Sunday, October 31, 2004

October 31, 2004
This morning I finished my Soiled Doves Wait So Pensively scratchboard. They are caught between the church and the law. They are in some sort of basement, waiting for either business, or the business of the lawmen who are charged with controlling them. A famous painting by Valasquez gave me the figure of the ominous lawman standing on the steps of the only doorway, holding the key to their freedom or their incarceration. His head is halfway above the door way, but we can just make out the glistening of his badge. It's no accident that so many police officers are divorced because of their constant contact with dancers, strippers and prostitutes.

Shifted gears and started a big gouache of Luke Short standing out front of the Oriental, smoking. Had an excellent model in Tombstone last week and the shadows are quite divine.

Also whipped out a Doc Holliday in a drunken stupor, or dark shadows, or a drunken, dark shadows stupor. At any rate, he's definitely drunk, he's definitely in the dark. I like it.

"The only thing that the sex psychologists can't read a sexual significance into is trap-shooting, and they are working on that now."
—Robert Benchley

Saturday, October 30, 2004

October 30, 2004
Nice day at home for a change. No trips or obligations, other than finishing my new book. That's a nice, stay-at-home project. Took two walks, two bike rides and as many naps. Started a nice brothel scratchboard, of two Soiled Doves looking pensive in a dark room, waiting for something bad to happen. A lone man, deep in shadow, stands in the doorway. Is he a John? A pimp? Wait! Isn't that Wyatt Earp? I don't know, I just draw 'em (and steal liberally from Toulouse Lautrec).

Scratchboard is a dark art. I have to fight the urge to show form beyond subtle hints. I keep pulling back, caught between too much and too little. It's a never ending battle. And I lose more than I win.

This morning I read some of the commentary on Monet and it was encouraging in a misery-loves-company kind of way. Here's a snippet:

"The great and frightful battle between the artist and his idea and the picture glimpsed but out of reach—I can see all these and I participate in them; and I am frail, powerless, and just as tortured as is Claude [Monet] by imperceptible tones, by indefinable harmonies that only my eyes, perhaps, observe and note. And I spend anguished days looking at the shadow of a milestone on a white road, realizing that I am unable to paint it."
—Guy de Maupassant

The girls (Deena and Kathy) spent the afternoon on the roof putting up Christmas lights. They finally yelled at me and I went out and plugged them in, partly because I'm a helpful male, but mostly because I'm an only child.

That speech I told you about last week ended up on the front page of this week's Sonoran News. There I am in full screech mode. I'd cut it out and send it to my mother, but it would just upset her. Maybe I could put the image in Photoshop, and paste in a new caption, something like this: “As everyone in Cave Creek knows, Bob Boze Bell is overcome with a love for Jesus and he recently burst into the Buffalo Chip Saloon to sing the praises of the Triune God. Several patrons fell to their knees and swore off intoxicating liquors and the owner broke down and wept, saying he had never been touched like he had from the preachings of Bob Boze Bell, who has supported himself for the past 30 years solely with freelance assignments from Arizona Highways. The rest of his life is a mystery, but he is a man of God, that's for sure."

Or, maybe not

"It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."

Friday, October 29, 2004

October 29, 2004
Got two new books in yesterday. One is the revamped, local bestseller, The Kohl’s Ranch Story by the Kohl Granddaughters (Bettie Kohl dropped off a paperback and a Special Limited Edition with a personal note that the new copies will “give Buddy Boze Bell something new to chew on” besides my hat collection. Funny.

And the other book is the brand new Revenge! tome put out by my friend Mark Boardman (as seen in the latest issue of True West). I asked Mark where you can check it out and he said:

"I'm very proud of the book. People who are interested in REVENGE! can find it at my website, There's an order form, plus one can pay and order immediately using PayPal."

Today is the official Halloween office costume party and I forgot about it until I was ready to go out the door. Kathy ran into Tommy's room and pulled out a bunch of his old Army-survivalists gear and with a smear of black shoe polish under the eyes, Viola! I'm either a Kingman-style survivalist, or John Kerry on a two-week Vietnam vacation in the Mekong Delta (RG seemed to like the latter, but the youngsters don't get it).

Our production manager, Robert Ray came dressed as Captain Hook (quite fitting), Abby Pearson came as a tripped-out hippie (looking mighty groovy to an old man who actually thinks it looks Gear, Man), Meghan came as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Samantha came as a trash bag, RG came as a Kerry Voter, or was that Willie Nelson without a guitar? Or a biker without a bike? Take your pick.

Sue Lambert came as a sales person well below quota. No, wait, she just told me she is a homeless person! You can see how I might be confused. Julie Rose came as the wicked witch of the (True) West. Brittany came as a rodeo clown and Crystal came as a tacky tourist with a wobbly, big fat bottom (very clever). And Minnesota Mike came as his traditional Old Man rocker, kind of a Jack Crabb meets Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones.

The only people with any dignity left—that would be Carole and Gus—had the task of taking all the photos.

Brittany just won $500 from the Tim & Willie KNIX radio show (10 A.M.). I took a couple of photos of her duded out in her rodeo clown outfit, jumping up and down with the phone. Brought back many memories of being on the other end of the phone, doing contests at KSLX.

Most of the staff went to lunch at the Satisfied Frog and while there whooping it up, they spotted a True West Maniac shirt and started applauding the guy. He turned out to be a tourist from California and he was quite stunned to see the True West staff looking so ghoulish and "out there." He and his wife later came in the store and bought a bunch of books and stuff.

"The most romantic thing any woman ever said to me in bed was, 'Are you sure you’re not a cop?'"
—Larry Brown

Thursday, October 28, 2004

October 28, 2004
Rained all day today. Really soaked. Hard to get artwork in the office, etc. Worked more on small heads for humor pages. Did a Chinese laborer with a cooley hat, and another skull boy, plus a small cowboy with a nice Van Dyke (not Dick).

Called Bob Early at Arizona Highways to commiserate with him. He's stepping down as editor on November 5. Magazine is going in another direction. Many problems. He's a good guy and did a good job.

Came home for lunch and had leftover spaghetti and an apple. Got a packet from Neil Carmony with the crucial diary entries of George Parsons, with the actual notations, such as @ for at, &a for etc. Gus is inputting this into our timeline for Tombstone. Book is going to be a barn burner. No one has covered these aspects quite like this.

Deena heard from Ursula in Iraq (she called). They were attacked by insurgents with tall ladders, came over the walls into their housing compound (they're in the red zone), killed one of their guards, threw a grenade in the house which took out half the house. Sprayed gunfire into the house for twenty minutes. Ursula believes it was a warning (there was a dispute over pay, or something). An armed convoy got them out and they are on an army base, lucky to be alive.

Had a speech at five at the Arizona Historical Society down in Tempe. Left an hour early, roads wet and tricky. Traffic snarled all the way down into the beast. Got there at about 3:45. The speech was for the Arizona Historical League. My contact is Linda Corderman, who I saw at Ed Mell, Sr's funeral and she got my Spanish posters out of frame hell and when she called me to ask me if I could speak for free, I said, "Tell me where and when and I'll be there." They ate it up, or, I should say the women ate it up. Only about 50 volunteers, all women, but they bought every single book I had, plus four more special orders.

Note to self: it's the women who buy books, stupid! Especially women who are volunteers. A couple years ago, I had a speech for the Friends of Channel 8 (PBS) and there were only about 30 of them but they bought everything before I even spoke! I have had speeches for 350 Old West crazed re-enactor types (males) and nothing. Zip. Surprisingly cheap bastards, Old West men are. But women, especially women who are volunteers, lookout. I think they drive the entire American economy actually.

In my speech I talked about witnessing academia in Las Vegas last week and how it alarmed me. I talked about how history is really about relationships and connections and how my grandmother really is the one who got me exited about the Old West with our family stories. And then I told about the six degrees of seperation theory, how we're all connected in odd ways, and if we really stopped to ask, the guy behind us in line at the Circle K, his grandfather killed our grandfather in the Civil War, but we don’t stop to ask. Then I told about playing at the Moose Lodge in Tucson in 1977 and how this drunk cow-woman kept yelling at the band (Roy Brown & Country Gold) to play "Ridin' Down The Canyon!" because she was from "an old Arizona ranching family." After about the tenth time she yelled the request (we didn’t know the song and were ignoring her), she came up and leaned over the bandstand, and for some reason I asked her where she was from and she said “Duncan, Arizona.” And I said, “Have you ever heard of the Guess family?” And she looked at me like I was a ghost. Turned out she babysat my mother at the Guess ranch on the Gila River in the 1920s. What are the odds? And, what are the odds that we don't ask the right questions.

