Saturday, April 30, 2005

April 30, 2005
My back feels better. I think I'm over the worst of it. Very nice out. The Palo Verde trees are starting to bloom and their bright yellow flowers really add a punch to springtime on the desert.

After a bike ride with the dogs, I bit the bullet and went out and pulled cholla out of the wheel well of the ‘49 Ford, where the packrats had made a home. Flushed everything out with water then poured Mad Coyote Joe red chili powder all over the engine interior.

All the while I was worried about the hanta virus (I've got two friends who have lost relatives to this rat-turd-borne disease). It didn’t help any that one of the magazines I bought yesterday was History Today, an English pub which had an extensive article on the Black Plague which by the latest estimates wiped out 60% of Europe’s population. And the culprit? Infected rats and fleas carried by boats to every civilized port as the pandemic methodically ravaged every country where shipping had created a new capitalist society. Depressing to say the least. Rats!

About lunchtime I realized I would probably live so I had the leftover Rock Bottom club sando. Thought quite a bit about the bad service I got there and wondered if it had any effect on their staffing, or attitude. Probably not.

At about one, I got to work in the studio and reworked, or finished off, depending on your point of view, several paintings. One of Curly Bill and his two satellites, and another of Doc Holliday finishing off Frank Stilwell in the Tucson train yards (yes, I’m still working on that!). Got a good handle on a close-up of Doc and a half-naked soiled dove behind him. Good reference. Unfortunately, I bent over to pick up some papers on the floor and wrenched my back, even worse than before. Kathy put a vibrator on my back as I rolled on the floor in pain. Very discouraging, since I thought I was out of the woods. I was just picking up paper! It wasn’t like it was a bag of cement.

Decided to make some tacos at about four. Kathy joined me and we drank beers and talked like kids ("Where’s the limes?" "I've got your lime right here Baby." "Big talk for a man with a bad back.")

Speaking of ridiculous talk, Robert Ray stuck his head in my office on Friday and was telling me about an editorial cartoonist he heard being interviewed on NPR and how the guy was saying that newspapers haven't figured out what talk radio has, and that is, being controversial doesn't lose listeners/readers, it gains them. I asked Robert how he thinks that applies to us and he said, and I quote, "We should have had the tophead on this latest issue of 'Was Geronimo Hosin' Lozen?'" Too funny. I laughed all day about that one. How does he think of these? And why didn’t we have that top head? (the actual tophead was "Lozen: She Fought With Geronimo")

"What I value more than all things is good humor."
—Thomas Jeffersonn

Friday, April 29, 2005

April 29, 2005
We took a field trip down to Barnes & Noble at 11:30 today. Meghan, Robert Ray, Bob Brink and Dan Harshberger joined me for a look at the magazine rack, to see if we can glean anything. I had Emailed our newsstand consultant Dick Glassman in New York and asked him for some magazines that are bucking the trends or coming on strong. Here are a couple of the titles he nominated:

• Workbench

• Easy Riders

• Gun Dog

• Hot Bike

• Cold Bike
(just kidding)

Picked up a bunch of other titles that we thought could have some insights, including, Real Simple, InStyle, Hot Rod, Popular Mechanics, Southern Living, Smithsonian, Men’s Journal, Outside, History Today (English publication) and The Rodder's Journal.

Took all the mags over to Rock Bottom for lunch and a good hearty discussion. Got some good insights into certain trends (catalogue style display layouts are rampant in several of these titles). Food was good, service was terrible. Waitress was either out back smoking or having a baby. Or both. She was completely missing in action. No iced tea refills, nothing. When I asked for the check and she took ten minutes to do that, I finally snapped. Stiffed her on the tip ($5 on a $55 bill, wrote “the service sucked!” on the check). When we were leaving the hostess asked how was everything and I said, "Not good," and she smiled that pre-programmed smile and then did a classic Lucy double-take. She offered me a make-good, but I told her I didn't think I was coming back. And I’m not. Funny, how one bad experience can ruin a place.

Here's another one. On Sunday night we took the Brinks to Shugrue's in Carefree and after about ten minutes it was obvious we didn't have a waitress so I got up and told two women who were standing at the edge of the dining room discussing stations, etc. One of them appeared to be the manager and she came over and apologized and told us to order an appetizer on the house. Great call on her part, so I ordered the shrimp cocktail ($10) and it was really good. On the way home, Kathy looked at the bill and noticed they put the shrimp cocktail on the bill. I won't be going back there either.

My back feels better. Here's someone else who can relate:
"I empathize with the aches and pains. When I turned 50 seven years ago, I
began feeling pain in the areas of every significant injury I've ever had. I
also have begun to weary of being told I need this or that test because
‘you're at that age now’. The Colonoscopy was the most significant. When the
Doc said he'd see me in seven years, I told him not to bet on it."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac# 9

Faith at the Big Bronco store is having her five year anniversary party in a half-hour so I’m going over there, then out to Greasewood Flats for Laurie Klasky's B-Day party.

T-Bell is in a rented car driving to the Coachella Music Festival this weekend. He's taking I-17 down to Phoenix and the 10 on over to Palm Springs. I told him I thought that was a long-assed way and he should have gone through Kingman but, perhaps that's a town he wants to avoid at all costs. I couldn’t blame him. Ha.

"Knowledge must come through action."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, April 28, 2005

April 28, 2005
Cool and cloudy. Looks like rain. My back is still sore although I went to the website Will Shetterly recommended and I learned how to lay down better. Ha. Funny, but true. Slept good last night. Feel a bit better today. Maybe it's not cancer of the everything.

I got a call this morning from Mark Brown in Franklin, Indiana. This is what he said:

"For the past year I have been enjoying your comments on the Westerns Channel. And here lately, I didn't realize they changed their format. I’ve missed you not giving the good comments. Everything you talked about was interesting. I especially enjoyed you tellin' about that Indian that sewed buttons on his shirt and sold 'em at train stations [Geronimo]. Fascinating. I hope they get those back on there.”

According to our Man at the station, Jeff Hildebrandt, the Westerns Channel has. . .Wait! Here's his actual reply, just came in (4:10 P.M.): "We changed our graphic look and I'm waiting for our design department to complete the new TWM graphic open and close. I anticipate having the segments back on the air in June."

Went home for lunch and finally finished the Papago Station painting. Took a photo of it, then added another gray-blue wash, pushing it one more level (the photo was insurance), but I think the darker one works better. Ran the film up to Foothills Photo.

Wrote up a sixty second radio spot for ProRodeo Radio. Here it is:

60 Second True West radio spot for ProRodeo Radio:
[A fiddle saws away and we hear a hoe-down going full blast.]
"What time is it?"
"It’s almost midnite, Billy."
"Dang it!"
"What’s the matter?"
"Well, I’ve killed a man for every year of my life and I ain’t plugged nobody this year."
"Well, I got to be moseying on Kid."
"Hey, come back here!"
[Gunshots. People yelling, fiddle stops in mid-saw]
Announcer: "How'd you like to be with Billy the Kid on New Year's Eve and he hasn't met his quota for the year? [gunshot] True West magazine, where the legend [gunshot] lives on. Check us out at That's TWMAG [gunshot] DOT COM."

"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left."
——Oscar Levant

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April 27, 2005
Had a catscan at seven this morning. The usual fasting, and getting down there an hour early (without coffee!). After three MRIs, a catscan seems almost like a drive-thru procedure, but for all you kids out there, enjoy youth while you can because after 55, people start poking you, and I hear tell it doesn't stop until they close the lid.

Treated myself to breakfast at Mimi's Cafe on Shea. Had the Monterey omelette, OJ and coffee ($14.65, includes tip). Got a call in the middle of breakfast from Cousin Eddy, who wanted to chat about his radio show. Went out of my way to talk soft (I hate cell phone talkers in public places yelling, and in fact the only thing that makes me madder is a person in a car, making a traffic turn, coming right at me, with one hand on the wheel and the other with a cell phone up to the ear!).

Saw a funny bumper sticker: "The driver is carrying no cash. His daughter goes to Xavier."(a private Catholic school in Phoenix)

Went by the bank and straightened out my bank account. In the meantime, someone forged a check using our TW business account number and Carole had to go down and close the account, get new checks, notify all our clients. Really a pain. It appears from the forged check that they just wrote down some random numbers and got ours. Still, it's costly and unnerving.

Got back into the office at nine. Worked on filling holes in CGII. Plugged in George Parsons copy on the 1881 Tombstone fire. Did six sketches of cow-boys on horseback. Getting the scale better between horse and rider.

Mike Melrose and I went to lunch at El Encanto. Beautiful day out, so we sat out by the pond. We went dutch ($8 cash) and I had the albondigas soup and a flour tortilla. Talked mostly about sports and the Suns' chances. Then we went over to the new Cave Creek shopping center next door and looked at all the shops, including our old neighbor Paul and his Western store. Mike bought a shirt. We talked about styles and trends. Everything is quite retro with saw tooth pockets and snap buttons.

Allen Fossenkemper's tribute to True West at the River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills is up until July. He really did a great job. More details to come.

Our office copies of the June issue arrived after lunch. Abby sure did a great job on that cover (Jesus Out West).

Worked until after six. Kathy wants me to go to Yoga tonight, but I think I'll pass. Too healthy.

"A yawn is nature's way of giving the person listening to a bore an opportunity to open his mouth."
—Henny Youngman

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

April 25, 2005
After work last night I drove down into the Beast and sat on a panel at the Burton Barr Library on "Ethics On The Editorial Page." When you read the news item that spawned this debate (see below) you'll understand immediately why I was asked to join the debate.

