Friday, September 30, 2005

September 30, 2005
Well, the big day is here and I’m appropriately nervous. In other words, full of self-doubt and catastrophic imaginings. “What if only five people show up?” and “What if I only sell five paintings?” and “What if people smirk and say, ‘He’s no Ted DeGrazia”?” Of course, on the outside I’m calm and I act nonchalant. I’m a pro, I’ve done this all of my life. If people only knew!

Samantha, Carole and Melrose helped me load up the trucks with 114 framed pieces and we chugged up the hill to deposit them at the Cowboy Legacy Gallery at about nine. Brian was in the process of stripping the walls of their normal stuff to make room for my stuff.

After we loaded in everything, Melrose took the opportunity to grab a squib (a fake gun, on a gambling layout) and play cowboy in the store, twirling the gun on his finger, cocking it and shooting, telling everyone he would be a major gunfighter if he had been alive in the real Old West. I told Mike that on a scale of one to ten on the International Irritability Scale he was pushing a strong 8.5. This of course just encouraged him as he redoubled his efforts with all his Charles City, Iowa heart to somehow, someway, get up to a solid ten. He pretty much achieved his goal.

I’m going to go home and take a shower. Sam and I are going up after lunch to look at the space one more time. She needs plenty of room to sell books, posters, t-shirts and notecards.

Got this question this morning: “During the movie Chisum a reference was made about a food product ‘airtight.’ What is it?”

I didn’t know so I asked some of my Western film aficionados and here's their answers:

"’airtights’ is a reference to canned goods. In Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Garrett (James Coburn) tells Alias (Bob Dylan) to go over to a shelf in a saloon/store and keep busy by reading the ‘airtights’......and the scene shows Alias reading the labels on canned foods. Alias: ‘Beans.....stewed plums.....spinach......beans....’ etc.'”
—Thom Ross, 2005 artist of the year, True West Best of the West

“Probably meant a can, as in tinned food.”
—Frederick Nolan, author and Billy the Kid expert

“As I recall, ‘airtight’ was another slang term used for tinned goods, since they were packed airtight.”
—Phil Spangenberger, gun expert and True West columnist

“My thought is that is was ‘hard tack.’ Didn't they used to put it some kind of can so it wouldn't get stale? Though how the hell anyone would notice if had tack was stale is beyond me.”
—Allen Barra, author

At this juncture (11:30 A.M.) I’m fighting the strong temptation to run away and change my name.

“We gain the strength of the temptations we resist.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, September 29, 2005

September 29, 2005
Twenty-nine hours to the show and I finally finished the tagging of the paintings at two (total: 114, retail value: $108,600). Ron and I will haul all of them up to the gallery in the morning. Going to take several trips.

Last night I watched the first installment of "No Way Home," the Bob Dylan documentary by Martin Scorsese on PBS. Really inspiring. I am not a fan (I’ve never bought a Dylan record) but I am a huge admirer of him now. That this little kid (I think he was 19) from Hibbing, Minnesota went to New York and conquered the folk scene and the world with his songs, is nothing short of miraculous. And the courage of little Zimmerman is breathtaking. Concert footage of people yelling at him: “Traitor!” And worse (phoned in death threats of killing him with a shotgun before a show!), and why?—you ask. Because he had the temerity to use an electric guitar. Seems quite lunatic today but that’s the ugly side of the 1960s. Or, one of the goofier, ugly sides.

And speaking of snot-nosed kids going to New York, I got this from Thomas Charles two days ago (I had to get clearance to run it):

“I've come to see New York and Miriam under the same light. At first sight you are enthralled by the mystery, beauty, exoticness and seemingly endless possibilities. But when the shock wears off and the fog clears from your vision, you see something for what it really is. In one case, there really is endless levels and interpretations to be explored. In the other is endless smoke screens that ultimately add up to nothing. As you may have guessed, in the ladder I am referring to New York and the former, Miriam. Her being a make up artist and former model, our conversations are rich to the point of diminished physical attraction.”
PS:Sorry, I just had a cafe con leche at my favorite restaurant in Inwood. No English and an $8 plate of chicken with rice that's enough for four meals.

Unlike Bobby Zimmeran, Thomas Charles has some pretty strong connections in New York. One of his best friends is Robert Chenal whose uncle is a famous psychologist. In fact, here’s the uncle now, right off the Associated Press:

“Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist from New York, said at the court-martial in Fort Hood, Texas, that England's soldier boyfriend, Charles Graner, was her "social compass" whom she relied upon without reservation to guide her behavior.

"It was a knee-jerk reflex," Amador said Friday during [Army Pfc. Lynndie] England's military trial. "It was very much like a little kid looking to an adult for what to do and what not to do."

Prosecutors maintain England was a willing participant in the 2003 abuse at Abu Ghraib. They tried to paint Amador as a professional defense witness who tailored his testimony to benefit her.”

We all call him Xav (Hav) and he is a great guy. Fortunately he likes Tomcat and is a great influence.

Daily Feedback from the phones:
“James McGinnis of Ocean View, DE called and subscribed for 2 years of TW (and purchased Oct 05 issue). He has long been interested in old west history. He saw BBB on the History Channel recently and asked his daughter to find info on TW on the internet and then called today to subscribe.”
—Carole Glenn

Speaking of Carole, she took me to lunch today at Tuscan Cafe up in Carefree. Had the veggie sando and an iced tea. Talked quite a bit about office angst and what to do about it. We also got real petty, but Carole is my kind of petty. Ha.

“Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.”
—Johnny Carson

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

September 28, 2005
Worked last night until around seven, tryiing to knock a hole in the massive undertaking of creating 220 tags for the artwork. Very tedious and tiring.

Left the house this morning at 6:20 A.M. to drive down into the Beast. Avoided the freeways and just went down Scottsdale Road all the way to Clear Channel Headquarters to make a morning appearance on the Tim & Willy Show. As I was ushered down the hallway, it looked like a radio version of an auto mall, with all of the Clear Channel radio stations in a row, Beth and Bill on KEZ, KOY, and on and on until we came to door number six, which houses the Hattrick Man and crew. Did three breaks, an eternity in today’s radio, and got in some good plugs for the artshow. Lots of laughs with the Boys. We go way back. Then turned around and drove back out to Cave Creek. Got to the office at about nine

Mark Boardman drove in from Indiana on Monday. He got a place out at I-17 and the Carefree Highway. Today is his first day at work. Nice to have him here. He adds another voice to the editorial mix.

We got a nice thankyou from author Richard Wheeler who won our Best of the West category for writing. He also had this to say:

“The traditional western does seem to be in a parlous state, with so many mass-market lines abandoning the field, and sales at a pathetic low. I know of one outstanding western novelist whose most recent mass-market sale was only about 6,000—this in a nation of three hundred million.

“I do believe the historical western novel will survive and may become the main source of fiction about the early West. I hope to be a part of all that. We have barely begun to tell the true story of the American West, or depict its legendary people. So here's to the future, and here's to you, True West, for all you've done.”
—Richard S. Wheeler

During a break on KNIX this morning Willy asked me if I was running for office in Prescott. I laughed. Then I got this Email when I got back to the office:

“I was in Prescott today and saw a sign that read "Reelect Bob Bell for Town Council" Is there something you are not telling us?”
—Debora Gifford

The short answer is no, but I must say there seems to be a ton of Bells cropping up all over the landscape. I have noticed that there are a whole gaggle of actors on tv shows with my last name. Just a coincidence, or evidence of a nation’s decline?

“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
—Ray Douglas Bradbury

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

September 27, 2005
Four days to the big show. Many meetings and distractions. Had a staff meeting at about nine, then a pow-wow with George Laib (former manager of Waylon and Willy and Larry Mahan and Goose Creek Symphony, among others). He has great ideas on marketing. Both Bob and Trish Brink were impressed with him.

Jana Bommersbach came in at eleven. Her, Meghan and I went over our proposed editorial calendar for 2006. Debated whether Apaches were terrorists, or not. The three of us went to lunch at Satisfied Frog. Had the caesar salad and an iced tea. I bought ($47, includes tip, credit card).

Joey Dillon (amazing gun handler, been on “Wild West Tech”), Tony Casanova and Dennis Moore came by at two. They have filmed a short Western and gun-handling high-def DVD out at Cowtown and wanted to fill me in on it. Sounds like they had fun. All three bought the new Classic Gunfights book, six posters and Tony bought all five of my other titles. That was a nice Tuesday afternoon treat

The BBC (Ireland Division) wants two more photos, one of Zane Gray and the other of Louis L’Amour ASAP. Robert Ray uploaded images via Email before lunchtime.

Frank and Patty Fara came by at three. They are using one of my Billy the Kid paintings on their newest CD: “Charming Billy.”

Tagged ten more paintings, but didn’t get far enough. I’ll need to stay late and tag another 25 if I plan on having the paintings ready to hang by Thursday. I wish I had more time, but you know what the old vaqueros used to say. . .

