Monday, October 31, 2005

October 31, 2005
Nice day at home yesterday. Worked on new Honkytonk Sue illustrations for 2006. We’re trying to get ahead. Also worked on cleaning out boxes in the studio. Found great photo reference for Mickey Free that I had forgotten I have. Took the dogs on four bike rides. On every single ride they acted like they haven’t been on a ride in years.

Today is Halloween dress-up day at the True West offices. Robert Ray came dressed as Mike Melrose, Abby as a farmgirl, Sue Lambert as Zorra, Meghan as a She Devil, Joel as a doctor (“At home I’m a gynecologist,” Joel assures me). I came as a college graduate, complete with Tommy’s gown and a blank diploma. Fitting because I don’t have a degree. Yes, I quit college six units shy of a degree, but I have been planning to go back and finish for 36 years. And counting.

As I was cleaning my studio this past weekend I found Dale Carnagie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” My book mark was on page 142. So typical. I’m so ADD I started the book, then went on to something else (just like college!). Made a vow to finish it this time. Read quite a bit on Saturday and Sunday. Great wisdom and insights. I think the strongest thing I realized is that I need to admit and own my mistakes more (see yesterday’s Email from Frank). I’ve made so many boneheaded mistakes running True West it’s amazing we are still standing. Still, with all the Monday morning quarterbacking going on right now I appreciate Bob and Trish Brink standing by me on the decision to go with the gay cover story. It’s situations like this where you really see who your allies are. This is not to say the people who don’t want the subject even mentioned in the magazine, are against me, although some definitely are. No, they have a very valid point. It’s distasteful to them and they don’t want the subject thrust in their face. I understand that and sympathize with their concerns. Even our newsstand consultants are against the cover, sending us an Email last week predicting dire newsstand results.

Still, the verdict on whether the issue is a success or not, is still out. The movie that is causing all the fuss and generated our coverage, Brokeback Mountain, will come out next month and I hope, by then, the context of our cover will make more sense to our old guard readers. We shall soon see.

And speaking of the movie and the star of it, Deena came out Friday night and we were watching tv when an ad for Jake Gyllenhaal’s new movie, Jarhead came on.

Deena: "I love Jake Gyllenhaal!"

Dad: "Really? Are you going to go see Brokeback Mountain when it comes out?”

Deena (looking at me with a sly look): “Yes, Dad, with you.”

Ha. Now I have to go. And I do have a problem with it (the trailer made me squirm like a castrated dog).

“People will have problems with it, but it’s kind of hard to disagree with what the movie is about. It’s a story about people struggling with how to love each other.”
—Jake Gyllenhaal
October 29, 2005
Samantha tells me this month's online orders are rivaling last year’s numbers (when we had the lifetime Maniac memberships in full swing). She attributes it to the increased exposure we are getting in the marketplace, and also to the great deals they are offering over there. Check them out in the shopping cart. You can access it right here.

Kathy and I attended a big wedding reception for Ed and Rose Marie Mell at the Hermosa Inn in the afternoon. Great food, wonderful setting. The historic restaurant and lobby were built by legendary Arizona artist Lon Megargee in the 1920s, I believe. Sat outside and talked to photographer Jon Gipe. Saw Bob Steinhilber (he did the custom lettering for Classic Gunfights), James and Linda Ballinger (Phoenix Art Museum director) and many other Phoenix natives. The Mell family has deep roots in the Valley and many oldtime families were in attendance.

Afterwards, Kathy and I drove over to Glendale to visit Mother Radina. She took us out to eat at Lito’s, a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place at about 47th Ave. and Dunlap.Enjoyed visiting with her. She always has such wisdom.

This morning I got this Email from Frank in New York state:

"I took my grandson to the Williamson NY gun club to do some target shooting this morning. We stopped into the club house for coffee and there were about 8-10 gunnies there.

"We were all [talking] and your magazine came up [the gay issue].Now you must remember we in western NY are not like those NYC boys we are most right wing rednecks.

"Well, anyway, one guy used this TW issue as a target and he put a nice pattern in it I must say and two other guys said if you guys publish one more issue like that they will stick to Wild West Magazine. All the other guys have never read your magazine and two never heard of it and all wanted to know if the publisher was a gay advocate."

"Never judge a book by its cover, except on the newsstand."
—Old Publisher saying

Friday, October 28, 2005

October 28, 2005
The Los Angeles Times’ Sunday Magazine is doing an upcoming feature on Wyatt Earp and a fact checker from the paper named Meryl called me to go over my quotes (Leo Banks of Tucson wrote the piece some time ago and they’re finally getting set to run it on November 13th). The newest twist on fact checking is they won’t tell you the actual quotes. Evidently, people often try to soften or change what they said to protect themselves. I understand the problem because we have sent articles to people mentioned in our mag, mostly to check for historical accuracy, and they invariably bridle at certain things and try to retract them, it’s only human. So Meryl’s job is quite tricky. She said things like, "Did you say something about Wyatt Earp and a jerk?" And I said, "Well, that depends on the context." I often tell the story of my grandmother in Kingman claiming “Wyatt Earp was the biggest jerk to ever walk the West." But that's her saying it, not me. And Meryl would say, “Well, that’s kind of what you’re quoted as saying,” and I would say, “read me the quote,” and she’d say, “I can’t.” And I’d say, “Then why are we talking?” And she’d go on and say, “Did you say something about Wyatt being a pimp and a long time offender?" And I said, "Probably. Can you give me any context?" And she’d say, "Not really." And I finally said, "Well, Meryl, I think I have to trust that Leo quoted me correctly and leave it at that."

