Wednesday, June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004
Here is a photo of my new girlfriend. That’s right, I’m dropping Kathy. While it’s true we’ve been together for 25 years I’ve got a major beef: I can’t even get my wife to watch a Custer movie, much less go to the battlefield. My new honey (I didn’t catch her name) has gone every year for the last quarter century and has a tattoo of The Boy General on her left arm to prove it. Is that commitment? Or what?

She told me her Custer tattoo has faded quite a bit in the last 15 years, but I told her it merely makes it look more like an old photograph. It’s so refreshing to see women acting as nuts as the males I am friends with.

Three reps from Banta Printing in Kansas City came in this morning to go over our new contract. Good, solid midwestern guys. Afterwards, Bob Brink, Robert Ray and I took Wade Bailey, Dave Sanders and Bart Etzenhouser to Tonto Bar & Grill for lunch

Our staff photographer, John Beckett came in this afternoon and told me he’s gotten at least five inquiries from soldiers in Iraq regarding his Painted Ladies pinups which are advertised in True West. John is pretty sure they are not insurgents, but are on our side. Here’s a clue: “I would buy all 15 no questions asked just from what I’ve seen.” Now that’s a red-blooded American boy writing, don’t you think. You can check out John’s Painted Ladies at

Found out yesterday one of our ex-employees is in jail, without bail. I guess the only thing I can say is it’s a testament to his tremendous talent that he stayed out as long as he did.

”There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self destruct. It never fails.”
—Richard Rybolt

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

June 29, 2004
Last week I said I would find the real last words of Kit Carson and here they are courtesy of Paul Andrew Hutton:

“Kit Carson had been under the care of Dr.Tilton at Ft. Lyon since the death of his wife on April 27, 1868. The aneurism that so troubled him had left him very weak even before his wife's sudden death after childbirth. He stayed in the doctor's quarters at the fort, sleeping on a buffalo robe on the floor. The doctor had told him what to expect when it would finally burst. In the afternoon of May 24th, as blood gushed from his mouth, he called out ‘Doctor, Compadre, Adios.’ He died quickly in the doctors arms.”

Last Friday at 3:30, on the 128th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, I parked my rental car at the Visitor Center and started to walk towards the Custer Monument on Last Stand Hill. But before I could get twenty feet I was accosted by Rangers Michael Donahue and Jim Hatzell. They demanded I not even look up there because, according to them, the park is set up backwards and they didn’t want me to be influenced, like virtually millions of others have, by seeing the battle from the end backwards. “It skews your understanding of what happened,” Jim told me.

They loaded me in Jim’s F-150 and we motored around and through the valley eastward, out to Little Reno Creek, just West of the Crow’s nest. From this vantage point they began the story and showed me the numerous locations, like Lone Tipi and the Morass, where Benteen came back onto the trail and where Boston Custer watered his horse as the pack train came up (a critical piece of evidence as to George Armstrong Custer’s mindset during the battle). All along this stretch both Jim and Michael would ask me, “Can you see the village from here?” And as I looked up the valley I confessed I could not. “Neither could Custer,” they answered, all the way up to and including the spot where Custer ordered Major Reno and his men to attack.

Almost every foot of terrain from this point on has a name burned into my gray matter. I grew up reading about Medicine Tail Coulee, Deep Ravine, Nye-Cartwright Ridge and Weir Peak to name but a few, and to actually be standing there, where they rode and fought is quite overpowering. Some things seemed smaller than I had pictured (Weir Peak is by Arizona standards a molehill), while other sites seemed huge (Reno’s skirmish line of 100-some-odd men stretched all the way from the river tree line, across a large open field, across the freeway, past the Conoco sign, up a long slope to a white house on the opposite side of the valley. Really a vast expanse, especially when you realize they were up against 2,000 pissed off warriors!).

Almost every step of the way had a fascinating story: “The Indian horse herd of 20,000—yes, twenty thousand!— ponies was over there, and with Custer were Indian scouts who rode with Reno, and they successfully made it over there, cut out a significant amount of horses and escaped. Incredible. Never heard that before.

Also, The Crow scouts who were with Custer were mainly along because the Indians in the village were camped illegally on their reservation and they wanted them off. Ever since a small pox epidemic had decimated the tribe, the Crows had been bullied by the Sioux and consequently, the Crow sided with the whites to get their enemies off their land. So it is quite ironic that one of the new Indian markers on the battlefield says, “he died fighting for his homeland.” This really irritates the modern Crow because their take on the fight is that the Sioux and Cheyenne were trespassing on Crow land (it’s still Crow land today). As Michael and Jim told me, “You never see that in a movie.”

By the time we got to Nye-Cartwright Ridge we could see the skirmish line that Custer deployed to make way for the pack train to come up. When Boston Custer caught up with his older brother he surely told him the pack train was a mere 15 minutes behind. Basing his actions on this false assumption (the pack train and Benteen’s command stopped short with Reno and never came up in spite of Custer’s written orders to do so), the soldiers on the ridge were surrounded, one by one, and the haunting part of the battlefield is the lonely markers where the men fell. The white markers grow thicker as the overrun soldiers ran desperately towards Last Stand Hill. I finally understood Michael and Jim’s logic at seeing the battlefield form this direction, because now the fight had a momentum you don’t get coming at it from the other end.

Among the incredible, almost unbelievable stats: the Custer soldiers fired some 38,000 rounds and killed maybe 40 Indians. I believe Michael told me that at the Battle of the Rosebud, which happened days before this fight, the U.S. troops under Crook fired some 40,000 rounds at the same Indians and killed only 10. A little target practice was in order and consequently the Army totally revamped their shooting training after this twin debacle.

Five hours later we wrapped the tour (because the park was closing at 9 pm) and I actually felt like they had to rush certain parts because we just didn’t have enough time.

Here’s a photo of Jim Hatzell (left) and Michael Donahue at the Reno-Benteen Battlefield pointing out into the very valley that held one of the largest Indian encampments in history. The other photo is from the Hardin Custer reenactment. That is Custer in left foreground coming right at us.

We went into Hardin for pizza and beer (I bought, $20 cash), then Jim and I went to a cavalry reenactor’s encampment right across from Medicine Tail Coulee and I slept in a gooseneck trailer until three a.m. when a horse tied to the back kept jerking on his tether and urinating on my bedroom. I stumbled off my pallet, found my shoes in the dark, got out to my car and took off for Cody. It was, by then, 3 a.m. After a four hour run (I pulled over and slept for a half hour on top of the mountain west of Ranchester), I got back to Cody at 7:30 a.m. and met Sue for breakfast at the Buffalo Bill Village. And, after four cups of coffee and a skillet of eggs and country fries ($14 cash, I bought) I was refreshed to begin the day at the trade show.