On December 2, 2003, the Tucson Citizen published a reader's letter suggesting U.S. troops in Iraq should retaliate for shots fired at them by going into mosques and killing Muslims. Never mind that the letter writer meant this should be applied only in a war zone, the Muslim community in Tucson sued the newspaper alleging "civil assault" and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Held on the fourth floor of the sprawling, steel-and-glass, Will Bruder designed library, the panel consisted of the lawyer defending the newspaper (David Bodney), a journalist from Tucson, a Scottsdale City Councilman (Jim Lane), an editorial writer for the East Valley Tribune (Mark Scarp), an editorial writer from the Republic (Doug MaCeachern) and another guy from broadcast news.

I was there for one reason only—comic relief. And when I take an assignment like this, I aim to please. I think I did okay . During the break at 7:30 I walked by a woman sitting in the front row who I spied nodding off during the discussion and said, "Are we keeping you up?" and she looked at me kind of stunned and said, "You woke me up." I took this as high praise. So I was feeling pretty good about myself by the time I got back to the cookies and veggie tray. As I loaded up with free food, a woman standing next to me asked if I was proud of myself for teaching naughty words to the "innocent child" at the meeting (an Arizona Republic editor brought her young daughter). I laughed, thinking she was joking but when I quickly thought about it, I really hadn’t said anything "naughty," and asked, "What words?" She grabbed a couple short carrots and said, "You know, like 'beaver.'" Oh, that naughty word!

I had told the story about Wyatt Earp claiming to have been hunting buffalo in 1872 but that a recent census find showed him actually living in a whore house in Peoria, Illinois in 1872. I quipped that he was apparently not hunting buffalo. . . I don't think the little girl was damaged, but you never know.

Future Arizona Republic Headline:

The general consensus of the forum is that there is less tolerance for reasoned disagreement. And I think the above anecdote proves the point

Got home at about 9:30 and couldn't go to sleep (these kinds of events get me wound up) so I read about the pulp poetry of Charles Bukowski in the New Yorker. And with his lurid book titles like, "Love is a Dog from Hell," and "Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit," I suddenly felt at home.

"I don’t try, I just type."
—Charles Bukowski
April 25, 2005
Worked at lunchtime on the Papago Station painting which I haven't touched in several weeks. This is how I work. I get stuck on a passage, in this case, the roof of the train station, and I start working on something else, and then, weeks go by and I come back and attack it again. In fact I have paintings from three years ago that I run across and think, that has potential, I still believe in my heart of hearts I can ruin it. Often I do, sometimes, not even I can muck it up.

Regarding my sore back:
"Mine's been bothering me, too. Here's a site that I found useful and

—Will Shatterly

If you've read this blog for the past three months you know I have been a little nervous about the June cover (Jesus Out West). It went out to subscribers late last week and we are just starting to get feedback. This came in this morning:

"Loved the cover of the June issue, and Jana did a fabulous job on the article on religion. True West is doing some great things. I personally liked your other proposal for the cover -- the crown of thorns on the cowboy hat was a great touch. My take is that people should loosen up."
—Juti Winchester, Buffalo Bill Museum

Whew! And to think I almost listened to Paul Hutton.

"Write down the advice of one who loves you, though you like it not at the present."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 25, 2005

April 24, 2005
My lower back is really sore and I can't decide if it's just wrenched or if it's cancer of the everything.

We got hit with a big rain storm which rolled in last night. It's still blowing and wet out this morning (7:30 AM). Sketched mounted cowboys all morning, riding in different directions. I have problems with scale, invariably making the horse's legs too long, or too short. It's a tough balance to put a man on a horse and have them moving in tandem, without the usual cliche-central-casting poses. This is what makes Charlie Russell so amazing. In many of the scenes he painted, the horses aren't all charging ahead in perfect formation like in a movie or a Frank McCarthy painting. In Russell's horsescapes some horses are "acting up," or twitching, or shying away (invariably in the opposite direction of the rider), or sunfishing, or exploding (and the horses around him are reacting like spooked horses would) and that is his genius. He more than makes up for his sometimes primitive painting skills with his observational insights and then getting the horse and rider to look they belong together. Oldtimers in Montana could allegedly look at a Charlie Russell painting and spot horses they knew and identify their bucks and their queer quirks!

I'd like to be remembered that way with the women I draw.

It was three years ago today that Bob and Trish Brink walked into the True West store (they saw an ad for Paul's Cowboy store next door and happened in). At that time we had one thing in common: they didn’t have a clue what True West magazine was about, and we didn’t either. Ha. Actually, we had some really good talent but we didn’t have much business sense especially when it came to the dark jungle of national magazines.

Of course it didn’t hurt that Bob ran the Hearst magazine division for 23 years and Trish was the ad director at Town and Country, not to mention national sales manager at Cosmo, and the West Coast manager of Hearst’s corporate sales.

Today, Bob and Trish both come in every day. They have provided us with clarity, commitment and experience. True West has come a long way since April 24, 2002 and while many people have made invaluable contributions to our cause, it's the Brinks who generously show us all the way.

I invited them out to dinner tonight to honor the anniversary of this momentous and fateful event. We went to Shugrue's and had a grand old time. Thanks again, Bob and Trish!

”Give me the ready hand rather than the ready tongue.”
— Giuseppe Garibaldi

Saturday, April 23, 2005

April 23, 2005
Yesterday, a friend of Gus's who supplies various restaurant chains with top-shelf Western decor came in my office and told me that Black Angus is building 25 new steak houses in South Korea and that the motif is basically 1950's, funky Westerns. Michael Collier told me they love those old Westerns all over Asia and for some reason the old 1950's Westerns are the ones they prefer.

Exactly one year ago, I went on a border trip with Bart Bull and he was saying this then, that the old, funky 1950's True West, trumps the newer, slick version. Bart has always been a visionary that way, seeing things coming down the pike before anyone else.

I was talking to Kathy this morning and trying to track nostalgia trends in an attempt to make sense of it all. It seem to me, they come around in twenty year cycles (the seventies spawned American Grafitti and Happy Days, the nineties spawned That Seventies Show, etc.), but this is a new wrinkle. We're talking about a half century ago being hip. Perhaps it’s a delayed boom, China and Korea are catching up sociology-wise (an emerging middle class?) and perhaps that is why. I don’t really know, but it’s all intriguing.

I worked on various Curly Bill imagery today and I must admit I leaned on the 1950's feel, more than I normally would. Of course, I still utilize old photos and try to catch the styles and little nuances of 1880’s horse gear, the horses themselves (they are so much smaller!) and of course the hat styles, which are all over the map. Still, I can spot 1960's illustrations of the Old West a mile away (mostly it's the Beatle bangs that give it away), and the same is generally true of the seventies, eighties and nineties. I guess it’s safe to say, any era you choose has a lock on the look (Faye Dunaway’s puffy 1960’s hairdo in Bonny and Clyde is a perfect example).

I read a great quote about all of this last night in the New Yorker:

"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells the less you know."
—Diane Arbus

Friday, April 22, 2005

April 22, 2005
Robert Ray just stuck his head in my office (3:36 p.m.) and said, "We need to complete 16 pages a week to get this book to the printer on time." This is the kind of specific goals I need to stay focused. Thankyou Robert.

Had a doctor's appointment at 10:45 this morning and this doctor, who I hadn't seen in about a year, agrees with the mysterious Doc Scoggin, "All of those supplements you are taking will create some expensive urine and that’s about it." We laughed. When I mentioned to her about how the homeopathy guy is really against coumadin, she quipped, "Yes, because it's so cheap." Well, there’s some truth to that. The bottles of pills I have recently bought from Homeo Guy have little stickers on the top with numbers like 160 and 85, as in $160 and $85. I would speculate I've spent more than a grand on this stuff and as Dr. P. pointed out to me this morning, "None of it has been found to do anything."

I have to get a catscan next week. As I was paying ($10 co-pay), I asked the nurse if she could recommend a deli nearby and she said there is a Chompies across the street (this is at Scottsdale Medical Center North, on Shea Blvd), and sure enough, when I got over there the place was slammed. It's almost an exact replica of the deli we usually go to up on 32nd Street. Had a New Yorker on rye and an iced tea ($14, includes tip). Saved half of everything for Carole and brought it back to the office for her.

PBS is going to do a documentary on Doc Holliday and they've contacted me about using some of my Doc artwork. When I gave them my usage price ($100 an image) they reminded me that they are a "non-profit" organization, and I assured them I am too, but not by choice. And, I told her, the main reason for my non-profit status is because I keep giving my stuff away. She laughed. We'll see.

Kathy thinks my recent appraisal of my media career was lacking in several departments (she avoids reading this, but invariably something gets referenced at the grocery store, or at the gym, which makes her realize I'm yapping about her in here, and then she goes and looks). Her point is: almost all of the entries have to do with my art career. What about my managing skills? Haven't I learned something from running a magazine for five years?

Well, yes Dear, I have.

• I know that most of the daily crisis blow over, usually on their own.

• I know that you need to be very selective on which battles to fight.

• I know that encouragement and faith in people's abilities is the strongest motivator (when I was doing the logo for KDKB radio, GM Tommy Vascocu said, "Make me look good for choosing you." Wow! I worked many hours overtime to make that come true).

• I know whenever anyone leaves the company, they get blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong, for months, and sometimes years!

• I know when you get too successful, most everyone has a secret urge for you to fail (and sometimes even when you’re not successful, but you are perceived as more successful than they are, which usually isn't real hard to do, but still).

• I know that success is kind of like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired—you quit when the gorilla is tired.

• I know that sometimes you just need to make a decision and if it's wrong, you’ll fix it tomorrow.

• I know that you need to control your own destiny or someone else will.

• I know that some employees thrive on challenges and freedom, and others need a map and specific orders.

• I know that many times employees just want to be heard and that it's important to listen, really listen (and not fashion answers while they are talking, which is the most tempting thing to do).

• I know that having too much money saps creativity. Fortunately our company has been very creative.

• I know inside every problem is an opportunity dying to get out.

