screenwriter was hired to adapt a New Yorker magazine article on an orchid poacher but ends up turning in this opus that includes himself in the story and he has an evil twin and he’s going to screenwriting classes to desperately try and figure out how to make this “adaptation” work. Surprisingly, it did.). This adaptation wasn’t as successful.

The moral for me is that I need to be very specific in what I ask for. And I need to be more courageous in being blunt. I was reading the new Entertainment Weekly about Jerry Bruckheimer and his new movie Pirates of the Carribean. He flat out fired the music guy because “it didn’t sound like a pirate movie.” Now imagine how devastated that music guy is, but imagine how the movie could have sucked if he had been nice and let the guy finish. That’s my growing edge: nice guy vs. the right guy—who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to demand it.

”Don't tell me how rocky the sea is, just bring in the ship.” 
  --Vince Lombardi (I know this is the same quote as yesterday, but it works even better today!)

Monday, July 28, 2003

July 28, 2003
Big rain last night at about 1:30. Really came down. It’s our wedding anniversary. Kathy and I have been married for 24 years. If you’re at all like me, you must be wondering, “How in the hell did he manage to do that?” I agree. This feat makes dumb luck seem like a pimple on the ass of The Mother of All Good Fortune.

Last Saturday Kathy and I walked over to Kierland Commons which is adjacent to the Westin Hotel in Scottsdale. The Commons is a planned, retro downtown area with very hip shops, kind of a Rodeo Drive in a sauna. In fact, the shops are almost too hip. With names like Ecco, Pozo and, I’m not making this up, Anthropologies, it seems a tad over the top. Got an issue of American Art Review ($5.95 cash) at Barnes & Noble. Had lunch at The News Cafe. Too many Yuppie scum mothers with kids in $2,000 baby carriages who can’t or won’t, control their screaming babies. While everyone suffers, they just sit there with that disgusting, “I wouldn’t dream of affecting my precious babie’s self-worth by telling him to shut-up or even consider taking him outside” look. Had a veggie sando and iced tea.

Read and swam, lounged around. Read quite a bit about several of my art heroes, Edward Hopper, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam (great etchings of Victorian street scenes!). All of this was in the American Art Review. As usual, I got mega-excited about doing more of a fictional or semi-autobiographical graphic novel with dynamic, black and white scratchboard art. I envision a kind of Last Picture Show on paper, growing up in Kingman, playing in honkytonks, on the road, desert stories, Westerns with an edgy kinkiness that I seem to have a proclivity for. Someday soon, I’m going to knuckle down and do the first one and I have the title, which I’ve mentioned in here before but don’t want to keep laying it out here for someone to poach. I read about the concept of a graphic novel (a comic book that knocks up a novel) back in 1974. I believe it’s a French idea and I have been dreaming of doing something like that ever since. (for over a quarter century) Ouch!

”Don't tell me how rocky the sea is, just bring in the ship.” 
  --Vince Lombardi

Sunday, July 27, 2003

July 27, 2003
Back from the Westin Hotel retreat. We stayed there for three nights although I drove out to True West several times on Friday. The BBB suite rents for $900 a night (in season) and $300 a night (summer rate).

Read the Alexander Graham Bell biography I picked up in San Antonio (New Mexico). Quite a tale. I thought I knew it, but of course it’s much more complicated than the Cliff Notes version we all know.

Kathy made me go to a Yoga class on Saturday morning ($20 each) and if I never do another “Downward Facing Dog” for the rest of my life, I’ll be a happy man (it is actually like what I remember about going to church; it’s a pain while you’re there, but you feel so much better afterward). Also swam laps in the hotel’s huge olympian pool. All the couples there were quite amorous in the pool. I was trying to swim in the lap lane, but a woman parked herself against the south end with her ankles up on her mate’s shoulders. Both were drinking and giggling about what was going on under the water. I finally had to swim underwater and make the guy take his hands off her.

Not really.

I also made a lap or two in their simulated Salt River tube run (an artificial river that loops around fake waterfalls and rocks). Pretty amazing. Kathy and I had dinner in the Nellie Cashman restaurant on Friday night. Had the salmon taco. She had a chicken salad. Got out pretty cheap ($22 cash). All the bars and meeting rooms are named for Arizona historical characters. Our own Marshall Trimble was the historical consultant and he’s the main reason I have a suite named after me.

Had over a few friends to the BBB suite on Saturday night. The Brinks, the Robertsons, the Glenns and Mike Melrose dropped in for drinks and a party platter from AJ’s ($123 cash). Fun. Talked about the biz, movies and our upcoming website meeting tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Jason, our webmaster, has some strong ideas and I’m anxious for him and Trish to take our site to the next level. I read in the paper that Southwest Airlines now does 53% of their business online (up from 46% just six months ago). This is where it’s all going. Parallels to the 1890s and 1900s when the telephone was struggling to survive are everywhere. William Orton, the CEO of Western Union, dismissed the telephone as “a toy” and passed on the offer to buy the whole shooting match for $100,000. Otis, who was the Bill Gates of his time, is today known as the man who refused to buy the most profitable invention in recorded history. Ouch!

Before I forget, Lew Jones told me a funny story about living in Catron County, New Mexico. His neighbor Sid was at a swap meet near Reserve and the guy running it started complaining about the fires and the evil BLM, the even eviler Forest Service and outside agitators in general. Finally, he barked out to anyone within hearing, "This whole place is going to Hell and now we got Bob Boze Bell over here rewriting the history of Catron County."

I assume he is referring to my Classic Gunfight on the Elfego Baca story, but for whatever reason it’s nice to be taken as a threat by Big Thinkers anywhere.

"Have no fear of perfection—you'll never reach it."
-Salvador Dali

Friday, July 25, 2003

July 25, 2003
Checked into the prestigious Westin Hotel yesterday at two. We are staying in the Bob Boze Bell suite and it’s really a thrill to see four rooms totally dedicated to someone I’m just crazy about. The last time we stayed they hadn’t put up the BBB bio, so this time I stood in the foyer, by the front door, next to a giant photograph of myself (it’s a blowup of the photo at the top of this page) and read some of the juicier paragraphs aloud to Kathy. I finally had to say, “Man, this guy is so groovy. I wish I knew him.” Kathy laughed like someone who knows the truth, and she does. The only fly in the ointment is they mangled a “fact” off of my web-site bio at bobbozebell.com. In it, I state with some tongue-in-cheek pride that “I graduated with the valedictorian of my class.” A modest joke and self-effacing to boot. Unfortunately, the copy writer (who is quite talented I might add) evidently misread the bio and it ends up saying, on the wall, “In spite of his clowning around, Bob Boze Bell was the valedictorian of his class.” Now this is horribly wrong (as any teacher I ever had will attest) and it’s not fair to our worthy valedictorian Ellen Hollenstein (who really never cared for me anyway). I will try to have this corrected, but I can imagine future critics complaining, “in a pathetic attempt at revisionist history, Boze often tried to pass himself off as the valedictorian of his class when he barely managed to graduate with a C- average.”