After the speech two different women came up to me with Duncan stories (Duncan has about 900 people). One, had an uncle that owned the Bonnie Heather bar (made famous because Sandra Day O’Connor wrote about it in her book) and the other woman, Patsy Ritters father built the Hidalgo Hotel in Lordsburg, New Mexico. My mother was born in Lordsburg and we stayed at the Hidalgo in 1991 when I made my first trip to NM to do research on Billy the Kid. It's long gone now, but Patsy still has some of the handmade furniture at her house and I could come see it if I wanted.

A guy named John bought a Wyatt Earp book then told me how he used to work at Strong's News Agency, which was our distributor when Dan Harshberger and I were doing the Razz Revue back in the seventies, and another woman bought a Billy the Kid and asked me if I knew Andy Tobias, who is our mechanic here in Cave Creek. Andy's mother and her are best friends.

So, there you go: when you scratch the surface, we are all six degrees apart, at best.

"When a woman hires a detective to follow her husband, it's probably to learn what that other woman sees in him."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

October 27, 2004
I got an Email from an old friend, John Riskus, who created Boots niteclub in the Valley back in the early eighties (Dan Harshberger and I did his logo, menu, etc.). He's still pouring concrete all over the east coast.

Speaking of the Harsh Man, he forwarded me a funny list of The Top Compromise Date Movies. You know, ideal chick flicks that even we can come along and not hate. There were a ton, but these are my faves:

• Steel Cage Magnolias
• The Spy Who Loved to Talk About His Feelings
• When Dirty Harry Shot Sally
• Die Hard With a Fragrance
• Last Tango In Paris Hilton's Apartment
• Divine Secrets of the Full Metal Jacket
• Alien Vs. Pretty Woman
• An Affair to Remember, You Can Bet Your Ass on That
• Dirty Dozen Dancing
• Dude, Where's My English Patient?
• Four Weddings and a Chase Scene
• Terms of Endowment
• Titanic Booty Call
• My Big Fat Greek Uzi
• The English Patient and the Swedish Nurses
• The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Extreme Makeover
• When a Man Loves Collateral Damage

Whipped out 11 small heads for our new humor pages. Got a couple good Charlie Russells, a skeleton Vaquero—or two, three Civil War dudes and an indigenous person in a pear tree.

"There is more to Rubens than just fat women."
—Vera Verschooren

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

October 26, 2004
I got a call from Matt Neilson, who created our latest "Y'all killed two cow-boys" t-shirt design, and he said, "What are you going to do today?" Somehow, I knew exactly what he meant. You see, it's October 26 and on this day in 1881 a certain street fight launched a legend that lives on to this day—and pays our printing bills.

Personally, I sent a postcard to Kevin Jarre and thanked him for making a classic movie about this day (Tombstone, 1993). Everywhere we went in Tombstone (the town) last weekend the movie was playing. It is such a cult movie, it's not even funny.

Bizarre happenings in tv land. I was on a conference call with Bill Kurtis in Chicago talking about our proposed gunfight show when one of the History Channel suits Emailed him (right in the middle of the call!) and said they are passing on the show and that Graystone is doing a gunfights show for them, no doubt using my book as a template. Oh, isn't that nice?

I went over to Mike Pelligati's studio last night and looked at the rough cuts on the video we shot last weekend in Tombstone. Very strong stuff. We talked about various effects and ideas. Mike is insistent on going back next week and finishing up, doing it right. I’m not sure Jeff, the sound guy, will go back (he really thought it was an Old West ghetto. Ha.). We’ll see.

Hey, check out the Gunfighter Tour (on the home page). We are going to take a couple big ol' buses and cruise down to Tombstone in style, then walk the streets and I'll show you exactly where Glenn Boyer and Allen Barra stood in their classic showdown back in the wild days of November, 2000.

Deena is trying to buy a condo down in Scottsdale and is having fits trying to make it happen. She's tough and stubborn like me, and I’m confidant she'll find a way.

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will."
—Vince Lombardi

Monday, October 25, 2004

October 25, 2004
I got an Email from a fan of my Billy the Kid book (Tri Star, $29.95, makes a great gift) and here is what she said:

"On page 88, there is a photo of Billy standing next to a chair with a hat, coat, tie, and blue jeans. My female relatives and myself were wondering: what do you think that long bulge is in his pocket? I know what I think it looks like. Others in my family are debating me. I know Billy was rumored to be a ladies man and I think I know one of the reasons why after viewing that photo."

Here's what I wrote her back:
After reviewing the photo on page 88 of The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid I have three reactions:

1. Hmmmm, never noticed that before.
2. Interesting. What is that?
3. Girl! Get your mind out of the gutter!

I'm not sure the photo is in fact of Billy, but if it is, I wouldn't be surprised if your laser vision turns out to be correct. Let's face it, the Boy had something! Especially to get women's attention 128 years after departing the planet.

End of response.

Here's a sobering statistic: approximately 800,000 viewers watched the Dalton Raid on the History Channel last week. And 20 million viewers watched Desperate Housewives. You tell me what sells.

Maybe a show called Desperate Historians.

Funny encounter: I ran into a film producer in front of the Oriental Saloon last Saturday night and he said, "I want to talk to you later about an idea for a tv show my partners and I are putting together. We are going to pitch a show called ‘Greatest Gunfights’ and we want to use your artwork.” I was standing on the corner with a film crew shooting scenes for a proposed History Channel pilot called, "Classic Gunfights." I said, "We’ll talk later."

And speaking of hilarious road trips, we’ve got a big one planned back to Tombstone to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Check out the details right here on the site.

"Cynicism is an unpleasant way of telling the truth."
—Lillian Hellman

Sunday, October 24, 2004

October 23, 2004
We took off from Phoenix at noon yesterday and halfway down the freeway to Phoenix, Mike Pelligati realized we didn't have a fog machine for the saloon scenes in Tombstone. Jeff called his wife on his cell, and she did a map quest of a Halloween Party store in Gilbert, but when we got out there they were closed because of a power outage.

So we drove on to Tucson, and after a Mexican food stop at El Indio ($27, Sue account,) we went over to a Party store at Craycroft and Broadway Roads and bought a fogger, fake blood (two kinds, thick and thin) and a fake skin wound for the Milt Joyce shot in the hand by Doc Holliday scene we wanted to shoot ($36, Mike paid).

We had big plans and I read the scripts aloud as we drove on down to Tombstone and we planned out our shot list.

Got to Tombstone at five, met John Martin who was the promoter for the one-night-only-event at the Oriental Saloon. I walked Mike and Jeff around the town and showed them where the events we would be shooting actually happened and we looked at what we could actually use (not much).

At six we met Dave Daiss, who drove over from his ranch in Sonoita, and the four of us had dinner at the Lamplighter in the Tombstone Boarding House ($67, salmon dinner and a glass of wine, I bought).

We had a comped room at the Holiday Inn Express just out of town (near the site of historic Watervale) up on the hill and the only place for miles around that cell phones could get a signal. In fact we couldn't get a signal in the lobby, only outside in the parking lot, so the three of us walked around the parking lot in the dark talking to our wives. Funny sight).

As we went to our rooms, we noticed the rec room was crammed with lodgers watching (what else?) Tombstone.

We got up town at eight in the morning Saturday and interviewed and gave screen tests to about 30 members of the local Vigilantes group. Got some funny, good stuff for future True West moments and also as a reference tool for future Classic Gunfights.

At about 11 we commandeered the historic Crystal Palace Saloon to re-enact the black and blue plaid shirt shooting. The fogger worked perfectly and gave the room an excellent patina of haze and authenticity.

Got some really strong scenes (the actor, Warren, from Minnesota, portraying Tom Waters was excellent). Unfortunately one of the owners came in and kicked us out, saying we were driving away customers and she had two bartenders standing around, so after a bribe of $50 and a promise of a mention (Hey, you Maniacs, go to the Crystal Palace in Tombstone and say, "Drinks all around! True West magazine sent me in to get drunk and blow my paycheck in here. Yeeehhaaaaaa!!!" Or words to that effect. Thanks.)