But all in all, I think the legendary manager of the New York Yankees summed it up best:

"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided."
—Casey Stengal

Thursday, April 21, 2005

April 21, 2005 Bonus Blog
This just in: the actual title of the History Channel’s new show is Shootouts. They have filmed the Ingall's fight (Gee, I wonder where they got that?) and, if my source is correct they are also going to include a shoot-out in Vietnam. Never mind. Sorry I even brought it up.

"In love, one and one are one."
—Jean-Paul Sartre
April 21, 2005
I spent the morning reworking copy in the Curly Bill Brocius—Jim Wallace shooting at Galeyville. I needed to incorporate Billy Breakenridge's account with the narrative and it took some massaging but I think I got it.

Gus is working on a "Lincoln County SOBs" map and it helps explain why all those rustlers and outlaws ended up in Southeastern Arizona.

It looks like Calamity Jane may trump Geronimo. At least on our cover. We had a cover planned for next fall featuring Geronimo's Cadillac, but the recent interest in Deadwood may change all of that. Plus a new book on Jane has some very sweet, never-before-published photos which we may use.

If you ever thought of pitching a Western now is the time. With the raging success of Deadwood and the impending Steven Spielberg TNT series, Into the West, all of Hollywood and most of New York is suddenly hip to the Western's untapped potential. All I can say is, it's about time!

I always like it when our phone gals give me feedback. Yesterday, Brittany told me about a guy from Port, Florida who called and said he gave up on us ("Too many ads, too much Wyatt Earp!"), but he said he'll come back and subscribe if we'll do something on Clay Allison. Done.

Carole gave me this report: "Michael McKibben from Pico Rivera, CA, called to subscribe for a 5-Yr True West Maniac Membership. He said he has subscribed to Wild West for some time, and did not know about TW until he found it on a bookstore newsstand last night." Thanks Dick Glassman!

My artist friend Thom Ross is getting ready to install almost 2,000 artistic, lifesize, plywood cutouts of all the major Little Bighorn Battle participants on the Indian owned part of the Custer battlefield (the National Parks will not let him install it on their property). Here's his latest report:

"As Custer and his 5 companies approached the Indian village down medicine Tail Coulee, he halted the troops and a small group rode to the bluffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River. Custer then returned to his men and sent his second, and final, messenger back appealing for help from Capt. Benteen who was far in the rear.

"Three Crow scouts, White Man Runs Him, Hairy Moccassin, and Goes Ahead, stood on the bluffs and fired randomly into the village. As Custer and the doomed troopers moved out, these three scouts rode back the way they had come and they hooked up with Reno and Benteen's men who were now besieged by Indians. Eventually, these three Crows melted away and rode back towards their home. On their way, they bumped into a 4th Crow scout, Curly, who had continued on with Custer but had ridden away as the battle began. Curly had witnessed the fight from a distant butte.

"This quartet rode north and ran into General Terry's command and, using sign language, communicated the first word of the disaster to the stunned soldiers.

"In my installation I will place Curly on a distant knoll, watching the fight. The 3 other Crow scouts will be placed on the bluffs overlooking the river, almost in the exact spot where they stood 129 years ago!

“My studio assistant, Guy Watkins, calls these three figures the ‘3 Tenors.’ I have done 3 cut-out horses for them which will be placed behind the three Crow scouts.”

Thom Ross is installing this at the Little Bighorn on June 23rd and June 24th and Kathy and I are flying up for it. Going to be a hoot.

Dave Daiss took me to lunch today up to the brand new Cave Creek Roadhouse, across from Harold's. I had the tuna sando and an iced tea. Dave wants to cook up a road trip down into the Big Bend area of Texas. I've never been down there and am looking forward to travelling with someone as Old West crazed as I am. Ha.

T-Bell is suddenly obsessed with e-Bay and is buying rock concert posters like crazy. He's having them shipped to me, so I can get them framed. His mother is slightly irked at all of this because the boy is acting just like, well, you know what the Old Vaqueros always say:

"It’s frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

April 20, 2005 Bonus Blog
One of the tricks I have learned to help overcome my ADD tendencies is to occasionally ask myself, "What are you doing, right now?" This question forces me to stop and take notice at how far I've wandered from my main tasks. Upon realizing this, I admit to myself, "Well, let's see, you are typing up a Bonus Blog when you should be doing something productive like finishing your editorial."

What I Like About the Brits Department:
“Question—would the esteemed editor of True West be offended if the BBC were to offer him a fee for contributing to the [tv] series? If he would NOT be offended, the fee would be 500 USD. Is this OK?”
—A Producer at British Broadcasting

Granted, with the current value of the dollar vs. the pound, they are getting a pretty good deal, but still, this is more than twice what the American cable shows like the History Channel, Discovery and the Learning Channel offer for a talking head gig. The next time you are watching us babble on about history on one of these shows, turn to your significant other and say, "Do you know that poor boob is only getting $200 to do this?" Then, to really impress your mate, add this: "The networks call it an 'honorarium' and these guys line up like dogs at a Purina Dog Chow Coffee Table Dry Humping Contest."

Amazing Stats Department:
"I found 38,000 entries by [Googling] 'Wyatt Earp' plus 'True West' and 312,000 entries for 'Wyatt Earp' only.

No wonder we're not showing up on the first 30 pages.

"Observe how all things are continuously being born of change. Whatever is, is in some sense the seed of what is to emerge from it."
—Marcus Aurelius
April 20, 2005
I heard over the weekend that the History Channel is producing 13 new shows in a series to be called The Shooters. Evidently it will feature Old West gunfighters and their most famous gunfights. If this sounds familiar it's because we pitched this show idea to them almost two years ago as Classic Gunfights. I was warned they might rip us off, and so they have. The excuse I heard was, "all those gunfights are in the public domain," and while that is true, it seems silly that they wouldn't want the advantage of getting it right (you know they will muck it up and get it about half right).

A new, bonified photograph of Jack Ketterling, alias Jack Johnson (one of Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Ride riders) has turned up in one of the oddest places. We will run the photo in an upcoming issue.

Thanks to my homeopathy doctor I'm taking a ton of "natural" supplements, Vitamin E, enzymes galore, literally 45 to 50 pills and various powders a day! As to the ultimate benefits of all this ingestion, the mysterious Doc Scoggin says, in the-glass-is-half-full medical tradition, "You will create some expensive urine."

This just in:
"I want to discuss your latest poll. I find this an interesting subject. I read awhile back how the 'gangster era' was actually a fairly crime free time, except for the gangsters. The per capita crime wasn't what we would expect since a great deal was amongst themselves and innocent folks were left alone.

"A friend who is a History Prof and I have had this discussion regarding the Old West. There is really not enough hard factual data from the 19th century to compare with today. There is data but not to the extent we have existing now. Also, in the study do we consider the Indian Wars or take them separately as war? This would alter an outcome. War is usually taken in a different context. At any rate, I guess I will have to vote that today is more violent. Although if you believe Deadwood, they spoke just as filthy back then. As an aside, the reason I could not get into Deadwood is the language. I feel like if you don't have much writing talent just throw in a lot of profanity and that is a good cover."
—Hugh Howard, SASS# 49890, Maniac# 9

Speaking of Deadwood, Scott Hubly came by on Sunday to pick up his framed Deadwood poster. Scott won it from a drawing we had at Festival of the West.

One of the plot points on this season of Deadwood that I don't really care for, is the assumption that mining magnate George Hearst was corrupt. I'm not a Hearst expert, but I think it's safe to say that in popular culture whenever you need a villain, a rich capitalist is an easy target. And by the way, have you noticed that the actor who portrays Hearst's evil advanceman, Mr. Wolcott, is the same actor who portrayed Jack McCall (the killer of Wild Bill) last season?

Regarding yesterday's self-flagilation session:
"Sounds like you're human and an artist. Yeah, it's a damn tough combination of curses to bear, but you seem to be doing fine with it."
—Will Shetterly

I heard from Joaquin Jackson this morning and I felt like a little kid talking to a living legend. He is going to participate in a new in-house campaign we are running on Passion for the True West. The retired Texas Ranger is a big fan of the magazine.

"The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well."
—Joe Ancis

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

April 19, 2005
I believe that every so often it's necessary to take a good hard look at our efforts. It's been 35 years since I made a vow to make a career in media. What have I learned?

• I know that at least half my "brilliant" ideas suck.

• I know that Wyatt Earp by himself is more commercial than Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, gunfighters or Classic Gunfights put together.

• I know that when I start to do anything, walk to pick up a book, for example, that my mind sees something else (that needs to be done) and I think about doing that instead, and as I reach to pick it up, I see something else, and something else and this goes on all day long.

• I know that I have trouble getting started on things, and I also have the twin problem of not knowing when to stop, or not wanting to stop, which is even worse.

• I know that I have a knack for telling certain kinds of stories

• I know that I’m as lost on three-act narrative as I was in 1970.

• I know that my punchline skills are modest.

• I know that I often get caught in the middle (either go to the net or stay behind the baseline).

• I know that my skills as a painter are limited and that I haven’t really mastered color or composition. I’ve gotten better but I'm still lacking a ton.

• I know my most successful ideas seem to be the ones I thought about the least, or they were afterthoughts, like Honkytonk Sue.

• I know I have a tendency to overwork my art. It's not loose enough, especially in the beginning stages where I need to be bold and courageous.

• I know I suffer from an overabundance of ideas coupled with Attention Deficit Disorder tendencies and I end up all over the place. I can't stay with one thing long enough to make it really pay off. Had I stayed with the cartooning, I might have a career. Same with radio and music.

• I know that I am particularly good at portraying action in dramatic scenes but that this doesn’t necessarily translate to people wanting to hang these images on their walls.

• I know that a good cover title and cover art can be paramount to success in publishing.

• I know that I have wasted a ton of time going off on dead-end tangents.

• I know that it's damn hard to spot a dead-end tangent when you are in the middle of it.

• I know that my artwork is often overworked and overwrought.

• I know that when my artwork actually works I am invariably fluid and loose and I quit sooner than later.

