Friday, December 31, 2004

December 31, 2004
The creek is running bank to bank. First time in about two years. Looks magnificent. Went down with the dogs this morning after a fast bike ride. Then walked the dogs late this afternoon and met my neighbor J.D. on the road. He asked me if I saw the kid on the ATV doing about sixty down our road yesterday. I said no, I didn't. J.D. told about how the kid spun out and came back at J.D. head-on, and J.D. had to go off to the side of the road to avoid a collision. Then J.D. smiled and said, "I'm glad I didn't have my shotgun with me." I nodded my head and said I suppose the kid on the ATV should be even more glad, even though he doesn't know it.

See, that kid should be thankful this New Year's Eve, for what he didn't get. And that goes for all of us. Sometimes you have to be thankful for the problems you have, because they beat the problems you could have, but don't. For instance how'd you like to have had a fancy beach house in Southeast Asia? Or, imagine being on a dream vacation last week and arguing with your Indonesian landlord, "Listen, Buddy, the brochure shows the cottage right on the beach. I want to be upgraded right now, right on the beach, or I'll sue your ass!"

I've been that guy. We all have. Be careful what you demand. And speaking of that, I started reading that book Karen Robertson gave me, Growing A Business by Paul Hawken, and his first chapter is "Be Careful, You May Succeed."

Hawken maintains all businesses have problems (and always will) and that basically problems are opportunities in drag. And:

"A mess is a pile of opportunities in drag."
—Paul Hawken

So Happy New Year! And I hope we can all appreciate what we didn't get and did't want in 2004.o

Thursday, December 30, 2004

December 30, 2004
Worked with Meghan to get goals and deadlines settled for CGII schedule. Here is one of my goals for the book, to answer these questions:

• Was Tombstone Violent? (there is a PC school of thought today that the violence in Tombstone and the West has been exaggerated by writers like me and that statistically it was no more violent than a typical, modern city. Even Wyatt Earp is quoted as saying when asked if Tombstone was really a rough place: "Not half as bad as LA.")

• Did Hollywood Get It Right? (this could be fleshed out for several of the gunfights, but I'm somewhat concerned that it will take the reader out of the authentic past. I've written one of them, from the movie Tombstone, concerning the death of Marshal White in the Curly Bill shooting, but that leads me to feel like I need to do one on the Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce shooting using Kevin Costner's movie and certainly the O.K. Corral fight and maybe the Iron Springs fight—covered in both movies—also, it really boils down to those two movies, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, as dealing with most of these incidents and I'm wondering if doing four of five of these, and referring to the same two movies is worth it. Will the reader find it interesting, or irritating? What do you think?)

• Was Sadie (Josephine) Marcus Earp A Prostitute?

• Did Wyatt Earp kill Curly Bill at Iron Springs?

• Could Wyatt or Doc Have Killed Johnny Ringo?

• Was Doc Holliday One of the Benson Stage Robbers?

• Did Wyatt Earp Lead A Super Posse Against Old Man Clanton? (this needs to be edited from the version that ran in the magazine. I want to take out all references to modern day writers like Glenn Boyer, Timothy Fattig and Ben Traywick.).

RG gave me a great article on the CEO of the Time-Warner magazine division and how she creates new titles. She asks the staff to tell her what the magazine is about in five words or less. Like this:

Real Simple: How to simplify your life
InStyle: Celebrity fashion for real people.

So that got me to thinking about True West. Here's what I came up with:

True West: Celebrating the American West—bigtime!

Yes, That's it.

"Skill is successfully walking a tightrope over the Grand Canyon. Intelligence is not trying."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

December 29, 2004
Rained all night. Really came down like a cow pissing on a flat rock. Big storm rolled in from California. Totally socked in today. Flash floods up in Sedona. They had to evacuate the upper canyon. Road closed.

In spite of this, Tomcat and I drove (very carefully) into Phoenix at 10:30 and waded down into the Beast, all the way to Ed Mell's studio at 10th and Oak. Carson and his cousin were there, and we all went to Adrian's at 24th and McDowell for lunch. Had a big, steaming bowl of Caldo de Res (beef soup) and a flour tortilla. Ed bought. Carson took Tomas to the airport shuttle to catch a ride up the hill to Flag ($35, T. paid). In spite of the heavy deluge, the roads are still open all the way up (I hope).

Got back to office at two. Finalized the schedule for CGII book. I basically have four weeks to finish 35 scenes I want to do. Of course, this is ridiculous, I won't do that many, but, if I knuckle down, I'll knock a pretty big hole in it. And if the past fifteen publishing endeavors are any guide, I'll get totally in the zone in the last week, knocking out image after image on autopilot, and when I go back later to see the end product I'll bemoan the fact that I wish all the book looked like those dashed-off-wing-dinged pages. Never fails. Happens every time. Not that I learn from it. I just recognize it: "Oh, it's you, again."

Received an Email from Debbie, of Pam and Debbie's Book Crazy Radio fame. She used to be on the Jones & Boze Radio Show when we broadcast from the Mineshaft, then she and Pam started their own internet network on books and they really seemed to be headed for the bigtime. Then something happened. I'm not sure what. Here's what she has to say:

"I've just finished reading your Christmas blog and realized again how much I miss everyone!

"Life takes strange curves and mine has not been the exception. Pam mentioned she spoke with you but I don't know how much she said. I'm working at the St. Johns Police Department, I own a horse and I'm the varsity cheer coach at the high school.

"I'm having the time of my life and I get to live my mystery books. I am reading a new book that was meant for you and David K. It's called Radio Activity by Bill Fitzhugh. It's about a dead-end DJ stuck in classic rock. The music, album and artist references are great and also the inside scoop on the radio business. I haven't stopped laughing since I started it. It will make you realize all the things you could have had if you stuck to radio. Things like lying, cheating, firing, BS and oh yeah, fame.

“I keep meaning to order True West for the police department and promise to do so right away. One of our officers used to live by you in Cave Creek and come and see the show. It is a small world. His name is Darrell Moerch if it rings any bells.

“Just for reference, my horse broke my pelvic bone, tail bone and hip in one accident. I've just started walking without a walker and will be getting the horse back in a few weeks to try again. This could be the last e-mail you ever get from me.”

"Some defeats are only installments to victory."
—Jacob A. Riis

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

December 28, 2004
It's raining again. The night before Christmas Eve, I was at Walgreen's trying to pick out perfume for Kathy and this woman from Michigan (or was it Illinois?) came over and helped me. She was a total sweetheart and I appreciated her help. But when I quizzed her on her vacation plans she told me she was quite irritated with our weather. Too windy. Said she didn't even bring a jacket. Had heard the sun shined 360 days a year. She and her husband had gone to Sedona the day before and almost froze! It snowed! I assured her the wind and the clouds and the snow and the cold were an exception and I guaranteed her she would be sunning herself at the pool and complaining about the heat in no time. I imagine she is cussing me out today.

Sue Lambert came in this morning and announced she is going to double her sales this coming year. Really the attitude we need right now.

Yesterday RG told me he and Karen are reading a classic book (Growing A Business by Paul Hawken) that states successful companies keep their payroll at or below 18% of their gross revenues, and that companies who don't, have a diminished chance of survival. So we computed our percentage at the magazine and it is at 48%. Ouch! This was not totally shocking to me because we have always put most of our eggs in the employee basket, but one thing is clear; for the coming year we need to double our revenues or cut half our staff. Personally, I'm planning for increasing the revenue.