In a related story, I had a similar problem when I was a freshman at the University of Arizona. There was another Robert Bell in my class and he made the Dean’s List (once again, I was barely holding a C average). The university sent a press release to the first Robert Bell’s hometown (that would be me) and The Mohave County Miner published this glowing article on my academic achievements. My art teacher at Mohave County Union High School (nicknamed Mucous) claimed much of the honor and remembered how great I was as a student. My mother allowed the myth to be perpetuated, “Oh, Bobbie, you must be so proud of your Robert.” “Yes, he studies very hard.” I finally had to confront my mother: “It’s not true, mom. Quit saying it, or tell them the truth.” “Well, you could make the Dean’s List,” was her reply. “Yes,” I told her, “and I could be a murderer too, but I don’t think you’d allow that typo to persist.” Somehow my mom never saw the logic in that.

"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."
—Cary Grant

Thursday, July 24, 2003

July 24, 2003
Still muggy and overcast. Hit 110 yesterday. Quite oppressive, but as we like to say, “It keeps out the riff-raff.”

Drove down to Greenway and I-17 at 5:30 to meet Theresa (from Tri Star Boze Publishing) and picked up two of my Wyatt Earp hardbound books. Stopped at Rolberto’s on the way home and got carne asado burros to go ($6.25 cash).

Talked to Thomas in New York last night. He’s struggling under the expense of living there. It’s good for him to have that reality check.

The Vera issue is nearing completion. Tweaked “Classic Gunfights” yesterday. Several bugs in the new layout. Typography is still a concern to me. It’s not very “Western” but at some point I have to trust Dan’s vision.

In yesterday’s journal entry, in the photo at the Bell gravesite memorial: that’s Sheriff Tom Sullivan on the left and Dr. Jannay Valdez, of Desoto, Texas on the right. That’s also Steve Sederwall (mayor of Capitan and one of the major players in the Billy dig) in the background, between them.

Somehow ripped off a toenail in my sleep last night. I was having violent, logistic-heavy dreams: I’m trying to move from Kingman and I have stuff scattered between Tucson and Phoenix and I need a ride cause the brakes are out on my vehicle and my stuff is everywhere and I’m a long way from where I need to be and I’m afraid someone is going to steal my stuff (not hard to figure out the “symbols” in this recurring nightmare, eh?).

"I went to a bookstore and asked the sales clerk where to find the self-help section. She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose."
—Steven Wright

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

July 23, 2003
The monsoon is upon us. Very muggy out. Big storm on Monday night, sprinkles and dust last night. Telephone lines are evidently wet, can’t get online (finally got online at around 2 PM). This happens several times a year.

The James W. Bell headstone dedication last Saturday was interesting. They got a pretty big crowd and there were several video crews filming everything. I got some good shots. Ran up a nearby hill to get a long shot of the whole deal, then worked my way down to the grave and arrived just in time to get Sheriff Tom Sullivan meeting the director of the Brushy Bill-Hico Museum. At first, the Sheriff looked tense like he might pull iron, but then they shook hands. I got it all. I have been somewhat lucky in this regard. I got the photo of writer-director Kevin Jarre at the moment he lost his movie Tombstone, and I also was in the right place at the right time when I got the sequence in Schieffelin Hall when Glenn Boyer confronted Allen Barra (Feb.-Mar. 2001 True West)).

Swam laps last night. Felt very good. Watched a certain cable channel looking for clues (who are they trying to appeal to and how are they doing it?). Had lunch with Jeb Rosebrook yesterday (he bought) and we talked a bit about writing a pilot for the TV show. Flying to New York a week from today. Gus has been working non-stop on the presentation. Goes to Techniprint on Monday.

One of my driving miracles last weekend is the fact that after you boil it all down I am a cartoonist and have been from day one. I was watching Project Greenlight last night and I realized how compromising making a movie is. The crews are so large and moving all that equipment around necessitates cutting corners on locations and I hate that (In the road flick Thelma & Louise the San Fernando Valley ends up doubling for Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, etc., so you end up with mountains in Oklahoma. Yuck!). I don’t have to do that in my books. It’s just me and if I want to stay up all night marrying a New Mexico background to models I shot in Cave Creek, I can. Funny, Greenlight is turning out to be a real redlight for me (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon should probably each get a Nobel Peace Prize for dissuading guys like me from the conceit that we can be directors,).

Finished the last piece of art for this issue’s Classic Gunfight. Feels good. I’m in the zone.

Small world: Dave Daiss told me he also dated Ann Margaret (Olson) when they were in junior high. Amazing.

”Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.
—George Scialabba

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

July 21, 2003
Here’s a scary thought: I’ve been driving for 40 years. This got me to thinking about two things. One is that old guy in California who killed ten people with his car (I’m closer to him than I am the kids I see on the streets who have been driving for about 40 minutes—and drive like it!) and I almost got creamed in New Mexico. I was coming around a big sweeper curve east of Magdalena on Saturday and I was looking out at a sweet little ranchito tucked into the crease of a hillock and I wanted to get a picture of it but I didn’t want to stop. So I held out my camera and shot off one frame, and then was going to grab a second, but as I looked back at the road, I saw the front grill of a canary-yellow F-150 Ford pickup coming right at me in my lane. I swerved off on the shoulder and the Yellow Boy just skimmed the dust off my driver door mirror. Stuff was thrown everywhere as I looked in the mirror and watched the pickup cruise around the bend and out of sight. I assume he was as drunk as the person who painted his truck.

Working hard on the James W. Bell page. Got the photos back at noon ($57 biz debit). Had it finished but then got some great copy from one of the principals and tried to figure out a way to shoe-horn it in. Daniel came out at around 11 to troubleshoot layout and he took it home to redesign. Anxious to see what he comes up with.

Need to finish several more pieces of art. Kind of rusty. It’s feast or famine in the art department.

Proof that advertising works: I was cruising in to Globe on Sunday and it was too hot and I was getting tired, so I pulled off the main road and went downtown looking for a “real” cafe. I had made up my mind I was tired of Mexican food and wanted something a bit cooler, maybe a veggie sando. Found a couple contenders but they were closed on Sunday. Came around the bend and saw a billboard that said, “Libby’s El Rey Cafe • Consistently Real Mexican Food for Over 50 Years • 1/4 Mile Ahead • A True Globe-Miami Landmark.” That did it. The sign totally overrulled my earlier objection and I pulled right in and had a bowl of red chile, homemade flower tortilla and a big ol’ jug of real iced tea ($6, plus tip, $8 cash). Amazing what a good ad can do.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
—Charles Darwin

Monday, July 21, 2003

July 20, 2003
Lots of Zen driving over the weekend. Traffic was surprisingly light going over and coming back. Several times I found myself in the middle of nowhere with no cars behind me and nobody in front of me for miles. Slowed down and rolled down the windows and enjoyed the ride. Didn’t listen to the radio, just dug the road.