• I know with my heart and mind that to keep doing something over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.

Last night I watched about half of my favorite movie, Two-Lane Blacktop. Warren Oates is incredible. I laughed and laughed. Dennis Wilson and James Taylor were so young and very handsome boys.

"The man who is forever disturbed about the condition of humanity either has no problems of his own or has refused to face them."
—Henry Miller

Monday, April 18, 2005

April 18, 2005
Three huge parties over the weekend in our neighborhood. Woke up on Sunday to a big, golden innertube type balloon snagged in a palo verde tree across the street. I assume it floated down from Crystal and Brittany's big shindig over on Fleming Springs. Two of the parties were right next door to each other and Joel Klasky went to the wrong one—for two hours! He's drinking and dancing to the band and telling his wife Laurie, "I wonder where Crystal is? I wonder why the woman at the front door looked at us funny?" Finally they figured it out because there wasn't a comedian. They had a band, but Crystal had promised a comedian. So they then went next door and partied there til' midnite.

On Sunday night there was the first Arizona Entertainment Hall of Fame dinner and awards show. Our very own Jana Bommersbach was up as an inductee, and Carole Compton Glenn attended to accept the award for her late brother, the legendary William Edward Compton. I asked Carole for a full report and here it is:

"Hans Olson did a masterful job of putting this together. The entire program was done by volunteers. Hans was there to greet people as they came and was back stage making sure everything ran smoothly.

“The Master of Ceremonies for the first portion of the program was Marshall Trimble. Marshall is the Official AZ State Historian, teaches history at Scottsdale Community College, poses nude with BBB and writes for TW. The inductees were from eclectic backgrounds - as were the presenters.

"There was a brief slide show for each inductee. Dwight 'Red' Harkins was the first recipient. In the early 30's, at the age of 18, Red opened his first of a chain of movie theaters in AZ. He also helped to revolutionize FM radio.

"Mike Condello was a musician and music director for the long-running popular children's TV show Wallace & Ladmo.

"The founder (Mike Lacey) of newspaper, New Times was next. His award was presented by Renz Jennings. Mike was ill and did not attend. Renz looks great and told Marty Manning that he is farming in south Phoenix, since leaving the Corporation Commission.

“Dancer/choreographer, Dee Dee Wood was next. She choreographed movies like Mary Poppins and worked with Dick Van Dyke when he filmed his TV show from Carefree. Dee Dee has won many awards.

"Native American musician, R. Carlos Nakai performed a flute piece that was wonderful. He has earned two Gold Records and been nominated for six Grammy's.

“Wallace & Ladmo were inducted for their children's TV show. Bill Thompson (Wallace) appeared on stage with 2 of the coveted "Ladmo Bags" - which were given to two people in the audience. Had he made it to the correct row and seat for the second one, Bill or Emily would have received it!

“World renouned musician, Lalo Guerrero was inducted. Lalo passed away one month ago. His son, Mark, and his son's band played two of Lalo's pieces of music. Lalo recorded and wrote varied types of music - he's been honored by the Smithsonian and many other foundations.

"Recording artist, Floyd Ramsey and recording engineer, Jack Miller were inducted.

"Jazz pianist, Charles Lewis, was inducted and performed.

"Radio & TV personality and member of the Wallace & Ladmo show, Pat McMahon was inducted.

"Lew King of the Lew King Ranger Show was inducted - award presented by Gary Peter Klahr (remember him?!).

“Artist, Fritz Scholder, was inducted.

“Award winning writer, Jana Bommersbach, was inducted next. Jana writes for TW and has won too many awards to list.

“R & B group, Dyke & the Blazers, performed and were inducted - introduced by Johnny D.

“Marshall presented the AMEHOF award to Marty Robbins. Rollie Stevens and a wonderful C&W band performed one of Marty's songs.

“Bill Compton’s award was presented by his friend, Marty Manning. It was a lovely presentation - Bill would have been honored. [Carole accepted the award on his behalf]

“Concert promoter, Dan Zelisko, received his award from Alice Cooper. We left at entermission and there with performances and awards still to be presented - Jessi Colter, Waylon Jennings, and Glen Campbell. This was to be followed by a jam session and then people were to go to Cooper's Town.

“As you can see from those being inducted - this was very entertaining. Because Marshall grew up in AZ and knew many of these performers, he was a great mc and had touching and funny stories. The presenters had great insights about those they were presenting to and those receiving the awards had some great stories. Dan Zelisko told about his first sold out show in the coliseum - Bob Seger - being cancelled the day of the show at 5 PM - and other, now humorous, wins and losses.

"Photographer, Lissa Wales, was there taking photos. Some of you will remember her from the 'Radio Reunions'. Lissa is battling leukemia and hoping to find a bone marrow match. She looks and feels great and is beginning chemo for the second time today.

"There were some new and some familiar faces there - Julia Flannigan, Wonderful Russ, Lee Powell, Johnny D, Bob Gately, Andy Olson (Radio Free Phoenix), Jeff Parrets (sp), Dwight Tindle, and Dan Duffy (there with Jessi).

"It was fun and I know Bill would have enjoyed it all!"
—Carole Compton Glenn

I got a sell-thru report from my publisher Tri Star showing that we have sold over 50,000 books. Biggest seller: The Illustrated Life & Times of Wyatt Earp, fifth printing, going into a sixth, so far 23,000 books sold. Not bad for a book that every publisher I submitted it to predicted it wouldn't sell even 5,000.

Robert Ray and I worked hard on designing pages for CGII. Really some nice stuff in there.

"There is no such thing as a great talent without great willpower."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

April 16, 2005
After breakfast, my son took me over to the NAU Student Union Basketball complex and we checked out a B-ball and did some shooting. I was quite tight at first, but loosened up and got some of my stroke back. We played Horse and the Dad lost. We played Around the World and the Dad lost. And finally, we played Best of Ten Free Throws and the Dad won (7 of 10). Probably because it didn't involve any actual moving.

For the first half hour we were the only ones in the cavernous cement bunker (it has an indoor track that runs around the perimeter), but then some serious pick-up guys started to show up, proceeding to warm up on the court next to us. Realistically I knew I had at least 20 years on the oldest guy there, but in my mind I'm thinking, "I can post up against that guy and burn him. Come on son, let's challenge these Flag fags." (in the interest of full disclosure, I am taking a testosterone supplement) Unfortunately, they had ten guys and proceeded to play full court, which even in my craziest ego-fogged brain, I knew was out of the question. Also, in other related geezer news, I told my son to take the ball at the corner of the "dollhead," and he says, :"What’s a doll head?" I suddenly realized that the top of the key, which we called the doll head, had somewhere in the last four decades, gone the way of the underhanded freethrow shot.

As we got ready to leave, one of the full-court guys launched an air ball and it landed near me. As I grabbed it and ran it back over to them, the biggest guy laughed and held out his hands, with a “hand-it-over-old-man-before-you-get-hurt” look. I faked like I was going to hand the ball to him, but instead I went up and dunked the ball right in his face.

Not really, but it could happen if I was younger, and taller. And had some actual physical talent.

From the gym we went over to Hastings where Tomas still has an employee discount and I bought two books, one on Route 66 and the other on Freak Photography ($24 cash). After a stop at the bike shop to pick up T’s two bikes, we landed at the Frisco Street Deli and had a great Van Gogh Sando (pastrami, cheese on rye) and a Michelangelo Pizza (yes, all the entries had artist titles). Great little lunch. T knew the waitress and she gave us extra stuff ($22, house account, includes tip).

Went to the AMTRAK depot and T checked out the fare to San Bernadino. He is going to the Coachella Music Festival at the end of the month and a roundtrip ticket is only $102. As he was getting his itinerary set, I left a TW train issue with the Visitor's Center Manager. They seemed quite impressed with our train coverage.

From the train depot, we walked back over to the Orpheum Theatre and I bought Kathy a copy of Bad Dirt, the Annie Prouix (rhymes with new) book I heard her read the night before ($24 house account).

Dropped Thomas off at his place at about 1:30 and took off for home. Nice easy trip down the hill. Stopped at the Rock Springs Cafe and dropped off a True West magazine to the manager. Had a chili-cheese burger and an ice tea ($14 cash, includes tip). Got home at about four. Kathy was on the roof trying to fix the cooler. Went down to Home Depot twice with her to get the right pump and water lines.

"Life is a paradise for those who love many things with a passion."
—Leo Buscaglia
April 15, 2005
Got up at six and had one of those free breakfast deals down in the Hampton Inn lobby (who started this and when? By now everyone is obliged to offer these and I imagine it hasn’t helped Denny’s business any). Had some cold cereal, fruit, an apple, yogurt. Passed on the rubber-pre-made-waffle, but had plenty of coffee. And it's all free!

Drove over to the KAFF (moo!) radio station on old Route 66 at 8:15. Did a quick, live segment on the Book Festival at 8:20 with the morning host Peter Bruce, then while the news played, he whipped me into another studio to tape a guest spot on this coming Sunday's program Under Western Skies. Peter effortlessly jogged between the computer, CDs and the board, tagging a song, and coming out, potted me up and said, "This is Peter Bruce and this morning we're talking to author and editor Bob Boze Bell of True West magazine, who appeared Friday on a media panel with Bob Early of Arizona Highways and Karen Olson of the Utne Reader. How did that go Bob?" Without missing a beat, I joined in: "It went well, Peter, we had a very interesting panel on the Biz, the Buzz and publishing in general."