Our State Attorneys General, Terry Goddard came out for lunch today with his Chief of Staff Sally Ripley. Terry and I go way back to New Times (newspaper) days when Terry was the mayor of Phoenix. One time at an Arizona Republic newspaper party given by then-media-maven Gail Tabor, someone sent in a male stripper to pounce on her and a photographer barged in to take photos and humiliate her (okay, it was Mike Lacey). As the stripper cleared the door, I was standing in the kitchen with Terry talking about the Old West (what else?) and as the stripper pounced I turned to say something to Terry but he was gone. Vanished. I don’t know where he went, but he had the political sense to realize what was happening in a split second, and he was out of there. Amazing reflexes.

We ate at El Encanto ($22, Terry bought) and we talked about an art project he wants me to be part of. He's proposing a series of paintings for the AG offices that would illustrate and represent "justice." So naturally I whipped out eight sketches of MEN WITH BIG BADGES AND BIG GUNS. Even as I did them I knew this could present a potential PC problem for the attorneys general (see Western History Association blog entries for October and November and December). So I suggested I do a painting of a B-Western style neck-tie party with the lynchee wearing white shoes and a white belt and the title would be “An Arizona Land Developer Meets Justice.” Terry laughed and moved to another table.

As I ran after his car I suggested something less edgy, but I'm not sure he heard me. What I'm thinking of now (and I have to admit this was suggested by my legal counsel Roxie Bacon) is the same Gabby Hays style lynch mob, but the guy is an Arizona Strip polygamist with all of his "wives" around him wailing like in a Middle-Ages religious painting.

"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; kind, but not weak; bold, but not a bully; thoughtful, but not lazy; humble, but not timid; proud, but not arrogant; and have a sense of humor, without folly."
—Jim Rohn

Monday, December 27, 2004

December 27, 2004
Last night we treated the kids and Ursula to a movie at Desert Ridge. Finally got in to see Sideways ($42.50 for five tickets!). Really enjoyed the movie. It played against expectations at every turn. Very original, and the constant wine references were zany as hell.

Afterwards the girls all went their separate ways, but I took my only son to dinner at Salute, an upscale Italian joint. I ran into the owner a month or so ago at Albertson's and he told me he opened a new store up at Desert Ridge and invited us in. When the Jones, Boze & Jeanne Radio Show was on Young Buck (105.9 FM), Brian, the owner used to call us all the time and we struck up a friendship. I hadn’t seen him in years.

So I took Tomcat in there and we had a very nice meal ($42, and for all you tip Nazis, I want you to know this includes a $10 tip). So I blew $84 for a movie and dinner. Yikes! In my dad’s time that was a car payment.

Had a talk with Kathy about her siblings and who Mama likes best. This is so unreal to an only child because with guys like me, it’s the opposite. We long for brothers and sisters to help spread out the non-stop, smothering attention. But as my Psychology major son tells me, in families, it's abandonment issues, or engulfment issues and there doesn't seem to be much in between.

Quite a few people are out this week. I had a long talk this morning with RG about finances (he's also an only child).

"There are worse things than being an only child. Like having a brother or sister, for example."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, December 26, 2004

December 26, 2004
Bright and sunny Arizona morning. Ed and Carson Mell came out about ten. I made pancakes for everyone (Deena and Tommy are still here). Carson showed us his latest short film based on an Arizona Bonnie and Clyde theme (it was rejected by Sundance last week). However, Carson is quite good as an actor and a filmmaker and the little sucker is going places, I'll vouch for that.

I showed Carson our raw footage of the Tombstone shoot and asked him for advice. He agreed we need to take a more gonzo approach.

After the screening, the boys and the dads (Ed and I) walked to the cave with the dogs. Came back up and listened to a rock group Carson is producing or backing I couldn't quite figure it out (Kids today!).

The Mells left around one and took off. Got a call from Carson saying he had left his sweater, so I grabbed it and my new, used bike and took off up the road to meet them. Buddy was so thrilled because as Ray Bradbury always says, "Every day is Christmas Day to a dog." And, of course, yesterday I got up and said to him, “Once every 365 days a year, you are right. It really is Christmas Day!"

Tomcat borrowed my truck at about two, and drove out to Fountain Hills to visit with Bill Glenn (Bill's grandmother died two days ago). Deena went shopping with Ursula and Kathy went down to Desert Ridge to meet them. They are then going to drive out to Surprise to Debbie Radina's house. I've had my fill of Radinas for awhile, so I stayed home with the dogs.

Many artists are so pathetic. And I am one of them. Carson and Ed came into my studio, which is a total pit (when I'm on deadline for a book, I have reference and partially finished pieces of art everywhere). Ed looked at one of my sketchbooks on the floor and said, "You are such a good draftsman." And I can't tell you how empowering that felt. Here's the sketches he was looking at.

Getting chilly out, so I went out and got some more wood for my stove. Deena, Kathy, Tomas, Ursula and I may meet at seven to go see Sideways. Or I may just stay home and veg.

"The highest condition of art is artlessness."

December 25, 2004
Santa brought bikes and books. T. Charles brought down two used bikes, one for Deena and one for me. We got up around seven and I made Christmas pancakes and then we opened presents. We all went for a bike ride at about ten. Went across the creek at Rockaway Hills and saw all the new mansions going up over there.

Read books and took naps all afternoon. The Radinas all came over for Christmas dinner at about 5:30. Big turkey feed, 13 place settings. Kathy made everyone tell the most amazing thing that happened to them in the last year. Debbie's new boyfriend Kenny told about driving the APS transformer from Long Beach to Phoenix. They had to rig up a trailer 300 feet long (a football field!) and twenty yards wide. If you remember the CNN reports, the load shifted at Victorville on a 20% grade and the transformer slid off, gouging the pavement and setting off tremors up and down the political West coast. Really a fascinating story (APS built special roads for them behind the White Tank Mountains). And as they approaced Phoenix at eight miles an hour, Kenny talked APS into putting handmade signs on the monster that said, "This side up." Funny.

After dinner we all sat down and watched Napoleon Dynamite (Deena has seen it six times, Tomas four, it was my second time, none of the other Radinas had seen it). The DVD was quite hard to find before Christmas (T. Bell couldnt find it anywhere in Flag) and Kathy got the last one at Target last week. The clerk said they got 300 in that morning and Kathy bought the last one. It was even funnier the second time. I really love this uber-nerd movie. It is so original. Written and directed by two Mormon brothers for $400,000, it has grossed some $40 million. Amazing. A gentle, clean story (the biggest cuss word is "Gosh!" and it's hipper than most movies that are allegedly "edgy").

On the other hand, we tried to watch a gag movie that Deena bought for Tommy called Hail Caesar evidently the brainchild of Anthony Michael Hall. Just horrid. Trying so desperately to be funny and missing by so far. Amazing. The video box is unintentionally zany with the tag line: "It's hard to Rock 'N’' Roll When You're Knee-Deep in Rubber." (evidently the hero Hall works in an eraser factory). Deena thought it would be a hoot to watch, a kind of so bad it's good kind of thing, but no, it is just wretched. You can practically feel the film crew off to the side in every scene. Just so completely false and bush.

I'm reading Bob Dylan's Chronicles and he spends quite a bit of time writing about capturing the moment, making it come alive, sometimes taking out technical proficiency to get back down to something that matters, or that doesn't seem contrived or fake. It's so elusive.

"Nothing can be falser than a truism."
—Old Vaquero Saying
December 24, 2004
People who pet dogs live longer. I read this somewhere, some study. If that's true I'm piling on the years. Just got off the half-eaten couch in the outer studio from a petting marathon with Peaches and Buddy Boze Hatkiller. Lots of reciprocal licking from Buddy (it is for some reason beneath Peaches).

