Thursday, September 30, 2004

September 30, 2004
The True West Maniac Club is sitting at 822 members and we’ve got big plans for all of you. We are working on a Tombstone trip for next April with bigtime experts and great behind the scenes historic stops that most people don’t get to see. The ad will appear soon. If you are a Maniac and you have any suggestions or comments about the magazine, etc. you can send them to:

And please include your Maniac membership number in your e-mail.

One of the inspirations I got at Banta Printing in Kansas City last Tuesday is they give out gift bags. In fact, I had to have Bart ship me most of the goodies because I couldn’t get them all in my bag. In Wednesday’s staff meeting I asked our gang what we would put in our bag. Carole went out and got a sample bag and now we are trying to fill it. I think it would be a hoot to have a Blevins stirrup buckle in the bag. We keep calling Blevins and saying, “Hey, let us do an article on your business,” and they keep saying, “Naw, don’t need it.” Blevins has been advertising in True West for a half century. Yes, 50 years! I’d give you their website address except they don’t have one. So I’ll give you their phone number. Ooops! I just looked at their ad in the magazine and they don’t run one. You’ll have to write them at. . .ooops! They don’t have a street address in their ad. It just says:

Blevins Mfg. Co.
Wheatland, Wyoming 82201

Why don’t we all send them a postcard and blow their minds? Hey thanks for supporting True West for half a century! I’d love for the guys who work there to go, “Where the hell are all these postcards coming from? And why? Maybe we ought to try and find out? Naw.”

Did you see the poll results on Wyatt Earp? It was running about 50-50 until the end when a whole bunch of Earpies must have stuffed the ballot box. Hmmmmm.

And speaking of the Lion of Tombstone, I talked to Wyatt Earp’s wife Terry today. She is quite famous here in the Valley as a playwright. In fact she wrote the one-man play Wyatt performs as his great uncle. He is going to perform this Saturday night out at the Mistress Mine north of Cave Creek. Great venue, at a real Old West mine, outside, under the stars, chuckwagon dinner, etc. A must see. Terry is working on two new plays, one called “In My Humble Opinion” which is about Jack Durant, the famous restauranteur in Phoenix, whose real name was James Earl Allen. It opens on January 25th. The other play she’s writing is on the artist Ted De Grazia and that should be interesting. A legendary Arizona artist (although I absolutely despise his art).

Terry also asked me if I knew anything about Wyatt’s time in Cripple Creek, Colorado because they are booked to do the one-man Wyatt show there in 2005 and I said I didn’t (other than him being there in the 1890s) but that I’ll bet someone who is reading this knows something. Don’t you?

"There must be 500,000 rats in the United States. Of course, I'm only speaking from memory."
—Bill Nye (not the science guy)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

September 29, 2004
After being totally knocked out by the Arabia Museum in Kansas City yesterday (although it???s an unfortunate name, conjuring up the wrong imagery, considering it???s actually a steamboat named The Arabia, full of 1857 Western cargo), I bought a book from the giftshop on the arduous efforts to excavate the boat. ???Treasure In A Cornfield,??? is the name of the book and it???s written by Greg Hawley, a member of the family that literally dug up the goods. I read much of it on the plane ride home.

Of course Greg, his brother Dave (who I met) and his dad were all crazy, getting consumed by the goal of digging up hidden treasure. They have an air-conditioning business and pooled all of their money, along with some close friends, and came up with some $250,000, to do the whole project. Of course, they spent that just getting down to the boat and then the money really started to flow, out, not in. Which in the water sense was a good thing, but in a metaphorical sense, money being water, it was a very bad thing. The fuel bill for the multiple pumps to suck the water table down, was running at $650 a day! They mortgaged their homes, worked around the clock, missed family dinners, strained their relationships with their wives. Ticked off old friends. Let???s just say I can totally relate, having dug up a sunken ship in a very similar manner.

Greg, the author, relates how at one point when everything looked bleak and he was working around the clock and everything was going south, he told his wife, ???Don???t worry honey, the bank can only take our house once.??? Ha. I wish I had that line back in the beginning of our True West journey, although, if I had used it I may not have lived long enough to write this.

The Arabia dig and resulting museum is really an extraordinary tale and legacy and when I met Dave Hawley I asked him if the culmination of the project had vindicated him and set him free and he said, ???Oh, no, we???ve found three other boats and we start digging next week on one of them.??? As my kids would say, ???Insane in the membrane.??? And that goes for me too. It???s amazing where passion for history can take you.

Or as my mother puts it, ???At least it keeps all of you off the streets.???

???If you can't accept losing, you can't win.???
???Vince Lombardi?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

September 28, 2004
Back from Kansas City. Got in at 3:30. This morning I saw one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen. Back in the 1970s some Old West maniacs from Kansas City got obsessed with digging up sunken steam ships on the Missouri River (there are a reported 400 sunken ships strewn from Saint Louis to Kansas City and northward), and they ended up digging up this packet called the Great White Arabia which had 200 tons of cargo bound for the edge of civilization (Omaha and the Dakotas) when it hit a snag and sank in 1857. These crazy guys dug the ship up in 1988 paying for most of it with their own money and what they found is just incredible. Inside packing crates and barrels and boxes were some 4,000 pairs of shoes and boots (many of them rubber, made by the Goodyears, yes, with an s, co.), tens of thousands of buttons, oodles of axes, hats, pants, suits, guns, door knobs, tape measures (50 foot rolls of tape!), pocket knives, fine China, window glass (400 panes) and lots of food. Now here’s the incredible part. Since it has been buried under silt (the river channel moved and the entire ship’s cargo is under 36 feet of sand and silt, there was no oxygen and all of the cargo (sans cotton products) is in perfect condition. Especially the food. The story goes that they opened a jar of pickles and one of the diggers bit into one and it still had a ripe snap. They opened a bottle of champagne and it was perfectly bubbly. There are many bottles of cherrys from France that look like they should be on the shelf of your local gourmet grocery store. I met with one of the guys who discovered and dug up and created the museum and we are going to do several features on it.

Speaking of food, I ate like a Kansas City King. Bart E. from our printing plant Banta (which is just north of the city) took me to the Smokehouse Bar-b-que on Monday for a great lunch, and this afternoon we hit The Golden Ox (“The real reason Kansas City is famous for steaks.”). Really enjoyed it, especially the Missouri style bar-b-que which I have heard so much about but never had.

Toured the Banta printing plant. They do some 400 titles so we are a small part of their 24/7 operation but everyone I met raved about True West and especially that we have never missed a deadline and they can always count on our punctuality and our product (it’s rare for us to even have a correction). This is all to the credit of Robert Ray and his crew. They work very hard under trying circumstances and always get it done.

My speech last night to the grocers was so-so, but the event was enlightening to me. I got to mingle with them at the cocktail party prior to the dinner and met several “Loyalty Managers,” which I had never heard of, but I learned plenty and I’ll spill all of their "loyalty" secrets tomorrow.

Going to be nice to go back in the office in the morning. Really looking forward to it. Been out too long. Lots to do.

“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get to the office.”
—Robert Frostr

Sunday, September 26, 2004

September 26, 2004
Back from Santa Fe at nine p.m.. Going out in the morning to Kansas City. Lots to report. Lots of driving (1,100 miles), great food, big sights, big nights, big fights.

We’ve got a new poll up (I was really surprised at the results of the Wyatt Earp poll, which we’ll run in the mag in the next issue). Which of the following people do you think were the greatest North American explorers?
• Lewis & Clark
• John C. Fremont
• Jedediah Smith
• Sieur de La Salle
Cast your vote here.