Welcome to radio. I was talking in past tense about an event I hadn't even attended yet and as we kabitzed I imagined how dangerous and terribly wrong this could turn out. What if terrorists struck at the Northern Arizona Museum, with Al Quaida members (from Kingman, of course) taking all of us hostage on Friday afternoon and then just like in that Chechnian Moscow deal, the SWAT team has to pump sleeping gas into the vents, then explode stun bombs before storming the auditorium and taking out the terrorists? I'm killed, Bob Early is badly wounded and the gory headlines are all over Sunday morning's newspapers, but on KAFF radio, I'm on the air saying, "It went well, Peter. We had a lively discussion." It got even crazier when Peter started doing a weather forecast for Sunday afternoon—"fair and breezy, high about eighty." I laughed when he punched out, and we got ready to go back and do a live segment on the AM side of the building. "Have you ever gotten burned on that kind of deal?" I asked him. "Of course," he laughed, "but most everyone just figures it isn't raining where we are, somewhere in the vast region of their imagination.”"

Ah, radio and the incredible Theatre of the Mind. I do miss it sometimes.

At two we did have the above mentioned media session at the Museum of Northern Arizona and it did go well. No terrorists, although there was a librarian from Kingman in the audience. Karen Olson regaled us with stories of her magazine the Utney Reader (Utney means "far out" in Norwegian). She showed slides of their best performing and worst performing covers and I did the same (the Halloween stamp head cover being the worst, Wyatt Earp, Feb. 2001, the best). There were only about 34 in attendance but they seemed to enjoy the show.

At four I drove down the street to Northland Press and had a very lively conversation with Dave Jenney, the head guy at Northland Press. We have many of the same challenges and we got right down to it. I got the full tour and saw the original artwork for the sequel to The Three Javelinas (which has sold close to 500,000 copies!). Amazing. The artist works in felt tip pens and his ability to blend and do subtle gradations of color is unbelievable. He evidently uses colored pencils on top of the felt tip work to make it smoother. At any rate, I hate the guy and lust after his incredible mastery.

At 5:30 I drove back downtown and attended a free author's dinner at Flagstaff Catering. All the big authors were there (and that’s mainly how they got so big—free food!). Tom Miller (The Panama Hat), Miles Swarthout (The Shootist) and Diana Gabaldon (The Outlander series). As I'm talking to Diana about how she got started and how she works, Thomas is text messaging Kendra:"You know that book series you are so crazy about? With the time travel deal? The Outlander? I'm sitting here talking to her right now!" "No way! Get out."

You can check out her books at

At seven I walked down to the Orpheum Theatre where a line snaked out into the street. Having my author tag around my neck, I was whisked inside and down to the front, to the reserved seats. The place was jam-packed to hear authors read from their books. I'm not making this up. For two hours we heard poems and heavy stories about losers, divorcing couples and couplets, and finally, the headliner, Annie Prouix took the stage and read from her new book "Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2. Annie is a Pulitzer Prize winner (The Shipping News) and she held us all spell-bound for at least an hour. I was quite amazed that a small town in Arizona could pack a theatre on a Friday night, just to hear someone read aloud. Quite impressive and inspiring.

The entire audience held Annie in high esteem, giving her a kind of reverent rock star status and I imagined her being whisked off the stage into a waiting stretch limo. But instead, when she got done she simply walked off the stage, came up the aisle and sat back down in the row I was sitting in! As we all got up to leave I walked up behind her and asked her about the new movie Brokedown Mountain, (the controversial gay cowboy movie which is based on a short story by her) and what she knew about it. She looked very pained and said, "You probably know more about it than I do."

Afterwards, I was invited to meet the gang from Northland at the Zane Gray Bar atop the Weatherford Hotel but I was too pooped and went back to the hotel. A long day, but a good one.

"Problems become opportunities when the right people come together."
—Robert Redford

April 14, 2005 Bonus Blog
A very nice ride up the hill today. Left the office at ten, rolled down the window and kept it down. Thought I would get hit with major allergies as I climbed through the tall weeds and roadside flowers up through Black Canyon City and on up to Sunset Point, but it was just delightful. Only sneezed once, just past McGuireville. Finally had to roll up the window just this side of Mund’s Park. Downright chilly. Stopped at a Standard Station for gas ($2.49 a gallon, $24.52 house account).

Got into Flag at 12:30, picked up Thomas and headed downtown (was irked to see that gas at the Circle K next to T's apartments was going for $2.29 a gallon). Traffic horrible, knotted all the way up Milton and especially on Old Route 66, going through the railroad underpass. Lucked out and found a parking spot on San Francisco, saw Tom Carpenter walking towards Martan's and we went inside to "grab a bean." Gretchen and Peach (waitress, cook, sisters and co-owners respectably) were excited to see Thomas and proudly pointed at his graduation card, pinned to the wall above the second table. Naturally that's where we seated ourselves, and Gretchen made a big deal about everything and said to all of us, "Don't you think I look like I could be Thomas' mother?” And I thought to myself of using the great Rex Allen line: "Well, you could have been his mother if you hadn't been so damn choosy when you were younger," but I chose to be mature and held my tongue, for once.

Tomas's friend Kendra joined us and so we had a fine talk about all things Flagstaff and the impending Book Festival which was about to launch on Friday. I had the huevos rancheros and decaf coffee ($42 cash, includes tip, I paid). I asked Tom Carpenter to nominate some great places for dinner and he recommended to us The Cottage Place and Josephine's. I also talked to Tom a bit about some of our challenges at True West and that we needed to expand our net. Tom mentioned Dave Jenny at Northland Press and how they have gone through similar challenges and I realized I needed to talk to Dave while I was in town and called him to set up an appointment.

I checked into the Hampton Inn at two (room 111, ground floor, comped by the Festival but front desk gal insisted on getting my credit card probably because I look like a guy who would rent a lot of porn but what they didn’t know is that I have sworn off that bad boy behavior ever since I read Seneca but how could they know that?).

Thomas and I had reservations for seven at The Cottage Place, which is a little bungalow on Cottage (get it?), between San Fran and Beaver St. I wore my fringe jacket knowing full well this is probably one of the last times until late November that I'll get to wear it. Meal was good, not great, although Tomcat claims it is the best salmon he has ever had. Bill was steep ($92, plus $19 tip, biz account, but I plied my son with a glass of wine and got him to open up and tell me about his life)

Big day tomorrow. Got a radio interview in the morning, the session with the editor of the Utne Reader and Bob Early of Arizona Highways and then an appointment with Dave Jenny at Northland at four.

"The whole art of life is knowing the right time to say things."
—Maeve Binchy

Thursday, April 14, 2005

April 14, 2005
We've got a new poll up and I really want to know what you think about this one: Was the Old West more or less violent than today? Vote here.

There is this entire wing of Western history today that believes the cowboy—gunfighter aspect of the Western frontier has been horribly overstated. I’ve seen entire books attempting to prove that the West was no more violent than Minneapolis. In fact, we need to do a piece on this in the magazine.

I’m still intrigued by the fact that I mention Wyatt Earp every day in here and it doesn’t seem to register on Google. Hmmmmm, I wonder if. . .

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp.

But I digress.

Going up the hill this morning to the Northern Arizona Book Festival. Taking my son Tomas to Martan’s for lunch. Going to meet Tom Carpenter there. More later.

"“Words are nothing but words. Power lies in deeds. Be a person of action."
—Mali Oriot Mamadu Konyate

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

April 13, 2005
Heard from our accountant this morning. We owe more than I'd like to pay, less than I'd like to admit. Ha. But it's enough that I had to cancel a golf game with Joel Klasky, Bob Brink and Mike Melrose. Joel had asked me a couple weeks ago if I wanted to round out a foursome and I thought it might be a goof. Haven't played since I mangled nine with Tommy Vascocu (former GM at KDKB and current Midland, Texas media mogul) back in maybe 1980 (I like to keep my hand in and play every quarter century, or so) When Joel told me I needed to pony up $112, I thought, “For what, an eight-ball of cocaine?” No, it turns out that’s the special rate on the greens fee. Yikes! I thought they were maybe $12 (which would still be almost too much). But it just goes to show you, times change, naive expectations by people from Kingman usually don't.

Finished a pen and ink of Wyatt Earp holding off the mob in front of Vogan's Ten Pin Alley for CGII (yes, I'm still trying to get a higher Wyatt Earp ranking in Google). And speaking of Google:

I assume this is another Google boomerang:
"It was a real pleasure reading about your visit to our little cafe in Rock Springs. Next time you make your travels our way stop in and say hello!"
—Eric Exum, General Manager, Rock Springs Cafe

I haven't been in the Rock Springs Cafe (famous for their Mountain Oysters) since maybe Mother’s Day, 2003 when we took Betty Radina there. Of course, I did write about it in here.

Here's feedback on the blog posting about TW being too niche:
"Yes! I knew there was a reason I dug True West. It's not just about history, in which I have a reasonable interest (tolerance?), but not enough to buy the mag if that's all you had to offer. It's the variety of old western ways and means you feature in TW that makes for a good mag. Keep following your instincts!
—Jim Ed

"Life lets us ask for what we want,
but gives us what we deserve."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

April 12, 2005
Had a staff meeting at 8:30. Talked quite a bit about marketing and how to create buzz on the magazine. Good ideas all around.

Samantha told about how someone staying at the Carefree Conference Resort, stole the True West in his room, came down the hill and found us, and subscribed. Man, this is wonderful news. I love it when people steal the magazine out of hotel rooms. It's the ultimate positive sin, if there is such a thing.

Brittany wants us to get another jam session going, so I called Mike Torres about coming out to play a little guitar. He may bring his wife (Hey, I'm buying lunch and that way he doesn’t have to bring his Kingman wallet).

Heard from an old classmate, Bruce Porter. He googled the Kingman High School Reunion, Class of 1965 and this blog and a mention of the impending reunion came up. Nice catching up with him. We were both hot for the same girl, but neither of us ended up with her (which may be empirical evidence of a fair and just God).

So, after hearing from the Necronauts (one of Tommy's fave bands), who also Googled their name and came up with a mention in this blog, I thought, I wonder if I Google Wyatt Earp, will this blog come up? Certainly it must, since I mention his name more than any other, seeing as how I'm writing the Wyatt Earp book and all.