"If everything is under control, you're not going fast enough."
—Mario Andretti

Monday, June 28, 2004

June 28, 2004
Back from Cody and Custer Country. Flew many miles, changed many planes, ate many peanuts, drove many miles (586.7), saw much history, ate much mediocre food, met my first True West Maniac in the wild and almost bought a used Stetson for $700.

On Friday morning Sue Lambert and I met Juti Winchester at the Buffalo Bill Museum and she took us downstairs to the library where I got a good look at their massive photo collection (at some 350,000 images it’s the largest in the West). Picked out 250,000 to run in the magazine, then whittled that list down below a hundred, then down to fifty. Finally gave up, told them I want to run numerous photo features and use everything. They laughed and agreed. Just a fabulous depository.

Left there at ten, got Sue set up at our table at the Brian Label trade show and took off in my crappy Dodge rental car to Montana. Went via Powell and Billings, stopped at Bridger (yes, named for mountain man Jim Bridger) and had lunch ($7 for a pre-made, cardboard sandwich and iced tea, which she never brought). I spread the map out on the table and asked the waitress about a shortcut across the Crow Reservation but she had no clue, claiming she had only lived in the area for five years. She said she’d ask the cooks and the guys in the back but they also knew nada. Shocking. Guys not knowing the roads leaving their town? What is this country coming to? This just stunned me. How can you be a guy and live in a town and not know the status of a road leaving your town? Can people be that ridiculously unaware? Evidently in Montana.

Finally, I went over to a table where a guy in a feed cap was knocking a mighty big hole in the buffet table. His wife had her own gaping hole going. “It’s dirt for the first twenty mile,” he told me as he knocked back a gooey looking jell-o spread. “I’d take the Billings way. More pretty.” I gave him a True West and took his advice. When in doubt in a small town, trust the guy who loads up on the buffet.

Hit the freeway west of Billings and pushed it up to eighty. East of Billings I saw the first of several billboards for the annual Custer reenactment (June 25-27). Got to Hardin in record time, took the exit, followed the signs and got out to the staging grounds at 1:45. It was about ten miles out of town on the road I would have taken at Bridger. Ha. Was worried I would miss the battle, but as I parked and ran across the greasy grass parking area I heard the announcer say, “Then came Sacajawea. . .” so I knew I was plenty early. The stands were packed with white people, and we were all there for one reason: to see Custer get it.

Unfortunately we had to sit through “Travel by Travois,” “Setting Up a Tepee,” “Forked Tongue,” “The Commissioners Arrive,” “Peace Treaty Council,” “Red Cloud Speaks,” “A Treaty is Signed,” “The Ink on The Treaty Dries,” “Custer Takes Leave of Libbie,” “Who Shall Govern?” “Pony Express,” “Encroachment on Indian Lands,” Gathering of the Tribes,” “Sitting Bull’s Ordeal,” “Sitting Bull’s Vision” and several other scenes that I would file under, “Let’s Ride in a Wide Circle and Yell,” followed by “Let’s Ride the Other Way and Yell.”

Finally we got to the good part, “Reno Attacks,” and here they came, the mighty Seventh Cavalry headed by a Canadian named Tony Austin who looked great as Custer. But the problem with these local reenactments is sixteen soldiers have to stand in for 700 and twenty Indians have to portray 2,000, so it gets a tad thin, more like an advance scouting party coming under attack, but they did a good job falling off and I took three rolls of film to prove it.

From there I drove down to the actual battlefield where incredibly they had another reenactment going on just across the river from the park. Someone told me that this one is put on by a local Crow family and that their version "has humor and is funnier." I was sorry I didn't get to see this version, but I pictured a pie in Long Hair's face and a few rodeo clowns with their big shoes slapping Hairy Moccasin

At the Visitor’s Center I met ranger Michael Donahue and Jim Hatzell and they wouldn’t let me even look up at Last Stand Hill. No, they insisted on taking me by truck around to Little Reno Creek, east of the Morass and west of the Crow’s Nest to walk me through the entire battle, point by point, so I could see what Custer could see, or not see, and how and why he made his decisions. The tour took five hours and they were rushing through parts of it. That story tomorrow.

"Some people like to decide and act. Others live by the motto: Indecision Is The Key To Flexibility."
—Steve Goodier

Sunday, June 27, 2004

June 26, 2004
Another unfinished image of our Apache scout from a schism in the
earth, or whatever.

"Remember to preserve a calm soul amid difficulties."-Horace
June 25, 2004
While we're on the subject, here's an unfinished painting of the Apache scout with the cock eye and red hair.

Taken from an actual photograph.

"Some people find fault like there was a reward for it!"-Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, June 24, 2004

June 24, 2004
While I'm flying to Cody, Wyoming, here's the bloody Wild Bunch
painting I finished this morning. See yesterday's blog for the title.

"I'm not Mr. Lebowski Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude, or the
duder, or el dudarino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
—The Big Lebowski

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

June 23, 2004
This year’s Best of the West needs your votes to make it legit. Certainly you know of some worthy craftsperson, bootmaker, gunbelt tooler, re-enactor or can-can dancer that deserves to be awarded. You don’t have to vote for every category, but please vote for the ones you know well. You can click right here to vote.

Got going early on a scratchboard of the Wild Bunch, as in the Peckinpah film. We need a good strong iconic image to go with a piece we’re doing on a new documentary of the legendary Westerns director.

Had to walk up to my truck at the end of the road when I got ready to go into work. Felt good, but added about fifteen minutes to the commute.

Got into the office at ten, had several meetings. Went to lunch with Carole Glenn at El Encanto. Too hot to sit outside although they had misters and a whole bunch of people were out there. There were several mama ducks with a whole row of baby ducks behind. Quite cute. Had the fajita salad and iced tea. Carole bought, I got the tip ($4 cash).

Came home at 3:30 and bailed into a big gouache of The Wild Bunch walking towards us. It’s that iconic image of Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine heading for the big die off. Each of them is loaded down with shells and shotguns. As I tried to feather in their shadows (they are backlit with their shadows reversed, from the movie photo, I got to laying in the vermillion and of course it turned to blood and soon I was splatting and splattering all over the paper, until the title came to me: “Bloodrops Keep Droppin’ on My Head.” Thanks to Sam Peckinpah they always will. Now whether it’s a cover remains to be seen. Needs some work, we’ll see.

Worked until around 8:15 and ran out of gas. Need to finish something in the morning, before I leave for Cody. Going to be a long one tomorrow.