Stopped in Datil and went in the only cafe, adjacent to the Phillips 66. Went up to the hostess-cashier and said, “Hey, what is that big monument style gravestone west of town? Is it worth going back to see?” She looked at me like I’m an idiot and said, “No.”

I looked at her somewhat surprised and then asked her who the monument is for.“It’s for the Clevelands,” she said as if that answered everything (after all everyone in Datil has known this for years and years). And I said, “Were they big ranchers?” And she shot me another idiot look: “They built the railroad across the country.” And I wanted to say, “Which one, you dumb twit, There are several, you know,” but I didn’t.

Farther up the road in Magdalena I had a similar experience. Went in the new Community Center. Three people were moving a display case. I walked around, nobody ever said hi or welcome or who are you? I brought in an issue of True West and was going to give it to them, introduce myself, offer them help on publicity for local events, buy something, give them some support. Finally, after about ten minutes, I left and thought I’d go across the street to the museum, but one of the women comes out and asks me to move my truck (there were only two cars on the entire street, hers and mine!). I got in, backed out and drove away. I was ready to spend money and support the town but nobody seemed to care about that. This got me to thinking: are these people suffering from small-town-shyness that sometimes passes for Arrogance? Or, are they so stupid they don’t get it and then wonder why no one stops and buys anything at their “cultural centers”? My good friend Lew Jones who used to own the Mineshaft bar and restaurant in Cave Creek says it’s the latter and the attitude from these people is: “Just mail us your money. We can’t be bothered by your stupidity.” It’s hard to feel sorry for fools like that, but somehow I manage to.

"For every person with a spark of genius, there are a hundred with ignition trouble."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 20, 2003

July 19, 2003
Marathon drive over to Lincoln yesterday. Left at six AM, traffic was pretty light all the way up the hill to Payson. Took the Fort McDowell cutoff. Saved about five minutes and I always wanted to see Old Fort McDowell where Martha Summerhays spent part of her US Army life. Of course there appears to be no original fort there, only 1960s era government buildings

Got to Payson at about 7:40 and decided to try a new cafe. Chose the 260 Cafe, on Highway 260, natch. Sparse interior, no booths, just tables scattered around a small dining room. Brought in the Arizona Republic to read and as the waitress poured me coffee she said, “Any good news, hon?” And I said, “Nothing but bad news and destruction.” She sniffed right back, “That’s why I don’t read any papers or watch TV.” I didn’t really believe her, but I snorted some silly sound, equivalent to total approval.

It was about this time I realized there was a Native American woman in the room with Tourette’s Syndrome. The first time I heard it I thought someone in the kitchen had been scalded, but by the third outburst, I looked up and saw her pained husband (or was he her son, I couldn’t tell) talking to her in low tones. Fortunately she was swearing in Navajo or Apache, but it seemed like she was unhappy with Blockbuster because her outbursts kind of sounded like this: “Wah, na-ha, Cheltsma, DVD!” She used the DVD word quite a bit. Granted, it could have been a Navajo word that sounds like DVD but isn’t. Sometimes it sounded like she was yelling about WMDs and I thought for awhile it might be a political discussion. Of course me and everyone else in the dining room pretended we couldn’t hear a thing. I started counting her outbursts and she seemed to get about two-and-a-half bites of ham and eggs in before another attack.

The food was real mediocre ($7.13 cash, left a $10) but with entertainment like that who can complain? They don’t have that kind of a deal going on the last time I was at Denny’s.

Got some peaches and apples at Overgaard ($11 cash) and gas and a water jug in Springerville ($17 cash), and launched my Ranger out into the wilds of New Mexico. Forgot how pretty it is out there on the way to Magdalena. Stopped in Quemado at a roadside picnic table on the far end of town and drank water and watched the locals. It’s really great to travel alone because I don’t have to negotiate with anyone. If I want to cruise the back streets, here we go. If I want to stop, I stop. Pretty cool, really. Had a run-in with a woman from Datil (rhymes with saddle) though and I’ll tell that story manana.

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”
—Ellen Burstyn

Thursday, July 17, 2003

July 18, 2003
Cooler yesterday. Wants to rain. Trying to line my ducks up for a driving marathon today (leaving at 5 AM) for Lincoln, New Mexico. Took the Ranger back to Tobias in the morning (Thursday) to get the heat-o-stat or something fixed. Also got a tire that’s about to go. Walked to work again, felt good.

Worked for two hours on historically accurate Westerns. Got eight or nine written up, including The Long Riders, Little Big Man, Silverado, The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Wild Bunch and Heaven’s Gate. If you’re wondering (like I would be) why some of those even qualified as being accurate about anything, you’ll have to read the article.

Argued over the Vera cover. Too cluttered. Pulled off several items, looked better, tweaked a headline or two, still not completely there. I don’t think Daniel is going to like the changes, but here we go. Told Robert to PDF it down to Dan for his approval.

Went to lunch with Carole at Pei Wei ($9 cash). Fun, as always.

Had a good phone conversation with Jeb Rosebrook (he wrote “Junior Bonner”). He had good advice for the meeting with the network. I’m torn between giving them too much and not enough. He clarified for me they wouldn’t have requested us to fly to New York unless it was a “working meeting.” Funny how that clarification opened up the possibilities. Ordered a script writing software program ($150, my biz account). Want to rough in the pilot (listen to me! The next thing you know I’ll be talking points and taking meetings).

Went down and got my coumadin pro-time workup score (1.5: the guy shook his head, saying, “Man you got thick blood!” And I thought, “Not half as thick as my skull.”). Also picked up two boxes of my books (sold out in Willcox) for my trip to New Mexico. Picked up truck ($230 my biz account).

As I expected, Daniel called and he disagrees with the changes. Wants to put type out in the painting field. My logic is, why have a color bar going down the left side as a compartment to contain type if you’re not going to use it? He still disagreed. He’s so stubborn—and so am I. Finally told him to keep it within the boundaries of the red zone. I think it’s the right call, but I felt bad. I always want to give artists their head whenever possible. Besides, I’ve been known to be wrong, every now and then.

Got a phone call from one of my hosts in New Mexico saying one of the fires over there is threatening their cabin and they may not be able to get in there, much less have me spend the night with them. Worrisome. There must be five or six fires in the general area. Really a modern phenom. I don’t remember this degree of fires when I was growing up, do you?

Took a meeting with Annie Bianco (see Colt ad back cover, current issue). She is, well, she’s persuasive. Plus, we argued points on the back end.

Just kidding.