“Time as he grows old teaches all things.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, September 26, 2005

September 26, 2005 Bonus Blog
Oops! I forgot to show you the new t-shirts designed just for the book premiere this Friday. Yes, that's our very own Abby Pearson and Sue Lambert modeling the two different color schemes. Nifty, no? I've got to thank Laury Klasky for the great color coordination, and Wayne did a fine job on the seps and color work down at JJ Distributors in Tempe. The shirts, the posters, the books, the artwork, the free wine, the free food, yes, it's going to be quite a night up at the Cowboy Legacy Gallery. Hope you can come up for a visit. And by the way, the show will be up for a week, so you'll still have a chance to catch it if you miss the opening night.

Kathy and I worked until 8:30 tonight and got 58 paintings tagged. About half done, need to finish tomorrow. I think the tagging (size, medium, price, description) has been almost as hard as painting the Bastards! Ha.

"I was raised by the praise of a fan who said I upset her."
—Neil Young, "Mr. Soul"
September 26, 2005
November issue goes out the door today. It’s a big puppy. Looks like we'll stick with the perfect binding, everyone seems to love it. The only downside is that cross-overs don’t work as well (that’s when a photo or artwork crosses over to the opposite page and on perfect bound, it disappears down into the crack, whereas a saddle stitch allows the image to cross over cleanly.)

Robert Ray is studying to be a sea captain (“Yo soy capitan, soy capitan, soy capitan.”). He is taking lessons on Tempe Town Lake and everything. It’s his burning passion to sail a big ol’ yacht and do it well.

Tomcat Bell kind of hit the wall with the exotic model he’s dating. Much angst regarding flirtatious behavior. Ah, the twenties. Wouldn’t go back for all the tea in China (however I might go back for all the circ. of Maxim).

I’m going to have to put in a double shift tonight. I’ve been putting off doing the tags on the paintings and now I have three days left and 100 tags to do in duplicate. Ay-yi-yi. Kathy’s coming down to help me. I bought her a salad at Bad Donkey ($11 cash, includes meager tip, Hey, it’s takeout!).

I mailed the new book on Wyatt Earp to Wyatt Earp today. A reviewer from my old paper New Times called and asked me to forward the book to Wyatt (he’s local, that's his real name and he and his wife do one-person-plays on Wyatt, Doc, Big-Nose-Kate and Josie). It's a clever idea (Wyatt Earp reviews Wyatt Earp!) but I am so suspicious of those cynics down at NT that I confronted the guy on the phone, “You’re not going to sandbag Wyatt are you?” I demanded. The reporter said coyly, “No, not him.” For all of you who’ve never seen New Times nor worked there (and I realize that's not many of you), that’s N.T. speak for, “Get ready to grab your ankles Authorboy!”

Got a call from the BBC in London today. Thought it was the same office of my friends from Ireland who came in last summer, but this is a different deal. I was talking to Bernadette Ross in the “Specialist Factual” Department, deep within BBC White City (the name of the huge facility in London where they plan the takeover of the world and occasionally program stuff). They’re doing three docudramas on three big, American icons that I imagine you could guess if you really tried. Had a nice chat with her.

Received an Email from an old girlfriend who has been reading this blog and bemoaning the changes I seem to have gone through ("You used to be so artistic. Now you're a businessman who keeps track of his lunches?").

“Is it strange I should change, I don’t know, why don’t you ask her.”
—Neil Young, “Mr. Soul”

Sunday, September 25, 2005

September 25, 2005
A very nice relaxing day at home. Went for two bike rides with the dogs, cleaned up in studio, made a pot of pinto beans. Kathy made a turkey for dinner.

At two I drove down into the Beast. Had a one-hour-radio interview on my old station KXAM, 1310 AM. As I drove down (it’s about a 45 minute drive) I turned on the station to get a feel for what they are doing these days. They are known locally as the station where you buy time. In fact David K. and I did a barter show (we did the show for free, but sold our own commercials). Our tenure ran from February 3, 1998 to September 10, 1999 (420 shows). Then I did a second version of the show for about two more years. I wondered if things had changed.

On first listen, it appeared nothing had changed, but that turned out to be deceiving. Three guys were doing “PC Chat,” a computer, techno show and I couldn’t help noticing all of the things they were doing wrong. For one thing they all talked on top of each other, no one had any clear role as the moderator (straight-man), or anchor, and they were all trying to be funny and I use the term “funny” in the weakest possible meaning, in fact to be quite honest, it was bordering on “all lame, all the time.” In spite of this they had some decent content. There’s a new digital camera coming out from Sony that has the capabilities of 10 mega-pixals (sp?). Wow! That’s cool. I wanted to hear more about that, but they continued the everybody-talk-at-once routine until they had beaten that to death, then it was off to another topic which they quickly beat to death as well.

As is my experience (a decade in the biz) I predicted the drill: my host, Tom Campbell (who does the show after the PC Boys) would meet me in the lobby and we would walk up to the studio and as we came in, we would meet the PC Chat boys wrapping up their headphones and leaving and I knew I would have to say something lame like, “Hey, heard your show on the way in, good stuff.” But I decided I needed to be honest and size up the situation when I got there and if the circumstances were right, and one of them seemed receptive I needed to take that person aside and give him some solid advice about how to improve their show. Or not. I knew they would most likely perceive me as a “Dad”, or worse, so I made a vow to keep my mouth shut unless they seemed interested in hearing a constructive critique of their “show” (Hey, it could happen!).

As it turns out, Tom Campbell met me in the lobby just like I pictured he would and he introduced me to his engineer Sam and we went up the elevator together and made small talk. But much to my surprise we walked into an empty studio (with the PC Boys chatting incessantly coming in over the speakers). When I asked where the PC Boys were, perhaps in a newly built studio? Sam looked at me like an old man and said, “doing the show here is so 1999, most everybody MP3s the show at home and sends it in.” So much for a show critique with the young Turks. When we used to say “you could have phoned that show in,” we had no idea it would someday be the norm.

The interview was in the same studio I spent many a morning in with Gordon Smith, Heather the Weather Girl and Buffalo Rick (1999-2002). The interview went fine and Tom gave me several plugs for the artshow and premiere of the Blaze Away! book. Tom has a business called E-snipe that allows you to super-bid on eBay.

I got home at five and Kathy and I had turkey and beans and a nice glass of Sheraz. I think I’ll take the dogs for one more bike ride before it gets dark.

“I've been enjoying your gurgles of pleasure at first sight of your new book -- wonderful feeling, ain't it? Perhaps at some point down the line Tom will say to you, as my son once said to me, keep this up and you may be able to make a career out of it.”
—Fred Nolan, British author and Billy the Kid expert

Saturday, September 24, 2005

September 24, 2005
Yesterday afternoon I met Theresa from Tri Star down at the Superpumper on Cave Creek Road just north of the 101. I got there early so I filled up with gas ($2.89 a gallon, 11 gallons, $33 house account, debit). Theresa showed up shortly with a truck full of Blaze Away! books hot off the press and I had to rip open a box and take a gander. Oh, that new book smell! It is beautiful! A bouncing, baby boy book, if you like homicides by the dozen and what immature boy doesn’t?!

Loaded about fifteen boxes in my Ranger, gave Theresa a big hug and told her I love her (it’s our sixth child, I mean, book together), then called Carole on my cell and warned her the books were incoming and asked her to tell Ron and Mike Melrose to be out front to help load them in. Got back to the office at about three and we unloaded all the books into the conference room and gathered around to take a closer look. A couple pages have minor gaffs, but overall it’s a thing of grace and homicidal beauty.

Kathy came down from her office at about five and we went down to El Encanto to celebrate. Carole joined us and we ordered a pitcher of margaritas and a sampler (a big dish of assorted mini-chimis, tostadas, tortas, etc. ($52 plus $10 tip, cash, I paid). Seemed a tad high (the tab) but I didn’t care because I was high myself.

Came home, watched a bit of tv, but then got in bed early and read the whole thing cover to cover. A couple of maddening typos and glitches (one date I know we fixed but somehow Quark Xpress either picked up an earlier version or it’s a phantom regurgitating saboteur). In another place an arrow got moved and is pointing to a wrong position (a scratchboard shows Wyatt and Morgan running and an arrow coming from the image box goes down to an overhead view of Allen Street and points at a building. So, they are running in a building. Oh, that’s cute!). Most people won’t notice this (except, of course, all of you!)

Every book I’ve ever done has these renegade factoids and minor-muffs, and out of the thousands of good to great stuff, if there are five that suck, well, I’ll take those odds and raise you five.

Got up today at about six and Kathy and I filled out fifty invitations to the show and mailed them off (bought 50 stamps, $23). That felt good. Picked up two of our bikes from the Flat Tire Bike Shop. Yes, that's the name and we had two flat tires (Tomcat thinks it's because of the Spanish Driveway, driving over those rough stones is giving us flats). Loaded up the bikes ($50 for fixing them. I complained to Kathy about the charge and she said what should it be and I said, "We used to fix flats for $2 at my dad's gas station," and she smirked, "Well, yes, but that was before electricity." Funny girl). Came home, unloaded the bikes, then moved Kitty Custer out to the studio. Kathy has given him a new name: “Bob’s Cat.” Ha. She’s fed up with the little turd, but I couldn’t give him the death sentence, so he’s hiding out somewhere in my labyrinth of reference materials. I hesitate to let Buddy Boze Hatkiller in, although I know he’d find the little feline and find him good. But then that's just do nature.