So I did. Googled Wyatt Earp. And got 38 pages of Wyatt Earp mentions and links and nothing about my books, this blog or the magazine. I vainly (and I mean vainly both ways) plodded through 25 pages and not one reference to this blog, or me.

I guess I’m more than a tad naive about how Google works. If you Google Kingman Reunion and the Necronauts and this blog shows up, doesn’t it stand to reason that a daily mention of Wyatt Earp would elicit an entry at least in the first five pages? Evidently not. So, no Wyatt Earp for me (how many mentions is that? And do you think it will show up now?)

After the staff meeting, I went home and met the John Deere tractor crew at my adobe garage. Joe Yager and JD Nelson had all the tools, fix-it flats, 6 ton jacks, two railroad ties and engine degreaser. Joe got the John Deere (series D, 1940) running in no time, and I rode it over to his place for a washing. Felt great, fond memories of my Grandfather, Carl Marvin Bell, on this very tractor, riding tall, like the Norwegian Prince he was. The green and yellow farm implement washed up very nice. Somewhere my dad is smiling (or at least not quite so pissed off).

With all of my mentions in this space about recreating the streets of Tombstone as accurately as we can for the new book on Wyatt Earp I’m doing, I got the following:

"I was in San Francisco for the WHA Council meeting and visited the Brick Row Book Shop on April 2. The owner, John Crichton, had acquired an oil, somewhat primitive, showing the buildings on both sides of a street. It is by W. T. Porter, a California artist, painted probably in the 1880s. It has been identified by a Wells Fargo expert as--get this!--Tombstone. You can read many of the store signs, etc.--and even see a sign for the OK Corral on the right hand side of the street in the distance. The painting is about equally divided between sky and town and has some of the qualities of the 19th C bird's eye views of cities--but this is more a street's eye view with a slight elevation. Crichton doesn't claim that Porter visited Tombstone--he could have worked his picture up from a photograph or some other image. But it is a fascinating painting for lots of reasons. The Wells Fargo expert was able to identify most of the businesses as ca. 1880-81. In the foreground on the left is Brooklyn Restaurant, which apparently is not in the Tombstone directories for the period.
I pass all this along to you at Paul Hutton's suggestion and because of your interest in the time and place, claiming no expertise on my own part. But you might want to contact Crichton to see if he has an image available. Crichton specializes in 19th C literature, not Western Americana, but he's a savvy dealer and thinks he has hold of something special. If the painting seems genuine and of interest to you, he might want to have it in TW. Certainly it's worth contacting him."
—Brian Dippie

And so I did, calling John Chrichton within minutes of reading Brian’s Email. John got the painting from a dealer who thought it might be a painting of northern California, or maybe Oakland. W.D. Porter was a California painter in the 1870s. John had the local Wells Fargo historian, Robert Chandler, come by the bookstore and look at painting. A couple days later, Chandler came back with the Tombstone business directory and they were able to match many of the store fronts with the directory. This sounds like a major find in the field of Wyatt Earp history, and Gus and I are crazy to see the storefronts because so few photos survive of Tombstone’s most famous businesses. When I get the image I’ll see if I can post it here for you all to see, or certainly in the magazine.

Thanks Brian Dippie! And Paul Hutton! By the way you can check out John Chrichton’s bookstore at:

"The day of fortune is like a harvest day, we must be busy when the corn is ripe."

Monday, April 11, 2005

April 11, 2005
Bad allergies. Woke up in the night sneezing. Bad bouts this morning. Snot everywhere.

Went up to the Cave Creek Lumber Supply and got two railroad ties ($29 personal business account) for the John Deere to jack-up the axil and save the tires. Went by the homeopathy and got a bunch more powders and pills ($481 personal business account). Went home for lunch. Had leftover salmon and an apple

Got a great thankyou card from the legendary Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson (in the movie Extreme Prejudice, Nick Nolte modeled his character on Joaquin). We recently did an excerpt on his new book and he and his co-author David Marion Wilkinson both wrote and thanked us. The name of the book is:

One Ranger: A Memoir, University of Texas Press.

One of my old neighbors, Ed Donaldson, dropped by the office with a friend who's a rocket scientist and a fan of mine. Ed Doerress works for Broad Reach: Space Flight Hardware & Vehicle Design. I asked him if in fact the most common retort at his place of business would be, "No, really it is rocket science!" and he laughed and admitted it is.

Before lunch, Bob Brink and I met with Harvey Wasserman about repositioning True West’s perception as a narrow niche pub. His take is that the distributors and the public have us niched as something akin to Gem & Minerals when we're really much more of a lifestyle magazine. We agree. Now, how to make that switch in the eyes of consumer, that is the question we need to answer.

We just finished our annual employee interview reviews and Sunday's comic strip Dilbert hit a nerve:

"Here are your regular goals and here are your stretch goals."

"What’s the difference?"

"The regular goals can be achieved by sacrificing your health and your personal life. The stretch goals require all of that plus some sort of criminal conduct."

My good friend and James Gang-Cole Younger expert, Jack Koblas has moved. He's still in Minnesota but now he's out to the country. I Emailed him back and asked him how he's doing. Here’s his reply:

"I had a heart attack a couple weeks ago and damn near went to Valhalla but am feeling great now. Lost 15 pounds, watching diet, exercise, etc."

I'm still sneezing at five. I guess it beats the alternative.

"All men should strive to learn before they die—what they are running from, to, and why."
—James Thurber
April 10, 2005
Got up at seven and made homemade huevos rancheros. Had fun in the kitchen.

At about 9:30, got a call from my former radio mate Jeanne Sedello. She and her old man, Larry were driving around north Cave Creek looking for land to buy. They're thinking of buying five acres down by Rancho Manana for a half mil. That's just the land! We paid $32,000 for our land back in 1983, or so.

The housing market out here is going absolutely bonkers. Had dinner with Russell and Wendy Shaw on Friday night and Russ told us a typical house that should sell for $200,000 goes on the market, and within hours, not days, hours, the bids start coming in: $225, $245, $275, and this is happening on virtually every listing. Just insane (in the membrane).

Worked on the driveway and got good and muddy (need to soften up the hard ground with the hose). Afterwards read the paper. Interesting obituary on Saul Bellow and how he absolutely despised the literature that came out of the sixties, thought it was vile and degraded. I thought to myself, "Well, that would be all the things my generation created from Zap comics to Easy Rider. He is just an old man, who didn't get it. Poor thing. Life passed him by, that's all."

Deena called about eleven and said she absolutely loved Sin City, thought the writing was clever and very funny. I said, "Well, I guess I’m just an old man who doesn't get it.” She said, "No, dad. Usually you’re pretty hip."

Thanks, favorite daughter, but this is what happens to old men like me. We see ourselves as cutting edge and hip because we took all the things our fathers created and turned them upside down and threw them out in the street, laughing at them and mocking them and then another generation comes in behind and throws everything we hold dear upside down, and in the street, laughing at us, mocking us. Sigh.

Got some cryptic advice on my medical condition:

"Maybe you need an old fashioned blood-letting, or maybe some pet leeches!"
—Lauren, True West Maniac, #19

This is from the mysterious Doc Scoggin:

"So, has your doctor started phlebotomy and testosterone? (Simple, cheap, often effective). Sue me for prying, but all you'll get is a 2001 Chevy Duramax that needs tires, and a 13 year old Labrador retriever with whom I have a mutual suicide pact (don't tell her, but I probably won't hold up my end of the deal.)"

"All bleeding eventually stops."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Then I got this more seriouis follow up from Doc Scoggin:

"Mesenteric vein thrombosis is serious stuff. Mesenteric vein thrombosis is serious and life-threatening. Promptly recognized and treated, the short-term and long-term prognoses are good. Coumadin is appropriate therapy. Problem is, like with other forms of clots in veins, it is not clear how long to continue therapy. Some say at least 3 months, and I'm sure some would say much longer. There is a very good chance that the clot has long ago dissolved. One of the key questions is what caused the thrombosis in the first place, and what's the chance of recurrence. Lots of things can cause the condition. There are several blood disorders that increase the tendency of blood to clot (‘hypercoaguable state’), but any good internist and/or hematologist should be able to rule them in or out. All are treatable. Given the iron issue, and the history of clotting, if it were me, I'd go back to the hematologist. If I didn't like the hematologist, and didn't want to go back to them, I'd get another hematologist or a good internist."

"What this patient needs is a doctor."
—E.A. Stead, Jr. MD

Worked almost all day on the Tucson overview painting. Did manage to finish a small portrait of the black and blue, plaid shirt guy in the Crystal Palace. Overworked it. Speaking of which, I often bring unfinished paintings into the bedroom and then as I wake up, I sit in bed, drink coffee, and study them, deciding what works and what doesn't. Kathy looked at the Tucson overview and said, "That’s very nice. Are you going to quit while you are ahead?"

And I said, "No, I’m going to keep working on it until I ruin it."

"Reality is such a jungle—with no signposts, landmarks or boundaries."
—Helen Hayes
April 9, 2005
Great day on the desert. Cool and windy. Today is the Cave Creek parade and rodeo, and while we used to have a float and a band, this year we didn't participate. Stayed home and painted pictures. Worked on a wide-screen, master shot of Tucson, circa 1882, from the air, the Catalinas are lit up in the distance and the blue light of the gas lamps illuminates the crooked streets of the Old Pueblo, down low. Had excellent reference from a 1940s photograph, taken from the air. Simply took out the modern buildings, left in the churches. And of course, everything north of the railroad tracks is bare and empty. Worked smart and built with light washes, trying to hold back. Paid off.

Kathy joined “the girls” for lunch and a movie. They were going to pick between Ice Princess, Guess Who and other relationship crap, so I had no interest in joining them.

Took a nap, got rocks off other people’s land, took a bike ride. And painted like crazy.

Deena called me at about three and said she had a date and they were going to see Sin City because they had heard great buzz on it. I told her my critique, “all flash, no story” and asked her for a full review tomorrow.

