Thursday, June 30, 2005

June 30, 2005
Back from Yellowstone Park. When we left Cooke City, Montana yesterday morning I had on a sweatshirt and jacket. It was misting with a cold wind, high forties. Tattered clouds hanging over the high peaks (very Alps like). Cooke City (maybe 500 people) is just outside the northeast gate of Yellowstone Park. We got a great little cabin at the Antlers Lodge ($65 a night) and ate breakfast at the Grizzly Pad Cafe. I had a custom omelette, hashbrowns and whole wheat toast. Kath had the oatmeal. Also got a ham sandwich for the road ($22.50, includes tip). The Red Lodge route was closed because of mud slides, so we took the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway up over Dead Indian Pass (as Chief Joseph was escaping Yellowstone in 1877, the year after the Custer defeat with the U.S. Army in full attack mode), Joseph and the Nez Perce made a feint at the bottom of the mountain riding their horses in a circle to confuse the U.S. trackers and then made a run right up over the mountain leaving behind a badly wounded brave at the top, which the army quickly dispatched to the Happy Hunting Grounds (thus Dead Indian Pass).

Yellowstone Park was magnificent and weird. We stayed two days and saw most of it. Many stories to tell.

We’ve got a new poll up. A new book claims Lincoln was gay. Do you believe it? Vote here.

On our cold country trip we kept getting reports from Cave Creek on the big fire. Here are two of them:

"Sounds like you're traveling and missing all the fire fun in Cave
Creek. I flew over the fire Saturday in a friends plane and it looked
like Lew Jones place in Rackensack Canyon burned to the ground. I saw
him there about 2 years ago...was he still living there when the fire
hit? They are saying it's at 90,000 acres now, running north and crossed over
Bloody Basin Road....which is way north."
—Bill Poole

"Dude, we're down here listening to reports about the Cave Creek
Complex fire ("Second biggest in Arizona history! Aaggghhh! Aaggghhh!
Run for your lives! And don't forget to tell our advertisers where
you heard about them!"), and we're wondering how y'all are doing up
there. Which doesn't mean you have to tell us.

"Will's discovered a place that will make action figures from Poser 3D
art files, and thinks True West should do a series of collectible
characters of the Old West. And he thinks the series should include a
Bob Boze Bell collectible figure. I suggested that that one should
come packaged with a Buddy Boze Hatkiller, half-eaten Stetson in his
smiling jaws."
—Emma Bull

Yes, our house is still sanding, but the smoke from the fire is just above the ridge line north of our house and the smell of smoke is everywhere. Very scary.

Many Yellowstone stories to tell. Saw lots of beautiful country and of course bought several books on my heroes and their experiences in the park, like this one:

"I would like to have one more look at a game country before they turn the park into a sheep range and the geysers to a steam laundry, there’s an awful waste of hot water in the Yellowstone park, enough to wash inside and out all the reformers in the state and there’s a few of them."
—Charlie Russell

Sunday, June 26, 2005

June 26, 2005
The Brian Label show is over and we met some great people. Sue Lambert and I drove down to Meteetsie yesterday afternoon and met with the head of the museum and Big John of the Cowboy Saloon. Great guy, knows a ton of history about the area.

We flew into Billings on Wednesday, landing about 4:15. Got a rental car (A brand new Ford Taurus with 200 miles on it, $25 a day) and took off about five. Really green country with rolling hills. Quite pretty. Got to Hardin at about 6:30 (we left the house in Cave Creek at 6:30 in the morning so this was a long day of travelling). Checked into the Western Motel, then got some groceries and had a picnic in the little park nearby.

Got up on Thursday and went downtown and watched a Crow parade (as in Crow Indians). Two hundred riders and maybe 35 spectators. Kathy was yelling at the riders, saying supportive things like, "Hey great looking hat," but the kids, at least, looked at their parents with a look that said, "Mom, why is that crazy white woman is yelling at me?"

We drove down to the Custer battlefield and stopped off at Gerryowen and met with Chris Courtlander. He had great photographs which he regaled me with. His office manager came in and told me that they advertise with many newspapers and magazines but that Mike Melrose is their favorite account rep and that he always treats them right. I asked her to write this out and notarize it because I would have a hard time convincing anyone back at the office about this. She said she would.

When we got over to Medicine Tail Coulee we could see Thom Ross's cutouts clearly on a far hill attacking Custer. It was a glorious sight indeed. Thom had a big crew helping him with two big Ryder trucks and a support group including a film crew from the Booth Museum in Georgia. They interviewed me and I lied out my ass about how great Thom is.

At about 1:30 we took off for Sheridan, stopping in Ranchester for a picnic lunch. Great little area at the Conner Battlefield. Running stream, great trees. Very ice.

Got into Sheridan at about 4:30 and checked into the Mill Inn. Kathy went to the gym and I drove down to the Bradford Brinton Memorial Musuem about fifteen miles out of town. Beatuful ranch.

More later.

"Men are created different: they just don't act like it when they get married."
-Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, June 23, 2005

June 23, 2005
Today is the day artist Thom Ross installs his several hundred lifesize cutouts of Custer Battlefield pieces on the actual battleground. Should be an interesting day. We are heading for Sheridan at about four. Then on to Cody to see my mama and the Brian Label Show and Auction.

By the way, last Friday night I took my lovely Liberal wife to the Randi Rhodes Liberal Lovefest down at The Venue in Scottsdale. The place was soldout and as we fought through the traffic I dropped her off at the front as I went to park the car. As I walked up, the line snaked all the way around the building and I sauntered up with my cowboy hat on and said to the people in front of Kathy, “Excuse me, is the line for Rush Limbaugh?”

Thought you’d enjoy that one. I did.

“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

June 22, 2005
Leo Banks weighs in on the cover blurb lunchfest:

For Western Doofuses:
• They Died With Their Derbies On: Doofuses of the Old West

• All Hail the Western Doofus: A Hero Under Suspenders

• He Ate High-Fiber Foods and Could Put Away the Sasparilla: Hail the Western Doofus!

For the weird West... the best way to go here might be to play off individual items... if you are using the column on Western celebrities and romance, you could use the following lines:

• Clay Allison Does the Underwear Dance -- With Another Guy!

• Bigfoot Wallace Greases His Scalp for Love!

• She Scorched his Biscuits With a Firebrand!

• Black Jack Ketchum Beats Himself Silly: A Weirdos Rhapsody!

• Lynched While His Wife Gives Birth!

• Cow Gives Birth to Man in the Weird West!

• High Lonesome: Why So Many Did Drugs on the Frontier

• Rattlesnakes In My Britches: Surviving Daily Life in the Old West

• Saddle Sores and Locusts: Why Life in the Old West Was a Bitch

• On the Whole, I'd Rather be in Philadelphia: Secrets to Surviving Life in the Old West

Kathy and I are flying all day. Getting into Butte, Montana at about three. Renting a car and driving down to Hardin. Going to dine in style at one of many four star bars.