One thing I did catch is we came out first with the story of Wyatt Earp as a pimp in Peoria, Illinois in 1872, not our competitor Wild West. So, it was worth the call to get that straightened out.

9•11 really played havoc with our newsstand sell thrus. It looks like we’re in for another bloodbath. We just got this news from our newsstand consultants:

Hurricane Wilma, the 12th hurricane of the season, struck southern Florida
from Key West to Daytona Beach on Monday with damaging winds, severe
flooding, power outages and tornadoes. The storm's effects on magazine
distribution in Central Florida, South Florida, and the Suncoast are still
being felt at week's end. Many shipment points remain closed or their
operation is seriously hindered.

Anderson Services' West Palm/Riviera Beach depot still reports no power and
no phone service, but little damage to the structure. Approximately 50% of
the stores serviced by the depot are refusing deliveries, with most
refusals concentrated in South Palm Beach County. A curfew is currently
being enforced outside of the hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and gas purchases
are limited to $20.00 maximum (approximately 7 gallons of gas).

Our January issue closed yesterday and our current sales staff is to be commended. Starting in a hole, because of the resignation of Mike Melrose, Sue Lambert, Joel Klasky and newcomer, George Laibe, worked overtime to bring the issue in 41% higher than last year’s issue. We promised them a steak dinner at Maestro’s, a very expensive restaurant down at Pinnacle Peak if they could get us to the winner’s circle and they did it! Really amazing. I came back from my probing physical Wednesday, and Trish had posted a big sign on my door, saying, "We did it!" with the final dollar number underneath. I went into the sales room, dropped my daytimer on the floor, fell to my knees and genuflected several times in their direction, all the while saying, "Thankyou, oh, Great Ones! Thankyou!" I didn't tell them about my rectal probe, but coming off that uncomfortable experience it was quite a thrill to come back to such a positive punchline. Not to beat a dead horse but I feel like we really pulled one out of our collective rectum.

“Rectum?! Damn near killed ‘em!”
—Old joke that Wonderful Russ enjoys running into the ground

Thursday, October 27, 2005

October 27, 2005
I woke up this morning to stereo cement trucks, one on each side of the house, bleeping and blatting those irritating back-up signals over and over. We’ve got a big ol’ house going up to the south of us, and they’re totally remodeling the “Muffy” house to the north of us.

Yesterday at four I had half a physical, ending with the much dreaded "turn your head and cough," examination and for the finale, a plastic gloved finger up the off-ramp to the Bell Road Exit. Lisa was the PA who performed the deed and as I bent over the table I asked her how many of these she performs in a typical day. Seven or eight was the answer. "So, at lunch do you say things like, ‘Well I got to go back to work and probe an old man?" She laughed more than I did. A night of fasting and bloodwork follows next Tuesday.

Last night Kathy talked me into going to restorative yoga at Black Mountain Gym. I hate going mostly because it’s all women and they stretch into every position imaginable with such ease and to me a good stretch is picking up my wallet off the bedroom floor without having to get down on my hands and knees. On a desperate down dog deal, the yoga woman came over and sat on my rump to get it to go down. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my rump was really getting tired of being abused by female health professionals. Felt good though.

Just before noon today, I got a call from Gordon Smith telling me Michael Lacey was on NPR being interviewed about the Village Voice buyout. I had to go down into the Beast to Dan Harshberger’s studio so I got in the truck and gave a listen on the way down. Lacey is so amazing. He manages to savage the interviewer for being subsidized by the government and then he hangs up, and experts and enemies from around the country have at Lacey and New Times, as if his newspaper company is the Soviet Union. And to think this little ol’ hippie newspaper started next door to a pizza parlor on Mill Avenue in 1970. I joined the paper in March of 1978 for $110 a week and did basically seven jobs, from writer to art director to photographer to columnist (“Scoops!”) to cartoonist (Honkytonk Sue) to cover art to ad layouts and ad art. There were six of us working on the second floor of the Westward Ho Hotel in a bad part of town (there were bums lying outside our door and you had to step over them to get in, and the only difference between the bums and the guys who worked at New Times is that the bums had better taste in pants).

Got to Dan’s studio at ten to one. He was bugged that I interrupted his lunch (which he takes in his house four steps away from his studio). We went over features layouts, the January cover, a new featurette we are producing and a top secret project.

Drove back out and had lunch at the house (three reheated tacos by Bell), then started the Jesse Evans vs. The Texas Rangers art.