The party in the Oriental came off big time at 7 p.m. and it was a zoo on the corner. They had a big Cox Cable truck set up on the street showing (what else?) Tombstone, so we really couldn't shoot the nighttime shots we wanted. So after filming Peter Sherayko, the guest of honor at the Oriental hoedown, we decided to come back another time when we could control the environment and the street a tad better, so we drove home, getting in at two in the morning.

"The first rule in pitching horseshoes, is to remove the horse."
—Old Vaquero Saying?

Friday, October 22, 2004

October 22, 2004
Got a call from Jeff Hildebrandt at the Westerns Channel and he has ordered another batch of True West Moments. I told him '’d come up with some new angles and he suggested that I put it out here, because, as he puts it, the people who read this are "pretty darn creative."

One of the bits we're thinking of doing is in all of the old Westerns where the cowboys come riding into town, they invariably dismount in front of the saloon, throw their reins over the hitching rail and go inside. As one of the TW Maniacs mentioned to me recently, "How long do you think those horses would actually stay tied that way?"

This afternoon a video crew and I are driving down to Tombstone to film that exact experiment on Allen Street. Dave Daiss is bringing over some horses from Sonoita and we're going to video them riding up and tying off in front of Big Nosed Kate's and then I'm going to start counting, "One thousand one, one thousand two. . ." and we'll tape this a couple of times to see what happens. That should be fun, especially with a bunch of tourists in loud pants walking around.

Another bit we may do is to tabulate just how many Wyatt Earps and Doc Hollidays there are in town. Everyone wants to dress up and walk the streets, but hardly anyone wants to be anyone else besides Wyatt and Doc. So, it might be zany to walk down the boardwalk with the camera and say, "Great outfit, who are you?" And after a dozen hits of "Why ah'm Wyatt Earp," I turn to the camera and say, "Tombstone, the town with only two men." Or, something like that.

We are also going to be shooting a bunch of gunfights (the black and blue plaid shirt shooting for example) around Fifth and Allen, the deadliest intersection in the West. And of course tomorrow night, Sir John Martin is going to be opening the Oriental Saloon for one night. That should yield some interesting images.

Got any ideas for True West Moments? Just go to the top of the page and click on contact me. Thanks, and I’ll give you credit if we use one of your ideas.

"The best audience is intelligent, well-educated, and a little drunk."
—Alben Barkley?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

October 21, 2004
We got a drenching today. Really rained hard, starting about 11 this morning. The Tom Cat called from Flag and said it's really snowing up there. Major snowstorm. He's hunkering in.

Our video shooter, Mike Pelligati, is coming in from Utah from a shoot up there, and he got caught in the storm. He was supposed to be in here by six, but his wife just called (7:44 p.m.) and said he's still trying to get home. We were supposed to go to Tombstone in the morning but I told him we could go down later.

Worked on several projects, called the Former Texas Rangers Foundation. Trying to mend a bridge there, our relationship was fire bombed by a certain convicted felon who pretty much pooped on everything. Made some headway. I understand their position completely.

At lunch I went over to Mad Coyote Joe's house and visited with him. He's pretty drugged up, but seemed in good spirits. We laughed about his condition and the slim alternatives. I brought him a get well card from the staff and a couple of True Wests to read on his many visits to the porcelain ravine. He's a tough guy (ex iron-worker) and I imagine it will take more than a 12 inch intestine that went totally septic, to stop him.

Talked to Alan Huffines in Texas about an article we want to do on the history of cowboy gear. He's quite the expert.We also talked about a screenwriting seminar where the director of the Alamo (Alan was one of the historical consultants on the film) was asked about the future of the historical epic and he responded, "I think I killed it."

At 5:30 I had a speech at the Buffalo Chip Saloon for the Cave Creek Merchants Association. It's for the Cave Creek Wild West Days, November 3-5, and as soon as I got in there I knew it was going to be a tough room. Lots of noise, band warming up, too many civilians (patrons who were there for the music not the speech), and the PA was muddy. When the director went up to make an announcement you couldn't even understand him. Now this is where I don't understand Bill Kurtis at the WHA speech. I have been doing these for twenty years, I assume Bill has been doing these kind of talks for 30. I immediately scratched any idea of doing a regular speech, because it's not going to work at all. I went to plane B, and this is my nuclear reactor, got to get their attention plan. Of course it involves Led Zeppelin.

Paul introduced me (it sounded like this: "Wha-ba-we-cha-ba-bo-be-da-Cave Creek-ba-dah-shanda-ba-didon-Bob Boze Bell!" So I went up and grabbed the mike and announced that I would be doing a song off of Led Zeppelin's third album, something called "Whole Lotta Love." (funny looks, because they heard "ba-bo-be, cha-wha-Led Zeppelin!") I twirled the mike, a la Roger Daltry, then crouched down and let fly with, “Waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Down Insiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiide. . .Woman-woman-woman-woman-woman. . .You-ah Neeeeeee-ad. . .Loooooooooooooooooove.” It seemed to work. I got their attention, went into a short speil about Cave Creek being a wild town (hoots) and badder than Tombstone (hollars), come out to the Cave Creek Wild West Days! Goodnight!”

Got home at seven. Mighty wet out.

"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar."
—Edward R. Morroww

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

October 20, 2004
Vegas wasn't all sleaze. On Saturday afternoon, Kathy and I walked up the Strip to a branch of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum which is housed in the Venetian Resort. An artshow, "The Pursuit of Pleasure" ($24 for two, cash) had original paintings by Degas, Picasso, Rodin, Titian and my hero, Diego Valazquez. The show was wonderful, although it was housed in a particularly small space (especially when you walk through the rest of the casino and witness the mega-opulent, high ceilings and rococo-meets-deco trimmings). Another unfortunate Vegas attribute rubs off on the walls: when you are looking at a wonderful Valazquez painting called Luncheon, which Diego painted when he was 19 (ca 1617-18), a guy in the foreground is giving a thumbs up, in fact he’s looking right out at us and in the Vegas environment it seems jarringly modern, almost as if the guy is saying, “Hey Babe, nice rack!” Another painting shows a bawdy woman with her left breast peeking from behind a loose blouse, and once again, in the Vegas surroundings it takes on a seediness you wouldn’t expect. Of course this may be my own personal baggage (given the fact I saw too much naked ego at a history conference mere hours before).

This area of the Strip has all of the new instant landmarks like the pyramids, Paris, France, New York, New York, all jammed together. This prompted Thom Ross to quip, "Imagine some poor Las Vegas kid in geography class. 'So where is the Eiffel Tower?' 'Right next to New York, New York.'"

From the Venetian, we walked across the street and took in the Monet show at the Bellagio ($22 for two, cash). Once again they make you walk all the way through the casino, even past the Keno section, until you get to the "art gallery", which, once again, was in a particularly small space by Vegas standards, almost like it's in the tin shed out back.

The Monet stuff was spectacular, especially Grainstack (Sunset), 1891, which was, and is, undeniably genius. Maybe there's hope for Vegas yet.

Of course, after this much culture we were ready for the 99 CENT MARGARITAS!!!! which were really bad (in plastic cups, mostly Slurpy surup). And when did Subway get into casinos? That was jarring.

By four, we were back on the road heading for Kingman. Stayed at the former Holiday House, now the Knight Inn ($45 cash) and ate at the Dambar Steakhouse ($37, cash, includes tip). Ran into an old Kingman High classmate, LeRoy Butler, who owns the True Value Hardware Store (yes, the one where Timothy McVeigh worked). He was there with his entire family, many grandkids. He bought us a beer.

Got back to Cave Creek at about ten on Sunday morning. I felt like I had seen and heard and learned a ton from our decadent trip to see the underbelly of academia.

I got a great quote from Tom Carpenter, who says he stole it out of a recent Farmer's Alamanac:

"Radical historians now tell the story of Thanksgiving from the point of view of the turkey."
—Malcolm Cooley

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bonus Blog, October 19, 2004
As promised, here's the Mountain Man toast (which I got from a former WHA president). And here's what the former pres said:

"The chief objection to the traditional installation, I am certain, is directed at the Green River knife mounted on a plaque that reads: '[incoming President's name] / Head Harr-lifter of the Western History Association / [dates].'"

"The toast itself, accompanied by goofy hand gestures, is inoffensive:"

Here's to the chiles whats come afore,
And here's to the pilgrims whats come arter!
May your trails be free of griz
An' your packs full o' plews
And fat buffler in your pot.

