Tuesday, August 31, 2004

August 31, 2004
Went for a walk with the dogs at about seven this morning. The usual scorpion stinger-like morning heat, has been de-stingerized. It’s still hot, but the sting is gone. It’s a sign summer is on the wane. Still, it was 107 today, but the nights and early mornings are the key.

Speaking of Picasso, I heard yesterday that there are 400 stolen or missing Picassos reported, worldwide. Wow! Also, on another art note: the famous Scream painting that was stolen in Norway, was painted on cardboard! I’m not joking. $1.5 million for an iconic masterpiece and it’s painted on cardboard. Now, it must be added that cardboard from the those days was a bit stronger than today, but still, the very idea is staggering.

Whipped out four more scratchboards of Tombstoners. At this rate I’ll illustrate everyone who ever lived there, or is currently living there. And speaking of which, this afternoon I got a call from Danny Coleman, Glenn Boyer’s son, who was at the “OKII: Shoutout at Schieffelin Hall” incident back in November of 2000 when the OK Corral fight almost re-erupted. Danny, who was armed that day, asked for a copy of the infamous Wyatt Earp issue that resulted from the encounter (Feb. 2001). He told me it keeps getting referenced online where he is fighting his enemies and he has never seen it. I went up front and asked if Samantha could spare one and she said, and I quote, “Are you kidding? We are getting $75 a piece for those.” I faxed Danny a xerox of the article. I hadn’t looked at it in some time and it is quite funny. Almost a perfect parody of the actual fight, only, unlike the first go round, this one had photos. It’s a classic if I do say so myself.

Walked down to Dairy Queen for lunch (Ultimate Burger and iced tea, $4.75 cash). Started two more scratchboards after lunch, one a big cloud bank building right outside my window. That was cool, to actually draw with a stunning scene right at my fingertips. Clouds are so hard to do with any accuracy. Everyone piles them up like mashed potatoes and of course, they are so much more delicate, intricate and dynamic. I’ll post the results tomorrow. It isn’t finished. I hope it hangs together and flys.

“Never hope more than you work.”
—Rita Mae Brown

Monday, August 30, 2004

August 30, 2004
Had breakfast with Deena this morning and solved life. Today’s lesson: everything comes to the person who is patient. When you are young and impatient you think you have to have everything immediately or it will go away, disappear, they’ll run out. Many times, I have given up on wishes and goals only to have them come true after the fact (and probably because I stopped trying so hard—see yesterday’s quote). That was fun. I know my daughter is probably just humoring me, but I don’t care. I love talking philosophy with her.

Deena also gave me an update on Ursula in Iraq: she was watching tv the other day, when they made her hide in her room while they unloaded a truck load of machine guns into their office. When I asked Deena exactly what Ursula has to do for her salary (a reported $100K) she said she has to sell businesses on Iraq opportunities. “They hate our guts. They want to kill us all. Wanna buy in?” Certainly this must be a phone job, I thought, but then realized, no, she could do that from here. According to Deena, Ursula goes out into that strange world wearing a burka. Imagine making a cold call in a burka, with only your eyes showing and trying to sell someone and you don’t speak a word of Arabic. Ay-yi-yi! She deserves every penny of that salary. A very brave girl.

Got a new poll up: Who had the greatest influence on settling the West?
• Prospectors and miners
• Cowboys and ranchers
• Mountain men
• U.S. Cavalry
• Homesteaders
Click here to give us your opinion.

Sometimes when the wind blows just right, I think of my youth in Kingman, and I remember the oddest things:

When I was in the fifth grade, Mrs. Klotsch gave us seat assignments based on our test scores and grade average. Each week, she would grade our work, then assign us a seat, placing us according to our worthiness. The first row, on the right side of the room was made up of the smartest kids with the very smartest in the first seat, literally the head of the class. The best and the brightest were lined up, probably six desks deep, going to the back of the room, then it went to the front of the second row, back and on down to the dumbest of the dumb. As you might have already guessed, the first row was all girls with Katherine Lamb, Melinda Rucker and Kathy Cannon vying for the front every week. The only guy who ever cracked the first row was Charlie Waters and he didn’t stay there long. He had a close friend who talked all the time, and so Charlie and the loud friend got in trouble and ended up on each side of the teacher’s desk. Special desks, like wing commanders next to the Mother Ship (in fact, the next year, Charlie’s mother made sure the two wingsters had different teachers). When the troublemaker wasn’t riding wing for Mrs. Klotsch he spent the rest of the time in the second row, three seats from the back. He might move up a seat, or back two, but he was stuck there. No matter how hard he tried (or didn’t try), over and over again he seemed to be stuck at the grade point of 86—"slightly above average."

It is a stigma I have never broken. I have been very patient but even after all the books I’ve published, all the prizes I have won, all the women I've bedded, all the money I've made, after all is said and done, I am still the number 86. No better, no worse. Thankyou Mrs. Klotsch.

“"Life is full of infinite absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, since they are true."
 —Luigi Pirandello

Sunday, August 29, 2004

August 29, 2004
Recently, I’ve been trying to learn from the Masters. This stems from having been such a lousy student and missing much needed instruction in college when I was too cool and too lazy. So yesterday I was looking through some of my art reference and came across a postcard I bought at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City several years ago. It’s called Self Portrait by Pablo Picasso, 1901. I bought it because I thought it had a loose, yet solid take on Victorian portraiture, as opposed to his later, more famous abstract stuff. Both as a challenge and as an exercise I wanted to see if I could capture some of the essence of his expressive face in scratchboard form. Of course, in scratchboard you are starting with a black piece of artboard and you use a variety of knife points to scratch away at the black, or negative space. So you are using tonal values backwards. It gets hard, especially when you’re trying to render the mustache, lips, eyebrows and the eyes themselves, because you are scraping away, rather than drawing lines around the edges, as in traditional drawing. What did I learn? Well, my rendering is off more than I’d like, the nose being too long and not anchoring the face as in the Picasso version, and the eyes are not spread out enough, a common mistake by novices, and apparently me. The rudimentary rule is, the center of the eyes should line up with the outer edges of the mouth. Well, I missed that one, and you’ll notice he didn’t. Ha. Still, I think I learned a little bit about being looser and letting tonal values build without leaning so much on linework (also a common crutch by hacks, which leads me to a potential book title: Hacks Like Me). Or, maybe not.

Speaking of artwork, check out the new scan of La Tules, below (in the August 26th blog entry). I rescanned it as a halftone and it still isn’t as sharp as it’ll look in the magazine, but it beats the mushed-out version posted before.

I spent most of yesterday morning just writing down scenes I want to illustrate for Volume II of Classic Gunfights. I also made a list of scenes I want to do for my first graphic novel, and because I’m so damned ADD, I get all these great ideas and then they all flood into my brain and I can’t focus on any one particular line of attack. Or I go off on a tangent and end up in Picassoland. Ha.

Well, it’s all a work in progress, isn’t it? And I’m thankful to be able to even have the opportunity to be in the game, and when I finally get in the zone, lookout. And things could be worse, I could be in the Red Zone.

“How to succeed: try hard enough.
How to fail: try too hard.”

—Malcolm Forbes

Saturday, August 28, 2004

August 28, 2004
Salvaged Friday by staying late and working on a scratchboard of a Tombstone clerk until 6:40. Got some good tones. Getting better at different cloths and skin tones, I think.

Watched part of the director’s comments on Original Sin. They filmed in and around Mexico City. Quite interesting to hear the director tell about finding a museum in the north of Mexico City where they could film a scene on the cheap and double up and not have to use a previous setup or location. You assume they are on an unlimited budget, but as usual, they are scrambling to make it all work. So typical. Can I use this priceless vase from your family in the chase scene we're filming? Thanks. We’ll give you credit in the film. I appreciate you coming down. Sorry we broke it. It never ends. When you break it all down it’s still all about putting on a play in the back yard, isn’t it?

One of Deena’s best friends, Ursula, got a job in Iraq. Tommy was considering going with her because the benefits were so good. The salaries start at $60K and go up to $100K, plus they pay for all your subsistence while you’re there, so you can sock it all away for when you come home. It’s a grand opportunity for bold youngsters. So I read with interest in Time magazine about most businesses in Iraq being headquartered in the “Green Zone,” a heavily barricaded, and militarily guarded area in Baghdad, where almost all of the U.S. businesses work out of. The article also pointed out that terrorists have a $25,000 bounty on “Western women” and that anyone who can capture one and behead her on video gets the reward. I assured Kathy and Deena this has to be where Ursula will be stationed.