Last night I went over to Floyd Brooks’ ranch and took photos of his prime stud Mr. Rockafeather, who sired the 1997 World Champion Paint Reiner and is an 80% producer on solid mares. At eighteen hands high, the Rock is mighty studly. I asked Floyd if he was difficult to handle and he said, "With all studs you have to keep your eye on them all the time because he’ll put your belly button right up against your tail bone in a heartbeat." Man, I love old cowboy talk like that! You can’t make up that stuff.

Found out at the post office that Rick Klein has passed. Former Monkees roadie and all around good guy. He was once married to Kathy's college roommate. He died October 14th.

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”
—Joseph Pulitzer

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

October 26, 2005
One of Cave Creek’s living legends came by the office two days ago. Floyd Brooks, horse trainer extraordinaire, wanted to give us a story idea. Great stunt men of the Old West. Great idea. Floyd also has a big, off-white stallion I want to go by and see. Going by there on the way to my annual physical this afternoon.

Got a haircut at one from my neighbor Bev. She had me in stitches telling stories about our mutual neighbor JD. She also had a cure for the packrats in my ‘49 Ford. “Give the car to us.” Funny. ($20 cash, includes tip). Paul the Barber came in limping. Bad bone spur in his ankle, he says. Bev’s selling out. Wants more time at home and at their cabin in Payson. Everyone my age is retiring or playing golf. Salty Richardson plays every day, trying to get his score down.

Rounded up art reference for the Texas Rangers vs. Jesse Evans gunfight this morning. Going to be a good one. Thanks Chuck Parsons!

Proof that marrying a younger woman named Heather has its downside:
Sir Paul McCartney was out with his young wife when she recognized his voice in a song playing in the background. “She recognized my voice,” the cute Beatle mused in Rolling Stone, “and said, ‘Is this you?’ I said, ‘Yes, darling. It’s called ‘Get Back.’ It’s quite famous.”

Kathy told me this morning that if I really loved our house I’d clean my studio. She’s right, but I hate that kind of pressure because. . .

“Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue, but carried to extremes narrows the mind.”
—François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

October 25, 2005
As you know, Gus the Mapinator, is leaving us next month. I set up a final jam session for November 23rd in the office and Mike Torres is coming out to gig, with me on drums. So, True West magazine is looking for a creative, edgy, map nut, who loves great design, and funky treasure maps. Must know 3-D, illustrator, Quark Xpress and In Design. Email me at the above address if you want the gig.

Our phone women, Samantha, Sheri and Carole are the best. Last week I wrote about a guy from Utah who was livid about the gay issue, wanted his money back. Samantha suggested I write him a letter and I did, telling him we wanted to hear his side of the debate. He called today and Carole answered the phone. She tells what happened next:

"I told him that we accepted that there are many points of view and we were not promoting any of them — just reporting. It really struck a nerve with him."

He un-cancelled his Maniac membership and is writing a letter to the editor. That is so cool, I can’t begin to tell you. The other thing is that most people are literally stunned when the girls answer the phone. "Whoa! Excuse me, is this a real person?" is the most common response they get. "Yes, we’re real and we’re not in India!" is the answer they've been trained to say back.

I got the film back from the plein air art trip and one of them is of the boys under the Kaiser Springs Bridge. I told them if they do a hip-hp album this is their CD cover. Kaiser Springs is off to the left. That’s T. Charles on the left and Carson Mell on the right. I also got a nice one of Ed Mell behind his oil transformer on the backside of the Hualapais and I’ll run that one tomorrow.

Two of my old underground friends are worth $400 million today. Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin just bought the Village Voice newspaper chain, bringing their newspaper holdings to 17 papers, I believe. Back in the mid-1970s when I was thinking of going to work for them at New Times, a person who I greatly admire and trust told me not to get involved because they would never amount to anything. Fortunately, that loan officer is no longer at our bank.

"Lord, Grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish."

Monday, October 24, 2005

October 24, 2005
I came into the office this Monday morning expecting the worst. Last Friday we received some very nasty phone calls with cancellations and abuse for our staff. I spent a good part of the weekend wondering and worrying just how bad it would get.

This morning I received this Email:

"I'm sure you'll get hate mail about the ‘gay western’ theme in the Nov/Dec magazine so wanted to say thank you for being willing to address the subject. As both a reader and an advertiser I value the articles about the 'true' west, especially if it breaks down stereotypes. Thanks for your courage!"
—Richard Beal, Beal’s Cowboy Buckles

More gay, or should that be 'shmay' fallout?

"Gay, shmay--Neil Williams has zeroed in on the real controversy in the latest issue of True West. Namely, Johnny Boggs, whatchoo smokin', son? My Darling Clementine is his favorite Wyatt Earp movie? If a fellow's going to hold those kind of socially unacceptable notions, he's got to be prepared to defend 'em. Skin that Mont Blanc and blaze away, Boggs!