“There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”
—Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

June 21, 2005
Leaving for Montana in the morning. Heading for the Custer Battlefield to see Thom Ross do his Christo-Bananarama deal on the Crow section of the “park.” I hope there is some resistance and hopefully some senseless violence. Why else do art? Eh, Thom?

Rand Carlson came by at noon today and we went to lunch at the Bad Donkey (I had the Rueben and an iced tea, he had a salad—Atkins—he bought). We worked together at New Times way back in the eighties and he is a fellow cartoonist so we had a lot to talk about. He has a studio in downtown Tucson. He's into tin art collages nowadays and doing quite well. Lots of art groupies, etc. Not that I'm jealous. Just envious.

Worked on several pieces of art. Finished two Curly Bill’s; the outlaw leader as an apparition in the sky with a stubborn burro and rider in the foreground. The dust from the burro rider drifts up into the desert sky and creates the galloping mirage of Mr. Brocius in full stride. I did a scratchboard version of this scene for the July issue but wasn’t happy with it. I had an image in my mind and wanted something more atmospheric and colorful for the book. I think I got it. Gus scanned one of them (the skinny one) and we shoe-horned it in. Looks very nice. Went home at lunch and finished two more paintings. One of Ike Clanton standing in front of the Harwood house looking dazed and confused. "All talk" is the name of it. The other one is a cool horseback rider firing at unseen assailants. Lots of dust, great gunsmoke and action. My signature stuff. Of course, here I am, on fire, cranking it out, and tomorrow we go to Montana for a week and I’ll be rusty as a Lake Mojave nail when I get home. Ha. Such is my life.

"I slept and dreamed that life was beauty. I woke and found that life is duty."
—Ellen S. Hooper

Monday, June 20, 2005

June 20, 2005
Sorry, I missed a couple days in here. Father's Day, book deadline, you know, the usual lame excuses.

And speaking of my next book, we’ve got a new poll up: Do you believe Wyatt Earp killed Curly Bill Brocius? Vote here now.

I almost watched Into the West last night, but I went to bed and read Isabel Allende’s new Zorro book. Deena gave it to me for Father’s Day (Thomas gave me the DVD of Once Upon A Time In The West) Regarding the Zorro book, I was intrigued to find out how a major writer would handle this fictional character. Usually when a new movie comes out (Zorro II with Antonio Banderas and Catherine-Zeta Jones team up again on October 25) the studio pays some hack to write a stupid paperback, usually built directly off the shooting script. These affairs are invariable cardboard and shabby. Well, I’m only twenty pages in and it isn’t shabby, just, well, goofily predictable (Zorro’s mom was raised by wolves!!!!). And speaking of hooey, I got this from a friend who did watch the second installment of Into the West Friday night:

“I watched the second part tonight and I have to say that it was one of the worst made-for-TV movies I've ever seen. Totally predictable and follows all the typical stereotypes of the western.

“A wagon rolls over in a rushing stream; someone drowns. We have the boring pleasure of witnessing a plains lightning and thunderstorm, the horses are spooked, they stampede and kill someone in the process - another grave is dug. Cholera hits, people die. The only prediction that I missed was near the end when the Indians are getting drunk around a campfire. I figured they would end-up getting into an argument resulting in one killing another, but the Lakota would NEVER do that.

“An Indian village is attacked and massacred - the attacking party? As predicted, the Crow are responsible for the massacre. Of course the Crow have to be the bad guys -they eventually become allies with the white army. But, when a Cheyenne party attacks and massacres the wagon train the reason given is they kill the whites so they don't get cholera. YET, they take captive a white woman. Where is the logic in that? There isn't any. Spielberg - the director and producer who has given us countless great films and made-for-TV movies really embarrassed himself with this one.”
—Bob Reece, Maniac #21

Then, I got this one:

“Well, I almost gave up on it after the first episode. The flip-flopping between settlers and Indians was driving me up the wall. The second episode was much better, I thought. The perils of going across the continent in a wagon train were well depicted. I guess I'll stick with it for another episode.”
—Donna Gholson Cook

So I don’t know if I can put it off any longer. I need to watch the damn thing!

“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

Friday, June 17, 2005

June 17, 2005
Gus and I are in the zone now. Cranking out the pages. I finished two more pieces of art, one of Bob Paul standing over the bullet riddled body of Frank Stilwell on the Tucson railroad yard track, and the other of Bob “Dutch” Martin and a pard riding into an ambush at Stein’s Pass on the New Mexico line. I found great reference in a yard sale book I bought several years ago. It’s a 1940s photo book. One of those oversized jobs with the pushed, too good to be true, color. One page is an autumn scene in Vermont, the next is a boat dock in Cape Cod and then a barn in Iowa, you know. It has a great train station photo of Stein’s Pass in about 1945. Really lush shot, great detail on the prominent peak in the background. Of course, I took out the depot, although the tracks were there, having been completed in September of 1880. The gunfight there took place in November so they were brand new (and that’s exactly how I painted them).

Got into the office about nine and Robert Ray and Abby shot the new art, while Gus and I laid out the O.K. Corral montage (I could do this in my sleep).

And speaking of the O.K. Corral, the owner of said corral, Robert Love, just bought Wyatt Earp’s hand drawn map of the fight. I think he paid $40,000 for it. He told me on the phone today that he intends to blow it up and put it on the site for visitors to study, enjoy and compare. He also has commissioned new statues for the corral and placed them in the order Wyatt had them (the order is at variance with some of the other eye-witnesses, but hey, the Wyatt-ster was standing right there, so he should know.

Anxious to paint an opium overdose (happened in front of the O.K. Corral in 1880), the Nekkid Fandango (still haven’t finished it), mug shots of Turkey Creek Johnson and Texas Jack Vermillion and a Redington Pass overview (done from the flying photo reference images I took two weeks ago).

Got a call from the Northfield, Minnesota Museum and they want to use some of my artwork for a revamping of the museum. They want to use the big painting of the James-Younger Gang riding out of town, five abreast, taking up the entire road.

Meghan is in Spokane, Washington this weekend attending the Western Writers of America Conference.

More angling for the free lunch on the catchy cover titles:
Darkest SECRETS Revealed
NOW and 130 Years Ago ...
WHY FAT DOCTORS and Other Old Geezers
Chase FAST Women
of Fallen Virtue & Simple Minds
and WIN Favor with Local Priests
for Sharing Details of Their
Before Returning Home to the
THIN, Haggard and Lonely Wife
Who Sits and Darns
His Damned Old Socks

It's almost 5:30 and I’ve got to leave and go pick up Kathy and take her to the "Randi Rocks" show down in Scottsdale. The show is sold out and features Randi Rhodes, the Liberal talk show host on Air America. She’s been doing her national show for the past week in the Valley. Tickets are $10.10 (the radio station Randi is on is at 1010 on the AM dial. Get it? Sooooooooooooo radio).