"Silly of course, but fun, and hardly worthy of protest."

Well, that's easy for you to say, as a member of the Waugh family, I'm deeply offended!

"You can never step in the same river twice."
—Heraclitus (although you can't say the same thing about manure.)

October 19, 2004
Oops, squared. As Will Shetterly has pointed out, it’s the Papago, not the Pima, who were derisively tagged "the bean eaters." And speaking of losing all credibility, I just returned from a walk with a current ASU student and she is livid about my remarks in yesterday's blog. And, for the record, not that I would cave in to such a childish display of school envy, but (always wait for the "but" and then disregard everything that came before it) I get to sleep with her and I really want this sexist tradition to continue.

Kathy Radina (Masters in Counseling degree, 1983 from ASU, currently a continuing education student at ASU West) wants me to divulge that I (Robert Bell, five years, Fine Arts College, no degree, U of A, 1965-2004) think I’m funny, when I’m really not that funny.

"Don’t jump on a man unless he's down."
—Finley Dunnea

Monday, October 18, 2004

October 18, 2004
Ooops, myself. Yesterday I left out part of the pronunciation of Tonoho O'odham. It is actually pronounced Tone-oh-hoe-Oh-od-ham, certainly a mouthful for any anglo, but especially one from Kingman who has trouble with the word indigenous (literally: Indian-genius)

Hey, we've got a new reader's poll up. Please go fill it out. Thanks.

More news from the Vegas Venting. From behind the scenes a strange scenario has begun to emerge that may help explain some of the more bizarre behavior at the Friday night banquet. According to my sources it involves a hated school and, of course mountain men.

And don't forget good, old-fashioned American scalp hunting.

Evidently, there is this tradition among the Western History Association tribe of giving a big, ol' nasty looking Green River knife to the incoming president along with the recitation of something called "The Mountain Man Oath." Even among its practitioners and longtime adherents, the oath is conceded as being "hokey" but they are quick to add it’s "harmless."

And don’t forget "humorous." A word that strikes terror into the hearts of the humorless.

The incoming president, Peter Iverson (from crappy Arizona State University) is on record as being embarrassed by the Mountain Man Oath. He thinks the oath is racist and he allegedly demanded that the tradition be stopped with him. He also allegedly had a speech in his pocket, in case the dreaded scalp hunting knife of the dreaded Anglo-Europeans was unsheathed in his general direction.

There was even a rumored plot that involved unlikely conspirators; Robert Utley and Patty Limerick (who caused her own waves back in 1992 at this very gathering with the publication of her book, Legacy of Conquest which ironically started the march towards the kind of scholarship the banquet terrorists espouse, but unfortunately for them, Patty had recently said, "In 1992 I was a young Turk and today I’m just an old turkey," and it was rumored that she was planning, in fact, to grab the knife and present it, blade first, towards Iverson, from the crappy school in Tempe).

Of course this is just rumor and I know none of the people on the other side and it would be ridiculous on my part to make snap judgements about students at a crappy school like ASU, so I won’t go there.

Or, at least, very far, there.

While Bill Kurtis was regaling us with his sensitivity towards “Honeys” with big racks, the ASU undergraduate terrorists, were downstairs getting worked up. Too cheap to buy tickets to the banquet, they were going to come up and storm the bastille and save the day, during the dessert portion of the program (which is free), if and when the knife might appear.

But the politically incorrect blade did not appear. Instead, a painting by the sensitive artist Thom Ross (see yesterday’s posting) was given to the outgoing president.

But you see, the terrorists had worked themselves into a frenzy. They were going to demand a seat on the bus for Rosa Parks even if there wasn't a bus to be had. So they jumped on the "Sweetheart" comment and the insensitivity towards Swedish-Native-Americans and the rest passes for history.

Footnote, ibid.; and ARCA, 48. For the record Bob Boze Bell is not a member of the Western History Association and he has never even seen nor read the Mountain Man Oath but you can be damn sure that as soon as he gets the oath, he will print it right here so we can all decide if it is in fact, racist.

"The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him."
—Russel Baker

Sunday, October 17, 2004

October 17, 2004
As is often the case when history strikes, I had no clue of what was happening when it was happening. I didn't see the bared fangs, the cocked guns, the inflamed egos and the politically correct self-righteous indignation. Or, it's more accurate to say I saw it but didn't realize the import until it was almost over.

Now I realize how Addie Bourland felt at her sewing machine shop across the street from Fly's Boarding House in Tombstone. Now I get the confusion on Division Street in Northfield, and the conflicting accounts at Coffeyville and the Little Big Horn. I also get why no one can agree on who won the presidential debates.

It was Friday night, closing in on 9 p.m. and we were in the banquet room high atop the Riviera Hotel & Casino, in the Penthouse, with spectacular views of all the high rise hotels on the Strip. There must have been 800 of us seated at big, round banquet tables with a long dais running the length of the room on the north wall. Paul Hutton looked beatific at the podium, making necessary announcements and glib side remarks. He was guiding the evening with an even keel, his 17 years of experience and his quick wit making him a calming and delightful master of ceremonies.

After diner, Paul and the outgoing president, Iris Engstrand, walked to the east end of the room where they turned on a second microphone and began to hand out plaques and awards. One of the winners was Eric V. Meeks who won the Bolton-Kinnaird Award for the best article on Borderlands history. Iris read the title of the article, "The Tonohono O’odham, Wage Labor, and Resistant Adaptation, 1900-1930" and as might be expected she tripped over the pronunciation of Tonohono O’odham ( a tribe in central Arizona who used to be called the Pima but since that was a derisive title, meaning "bean eaters" put on them by their enemies, they changed their name to their current handle which is pronounced Tone-oh-ode-ham).

Another category went to Pekka Hamalainen for the piece "The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures." He wasn't in attendance and Iris quipped that at least he wasn't there to hear her mangle his name.

Bill Kurtis, of CBS and Cold Case fame, was the keynote speaker and he was introduced with some fanfare, by Paul, who extolled Kurtis's 30 plus years of broadcasting experience. Bill got up and began regaling us with stories of his stellar career (he is credited with breaking the Agent Orange story, thus saving many lives). However, it became rather obvious that he had no prepared remarks, and unlike our editor, RG, Bill was just riffing out the windows ("Over there," he said pointing at the Hilton out the window, "I was on the 17th floor doing an interview with Mohammed Ali and he said to me, 'If I jumped from here, then would they believe me?' and then I knew how serious he was and how deeply he cared about being a Muslim."). Unfortunately Bill looked out the west window (ironic, no?) and saw something that reminded him of doing a story on a sex club (The Paradisio?), which elicited this remark, or close to it: "So we’re doing this story on this sex club and this waitress comes up to me in her birthday suit, and says to me, 'Mr. Kurtis, I’d really like to get into graduate school,' and I said, 'Honey, you can graduate right now if you want to!'" And I’m hearing this and I'm thinking to myself, "Bill, I never graduated from college but is that really an appropriate remark to make to a room full of female Phds?”

I noticed several people get up but I thought they were going to the bathroom. Of a sudden, Bill gets a startled look and gazes over our heads to the back of the room and says, "It looks like some people got past security," and we all turned, and witnessed a glum looking group of people filing in and lining up against the back wall. Bill made a quip about the dessert buffet afterwards and I thought it must be people from another conference crashing our party and anxious to get at the dessert trays.

Bill finished his remarks and Paul Hutton put a nice cap on the remarks and evening and we all got up to leave. Suddenly, a discombobulated voice comes over the PA, "We protest the sexist remarks made by the speaker and also the insensitive mispronunciation of indigenous people's names." There was more, but we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Groups of people milled about and it was like being at a rock fight on a playground, I was looking around to see where and why it was happening. I finally saw a woman who had apparently commandeered the awards microphone. She finished and got down. A knot of mostly women were behind us cheering her on.

We looked at each other and several said, "What just happened?" No one could figure it out. Kathy in her direct way, walked over to the knot of women and said, "What exactly are you upset about?"

They reiterated their position that Bill Kurtis had made totally sexist and inappropriate comments about women and that there was a lack of sensitivity about pronouncing Native American names. Most people left, but many, like ourselves began to try and figure out what just happened. We compared notes, but the more we drank the less we knew.