Got all my shopping done on Thursday night. Went out and spent about $350 on expensive crap. Cashed two royalty checks and knocked a big hole in a stack of twenties. Went up to Legacy Gallery (Brian Label's new place) and bought a red Hopi necklace for $205 (includes tax). Drove down to Scottsdale Airpark and picked up Deena's framed poster ($180), then stopped at Walgreen's and bought two kinds of perfume ($80-something).

Stayed home all day today, until we went over to Grandma Betty's at about 4:30. Don Radina flew in from Kansas. His sons, Aaron and James drove in from Southern Cal. Debbie Radina brought her new boyfriend Kenny (we weren't allowed to talk about him until now). Brad, Carol, EJ and ‘Cedes Radina motored down from their casa, and Lee was there with his big dualie. Had the traditional meatballs and ham. Opened presents at about nine. Got a cool statuette from a Great Falls Art Gallery, a cornbread maker and other stuff. Got home at 11. Tired. Fell into bed.

"All some men get for Christmas are their wive's relatives."
—Old Vaquero Saying{

Thursday, December 23, 2004

December 23, 2004
When I turned fourteen, my mother and Charlie Waters’ mother threw a surprise birthday party for us (his birthday was yesterday, he turned 57). My mom took us to the State Theatre in downtown Kingman and dropped us off to see a movie (25 cents each if we could pass for 12, and, of course, we could). When the movie got out, Charlie’s mother picked us up and before she took me home she said she had to go by their house to pick something up. When we walked inside, all of our friends were there and they yelled Surprise! and we had a grand old time.

The movie we went to see was brand new. It was called Oceans 11. And, we passed for 12. Hmmmmm, the more things change. . .

Eric from 24-Hour-Mobile-Car-Care finally got out to the house today to look at the ‘49. He wasn’t pleased. He told me he is “this close” to turning me over to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Autos). Pack rats have eaten through several wires including one of the spark plug connections. Eric didn’t stop there. “When is the last time you washed this?” he said running his thumb across the trunk and leaving one of those tell-tale “wash me” marks. I shrugged and said maybe six months ago. “That’s a lie,” he said with some conviction. “You haven’t even ran this sweet little puppy since the last time I was out here, have you?” I sheepishly admitted that is true. “Either get a door on this garage, and a temperature controlled interior, or sell the car. If you aren’t going to take care of it, you don’t deserve to have it.”

Somehow, I knew this was my dad talking through Eric (it even sounded like Al Bell!). Okay, I’ll either shape up, or hire someone to take care of it. I promise. And Merry Christmas Dad, wherever you are in that lutafisk infested Norwegian Netherworld.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
—George Eliot

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

December 22, 2004
Marshall Trimble (Ask The Marshall) Emailed us today with an alarming message:

"Yesterday a rocket or suicide bomber hit the mess hall at Camp Marez, outside Mosul. My son Roger and his men were inside when it hit and all the soldiers in his vicinity were hit by shrapnel except Roger. His assistant was wounded and the soldier behind him was killed. Several of the soldiers he works with were also killed. Roger lost his hearing for a while but is okay now."

Quite sobering and very close to home. Marshall's son Roger graduated from West Point. A very good kid from Arizona.

Meetings today. Had to make some hard decisions based on deadlines and cooperation. Staff seemed to take the outcome well.

Mike Melrose took the sales staff and me and Bob Brink to lunch at El Encanto. Sat in the horno bar area and had a fun lunch (Mike paid! Somebody call the Nobel Peace Prize people!).

Today I got a cool spur clock, a box of candy, a mind mapping DVD by Bob Davies for presents. Yesterday Robert Ray gave me an athletic sweatshirt, with "True West Aesthetic Department" on the front. Looks like a typical athletic department sweat, except for the Aesthetic part. For the number he put 53, as in the year of our founding. I wore it proudly all day yesterday. Went home, took it off, laid it on Kathy's side of the bed so she'd see it when she got home (I wanted to show it off).

She got in at seven, went into the bedroom and I heard a loud, "Oh, thankyou! This is so cool!" And I went in and said, "Yeh, I thought you’d like that." I know, I know, men are such weinies.

I need to start my Christmas shopping tonight (Hey, this is early for me!)

"If all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

December 21, 2004
On Sunday afternoon Kathy, Thomas and Deena made chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cornbread and gravy, and green beans and we had a royal birthday feast. Really fun.

Big meetings all morning today trying to get TW problems worked out. Met with production first, then sales. Let them vent and make suggestions. Carole took good notes and we distilled those down to the main points. We will meet again tomorrow and hammer out some new rules.

I'm still quite amazed at the documentary I watched on the genesis of Seinfeld. In it Jerry correctly points out that no one has copied what they did. And to further make his point, here’s comedy writer Peter Mehlman:

"When I started pitching shows after Seinfeld, a stunning fact emerged. The networks hated Seinfeld. They liked it as fans, but professionally, they resented it. It broke all their rules."

I found the same to be true in radio. I can't tell you how many meetings I was forced to endure where some anal program director beat us up about saying the call letters every 30 seconds, with dire threats that we won’t survive unless we do, and when I would say, "Howard Stern never says the calls, never tells the time, doesn't have traffic reports," they would say, "You can’t compare yourself to Howard." The unspoken part being, "Listen, we don’t have a clue why that works, so either play by the goofy rules that kind of work, or get out."

And if only I had the cajones of Larry David to have stood up and said, "I'm not doing any of this. Good luck with the show." Man, he is my hero. Both he and Stern.

Meanwhile, I’m drifting on CGII, the book. Gus is fleshing out page layouts and we are adding some really juicy photographs but I’m stuck in first gear on getting the artwork done. Need some advice, something to hang my hat on:

"Always plan with the end result in mind. Be clear, be specific."
—Stephanie Goddard Davidson

Monday, December 20, 2004

December 20, 2004
The prettiest Old West historian on the planet Emailed me today and wished me a happy holiday, adding that her slogan for the new year is: "2005 is when I come alive!"

I Emailed Sherry M. back and told her this beats my proposed slogan: "All lies and jive in 2005!"

Took Tomcat to El Encanto for lunch. We talked about his fave group, The Necronauts doing the soundtrack for our proposed TV pilot (so I get to write off the lunch, $25.50 plus $5 tip, biz account). Tom and I saw Melrose on the road after lunch and thoroughly flipped him off. He slid open the back window of his Ford truck and reciprocated "with prejudice" for a good half-mile. Pulled up to the only stop sign in town and looked over at an old woman in a muddy Chrysler, looking horrified and worried at the insane immaturity of the drivers around her.

So we flipped her off, and peeled out (not really, mom, it’s a joke!)

Speaking of immaturity, for my birthday, Thomas Charles got me an AC/DC CD of them playing live. As we drove down the hill from Flag on Saturday he popped it in the CD player and as the crowd noise swelled up on the soundtrack and that growling signature guitar crunched away in the background, gaining momentum like a hard rock steam engine, T looked at me and said, “A little pre-birthday surprise for the Dad.”

I don't know why but that band just makes me smile. Other than Led Zep I'm not a big metal fan, but "Highway to Hell," "TNT," "Girl's Got Rhythm," "Marry for the Money," and "We've Got Big Balls," is just so infectious and over-the-top-immature, I can't help it.

At two I dropped Thomas off down on the Carefree Highway so he could catch a ride back up the hill. He has a job interview this afternoon and asked me for tips. "Be aggressive but respectful. Look for the openings but don’t waste their time."

On the way back to the office I thought about all of the job interviews I've tubed in my checkered career and I suddenly realized that asking me for job interview advice is like asking Courtney Love for advice on how to remain a virgin.

