Monday, February 28, 2005

February 28, 2005
On Saturday we finally went to see Million Dollar Baby ($15 for tickets a medium popcorn and water, $6, gave the girl a $1 tip for being "a good girl." Sometimes I just love being the anti-PC geezer). Sorry, but no way is this the movie of the year! Sideways is twice the movie for my money. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Clint Eastwood fan when it comes to his old Westerns, but I don't get him as a director. He seems wooden, predictable and too minimalist for my tastes. But now he has two Oscars, so what do I know?

Mike Melrose gave me the DVD of Fargo and I watched that on Friday night. Wow! Now there's a classic! I had forgotten how great that movie is. I love the weather, the cold, the white-out, the Minnnesota slush and crud. Example: at the end when the Macey car salesman character (Gunderson?) is caught at the seedy motel, there is a long, high master shot of the place snowed-in and a snow plow goes by at the bottom of the screen, only a second or two of screen time, but just so sweet and right. Plus, the little things like the snow shoes lined up by the door and the parka wearing weather conversations are just rich beyond belief, to me. Plus, I don’t think any modern movie has ever portrayed prostitutes funnier or more accurate. Not that I would know, but I did play in a band, you know.

Speaking of bands, I haven't played drums since before 9•11 but I got roped into doing a band gig this Friday. It's for a fund-raiser for a local school and the principal called me and asked me if I'd sit in for three hours at Rawhide. I told him I'd do it if my son Thomas could play and we'd trade off. Well, wouldn't you know, T. Charles has two jobs now, which his mother forced him to get (one of his jobs is at Hastings in Flag and I asked him if he could give me any insights into the buying habits of the American public as it relates to magazines and my son said, and I quote, "Women seem to buy glamour and gardening titles and men buy porn." Thanks son.).

Anyway, we had to rehearse yesterday and I got directions to this spectacular house on the side of a ridge about a mile north of my house. A stunning blond named X-andria answered the door and led me in downstairs into the band room. Turns out she was in a Bay Area punk band called Ladyz. Obviously made a ton of dough and moved here to build her dream house. She also played bass with Reba for several tours. The two Dons (one's a lawyer, ones a principal) were already set up and jamming when we got down there. I nervously set up my basic kit (just a snare, high hat and base drum) and joined in. Of course, I was quite nervous, having not touched a paradiddle since Bush has been in office.

Well, I guess it's like riding a bike, because I easily fell into the groove, and not only was it fun, but many of the songs on the set list are really, really cool. For example, one of my favorite songs of all time is Hoyt Axton's, "Evangelina" Here's the words to this wonderful tune, about a place that’s just down the road:

And I dream in the morning
That she brings me water.
And I dream in the evening
That she brings me wine.
Just a poor man's daughter
EVANGELINA in old Mexico.

There's a great hot desert
Down in Mexicali. (Don sang, "South of Nogales," although it’s actually south of Ajo)
And if you don't have water
Boy, you'd better not go.
Tequila won't get you
Across that desert.
To EVANGELINA, in old Mexico

And the fire I feel for the woman I love
Is drivin' me insane.
Knowin' she's waitin',
And I can't get there.
God only knows that I wracked my brain
To try and find a way
To reach that woman
In old Mexico.

And I met a kind man
He guarded the border
He said, "You don't need papers,
I'll let you go,
I can tell that you love her
By the look in your eyes, now".
She's the rose of the desert
In old Mexico

And just to show you how much estrogen I'm packing these days, I actually teared up when that border guard let him cross.

I think I'll wear my fringe jacket to the gig. Actually, the band uniform is hawaiian shirts and cowboy hats. Which is even more gay, but Hey! Don’t make me cry.

We’ve got up a new poll question. Here it is:
Was Johnny Ringo bushwhacked or did he commit suicide?

"You are the teacher you have been waiting for. You are the one who can end your own suffering."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 27, 2005

February 26, 2005
The numbers for January are in and they are record breaking. I'm talking about rainfall. Cave Creek has received over 11 inches of rain (this in an area where we usually get maybe 15 for the entire year), and north of here they have gotten even more. Up at Horsethief Basin they got 19 inches.

I had one of my childhood fantasies come true today.

One day in 1954, my dad brought home a television set to our small rental house in Swea City, Iowa. Kids for blocks came over to watch the meager programming (the networks went off the air quite often because they didn't have enough product and you'd just get a test pattern for much of the time). Over the next year or so, one of my favorite shows became The Range Rider and the hero wore this way cool, pullover fringe jacket. I had to have one.

There was a local TV "Cowboy" show out of Mason City, Iowa that featured Western music (a steel guitar and such) and they played cartoons and old Westerns. Every small market in North America had one of these shows. This one sponsored a contest for kids to draw something and send it in and if they deemed it worthy they would give you the very item you rendered. I became obsessed with drawing a fringe pullover like the Range Rider's and entering it. There was only one problem: my father got tired of the snow and Swedish farmers who wouldn't pay their gas bills and we moved to Arizona.

I still lusted after the fringe pullover and had fantasies of sending the fringe drawing to Iowa and going back there to claim my prize. Even on the trip out to Arizona on Route 66, when my dad would stop for gas, I'd run into the curio shop and try and find a fringe pullover like the Range Rider's. Nobody had one.

Fast foreword several years and the Beatles landed and I went off in another direction (although the Byrds' David Crosby wore a fringe jacket, as did Jackson Browne and James Taylor and believe me I took notice). By the time I could afford a fringe jacket, thanks to the Village People and others, the fringe jacket had taken on a gay connotation. So when I could finally afford one, I felt intimidated out of it.

A couple of years ago I told Kathy that someday I intended to shake off my immature attitude about fringe jackets and be brave enough to get one and wear it.

Today we were invited over to Larry Olson's house. I delivered to him the cover painting for Classic Gunfights, Volume I {Elfego Baca drawing two guns) and he and his wife Joyce made lunch for Kathy and I and showed off their art and gun collection. While looking at the art in the master bedroom, Larry noticed me eying a tan fringe jacket hanging prominently at the front of his walk-in closet.

"I don't wear that anymore," Larry said. "Are you interested in it?" I smiled at Kathy.

It's hanging in my closet this evening. And I guess it’s time for me to come out of the closet and say, "Frankly, I don't care if you think I'm a flaming gayboy—I’ve gone Fringe City."

"My life has been full of tragedies, most of which never happened".
—Michel de Montaigne

Friday, February 25, 2005

February 25, 2005
Worked on a scratchboard close-up of Ike Clanton looking like a victim. He just got another man killed (Frank Stilwell) and he's got that look—The world is so unjust! Speaking of Frank and the train station shooting, I got a good suggestion this morning:

"So, when you do the step-by-step reinactment of the Wyatt Earp train episode
in Tucson, does that include the walking/running 11 miles towards Benson? 'Cause
that might get more people to sign up. Just spitballing."
—Carol D.

Went to Bashas' for milk and meat and cash back ($53 something). Checked on True West in the magazine rack and all five issues are gone. Also, our preliminary numbers for our January-February issue are in and show a 15% jump in sales. This is the Rare Photos Issue, featuring the fantastic photos of Bob McCubbin. I guess we'll be doing that again.

Dan Harshberger sent up six cover concepts for the train issue, utilizing my line art and paintings. Everyone up here liked a black border one the best and he tweaked that and came back with three more. We picked the best one and it goes out the door Monday.

Hanging out on Classic Gunfights. Everything else in editorial is done except me. I'm planning on a successful weekend of painting. Looking forward to it.