“There is a great deal of human nature in people.”
—Mark Twain


Friday, September 23, 2005

September 23, 2005
Joel Klasky came in my office at 9 A.M. and said he just got off the phone with Dave Walker down in Louisiana. Dave worked with Joel and I at New Times Weekly (Cap’n Dave!) and Dave was also a drummer in our band, The Zonies. Dave and his wife Judy (also a writer) moved to New Orleans several years ago to work for the Times Picayune. Dave and Judy’s home in New Orleans wasn’t totally destroyed by Katrina because it’s four feet above the street, but they still got about two inches throughout their house and the water has ruined their wood floors. Dave is in Baton Rouge helping to put the newspaper out from there. Of course, there isn’t any advertising to support them except for companies looking for relief help, and they are limping by as best they can. Dave also said at least 100,000 people are not coming back. Can you even fathom what this will do to the city and their livelihood? And ultimately, as it ripples out, ours? Scary stuff.

Feedback on the Paul Harvey radio broadcast from yesterday:
“I live on a ranch in Alberta. At noon I was listening to Paul Harvey news and low and behold he starts talking about Wyatt Earp and Bob Boze Bell. Paul Harvey says how hard this guy in Arizona at Cave Creek tries to find the true story and prints it in his magazine TRUE WEST. Doesn't sound like Mr. Harvey has been reading True West very long or he would know this has been going on for quite a spell. Anyhow am I ever impressed, he's talking about a bunch of my friends !!”
—Bill Dunn, Alberta, Canada

I got a call from Jeanne Sedello yesterday and I said, “Hey, Jeann-er, are you watching that new reality show on VH-1 called ‘Breaking Bonaduce’’?” She assured me she was. “Didn’t we set up Danny,” I continued, “with his wife Gretchen, on our radio show?” Yes, we did, Jeanne Sedello confirmed, as she gave me all the juicy details, some of which I had forgotten. In about 1991 we had a psychic come on our show. Our producer Derek Jones had met a girl at a club the night before and he had her come visit The Jones & Boze Radio Show and she started pressing the psychic about when and where she would meet her future husband, she wanted a family, where was this mystery man? etc. David K. Jones had a sister with cancer and he was putting together a benefit for her at a south Scottsdale bar and we invited Danny Bonaduce, who had just got a morning gig on another local radio show (Y-95?). As Jeanne reminded me, I always thought it was goofy how competing radio stations and morning DJs would shun each other and never give out competing call letters on the air or even admit anyone else was even alive. So, naturally, we invited Danny to come by our show since he had agreed to support David’s benefit. The girl Derek brought in was Gretchen, who quickly fell in love with Danny and she’s been with him ever since (I think she said 14 years last night on the show, while they were in counseling). As an aside, Danny kept calling me “Dad,” which I took as a mild putdown. I was 45 and I always assumed he thought I was an old fart trying to be hip. While he was right about that, I had to chuckle last night on the show, where he is in major angst and meltdown at being old. He’s now 45. Ha. Ha, ha.

Remember when O.J. was doing his Bronco “chase” and he pulled into his driveway at sunset and the overhead copter shot showed a guy run out to the driver’s side of the car and everybody freaked because it looked like someone was going to grab O.J.? Well, it turned out that was O.J.’s son and the guy standing next to him was our old producer Derek Jones.

My books have arrived in Phoenix from the printer and Theresa from Tri Star is driving them out this afternoon. I’m very anxious (it really is very much like being a fathering a child in the hospital waiting for a newborn, but without the eighteen years of hell afterwards, of course).

“Life is very much a study of attention. Whatever you dwell upon and think about grows and expands in your life. The more you pay attention to your relationships, the quality and quantity of your work, your finances and your health, the better they will become and the happier you will be.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 22, 2005

September 22, 2005
Carole Glenn couldn’t wait for today’s Paul Harvey news report on True West so she went online and listened to it there at about ten. Isn’t this damn internet thing just amazing? If you missed the piece, you can access it as well at then click on Paul Harvey which takes you to his website and then you click on “Thursday noon” and viola there it is.

Finished up tweaking the Black Bart Classic Gunfight copy at about ten. Gus and I shoe-horned in the layout and turned it over to Meghan, who is putting her definitive touches on the piece (she finds the smallest typos, for example, Gus misspelled Downieville, California on the map! Very small, but she has the eagle proofing eye).

Went home for lunch and had two homemade tacos (Taco Bell?) and listened to Paul Harvey live, as opposed to the website sound bite. So odd to be sitting in our kitchen listening to the news and hearing Paul Harvey intone in that dramatic distinctive way. . .”Bob—Boze—Bell knows.” I just looked at the small kitchen radio and laughed. It was quite surreal.

One person who is probably not laughing is Allen Barra, who wrote the Zorro piece that Harvey kept attributing to me. In my defense, Paul never asked me about it on the phone. He just told me he was going to do a piece on the magazine.

Yesterday, Sam and I sent out the artshow press release to local radio and newspaper people. Got back this response almost immediately:

“Not just yes, but HELL YES!!! I get asked about you all the time! For a while I couldn't remember if you were the guy from Kingman who blew up the Oklahoma building or not. I guess since he's dead and you're still e-mailing me, I've cleared that up!”
—Tim Hattrick, of Tim & Willy on Country radio station KNIX

I’m going down to Tempe to Buck Owens-ville to do their morning show next Wednesday. Not looking forward to getting up at four, but for a decade that was my life, and one day is not going to kill me.

And speaking of the press release, here’s a parody of the release from a blog reader, based on our current gay cover controversy:

features 120 original and delicate interpretations, but dethrones Tombstone's most famous republican, Wyatt Earp!

Finally an intimate portrait of Billy Breckenridge [who many assume was gay] and his brave struggle for diversity in the west's wildest town. See how two groups of hot-blooded, lonely and desperate men, unable to quench their desires with alcohol or in the arms of women, slap it out for the front position.

Bell's sensitive insights into southern Arizona's premiere boomtown, next to San Francisco, are aided by his close ties with many Blue-Staters.”

End of parody. Thanks Alan. GOOD DAY.

”People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, they make them.”
—George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

September 21, 2005
Just before noon, Sheri, our receptionist, came on the speaker phone and said, “Paul Harvey is on the line for you. Do you want to take the call?” I thought to myself, No, it couldn’t be the real Paul Harvey, who’s syndicated on a thousand radio stations and is world famous for his “And now you know. . . .the rest of the story” stories.

It was the Paul Harvey. He is going to do a piece tomorrow on True West magazine. We talked for about fifteen minutes. His son, Paul Harvey, Jr. is a big fan of the magazine. He asked me how I got my name Boze and I told him the Kingman, running the bases backwards story and he laughed and said, “We’ll have to revisit that story sometime.” He asked me to name three Old West characters who perhaps weren’t quite what legend says they were. That was easy. I asked him if he still had a home up in Carefree. He admitted he does but that he and his wife also got a place down at the Biltmore on the golf course. It was too dead out here for him and Angel. He kept the house up here, but they mostly let staffers come out and use it.

So when you hear Paul Harvey tomorrow and your friends say, What was that all about? How did Boze score that coup? You can tell them and end with, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

Worked on a press release for the artshow and book premiere. Jana Bommersbach, my Blue State friend, helped me whip it into shape. In fact, here it is for your perusal:


"BLAZE AWAY! THE 25 GUNFIGHTS BEHIND THE OK CORRAL" by Bob Boze Bell not only features 120 original paintings and illustrations, but dethrones Tombstone's most famous resident, Wyatt Earp!

Both the book and its original artwork will be premiered from 7 to 9 p.m. September 30 at the Cowboy Legacy Gallery, 37555 Hum Road, Suite 101, Carefree, Arizona.

Finally, a book about Tombstone that doesn’t make Wyatt Earp the hero. In fact, the real hero of the town too tough to die turns out to be a blogger (or, at least a diarist who would have been a blogger had there been an internet in 1881). Yes, George Whitwell Parsons is the one who left us a real treasure with his daily diary which he faithfully kept for a half century. His insights into southern Arizona’s premiere boomtown and the Earp-Clanton feud provides us with a very unique and believable version of the truth. And in this book--Bell's sixth on the Old West--Parsons gets his due.

Told with blunt historical accuracy, Bob Boze Bell puts Wyatt Earp and the Tombstone troubles in its proper perspective. Utilizing rare primary documents provided by historian Neil Carmony, many myths and legends bite the dust in this no holds barred search for the truth of what really happened before and after the so-called Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

“A friend once asked me if there were any other gunfights in Tombstone besides the O.K. Corral fight," Bell remembers. "When I responded that there were actually quite a few, Bob Brink looked surprised. ‘Really,’ he asked, ‘How many?’ Off the top of my head, I reeled off a dozen. That’s when the concept hit me. What if I put the O.K.Corral fight in its proper perspective by chronologically listing other dramatic events that occurred from 1880-82? And furthermore, what if I gave equal attention to all of the other violent encounters, fleshing out everything leading up to the big fight and everything going out the other side? Now, we’re getting somewhere.”

But Bell also wanted this book to present more. “Another goal I had for the book was to authentically portray everyday life in and around Tombstone," he says. "It really wasn’t as primitive as legend would have us believe. For example, you’ll read first hand about drug addiction and overdoses, bad fashion and killer wardrobe (one poor sap died from having on checked shirt—talk about dressed to kill!), coffee shops (four), ice cream parlors (four), French food, imported wines from Europe, the best entertainment. telephones (yes, they had telephones in Tombstone in 1881!), a municipal swimming pool (1883) and their own stock exchange.”