“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.”
—Anatole France
July 17, 2003
Took the Ranger in to Tobias yesterday morning to have the oil changed and a tire checked. Walked to work (it’s about a mile). Passed a Mexican National (euphemism for an illegal) walking the other way and he was carrying a pair of cowboy boots. I don’t know why but it triggered a memory of being a boy in Kingman and walking into the “shoe shop” and all the boots with steep heels lining the walls and the smell of leather and the dark, funky lighting setting off the craggy features of weathered cowboys sitting around telling lies. Sweet memory actually.

Worked hard all day laying out the first signature on Classic Gunfights book. Gus and I pushed around images and Abby fretted about typography (some of Daniel’s specs look groovy but are not reader friendly). Wrestled with this most of the day. Still managed to have a meeting about the 50 Most Historically Accurate Westerns. R.G. and I split the remaining holes and vowed to plug ‘em.

It was four years ago this week (actually July 12, 1999) that we agreed to buy True West. It was on a conference call with Steve Gragert in Stillwater, OK, Bob McCubbin in El Paso and me in Cave Creek. Seems like about two weeks ago in some respects and twenty years ago in others.

Took Minnesota Mike to lunch at El Encanto ($20 cash). I was telling him that one of the embarrassing conceits of my generation is that we are still dressing up like cowboys and we think we can make movies (starring ourselves) but who wants to pay $6.50 to sit in the dark and watch a bunch of fat old farts pretending to be cowboys? This launched Mike off on a series of potential titles:

• The Middle-aged, the Fat & the Ugly
• Butch Cassidy & the Refrigerator Kid
• The Outlaw Whales
• The Men Who Ate Liberty Valance
• A Fistful of Chocolate
• Support Your Local Chef
• The Crisco Kid
• Two Mules w/cheese for Sister Sara
• For A Few Pounds More

Talked to artist Buckeye Blake about the Billy dig. He has a great “death sculpture” that would be so cool at Fort Sumner. And speaking of Fort Sumner, the council and various civic groups there are vowing to fight the digging up of the Kid with every penny they have. I can’t blame them. What if he isn’t there? And there’s a good chance he isn’t.

“Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody.”
—Helen Gurley Brown

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

July 16, 2003
Yesterday was the hottest day on record for Phoenix. Technically it was the highest low overnight (it never got below 96 degrees and it was 114 in the day). We are about a thousand feet higher than Phoenix here in Cave Creek, so we typically run about 10 degrees cooler; however there is very little difference between 104 and 114.

Jana finished the History of True West yesterday and I read it. Quite good, although it will undoubtably be criticized by the usual suspects (former editors). We are also listing all the editors of the magazine and it was amazing to see how few there have been in 50 years.

Jana treated us to lunch at the Satisfied Frog. Meghan, Sue H., Gus, Robert R., Abby and I had a good time talking about our forthcoming True West Camp which will be held in October at Dave Daiss’ ranch. The boys will sleep in tents on the parade ground and the girls will be in the bunkhouse. And of course the bunkhouse is off-limits to the boys after dark. Ha. Going to be fun.

I wrote up my opinion on 11 historically accurate Westerns for our list of 50 coming out in December issue. Just as a tease I included Union Pacific, The Big Trail, Tombstone, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Lonesome Dove, among others. These films were noted not because they were completely accurate but because of specific attention to detail (in Tombstone it was the hats and clothing).

I also wrote up a long list of possible Classic Gunfights for our meeting in New York in two weeks. It’s an impressive list (three pages so far).

Just captured a Mojave Rattler outside my studio door (7:15 AM). Very aggressive (they are noted for not giving you the courtesy rattle before they attack). Grabbed the pool skimmer and a rake, sandwiched him between and threw him over the back wall.

Road trip alert: Ed Mell can’t go to Lincoln this weekend. Who wants to go? We’ll split gas and driving and the rooms at Casa de Patron are $65. Sorry, no Earp nuts, please.

“He who takes a stand is often wrong, but he who fails to take a stand is always wrong.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

July 15, 2003
Daniel did his magic on the Vera cover and we are close to a finished product. He E-mailed up two different versions yesterday and we mulled them. Strong consensus on one.

Worked hard on a James W. Bell piece for the October issue. He was one of the deputies killed by Billy the Kid during his brazen escape from hanging. Some of the writing was precognition, meaning I was writing about the memorial this coming Saturday from the perspective of the event having already happened. Ed Mell and I are driving over to Lincoln on Friday to attend the Bell memorial dedication at White Oaks on Saturday. I’ll take photos and live the experience and determine if the copy I wrote yesterday matches the actual experience. All of this underscores the old saying, “Media are scum.”

Went to lunch with Carole at Tuscan Cafe. Had the veggie sandwich ($11 cash). Good talk with her. She has been with me since day one and she knows where all the bodies are (and we have a pretty decent sized cemetery going).

Worked until around 5:30, came home, swam laps for 40 minutes. No pool cover is needed now. The water is 90 degrees without it.

Studied the printout of Classic Gunfights book. Needs a ton of work. Very rough. Many gaping holes and wrong-headed graphics, but then, that is the fun of it. Fixing those holes.

Planning our trip to New York in two weeks. Working backwards from our big meeting at the network. What do I need in that meeting to be pro-active? I’ve been in these meetings before and I give great meeting, but it’s what happens after the meeting that counts, and it’s there that I have dropped the ball on more than one occasion. I still go back to the saying, “Success is 99 percent failure,” or as The Babe put it:

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
—Babe Ruth

Monday, July 14, 2003

July 14, 2003
Got a good write up in Sunday’s Arizona Republic on the Digging Up Billy issue. Good and bad press is always welcome.

The actor Marty Cove who I mentioned yesterday gave me a couple publicity photos at Willcox. Here’s him with Kevin Costner on the set of Wyatt Earp. I think the photo was taken at Cook’s Ranch, south of Santa Fe. Kathy and I visited the set, the day after Thanksgiving, 1993.

Odd connections: My therapist at the time vacationed in Santa Fe and his next door neighbor was the set designer on the movie and he ended up ordering 90 of my Illustrated Life & Times of Wyatt Earp books as gifts for the crew (they spent $1.5 million re-designing the movie town streets to replicate Dodge City and Tombstone). He asked me if I ever wanted anything to call him and I said, “I’d love to visit the set.”

Tonight on CNN, writer and friend Howard Bryan will be interviewed on the Billy dig. It’s supposedly running right after Larry King Live. Also, today is the day they're supposed to dig up Billy's mom.

“There is no final draft of history.”
—John Carlin, archivist of the Unites States

Sunday, July 13, 2003

July 13, 2003
Big day in Willcox yesterday. It was the Michael Hickey annual confab for Warren Earp Days in Willcox, Arizona. Big breakfast at eight with a speaker from National Geographic. Michael always puts on a good show and treats everyone to a good time.