Went to the new Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe and was really unimpressed. Dirty walls (I know, I know, it’s supposed to be that way, so Santa Fe-o, it’s like the dirt came off the ground and onto the walls. . .). In the first place there isn’t that much of her work there. In contrast, this morning we hit the New Mexico Museum in Albuquerque and saw a new Maynard Dixon show and they also had a Buck Dunton and a few Taos masters who mostly did Native Americans. Really great stuff, towered over the Georgia stuff. In another league really.

“Until you walk a mile in another man’s mocassins you can’t imagine the smell.”
—Old Vaquero Sayings

Friday, September 24, 2004

September 24, 2004
Hitting the road for Santa Fe this morning. Board meeting of the major stockholders. Looking forward to it. Plenty of challenges and problems to solve.

Going to take the scenic route through Concho, St. Johns, Zuni, El Moro rocks, Cubero and then hook up with the dreaded I-40 into Albuquerque. My good friend Abe Hays says there is a Maynard Dixon show in Albuquerque and I may stop there on the way back and check it out.

I’d write more, but I need to save my breath.

"Save your breath. You'll need it to blow up your date."
—Old Vaquero Sayingg

Thursday, September 23, 2004

September 23, 2004
Mr. Unstoppable came in to my office yesterday and said he wanted to go see a movie and did I have any suggestions. I told him I hate most of the new movies but that I saw a real odd one but I was hesitant to recommend it to him. But, of course, I did and kicked myself the rest of the day, imagining him in a darkened theater cursing my name and spitting.

This morning Dave came in and looked at me funny. “What did you go see?” I asked, somewhat defensive. “I went and saw Napoleon Dynamite,” he said looking at me sideways. “And?” I said expecting the worst. “And I loved it!” he said laughing. Amazing. We laughed and related our favorite parts and I’d tell you mine but I don’t want to ruin it for you.

I took Samantha to lunch at El Encanto. Just beautiful out, so we sat outside ($24 biz account). Got some good marketing ideas from her. She is a natural born upseller.

Started on a “Good Saddle-Bad Saddle” scratchboard. Going to be a funny shirt whether you know the source of the saying, or not.

Finally got a haircut yesterday. Bev does a great job. Guys my age need a combo of clippers, straight razor, lawn mower and sheep shears. It’s damned embarrassing, but Bev makes it seem normal and funny and so I tip her well, as I should ($20 cash). Plus, she tells funny stories, mostly about huntin’ elk and inlaws. Both funny subjects.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

September 22, 2004
Special thanks to Victor Tinajero, Sherry Monihan and Allen Barra for tweaking and correcting my Tombstone movie scene. Allen had the actual shooting script, both Sherry and Victor did their corrections off the top of their heads. The power of this movie is amazing. One of my favorite questions at book signings is: “How many times have you seen the movie Tombstone?” And the answers range from “over 5,000 times” (this was Cowboy Dan Martin, he’s not kidding, and that number is at least two years old, so his total is probably even higher now. What is the new number Dan?) to “watch it every night before I go to bed” to “I just watched it before I came down to this signing.”

This morning we were meeting with Joel Klasky in the conference room and he was asking about the availability of back issues and I mentioned that one of our Doc Holliday issues recently sold for $100. As I said this I remembered we had a framed copy on the wall, behind me, and I turned and pointed at it. RG got a gleam in his eye and said, “Is that just a framed cover, or do you think there’s an issue in there?” I pulled it down, we peeked through the backing and lo and behold, we have another $100 to put in the bank! RG also took the frame for recycling. That guy wastes nothing.

At one I walked down to Dairy Queen for lunch ($4.77 cash for Ultimate burger and iced tea).

Neil Carmony caught a gaff in this issue’s Classic Gunfight. Got it changed. Had a good phone conversation with Dick Glassman in New York about newsstand distribution. He and Angelo Gandino are two old pros who together have some 60 years experience in the biz. I asked Dick about changing distributors and he had good advice—Don’t do it.

We’re also talking to a New York publishing house about a possible True West book, although there really isn’t any money in it for us (after all the production costs, etc.). So, do we go for it anyway? And try to capitalize on the exposure? Leverage it into a second book?

“Every one of us thinks we have what it takes to be successful. But when the opportunity arises, most people don’t have the courage to go for it.”
—Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

September 21, 2004
Went for a walk with Kathy and the dogs this morning at seven. I came back early while Kath and the dogs went running across the creek (too much exercise for me). Really nice day out. Enjoyed the quiet walk back. Just when I got back in the house, the phone rang. It was the owner of a horse ranch north of us and he said he had a red dog that had been chasing coyotes and they ganged up on him and ran him right into a cholla patch and the red dog had so many cholla in him he couldn’t move.

“Yes, that’s my dog,” I replied wearily. “He’s an idiot from Manhattan.”

Just as I went out the door, Kathy came running up with Peaches and I told her the bad news. She had heard the yelping, couldn’t find him and came home to get the truck. I drove the truck down with a tarp in the back so I could load him and not get myself covered with those sharp little pricks, but when I pulled into the barn area of the horse ranch, the ranch hands had already pulled most of the big chucks out of him. The ground was littered with cholla spines, big green chunks, scattered here and there. Of course Buddy Boze Hatkiller sees the truck, wiggles free and jumps in the front seat, his mouth riddled with little white spines, and a goofy look on his face, that says, “Hey, let’s go for a ride!” We drove him home and he’s slobbering on us and he looks like Gabby Hays with half a beard. We held him in the front seat and tried to get out the rest of the little pricks. One went right through his ear, another was buried deep in his nose and he had an entire spine cluster hanging from the roof of his mouth. Now that was a fun one to get!

Got into work at about eight. More spine removal. Heavy duty business stuff getting ready for Board of Director’s meeting. Got most of it done, or at least in line.

Took the sales staff to Carefree Conference Center. My treat.

Went over cover stories for 2005. Very ambitious and exciting. Talked to Jackie King Ellis on the phone. She was my fave model for Honkytonk Sue and she now lives in Durango, Colorado has two kids and a loving husband. She’s coming down in October and I told her we’d like to do an article on her. She is a true cowgirl, former Miss Arizona Rodeo Queen. I’ll put up a photo of her so you can take a gander.

“So what if my telephone is turned off again at home? Or my electricity is shut off?  Or my credit cards canceled?  If you don't bet, you don't have a chance to win.  It's so silly in life not to pursue the highest possible thing you can imagine, even if you run the risk of losing it all, because if you don't pursue it you've lost it anyway.  You can't be an artist and be safe.”
—Francis Ford Coppola

Monday, September 20, 2004

September 20, 2004
Someone said we got two inches of rain in Cave Creek yesterday. But just to show you how much of a drought we’ve been in, when I got home tonight I took the dogs down to the creek to see how wide Cave Creek was running and, low and behold, no puddles, no rivulets, nada. Dry as a bone. Now that’s scary.