"Shocking as that was, however, it wasn't enough to make me cancel my subscription."
—Emma Bull

"These kinds of emails make all the crap almost worth it."
—Charlie Waters, veteran newspaperman

We’ve got a new poll question up. How do you view Kit Carson? Go vote!
a. Intrepid scout and soldier
b. Genocidal Indian hater
c. TV Western hero

"Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, October 23, 2005

October 23, 2005
Made homemade margaritas and tacos last night. Bill Glenn drove over from Fountain Hills to join Tomcat, Kathy and I. Afterwards we watched Bill O'Reilly on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Both handled themselves very well, like two heavyweights punching each other in the face but not backing down. Both were very funny. Then watched The Colbert Report, which was also very funny. Both are on the Comedy Channel.

Tomas brought me a present from Flag, a CD of Calexico, a Tucson group he particularly likes. We went up to the new camera shop, Ritz Camera, and listened to it. Lots of twang and mariachi sounds. Tucson is so hip in that vein and always have been. The Dusty Chaps were doing Country Rock five years before the Eagles.

Unfortunately, The Ritz, had a machine down and didn't have my prints. The kid working there grabbed my negs and told me I could go down into the Beast and get them developed at another store. I told him, no, I want you to develop them, like you said you would yesterday when I left them here. I also told him this was my first experience with Ritz and that I came down here from Walgreen/s and I'm not happy. Of course, the kid looked at me like, "I don't give a s---, I just work here." Too bad. I wanted to give them my business (I spent, on average, $10K a year at Foothills Photo).

Got up this morning and bailed into more stud drawings and color studies. Inspired by the art trip and Ed Mell's advice. I'm tweaking my clouds with little dabs of yellow and red to "knock them back." Quite astounding, the effects. As with so many things, it's what you leave out, as much as what you put in."

"Sometimes work is more fun than fun."
—Old Vaquero Sayingy

Saturday, October 22, 2005

October 22, 2005
Tomcat is in Flag visiting his "homies." He's got my truck and is supposed to return this afternoon.

I had dinner with a tv producer on Thursday night. He's in town to talk about doing a documentary on the Cowboy Artists of America, whose annual show opened last night. We ate at the Pink Pony, a venerable steakhouse in Oldtown Scottsdale. I had a ribeye, medium well, with baked potato and house salad with bleau cheese. He had the same, although he had a beer and I had a glass of cabernet ($48, I bought, incudes tip). We talked about the state of the biz, rumors and several projects he is doing including a finished doc on the Comanches that airs on the History Channel in November.

Earlier in the evening, Bob and Trish Brink, Joel and Laury Klasky and I manned a booth at the Thursday night Artwalk on Main Street. Handed out hundreds of mags and talked up the locals. Big crowd, maybe six thousand or so. Ran into Arizona Republic reporter Dolores Tropiano who blushed telling everyone I was her very first interview many years ago, and that she was so nervous. Funny. She wants to do an article on the mag and my new book (still more residual benefits from the press release sent out a month ago).

Got home about midnite. Long day, but good promotion for the magazine. I was quite impressed with everyone for giving up their evening to help the cause. We had a couple of people approach us about advertising, so that was worth the effort right there.

On Friday, Trish and crew burned up the phone lines to bring ad sales for the January issue into he winner's circle. We are already 10% higher than last year and Robert Ray offered to give them another couple of days to bring the number closer to 20%. This kind of cooperation from production speaks well of Trish’s leadership and her relationship with Robert is very encouraging to me. In the past there has been a nasty adversarial deal which didn’t help the bottom line at all.

Beautiful weather out this weekend. Took two bike rides in the morning, going all the way to the creek up on Rockaway Hills. Buddy Boze Hatkiller jumped right in the water and slurped around. Ran into JD on the road and told him about more packrats in the ‘49 Ford. This is the third time I’ve had them. I've hosed 'em, put cayenne pepper all over the engine, and they still come back. He recommended a have-a-heart trap, and said he captures at least one or two packrats a day. I asked him what he does with them and he said, “I drown ‘em.” Ha. Some heart.

Came back and picked cholla out of the engine of the '49 and hosed down everything. Called Eric to come out and replace the chewed wiring.

Went into the studio and whipped out six drawings and prepped three big watercolor boards for the Mexicali Stud story. When Ed Mell and I were on the roof last Tuesday looking at a dramatic sunset I asked him how he would paint the back of the bright orange clouds rolling over our heads in the technicolor twilight. He told me he would back in some red and yellow (into the blue) to deaden the backs and that he would also deaden the blue part of the sky, which he said was “too electric.” He confided to me that many artists try to match the actual blue, which we were seeing quite vividly, but that it gets too electric and kills the actual sunset effect. He told me if you deaden the blue just a skosh, and the back of the clouds (away from the highlights) it makes the highlights jump right up and sing. Man, that was worth the whole damn plein air trip right there.

“It's easy to stop making mistakes. Just stop having ideas.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, October 21, 2005

October 21, 2005
One of the history field's classiest guys is getting a formal dinner to honor his achievements. Naturally, I sent Richard Dillon one of our Homos On The Range postcards ( he has a great sense of humor, plus I sent some other more tasteful items). Dick will be honored November 4th at The World Trade Club, One Ferry Plaza, San Francisco.