"The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent."
—Sam Levenson

Thursday, June 16, 2005

June 16, 2005
Really got into deadline mode today. Wrestled five spreads to the ground, writing cutlines and sidebars on the fly, and passed them off to Gus, who put them in place, tweaked them and got them over to Robert Ray for final design and output. Really cranking.

Went home for lunch and finished three pieces of art, including a portrait of Bob Paul, Bob "Dutch" Martin, and The Gambler (based on an alleged photo of Wyatt Earp in front of the Tombstone Fire Station). I brought those, plus a couple portraits I had previously finished of Louisa Earp, Morgan Earp, Doc Holliday and Frank Stilwell into the office and Robert Ray and Abby shot digital photos of them in our new photo studio which they have set up in the old store area (As of last week we closed the store. We just weren’t getting the traffic).

Britney called from Sky Harbor this morning. She said that she spotted True West in Terminal Four on the newsstand. She said she saw it right away—and it was in a good location. This made my day.

Earlier this week, Bob Brink shared with us "Maurer’s Ten Cardinal Rules" for surviving in the magazine business. Maurer and Bob worked together for many years at Hearst. With gems like "Art directors love to award each other Golden Tee-Squares. Magazines are not designed to hang on the wall," I knew this was something we needed to read. And, "The reader always comes first. The reader is your boss. The reader is a demanding boss. Never forget who you work for. It’s a good way to get fired," we certainly got a lot of value out of the list. But the one that really got me is "Learn the trigger words." Research has shown that some words just work on the cover no matter what. And "they work in Chicago. They work in Bangkok. They work in Moscow, Athens and Madrid." Here are the words that work on covers every single time:
• How
• Why
• Secrets
• Confessions
• Doctors
• Fat
• Sex
• Fast
• Now
• Easy
• Thin
• Win

So I challenged our creative writers and contributors to come up with True West cover lines for 2006, and here are a few choice ones I’ve gotten back:

• How to have secret fast sex with fat doctors now and remain thin and easy.
—Carole Glenn

• Doc Holiday's Easy, Winning Diet Secret: Fast Sex with Fat Chicks
and a Large Box of Wheat Thins!
—The Unknown Contributor

• A Friend With Weed Is A Friend Indeed
—Mike Melrose (evidently trying to get a title off of "Drugs In The Old West" but utilizing none of the words on the list)

• Fast Times at Tombstone High
—Mike Melrose, who else?

• Six Easy Pieces: Guns You Never Heard Of Nor Want To (think of weird combinations-what did Miss kitty carry? And where? Could you doctor that up?)
—Corrine Brown

• Plying the Frontier Sex Trade: What really separated the women from the girls (Larry Brown-where are you when we need you?)
—Corrine Brown

• On the fast track to Paradise – Opium and drug dens in the Gold camps (hey-they had to do something before television)
—Corrine Brown

• Finding Fat City-The best poker saloons from Deadwood to Dodge City (then and now) (Is this pandering?)
—Corrine Brown

• How Range Cowboys Stayed Thin: (or did they?) a True Maniacs guide to carbs, before it even mattered.
—Corrine Brown

• True Confessions of a Fallen Woman—Mattie Silks Sets the Record Straight
—Corrine Brown

• Bear Grease and Buffalo Fat : A Day at the Bent’s Fort Spa
—Corrine Brown

• Sex and the City: True West’s Top Picks for A Night Out on the (Frontier) Town
—Corrine Brown

• Easy on the Sweet Talk—Cowboy Courtship 1800’s style.(Trades, deals and pregnancy-was their any other way?)
—Corrine Brown

• The Fat Man and the Thin Woman, plus a two headed cow -----traveling sideshows and the con men who ran them
—Corrine Brown (who also wants dessert!)

• True West Confessions: How I Made My Fat Wife Thin! (By Dr. Johnny
Forker Faster)
—Mark Boardman (Nasty boy! shame on you!)

How and Why, through Fast, Easy, Sex they are Now Thin
—Mad Coyote Joe

That's not all. But that's all for today. You too can contribute if you'd like. Hey, free lunch if we use one.

"The world is proof that God is a committee."
—Bob Stokes

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

June 15, 2005
Today is a wake-up call. The CGII book is supposed to go to the printer in a month. We’ve got 30 days to finish and we are hanging out all over the place. Had a meeting yesterday with Meghan, Robert Ray and Gus to plan an attack, cut our losses and get it done.

Having read the book and watched the movie of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West, I came into work on Monday and commented to my production staff: "The lesson I got from watching the movie is that sometimes artists like Leone need to be reined in. If you give them too much running room, they’ll keep going and going and never finish until the whole thing collapses from overproducing and changes and changes upon changes."

To which Robert Ray said, "I’ve known this for some time, but unfortunately, in our case the artist owns the company."

Ha. Too true. Anyway, here we are in a place where I’m not a stranger, in fact, I’m a regular. Every single book I’ve produced (18, includes four comic books and the Razz) has had this problem. The only saving grace is I did voluntarily lock myself into a 128 page book. Not that I didn’t want to break out of this and add pages. Instead, I drove Gus crazy, adding and subtracting from one gunfight to another until I ran out of running room. But now, that phase is over and we need to get serious. Dan Harshberger is coming out at ten to discuss design issues. I always enjoy that.

And speaking of Once Upon a Time in the West, Jeff Hidlebrandt reminded me of his interview with Jack Elam for the Encore Westerns channel on Elam’s involvement in the making of the film. From the interview, via Jeff, here’s Jack’s take on the opening sequence:

"I get a call from Henry Fonda who I knew personally. He said, 'I'm down in Granada, Spain and we're doing a picture with Sergio Leone and there's a cameo, and they'll pay you a lot of money if you come down and do a cameo.' I'm supposed to catch the fly. Sergeio Leone says, 'there's not many flies around,' and so he went and put some honey on my face to draw flies, and it didn't work. So now it's 120 in shade at least and they break about 3:00 in the afternoon for watermelon for the crew. The crew is about 100 people and they got these several tubs of watermelons in ice, big hunks of ice and they start cutting them open over the table and there's nine hundred billion flies come right to that tent. Leone said, 'That's it! We go back to work no watermelon.' He grabs a piece of watermelon and he comes over and rubs watermelon all over my face and all over the bench beside me. I got news for you, I had six flies to choose from and within a half hour I caught that fly in my gun barrel and we did the scene."