Here’s an update on the Homos on the Range debate. This morning Deena comes out for breakfast and we’re talking about our jobs and work and all of a sudden she gets real excited and says, “I haven’t seen you since last Friday morning.” This is true. She has been running wild like a 24-year-old hellion with a new job and an almost new car. “I wanted to show the people I work with the photos of Tomcat as Napoleon Dynamite,” my wild offspring told me between bites of Special K. “So on a break I signed onto your blog and showed them and one of the people scrolled up to the top and said, “Who’s this yahoo?” And Deena says, “That’s my dad.” And everyone gathers around and looks at this page and one of them says sarcastically, “Yeh, right. Like this cowboy is your dad?” Which, granted, would be just like Deena to fool her workmates with some goony website fakery. So, just for grins, Deena scrolls down to where there is an entry that mentions her and says, “See, ‘I’m having breakfast with Deena.’” (which she was in the story and in this blog entry also) And Greg, one of the coolest and funniest guys Deena works with starts reading the blog and sees my proposed headline: “Homos On The Range?” and says, “Is he serious?” And Deena says, “Well, he wants to run that headline but I think I talked him out of it. He thinks he’s going to run it before some gay Western comes out and then Entertainment Tonight will do a report saying, ‘According to a national history magazine, True West reports there really were homosexuals in the real Old West,” and Greg goes, “He’s right! They probably will. He should run it.” And Deena is beside herself, that Greg, the hippest cat and funniest dawg in the whole department actually thinks her dad is right about anything.

Ah, I don’t care what history says, sometimes revenge is very sweet, indeed. Now, to have the actual courage to run the dang thing. Or, as Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks puts it, “No balls, no babies.”

And speaking of the billionaire entrepreneur, here’s his business advice: “When you are at a business meeting, look around for the fool. If you can’t spot him, you’re the fool.” Ha. Too true.

And speaking of fools on the hill, I spent all day today working on our Director’s Meeting Agenda. The principal stock holders of True West are meeting in Santa Fe this weekend and the CEO (the same guy who wants to run the word “Homos” on the cover) needs to establish the tone and direction of the meeting. Fortunately I have RG Robertson and Carole Glenn to give me the right information and numbers to actually sound like I know what I’m talking about. For instance here’s part of the report:

• Web Sales are up 173.8% over last year.
Web Sales 1-1-03 to 8-31-03: $20,568.27
Web Sales 1-1-04 to 8-31-04: $56,325.01 (includes Maniac memberships ordered online)
August Web Traffic: 30,192 hits (the first time hits have topped 30,000 in a month)

Stuff like that. Hey, maybe being totally open and honest on this blog is actually paying off. What do you think Greg?

“The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.”
—Florynce Kennedy

Sunday, September 19, 2004

September19, 2004
Big storm blew in during the night. Hurricane Javier, someone said. Rained and rained. all day. Can’t remember the last time it rained this much on the desert. Power went out twice, the second time for about an hour. No water. No electricity. A fighter jet flew over the Seven Sisters at about five hundred feet, big sound wave behind it. Of course I imagined that Hoover Dam had been car bombed and that’s the reason our power was out. Catastrophe everywhere. Imagined the worst.

At four the power came back on and went back to work. Need to get the shooting script for Tombstone for the killing of Marshal White by Curly Bill for this month’s Classic Gunfights. We are going to need extra pages because the November-December issue is going to be so big, so I’m thinking of adding a page or two for this. Here’s my take (if you have the script to Tombstone and I’m miss-hearing something please let me know:

Did Hollywood Ever Get It Right?
Scene 11 (on DVD) “Law Dog”

Scene opens inside a Tombstone opium den (actually a tent). Curly Bill (Powers Booth) staggers to his feet as he says:
“Oh yeah.” [he’s obviously stoned]
Slowly stumbling out into the nighttime street, Curly Bill exclaims:
“Oh, I feel great.” [beat] “I feel Capital!”
Curly looks at his hands and sees hallucinating traces of shadows and is mesmerized for a moment or two until he looks across the street and sees something that makes him very unhappy. Pulling both his revolvers he shoots into the shadows. Laughing he turns and shoots out a window. A woman screams. He shoots a street lamp, bursting the glass, then takes aim at a horseman riding by and at a pedestrian. He begins laughing demonically.

Sherif Behan (actor’s name?) with Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany) behind him, walks into the Oriental Saloon:

Behan: “What’s going on in the street? Somebody’s got to do something.”
John Clum (actor’s name?): “Well, I believe you’re the sheriff.”
Behan: “No. No, this is not the county. This is a town matter, marshal.”
Behan looks at Marshal White (Harry Carey, Jr.) and White looks down sheepishly.

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) is dealing faro and takes a sip of coffee: “Why don’t you just leave it alone?”
Marshal Fred White: “No. No, I gotta do something.”
Wyatt goes back to dealing faro: “Here’s your down card.”

Out in the deserted street, Curly Bill continues firing [just for fun, I counted the number of shots Curly fires in this entire sequence and although he has two pistols he fires somewhere between 21 and 24 shots without reloading). Now Curly sees the moon and begins to howl. He aims up at the celestial body and begins firing at it.

Marshal White: “Curly Bill! Come on now.”

Curly Bill turns with both pistols at full cock. White steps out in the street with his own pistol drawn, pointing it at the cow-boy captain:
Curly Bill: “Well, hello Fred.”
Marshal White: “Hand those over, Curly. Hand ‘em over.”
Curly Bill: “Why sure, dad. I’m only funnin’. [he steps forward with both pistols in front of him, butt first].” Here you go.”

Just as White grabs ahold of the pistol in Curly Bill’s left hand, Brocius pulls a border roll and shoots the marshal in the heart with the pistol in his right hand. Stunned and dying, smoke billowing off him, White collapses in the street. Curly Bill steps around the prone marshal:

Curly Bill: “Fred! Oh, Fred!”

Wyatt Earp comes up from behind and cold cocks Curly Bill with the butt of his pistol. A townsperson can be heard in the background: “He got Fred White!” Other voices join in: “He shot the marshal!” “They killed him!”

Wyatt: “Better get him off the street.” [meaning White]

Another townsperson: “Git a rope! String him up!”

Wyatt: “Nobody’s hangin’ anybody.”

“He just killed a man!”

Wyatt: “Move!” [Wyatt continues to hold Curly Bill by the scruff of his neck.]

Coming up the street we see a group of cowboys: “Turn ‘im loose!”

It’s Ike Clanton, his brother Billy and others: “He said turn loose of him.”

Wyatt: “I’ll not! So go home!”

Ike Clanton [stepping up close[: “I swear to God Lawdog, if you don’t step aside we’ll tear you apart.”

Wyatt cocks his pistol and aims it a Ike’s forehead: “You die first, get it? Your friends may get me first, but not before I make your head into a canoe. You understand me?”

One of the cowboys: “He’s bluffin’. Let’s rush him!”

Ike [petrified]: “No! He’s not!”

Wyatt: “Now tell ‘em to get back.”

Ike: “Go on., Git back! Go on Billy! He’ll kill me!”

Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) swaggers off the boardwalk and enters the fray holding a pistol: “And you Music Man [aiming at Billy Clanton], you’re next.”
Billy Clanton (actor’s name): “It’s the drunk piano player. You’re so drunk you can’t hit nothin’. In fact, you’re probably seein’ double.”

Pulling a second pistol, Doc says: “I have two guns. One for each of you.”

A shotgun is fired and we see Virgil (Sam Elliott) running to the scene: “Break it up. Go home!”

With the tables turned, the cowboys begin a slow retreat. Wyatt pushes Ike off with the barrel of his gun. Ike backs away snarling: “I’ll see you soon. I’ll see you soon. We’ll meet again.”

Cut to: Johnny Behan and Josie watching from the sidewalk. Behan smiles and says to his lover: “Well as you see, never a dull moment.”