Speaking of One Ferry Plaza, I got a phone call this morning from a mad Maniac regarding the gay issue. "I’m a Mormon. I’m a registered Republican. I voted for George W. Bush. I live in a red state. And I won’t be preached at!" I was tempted to say, "Ah, excuse me sir, but who’s preaching to whom? We’re just trying to have a conversation about a valid part of history." But, when someone is that far gone around the bend, it does no good. I just told him I’m sorry he feels that way.

For every negative comment I have received, I’ve gotten good ones like this one:

“Ha ha ha!! Your new cover is MOST entertaining. First I see a great rendering of Clint, then I spy the two banditos locked in a big ol' dusty kiss . . . WOW! ha ha ha You get my coveted ‘Cover of the Month.’ All this AND ‘Black Bart Gets Off’ ? funny stuff

But this has been my favorite one so far:
“Just read the new issue. It was, and I say this with affection, the most f-----up True West ever. The ‘Homos on the Range’ slant is all fine and well; brave even, considering your target readership. But Johnny Boggs' confession that Harris Yulin is his favorite Wyatt Earp is the humdinger of f------uppedness. Pure sacrilege. Does he just delight in being contrary or are you testing whether we actually read the small print? Inquiring minds want to know.”
—C. Neil Williams

Harris Yulin played Wyatt Earp in the 1970s movie Doc, where Stacey Keach played Doc Holliday.

“Jim Croce didn't sing 'Cat's in the Cradle.' Harry Chapin did. The two were both singer/songwriters. But Jim died in a plane crash. Harry died in a car wreck.”
—Mark Boardman

I am constantly looking for inspiration on how to do my job better. Carole sent me this today: As Dr. Edward Hall, an inventor of the theory of personal space (Proxemics) said in 1960...

"Like the creative composer, some people are more gifted at living than others. They do have an effect on those around them, but the process stops there because there is no way of describing in technical terms just what it is they do, most of which is out of awareness.

"Some time in the future, a long time from now when culture is more completely explored, there will be the equivalent of musical scores that can be learned, each for a different type of man or woman in different jobs and relationships, for time, space, work, and play.

"We see people who are successful and happy today, who have jobs which are rewarding and productive. What are the sets, isolates, and patterns that differentiate their lives from those of the less fortunate? We need to have a means of making life a little less haphazard and more enjoyable. That day has now come through the power of modeling.”

“Nobody told me how hard and lonely change is.”
—Joan Gilbertson

Thursday, October 20, 2005

October 20, 2005
On Monday, Ed Mell, his son Carson, my son Thomas and I left Wickiup and drove down highway 93 to Kaiser Springs and got out under the new bridge to take some photos. Spectacular canyon, maybe 900 feet high, perhaps 15 feet wide at the bottom with straight up vertical walls. Really dramatic. For the past five decades I’ve craned my neck around every time I drive by this spot, wondering what it’s like up inside. Still didn’t make it in because of the rain (Zonie common sense: don’t go wandering into a slot canyon when it’s raining anywhere within fifty miles).

From the Burro Creek Wilderness, we took the Bagdad turnoff and went up to the oddly named Arizona mining town. Evidently, two "salty prospectors" staked the original claims in 1882. The two claims were named The Hawkeye and the Bagdad (misspelled but it stuck). The reason for the name has been lost although a Kingman teacher, Mr. Boyson, told us kids on a field trip that a father and son were prospecting nearby and the kid said, "Pass me another bag, dad." It’s probably not true, but it never fails to get a groan when I tell it.

After a picnic in Hillside, we drove on through dramatic thunder showers, thru Skull Valley and Kirkland and on into Prescott. Ed has a wonderful cabin not far from Thumb Butte and we rode out the rain and ate grilled steaks and twice-baked-potatoes. I sketched and read. Delightful.

We went downtown between showers and walked down Whiskey Row to get a beer at the famous Palace Bar (Steve McQueen got in a big fight here in the movie Junior Bonner, remember?). But before we could get there, out steps Wyatt Earp and his wife Terry from a store nearby. After a big chat (they hadn’t seen the New Times piece on Wyatt) we went inside the store they were just coming out of and I bought Kathy a Kit Carson pendant of a crow with a kernel of truth in its beak ($60 cash).

Drove home Tuesday afternoon under dramatic skies, getting home about five. Ed shot a roll of film up on the crow’s nest and said with a smile, "Well, there’s my next show."

“Okay, 6 days have passed. What’s Brook’s version?”
—Curt Rich, True West Maniac #244

I’ve placed two calls to Brook at the Camelback Inn, basically pleading for her forgiveness. “Brook is on property,” her secretary told me this morning, “but she’s not answering her page.” Likely story. I offered her, via voice mail, the opportunity to "vent and dress me down good," but as of 11:30 today, no call back, not that I blame her. According to someone who dealt with her last weekend, I allegedly called her a few choice names that I don’t recall saying, but then, that’s the nature of history (he said—she said).