Jeff also told me Elam related a not too pleasant story about the third actor in that opening scene. The actor was distraught that he didn't have a bigger part and ended up killing himself (I think it’s the same actor who opens The Good, The Bad And the Ugly). Elam said they still had some of the opening scenes to shoot but couldn't find any actor to wear the dead man's costume. Finally a script boy said he'd do it and they finished the sequence.

"By the way, I'm working on the next round of True West Moments. They should be on the air soon."
—Jeff Hildebrandt, Managing Producer, Encore Westerns

"I’ve learned what is reality, and what is make-believe, and that it isn’t smart to wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve."
—Grace Easley

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

June 14, 2005
I got some decent feedback on Into the West at this morning’s staff meeting. Sue Lambert said she is really enjoying the series and I should give it a shot. Here’s a couple of Emails from here:

"BBB: Ok..I took the plunge last night and watched the first episode of Into The initial reactions:...hate the damn commercials...even with my Tiv...predictable...looks good, but not great (cinematography wise)...a few interesting characters..but they are usually killed or out or story soon...lotta buffalo em'...furious bouncing back and forth between white and red storylines...can be dizzying....overall I can only give it 2 stars..and a mild thumbs up...nothing to love or hate so far. But we must support the genre so on we go.”
—Jim Ed, Chicago,IL

"It's hard to say what it is after just one episode but parts were enjoyable. Will Patton is good in a short role and the Buffalo Hunt is accurate if I can believe things I've read. It does come close to the old theme "white men are evil indians are great". It also is so long (6 parts) no real name actors have main roles so the acting quality is limited.

"BUT, it's a western and like Victor Mclaglen said when tasting the whisky in the bible box after Henry Fonda asked him if he was a judge of whisky. ‘it's better than no whisky atoll’ It's similar to Centennial."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac# 9

The Best Michael Jackson Headline from the NY Daily News and the NY Post:

Boy, oh, boy!

Thanks Charles.

Meghan, Bob and Trish Brink and I met Jana Bommersbach down at Rockfish for lunch today to talk about the editorial calendar for 2006. Got some great ideas from everyone (had the salmon salad, $56 includes tip, I bought). I especially liked the idea of doing a feature on the guy who is a Maniac and who lusts after ghost towns (I met him in Cody last year and he was the first guy I saw who was wearing a Maniac t-shirt in the wild). We want to feature him in a piece called, “Ghost Town Maniac!” If you are him, please Email me right now at

"If there’s another way to skin a cat, I don’t want to know about it."
—Steve Kravitz

Monday, June 13, 2005

June 13, 2005
Well, the word just came in the office (2:21 PM) that Michael Jackson is innocent of all charges. It kind of makes you feel good as an American to know that today, virtually all races can buy their way out of trouble.

The name of the book I’m reading is “The Art of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West: A Critical Appreciation,” by John Fawell. And here’s a gem from the Master, Leone, on why “The Culpepper Cattle Company” failed: “Because they did not find in it what they were looking for: the fable.”

With that said, I must say it was both a joy and a chore to watch the movie. The opening with the errant fly (and Jack Elam’s errant eye) and the creaking windmill and the water dripping on Woody Strode’s head and the thousand railroad ties roughly lined up (evidently leftover lumber from Orson Welle’s failed Falstaff production at the Almeria, Spain film location), the outlaws framed in the doorways (stolen, or borrowed if you prefer, from John Ford) were magnificent, as was the crane shot of Claudia Cardinale walking out the door of the train station and the sweeping panorama of Flagstone (obviously lifted from Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona), but by the time of the killing of the McBane family (Leone panicked and called in his screenwriter to help him cut scenes because he realized his pace and style were beyond languid), it really, really drags. And while there are some classic lines here and there, for my money “The Good, The Bad And the Ugly” is twice the film for one reason: it had humor. Eli Wallach’s Tuco is magnificent and damn funny. None of that here. Just heavy plotting and talking in mathematics.

My original take on the movie still stands: Charles Bronson playing the harmonica is silly and that his name is Harmonica is even sillier. I have to agree with Clint Eastwood who once said, “Serge Leone knows nothing about the real American West.” So there. I still enjoyed it however. And I’m not done watching it yet (I’m just up to the auction).

The August issue is going out the door, on time as ever time. Robert Ray is the employee of the month, and this is why.

”The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”
—George Miller
June 12, 2005
Well, Kathy taped Into The West for me, but I can’t get up enough energy, or interest, to watch it. Credit a so-so review from Jim Hatzell and a scathing review in US Today last Friday: "Despite claims to the contrary, Into the West isn't really a history at all. Instead, it’s a ponderous effort to correct the often malicious myths of older films, with their brave pioneers and ignorant savages, by recasting a new myth out of modern guilt." Which leads to this conclusion: "Yes, it was pernicious of old movies to imply that Native American culture was worthy of extinction, but it’s equally ridiculous to elevate it above all others." Ouch!

So, I haven’t been able to find the energy to sit down and watch the damn thing. I guess I need to hear from someone who has seen it, and thinks it’s worth the investment.

On a related note, a couple weeks ago we got a new book in the office that makes the case for Once Upon A Time In The West as being the greatest Western, and to some degree, the greatest movie, ever made. The scholarly writer (the book's at home, I’ll give you his name tomorrow) goes on and on about the genius of Sergio Leone and how the movie works on so many levels. For example, water is a huge theme, from the name of the proposed train station Sweetwater, to the baths Claudia Cardinale takes to wash away her sins, to the water she carries at the end, to the evil railroad baron’s painting of the Pacific Ocean, to a bartender who snarls, "Around here, water is poison!" Every scene, every piece of dialogue, every set direction, every frame of film is taken apart and discussed at length.

Some interesting bits I learned from the book: Sergio Leone was offered The Godfather movie but turned it down because he said he wasn’t interested in gangsters once they "got behind a desk." Allegedly, Sergio wanted Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach to be the three gunfighters at the beginning of the movie waiting for the train, but Eastwood declined. Also, the title is not quite correct. The actual Italian title when translated correctly is, Once Upon A Time There Was A West, which gives the movie a more cynical spin and evidently the Hollywood bosses didn’t want that (the movie still bombed anyway).

My memory of seeing the movie when it came out was that it was overwrought, silly (Charles Bronson playing a harmonica and his name is Harmonica?!) and a rip-off of every Western ever made, especially John Ford (a foreigner using Monument Valley! Oh, the horror!). The book makes a clever case for all of that being true, but maintains it is a masterpiece none the less. My son Thomas got me the DVD for an early Father’s Day gift and I watched the documentaries on Saturday night, and I intend to watch the movie tonight. I’ll post my reactions now that I am steeped in every frame.

