Monday, January 31, 2005

January 31, 2005
Got up at 5:45 and ran Kathy down to Bell Road for another medical exam. While she went into twilight, I went over to Rolberto's for breakfast burrito takeout ($10 cash, includes tip). While I was waiting I read quite a bit of Seneca's philosophy, one of the other books on Dauten's list of must reads. Seneca is quite profound to me (especially since he was writing in about 49 A.D.). Many of his concepts ring true today. For example he hates this blog. Thinks it's dumb; dangerous to do; predicts sorrow and tragedy if I continue. The bad news is, he predicts the same thing, if I continue the blog. And then he beats me (and you) up for even worrying about the impending sorrow and tragedy, which he predicts with some certainty. In spite of this, he seems like an upbeat guy, even though he had to commit suicide. The emperor Nero (who Seneca tutored to be a ruler!) sent him a letter: "Hey, don’t like what you’re saying, Man. I need you to commit suicide." And, being the citizen Seneca was, he complied! Before he voluntarily checked out he wrote down most of the things he had learned. He's quite against trying to impress “the mob,” and especially the incessant “hankering for more.”

I plead guilty, you honor. In the first degree.

Got Kathy home at about nine, took the dogs for a bike ride. Beautiful out. High clouds, nice and cool, not cold. Birds singing like crazy (surely a sign of impending sorrow).

We've got a new poll up and I really want to know the answer to this one: Are your children or grandchildren interested in the Old West? Vote here.

Got into the office at around 9:30, took shots of artwork up to Foothills Photo at ten, got the one hour turnaround ($11.38 biz account).

Went home for lunch and had the burritos with Kathy. My neighbor JD showed up around one with his John Deere front-end loader and proceeded to grade down the remaining dirt for the Spanish driveway project. He did a great job and I tried to pay him ("JD take some money for gas.") but he got mad—literally. "I don’t do that. I just do this for my neighbors," he said, waving me off. I persisted: "I’ve got to get you something, J.D. What do you like?" He looked at me sternly, "I don't like anything in this world."


Perhaps he was concerned he came on too strong, because as he left he told me he really appreciates the True West subscription Kathy gave him last Christmas. I don't know if it's because I'm reading Seneca or drawing Jesus, but as he drove away, bouncing along on his mini-John Deere, I suddenly felt quite blessed to have a neighbor like him.

And speaking of Jesus Out West, I'll post a drawing or two tomorrow.

"If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it, as the old woman did her lost spectacles, safe on her nose all the time."
—Josh Billings

Sunday, January 30, 2005

January 30, 2005
Made about ten rock hunting trips yesterday. Kathy and I loaded up about three bathtubs worth of flat rocks. One of my neighbors drove by and saw us. Rolled down his window and yelled, "Rock thief!" I laughed and laughed, over my shoulder as I climbed down from the upper arms of a 30 foot saguaro.

Bev, my haircutting neighbor, got kicked by one of her horses yesterday. Broke her arm. She won't be cutting hair for about six weeks.

Kathy and I went to a wine tasting last night up at AZ Wine Company in Carefree. Really fun. Got to drink an $80 Cabernet. Very tasty. Bought a bottle of Columbia Yakima Valley, Washington, 1999 ($19.49 cash).

Ended up down at Salute's for dinner last night. Great Italian place down at Desert Ridge ($75 cash, includes tip, we split it). I was surrounded by the whole Radina Clan: Kathy, Betty, Debbie, Brad and 'Cedes. At the wine tasting a dentist came by and called Betty "Mother Radina." I think that might stick. Kind of has a Lady Madonna ring to it.

Which reminds me, Paul Giamatti, the star of Sideways, the wine tasting, mid-life crisis movie which is up for several Oscars, was asked by Newsweek what question he is tired of answering and he said, "What’s wrong with drinking merlot?" Funny, if you've seen the movie. Irritating if you hate scene spoilers.

I think I nailed the "Good, Bad & Holy" painting. At least it's what I set out to try and do. Still not sure if it's the right image, but as I said yesterday, I'll post it up here on Tuesday. Want to run the design idea by Dan Harshberger first. I don't want it to be a straight rip-off of the movie poster.

Finished four paintings this afternoon, worked on three others. Photographed them. Feel confident and inspired to keep on the "trackless road." This is from the book Bushido: The Way of the Samurai. It was recommended by Dale Dauten, a business columnist I enjoy reading. Written between 1710-1716, for a warrior society, many of the truths still ring true for business, life and art. Some of it, however, seems odd though and almost fake, like it was written by staff members of The National Lampoon. For example, "If you attend an exclusive samurai's party and feel timid, you cannot do your part in making it a successful party. You had first better prepare by convincing yourself that you will have a grand time." Other advice is equally odd: "How to Stop Yawning" and some is classic: "Fall Seven Times and Get Up Eight" and back to weird: "Burn With Mad Death" and some is quite informative: "How to Acquire Talented People" ("things gather around him who loves them.") and finally:

"Those who are reputed to be good at arts and crafts are good in a foolish fashion. They have become good at one particular subject because they foolishly became fond of and attached to one art without any regard to other matters. Quite useless."
—Tsunetomo Yamamotoo
January 29, 2005
More rain. Deena said they got hail down in Scottsdale. Tornado warnings. Creek really running again.

Worked all day yesterday on Jesus images. Didn't get anything worth showing (he's not easy to portray!). I was however, inspired by a comment that RG made the other day in my office. He saw the Jesus Out West sketch on my art desk and chuckled, offering this possible headline: "The Good, The Bad And The Holy." This morning I dug out my DVD of the Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone classic and checked out the cover. Hmmmm, Eastwood does resemble The Passion Guy more than a little. Dug around for a 1920s art book featuring the German designer Ludwig Hohlwein, known for his striking, silhouettes and clean designs. Worked up a cover sketch blending between the two. I'm going to paint a study this afternoon.

Meanwhile the dire predictions of doom and gloom regarding this cover idea continue. Here are a couple of thoughtful comments:

"Bob, as a True West Maniac, #235, I beg you not to do the cover with Jesus and the cowboy hat with the crown of thorns. That will make all of our Lifetime subscriptions expire in about a year. Because that's about how long I'd give the magazine before it folds. The older readers that started out with True West from the beginning that decided to give you a chance will probably start dropping like flies. I'm 46 and would probably stick with you but I have a strong feeling others would not. You have the best Western magazine out there, by far; it's the only one I subscribe to. Please don't ruin it.”
—Mark Kilburn

"Viewed the sketch of Jesus as a cowboy. From someone who was raised amidst zealous Christian beliefs (a family who gathered around the pump organ at Grandma's house to sing from hymnals & prayed so long over food it was cold before we got to eat) in the heartland of America, I did not find it highly offensive. No blood oozing (a miracle for Boze) from beneath the cowboy hat or Christ being peppered with a hail of bullets (like Butch & Sundance), glancing hot lead with the Holy Book (bouncing off like Superman's cape), that would give cause for real concern. Still, you're bound to ignite religious fanatics & conservatives into a frenzy with any non-traditional image of "The Man Who Stills the Water" (or makes it into wine). Day will turn into night, the Colorado river will run red and a plague of locust will descend upon True West's camp. Behold, when the subscribers and advertisers leave, all you may have left to wear is a fig leaf. Divine intervention (God's grace) may allow you keep your big Stetson hat, so your ass doesn't burn as you wander in the desert for the next 40 years."

"Nurture your mind with great thoughts;
to believe in the heroic makes heroes."
—Benjamin Disraeli

Call me stubborn, call me crazy, call me clueless, I still think I can create a cover of Jesus Out West that will carry the day. I will post the contenders on Tuesday.

"Sometimes the sins you haven't committed are all you have to hold on to."
—David Sedariss

Friday, January 28, 2005

January 28, 2005
The response has been immediate and passionate. Abby took my sketch of "Jesus Out West" home and her mother was "slightly offended" but her father and grandmother were not. They are from Iowa and are devout Christians. Abby is not saying it, but in spite of her parent's approval, I sense she is very nervous and uncomfortable with what I might do with Jesus on the cover of True West.