"The only way to succeed is to make people hate you."
—Old Navajo sayingr

Saturday, September 18, 2004

September 18, 2004
Big monsoon blew in around 5:30 tonight. Heavy winds. Finally got some rain at about 6:15. Nice and cool out at dusk. Unfortunately got a leak in my studio. Put a waste paper basket over the drip. Sounds like a water balloon hitting every five seconds.

Took Peaches to the vet this morning. They beat me up pretty good about not bringing her in since 2001. Does she have her shots? (No, that was $117), does she have her new license? (Is there a driver’s test? I think she’d pass.), does she have a tracking electrode between her shoulder blades? (Holy guacamole! Did George Orwell take over the vet biz while I was on deadline?). What’s next? E-mail in their stools? (Yes, they sent home a stool sample gizmo, but with no html I can find, so far).

Took Kathy down to Bell Ford (no relation) at about 11 to pick up her car. Freeway hell. No southbound onramp at I-17 (closed, no warning), ended up going north to Deer Valley, then south, snaking along 27th Avenue with a ton of other people. Added another 20 minutes to the trip. Stopped at Aaron Brothers on the way home and bought some more watercolor board, gouache paints, mixing dish and brush ($87, TW account). Came home and worked on several paintings. One of the Northfield robbers riding out of town under a storm cloud. Also worked on a Mickey Free image. I think we ware going to post that one real soon, if not today.

Swam 10 passes, took a nap, went back at it and worked until around five. Had some red mole that Brad Radina made. Quite good. Opened a bottle of Coppola cabernet wine (yes, from the film director Francis Ford’s winery. Quite dry and good). Had two glasses, sat out on the patio and enjoyed the rain.

Tomcat is coming down tonight from Flag. They’ve been at the Grand Canyon and are supposed to roll in at about nine. I got T’s Strokes poster framed in Scottsdale and they’re supposed to deliver it in the morning so he can take it back up the hill.

Mr. Unstoppable came into my office earlier this week and was limping. When I asked Dave Daiss why, he told me one of his horses kicked him in the shin and he had to go to the hospital for stitches. I really felt sorry for him. First cancer, now this. I asked him why the horse kicked him and Dave said, “Because I kicked him first!” I both laughed. Dave is such a kid.

“Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.”
—Rod Serling>

Friday, September 17, 2004

September 17, 2004
Our sales staff has really kicked it in and we are getting set to publish the biggest and boldest Holiday issue we have ever done. Can’t say enough about Mike, Sue, Crystal and Julie. They are working strong as a team and it shows.

Also, my production people came through and did a series of movie posters that tickle me to no end. Illustrating Allen Barra’s “The Ten Greatest Westerns Never Made” Robert took three, assigned two to Gus and Abby and Dan Harshberger did one and I’ve got to tell you, they are all believable as movie posters. We all went to lunch today at Satisfied Frog and laughed about it ($11 cash, chicken caesar salad and iced tea). Robert thinks the Elfego Baca poster is the one most likely to be made into a real movie. He’s right (very strong story and amazing that Hollywood has missed it all these years). Afterwards, Gus, Robert and I dropped by the Cave Creek Museum to see the display on a certain Cave Creek cartoonist. Funny to see ones-self in a museum. Ha.

Samantha took a call from a guy who wanted to buy the Doc Holliday issue from two years ago (it says sold out on our ads but he wanted to know if we had found any). Samantha told him that we had, in fact, found two in the warehouse and were about to put them on e-bay for bid. He said he’d pay $100 for the privilege of having one and Sam said, “Sold.” Amazing. Just amazing. For a back issue!

Wrote up my editorial for the November-December issue and laid in artwork of Curly Bill Brocius, including a new illustration of Powers Booth as Curly. Gus also placed a few images in the CGII book. Can’t wait to show you some of those.

At five, Carole drove me up to Kathy’s office. She got in a fender bender in the parking lot of Bashas’ and the bender guy drove her car down into Phoenix to get it fixed. We got some groceries at Bashas’ ($78 house account) and brought it down to True West to eat supper (Iowa term) and Robert Ray was still in the office working (6:40 p.m.). Gave him part of a Corona and a lime, while Kathy and I ate in the conference room. Got the call that the car won’t be done until morning and took off for home. I’ve got lots of photos to show you, including the Northfield raid, the Northfield newskids, my latest painting of Mickey Free and those fabulous Iowa Rock ‘N’ Roll hall of famers the “Guys With the Pizza Advertisement On Their Drums!”

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 16, 2004

September 16, 2004
When we were in Lake Okoboji last Sunday, Minnesota Mike insisted on stopping at the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The building is on the grounds at Arnold’s Park, a legendary theme park that has been around so long I even went to it as a little kid. Melrose was just beside himself when he saw the sign. “Who are they going to have in there besides Tommy Bolin?” he kept yelling like a little kid in a car outside a theme park. After lunch with my cousin Mike and his wife Ann at Maid-Rite ($31.80 cash, I bought) I went down the street to get some gas and Mike started jumping up and down in his seat: “Don’t forget the Iowa Hall of Fame! We have to go there Uncle Bob! You’re going the wrong way, the wrong way! It’s over there!!” When we finally went inside ($1 per person admission fee, Mike paid), he wasn’t disappointed. In addition to Tommy Bolin, who actually played in Deep Purple, and the obligatory crash site newspaper articles on the death of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper after their Clear Lake-Surf Ballroom appearance, there were photos of, well, all the people who have actually played Iowa, or perhaps driven through at some point, like Bruce Springsteen and Elton John. The part I loved was all of the photos of the small-time bands that labored up and down the farm grids in the fifties and sixties, like “The Beach-niks,” and “The Echo’s Five,” and “The Fabulous Flippers” and a group with the unlikely name of “Al, Larry & The New Untouchables Sponsored by George’s Gourmet Pizza” (I swear this is the name on the base drum!). The latter’s photo is just fantastic and I’ll get it posted up here ASAP, because you have to see this Cedar Rapids sextet (I paid $5 for the program with their photo in it just so I could show you).

Speaking of genius names, I’ve been learning quite a bit about “Branding” from the book Wonderful Russ gave me. I finally finished it last night. Here’s an example from the book Becoming A Category of One. The author, Joe Callaway interviewed a honcho from a company that dominates the tractor biz. Here’s what the guy has to say:

“We are in a niche business. If you look at our customer segmentation, they all have something in common, and that’s what makes us unique. They all have a desire for a particular lifestyle. We help enable that lifestyle. We enable that lifestyle through an eclectic collection of products. When I go out and talk about Tractor Supply, I say that you can find everything in our store somewhere else, but you can’t go anywhere else and find everything in our store. It’s this unique, eclectic collection of products that enables people with a common lifestyle, a rural lifestyle, to have fulfillment and enjoyment of that lifestyle, and to live life on their own terms.”

“In America, you have fads, which can turn into trends, which can turn into hobbies, which can turn into lifestyles. As a brand, you want to be serving a lifestyle. You can’t have a sustainable brand around a fad. Our emotional connection with our customers is built around that lifestyle.”

“We want to remove price as an obstacle to shopping. We just don’t want it to be an issue. We want to build the trust that we’re going to have fair, everyday low prices.”

—Blake Bohl, Vice President of marketing and advertising for Tractor Supply

Finished Classic Gunfights this morning and passed it in to Meghan. She had some excellent edit suggestions to make it read like English. Also called a key person at HBO’s Deadwood series. They are filming the second season even as you read this and I may go over in November and do a cover story on them. Kind of exciting.