Meanwhile, Thom Ross, the artist comes over and starts riffing on the seriousness of the scene and the charges: “Okay, you want sexist remarks, how about this? John Wilkes Booth got his man. The guy who got Garfield got his man, the guy who got McKinnley got his man, Lee Harvery Oswald got his man, John Hinckley got his man, but Squeaky Fromm and that other woman they missed. She couldn’t even hit Gerald Ford! They’re 0 for 2.” Several people, including Kathy looked at him quizzically, “What is your point Thom?” Thom shrugged. “It may be a sexist comment, but men are better shots.”

I was suddenly very glad that Thom wasn’t the keynote speaker. Hey, no matter how bad it is, it can always be worse, eh?

Now here’s the kicker to the evening. The person they thought was Native American—Pekka Hamalainen—is actually Swedish. Ooops.

“There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting.”
—George Carlin?
October 16, 2004
We held our roundtable discussion in the Capri 101 room. Appearing with me were, the chair, Paul Hutton; the very zany artist Thom Ross (more on him later); our very own Johnny D. Boggs; Paul Hedren of the national park service; and William Heath of Mount Saint Mary's College.

Our topic, Beyond the Academy: Bringing the West to the Public.

I thought it went well. However, after all of us had talked too long and taken several soft ball questions, the youngest person in the room (a young man who looked to be in his mid to late twenties) raised his hand and chided us, telling us he was disappointed in the roundtable because we didn't talk about writing on the internet. We sat there like old men without a clue. And the session was over. Kathy later asked me why I didn't engage him and I said, "Because I had already yakked too much." But I knew instinctively this is where the session should have begun. As I told the gathering during my ten minute dissertation, when I took over the magazine, the problem with our younger writers is that they were all in their sixties (our first reader’s poll showed the average age at 67!). We bemoan not knowing how to attract young people to the field and here is one and we don't know what to say to him. Ouch!

It gets worse.

Keep in mind I am an outsider. I have never been to a Western History Association Conference. I have never looked academia in the face. Frankly, it is a chilling sight. For one thing I heard over and over how the new history being taught at the University level boils everything down to three things: race, class and gender.

"I hate narrative history," was how one student described the issue to me. Let's see, that would include exactly every single thing I love about history. This same student told me they want to get past all of the old school hokum (I assume that means all the racist, misogynist, capitalist propaganda) and "analyze" history, presumably so they can rectify all of the wrongs done to them, especially to their race, their class and their gender.

I also heard on more than one occasion that these same firebrands were incensed that an anglo, from the Arizona Historical Society, had the temerity to give a talk on Apache lifeways.

While I understand the desire to be a bit territorial about "our" history (often Billy the Kid expert Fred Nolan, who is English, is bashed with the admonition, "Why don’t you stay home and write about your own country."), isn't it in fact racist to criticize someone on their ability to talk intelligently about a subject based on their race?

Coming next: Showdown at the Kurtis Sexist Corral.

"I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for
the west!"

—Rodney DangerfieldT
October 15, 2004
Vegas is Kingman with money. If someone approached a 1950's style travelling carnival and the Kingman city council and said, "Here's $2 billion dollars, go build something groovy," Las Vegas, Nevada is what you'd get.

I have a long history with Vegas. Vegas is where we arrived on the train from Iowa in 1954. Vegas is where we went for Luther League retreats. Vegas is where my parents went for fun (I spent many an hour sitting in the Fremont "waiting room," just off the casino, people watching). Vegas is where I went to see the dermatologist. Vegas is where I bought my drums (Ludwigs, zebra toms) and took drum lessons, Vegas is where I twisted on the same stage with Chubby Checker (at the Sahara,1962), and immediately after the show Rick Ridenour and I got in a cab and asked the cabbie to set us up with "two babes" and he looked in the rear view mirror at us sitting there in our matching-short-sleeved-white shirts, narrow ties and matching flattops (we were both 15) and said, "No, thanks." He dropped us off at Ripley's Believe It Or Not where they had bumper cars (not exactly the kind of ride we had in mind but, hey, it was definitely cheaper and the rides lasted much longer). Vegas is where I saw the Beatles (1964). Vegas is where we cruised (from the Blue Onion to the Union Pacific Train Station and back. Repeat all night).

You might think with all of that history I would have an affinity for Vegas, but I can't stand the place. Well, that's not exactly true. Whenever I first get there, it's very exciting in a testosterone, glandy store kind of way (NUDE BULL RIDING! • COLD BEER & DIRTY GIRLS!! • GIRLS OF YOUR CHOICE DIRECT TO YOU IN 15 MIN.! • 99 CENT MARGARITAS!!!) which, if you wear a cowboy hat is kind of major groovy. For about six hours. And then it starts to wear on me and after about the 12th hour I'm actually thinking, “You know, if Al Quaida used a dirty bomb on the Strip, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.”

Kathy and I got to Vegas at four P.M on Thursday. I was excited. We were attending our first Western History Association Conference at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. I was on a round table discussion for Friday and we were booked for three nights. Little did I know, the stage was set, the battleground was being prepped for one of the most vicious, petty and ridiculous showdowns in all of history. Or, at least, history conferences

"The world is a madhouse, so it’s only right that it is patrolled by armed idiots."
—Brendan Behan{

Thursday, October 14, 2004

October 14, 2004
One last political musing: it's amazing to me that all of us can watch the same event and come away with so many different conclusions. I got up this morning and read all of the reactions to last night's debate ( The Arizona Republic did a special 12 page section devoted to the reactions of almost everyone in the state) and not one columnist, pundit or swing voter mentioned the "marrying up" line as being decisive. It just goes to show you we boil off all the substance and take the small gristle we were looking for and then proclaim it as the big meat. Ha. Some joke, eh?

Well, I wanted to finish our new CGII book by the end of this month, but the chances of that are looking quite slim. And, to boot, we find ourselves doing two books at once, 192 pages for one, and 128 for the other, both with similar deadlines. What we thought was going to be a handoff to the New York publishing house, is ending up to be our responsibility (they are doing the cover, we are doing everything else) which is exactly what I didn't want.

On top of that, we had lunch yesterday with Jim and Mary Brown of the Festival of the West and it looks like we are going to help them out with next year's program, designing and laying it out. That's another project on top of the two books. RG is concerned about spreading our staff too thin and rightfully so.

Kathy and I are taking off this morning for Vegas and the Western History Association conference at the Riviera Hotel. I plan on stopping in Kingman and visiting my father's grave and telling him how much I miss him.

I was telling Linda Smith (an old Kingman neighbor) yesterday that the last time I was there, our old house on Ashfork Avenue still has the “B” on the screen door that my father put up almost 50 years ago. I’m planning on going by and take a picture of that. What are the odds? Well, probably about the same as Kerry winning the election for the “marrying up line”.

“It matters not whether you win or lose; what matters is whether I win or lose.”
—Darrin Weinberg?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

October 13, 2004
I watched the last presidential debate tonight, which was in Tempe (about 28 miles from here) at Arizona State University, and of course everyone in our state is quite proud. Someone at The Arizona Republic asked me to jot down my random thoughts while the debate was going on and this is what I wrote:

Oh, I’m really digging this. Every Zonie is beaming tonight. Waozaaa. You got both presidential candidates standing on a stage at a second rate Arizona school (okay, so I attended U of A), and quoting long, meaningless statistics on Arizona, about, ah, something, but they’re actually using the word Arizona in a sentence like it means something and we've never had that before. Now we're in the middle of it and, "Wow! They're both really on their game, they're both in the zone. Great point, he can't possibly refute that," and then, each time they pound it right back and it’s like two tennis pros standing at the net hitting overhead slams and the other guy actually returns the slam right in his face. Now we’re in the bottom of the ninth, with two out and Bush pulls off the biggest laugh with his listening to women zinger, and now we're in the two minute warning, or at least at the warning track area and I'm thinking, "There's no freaking way Kerry is going to top that, because he has a minus five sense of humor batting average" but then Glum Man reaches wayyyyy down inside, rolls out of the pocket and rears back, with his nose straight up in the air and comes out with the "We both married up. . ." and it's Michael Jordan taking off from the free throw line, and "Some of us really married up." Shazaaaaam! Gin! Bingo! What a slugfest! This is what makes America great. Mashed metaphors and mucho sports analogies that make no sense. I loved it, BAY-BEE! A home run for Arizona, a Texas Leaguer for the President and a Boston Fish Fry for Kerry. Okay, I'm done.

