Saturday, February 28, 2004

February 28, 2004
Still sprinkling out. Took a great walk with the dogs. Got a fire in the studio stove, Buddy is sleeping on his chair (see photo).

Last night I drove into Phoenix and met Theresa from Tri Star again at the Superpumper (gas, $13.33, 1.99 a gallon). She needed more books signed. Afterwards I went to El Conquistador and had the con juego soup and two margaritas ($21, includes tip). Which reminds me of two things. I got one of those goofy, but fun e-mails that you are supposed to forward, and it’s a quiz. Here are my answers. And secondly, check out the priceless quote today at the end.

The I Thought I Knew You But I Guess I Didn’t Quiz:

1. What time is it? 10:04 am

2. What is your name? Bob Boze Bell

3. Name as it appears on birth certificate? Robert Allen Bell

4. Number of candles on your last birthday cake? 57

5. Pets? 2 dogs (Peaches and Buddy Boze Bell)

6. Number of body/ear piercing? 0

7. Eye color? Brown

8. Favorite Alcoholic Drink? Margarita on the rocks, no salt

9. Current residence? Cave Creek, Arizona

10. Favorite foods? Mexican, more Mexican, New Mexican and Texas Bar-B-Q

11. Been to Africa? No

12. Love someone so much it made you cry? No, but I got a bad case of gas once

13. Been in a car crash? Yes (wasn’t my fault, I’m a very safe driver)

14. Croutons or bacon bits? Croutons

15. Favorite day of the week? Saturday (so I can do mindless things like this)

16. Favorite word or phrase? For everything you gain, you’ll lose something and for everything you lose, you’ll gain something.

17. Favorite Restaurant? Taco Villa, 27th Ave. and Camelback in Phoenix

18. Favorite Flower? Saguaro bloom

19. Favorite Sport to watch? College basketball (big Arizona Wildcat fan)

20. Favorite drink? Mexican coffee

21. Favorite Ice Cream? Dairy Queen vanilla (but I don’t imbibe anymore)

22. Disney or Warner? Old Disney (hate the new Disney, it’s like the fat Elvis)

23. Favorite Fast Food Restaurant? Rolberto’s (Mexican takeout)

24. How many times did you fail your drivers test? Never, like I said, I’m a great driver

25. Before this one, whom did you get your last email from: Julie in Wyoming

26. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Guidon Bookstore in Scottsdale (out of print Western titles, etc.)

27. Favorite Magazine? ”Duh,” True West

28. Bedtime? 9:30 pm

29. Who will respond to this email the quickest? Mark Boardman

30. Who is the person whom you sent this to that is least likely to respond? Trent Lott

31. Favorite TV shows. Sopranos, True West Moments, Seinfeld, Old West Tech, Curb Your Enthusiasm

32. Last person you went out to dinner with? Russ and Wendy Shaw.

33. Ford or Chevy? Ford

34. Car or SUV? neither: truck (who wrote this quiz, some eastcoast goober ?)

35. Favorite smell? creosote after a rain (fantastic!)

36. Time you finished this email? 10:13 am

Now this is one of those goofy e-mail chain things and you’re supposed to copy and paste the above questions into your computer, Change all the answers that apply to you then send this to “a whole bunch of people” including me. I got this from our old editor Mare Rosenbaum who lives in Brazil. The theory is you will learn a “lot of neat facts” about those you think you know. For example, I didn’t know Mare had two piercings (although that may be just earring holes. Damn!).

Remember to send the first copy to me at

“Nobody wants to know that you had a cheese sandwich for lunch.”
—Mona Trott, co-inventor of a mobile blogger system

Friday, February 27, 2004

February 27, 2004
Still rainy and wet. Virtually all the local chamber of commerces claim this is the Land of Sunshine (an alleged 360 days worth by some estimates) but you’d hardly believe it by looking out the window. Makes for great studio fires though.

Still wrestling with the “Injun” cover painting. Yesterday I thought it was finished, but then I got to looking at the scan (see at right), and got nervous. I’m going to make another go at it this weekend.

As you may know, my son Thomas is studying abroad (Spain). Perhaps that should be abridged to “studying broads.” Case in point. Here’s yesterday’s missive from our studious lad:

“I went out with my friend Frank who’s from New York last night. The guy is a genius. He doesn’t drink and he needed a wing man to go out with. I always thought the little tricks people have was just a load of crap but he knows what he’s doing. He shows up early to the club (around 12:30 here) when it´s not crowded and he can actually talk to people without getting pushed around and yelling. Slowly the place starts to fill up and by 2 it’s packed. By now he’s already gotten one english girl’s number while I talk to her friends. Anyway, we then cruise on to the dance floor. This is when my friends and I probably wouldn’t talk to anyone the rest of the night. Frank busts out a small digital camera and takes a picture of this group of girls dancing. The girls, to my surprise, love this and want to look at the photo and take another one because they think they look bad etc. And we’re in. We get some numbers and he does it again. Then, at 4 we suddenly have to leave. Frank explains that there reaches a point when the girls get frustrated from being pushed around and the music blasting and the last thing they want to do is chit chat with someone. So you work it while the nights still young and the girls are in good spirits. He also thinks this particular place is the best for picking up girls because the music is very upbeat and happy. I had never been there and he just got to Valencia 3 weeks ago! Is this crazy stuff or what? I never knew people could know this much about hitting on girls. Frank, by the way, is a model in New York going to school at Rutgers. He is of Cuban descent, taller than me and very fashionable in a New York way. That´s it. I just thought it was fascinating.”

Ah, to be young and know it all.

Great caption on a cartoon in this week’s New Yorker:
“Gays and lesbians getting married—haven’t they suffered enough?”

Posted the wrong quote yesterday (and it was a repeat to boot). Here’s the right quote for yesterday’s posting, although it works fine with today’s comments:

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
—George Orwell

Thursday, February 26, 2004

February 26, 2004
Went into the office yesterday at eight, fielded payroll, advertising and editorial problems. RG is skiing in Idaho this week and Bob Brink is in New York on Hearst business, so it’s me and Carole holding down the fort. Of course, this is something Carole and I did all by yourselves for a long time, so it isn’t unbearable, but it does make me appreciate what both Bob and RG do to make my life easier. Thankyou gents! And, please don’t break a leg.

Left office at 10:10 and drove to the coumadin clinic in north Phoenix. Got a passing grade (2.6 PT score, which is a “acceptable therapeutic level”). Drove home and bailed into three paintings for my “Injun” cover. Ruined two (what else is new) and maybe saved the third. Shot all four and took them up to Foothills photo, dropped off film, went back to office and helped interview a woman for the new “liaison” position in production/editorial. Good candidates. It’s going to be hard to pick (and that’s a good problem).

Evidently our True West Moment on the Westerns channel is going over well, because Jeff Hildebrandt has ordered another batch. We’ll tape some new ones when he comes down to Festival of the West in three weeks. Need to write up another score of scripts. Shooting for 10.

Got a new book from the Long Rider’s Guild, in London, called “Hidalgo And Other Stories by Frank T. Hopkins.” The book is perfectly timed to hit the market just ahead of the soon to be released movie Hidalgo which we have been talking about quite a bit in the pages of True West. Edited by Basha and CuChullaine O’Reilly (yes, their real names), the book really gives both barrels to Hopkins. A sampling from the very first page:

“The only endurance Hopkins ever did was with his pencil.”
—James Davidson, Vermont Historical Society

“Did this man Hopkins say anything true?”
—Dr. John Gable, Executive Director, Theodore Roosevelt Association

“I find Frank Hopkins suspiciously absent from any authentic historical events.”
—Dr. Juti Winchester, Curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum

“Hopkins is a phony!”
—Leo Remiger, author of the “Encyclopedia of Buffalo Hunters & Skinners”

In a cover letter, Basha tells me, “while we would like to compliment True West on its objective coverage of the this growing Old West scandal, we were astonished to read Professor Paul Hutton’s dismissive remarks!”

Paul, as you may recall, defends screenwriter John Fusco and basically says all movies are fiction. As soon as you write the first word and film the first scene, it’s “goodbye history.”

Still, Disney has not pulled the claim “based on a true story.” At least that line was still attached to the movie when I saw a sneak of it last month. Hopefully they’ll do the right thing and drop the line.