In my defense I mentioned the $85 courtesy phone charge to my daughter Deena who worked the front desk at the Doubletree last year and she was appalled, saying "What has happened to customer service?" My sentiments exactly.

One of the most respected book dealers in the country called me this morning and said he has sold out twice now with Blaze Away: The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral. Bob Pugh said one of his most stickler customers pronounced it, "Flawless." This made my day, especially with the petty criticism emanating from a certain Tombstone resident.

"To be satisfied with little is hard, to be satisfied with a lot is impossible."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

October 19, 2005
I was cleaning my studio this morning (imagine that!) and found staff meeting notes from December of 2000. Allen Fossenkemper suggested “having travel in the four regular True West issues.” This refers to our four regular issues vs. our collector editions. Allen was quite prescient since, we now have travel in every issue and it’s the biggest and best paying ad category in the history of the magazine. Thanks Allen!

Last Saturday Kathy drove Tomas and I over to I-17 and Carefree Highway to meet Ed Mell and his son Carson at 11:30. We piled into Ed's gray Explorer and drove from there over to Wickenburg and landed at the Rancho de Caballeros Guest Ranch southeast of town. Beautiful guest ranch built in the 1940s with funky corrals full of cow ponys. Had a free lunch in the dining room (three meals come with the rooms, which run $450 a night), and after a nap, we got dressed to go in town to the Desert Caballeros Museum for the John Coleman artshow opening. Started with a cocktail party in the museum. Met many of the big names in Western art including Cowboy Artists of America member Bill Owen (turns out he knows my Kingman cowboy cousin Billy Hamilton). John's sculpture was quite good and we admired his vision and scale. Also took some time to gander at all of the Old Masters paintings from Remington, Leigh, Maynard Dixon and Ed Mell. At seven we walked down the street for a formal sit down meal in a small park area between two old buildings. It was a beautiful night, with great food and good cowboy music. At one point the band leader introduced the bass player, who turned out to be Joel Dowling, the bass player in the Razz band for a decade or so. Of course I had to hoot and hollar his name like he was Elvis or something. On break Joel came over and said, “I heard you had a triple by-pass and a pec lift,” to which I said, “Well, you’re half right.” Actually he was dead wrong on all accounts but it sounded better the other way, and frankly, I half enjoy the vicious rumors.

On Sunday morning we stopped at Bashas’ and got steaks and twice-baked-potatoes for the ranch house ($28 debit, plus $40 cash), and took off for Wickiup. Stopped at the Santa Maria River and hiked back up into the foothills looking for a shot of Shiprock, a massive sandstone butte, but never did get a good angle at it. Felt good to be out in the wilds though and we worked up a sweat. We had been warned by Tom Carpenter to be on the lookout for meth labs, so we were armed and dangerous. We did manage to rustle up a dad and four or five tow-headed campers, but we didn’t kill them.

From there we stopped at Nothing, and got nothing. And we also stopped at Burro Creek and hiked up the river a tad. Really a pretty area.

Stopped for lunch at Luchia’s five miles north of Wickiup ($22 cash I paid). Great little oasis in the middle of a butt-ugly draw. A pond, grass, peacocks and wild fish. Sat outside. Had a tuna salad on whole wheat and homemade banana cream pie. Pulled into the Cane Springs Ranch at four, moved into the back ranch house, then took off up the draw for our first plein air painting setup. Got up on a long mesa and set up on the side of the road. Ed has a full boat oil painting rig with adjustable legs, sort of a transformer meets Red Adair oil rig. I sat in a camp chair and held my water bottle and gouache pallette as we both took a stab at the head of Bull Canyon and the back side of the Hualapais, as the boys took off up the road looking for adventure. I was quite nervous having never plein air painted, but I quickly got the hang of it. Real life is lit so much more pale than photos, and you see so much more tonal shifts than you do in the studio. It is intimidating though, with 360 degrees of choices and it’s a tad hard for me (Mr. Attention Disorder Hisself) to narrow down the field of vision. Painted until dark, got some good washes. I also whipped up two pen and inks of the Aquarius Mountains off to the east. Ed completed his oil study. Really a sweet little $5,000 number. I grew up looking at the Hualapais from the other side, so it was a bit of old home week for me, although they did look strange from the backside.

Got back to the ranch house after dark, made hamburgers and beans (how fitting). Rain came during the night and we woke up to major storm central on Monday morning. Not a good painting environment. Besides being wet, no shadows.

So we bailed on the second night at Cane Springs, and after breakfast at Luchia’s, took off for Prescott where Ed has a cabin. That adventure tomorrow.

“The grass is greener somewhere else. Our thoughts persuade, and we comply. And when we get to someplace else, we find the grass is often dry.”
—Dolores Dahl

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October 18, 2005
We drove hundreds of miles, set up our art equipment on the back side of the Hualapais (west of Cane Springs), looking towards Bull Canyon, got rained out on Monday morning, came back down to Burro Creek, past Kaiser Springs, Bagdad, Hillside, Kirkland, Skull Valley, Williamson Valley, Prescott, Dewey, Humbolt, Cordes Junction, Sunset Point, New River, Anthem, Pioneer, raining all the way. Got home at five tonight, went up on the crow’s nest of my studio and had the most dramatic skies imaginable. Ha. We had driven all over the state and when we got back, the best scenery was on the roof of my house. Too funny.