Actor Bruce Boxleitner just became a True West Maniac. We are up over 700 on the membership list. If you want to get in on the lifetime subscription part of it you’d better hurry. When we hit 1,000 it goes away forever.

“What you get is a living—what you give is a life.”
—Lillian Gish

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

September 15, 2004
This morning Deena and I had breakfast and solved life. Over Grape Nuts and toast, she asked me if I was still considering putting the headline “Homos On The Range?” on the cover. This stems from a new movie filming in Alberta called Brokeback Mountain (rumored to be changed to Brokedown Mountain) about two cowboys ( Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) who are married but fall in love with each other and have sex. No, I’m not making this up. It’s based on a story by Annie Prouix, and the controversial film is supposed to come out next year (October, 2005 insiders say). In a Deadwood kind of way, I want to catch this wave of controversy and do a cover story on homosexuality in the Old West, which of course is historically valid (where do you think “riding drag” and “cowpoke” came from?)

I admitted to Deena that after my trip to the heartland I am not so sure about using the title on the cover. Most of the people I met in Iowa and Minnesota are very conservative, more so than I ever remembered. Just on a food level, they consider Taco John too spicy. Yikes! Out here in the West it’s definitely spicier, kind of wide open, anything goes and the people tend to be more edgy, zany, wacky and off the wall (and that’s just the religious side of my family).

Deena (she’s 24) told me she considers the headline too wild and inappropriate for my audience. Jana Bommersbach thinks it’s too offensive to Gays. I asked Jana if she would have greenlighted the tv show “Queer Eye for The Straight Guy” and she admitted she wouldn’t have, but that they can do it because they’re Gay. And I said, “So if I go out tonight and have anal sex, can I use the word homo on the cover?” I just hate that PC claptrap. Well, blacks can use the N-word, but you can’t because you’re a cracker. When I think of freedom of speech and expression, I don’t think these examples are what makes America great.

Well, anyway, with that said, they’re probably both right. Deena thinks I read Rolling Stone too much and want to be like them. True (or actually, I’d like to have their circulation and they got it by being bold). Jana thinks I’m still an immature underground cartoonist trying to offend my parents, my teachers, my Boy Sout Leaders and the U.S. Government. True. My wife thinks I’m an attention starved ego-maniac. True. My business partners think I’m a loose cannon who could blow a hole in a tiny ship and scuttle it before it gets away from the dock, killing the CFO the COO and all the stockholders. Not true, but certainly ironic.

“Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.”
—Steve Martin?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Bonus Blog: September 14, 2004
Had to go without coffee or food until 11 this morning. Had a blood test in town, but had a staff meeting at 8:30. Did okay until about 10, got rather cranky, killed a couple of our best production people (at least in my head). Funny how much body chemistry has to do with our well-being. By the time I got out of the blood test the world seemed pretty black and bleak. Stopped at Village Inn for breakfast ($10 cash, huevos rancheros—I know, what was I thinking?—two cups of coffee). Got back to office at 11:30. Dug out of the pile on my desk, or at least tried to.

The reenactments they do in Northfield of the Jesse James robbery are quite dangerous. Several horsemen were hurt on Saturday when we were there. One horse went down on the slick pavement (Ouch!) and another rider caught a thumb and sprained it, but none of the riders could top oldtimer Wayne Eddy, who came by our author tent and regaled us with his many legendary injuries. He has performed in the bank robbery reenactments for 30 years and is a town character. The most amazing story he told was the time he was portraying Bill Chadwell, and was supposed to fall off his horse onto the pavement. He did so successfully, but as he hit the pavement his gun went off, in his holster and ignited all the other chambers and then proceeded to ignite all the bullets in his gunbelt, with them firing all the way around his waist. He got up and started running with fire and smoke coming from his midsection, and of course, the audience thought it was all part of the act (“Oh, look honey a Younger clown.”) and started laughing and applauding as he ran around screaming for help. They got him to the hospital and he had second degree burns all up and down the “inner gluteous fold,” otherwise known as the crack area. Now here’s the amazing part: he was back in the saddle for the next performance, only when he pulled back his duster he had a fire extinguisher on each hip. Ah, those oldtimers. Either they were hardier, or they’re better liars, I can’t quite figure out which.

The streets of Northfield filled up five times on Saturday, packed to the gills. They get 250,000 people over the entire weekend, rain or shine. I took photos from the basement stairwell and I’ll post a few up here so you can get an idea of the spectacle.

Got a new question up right here on the website. Do you think Wyatt Earp is overrated? Yes/No (click here)
Worked until around 5:30, went to bank. Tomcat is coming back from Rocky Point and is bringing homemade tortillas with him.

“Life itself is the proper binge.”
—Julia Child
"September 14, 2004"
A couple blog entries I sent from the road did not make it back to Arizona. So here's Sunday's blog entry:

Big day in Northfield yesterday. We had an author's tent set up right outside the bank and the streets were packed five times for reenactments. Gun expert Larry Wilson brought an exact replica of the Remington Rolling Block rifle that Manning used to kill Bill Chadwell with during the raid. I got good photos for next year's proposed cover from the town defender's point of view. I shot one roll of film in the hole behind the staircase, then another roll from behind him. In the second enactment, He stepped out and fired, came back and used a ramrod to eject the shell (something the real Manning did during the fight because a shell jammed), stepped out with others, fired again. I was getting great shots of the smoke, from below and through his legs, crawling around on the ground like a reptile. Wilson fired again, came back to the others and said, and I quote, " I wish he'd fall off his horse. I've shot him three times." Everyone around us laughed.

Met with the president of St. Olaf College on Friday at noon. We are proposing expanding the festival and including more towns and more symposiums, etc. Great meeting. Many ideas and energy. We'll see if we can pull it off. I think we can.

Left Northfield at five, headed down I-35, then across on the 90 to Jackson, south into Iowa landing at my cousin Mike's "cottage" on the banks of Lake Okoboji at sunset. Much fun. Many stories. We're off this morning for the Spencer Fair, Adair (Jesse James robbed a train there) and then landing in Orient, Iowa at a B&B. Meetings in the morning with the Chamber people in Winterset (John Wayne's hometown and Bridges of Madison County-ville). More later.

"Act as if it were impossible to fail."
—Dorothea Brandeh

Monday, September 13, 2004

September 13, 2004
Back in my office in Cave Creek (5:17 p.m.). Sam picked Melrose and I up at Sky Harbor at 3:40. It was about 72 when we took off from Des Moines this afternoon about two. The stewardess said it was 106 degrees as we landed. Everyone on the plane sighed.