"A Las Vegas casino has signed Barry Manilow to a $60 million contract. So now when you go to Vegas you can either shoot crap or listen to it."
 —Conan O’Brien

Sunday, December 19, 2004

December 19, 2004
I had a great birthday today. My family got me the boxed DVD set of Seinfeld and we watched the making of the show, a one hour documentary. Really insightful and inspiring. The network really didn't want this show to work, they didn't "get it" the test audiences said it was "too jewish," and they basically wanted to "fix it" but when some producer tried to give Jerry and Larry David a sheaf of changes, Larry said, "I'm not going to do any of these. Good luck with the show." Man, that takes guts.

Last night was the True West Christmas party up at the Brink's beautiful home. Really had fun. Trish made a great lasagna, we all brought gag gifts and a trick chicken brought by Brittany was the prized, fought over gift. Lots of laughs.

Grandma Betty came out for breakfast and I made birthday pancakes. Went down at nine to witness a quail release over off Saguaro Road. It was fun. As we pulled up and let Grandma Betty off, I was turning the car around and I heard the host say to a woman in a lawn chair, "Bob Boze Bell is here." The woman in the chair said something and the host replied, "Is that a good, or a bad thing?" Not sure what that means, but I assume it wasn't a high complement. Ha.

Learned a lot about Quail. They have 47 different sounds they make. When the quail rehabber opened the door, they huddled in the back of the aviary and nervously twittered and bounced around, afraid to go through the door to freedom. Finally one or two did, and then clusters of them launched themselves outward into the unknown, until there was one nervous little guy left. There he remained, stuck on his perch, looking scared, sending off the message, "Hey, it's not so bad in here. Come back. We can make this work! I’m serious! Check it out! I’m groovin' in here!"

So much like human behavior, isn't it? How many times do we see the open door and are too scared to walk through it?

Fun talking to my kids. Ursula is back from Iraq and Deena had hairy stories to tell about that. Tomcat told us his theories on human behavior: "A mouse has 99% of the same genes as we do. Almost every species are more alike than disimiliar."

"It never occurs to a boy of eighteen that he will some day be as dumb as his father."
—Old Norwegian saying

Saturday, December 18, 2004

December 17, 2004
"Never tuck!" Those were the words Tomcat advised me on at the Museum Club in Flagstaff.

Got into Flagstaff at eight last night and met Tomcat and two of his friends at their favorite Thai place on South San Francisco ($68 house account, includes tip). Checked into the Quality Inn on Milton and delivered four boxes of True West magazine for them to put in all the rooms.

Friday morning we all met again at Martann's for breakfast ($38 cash, plus a $50 gift certificate for Thomas for Christmas, don't tell him, it's a surprise).

Ended up at Barnes & Noble and had a $10 gift certificate from the Radinas so I bought $180 worth of books and a John Singer Sargent 2005 calendar (so I saved $10 and it was only $170!). Went back to he room and took a short nap then started reading Chronicles, the new book by Bob Dylan. He writes books just like he writes songs, heavy on the obtuse symbolism and maddeningly sparse on the self-revelatory stuff you would really like to know. Still, it's a fun read as I'm in the mood for some Minnesota maturity (I also read a chapter or two of Garrison Keillor's Home Grown Democract, and of course, he, like Bobby Zimmerman is from Minnesota).

We had dinner reservations at Busters for 7;30. Had a nice filet with mashed potatoes. Kathy had the halibut and Tomas had the salmon. Cheesecake and decaf for dessert ($69 biz account-talked about printing my new book).

From Buster’s we drove out the cold, dark streets (old Route 66) with the black snow covering the curbs and landed at the Museum Club, one of the most famous bars in the Southwest. I had never been in there and have always wanted to go. It's all wooden like a big ol' hunting lodge with big varnished trees holding up the roof inside ($5 per person cover, $15, plus a Coors $2, plus $1 tip). The band was a bunch of kids called Redneck and two of them, the youngest ones, had on cool, maroon yoked shirts, only they wore them untucked. It looked goofy to me, like they just got out of bed. The lead guitarist, on the other hand, had the starched Wrangler-George Strait look and of course he was probably the old man in the group (over 30). So I leaned over to Tommy and I said, “How prevalent is the untucked shirt look? Is it worn by a few or is it a generational dictate?” That’s when Tomas looked at me like the out of touch geezer I am and said, “Never tuck! You never tuck!” The way he said it made me want to pull my pants up under my armpits and start scratching my ass. Damn! I thought to myself. When did this happen? I didn't notice!

On the way home, I quizzed my son about this new fashion law that says you can’t tuck your shirt in and he told me it has been that way since about 1997. Man, I’m glad I’m not too late to catch that wave. Whew!

"Ten years before its time, a fashion is indecent; ten years after, it is hideous; but a century after, it’s romantic."
—James Laver—

Thursday, December 16, 2004

December 16, 2004
Finished my editorial at ten (David Milch makes the point that our upset over the swearing in Deadwood has more to do with the Hays Code, than with history, and he has a point), switched gears to execute three scratchboards. Finished Philip Schneider’s Dual Visage, utilizing a great photo of Ohio steelworkers taken about 1900. Grimy faces, big burly guys with dirty beards. Split the boy down the middle, with the Big Bully on the left and the innocent mining angel on the right.

Went home for lunch and got Buddy and art reference for Wyatt Earp holding off the O’Rourke mob single-handedly. Got back into the office at one, had to close the door with Buddy in my office because Samanth had her new puppy Sadie up front and I knew that if Buddy had the chance he would want to see if the little critter would fit in his mouth ("What puppy? I haven't got a puppy in my mouth."). Got on with artwork, and attacked an overview of Charleston with Millville across the San Pedro and Schnieder confronting O’Rourke at the corner of Stilwell’s corral. Sort of an aerial view. Got some cool effects. The reason I brought Buddy Boze Hatkiller up to the office is we’re boarding him while we’re gone so he won’t eat the tv, or the dining room table. The boarding woman came at 2:30 and we got the big twit out the door without any mishaps.

Kathy and I are taking off at 5:30 to go up the hill to Flag. Bringing Tomcat back for Christmas vacation. Also dropping True West magazines off at Quality Inn to put in every room.

Finally read Henry Beck’s cover story on Deadwood and it’s quite strong. He’s a very good writer. Proud to have him in the magazine.

Went over final layout design for Classic Gunfights with Meghan. Need to go to the bank, make a deposit, then go home and pack warm.

“If you chase two hares at the same time, you will catch neither of them.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

December 15, 2004
Bad radio dreams. Haven't been on the air in some time, but last night I dreamt I was trying to do a radio show in Williams, Arizona and I didn't know where any of the controls were, how to start or stop records (this is funny because in real life I never did this stuff anyhow and counted on others to be the board op), and I was totally faking the technical stuff while trying to be zany and "on." I was flailing around like a total fool and I woke up very tired, like I had boxed an angry Mexican for 33 rounds.

Of course, this has nothing to do with my current business situation or the people I work with. Granted, if you're not a literalist, you may think it's probably totally about that.

Speaking of which, I told Mike Melrose I was taking him and Robert Ray to a seminar on How to Deal With Difficult People. I told him to clean out February 23rd on his calendar and to not have any excuses because we would be there all day. He left my office with no comment, then returned in about a minute and said, "I’ve already got that date blocked out because I'm one of the speakers at the conference."

Dan the Man Emailed up a cover design of Al Swearengen (Deadwood Returns). Mighty evil looking. Very strong. Could be a big seller on the newsstand. Big face, evil, recognizeable, movie star. We’ll see. I never can predict these things.