She is not alone. The majority of the women in the office are very concerned about Jesus as a cover subject. Sue Lambert told me bluntly, she feels it is a "big mistake." Meanwhile, Kathy feels like it could be a major business blunder and suggests using instead our Navajo rug with the cross design in it (dates from about 1905 and hangs in our living room). I asked Abby to design a mock cover with that as the image, to see how it plays. Personally, I believe it's the wimpy way out.

Meanwhile, here's some of the reaction among my opinionated compadres:

"Listen to me boy—DO NOT and I mean DO NOT—put Jesus in a cowboy hat (or in anything else) on your cover. Don't make me come over there! No Jesus! For Christ's sake what the hell are you thinking?"
—Your deeply spiritual pal, Paul Hutton

"I think your original idea without the crown of thorns is wonderful and would work. I like that concept better than Jesus on a horse. It's the 'mocking' of the crucifixion you need to watch out for. I'm not saying you're mocking it, but I think that is what people would counter with. I'm anxious to see it when done."
—Bob Reece

"Ah, Boze...Boze...Boze...So now you're galloping blindly into the place where angels fear to tread--the mystery, murk and deep doo-doo of religion in the Old West. Can you be saved? From yourself, of course...I don't know what the article covers--Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Indian (Native American), or the worship of Zoraster, so it's hard to get too specific in my reaction. But I do know this: somebody, somewhere, is going to burn you at the stake. They are going to stick pins in a doll. They'll bury you alive, along with your servants, attendants, horses and canvasses. You will be crucified. You can't win this one. The only question is what level of Hell you'll be consigned to."
—Mark Boardman, president of Western Outlaws & Lawmen Association

"I suppose the cover is not to be humorous but literal, i.e., Jesus was out West. It is an artistic interpretation of a defining period. Could the same be shown with a Circuit Rider and some Indians or perhaps a mass annual wedding, like took place each year in nearby Anson? I don't know. I get what you are trying to do, but as a Christian I think the thorns should be gone—they would really only make sense if you had him on a crucifix anyway. Maybe the Saguaro in the background could be shaped like a cross? I don't know, but you definitely get an A+ for creativity. God and Texas!"
—Alan Huffines, author and history consultant on Disney’s The Alamo

"I think Jesus would have been more the mountain man type, but I applaud the concept wholeheartedly."
—Marcus Huff, former editor of True West

"Does the name, 'Maplethorp' ring a bell? After a tough day of trying to figure out how to make True West more profitable, do you really want to do something that might cost you subscribers? There is a fine line between controversy and alienation. And remember, you'll never win arguing religion or politics."
—Jeff Hildebrandt, Westerns Channel

"If you run that on your cover, you have a secret death wish for your magazine . . . plain and simple. It's one thing to piss off readers, another to piss off advertisers. Such a cover will do both."
—Charlie Waters, publisher of the Fresno Bee

Here's a sneak peek at the opening paragraph of our cover story on Religion in the West:

"Jesus Christ immigrated to the West too, but you could read a hundred history books and never know that. It’s impossible to talk honestly about the settlement of the West without taking about religion, but historians sure have tried."
—Jana Bommersbach

I'm doing more sketches today and I'll post them as they move along. In the meantime, I wonder if the subject of our discussion has anything to add?

"A man without a vision shall perish."
—Jesus Christ

Thursday, January 27, 2005

January 26, 2005
Woke up to sprinkles. Rained all day. Still raining (4:45 PM). Didn't go to the creek to get rocks. Too wet out.

Tough business meetings almost all day. Drove down into the beast to visit my dentist at noon. Stopped at Aaron Bros. and got more gouache paints, watercolor sketch pads, brushes and mixing tray ($126 biz account). At the dentist’s office I heard two words I really don’t like the sound of: "Periodontal deterioration." Phoenix has a water contamination problem (some mud seeped into the water works) and the city has been urging everyone to boil water. My dental hygienist, Danielle, moved me to a bottled water fed tube sprayer. You know, the kind where they suck the water out of your mouth with. I have to go back for X-Rays and more poking next week. Got the usual "floss more" speech. Hate it.

Got back to the office at 1:45, went into Executive Session. More tough decisions, but good input all around. It’s very comforting to have good, solid, honest businessmen on my team. And did I mention stubborn? Bob Brink is bound and determined to make this magazine profitable even if he has to bind and gag me. We disagree on the minimum amount of editorial mix in each issue. I want the reader to have enough content, Bob wants us to make enough money. Both are correct, and it's a dance we do when things get tight.

Big controversy brewing on our proposed June issue. Jana B. has written an excellent overview on religion in the West. It never gets covered in magazines like ours and I thought it was time to do a cover story on "Jesus Out West." I did a sensitive scratchboard of Jesus with a cowboy hat on with a hatband of thorns with a desert sweeping out away from him, a saguaro in the background. I took the sketch over to Abby and she blanched. She showed it to several of the women in the office and they are all worried it will offend cranky, uptight people, namely, their parents and by extension, our readers.

A big debate followed. My main question is, if someone is going to be offended by the cover and not even look at the article inside, do I even want them as readers? Robert Ray's belief is that 52% of the voters who went to the polls (red staters) are going to be offended. I think that is way too simplistic and that the American public is more mature than that. Meanwhile Abby took the sketch home to show her parents.

I’m curious to hear how that one comes out. We’ll see.

"Be careful, half knowledge is sometimes much worse than complete ignorance."
—A Japanese cartoonist
January 27, 2005
Rained almost all day yesterday, and last night. Really came down. Everything is soaked. Knocked out our Qwest internet line connection at work so I haven't been able to post here. Finally came home today and am posting from home.

Tomcat went to Telluride for his birthday. One of his friend's father has a $7 million dollar "cabin" and they partied pretty hardy. Unfortunately, not even wealthy people get off scott free. Here's today’s note from Tomas:

I've been kind of busy so I've failed to keep you guys updated with some things.
First off, all of us that went to Telluride except Jake got Hot Tub Fuluculitus. It's a bacterial infection from the hot tub not having the proper chemicals. You get these little red dots that look like zits but have a red ring around them and your lymph nodes get swollen. It sucks. My nipples and armpits have been killing me because of the swelling. You can apply vinegar 2 to 4 times daily or just wait it out for several weeks.

Came home for lunch today and photographed a Navajo rug we got from the Bacons with a cross in the middle. I'm thinking of using it to illustrate our Religion In The West cover story. I have more to say on this, but that copy is at the office and I'll post it tomorrow, or as soon as Qwest gets their act together.

"A dog in the hunt doesn't know he has fleas."
—Old Vaquero Saying?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

January 25, 2005
Jerry and Cleis Jordon, owners of my favorite B&B in the Western World, Casa de Patron in Lincoln, New Mexico, are in town and staying with us. We sat out in the yard yesterday with nice bottle of Merlot they brought and enjoyed the view of Ratcliff Ridge and my Spanish driveway, in progress.

Speaking of which, last night I drove the Ranger into the garage and as I pulled in I drove over the rocks for the first time. It wasn't the smoothest ride. In fact, it kind of freaked me out. But Kathy came in at about seven and as she drove over it she said she thought it was fine.

Tonight Paul Hutton's show on Crazy Horse airs on the History Channel. One of the wranglers, Jim Hatzell has this to say:

"If you get a chance to see it I want you to appreciate that I cast everybody, was boss wrangler, did wardrobe & props, and I did all the make-up effects ( Crazy Horse's scar, bullet wounds, etc ) I also portray Dr Valentine McGillicuddy and there will be scenes in the show with the Little Big Horn which I helped Kurtis set up back in 1998."

“Don't fight forces; use them.”
—Buckminster Fuller

Sunday, January 23, 2005

January 23, 2005
The cover for the travel issue is in the can. Dan Harshberger did a stellar job of applicating my “77 Sunset Trips” painting. Here’s a sneak peek at the painting.

Tomcat's B-day today. He's in Telluride snowboarding.