Last night it was downright chilly just outside Orient, Iowa. We got a two story, red brick colonial house/B&B, built by a pig farmer in 1918. Carol was our host. We got in at seven after driving all day from Lake Okoboji and I knew if we wanted to get supper anywhere we were going to have to drive somewhere. Unfortunately, I had told Carol on the phone from Lake Okoboji that I wanted to see the “history” of the area She had already called into town and made special arrangements for Mike and I to go see “The Bank of Memories,” which was basically a local history of Orient in an old bank (get it?). As we went out the door, Carol gave us several suggested cafes and DQs, all of them 12 to 16 miles away in other outlying towns, scattered over the rolling hills southwest of Des Moines. We rushed in to town and swept through the Memory Bank (“This is really interesting. Is there any place to eat around here?”). Driving down the main drag past the high school, I saw the town ending and we didn’t see any sign of a Dairy Queen. I turned around and went back to a two story Victorian with two guys in rocking chairs on the front porch. Rolling down the window I yelled out, “Where’s the Dairy Queen?” They looked at each other with a slo-motion startled look (or was it disgust?), then the guy on the left, went back to rocking and yells back, “We don’t have a Dairy Queen.” Melrose thought Carole said they had one, but she must have meant in another town. We went back to the Kum & Go (if that isn’t the grossest name for a convenient store, I don’t know what is) and went into the back where they had pre-made sandwiches that were made about the time Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” So I passed on that. I got a yogurt, a chocolate milk, a jar of peanuts and brought it up to the counter. The guy behind the counter had on the mandatory feed cap and overalls. I said, “Does that bar on the other side of the tracks serve food?” He grunted. “Sometimes. But they don’t cook too good after dark.” That was enough of a warning, even for me.” When I told him we were staying at the B&B outside of town on the hill, he looked at us like we were nuts and said, “Ain’t she feedin’ ya?” (in the morning at breakfast I asked her if she would have fed us and she said, “Yes, of course, but you didn’t ask me.”). Oh, those Iowans! They are so damn shy!

More stories tomorrow. I’m beat. Had fun though. Saw John Wayne’s birthplace this morning. The sucker weighed 13 pounds when he dropped out. No wonder his mother never liked him (she stole his middle name).

“If a man is often the subject of conversation he soon becomes the subject of criticism.”
—Immanuel Kant

Thursday, September 09, 2004

September 9, 2004
Woke up this morning in the heartland. "It smells like the first day of school," I said to Mike Melrose as we landed at Des Moines yesterday. And it does. The thick, black earth, the incredible green hues everywhere, a slight coolness in the air. Even though it was a half century ago, I felt that tingle of excitement of walking to the Swea City school house. New ruler, new notebook, new PF Flyers, cute farm girls.

On the drive up to Charles City we listened to local radio. Got a hunting show, "Outdoors With Outdoors Dan", or something like that. Just a total hoot. Much talk about Iowa being a "big antler state," and getting your doe to your local locker. The host was full of helpful hunting tips, "Plan your hunt, hunt your plan." Tom Arnold came on and did a commercial for a local bar-b-que joint. Then they did a fishing report and told us the wall-eyes were "fair" at Okiboji. Just great stuff. Fast disappearing from American life. Local radio. I love it.

Got to Charles City, Mike's hometown, at about six last night. Got the official tour ("And that's where I got my first hickey!"), landed at Andy and Diane Melrose's beautiful home right on the river bank. Sat in the back yard and talked. Met Mike's brother Mark, who walked over with his kids. I got real cold (must have been in the low sixties!) and Diane got me a jacket. Brrrrr.

We're off for Minnesota this morning. Mike is asking his parents for the best way to get to Osage. More later.

"Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other." -M. Richards

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

September 8, 2004
On my way to the airport (5:30 a.m.). Meeting Mike Melrose at his apartments, and Sue Lambert is giving us a ride down into the beast.

Yesterday I finished a big painting of the certain Apache scout, okay, it’s Mickey Free. He’s caught between the chasm of three cultures. More on this

“A cult is a religion with no political power.”
—Tom Wolfe

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

September 7, 2004
Napoleon Dynamite, I think so. Here’s a shot of Tomcat in his apartment looking, oh, so, ahem, dynamite.

Debora wants to know what book I’m reading. It’s called “Becoming A Category of One” by Joe Calloway and it’s about how competitive today’s markets are. It used to be that quality would set you apart but not anymore. Everyone makes a good car. Even Hyundai has a 100,000 mile warranty. As an example of how you set yourself apart as a category of one he gives the example of Les Schwab Tires in the northwest part of the U.S. They are famous for “running to the car!” That’s it. Someone thought up this zany idea that when a customer comes in, you run to meet them. Pretty simple, eh? They are quite famous for this and, according to Mr. Calloway, they have the business to prove it. So, I asked my staff this morning, “What’s our version of running to the car?”

As another example of being a category of one, he speculates that most of us can spot and ID the logo for Columbia Pictures (Lana Turner in a toga with a big ol’ bic lighter), or the MGM lion, but what kind of movies do they make? Can you name any? I can’t either. Now think of Disney. Ahh, family fun, Bambi and Boogie Nights. No, wait, that’s another film company. But anyway, you get the picture.

Did you hear that Seligman, Arizona nipped Canyon State Academy last Friday night 116-108? No, this isn’t a basketball score, this is eight-man-football. It was 38-32 at the end of the first quarter. The score would have been higher, but the Seligman coach said, “We were afraid to score. We knew we couldn’t stop them and they might come back, score, and then kick an onside kick.” So they ran out the clock (with over three minutes left). Vincent Alvarado (Hey, don’t the Alvarado’s own the Sno-Cap Drive-In?) put up some big numbers: 500 yards of total offense (219 rushing, 255 returns, 70 passing) and had a hand in 12 touchdowns. He scored six times on the ground, four on kickoff returns and threw for two more touchdowns. Friday Night Lights, indeed.

Today I’m trying to get all of the loose ends together before the big midwest roadfest. Tomorrow, Mike Melrose and I are flying into Des Moines and then on up to Charles City for the parade in my honor (thanks Andy Melrose!). On Thursday I’m dropping in on my Auntie Doris in beautiful downtown Osage, Iowa, then we are motoring through Forest City (where I was born in a log hospital), Thompson (where my grandpa’s farm was), Buffalo Center, Lakota, Swea City (where I got hit in the lip with a snow shovel), Armstrong (where they sewed my lip back on), then up into Minnesota, landing at Medelia for lunch and Mankato to see Rex Macbeth and ultimately Northfield on Thursday night for the Defeat of Jesse James Days festival and book signing.

I’ll try to keep you posted on the road but if I miss a day or two, I imagine you’ll survive.

““Accuracy bows to usage.”
—Casey Tefertiller

Monday, September 06, 2004

September 6, 2004
Cooler out this morning (5:15 a.m.). Feels like fall (only 103 for the expected high).

Woke up this morning feeling hopeful. Trying to stay positive and focused. So ironic, on Labor Day. I’m obsessed with laboring. Ha.

Many photos and images on my wall behind the computer. I see a check written to myself for $20 million (inspired by Jim Carrey who supposedly did the same thing, wrote himself a check for $20 milllion and put it on his wall to help actualize him, and, viola, he now makes $20 million a picture). My check is dated January, 1995, and in the memo line it says “for artwork and books.” This is a tad embarrassing since I’ve probably made maybe $20,000 for those categories since I wrote the check nine years ago. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m big on aphorisms and optimistic slogans “You are what you think about!” and I guess I’m better off for it, but sometimes when I do the math, it seems a tad silly, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

I mentioned yesterday we stole a beer label while in Flag. This is also a bit hyperbolic since it was a Soporo beer we bought at the Thai restaurant, I saw the label, liked the logo, wanted to take the entire bottle with me, but Tomcat peeled off the label with his thumb and I stashed it in my shirt and broght it down the hill. This morning I did a sketch of a Texas Ranger t-shirt design, using the Soporo lable as a jumping off point. I’ll give everything to Gus, The Mapinator, manana, and he will take it to the next level. The tag line on the shirt: “One Riot, One Ranger” is based on Texas Ranger legend. Supposedly, a besieged Texas town telegraphed the Texas Rangers for help and as hooligans ransacked the saloons and businesses the town fathers waited patiently at the train station for a battalion of lawmen to come save them, When a lone Texas Ranger stepped off the train, the mayor was crestfallen. “Only one Texas Ranger!?” he cried, to which the stalwart Ranger replied, “You only got one riot, ain’t ya?” Ah, so Texan.