“Hypocrisy is the complement vice pays to virtue.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

February 25, 2004
Still wet and cold out (and by cold in Arizona, I mean it’s so cold you can see the exhaust on cars and trucks. B-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!!).

Finally got an angle on the “Injun vs. Engine” painting that might work. As I was painting yesterday, hanging on by my toenails, I lucked into an atmospheric effect (we call this a “happy accident” and artists are always desperately seeking them, with the usual result being an “unhappy trainwreck.”). But, against all odds, I caught, or stumbled onto, a dusk-like-effect of a train head lamp lighting up a Native American on horseback jumping the tracks just in front of a fast moving passenger train. This led to the inspiration to call the painting, “Horsemen of the Plains & Passenger Trains: Gone in the Blink of an Eye”. I am going to sleep on it, but this may make a good cover blurb since Jana’s article on train travel and RG’s article on how the Plains Indians got the horse are both in this issue (May).

Speaking of strong images, I was looking at an issue of Wildest Westerns and saw a fabulous studio portrait of Dale Evans in her best Annie Get Your Gun pose. I immediately called the editor in chief, Ed Lousararian in Glendale, California and he graciously sent me a good copy of the image (see photo). We may use this as a cover image later this year. Ain’t she sweet?

You can check out Wildest Westerns at

As a contrast to Darrell Hooker’s comments from yesterday, got a call from Mr. Hesse of Huachuca City, Arizona and he says he likes the newer issues much better than the old. Said he really appreciates the articles. It’s just hard to outguess the readers sometimes.

Good Old Mark Boardman had this to say about yesterday’s surprise visitor:
“Your note on Howard Bryan is fascinating. There's only two degrees of separation between him and some of the big names of the Old West. I read somewhere that he interviewed an old New Mexico lawman in the '40s, and this guy had known Pat Garrett, the Ketchum boys, and more. The lawdog said that Sam Ketchum told him that Black Jack Tom Ketchum was responsible for killing Albert Fountain and his son. That's an angle that I've never heard or read anywhere else.”

Got a new poll up: Who was the greatest gunfighter? And by greatest, we mean, who had the most courage and skill. You can click to vote right here.

“Hypocrisy is the complement vice pays to virtue.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

February 24, 2004
Still rainy and wet. Great excuse to build fires and stand around my studio stove and mull my muddy artwork. Lots of feedback and opinions on the direction of this blog and the new issue.

Got a call yesterday from Darrell Hooker of Angelus Oaks, California. (a mining settlement, pop. 190, on the way up to Big Bear Lake). Darrell has been collecting True West since 1959 and pays extra to have it sent via a padded envelope to insure pristine-ness. “I do like the new look,” Darrell told me. “I just don’t like all the ads. You’re running too many.” He just got the new Travel Issue (April) and thinks the ads are oppressive. We had a good 45 minute talk about the whys and the why-nots, the end result being he told me he wasn’t going to renew, but that he would hang in there for “awhile.” I told Darrell I appreciated him calling and that I have never called a magazine to tell them I was leaving. Speaks to the dedication and connection many people feel for this venerable publication.

Heard from Steve Sederwall in Capitan, New Mexico. He shared with me some of the leads he has uncovered in his quest to dig up Billy the Kid. Among them:

“This summer as we worked the case we run leads down. One of the leads I developed was a lead on the work bench they placed the Kid’s body on July 14, 1881. I chased that lead hard and located it. It was in really good shape and I had no trouble knowing it was the same bench from the photos and the line in which the bench was passed down. It was the real deal. We have yet to do the CSI on it. As I ran down my leads I discovered that there was more out there and two weeks later I found all the things that belonged to Pete Maxwell by discovering a brief filed in 1936.

“On May 18, 1936 Vernon Smithson filed a brief entitled “Points of Interest”. It can be found in the National Archives in the WPA section. They do not have it logged very well and stuff seems to be scattered from hell to breakfast but it is there. If you want to see it I have it in my files. In this brief he writes about the artifacts that were in the
Maxwell room the night Garrett fired two rounds into the dark. In 1936 Smithson saw and had his hands on these artifacts telling me they were not lost in a flood as I was told. Smithson writes the following;

“From the room in which Billy the Kid met his death at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett is the bed in which Pete Maxwell was sleeping….Tapestry, pitchers, candle-sticks, tables and other furnishings of the room, including the wash-stand which was pierced by Garrett’s second bullet gives one an intimate picture of the death of this famous character of the Southwest. A picture of Lucian B. Maxwell, painted in his working cloths. (Dating back to about 1840 – 1860) Account books and ledgers kept by Lucian B. Maxwell dating back as far as 1850 showing accounts with Kit Carson and with the soldiers of Bosque Redondo Reservation and old Fort Sumner. The first piano that was brought to New Mexico, after his return from the gold rush of California in 1849. This piano is in a fair state of preservation and does credit to its
manufactures, Kindt and Mans of New York. There is an old chest which Maxwell brought with him in 1849.

“It is all still with us, I’ve had my hands on most of it. They were dusty, stored in a chicken coop and have been there since 1957 without moving but they are in good shape. They were so well taken care of I could tell that Maxwell used three slats on his bed and they were still there. I held letters in lead pencil sent to Lucian that look as if they
had been mailed the day before. The wash-stand is also mentioned in one statement contributed to Delivina Maxwell as she talked about the shooting of the Kid. There is no bullet hole in the head or foot board of Maxwell’s bed. We have not had a furniture expert examine the articles but shall. If they are the real McCoy then Poe and Garrett lied. Poe could not have gone into that room after the shooting or he would have known that the bullet hit the wash-stand not the headboard. The question I have is why would he lie?

“Here is something else you might want to check. June 1978 True West Magazine there is a story about Poe. That story matches with the evidence closer then the one history gives us. Poe said Garrett never let him see the body and that they had a falling out over it. History tells us Garrett and Poe were close, Garrett even named one of his boys
Poe. But later Garrett and Poe had a falling out and it is never clear. Remember the first time we met? I told you how I felt the shooting went down in the hallway of Lincoln County Courthouse. I think we have evidence that Bell and the Kid were at the top of the steps and Bell had his hands on the pistol when the Kid shot him. It was not Bell’s shooter
that did the killing. We believe we have a good idea where that gun came from. We do not have the CSI done on the courthouse but with what we have so far we are being lead in a different direction. It is an amazing story.

“Now you’re wondering if we think the Kid is in the Ft. Sumner grave. I know someone is in that grave and that grave can be found. The body did not wash away in the flood. I have a drawing with measurements to the grave and others there done in 1906 by the army.

“In my heart and not driven by evidence I believe the Kid is in that grave. But the evidence that is held up to show me is not strong and some of which is a lie. Such as the statements of the lawmen that were there that night. I do not know if it is because they want to cover up a bad shooting or if they did not kill the right guy. We just do not know yet. Tom and I never thought we would be standing where we now are.”

Yesterday, I finally met one of the giants of the Western history field. Howard Bryan (see photo, left), of Albuquerque, New Mexico walked into our offices unannounced (he was visiting his brother, who drove him out to visit us). I have talked to Howard for years on the phone but had never met him. Howard will be 84 next month and actually interviewed people who knew Black Jack Ketchum and Elfego Baca (he drove over dirt roads all the way to Reserve, New Mexico in the 1940s and interviewed Montague Stevens, who he says, “didn’t think much of Elfego Baca.” Stuff like this makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.). We had a great talk in my office and at one point, Howard told me he doesn’t believe the stories of Black Jack Christian being a separate character from Black Jack Ketchum. I told Howard he is on assignment and we want that story. We took several photos of Howard for posterity and our files, and after he left Robert Ray asked me who that old guy was and I told him and Robert said, “I’m going to have to pay more attention around here.” To which Gus said, mockingly, “So you actually knew Bob Boze Bell?” and Robert quipped, “Yeh, I knew him and he wasn’t funny at all.” Now that is funny.

Worked on two paintings for the May cover. Ruined both and that wasn’t funny at all. Need to get something better going today. Here’s a scratchboard of the original idea. Not bad, but needs to be a little more ghostly.