Tired. Sweaty and grimy. Haven't felt this good, or sore (good sore?) in a long time. Kathy and I loaded at least sixteen tons (and what'd'ya get? Another day older. . .), no make that six tons. Blisters on my fingers, forearms and legs very sore. When I do manual labor, I get ideas. Yesterday's entire legal fantasy-morass was born out of being on one of my uptight neighbor's property line (okay, I was within twenty feet of their house) and having major Lutheran guilt. For some reason when I get within spitting distance of guilt I always picture myself in court defending myself. And thanks to some mysterious, legal eagle machinations, I'm always losing. Things I've said in my past come back to haunt me (the living curse of a incessant ham).

Here's one of the ideas that came to me as I trudged up the ridge with fifty pounds of stolen rock in my knapsack:

Mrs. Bad Gun
She is a feminist squaw. Hates men, hates guns (thus, the moniker). She is the epitome of the race-class and gender protagonist—on steroids. A comic book parody, jujitsu ma-ma, kicking major ass on the frontier.

Typical line: “You Colonialist Pig!” K-Pow! Ching! Ching! Arrrgh!

Another typical line: "I will fight no more, forever—my ass!" K-Pow! Ching! Arrrgh!

On another trip, I thought of this: We childproofed our home, but they are still getting in.

As I passed a stand of creosote bushes, the pungent and poisonous perfume of the desert branches sent me back to being twelve in Kingman. I'm on my way to Hood's to get a fireball (hot bubblegum) and a Squirt. I can hear the airpad cooler banging away in the window, pumping cool air into the darkened market on the south side of Route 66 on Hilltop.

About a month ago I got a call from Mrs. Wyatt Earp (I'm not joking) and she asked me to be in a play she has written about Jack Durant, a famous (and some would say infamous) restauranteur in 1950s Phoenix. Terry Earp's concept is pretty cool. On the darkened stage there is a mysterious drunk at the bar with his head down. He's wearing really scruffy cowboy boots, a trenchcoat and a cowboy hat and for the entire play he is passed out with his head on the bar so the audience can't see who it is. Last night was my night to pass out (Marshall Trimble was one of the previous guest drunks). Kathy thought it would be hoot to eat at the real Durant's prior to the play, so she made a reservation for six and invited Deena and Ursula to join us. The Old World Restaurant is in downtown Phoenix and you still enter through the kitchen, right past the cooks and bus boys. Inside it's all red Victorian walloper, red tuck and roll booths, paintings of Jack's bulldogs on the walls. And the food is still fantastic. Had a glass of cabernet ($8.50) plus an 8 oz. prime rib ($17.50). Really fun. Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dimagio, Dizzy Dean and many famous faces used to frequent this watering hole. Wonderful Russ and I used to go to Durant’s quite a bit in the eighties and nineties. The most famous person I saw there was Lew King (a local fake-cowboy saturday afternoon matinee tv guy, whose claim to fame is he discovered Wayne Newton, who never spoke to him again). He was drunk and yelling. I was impressed.

Play went well. Gave everyone in the audience a free True West. Got home about ten. Fun and productive day.

"There are many who lust for the simple answers of doctrine or decree. They are on the left and right. They are not confined to a single part of the society. They are terrorists of the mind."
—Angelo Giamatti (1938-89), President, Yale

Saturday, January 22, 2005

January 22, 2005
This morning I started early and hauled at least three tons of rock by hand up to the Spanish driveway project (according to the woman at PV Rock, a ton of river rock fills a bathtub). Retrieved most of them from our land.

"Mr. Bell, when you say you retrieved most of these rocks from your land, are you telling the truth?"

"Yes. Most of them came from our property."

"Define most."

"Maybe 98%."

"And that is the truth?"

"Yes, I always try to tell the truth."

"Mr. Bell, I'm going to quote from a so-called blog you write. In it you say you are buying an 'enlarger pump,' and you imply you hid the purchase from your wife, while she was sedated. Is that a fair statement?"

"Well, yes, but it was meant as hyperbole."

“Would you define 'hyperbole' for the jury?"

"I think it means 'obvious exaggeration."

"So you were exaggerating when you said you bought a penis pump."

"Well, of course."

"You never bought one did you, Mr. Bell?"

"No. I just thought it was a funny situation."

"So you were lying about it, weren't you Mr. Bell?"

"No. I mean, I guess you could see it that way, but I don't look at it that way."

"So when you say you got most of the rocks from your own land, is that hyperbole?"

"No. It's the truth."

"Here are some photos taken by one of your neighbors. In these photos are you on your own property?"

"I think I am."

"Here is a Global Positioning photo of your property and X marks the spot where you were photographed bending over. Wouldn't you admit that in this photo you are outside the boundary lines of your property?"

"Well, it is a funny angle. Maybe I'm tying my shoe."

"More hyperbole, Mr. Bell? You appear to be holding something in your hand, about waist high. Could you please tell the jury what that is?"

"A penis pump?"

"The prosecution rests, your Honor."

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office."
—Old Vaquero Sayingy

Friday, January 21, 2005

January 21, 2005
Last night I went up to Legacy Gallery for a special party they were having for the High Noon folks (The fifteenth Annual Western Americana Show & Auction). It's this weekend down at Civic Plaza. Thanks to Brian Label, Melrose and I met Joseph Sherwood, one of the founders of High Noon and we traded stories about ASU and U of A in the sixties. He remembered going to ZBT frat parties in Tucson and seeing the Turtles, the Beach Boys and others. I remembered similiar stories because Charlie Waters was a Sig Ep and their house was next door, and one time I was over there visiting Charlie and I heard loud music and said something like, "Man, they're sure playing the Turtles loud over there," And Charlie said, "That's because it is the Turtles." This was unheard of. Local bands usually played the frat gigs, but there they were, The Turtles, playing the Zeta Beta Tau Spring formal! In those days there weren't many big venues. It was either small stuff (I think the Zebes paid $5,000 for the Beach Boys and $7,000 for the Turtles) or a bowling alley (where Jimmie Hendrix played his Tucson gig), or a ball field (I saw the Doors and the Rascals at High Corbett Field, with the stage set up on the pitcher's mound). Anyway, Joseph spent two years at ASU, rode a Triumph 650 (ditto), dated a girl in Manzanita (ditto), frequented JD’s in the river-bottom (ditto—saw Waylon Jennings on my 21st birthday, December 19, 1967. Had to wait outside until midnight, got in and had my first legal drink and even got Waylon's autograph).

Just then, Kathy came up and I introduced her to Joseph as an ex-ASU student who was in Manzanita Dorm.

Got up this morning and went for a quick bike ride at about seven. Still twilight out, but warmer (maybe 50). Came back to the house and collected a napsack full of colored rocks for the Spanish driveway and took off for work at eight. Ran into Juan and his son Umberto, on bikes, cruising up Spur Cross at Grapevine Wash. Picked them up and drove them back out to the job. Turned around and got into the office about 8:30. Big push in the office to finish travel issue. Biggest we’ve ever published, 156 pages. Everyone busy and jamming. Feels good.

Came home for lunch at about 12:30. Scooped up another two bags worth of flat rocks for the Spanish driveway. Paid Juan and his son. Had to lock up Peaches (El Perro) because she likes to walk on the wet cement. Work is progressing very nicely. Going to try and finish on Monday. Phase one, that is. The circular turnaround in front of the garage.

Had an executive session at about two. Bob McCubbin was in town and we went over budget crunching and other items. Things moved smoothly and we got quite a bit accomplished. Boned up on Robert's Rules of Order, and that made it a little more professional.

Five books I want to read (recommended by Dale Dauten):
1. Letters From a Stoic, by Seneca
2. Climbing the Blue Mountain, by Eknath Easwaran
3. The Letters of Emerson
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnagie
5. Bushido, the Japanese book of Samurai wisdom

"To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?"
—Katharine Graham

Thursday, January 20, 2005

January 20, 2005
Got the new Esquire two days ago and finally got to read some of it last night (Scarlett Johansson burns a hole through the cover). As usual, several pieces of writing stopped me dead cold. I had to reread them a couple times. Two examples:

"It took 75 years to bring democracy to Europe, from 1914 to 1989. At some point, the entire European continent was governed by either communists, fascists, or Nazis. Two hot wars, one cold one. Tens of millions of people killed. The good news is, I don't think the Middle East will take as long."
—R. James Woolsey, former CIA director, in Esquire

“America is being divided by its extremes. Conservatives are moving toward religious nationalism. The culture is moving toward a kind of pornography. Liberals have been kidding themselves, thinking the culture is on their side. The truth is, they don't have a side.