Had lunch with Carole at Pei Wei ($18 cash, no tip). Talked about everyone behind their backs. Laughed and laughed. Came back and she had a surprise birthday cake for me and Brittany. She's 22 and my birthday is next Sunday and I'll be 58. "So we're contemporaries then," I told her with a straight face. Everyone laughed. I know why.

Worked on an Ed Schieffelin bio in the afternoon. Did you know the guy picked up a bunch of rocks at Goose Flats (eventually Tombstone), walked to Tucson to get the rocks assayed, the guy there told him they were worthless, so he got drunk and threw many of them away, then tried to interest a mine owner there who told him to get lost, so he walked to Globe to see if his brother Albert might look at the rocks. Unfortunately, Albert had moved to Signal, Arizona, so Ed, who was broke got a job swamping at a mine to earn enough money to buy an outfit to get to Signal, walked there. Now this is a long, damn walk, basically from Tombstone to Tucson to Globe City (as it was called then) to Wickiup, maybe 250 miles. Richard Gird, the assayer at the McCracken Mine there told Ed he had hit the jackpot, so they (Ed, Albert and Dick) outfitted a wagon, left in the night and made the return trip to stake out their claims. Ed sold later out for $500,000. And the rest is history—or a myth too tough to die.

"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

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

December 14, 2004
Wrestling with a small scratchboard of Wyatt Earp as a possible spot illustration for the top of the March cover (5:15 P.M.). If you were my wife you might ask the question, "Jesus, Bob, you have been drawing this guy ever since we got married and you still can't get him right? What is your problem?" And, if you were my wife, you'd be right.

Got our True West Christmas postcards back and have been sending a few out. Very nice scene, a cowboy struggling along on horseback through deep snow looking for his pickup.

RG and I had lunch with Ruth Daly from Destination America on our upcoming Gunfighter Tour. She flew in from LA. Had a two hour wait on the runway because of fog. We ate down at Tonto Bar & Grill (TW bought) at about two. We talked about future tours, possibly to Custer Battlefield, Cody, Dodge City, Badlands, Deadwood, the Alamo, Alaska, Nome even Copper Canyon and Casas Grandes, Mexico to see where Mangas died. It's just about endless and we are going to have some fun, I tell you.

Trying to work on teamwork, hard to accomplish with some of the hard heads around here. Someone put a flyer in my box, "Dealing With Difficult People." Interesting. I was especially struck by the following course content:

• Handling the person who says one thing to you but the opposite to someone else.

• Dealing with touchy people who take things personally.

• How to cope with excuse-makers and blamers.

• When and how to let someone save face.

• What to do when people make promises you suspect they won't keep.

• How to deal with employees who have a negative attitude.

Every one of these I have to deal with, but the funny thing is (and I wouldn't say this to too many people) when I hold up the mirror, I can honestly say, when I was an employee I was guilty of almost every one of these (I didn’t have a negative attitude, though, I was just a realist. Ha.). And, of course, the people who make up these seminars are not at a loss for paying customers because every business in the world has these problems. Hell, every family and every marriage has these problems. Still, I've got to go and find out for myself. It's $149. And if you want to join me, check them out at

"Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no point in two people remembering the same thing."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, December 13, 2004

December 13, 2004
After four days of video shooting it's back to artwork. I'm rusty of course. Worked last night on two nocturnes, one of Curly Bill shooting out a street lamp on Allen Street, and the other, from the opposite corner of the split second before Virgil Earp loses his left elbow. Too much murkiness. Verdict still out.

On Saturday, Paul Hutton waded into my studio and immediately pronounced the cover scene that I gave up on, as superior to the one that I finished (see journal entry last week). So, I put the unfinished mess up at the foot of my bed last night so that when I woke up this morning I could study it first thing. Lots of problems, don’t know quite how to fix them, but I will. Paul liked the "hint of a fence." Damned college professors!

This morning, got a call from the security service that someone had set off the alarm. I asked what time it went off and the woman said, 7:44 A.M. and she wanted to know if I wanted the sheriff's office to respond (they charge us for false alarms). Knowing the time, I said, "No thanks. This is one of my employees who just can’t wait to get to work!" I was right. It was Robert Ray.

Speaking of which, I took Robert and Abby Pearson out to lunch at El Encanto to talk about staff morale and teamwork. After I gave my positive, passionate pitch Abby told me to go stuff myself.

Not really. They were both quite responsive (Hey, I was buying) and even had good ideas on how to make us more pro-active. See, here's the rub: sales invariably runs roughshod on deadlines, selling past the deadline and putting severe strains on production (imagine that!). Then in the final week, when Robert, Abby and Gus have to put out the magazine, editorial and ads, they get sandbagged with clients who have designed their ads on Dos computers that are prone to not be compatible to our Macs. Robert Ray said, "I'll gladly hold the client's hand at any time except in the crunchtime of the last week." So, now that we know that we can plan for it. Abby is going to write up the five most asked questions by clients and the answers, so that Amy, or Sue, or Crystal or Mike or Joel can answer, at least the most common questions. Now that was worth the lunch ($32, includes tip. charged to True West account).

Gus and I went over the CGII book and plugged a bunch of holes with cool photos and big plans. Going to be a great book, at least visually. Very excited.

Got a new poll up. What was the Old West's toughest cowtown: Dodge, Hays City, etc. Click right here to vote.

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
—Eric Hoffer

Sunday, December 12, 2004

December 12, 2004
Kathy and I bought our land our here in Cave Creek in the mid-eighties, when it was way out in the desert, far from the maddening crowds. In spite of the record growth, it's still very peaceful and isolated, or at least I thought it was.

Yesterday, Mike Pellegatti came over to tape some intro segements and assorted outros for the TV pilot and we ended up in our front yard, which can be utilized in such a way as to simulate pristine desert. At least visually. I never realized just how much noise pollution we live with until we tried to get some clean audio.

Commerical jets! Helicopters! Bi-planes! Trainer planes! Back hoes! Jackhammers! Cement trucks backing up! Air conditioning units clicking on and off! Refrigerator generators humming! Well pump generators! Severe dog panting! (Buddy Boze Hatkiller trying to get close-up camera face time). Not to mention allergy attacks. Paul Hutton commented on how green our desert is, and it is amazing. It rains and these grass seeds, which have been dormant for six months, instantly sprout a carpet of green. Which makes me sneeze.

On Thursday, Jeff Hildebrandt grabbed my still camera while I was on the "box" out at Pioneer and snapped off a cool photo of me in the shotgun messenger seat, while Mike Pellegatti tapes a POV over my shoulder. That's Jeff, the sound guy on the left. One of the extras, I think it was Tate, told the anecdote about the filming of Open Range. Allegedly, Kevin Costner said filming the movie was easy; until they brought in the horses. "Horses don't like boom mike poles." Boy, Howdy. Just after the photo was taken, Mike wanted to get shots of me on the box all by my lonesome and the horses moving, so he asked Duncan to hold the lines ("They're not called 'reins.' It's 'lines' or 'ribbons,' just don't call them 'reins,'" Duncan adomonished me during my audio commentary. Now we need to go into the copy in the book and take out all of the reins mentions. This is what happens when you get around people who actually know something about a particular subject. It's like talking to a lawyer after seeing Runaway Jury. "You can't corpus delecti a witness on cross." The only thing worse than that would be sitting next to Paul Hutton in a Custer movie, or me in a Tombstone movie. But I digress.) and run along beside the horses while I fake like I'm about to fall off the driver-less stage. This prompted Jeff, the sound guy, to feel compelled to run along also, poking that big, long boom mike right in the horse's faces. As you might imagine, there was not a lot of acting needed in this particular scene.