”"There is no wholly satisfactory substitute for brains, but silence does pretty well."
—Herbert Prochnow

Monday, February 23, 2004

February 23, 2004
Rained all night, still raining (8:40 am). Lots of company this weekend. Kathy and I cooked all morning on Saturday making a big batch of green chile and another of red chile. Also made cowboy style pinto beans, a la my mama’s recipe. All three batches came out great. Had two sets of neighbors over on Saturday night and Bill and Jeanie McClelland from Fort Collns, Colorado over last night. Solved life, laughed and laughed (see quote, below).

Lots of interesting fallout and input regarding what exactly I’m doing here, and where it’s all going. Mark Curtright e-mailed me to say he thinks I’m doing an “autoblography.” Mark may have coined a new word, adding, “I haven't heard it before from anyone else. I may be able to claim authorship on this one, so I will gladly accept and cash all large royalty checks resulting from mass usage of the new word. Of course, that would involve the standard agent's commission for you if this thing really takes off.”

Mark also weighs in on the Mexican Food War:
Re: the whole New Mexican vs. other versions of Mexican food; I would have to agree with the point made by one of your contributors that New Mexican food isn't really Mexican, but stands as it's own style of cooking. So, I think it's ok to like both Mexican and New Mexican food at the same time. But I say keep the war going about it just for kicks.

Dan Buck, who refers to himself as a “Cyber Duffer,” thinks we would be well served to expand the blog to include more links and voices to make this site THE source for all things Old West. He expands on this slant:
“You could gather a collection of bloggers under a TW banner, e.g., on topics such as guns, photographs, women in the west, Native Americans, each blog run by someone well-versed in the field. (Some bloggers are paid, e.g., at SLATE, others are volunteers, e.g., Or perhaps rather than by topics, have several people (writers,academics,collectors) who are good in a variety of fields who would, well, blog away to their hearts' content— link to stories in the media or to other bloggers, limelight new developments in academia, field questions, provoke debate, whatever. The best blogs—I think—are interactive, that is, they solicit info and comments from the reader.”

One of the blogger sites Dan recommended had this to say about the direction of the “blogosphere”:
“What Napster did for MP3s, blogs are doing for news -- or, at
least for rumors. They are eliminating the gatekeepers and all barriers to entry.”

On a more personal note, here’s a comment from Wendy:
I am currently in a twelve-step program for those addicted to blogs. Okay. Not really, but something like—at one point I was basically living an entire vicarious life through other people's blogs. I like to think this gives me some well-founded opinions on the subject (I'd have them anyway, but I like to base them on—something). In my experience, a blog is an online journal or diary. Some people do in fact use them as a dumping ground for their stream-of-consciousness output, but most do things like "went to town today, saw a movie. Spent too much money. Saw a guy in a funny fur hat on my way home.." What draws me to your blog (which is now one of the three remaining blogs that I can't stay away from) and others like it are the glimpses into a real life. Makes the world seem a little friendlier.
What's funniest to me is finding, upon reading some of my own
pen-and-ink journal entries the other day, that I subconsciously picked
up the dollar inclusion habit from you: "Had lunch at [restaurant X]
today, had the special ($6.00 including tip)." *grin*

I think all of this is going somewhere, I’m not sure exactly where, but I want to go there. On some level, it’s all just for grins, on another, there is something very big happening, it just hasn’t taken a recognizable shape yet. Or, has it?

”That is the best—to laugh with someone because you both think the same things are funny.”
—Gloria Vanderbilt

Sunday, February 22, 2004

February 22, 2004
Today is the tenth anniversary of my life with a Franklin Daytimer. I got fired from KSLX on February 8th, 1994 and in one of those Take-Stock-of-Your-Miserable-Life-You Miserable Bastard-Moments, I decided to get my life in better order. I seem to remember Kathy steering me to the Franklin solution, but she gives credit to Wonderful Russ and that may be true (Russell was very anal and organized before anal and organized was cool).

As promised, here are the ten entries for each February 22:

February 22, 1994
[Under the heading “Emptying My Mind” lifted from the book “The Artist Way” where the author recommends getting up everyday and “emptying your mind” as a way to grease your creativity I started my journal with these prophetic words:]
I feel bad. I got up two hours late. It is 6:59 [I also wrote down ideas for articles and books I wanted to produce and one of them was “Women Are From Pluto, Men Are From Uranus.”]

February 22, 1995
It rained last night. Thunder all night. Mighty pretty this morning. Dramatic clouds, birds chirping. Very nice out.
I finished quite a bit of the Billy timeline yesterday [I was reworking my Billy the Kid book for the second edition]. Very tedious. I hope to finish the rest of the rough outline today [I didn’t]. I worked until about 5, then made tacos. We watched “Home Improvement” (Tim blew up a house, funny) and then I read until about 9:30.
I really am enjoying these days at home. Very productive and unstressful. [Easy for me to say. I was unemployed and having fun. All this was driving Kathy crazy and we had a major meltdown, blow-out fight not long after this, which reminds me of the great line, which I from time to time resemble: “A man who thinks he has no problems, has no problems.” Ha.]

February 22, 1996
Just landed the cover of True West! Incredible. Here I sat struggling with painting, when the editor John Joerschki, calls me back at around 12:30. [When I had called the day before] he seemed reticent to want to do anything. But I started pitching ideas and ended with the Bermuda Triangle Theory of Bill the Kid. Boom, next thing you know he wants my illustration ideas on the Kid. . .[Spec notes] The four-color cover, leaving room for masthead above. A left hand full page, followed by a half page with illustraiong, plus two spot illustrations. Pay is $200 for cover, 5 cents a word (apprx $250-$300), $50 for the half page illustration, and $20 for spots=$550-$590. Needs to be shot 4X5 and shipped fed ex by next Tuesday. [this entry is a total shocker—what are the odds?—because this is three years before I even had the idea or opportunity to buy the magazine. It’s depressing on one note: our pay rates today are not any better than these piddly, embarrassing wages. The same assignment at Arizona Highways would bring in at least $3K. Need to address this soon]

February 22, 1997
Puppy Peaches is [pooping] everywhere and chewing on everything, but she’s a sweetheart and we love her
We really like the place the morning show is at. We, being David K. Jeanne and me [this is the Young Buck Country radio show] I’m trying to nail the four words that I think encompasses our show. I’m considering Honest, Casual, Fun and Organic. [we were fired in September and the station was sold to a Hispanic company which to this day broadcasts Mexican music. Ironically, we were let go because I said “Besame Culo” on the air. Ay-yi-yi! If you saw it in a movie you wouldn’t believe it, eh?]
Wild West [magazine] article on Wild Women is out. Art is weak. Won’t get paid for several more months. Ouch. I’m overdrawn.

February 22, 1998
Nice morning. Made pancakes for Tommy and I. Also made an 1880s roast recipe from Sherry Monihan’s new book “Taste of Tombstone.”
Read Casey [Tefertiller’s] new Wyatt Earp book. It’s very good. Quite thorough. His section on the aftermath of the gunfight is quite profound: anyone running for office who was remotely associated with the Earps lost. Fascinating and insightful. I have never read this anywhere before.

February 22, 1999
Really successful day. Did 23 scans, placing many of them. [I was working on my book Bad Men: which finally out later that year].
Show today was okay [David K. and I launched a radio show on KXAM, “live from the Mineshaft in Cave Creek, Arizona!”]. Mad Coyote Joe came in around 8 and we kabitzed with him until the end of the show. Got off and had breakfast with Joe. Long talk with him and David about future of the show. David is frustrated about the drop in revenue. [The Mineshaft restaurant was sold in September and David left the show, partly because he sensed my disengagement because of the rumor that me and Bob McCubbin were thinking about buying True West magazine, which became a reality in, ta da, September]

February 22, 2000
No actual entry for this date. I was eye-ball deep in the True West mess and didn’t even have time to type out the journal entries. A telling note scratched on the next page (Feb. 23) says “Carole, we’re losing $30,000 a month!!” We were. It wasn’t pretty.]

February 22, 2001
[We started moving out of] Clantonville. Place a total pit. Smells like cat urine. Hard to believe we worked in that Hell hole for over a year! [True West magazine was moving into our new building on Cave Creek Road. It marked a new beginning and a brighter future, but we weren’t out of the woods yet.]