"When you’re up to your nose in doo-doo, keep your mouth shut."
—Old Vaquero Saying?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

June 22, 2004
True West Maniac Club membership has already passed the 250 mark. Really exciting. Here’s a typical new member, from Carole, who took his order:

Fred Bunjes called today and joined the TWMC. He is from Greeley, CO and provided the following information:
a.. Got hooked when he received the $19.95 offer
b.. Sees Bob on TW Moments and really likes this. He hopes that they will continue these.
c.. Likes old photographs - hopes we continue to use them
d.. Liked the old paper - I told him to watch for an upcoming insert on that type paper
e.. Likes Ask the Marshall
f.. Filled out Reader Service Card and got great response—got many really nice packets

They’re rubber coating our new road today, so when I went home for lunch I had to walk a half mile to the house and back to the truck. Road is going to be closed until late tomorrow morning. Hot out but felt good walking. Always gives me ideas.

Got in my special order of Esdee scratchboard via Fed-ex this afternoon and bailed right into a scene of Geronimo flipping the bird into Mexico. Got inspired by an old Mezzotint done in 1789 called “Widow of an Indian Chief.” I imagined crafty old Geronimo sitting up on that hill, waving his middle finger into Mexico. He really hated that tribe, blamed them for killing his family and both his wives. Of course he doesn’t mention that he killed a boatload of Sonorans before they attacked him, but that’s another story.

"Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults."
—Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 21, 2004

June 21, 2004
Talked to Juti Winchester from the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody this morning. We are planning two big art-photo essays in upcoming issues. One is on European Wild West Show Tours, so I can use my Spanish rodeo posters, and we want to supplement the piece with that famous photo of Buffalo Bill and the Indians in a gondola in Venice, etc. Going to be cool. She said they have a fabulous collection of French posters and oodles of stuff. Come early, she warned me.

On Friday I’m also going up to the Custer Battlefield for the 128th Anniversary of the battle. Lots of Custer nuts are going to be there and Bob Reece warned me to be ready for a whole slew of guys who think they’re the Boy General, in full Little Big Horn uniform. I wonder if someday the Iraqi prison Abu Ghraib will mark similar anniversaries with people in full costume: “Oh, look honey, there’s another girl contract laborer with a prisoner on a leash. Oh, that’s perfect!”

This morning and at lunch I worked on a certain painting of a certain Apache scout who had a cock eye and red hair. He was hated by the Mexicans, feared by the Apaches and despised by his superiors and General Crook. He even met the president of the United States, who didn’t like him much either. Legendary Chief of Scouts Al Seiber described him as “half Mexican-half Irish and all son of a bitch.” One guy who he did get along with was Tom Horn. Got big plans for the little troublemaker in 2005. I’ll give you some more hints and a sneak peek as I move along.

We got a new poll up. Are current Western movies more or less realistic than those made in the1950s? More/Less. You can click right here to vote.
"Don't tease a big kid."
—a small kid?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

June 20, 2004
Kathy spent the night at the hospital with her mother. Kathy slept on a chair and got a badge as a dedicated caregiver. She gets 20% off in the cafeteria.

At 1:30 I met Deena for lunch at AJ’s down at Pinnacle Peak and Pima. She was going to come all the way up for Father’s Day but she had to go to work at three, so I went down part way to save her some of the long drive. Sat outside and had half-sandos and iced tea ($14.57 cash). She gave me a cool quote book. Good talking to my daughter about angst, lack of patience, paying dues and frustration with a crappy, still-born career. And then we talked about her life.

Worked all day on scratchboard and gouaches. Had fun. Swam, took a nap, went to the creek. Other than Kathy not being here it was delightful.

Mad Coyote Joe called and asked if I heard that Kaolin Cummings got bit in the hand by a rattlesnake yesterday. Kaolin is a friend and schoolmate of Deena’s and I asked if he survived. Joe said they rushed him down to the nearest hospital and he was in a lot of pain. When Joe asked his son Joey (who was at the hospital with Kaolin) if he had learned his lesson, he said, “Yes, Kaolin told me that’s the last time he’ll pick up a rattler with his left hand.”

Like I’ve said many times, Experience is the best teacher but she sends in such hefty bills.

Also on the Mad front, Joe is working hard on his next book, “On The Chile Trail,” and he asked me if I could confirm two quotes he got off the internet. The first is from Kit Carson and Joe asked me “Is it true Kit’s last words were, ‘I wish I had time for another bowl of chile.’”

I laughed. I thought he was joking, but when it became apparent by his silence this was not the reaction he was seeking I said, “I can’t remember the actual quote, but that isn’t it. What‘s the other quote?”

"Is it true Jesse James once refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas because that was the location of his favorite chile parlor?”

This time I howled. I heard a “Damn!” on Joe’s end. I’m afraid Google hooked Mad up with a menu writer, probably at a certain chile parlor in McKinney, Texas. Menu writers are the biggest liars and whores in the business and they have absolutely no credibility. I know because I’ve written a menu or two.

Oh, and here’s another one. Clark Gable’s last meal was allegedly a bowl of chile from Chasin’s (sp?) in Hollywood. Don’t know if that one’s true or not. Do you?

“You don’t know anything about a woman until you meet her in court.”
—Norman Mailer (from the book Deena gave me, “The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said: Many Amusingly Illustrated” by Robert Byrne))

Saturday, June 19, 2004

June 19, 2004
A hot one in Cave Creek. Must be at least a hundred outside. Finally went swimming (first time this year), swam 10 passes. Buddy Boze Bell joined me for a half a lap and then petered out, sat on the side step and watched me flail around, with that look in his eye that says, “I don’t know what you think you’re achieving but it ain’t much, whatever it is.”.

Speaking of the Hatkiller, he has acquired a new taste for things to chew on. I brought home my office couch so I could fit in my art desk at work, and Buddy took one look at that big wagon wheeled puppy and gave me the look that says, “Wow! Thanks for the big chew toy.” He’s already destroyed about a third of it.

Finally got my framed rodeo poster from Valencia, Spain up on the wall. It’s a huge sucker, takes up the whole north wall. (framing bill was $550, not counting materials).

Had Lisa Wines and her Beau over for tacos and beer last night. Had a grand time and afterwards we sat outside by a roaring bonfire and since it was about 95 out, we sat about 95 feet from the fire. It was toasty squared. Actually, Kathy had been trimming dead branches for about two weeks and she wanted to get rid of them.

I painted on three big gouaches this morning. Had fun, did okay. Truthfully I did really great but I don’t want to jinx it (just did). Met Kathy at Saba’s Western Wear at 10. Tried on Wranglers jeans (3) and four short-sleeved snap shirts (half price rack). Kathy bought for Father’s Day. Very sweet.