At ten, I drove down to the Elks Lodge for an author’s booksigning party. This year they invited Western movie stars (actually, Tombstone store owner, Jim Clark got tired of getting no support for the Tombstone Film Festival and moved his show up to Willcox this year). Peter Brown (Lawman), Robert Horton (Wagon Train), Marty Cove (Karate Kid and Wyatt Earp) and William Smith (Laredo and C.C. & Company).

Peter Brown came over to my table at one point and I said, “Peter, I have met you three or four times, but I have to ask you something personal.” He gave me that look, but I pressed on. “You actually dated Ann Margaret? Tell me something about her. Does she like strawberry jam? Did you buy her a motorcycle?” He smiled and told the story of how he met her (she was a singer in a college combo playing Newport Beach). Peter got her hooked up with several producers and agents he knew and in fact he introduced her to Roger Smith (77 Sunset Strip) her future husband. Peter got a very nice mention in her autobiography (that’s how I knew about their tryst).

Also talked to Marty Cove who was in Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner. Marty was also at True West’s 30th anniversary part in Cheyenne. He signed me a couple photos.

William Smith was a “heavy” in many movies and I was actually an extra in a movie he starred in called C.C. & Company starring Joe Namath and, ta da, Ann Margaret. That was back in about 1970 when Joe was a big deal. William’s memory of it is that the Jets wouldn’t let Joe actually ride a motorcycle (those knees!), although I seem to remember there are several scenes of him riding.

Sold a ton of books. In fact, I sold three slip-case Wyatt Earp first editions for $150 each. Not bad. Many good comments on the magazine. The only negative: “I wish you didn’t have so many ads.” Had a good conversation with Bob McCubbin regarding the business. His dog “Bear” gets so much attention from women it’s downright amazing.

Kathy and I had lunch at the Rose Cafe in Willcox ($19 cash), then drove down to Dave and Doreen Daiss’ ranch near Elgin. Took the ranch tour and saw all the animals, pigs, chickens, dogs, horses and cattle. It’s a real Red River spread (in fact Red River was filmed in the area and the spires and peaks have that haunting, “Man, I’ve seen this all somewhere before,” effect.).

Had a couple beers, solved life, took a nap and then it started to rain. And then it hailed, tiny snowballs bouncing in the grass outside the front door. At about seven we went into Sonoita for dinner at the Sonoita Cafe. Got drenched opening the gates and even getting into the restaurant. Lovely little hometown cafe. Had the crab rellenos and a glass of Dos Cabezas Cabernet (locally grown grapes and wine). Really fun time ($50 cash). Went back out to the ranch as a stunning lightning storm raked the sky down around Fort Huachuca and the Huachuca Mountains (in fact, Dave told us Huchuca means “thunder”). Sat outside and just stared at the electric light show. So much of it was so far away, we never got the sound, but then after a dozen flashes a close one would hit and loudly rip through the atomosphere. Really exciting to witness. Better than any TV show or video game.

“There is no final draft of history.”
—John Carlin, archivist of the Unites States
July 12, 2003
Had a long one yesterday. Got up at 4:30, worked in studio. Got into office at eight. Worked on gathering up the loose ends of the Vera cover, the proposed Classic Gunfights cover and other odds and ends I wanted to bring Daniel up to speed on all of our graphic ideas and theories. Took off at 11:20 to make the arduous trip into the bowels of Phoenix. Got to Dan’s at noon, went over the Vera cover ideas. He isn’t thrilled about the painting and is not that hot on the upside down Vera either. We negotiated thru the impasses (we’ve only been doing this for 45 years) and tried to find common ground. I trust his instincts—most of the time (if two guys in business agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.).

Took Dan to lunch at El Bravo on 7th St. and Butler. Great little hole-in-the-wall ($21 cash). Dan told about his and Darlene’s vacation to San Francisco and Napa Valley to see Hank W. (an old, wild college roommate of mine. He was the one who got us thrown in jail in Nogales in 1968). Then drove out to Mountain Shadows Resort for a teacher-librarian conference. Tag-teamed the speech with Tim Simmons (“When The Red Man Won”) and we did really well. I had a ton of my books and they lined up and bought all but three Docs. Not too surprising because teachers and librarians are readers. Imagine that?!

Drove back out to he house, swam about ten quick laps, packed in a hurry, Kathy came home around 5:15 and we took off down Scottsdale Road bound for Molise Cusina in south Scottsdale. for a big KXAM radio party for all the “former” employees. Great Big Wonderful and Wendy were there. Also, Gordon Smith, Buffalo Rick, Miss Connie, Heather the Weather Girl, Big-Bad Bob Baker, Bill Strauss and more than one producer whose name I couldn’t remember. Funny you work with these guys, sometimes under very trying situations, they save your bacon almost daily and you meet them five years later and it’s, “How are YOU doing, Man? YOU’re looking good. Kathy, this is my favorite producer. He was so great!” And Kathy takes her cue and says, “Hi my name is Kathy. What’s yours?”

Took off at seven and drove out the 101 (Kathy drove). I took over on the Indian Res and we cruised down toward Tucson at about 80. Everything looked smooth until I remembered I plum forgot my coumadin pills. Kathy got on her cell phone and called Walgreens in Casa Grande, they looked me up in the computer and we took the detour off the 10 pulled up to the downtown Walgreens, walked back to the prescription counter and the order was waiting ($25). Imagine that happening even ten years ago! Went thru old Casa Grande, downtown looking sad, cruised back on the 10 and when we got to Picacho we ran headlong into a huge Monsoon (or Guaca Muggy as we deemed it at KSLX). Bad dust storm, low visibility. Everyone slowed down to about 82. Traffic bumper to bumper all the way to the outskirts of Tucson. Everything stopped dead at Orange Tree. We got off and waded across town, past my old place on Ruthrauf Road (torn down), past the Longhorn Saloon where I played drums (still there, different name), past the ol’ stalwart Packem’ Inn (still there and still popular). Ended up downtown by the Convention Center at a little Mexican food place on the lip of the Barrio called El Minuto. Air was humid and smelled of rain as we walked across the parking lot and heard the staccato Mexican trumpets from inside the cafe. I was home. Had the casuella soup (carne asada) and a Corona. Kathy had the Topopo Salad ($19 cash). Enjoyed a cup of coffee and took off for Willcox at about 10:30. It’s an eighty mile run.

Lots of 18 Wheelers running at night. Tried to pass them all but there was always another five in front of the pack I just passed. The air was smokey and dusty (I think from the Aspen Fire on Mount Lemon). Laughed at all “The Thing—Can You Take It?” signs. Had a flight of fancy that I could take over that tourist trap and really make it groovy. Spent a quarter million in my mind, imagined all the vandalism to the restrooms and all the “priceless” museum artifacts disappearing and by the time we cruised by the place in the dark I had sold it at a big loss.