Many stories in Wickenburg and Wickiup and Prescott. Those stories and more in the morning. I’m beat.

“Some people are always looking for shortcuts, even where the road is straight.”
—Old Vaquero Saying{

Saturday, October 15, 2005

October 15, 2005
Kathy picked me up at 5:15 last night and we drove down into the Beast to meet Tomcat and Deena at Comedor de Guadalajara at Central and I-17. Deena picked up the NYC Boy at Sky Harbor and met us for dinner.

I had the tacquitos de lengua which prompted my bi-lingual daughter to say, “Do you know what you’re ordering?” Yes, actually I did. Tacos with tongue meat. Ha. Very succulent and tasty. T. Charles had been travelling all day (He saw a concert last night in Philadelphia, took the bus for $10 from Phillie’s Chinatown to NYC’s Chinatown, then the E Train across the Hudson to Queens and a bus to LaGuardia. Flew out of there to Denver, with a stopover, and finally into Phoenix at 5:56). So, anyway, he got grumpy and the whole deal went into a tailspin. I paid the strolling mariachis $6 to play La Bamba, but even me playing drums on the table and chirping did nothing to raise the spirits of our boy.

Instead of driving home with us, he went with Deena and met up with Bill Glenn for a night out on the town. As parents, this is disappointing, but then I did worse to my parents, or as Jim Croce put it, “I’ll be comin’ home soon dad, and we’ll have a good time then dad. . .and it occured to me, the boy had grown up just like me. . .”

On the way out, I picked up a New Times in the lobby of Comedor and wondered if they had ran the Wyatt Earp piece. They had, and I wasn’t disappointed in my prediction of their snide coverage. Robrt (yes, he spells it without the e)L. Pela leads with two puns: “Earp. Excuse me,” and “All’s Wyatt on the Western Front.” It’s basically a flip, anything for a laugh interview with our local Wyatt Earp with inane questions like, “How come you’re not wearing a cowboy hat right now?” Here’s the part of the interview where they mention me and my book: “Hey, I heard that Bob Boze Bell’s new book about Wyatt Earp ‘dethrones Tombstone’s most famous resident.’ What does that mean?”

Wyatt’s diplomatic response: “I don’t know. I read it cover to cover and didn’t find anything objectionable.”

NT: “Why does Bell have Earp on the cover of this month’s True West magazine with a big red X through his face?”

Earp: “It’s all hype. We love to scandalize our heroes.”

I woke up this morning to a critical response to my Arizona Republic piece that ran last Sunday. Here’s the letter under the headline Find yourself a new frontier, Bob:

"Bob Boze Bell wrote that if Texas is excluded from the region known as the frontier West then “there goes all of the James gang robberies.” The 12 banks the James gang robbed were in Missouri, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota and Kansas.

"Some people speculate that the James brothers hung out in Texas for a while (but then some people speculate Jesse James died in 1951, too).

"Even so, what would make the Texas of the late 1880s part of the “frontier” at that time—simply because if was largely rural? In his attempt to glamorize butchery and banditry, Bell gets confused over what constitutes frontier territory.

"Better go back to being a radio DJ, Bob!"
—George Ertel, Scottsdale

Never mind that I was refuting the original author’s contention that there were less than a dozen bank robberies in all the frontier from 1850 to 1900, and that certainly Texas would be considered part of the frontier in that time span (I never said it was in the “late 1880s”), and to a large degree West Texas especially in the Big Bend area west to El Paso has been a lawless frontier all the way up to at least 1953 (some would contend all the way up to today with drug running and such).

I was rather miffed, but Kathy just read it and laughed. “They spelled your name right, what are you bitching about?” Ah, you gotta love those Germanic women.

I’m packing to leave on the plein air art trip. Tomcat and I are leaving at 11 to meet Ed and Carson Mell and we’re heading up into the wilds of the Burro Creek wilderness. I’ll try to post from the Cane Springs Ranch if I can.

“The farther up the flagpole you go, the more people can see your rear end.”
—Old Vaquero Saying


Friday, October 14, 2005

October 14 , 2005 Bonus Blog
Big dust-up yesterday at the Western History Association convention at the Camelback Inn. I had a speech at the downtown Rotary at noon. Speech went well. Only 18 in attendance but they bought $400 worth of books! Go figure. You can never underestimate the buying power of a well-read crowd. I have had speeches to 300 where I have sold nothing. Crowd dynamics is an amazing thing. As Brian Label quipped to me last weekend, “The longer I’m in this business, the less I know.”