"One sure-fire way to stay creative: force yourself to learn something new."
—Harvey Mackay

Thursday, February 24, 2005

February 24, 2005
Yesterday I pitched the Arizona Republic on doing an excerpt of our Tucson train station shootout between Wyatt Earp and Frank Stilwell. The Tucson Transportation Museum is unveiling their Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday statue on March 20th and Joe Klasky and I will be going down with a box of the train issue, which will feature the trainyard gunfight.

Editor Phil Boas has agreed and we'll do a View piece in the Republic the week before the unveiling.

Got a blood test at nine this morning, then went home and had breakfast (I had to fast before the test and I hate that. I'm a real coffee at six, muffins at seven kind of guy and I found myself quite irritable by the time it was over).

Went out to the studio at ten and worked on a sunset painting of a classic 4-4-0 steam engine pulling into the Tucson train station on March 20, 1882. No one has ever put together the actual train station with the adjacent Porter Hotel. Two small separate photos exist but have rarely been published. I grafted the two photos and buildings into one scene with the park in between them (Gus and I have the Sanborn Insurance map for 1883 with the configuration and relationship of the hotel to the depot). The Earp party arrived in Tucson at dusk, detrained, and Holliday checked two shotguns in the train office, then the party walked down to the Porter Hotel for dinner.

Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell were at the train station to meet a witness in a trial coming in on the same train. Sitting under the veranda of the Porter Hotel, Stilwell told Clanton that the Earps were on the train and he didn’t want any trouble. According to Clanton’s later testimony, they walked about a block away near a school and continued to talk (of course Clanton was a big, fat liar and you have to take everything he says with mucho grains of salt)

The Earps finished dinner and walked back to the train. Doc had a shorter man, probably McMasters, retrieve the shotguns and they escorted Virgil and Allie onto the train. At this point, Wyatt spotted Stilwell. In one version both Stilwell and Clanton are spotted on flat cars on a side track looking for a clear shot at the Earps. Wyatt claimed he saw the glint of a rifle barrel. I believe this version was concocted later, to make Stilwell more homicidal.

Wyatt and his men then got off the train and walked back toward the Porter Hotel down the left side of the train (we know this because the fireman spotted them coming by, and the fireman sits on the left side of the engine). It's my speculation that Frank Stilwell came back from the school and came around the northwest corner of the hotel to take in the scene (this will make more sense when you see Gus Walker's map of the crime scene). He may have intended to take a shot at the Earps, although what happens next negates that in my mind.

I believe Frank saw Wyatt and his men advancing towards him but didn’t think they were going to attack him (Wyatt and his men were going to take an eastbound train back to Contention and Tombstone, while Virgil and his wife went on to California). So Frank could have believed Wyatt and his men were coming back to the Porter Hotel. When he finally realized, not only did Wyatt spot him in the shadows, but that he was now running towards his position, Frank panicked and started running down the tracks, probably angling across them to get out in the desert (at that time, the train station was a ways from town and there was virtually nothing on the northeast side of the tracks). After a hundred yards (a saloon keeper, George Hand said it was 200 yards), Wyatt caught up with Stilwell, who turned and perhaps thought he could surrender. Wyatt walked right up him, stuck the shotgun in his belly, just under the heart and pulled both triggers. According to Wyatt, Stilwell yelled, “Morg!” as he was shot, perhaps a reference to Morgan Earp who had been assassinated mere days prior to this. He always believed Stilwell was in on the shooting of Wyatt's favorite brother.

Stilwell made no attempt to defend himself so I believe it’s probable he was not armed. I also believe Frank thought Wyatt Earp would not take the law into his own hands. Big mistake.

What is rarely mentioned is that after Doc Holliday and the others ran up and each took turns shooting holes in Stilwell’s body, they were afoot. By chasing down Stilwell, they had missed the eastbound train’s departure and Wyatt knew it was only a matter of time before they were found out. Clearly outside the law, and desperate to get away, they ran down the tracks, perhaps expecting a Bob Paul posse to catch up with them at any moment. They ran and walked 11 miles down the tracks towards Benson and finally, illegally flagged down an eastbound freight train at midnight. Arriving back in Tombstone a wanted man (Sheriff Bob Paul had wired Tombstone for the sheriff to arrest Wyatt) John Behan tried to arrest Wyatt but that’s another confrontation.

Speaking of the train station shootout, we are coming down to the wire on the Gunfight Tour and if you are considering coming along (we will tour the Tucson train station fight site and I'll walk you through it step by step), you had better make your reservations pronto. You can click at the top of this page to register. We need you to sign up before March 1. Do it without delay. We are going to have some fun.

“The enjoyment is not in the activity. The enjoyment is in you. Enjoying where you are right now will take you a long way toward wherever else you wish to go.”
—Ralph Marston

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

February 23, 2005
We had the strangest hail storm out here in Cave Creek last night. A huge semi-circular cloud angled in over Black Mountain like a Death Star at about 5:40 P.M. And then the sky started raining ping pong balls. Within minutes it looked like a Flagstaff snowscape, with everything covered in white. Cars slushing down the roadway with their lights on, their drivers craning their necks up at the sky in disbelief. Ragged, dramatic clouds, spooky formations (which I later found out turned into tornados northeast of here). Washes running white! Weird beyond belief. Three newschoppers hovered overhead for more than an hour, trading places as they angled in for the evening news cutaways. If I believed in End Days, I would have been packing for the hereafter.

As for yesterday's comment that we have a bunch more women reading True West, here's an aspect females bring to the study of history that we normally think is reserved for men:

"He kissed me finally, long, soft and deep. I reached to touch him, to hold him, to feel his skin beneath my waiting hands. There was dampness beneath his shirt.

'"Billy–' I began. But he kissed me again, his tongue inside my mouth, moving, probing.   One hand held the back of my head, the other squeezed my breast, rubbing and caressing me there. I put my arms around him and held him against me as closely as I could."
—Pamela Brown

You can check out Pamela’s bold Bonneybrook at:

This just in from Flag:
"Investigators, responding to persistent questioning by reporters, today
admitted that Hunter S. Thompson did not leave a suicide note. However, his
body was found slumped in front of his computer where the 2005 True West
Best of the West survey flickered onscreen unfinished. 'We're not going to
draw any conclusions,' one investigator said, 'but it looks like he sort of
snapped somewhere around 'Best Jean Trend Setter', poor sucker.'"
—Tom Carpenter

"If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: 'Take two aspirin' and 'Keep away from children'"
—Russell Shaw via John Cotter

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

February 22, 2005
Juan and his son Umberto finished the Spanish driveway at about six last night, just ahead of more rain. It was sprinkling in the dusky twilight as I paid them the final $200. All told I spent a little over $2,600 on the project. Kathy and I got up early this morning to go out and admire the rocky expanse.

Now I’m suffering from rock withdrawal! We went on a walk and I kept spotting all these great flat rocks along the roadway but I don't need them anymore.

We have just posted the Best of the West survey for 2005. You need to go there right now and vote for worthy Western people, places and stuff. Click here.

Speaking of voting, we just got our results from the latest True West Reader's Survey and a couple of the numbers make me very happy. When we bought the magazine back in 1999, our first reader survey (150 responses) pegged the average age of our readers at 68 and the split was 90% men, 10% women.

Over a thousand of you took the latest survey and it pegs the average age at 45 and the split at 64% men and 36% women. This makes me very hopeful.

"Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent."
—Jean Kerr

Monday, February 21, 2005

February 21, 2005
No rain this morning, but it's quite cloudy and another storm from California is supposed to come in tonight.

Emma Bull from Bisbee weighs in on David Milch's deep take on Deadwood dialogue (see yesterday's entry). "Which is how you say, 'We wanted the swearing in Deadwood to be as shocking to modern TV viewers as the historically-accurate version would have been to people in the 1870s,' when you want to keep the 20-something wunderkind in the front office from thinking he's smart enough to do your job."