February 22, 2002
Went to Bank One with Kathy at 2:30 and transferred $4.9K from equity loan into our house account to pay bills. Also went to Stewart Title to start loan process for $160K “refi” [refinance, on our house. this was the scariest part of the True West experience. Although the editorial was improving significantly, all of my partners bailed and Kathy and I were left to carry on alone. Makes me shiver just to read this.]

February 22, 2003
Well, Peaches finally got the last hen. [Our chicken-killing dog, Peaches nailed the last hen. I also was struggling with my editorials and wondering if an anecdote about me riding a horse into a ballroom was the right call. Maybe, I thought, “I should be directing people into this issue rather than drawing attention to myself.” I ended up using the crowded ballroom tidbit in a recent issue. Ha.].

February 22, 2004
Went through my Franklin Daytimer morgue and grabbed two annuals at a time and drug them out to the computer (they are heavy suckers). Went right to the February 22 entry for each year. Some were underwhelming, but some seemed almost too good to be true and I wonder if people will think I faked them. Well, as I always like to say, “reality is stranger than anything I could ever make up.”

“Every American has the right to make a fool of himself if he wants to, but too many folks are abusing the privilege.”
—Gloria Vanderbilt

Saturday, February 21, 2004

February 21, 2004
Put in a good three hour painting session yesterday, trying to get an angle on next month’s “Injun” cover. Still not happening, but at least I’m in the water (swimming in circles).

Got our office copies of the April Special Travel Issue. Big sucker, 136 pages. Looks mighty—mighty good.

Kathy had a girls only birthday party to go to last night, so after work I drove into Phoenix and met Theresa from Tri Star to sign three boxes of Classic Gunfights books. She told me sales are strong and the TW ads are pulling well. This makes me smile twice (as an author and a publisher). Met at the Superpumper, just off the 101 and Cave Creek Rd. Got gas ($20.17, $1.89 a gallon). Then drove down to Cactus and dropped in at a Border’s bookstore where I had a $25 gift certificate from Brad and Carol Radina. Looked at magazines for about 45 minutes. Couldn’t find True West, asked the manager, she said, “We carry it. Must be sold out.” This drives me crazy, because it’s either true—which is great news—or it’s total BS and they don’t have it stocked—which is awful news.

Noted and tracked cover trends: more and more black and white images, and also more white space, period. One funny fallout from this is a guy in a black suit on a very white cover of Esquire (I think it’s Orlando Bloom) pointing to the right, and right next to Esquire is a copy of Details with the exact same kind of cover, only it’s Jude Law in the black suit looking out at us pensively. Side by side, it looks like Orlando is pointing over at Jude and saying, “Hey dude, lighten up.” I considered buying the two and posting the effect here, but then I thought, “Hey, let’s spend the $25 wisely.”

I ended up buying a Communication Arts mag ($8—to steal art ideas from), an art book on Edward Hopper ($5.99—to steal art ideas from) and big art book on Gustav Klimt (on sale for $8.99—to be inspired to steal art from). Total was $24.84. Gift card covered it all, and I got 16 cents back.

Went into the coffee bar and got a half-sando, soup and decaf coffee ($6.76). Sat at a big table and looked at my purchases, and ate while a customer played a big Baby Grand piano in the corner (he just walked over and started playing some beautiful music. I thought he was a Happy Hour musician, but the staff shrugged and said he must be a customer). Can’t remember the last time I had so much fun for less than $7.

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of my Franklin Daytimer journal entries and I’ll post the ten random entries from the years 1994-2004.

Some question as to exactly what it is I do here. Mark Boardman e-mailed me yesterday and commented that when people mention what they had to eat and how much they paid for it (ate lunch at El Encanto with Gus and Robert Ray, $12, Robert bought), that is technically an on-line diary, not a blog. Which prompted me to e-mail Mark back and ask what a “blog” is then. His reply:

“A blog is supposed to be more of an opine on your world...or the
world...more stream of consciousness viewpoints.”

So, a blogger entry would technically be more like this: “The world is a screwed up place and Mark Boardman has a little too much time on his hands.”

“Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut.”
—Daniel Greenberg

Friday, February 20, 2004

February 20, 2004
Had lunch yesterday with Mike Melrose and his mom and dad at El Encanto. Great weather and we sat outside and talked about all things Iowa (Andy and Diane bought). Good, solid people.

Came home at about 10:30 and tried to get untracked on my “Little Injun” cover idea. Did several painting studies and started one big one, but so far no luck, just muddled mud. Frustrating. Got to keep going.

Went back to the office at one to interview a candidate for a new position we are opening up in production. Mapped out the gunfights for the next Classic Gunfights book, which is going to be somewhat of a leap (if we waited for enough CGs to run in the magazine we wouldn’t have another book until 2006). Slotted 20 gunfights under one theme (that’s the secret leap) and had Gus layout a schematic. Today I’m going to rough in the pages. I love this part of the process. It’s the other end that’s hard—actually finishing—on time.

Came home at 5:30 and walked the dogs, picked up river rocks (on my own property) for my driveway project. Drove back up to El Encanto at 6:30 to meet Kathy’s sister, Debbie, and a friend of hers for dinner. Kathy came at seven. Had albondigas soup and three margaritas (Debbie bought). Ate twice at El Encanto yesterday, both times outside by the lagoon, and never paid a penny. Rare. Enjoyed it.

Friends and old fans of the Jones & Boze radio show often ask me what David K. Jones is doing these days. I knew he has been in Florida, but I was unsure of his current radio gig. When the recent New Mexico food wars broke out he couldn’t resist and e-mailed me regarding yesterday’s “second thoughts” comment, ribbing me for “caving in.” I e-mailed him back and asked him where he is working these days and this is his reply:

“I am working on WTAN a small AM (about like KXAM). I do a couple of shows and have the title of PD [program director] and sales manager. They pay me about the same in one week as I made in one day at Young Buck! On the weekends I work for an oldies station, WRBQ. They are big here usually rated in the top 3, about like KOOL FM [in Phoenix]. WRBQ is owned by Infinity/CBS and man are they nervous about obscenity. They own the stations Imus and Stern are on...and after all the crap over the Superbowl halftime, Karmazan (CEO) is cracking down on the little stations. I got "hotlined" for saying "damn" on the air...yet Stern is still doing his same act. This weekend I think I will try-out the phrase ‘besame culo.’”

This last line is a little dig at me, since I “technically” got us kicked off Young Buck (FM 105.9) for saying besame culo on the air. Loosely translated, the phrase means, “kiss my patootie.”

Kathy sent me a “Ten Things to Do Before You’re 50” list. I rather liked number 10:

“Set laughter goals: laughing to tears daily; falling-down, rolling, pants-wetting hilarity once a week perhaps. Laughter is your tether to youth, an instant facelift, and the purest appreciation for what a cool ride this really is.”

“Native American folklore says that the first question we ask upon dying is, ‘Why was I so serious?’"
—From the same list

Thursday, February 19, 2004

February 19, 2004
Overcast this morning. Smells wet. Supposed to rain today.

I was reading The New Yorker last night and a fascinating article about a music lover who enjoys both pop and classical music really tickled me. “Music is too personal a medium to support an absolute hierarchy of values,” author Alex Ross explained. “The best music is music that persuades us that there is no other music in the world.”

Now that is profound.

This explains why so many Country fans stubbornly insist there is nothing else worthy (even though all I hear is recycled Classic Rock from the eighties). And needless to say, Metal heads and Jazz freaks can be just as insufferable when it comes to “their music.” But, I also think it applies to our current Mexican food war (see Feb. 14). Those crazy New Mexicans are so passionate about their version of Mexican food they have been “persuaded” that there is no other Mexican food in the world.

So I am having second thoughts about a Mexican food cook-off showdown between New Mexico and Arizona style cuisines. As my cook-off veteran and comrade Mad Coyote Joe puts it, “All you’ll get out of it is an argument, and even if you win, they’ll say you cheated.”

And I’ve got enough problems with all of that in the history field.

“You have to pick the fights you don't walk away from.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

February 18, 2004
I had my neighbor JD come by on Sunday night to look at my driveway and offer suggestions on my plan to lay-in natural stones and river rock to create a cobblestone effect like I saw all over Spain. JD gave me some good information and offered to help. He’s retired, and a tractor nut who loves the slightest excuse to use it.