In 1957 while watching the TV show “Wyatt Earp” starring Hugh O’Brian, Bell’s grandmother commented that Wyatt Earp was the biggest jerk who ever walked the West. Intrigued, the 11-year-old Bell made a vow to find out who the real Wyatt Earp was. After almost fifty years of study and two years of specific research, and 13 months of intensive field work (more than two dozen trips to Tombstone!) Bell says,  “I think I painted or illustrated everyone in Cochise County,” he says with a laugh. “There are at least 236 paintings or scratchboard of the characters I wanted to see. I approached this like a movie on paper. I wanted to see what happened and I wanted it to be accurate to the times.”

This is Bell’s sixth book in his Old West series and the second volume of Classic Gunfights, a feature he created for True West magazine in 2000.

To reach the author, call (480) 575-1881. Also check out BBB’s daily blog (at, where he tracked the daily travails of putting out the book.

To reach the Cowboy Legacy Gallery, call (480) 595-8999

”Picking the right leader is the most important task of any commander. I line up all of the candidates and give them a problem. I say, ‘Men, I want a trench dug behind Warehouse No. 10; make this trench 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and 6 inches deep.’ That's all I tell them. While the candidates get their tools, I get inside the warehouse and watch them through the knotholes. The men puzzle over why I want such a shallow trench; they argue over the depth; they complain about the job; they gripe that it is too hot or too cold to dig; they complain that they are being asked to do such lowly labor. Finally, one man will order, ‘What difference does it make what the old [so-and-so] wants to do with this trench. Let's get it dug and let's get out of here.’ And that's the man who gets the promotion. There's only one rule -- pick the man who can get the job done!”
—General George S. Patton

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

September 20, 2005
Well, the comments are pouring in and it’s about a 50-50 split on those who love or hate the headline and the cover posted yesterday. As for the comments that ran prior to the posting of the cover rough, I got this:

“Now I'd be willing to wager that the fella who had trouble with his gag reflex, if offered a chance to see a movie in which two nice-looking cowgirls helped each other wash off all that trail dust, would feel a mite differently. Why is that?”
—Emma Bull

As you know, I try to steal from the best, and the other night I was thinking about descriptive imagery for my new story and I remembered the vivid word pictures painted by Cormac McCarthy in his cult classic Blood Meridian. Here’s a typical passage:

“They crested the mountain at sunset and they could see for miles. An immense lake lay below them with the distant blue mountains standing in the windless span of water and the shape of a soaring hawk and trees that shimmered in the heat and a distant city very white against the blue and shaded hills. They sat and watched. they saw the sun drop under the jagged rim of the earth to the west and they saw it flare behind the mountains and they saw the face of the lake darken and the shape of the city dissolve upon it. They slept among the rocks face up like dead men and in the morning when they rose there was no city and no trees and no lake only a barren dusty plain.”

Stunningly descriptive, no? And it goes on and on, each description better than the last, soaring words, with very few commas and no quotation marks, “like this,” which drives you crazy at first, he said, but then you get used to it and the Bastard pulls it off. Makes me feel so inferior the author of this blog said in the style of Cormac the Word Magician.

Which brings us diehard fans of this scalp-hunting classic to this piece of great news, forwarded to me from Alan Huffines: “Director Ridley Scott has been talking about adapting the grim, bloody, nihilistic yet lyrical masterpiece, by Cormac McCarthy, for some time now, but he seems closer to calling the shots on it than ever before, as he told us when we caught up with him earlier in the week.

"It's taken me until now to pick off those little icons, like the Knight and the Cowboy," he said. "But I wouldn't want to waste that on a gunslinging character. It has to be about something."

In which case, Blood Meridian is perfect. An unremittingly dark tale of a young kid who enlists in a rogue band of American soldiers with orders to commit genocide on Mexican soil, and the gradual corruption of his soul at the hands of the troupe's mysterious leader, Judge, Blood Meridian could, in the hands of a master visualist like Scott, it could truly redefine the Western.

"It's an amazing book," continued Scott. "One of the difficulties is what do you say about it, because as an author he [McCarthy, who also wrote All The Pretty Horses] doesn't have to give an answer to anything. He writes the book and says if you get it, you get it and if you don't, you don't. And therefore there are no answers at the end of the book."

With central setpieces revolving around bloody, senseless and savage massacres of Apaches by the soldiers (and vice versa), and a violent stalk-and-shoot at the climax, Blood Meridian's unrelenting violence – it's perhaps the most accurate, unflinching portrayal of the Old West around – is presenting Scott with a headache. "That's the problem. I just don't want to make it incredibly violent. There's got to be a philosophical intuition about why he would write this at a particular point. The writing is so spectacularly good and visually epic – how do you give a voice to the two central characters?"

Tommy Lee Jones is supposed to be on board to play the judge, a key character who many think is the devil, or, at the very least, some sort of shirt-tail relative of Beelzebub.

"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and NOT think of the Lone Ranger."
—Dan Rather

Monday, September 19, 2005

September 19, 2005
Finished the gay makeout session this morning at about nine. Kept it slightly vague and in the background, although Clint’s expression says it all. Also added another coat of fire engine red to the top part of the painting. Took a shower and let it dry, then drove it up to work and gave it to Gus with a rough layout of the verbiage and design I wanted. Gus whipped out a mock cover very quickly and it is posted below.

"That's offensive," my very liberal friend said as soon as she heard my idea for the cover head. "We can’t run that."

"Do me a favor," I challenged her. "Run my proposed headline, ‘HOMOS ON THE RANGE’ by your gay friends and report back to me their response." Jana, I mean, this liberal person, assured me she would but gave me that look, that clearly said, "I hope you don’t expect me to actually say this out loud to gay people."

Fast forward two weeks and my Blue State friend who lives in a Red State is beside herself: "They love it! They all laughed! They think it’s fabulous! You have to run it!"

Sometimes I hate it when people call my bluff. It sounded so good in the staff meeting, but now that we are getting real close (the issue goes to the printer a week from today) I’m getting cold feet. Or, as my wife calls it, "coming to my senses."

Here’s a response from a regular who hasn’t even seen it: "Let me be direct. Forget the gay crap. It's a turn-off. Makes me want to gag up last night's dinner."

And here’s another more sensitive response from a Red Stater: "Of course ‘Bareback Mountain’ is getting rave reviews. By its very nature it turns the genre (and thus America) on its head, and the screenwriter is the author of ‘Lonesome Dove,’ possibly the greatest Western ever made. The leftists are loving that. I think your cover should be two stick figures with one bent over and the other standing behind, with the international sign for no through the two. OK, maybe have them wear cow-boy hats or something."

Went to lunch with Carole Glenn today at Cave Creek Roadhouse. Had an iced tea and a reuben sando ($22, plus $5 tip cash, split it down the middle).

I have been looking for good descriptions of nighttime horseback riding imagery, so naturally I dug out my copy of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. He is so masterful. Now I get word from Alan Huffines (who submitted one of the above gay responses but I won’t say which one because I don’t want to prejudice you against him) regarding a possible movie of the dark novel. More on that tomorrow.

”There is no one luckier than the guy who thinks he is.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, September 18, 2005

September 18, 2005
I decided if we are ever going to do a gay cover, this weekend will determine just how gay we will go. On Saturday afternoon, I spent two hours looking at Western movie poster art books and then show tunes poster movie books (yes, I have quite a collection) then all of my Film Noir Movie poster books trying to find that odd, but zany angle that I can thread for the cover art.

This is to illustrate both our cover stories, one by Jana on homosexuality in the West and the other on the new movie Brokeback Mountain, which is getting rave reviews. Either way we need to cover the subject in some fashion on the cover and I have spent almost a year wrestling with how far to go with the concept.

Narrowed it down to two concepts, and decided on the ballsier one, of course. Projected Clint Eastwood’s head from the A Few Dollars More Italian poster, and then fudged it so that he has a crazed look in his eye. He’s looking down and behind him where three bandidos are lined up along an adobe wall (just like in the famous poster), only something is wrong. Two of the bandidos have started making out, and Clint is not amused, and has that “What the...?” look in his eye. Because of the First Friday visit I tried to push the color more utilizing a stronger triad color scheme, matching complementary colors rather than accurate hues and values to the old poster. I hope it looks accurate but with a tinge of modernity to it.

Today at about 4:30 I finished Clint’s face and it does look like him. Blocked in everything else but decided to illustrate the gay lovers in the morning when I’m fresh and gay myself.

Do you realize that in the Spaghetti Westerns the stories were almost exclusively on the Mexican border? They never portrayed the northern West, with Custer and the Sioux, Wild Bill and Dodge City. For some reason they preferred the grittiness of the El Paso to Nogales border region and virtually all of their stories take place in this no-man’s-land. Last night I watched a Spaghetti Western documentary on IFC (Independent Film Channel?) and evidently there is this entire genre of Mexican Revolution Italian Westerns, with titles like “A Bullet for the General” and many others. They loved the Mexican Revolution because it mirrored their political environment, evidently. We Americans have barely tolerated the theme in our Westerns and have delegated a subservient role to the Pancho Villa style Western and have made pretty bad caricatures of the entire time and place when we did deal with it (The Wild Bunch would be exhibit A if I was making a case, which I’m not).