Hmmmm, that's funny. It doesn’t read very well, but while it was happening, I really felt on fire. I'll tell you what, bottom line: whoever we get, we deserve him.

"I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens."
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

October 12, 2004
Deena made an appointment to get the oil changed on her new ride, so I drove it up to Tobias at 7:30 and then walked to work (about a mile). Felt good.

Had a staff meeting at 9:45. A full third of the crew was late because of a major accident at Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway. Traffic backed up for miles.

I called a certain actor about being on the cover of True West for the April issue. Hint: he played Wyatt Earp, opposite Marie Osmond as Josie. Oh, and his wife is the president of SAG, and she was also the star of a popular tv show about this teenie, little house on the prairie.

Jana Bommersbach came out at 11:30 and we went over titles for her upcoming new book on Western Women. Jana had some good ones and I'll share my favorite as soon as I can.

Started a scratchboard of Mickey Free utilizing some of the reference Jim Hatzell shot last summer. I’m on to some movement techniques. Need to stay with it.

At noon, Jana, Meghan, RG and I went down to the Satisfied Frog for a working lunch. We went through five years of True Wests to pick out nominations for the Crown book we have been contracted to do. Chose about 20 articles, narrowed it down to "Oh Homo!", "The Split: Did Doc & Wyatt Split Because of a Racial Slur?", "How Did Davy Really Die?", "Eating His Weight In Democrats" and "Salty John Cox: Saloon Brawl In Magdalena" among others.

Came back and Emailed the short list to our editor in New York and she immediately got back to me that she was "thrilled" with the selections. It does have the potential to be a good one. The contracts for this project came in around two and RG went through them. Many changes. Glad he’s a detail man. I would have just signed them.

Had Abby drop me down at Tobias and when we got there they were closed! At 5:02! This really steamed me. Now Deena's car is locked in the compound and I'm on foot. Fortunately, Samantha drove by and yelled out the window, "Hey, Bob! Need a ride?" (thank God for living in a small town) So Sam, in spite of a case of severe hives, drove me back to the office, and I came back in and had no choice but to clean my space (Wow! Crazy Talk!).

“Happiness, I have discovered, is nearly always a rebound from hard work.”
—David Grayson

Monday, October 11, 2004

October 11, 2004
I blew it on two points yesterday. We were driving back from Flag and Tomcat called us on his cell, telling his mother that several of the Phoenix Suns were at the same coffee shop they were at (the Suns had an intramural game on Saturday night at the NAU Walkup Sky Dome). Kathy relayed this to me as I drove.

As Jerry Joslyn gleefully informed me by Email this morning, Stephen Marbury hasn't been a Sun for over a year. My gaff. I think T. Bell said it was Shawn Marion and the car was a Cadillac Escalade, not an Escalante, also my boo-boo.

Allen Fossenkemper sent me this: "Don't let your worries get the best of you. Remember, Moses started out as a basket case."

One of the subjects the entire family discussed this past weekend was on the topic of attention. As in, "Attention seekers get unwanted attention." Boy Howdy. All of us, Kathy, Deena, Tomas and yours truly are often the victims of the proverbial backlash, and we all have had our share of comments like, "Why do you say things like that?" and "You’re so gross!" and "Why can’t you just be professional?" and "That’s not funny, it’s sexist!"

And that’s just my mother's complaints.

I read one of the most informative articles on the current war, which basically said this: we aren’t fighting a war on terrorism. It is a huge mistake to think of it that way. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. It would be like calling WWII a war on blitzkrieg. This is a war between theocracy and secular democracy. This is a war between those who want their religion to be the center of government (i.e. radical Muslims and radical Southern Baptists) against those who believe in government sans religion (the U.S.A, England and parts of Spain). There. Glad I could clear that up.

So I’m reading Lynn Bailey’s "Too Tough to Die! The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Silver Camp: 1878-1990" and in this great Tombstone biography is a section on the Apache Wars, when Geronimo broke out of the San Carlos res (1882) and all hell broke loose around Tombstone, and the citizens formed Ranger groups to go kill all of the Apaches and U.S. President Arthur commanded "insurgents" to retire "peacefully to their respective abodes." And of course, they didn’t and went up to San Carlos to kill all the Apaches and teach them a lesson. Ah, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

"Life only demands from you the strength you possess.”"
—Dag Hammerskjold

Sunday, October 10, 2004

October 10, 2004
A great day and a half in the north country. Deena, Kathy and I got up to Flag at two yesterday. Checked into the Quality Inn, just off I-40 and behind NAU ($80 for two twins). Nice and cool out. Went bike riding over onto the NAU campus with Tomcat (he has two bikes and stashes one on campus for the off chance that he'll meet someone and "go riding"). We came back across campus at about 4:30 and got to stop and check out a "Quadfest" where they were playing volleyball, with the usual tents and vendors and the obligatory punk band. Looked like high school kids, but they were quite good and we checked out the drummer who was way good. Depressing to see someone who I could have fathered when I was 40, and who is already twice as good a drummer as I will ever be.

Put up Tom's new Strokes poster in his apartment. Looks really solid and it fills out the room to reflect more of his style. Tomcat told about girls coming to his apartment and seeing the motif of all the other BBB artwork (which we brought up a month ago) and they all say, "Oh, are you into the Old West, Thomas?"

This really excited his publisher father: "The girls you bring here really like the cowboy stuff?"

T. Bell:"Oh yeh. It’s a total turnon."

Thrilled father: "Really?"

Bastard son:"No."

Last night we met Tom, his roommate Ryan and his girlfriend Jessica, who's visiting from New York, plus Jake at The Beaver Street Brewery but there was a one hour wait, so we walked across Beaver Street to Altitudes for dinner. The bar-restaurant is right next to the railroad tracks and the house rule is every time a train rolls through you get a shot of tequila for two bucks. Kathy and I bought drinks and dinner for the starving college kids and we ran up quite a bill ($125 cash) but it was fun to talk and listen to them. Lots of laughs.

This morning we met at Martan's for breakfast. Place packed on a cool northwoods morning. Fall is definitely in the air and the leaves are changing which puts a nice look on everything. We all had huevos rancheros and coffee ($40 cash, includes tip).

The kids wanted to go shopping so we ended up at Buffalo Exchange where I bought a ball and chain ($20 cash) for art reference. It was actually a bowling ball with a leg chain attached, but I'll use it for sure with my many jail illustration needs.

The Phoenix Suns were in town and T-Bell and Jake saw them at a local coffee shop. Marbury and Stoudenire came rolling up in a Cadillac Escalante. Later several "rookies" showed up in a Ford Expedition and the vets didn’t even acknowledge them, much to the enjoyment of Tomcat and Jake.

Speaking of great, bigtime posters, here's the big Spanish rodeo posters we hung a week ago in our house. That's Len and Scott from Creative framing in the bottom photo, just finishing up the framing. Quite nice, eh?

"Schizophrenia beats dining alone."
—Old Vaquero Sayingg

Saturday, October 09, 2004

October 9, 2004
Going up the hill to Flag this morning to deliver Tomcat's Strokes poster. He is going to hang it in a prominent place in his living room. Can’t wait to see his expression when he sees the sucker. It's huge.

Speaking of huge, watched the second presidential debate last night with a room full of flaming, female liberals. Kathy's friend Lou Murphy came by with salads from the Bad Donkey (ironic, eh?) and they opened a bottle of California Zinfandel (Ravenswood, great logo!). They hooted and clapped every time Kerry opened his mouth. In spite of the senator's superior debating skills, I had to laugh when Bush, accused of having interest in a logging concern, looked incredulous, gave Kerry a "Where the hell did you come up with that?!" look, turned to the audience and said, "Need any wood?" Now that's down-home humor and the girls didn't enjoy it that I laughed out loud and then observed, "That's how he connects with middle America. They just like him for being an average guy. One of them." Or should that be, one of us?

Frankly, I was proud of the debate because it shows how free we are to engage in heavyweight, opposing ideas in a civil, yet, no-holds-barred way. It really was a slugfest, two heavyweights duking it out, toe to toe. I think both of them gave as good as they got.