Also got a heads up from a reader of this blog who warned me of an environmental group who were coming out for a hike to the cave on Saturday. My double-agent friend, suggested I not be in the river bottom picking up rocks when they arrive. I heeded the advice, but Sheesh, I could pick the phone and order a dump truck full of river rock (from downstream). I don’t get it, what’s the difference? Anyway I appreciated the warning and I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it in here. I half expect a squad of eco-terrorists to come liberate my pile.

Received the tear sheets for the April issue. Robert pointed out several weak photos that are definitely thin. Makes us look bush. The problem is on our end, not the printer. We need to get better photos, or original art, as opposed to secondary sources. Not an easy problem to solve because two of the weak images (of the Mormon handcart expedition) came from the museum where the art is, and they sent slides of the art! All agreed we need to be more selective in what we use.

Everyone thinks Maxim was an overnight success (myself included), but listen to this from the pages of Folio: “‘the idea that the first couple of issues flew off the newsstands and that it was an overnight success is inaccurate,’ says Steven Colvin, president of Dennis Publishing in the U.S. ‘It was not until we tapped into parties, events and [radio] DJs as our secret weapon that the magazine took off. DJs were desperate for short, humorous nuggets of information for their shows. We were a good source for that.’”

I can back Mr. Colvin up on one major truth: radio DJs are “desperate” for material. Having been a “morning radio personality” for almost a decade I know first hand just how hard pressed most on-air “talent” really is. What a genius way to market a magazine.

I think we might do something similiar and get some daily hits on air across the country if we comped subscriptions to selected radio stations, with maybe a focus on morning shows like Tim & Willy, Imus, etc.

“Sometimes it pays to send the steak rather than simply trying to sell the sizzle.”
Monitor magazine, on sending out a magazine rather than sending an offer for one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

February 17, 2004
Got a call yesterday from from a rabid fan of New Mexican food who claims he knows of a good Mexican restaurant in Barcelona. The inference being I don’t know what I’m talking about regarding Spain and the origins of Mexican food (see Feb. 14 entry ). Well, I told him, we found a good Korean restaurant in Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean the Spanish invented it. Why is it that some New Mexicans are so loco when it comes to the subject of food?

Finally got untracked on a “little injun, big Engine” illustration. Using scratchboard to light up the night, or more specifically to light up a rearing Native American on horseback trying to stop a train. Plan on portraying it from two different directions, behind and in front. Hoping for a decent, dramatic cover-worthy scene.

Got a new poll up. Who was the worst outlaw in the West? We want your vote. Click right here.

I got some great Old West undertaker stuff recently from J.Rae and yesterday I had Robert Ray scan some of it. While scanning images out of Western Undertaker, a trade magazine, he noticed that there were key words you could use when you ordered a casket that were evidently shortcuts on the telegraph. For example, if you wanted an olive colored casket with gold trim and pearl handles, the key word might be “olive.” and when you ordered it, you could just dictate that word to the telegraph operator. This opened up an entire world of possibility (in Robert’s mind) and he got real excited about the notion that techno-geeks in the Old West probably lived in a room behind the telegraph office and perhaps spent their nights e-mailing, oops, I mean telegraphing each other, and even forming little clubs and planning to meet at a certain place at a certain time to freak people out, just like today. Interesting theory. We may do an article on the world’s first “Super Information Highway.”

“A good writer of history is a guy who is suspicious. Suspicion marks the real difference between the man who wants to write honest history and the one who'd rather write a good story.”
—Jim Bishop

Monday, February 16, 2004

February 16, 2004
Got a couple questions in this morning’s e-mail bag:

“Could you please tell me the name of the announcer on the Westerns channel? I know it’s familiar, but can’t place it. I just got that channel from Dish network and am thrilled. All those old Westerns. I feel like a kid again. Thanks so much.”
—Sue Rout

I e-mailed Jeff Hildebrandt at the Westerns channel and here’s his reply:
His name is Bill Barwick. He's a Denver based Western singer/songwriter who plays regularly at the Historic Buckhorn Exchange. For more information on Bill, check out his website:

You can also learn about the Buckhorn, which by the way was started by one of Buffalo Bill Cody's scouts and has Colorado Liquor License #1.

Question Number 2:
“would you tell me please, which article of the Classic Gunfights was the first? My first True West magazine is the Custer issue (May/June 2001). And would you kindly tell me what themes were before Custer?”
—Jari Teilas from Finland

The very first Classic Gunfights article was in the July 2000 issue and featured the Mescal Springs fight between Wyatt Earp and Curly Bill. It is of course in the new book, in a somewhat expanded version. Other fights featured before the Custer issue were the Wild Bill vs. Dave Tutt gunfight (August, 2000); the Elfego Baca fight at Frisco, New Mexico (Sept., 2000); The Gunfight Behind the OK Corral (October, 2000); Billy the Kid Claiborne Vs. Buckskin Frank Leslie (November, 2000); Billy the Kid at Stinking Springs (December, 2000); the Topless Gunfight (January, 2001); OKII featuring the showdown between the Allen Barra gang and the Glenn Boyer gang at Schieffelin Hall on November 4, 2000 (February, 2001 and definitely not in the book). Of course many of these back issues are sold out and selling on e-Bay and elsewhere for $40 each, although someone told me recently you can still buy the OK Corral issue (Feb., 2001) at Spangenberg’s gunshop in Tombstone for the cover price.

“Married couples who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 15, 2004

February 15, 2004
Just got back from a post-Valentine’s breakfast for two of the women I love: Kathy and her mama, Betty Radina. We met Grandma Betty at I-17 and the Carefree Highway at 10:30, then drove up in our car to the Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon City. The old stage stop is famous for its mountain oysters and Penny’s homemade pies. Jana B. got me a pie gift certificate for Christmas and I took it along (in fact, it was the catalyst to go for a Sunday drive with my honeys).

The place was slammed and we had a fifteen minute wait, along with 14 bikers in back of us. They got kind of testy about us being in front of them, so Betty called one of them out and they did that deal where you take a bandana and put one end in your teeth and the opponent, Betty, took the other end and then they fought with knives until one of them gives up. Betty got their leader, Satan, pretty good, slicing him along the ribs (really ruined his jacket).

Not really.

Had a great cholesterol-packed green chile omelette with sour dough biscuits. Over breakfast Betty admitted she is turning 80 this year and we decided to have a big blow-out birthday party for her and invite all her old friends from Michigan, Sun City, etc. By the time we pulled out of the parking lot, Kathy had all her siblings contacted by cell phone, had the place rented and the party favors ordered. Going to be fun. We may even invite the biker she almost killed.

I-17 and all the by-ways were really crowded both up and back. Drove by Anthem, an instant sub division that didn’t even exist five years ago and today is on the way to 60,000 residents. When I was returning from my speech out in Surprise last week, I saw another instant city, Vistana, which is supposed to be a 40,000 mini-community, and this morning’s paper touts another big development going in down at Eloy (about half-way to Tucson on I-10). Hard to believe there weren’t even 5,000 people in all of Mohave County when we moved to Arizona in 1955.

Here’s some of the early fallout and feedback from the recently declared Mexican Food War:

“In a food fight between Sonoran and New Mexican cooking, nobody loses. Yum-eee.”
—Emma Bull

“You can tell Mr. Hutton and his man-friend Johnny Boggs, that I'll meet them any
time anywhere for a Mexican food cook off. I can beat either one or both
of them with one stove tied behind my back. And I don't adhere to the
Spanish version!!!”
—Mad Coyote Joe

“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.”
—Josh Billings

Saturday, February 14, 2004

February 14, 2004
A week ago Friday, after the History Channel video shoot in Tucson, cast and crew went to dinner at El Minuto, which is one of the best Mexican food restaurants in North America. While there, Professor Paul Hutton of the University of New Mexico, made the asinine remark that Arizona doesn't have good Mexican food, and that the reason New Mexico has such superior Mexican cuisine is because they adhere to the original Spanish version.

This made me laugh. Having just returned from Spain I assured him most Spaniards think ketchup is too spicy and as far as I could ascertain from my tour of at least a dozen cities from the high plains of La Mancha to the urban centers of Barcelona and Madrid, there is not one ingredient in Mexican food that came from Spain.