But today, that is changing and the Mexican Revolution seems much more in tune with what is happening along our southern border. Get ready for a new style of Western protagonist, one that comes from Norteno, not the West, going South (ironically the title of an odd Jack Nicholson cocaine fueled movie).

Went for four bike rides today. Every time I’d get stuck on a painting passage I took off with the dogs. Burned it out, came back and bailed in. Feels good. I’m in a good place, feeling confident and strong. Art show is a week from this coming Friday.

”Nothing changes more than the past.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, September 16, 2005

September 16, 2005
Kitty Custer is a total Gen-Xer, lies around all day listening to cat music, walks around like he owns the place and meows (bitches) about the bad food. And to boot, he hasn’t even looked for a rat. I was going to relegate him to yard duty (a virtual death sentence out here) but yesterday we got a thankyou card from Deena’s old roommate telling us how appreciative she is for us saving “Guapo.” So, at least for the weekend, Custer stays in the penthouse.

Whipped out six drawings this morning (more stud studies) and wrote up a page worth of story points on the Mexicali Stud. Got some big plans for our plein air art trip in terms of ambitious scenes I want to capture. I think “plein air” is French and means to paint outside, or in the open. There is a whole school on this style of painting and I’ve never done it. Ed Mell has done it for a couple of years with Gary Ernest Smith, so I’m anxious to learn from the Master. Evidently there is an entire regimen and protocol in terms of setting up, how many sessions to do in a day (2) and when to break, what to watch for, etc.

Robert Ray is trying to ween me from my favorite writing program, called Write Now, which he claims has been defunct for 15 years. Ha. I know the commands and shortcuts and write all of my copy in this ancient program, including the words you are reading at this very moment. The problem is, when I go to copy and paste this very same copy into or into our Quark Xpress layouts, it does funky, not so funny things, that make Robert pull his hair out. I’ve got to change, and I hate change!!

The framer is coming this afternoon with 20 more images for the Blaze Away! artshow in two weeks. I’m giving him a half dozen more to frame which will put me over the 120 mark for the show. Very exciting. Going to be quite cool. Hope you can come see it while it’s up (Sept. 30-Oct 9).

The buzz on the upcoming gay Western “Brokeback Mountain” is quite good. The controversial film won best movie at the Vienna Film Festival last weekend and I think Ang Lee won for best director. One of our writers contacted Meghan today and says Heath Ledger is probably going to get an Oscar nomination for best actor. But, according to our online poll, 85% of you don’t even want to see it. This presents an interesting dilemma for us here at the magazine. Kind of a Greek sandwich kind of deal with us in the middle.

”Whatever your past has been, you have a spotless future.”
—Melanie Gustafson

Thursday, September 15, 2005

September 15, 2005
I woke up at 4:30 with a phrase floating in my semi-conscious mind: “Three women loved him.” I made a mental note to remember this (often a hopeless request during R.E.M. sleep), and went back to sleep. Incredibly, when I re-awoke at 6:15, there it was, waiting for me. I assume it is my sub-conscious mind, trying to help me create a worthy story (see today’s quote, below).

As I woke up, Kathy read to me in bed (one of the perks of being married to someone who actually reads books). It was from a Psych book on dysfunctional families and the ego, entitled “Identity and the Life Cycle.” I thought the author sucked (some bigtime giant of Psychology named Erikson?) but he quoted George Bernard Shaw at length, and that was quite inspiring. George talked about how he got up every day and forced himself to write five pages no matter what and that was the key to his success. So simple, so profound.

Got up, did six sketches and wrote a page on my new story. Felt great. Got into the office at about nine, worked on the Funk Hill robbery copy, Emailed it to John Boessenecker and Bill Secrest for historical accuracy. Both are superb experts on California history.

Went home for lunch and had leftover tacos (3) and iced coffee. Went out into the studio and started a painting, came back to the office.

Ed Mell and I are planning a plein air painting trip in mid-October. I really want to get up into the Santa Maria, Burro Creek Wilderness Area. I have been driving this route (hwy 93) since 1957 and every single time I have traversed this rugged stretch of canyons, I make the vow to come back and paint it someday. I contacted Tom Carpenter up in Flag, who lived in Wickiup for a time and he recommended several sites. He also volunteered to “caddie” for us, which we just may take him up on. Also at Tom's suggestion, I called the Cane Springs Ranch, north of Wickiup on availability and we are thinking of renting a three-bedroom ranch house to do it in style. Kind of exciting, finally acting on something after fifty years. Ha.

””No art comes from the conscious mind.”
—David Mamet

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

September 14, 2005
Very cool and nice out now, especially in the mornings.

Working hard on Black Bart the California stage robber for the next Classic Gunfights. Pretty incredible record. He robbed 28 stages over an eight year period, never fired a shot (allegedly used an unloaded shotgun) and never hurt anyone. He wrote zany poetry, which he left at the scene of a couple of robbery sites, and he was quite clever. There was only one problem: he looks like an aging butler, not a stage robber. In fact, when they captured him and took him to trial, the crowds flocked to get a look at him, and upon noticing the knot of lawmen surrounding him, everyone thought Bart was one of the detectives. In fact, it’s probably safe to say, we don’t really celebrate him today in movies and fiction because he looks too mature and didn’t shoot it out with anyone. Hmmmm.

Carole took me to lunch at China Joy today. Had the hot beef. Carole bought.

We’ve landed another authentic buscadero sighting. This one from northern Arizona, probably Flagstaff, or Holbrook, circa 1884. A lawman with a badge on the crown of his hat stands next to his horse and on his hip is the notorious, thought to be historically inaccurate buscadero holster. Yes, this low slung holster has long been thought to be an invention of Hollywood. This makes the second example of a known buscadero from the 1880s and in the same locale, to boot. Commodore Perry Owens is the other famous example, often sited as an exception, and since both photos are from the same area and era, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Here’s what the gentleman who forwarded the image to me has to say about that:

“I don't believe Hollywood ever invented something new about cowboys, we've just lost the connection.”
—Paul J. Tulleners, Dewey, Arizona

Legendary record producer Snuff Garrett called me this morning to correct a photo in the current issue. Snuff is adamant that a photo we guesstimated as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is actually Jack Holt. Meghan still stands by her tentative I.D that it could be Douglas.

Just got word from Mike Melrose that more than one official in Tombstone is unhappy with our October cover story. A woman from the chamber thinks it will hurt business and she took particular umbrage at Johnny Boggs’ remarks, which when Mike and I looked at them (Johnny’s comments), seemed quite tame.

Sketched a “steaming stud” this morning. I love how horses steam when they are wet. Great effects. It’s all part of my research for "The Mexicali Stud" story. I stopped horse person Christa Barro on the road last night and asked her if there are any white studs around and she said, “Besides you?” And I said, “No, brilliant neighbor, I mean like horses. We always see black stallions but I assume there are white ones, no?” Christa said, “Of course, Andelusians are all white. The whole breed.” I need to look this up. I like the idea of a white stud being tracked by a Mexican vaquero. Gives credence to the old song lyrics I’d like to borrow: “The Mexicali Stud was long and mean, the color of the moon and his eyes were green.”

”If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires.”
—Abigail Van Buren

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

September 13, 2005
Well, I heard gas has dipped down below $3 a gallon in Arizona, allegedly. But I’ve got to tell you, gas prices in Arizona have always been high. I remember icing jugs for tips in my father’s gas station on Route 66. At least ten times a day, tourists would pull in to Al Bell’s Flying A on Hilltop, on the outskirts of Kingman, Arizona, and get out, look at the pump and exclaim with disgust, “What have you got in your gas, gold?!” It was uncanny. They always thought they were being so funny, but they all had the same line. I must have heard that “gold” line a thousand times in the 1950s and sixties. The price for ethyl (prime grade) at that time was a staggering 49.9. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Seems quite quaint today.

I talked to Tomcat in NYC this morning and he’s dating exotic models (his father’s fantasy) and is thinking about getting a Phd (his mother’s fantasy). He’s also learning a thing or two about life. Here, I’ll let him tell you:

“I was talking to Xav about girls. I was explaining the situation with this girl Miriam I liked and had accepted defeat without even trying! Absurd! I called her that night and we ended up making out. Which brings me to where I'm at in life; not assuming. Assuming effects everything you do. I gotta live in Brooklyn because the market in Manhattan is impossible (not true, even for my salary). I can't get a job in NY because I'm competing with Ivy Leaguers (not true). Or the worst assumption, she's hot and all these guys like her so I don't stand a chance. In fact, in Miriams case, I stood out to her because I was more reserved and nice. How do you like that New Yorkers! HaHa!”

”You can't really be strong until you see a funny side to things.”
—Ken Kesey

Monday, September 12, 2005

September 12, 2005
I miss John Brinkman and Foothills Photo! For the past decade, all I had to do was go up to the Bashas’ shopping center, drop off my film, and turn around and go out the door without saying a word. Oh, maybe John or one of his assistants would yell out, “Is five today okay?” and I’d nod that it was and keep on going. I’d come back in a couple hours and pick everything up and John would say, “I printed out a couple extra versions of your cloud photos, some dark and some lighter. I was trying to guess what you wanted there.”