Imagine my shock and our collective horror when Deena got an e-mail from Ursula two days ago and she’s in the “Red Zone,” out in the "infidel" world where the chaos and mayhem is 24/7. She has trouble sleeping, although they have trained her on using a machine gun. Ay-yi-yi! I cannot imagine having a kid there in that situation. And this is a girl who lived at home and had trouble sleeping while her parents were in Sedona!

Had a very nice Saturday. Worked on scratchboards, including a couple of Tombstone related images. Getting better at the nuances of negative space.

“Fortune favors Audacious.”

Friday, August 27, 2004

August 27, 2004
Ladies, don’t marry an artist type. I came home for lunch today to meet the plumber. He was called out by Kathy to fix the water pressure on the new fridge (it trickles) and go up on the roof and see what’s wrong with the studio cooler (it’s blowng luke warm air). As soon as he saw the Big 25 (family slang for our anniversary refrigerater) he immediately told me he couldn’t increase the water pressure because of our osmosis water deal (anti-pump-akosis, ga-wabbi-nanthou-fibulator, is what I heard) and he went on the roof of the studio, turned on a copper tube and charged me $89. I felt like a total loser. Like I couldn’t have done this myself.

From there it was pretty much downhill. I was supposed to meet the ladies at the Cave Creek Museum to go over a display they are doing on me, and I missed that. Stood them up. Felt awful. Didn’t get a damn piece of artwork done in the office. Just procrastinated and piddled around. Tried to get some lettering going and blew it. Bad, weak and wimpy. The damn image of La Tules posted yesterday mushed out, looks like crap. Robert scanned it as a pump-akosis, ga-wabbi, nanthou-fibulator, and I need to rescan it myself as a gray scale and post it correctly, so you can see what it really looks like.

I did watch the unrated version of Original Sin last night with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. Ay-yi-yi! Allen Barra was right. What assets she has! And the deep, penetrating plot, Man, this movie is just like Cinemax except it’s with people who can actually act, and they’re good looking. Actually gorgeous is more like it. Evidently, it’s a remake that originally starred Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Emma Bull informs me that yes, the End of Trail gang has moved their event to Moriarity, New Mexico for next year. That seems like a real dicey propostion to me, but then what do I know? I can’t turn on a cooler. At least in Norco (near Riverside and San Bernadino) they had access to all of Orange County. Change is always risky. Good luck boys and girls.

Heard a great marketing story that involves history. Back in the middle ages a German king wanted to get his people to eat potatoes as a hedge against famine, but at that time, there was great superstition about the underground morsels and it was an almost impossibly tough sell. So, he posted a guard around his potato patch, and people being people, started stealing them and eating them and the rest is Idaho history.

There’s more than one way to appeal a potato, eh? Speakng of which, I need to go to the bank and then the grocery store for some bread.

"The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming
out with ONLY a loaf of bread are three billion to one."

—Erma Bombeck

Thursday, August 26, 2004

August 26, 2004
The staff is busy creating movie posters for our proposed Westerns. Robert Ray whipped out a very believable Denzel Washington flick on bulldogger Bill Pickett. Dan Harshberger nailed a good Angelina Jolie as gambler Lottie Deno, although Allen Barra overnighted me a new DVD of Jolie’s movie Original Sin, which he says is perfect for what we want. He also said there are extra scenes of her “talents” on the un-rated DVD which were not in the theatrical release. I will see for myself tonight. Oh, the burden of taking home work. It’s so taxing sometimes.

Tommy and Robert Chenal rented a U-Haul to come down from Flag today to pick up furniture (neither kid has a car). Kathy and I met them at Pei Wei for lunch ($22 cash). Both boys are working as waiters at a Mexican food joint in Flag called Cilantros. I asked them how it’s going and Robert said, “Indians don’t tip and they complain about the food.” I asked him which ones and he said, “Hopis and Navajos.”

Speaking of Indians, I came back from lunch and in the office was Susanne Gunther, Mare Rosenbaum and DeAnne Giago (all former employees). It was quite bizarre to see them all standing there. After I did a double take, they laughed and asked if I was shocked, and I said, “Hell yes. You shocked the [poo poo] out of me.”

I just heard End of Trail is moving to New Mexico. That is a total shocker. The very popular Single Action Shooter annual event has been in Norco, California for a long time, but my source told me they bought some land (he didn’t say where) in the Land of Enchantment and are moving the whole, ahem, shootin’ match.

Whipped out three more Curly Bill images of he and his cow-boys shooting up Tombstone. Nocturn scratchboards. And speaking of scratchboards here’s the La Tules I was blowing about a couple days ago. Can you see the Salma Hyak reference?

Worked until around 5:30, wrapped up everything and closed up shop. By the way, we are at 625 True West Maniacs. And I got this from one of them:

I'm a'coming to Northfield.
True West Maniac #12

“The most influential person who will talk to you all day is you, so you should be very careful about what you say to you!”
—Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

August 25, 2004
Deena is living at home until she gets through her training for Vanguard and it’s nice to talk to her in the morning and “solve life.” Today, over cereal, we talked about buyer’s remorse (she just bought a car) and one of the most important issues she will face, namely, Road Trips and how to judge a potential lifetime mate while on one. For one thing, you can’t marry anyone until you go on a roadtrip and discover how well you get along in a small space. If you can’t get along on a 200 mile trip, it’s not likely you’ll survive marriage. On a road trip it’s very easy to spot the little irritations (turn down the radio, I hate that kind of music!) you might miss and that will inevitably evolve into bigger problems (I’m not going to your parent’s this Christmas. I hate them!) and even life threatening issues (I really don’t like Mexican food, let’s just eat at Sonic.) Can you imagine being locked in a lifetime of that kind of crap? I can’t either.

Worked on sketches for Curly Bill getting soused in the Alhambra (Curly, not me). Good lighting effects. Mare Rosenbaum, our old editor, showed up at 5:30. Robert Ray and I were still in the office and we all had a good talk. She is back from Brazil, speaks passable Portuguese (like I would know) and her family is back in Philadelphia. She came out to get their Carefree condo ready to rent and just dropped in. Good to see her. We talked about the wild times in the beginning when things seemed a tad tentative if you know what I mean, and if you’ve read the business timeline, you know exactly what I mean.

Mare asked me about the status of the business and I said, “Well, we are still here. We’re coming up on our fifth anniversary.” She commented that is some sort of benchmark of solvency, but I had to say, “I don’t think there’s any such thing. There’s always a new crisis, bigger than the one you thought you just solved. Or, as Henry Kissinger put it, “All success does is give you admission to a bigger problem.” You’re either going forwards or backwards, and thanks to a number of people, Mare included, we are going forward.

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”
—Niels Bohrs

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

August 24, 2004
Deena bought a car last night from Right Toyota down on Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. (I wonder if that’s where they came up with the name, Right Toyota? Hmmm) She got herself a ride called a Solaro, or something. Very nice and clean. Had a thousand miles on it. Leather seats, very space age gadgets. As per our corny tradition, we took a photo of her jumping in the air in front of the car with her boyfriend Mike (who helped her deal with the salesman, who was quite nice by the way, $20,000 out the door, six-year’s of payments, welcome to the real world Deena).

Mike Melrose and I drove down to Rawhide today to talk with Mary Brown about next year’s Festival of the West. We walked the entire park and she showed us where she wants various performers and vendors to be. I really didn’t realize just how extensive the facilities are, and if you haven’t heard, the land Rawhide sits on has been sold and the park is expected to close sometime next year. The rumor is they’ll move to Westworld, a horse facility about three miles east of the current property, but there are still a few loose ends.

Had lunch at Pei Wei ($7.50 cash), then came back to the office and finished a big ambitious scratchboard of La Tules, a famous casino and business owner from Santa Fe in the 1840s who was the most powerful woman of her time and place. She was, of course, beautiful, and much to the chagrin of the local American women, she dared to wear her shoulders bare (she was a former prostitute after all). She also was legendary at her Mexican monte dealing skills, oh, and she smoked. There is an ugly, unflattering contemporary illustration of her, drawn by someone who obviously didn’t like her. So I threw all of this conflicting imagery together and came up with a pretty sexy take on the Mexican maven. If she looks a little like Salma Hyak, well, that’s intentional, because she was my inspiration. It will run in our next issue, out in about a month.

Got this feedback on yesterday’s sniping:

“It's probably a generational/cultural thing, but I flat don't get the aversion to graphic depictions of the violence (or consequences thereof) of the West. In my book, "square" and sanitized equals dishonest. Now, it would be equally dishonest to club people over the head with images of dead guys every month; there was more to life in the West than killin'. But you aren't doing that, so where's the beef?