Right as rain, Emma. Too true for school.

For our train issue, I'm illustrating the Wyatt Earp-Frank Stilwell shooting in the Tucson rail yard in March of 1882. One of the witnesses to the shooting was a "fireman" for the railroad and I wasn't sure exactly what a fireman does, nor was I sure what kind of uniform they wore. While I have some cool photos of early train guys in overalls and engineer type caps, something told me I better go to the Trainiacs and find out what is authentic to that period. I called Pete Kaczmarowski at Roy's Train World in Mesa and he asked me all sorts of questions ("What time of year? Oil train or wood?"). After I gave him everything I knew, he told me the fireman sits on the left side of the locomotive and it's his job to keep water in the broiler (the engineer sits on the right). As for clothing, in those early days, all train guys wore derbys and as much civilian clothing as possible (the overalls and the engineer caps came later). The extra clothing was because on an oil burner there was all kind of hot oil coming off the engine and the clothing protected them.

I asked Pete how he got so knowledgeable about trains and he told me "When I stayed with my grandfather in Wisconsin, he took us everyday to see the Milwaukee Road. This was back in the 1960s and I just got the bug. We’d feed the ducks and watch the trains."

There are six million stories of smitten passion in the Naked West, and this has been one of them.

Amazing. We all got the bug somewhere didn't we? When I was out at Winter Range yesterday I met Linda Brock who is a spunky Billy the Kid-Sallie Chisum maniac. I asked her how she got the bug and she told me she was in the stacks of her college library studying for a final, saw Maurice Fulton's Lincoln County War book and started reading it (this had nothing to do with the final which, of course, made the reading all the more pleasurable). From then on she has been hooked.

By the way, all the rain just about ruined Winter Range. Mike Melrose was out there (Ben Avery Shooting Range) all day Saturday and Sunday and he said there was four inches of water in the True West tent from the Saturday storms alone. Everyone was miserable. All the mounted shooting events were cancelled. Really feel bad for the organizers. They planned all year, they got good media coverage and then the weather kills the gate.

Went home for lunch today and got four final sacks of flat rocks for Juan, who is on the home stretch of the Spanish driveway. Photos to follow.

While I was home, I whipped out a good gouache of Stilwell getting both barrels at night, standing on the tracks of the Tucson rail yard. Pretty good effects Didn't finish. Came back to work at two.

Abby is designing the new Festival of the West program cover and poster. She did a good job. I hope Mary and her crew like it. We'll see.

"Fools look to tomorrow;
Wise men use tonight."

—Old Vaquero Saying
February 20, 2005
Heavy thunderstorms during the night. Buddy Boze Hatkiller pushed open the door and ran inside, went down the hall with that "I'm inside! I'm inside! What do I do now?" Kathy got up and shooed him out.

Newspaper came late because the delivery guy couldn’t get across the washes. Everyone on the west side of the creek has been trapped for several days. I rode my bike down to the cement crossing on Rockaway Hills. Water really raging across. Barricades with signs, "Do not cross!" all across the road. I stopped at water's edge and looked over at a woman standing there, looking back at me. She had a look of someone who needed to get out, but she wasn't going anywhere. There were six Arizona Republics in the ditch on my side of the creek.

Worked on art, stole some rocks upstream. Kathy made homemade bread and chicken soup. Nice meal at home. Enjoyed it. Went to bed early and read some of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends And Influence People.”

Also read the profile on David Milch in the new New Yorker. Milch was a heroin addict and still is a compulsive gambler! Yikes! Which help explain the following rationalization of using foul, contemporary language in the HBO series: "we understand how provisional the meaning of a word is contingent upon the energy with which it’s endowed by the speaker. Energy is a gossamer and intangible and variable commodity, and words in a story are more clearly contingent and variable than words in a proof. The highest form of storytelling, it seems to me, is mathematics—where literally the signs contain within themselves the most violent and basic form of energy. Einstein understood that if he was able to sign correctly he would experience the secret to energy."

Thanks. I feel better now.

"The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness."
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 19, 2005
It rained on and off all day. Started a fire in the studio stove and worked on a series of studies for the attorneys general’s office. Got about seven ideas down. Very exciting. Hope to have something distinctive to turn in next week.

Got this info on my coumadin intake from a reader of this blog:
"Coumadin was discovered by Wisconsin scientists trying to figure out why
spoiled sweet clover killed cows. It is the most frequently prescribed
anti-coagulant therapy in the world. It is a good thing for humans, but bad
news for rats."

"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would
suffice to solve most of the world's problems."

—Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, February 18, 2005

February 18, 2005
Rained all night. Sprinkled on and off all day. Really started coming down at about 4:15. Getting tired of the rain now.

Started a new pill regimen this morning. Went to a homeopathic doctor yesterday who informed me the massive amounts of coumadin I have been ingesting for the past two years is actually rat poison. Allegedly has the same ingredients as Def-con. Always a comforting thing to learn. I'm guessing, but this can't be real good for you.

Gladys and Lowell Helsted from Iowa came by for lunch today. I was the ring bearer at their wedding 55 years ago. Gladys told me that during the wedding rehearsal at the Linden Lutheran Church in Winnebago Township, Iowa I blurted out, "Gotta go Pee Pee!" threw down the pillow and ran down the aisle holding my crotch. This unnerved many in the wedding party, especially my mother. They all held their breath during the actual ceremony, afraid I would ruin everything.

And so, a career was born.

Odds & Ends from the Success Seminar last Wednesday:

• Worst joke from General Tommy Franks: "I love it here. All these cactus. In Texas all we have is Bushes."

• The guy who founded Kinko’s, Paul Chueleska said, "The only criteria for success that matters is do your children want to be with you when they’re adults?"

• Zig Ziglar quipped, "Earthquakes get all the headlines but termites do most of the damage." (be a constant student and keep eating away at your goals). And, "Women want a man they can look up to, but not one who looks down on them."

• When Joe Montana threw his very first pass to Jerry Rice in practice, it was a short down and out which the new guy easily caught. But everyone was taken aback when Rice caught the pass and then sprinted 96 yards to the endzone. He did this on every pass, running as fast as he could go all the way down the field. When he started doing this in real games and racking up the touchdowns, every other receiver insisted on doing the same thing in practice. "It doubled the time of our practices but nobody was complaining," Montana smirked. Follow through, even in practice. That's why they call it practice.

• Rudoph Giulani quoting Vince Lombardi: "I never lost a game. I just ran out of time."

I have a couple other things to report, but. . .

"I gotta go Pee-Pee!!"
—Bob Boze Bell

Thursday, February 17, 2005

February 17, 2005
Ordered more rocks for the Spanish Driveway ($171 for six tons, biz account). Went down to the creek last night and got about five sacks full of good, flat rocks to intersperse with the commercial rocks.

Sam took an order yesterday for $981.75 (all back issues and sets). The guy was from California, had never heard of True West, picked one up, went crazy and called to catch up. He paid $200 for the Doc Holliday issue alone—which is the new world record for the most ever paid for a back issue.

Here's Emma Bull reporting on one of yesterday’s items:

"Yep, the guy with the dog and the cat and the--I think it's actually a gerbil or something, which means it can't run for office in Bisbee after all--is workin' the streets down here. The tourists love it. So, as far as I can tell from looking, do the dog, the cat, and the maybe-it's-a-gerbil. The guy makes money, and the tourists proceed on down Main Street feeling all warm and fuzzy, with something to ask the next merchant about.