Got into Willcox at 11:30 and pulled into the Best Western. Computers down, power had been out. Huge storm had knocked out everything in town. The nightshift clerk couldn’t access our room. Finally got into our room (#223) at midnite. It was a smoker’s room but we were too tired to fight about it or complain. However, they didn’t have coffee (had the coffee maker, no coffee packets). The front desk clerk informed me the coffee was locked in the “storage room” so I walked across the street to a Circle K and bought a can of Yuban. The clerk helped me purloin a can opener out of one of those plastic packets that hang in the “Wanna-Pay-Double-For-A-Household-Item-You-Forgot? racks, and I cut open the can, got back to the room and crashed.

“Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, July 11, 2003

July 11, 2003
“Most people come here to get as far away from 2003 as possible.” That’s Rocco Wachman talking, a native New Yorker, who owns Arizona Cowboy College, where tuition is $1,500 and 739 students have enrolled. Great quote and I think it applies to our magazine as well.

Mike Melrose ended up on the front page of his hometown newspaper, The Globe Gazette (serving Mason City-Clear Lake, IA). Wearing an “I’m Your Huckleberry” T-shirt and holding a beer, Mike is quoted as saying he likes to come home because, “Nothing changes. It’s comforting.” Mike is vehemently denying the latter part of the quote and claims he never said it. I don’t know why Mike would be so upset about using a word like “comforting.” Maybe he is gay after all.

We shot Abby in the “I Dig Billy” T-shirt and she looked great. The ad for the shirt will go in the next issue.

Finished my editorial for October around noon. Included the actual ad from a 1959 True West for Ed Bartholomew’s Biographical Album of Western Gunfighters. It was interesting to look at the ad today and remember how it grabbed me as a 13-year-old kid. So much so that I worked all summer to buy it ($15 for a book!). I wonder if they made any money off it? Experience tells me, probably not. However, pristine copies of the book are worth about $200 today.

Got a speech this afternoon for 500 teachers at Mountain Shadows Resort. Going to go in to Phoenix at noon to have lunch with Dan H. and talk about the Vera cover and the Classic Gunfights cover. Then a KXAM reunion party at six, and at seven Kathy and I are driving down to Willcox for the Michael Hickey confab for Warren Earp Days.

"If ignorance is bliss, there should be a hell of a lot more happy people."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, July 10, 2003

July 10, 2003
More trips in the hopper. Going to attend the Golden Boot Awards (the Westerns’ version of the Oscars) in Hollywood next month. Never been before. Also, Kathy and I are flying to New York in August to meet Bob Brink who has corralled a meeting with a certain network. Quite exciting. I’m actually as thrilled about getting the Hearst tour of NY and seeing Bob’s World as I am of the opportunity to have a TV show. Of course, the kids are there and we hope to rendezvous with them. It’s shaping up as a very busy summer.

Took some of my key women to lunch yesterday. Sue H. is going to go across the hall to sales. Samantha is taking over the front store and subscriptions, etc. Wanted to talk about the transition and ideas. Carole, Sue and “Sam” had excellent ideas for promotions, T-shirts and marketing. Ate too much (had the special: red chile burro and chicken taco, $42 biz account). I’m lucky to have such competent, talented women working for me.

As I mentioned yesterday, Gus turned out some excellent Vera stamp ideas. Here they are. Which one do you think has the most potential to end up as an official U.S. postage stamp? Email us with your vote here.

Came home at 5:30 and swam laps. Read the new Esquire with J.Lo on the cover (R.G. had never heard of J.Lo, such a sheltered boy). Quite cutting edge. Excellent cover design and inside graphics. Had a design meeting at two yesterday with Robert R., Abby, Gus and Meghan. Decided we don’t always need sub-heds (Meghan’s leap of imagination) and we need to develop our own version of the sans serif sidebar, a la Esquire. Good meeting.

Going to shoot Abby today in the I Dig Billy t-shirt. Need to bring in the shovel (the actual one I used to draw the design) and a book on Maynard Dixon. We’re featuring him in Christmas Art of The True West. He is one of my heroes. Came out to Arizona about 1901 from San Francisco. Sketched his way from Fort Mojave to Oatman, Kingman, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson and one of his notes reflects how crazy all the anglos thought he was. To paraphrase him, You were either a cowboy or a miner and the idea that someone would be in Arizona for the art of it was just unbelievable to everyone I met. Funny. He is a great draftsman and painter. Ed Mell turned me on to him (in fact Ed owns several originals and every time I go to his house, I drool on his couch). Speaking of Ed, he and I and Robert R. are planning a road trip back to Lincoln for the Bell memorial service (the Bell who Billy the Kid killed, not me). That’s in two weeks.

“The secret of a happy life?  Accept change gracefully.”
—Jimmy Stewart.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

July 9, 2003
Productive day in office yesterday. Had a staff meeting at 8:30. Mike Melrose evidently had so much fun at his reunion he stayed over an extra day (probably shacked up with a former teacher).

Brought in the big Vera and Robert Ray scanned it and enriched the colors. Looks kind of washed out on the 35mm photograph. Gus made five proposed postage stamps out of my various images of the cowgirl. Really looks wonderful. I’ll post the end results sometime this week.

Jana, Kathy, Carole, Meghan, the Brinks, Dave Daiss, Jerry J. and I went down to Satisfied Frog for lunch. Had a great time and talked about the biz, the Billy dig and many items of importance ($24 cash).

Got an E-mail from a kid in Australia named James Mills who loves the Old West and especially Billy the Kid. Here’s his P.S.: “Your biography on your website bobbozebell.com is both inspirational, and hilarious, you’ve lived quite a life.”

Kathy and I went out to dinner at Tonto with Dave and Doreen last night. Great time talking about their new ranch down at Sonoita. We’re going to be staying with them this weekend. Had the salmon. Really good. Dave actually ate. That was even better.

“I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.”
—George Burns

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

July 8, 2003
Finished the big Vera at 7:30 this morning. Worked on it yesterday at lunchtime and then again when I got home last night. Not great, but when you’re riding a jackass, you take what you can get.

Good day in office yesterday. Read Jana’s “eat crow” piece on the Charlie Smith letters. Really strong. She is absolutely the best.

Went to lunch with Bob Brink and R.G. at Tonto. Went over a mailer from a certain cable channel that wants to rent our subscriber list. Interesting offer (they have to fax you their entire mailer for approval). I was really impressed with some of the offers and come-ons, but Bob has seen this a thousand times and he just shrugged. Ha.

Robert Ray has finished the first phase of the Bob Boze Bell website. It has my life story (as if you wanted to know) and about a third of the artwork you have read about. Check it out at Bobbozebell.com. I’d like your feedback.