Last night we drove down to Desert Ridge Mall for Debbie Randina's birthday party. We met in Jullian's which is this massive, two-story video arcade masquerading as a series of theme restaurants (or is it the other way around?). Upstairs it's wall-to-wall video games, with a billiards room and every electronic game known to man. Downstairs is a pulsating bowling alley, a Benihana style round-table apparently crossed with a Sir George's Cafeteria (it was hard to figure out just walking by).

We ended up downstairs in a massive single's bar-slash-Mel's Diner-slash-Sports Bar-slash-bingo parlor-slash-something really loud-gymnasium deal. For the themelessly challenged, this electronic barn on steroids was anchored by seven giant TV screens, side to side all along one wall (11 total in the "room"). In other words, every square inch of wall space emitted blistering sights and sounds, bombarding the senses with something on the far side of overkill.

As our quaint little birthday party gathered around an elevated booth we tried to introduce ourselves and maybe even talk, but every time you looked over at someone, behind them was a giant plasma screen showing graphic images of Grand Theft Auto II and right next to that was the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas, and next to that was a new TV movie on the life of Dale Earnhardt, and next to that was two Mexican boxers beating the crap out of each other, and next to that was two other Mexican boxers beating the crap out of each other-with close-ups of their corner men sticking some kind of dioxin-laced Q-tips into their bloody wounds.

Now, being a person with traceable levels of testosterone, there was just no way I could not watch this stuff. I tried to talk to the people across the table from me, but I also wanted to find out the score of the U of A game, so I'm nodding my head to the woman across from me, but I'm really watching the crawl under the Vegas bull riders (Wildcats beat Utah!) and in the same instant I'm kind of rooting for this Mexican kid with the bloody left eye who's the underdog, and I'm also marvelling at that Pepper guy, who also did a great job playing Roger Maris in 61, playing a NASCAR god from teenager to the twilight years (keep in mind there is no sound, or, if there is, it's drowned out by the video games and the piped in rap music). So I'm keeping tabs on four screens while trying to pretend to be at birthday party ("Oh, what a nice gift, now could you move, you're blocking Dale's hemi."). Right in the middle of this overload, I look across the table and here are three kids (two teen-aged girls and a ten-year-old boy) with that glazed-over look in their eyes that says, "Let's go. It's boring. There's nothing to do here."

"Life is a game played on us while we are playing other games."
—Old Vaquero Sayingg

Friday, December 10, 2004

December 9, 2004
Another busy day. Paul Hutton came into the office at about 8:30 and we re-structured his Deadwood layout, taking out some images and adding others that he liked better.

Got out to Pioneer at about ten, had breakfast ($15 cash, paid for Paul's to boot), then shot video of Dave Daiss, Tate Wilford and another guy as gamblers (faro), drinkers, and on horseback with great gear and guns. Worked until about two on that, then broke for lunch (paid for all six guys, $52, includes tip, biz account).

Then shot Paul doing a Deadwood spiel in the Vic (Victorian House). Paul was great. He's a master at the TV thing. So fluid, never misses a beat. I was quite impressed. Mike Pellegatti didn't like the lighting, so as he struck the set, he struck a chandelier and broke one of the antique glass coverings (three of them spilled to the floor, but only one broke). As Mike went out to his truck, Paul said, "You know it looks unbalanced, let's take two of those down.” So in the process, two more flipped off the rack, went through a Christmas tree, taking out three antique bulbs and breaking two more of the big, glass coverings.

If you saw it in a movie you wouldn't believe it. Glass everywhere, Images of my Christmas going to hell (what will it cost to replace these one-of-a-kind glass chandelier coverings? $1,400?). Walked up to the office like a kid going to the principal's office. The director was in a meeting on the proch and some guy was bitching her out (having been on the board of directors at Pioneer, I knew by the tone of the angst that this wasn't going well for her).

"Hey, Allison, we had an accident and broke a couple chandeliers." She visibly sank. "I'll meet you down there."

Ten minutes later, she came down with the archivist and they looked at the damage. "Oh, these! We have extras of these and you can get them at Home Depot for $12.50." Mike gave her a twenty and so did I.

We broke down (literally) and headed home at 5:30. Stopped by Dave and Doreen's ranchito and had a Coors, came home, typed this up. Got a dinner date at Tonto with Wonderful Russ and Wendy. Got to go. More later.

"I saw it in a movie, and I didn't believe it."
—Big Jim Frenchr

Thursday, December 09, 2004

December 8, 2004
Another long one. Taped 11 bumpers for the Westerns Channel today out at Pioneer Living History Museum. Couldn't have been a more perfect day weather wise. Ground was still wet though and we couldn't find a dry cow chip, but that's another story.

I read an inspiring piece on how Will Rogers did his movies (for most of his adult life, until he died in 1935, he was a top box office draw), and he never memorized scripts. He'd ask his director, like John Ford, what a scene was about, then go off and think about it, then come back and say whatever came into his mind.

So I went out to Pioneer with seven scripts and no teleprompter. Kind of scary. But after the first one (I memorized the first line: "One of the never ending chores in the Old West was collecting firewood.") and then I just leapt out into the darkness, without a net, and I tripped a couple of times, but by the end of the day I was doing new ideas ("What’s the meaning of 'I'm your huckleberry?'") in one take! Hey, I brought seven scripts and we did 11 bits.

For another bumper, I was talking to one of the cowboys out there named Duncan and in the course of chatting he mentioned that he had a stagecoach. I asked him if it was down here (he lives in Red Lodge, Montana), and he told me it was "over yonder," pointing with his chin in that unique cowboy way.

The next thing you know, I'm on the box with him and we're tearing down the back roads taping a segment on Bob Paul's incredible stage ride in March of 1881 where he actually surfed on the wagon tongue of a Tombstone stage. I realized as we bowled along, that I had never ridden on the box, ever. It was thrilling and a tad scary. The damn thing is way up off the ground and the horses (we only had two in harness, normally there are six) are chafing and kicking, and lurching, yes, lurching. The stage is creaking, slamming down the roadway. Anyway, at one point I looked at the saguaro clad hills and thought to myself, "Well, this beats working for a living." It was just thrilling and too cool for school.

Finished filming at 5:30, as the last light drained off into the Bradshaws, came home and went for a walk with the dogs. Cleaned the kitchen, came out to the studio. Paul Hutton is flying in tonight. In fact he's landing even as I type this (7:09 P.M.), he'll be renting a car and driving out. We're going to look at the DVD of the stuff we shot in Tombstone and make a plan for tomorrow.

"Somewhere, there is something incredible waiting to be known."
—Carl Sagan

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

December 8, 2004
A long one today. It's almost 8 P.M. and I’ve been at the office since early this morning. Just got back from dinner with Jeff Hildebrandt at El Encanto ($54, includes tip, Sue account). Good talking to him about TV Land. We're filming a new set of True West Moments in the morning out at Pioneer Living History Museum. Talked about our proposed new series. Going to be hard to land anything there. Been in this situation before. There's always an opening, you just need to be awake when it shows up.

Gus and I went over the CGII book schematic this morning. Juggling, moving things around. Meghan is tweaking copy for Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce. Hard to do. Many conflicting accounts.

Whipped out two little black and white drawings, one of Mae West and the other of Will Rogers. It's for those little illios at the bottom of the pages in True West.

Legendary columnist Same Lowe called me this afternoon wanting to verify an alleged incident in early Arizona where a guy used a Gila Monster to poison another guy and was tried for it. I know I've read of this case, and I want to say it happened somewhere up by Wickenburg around 1903, but I can't quite put my finger, or my mind, on it.