“See, I think Tombstone missed a bet. That kind of goofy sideshow panhandling fits right in with the Old West aesthetic. Instead of giving the guy the bum's rush, they should have found him some old-fashioned threads and replaced his plastic tip bucket with a galvanized tin one. Instant atmosphere, and everybody wins. Good thing we don't live in Tombstone; I'd have to run for city council."
—Emma Bull

This afternoon I was looking at a 1947 Annual of Western Art and out popped a page of radio "liners" (promo soundbite scripts) for the Boze & Co. Radio Show (KXAM, 1310 AM). Some of them are still relevant today:

• Please don't call the radio station. We're tired and it's generally real irritating talking to our callers.

• We don't really care if you listen or not. In 30 years we'll all be dead, so who gives a crap.

• Mormons hate us. Jews hate us. Catholics hate us. Muslims hate us. We do seem to appeal, for some reason, to Jehovah's Witnesses and Hindus (this was obviously written by "Gordone" Smith, as it has his trademark religious obsessions all over it).

Believe it or not, the show lasted three more years after these ran.

"Drunkenness is temporary suicide: the happiness that it brings is merely negative, a momentary cessation of unhappiness."
—Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

February 16, 2005
Got up at 6:30 and finished the big trainiac opus painting. Looks decent. Robert Ray is taking it down to Kenny to be shot this afternoon. I have spent an entire week doing train art. It has been fun, but I've got a book to finish and need to get back to that. Not to mention my responsibilities for the current issue (Classic Gunfights and editorial).

The latest gossip in Tombstone is this: evidently, a panhandling guy was working Allen Street with a dog and a rat riding on the neck of the dog. Locals were upset and a complaint was filed. The rat dog walker has since moved on to Bisbee where the rights of rats are honored (someone told me one was elected mayor at one point).

I got this interesting tidbit earlier:
"Did you hear that Bill Kurtis was lampooned on the ‘Saturday Night Live’ program last weekend? The character was making small talk about snacks while doing voice overs for an episode about serial killers. It was kind of creepy."
—Jim Hatzell

Joel and Abby and Amy are busy trying to get our nominations in to the WETA Awards. All the submissions have to be mounted and explained. Here is our “strategic plan” explanation regarding the Good Saddle-Bad Saddle video bit which runs on the Westerns Channel: to make dry history interesting by applying the techniques of soundbite television to get across our message that history can be fun and entertaining. The hope was that viewers would be entertained enough to find us. There is no hard sell in the segments. On every True West Moment that runs on the Westerns Channel there is an ID that features our website address ( Our web sales and subscription sales have increased directly because of this strategic campaign.

Regarding the budget: The on-air talent insisted on buying a new Stetson from Sabas' so he would look good. Cost of Stetson ($675). There were no other out-of-pocket-costs. The Westerns Channel picked up all production costs. A total win-win for both entities. The Westerns Channel gets credible and entertaining tidbits on the facts behind the movies, and True West gets much needed exposure to an audience that loves Westerns and the West. It doesn't get any better than that.

Artist Fritz Scholder died last Thursday. Quite a shock to me. He was only 67. He is famous for his Indian paintings which have spawned an entire industry. He went to the U of A just prior to me and soon after, in 1968, or so, he hit a home run with his contemporary take on Native American portrayals. By the mid-eighties he had grown tired of them and tried to move on to other things but it was like fighting the tide. In one of his last shows in Scottsdale he returned to the genre he created (think Indians with full headdress and a Coors can). I met him a few times but I never really knew him. I have always admired his painting skills and we have a print of his in the living room, which I often walk by and go, "Damn, I wish I had that much courage!" He was very bold and courageous.

"Death is a distant rumor to the young."
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 15, 2005
The True West sales gang met at the offices at seven in the morning. We all piled into Joel Klasky's big, white, 4fun van and waded down into The Beast. The traffic was horrid, but we did get to use the HOV lane (High Occupancy Vehicles) and this helped a bit. Still took an hour to get down to America West Arena and once we got down there all the streets were snarled in every direction as we all tried to find an open parking garage. I remembered the Matador parking lot, and we snuck in there. The woman standing outside wasn't going to let us in, shaking her head with a kind of Don't-even-try-it look, but when I yelled out, "We want to eat a bean at the Matador," she smiled, stepped aside and let us in. Of course we had to sneak around the other end of the block to get to the arena so she wouldn't see us (in our defense we snuck out of the fourth seminar and ate at the Matador for lunch, $75, includes tip, biz account).

The first speaker we heard was Zig Zigler and he is a 78-year-old dynamo. He has a very strong country preacher style, but his words were golden. Most impactful message: "What brought you to here, won’t get you to there. Keep priming the pump." This message alone made the trip worthwhile because I feel rejuvenated to keep up the good fight.

General Tommy Franks was long on drawl and short on style, but he was ultimately likeable. Most impactful message: "Move it to the right" (incorporating his five Cs which were way too military and I won't bore you with them).

Joe Montana came out with plenty of glitz and rock aesthetics (big, monster rock riffs, with gangster rap bass, sparklers and mini-Kiss-fireworks from the four corners of the center stage). Joe told a big fart joke about putting his hands behind a center who had just eaten a huge green chile burrito. I laughed. Most impactful message: "Prepare for a perfect game." Why? Because you can't have a perfect game but if you aim at the top you'll score higher than if you aim at the top, and then come out in the middle. Joe also told a great anecdote about being on the Letterman Show and throwing footballs into passing cabs.

The founder of Kinko's came out and looked genuinely afraid of the fireworks. He had no speaker voice, kind of mumbled, claimed he was an idiot—couldn't use any of the machines in Kinko's. He confessed Kinko's was just one of his nicknames (Pubic Hair was another, the obvious conclusion being, he was kind of glad he picked the first nickname. I laughed hard). He also owned up to a sex problem (he has run out of fantasies at boring meetings). Obviously, I really loved this guy because he wasn't going for slick (many were, and an oily slick at that). Most impactful message: "We started to make it when we realized we weren't in the thing business, we were in the people business."

We got a couple of stock and real estate guys mixed in with the big speakers and they were quite swarmy and oily, to me.

Jerry Lewis was insufferable, full of himself to the point of a clownish ridiculousness, but then, what else is new? His jokes were painfully old and he made all those stupid faces the French love so much. In spite of this I laughed until I cried. He was so bad, he was funny. Most impactful message: You can cover a ton of bets with childish enthusiasm.

The clean-up speaker was Rudolph Giulani and I hate to say it but he was kind of a letdown. Rather soft spoken, he obviously didn't feel the need to boom. Of course, his riveting first person account of being at Ground Zero and having to keep looking up so they wouldn't get hit with falling debris and bodies, was quite strong. Most impactful message: "We were not prepared for someone utilizing planes as missiles and flying them into buildings. But we did have a plan for burning buildings and a plan for terrorist attacks and we utilized and pasted together a way to deal with it."

Got out of the arena at about five, got caught in the worst traffic imaginable. I am so glad I don’t have to drive down there. Got home about 6:30 and home at seven. Long day. Learned a ton. Can’t wait to apply it.

"Where passion is not found, no virtue ever dwelt."
—Maria Brooks

Monday, February 14, 2005

February 14, 2005
Got up at six and wailed on a big, ambitious train painting. Aped a color scheme out of a fold-out promo piece for the HBO series "Band of Brothers." Had a sweet, pale yellow and violet color scheme. Worked until about eight. Juan and his son showed up to work on the Spanish driveway. I'll post a photo of the progress in the near future.

We're taking some of the staff to an all-day Get Motivated Business Seminar tomorrow down at America West arena. Big speakers coming in: Joe Montana, Zig Zigler, Jerry Lewis, General Tommy Franks, Rudolph Giuliani. We're all riding down in Joel Klasky's van. Everyone going is excited. Going to be a TW field trip. "Now line up kids and count off. And when we go inside the building, remember, no talking to your neighbors. We want to be good do-bees."