”Days off.”
—Spencer Tracy, when asked what he looks for in a script

Sunday, June 12, 2005

June 11, 2005
Yesterday afternoon at about five, Carole and I got down to Armstrong-Prior for the White Hat series signing. I had been told by the state public relations person that they weren’t interested in putting out a press release because of potential financing questions. This was understandable since Zonies are infamous for screaming to high heaven over "public art." I could just imagine the letters to the Arizona Republic: "My tax dollars paid for this blasphemous load of crap that so obviously denigrates my Lord and Savior!"

So imagine my surprise when three TV camera crews scrambled into the building and began setting up their equipment. Two very attractive reporters (is it a law now that every female TV reporter has to be Playmate material?) began questioning Terry Goddard, our State Attorney General, at length.

But instead of talking about the merits of my White Hat etchings, the questions were all about the Mohave County County grand jury indictment against Warren Jeffs, the Colorado City polygamist who was indicted this very morning for sex crimes involving an arranged marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a 28-year-old married man.

As Terry’s staff and my family and friends stood quietly on the sidelines drinking wine and eating cheese, Terry fielded the tough questions like the media pro he is.

Finally, Terry must have realized I was from Mohave County because he motioned for me to come over and stand with him. Once on camera, he pointed at me and said, "As for the evils of polygamy, this is Bob Boze Bell, who is from the same county where these polygamists practice. Notice the blatant and sad results from inbreeding, especially the slack-jawed mouth."

Not really. But Terry and I had a good laugh about this "what if?" when the TV crews left.

After I signed sixty prints and a few "artist proofs" we drove up to Taco Villa on west Camelback for Kathy's birthday. As Tomcat and I drove past my old neighborhood (Dan Harshberger and I had an apartment at 15th Ave. just below Camelback in the early seventies) I was shocked at the implosion and decay of the entire area. Once thriving video stores and fast-food restaurants (Taco Bell!) were boarded up and abandoned. Entire strip malls closed and fenced off. It looked like a war zone, or worse, it looked like Kingman.

Most of the Radinas met us at Taco Villa, along with Deena and her friend Ursula. Ran up quite a bill ($165, includes tip). Lots of laughs and good food

"The woman who puts the right number of candles on her birthday cake is playing with fire."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, June 10, 2005

June 10, 2005
Tweaked the August cover with Dan Harshberger. Added a ‘73 Winchester and the tophead, Also added the copy "The Mysterious Death of Johnny Ringo". Looks quite good. Tom Mix is the cover boy. Quite handsome in a Desperado kind of way.

Finished the Johnny Ringo vs. Himself gunfight artwork today. Whipped out two sepia-toned illustrations of the King of the Cowboys, one in death and the other just prior. Shot everything and ran it up to Foothills Photo at 9:30. Reworked copy to deal with the so-called "mysteries" surrounding Johnny Ringo’s death. Steve Gatto’s new book Johnny Ringo (2002) has the best take on everything and I gave him credit. Gus is laying out the opus, Meghan is editing it even as I type this up (3:27 PM). Need to wrap up everything this afternoon.

Hey, if you’re a True West Maniac, we need your address (email, too) so we can send you smokin’ deals on new product (remember that was part of the deal that we’d give you the inside skinny). Well we just got in these wonderful note cards with great photos from the Bob McCubbin collection and we want to give you first shot at them. Click here to give us this information. Do it now!

Carole is driving me down to Armstrong-Prior for the signing party for the White Hat series at five. We are going from there to Taco Villa for a belated Birthday dinner for Kathy. Both Deena and Thomas are coming.

Allen Barra left me a message and told me to check out his Angelina Jolie piece at I asked him if it’s true that she and Brad Pitt are having an affair and I got this reply:

"look, let's get something straight: Jennifer Anniston filed for divorce on March 25. So anything after that date is legal. I don't know what happened since that, but she told me she didn't [make love to] him while he was married -- and by God I believe her.”

"Nature has given us two ears but only one mouth."
—Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, June 09, 2005

June 9, 2005
Well, it’s funny what catches people’s attention. Here’s more feedback on the Desperado discussion:

"I'm giving this serious, serious contemplation, and here are my nominees:
"Man In The Long Black Coat," Bob Dylan
"The Road Goes On Forever," Joe Ely
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," Gene Pitney (he was the greatest man of all.)
—Bonny Holder

"I do like the song ‘Desperado’ very much, but my favorite
OUTLAW SONG is "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead."
—Jim Hatzell

"It may not be outlaw rock 'n roll, but my favorite gunfighter ballads are by Marty Robbins .... El Paso, Big Iron and Streets of Laredo. Johnny Cash's song Johnny Yuma .... and Ghost Rider's in the Sky."

"Y'know, it's great that folks with rock 'n' roll names like Charlie Waters and
Emma Bull (fabulous moniker for a blues belter, I think) agree that I Fought
the Law is a superior rock/outlaw song.

"You, too, can join this Red State revolution, leaving behind the left coast
wussiness of the Henley/Frey crowd. Give up your tofu and quiche existence.
Bite down into the juicy red meat of real rock. Don't fight the Law--because
it's already won."
—Mark Boardman

I guess I never realized how much of an Eagles backlash there is. I know they are somewhere way beyond commercial, and it’s definitely true that they are played to death on several wimpy formats, but I still remember when the album Desperado came out (1974?) I was stunned. They were doing great songs about the Old West and I have always thought the imagery in the lyrics was, and is, absolutely, devastatingly, right on: "Take another shot of courage, wonder why the right words never come, you just get numb." Has there ever been better lyrics written about being in a bar and trying to meet women? Okay, maybe "Satisfaction," or AC/DC’s "Girl’s Got Rhythm" but still, I think good is good. Granted, the song "Glenn Frey Must Die" is quite zany and probably deserving, but the songs still stand, Man.

"He who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

June 8, 2005
Worked more on the John Ringo Classic Gunfight with himself. It's quite amazing to me that someone who was a stumbling drunk and whose life was a complete failure could end up to be a celebrated Western icon. I guess, in some perverse way, it helps explain Glenn Ford.

Went to lunch with my two ex-roommates, Carole and Kathy at Saba's (Greek food) up in Carefree (Carole bought in honor of Kathy's birthday). I guess technically only one of those women could be classified as an Ex-roommate.

Had a meeting with our new Style Editor Jane Bishoff after lunch. She came in with Arizona's Official Balladeer Dolan Ellis. He said he is moving up to our neck of the woods. He had a folk reserve music ranch deal down by Sierra Vista. Although I never got down there, it always sounded like a sweet deal. He mentioned a divorce three years ago, so I didn’t go into it with him. Anyway, Jane is a dynamo with an eagle eye for style. Made big plans. And you know what they say about that: if you make big plans, expect big surprises along the way.

One of my oldest friends, who hates reading his name in here, agrees completely with Mark Boardman on the "Desperado" vs. "I Fought the Law" controversy. When I corrected Charlie, I mean, this person, that "Desperado" is not a cowboy song, it’s an outlaw song, this person gave me the following snippy reply:

"Outlaw, cowboy, whatever. The song still sucks, mi amigo."