"The kind of pornography that the culture is moving toward is not necessarily sexual. It's omnivorous. It's a culture in which human beings are defined by their sheer utility—sexual, economic, or otherwise.

"The humanism that is the beating heart of Liberalism—the humanism that exalts the power of the individual human conscience—is threatened not just by the rise of religious nationalism. It is equally threatened by the pornographication of the culture."
—Tom Junod, in Esquire

At noon today I went down to The Home Depot to get more cement for my Spanish driveway. I've got the whole deal down now. I've got my cement pants, and my cement shirt (stained white of course). I know right where to park and I know right where the big, orange railroad-car-sized shopping carts are. And, of course, I know right where the Portland Cement is. I load up my ten bags (which is pretty amazing exercise for a guy who has been picking up nothing heavier than a mouse since Bush has been in office) and I do the cement strut down to the self service checkout ($56 something, biz account). My hands are covered in white cement dust. People look at me like I belong there, and I've actually heard fathers whisper to their sons, "He works in cement."

Heard from one of my old radio partners, Jeff Deem ("The Deaner"). We did a short-lived stint at KSLX after David K. and John Giese left. He has been on the air in San Francisco for the past decade on The Bear, a Country radio station, at KXBR-95.7 FM. He and his wife just bought a condo in Grayhawk, which is a pricey development down in Scottsdale. We laughed about old times and he remembered something I had completely forgotten. One time, according to Jeff, wildman Ted Nugent was on the show and I asked him if he was "packing heat." He looked at me funny and said something snide like, "what do you think?," but during the break he pulled out a big ol' hogleg he had stuck in the back of his pants. When we went back on the air, I, of course, confronted him about it. According to Deaner, the Nuge said, “Boze, you Bastard.”

Got a new poll up. Are you going to join me on the Gunfighter Tour? And if not, what is your problem? Go vote here.

"Don't fight forces; use them."
—Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

January 19, 2005
It pays to have kids who speak Spanish. Case in point: I wanted to thank my Spanish poster guys in Valencia, Spain and had no idea how to tell them how much I appreciated their help. So I Emailed my fluent son the letter I wanted to send, in English, and he translated the whole kit and kaboodle (or should that be El Kito y Kaboodle?) into Espanole. Here's the letter:

Hola Mis Amigos de Posters,
Me encantan mis posters del rodeo en Valencia. Muchisima gracias. Despues de unas adventuras con la linea aerea han llegado a Arizona y los tenemos enmarcado y son guapisimos.

Los tres estan en la sala de vivir. Les estoy enviando unas fotos. Son un tesoro y todos que los ven estan de acuerdo. Los vemos todos los dias y ensalivamos.

Les mandare unas copias nuevas de mi revista True West y una copia de mi libro que trata de pistoleros del oeste en Estados Unidos. Pueden ver la cosas mas nuevas en:


The letter—printed out on TW stationary—a packet of photos (of the rodeo posters on our walls) and a True West magazine went out today. Even though I have taken Spanish classes several times, I have no idea what the letter actually says now. I may be asking them to have my baby. That would be T. Charles' idea of humor.

This morning at about seven I laid out about two doezen stones in our home driveway in the pattern and color scheme I'd like. I want to place as many orange and blue stones (unique to the Cave Creek area) next to each other because as you know, the colors are complimentary and really look cool together.

Carole G. and I drove down into the beast at 11:30. Met Dan Harshberger at El Bravo for lunch (I had the Sonoran enchiladas with an egg on top, I bought, $26, plus $6 tip, all cash Baby!). Gave Dan the CD of the Travel Issue cover painting which Robert Ray had scanned. From there Carole and I drove down to Osborn and Central to meet with a certain HR expert who shall remain nameless (it was a top secret deal). Great talking to her and we got some good tactics.

Got back into the office at about three. Finished Classic Gunfights. Got some great , late breaking stuff from Pastor Roy Young, who is doing a book on Bob Paul. According to the family, lawman Robert Havlin Paul was "six-foot-six inches of gigantic frame, broad shoulders, and barrel-chested tipped the scales at 246 pounds." That's Charles Barkley territory. That's a big boy for Old West standards, as the average male was five foot seven.

"A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at them."
—David Brinkley

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

January 18, 2005
Had a phone interview with "The Cousin Eddy Radio Show" this morning at seven. Stood out in the driveway, watching the sun come up, talking on my cell phone to Cuz Eddy for about an hour. He loves True West and history so it was an easy gig. Coyotes ran across our north forty at one point, and I yelled at them during the interview. I think it added a certain Western flavor Cousin Eddy perhaps doesn't normally get in southern Illinois. If you are one of Eddy's thousands of faithful listeners reading this blog for the first time, read on, it gets worse.

I called Ed Mell this morning to warn him of the incoming copyright infringement painting and he told me he had already looked at it and doesn't see any resemblance to his work. Ed is either a big, fat liar or a blind pig.

Just kidding. Ed is a great guy and always supportive. Someday soon I hope to be as mature as he is.

Speaking of real art, had another art collector come in this morning and buy $200 worth of art prints (Val Kilmer as Doc spinning the cup), a CD and some other odds and ends right out of the store. Larry O., his wife and his driver then followed me out to my studio so he could see some of my unframed images to buy. He bought five paintings right off the floor.

Here's the kicker: he's dying of cancer. Survived five cancer operations, been on chemo multiple times. He was good for awhile, but now the cancer is back and is "everywhere." So he doesn't know how much time he has. You'd never know it. He was laughing and full of joy about owning some of my images. Amazing example of both how fragile life is and how some people are so resilient even as they stare straight into the face of death.

At about one, a big truck and two trailer's worth of river rock and sand came in the driveway and dumped both loads ($437 check to PV Sand & Gravel). Juan's got it all going on. I say "Ondelay Joven," and he smiles.

Need to get tough on certain business decisions. Not going to be easy. This is my growing edge. Need to show some sand.

"People do not lack strength; they lack will."
—Victor Hugo
January 17, 2005
Finally finished the cover painting at one. Called Ed Mell and warned him a total rip-off of his style painting is coming his way (we send our cover shots down to Kenny, who shares space with Ed, to be photographed with a four by five camera). Feel guilty, but in my defense I stole from several artists.

Juan ran out of sand at two, so I took him down to The Home Depot to buy more. Got 10 more bags of cement, plus a load of sand ($120, minus a $21 deposit for the sand bag). They used a fork lift to dump the sand in my Ranger. When we tossed in the ten bags of cement I had a real low rider going home, tires rubbing on the underframe. Way cool. Both Juan and I slid down low in the seats and flashed gang signs to passing Hummers.

There is a universal force somewhere out past coincidence. I have lived long enough to have experienced it too many times to think of it as chance or coincidence. We have been trying to publish a Tombstone graves piece by Troy Kelly for over a year. The premise is: where are all the Tombstone characters buried? How did they die? What were their last words? Etc. (the cover head is “Tombstone’s Tombstones”). Robert Ray was not satisfied with some of the photos, so he took it upon himself to drive around the state and take new ones. That set back the production schedule by several issues. The piece is finally done, in the can, and goes to the printer on Monday. Last Saturday on the front page of the Arizona Republic is a story entitled “Dying to Get In” about, you guessed it, Tombstone graves and who is buried there. Ironically, Pat Kelly, public works clerk for Tombstone, is shown on the front page looking at old wooden crosses in the Tombstone cemetery. Pat played Wyatt Earp in our video sessions of last month.

Grave intentions, indeed!

The point is, there is this organic, natural combustion of ideas and at any given moment, there are other people thinking the same thoughts, having the same ideas and creating similiar projects and products. The rest is timing and luck. Case in point: the movies Tombstone and Wyatt Earp came out within six months of each other. Both were in production at the same time. In fact, almost every movie has a twin, that either gets swamped, or dies, or wins the race (think Troy vs. Alexander). This holds true in books, songs and magazines. When you are young, you tend to think you are being ripped off, or someone has tapped your phone, but when you get older you realize it's natural combustion and it's actually amazing there aren't more "twins."