“Actually, this may go deep into the American psyche. As with sex, we're fascinated yet very uptight about violence. We imbibe a heavy diet of it in fictional and stylized contexts, but flinch away from it when it's real.

“Witness news coverage of the war in Iraq. There is very, very little graphic footage shown in U.S. media. The footage exists; Arab and European outlets broadcast it. Perhaps that is part of the reason they have different attitudes about the war than we do. It ain't so pretty. It ain't clean.

Well, enough of the rant. I just hate cheap shots from the weeds, especially when you all so clearly have a real commitment and passion for what you do. The mag looks great; even when the content doesn't trip my trigger (I'm an 1880 and after guy and actually focus mostly on the 20th Century—Mexican Revolution) it's always a feast for the eyes. So, don't let the bastards get you down.”
—Jim Cornelius

Brought in three big paintings for the next Classic Gunfights book, which I hope to have out by the end of the year (going to be tight, but I've done it before). I like being on the edge, it gives me energy (although it drives everyone around me crazy).

“I'm fundamentally an outsider. I do my best work and feel most braced with my back to the wall. It's an odd feeling though, writing against the current: difficult entirely to disregard the current. Yet of course I shall."
—Virginia Woolf

Monday, August 23, 2004

August 23, 2004
I usually don’t go to BJ’s Tombstone History Discussion Forum but uncle Gus keeps me posted, from time to time. For example, here’s Wyatt Earp author Timothy Fattig’s recent critique of True West: “Some day I sincerely expect the Bobs to put the picture of the decapitated ‘Black Jack’ Ketchum on one of their covers. Ah, for the salad days when it was a ‘square’ Oklahoma mag, on non-slick paper, and there was a Metz, O’neal, Shirley, or Parsons in every single issue! And artists like Zaboly, Napolitano, Ignarski and Willis in every single issue! Hosstail, where have you gone?”

This would be irritating, if it wasn’t so humorous. The reason it isn’t printed on pulp paper in Oklahoma anymore is because they were going broke doing it. Leon Metz’s scholarship was featured in our last issue (and he’s working on a cover story even as you read this), Glenn Shirley is definitely missed, but when I last looked he is still dead. We recently featured the artwork of Gary Zaboly and Al Napolitano. As for artist Larry Willis, I got a funny card and note from him a while back. Here’s part of what Larry had to say: “Due to the rancor in the Old West history community, I pulled back from it for awhile. During my self-imposed hiatus True West has remained my touchstone in keeping up on the latest findings in old west history and upcoming entertainment. I enjoy that True West has a personality, don’t ever lose that and become a dry rag.”

Well, enough petty tit for tat. No, I lied—here's one more: I really loved it when Gus brought me this exchange today between fellow history nut Bill Dunn, of Georgia, as he laid into a “Western” historian type:

“What’s the difference between Western boots and Cowboy boots? On Cowboy boots, the BS is on the outside.”
—Bill Dunn, curator of the Doc Holliday Museum in Griffin, Georgia. Check it out at

Sunday, August 22, 2004

August 22, 2004
I’ve had a good weekend working on artwork. Got some good scratchboards going (6 or 7), including a Japanese gangster, Buffalo Bill Jr. and my Victorian sweeper. Also worked quite a bit on experimental color, aping Andy Warhol, trying to discover his color secrets. He was really a Color Master. Took his Marilyn Monroe series and played with his green color scheme, ending up with something I call “Marilyn’s Apache Envie.”

Last night Kathy and I picked up Boston Market take-out and drove it over to Grandma Betty’s. She wanted meatloaf and gravy so we stopped at Thunderbird and 59th Ave. and got a big order ($18 something, house account). Nice talking to Betty. She’s getting around better with her healing hip.

At eight we met Deena at Deer Valley 30 to see Napoleon Dynamite, the movie both my kids have been raving about ($17 cash, plus $6.80 for popcorn and water). It’s an Indie breakout hit, filmed in, of all places, Pocatello, Idaho. A fabulously fearless and funny take on a small-town high school nerd extraordinaire. I loved this movie! It was so Kingmanesque, and I related to virtually all of Napoleon’s goofiness: he drew stupid pictures to impress girls (ditto), he made a complete ass of himself in high school assembly dancing like a nitwit (ditto), he was still playing with action figures in high school (thank God we didn’t have ‘em), he blurted out inappropriate comments 24/7 (still do). Raved about it all the way home. Called Tomcat in Flagstaff and told him when he comes home we’ve all got to go see it together. Robert Chenal answered T-Bell’s cell and told me he has seen it twice. If you go see it, you have to wait until the very end of the credits for the epilogue. Virtually two thirds of the audience left and there’s a cool surprise involving Napoleon barely riding a stallion (ditto).

“Make it a point to rid your speech and thoughts of all forms of negative self-talk.”
—Karl Albrechtü

Saturday, August 21, 2004

August 21, 2004
Stayed home today and worked until around four. Watched a half of USA Olympic basketball just to see for myself what the problem is. Well, I’ll tell you what the damn problem is: the rest of the world caught up to us, that’s what. We don’t own the game anymore. It’s gone international and frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air. I really dislike the American sports fans who want and expect us to annihilate everybody like we did in 1992. That is so boring and lame. I really enjoyed what I saw. I like good basketball, not blowouts.

I’ve had so many requests to report what Allen Barra thought of Angelina Jolie I finally asked him if I could print something. Here it is, word for word, although I had to edit it slightly because we have a few youngsters who read this:

My Impressions from Ninety Minutes with Angelina Jolie
By Allen Barra

Gorgeous olive-like complexion, cat-like eyes that are very nearly as impressive as her lips—completely real, by the way, as anyone who's seen a photo of her at age 11 can plainly see. A swan-like neck with a lustrous, rich, dark brown swirl of hair curled around it. Arms chiseled from marble with sleeves cut just high enough to reveal the tattoo. A rack that is as impressive as it is real, as anyone who has seen the just- released unrated version of Taking Lives can testify. Her only real physical flaw are calves and ankles that are simply too thin.

She is incredibly not snooty. She seems to be what she is: a nerd—a dork—in the body of a goddess. By goddess, I don’t mean in any traditional sense; she seems to have created herself out of her own mythology. She is utterly unfeminine in her manners and gestures. She seems to go straight to female without ever stopping at anyone’s conception of feminine, and by female, I mean ultra, ubra female. Ultra female, with a very strong dash of tomboy (most endearing is her habit of standing in front of you with her thumbs hooked in her belt or her pockets).

What other major actress shows up at comic book conventions to spend hours autographing Tomb Raider posters for game geeks? Who else blows off movie deals to spend days piling mud bricks on a house foundation in Cambodia? Who else shows up alone on Oscar night in a white silk halter gown – shoulders bare, back bare, nipples severely outlined – and leaves early to go home to her adopted son?

She has a vocabulary that would make a Greek sailor blush and does a devastating impression of her co-star, Colin Ferrell, whom she adamantly denies having [bedded]. She also denies having [bedded] Val Kilmer, whom she likes very much (and who said "She's so gorgeous … even the camels looked at her funny”), or Brad Pitt -- do not mention Brad Pitt rumors. She insists "I'll [bed] a horse if I am so inclined, but I draw the line at married men. Why would I lie?"

When told that her name sounds like a French song, she lowers the lashed and murmurs softly, “That was sweet.”

Thanks Allen. Now that’s a word picture.

“Great design will not sell an inferior product, but it will enable a great product to achieve its maximum potential.”
—Thomas Watson Jr.o

Friday, August 20, 2004

August 20, 2004
If you’ve noticed we haven’t had images in here for awhile. Our server, blogger.com reconfigured their posting parameters and it blocked images for quite some time. Yesterday, our man Jason told me to send him something and we’d try it again, so I grabbed the office staff, we went outside on the porch and took the photo posted below. Yes, everyone is wearing a True West t-shirt. Someone, Abby or Sue, decided they would all wear company shirts on thursday and I must admit it did look professional, if a bit like Burger King. Anyway, Sherry Monihan e-mailed me this morning and said the photo is posting over several paragraphs of copy, then Melrose came in this afternoon and said the same thing. It isn’t doing this on my computer. Let me know if you are getting your copy smothered. My e-mail is at top of this page.

Had a good solid day in the office working today. Stayed focused and had six things on my daytimer list I wanted to accomplish and I checked them all off. Very rare. Including this to do:

• Do six illustrations of something, anything!