Here’s a testimonial for marketing, networking and advertising. At the Keystone WETA conference I attended two weekends ago, Roger Saba was there with his gorgeous wife and he was very glib and funny in all the conference sessions. I had lunch at the same table with him and others at the Saturday sessions (he thought I was still on the radio and asked what station I was on now). But anyway, he was very charming and fun and I liked him a lot. His family has owned Western wear stores in the Valley for probably a half century or more. The last time I was in one was about 1994 when my Dad came down from Kingman and wanted a certain kind of jacket and we ended up in the Shea store. Never been back. Anyway, I come back from the conference, and I see an ad in Thursday’s paper for Wranglers at $19.95 a pair, a special Father’s Day sale at Saba’s, and I think Hey, I like the guy, he’s local and I’m going there and support him. See the chain? They say you need to see something three times before you’ll buy and there you have it.

This afternoon we were supposed to go down to the Harshberger’s for Mandy’s return from Germany party, but Kathy called at about 3:30 and said Grandma Betty had fallen and hurt her hip. All the Radina’s headed for Betty’s, picked her up and took her to the hospital. The X-rays showed a broken hip. She’ll be in for five days.

Finally got a chance to look at the Jimmy Corrigan graphic novel. It really is stupendous. Inspiring. I will steal from it like crazy. Especially his snow scenes. quite sophisticated and clever.

"Books are like a mirror. If an ass looks in, you can't expect an angel to look out."
—Arthur Schoenhauer (sent to me by Sharon Magee, who thought I would like the quote and, like an ass, I do.)

Friday, June 18, 2004

June 18, 2004
I got quite a bit of response from the question I posed at the end of yesterday’s blog. Here’s a bit of it:

“That was a bulls-eye question. DEADWOOD would have lasted maybe two episodes and been yanked.”
—Dan Buck

“And the actress who plays Trixie the whore also portrayed Allie Earp in Tombstone. And Brad Dourif, who plays the crusty old Doc, is the voice of Chucky the killer doll in the Child's Play movies. Let's see Tom Selleck match that!”
—Mark Boardman

“I've been internet surfing on Deadwood and found a terrific interview with Ian McShane (who by the way, has been a teetotaler for 17 years!) in which this is a presentative quote: "Autry would be spinning in his f.....grave if he knew the kind of Western we were making on his ranch." [many of the outdoor towns scenes are filmed on the Autry ranch] He used many times in the interview as his character does in Deadwood.”
—Jana B.

“Well, if you replaced great actors with mediocre ones you'd have mediocre actors making great dialogue seem bland. What's the point?” —Allen Barra

Well Allen, the point is, there is a Western industry (actually more of a fraternity that hangs out at the Golden Boot Awards), and they maintain the Western’s “standards” and carry the banner of the Classics, promoting Westerns that are clean and pure (little or no cussing, good American values, etc.). And many of us have believed that the heritage of the "stalwarts" (Harry Carey, Jr., Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Bruce Boxleitner, Melissa Gilbert to name but a few) are the essential ingredients to make a popular Western. Everyone I know constantly invokes John Wayne and Roy Rogers, etc. as if to say, "That's how you do it. That's how you bring the Western back. Just repeat what they did." And yet, here's a show, Deadwood, which is rudely profane, has New York trained actors (McShane is from England), created by the guy who created NYPD Blue. Incredible. I would never have green lighted it.

We did a two page spread in the February 2003 issue of TW (Get Ready for a Bonanza of New Westerns!), and in it we trumpeted these upcoming projects:
Open Range, Kevin Costner, did decent biz, $60 mil.
Westworld, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, never made
The Last Ride (retitled: The Missing), Ron Howard. Huge bomb!
Hidalgo, Viggo Mortensen, earned back its costs ($110 mil). May go into profits on DVD
Bounty, sci-fi Western to my knowledge never made
The Lone Ranger, I think it ended up on cable, sank like a stone.
Muraya, Eddie Izzard, based on the cult Western graphic novel Sgt. Blueberry, hasn’t been released and don’t know if it was even made.
Men of Destiny, John Woo was going to do the plight of the immigrants on the building of the railroad. Don’t know status. If it came out, it flew by me.
The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise, huge box office, some $417 mil the last time I looked. In retrospect not really a Western.
Six Shooters, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid meet the Civil War. Never released that I know.
Montana, don’t know nothin’ about it.
Then Came Jones, ABC spent $5 mil on a pilot. Never heard if it ever aired.
Peacemakers, Tom Berenger, CSI lands in the Old West. Did okay, but not good enough. Cancelled.
And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, Antonio Banderas, aired on HBO and got decent ratings.
Deadwood, we said at the time, “HBO has tapped David Milch to create an edgy, hard-hitting Western.”

He did, and his show is nothing short of a sea change. And I'm sitting here looking at my magazine going, "Deadwood is a key that unlocked the door to the question: how do you get anyone beyond old people, interested in a Western?”

And on the other side of the ledger, The Alamo was too historically accurate for its own good. Totally Old School.

So what are the elements that made this weird, profane and profound show different and attractive? Some five million people are hooked on this show. I am paying attention. Are you?

“He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks.”
—Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004
On Tuesday night I drove over to the Saguaro Ranch in Peoria to watch Billy the Kid (1941) starring Robert Taylor. After the film I got up and ruined the movie for everyone. Actually I remember seeing the film at the State Theatre in KIngman about 1957 and only retained the ending, where the Kid puts his gun on his right hip (he’s left-handed in the film) and lets the Garrett character (called inexplicably Jim Sherman) shoot him down. The titles at the beginning stated that the movie was “suggested by the book The Saga of Billy the Kid (1924) by Walter Noble Burns. I’m not sure exactly what was suggested but it had nothing to do with plot, dialogue or setting. All the outdoor shots were done in Arizona as they cut between Old Tucson, Sedona and Monument Valley. In fact the last scene was filmed at Bell Rock near Sedona and you couldn’t film anything there today without tripping over condos.

Drove into Phoenix late this morning and had lunch with Jana B. at My Florist Cafe at Seventh Ave. and McDowell. Big, hip urban cafe (in a former florist building, of course). Everyone who’s anyone was in the house and of course, they all know Jana. The Gov’s staff and a Democratic pollster were waiting for their car when we left and Jana introduced me. The pollster reported they are expecting the latest poll results tomorrow and Kerry is within “the margin of error” zone, which means, according to the pollster, it’s a dead heat. Jana was pleased.

I had the Rueben and iced tea, Jana had the portabello and we split a cie beouse ($39.78, includes tip). Talked quite a bit about the tone in the magazine and direction. One of my new reference points is HBO’s Deadwood, which seems to be on everyone’s radar now. In fact, I got a call before I left this morning from Tom at Marketshare, a mailing company located in Kansas, and he said he just came out of a meeting and they were all talking about whether Deadwood is accurate or not, so he calls me for the lowdown.