At five I took a shower and drove down to Desert Ridge to meet the above mentioned females for dinner at Rockfish. Had two beers (Dos Equis Dark, on draft) and Kathy, Carole and Julie and I split two fish dishes ($80, split four ways, $96, includes tip). Afterwards Kathy and I walked over to Barnes & Noble so she could buy some books for a friend in the hospital. Checked out True West in the magazine racks, and there we were (5 issues) side by side with Wild West, bottom, front row.

As we left Barnes & Noble, we ran into Joel and Laurie Klasky and their daughter Sarah, who is in love with Matt Damon. She’s also graduating from NAU the same day as Tommy. Nice talk with them. Drove Kathy down to Scottsdale and Shea so she could deliver the books. Got home at eleven.

“The kinds of people who can go on to greater emotional maturity are those who really like themselves, even if the world seems to turn against them.”
—Theodore Irwin

Friday, April 08, 2005

April 8, 2005
Got ink all over my hands. The curse of a left-handed draftsman. Been to the bathroom twice to clean up. Just finished a scratchboard of Wyatt Earp blazing away outside Fly's Boarding House. Good smoke effect. Sweet mustaches, the trick being to go lighter than expected and don’t be afraid to cover the lower lip. I cribbed the pose from a two-part book series on Spaghetti Westerns. Lots of great imagery I had never seen before.

And speaking of the resurrection of the Spaghetti Western, Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz have finished filming Bandidas in Durango, Mexico and it's supposed to be a Hogleg Heaven production. With those two honeys it should be. Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do, Sahara) is also in it. I hope they can pull it off. It seems like such a natural: a female buddy picture a la Sergio Leone. Ay-Yi-Yi!

Our own Phil Spangenberger is getting a Golden Boot this year for all his work in Westerns. There isn’t a more deserving guy around.

"Beany Bob" Steinhilber has a film debuting tonight at the Phoenix Film Festival called That's My Terrorist. It’s animated. Bob is the artist who lettered the title for Classic Gunfights and for my Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday books.

Finished a book proposal for The 66 Kid this afternoon. It's a combination story of growing up on Route 66 and how that led to my obsession with all things Billy the Kid.

For some reason our foreign distribution sell-thru as gone through the roof. The Dale Evans issue (December) is the issue that spiked, tripling in sales all over Europe. Don’t quite know why, but something happened.

Talked to Terry Goddard about the White Hat piece of art he wants for the Attorney General's office. He wants a courthouse in it. I don't mind. More of a challenge. I may drive down to Florence to sketch theirs. It's probably the most Old Arizonan of the state's courthouses. I recommended we do a series of seriographs with John Armstrong. Terry agreed, and we are going down to look at Armstrong-Prior next week. They have hand-presses and do chine collet also. Great little are techniques which I'll explain later.

So the doctor told me yesterday I've got too much iron and to watch what I eat because so much processed food is fortified with iron. Lo and behold I looked at a box of Grape Nuts (my favorite cereal) this morning and it has 90% iron, although, it may mean that’s 90% of the daily recommended blah blah, but I don’t know. Now I’m iron-anoid. Like I needed another paranoia problem.

Going to dinner tonight with Wonderful Russ and his wife Wendy. Got big plans for this weekend. We'll see. So did Custer.

"There are lots of ways to become a failure, but never taking a chance is the most successful."
—Harvey Mackay

Thursday, April 07, 2005

April 7, 2005
Chapter two of the Peaches-is-a-bitch story. So this morning Kathy comes up with a plan. Peaches will not get in my Ranger because she connects it with going to the vet, or to the groomer. To Ms. Bitch, nothing good has ever come from getting in that truck, ever. Buddy, on the other hand, is too stupid to figure this out and thinks a truck ride is about the coolest thing since road kill. So Kathy gets her sweats on, borrows my keys, goes out, opens the tailgate, Buddy jumps in and starts wagging his tail so hard he almost knocks out my back window. Peaches slinks off, goes out in the back yard and hides. Kathy calls for Peaches but now she is really hiding. So Kathy drives up the road, parks, and goes for her run.

Peaches is out in the back yard acting like she got away with a felony. Amazing. There’s more than one way to con a dog.

Worked on a big drawing of Tall Paul, as in Sheriff Bob Paul of Pima County. I think I over-drew it. Hate that. It takes so much courage to stay loose.

Had a doctor's appointment at noon. Took two hours. Went over my blood tests and tried to understand the prognosis: basically my immune system is overreacting and making antibodies against my thyroid. I've got too much iron and my kidneys are leaking, or spilling protein. Hey, it gets worse. The doctor thinks my hormones are out of whack and that I'm losing testosterone, or the manly stuff I am making is being converted into estrogen (I didn't have the nerve to tell him that during March Madness I cried over that damn Appleby's commercial about the retiring coach, you know the one where his wife takes him to Appleby's and surprises him with the framed photo of his championship team, see I can't even type this without tearing up!).

"Growing old isn’t for sissies."
—Bette Davis
April 6, 2005
Sometimes the Responsibility Gods reward us for doing the right thing. I have been putting off going down to Checker Auto and getting the Fix-it-Flat canisters and the two big jacks for the John Deere, but even though my eyes were burning and it was 6:30 when I finally got out of the office, I decided I had put it off long enough and needed to bite the bullet and go down there (it's about six miles away). As I begrudgingly rounded the big sweeper that drains Phoenix traffic up into our fine little community, I cleared the foothills and was stunned by a Bloody Mary sunset out across New River way. I immediately noticed that even though the sun had set, you could still make out plenty of color in the foreground and that one of the phenomenons of this twilight is—there are no shadows (Duh!). All of this is contrary to the boo-koo studies I have been doing of the train loping across the desert towards Tucson in the twilight. Of course, I was relying on Arizona Highways type art reference and I had been making it too dark. This was a gift from the Responsibility Gods. Thanks!

We've got dog problems. Peaches is such a bitch. She attacks every dog she meets on the road, including Buddy. and Kathy is fed up with her so she locked her in the yard this morning when she went for a run. Peaches went ballistic, flailing around the yard like a Tsunami tossed pooch, yipping and crying, totally inconsolable. So after about fifteen minutes of enduring this (I was in the kitchen eating breakfast and reading the paper), I decided to ride the bike and take her up the road to meet Kathy and Buddy and have them run home together. Only it didn’t work out quite like that. For one thing is was cold and I got Peaches about half way up the road and figured she'd find Kathy, so I turned around and came home.

Big mistake. Kathy came home and wondered how Peaches got out of the yard. "Oh, that," I said, intuiting immediately from the tone of her voice, that I had made a huge mistake. “I actually let her out so she could be with you. Wasn't that a sweet thing to do?”

Suffice to say it wasn't.

Hey, my good friends Cleis and Jerry Jordan are selling two of their casitas in lovely downtown Lincoln, New Mexico. I have wanted to have an artist studio in that sleepy little Billy the Kid town for the past decade and now here's my chance. Too bad all my money is tied up in a magazine. Ha.

If you want to sweep down and scarf up my idyllic getaway, go check them out at:

And tell the realtor Linda Long I sent you and you want the BBB discount.

"It is easy to be brave from a safe distance."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

April 5, 2005
We're doing an upcoming feature on the return of the Spaghetti Western. With the surge in DVD sales, many of these European productions (they made 800 of these from about 1965-75!) are just becoming available. I never dreamed there were that many filmed. So many American actors went over there besides Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. Stars like Robert Culp. Raquel Welch, Edd (Kookie) Burns, Joseph Cotton, Guy Madison, Telly Savalas, Chuck Connors, Peter Graves and even Ringo Starr! Yikes. I had no idea.

The Autry Museum in Los Angeles is doing a show "The Return of the Reel Spaghetti" which will open on July 30. Check it all out at:

More proof that comp mags work:
"This is Kirk Shapland. You comped me a years subscription some time back. I portray Young Buffalo Bill. I wanted to thank you for that. It has been some time since I got a copy and I find I miss it, so I subscribed today. Thank you for the kindness I really appreciate it."
—Kirk Shapland, Cody of the Plains

Stayed at the office until about 6:30, drawing a sexy black and white shot of May Killeen, a Tombstone bar maid who had an affair with Buckskin Frank Leslie and got her old man killed. Cribbed a very sexy shot of Scarlette Johansson and morphed her pouty looks onto an old photograph of French actress Ellen Andree (friend of the artist Manet). Fun. I love doing this.

Got home at seven and cranked up the video machine to watch Wild, Wild West. Jim Clark, the train expert from Tombstone (the town), told me he did all of the train work on the movie (they spent $2 mil just on the trains!) and I wanted to see if I could find a good overhead shot of a train for my Tucson train station painting. The movie had so much potential and they really spent the money. According to Jim, George Clooney was supposed to play Jim West, but someone, probably the director, got revved up about Will Smith playing the part, so they paid Clooney his entire fee (there’s at least $5 million!), had to change the script to accommodate a black man in the Old West (not easy, or comfortable) and then they burned down the entire Cook’s Ranch movie set near Santa Fe by mistake. All this after Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp had filmed there and built $2.7 million worth of sets replicating Dodge City and Tombstone. I met the owner of the ranch at an art opening in Tucson and he was telling me that he was fighting with Warner Brothers about the quality of the rebuild. Of course, the insurance company and the studio wanted to rebuild it with plywood, etc. Anyway, the movie missed by a country mile, but the trains did look good. Didn't find a shot to use, but a delightful waste of time was had by all.

"The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

April 4, 2005
Got a haircut at 11:30 from Bev ($20 cash). Got caught up on all the local gossip. The Schmidt’s sold their 5 acre, horse property, for $750,000 (they paid $350,000 less than two years ago). Wow! Sometimes real estate is better than gold.

Went home for lunch, made spaghetti, talked to the handyman who was installing a screendoor ($75 cash). He lost his wife ten years ago to ovarian cancer, still wants to find another woman, and he believes God will send him one, although the women at his bible study are not his type. “These women are wonderful but I just can’t abide fat women.”