After I finished my other assignments—a scratchboard of a notorious whore (she doesn’t work at True West), a crazed Buffalo Bill, Jr., copy for next Classic Gunfights, tweaked 1880 census copy for next Classic Gunfights book—I picked out six random images to illustrate. A zany Yavapai County detention officer staring up the nostrils of a prisoner (out of today’s Republic), a Victorian woman sweeping, an Olympic Russian female (?) shotputter, a Norwegian bachelor farmer eating and a Japanese gangster. The trick is to keep going and not stop. Keep the hand moving, don’t panic, stay loose, have confidence. I can lock it down later. Of course the results are mixed, but surprisingly, the loosest stuff is the best. Really strong of the woman sweeping. The false starts on the scratchboard only added to the movement of her body and arm. It's called "happy accidents."

Mike Melrose invited DeAnn Giago to come out and have lunch today. It was great seeing this Lakota woman who used to work here. She left on rather unpleasant terms, and I told her today that every time I saw a damn Indian I thought of her (and it’s true). We laughed, because she has a great sense of humor about being “In-din.” Melrose treated (call Guiness World Records!) at El Encanto and we sat out by the pond and laughed and laughed. It was good to see her and bury the, ahem, hatchet.

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
—Willy Wonka

Thursday, August 19, 2004

August 19, 2004
Sprinkling and cool out this morning. Went for a walk. A nice relief from weeks of searing heat. I imagined how heavenly it must have been for natives BAC (before air conditioning).

Got into the office at around 8:25, worked on copy for several articles, including an exciting piece on The Ten Greatest Westerns Never Made by Allen Barra. Speaking of Allen he had lunch yesterday with Angeline Jolie and I asked him what she was really like and he told me she is quite funny and enjoyable. He also gave me several juicy quotes but I can’t use them because he’s writing an article on her.

On September 12, the History Channel is premiering “The War of 1812,” a big, splashy documentary by Gary Foreman, who was sitting at our table at the pre-Golden Boot party at the Sportsman’s Lodge several weeks ago. During dinner Gary took a call from one of his editors and was complaining about not getting to see the promos that would soon be airing and he went on and on about how to get to an editing bay or facility to view them. I could tell he was frustrated, but when he hung up, the guy sitting next to him said, “I saw the promos last night on the History Channel.” Gary just sank. It was so funny. Here is the guy who created the show and he hasn’t seen the spots but a civilian from Rio Verde, Arizona watched them the previous night. Gary sighed and said, and I quote, “The problem with media is we don’t communicate.”

In a related story, I was talking to the head of public relations at HBO last week and I casually mentioned I read where they are going to do a series, a la The Sopranos, on polygamy. She asked me where I read that. It was clear she had not heard of it. I was just making small talk but I suddenly worried that maybe I misread the wire piece and that perhaps it was another network, maybe Bravo or Comedy Central. As we talked she went online and looked up the Arizona Republic website, typed in “polygamy, HBO” and “Big Love” (the name of the show) and ten seconds later she says, “Oh my god! Here it is! We are doing the show!” Needless to say, I was somewhat stunned. I read about the show in the Arizona Republic way out here in the toolies and I’m more plugged in than the head of public relations in New York? Hmmmmmm.

“Many a man thinks he has become famous when he merely happened to meet an editor who was hard-up for material.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

August 18, 2004
Beautiful morning out. Went for a walk with Kathy and the dogs. Got into office at eight. Right off the bat, got a prickly e-mail from Dan Buck regarding our ongoing by-line design issues:

“Jesus Christ (there's a by-line), how hard is it to come up with a consistent by-line style? For the longest time TW by-lines were hidden away in a murky box—find the author—now they're all over the map. The by-line on each article is in a different place, in a different motif—they're like a frigging scavenger hunt. Pick a system and stick to it.

“WYATT EARP WAS A CROSS-DRESSING PIMP, by Percy Dovetonsils. How hard is that? Think inside the box.”
—by Dan Buck

Dan, Dan, Dan,
You may know more than anyone about oxymorons but when it comes to by-line graphics, wake up and smell the typography. Magazine and newspaper layouts are changing even as you read this. Go look at a Time magazine from three months ago and you'll see that the department heads and by-lines have morphed, moved, changed in ways not even discussed at most outside institutions. Believe it or not, we have had our current, but soon to be outdated, graphic layout style for the past three years. This is equivalent to at least 35 dog years, in terms of graphics.

As a warning, it will change again, probably by the time you finish reading this. It's the graphaholic’s mantra: change it before anyone gets used to it!

Had an executive session at 11. Went over finances (decent) and proposed newsstand redistribution (challenging). RG is all over it, and has been studying where we are, where we aren’t and why. Daunting, but someone has to do it, and RG is the guy. This is our biggest challenge and I’m hopeful we will make some progress on this in the next 90 days.

Went home at one to meet the Sears repairman (“Your registered Sears representative will arrive at your address sometime between the hours of one today and five p.m. on the day of the presidential election. If you are not there, don't ever expect him again. To repeat this message, press two, to listen to the repeated message again, press three. . .”). He came around 2:30 and got the water on the Gray 25th Anniversary Behemoth to work. I used the time to lay in a solid wash on a potential cover painting on a certain Apache scout.

Speaking of which, this weekend is Jim Hatzell’s annual Artist’s Ride up in the Dakotas and I couldn’t make it but instead sent him a shot list of images I wanted along with a check for $300 for the models (he always gets the best). If you are interested in going it’s a cool deal. He gets all these authentically dressed Indians, soldiers, gunfighters and homesteaders to show up and photographers and Western artists come in from all over the world to take reference photos. Next year I plan to go, but this year Jim told me he’d follow my sketches. I know he’ll do a good job.

Sam just came in (5:01 p.m.) and informed me one of my Illustrated Life & Times of Doc Holliday first editions is for sale on e-bay for $117.08. If you don’t believe me, check it out:


“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she has laid an asteroid.”
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

August 17, 2004
Am I too obsessed with my career and artwork? I got this e-mail from a friend who is having an angiogram today. I told him I had one recently and what to expect. This is his reply:

“It seems that since you had your angiogram, you have (according to your blog) thrown yourself even more into your work. If that is a side-effect, I am canceling mine.”

Funny guy, but it does make me wonder. RG asked me today in our editorial meeting if I thought I was spreading myself too thin. I admitted I probably am, and we discussed moving several deadlines around and delaying one big project until later. We also discussed various speaking engagements and trips (to go speak) and whether to cut back on those. Very helpful, and I needed that.

It was Rober Ray’s birthday today (45) and we had a cake and sang Happy Birthday twice, so as I understand copyright law, we owe Paul McCartney 67 cents.

Dan, The Man, Harshberger came out to lobby for his new page design. We compromised on the bylines, as RG and Meghan wanted bigger type to plug the writers. I think the new look is pretty cool (we have already been testing it in the last two issues. Check out page 46 for the new style and look at page 50 for the old. What do you think?)

Big rain clouds coming in. Finished six more head shots of Tombstoners. Did two women on scratchboard, tried for a vignette. Not sure it works. Just went out and looked (4:07) but Gus hasn’t had time to scan them yet. We’ll look at it in the morning.

Dan and I went to lunch at El Encanto at about 12:30 (machaca and eggs, iced tea, squared, I bought, $18 cash, includes tip). Sat outside and talked about people who drive us absolutely nuts (that would be two people from Kingman who answer to the term “mother”). Speaking of Kingman mothers, the new Arizona Highways is out and they have a big spread on Kingman with a gatefold, sideways shot of a zany Kingman honey looking ready for sing-along action. Really shocking, but I believe this is what Highways needs to do to wake people up. Very edgy, and Tom Carpenter’s text is quite good. Yes, and the photo of me on the roof of the Beale Hotel is there as well. It’s the September issue of Arizona Highways. Check it out. Dan and I also talked quite a bit about our kids and growing up in Kingman (a never-ending topic). Needless to say, it was a mixed experience.

“It's never too late to have a happy childhood.”
—Wayne Dyer

Monday, August 16, 2004

August 16, 2004
Deena got hit hard by hail on her way into town yesterday. We got some sprinkles out at the house, but mostly just wind. Another big fire north of our house. We went for a walk on Saturday night and we could see the flames jumping high into the red sky. I was wondering what they were going to call this new fire, and I opened this morning’s paper to see they named it the “New Fire.” Ha. That’s true. I’m not making it up.

Kathy bought me a Kit Carson original day-of-the-dead pin as a commemorative for our 25th wedding anniversary. Wore it to work today on a black shirt, Muy cool. And it’s silver. Get it?