But John got tired of it all, or maybe he couldn’t compete with the digital-do-it-yourself world, I don’t know. But whatever happened, fine store is empty. I just got back from Walgreen’s where some turd-lady in a smock, looked right at me and proceeded to talk to another customer, went over and started cleaning and wiping off another machine. Two minutes go by and I’m fuming and swearing to myself. The other customer gets embarrassed and says, “You can wait on him,” and the smock-turd goes over to another machine and hits some buttons, grunts, finally comes over to me and says, “Speak to me.” “Yes, I’d like to pull your fat head out of your ass so you can see I’m taking my business somewhere else!”

But, of course, I said nothing of the sort. I was polite, because there is no place else up here to take film. The results will be mediocre with zero extra care on the printing.

Last Wednesday night, Mark Boardman and I watched and listened to film historian Richard Schickel’s audio commentary on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We’re doing DVD extras for our next issue and so, like most homework assignments, it was about half pain, half pleasure. For one thing, Mark and I were both curious to see and hear how Schickel would handle talking over a movie that is three hours long. It’s funny, in a movie theatre, you’d want to kill someone yakking right over the top of the dialogue, but there we were, listening to Richard’s running commentary for the length of time it takes to drive from Wickiup to Vegas. I had a theory that Richard would run out of things to say and start repeating himself, so I grabbed a pen and paper to tabulate the repetition, but I must admit, although he talked less and less as the movie went on, he did himself quite proud. Still I tabulated the words and phrases he tended to repeat, like, “Leone was drunk on American movies,” and “in the American version,” which he said in some form or another at least six times. I also noted that “big,wide shot,” got more than a few mentions, as did “exaggerated violence.” Schickel also gets to show off his vocab with words like, “prefiguration”, “preternaturally alert” (describing Western hero’s who awake from a deep sleep at the slightest noise, in this case Clint offing a bad guy while taking a nap with Lee Van Cleef) and “surrealism,” which term I tagged at five times. Hats off to Schickel, though, for having enough wind to expound on a three-hour-Western, and I hate to admit it but I actually felt enlightened from the process. And, thanks to the exercise, I slept like a baby!

Having watched Once Upon A Time in the West recently, it was interesting to see the progression Sergio Leone took. His first Western, A Fistful of Dollars, was done for $200,000. He hired Clint Eastwood only because James Coburn was too expensive (Coburn’s fee was $25,000, Clint did it for $15,000). By the time Leone gets to Once Upon A Time in the West he has a big time budget with boo-koo American dollars backing him so he can hire the actor he really wanted from the beginning, Henry Fonda, and Leone ruins it with an overcooked, overwrought, over-produced hamfisted pile of doo-doo (although the beginning is wonderful). What does this prove? It’s simple:

"The surest way to kill an artist is to give him everything he wants."
—Henry Miller

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11, 2005
Well, we all know where we were four years ago today and I don’t know about you but I feel nervous all day that "they," or some crazies are going to strike again. Probably a groundless fear, but nonetheless I’m always glad when it’s over and nothing has happened.

Had a very nice day at home yesterday. Kathy went to her mother’s so that meant several things. I could work all day and night in my studio without guilt and I could walk around nude, fart and when the sun went down, the clicker was all mine. I realize these are vile tendencies to admit to some people (most women!), but then, 6.5 million people watched Comedy Central’s roast of Pamela Anderson (nude or not nude, I actually thought it was too vile: I attempted to watch it the first time it was on and couldn’t get past David Spade, then Wonderful recommended I give it a second try and it was on last night, but I couldn’t make it past the first comedian. Ugly, ugly stuff.)

I recently mentioned being red-green color blind, but it’s probably more accurate to say I’m just color stupid. I hate to admit I was in my forties before I even knew what complementary colors are (red-green, violet-yellow, blue-orange) and have since limped through my paintings on this thin spit of knowledge. Well, this morning I started reading a color theory book and I am just amazed at what I don’t know. I usually paint with orange and blue as my starting point, and anything else is hit or miss, mostly miss. In a split complementary color scheme, you paint with orange, but rather than blue, you take the two colors to the immediate sides on the color wheel, which would be blue-violet and blue-green, and when you combine these colors in a painting, they look very good together. Here’s an example I whipped out as a practice motif. Not bad, huh? It only took fifty-eight-and-one-half-years Kingman Motif Boy!

Better late than never. I found out this morning that a friend of mine has stage four bone cancer. He toured with the Monkeys in their heyday. Sad and scary stuff.

I need to go up to the Bashas’ and get some lemons. More later.

"If your wife no longer cares how late you come home, it’s later than you think."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, September 10, 2005

September 10, 2005
I hitched a ride with Robert Ray, who drove me down into the Beast at four yesterday. He dropped me off at the Ritz Carlton at 24th Street and Camelback and I easily found the bus, parked around back, and met the bus driver, who had the unlikely name of Roger Champagne. “I’ll bet you get a lot of comments with that handle,” I said as I carried a box of magazines down the aisle and put a True West on every seat.

“It’s really a chick magnet,” Roger told me, shaking his head. “I don’t know why, but women love it. I get hit on all the time.”

“Really?” I remarked, looking Roger over and deciding he looked a bit like a younger version of Mike Ditka. “What do they say to you?” I asked, but before he could answer I knew I could probably guess some of the inane angles bus riding, horny women might use on him.

“Let me guess,” I yelled from the back of the empty bus, “‘I’ll bet you’re bubbly,’ or, ‘I like champagne. It makes me do things I didn’t know I wanted to do,’ and ‘So, do you go down easy, like champagne?’ Am I close?” Roger just shook his head like a very sad man. “Yes. I get all of those. I just tell them I don’t drink. I’ve been married for 36 years.” My respect for Roger went back up to a solid seven. (He still loses three points for using the term ‘chick magnet’ in relation to a name.)

At about ten to five, the women started pouring out of the hotel and came climbing onto the bus. It was probably at least 102 out and they were dressed smartly, with name tags, so I could easily harass them. They were all part of the National Foundation for Women Legislators, and as I found out, were mostly state legislators from all over the country.

One of the speaking tricks I learned from Wonderful Russ is to go to a speech early and own the empty room. Go stand at the place where you will be speaking and put your mental hooks, or markers, in the four corners of the space and claim if for yourself. This is my room, dammit! When you come into it, I own it. As Roger fought off the women getting on board, I mentally went through my paces and got my energy up. The first two people on the bus were from Pennsylvania. Most of the riders were women but this man and woman appeared to be a couple. They sat in row three, right under my nose. I made small talk about Pennsylvania and warned them I would be harassing them for about an hour and that if I did my job correctly they would want to drink heavily when they got to Carefree. I got a small courtesy laugh. Not a good sign.

The other women getting on were quite nice and seemed to like my cowboy hat and made comments like anybody going to a convention might make: “Are you going to do trick riding for us?”

At this kind of gig, there is this rough transition between the passengers all walking by you and then starting to talk (which is not the most optimum position to be in to command anything). But before I can even get going, the guy from Pennsylvania says, “Can we vote you off of being our entertainment?” I quickly told him they could as I reeled and wondered why he would say something so rude. “We want them,” he said, leering and pointing at a couple walking down the aisle past him. I guessed correctly that they were a musical duo, a guy and gal (yes, she was cute), who had entertained the group the night before and my Penn friend was pathetically trying to score brownie points with them, totally at my expense.

My ownership grapple-hooks, lashed into the back corners of the bus came ripping out, and boomeranged right at my head as my confidence imploded into nothingness and a little voice screamed loudly inside my head: “Jesus Christ, Bob! You’re a 58-years-old CEO of a publishing company and you’re shilling 40 magazines on a bus! Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Of course, I stayed. The bus started to move. I held on to the overhead bins, turned on the microphone and talked non-stop for an hour. “Over there, on that corner is where Glen Campbell got the DUI, hit the car, fled up that way, into the Biltmore, just beyond those trees and hid in his condo, which he just sold for $6.5 mil and moved to Malibu, California, where he probably paid $7.5 mil for a one-bedroom apartment.”

That was about the extent of my A-material. The rest was too embarrassing to relate. Oh, hell, here’s one more: “There were strong women out here in the old days. An Apache woman was captured and sold into slavery. There was a lot of slavery in those times, everybody, including the Apaches practiced slavery.” Across from the smartass from Pennsylvania, was a black woman representative. She looked down at her lap for the rest of the trip.

I got $350 for the gig. When we got off the bus in north Carefree, the guy from Pennsylvania walks up to me, shakes my hand and says, “I really enjoyed your comments.” Amazing. All my anger at him disappeared.

As the women went inside a private residence and art studio, I walked up the road to Saba’s Greek Food Restaurant to meet Kathy, Wonderful Russ and Wendy Shaw for dinner. Roger Champagne saw me walking and backed the bus up. “Want a ride?” he said with a smile. “Don’t you look bubbly,” I said as I climbed in the empty bus and we lumbered up the hill into town.