Also, got a call from Henry Beck who is writing a piece for us on the next season of Deadwood, the HBO series and he had a question about an alleged encounter between Wyatt Earp and Seth Bullock. I can't tell you the anecdote because it's top secret but it will be in the next issue (April). Kathy and I watched a sneak preview of the DVD of Deadwood last night, and they had an extensive interview with David Milch. Really inspiring although his history is a bit weird. That's probably why he's able to write such unique characters.

And one more comment from Alan Huffines, who is reacting to my squeamishness to the gay stuff in Kinsey:

"And speaking of entering the exit ramp...shouldn't ‘Brokedown Mountain’ be re-titled to
‘Bareback Mountain’? Seems more appropriate."

"Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought; our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks."
—Dr. Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

December 7, 2004
I know some of you are going to find this hard to believe, but no matter how much of a stickler I am about authentic details in Old West history, rest assured there are people, no, make that friends of mine, who are even more anal than I am. Case in point:

Got an Email from Alan Huffines, who's back from Japan. Here's what he had to say:

"Congratulations on another great issue. The saddle article was incredible.
One request; I assume your artwork on the editorial page are the boards for
the 'Good Saddle-Bad Saddle' T-Shirt. Please, consider a different 'Good
Saddle.' The one you drew is late 19th Century at best and a California
pattern with fully covered tree. Can you choose one of the images from the
saddle article perhaps? A nice Stagg half-seat without jockeys and no
Cheyenne Roll on the cantle? I want one of these shirts but could not bear
(or is it bare?) to wear a California Saddle on my Texas chest.”

Your honor, I rest my case.

In this morning’s staff meeting, we all got to hear the adventures of the sales staff, fresh back from their road trip to Vegas. Tens of thousands of cowboys and cowgals descended on the Strip for rodeo, single-action-shooting displays, jewelry, clothing and horse trailers. And cheap hooch. Comments on the cheesiness and gaudy nature of the place were quite galore. Melrose told us how much he absolutely loves the town. Not surprised.

Worked all day on Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce layout. Gus and I reconfigured the entire piece, moving type and images around. Hard work, but it is going to be good.

Went to lunch with Dave Daiss, RG and Mike Pellegatti to talk about TV production. Good talk about budgets and content, but I'm still not sure we have what we need. Paul Hutton may come over this weekend to pow-wow. We need his brilliant insight and charming demeaner.

Speaking of Paul, he got the page proofs of a Deadwood photo feature we are doing of his images and he really disliked it. Thought we picked the wrong images (my fault) and that we missed some good ones. We’ll work on it when he comes over.

Ordered seven rare photographs from the Arizona Historical Society of Charleston, Arizona taken by Charles Farciot. Going to cost some, but I need them for my new book. Paid for it on my biz account ($185). Damn, I wish I hadn’t tipped that popcorn gal!

“Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.”
—Eric Hoffer

Monday, December 06, 2004

December 6, 2004
Woke up around midnite to more rain. Listened for an hour or so. Finally drifted back to sleep, got up at six, still drizzling. Very un-Arizona-like. Cold and soggy out.

The sales staff, all four of them, went to Cowboy Christmas in Vegas over the weekend. Huge event, including the NFR (National Finals Rodeo), tens of thousands of rodeo-cowboy folk in town. Our tag team is still there and will return tomorrow. We are anxious to hear all their war stories.

Theresa from Tri Star came out this afternoon so I could sign books for the dyslexic kid I told you about a couple days ago. She got caught on Carefree Highway. Big wreck at about 32nd Street. Road closed for three hours. She had to go all the way back to I-17 and down to the 101 and back up Cave Creek Road. An extra loop of about 33 miles. She was laughing, but it took an extra 45 minutes. Ouch!

Allen Barra sent me his new book Big Play. I love the jacket blurb: "He's controversial, he's iconoclastic, and sometimes he's even downright rude. But what he is more often than not is right, with the stats and facts to back up what he says—and he's not afraid to let you know it. After all, he's Allen Barra."

Too true. It's kind of amazing that we're still friends. It was my fault he got kicked out of a certain Tombstone historical establishment when we did a radio show there four years ago. And it was me who booted him out of the masthead over an alleged curse word he used on a chat room to describe one of our advertisers. But to his credit, through it all, Allen never got mad (although plenty of his friends did). Earlier this year when I went down to Tucson to appear on the Investigating History TV show on the O.K. Corral, we all went to El Minuto and had a great dinner and it was like none of the above had ever happened.

I think that's the true test of good friendships. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but if one person can be mature enough and forgive (that would be Allen), it sometimes makes the bond even stronger, the old "what does not kill you makes you stronger" deal.

And speaking of longtime friendships, as much as I make fun of Kingman, I have to say that I still have strong feelings for almost everyone I grew up with there. I got a call, today, out of the blue from Marcella Baca. She is living in New York state and called to join the True West Maniac Club. Fun talking to her. Haven't seen her since about 1969. We actually dated, but we were of different religions: she went to ASU.

Worked on a scratchboard of Mattie Earp this afternoon. She's been betrayed and abandoned by the man she loved. She's looking down and has one more decision to make, and she's looking right at it: a half-empty bottle of laudanum. Good photo reference which I shot out at Pioneer about ten years ago. Never got to use it. May put in a "John" on the bed, in the dark, behind her, lighting a cigarette.

"Before you run in double harness, look well to the other horse."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, December 05, 2004

December 5, 2004
More rain! Hard to believe we're in a drought. Started sprinkling yesterday at about ten, soggy and misty all day and night. Still quite wet and overcast out this morning. Got a nice fire going in the studio stove. Buddy Boze Hatkiller is asleep in his chair. I'm ruining a painting on my right. It's OK, I'm not okay. As in it's an O.K. Corral painting and it's not working.

Kathy and I went into Scottsdale at two yesterday. Visited Deena in her new condo. She needs some artwork framed so I took one of her fave posters by Leighton

Met the Tumalos for a movie at four. Went to Camelview Five to see Sideways (about two guys on a roadtrip through Napa Valley before a wedding). Even though we were there twenty minutes early the movie was sold out (Ed Mell raved about it and it's getting really strong word of mouth). The group decided to see Kinsey. Didn't really want to see it because I knew some of the plot (It's about sex in the fifties! And Liam Neeson Frenches another guy!).

Deena and I stood in line for popcorn. A young girl, maybe eighteen, waited on us. We got a large popcorn to share, no butter, a bottle of water and a coke. She said, “That's $11.” I pulled out a ten and Deena said, “Do you need a dollar?” And a light went off in my head. I pulled out some ones, gave our server the one, then gave her another one and said, "This is for you for the excellent service." She just about dropped her ju ju beans. "Oh, thankyou, sir!" she said incredulously, totally unlike the bartender at Java who looked at the dollar I left him like it was a smelly, dog turd. Amazing. Virtually the same price, only at the theatre, the girl did twice the work and we don't usually tip them. Isn’t that odd?

Movie was actually pretty good. Cringed at the homo activity (I know, I know, deep down I'm probably gay, just like Kinsey).

Afterwards we tried to go to the Roaring Fork, but they didn't have a table until past our bedtime (9 P.M.!), so we went over to Earl's on Highland but they are out of business. There's not a sadder sight than a closed restaurant and when you see the empty parking lot, but run up to look through the locked doors anyway, just to make sure, and you see all of that fancy decor gone to waste, a virtual mini-ghost town in the shadows, with a piece of broken foamboard on the floor just beyond the door, a stack of menus still on the hostess desk waiting for customers who are gone and never coming back. The rain and the fog created noir shadows along the bar and gave it all a depressing sheen, like a Raymond Chandler story without the cheesy sex. Or, maybe it did have the sex because ultimately I didn’t feel too sorry for them because Earl came to town and strong-armed his way into the market (the Radinas have Earl's in Sun City and the Canadian Earl had a high-priced lawyer help him straight-arm his way past the legal issues). I don't think his Frank Lloyd Wright Earl’s is doing much better. Oh, well. It could be worse. He could be in the magazine business.