And here's the preeminent Emma Bull weighing in. I’ll bet she has something positive and succinct to say about the controversy:
"Boardman's right, you know, about 'I Fought the Law.' And even in the category of Ultimate Ballad of Old Has-Been Outlaw, Townes Van Zandt's 'Pancho and Lefty' has 'Desperado' beat all to heck. (Outlaw Willy's flossy version can't disguise its utter perfection, and the fact that it is one of the greatest storytelling songs ever written, ever). But then, my favorite Mojo Nixon song was and always will be ‘Don Henley Must Die.’"


I got this parting shot from Johnny Boggs this morning:
"Man, did i see a bad western last night. MEAN AS HELL, a little indy shot around here a couple years back. inspired by wild bill hickok and sam peckinpah. gives b movies a bad name. off to wwa in spokane. back around june 21-22."

Johnny’s little diatribe inspired me to do a feature in the magazine on How to make Good Westerns. Thanks Johnny!

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

June 7, 2005
Kathy's birthday. She's 55. Just a baby. Nice talking to her this morning. We're going for a birthday treat to Taco Villa on Friday. The kids are coming.

Got a new poll up. Do you believe the upcoming gay western Brokeback Mountain will be successful? Cast your vote here.

Worked on John Ringo copy all day. Had great reference from Steve Gatto's new book on Ringo. The evolution of this odd dude, John Ringo, who probably commited suicide, into one of the icons of the West is quite amazing. It was in the 1950s when his name morphed almost magically into Johnny Ringo (the historical Ringo was always John), culminating with the Lorne Greene hit “talking” song in 1964. Strange to say the least.

By the way, I started the showdown painting of Doc Holliday facing off with John Ringo on Allen Street and as the painting developed I started to make mud. Not painting mud, which I'm very good at, but rain mud, as in a muddy street. For some reason this just seemed right. Then, being the history nut I am, I worried that this weather wouldn’t be accurate to the actual event and I wondered if it was cold. Well, I knew it was January, but other than that I didn't know. Anyway, I couldn’t help it and kept painting mud and of course the next thing you know it's a cloudy sky. This morning, I held my breath and looked up Parsons' diary entry for that day, and here it is:

January 17, 1882
Snow yesterday. Light fall. Much blood in the air this afternoon. Ringo and Doc Holliday came nearly having it with pistols and Ben Maynard and Rickabaugh later tried to kick each other’s lungs out. Bad time expected with the cowboy leader [Ringo] and [Doc Holliday]. I passed both not knowing blood was up. One with hand in breast pocket and the other probably ready. Earps just beyond. Crowded street and looked like another battle. Police vigilant for once and both disarmed.

Perfect. Snow yesterday, mud today.

Here’s a diatribe from Mark Boardman responding to my claim that "Desperado" by the Eagles is the best outlaw song, ever, bar none:

"You've been out in the AZ sun too long. Or riding with Sonny Barger into a
strong headwind. Or maybe a javelina attacked your brain.

"Desperado? The best Old West outlaw-rock 'n' roll song? You've gotta stop
smoking saguaro.

"Yes, I like the tune and the record it came from. It's pretty good for a wimpy-
assed, California pap band that hasn't come up with a new record many
years? Cripe, in your old age you must be listening to the soft rock stations,
the middle of the road for our times, while gently rocking in that chair on the
front porch of True West.

"The best Old West outlaw-rock 'n' roll song is and was 'I Fought the Law' by the Bobby Fuller Four. That pounding drum beat kicks things off, followed by the furious guitar lines and the plaintive vocals. No virtuoso solos--the guitar break is hard chord strumming that most anybody can do. Simple, clean lyrics about 'robbin' people with a six-gun,' breakin' rocks in the hot sun,' and a guy who is missing his baby. Everything speaks of youthful rebellion, taking on The Man, and losing in a blaze of glory--and all in just over 2 minutes. This is a song you listen to in the car, that pushes you to hit the accelerator and speed down the highway with the wind in your face and the blood pumping hard through your veins.

"And unlike the Eagles, who totter on through their older years, playing all the hits to balding boomers who can't really remember the '70s, Bobby Fuller had the good sense to die young (and mysteriously). That's rock and roll.

"C'mon, brother. It's time to get real about this thing. Let your air guitar lead you. 'I Fought the Law' is pure rock for the outlaw heart, with a good beat that you can dance to and anybody who disagrees will have to meet me in the street for some leather slappin'."
—Mark "Outlaw" Boardman

I got a call from a dentist yesterday who told me he has an idea for a tv show. He said he wants to have a camera crew follow him on horseback on trails up into the mountains where most people have never been. He asked me if I knew who might buy a show like that and I said, "Nobody I know." He laughed and asked why and I said, "Well, what’s the story? Why are you riding?" He told me he looks good on his horse and the trails are pretty and wasn’t that enough? "Well," I told him, "you better have cancer and it’s your last ride, or you’re riding to find a lost treasure, or to kill the last remaining Graham Mountain squirrel. Something. You've got to have narrative." He seemed mildly shocked at this, like it had never occurred to him that millions wouldn’t tune in to watch him ride his horse. And it was at this moment that I realized what I must sound like sometimes at staff meetings.

"In every company, people are going to make fun of the boss; it’s just that in the good companies, it happens when the boss is around."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, June 06, 2005

June 5, 2005
Took the dogs for a bike ride at about ten. Actually quite nice out. Maybe high eighties. Also swam ten passes, then worked on a big, ambitious showdown of Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday on Allen Street. Had great reference. Worked on and off all morning on it. Haven't ruined it yet.

I got an Email heads up from my friend and fellow cartoonist, Jim Hatzell. Here's his sneak peek at Steven Spielberg’s first Western:

"Howdy Bob, I got a chance to see the first episode of the TNT Mini-Series ‘Into the
West’ yesterday in a Movie Theatre no less, here in Rapid City. I have to give it a mixed review, but the parts that are good are REALLY FANTASTIC!!! The Indian side of the story was very well researched. For years at the Little Big Horn Battlefield I would say in my Ranger talk how the iron kettle replaced the buffalo stomach as a cooking utensil. It was
shown in the episode. You could tell during an Indian attack that it was the Crows. They had an incredible scene of a Buffalo Jump, dozens of Bison going over a cliff (Really extra cool on the BIG screen ) and the look of the whole show was WAY above average for a TV Western (And I have worked on a bunch) The plot of the White Guy side of the story was OK, but I liked it better the first time I saw it on ‘Centennial’ during the Levi Zent story line. Lots of cliches, ( brother is going to Texas...any chance he ends up at the Alamo or Goliad or San Jacinto?) I never could quite figure out what Jedediah Smith & his band of guys was up to, jobwise. It looked to me like early 19th Century ‘bikers’ groovin' on the pretty scenery. But I can't bitch about it too much because it looked so good. I especially enjoyed seeing my good friend Dave Bald Eagle in the show. (He plays a Grandfather of the Lakota Tribe that has a dramatic scene at the end of the show) I got the connection of the Lakota Medicine Wheel and the "wheel making" White guys, but I wish they had been more subtle after the 5th time of bringing it up (OK I get it. Get on with the story.) I was surprised to see guest star Gary Busey was in the show for about a minute and a half. The producer David Rosemont was there and I was hoping after the show that they would have a question and answer session, they did not. I would like to have asked him what South Dakota would have had to do to get the thing filmed here. (I'm sorry, but Canada looks like Canada) It did look good though. I read in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly that they froze their asses off filming the Battle of the Little Bighorn in New Mexico while we were having a heat wave. Oh well, I hope that part looks good. We shall see. I guess I'm going to watch and I have high hopes for it. By the way, the Indians speak in their Native Language and I said a dozen years ago that TNT should have done that. I hope it is a ratings success and that it leads to more ‘good westerns’ being made. A bunch of actors from the series Deadwood will be here next week for
Wild Bill Days. It should be quite a party.”

"Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more, and all good things will be yours."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, June 05, 2005

June 4, 2005
This morning I started in on several art pieces for the Blaze Away poster, utilizing a yellow-sepia color scheme Struggling (what else is new?) Need more courage. Bolder, faster, more direct.

Joined Kathy at nine and took a truckload of glass, paper and plastic up to recycling. Also took along Buddy for a vet check and he put his big slobbery face on my shoulder and stuck his ample ass in Kathy’s face. Wouldn’t straighten out in the seat (the Ranger has a very small cab). Fortunately he didn’t pass any gas, although I was secretly hoping he would.

At three Kathy and I went over to Mother Radina's for an early dinner. We stopped at Safeway and got groceries (saw True West for the first time in there. Thanks Dick Glassman!) I made tacos and guacamole salsa and we drank beers and solved life. After dinner, the girls played cards and I looked at a 1963 Fall and Winter Sears catalogue that Betty picked up at a yard sale. Besides the hilarious B-52 hairdos and bizarre fashions (I can't believe we wore some of that stuff, or thought it was stoked), I was struck with the many items that were mainstays at the time but today are gone, with entire industries out of business. Granted, it has been forty years, but it was a sobering insight into the brutal nature of business trends. For example:

• The Tower Typewriter ( typical price, $164.95, two pages worth) History.

• The Adding Machine ($99.95, one page worth). History.

• The Tower Mimeograph machine ($149.95, one page worth). History

• Self-threading Automatic 8mm Home Projector Outfit ($159.88, eight pages worth!). History

• Robert’s Stereophonic Tape Recorder ($369.95). History

• Stereo Console Phonograph ($287.95). History

• Triple bunk beds ($67.95). History?

• Women’s Pheasant Cloched hats and Mink Pillbox hats. History

• Men’s hats (The Tapered Telescope and the New Swagger Style, $5.74) History (at least in Sears)

• Pocket watches. History.

• Bra Slips. History (and by the way, illustrations of products and models is also history)

• Full Cut Bloomers! History

• Slipper socks ($2.84 a pair) History

• Imported Capeskin Gloves (two pages). History

On the other hand, some merchandise still thrives and survives:

• Controlled massagers (vibrators, $7.50)

• Tot Guard Car Seats ($6.49).

• Nylon Tires ($16.85 each—I’m not making this up!)

• Mo-ped motorbike ($199.95)

• Allstate Scooter ($269.95)

• A V-8 Rebuilt engine ($299.00)

• U.S. Savings Bonds (one page)

Other things, like Stationary bikes, home intercom units, encyclopedia sets, table radios, towel poles, stretch pants, “fancy knee-high socks”, long-leg panties (front paneled for tummy control), cossack boots and panel dividers are on the bubble, still going strong or have morphed into entirely new industries. Amazing.

And, of course, it makes me think about what will disappear in forty years hence from our little world. My predictions:

• External hard drives

• 62” HD Ready DLP TVs

• Home phones

• Google type search engines (or the need for them)

• Wireless-G Broadband Routers

• Cordless phones

• iPods

• Cusinarts

• NBA tatttoos and couladts

Of course, I could be wrong, but that's my best guess.

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory."
—Paul Fix


Friday, June 03, 2005

June 3, 2005
Another successful day down at Armstrong-Prior. In the morning session I took a second pass at the fourth White Hat etching, running through the reduction process, adding aqua-tint as I went. Big guessing match, at least for me; ended up to be kind of an Indiana Jones coming out of an Inca ruins kind of a deal. Very murky and shadowy, with giant saguaros looming over a temple entrance (actually supposed to be an Arizona courthouse—ha.). Alexis told me this one is her least favorite of the series. And speaking of John's blunt, but capable assistant, she brought in several CDs including Kings of Leon. But the group that really got me grooving was Eagles of Death Metal and their CD "Peace, Love & Death Metal." These guys rock. I assume their name mocks The Eagles?

Kind of ironic because last night, while Kathy was at the high school graduation, I watched The Eagles in concert on TNT. I was intrigued on several levels. For one thing, I interviewed Glen Frey for a short-lived tv show we had at KSLX in the early nineties and I had several memories of it. For one, I was given strict orders by his handlers not to ask him about an Eagles reunion (now I think they’re on Farewell Tour II). Still, that was unnerving because when someone tells me I can't do something, every nerve in my body tells me to do it. I was actually good about it, but the other memory I have is that since we both started in bands at about the same period I compiled a list of songs I assumed he cut his teeth on and asked him, with much relish, how many times he had played "Louie Louie." He laughed and played along, but I took it too far and kept going. "What about Gloria? How many times did you play that? Inna Godda da Vida? How about Midnight Hour? Wipeout?" He finally got kind of irritated and said something like, "I don’t know about any of those. I've been doing original songs for a long time, Man." Which was a nice way of saying, "Does the term Loser mean anything to you cowboy?" Anyway, I cringed as I thought of this, but in spite of the negativo memories, I must admit those guys wrote enough stunning songs to fill a flatbed Ford. And for a guy like me who was writing surfing songs with Charlie Waters like "Pier 69" , the Ealges had some masterful lyrics to boot: "It seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table, but you only want the things you can’t have.” That’s from Desperado, the best Old West outlaw song ever written, period.