Jana loves the show, as does Kathy. We finally saw the finale, which ran last Sunday and it was excellent, although they kind of beat up on General Crook, and I don’t quite know why. He’s a real general and had a lot of integrity here in Arizona, before he lost his gig because of Geronimo (who got drunk and burned Crook at Canyon de los Embudos).

Stopped by Dan Harshberger’s studio and talked page design and future covers. He’s always fun to work with although we’ve only been doing this since 1972, so maybe it won’t work out.

Took advantage of being in town and stopped at Arizona Art to get some Esdee scratchboard and heard the bad news that the company is no longer making product. The clerk didn’t know if they are out of business or not (they’re in England). I bought a bunch ($98 biz account). Then stopped at All About Comics and picked up a back ordered graphic novel I want to steal from, I mean, be inspired by. The Adventures of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth ($19.87 cash). It was highly recommended by Carson Mell, and has superb graphics. One of the cover blurbs is by David Sedaris who gushes, “So real and awkward, it almost feels wrong to read it.” Dave Eggers is even more gushing, “Arguably the greatest achievement of the form, ever.” Hmmmm. I’ll check it out tonight and let you know what I think.

Got back to the office around 2:30. RG and Meghan are in Mesquite, Nevada at the Western Writer’s Conference. Seth Hoyt is visiting and his booming voice can be heard up in Carefree, without a phone.

James Joyce came in and visited this afternoon. He is the tv documentary producer I worked with on the History Channel’s Wild West Tech. He’s in town to visit his parents and see the Yankees play the D-Backs tonight at BOB (Bank One Ballpark, although Chase Bank just bought Bank One, so the name is up in the air). We talked about new shows they are working on. He’s doing a cool one on mammoth car engines which should be way bitchin’, and then of course, the talk turned to, Deadwood. James related how he didn’t like the show at first (everyone says this!), but then by the third show he was hooked. We talked about the big sexual showdown between Seth Bullock and Elma Garrett and whether they used stunt breasts, or not. He’s plugged in to the biz and promised to find out. The other thing he noted was the unique camera tracking about half way in. It was quite stunning and different and I’ve got to go back and watch it again, because they were doing something very different, showing people walking, the camera moving, cutting away at odd times. It was quite profound, I can’t quite explain it.

And, finally, here’s a Deadwood question to ponder. Take out all the swearing, replace the actors with Western stalwarts like Bruce Boxleitner as Seth Bullock, Harry Carey, Jr. as the doctor, Sam Elliott as Al Swearengen, Tom Berringer as Cy, Melissa Gilbert as Trixie. Would the show be as successful? Hmmmmmm.

“Discussing how old you are is the temple of boredom.”
—Ruth Gordon

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

June 15, 2004
In this morning’s staff meeting we went over the critique of the latest issue (July). Two staff members had complained that the Last Stand page is getting too wordy and boring and that the back issues featured at the bottom isn’t working. I decided I would go through my address book and e-mail my media snob, I mean savvy, friends and ask them if they thought Last Stand was boring, or getting too wordy. Here are the answers (I have deleted the names to protect my life).

• “I neither like it nor dislike it—but I can say I wasn't too interested in what was there. I hope that helps.” (I'm just glad he's not the president.)

• “Sadly, I think Last Stand isn't as much fun lately. I like
seeing the covers of the old True Wests, but the summary of their
contents just makes me wistful (or makes me think, ‘Huh—I bet that
one's full of misinformation!’).”

• True West Maniac doesn't go far enough, it seems to me. Get more
maniacal faster!”

“I hate to sound noncommittal, but I have no strong feelings about it—which is to say I liked it both ways. But I did think the last page in the current issue worked—that is, I know people who talked about it and seemed to like it. (He’s from New York, of course.)

• “Personally, I like the look back at earlier issues.” (No, it’s not Marcus Huff.)

“I like it. It adds credibility, history, and an archival base to the magazine. For new readers, it's like looking at an archaeological dig.”

“I think the magazine is more and more readable and fun. Thoroughly entertaining and educational. Who's doing all this negative critiquing? (People in production, of course!)

• “I do read the Last Stand page. Generally, I enjoy the cartoons more than the sound bites. I find the True West quiz worth taking—although I rarely get any correct, I find the answers worth the effort. Perhaps it is age-onset myopia, but I find the font size of the old issues piece too difficult to read and the cover shot too small to appreciate.” (We stopped running the True West quiz six months ago.)

• “I really don't have a quarrel with Last Stand, the last page of True West. I especially like the ‘Looking Back Through Our Heritage’ items, in which old issues of True West are illuminated. It is nice to give earlier writers, publishers, and editors a nod. I remember in a recent issue the death of Walter Prescott Webb in a car accident was mentioned, and I found that interesting. If I did anything, I might expand that section and eliminate one or more of the other parts of the page. But I'm an old fuddy-duddy, and other people may feel reliving the old issues of True West is the least interesting part of Last Stand. There is no accounting for personal taste.

• I have been more or less reading it, but I don’t find it very funny or interesting. There have been in the past some very funny Last Stand pages. As for the old issue at the bottom, No I don’t read it. WHO CARES?? (Too bad he’s one of our major stockholders.)

• “Oh, I don't know if it's not fun anymore, but if space is a premium, it's the first thing I'd get rid of. Looking Back is self-serving, Maniac might be fun, if you are a maniac, but then it's quickly forgotten. Last Stand is a great idea, but it needs to be something that stands out, that the readers want to turn to. Hey, the first thing I read when I pick up a Cowboys & Indians is the back-page Q&A. Witty. Informative. (usually) And SHORT (always). In fact, often it's the only thing I read in C&I. I don't have any suggestions about what to put on the back for True West, though, for what it's worth.” (spoken like a true traitor, and his name rhymes with Bohnny Joggs)

• “I don't see the purpose of the looking back feature at the bottom unless you are trying to sell some old copies or the stories are available online or somewhere people can look them up and read them if interested. Maniac is fine with me but I am not your target reader and doubt there is anyone i want that much info on to do the research and make the trips—but again, that is just me. The page does look a bit type heavy and dense for a parting shots or last stand type header.”

• “Two people? Two people constitutes a pea under the TRUE WEST mattress! Regardless, they're both right. The last page is pretty much worthless from my point of view. When Last Stand was a hodge-podge at least the bad jokes and cracker-barrel jibes were short. And Looking Back—what's the point? What do I learn reading it. Nothing. True West Maniac I've never noticed. (In spite of everything else, it’s always nice to know people are looking closely at our efforts.)