Came home for lunch and almost finished the big painting. ruined the conductor's face and gave him a hair-lip, but I think I can save it. Brought the painting back to the office and showed it around. Good reactions. It may work.

Met with Allen Fossenkemper at 1:30 about doing a museum show in Fountain Hills featuring True West photos and artwork. Sounds like a solid deal. He's going to coordinate everything.

The gay Western is almost upon us. Brokeback Mountain, based on a short story by Annie Prouix ("The Shipping News"), written by Larry McMurtry ("Lonesome Dove") and directed by Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger" and "Ride With the Devil"), is scheduled to be released on October 7. This modern cowboy story stars heart throbs, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, as lovers. Ay-yi-yi! Gay Caballeros?

And speaking of the gay market, a friend of mine in the real estate biz (yes, it's Russ) got this pitch from a new gay magazine: "Our publication is a gay bilingual magazine and last year alone the Hispanic and Gay market was spending 260 Billion in the United States."

Which brings us to the question of the day: Does this controversial topic deserve a True West cover story on "Riding Drag: Gay Cowboys In The Old West"?

"Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door."
—Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Sunday, February 13, 2005

February 13, 2005
Rain finally stopped. Standing water everywhere. Ground very soggy. When I walked across our land to find flat rocks for the Spanish driveway this morning, my shoes sunk into the ground several inches. This is totally absurd in a land where caliche creates ground so hard back hoes lose their scrapers on a daily basis. Amazing.

Slept about 11 hours last night. Got home about ten, after a birthday party for a certain Ninth District Judge who just turned 60. We played against each other in Little League and he's from Winslow, a great guy. Kathy was in heaven at the party because everyone there was so Liberal. "Leave no child behind. What a joke!" I heard her say on more than one occasion. Unlike our Cave Creek dinner parties, the people at this party actually snorted back and had other atrocities to add to the Bush bashing feeding frenzy.

I was talking to Roxie Bacon (a quite liberal immigration lawyer) how I am so impacted by the philosophy of Seneca and she was smirking. "Wasn't she with Lewis and Clark?" And when I told her no, he was from Spain in 49 A.D. she says, "Well, I was only two centuries and two continents off." (he knows exactly who Seneca is). So, as I was trying to relate how Seneca had really changed me, the birthday boy came up and told me my job was to get everyone in the dining room for cake. Without skipping a beat, I bellowed, "Listen up everyone! You over there, shut up! I need you to move! Don’t sass me! Let's move into the kitchen for cake. Get those feet moving!" Some were shocked, many were outraged, while some just rolled their eyes. As the people filed obediently into the dining room, Roxie walked by me and said under her breath, "That was so Seneca."

Ended up at Mother Radina's house at about four. Had champaign and Mexican takeout ($19 dollars cash, I bought). By the second bottle we were making reservations to fly to Michigan and see the Radina clan (I've never been to Michigan and Saginaw, where the Radinas hail from). Kathy called Brad Radina who looked everything up on the net and got us a good rate. We may go in May.

Woke up this morning and the front page of the Arizona Republic had a disturbing piece: "Alzheimer's Threatens A Generation: Arizona's aging Baby Boomers helping to make Westerns states a likely hotbed for the disease." The guy featured on the cover is only 58. Yikes! Very scary. I'd tell you more about it but I forgot to read the article.

Got a new poll up. Have you ever been to Deadwood, South Dakota? Click right here.

Worked all day on trainiac artwork. Really enjoying it. Got four scratchboards finished. Put in a nice yellow and purple color scheme of trains in mucho steam. Not finished but I feel hopeful.

"Art is never necessary. It is merely indispensable."
—Michael Mimmelman, The New York Times

Saturday, February 12, 2005

February 12, 2005
Woke up around two. Tried to will myself back to sleep—"I will relax. I will relax, dammit!" Finally got up at three and started the coffee. Still raining out!

Went down to the creek when I got home last night. A TV helicopter hovered over the raging waters for about ten minutes as Buddy Boze Hatkiller, Peaches and I picked our way down the slippery slope. I'm assuming they were doing a live cutaway for the evening news. Water chugging about 25 miles an hour, bank to bank. Big, brown shocks of water rising out of the narrows up above us. We can hear the creek roaring clear up at our house. I wonder sometimes how our neighbor Tom can sleep at night since his house is down right next to the creek.

I've got several paintings I want to work on today. One is of Wyatt Earp after the OK Corral fight with the dust and gunpowder swirling around his stark visage. It's one of those paintings I started eight years ago and gave up on. I found it recently and thought, "Hmmm, not bad. I think I can totally ruin this yet."

We got our office copies of the 152-page behemoth Travel Issue (April) on Tuesday. Our printer Banta had a hell of a time binding it. What normally takes 18 hours, took 36 as the magazine was just too big to go through their machinery. In retrospect I think we should have gone to perfect bound on this issue (with the square spine instead of the saddle stitch). As our issues continue to get consistently larger we are probably going to have to permanently go to perfect bound. Ah, the heartache of success.

And speaking of success, I'm still reading Seneca and I'm wrestling with his admonition to avoid success and good fortune like the plague. Here's what the Man from Cordoba says: "Avoid, I cry, whatever is approved of by the mob, and things that are the gifts of chance. Do you look at [these random gifts] as presents given you by fortune? They are snares. Anyone among you who wishes to lead a secure life will do his very best to steer well wide of these baited bounties, which comprise yet another instance of the errors we miserable creatures fall into: we think these things are ours when in fact it is we who are caught. That track leads to precipices; life on that giddy level ends in a fall."

And, finally: "fortune does not just capsize the boat; she hurls it headlong on the rocks and dashes it to pieces."

Of course, this applies perfectly to our incessant lottery driven dreams (I saw a documentary on lottery winners and they were all miserable, and yet most Americans continue to line up like cattle in a slaughter house). While I can honestly say I have never played the lottery I have long lusted after fame and fortune. Kind of depressing to finally be close to cashing in with the magazine and my artwork and books and finding out it's all a trap to avoid. Gosh, I wonder if George Bernard Shaw has anything to say about this?

"I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind."
—George Bernard Shaw

Friday, February 11, 2005

February 11, 2005
Rained all night and all day today (still raining steady at 4:35). Really unusual weather for Arizona. I can't remember this much constant rain. We're used to sporadic thunderstorms where it gets black, blows like crazy, rains for ten minutes and fifteen seconds later the sun is out. This all day stuff is way too Seattle.

In spite of the drizzle I took the dogs on a run at about 6:30 this morning. I rode the bike. Yes, to them it was Christmas Day. Watched them lope along, oblivious to the mud and sog, just having a great time.

Got into the office at 8:30 and whipped out a scratchboard of an 1860s steam engine coming right off the page. It's almost going airborne. Utilized the great reference I got from McCormick Railroad Park the other day. Also redid the conductor "All aboard!" illustration. Seems a bit more authentic and dynamic on the second try. I’ll post some of these bad boys this weekend.

A well-known researcher dropped in this afternoon and we had a nice chat. He's got an interesting book he's working on. I asked him if he wanted us to do something on it and he sort of begged off saying, "Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those guys who think you ruined True West." The inference being that there is a large contingency who does. And there probably is (I mean besides Timothy Fattig).

Buckey Blake called me from Texas (his new home) and said we should do "The Wit & Wisdom of Billy the Kid" as a regular feature, utilizing one of his clever quotes in each issue, like, "Advise persons never to engage in killing." I asked him if he's put a down payment on that artist's studio out by Castle Hot Springs and he said he hasn't, but he's thinking about it. Of course, he just bought the place in Texas and needs to finish that, but he thinks like an artist.