Picked up Gus at Tobias this morning. He dropped off his truck to get an oil change. Got into office just after eight. Got going immediately on artwork.

Got real angry at a certain guy who came into my office today. More or less slighted my artwork and it really got me going. After he left I sat down and really bailed into three Tombstone head shots for the new book I’m working on. Got a real sweet wash on Ho Wa, 41, from China and nailed a cigar smoking Newton Babcock, 55, Virginia, deputy sheriff. And one who I think I’ll call Johnny Tyler. Sometimes I do well with anger. It’s like high octane dragster fuel.

Also got started this weekend on a 1950s comic book style series of scenes, also for the book. Aping those gaudy, goofy looking Indians in the fifties comic books. Remember when they all looked more like Italians from Brooklyn? With Charles Atlas bodies? That’s the look I want. Cheesy and sleazy, and so wrong-headed. Hard to parody really, because it was so unintentionally zany and believe it or not, some of those dudes could draw like a mama-makin' drawing machine

The October issue went out the door today on time, as usual. Robert Ray has never missed a deadline. Not even close. Knock wood. Worked until six.

“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
—M. Scott Peck

Sunday, August 15, 2004

August 15, 2004
It’s my mother’s birthday today. She’s 83. Called her and had a nice talk. They’re moving back to Cody today.

Wrestled quite a bit with crappy art skills. Get pretty down on myself. Thankfully I’m married to a therapist and this morning I had a nice session ($75 for one hour). Just kidding (about the fee). Too scattered. Too many commitments. Too many goals, Not enough focus. She’s heard it a thousand times. Like I said, in two years she’s going to be eligible for sainthood.

Worked on finishing a scratchboard of a Big Fifty Sharp’s rifle, then switched gears and worked on two potential cover illustrations. Rescued a portrait of George Parsons, and reworked a painting of “The Deadline,” a painting of Wyatt Earp and Virgil guarding Curly Bill in Tombstone’s makeshift jail after the killing of Marshal White. More of a nocturne. Not done. Better mood, but may ruin it yet.

Watched half of Cold Mountain last night. Not a very good movie. The story is so obviously a knockoff of Ullyses and “The Odyssey,” it’s not even funny. A least in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, they had the decency to admit it. I recall Miramax and the participants complaining that Americans were upset because they filmed in Romania (and, by extension, that’s why the movie didn’t do well), and my theory is most Americans didn’t even know it, and don’t care. It just isn’t a very good movie.

Kathy said the book is somewhat better.

Big monsoon blew in about five. Deena got hit by hail down on Cave Creek Road. Had to pull over. Most people trudge on, speeding and going into the darkness. We had a huge pile-up wreck out on I-10 recently One or two dead, fifty injured. People get in a dust storm and even though the visibility goes down to 10 feet they keep going 70, right into the back of people who have slowed down or stopped. In fact, one of the tragedies of our frequent dust storms is people often pull off to the right and stop but keep their foot on the brake and semis coming through the low visibility see the tail lights, assume that’s where the road goes, and pile right into the parked car at fifty miles and hour. It’s not funny, if you’ve been in one. They are quite scary.

Lots of things to do tomorrow. Going over list, and going to watch the last half of Cold Mountain. Hope it gets better. Not counting on much.

“A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder.”
—Old Vaquero Sayings?

Saturday, August 14, 2004

August 14, 2004
More comments from True West Maniacs. This one on a subject that is near and dear to my head:

“Loved the full page photo of Buck Taylor, ‘King of the Cowboys,’ [September issue of TW] but it put me in a quandary (which, I suppose, is better than being in a quarry). You date it circa 1890.

“But in Cowboys and the Trappings of the Old West, one of the SASS bibles, there's a picture of Buck Taylor wearing leopard skin chaps, and it's dated 1910-1915. The trouble is he doesn't look 20-25 years older. He looks the same age in both photos.

“So which is right? Or are they both right, and he found the fountain of youth and is still around somewhere?

“Here's the reason for the question. I do the men's costume seminar at the SASS Convention. In my seminar I cast doubt on the ‘Gus’ or ‘Tom Mix’ style hat being used much in the 19th century. Until now the earliest photo I'd found was 1896 or so that showed a Gus crease. And here's Buck wearing the predominant SASS hat style, a Gus crease. If it's 1890, I can tell them, yes, it existed as far back as 1890, but still the Boss of the Plains style was the most prevalent. If it's 1915, it's 20th century and out of my era.


Curt Rich
True West Maniac #244

Great question and one I obsess on as well. It's nice to see there are other "hat Nazis" out there besides me.

The cutline on Buck Taylor originally said turn of the century, but then I found a reference to him as a performer for Buffalo Bill as "King of the Cowboys" and it was dated 1890 on the program. We checked on another publication that ran the same photo and they said 1890, so I went with the date even though I'm suspicious, as you are, about the hat. If I had to bet, I'm guessing it's actually post 1900, so your theory is still intact.

However, I've been researching hats for an upcoming article and I've found two photos that show the so-called "Gus" or "Tom Mix" crease prior to 1880. One is in a street scene in Helena, Montana and the date on the photo is 1865. The guy is wearing a white hat, he's off about 40 yards, but he appears to have a crease right down the middle of his hat. Now, here's my new theory: virtually every style and shape of hat has existed for hundreds of years (there are paintings of the pilgrims wearing Hopalong Cassidy hats!) and I see even the winged, curled up on the sides hats on Civil War soldiers, but they were not favored by the cowboys. That's the difference.

There is a great photo of General Grant (I think 1864) in a John Ford-John Wayne style hat, a la 1950s and if I saw it in a modern Western I would be so indignant. But there it is, on Grant's head. Still. You don't see it on Cowboy's heads until the mid-1890s when they started to gravitate toward this style of hat. Cowboys have always been quite conservative in their styles. If one guy puts a dent in the side of his hat, they all did. It was really lock-step behavior. And it's still true today. Everyone is wearing what I call the George Strait look, Wrangler's, snap shirt, straw hat, same crease down to a gnat's ass. It's like an army uniform. Well, it was the same thing in the 1870s. Tucked in boots (which by the way went out of fashion with real cowboys in the 1940s when all the dude's on dude ranches started tucking in their boots), wide, unshaped brims, peaked or unblocked crowns with a haphazard-side crease, or dent (see Billy the Kid and others).

Like you, I can spot the era on most photos. I just got a new book and a photo is labeled 1880s but I can just smell 1904 or so. The collars, the hats, the leggings, the mustaches, or in many cases the lack of mustaches, and even the photo density (glass plate vs.modern film). It is an obsession, isn't it?


“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
—W. Somerset Maugham{

Friday, August 13, 2004

August 13, 2004
Totally blew it on my Doc blasting into the Oriental painting. Got up this morning at six, bailed into it with big hopes and bold moves (ghost of John Bonham), but instead made instant mud, and not the good kind of mud. Bad mud. Bad mud rising. Just awful. Racing the clock, couldn’t stop. Wanted to turn it in at nine but blew past that and had to take a break. Cussing and ranting at my crappy skills. Dogs looking at me funny. Went for a fast walk with the dogs, got inspired, came home bailed into it again. More mud, more crap, more hackneyed poo poo. Finally gave up at ten, took it out on the patio to photograph, shot it twice, then ran in and got my colored pens, started solidifying shapes where I could. Kept going, lots of faking, Hail Mary stuff. Embarrassing really.

Other than that, I had a good day. Finished Classic Gunfights at about two. Meghan corrected several gaffs, exchanged a flurry of e-mails with Neil Carmony (Is it the Daily Epitaph, or is is The Tombstone Daily Epitaph?).

Kathy drove Tomcat up to Flag in the truck. Got a bed from Deena and a bike from Betty. Whipped out a scratchboard of Ah Kin, 35, from China, he’s a cook and new in Tombstone (1880 census). Very nice reference from Charlie Waters, who sent me a book he found in Fresno, California called Men of the West by Cathy Luchetti. Great images.

We have logged 555 True West Maniacs and they keep pouring in (Sam told me she has another twenty on her desk). Many Maniacs are referring to themselves by their numbers, for example, this is from a policeman who took exception to my LA sherrif story:

Mr Bell
Be Careful Hombre. As a career Lawdog, I can tell you we handle things that
come up where we are or where we're called. It's tough to tell the future and
know where to be (referring to your comment on the blog). We're over governed.
Too many be safe laws from too many liberals.