Paul was not impressed and stuck to his absurd theory. So I had to go to a higher power. When I got home I contacted Mad Coyote Joe (tv star of The Sonoran Grill and author of several best-selling Southwestern cookbooks), and asked him to write up a short and tasteful take on the history of Mexican food. Joe did neither. His reply is long, full of petty venom, not to mention recipes. That's just three of the things I love about the guy. Here's part of his response to Dr. Hutton’s ridiculous comments:

“I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate run-in with professor Hutton. He
is a classic example of the old adage a little knowledge is dangerous. The
good scholar may be very bright when it comes to things that have to do with
dead yellow haired gringos [Prof. Hutton is a Custer expert] or nere-do wells from his home state of New Mexico [Hutton is the state’s official historian on the Billy the Kid dig] but he doesn't know squat when it come to Mexican food. The "Mexican" food he is so proud of is in fact a cuisine that has been developed over the past five hundred years in New Mexico. Although delicious, and very well defined, it has a little to do with Mexico and much less to do with Spain. It is in fact New Mexican food, which finds its roots in Pueblo American, Central American cooking. Centuries old, theirs was a diet of corn, beans and squash with a definite use of chiles. The Pueblo peoples had been harvesting chiles in the wild for centuries when the Spanish showed up. They had been trading partners with a tribe known as the Pochteca from Central America for several hundred years. It is reported they traded among other things chile seeds. The food Mr. Hutton calls Mexican was developed when the Catholics missionaries moved into the Rio Grande Valley five hundred years ago and used what was available, basically the afore mentioned Native American diet. That's when they started growing chiles. Most likely grown were Poblano, Jalapeno, and the ancestor of the most popular chile among growers in that region the New Mexico 6-4. The currently world famous variety known as "Hatch Green chile" is a total falsehood (like Mr. Hutton's statement!). It is a mix of different varieties including Big Jim, Anaheim, and the New Mexico 6-4. Hatch is an amazing region for growing chiles, but they sell way more than they grow. With Hatch Green Chiles on every store shelf from San Diego to Quebec, and the chiles called "Hatch" on sale by mail and on the Internet, plus the roadside stands selling fifty pound bags, in season, one would think they have millions of acres under cultivation. They in fact have only a few hundred. I'm told by people, in New Mexico, (that know) a good part of the chile being sold as "Hatch" is in fact grown in Arizona. It is then shipped to Hatch and sold as their own. Hmmm. Inferior chile from Arizona being sold as the really authentic chiles from New Mexico.”

Needless to say, Professor Hutton is not amused by this “blasphemy” and is incensed by this “uninformed” affront to the dignity and “superiority” of New Mexican style Mexican food. He has unleashed the glove and declared war on us. A nasty food fight will assuredly follow.

I must say, we look forward to this culinary showdown and are confident Sonoran style Mexican food will hold its own against these obnoxious, New Mexican food snobs.

“Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.”
—John Henry Newman

Friday, February 13, 2004

February 13, 2004
One of our new salespeople, Sue Lambert, is breaking out as a major player at True West. Amazing since she started here as a receptionist, then moved to store manager and then to sales (which she had never done before). Last night we were walking out to our cars after everyone else had left and I asked Sue to what she attributed her incredible success.

She told me it is largely (95%) due to the Earl Nightingale CDs (“The Strangest Secret for Succeeding in the World Today”) and the Cold Calling CDs which she has been listening to and taking notes on. This was music to my ears because I paid for the Nightingale CDs ($65) out of my own pocket. It’s a real testament to Earl’s posthumous power (he’s been dead for some time) to continue to change and inspire people. We have asked Sue to help spread the word in sales and get others in her department as fired up as she is.

This week we got a new subscriber in Bulgaria who sent a Western Union money order ($100) in care of my name. So I had to go up to Bashas’ grocery store in Carefree, pick up a special Western Union phone, give them all the information, then a woman on the line gave me a pin number, which I took over to a checkout girl, who ended up getting on the intercom to page the store manager. Kevin came up, looked at the pin number, put it in a computer and asked me for photo ID. When I handed him my driver’s license, he said, “You’re not Bob Boze Bell.” (my driver’s license has my real name) I turned to look at the newsstand, which was next to his computer, so I could pick up a True West magazine and show him, but they were sold out! “Well, it’s a pen name,” I said, sounding about as legitimate as a check kiter in a trailer park laundromat. “I mean, Boze is a nickname I got in high school when I ran the bases backwards.” This sounded even more fake than the first comment and by the look on Kevin’s face, he completely agreed.

I’m not quite sure why he ended up giving me money, but he did. However, as he handed me the C-note, he give me a “What a fruitcake” look, and frankly, I deserved it.

Trish Brink came in yesterday and said for some reason the website has been getting a big spike in hits this week and although I couldn’t think of why at the time, I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “Duh! It’s the Westerns channel True West Moment, which runs our website address under my name every time it plays. They claim 20 million eyeballs, do the math Boze, I mean Robert Allen.”

"If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle."
—Rita Mae Brown

Thursday, February 12, 2004

February 12, 2004
Now that the Janet Jackson exposure has died down here’s my favorite humor that came out of the incident:

Best Talk Show Quip:
“I enjoyed it. For once I wasn’t the biggest boob on CBS.”
—David Letterman

Best Editorial Headline:
A Tempest In A C-Cup

Best Editorial Cartoon Caption:
So my family and I were watching good, old-fashioned horse flatulence and dogs attacking crotches and then Janet Jackson got all raunchy.

Best Parody Song Verse:
“My six year old son saw an African booby
I haven’t been that mad since they shot Jack Ruby. . .”
—Koby Teith, AKA Bill Maher parodying Toby Keith on Real Time With Bill Maher

“I believe that play is the beginning of creativity.
I believe that laughter is the only cure for grief and fear.
I believe that humor is the bond that can unite us all.”

—Ellie Marek

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bonus Blog for February 11, 2004

Here is the letter Congressman Ed Pastor sent to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee:

Dear Committee Members:

The purpose of this letter is to express my heartiest support for the selection of Vera McGinnis, inductee to both the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the Rodeo Hall of Fame, to be honored by the issuance of a commemorative stamp.

Enclosed is a copy of an article that appeared in TRUE WEST MAGAZINE that outlines Vera’s colorful accomplishments. When you review this piece, you will readily see that she truly represents the vibrant and gutsy spirit of America that drove pioneers to settle the west and tame a savage land.

During these days of international unrest and uncertainty, I can think of no better vision for Americans to focus on then this bold woman or a better time in our history to remember than our frontier days. Vera McGinnis bucked the narrow stereotype for women of her era and followed her dreams, creating a successful career that inspired joy and admiration from hundreds of thousands of persons worldwide. A stamp featuring her life would be a proud symbol to remind today’s citizens of the history of America’s characteristic resolve to dig in, work hard, and make aspirations a reality.

In closing, I predict that there are few images more appealing or romantic than an American cowgirl. Such a stamp would be eagerly sought by today’s consumers and hold a spot of value for stamp collectors. Therefore, in keeping with all relevant guidelines, I urge you to approve a Vera McGinnis stamp in the near future.

Ed Pastor
Member of Congress
February 11, 2002
I had another speech out in Sun City yesterday. Standing room only, probably about 250 at the West Valley Art Museum. Talked about being "surrounded" by Geronimo, who appeared on four different paintings in the hall where I was speaking. I mentioned how offensive this would be to the original pioneers of Arizona. That it would be tantamount to having Osama bin Laden hanging here. That got their attention.

On the way home I was listening to all the bad rock on the radio and I had an epiphany, which I turned into an open letter to my son (he's 21) and his generation. Here it is:

I was coming home from a speech out in Sun City yesterday, listening to all the bad rock on the radio and it hit me: one of the reasons rock is fading and hip-hop is so strong is because "rock" is accepted and taught in school. When I was in high school (1962-65), the band teacher would not allow rock to even be played or discussed in class. That put rock and roll outside of acceptable, and of course made it so appealing to rebels and misfits like myself and the Beatles. Ha.

But today, you've got band teachers showing the nerdy kids how to play Led Zep, etc. and you end up with all those ernest, pretentious bands you hate (Korn?) who I believe were probably "trained" in high school and, or, college.