Took Carole to lunch at the Bad Donkey. Had two small Greek salads and ice teas (I bought, $12 cash, includes tip). Don't tell her but she is the heart and soul of the magazine and I would have given up many times if it was just up to me.

Got an Email from Phyllis Eaton that we are going to have our 40th Mucous High School Reunion in August (it's actually MCUHS, as in Mohave County Union High School, but so many people would ask us, "Do you go to Mucous High? that we started using it). Can't wait to see all those Kingman babes wearing the Empire cut dresses, with the angora laced class rings. I'm like totally stoked. Gonna be bitchin'.

"In high school, I was the class comedian as opposed to the class clown. The difference is, the class clown is the guy who drops his pants at the football game, the class comedian is the guy who talked him into it."
—Billy Crystal

Thursday, February 10, 2005

February 10, 2005
Whipped out the train conductor scratchboard in quick time this morning and passed it off to Gus, who scanned it and is trying to find a type font that is appropriately groovy. Vacillating between Gold Rush, Thunderbird and Wood Type. Gus has put an illustrator curve on the type with a drop shadow back, against a red field. Not there yet. Need to whip out another couple locomotives tonight so we can get it in the can.

Worked until around eight last night on another train painting. I enjoy the solitude.

Good talk with RG this morning about circulation. It's our biggest challenge this year and we've got to get focused on increasing our reach. We are putting out a very expensive product and it needs a wider audience. Tell a friend.

Raining again. My advice to you: buy shares in Weedwacker. We are going to have weeds up to our armpits in a month, then it will all go brown just in time for fire season.

Took Mike Melrose to lunch at El Encanto today. He thought I might deliver bad news, but I told him I just wanted a good ol' fashion Iowa lunch. Mike had the "N"—Mexican sea bass special. I had the Sonoran enchiladas (flat, not rolled) with an over easy egg on top (my new fave dish, I bought $26 biz account).

Attacked my desk and answered mail most of the afternoon. Got the piles down to where I can see over them.

Paul Harvey, Jr. called and wants to do a radio bit off of Outlaw Annie's appearance in the latest issue of True West. I assume this is for his dad, Paul Harvey of "The Rest of The Story" fame.

We are going to submit two of the Westerns Channel True West Moments in the annual WETA awards. I talked to Jeff Hildebrandt this morning and he suggested "Good Saddle-Bad Saddle" and "Hats Off to Ya'" an ode to hat styles in the Old West. In addition, we will be submitting a cover (Dale Evans), articles (History of Rodeo and The Pitchfork Ranch) and our promotional postcard series (very groovy, Abby does 'em). WETA (Western English Trade Association) is having their conference and awards banquet in Anchorage, Alaska this year. Joel and I are going. Never been to Alaska. Looking forward to it.

I talked on the phone at length to Robert Love, the owner of the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. He gave me the history of the ownership of the West's most famous corral and it is quite a story in itself. Of course the corral and the actual gunfight site were owned by different people and putting them together wasn't an easy task. The reenactments didn't really start in earnest until the 1970s, and of course today they come off every day of the year, at 2 P.M. Except Christmas day.

“Among creatures some lead and some follow.
Some blow hot and some blow cold.
Some are strong and some are weak.
Some may break and some may fall.
Therefore the sage discards the extremes,
the extravagant, and the excessive.”

—Lao-Tzu (600 BC)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

February 9, 2005
Went down to Locomotiveland this morning. Joel Klasky set up a photo shoot for me with Bob A., a retired New York Newsday guy, who now plays conductor at McCormick Railroad Park. We met at the park at ten. I shot a roll of 35 mm of him cupping his hand and yelling "All aboard!" Got just the shot I wanted of him leaning out of the train.

Afterwards he walked me around the park and I asked Bob if there were certain trains that were cliches, that artists like myself draw over and over, inducing train enthusiasts to yawn (I figured this had to be true because we gunfighter nuts hate it when big city commercial artists crib some 1940’s shot of Henry Fonda as Frank James and pass it off as Doc Holliday on the cover of Wild West magazine, not that there's anything wrong with that) and were there exotic engines that would make a train guy sit up and go "Caboosie!" Bob said he didn’t know. I asked him if they had any train slang I needed to know about. Once again he feigned ignorance. "Not really," he shrugged. "We just like trains."

I thought to myself, "Well, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the train guys aren't as nutty as us Old West fanatics."

When I asked about different trains to shoot, Bob took me into the gift shop and I met Tim. When Bob told him I wanted to take a few photos of model trains, Tim said, "The standard three-quarter-Rosher?" And I say, "I'm sorry, I don't know what that means." He repeated it like everybody in the world knows what a three-quarter-rosher is. I apologized and asked him to spell it: "R-O-S-T-E-R. You know, a three-quarter-roster shot, like in a baseball program where you take roster shots, at a three-quarter angle with the train angling down to the horizon."

Oh. Yeh. A three-quarter-roster shot. Of course.

Tim opened the big glass train case and I got to take a few up close photos of a cherry Centennial steam engine ($599!). I then picked up a new book of cool train photos called "Steam Echoes: The Railroad Photography of Glenn Beier," which is all black and white ($63! for black and white photos of old trains). As I checked out, Tim told me there is a train museum out in Chandler where I can get some good photos of "Pash cars." Once again I ask him what that means. He repeats it louder, like an American asking for directions in a Juarez taco shop. Turns out it's short for passenger train. As in "pass cars."

It's nice to know the train nuts are plenty nutty!

Regarding my close shave yesterday:

"I had a barber trim my mustache...once. Never, ever do that again!"
—Maniac 41

Thanks. It's always so nice to get sympathy and support from your friends:

"Someone who lets anyone near his mustache with a cutting implement is a fool and therefore deserves to wind up looking like Hitler."
—Charlie Waters

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

February 8, 2005
I started a big locomotive-head-on-in-steam study this morning. Worked in black ink washes on watercolor paper. Joel Klasky got me hooked up with the McCormick Ranch Railroad Park people down in Scottsdale and we’re going down there tomorrow to photograph a conductor yelling.

Buckey Blake called from the Legacy Gallery at about noon and asked me if I wanted to "eat a bean." This is artist slang for going to El Encanto. We met down there and decided to sit outside, but Suzi, one of my favorite waitresses, urged us to move because the table we chose is a favorite bombing run for pooping birds (there is a big branch over the table). "That's why we've got on cowboy hats, Ma'am," Buckeye retorted. We moved two tables down and everything was cool for about five minutes, until we were attacked by a straffing duck. He flew over our table like a dive bomber, skimming our water carafe and coming so close I could smell the web-foot toe jam. Is it just me, or do animals get real obnoxious when exposed to humans in restaurants?

Had the Sonoran enchiladas with an egg on top and coffee. Really fine ($22, I paid $17 cash, includes tip). Buckeye wants to buy a little adobe shack out near Castle Hot Springs. It’s over by Wickenburg and is out in the middle of nowhere. Great little artist studio kind of a place. Only $200,000. Access to the hot springs is iffy, based on the attitude of the prevailing caretaker (in this case I think it’s the Forest Service). Of course, we dreamed outloud, stocking the place like irresponsible artists are prone to do. But we both agreed we wouldn't have any ducks on our new spread.

Got the following Email from a minister:
"As a former contributor to the magazine, and a licensed minister, I'd have to say the Clint Eastwood Jesus was my favorite. Sort of a ‘High Plains Savior’. God Bless You."
—Damian Kinsella

After lunch, Kathy talked me into going up to Carefree for a haircut using a woman she uses (my barber Bev broke her arm and can't cut for another month). This temp gal did okay on my hair but ruined my mustache! Just butchered it down to a Hitler fob. Really steamed ($15, still tipped her $5, like a total dodo!).