“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically—to say ‘no’ to other things.  And the way you do that is by
having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.  The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

—Stephen L. Covey

Thursday, August 12, 2004

August, 12, 2004
It’s my goal to someday paint and draw like John Bonham drums. Bold and fearless, crafty and masterful all mixed together in a potent molotov cocktail of explosive imagery, tumbling from the tips of my fingers. I just don’t want to die choking on my own vomit. Hey, we all have to dream, don’t we?

Worked in office until around 11. Finished Classic Gunfights copy, e-mailed it to our fact checker, Neil Carmony, in Tucson. He is so good. Knows all the bogus stuff and there’s plenty of that around. Very dependable.

At noon Thomas Charles and I met Robert Chenal (“Marine Bob”), Mike Melrose and Carole Glenn for a going away lunch for Marine Bob at El Encantto ($55 house account, includes tip). Tomorrow is Robert's last day as an intern. I asked him to tell us the best and worst thing about working at True West and he said the computer he used was the worst and learning about the history of Mickey Free was the best.

Had Carole bring me home around two so I could finish Classic Gunfight artwork. Got a big ambitious painting going of Doc Holliday stumbling into the Oriental on October 12, 1880 with a pistol in his hand and blood in his eye. The Epitaph said he uttered an oath “that is unprintable.” Hmmmmm, knowing Doc it shouldn’t be hard to imagine what that was.

Worked until six, took a swim. Buddy Boze Hatkiller joined me for a half a lap. Need to finish art tonight. Hanging out. Way late this time, but I’ve been spread too thin, too much travelling.

At lunch today, Melrose said one phone call he took a couple years ago sums up the Bell family better than anything. One Halloween, Tommy called the office, Melrose answered and Tomcat said, “Tell my dad I need my clown costume.” I had worn it to work and he needed it for his work, at El Encanto. We laughed and laughed. It really does sum up our family. I don’t think even John Bonham got to experience that.

“You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win and you're never as bad as they say when you lose.”
—Lou Holtz

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

August 11, 2004
I drove out to Denny’s on Bell Road last night and as I drove past all the car dealerships and fast food franchises, I thought about what I wanted to talk about. The problem was that I spoke to the Romance Writers of Arizona a year or so ago, so I knew the same old speech was not going to fly. For some reason I didn’t feel panic at all (sometimes I feel panic even when I know what I’m going to do and say). I got to the restaurant at seven and they were in a back room, still in their business meeting. Someone brought me the flyer they used to promote me. Under my photo was a big headline: “Making Tons of Money Writing Books And Other Myths.” I told my host that was quite funny and asked her who wrote it?

“You did,” she told me. Oh. So when it came time for me to talk I calmly decided that is exactly what I would do—talk about the myths of writing. I started out by saying, “Let’s get right down to what you want to hear most. I have published five books and I make about $300 to $500 a month in royalties. I can’t live on this. And, if I distilled all the work down, I probably make less than $1 an hour. So why doe we do this? And more importantly, why did you drive all the way out here tonight to listen to a loser.” They laughed. There were about 30 in attendance, all women save for one lone, lucky guy. I told them all of my dumb mistakes, stupid theories and ridiculous notions and they just ate it up. Very successful talk. Good questions at the end.

Got home at nine just in time to deal with two women in meltdown. That would be my wife and my daughter. Actually they were calmly talking about being perceived as obnoxious, overbearing and rude. Needless to say, I had quite a bit to say on this subject. It was fun talking to my girls and I went to bed happy.

Two more Golden Boot tidbits. In his acceptance speech, Val Kilmer mentioned that someone has requested him to write a prequel to Tombstone about Doc Holliday’s life prior to his time in Arizona. Val told about doing research on Doc in Dallas and that one time the Good Doctor put a guy under and pulled out all of his teeth. Val seemed a tad more excited and happy about this tidbit than the audience did. He also asked if anyone knew what “I’m your huckleberry,” means, and I, and several others hooted that we did. “Liars!” Val barked. Well, tsk, tsk. I have to assume he doesn’t read True West because we seem to answer this question every six months or so.

“Film-making has all the appeal of waiting 12 weeks for a plane at London Airport.”
—John Cleese, who added that A Fish Called Wanda is the only movie he actually enjoyed making

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

August, 10, 2004
Worked in office until two this afternoon. Scratched out a decent Milt Joyce for Classic Gunfights. Turned it over to Gus. RG is flying to a speech up north. I asked him how long the speech was going to be and he said 4,200 words. I laughed because he said it so precisely. It was obvious he had counted every word. I couldn’t tell you anywhere close to how many words are in my speeches. He then told me he has memorized the entire speech and has been practicing it for six months. Wow! He lives in a parallel universe from me, along with Dave Daiss who is driving in a different orbit.

Came home at 2:30 to meet the Sears delivery men. Yes, it’s taken this long to get our anniversary refrigerator, although they did give us another fridge to use until ours came in.

While I was waiting, I did a scratchboard of a Big Fifty Sharps rifle, and a dark and moody Wyatt Earp (gouache). Nice effects.

The delivery guys got here at four and loaded out the loaner to the breezeway (another company comes and gets that one) and installed the big silver job. I tipped them two magazines and then went back in the kitchen and loaded the new baby up with food and beer and discovered it won’t take our magnets on the front. Ha. I just bought a cool Day-of-the-Dead Posada woman at the Autry. Oh, well.

Got a speech at Denny’s over on I-17 and Bell Road in an hour. It’s for the Romance Writers of Arizona and it’s going to be 4,201 to 8,501 words long. I’d have it down tighter but I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to talk about yet.

“A writer—and, I believe, generally all persons—must think that whatever happens to them is a resource.  All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely.  All that happens to us, including our humiliations, misfortunes and embarrassments is given to us as raw material, clay, so that we may shape our art.”
—Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, August 09, 2004

August 9, 2004
Back to work this morning. Suffering from a little bit of jet lag. The main reason for this is because we flew over and back in Dave Daiss’s Expedition. I mentioned this to the staff this morning and almost everyone had a similiar story. Gus and Mike Melrose told of riding down into Phoenix with him on different occasions and he was going 85—in town! And yelling at cars in front of him to get out of the way. No wonder he’s known as Mr. Unstoppable.

Two stories: we pulled into a bus turnaround in Studio City to get directions and a LA Sheriff’s car pulls up, hits the siren and calls for backup. He immediately tells Dave to “stay in the car.” He comes up and is quite stern. I try to tell him, “Hey, we’re tourists, we’re lost, we’re in town for the Golden Boot Awards, we didn’t see the sign.” The cop says, “You’re breathin’ a felony right there.” He points at Dave’s front pocket where Dave has a folding knife sticking out. Finally, Dave pulls out the trump card. “My son is in law enforcement,” he says proudly. The lawman asks where. Dave names the schools. We got off with a warning. Now, while we’ve got two squad cars pouncing on us, across town two graffiti removers (who worked for "Homeboy Industries") have been shot dead by gangs. Does the term “priorities out of whack” ring a bell? Of course, I never said this to the lawdog.

Out on I-10 Sunday, somewhere beyond Palm Springs, a small compact with two young guys pulls up alongside. Dave looks over at them. They look straight ahead and slowly pass us. Dave looks over at me and says, “You know, I really should slow down and let them pass me. I’m older now.” About five seconds later, he says “But I can’t!” and he guns the Ford and we shoot by the kids in the right lane at 95 and he cuts in front of them, just to show who’s the Boss Man. “Dave,” I say looking at him incredulously. “How old are you?” He looks at me suspiciously, “I’m 63. Why?” I smiled. “Just wondering.”

Two more tidbits from Saturday night. Everyone in the ballroom was a tad shocked when Deadwood got the prize for best show. Last week I had heard from insiders that Open Range was favored to win and they were trying to get Annette Benning to come accept the prize. But somewhere between last week and Saturday night that changed. The audience gave the announcement a tepid response and the Texan sitting next to me said, and I quote, “I can’t stand that show.” I don’t think he was alone. When I went over to the two HBO tables and introduced myself to the hotel owner character and told him how much I like the series he said warily, “Are you sure the cussing isn’t too much?” I imagine they all got their ears full that night.

At another point one of the presenters, or maybe it was the MC, mentioned that Brokedown Mountain was coming out later this year and that it was a “gay Western.” The crowd laughed as if it was a Leno style joke. No, the Larry McMurtry based story is about two cowboys who are gay. Imagine what the audience is going to make of that next year? Whoa Nelly Belly!