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed."
—Michael Jordan

Monday, January 17, 2005

January 16, 2005
Spent all weekend working on three possible cover paintings. Did ten roughs, trying to get color right. Ruined everything I touched on Saturday. Struggled until around five this evening, finally got a decent color scheme and wash roughed in at about six. Stole heavily from Ed Mell and Frank Tenney Johnson. May have to get a lawyer to defend myself.

Went to The Home Depot at seven last night and bought ten bags of Portland Cement, to get ready for Spanish driveway project ($38 biz account).

Watched a Seinfeld (George gets a massage from a guy and worries he's gay). Studied watercolor books, marvelling at the genius of Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper. Went to sleep with the sunset painting at the foot of the bed. So I could dream about it.

It's been beautiful out, mid-seventies, sunny, smells like spring (all the rain). With that in mind I got this from one of my Iowa relatives Philip Hauan:

It's winter in Iowa and the gentle breezes blow,
30 miles per hour at 17 below!
Oh, how I love Iowa
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose, it freezes shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around.
But I could never leave Iowa,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!!!

"Townfolk know pleasures, country people joys."
—Minna Thomas Antrim

Friday, January 14, 2005

January 14, 2005
Got up at five and got coffee. Mulled a painting I shouldn't really be doing. Finally got up about six, went out to the studio and worked on it. Okay, here's the deal: we need a cover image for our Special Travel Issue: 77 Sunset Trips. We looked at a couple of groovy photos but they're not quite right. Too American Cowboy for us. On the other hand, we don't want to look too much like Arizona Highways, pretty picture, etc. So, against my better judgement, I started a painting and now I'm in up to my eyebrows.

Speaking of Arizona Highways they just named their new editor yesterday, Peter Aleshire. He's a longtime contributor to the magazine and has quite a challenge in front of him. I wish him luck. He'll need it. Here's a quote I'm fond of that addresses that obtusely:

"To make a fortune some assistance from fate is essential. Ability alone is insufficient."
—Ihara Saikaku

Samantha just came in (4:40 P.M.) and told me she sold my Pancho Villa cover painting, over the phone! One of our maniacs, Anthony Sapienza (#460), from New Jersey called up and bought it sight unseen. Wasn't cheap either.

Went home for lunch and walked down to my neighbor's to pay for our road improvement. She was in the garage when I walked up and seemed alarmed. I couldn't see her, just heard her voice, but after a moment she told me she didn't "have any clothes on." So I sicced the dogs on her. I wanted to flush her out and see what she looked like.

Not really. I apologized, placed the check on a cactus spine, and left like the gentleman I pretend to be.

Someone asked me how much money we made in our second year of business and Carole looked it up and we made $550,000, which seems decent until you look at how much we lost: $302,000. Ah, those were the days when puckering wasn't an option, it was the rule.

Worked until about three on a big cover painting of ghost riders. Hit the wall and came back into the office.

Worked until six. Everyone giddy over the record number of ads and pages for the issue, which closed this afternoon, right on deadline (that's a first). Right now I'm looking for more opportunities, but you know what they say about that?

"Opportunities always look bigger going than coming."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 13, 2005

January 13, 2005
Got up at five this morning. Kathy had a medical procedure at six. Drove her down to Bell and 40th Street. She got in about 6:30, while I was tortured unmercifully in the waiting room. It's those damn morning television shows! Ridiculous in the extreme: "I just can't imagine what it's like to lose your wife and two kids in the mud slide here today, but, could you tell us, what does it feel like?" I kept gaping, laughing and snorting and looking at the other people in the waiting room but they were enthralled beyond belief. Zombies to the max. Make no mistake, it's a non-stop carny show. Pathetic.

Bought a banana in the cafeteria (64 cents). Kathy had that twilight drug deal so I got to run a whole bunch of things past her while she was awake but incoherent ("So I'm going to pay Juan about a grand to do the driveway, oh, and I signed us up for the All-Porn Channel and I ordered one of those enlarger, pump deals. It's only $75 a month for three years. Yes, I thought you'd like that.")

Got her home around nine, put her to bed and went for a bike ride. Crisp, clear day out. Buddy Boze Hatkiller ran the whole way, just so happy to be alive. In fact his bark translates roughly to, "I’m frickin' alive! Alive! Anybody wanna run with me??!").

The scratchboard Gods were shining on me this afternoon, as I whipped out a close-up of Doc Holliday with a rope beard disguise on. He's peering off into the middle distance and you can see his breath. Very nice, subtle effects, and it’s Doc! That seldom happens.

One of the problems with being in business is having several smart people working for the same goals and they don't agree on anything. Perhaps ol’ "Give 'em Hell" Harry has something to say about this:

"You have to find out for yourself that no two smart men ever agree on anything.  Never.  No two historians ever agree on what happened and the [darn] thing is they both think they're telling the truth.  And somebody with authority has to make them understand that their viewpoint and the other viewpoint can be brought together and an agreement can be reached.  It takes a politician to do that, not a historian."
—Harry S Truman

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

January 12, 2005
Woke up at about two in the morning, mulling, mulling and mulling stuff. The business, my book, my kids, my wife, my dogs, my studio, my mom, the '49. Repeat for two hours.

After yesterday's negative diatribe on the inevitability of a dirty bomb on the Strip (above mulling resulted from the damn Atlantic article about the dirty bombs), I think it's time for a little yang, from the Earl Nightingale Institute:

"Through millions of years of evolution, our predecessors have beaten all odds in an extremely hostile environment and somehow persisted. They survived, ultimately producing you and me, and since our birth we’ve successfully carried on and gotten ourselves perfectly to wherever we are at this moment.

"If we had taken any other turn along our life paths, who knows where we might be today? We can second guess our life's decisions. For example, wishing we had bought Microsoft stock back in 1975 — then we'd be even wealthier today! However, if we had made any other decisions in our past, there isn't any guarantee that we would even be alive today, much less healthier, wealthier, or happier.

"I like this concept because it frees us from having to spend time regretting our past. Our past has perfectly gotten us to where we are now."

And where am I at now? Mulling about all of my past mistakes that’s where. Ha. Actually, it really does help me get out of the negativos, and Earl usually does the trick.

Finished my editorial for April. Running photos of Jeff Morey, Paul Northrop, Dick (the hippie cowboy with no last name), Jim Dunham (Director of Special Projects at The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia), and Bob McCubbin with a funny hat on and a big stick in his hand.

Came home for lunch and had part of a leftover chicken burro from El Conquistador, an apple. Walked to the creek with the dogs. Water running real good. We got more rain last night, but it blew through pretty fast. Came back up to the studio and met with Juan about laying natural stone in the drive-way. Going to wreck a grand, at least. Sketched out a possible cover idea for travel.

Got back into the office at one, birthday cake for Gus, Samantha and Brittany. Went into executive session. Tough questions and tough decisions, but we managed to laugh when it was over.

"I don't do anything without pressure.  A physical therapist said 'Get in tune with your body'.  But if I listened to my body, I'd stay in bed all morning."
—Stan Pottinger

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

January 11, 2005
Coming like a freight train: cell phones as credit cards, using radio signals to communicate with the gas pump, the checkout cash register, the movie theatre and even the restaurant check, to pay for goods and services. South Korea already has this function in wide circulation. Frankly, I’m more than ready for all of this disparate, confusing, goofy technology to meld together.

I was over at Dave Daiss’ house the other day and he wanted to show me the latest edited version of our Tombstone footage on a CD. He had to get down on the floor, unplug part of the tv, replace the plug with the DVD unit plug, get the right clicker (in our house we have to utilize three different clickers to get a DVD to play), then make the appropriate clicks on the different clickers to get the CD to play. Afterwards he had to reverse the process because, as he put it, “If I don’t put it back, Doreen will kick my ass.”

Charlie Waters has suggested that we call some of our expired subscription-ers and talk them into coming back home. A very good idea. I read in The New York Times that some senior editors at The Philadelphia Inquirer have been calling former subscribers to beg them to come back. Evidently the paper ran strong editorials favoring John Kerry for president. Ouch!