Art and commerce: speaking of my artwork and getting paid for it, I have had a very interesting journey. I started out doing a comic strip called Honkytonk Sue (actually visually based on the cowgirls of the twenties like Vera McGinnis). It was first published in National Lampoon in 1977 and I got paid about $1,000 for six pages. Not too shabby. Then I ran the strip in New Times Weekly and got $25 a week for it (get to the end of the line, kid). Then I sold the movie rights to Columbia Pictures for $30,000. Then I landed a deal with New Times to produce a doubletruck cartoon spread every week and got $750 a week for that. Then I sold a freelance cartoon to Playboy and got $6,000 ($1K a page, my biggest payday). Then I got commercial art assignments doing cartoons for a certain beer and got $1,500 a strip. Then I switched gears and decided to do more illustrative art and got an assignment at Arizona Highways to do 21 “sketches” of Prescott, Arizona. For that I got about $2,000. Then I decided to do an illustrated book on Billy the Kid and approached Suzanne Brown about doing an art show to coincide with the publication of the book. I told her to price the paintings (80 or so), and when I walked into the opening I was shocked. Some of the paintings were down around the $175 mark (get to he back of the line, kid). I think the highest was $800. Well, by the time you pay the framer ($75 to $125 a picture) and split with the gallery (50-50), well, let’s just say the framer made more on the show than I did.

Now add to this a famous artist friend of mine (not Ed Mell) who sells his prints of the O.K. Corral gunfight for $600 each. Prints! And he makes about $30K a year off the Scottsdale gallery that sells those prints. He also has a gallery in Jackson Hole and somewhere on the east coast. Envious? Jealous? Hell yes!

Check out my prices on the originals and see if you think it’s a bargain. Or not.

“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon.
In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

—Patti Smith

Monday, July 07, 2003

July 7, 2003
Heard from Deena and Thomas yesterday. Deena got a job bartending on Long Island and made $425 on July 4th. Those New Yorkers are sure big tippers. Deena said it's really hard to understand them though. They would come up to the bar and say. "A-wad-ah Vaw-ka Caw-lins," and she would say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand a word you're saying. I'm from Arizona." And they would laugh and say it slower, "I want a Vodka Collins." Funny.

Tommy is working double shifts: 15 hours a day. He's basically a stewardess on a bus going into Manhattan twice a day. I told him if he can survive this job he will survive in any corporate board room in America. He has today off so he’s going into the city to go to the Natural History Museum (yes, I’m beaming) and then see a classic movie at the Gramercy Theatre (I’m beaming squared). He also told me Jack Nicholson and Amanda Peet are filming a movie out on Long Island. His ex-girlfriend got a bit part.

Worked all day yesterday on a big, ambitious Vera painting. She’s looming in an orange sky, with three vignette riders galloping across the bottom, representing her varied riding skills. She’s hanging down almost to the ground in the first, riding Roman (standing atop two galloping steeds) in the second, and doubling for Dorothy Gish while standing in the saddle in the third. Lost it, saved it, reworked the sky at least three times. Verdict still out. Ran out of gas around five. Swam laps. Kathy and I went up to El Encanto for an early dinner. Sat outside (probably 95 degrees out) and it was lovely. They have misters and being next to the water was absolutely delightful. Had two margaritas (no salt, on the rocks) and the Sonoran enchiladas ($42 cash).

Came home and watched Sex In The City and Project Greenlight, both on HBO. One of the directors picked for the contest is such an immature, prima dona, who acts like he knows everything and he’s just a snotty baby (Kathy says it’s projection on my part; I see myself in him).

“Old age is when you resent the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated because there are fewer articles to read.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 06, 2003

July 6, 2003
Is it just me or is everyone on the Atkins diet? When I was in Ruidoso at the Chamber speech, half the people at my table were on it. Last weekend when we were at Tonto with the Brinks, the waiter said they have had to change their menu on the fly to accommodate “low carbs” requests. The waiter also estimated 30% of his diners are on Atkins. That is a huge number, if true. Of course, some of this may just be selective perception: when I got a Ford Ranger, I suddenly saw Rangers everywhere. When I got my blood clot, suddenly everyone I met was taking coumadin.

Got a couple of good paintings and scratchboards finished yesterday. Polished off a portrait of Vera, an obvious swipe from Nagel, but it’s a good likeness.

By the way, I commented on my colonoscopy and eating food after my fast last week (July 1). Continuing the geography metaphor (I found out my 10-year-old nephew is reading this), I want to say we visited Costa Rica yesterday and my comment about food being better than visiting Costa Rica was obvious hyperbole. Costa Rica is exotic, tropical and can’t be overrated in terms of pure, unadulterated and titillating thrills. Unfortunately, my wife and I don’t travel as much as we used to (my outboard Evenrude is an older model) but when we do get down the coast, we really like to hug that coastline. Ah, Costa Rica! Ancient treasures, forbidden fruit, extra cargo, it’s all there for the taking. In fact, we had so much fun down there, we may go back before Christmas.

Sorry. Got carried away.

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
—Clarence Darrow

Saturday, July 05, 2003

July 5, 2003
Had a decent day yesterday working. Got two Vera scratchboards going, one head shot and another on a rearing horse. Still need to get some action and cowgirl blur down on paper.

Swam laps, went over to Grandma Betty’s for a fourth of July dinner at six. Had ribs, talked diseases. Carol has contracted Valley Fever, an odd affliction that supposedly everyone who has ever lived here gets. You think you are just sick with the flu but in fact you have contracted Valley Fever and it never goes away, it just goes underground in your body until the immune system can no longer handle it and then you die. The really odd thing about Carol coming down with it is that she has lived in the Valley for several decades but just now got it. Brad’s theory is they moved out to the ‘burbs and a gravel pit is just north of them and the spores from the dug up dirt (which is where the affliction is born) finally got in her lungs. Delightful.

Drove home on the 101 and saw the fireworks at Rawhide (spectacular), and another set going off closer to Pinnacle Peak, and we also caught the finale up at Crazy Ed’s Satisfied Frog in Cave Creek. Met all the cars coming out, totally jammed, but we were going the other way and slipped right in. Got home at ten, read, went to sleep early. Felt good.

Cleaned out my closet and dresser drawers this morning, sorting out all my winter clothes and summer stuff. Found a half dozen items that are great and groovy but got buried in the mish mash. Good Willed a bunch of goofy shirts a rodeo star had sent to me on KSLX after a visit (1989?). Shuttled some of the more exotic stuff out to the studio and into my clothing archives for future Old West shoots.

It was 113 yesterday. Pool temperature was 89 (just right). Mike Melrose went home to “Chucktown” (Charles City, Iowa) for his 25th high school reunion. Can’t wait to hear who got fat and who is a complete failure (it’s always sweeter when it’s the quarterback or the prom queen, no, wait, both of those are Mike!).

Switched gears and did a gunfighter scratchboard, taken from a photo of Tate Wilford at Festival the West a couple years ago. Good profile. This is the kind of thumbnail I'm seeing in the corner of the cover.