Oh, and one more. There was this guy at Friday night’s pool bash who looked a bit like a young Jeff Bridges, and I have to admit I even thought he might have been him until he opened his mouth. But anyway, people were coming up to him and fawning on him and a certain Tombstone photographer took 12 rolls of film and was totally convinced it was him. When I asked her why she was so convinced she said, “When I thanked him for being here he said, ‘God Bless’.” And then she looked at me like, “what other proof do you need?” I, of course, couldn’t stand it, and told her it wasn’t Jeff Bridges and she looked hurt and told me I was wrong. And then I silently kicked myself. Why do I care if people choose to believe some goofy guy is someone he isn’t? What’s my problem?

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
—Carl Gustav Jung, who also swears it was Jeff Bridges and thinks I’m a borderline psychotic

Sunday, August 08, 2004

August 8, 2004
I finally attended my first Golden Boot Awards Show Saturday night at the Universal Sheridan in Burbank. I have been threatening to go for the past four years and something always comes up, but this year Dave Daiss said, “I’m drivin’ and we’re goin’.” He, his wife Doreen, and I left Friday morning at six and made record time on I-10 straight into Babylon (350 miles, six hours). Dave averages 85 (I’m not kidding) and I told him the only thing that separates travelling with him vs. Southwest is the peanuts.

After Friday night’s party at the Sportsman’s Lodge on Ventura Blvd., I wasn’t expecting much. The Friday night bash, which several people told me was going to be more fun, informal and impressive (goofily, I imagined myself sharing a beer with Tom Selleck and Val Kilmer) was kind of underwhelming. As it turns out, the poolside bar-b-que was short on celebs and long in the tooth. That is, those who still had teeth. I did see Grizzly Adams, the tv star who got busted for cocaine several years ago. His entourage looked rough and tawdry, as did several other “stars”. Still I had a great time talking to my compadres, Paul and Tracie Hutton, Miles Swarthout, Thadd Turner, Jeff Hidlebrandt, Gary Foreman and others. The band was great and Tracie Hutton asked me to dance and we did a mean poolside watusi, frug and twist-athon to a medley, that started with “Roll Over Bethoven,” segued into “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and ended with “Let’s Twist Again (Like We Did Last Summer)”. My kind of dancin’ and fun

The Boot awards show on Saturday night was on another level. Big stretch limos, papparazi, grade A botox babes in tight dresses with just enough star power to make you drool. David Carradine (Long Riders, Kung Fu, Kill Bill) walked in right in front of us with some Hollywood honey. Bruce Boxleitner yelled at me in the silent auction room, (“True West sucks!” he said, laughing loudly.) Speaking of which, our True West gift package sold for $135 at the silent auction. A pretty woman from northern California won the bid (she told me she just had to have my Val Kilmer artprint we included).

At seven we sauntered into the ballroom. At the True West table (#43, as in 43 tables away from the podium) we had too many people. Evidently taking a page from the airline industry, the organizers had oversold the room, so they added four people to our table (pushing the occupancy to 12). This made for tight elbows and strained conversations, but we made out fine.

Besides we weren’t there to eat, we were there to gawk, and we got plenty of that. Val Kilmer came out first. I heard later, he was literally being crushed in the lobby, had to be whisked into the “green room” and needed to get on and out ASAP. He was quite gracious. Told about how he can’t go through an airport without three people asking him to say, “I’m your huckleberry.” He was introduced by Dana Delaney who played Josie Earp in Tombstone. She was great and looked mighty fine.

The producer of the show and co-MC, Rob Word, introduced the many celebs in the audience and I was surprised at how many names were there. Mickey Rooney, Clint Walker (Cheyenne, sitting two tables away), Penny from Sky King (one table over). Elke Summer and the starlet who played “Octopussy” in one of the James Bond movies, Scott Glenn (Silverado, Urban Cowboy), Tom Selleck (who also had the crush factor and made a brief cameo, then disappeared), Robert Horton (Wagon Train), Sidney Poitier, Robert Osborne (Turner Classic Movies), Fess Parker (Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone) and quite a few of the cast from Deadwood. During a break, I went over to their table and introduced myself. I gushed all over the actress who plays Calamity Jane (she’s just a shy, sweet, little girl!), met the guy who plays the doctor, also the sleazy hotel guy and Trixie, the whore who works for Al Swearengen. She came by our table several times and is a wispy, little starlette. She also played Allie Earp in Tombstone. Got to bed way too late, got up at six, roared home through the searing heat. Stopped at Erhenberg to see the graveyard and the heat was just wilting. Got home at 3:30. Tired. More to tell later.

“The chief enemy of creativity is good taste."
—Pablo Picassoo

Friday, August 06, 2004

August 6, 2004
Dave and Doreen Daiss and I left this morning at 6 a.m. to drive to LA for the annual Golden Boot Awards. Val Kilmer, Scott Glenn, Randy Quaid, Robert Horton, Fess Parker and Sidney Poitier are scheduled to be honored this year at the Westerns version of the Academy Awards. I've never been. Looking forward
to it.

Oh, and don’t forget Pat Hingle.

I’ll be out of the country as it were until Sunday. So amuse yourself until I get back.

“The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow.  Bigness means weakness.” —Eric Sevareid

Thursday, August 05, 2004

August 5, 2004
Whipped out three cowboys for a new batch of Honkytonk Sues. Got a good likeness of a Ka-boy with a chaw in his cheek, crazed look in his eye, big black hat. He’s hittin’ on Sue, of course, and she’s got the answer to his lewd and lame game.

Bob Brink, RG and I had lunch with a major travel company rep who is interested in doing True West tours all over the Western U.S. and into Canada and Mexico. This came out of a contact I made at the Brian Label Cody show in June (I’m telling you, trade shows pay off in the most obtuse ways). Very exciting. If you are a TW Maniac, you’ll get first shot, and big discounts on some very cool trips we are planning.

Last Saturday, when Kathy and I were walking up and down the windy streets of San Francisco, she asked me if I wanted any sort of jewelry or silver pin as a remembrance for our 25th anniversary and I looked in a couple windows and finally said, “You know, I really want a silver Day-of-the-Dead pin custom made by Kit Carson.”

So today, Kathy went to Taos and dug him up. No, actually I have been promising to go see Carson’s studio (yes, his real name is Kit Carson) for the last 14 years, and as a matter of fact, when I was cleaning out my studio I found a flyer he sent me, inviting me out. It was postmarked 1993. Ha. We had a laugh about that one. So today, after lunch I drove out to New River and checked out the Cactus Camp. Mighty cool. Big views of the hind end of Elephant Butte. I found the coolest skeleton drummer and it’s only $1,200 (I know, I know, I’ll throw in a big tip). May settle for a skull pin for my jacket lapel ($450). I need something to spice up my History Channel coat (and especially my History Channel appearances).

Although he doesn’t own a computer, a fax, or a cell phone, you can check out Kit's very basic website at:


Be sure to check out the “bony pony” (click on jewelry) which is a day-of-the-dead bronco rider. This is very similiar to the drummer pin I want. Also, click on the rustic sculpture, which was photographed right in his yard and that is Elephant Butte in the background.

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”
—Charles Franklin Kettering

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

August 4, 2004
We subscribe to several e-mail services that give a heads up on marketing ideas and motivation, better service, etc. This morning, Carole Glenn forwarded me the following:

To increase your responses, try using any of these ten words:
• Free
• You
• Announcing
• Introducing
• New
• Secrets
• How to
• Guaranteed
• Magic
• Easy

The NEW office copies of the September issue just arrived and we formed a bucket brigade out the door to bring them in. The boxes are stacked outside my office for EASY access.

INTRODUCING Robert Chenal—our summer intern (NAU). This morning he helped me load up a whole bunch of photos and books for the new BBB display going up at the Cave Creek Museum. Lots of KSLX stuff, including a four foot high color photograph of me with a mohawk riding a surfboard on a fake wave with two radio FREE honeys. The historic display will premiere in September and is GUARANTEED to make you laugh and gasp.

I took Robert out to my studio to show him HOW TO get a handle on my ref morgue. He’s been sweating it out all afternoon. Him and Ron installed a new handle and lock in the door. Kathy got it this morning from Home Depot. While working, I had to tell him several times to take it EASY.

I didn’t know this but evidently the famous Dakotas apartments in New York where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived got its name in an odd, Western way. Allegedly, when it was NEW in the 1800's, friends of the builder commented to him that it was so far removed from the center of New York that "it was like having to go to the Dakotas". Could that be true? It sounds almost too good?