Little did I know when I got back from Vegas and the Western History Association convention last October and made all those snotty remarks about the Strip and a dirty bomb (it seemed like total hyperbole!), that Osama bin Ladin was even at that time intent on, you guessed it, using a dirty bomb (or a truck bomb) on The Strip. An alarming article in the newest Atlantic by Richard A. Clarke spells out how Osama wants to ruin our economy and the next targets are our amusement parks, malls and Vegas. The scariest part is he came damn close to ruining our economy on 9•11. Many industries, ours included, felt the blast. A footnote in the article sites a Vegas casino operator's statement that after 9•11 the number of Las Vegas visitors dropped to by two thirds. The prediction is that if they are successful at all, we will retreat into our computers for almost all transactions, and then they will go after that.

Got a note from a noted British nipticker, who said regarding our upcoming Tombstone grave article, "Did you know that right next to the Les Moore grave [Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a forty four. No less, no more] is the marker for George Atkins, the geezer in whose tendejon near Fort Grant Billy the Kid killed Windy Cahill? Not many people know that.”

Thanks Fred Nolan, who went on to say:

"By the way, if your breath really is baited you'd better stock up on mouthwash (what are you using, worms?) The word is 'bated.' It originated in the 16th Century from the past participle of the obsolete verb 'bate' which means 'to restrain.' Not many people know that, either."

Attacked a scratchboard of Virgil Earp shooting at Sherm McMasters as the latter rides up Third Street, past the Aztec building and into the desert beyond. It is an odd episode because Virgil had just won a shooting contest but missed the fleeing stage robber six times. Some Earp nuts think Wyatt's brother missed on purpose because McMasters was working undercover for the law, or Wells Fargo, or something. Anyway, it's a cool scene and I utilized one of the reference shots I took of Dave Daiss last week and it was fun imagining what the store fronts and buildings looked like on the West side of Third Street running up across Fremont.

Robert Ray just came into my office (3:44 P.M.) and told me the dead disk is at the factory and they said they can save all of the scans on the drive! Going to cost $81 but hey, we'll take it. Man, what a relief!

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
—Maya Angelou

Monday, January 10, 2005

January 10, 2005
Got up at six and wailed on the Doc Holliday gouache painting. Unfortunately there were too many problems for the big one, so I switched gears and finished the rough sketch, which is much smaller, less ambitious and perhaps more illustrative for the magazine. Finished it about eight and went into the office.

Gus scanned the thang, and we placed it in the Classic Gunfights document layout. Also whipped out a small scratcboard of Bob Paul letting loose with the double-barreled shotgun, hitting Billy Leonard in the lower stomach. I'm trying to perfect a vignette style effect, where the edges of the illustrations are mushy, and then when every scene is placed on a totally black background, it gives it a mysterious, almost glowing effect. This is someting I'd really like to pursue in my graphic novel and today was a first step in that direction.

The office copies of the new issue arrived today (March). Big close-up of Ian McShane on the cover. Print job is quite nice. Quite bold and commited graphics. Worked on my editorial for April, and had Gus scan three photos, one of Jim Dunham at Morgan Earp’s grave in Colton, California. It was taken when we were returning from End of Trail, in Corona, California in 1995. We were riding with Theresa B. of Tri Star-Boze fame, and when the car got to Colton we couldn't resist. Pulled off and asked for directions, got to the grave and took several photos. My editorial is about this grave obsession. It is a sickness we will never get over until we are in our own grave. I'm thinking of having a headstone that says: "Make yourself at home. I liked visiting graves so much, I finally got one of my own."

And speaking of graves, Robert Ray whipped out a very cool layout for a Tombstone graves piece we are finally going to run (it's been in the works for over a year). Very sweet. Verdict still out on the dead disk and the lost scans for CGII. We're waiting for the news with baited breath. Robert came in and offered his lovely and talented wife Bea as a backup scanner to get us back in the game. I appreciated that.

Got a batch of very rare Fly Photographs and Tombstone images from Bob McCubbin this afternoon. He culled them out of his stellar collection. Many I've never seen before. Really exciting. We'll use every last one in the new CGII book.

Time to make goals for 2005. According to an article in this morning's Arizona Republic by Rhonda Abrams, one thing can greatly increase our chances: an annual plan.

File this under Help Me Rhonda
According to Rhonda I need to get away from the office, take a good, hard look at where we’ve been, where we want to go and the best way to get there. We need to answer these questions:

• What has worked in the past year and what hasn’t?

• What are our core competencies?

• Who are our competitors?

• What are we going to do about it?

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you."
 —Sir William Arthur
January 9, 2005
Regarding yesterday's entry, according to Charlie Waters, salmon swim up stream, possibly a trout, but definitely not a mackerel (which sounds funnier and that's why I picked it).

Charles Scoggin also weighed in on yesterday's comments:

"According to today's True West blog, Bob Boze Bell is a self-identified Liberal."

And then he added this:

"It's a bad sign, and a black day, when your own people are pretty sure you're ridiculous-and are willing to say so." —Old Vaquero Saying

What I actually said, or meant to say, is my wife is the "self-identified Liberal," and a flaming one at that. She and I don't agree on quite a few things. For example, she dislikes this blog. She thinks I misquote her (see above), especially the day where I said I was bugged at Deena, so I said, "Fine. I won't mention you at all." So, in addition to being a "moderate" I'm also a liar, or a flaming liar, if you want to get technical.

And speaking of Deena, she tried to drive out for lunch yesterday but the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon had her hemmed in. The huge marathon run attracted huge crowds. All the roads around her new condo in Scottsdale were closed for the race. She was surrounded by the race route and there was no way to get out. She called exasperated, and after pleading to no avail with several cops to cross intersections without success, she went home and waited it out.

Worked on a big painting of Doc in a rope beard disguise, nighttime effects. Didn't finish. Need to whip it out in the morning.

"Excuse me, but I'm in a hurry!  You've been in that phone
booth for twenty minutes and you haven't said a word!"

"Sir, I'm talking to my wife."

—A "joke" forwarded to me by Carole Glenn

Sunday, January 09, 2005

January 8, 2005
Kathy and I met some old friends down at El Conquistador last night. Dean and Roxie Bacon and Mike and Phyllis Hawkins. Haven't seen them in several years. Kathy was thrilled to be with actual liberals. Mike is a judge of an appellate court in San Francisco and Roxie is a lawyer specializing in immigration law, and Dean is a retired U of A experimental farm director. He and another guy buy rundown houses and renovate them for the homeless and sell them at a loss, hiring crack heads (no joke) to help them build the houses. Dean grew up in Berkeley, in case you hadn't already guessed. Roxie claims the miniature habitat for humanity deal is all a scheme so that Dean can spend major time at Home Depot.

($120 split with Bacons, includes tip). Roxie gave us a very funny calendar filled with anti-inspiring aphorisms. As hooked as I am on every inspiring saying on the planet, the dark zane was good for my pollyanna-side. Such as a page on Motivation that says, "The journey of a thousand miles can end very, very badly." And a great photograph shows a big ol' mackerel swimming valiantly upstream, jumping up out of the water, and going directly into a big, black bear's mouth.

Worked hard on a stagecoach robbery scene all day today. Got a good underpainting, spent way too long on it though. It's about three quarters done.

Went down at four and caught a movie at Cine Capri. Saw Meet the Fokkers. Place packed, had to sit in separate places. Didn't think it was as funny as the writers and producers must have thought it was. Take out the Fokker jokes and the dog humping and it's pretty predictable. Humor by the numbers. Weak.

Came home and watched one of the Seinfeld episodes on my new DVD. "The Heart Attack," where George thinks he's having a heart attack. A great line is when Kramer tells George he needs to get out of the hospital because they're crooks and he needs to go see an alternative "doctor," who he claims is a "rebel." And Jerry says, "No, Johnny Yuma was a rebel, Eckert is a just a nut." Every scene had more humor than the entire Fokking movie.