“The days you work are the best days.”
—Georgia O’Keeffee

Sunday, September 05, 2004

September 5, 2004
Just got back from a wonderful trip up to the cool pines of Flagstaff (7,000 feet). Place jammed with Labor Day flatlanders like us. Shortcutted it across the NAU campus and landed downtown at Martan’s where we met Tomcat, Deena and Mike and Robert Chenal and his girlfriend for huevos rancheros and coffee. That was at about 1:30.

While Kathy and Tomas went shopping at Good Will for stuff he needs for his apartment, I went to said apartment and read and took a nap. On Friday night we met Wonderful Russ and Wonderful Wendy for dinner at Fosters in Scottsdale (split dinner bill, $62 house account). Russ gave me a new book he is high on. He bought 13 on Amazon and gave one each to his staff. I took the book with me and enjoyed staying in and reading.

As we were dressing for dinner, Tom mentioned he had a perfect Napoleon Dynamite outfit he was saving for Halloween. I dared him to wear it to dinner and, being my son, he quickly dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite. Unbelievable. So nerdy, so completely dork-able. Took a few photos. He borrowed my glasses and looked darn good (if you consider Napoleon Dynamite good). T. Bell also told me there are shirts cropping up on campus that say “Vote for Pedro,” which is a plotpoint in the indie phenom. Amazing.

At seven we met Deena and her boyfriend at Dacha Thai on South San Francisco St. (just south of the tracks, trains rumbling through every fifteen minutes. Sounds like they’re going through the kitchen.). Several people in the restaurant did doubletakes when he walked in. I’m telling you, he’s dead on as the Nap Man. It was Mike’s birthday (24) and his pick. We had a bunch of fun, took some pictures, stole a Soporo beer label off a big ol’ bottle (Tomcat peeled it off and I put it in my pocket for Gus and I to use for a t-shirt design, see Texas Ranger scratchboard).

After dinner the old people went home while the kids went out clubbing. Deena and Mike hit Malonie’s on the north of the tracks, while Napoleon, I mean Tommy went across the street to the 111 (pronounced one eleven. He says the club has some new name every other week, with new owners, but everyone just calls it by the address. Interesting branding, eh?). The joint was featuring 20 bands in 12 hours, starting at two in the afternoon and ending at two in the morning. Tom says everyone was waiting for the headliner, “I Hate It When You Are Pregnant.” That’s not the name of the band, there is no band. It’s the name of Phil Bunkman, a Jewish Punk-Hip-Hoppin’ Hamster-ham from Flag who everyone absolutely loves, according to Tom. One of his techno hits is “Peter Frampton Must Die,” which is kind of catchy when you hear it (T downloaded it off the internet for his old man to hear).

Got up at seven this morning and read some more of the branding book. Got up at eight and taught Tomcat how to make BBB pancakes (he wanted to learn, so I passed on the spatula). His female roommate joined us for a big farm breakfast feed.

We hung paintings (too many BBBs, but hey they are free) all over his living room, dining room and down the hall and even in the bathroom.

Kathy and I left at 11 but we didn’t get far. I saw a sign for the Coconino County Fair and we pulled off and into line ($2 for parking, $6 each, $12 for tickets to see the best hamsters, swine and bovines in the north country (and this was just in line getting in). Bought a five pound bag of roasted green chiles from Hatch ($6, I asked the guy how the fair was treating him and he said “Okay, but people don’t know what to do with them.” Ha. Well, I do! Making green chile mole even as you read this).

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side.”
—Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, September 04, 2004

September 4, 2004
Woke up to weather. Unusual for the desert. Most storms blow out during the night, but the sky is dark and cloudy. Looks like rain. Very humid out (also unusual).

Packed up about ten framed pieces of art for Tomcat’s new apartment in Flag. He requested something to hang on all of his bare walls. I’m trying to be careful not to load him up with all things Western, although I couldn’t resist send along a great image painted by my friend and former Razz colleague, Judy Darbyshire, of a 1940s babe wearing two halves of barrel cactuses for a bra and pear cactus for the bottoms. It is a hoot, and I’m counting on the cheese factor outweighing the “Gee, is your dad a Western nut, or what?” factor. Also grabbed the big Life magazine cover of Seligman and clouds from 1952, one of my favorite photographs in the world.

Here is the scratchboard of my two pistols. The one on the right is the freehand, the one on the left is “measured” and calipered (fancy ways of saying traced). You can see that the one on the right has some things going for it, but the dynamics of how the grip lines up with the frame, etc. is quite off. Need to work on this.

Taking off in an hour to go up the hill to Flag. Got to drop off recycling up at the post office, then we are off. Deena and Mike went up last night. Big wreck at Black Canyon and they spent two hours in the Rock Springs Cafe. Mike almost got in a fight with the locals (he’s from Idaho), and they finally made it up the hill at about 11.

I love road trips and will be driving my family nuts once we get there. I’m already threatening to go to a museum. This drives them crazy and they are already planning excuses )”Dad, my appendix just burst”). Of course I love doing this, and going to museums. Someday they’ll thank me, by probably burying me under a museum. As long as it’s not the Bic Lighter Museum in Guthrie, OK, I’ll be happy.

“Make voyages.  Attempt them.  There's nothing else.”
—Tennessee Williamso

Friday, September 03, 2004

September 3, 2004
Wore one of our new t-shirts to work today. “Silver Made Tombstone Rich: Wyatt Earp Made It Famous,” is a design you picked as your favorite. You will see it soon if you are a subscriber because the new issue (October) went out the door today. We got our office copies this morning and it’s a big ol’ sucker, very colorful. One of the prettiest issues in a long time (especially after the two bloody covers we just ran).

Yesterday I mentioned my suspicion of an “Arizona Charlie Meadows” photo which elicited this response from Dan Buck:

“I think what got Arizona Charlie into trouble was not his Wild West show per se but a bull fight that was somehow associated with his show—in Gillette? He was arrested, I do believe. Somewhere I have a packet of 1890s clips on the many adventures and just as many misadventures of Arizona Charlie, his brother Kid Meadows, and others of his clan.

“Wild West Shows did, though, avidly solicit Old West celebrities—ex-outlaws, retired Indian warriors, broken-down gunslingers. I don't know that Tom Horn was a recruit, but what not. If Monica Lewinsky can host a TV show, Tom Horn can be in a cowboy circus.”
—Dan Buck

Dan is definitely right about Tom Horn and Monica Lewinsky, and he may also be right about the bull fight, but I distinctly remember reading about Arizona Charlie running into trouble regarding cruelty to animals at a rodeo performance in Denver. Someone (I thought it was Dan) sent me the newspaper piece to illustrate that the current rodeo flack re: “cruelty” is not new. I believe this event was from the 1890s as well.

While we’re on the subject of historical clarification:

“BBB, In your article ‘John Wesley Hardin VS Constable John Selman’ you
stated that Helen Beulah M'Rose ended up in Phoenix, AZ, where she
disappeared from history. According to an article by Dennis McCown, ‘The
Vagrants Grave’ (WOLA Journal, Summer 2003) M'Rose went to San Francisco
where she abandoned her daughter in a Catholic orphanage, then moved to
Sacramento where she died from chronic alcoholism in 1904.”
—DJ Patterson

I stand corrected. Interesting. So many of these characters ended so badly. You really don't want Beautiful Beulah to end so ugly. I almost liked it better when I didn't know what happened to her. I always imagine they saw the light, and spent the rest of their lives in relative comfort. I guess that blows my cover as a cynic. Ha.