Hip-hop meanwhile is today's outlaw music and outside the bounds of acceptable. There are members of my generation (okay, I'm one of them) who keep clinging to the false hope that Hip-hop and rap are just a passing fad, but rap is 25 years old. And I realized that's what my parent's generation was hoping for with rock. I remember commentators laughing and saying rock was going to last about as long as the hoola-hoop craze.

It's kind of sad and scary to me that the three guitars and a drummer template may be an endangered species, but there you have it. The world keeps on turning and if you live long enough, your entire world dies in front of your eyes. When you and Deena were just toddlers (1984) we went to Iowa and picked up my grandmother Bell who was 92 at the time. As we drove over to visit Doris, her daughter and my aunt (Poppie's sister), Minnie Hauan Bell started singing a song and she kind of wanted us to sing along but it was some old dittie we had never heard of, but there she was belting out some Norskie Classic Viking tune and we were looking at her like she was some ancient holdover from another world (and she was).

Here's a warning for you: that's probably me in about twenty years, belting out "Communication Breakdown" in some old people's home and your mother is mooning everyone in the hall. Get ready son, it will be embarrassing.


"You do not notice changes in what is always before you."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

February 10, 2004
Last night was the fortieth anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This morning in our staff meeting I asked how many people actually watched that show. Out of a staff of 13, seven proudly raised their hands (although Gus Walker couldn’t remember exactly that show, which is a sure sign of someone who “participated” in the wild Sixties). I mention this because last night I gave a speech at a retirement resort in Sun City. I spoke to over 300 people interested in all things Western and at the end I gave a plug to our new True West Moments which began running Feb. 1. Only one guy raised his hand when I asked who gets the Westerns Channel. That took the wind right out of my sails. Not a good stat.

Got an interesting e-mail this morning from Mark Curtright of Boston who found this site while Googling the name of artist Ed Mell. Here’s his comment:

“I must comment that since starting to read your blog, I have concluded that you and your staff are the eating out'est bunch I have ever come across. I get hungry reading the stuff you write. Tell the restaurants you mention in the blog about the fact that you are providing free national publicity for them. It might be good for a free pass some time. My only dining recommendations for your consideration during future travels are Casa Grande on Central in Albuquerque (2 blocks east of the Rio Grande). Best red chile ever and cheap. And in Kansas City, Jack Stack Barbeque or Jess & Jim's Steakhouse out south in the Martin City suburb.”

Too true, Mark. By the way, Ed Mell is the featured artist in next month’s issue. And, small, world, I had lunch yesterday with Gail Peterson, Ed’s ex-wife. She’s doing well, and is the director of the “Breaking the Cycle Community Health Care & Comprehensive Family Planning Services.” We ate at China Joy up in Carefree (she bought). Our kids are about the same age, basically grew up together, so we laughed and cried.

As promised, here’s our first proposed strip on Honkytonk Sue which we will run in the May issue.

And speaking of wild Cowgirls, we got a great letter from Ed Pastor who is a congressman from Arizona. Jana Bommersbach had sent him a Vera McGinnis issue (October 2003) and this is part of his reply:

“Jana, not only did I enjoy reading your article on Vera McGinnis, but my entire Washington office staff devoured the piece as well. We are all in agreement that Vera would be an ideal candidate for a commemorative stamp so I was delighted to submit a letter of recommendation to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee.”

I’ll share that letter with you tomorrow.

“The best art is that which complicates things for you by exposing impossible contradictions, which makes you question your assumptions about the world.”
—Mona Hatoum

Monday, February 09, 2004

February 9, 2004
Well, the Queen of Country Swing is one step closer to being back in action on the dancefloor and in the magazine. It all started in the Vera McGinnis issue (Oct. 2003) when I mentioned in my editorial that my comic book creation Honkytonk Sue was inspired by all the 1920s rodeo cowgirls like Vera. I ran an illustration of Sue to go with the editorial, and this really piqued Bob Brink’s interest. He came into my office after we got our office copies and said, “I think there’s a place for Honkytonk Sue in the magazine.”

After my whirlwind romance with Hollywood in the early 1980s (Larry McMurtry wrote three scripts for Goldie Hawn and there were six scripts commissioned in all) I tried unsuccessfully to do a Sue movie on paper. I had a handshake deal with Eclipse Comics and ended up with 500 pages of nothing (mostly bad writing). I was trying to do too much and ended up with nothing. However, in the process, I did create some decent, interesting imagery of the West’s prettiest cowgirl. Culling and cannibalizing these out of my morgue, Gus Walker and I put together two pages of rough strips, using old gags and a new, clean layout (I was particularly copying and aiming for a Dilbert kind of look, in terms of white space. I read Dilbert religiously every day and I especially love the white space Scott Adams employs, unlike virtually every other comic strip in the papers which are clogged with ink). I’ll run one of the proposed strips tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s one of the illustrations I created for “The Man Canyon” which was going to be the name for my movie on paper. Of course it ended up being what dogs do on paper. Ha.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 08, 2004

February 8, 2004
Got some good news on my e-mails this morning:

“Just watched you on the Westerns channel, True West Moment. It was great.”
—Larry Thrapp

Also, Trish Brink e-mailed me and said some of my artwork is up on the site here. You can click right here to check it out.

I did ten scratchboards for the new April issue and Dan Harshberger only used two. Here’s two he didn’t use that I rather like. Both were intended for the “Are You An Old West Maniac?” article. One would have had the caption: “Do you or a loved one get a mystical look in your eye whenever the movie Tombstone is played?” And the other one would have said, “Do you dress up like John Wayne and watch his movies until the cows come home?” Of course, both behaviors (especially the John Wayne one) would qualify you as an Old West Maniac.

And speaking of movies, we had dinner last night at El Encanto with the Barra family, Buckeye Blake and his wife Tona, a good lookin’ barrel racer from Texas named Aaron (she was in town for the Parada del Sol Rodeo this weekend) and her mama. Over many margaritas (bill was $242! our portion was $120, paid cash) we argued about Westerns and movies in general. Allen Barra maintains that there are no categories like in the old days. There is no Science Fiction or B-Movie per se. It’s all action movies geared for 18-24 males. He claims the genre movie is dead. And to some extent he is correct. Even romantic comedies have to have the exploding car or outrageous stunts.

With that said, take our new poll on the types of movies you like to see (assuming you don’t agree with Allen Barra that they are kaput). You also can click right here to vote.

“It's hard enough to write a good drama, it's much harder to write a good comedy, and it's hardest of all to write a drama with comedy. Which is what life is.”
—Jack Lemon

Saturday, February 07, 2004

February 7, 2004
Drove down to Tucson yesterday morning. Left the TW offices at nine, got down to the Old Pueblo and the Arizona Historical Society at 11:30 (139 miles). Met the Bill Kurtis crew and Paul Hutton for a taping on Wyatt Earp. It’ll run on the History Channel in May.

Taping was, as my mother likes to say, “different.” The word came down from the suits in New York, not to use much of me or Drew Gomber because we are all over the other History Channel show Old West Tech, so I thought, “Well, I’ll help out the editors by making their lives easier, and I’ll just entertain the crew.” The end result was that Paul Hutton, who was interviewing me, couldn’t keep a straight face and kept laughing, which in turn was like pouring gas on a fire for me, and each time he cracked up I turned up the outrageous nozzle another notch. When we got to Mr. Earp spending time in a Peoria, Illinois brothel, well, let’s just say, the whole crew lost it (and by the way, if you can make the sound guy laugh, you are really doing something, because those guys are jaded sphinx-sters).

Afterwards we all went down to the barrio for beers and Mexican food at El Minuto. Writer Leo Banks joined us, along with Sherry Monihan and her husband Larry, Allen Barra, his wife Jonelle and daughter Maggie and Paul Hutton ($40 cash, I bought Leo’s dinner, I had two Bohemias and the carne seca Sonoran enchiladas).

After coffee and a load of enough author gossip to last a month of Sundays, Allen and I took off in my Ford Ranger and argued (and laughed) all the way home about Westerns and American pop culture. The three hours went by in a blink and we pulled in the driveway at about ten to eleven. Long day.

It will be interesting to see if they end up using anything from my interview, and if they do, how harshly they’ll have to edit. So if you see the show and they keep cutting me off in mid-sentence, you’ll know why. And by the way, I didn’t get paid a dime for this. I love the people involved and it’s just a ton of fun.

"Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul."
—Marilyn Monroe

Friday, February 06, 2004

February 6, 2004
Kathy and I waited in the Heart Institute waiting room for two hours yesterday before we got in to see the specialist. When we finally got to talk to him here’s what I heard:

“A ruptured aneurysm requires immediate emergency treatment. Without surgery, the mortality rate is 100%.”

Of course, he said other things that were more positive and on the whole it wasn’t that bleak or negative, but it’s funny what sticks out for us. I found myself making all those deals with God we all vow when we’ve been caught red-handed: “Okay, I’m going to exercise, eat right, dedicate my life to helping the poor and disenfranchised.”

This lasted until we got in the car and Kathy asked me where I wanted to eat. “Let’s go to Taco Villa and have a bean burro enchilada style!”

I really do intend to help the poor some day.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming—’Wow! What a ride!’”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, February 05, 2004

February 5, 2004
Mike Melrose took the sales staff and I out to Pei Wei yesterday for lunch. He bought (amazing!) and commented that anytime we have the biggest issue in the future he will buy again. Our Second Annual Travel Issue is at the printer and it’s a monster.

Got a doctor’s appointment this morning down in Phoenix. Kathy set up this session with a special-specialist. He actually treats deep vein thrombosises. Amazing. Anxious to hear what he has to say.

Worked most of yesterday on gags for Honkytonk Sue. Gus and I are moving around images of the Queen of Country Swing and trying to get at least a dozen in the can. Struggling. Got some decent stuff, but need to push it farther. No real 10s yet.

Big board meeting at 1:30 today. Everybody is in town for it. Going over the accomplishments of last year and the goals for this year. Looking forward to it. We are aggressively expanding circulation and Bob Brink keeps warning us to take it in bite sizes.

RG came into my office yesterday and said he had a nightmare that woke him up. Ad sales had come in below estimates and I fired everyone except Carole. That told me two things: he takes his three jobs very seriously (he’s the Chief Financial Officer, Editor and ad salesman), and two, he doesn’t know me very well. Don’t tell him but I’d fire myself before I fired him.

“When you make a mistake, don't look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind, and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.”
—Hugh White

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

February 4, 2004
Writer Emma Bull has a few words to say about John Fusco’s comments denying the Mideast metaphor of a Cowboy dispensing Western justice in his new movie Hidalgo (see January 29 and February 1):

“I love it when a fellow writer claims that metaphor was never part of
the story creation process. Tim Powers, one of the best fantasy
novelists ever, used to say regularly that he only wrote entertaining
yarns, that he didn't think about subtext. For all I know, he still
says so, but he no longer does it in my hearing. That's because I
finally responded with, ‘Powers! Liar, liar, pants on fire!’

“Humans turn to metaphor the way a passing finch turns to a bird feeder. Consciously or not, we process enormous amounts of our experience by turning it into metaphor. Humans involved in creative stuff absolutely swim in metaphor.

“I'll go out on a limb here, and say that no story is ever solely about
the characters and situation in the story. The writer may not be
entirely aware of what he or she is doing, but somewhere in there is
the playing-out of his love for his dad, or her fear of cancer, or his
anger at the slow death of his hometown. No, writing isn't
psychoanalysis. But who you are informs what you write and how you
write about it, and the making of metaphors is the process by which
that happens.

“Reading is also a process of making metaphors. This is why no one ever
reads exactly the story that the writer meant to write. Mr. Fusco (or
the producers or the director or the studio execs) may not have seen
the story as a metaphor for the U.S.'s relationship to the Middle East
before September 11, but that doesn't mean the viewer won't, or

“Once the art leaves your hands, it no longer really belongs to you.
This makes writers a little crazy...and is why I tell my writing
workshop students that they should be aware of the subtext of what
they've written, and do whatever they can to make it consistent with
the story they want to tell.

“Can't wait to see Hidalgo, whatever metaphors I bring to it. ”

”Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”
—Mary Augusta Ward

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

February 3, 2004
Overcast and sprinkling out here on the desert. Always a treat in the morning.

I was cleaning in the office yesterday and found our very first business plan for the magazine (2001). Carole and I went to night classes to learn how to create one. Most businesses create a plan before they begin, but we thought we would be different and wait a couple years and throw a half million dollars out the window first, to see if that worked.

It didn’t.

It was especially interesting to see the projections, which looked forward to the way yonder year of 2004. Virtually all of the numbers projected in ad sales have come true. The irony is that one of the original partners bailed because he didn’t believe them and pronounced them as “fantasy.”

Got a haircut yesterday at 11:30. Bev, who lives up the road from us, caught me up on all the gossip. For example, everyone’s afraid to hire illegals because Don S. of the Sonoran News will come by and photograph them, then run it in the paper. Bev also told me the sheriff was sicced on our next door neighbors. I didn’t know this, and I made a vow to get my hair cut more often.

“Let us not look not back in anger, or forward with fear, but around in awareness.”
—James Thurber

Monday, February 02, 2004

February 2, 2004
Here is photographic proof that Buddy Boze Bell is having gas problems. We see Peaches getting in as close as she can without getting burned, and we can clearly see the protective cone on Buddy’s head, designed to protect against rectal fumes overcoming his fragile mental capacity.

Actually, this is a photo from the days after Buddy’s neutering, but the basic point is sound.

Regarding Dan Buck’s insights into the genesis of Indiana Jones (art imitating art), his point is well taken. The art imitating art phenom keeps dividing and splitting into smaller and smaller cycles.

One of my old bandmates, guitarist Mike Torres (Smokey, Central Heating) commented to me recently that his son keeps trying to turn him onto new music, but every time Mike takes a listen all he hears is the original sources: “That’s not new my boy, it’s a rip-off of Led Zeppelin.” Of course, Led Zep is a recycling of old blues, and old blues. . .and on it goes

The same is true in magazines. The hottest new title in years is Maxim. All I see is an updated version of the old Argosy magazine (cheesy shots of starlets & manly man activities).

And don’t get me started on movies.

It’s always been true that there’s nothing new under the sun, but today it seems like the cycles are viciously short and getting shorter. Or is it just major geezerness rearing its ugly head? Does every generation go through this? I remember my dad laughing at fat, psychedelic neckties in the late sixties and showing me his (from WWII). Am I simply where he was then? Or is the world eating its young (old ideas dressed up like new ideas) at a frightening pace?

”New ideas can be good and bad, just the same as old ones.”

Sunday, February 01, 2004

February 1, 2004
Remember that Woody Allen film where he’s standing in a movie line and the guy in front of him is pontificating about the media, quoting Marshall McLuen (the media sage who said: “The medium is the message”), and Woody can’t stand it anymore and confronts the guy on his idiotic musings, and when the guy tries to argue with Woody, he pulls the real Marshall McCluen out from behind a coke machine and Marshall lays into the haplass cretin and tells him he has no idea what he’s talking about?

Well, if you have read my take on the sneak preview of Hidalgo (see January 29), here’s John Fusco’s response:

“Wanted to respond to your observations about insensitive world politics. I wrote HIDALGO two years prior to September 11. Metaphor never entered my mind and was never part of the creative vision. Iraq is indeed a part of the Desert Race mythology and is on Hopkins' race map as a key leg.

Regarding the Arab horseman killing his horse. That horse falls and
breaks his leg in the middle of the desert. A horseman, no matter what
culture he is from, knows what he has to do at a time like that. The
Arab rider in the film weeps for his horse, calling him his "brother"
in Arabic. The only attack on that scene has come from a certain interest who is looking for anything he can find to hurt me and my movie.

We shot in Morocco with Arab consultants on every aspect of horsemanship, custom, language, accurate period dress, etc. Jeff Kurland, our Academy Award winning costume designer researched 1890's Arabian costume in great detail, working with a team of Arab historical consultants.

Lastly, Hopkins can be called a blow hard, but it is only one side of the story, and one part of Frank Hopkins. He was also the most influential proponent of Mustang preservation during the 30's and 40's. His activist writings on the subject remain some of the most powerful and profound even today. He certainly influenced and inspired later mustang conservators such as Robert Brislawn and Gilbert Jones. He wanted his stories to save the mustangs. In many ways they have.”

“I sometimes give myself admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.”
—Mary Wortley Montagu