We ended up at Nick's up at Pinnacle Peak and Pima. Great little Italian Restaurante. Had the veal piccante and a glass of Ravenswood Merlot ($9 a glass, or $8.50 a bottle at Costco). Meal was very good ($164, split it down the middle, Sue biz card).

Well, back to artwork. I do complain, but it's a thrill to be doing something I love to do. And when I get down I always think of this: "Work is only work if you’d rather be someplace else."

Or, how about this one from the 12th Century:

"Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance."
—I Chingi

Friday, December 03, 2004

December 3, 2004
Well, thanks to all of you reading this, I made it with two hours to spare. Started off this morning staring at nine copy holes. Really kind of nervous and anxious about it, pictured myself writing in here how I failed royally, so I knuckled down and finished the first chapter on the death of Johnny Ringo at nine, then the second one on the Bisbee stage robbery and Virgil Earp shooting at McMasters fell at ten. Whipped out the O.K. Corral fight by about 11:15 (this is one I could write in my sleep), and the Spicer Hearing by 11:30, broke for lunch (Carole brought in Pei Wei salads and iced tea, she bought), got back on it at 12:30, finished Gray's Ranch by one, Curly Bill vs. that Lincoln County Son of a Bitch Jim Wallace at 1:40 and Easy Virtue Meets the Long Arms of the Law at 2:20. Feels great. It's amazing what you can do when you have to. There is no way I could have done any of this without the $100 hanging over my head. It's very stressful, but quite effective. I often tell people that if I had no deadlines, I would still be working on my first book. Ha. Too true. Not even an exaggeration.

Went into Carol's office and told her to give me back $50 and to take the remaining $50 and treat the staff to a party (Abbey wants to go bowling, Gus suggested buying some crack).

Had time to work on ten new True West Moment bumpers for the Westerns Channel. Jeff Hildebrandt is flying in next Wednesday and we're filming out at Pioneer Living History Museum. Going to do something on saloon fare (inspired by Sherry Monihan's new book, which is coming out next year and she sent me the introduction), stagecoach stunts, fanning, Old West credit, buffalo chip fires, disguises (outlaws wore many disguises besides the cliche of the bandana pulled up over the nose), lawyers, beans and money (actually credit). Going to be fun.

Jeff, the sound guy, told me about a new earpiece deal where you tape your comments beforehand then replay them back in your ear, as you are filming and it acts as a teleprompter with you actually speaking on a slight delay. I looked up the unit online and it’s $267. If only I hadn't tipped that damn bartender so much, I could afford it!

Tom Russell has played the David Letterman show twice this year. When he told me I got really excited because I'm a huge Letterman fan, and I asked him that was like and he said, "Cold." Evidently Dave insists on the Ed Sullivan theater being quite cool (sweat glands? I don’t know). He also said Letterman has a big ranch up in Montana. Tom also said Dave's very into the Western deal and could recite Russell's entire songlist on his CD (something Tom said he couldn't even do). Interesting, eh? David Letterman rides the range. Hmmmmm.

"Authenticity is the true mother of my fame."
—Jimmy Buffet

Thursday, December 02, 2004

December 2, 2004
More tipping fallout from last night's wine tippling at Java:

"I've just read your journal entry for [Monday] and it really pained me to see that you only gave a 10% tip on the two glasses of wine. Now Bob, as you must know, these people make their living on tips and 10% is just not acceptable. Then again, perhaps the service was poor and the dollar conveyed that to the server.

No, the service was fine, but I just have an extreme aversion to standing at a bar, and the bartender goes over and fills two plastic glasses with wine, puts it on the bar and says, "That’s ten dollars." And I'm thinking to myself, "You know, the poor kid at Dairy Queen does twice as much work and we don't tip him anything, but here we are in a trendy bar, and a guy fills two glasses and I'm supposed to tip him $2?” Seems mighty dumb to me. So I tipped him $1 and felt that even was too much. And I almost pulled a George, a la Seinfeld, where I started to take it back and changed my mind, then held it up so I would get the credit. Pathetic, eh?

Mike Melrose told me that he was talking with Bill Walsh, the owner of The Franklin Hotel in Deadwood and according to Bill they have people flying in from South America to visit and it's all because of the HBO series Deadwood. Walsh went on to say that visitors to the Black Hills were down last year, but Deadwood's numbers have "skyrocketed" because of the HBO show. Bill also told a funny story about being back in Boston recently wearing his cowboy hat and he went into a bar and someone said, "Where you from cowboy?" And Bill said, "Deadwood, South Dakota," and the bartender said, “Welcome to Boston you c--- s---er.” Now there's a bartender I wouldn't mind tipping $4, just for being so damn funny.

Theresa from Tri Star called yesterday to tell me she got a call from a satisfied mama from Illinois on Monday. Evidently, her son is dyslexic and has never read books until he found one of my heavily illustrated Old West books. She said her son has memorized them, and that she was so impressed, she fought to get the books in the local school. Got to call my mom and tell her that story, but I’ll probably change the books to Arizona Highways, because she doesn’t quite get why I’m so tied up with killers and such. Probably has something to do with my tipping psychosis.

Tomorrow is the deadline for the $100-incentive-deal and Gus assures me that several employees have asked him to sabotage the effort so they can get the $100 party. I think he's about half-kidding. Late this afternoon, the two of us went over the holes in the book and there are nine, including the Gunfight Behind the OK Corral. Ha. That's funny. Need to slam some copy in the breech on that, and on Johnny Ringo, whores and ice cream, Geronimo, Milt Joyce and the Gray Ranch, among others. Going to go down to the wire. Stay tuned. Could get pricey (and I may regret giving that bartender anything!)

“For every action, watch out for the unintended consequences.”
—Steve Zagaris

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

December 1, 2004
Got up at 5:30, drank coffee. Really cold out, dogs wanted to run, Kathy egging me on to take them for a bike ride. Too wimpy. Started a fire in studio stove, stayed close. Quite chilly out (under 30 degrees).

Went into the office a eight. Immediately started working on holes to fill in CGII. Had a manager’s meeting at 8:30. Got some good things done. Felt good.

Came home for lunch. Took dogs for a bike ride (much warmer at 12:30). Got back to office at 1:20, executive session at 1:30. Excellent ideas from RG on expanding current circ. All agreed. Tough decisions on business matters. Consensus strong. We will not be denied.

Tom Russell, the recording artist, called at about four. I learned about him from Paul Northrop, of El Paso. When I reminded Tom of this he said, "Oh, yes, I remember him. That was two girlfriends ago." Ah, musicians. He came out to True West offices at five. Good talk with him and his lead guitarist Andy, from Austin, Texas. They are appearing at the Cave Creek Coffee Company, or Java, as it's known locally, tonight at eight.

Worked until around six, finished a couple of critical pieces on new book. Left at 6:30, came home, fed dogs, talked to them, "You're dogs! Aren't you? You're dogs!" Went up at seven to Java and met Tom Russell and talked about biz in general. Joel Klasky came up, and I got us two Cabernet wines ($10 cash, plus $1 tip).

Tom Russell told us about a new train trip deal across Canada with song writers, etc. It's called Roots On The Rails, North America's Moving Music Festival. We are going to do a train issue next year and this is perfect for us.

Joel and I had appetizers for dinner ($25 cash, I bought, includes tip). Got home at 9:20. Really late for me, but fun to experience musicians and artist types. Need to do it more often.

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”
—Rodney Dangerfield