• “I think the Last Stand is fine and I enjoy the old issues. It's good to remind people where True West came from. I appreciate you wanting input from your readers, this is how you make improvements. I plan on joining with the life subscription deal. I really get a kick out of the True West Maniac!” (Mom! Stop it!)

If you can find a consensus out of the above, I will buy you a new Camero. What’s that? They don’t make Camero’s anymore? Dang it, I wanted to buy someone a new car!

“No matter how confused or stupid or unloving other persons may appear to us, we have no right ever to assume that their consciousness is on a lower level than ours. They may be realizing far deeper dimensions of love. The way we see them is an explicit measure of our own vibration level. The very people we now see as vulgar, unenlightened, stupid, rip-offs, insane—these people, when we learn to love them and all our feelings about them, are our tickets to paradise. And that is all we need to do-love them. We may express that love or not as we wish, in any way we wish. It doesn't even matter how we treat them. But we must see them and love them as they are now, for we cannot deny them the freedom to be what they are, just as we must love ourselves as we are now.”
—Thaddeus Golas

Monday, June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004
Got some more Things We Do That Are Stupid from the staff. The highlights. .

• We don’t meet deadlines (handed in after the deadline)

• We have a lack of uniformity when it comes to our record keeping. Mike keeps folders, Crystal is on ACT (an ad computer program) and Sue and Carole are on Quick Books. We need a more networked system. We suffer from a redundancy of work. (true, need to fix that)

• We are selling issue to issue, or issue specific: come in this issue because it’s on the Oregon Trail and your business is on the Oregon trail. We need to get away from that and sell audience. (good point)

If you still want to see the History Channel shows I worked on here is the summer schedule. All shows are under the Investigating History banner:

• Butch Cassidy, July 5

• Billy the Kid, July 12

• Wyatt Earp, August 16

“‘Think simple’, as my old master used to say, meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting backto first principles.”
—Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, June 13, 2004

June 13 , 2004
As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a ton of amazing reference materials in my studio. This morning I was looking through my Geronimo files when I ran across this photo of a young Apache warrior about to attack a wagon train somewhere in northern Sonora (probably Fronteras). It’s believed this Fly cabinet card was taken in early 1882 by the famous. . .no wait, that’s not an Apache warrior, that’s my son Thomas!

I guess I was fooled by the authentic headgear, but a blond Apache? Come on!

Since before the Middle Ages artist’s kids have always had a particularly rough time what with being roped into posing while wearing ridiculous costumes and holding absurd positions for hours at a time. I assume this reference photo has something to do with my as yet unpublished Geronimo book (photo taken in 1994), but I’m hard pressed to remember what I was intending to illustrate. It may simply be an underhanded, gleeful attempt by a revengeful parent to get a surly son into a compromising pose so the parent can later show his wife and children. And grandchildren. Now that’s a believable and honorable motive.

As promised, I watched some really crappy tv last night. Saw quite a bit of Lesbian Lovenest, Deadwood (repeat) and the Wayne Dyer (The Power of Intention?) lovefest on PBS. It’s always a good Saturday night when you can report to your wife when she comes home from a bar that you are horny and enlightened.

Kathy just laughed and went to bed.

“I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
—Forrest Gump

Saturday, June 12, 2004

June 12 , 2004
Got up early and worked in the yard sawing off dead branches and burning brush in our fire pit. Also got lined out on a half-dozen black and white pen drawings. I have a sense of urgency because I know the skill sets for observation and rendering will not last forever.

Last night Kathy and I met a couple we know from New York at Cartwright's. It's an upscale restaurant next to the True West Building but I’ve never eaten there. I got a $50 gift certificate from that commencement speech I gave last month, so we thought we’d give it a try. Sat out on the patio and had wine, then ordered the elk, Kathy had the mahi tuna. We finished with apple cobbler and decaf coffee. Bill was $185 plus a $30 tip. We split it. A tad pricey but it was quite good.

This afternoon I finally finished reading Little Big Man by Thomas Berger. Really enjoyed it. The irony is that while the book is so much better than the movie in almost every respect, when it comes to the end. . .well, the book version was quite a letdown. Remember when Old Lodge Skins takes Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman) high up on a mountain top and gives his final speech:

“Thank you for making me a Human Being! Thank you for helping me become a warrior! Thankyou for all my victories and for all my defeats. Thank you for my vision, and for the blindness in which I saw further.

“I have killed many men and loved many women and eaten much meat. I have also been hungry, and I thank you for that and for the added sweetness that food has when you receive it after such a time.”

And after more wonderful thankfulness, he says, “I am going to die now, unless Death wants to fight me first. . Take care of my son here [Little Big Man] and see that he does not go crazy.”

And then, in the books, Berger writes, “He laid down then on the damp rocks and died right away.” In the movie version it starts to sprinkle, with the drops landing on his face, which makes him wince and he waits for a moment and then asks, “Am I dead?” and Little Big Man says, “No grandfather, you are still alive.” So he gets up and they walk down the hill with Chief Dan George saying, “Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.” That is brilliant and the punchline to the entire movie. Dare I say, Hollywood actually improved a book? Amazing.

Kathy is joining the Goddesses this evening for drinks at the Java niteclub and I’m staying home with the clicker to watch the most crap possible on the dish.

“There are plenty of recommendations on how to get out of trouble cheaply and fast. Most of them come down to this: Deny your responsibility.”
—Lyndon Baines Johnson

Friday, June 11, 2004

June 11, 2004
The latest book sales report from Tri Star came in this afternoon and shows that True West is pulling four times as many hardbound sales of Classic Gunfights than our competitors, Wild West. This is great news especially since Wild West has a much stronger newsstand position. They are owned by Primedia (160 titles) and can command a bigger presence almost anywhere they want. Still, we are holding our own and for that I’m mighty pleased.

Several of my employees have taken time to write down a list of “the things we do that are stupid.” Although much of it is aimed right at my forehead, it really is a strong air freshener. People can vent and get the toxins out, so we can hopefully move forward. Here’s some of the highlights so far:

• It would be nice if we had a little more praise than criticism. (one of the things I learned in Keystone is “praise in public, criticize in private.”)

• I’m tired of all the backstabbing in the office. (I took the all the knives and put them in a sack and threw them in Mike Melrose’s face.)

• We vacillate between changing editorial direction at the drop of a hat (actually my hat, or at least one that Buddy hasn’t eaten yet), and making departments as inviolable as a government program. (This is too true and it’s my fault. I get excited about new ideas and go running off in an Attention Deficit Disorder tizzy, taking the whole staff with me and as Chief Dan George said in Little Big Man, “Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t.”)