"Quiet people aren't the only ones who don't say much."
—Old Vaquero Sayingn

Friday, January 07, 2005

January 7, 2005
The staff is humming, jamming, working hard. It looks like sales will be in record territory for the next issue, and we are planning our biggest issue yet. Still some high school behavior going on but as long as we are moving forward it's much easier to overlook.

Went over to Dave Daiss' house at 4:30 yesterday. Shot two rolls of him, both shooting a shotgun on the ground and on horseback. Really got some cool shots, although my camera's battery went dead, but Dave had one in the house and I used his camera.

Got a call from a friend of Ed Mell's who's interested in one of my paintings of the Heatwave Cafe. Shawna Leach owns a small painting I did a long time ago of the cafe, and she thinks it's right (repainted on a much larger canvas) for a client who buys art for his hip cafes. The Heatwave Cafe was a place I invented for my cartoon character The Doper Roper (1972-76). It was inspired from my land surveyor days when I first moved to Phoenix and was working as a rear chainman out in the desert north of Buckeye. One hot, summer day, we wandered around, looking for a place to have lunch and found this place out in the middle of nowhere. Classic roadhouse look, with a bent A-1 beer sign outside. A black woman made us fried chicken. I loved the roadhouse architecture of the place especially the rounded, wagon-wheeled style front windows. In fact, I drove back out there on the weekend to take some reference photos and as I sketched it, the name just came to me in a flash: The Heatwave Cafe. It turned out to be the meeting place for the Doper Roper and his redneck cowboy friends from Cattletrack, Arizona. This comic ran in the Razz Revue, the brainchild of Dan Harshberger (who coined the phrase "Magazomic") and I. We conned two hot girls into working for us and he's still married to one of them.

Only later did I discover that the place was a legendary whore house known locally as Froggy Bottom.

Had lunch today with Mad Coyote Joe and Wonderful Russ. We met down at Keg Steakhouse in Desert Ridge. Very nice place. Brand new. Instant chic. I had the sirloin salad and an iced tea. Russell bought.

Just had two people from France come in the True West store (5:30 P.M.). Carole came and got me, saying they wanted to meet me. They have a cowboy store near Marseilles in the south of France. Jean-Claude and Jacqueline Martin just came up from Tombstone. Bought one of my books and several back issues. Gave them the tour of the offices. You can check them out at:

We're supposed to get more rain. Need to get the '49 back in the garage. Just called Eric. He's meeting me tomorrow morning.

Trying to get a good composition going on Doc Holliday as one of the Benson stage robbers. They are armed with rifles, standing in the road just after sunset. In the background we see someone holding four horses. Great reference photos taken on the site in 1993 of Bob McCubbin, Paul Northrop, Jeff Morey and Jerry Weddle and some hippie cow-boy who wouldn’t give us his full name. He led us to the site (it’s quite overgrown and hard to find). He lived in a tee-pee on the San Pedro if I remember correctly.

"How do you tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear? When you climb a tree, if the bear follows you it's a black bear; if the bear knocks the tree over, it's a grizzly."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 06, 2005

January 6, 2005
The power of Google is so amazing. I watched the Sixty Minutes profile on the company last Sunday and it is almost scary what their search engines can accomplish. Case in point: I got an Email from Mike Johnson from Cody, Wyomng several days ago. This is what it said:

"So I'm looking for info about the Meeteetse (WY) Mercantile in Google and I come across a link to your publication. Next thing I know, I'm reading your blog about the True West trials and tribulations. Man did it bring back memories."

Mike is a guy with vision who survived a near-death publishing experience in Florida, then decided to start a trolley car tour business in Cody, Wyoming. When a small-minded-stuck-in-the-mud local sniped, “Who’s going to pay $11 to ride around Cody?” Mike’s answer was “Ten thousand people and now it’s $15, thankyou very much.” Ha. I love stuff like that. By the way, the Meeteetsie Mercantile store reference was in a blog I wrote when I went up to Cody for the Western Design Conference almost two years ago. On the last day I drove down to visit my mama in Douglas, saw the Meeteetsie Mercantile store empty, and commented on it. And now someone Googles the store and my blog reference comes up. That is quite amazing (and now there'll be two references). Here's Mike’s link if you'd like to check out his blog:

Working hard to finish the Drew Station artwork and layout. Whipped out a scratchboard this morning of Leonard, Crane & Head firing at the disappearing stage. We can see poor Bud Philpot lying in the roadway and it's all in a dark and dusty, murky swirl.

Melrose took me to lunch at the Bad Donkey (he bought!). He's working so hard to be a positive guy but there are some in the office who don't want to believe it. My advice to him is to keep faking it, because, many people actually like him when he's not snapping their heads off.

Going over in an hour to shoot some reference photos with Dave Daiss at his ranch. Need some good shotgun reference for Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce gunfight, and also for the Drew's Station fight. Dave is such a ham, and I love him for it.

"The buying of a self-help book is the most desperate of all human acts.  It means you've lost your mind completely: You've entrusted your mental health to a self-aggrandizing twit with a psychology degree and a yen for a yacht."
—Cynthia Heimel

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

January 5, 2005
We really got hit with a wall of rain in the last 24 hours. One drowning, road closures, washes ripping, even a couple funnel clouds spotted south of here. I woke up this morning to Buddy Boze Hatkiller sitting outside our bedroom door barking. And barking. I had a rough night and a hard time getting out of bed. Maybe I need some Rodney Dangerfield to put everything in perspective (got these from Dan Harshberger):

• With my dog I don't get no respect. He keeps barking at the front door. He don't want to go out. He wants me to leave.

• Last week I saw my psychiatrist. I told him, "Doc, I keep thinking I'm a dog." He told me to get off his couch.

• I worked in a pet store and people kept asking how big I'd get.

There. I feel better already.

Brought in a ton of art reference for the Drew's Station gunfight. Didn’t get to it until after five. Had a nice talk with Brittany, who works hard on the phones, is a real trouble shooter up front. Found out her passion is music (she just wrote her first music review for us on Darryl Dodd, a Texas Country artist). When I asked Brittany if she likes the music we feature in True West she said, "Not really. My grandmother does though. She’s sixty." Let's see, I thought to myself, that's someone who is two years older than me. Hmmmmm. Technically, I could have dated her grandmother (and if given half the chance I probably still would). Brit's favorite musicians are, in no particular order: George Strait, Nora Jones, Sarah McLaughlin, Def Leopard and Josh Groban (an opera singer). Quite eclectic for a Young Buckessa from Amarillo.

Sun finally came out. Warmed up a bit. Office quite busy. Went over cash flow with RG and then with Bob Brink and Dave Daiss and Carole Glenn. Growing pains. According to Hawken, almost the worst thing that can happen to a young business is explosive growth because it blinds you to problems until it's sometimes too late (everything speeds up and at the same time you are lulled into thinking it's going to continue to come in). Slow and sustained growth is the healthiest, and we are not far from there. Still it creates sleepless nights (I woke up at 12:30, RG at 2:30 and Dave Daiss at 3:30. Bob Brink, for some reason, slept like a baby.)

"I fear there will be no future for those who do not change."
—Louis L'Amour

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bonus Blog
This is for all of you tip Nazis out there: Carole and I had lunch at China Joy today ($12.07 and I left a twenty). The hostess and owner, ran out into the parking lot in the rain with the tray in her hand. As Carole rolled down the window, with the poor woman getting pelted with rain drops, she says, holding out the tray, "You leave too much!! Take some back!" I laughed and said with a big smile. "No, it's all for you. I'm a big tipper!"

Name me another business who would do that?

"It isn't the size of the tip, it's the tip of the size that matters."
—Zippy the Pinhead
January 4, 2005
Man, where has this year gone? No, wait, that was last year.

Woke up to the sound of thunder, how far off, I sat and wondered. Started humming a song from 1964 ("We Gotta Get Out of This Place," the Animals). Buddy Boze Hatkiller scratching at the door, so scared of the big, bad thunder. Rained on and off all day. Really came down a couple of times. All the creeks and washes running, branches strewn across most of them.

Whipped out a stage stop scene of Tall Paul (Bob Paul, all six feet four of him). Also worked hard on a stage running amuck scene with Bob Paul surfing the box, but I think I ruined it. Overworked it into nothing. I probably should put that on my tombstone: He overworked everything into nothing. Or, like a Seinfeld, he could make anything into nothing.