This week's New Yorker (yes, I’m a faithful subscriber—great cartoons and great writing), nailed the contest with—what else?—a cartoon. It shows Bush as a modern day Sgt. Bilko with a golf club and a slouching, smirking look, while Kerry, as a pompous admiral, is looking down his nose at the frat boy who is in charge of getting the kegs. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, leave it to a cartoonist (Yea! That’s my team!) to win the day with a few lines on paper.

"Relax folks. It’s just lines on paper."
—Robert Crumb, underground cartoonist extraordinairer

Friday, October 08, 2004

October 8, 2004
Went into Scottsdale at noon. Stopped at Arizona West Gallery on Main St. and signed my books (Greg Hays sells a ton of my stuff). Abe Hays showed me a very rare Lon Megargee painting of a hawk flying above Walpai cliff. Very modern. He also showed me a series of Lon's woodcuts (actually pen and ink done to simulate woodcuts) and they are so strong. And he had a letter to Buck Saunders with a great art quote, (below). Abe also had two wonderful maps, one by the U.S. Geological Survey of the Apache Campaign’s of General Miles, 1886, which showed all the troop movements between Fort Apache, San Carlos, Fort Bowie and deep into Mexico. Another map was also by the Geological Survey and showed a topo of Tombstone, 1903 with all of the buildings and mine locations. Really sweet. I asked Greg to shoot me a good photo of each and we’ll run them in the magazine. The Tombstone one had already been sold, sight unseen, for $500.

"To depict reality with a line or mass. Difficult. Requires invention. And a knowledge of drawing and design."
—Lon Megargee

Speaking of good design, our art director Dan Harshberger came out today to massage, tweak and teach the production staff the ins and outs of the new design. There is some strong resistance to the look, but I trust Dan will pull it off.

I was supposed to go visit Mad Coyote Joe in the hospital while I was in town but I got a call that he was checking out. That was actually good news, although Wonderful Russ was getting ready to go with me and we would have definitely caused some major zane damage on the fourth floor of Scottsdale Osborn ICU. When the three of us get together it can get rather zany, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Grabbed lunch at Pischke’s (chicken caesar salad and iced tea, $15 cash, includes tip). The head waiter invited me to their 18th Anniversary party on Monday, but I’m going to be working on a certain book and can't go. One of the waiters has worked for Chris for 22 years. Chris was a good friend of Steven Spielberg's when they were growing up and when the Oscar winner turned forty, one of Spielberg's friends did a parody of Citizen Kane as a birthday film, and they came into Pischke's to film Chris's part. He went to the party. Chris was in one of the 8mm films Spielberg filmed in Phoenix. Few know that Spielberg was arrested for breaking windows at the then brand new Chris Town Mall (I want to say this was in 1963).

Went up Scottsdale Road (traffic was horrible, slipped over to Hayden, even worse. Crawled up to Acoma) and landed at Mort Fleischer's mortgage company to go over a big feature we’re doing on his saddle collection. We went over the various photos of saddles and he'd say things like, “Oh, that’s a very rare Stagg, half-seater. It’s worth north of $50,000.” For a saddle! And he's got 300 others in his barn.

Got back to the office at 4:30. Lori from Wild West sent me their new issue. They have a photo on the cover of Sitting Bull and Cody. First time for them to use a photo. It looked quite strong, and it's always irritating to see your competitors do well, but I wrote her a nice note to that effect.

Donated a scratchboard of Joaquin Murrieta to the West Valley Art Museum today ($500 value, highly inflated for tax purposes of course. Ha.). Big show coming up on November 19.

"Just don’t clown out our world.”"
—Dr. Dre, giving advice to Brian Grazer on making the hip-hop movie 8 Mile

Thursday, October 07, 2004

October 7, 2004
Mad Coyote Joe, Sr. came in the office today to tell me about Joe, Jr's medical status. With tears in his eyes he told me the grueling hospital drama and that the family was told several times that Joe was going and to get ready for the end. Then after the weekend and some major surgery, Joe, Jr. came out of a drug induced cloud and this morning he called Fender to send up a guitar because he was bored. His father said, "He's Joe this morning." I called the young one after lunch and we had a great talk. I'm going down to the hospital tomorrow to visit. Joe wants to write a book on the ordeal, telling me, "I'm supposed to have 18 feet of small intestine. I have three. The hospital staff told me they have all these kids coming in here for gastric bypass and I need to get this story out." I’m sure he will.

Took Sue Lambert and Abby Pearson to lunch today at the new Flapjack joint ($35, includes tip, chicken caesar salad, cup of homemade soup and iced tea). Food was just okay. Good talking to them about the biz and their lives. Both are hard workers and solid citizens.

Talked to Jeff Hidlebrandt at the Westerns Channel this afternoon. Told him about a funny incident last Monday. I had checked into the Crown Westin in Kansas City and as I got into the elevator to go up to my room I was joined by a middle-aged black woman and her statuesque daughter (who looked like a beauty queen and I assumed they must be having some pageant at the hotel). As the elevator started to rise, I could feel the woman staring at me and I looked over at her and said, "Hi." She suddenly blurts out, "You’re Bob Boze Bell!" and I say, "Excuse me, do I know you?" And she says, "I’m from Arkansas and we see you every day on the Westerns Channel." So we laughed and laughed and I gave her a True West as two construction type guys get on. The woman is still jumping up and down, "It’s really you! You’re him!" and then they get off at their floor and now it’s just me and the two burly guys and one of them says out of the side of his mouth, "So you must be famous." And I say, as we all look at the floor indicator changing numbers, "Not really. I don’t know what got into her."

"Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves."
—Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

October 6, 2004
Working hard on The West's Deadliest Address: Fifth and Allen Street, Tombstone, A.T. Five killings, multiple altercations with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Curly Bill, Ike Clanton, Johnny Ringo, Luke Short and Bat Masterson, all within spitting distance of this amazing intersection.

A writer friend, Henry Beck, called me this afternoon and he's doing a piece in a big, new, glossy magazine called Giant. Henry is writing about the oddest connections to a single subject and I think, if I understood him correctly, he's doing the movie The Outlaw with Jane Russell (which I agree is one of the strangest Westerns ever made!), and he is recommending my Billy the Kid book to go along with it. Ha. It will run in the November issue.

Had lunch with Mike Melrose, RG Robertson and Joel Klasky at Tonto Bar & Grill (half a cobb salad, iced tea, True West picked up the tab). Joel starts with us next Monday and we went over some of the expectations and his ideas on new business. Very positive and exciting.

Watched a bit of the vice presidential debate last night. I guess I really don’t have much of a grasp on who wins these things. I thought the first Bush-Kerry debate was a draw and yet Time and Newsweek both think it was straight up Kerry. Last night I thought Edwards was winning by a mile (although I only watched maybe 15 minutes), and this morning's Arizona Republic says Dick Cheney got the best of it. Perhaps there's a quote to live by?

“The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother is always a Democrat.”
—Robert Lee Frost

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

October 5, 2004
I almost lost a good friend of mine over the weekend. Mad Coyote Joe came close to dying from complications on his gastric bypass. He had not one, but two heart attacks, while on the operating table. He is in critical condition and is still awaiting a couple of operations. Carole said he called me at the office this afternoon while I was at a speech, so I'm encouraged that he might be pulling through. I'll keep you posted on his recovery.

Here's some hot news for all you Earpies. Sir John Martin down Tombstone way, is going to turn back the clock for one night, October 23rd, and return the location of the Oriental Saloon (which is now a clothing store) back into a saloon. To attend you need to dress period style, and John tells me there is already a waiting list. We are going down to film and record the event, although Martin is not allowing any cameras during the actual event: strictly period everything. Gambling tables and an authentic bar await the patrons on this Saturday night, three days before the anniversary of a certain gunfight, a few streets west.

This is too rich of an opportunity and Mike Pelligati and I are going down to film and I’ll shoot reference photos. I was supposed to go to Parent's Day at NAU that weekend, but I have to be at this event, both for the new book, CGII, and for a proposed cable show we are shooting a pilot for.

Whipped out a scratchboard of Wyatt Earp with a shotgun for our newest postcard. Stole the image from a Kevin Costner as Wyatt photo. Nice highlights and shadow. Fixed his hat and leaned on Earp's visage. I think it's pretty strong. Abby will design the card. Anxious to see what she comes up with

Left the office at three and drove out to Cactus High School for a college extension class taught by Coach Riff. As we were walking down the halls I saw an election poster that said, “Vote for Pedro” with the Pedro crossed out and Sarah hand written in. As Tomcat said on the phone tonight, "She should win on that alone."