• There’s a tendency to throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks. At times, I get the feeling that True West is a sailboat that tacks too much (zig zags in the water, trying to catch wind, see above).

• Too much Monday morning quarterbacking is bad for morale. Critiquing a decision is one thing; changing one’s mind after a decision has been carried out is quite another. (once again this is mostly me. Wait! No, maybe it’s somebody else. I think I should take responsibility for this. Or not. I think I might. Don’t ruin an apology with a lame excuse—okay, it’s me.)

• We never go over a new issue as a group. (This is true. I go over the issue with production but not with the sales people.)

• You take production out to lunch all the time but you never take us (This is because I like them more than you. Not true, I’m taking sales out to lunch on Monday.)

• We rarely attend out of state trade shows. (I’m reversing that trend and we are going to start going, in fact Sue and I are going to Cody in two weeks to the Brian Label Auction and I intend to send our troops out as much as we can in the future. It’s very expensive but I think we have to get out there, he said in an Attention Deficit Disorder tizzy.)

• We need more training. (Evidently, so do I. Good point, though. Need to work on this one.)

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want in this life is this: Decide what you want.”
—Ben Stein

Thursday, June 10, 2004

June 10, 2004
Regarding yesterday’s posting on killer bees, I got this from Emma Bull: “Stop blaming the bees! You've got the evidence right there in front of you, in your blog--those two guys wouldn't have gotten in trouble if they hadn't been doing yard work. The CDC is sending out the health advisory next week.”

The newest issue is just hitting subscribers this week and Samantha has already taken 60 (oops, Sam just came in and said they sold another 19 this afternoon, so make that 79!) orders for the True West Maniac Club. We are just teasing in the ad with only the web address listed, so most of them are coming right here. You’d better not dilly dally. Sign up today and get True West for LIFE!

I got an interesting heads up from Robert Curry who is doing an article on Apache skateboarders. It will appear in the next issue of Shade magazine (June-July 2004). You can check it out at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.

Kathy and I met Lisa Wines and her latest boyfriend at El Encanto last night and ran up $100 in margaritas (4 pitchers). Kathy drove home, I flew.

Not really. I was fine. Our waitress who I ran over with the Ranger wasn’t. But she’ll live.

Not really.

Had very good meetings with our sales staff this morning. Some ruffled feathers. I was rude to them in a meeting and didn’t realize it. I apologized and we made up. Told them of the exciting things I learned in Keystone. Sue and I are probably going to Wyoming June 24-26 for the Brian Lebel Cody Old Wesst Show & Auction.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
—Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

June 9, 2004
We have Africanized killer bees out our way. In fact, several years ago some poor guy in Carefree was cleaning his pool and inadvertently bumped a hive in his back yard and when they attacked he jumped in the pool and dove under water. Big mistake. The bees, who have some peculiar rod and cone deal going, could see him perfectly, and massed above his head waiting for him to surface. When he couldn’t hold his breath any longer and surfaced, the killer bees nailed him in the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. In short, they killed him.

This is always on my mind (he lived five miles from my house!) when I walk to the creek, like this morning. I hear the bees in the blooming palo verde trees and as I walk by I’m always walking very lightly and looking for an escape route at the same time.

The official advice goes something like this: bees can only fly fifteen miles an hour and if you can run 16 miles an hour and zig-zag through the brush, you’ll easily lose them. So, I’m always alert and looking for the path of most resistance.

Imagine my horror this morning when I read in the Arizona Republic that a 20-year-old Mesa man backed into a hive Tuesday morning while using a leaf blower. He was immediately attacked by a killer swarm and started to run. So far, so good. Unfortunately, he ran into the street and was hit by a Salt River Project truck. He didn’t die but he has a fractured skull and compound fractures on both legs. The article didn’t say if they dispersed the bees, or not.


Had a speech at Pinnacle High School down on Deer Valley Road this morning. Didn’t even know this high school was there. When I asked Coach Riff how long it has been in existence, he said, “Five years.” He could have said five minutes and I would have believed him. Speech went well and I sold several books.

Number one question: “Is the cussing on Deadwood historically accurate?” Hmmmm, read True West, my dear.

Got back into the office at about 11, whipped out two John Wesley Hardin pen and ink illustrations (JWH shooting at playing cards with soiled doves drinking and laughing with their Johns in the background). Had lunch with Carole at Tuscan Cafe. I bought ($15 cash, includes tip). Got some typical office politics going on. Going to deal with it tomorrow.

“I've been fired for being disruptive several times, but this is first time I've been hired for it.”
—Brad Bird, on being pursued and ultimately hired by Pixar

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

June 8, 2004
Mad Coyote Joe came by and took me out for lunch today. We ended up down at California Burger, which moved into the recently closed Burger King at Cave Creek Road and Lone Mountain. Had the Santa Fe burger and iced tea (Joe bought). Fun talking shop with Mad, he’s got numerous deals in the hopper including a possible cooking show in Japan. Amazing.

Got a chance to be mature today. We are doing a list of must have Western books for our September issue and one of our contributing editors nominated a real cranky writer who lives in Tombstone and constantly badmouths me. I was proofing the galleys, saw the rave review, laughed out loud, could have nixed it, but decided to leave it in, and be magnanimous, as RG put it.

In today’s staff meeting I asked everyone to make a list of things that we do that are stupid. Almost immediately, Robert Ray came up with: “Let’s stop using the web address on the cover and everywhere else. It’s stupid, nobody can type it in correctly.” Robert recommends we use Good point. We changed it today.

Got a new poll up. This week’s question is: Who was the better Indian fighter?
George Custer, or Kit Carson. You can click right here to vote.

“Your philosophy determines whether you will go for the disciplines or continue the errors.”
—Jim Rohn

Monday, June 07, 2004

June 7, 2004
Just returned from a three-day-conference in Keystone, Colorado. Met some really dynamic people, enjoyed the cool, mountain air and learned a ton. The Western and English Trade Association hired two very dynamic speakers. On Friday morning we had Robert Stevenson who wrote the book, How to Soar Like An Eagle In A World Full of Turkeys. Then on Saturday morning we got the wisdom of Robert Wendover from the Center for Generational Studies. His talk was titled, “From Ricky & Lucy to Beavis & Butthead” and he walked us through the four generational markets: Matures, Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers and Millenniums. The most profound thing he told us is that Matures (WWII folks) will sit and listen to a boring speaker for an hour, while Baby Boomers will pull out their work and do it, looking up from time to time to pretend to be paying attention, Gen X-ers will give the speaker 10 minutes, and Millenniums 30 seconds and if it isn’t interesting to them they will walk out even if it means walking right in front of the speaker. Wow! They were out of here, fifteen sentences ago.