Worked until 6:30, took home the big locomotive painting to work on at my home studio. Imagined how much better the painting would be if I had that artist's studio out by Castle Hot Springs.

"Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat."
—Malcolm Forbes

Monday, February 07, 2005

February 7, 2005
Woke up to more rain. Sprinkled on and off all day.

Drew trains all day. One of my earliest memories is of drawing steam engines on the living room floor of our rental house in Swea City, Iowa. Must have been about 1952-53. When my dad got home from the Phillips 66 gas station, I would beg him to draw a train and then I'd go copy it. In his last years, at my art openings, he liked to tell the story that I quickly drew better trains than he could. This was a major motivator for me because it was so hard to get his attention, him being a stoic Norwegian male, and all.

Today I was womping on two 1870s steam engines with the big, fat smokestacks, and a Santa Fe Sunset Super Chief. All in scratchboard. Contacted Grand Canyon Railway about getting a conductor image. They Emailed one, but it's weak. I remember a perfect guy who was up there in 1991, I think his name was Marv and he was from Williams. All of their printed materials had him on it. He’s probably long gone by now. I need a close-up of the conductor yelling, “All aboard!” Weasels-Ripped-My-Flesh look in his eyes. Monster lit. Hand cupped to mouth. Curved Old-Timey lettering. A variety of trains are pulling out along the bottom—a virtual history of trains and their evolution. All of it is enveloped in steam. Railroad warning crossing signs are in the top corners. Special Old West Train Collector’s Edition, top slug.

Carole and I went to lunch at Pei Wei (she bought, so who cares, actually she spent $22 cash, includes tip.)

Picked up the truck at five. Four new tires, lube and oil change ($650 biz account).

Worked until 5:40. Whipped out a couple more sketches. Anxious to do something train-worthy. Pulled down about 15 books from our library. Amazing how many train books we have (maybe 30). And it really is incredible how many different types of steam engines there were. It's as varied as cars. "No, that's a Giant Erie broad-gauge engine No. 144, built by Danforth & Cooke in 1853." Really? "I thought it was a FastbackTwentieth Century Limited powered by a big Hudson."

“About mistakes it's funny. You've got to make your own; and not only that, if you try to keep people from making their's, they get mad.”
—Edna Ferber
February 6, 2005
Worked all weekend on finishing CGII artwork. Slopped up three paintings, finished two, really finished another (as in "finished off"). Switched gears on Sunday afternoon and started sketches for the Train Issue. Sketched all during the Super Bowl. Loved Paul McCartney's set, especially "Drive My Car"(I must be getting old because on Monday morning I heard a radio morning show host blasting the set as “horrible!”) and I thought one or two of the ads were funny. The ad was the edgiest (a parody of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction complete with Senate Hearings and a bimbo stripper). I laughed. Then went back to sketching.

Went to a private dinner party on Friday night. The host, who is an energy specialist, commented that our dog Peaches is depressed. I talked at length to Peaches yesterday but she wouldn't talk, wouldn't open up. Just looked at me. (she can be such a bitch).

Made about 15 trips for rocks. Hauled up a couple bathtubs full. Good exercise. Made tacos on Sunday. Had a couple beers. I've got the train image I want in my head. Getting it on paper is the hard part.

"The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it—once you can honestly say 'I don't know'—then it becomes possible to get at the truth."
—Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, February 04, 2005

February 4, 2005
Woke up to a flat tire on the Ranger. I’ve been nursing it for a month or so, meaning to take it into Tobias. Finally caught up to me. Called AAA and started organizing the studio, lining up art reference and unfinished paintings for the final push on CGII while I waited. Found some great stuff with potential, unfinished of course.

Joe from Catch 22 Towing came at about 10:15. The Ranger was parked on the uneven rocks of the Spanish Driveway and he couldn’t get a level spot for the jack, so I had to pull the rig into the garage. Gave him a True West magazine (Deadwood cover) and a $20 tip (didn’t have anything smaller, dammit!)

Got into the office at about 11. Got this hum-dinger of an Email:

"I have to say I stand behind you with putting Jesus on the front cover. Religion was a big part of the Old West, and I'm glad a Western mag is doing an article on it. And personally, I've always considered the Man Upstairs as a cowboy. Keep up the good work."
—Tay Hensel

In addition, Tay wonders if he is "possibly the only fourteen-year-old Old West fan." Almost, Tay, but not quite. And if we have anything to do with it, you'll have plenty of Pards in the near future. And besides Tay, God must love Cowboys or he wouldnt have made so darn many of them.

I'm not happy with the preliminary cover designs for the Jesus cover. Too dark and muddy looking. We may have to put it aside and get on the train issue cover, pronto. Hope to work on that this weekend.

Last night Kathy and I attended a free wine and merchants festival up in Carefree. Big jazz concert on the square. Walked around the area and saw many businesses I didn't know were even there (a tapas cafe?), ended up over at Legacy Gallery and had a good talk with Brian Lebel and Bill Welch. Kathy bought two cowboy glasses with cool brands on them ($15.85). Then we walked across Easy Street and landed at the Pia European Cafe, which is a new little bistro that fronts on Sundial Circle. Had a very nice meal of salmon pasta and a salad ($30 something, left a $10 tip).

Got home around 8:30, watched the U of A Wildcats play California. Looked like they were going to cruise, so I went to bed at halftime.

Dropped the Ranger off at Tobias at about 2:30 walked back to the office. Marshall Trimble just called and asked me about Big Matilda. He got an Ask The Marshall question about her, Googled the name and an article I wrote for Wild West magazine back in 1997 came up. Amazing. I can’t remember where I got it. We laughed (we both read so much stuff it's hard to remember exactly where it came from). I asked him how his son is doing in Iraq and he said he hasn't had a full night's sleep since the cafeteria bombing.

"To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease. Only when one recognizes this disease as a disease can one be free from the disease."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

February 3, 2005
Had a full set of X-rays of my teeth today ($102 house account). Going to lose a wisdom tooth in two weeks. Not fun—too much like pulling teeth.

Well, Dave Daiss, God bless him, changed his mind after seeing the Clint Eastwood artwork. Bob Brink wanted to give the image a haircut, but Dave said, "No, that's fine as it is. There's nothing wrong with that." This final image of the Religion of the West cover should go up tomorrow, and I may even post Dan Harshberger's cover rough when it comes in.

Several readers took exception to me calling the anti-Jesus-on-the-cover people narrow-minded. Here's a good example: “Reading the Bible, God is narrow minded. I think I will stick with Him.”

Here's the latest barrage of opinion:

"All right, I actually like the Jesus-with-cowboy-hat-halo painting, but the whole idea still makes me more nervous than the whore who met Jimmy Swaggert (or was that the secretary who met Jim Baker?)."
—Paul Hutton

"I like the one of Jesus in the desert with no hat or costume. It seems the only person in your journal entries that liked it whole heartedly was Marcus Huff, and didn't he wish you ill will once?"
—Lynn Allen White

Speak of the devil:

"If you never put your foot in your mouth, you'll never know how it tastes. (Mine tastes a bit like chicken, not bad.) Life is far too short to second guess. Gaines never second guessed when he matured MAD magazine. Wenner never second guessed when he birthed Rolling Stone. Lacey never second guessed when he grew New Times. True West is on a natural arc, keep adding your unique touch and it will find its stride. Your TW is different than my old baby, but babies grow up (notice I didn't say mature). I'm sure Jesus won't mind anyway, he's probably still in a floozle over the whole Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston divorce thing."
—Marcus Huff

"I think this situation has had a number of positive aspects. First, it proves
the value of your blog in tossing out ideas and getting almost immediate
feedback. Nobody says that you should always follow the advice your readers
provide--especially since they're a very select group, not very representative
of the overall readership. But blog reaction can and does raise some
interesting thoughts that can be considered before you take something to press.