Speaking of which, last night Kathy and I watched the classic Seinfeld episode "The Chinese Restaurant." Back in the mid-eighties I was flown to Hollywood to talk about making my cartoon character Honkytonk Sue into a movie. The screenwriter, Jerry Leischling, took me to a hip restaurant called Ghengis Cohen's. Anyway, the extras on the DVD told about how Jerry and Larry David were eating at this same place, Cohen's, and Larry came up with the idea of an entire episode that takes place in one scene, them waiting for a table for 23 minutes. Of course the network hated the whole thing, tried to bury the episode, threatened all kinds of calamity if it ran, and, of course it became the first classic Seinfeld episode. Amazing. The moral is if you can take the heat, you can come in through the kitchen (as opposed to the front by the hostess desk).

Got a new poll up. Which do you like watching, PRCA Events or PBR Events? Vote here.

Finished the Growing A Business book. Here are the final Big Picture ideas:

• Persistence without facing the facts will lead you astray.

• One half of all business problems originate with the perceptions, attitudes and practices of the owner (ah, that would be me). The other half of the problems are caused by faulty hiring (ah, that would be Carole, no wait, that would be RG, no wait, that would be me also. What kind of a book is this, where you actually have to take responsibility for your actions? Well, I'll be.).

• You don’t ever manage people—you work with them. If people are honest about it, you will find that the majority of them are not satisfied with their jobs, their work, or their relationship with management.

• Firing is failure. Everybody is at fault.

• Technology allows any company to process orders or problems within 24 hours. Don’t believe otherwise.

• You must give permission to your employees to do what they think is right.

• Customers want a long-term relationship (I intend to call all of our recent expires and ask, "Where did we lose you?")

• Customers do not want a policy, they want a person (Carole and Samantha said they often answer the phone and people say, after a long pause, "Is this really a person?")

• Service is the difference between the small business and the chain (see above).

• Every employee must know the numbers. Every department functions as a small business.

• In short, I need to ask everyone, "What kind of company do we want to live and work in?"

"All things come to him who waits, especially things not worth waiting for."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, January 03, 2005

January 3, 2005
A computer disaster today. Robert Ray tells me the hard drive with both books on it is toast and while he can save most of the Crown book, much of the CGII book is gone, mainly the tons of scans and layouts Gus and I worked on for the past three months. There are a couple of options, including sending the hard drive back to the manufacturer to see if they can salvage anything, so I'm not panicking, yet. And besides, I've been here before. As Emily Litella used to say, "It's always something." Especially when it comes to computers and offspring.

Speaking of which, I'm bugged at my daughter. She's a little snot. And you know what she'll say if she reads this? "Gee, I wonder where I got that?" And, she would be correct. She acts just like her mother.

We got socked with another wet storm and this time I got caught out in it. Dave Daiss, RG, Bob Brink and I met Mary and Jim Brown and Bob Willis at Rawhide at two to go over booth positions for Western Writers of America and True West at this year's Festival of the West. We walked the street looking at the locations and I didn't bring a jacket. And the rain really started coming down. Just had a sweatshirt on (where’s my mama when I need her: "Better take a jacket with you son."). We went over to Jalepeno's for a late lunch. Had the tortilla soup and decaf coffee to warm up. Never did (there's nothing like a wet sweatshirt to make you feel all soggy, all the time). Mary and Jim picked up the tab.

Got back to the office at three. No good news on the hard drive status. Finished a scratchboard of Mattie Earp with her "John" asleep, snoring with his mouth wide open, on the bed behind her. A half-empty bottle of laudanum sits before her as she ponders her fate without the husband who abandoned her.

Had a massage at four from Christie. Owed her for two times ($105, biz account). Came home and took a long, hot shower. Warmed me up. Kathy came home at about six, Cooked salmon, had a Caesar salad. Talked about our snotty daughter. Kathy claims she's acting just like her dad.

"The humorous man recognizes that absolute purity, absolute justice, absolute logic and perfection are beyond human achievement and that men have been able to live happily for thousands of years in a state of genial frailty."
—Brooks Atkinson
January 2, 2005
Power went out this morning from about 6:30 to 8:30. Couldn't drink coffee, couldn't read the paper (no lights) couldn't take a shower (well runs on electric pump). I guess the moral of this is we wouldn't have lasted long in the Old West.

Nice day working in studio. Stoked the fire all day and kept it toasty, while working on a soft gouache image of Peter Roerig, the ill-fated passenger on the Tombstone to Benson stage in March of 1881. I painted him holding his bags, standing outside the Grand Hotel, as the waiting stage stands just off the boardwalk. Roerig ended up riding in the so-called dickey seat, on top of the stage and facing to the rear, and when highwaymen attacked the stage and it took off, the outlaws fired several volleys at the stage, in the dark and instead of hitting the shotgun messenger, who they were aiming at, they hit Roerig, fatally injuring him. Of all the dickey seats on all the stages in all the West and he gets this one.

Kathy and I went down into Scottsdale at about three. Stopped at Costco and while Kathy bought big containers of crap I looked at books. Perused the new Jon Stewart book, America (The Book), which has been banned by Wal-mart because of alleged naked Supreme Court Justices. It looks really funny, and was only $14 something, but I passed. Kathy, however ran up a bill of $118 on stupid stuff like salmon, sushi and nuts, but in big containers that required a skip loader to get into our car.

From there we went by Desert Credit Union and made a deposit, then down to Deena's new condo where we we ate the sushi and I helped Deena hang her Christmas present, a big painting from some English guy who I've already forgotten.

Decided to do something completely wild, so Kathy and I drove up to Fashion Square and went into the first available movie at Camelview Five, which turned out to be Finding Neverland ($17.50 for tickets and $7.50 for a medium popcorn, no butter, and a water. No tip, felt pissy). The movie was okay. I had a hard time believing that Johnny Depp would ignore the hot wife he had, or keep his hands off of Kate Winslett, who looked ravishingly Victorian. It was a double plutonic deal (A RELATIONSHIP MOVIE!!!), with Johnny Depp being sensitive and restrained. Sorry, I’m not buying. But, I must admit Depp played a better pirate in this than he did in Pirates of the Carribean. He sucked so bad in that. I hated it.

"I love New York City.  I've got a gun."
—Charles Barkley

Saturday, January 01, 2005

January 1, 2005
A year ago today, we were winging our way back from Spain and a fab four New Year's Eve at Fred and Heidi Nolan's home in Chalfont St. Giles, England.

Last night we went over to the Tumalo's for a New York dinner of lasagna and wine. Met a guy (also named Tumalo but I’m not sure they are related) who claims he and his wife basically started the jeep tour biz in Phoenix back in the late seventies. I asked him if he knew Flint Carney and he said, "Is there anybody who doesn't know Flint Carney?" That made me laugh. Flint is half-Native American, all clothes horse and a longtime jeep tour guide who has posed for scenes in many of my books.

Woke up this morning to a bright and beautiful day. Supposed to rain again tomorrow, but it was quite nice out. Desert is a bright green and the coyotes look fat and sassy.

Worked on several drawings of the Drew's Station robbery. Also did a Jesus as Clint Eastwood sketch ("You talkin' to me?") for an upcoming piece.

At about 3:30 drove up town to get some cranberry juice for Kathy (she's convinced she has cancer of the kidneys, which is different than cancer of the everything, which she often has). Town packed with New Year's Day Trippers, El Encanto, Satisfied Frog, The Hideaway, Buffalo Chip and Harold's were packed with tourists and flatlanders. Got the cranberry juice at Bashas' ($5.09 cash, no tip).

Read quite a bit of the Growing Your Business book. Some highlights:

• Plan to fail (nothing ever goes like the projections or business plan. Look failure in the face and innovate. Questions keep a business alive).

• Plan to be around for a hundred years. Or longer.

• A good business has interesting problems, a bad business has boring ones.

My goal is to be more pro-active this year and attack our "interesting" problems with vigor. The book is quite inspiring (thanks Karen!).

"A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction."
—Rita Mae Brownn