Here’s the basic notes I took. Insights that impressed me, or I thought applied to the magazine:
• What do we do that’s stupid? What do we need to stop doing? Make a list (see next item)
• the FUBAR list: what things have we done to “foul up beyond all reason”, and we need to have this as a list to give to new employees so they won’t go there.
• Hispanics are driving the boot market right now (what can we do to capture this market?)
• Hip Hop is driving belt buckle sales, and hats especially in diverse, loud colors
• Women don’t buy brands, they join them.
• Men refer 2.6 people to a brand they like, women—21
• The 8/16 Rule: if people had good service they’ll tell 8 people, if it was bad they’ll tell 16
• The idea that gets the most resistance is probably the best idea (The John Wesley Hardin cover?)
• women often make the best sales people because they actually listen, and like to talk. It is an acquired talent for most men.
• We need a radio partnership. (I need to exploit my old radio contacts)
• is the benchmark for convenience. One click and it’s on the way. Also, if you make an order for more than $25 you get free shipping. This is huge.
• You need to create social interaction (like at Festival of the West), create events.
• Freebies to the right people. Jones Cola gave away it’s pop to the hippest people they could find. (story with this: “Who’s the coolest person you know?” then went to that person and asked the same question until they got to the hippest guy, then gave him a soda for free.)
• 340,000 people are currently making a living on e-bay.
• Affluence always trumps culture. Money rules.
• 19% of American wage earners believe they are in the top 1% of wager earners.
• You have got to make your customer go Wow! Do we make our customers go Wow!?
• Praise in public, criticize in private
• Motivate with family by being a family, you need to involve your employee’s family to create a happy environment.
• EZTDBW: Easy to do business with
• Success is never final
• It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.
• The Big Secret: treat everyone special
• Always follow through in a timely and consistent manner
• We cannot become what we need to be by being what we are now.
• “The key to success is to double your failures.”—Tom Watson, former CEO of IBM
• Don’t think of me as a boss, think of me as a friend who’s never wrong.

“How can a president not be an actor?
—Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), when asked "How could an actor become president?"

Sunday, June 06, 2004

June 6, 2004
The new True West forum is up and you can talk among yourselves now. Let me know what you think of it.

Here’s my painting of John Wesley Hardin as he looked in his last days,
boozy, bloated and ready to depart this veil of tears.

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity...and I'm not sure
about the universe.

—Albert Einstein
June 5, 2004
We have a very controversial cover in the works on John Wesley Hardin. Crystal and Mike came into my office before I left on Thursday and Crystal warned me that one of her clients, who is a huge Hardin fan, warned us against putting a dead John Wesley on the cover. It’s too rude. Well, is it?

You can contact me right here with your opinion.

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
—Albert Einstein

Friday, June 04, 2004

June 4, 2004
Here’s the image of Mrs. Beulah M’Rose that I took the historic license
on. I wanted to do a Raymond Chandler like rendering of this mysterious woman.

Kelly, our neighbor’s daughter, is watching the dogs while we’re in

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want
is big enough to take it all away."

—Barry Goldwater

Thursday, June 03, 2004

June 3, 2004
I’m off to a leadership conference today up in Keystone, Colorado. I told my staff to expect some leading when I get back. Robert Ray told me he needs to go to a “following” conference first. Too true.

While I’m gone I’m going to post some of the artwork I’ve been working on. I finished a nice gouache of the M’Rose shooting this morning. It’s for the John Wesley Hardin piece we’re doing for the next issue (August). M’Rose, a Polish cowboy, was ambushed as he came across the International Bridge in Juarez, Old Mexico. He was met in the middle by U.S. Deputy Scarborough who led him into a trap as they traversed a garbage dump on the U.S. side. M’Rose thought he was going to a rendezvous with his estranged wife, but instead he was led into a trap. Waiting for him were Jeff Milton, a Texas Ranger and some say John Selman. M’Rose was disguised as a Mexican with a big sombrero and a serape. He allegedly was told to Halt! but went for a pistol (that’s the official version). It happened right at sunset, before the electric lights were turned on in El Paso (1895). I think it came out rather nice, all things considered.

“A rock band should be something loud and dangerous, like a tank with a brain.”
—Pelle Almqvist, lead singer of The Hives

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

June 2, 2004
I finished the John Wesley Hardin portrait this morning. Didn’t take my own advice, and just had to add a few little brush strokes. I’m holding my breath but I think I actually improved it.

Our True West Forum is finally up and now you can talk to each other and move about the cabin. I went into the Westerns forum and put my two cents in regarding some comments made there by Bob Reece on John Ford being God.

There’s a new documentary on Sam Peckinpah coming out on the Westerns Channel in August. They sent us a preview copy on CD. I’m going to watch it tonight.

Let me know if you can navigate the multiple forum discussion boards, and if the controls are adequate and not confusing. I confess to being confused by some of the hoops I had to go through to get a message posted, but then, I’m not a surfer or webhead.

The oldest person in the world just died. At age 114, Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan passed away last Saturday in Puerto Rico, but not before confessing her secret for longevity: she always cooked with pork fat.

Brad Radina made some chile colorado (red chile) for the birthday party last week and gave us the leftovers. I’m going to Bashas’ this afternoon to get some pork.

"I just got skylights put in my place, the people who live above me are furious."
—Stephen Wright

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

June 1, 2004
They say history is written by the winners, but the older I get the more I wonder if history is, in fact, written by the senile. Case in point:

Last week I wrote about the infamous Depends episode on the old Jones & Boze Show. This is Jeanne Sedellos’s memory of the event:

“After reading your take on the ‘Depends Show at KSLX’ I'm surprised at your memory loss. The way I remember it, we did go to McDonalds but you couldn't pee so we went to the Safeway that was on Miller and Camelback at the time. There we bought gallons of water and you proceeded to drink as much as you could. It is in front of the Safeway at approximately 8:45am that the water works came. However, as much as you want to believe that you were discreet enough to just show a bulge in the front and back of your pants, you, my dear, were pantless! You were standing out in front of the Safeway in your hat, t-shirt, boots, and Depends! No pantalones! Listeners were driving by and cheering you on. Burrito Bob came by, remember him? Anyway...that's the way I remember it. You always did have big cajones....even in the Depends. Your motto was anything for the show, and you lived that motto every day. I guess that's why people still remember your adventures and still love you as much today. Howard Stern—Howard Schmern. Did you ever tell your salesman about Bob as a woman, or Black like Bob, or Bob tries to buy Crack? How about the Indian uprising?”

She’s right. I completely forgot about the Safeway part and the no pants angle.

“History is a cruel trick played on the dead by the senile living.”
—Old Vaquero Saying