"At least you’re not critical," I told him.

Six Degrees of Separation Department:
When we were having dinner at the Bacons on Saturday night, the news crawl came on that the Pope had died. Roxie told the story that several years ago when he visited Phoenix, it turns out, their daughter, Emily Bacon, was skate boarding with some friends when John Paul II came out in the alley behind the house he was visiting in central Phoenix, and asked what they were doing. He wanted to try to skateboard. Went a ways, very wobbly and jumped off. The idea of the Pope, in full robes, skateboarding a half-pipe in suburban Phoenix is pretty amazing, but true.

The young guy who photographed Kathy and I several weeks ago for Phoenix magazine, brought in his portfolio of Vaquero pictures. Very strong stuff. I saw several future photo spreads in the magazine.

I am perplexed by an atmospheric problem in twilight scenes I'm painting. I want to create scenes in my new book that portray weather, dusk and desert harshness. Mixed results, so far.

"Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge."
—Kahlil Gibran

Monday, April 04, 2005

April 3, 2005
Got up and bailed into my new sketchbook early, whipping out three heads, one of James Taylor (who looks a bit like Buckskin Frank Leslie), one of a band guy (Blink 142?) and one of Clint Eastwood as Wyatt Earp (all cribbed from a book of mostly Annie Leibowitz photos from Rolling Stone magazine).

From there I got inspired to do an overview of a train chugging across the desert towards Tucson at dusk. The sun is setting over the Tucson Mountains and the Old Pueblo is lit up by the brand new gas lights. The train is below us about two hundred feet down. Did two versions, good steam floating up towards us in the first one, better sunset in the second. Worked all morning and into the afternoon on that. The gas lighting in the distance is not what I'd hoped for, doesn’t glow right, my atmospheric techniques suck.

Speaking of April Fools' jokes gone awry (see April 1 posting), I got this Email from a former KSLX morning show listener who signs himself, Braveson, who said, referring to one of our more infamous pranks, "One of the funniest mornings in my life:"

And it is written - (

“Despite the rare instances of license revocations for repeated violations, the primary FCC reaction to hoaxes has been an admonishment. Admonishments serve as a slap on the wrist to a station. However, they also put a station on notice that it should refrain from such behavior in the future, lest it jeopardize their license at the next renewal hearing. Typical examples of such cases include KSLX-FM in Scottsdale, Arizona, which had broadcast an April Fool’s Day joke that the station had been taken hostage by Indians. [actually I think it was the Albertsons store!!!~braveson]

The hoax resulted in a number of calls to the police as well as the 911 operators. However, because the joke was a one-time incident and the licensee instituted station policies to prevent such hoaxes in the future, no further action was taken beyond an admonishment.

106, Additional Reference:

This was an April Fools’ morning show stunt which we (The Jones & Boze Radio Show) pulled off, by telling our 6 AM listeners that we were going to pull a joke on the people who weren't up yet. We told them to start calling at seven and give us first-person accounts of an Indian uprising on Pima Road (local Indian tribes were actually giving Scottsdale fits about closing the road that ran across their res). We thought it would be a goofy take on "War of the Worlds" and that it would be a harmless giggle. The stunt worked so well ("The Albertson’s near me is on fire and police are everywhere!"), that some listeners got hysterical and soon callers, say, parents of kids who worked at the Albertson's, melted the emergency 911 lines. I remember two Scottsdale cops coming into the studio and demanding we go off the air. We spent many months on the phone with radio station attorneys who asked us over and over, "What exactly were you thinking when you did this?" The station spent a reported $20,000 in legal bills defending the action.

Mother Radina came out at about three. Kathy and I took her over to the Cave Creek Museum to see a certain historical display. When we came in the door and met the docents and paid ($3 for adults, $2 for seniors), Betty said, "We’re here to see the Bob Boze Bell historical display." The docent looked quite confident and said, "Bob Boze Bell's historical display is right over here," as she walked us over to a modest glass case by the north wall. "Are you familiar with his work?" she said, trying to be helpful. "I'm his mother-in-law," Betty said. The docent still didn’t get it. "Really. Well, this is his display and his work. He lives out here, you know." Finally Kathy couldn’t take it any longer and said pointing at me, "He's Bob Boze Bell. You can't recognize him because he gave you all these photos of himself so much younger." The docent was quite humiliated by this, but I assured her she had nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, I was kind of humiliated that she couldn't see the resemblance (Am I really that old looking?). I imagined someday coming into the museum and trying to convince someone that it's really me in the glass case. ("No really, I'm him. Picture me with teeth. Here's my social security ID card. SEE? I was taller then and could actually walk in those days. Really. It's me, Dammit!").

Ended up at El Encanto for an early dinner. Place slammed with winter visitors. Sat in bar, had a margarita and the Sonoran enchiladas with an egg on top. ($40, house account, Betty got tip, $8). Very nice time.

Came home and took a nap. Got up at 6:30 and watched Deadwood (actually last week’s episode where Al gets the probe up the you-know-what).

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis."
—Margaret Bonnano
April 2, 2005
Cleaned off one of my tables in the garage and found a ton of stuff I have been looking for. Pulled up three loads of rocks off my neighbors land. Dug down the driveway and placed them. Saw Bev on the road and her hand is healed. Going to get a haircut on Monday.

Usually Kathy and I trade movies. I pick one, then she picks one. Sometimes there are movies that we both know she is going to hate, so I don't even ask. So today I met Mike Melrose at Desert Ridge to see the new Robert Rodriquez flick Sin City. My initial reaction to the opening was a yawn, but the Arizona Republic gave it four-and-a-half stars and raved about how it broke all the rules of movie making (black and white, Mickey Spillane narrative throughout, out of sequence stories, etc.), so I got hooked by the hype and decided I had to see it.

Got to Desert Ridge early. Parking was oppressive. Found a space over by Aaron Bros., took advantage of that and went in and bought some art supplies (sketch pad, Higgins ink, watercolor paper, $29, Sue biz account), met Mike at 1:10 for the 1:30 showing. Expected big crowd, but there wasn’t one ($6.50 for ticket, $7 for medium popcorn and water, plus a quarter tip, which mystified the kid clerk).

Stadium seating. Sat right in the middle. Melrose sat one seat away (homophobe). Watched at least a half hour of ads and then twenty minutes of trailers, which doesn’t put one in a good mood. It's quite oppressive. I really dislike it and made a vow to go less and less to theatres because of it.

Movie was all style, no story. Just flat-out, stupid comic book writing and plotting. The ad in the paper said it was "Visually arresting!" but that should have been "Arrested development." Yes, it was very cool in a graphic sense, and yes, Mickey Rourke was amazing, but other than that it was a continuation of Robert Rogriquez's Once Upon A Time in Mexico. All flash, no compelling narrative (and I loved El Mariachi and Desperado!). I’d give it a four.

After the movie I met Kathy in front of Albertson's and we drove down to the Bacons for dinner and the final four games on TV. Fun. Drank four beers and pouted about Illinois, knowing full well Arizona should have beaten them, and would easily beat Louisville. Bitter? Oh, yeh.

Got home at nine, feeling cocky (I can do at least as good as Frank Miller, the creator of the graphic novel Sin City)

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe."
—John Muir

Friday, April 01, 2005

April 1 Bonus Blog, 2005
I got this rejoinder on the F-bomb discussion from a very knowledgeable source:

"Re the published use of the F-bomb and all its contortive variations, the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang has some 12 pages of published literary references, enough of them from the 1800s to succor the view that the word was uttered by the less couth in the 19th century with some regularity.

"An excellent exposition on the subject of Deadwood's rhetoric, by the way, is 'Talk Pretty: The Linguistic Brilliance of HBO's Deadwood,' by Matt Feeney, posted on SLATE, May 21. 2004. (Go to, drop Milch into the search box, and the Feeney essay will be the first one up.)

"Feeney's take: 'Given the show's treacherous context, the formality of much of the dialogue offers all kinds of room for strategic insincerity and corrosive irony. When a Deadwood character talks he's almost never saying just one thing. Indeed, one of the pleasures of Deadwood is observing what characters are doing when they speak, where they're heading, whom they're trying to fool and what secret messages they're transmitting."

"As for words out of time, Feeney pokes the 'dimly literal-minded critics' who are 'tallying up discrete anachronisms and mistaking these for aesthetic shortcomings. This is predictable but unfortunate, as it is precisely the dense mix of accuracy and artifice that makes Deadwood such a gorgeous creation."
—Dan Buck

At ten minutes until five, Ron came into my office and asked me if I'd heard that the town council was getting ready to make the cave that Cave Creek is named for, ready for tours, complete with wheel chair access. I looked at him and said, "Tell me you're kidding," since the cave is right across from my house, and he said, "April Fools!" Ha. I was on guard and he got me anyway.

Took Robert Ray to lunch at Flapjack Deli (his choice) to pay off my debt. Had the Cave Creek omelette and iced tea. Robert had the Eggs Benedict ($25 cash, includes tip).

Finished five scratchboards on various Tombstoners, and a nice steamy close-up on the Papago Station incident with Doc Holliday, Sherm McMasters, Texas Jack and Warren Earp in the high beams of the locomotive headlamp, waiting to see if Wyatt can talk the engineer into a lift. The rest are mug shots of miners, freighters and Cochise County cow-boys for a big doubletruck on major goobers for CGII.

The newly posted photos (scroll down) were supposed to go with an entry last weekend, but we have had so much trouble with they just went up. They are of many of the Maniacs I met out at Festival of the West two weekends ago. Notice the Hoppy lookalike. Scary, huh? The little kid with the big mustache is my favorite, but I didn't get his name. Hope he grows up and buys the magazine. Ha.

Worked until about 5:30. Good day. I forgave several people who were bugging me. That feels good, because. . .

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
—Old Vaquero Saying