"Second, it should be obvious that you have a good group of friends,
colleagues, and True West admirers. If nobody cared, they wouldn't take the
time to tell you what they thought about the Jesus cover. This is a testament
to you, of course, but it also shows the value that these people put on True
West. Not the old TW--the one that you've helped create over the past few
years. And that's a sign of success.

"What this whole thing should not do is put limits on your creativity: 'Uh,
well, I can't do this sketch because we'll lose readers and advertisers.' You
must continue to let your talents fly free, going in directions that some will
consider strange and off-base. You can always revise or not use them. Your
work is the signature for the magazine, not just on the cover but in the body
of TW as well. To put strict guidelines on what you will or won't do will
hinder continued development for TW, in my opinion.

"It is your responsibility to push the envelope, especially if you want to draw
in a younger market. And as they say, it's much easier to pull something back
when it's gone too far than to push it out to more adventurous levels.

"So use this situation as a learning tool, one that educates you on process.
Don't use it to figuratively crawl in your shell and hold back on your
vision. You shouldn't apologize or accept blame on the cover controversy;
nobody died, no advertisers left, no readers dropped subscriptions. And there
will be many more covers carrying the BBB mark in the future. There will be
plenty of opportunities to push the buttons and the envelope.

"And I for one look forward to them."
—Mark Boardman

Thanks Mark. I've often compared running True West to running in front of a train. Now here's an irony: this whole Jesus cover thing is for June! Two issues out. I'm currently under the gun to produce, you guessed it, a train cover for May. I'm picturing Moses on the cow catcher breakdancing as he flips the Ten Commandments, like frisbees, off into the desert, where one hits a Navajo woman breast feeding a baby right in the head, blood is everywhere.

But I digress.

“Every great idea makes someone pucker.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Bonus Blog
Here are Carole Glenn's notes from our staff meeting on Tuesday:

Status of Religion in the West issue:
Bob said that the issue is shaping up well. He said that he has used the blog as a focus group and to stir the pot and create discussion. He has sent Jason four sketches to post and hopes staff are reading the blog and keeping up with this. He said he has no intention of running anything on the cover which would hurt TW and realizes this is a very sensitive subject based on responses received and the people providing them.

Bob said that he feels Jesus is worthy of a TW cover and the idea came about because some major magazines (Time and Newsweek) have had great success lately with Jesus on their covers. Bob said that there is a fine line between provocative and blasphemy and humor and mockery. He said a cover is needed which honors Jesus and his place in western history without the hint of mockery.

Bob said that we need to do what is right for TW and that this has been an interesting and stimulating process. He said that he wants to create covers that raise issues without offending.

Bob said that he painted an image of Clint Eastwood with face in shadows and Roland suggested the title, "The Good, the Bad and the Holy". Bob said that Dan didn't care for that. Mike Melrose said that Clint is very hot right now and has been nominated for a best actor and director at the Academy Awards.

Bob said that he is also considering using a Navajo rug image, but does not want to do a lukewarm cover. The Passion of the West was suggested as a cover blurb (by Sue Lambert).

Bob said that religion in the west is an important story and that the article that Jana wrote is excellent. There will also be a timeline of religion events in the west.

—Carole Glenn, General Manager, True West magazine
February 2, 2005
We posted the first Jesus image yesterday and plan to post at least three others in the next several days. Meanwhile, the comments and opinions continue to pour in:

"The illustration of Jesus is magnificent. You were right to drop the gunfighter image. This portrayal appears more of a rancher who entered into a wilderness and endured the hardships of living off the land. The face is rugged, yet serene. You should be proud. Stay strong and stubborn, you old son-of-a-gun!"

"I am of the opinion that Jesus has a sense of humor, as he was in human form while on earth and had all of our human I don't think you have to worry about any lightening bolts. On the other hand, this is a no win situation for you and the Mag. I hope folks take the time to read the article which I am sure is done in an appropriate and thought-provoking style. No one can accuse you guys of playing it safe. Good luck."
—Jim Ed Erimie

"In a spirit of mixed encouragement: so your test audience is saying that they're not bothered, but lots of other people will be. I confess, I want to say the same thing. Yeah, you want open-minded readers; but when it comes to advertisers, you don't want to be quite so fussy about the state of their minds. Still, this is True West, the magazine that dares ask if Wyatt Earp was pimping, if John Wayne was an actor and not a cowboy, if all the great controversies of western history can't benefit from a good turning-upside-down-and-shaking.I think it's the cowboy hat itself that makes me nervous; it's a little jokey. (But as for there being no crown-of-thorns blood, wouldn't that be entirely appropriate in reference to the Penitentes of New Mexico? And they're one of the creepier manifestations of Jesus in the West.) Have you asked Dave Daiss what he thinks of the image? He may be a pretty good sample of the folks you don't want to upset."
—Emma Bull

Funny you should mention Dave Daiss, Emma. He called me last night and put his vote in on the nay side.

Mark Boardman also had another thoughtful reply to the latest artwork (he appreciates the intent but still thinks the idea is too contentious). To Mark and the rest of you I appreciate your comments and please try to keep an open mind as we look over the final sketches and cover ideas. This is a work in progress. I still feel confident, a provacative cover can be created that makes people think.

"A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February 1, 2005
Gus and I are whittling away at CGII and it is looking mighty fine. Of course we are over our deadline, as of today, and we are at least a couple of weeks, at least, away from handing off to Meghan and production, but at this point it will be what it will be.

Brian Lebel and his partner Bill Welch of Legacy Gallery came by the office at four to talk about doing a special show for the release of the book. They followed me out to the house to look at the piles and piles of original art going into CGII (I think I’ll end up with close to 150 pieces of art). They told me they liked what they saw and that we will decide on a date for the rollout show, probably in late August or early September.

I’m going to post the Jesus Out West cover ideas over the next several days. The black and white scratchboard is the first one I did, before the crown of thorns controversy. The yellow Jesus in the desert seems too serious, although it was intended to be more formal (read that less blasphemous). The halo one is too cute (read that too lame), but the Good, The Bad & The Holy one I think could work, although I’ve got everyone so riled up now, hardly anyone can look at it with fresh eyes. Bob Brink came in my office, looked at the art and said, “Is that supposed to be Jesus?” And I said, “Well, it’s actually Clint Eastwood. Why? Does it look like Jesus?” And he said, and I quote, “It better not.” Now would he have said that if he and Trish weren’t reading this blog? Probably not. So I have no one to blame but myself for the feeding frenzy.

As I told the staff this morning in our weekly meeting, I find it more than ironic that the very people who I thought would love to see Jesus on the cover, are the most uptight and hysterical on the subject. But then, I did actually read all the dire warnings from Paul Hutton, Charlie Waters, Jeff Hildebrandt. Mark Boardman and others.

Here’s three Emails I got today:

"I really liked the sketch of Jesus in the West, it actually gives me a
little hope for us out here. Course, if I like it, that probably means it's
too weird and you shouldn't do run it. Confused? Welcome to my strange
—Carol. D.

"Just cuz you can doesn't mean you should. I concur with the secret death wish comment."
—Jim C.

"Having seen the sketch I did not think it blasphemous (except for using a spaghetti western theme!) at all. But then I think The Alamo should have been a box-office hit, so there you go."
—Alan Huffines

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."
—Woody Allen