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
—Irvin S. Cobb

Friday, July 04, 2003

July 4, 2003
I’ve been contacted by yet another video company doing a take on the Billy the Kid dig. According to Evening Star Entertainment out of Burbank, the first exhumation will be July 14 in Silver City and they will be digging up Katherine McCarty Antrim, Billy’s mama to get their first DNA sample. July 14 is the date the Kid was killed in Fort Sumner.

Having a quiet fourth at home. Got up and read the paper, made some bacon (we are out of eggs) and no kids to eat pancakes. I’m going to finish the Vera McGinnis stamp paintings this weekend. Also want to work on various action scratchboards of gunfighters, pimps and rodeo riders. Going to use them on the cover sweet spot (the upside down L). When I was on the plane to El Paso last week I noticed a corner photo of Jewell on their in house publication, Spirit, and it was quite effective (it forced me to reach past three other titles in front of it and pull it out). My idea is to tuck a clean, B&W silhouette of various Old West images in the corners and down the left side to maximize that valuable space. We’ll see if it works. I’m always fishing.

Got a very positive critique of the Digging Up Billy issue from Bob McCubbin. R.G. suggested I frame it. I may do that.

I received a front line view of the state of documentary art this week. Here’s the deal: twenty years ago the going rate on documentaries was about $100,000 an hour. That’s what a typical production company would get paid to produce an hour’s worth of product. Thanks to the advances in computer editing technology and increased competition, about five years ago that number dropped to $50,000 and today it’s closer to $30,000. And, the networks want quicker cuts and more material for the same amount of time. In the old days (1995) it was the Ken Burns’ Civil War-linger-on-a photo-panning-from-left-to right-then-a-slow-mo-in-and-out-for-at-least-a-minute-with-a-moaning-fiddle-on-the-soundtrack-per-image. But those days are long gone. Today, with the video game generation (that would be my son) you can’t linger at all. And consequently you burn through twice as many images in half the time. And you are only getting paid a third for the effort. Needless to say, that’s why you see a lot of feet in these shows. For example, here’s a rough cut scene I saw in the editing bay at Greystone:

Wild Bill Hickok fires and hits Phil Coe in the belly (in the actual event, there was a large crowd gathered at night in front of a saloon). Hickok hears footsteps and his instincts take over. Spinning around, and firing into the darkness, Hickok gets his man. Unfortunately it turns out to be his deputy, Mike Williams.

This entire sequence was filmed with two guys—a Hickok re-enactor and the feet of one of the production crew. Closeups on the gun firing, Hickok photographed from above, below and facial close-ups. Then we see the feet coming, stopping, falling. Done, in the can, move on, keep cutting, keep running in front of the train.

And this is not a criticism of Greystone. They are surviving in a very tough environment. My hat is way off to them. In my medium we worry about words and pictures on paper. No audio, no music, no narration, no animation and no actors. In fact I actually felt relieved when I got back to the office and saw our wonderful two-dimensional workload.

Constructive criticism: I tell you what's wrong with you.
Destructive criticism: You tell me what is wrong with me.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

July 3, 2003
Back from LA. Visited Graystone on Wednesday and saw their video factory. Went downstairs and walked thru the seven or eight video editing “bays” where two-person crews were busily piecing together a variety of shows like Conquest and Old West Tech. They produce almost half the shows on the History channel, from submarines to biographies. Very impressive. James Joyce (yes, that’s his name) and Tony showed me the rough cut of the first segment of the show I worked on in Lincoln. Pain-staking, tedious work. Long hours in the dark in front of a bank of computers. They were rushing to Fed-ex the piece to New York for the suits to look at.

Taped my interview at Al Frisch’s spread in Newhall yesterday morning. We taped outside and the sound interruptions were oppressive. Planes, weed-wackers, a woman on a bullhorn, horses clopping feed stalls. It must have taken two hours to get twenty minutes. During the downtime I learned that the cameraman lost his camera ($65K) and his truck during the OJ trial. Gang bangers realized that all these expensive cameras were downtown and ripe for the taking. They would walk right up to a camera truck and hijack it. Paul told me 70 cameras were stolen during the trial. I don’t remember ever hearing about that on the news.

The PA (production assistant) who drove me to the Sportsman Lodge is a shooter who worked on For Love Or Money, a reality show that Kathy watches. He gave me the inside skinny on the bachelor (rather shallow) and the bachelorettes (all but Paige were money-grubbers). Also learned other inside info like, Alan Ladd committed suicide. I think the official version was that a burglar had caused him to accidently shoot himself. After the glories of Shane, and The Badlanders Ladd was drinking heavily, couldn’t find work and was reduced to being a carpenter in Palm Springs. What a rough town. As Martin Mull put it, Hollywood is “high school with money.”

Saw the footage of the Turkey Creek Shootout. Very raw. Needs work.

Got an E-mail from Mark Boardman reacting to my many “posterial” references. Here’s his take on it:

“These frequent references to the posterial nether-regions paint an all too clear picture of an individual with an anal obsessiveness. A man whose life is lived where the sun never shines. A guy with a bum attitude. Of special concern is the seeming fascination with the concept of "jackass." We know that the word itself comes from the French ‘jacquez,’ pronounced ja-KWEZ. The American urban variant is ‘ja-KWEZ, mo-fo.’ In it's most recent meaning, the term refers to government officials who attempt to snub foreign countries by calling fried potato strips ‘freedom fries.’ This condition can only be treated by surgical removal of the cranium from the aforementioned orifice. Please don't try this at home. Instead, seek the services of a trained specialist, someone like Doc Holliday, Doc from Gunsmoke, or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Side effects may include oral flatulence, ear turds, or irregularity of the saliva glands. In most cases, these are not fatal.”

“It often takes more courage to change one's opinion than to stick to it.”
—George Christoph Lichtenberg

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

July 1, 2003
I was high on demeral (sp?) most of yesterday. Kathy said the doctor talked to me after the colonoscopy but I don’t even remember it. Evidently he took seven biopsies out of my Argentina area. Kathy dumped me at the house and I pretended to work, but I didn’t get far. I did eat actual food and that was as good as any sex I’ve ever had.

I’m flying to LA today. Taping another talking head segment for the History Channel in the morning, then flying back. Too much travel. I’m ready to veg at home for awhile.

I got a call at the house from a “music survey” guy. He asked me if I work for a radio station or a research company and I said, “No.” He asked me my age and I said, “56,” and he said, “Thankyou but we have enough statistical data for that age group. Is there anyone younger in your house?” I said, “No, I’m the youngest.” He seemed irritated by that: “Are you sure there isn’t someone younger?” I hung up on him. I remember being on the radio and we constantly sold the 25-54 demo as the ideal commercial mix. I never thought about being outside of that, but here I am. Interesting place to be: not desirable as a consumer.

“Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.”
—John Wesley (founder of Methodism)