"God I hope you get big bucks for such a gig. I'd rather draw myself a warm bath and slit my wrists."
—Charlie Waterss

Friday, September 09, 2005

September 9, 2005
I was sitting in Mr. Wallace’s Civics class at Mucous High when the subject turned to something I was actually interested in: Dick Tracy. Mr. Wallace, who had a big tummy and a big walrus mustache and would ultimately flunk me thereby forcing me to take a correspondence course from Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix in order to even graduate, was pontificating on a comics page controversy regarding Chester Gould’s fantasy invention: the wristwatch phone. I remember sitting there wondering how long would it take before the real world caught up to the comics world of the Dick Tracy wristwatch phone. I think that was 1964.

Last night I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and several ads in a row came on for phones that not only have streaming video, but you can download movies and send video. It dawned on me that we are finally in full Dick Tracy mode. Now, I wonder if his oft trumpeted warning, “He who controls magnetism, will control the world!” will come true. Stay tuned.

We got our office copies of the October issue of True West on Wednesday and Banta, our printer, has taken our mag to the next level. For the first time in the magazine’s history we have a perfect bound issue (that’s where you have a spine that’s flat, like a book, in contrast to a saddle stitch, which is the stapled version which we had for, oh, 52 years!). Great job, very official looking with a strong quality feeling. Robert gave it the “plop factor” test, i.e. dropping it on a table top and he smiled, confirming its worthiness. The staff was jumping up and down, running around yelling, “It’s perfect bound! Look at the perfect bound!” Mike Melrose got in his Ford pickup and was driving up and down in front of the office holding the new issue out the window and yelling at the passing cars out on Cave Creek Road.

Not really.

After a two week tryout, Mark Boardman has been hired as our new features editor. He brings some solid historical and editorial experience to our team. Our managing editor Meghan Saar is very happy (she had been carrying the entire load for some time). Mark will be moving here from Indiana in the next several weeks.

I’ve got a bus speech this afternoon. A group of women legislators from around the country are being bused from the Ritz Carlton at 24th and Camelback out to some big art home in Carefree and I’m the entertainment on the bus ride out. Should be fun. Looking forward to it.

I hope you can keep a secret. I’ve got a new story I’m working on called “The Mexicali Stud.” It's sort of a cross between James Bond, The Man From Snowy River and Speedy Gonzales.

"Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead."
—Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, September 08, 2005

September 8, 2005
Woke up early to a light sprinkle this morning. Very pretty out. Went for a walk with Kathy and the dogs. Invigorating and hopeful.

Extremely busy day yesterday. Got home at about seven in the evening. Drove down into the Beast and dropped off two of the new Blaze Away! posters at the framer, signed two original pieces that were signatureless, met Laury Klasky at Shea and Tatum at four. She had just filled up her Suburban for $136! I’m not making this up. She was filling the tank and the automatic cut-off on the pump shut her down at $75 and she had to go in and extend her credit to get the remaining gas. She has a 41 gallon tank. We are currently paying on average $3.18 a gallon (supposedly we’re now the highest average in the nation). So I picked up Laury in my little Ranger (on the way there I got gas at $3.09 a gallon, and the fillup cost me $37), and we waded down Hayden into Tempe and JJ Distributors to tweak two t-shirt designs for the Blaze Away! art show. Laury is an expert at matching t-shirt colors with designs and I’m red-green color blind, so I needed her like a blind man needs a seeing eye t-shirt person.

After much wrangling and color tweaking, Laury, Wayne and I zeroed in on a color combo for two different shirts (one gray and the other “brick”).

Lately I’ve been getting more and more inquires from mentions on this blog. For example, an art appraiser from California contacted me two days ago after he Googled “Ed Mell.” The family genealogist of the Texas outlaw, Sam Bass, just contacted me today with this:

“You [BBB] wrote: ‘The late Jim Browning found evidence that Bass was not his real name—instead, it was Basil or Bazil, shortened down to 'Baz.' But most folks wrote it down wrong. After all, they were more familiar with the fish or the outlaw. What in the hell is a Baz anyway?’

“His name was Bazz. He was my grandfather's sister's child. The only way I have ever heard his name or seen his name, in all the family research I have done is Bazzel or Bazz L. There were no s's. He is not the only person in my family named Bazz. What is it? Same thing as a Bob, I guess.

“Apparently my family knew he was a Texas Ranger but never knew he died in any brothel. IF they knew--they didn't say. My family was never one for brushing stuff under the carpet so my guess is they never knew all that--if it even was true.

“My personal opinion as the family genealogist is that he was named after a relative of his mother's Basil Smith. As far as I know there never was nor yet is anyone in the Outlaw or Smith family named Sebastian!"

I Emailed our webmaster, Jason Benefield and asked him if the Google is getting better, or are more people simply Googling. Here’s his response:
“I did a Google search for your name, and Google brought up 50,800 instances where your name was mentioned in some sense.”
—Jason Benefield

“I know it's not your period, but I hope you are watching ‘Rome. [on HBO]. It is
everything a period piece should be. Fantastic."
—Alan Huffines

Last week I had lunch with Mad Coyote Joe and he told me about a writing class he’s taking and he mentioned they are doing “flash fiction.” I asked him what the hell that is, and he told me to Google it, so I did. Not only is there flash fiction appearing everywhere but there is micro fiction and entire websites dedicated to this new form of writing. It’s basically telling a story in the least amount of words possible (60-150-200 words). There are prize contests and chat rooms galore. What a brave new world, eh?

Sometimes good writing doesn’t even come from writers. Here’s a coach:

”He can catch a BB on a dead run at night.”
—"Gunslinger" Cooley, Jerry Rice's college coach

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

September 6, 2005
I’m working hard on storm effects, vaquero riggings and Mexican villages in my studio. Plenty of great reference from the 12 rolls of film I took on the Chihuahua Railroad in 1996. Ed Mell and I took our sons on this incredible trip up over Divisidero (the Divide) and Copper Canyon on the railroad. Paul Northrop set it up. Very memorable, and an investment in great reference.

Our male cat, Kitty Custer, hasn’t done squat. Just lays in his room and looks bored. According to Bob Reece, here’s why:

"Good luck with the male cat—just like the world of the lions, female domesticated cats are the best hunters. If you find Guapo can't handle the load add a female to the pack."
—Bob Reece

And regarding the bad Chicago style barbeque we had last weekend:
“First thing a Chicagoan leans about living in Phoenix: nothing ‘Chicago style’ is anything close to Chicago style, in food or anything else.”

Had a staff meeting at nine this morning. Good to have Robert Ray back. He looked at my dead computer (down for the last five days) and jiggled the plug in the back and it started right up. Ha.

Had an editorial meeting with Mark Boardman, Meghan Saar and Robert Ray at 9:30. Discussed November issue and cover ideas. Also we got into it over our strengths and weaknesses re: one of our competitors (rhymes with Wild West). Bob Brink came in and laughed, saying he doesn’t consider them competition at all. Lively discussion, good ideas and comments all around.

Went home for lunch and watched several of the extra features on the Good the Bad and the Ugly DVD. We are doing a feature on Western DVDs and I wanted to refresh my memory of the extras (they are quite good). Great quote from Roger Ebert: "If you savor the boldness with which Leone flirts with parody, you understand his method. This is not a story, but a celebration of bold gestures." Amen, fatboy.

"If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, September 05, 2005

September 5, 2005
We introduced Kitty Custer to the dogs today. Peaches was quite sweet, but of course Buddy Boze Hatkiller just had to see if Custer would fit into his mouth (it’s such a an immature dog thing).

I got this cat and barbeque advice from Emma Bull this morning:
"You never know with cats. He could take to hunting packrats like an exorcist hunting down spinning-headed little girls. Or he could take over the best corner of the sofa and gently suggest you get a job so you can afford a friggin' exterminator. Yo no soy exterminator, Two legs.

"Bad barbeque. Now that's a crime against man and nature."
—Emma Bull

Yesterday afternoon, Kathy and I drove into Scottsdale and met Deena at Camelview Five to see The Aristocrats ($18.50 for tickets, $7 for popcorn and diet coke). Movie is a documentary of the filthiest joke in the world, and it lived up to the title. A family walks into a talent agency and says they have an act. The talent agent asks to see it and the family proceeds to do all of these grotesque things including incest, bestiality and sliding around on feces. The talent agent is aghast, but asks them the name of their act and the father says proudly, “The Aristocrats!” That’s the whole premise to the joke and to the doc: a whole bunch of comedians telling that joke in all of its variations. Within ten minutes about five couples walked out in disgust and I have to admit it was a bit beyond my comfort zone as well, but I forced myself to stay, because I heard it gets better, and it did. My favorite tellings were from Bob Saget (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”!), Amy Silverman and Drew Carey. And there was a great side bit from Eric Idle of Monty Pithon fame who didn’t quite get the joke since, as he reasoned, "You Americans don’t even have ‘Aristocrats.’” Eric of course, even made that funny, proving that funny is, as funny does. Also, Phyllis Diller is so old she doesn't even remember the joke and she made that funny!

Afterwards we went over to the Roaring Fork for dinner ($52, includes tip). They had True West prominently displayed in their waiting room so, of course, I enjoyed everthing about the place. Much talk about career happiness and bad roommates. I had much to say on these topics because I’ve been in both places.