Yesterday I mentioned the “Lewis” fire. I forgot to mention the “Jack” fire. And two weeks ago the “Magazine” fire torched 300 acres near here. Who started that fire? That’s EASY.

Speaking of hot, Rawhide is ANNOUNCING the event of the season this Saturday: Bring In the Clowns—Day 5. More than 100 clowns including silliest, corporate, clown clubs and independent clowns will be there. Sounds like MAGIC to me.

Went to SFMOMA (San Fran Museum of Modern Art) on Saturday ($10 each) and saw a big Pop retrospective featuring Andy Warhol, Lichenstein and others. Got very inspired by the big Warhols, especially the Triple Elvis which shows young Presley with a drawn pistol from a Western movie still, repeated three times. Very strong and simple. Red Liz, also from 1962, which is of Elizabeth Taylor was iconic and good. But the big one, literally, was National Velvet, 1963, with the multiple frames of a young Elizabeth Taylor in the famous horse movie, repeated at random across and down a giant canvas (over 11 feet high). Really impactful. Many artists, so-called, have tried to duplicate Warhol’s SECRET technique (basically black and white polaroids silk-screened onto a big, ol’ canvas) but they never quite pull it off.

We've got a new poll up. Have you seen the True West Moments that run on the Westerns Channel. YOU can click right here.

"Am I getting smart with you? How would YOU know?"
—Don Rickles

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

August 3, 2004
In this morning’s staff meeting, RG Robertson relayed to us a phone message: “I just got your September issue today and it sucks. This will be my last issue.” With that, RG read the following e-mail from Neil Carmony:

“The September issue of TRUE WEST came in the mail today, and I have been going through the article ‘Building a Western Library’. What a great list of books! Muy bueno, muy bueno!”

Like I always say, you can’t please everyone, especially my mother.

We are getting an exclusive on some new Earp related research that just surfaced. For now it’s top secret and we are working out the details. I’ll tell more when I can.

We lost a big advertiser because of the “offensive cadaver” on the September cover (John Wesley Hardin). That hurt. They were on a two-year contract. Being edgy and outrageous does have its price.

Got an e-mail from my old drumming buddy Dave Walker (we both played in the Zonies for a decade or two). He turned me on to a cool Ringo drum-set t-shirt. You can check it out at:


Like he promised, Jim Thompson, the owner of the Cave Creek Dairy Queen came up the street this afternoon with a box of Moo-Lattes and treated us all. It was a cool respite from the searing heat, and we even had three left over, if you’d like to drop in and have one. They’re in the freezer. Help yourself.

We’ve had three fires in the last several days—just in our area. I could clearly see the “Lewis” fire from my studio, burning across the ridge of Black Mesa. The terrain was so rugged they couldn’t get fighters in there. They evidently fought it successfully with slurry bombers because it’s clear today.

Got an e-mail from Jeff Hildebrandt weighing in on the t-shirt debate. He thinks we should definitely do a “Good Saddle-Bad Saddle,” t-shirt design, which is one of the most popular True West Moments I have done for Jeff and the Westerns Channel.

"If I'd been a ranch, they would've named me Bar Nothin'."—Rita Hayworth, in "Gilda"

Monday, August 02, 2004

August 2, 2004
On Saturday we got accosted on the Golden Gate Bridge by a guy in lycra-bike shorts, USA flag t-shirt and wrap-around, reflecto shades. He looked so touristy and normal I didn’t flinch but his pitch was odd: “I got all my stuff stolen and I need $12. Can you help me?” Kathy said, “$12, that’s an odd number.” We walked away. As we stopped about 100 yards further on to look over the side, down at a gaggle of sail boat crews clammoring back and forth across the bows to avoid swamping, the guy passed us, so that when we continued strolling we could see him up ahead working everyone he met. After each encounter, when the people approached us, I would say, “Didn’t you think $12 was an odd number.” And they would laugh and agree. Finally after about six couples turned him down, a guy leaned in close (it was quite windy on the bridge) and we could see him reach in his pants. The guy’s girlfriend was at the rail looking our way and we were waving at her to not let her boyfriend cave in, but it was too late. It turned out the couple were from France, and the guy hit them up for $20 (Luckily the guy only got 50 cents). On the way back we met another family who had been hit up and the father said, “I grew up here and this is an old scam. They get dressed up and come out here to work the crowds. It throws you off because they don’t look like homeless people. They look legit.”

On Sunday morning Kathy went shopping at Macy’s, which takes up an entire city block at Union Square, and when she got done with her purchases she had an extra coupon for 15% off and as she walked out of the department she approached a guy shopping and held out the coupon, saying, “Would you like a coupon for 15% off?” The guy barked at her, “GET AWAY FROM ME!” Somewhat taken aback but not deterred, Kathy approached another guy, who reacted just as indignent: “No!” he ejaculated, like he would be an idiot to even touch the coupon. Perhaps there are so many scammers in San Fran that everyone is on high alert.

On Saturday night after a great dinner at John’s Grill, which is featured prominently in “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashielle Hammett, we were walking through Union Square on our way back to the Hilton and at the crosswalk this street person is yelling forlornly, “Raj! Raj!” and Kathy says, “He needs my help.” (Kathy is a therapist and her mother’s a nurse). I, on the other hand am an only child and a cartoonist and I rolled my eyes as she goes up to this 20-something bean pole in fatiques and a ski cap to ask him why he’s yelling “Raj!” Well, it turns out the guy’s a heroin junkie from Lubbock and Kathy wants him to get help, and he says he will but he needs money to get off the streets, but she doesn’t have any money so she asks me to give him a five and as I’m reaching in my pocket, another guy comes up and says, “What about me?” That was a $6 encounter. Kathy had another street encounter which resulted in a $50 hit (they took credit cards) but I’ll spare you the pain since it involves a certain candidate my partners hate with a passion.

We are getting very good comments from you on our new t-shirts designs. Please vote for your favorite ones by clicking right here and if you have more to say, email me and tell me. Thanks. And by the way, could you spare $12? I have a payroll to meet. God bless.

“The illustrator of books is an active fiend who clips with long, sharp shears the tender wings of illusion."
—Max Beerbohm

Sunday, August 01, 2004

August 1, 2004
Back from San Francisco. Wore a sweatshirt all day Saturday! Wow! For A Zonie in July, this is a fantasyland adventure. Call it Disneyland for Heatless Seekers. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog and cold wind and it was like being in Iowa in October, but with actual scenery.

Ate many great meals, starting with our traditional favorite Sam Wo’s at Grant and Washington in Chinatown. It’s up a narrow sidestreet, crammed between two ancient buildings. You enter right into the kitchen, then up a narrow staircase. The second and third floors are dining rooms complete with submarine style walls and tables with short stools, no chairs. Exposed pipes, a dumb waiter (as in food elevator) anchors the West wall. We hit it off with our tablemates, a French photo editor who sat directly behind me and a stunning Vietnamese girl and her boyfriend up from San Diego and LA respectively. They just had $150 worth of Sushi and had heard about this legendary place and were kind of wide-eyed to try it out. As we were talking an old, bent over woman came and grunted something, surly and unintelligible (believe it or not, part of the charm of Sam Wo’s is they don’t really like customers). Our new Cal-Nam friends asked for beer and the old woman barked something at them. The guy looked at me quizzically, “You have to bring in your own beer?” I nodded like the vet I am (this is our fourth or fifth time at this venerable institution. “I’ll flip you for it,” I said. “Loser goes for cerveza.” I lost, he gave me a ten, and I went downstairs and out into the foggy, cold night. Four blocks and two streets over I found a Chinese convenience store. The toothless store clerk was watching Kerry’s speech (this was Thursday night). “Do you like what you’re hearing?” I asked as I grabbed a six-pack of Heinies. He laughed like a foreigner who thinks Americans are stupid, as he rang up the beer. “Eight-eighty-six,” he said still laughing. Maybe he’s right.
I ran back up the hill (and I do mean hill!) and up the stairs into Wo’s place and we started divvying up the beer. Just as I started handing out the bottles, the old woman came marching right up to me with her hand out and said loudly: “Mama!” In spite of the cultural barrier I knew exactly what she meant. I handed her the first beer and she walked off without even a smile. The meal was fantastic, the whole bill was $11.

More restaurant reviews, including Jack Lalanne’s fave salad at Dashielle Hammett’s “Maltese Falcon” dive, the Cliff House is down, Skoma’s is still rockin’ and the Sunflower Cafe holds more than one German Hell’s Angel.

“Eat, drink and be merry sucka, for tomorrow you may not be able to afford it.”
—Old Vaquero Sayingo