Speech went well, mostly women teachers trying to find community resources for "interesting history." Each one got a free True West.

On the way home, in rush hour traffic, I heard Tom Petty on the radio and he made me smile, with the line, "All the good girls are at home with broken hearts." It's from his song "Free Falling" and some songs just make you happy and, for me, that's one of them.

"Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot."
—Groucho Marxh

Monday, October 04, 2004

October 4, 2004
When we were in Santa Fe last Saturday night I tried to find a little weird cafe/bar Kathy and I found in 1993. It was the day after Thanksgiving and we came over to visit the set of Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp which he was filming outside of town. After spending all day freezing on the set at Cook's Ranch we were roaming around the plaza and discovered this little, crooked Spanish doorway, the kind you have to step over—a door in the middle of a wall. The passageway opened into a large courtyard and we heard music coming from the far corner. We went inside another hallway and came out into a dim bar and cafe, like something out of Cabaret, only with vegas and adobe. We ordered a drink and our waitress waltzed away (literally), stopped at the piano and started singing a show tune. Now normally I hate show tunes, but this was zany to the max and one by one, all of the other waiters and waitresses took their turn, singing up a storm. It was so eclectic and weird I couldn't imagine it was still in business 11 years later, but there it was, La Cafe Sena, still going strong, just east of the Palace of the Governors.

The place was packed but we talked the head waiter into giving us a temporary table, that had a reservation, but they hadn’t arrived yet. Kathy, Carole and I sat down, ordered the goat cheese-cheese cake, and Mexican coffee (tequila and coffee) and waited for the songs to begin. Soon all of the waiters and waitresses got up and did a number from the Broadway play Rent. it was very cool ($26 cash). Very cool. I love little out of the way places like that.

Speaking of which Deena gave me an update about our friend Ursula who is in the Red Zone in Iraq. It is so dangerous now she has been confined to her room for over a week and can't even go outside and barely downstairs to get food. You can read her comments about the insanity of being there at:
Go down the left control bar to the bottom where it says “archives,” click on that, then type in the name Ursula Redendo. It is hairy reading, especially for a parent. Very scary stuff. She carries a machine gun with her at all times.

We have a new poll up. Have you ever fired a black powder gun? Check it out.

"Habit creates the appearance of justice; progress has no greater enemy than habit."
—Jose Marti y Pereza

Sunday, October 03, 2004

October 3, 2004
Yesterday Scott and Len from Creative Framing delivered the last two Spanish rodeo posters and hung them in our living room. They are massive and magnificent and it was well worth every penny ($980 biz account). All told I think I paid $150 for the posters, $75 getting them home from Valencia, and $1,500 for the framing. A small price to pay for something that gives us so much joy.

Speaking of joy, I was drawing and listening to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion this morning and something he said really impacted me. He was talking about his daughter and how the slightest thing she does gives him meaning and pleasure (even when she's being selfish and he and his wife are basically the "Secretary and Treasurer" of her world). He said he is tired of his own story (LDL levels, too many carbs, stress tests, etc.) and that if you want to know your real story, your kids know it. And that we are here to tell our parent's story, and our children will tell ours. Through my tears I realized, well, for one thing I realized I'm getting too much estrogen, but also, that is the story I am telling in all of my books and any future books. My father comes from the green of Iowa (and he loved road trips!) and my mother comes from the harshness of the Mohave Desert and she was a cowgirl. One is a family of farmers, the other ranchers. And where those two stories meet, where the green meets the brown, where the corn meets the prickly pear that is the place I want to illustrate and write about.

There is a somewhat famous regional photograph of a little kid running down a carport driveway of a 1950's suburban tract house. He's crying and he appears to be trying to retrieve a wayward tricycle that's rolling toward the street. Off to the right is the pristine, high desert of New Mexico, probably the Sandia Mountains behind him, and a big storm is brewing in the sky overhead. The juxtaposition of the two, the pre-fab of the home vs. the raw, untamed desert is the heart of my experience and inspiration.

Of course, True West magazine is a perfect fit with that story, but if I am given the time, I intend to expand even more on my parent's story.

I worked on two paintings today, one of Wyatt Earp in the Oriental Saloon, and the other of Charlie Storms, the gambler who lost his life there. Storms was in his sixties and there is no known photo of him, but I think I know him, and I think he had on green-checked pants at the time of his death (Yes, this is inspired by all the colored pants patterns I saw in the Arabia Steamboat Museum.)

"That it will never come again is what makes life sweet.”
—Emily Dickinsonn

Saturday, October 02, 2004

October 2, 2004
I am busy working on Classic Gunfights, Volume II, which we call CGII around the office. Gus has been laying in the copy and images and I’ve been trying to match the scope and style of the first one. Yesterday I went out to the store and got a Vol. 1, came back to my office and compared our layouts. I also wanted to see what I wrote in the first editorial. Lo and behold it was dated October 1, exactly one year to the day from the last one. I don't think this one will be out by Christmas but it is going to be a worthy successor.

Theresa at Tri Star sent up a royalty check for August ($408.08) and included three pages of clipped comments from orders. Here's a few highlights:

• "If it ain't broke, why fix it?"

• "I'm interested in stage coaches, drivers, freight haulers and prospectors."

• "Very difficult to find books on the Wild West in UK now. Please answer." (Welshpool, UK)

• "Call me up sometime Bob Bozee Bell?"

• "This book about the Kid is verry special, never seen such!" (Ruse, Bulgaria)

• "I live and work in Germany but postage is only to NY. These books will be a blessing to me."

• "Easy reading, great illustrations, good history. As an extra from Calico Ghost Town, I loved them."

• "Do one on Jesse James.”

• "Don’t sell my info to any other business. Like your work."

• "Keep printing 'em, I’ll keep buying 'em!"

• "We met in Wickenburg. I was the only telephone retiree who knew when the phone was invented." (1876)

• "I am a relative of James Butler Hickok."

• "I am a real descendant of Wyatt Earp."

• "Love Wyatt but Doc’s a favorite."

• "Would like to see a large BBB artprint of Dallas Stoudenmire as shown on page 67 of Bad Men."

• "Thanks to your books, I've visited Lincoln, NM four times."

• "I love the book on Billy the Kid."

• "Is the Wild Bill book still available?" (Ouch! Haven’t finished it yet)

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
—Herm Albrightt

Friday, October 01, 2004

October 1, 2004
I watched the presidential debates last night. Couldn't stand it. Went for a walk with the dogs. Kathy came driving up: "Why aren’t you watching the debate?" I followed her back in the house but couldn't stay in the room. Too much like "The Dating Game" for my tastes. Massive petty sniping with a dash of pompous over-simplification. Kathy was applauding wildly at every Kerry jab, but I personally think Bush counter-punched very effectively with his down-home simple reactions. At best, it was a draw. Frankly, I dislike them both. Privileged, rich kids, playing student council games.

I did see a placard I thought was funny. "Help the environment—replant a Bush in Texas."

We have signed on with Dick Glassman in New York to help us get a toe hold on the national circulation front. He is a very dynamic guy, knows everyone at Kable, and we could use the help. There are 6,500 magazine titles out there all fighting for the same 150 slots. It ain't pretty, in fact, it's the toughest challenge we face.

When I was in Kansas City I met Scott Robinette, the president of Hallmark Loyalty ("Enriching relationships"). He was also a presenter at the grocer conference and we got to comparing notes. Since I'm always looking for insights and ideas, I asked him to give me the Cliff Notes version of his speech and he gave me this little gem: Discover Card had a list of card holders who were seriously overdrawn and hadn’t made a payment in some time. The catch is that they had been good customers for some time but were suddenly in arrears and were ready to be turned over to collection. Scott and his Hallmark crew asked Discover to allow them to try something. They created a card that had a Hallmark image of a long, winding road on it, and when you opened it, the card said, "You have been a long, valued customer of ours and we understand what it's like to hit tough times. If we can be of any help let us know." The pay-up rates went through the roof and paid for the campaign ten times over. Isn't that an amazing little story? And aren't you going to steal it? I know I am.

I sent Blevins a postcard yesterday. And I hope you do too. Mike Melrose gave me their actual street address. Here it is:

Blevins Stirrup Buckles
615 Ferguson Road
Wheatland, Wy 82701

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right
to tell people what they do not want to hear."

—George Orwell