I’m laboring very hard on my drawing this Labor Day weekend, trying to get a different, or, at least different, visual angle on the new project I’m working on. Read a great review of a new book on Matisse in the current issue of The New Yorker and I was inspired by the following lines from the Master: “One must always search for the desire of the line, where it wishes to enter, where to die away.” Very profound because the lines we use to depict things have an independent integrity that dies, for example, as soon as you project a photograph. It’s dead. Period. No life. No individuality. No integrity of line. So simple and yet so hard to live up to. It takes courage to do it and some days I can and most days I can’t.

Still, it's a privledged search, and don’t forget the Old Vaqueros, they knew what they were talking about:

“Stop complaining about what you don't have and use what you've got.”
—Old Vaquero Saying‹

Sunday, September 04, 2005

September 4, 2005
Big storm blew through last night. We were at Mother Radina’s for dinner. Stopped at Tommy’s Chicago Style Bar-b-que on Dunlap for takeout. Got the beef brisket, chicken, rice and beans, corn on the cob, potato salad and apple and peach cobbler for dessert ($27 cash). Food was awful. All of it. Roast beef out of a can, smothered with mediocre sauce. But the worst was the cobbler, absolutely unedible, basically canned peaches floating in some half-baked pie custard. I’ll never go back there again.

Left Betty’s house at 7:30 and waded up 51st Ave in a torrential downpour. Windshield wipers on high, with the usual Phoenix drivers blasting by us. I don't exactly know why but about every tenth driver in Phoenix seems to think that rain means to speed up and change lanes as often as possible. Saw a white Toyota spun out and facing the wrong direction on the eastbound shoulder of the 101 (where else?). A teenaged girl was standing next to it with an indignant look that said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with this car! I was only dong 85!” She probably hydro-planed, which is so dangerous. At my high school reunion I heard the story of one of my classmate’s sister who was killed near Burro Creek on treacherous 93, along with her kids, as a truck hydro-planed right into her.

Met Deena’s old roommate, Diane, at Albertson’s at Desert Ridge. She has a cat named Guapo (Handsome) that they were giving away (Her roommate is allergic to cats). We’ve got roof rats, kangaroo rats and the worst of the worst, pack rats. Those sticky traps seem so inhumane and messy so we decided to call in a professional rat-buster. It’s a male cat, sandy colored, but we’re considering a name change. My first nomination was “Blondie” as in Clint Eastwood’s character in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Kathy said nothing, but after 26 years of marriage I got the message that she thought the name was El Lame-o. My next Old West obsessed idea was to rename him Kitty Carson, or Kit for short. Same look from Kathy. She said she might consider Custer. Actually her name is probably the more accurate handle since the ratio of cats to coyotes and the odds of him surviving out here in the high Sonoran desert are about as good as Custer’s at the Little Bighorn.

Woke up this morning and took the dogs for a bike ride at about eight. Whipped out ten sketches for a new project we’re developing.

I just checked on Kitty Custer, and he's completely taken over Deena's old room. Gave me that look, "You can live here another day or so, but after that, I want to see you gone."

Mark Boardman and his girlfriend are down in Tombstone attending the makeover charrette deal they are running this weekend. I encouraged Mark to go heeled but I don’t think he took my advice.

”If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
—Mark Twain


Saturday, September 03, 2005

September 3, 2005
Kathy and I had a great time down in the Beast last night. Met Jeff and Michele Miller and Ed and Rose Marie Mell at Comedor de Guadalajara (Guadalajara, Mexico style food) down in south Phoenix at Central and I-17. Great place, very large, three big rooms with roving mariachis.

I had the tacquitos de barbacoa (goat head meat tacos), and Kathy had the mole enchiladas (1) and said it was quite good. I paid the trio of strolling mariachis $6 to play “La Bamba.” I know it’s an anglo cliche, but Man I love that tune! I actually bought the Richie Valens’ 45 in the summer of 1958 when we came down to Phoenix for the little league state championship. I remember I paid a buck for it in a drugstore at 35th Ave. and Bethany Home Road. I memorized the entire song phonetically (I knew no Spanish at the time), and last night I amazed and no doubt horrified, the mariachis with my bellowing, “Yo no soy maninero!” (I am not a captain?). Of course I also had to drum on the table to boot and spike in from time to time with chirping Mexican style yee-ha-on-de-lays.

Yes, we had two pitchers of margaritas.

Total bill was $128, which we split three ways, although Jeff put in an extra five, even though the gratuity was included ($18).

Afterwards we all drove up to Central and Roosevelt for First Friday, which is this artwalk event that has been going on for about two years now and has grown to epic size proportions. Earlier this summer they had 10,000 show up. Really amazing considering it is in a part of town that used to be the worst, derelict section of the entire Valley. In fact, remember when Danny Bonnaduce, formerly of the Partridge Family, picked up the Native American transvestite and got arrested? Well, the park where he “hired” her, is now part of the artwalk (the actual park is gone and now an empty lot) and had all sorts of booths and vendors. Amazing.

We walked the whole street, stopping at small, galleries like 515, where I saw Kenny Richardson, Ed’s assistant. Most of the art was too hip for the room, for my taste, sort of conceptualized beyond the talent to produce it. Example: a series of images with statements like, “I am a Christian” and then underneath in faint type is the punchline, “But I access porn at work.” Heavy.

Still, it was inspiring to me and I realized two things: young girls sure have a bunch of tattoos they are going to regret, and I need to push my art a little bit more, at least color wise.

“When you’re safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home.”
—Thorton Wilderr

Friday, September 02, 2005

September 2, 2005
My office computer sighed and died at about ten this morning. It’s barely a year old, some Mac-ish blue-glass-state of the art deal. The entire production department is on vacation so I had no one to help me resuscitate it. I hate to admit this, but I felt naked without it. No wonder my office is a mess. I hide on my computer and “work” all day long. I also hate to admit it, but I think I’m addicted to Email. I get upset when I don’t have “good” Emails, I tell myself I’ll just answer one, I deserve a little nip, then I look up and it’s three hours later. But I don’t think it’s a problem because I’m still getting my work done.

I chose to think of it as a blessing. I cleaned and organized several piles, filled out a bank deposit, answered several phone calls, had lunch with Mad Coyote Joe at Saba’s (a new Greek food place up in Carefree, had gonzpachiga type salad, I made that up, it's Greek to me, and iced tea, Joe the same, $11 cash, includes tip), went to the bank, dropped in at El Pedrigal to affirm Kathy’s choice of a late wedding present salt and pepper shakers for Ed and Rose Marie Mell. Then came home, fired up my studio computer, got online and checked my Email.

Painted a new passage on the big Mexican storm picture, trying to add more dramatic color. Not happening. Feel incompetent. Made a conscious decision not to check my Email.

Swam laps instead. Did ten passes. Still hot out. Buddy Boze Hatliller came out and laid down right next to the water, on the semi-cool deck and watched me the whole time with some disinterest.

My wife listens to Air America so naturally, she wants to take in four refugees from New Orleans. She told me she has requested four black men between the ages of 19 and 29. I have no problem with this as long as they check their AK-47s at the door and I’m trying to be positive and I’m hoping that perhaps one of them can fix my computer so I can check my Email.

”No matter what kind of trouble a man has, he is sure to prefer some other kind.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 01, 2005

September 1, 2005
Well the ripples from hurricane Katrina are reaching even our magazine. Got this Email this morning: “Lynne from NSFS [our subscription service] called today to let us know that issues to southern Louisiana and other areas affected by the hurricane will not be able to receive mail. She said that they will not print labels for these areas until the PO lets them know it is ok to do so.”
—Carole Glenn

At noon today I had a speech out at The Community of Joy Lutheran Church in Glendale. Fellow Lutheran-raised Iowa-Boy, Mike Melrose went with me. I guessed correctly that we’d have chicken with potato salad for lunch. No green jello though (kind of disappointing). The pastor, Dr. Paul Mork, introduced me in the huge auditorium with a full orchestra stage behind us with drum risers and a full set of Rogers cloistered behind glass. Conspicuous by its absence: an organ. Paul admitted he misses the old church music, but the pop tunes makeover is totally dominant today, and, according to Paul, it started about 20 years ago. He told a story that the first Sunday when two guest musicians brought in guitars, a prominent Lutheran woman walked out of the church. Up next? Hip hop, Yo Man, Wassup, Dog? Count on it.

Speech was just okay (I’m a tad rusty, haven’t had a speech in several months). Got a decent stipend for the speech and on the way back to the office I offered to buy gas for Mike’s pick-up but he graciously declined saying he didn’t want to take half my money (we’re at 2.99 unleaded, and 3.18 super). Mike’s parents, Andy and Diane Melrose, of Charles City, Iowa were mentioned prominently in the introduction by Pastor Mork.

We received 23 more framed CGII artwork pieces today. About 25 more to go.

A guy from Texas called the office today and ordered two “I’m Your Huckleberry” t-shirts. He’s blind, listens to the magazine on tape from the Library of Congress. We need to put something up on our site here about this service as there are so many who would benefit from it.

Mark Boardman, Meghan Saar and I went over the cover ideas for the October issue. Got some good things going, although we are still wrestling with it.

”To succeed in the world it is much more necessary to possess the [wisdom] to discover who is a fool than to discover who is a clever man.”
—Talleyrand De Perigord