Dan Harshberger joined us for lunch and we talked at length about how to attack the Blaze Away poster project. Jammed and argued over ways to do it. When it comes to design, I usually defer to the Dan Man. I was thinking vertical, he’s thinking horizontal. I saw tight, action shots, he wants a big, long Winchester rifle going along the bottom. I’m thinking straight up symmetrical, Dan hates symmetrical. Which is why I need him because I tend to slide into symmetry (i.e. design blandness) all too easy. In fact, the problem with the fourth White Hat etching was the fact that the main figure was almost dead center, and the two saguaros on either side were perfectly symmetrical, which is the musical equivalent of Louie Louie being performed by Up With People.

"Whenever I hear, 'It can't be done,' I know I'm close to success."
—Michael Flatley

Thursday, June 02, 2005

June 2, 2005
Left the house this morning at about 8:10 and cruised on the surface streets down into the Beast. Got to Armstrong-Prior at 9:05. Got right into it with four etching plates. I was nervous since I haven't done an etching since college (1968), but it's so much like scratchboard (same tools!) that I felt like I have been doing it all my life. They gave me a practice plate to ruin, and even that came out very nice. John has an assistant named Alexis who’s just out of ASU. Very cute, tattoos on one arm, of course. Didn’t check for others, but thought about it. By the way, is it a law now that every woman who waits tables or goes into a bar has to have a tattoo just above the butt crack? And wear something so we can all see it? Talk about ubiquitous. Or is that you-be-lukin-above-the-ass-icus?

Anyway, I scored points with Alexis because she asked me what kind of music I wanted to hear while I worked and I said, "Got any Kings of Leon?" She visibly brightened, like she couldn't believe this old cow-boy even knows who they are (thanks Tomcat!). We got along famously after that. She is very creative and applicated numerous little tricks to the plates to make them more "funky and Old West." Lots of ghosting, and reduction processes. I was quite thrilled with the results. I created four etching plates, variations on the White Hat theme. She and John printed about 15 versions and we'll do more tomorrow. We need 50 for Terry Goddard. Dan Harshberger is joining us after lunch to attack the Blaze Away poster project.

We knocked off at four and I got a bit of a jump on traffic. Got back to the office at 4:45. Got this Email from our zany writer Johnny Boggs”

"I'll be hitting the road on Thursday, June 9, for book-signings, research/magazine work, flyfishing, and the Western Writers of America convention (June 14-18, Mirabeau Park Hotel, Spokane Valley, Washington), winding through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Will have the cellphone and laptop with me, checking in whenever I have a signal or hotel room. Should be back in the office June 22ish. Then will be gone July 6-8 for a library speaking engagement in Bowling Green, Kentucky."
—Johnny Boggs

I Emailed him back and said, "Hey, you are living the life I want. Wanna trade?"

Last Monday I had lunch at El Encanto with our New York book agent James Fitzgerald on the Crown book deal (actually, he's Bart Bull’s agent and speaking of Bart, someone please tell Bart he needs to call Jim and collect $2,000). James was in town visiting his other writers, like Sonny Barger, the ex-Hells Angels pres of the Oakland Chapter and today an author (he's written six books!). James also gave me the bad news on the book biz. According to James the book biz has constricted from $16.6 billion dollars in sales two years ago down to about $10 billion this year. Contrast this with the DVD biz, that didn’t exist seven years ago and now bills $100 billion a year and you can start to see the problem. James told me the book biz has almost become a junior-greeting card industry. We go into a book store and buy a book for a gift and the person we give it to puts it on their shelf and never reads it. The other bad news is that picture books are sinking (can’t compete with DVDs and all of the instant imagery on the web) and that Barnes & Noble has become the Wal-mart of the book biz. Greenlighting and killing book projects based on their instinct on the potential sales. Other than that, it was a positive meeting. He had several book ideas and proposals, and Jana gave him a proposal on our book on Women of the West. He thinks it could go all the way.

More to tell, but Kathys reading three poems at Foothills Academy graduation in forty-five minutes so I’ve got to run.

"A new problem is as good as a vacation."
—Golda Meir

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

June 1, 2005
I spent most of the morning with my Irish buddies from the BBC. They met me at the True West offices at ten and we looked at one potential taping site in the back but the road noise was a turn-off for them, so I took them out to our house. We ended up in the crow's nest of my studio. A five man crew huddled in the tight space overlooking the Cave Creek basin with me sitting on the south wall expostulating about Western Myth ("Most of the truths about the Old West are myths. We just replace one myth for another. First Indians are savages and then they are stewards of the land. Both are myths. And by the way, Cuter being a psychopath is a myth too.").

Lots of planes going overhead. Had to stop for those several times. After the roof sequence of questions, they shot the host Jerry Anderson (a big radio and tv star in Dublin) and I walking up the path from the creek. Peaches hit her mark every time. Buddy hid behind the cameraman (what a Woose!).

Afterwards we went up to Tonto Bar & Grill for lunch (Moore, the producer bought). Sat outside on the covered patio. Nice breeze. We talked at length about their month of filming in the Southwest. They raved about Paul Hutton and how smooth and knowledgeable he is. I asked them what they thought was bizarre about the states and they said "snacks. We don’t have the term snacks." And they said the worst food they encountered was in Monument Valley at Gouldings and in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

They also waxed nostalgic about Ian McShane (Al Swearengin on Deadwood) and that he was a soccer star for Manchester when he was younger. Made a fortune in voiceovers, was angry that a tv series he had was cancelled by the BBC in the eighties (“Lovejoy” about an antiques dealer?). Funny to hear them talking about a “hometown boy.” They also said Deadwood ran a short time in England but didn't catch on over there.

Speaking of the collapse of the European Union constitution, here's a letter I got this morning from Germany:

"At a friend's home in England I saw one of your True West magazines—I was really inspired!—I cried out 'I must have this stuff!' I bought some books of Bob Boze Bell's in London. This is the best I ever saw about the Old West, in which I’m interested since my childhood 50 years ago! Watching your homepage I found out that it is possible to subscribe outside the U.S. and I want to do that.
— Greetings from Old Europe, Peter Hast, Krefeld—Traar, Germany

"P.S. If you contact Bob Boze Bell give my regards to him. I read his daily Big Bad Book every day for the past several weeks—first before I start my work as a teacher—I like it! Today sometimes it’s not bad to act like John Wayne if you want to stay alive at school!"

I need to go to the dentist this afternoon. Got a spur, or something, growing in the pulled tooth area and it hurts.

Trying to finish all of my White Hat prep drawings for the big printing tomorrow down at Armstrong-Prior. Of course, I'm way behind, don't know exactly if I can pull this off. Nervous, insecure, all of that artist crap you get tired of reading about and I get tired of writing.

Lots of laughing in the front office right now (2:43 PM). Must go out and stop this. Can't tolerate joy at work. Ha.

I just went out and checked. Sam and Brittany and Sue Lambert were comparing a certain dog's hair color to Joel's graying hair. I guess you had to be there. (they’re still howling about it).

"Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us."
—Henri Matisse