I whipped out a second Colt’s .45 scratchboard illustration this morning for the Curly Bill piece I’m working on. I’ll post both of them tomorrow, so you can see how difficult it is, at least for me, to capture the svelte curves of the famous firearm. Also whipped out a new t-shirt design called “One Riot—One Ranger,” it’s our goal to put out a new t-shirt design every month.

Going to Flag in the morning to see the Tomcat and bring him some artwork for the walls of his new apartment. Deena and her boyfriend Mike are also going (any excuse to drive her new car).

"I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize."
—Steven Wright
September 2, 2004
I’ve got a speech in Kansas City coming up and I spent part of today on the phone with the event coordinator going over the issues facing the grocery industry. Quite interesting. We have a tendency to think of our own industry’s problems as being unique and an abberation of nature, when in fact, we are all coping with similiar issues and problems. For example, grocery stores and convenience markets used to own certain categories, but today they are competing with everyone (especially Wal-Mart who they seem to categorically hate and view as Nazis). Even ten years ago, if you wanted a greeting card you stopped at Hallmark or maybe Wallgreen’s, but today everyone carries them. Another area that our nation’s grocers are grappling with is, and this is true of us as well, too much data. Computer systems used to deal with thousands of bites, then it was millions, now it’s trillions. And now that they can track almost every purchase and cross reference other buys with specific customers, it can get a tad crazy. So, now all I need to do is apply this to the Old West, or vice versa. “Twenty Things Grocers Can Learn From the Gunfight at The O.K. Corral” is where I’m headed. Both figuratively and literally. Wish me luck.

Met with one of the Tewksbury descendents at 11. Interesting talking to him and seeing his photographs about the Pleasant Valley War. He showed me a photo of Charlie Meadows, who was a minor Wild West Show guy from Arizona, who ended up in Alaska. One of the cowboys in the photo is allegedly Tom Horn, and others have been identified as warriors in the Pleasant Valley War. This makes me suspicious because it seems odd that the two would mix (historical characters and wild west show characters). I keep running across photos of Meadows and references to him. For example his rodeo-wild-west show was shut down in Denver by the forerunner of the Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in the late 1880s or 90s. Hmmmm.

Went to lunch with Carol at noon at the Bad Donkey up in Carefree. She bought. Good talking to her.

Spent the afternoon working on copy for Classic Gunfights. Also worked on two scratchboards, one of a side view of a Colt’s .45. Got some good effects, but not quite right. Pistols are particularly hard to render accurately, and are seldom portrayed in art very good. Charlie Russell was quite proficient, as was Remington, but beyond that it’s pretty slim. Tough angles, especially in someone’s hands. Need to work on this aspect of drawing and rendering

Left the office at five and joined Kathy, Deena, Brad, E.J. and Betty Radina at Shelmita’s down in Paradise Valley for Brad’s birthday dinner. Big police funeral across the street. I assume it was for one or both of the two officers who were shot and killed recently, while busting down a door to get at a gun weilding perp. They had body armor on, but the shooter got them by aiming for the head. Cop cars everywhere, up and down the side streets. Very sad. Another policeman was shot yesterday. That’s five in a week. The Valley is getting more like LA every minute.

Dinner was fun, Betty bought. Got home at eight, watched a bit of tv (anything but the convention).

“There are two kinds of fools: one says, ‘This is old, therefore it is good’; the other says, ‘This is new, therefore it is better.’”
—Dean William R. Inge

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

September 1, 2004
Three coyotes just sauntered past my office window (5:45 p.m.), looking hungry and discouraged. Probably just ate at the Horny Toad.

I had a once in a lifetime experience this morning. I had promised Mary Brown I would come down to the Scottsdale City Council and make a presentation on how important I think Festival of the West is to the health and prosperity of Scottsdale, the Valley and the State. When I got up this morning, I dreaded wading into the congested pool of goo, but I felt I needed to live up to our motto which is, “If we don’t support each other, who will?”

Mary told me the council session started at 8:30 a.m. and that she was 12th on the agenda. I asked her if she could give me a window of probability and that I would appreciate giving me at least that advantage. She told me to please be there by 10:30. I told the staff I might be gone for half a day. I’ve been to many of these and they drag on and on, hardly anyone adheres to the time limit, they break for lunch, they take a nap, before you know it, it’s time for the 10 o’clock news and everything has been postponed until the following day.

I gave myself an hour to get there, drove down Scottsdale Road right into the heart of the beast. Road construction hell at Via Linda, but I coasted through. Pulled up to the council chambers at 10:22, walked into the meeting room, heard Mary Brown say, “Here he is right now, ladies and gentlemen, the executive editor of True West, Bob Boze Bell.” Without even setting down my briefcase, I walked to the front of the room, gave a short pitch. A few people smiled, most looked bored and oblivious. They thanked me and dismissed us. Mary thanked me. I got in my Ranger, made a U-turn for the long drive back out to Cave Creek, looked at the clock. It was 10:30, exactly.

Never in my life have I experienced the luck, no, the miracle of dealing with the government and waltzing right in and right out in such a ridiculously short time. If you saw it in a movie, you wouldn’t believe it. I was back in the office at 11:15. Amazing.

This morning at breakfast, Deena reversed the solving life protocol and gave me a lesson in creating a good resume. She actually took a class in college on how to make an effective one and the little nuances are quite amazing. She told me how to make bullet points, so as not to bore the reader and how to distill long stretches of little or nothing into a golden life of competence.

Taking her advice, here’s my resume:

The Incredible Lifetime Achievements of Bob Boze Bell
• Attended 16 years of school earning the respect of no one.

• Received the nickname Boze by running the bases backwards in a game with Needles, California.

• Graduated with the valedictorian of his class (Katherine Lamb, see August 30 entry).

• 1965-70 Played drums in a rock and roll band. Stoned most of the time (Mary Jane)

• 1970-86 Underground cartoonist. Stoned all of the time (cocaine and A-1 beer)

• Can’t remember much of the eighties. Oh yeah, I got married. No, wait, that was the latter seventies. Hey, Man, there’s kids in there somewhere.

• Bought a magazine.

• Learned how to throw hundreds of thousands of dollars down a black hole.

• 1999-2004: Drank a lot of coffee.

See? She’s right. That was concise and to the point. Do I get the job?

My Billy the Kid book is now in the second or third edition (it all runs together, see resume). Theresa from Tri Star came out at three and delivered me the first one off the press. A tradition started back in 1992 and my first old west book.

I had lunch with Jeb Rosebrook at El Encanto (chicken mole special and iced tea, I bought $24 biz account). Jeb told me many stories about the oldtime Golden Boot Awards shows when some of the presenters were so drunk they would pass out in middle of the presentations. Sounds quite wild by today’s standards.

Ran into legendary stuntman Spanky Spangler, who has built more movie towns than any other human being on the planet. He told me he has finished another one down on the Gila Res. Wants me to come see it. He was there with another Western legend named Pat (he’s very private and hates to be mentioned in blogs by ex-stoned out drummers).

Talked to my mother. She’s lonesome in her new house in Cody. She had this to say: “Why do you exaggerate so much? You never got stoned. You were the president of Luther League.” She’s right, you know. I never got stoned at Luther League.

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”
—George Eliot