Got to the Camelback Inn Conference Center at about 1:30 and with the official True West dolly loaded in our magazines and books to booth #18. All the big University presses were there. Got set up and asked my neighbors, Western Writers of America, what time it was, since I had a phone interview to do with KTAR radio at 3:30. Kathryn Swarthout (whose late husband, Glendon, wrote The Shootist) told me she would alert me to when the time came close. Ted Simon’s producer told me on Wednesday they preferred not to do the interview on a cell phone, and encouraged me to find a “land line.” I didn’t think that would be a problem in a place as classy as the Camelback Inn (four or five stars). I easily found a courtesy phone around the corner from our booth and called the operator. She curtly told me I couldn’t call out from this phone. When I asked her where I could find a land line phone, she told me to use my room phone and when I told her I wasn’t staying at the hotel she suggested a pay phone. I said, “I’m going to be doing a live radio interview with KTAR from your hotel and you’re telling me you can’t help me?” She gave me the standard “Sir, I’ll need to call you back” routine, and five minutes later, the phone rang and a young lady named Brook asked me what the problem was. When I told her, she said she would be glad to procure me a phone. I started to thank her profusely, but then she added, “for an $85 charge.” I was stunned. “Are you kidding me?” I barked. Actually there was another word in there, after the “you” and I think there were a couple of other colorful Western expressions following the “me,” that I learned in my formative years as a rear chainman for Thyrogod & Associates in Kingman. I was so steamed. I slammed down the courtesy phone (some courtesy!) and went down the hall to do the interview on one of these new-fangled pay phones. First I had to bum 50 cents off Mrs. Swarthout and when I called the station the clock starts running (you only get 15 minutes and a doomsday digital timer counts down on the display window). There is no phone number on the phone, so the station couldn't call me back. They were in commercials but the producer Steve told me he would alert Ted and try and get me on ASAP.

The interview went great, although I was talking fast with one eye on the phone timer. Although I went out of my way not to mention where I was calling from. I finished with 11 seconds to spare, got in a great plug for the website (three orders already this morning) and went back to the booth and hawked mags and books. At five, Paul Hutton, the executive director of the conference, came by and asked me if he could buy me a beer. As we walked down the hall towards the poolside cantina, Paul said, “You want to tell me your version of what happened with our event coordinator, Brook?”

Brook’s version of the above events tomorrow.

“What a delight it is to make friends with someone you have despised!”
—Old Hotel Concierge Saying
October 14 , 2005
I’ve been on a media blitz with no time to blog. Got home last night late, even later the night before. Attended a top secret history meeting in a dark and dank setting. Much illegal activity involving knives and petty bickering. More on that later.

We got a great letter from Germany this morning: “I still like Bob Boze Bell’s diary and the words of the Old Vaquero. Last week a friend sent me a letter and ended, ‘Life is a matter of wind—if there’s no wind, it doesn’t matter.’ Maybe he met an old vaquero—’kuhhirte’—as we say in Germany.”
—Peter Hast, Krefeld—Traar, Germany

Big art trip coming up tomorrow. Lots to do before I go. Tomcat is flying in tonight. Big dinner planned with the famdam (hint: he misses Mexican food).

“Snow in a Western is bad luck.”
—Old Italian Producer, commenting on Spaghetti Westerns

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October 12 , 2005
My speech last night to the Western Art Associates of the Phoenix Art Museum was a smashing success. They had about 60 members show up at the home of art collectors Fred and Anne Christianson in Paradise Valley. A beautiful home straight out of Town & Country, with acres of original art by all the giants in the Western field. I gave a hearty and enthusiastic talk on authenticity in Western art, and they really got into it. Many questions and good repartee on our combined love of Western art. As they say, I was preaching to the choir. The gentleman who set up the speech, Gerald Montgomery, bought the Suspects (in the Stilwell killing) painting and I had that at the speech and showed it off to much appreciation. In the audience was the legendary Ginger Renner of Charlie Russell fame (her husband was a major collector of Russell art and she is a real hoot herself). She informed me that Bryon Price is coming in this week to stay at her house and that she and him are planning on coming out to see the BBB show this weekend.

Also in attendance was James Ballinger the director of the Phoenix Art Museum and he also talked to me at length about the show. The hosts mentioned they are going to make a trip out to see the show before it comes down. So I’m hopeful that this may result in a few more red dots (when paintings are sold in a gallery they put red dots on the sticker).

From time to time, Carole, Sam and Sheri sometimes give me feedback on the phone calls we get:
Howard Sperry of Spanish Fork, UT called and subscribed for 3 years. He has been buying off newsstand for years. Really enjoys True West and the old west. I asked if he liked anything in particular and he said he usually starts at the beginning and goes straight through. He said he even enjoys the ads and has planned some trips based on information in TW.

Our art director Dan Harshberger is coming out today to go over design issues, and a new “insert” we are considering doing. One of the complaints from old readers of the magazine is they miss the oldtime stories Joe Hosstail Small would run. This led us to wonder if we added an insert, on old pulp paper and loaded it up with our vast archival material (like the funeral of Seldom Seen Smith, circa 1961), would that be a cool thing? Would readers dig that? The problem is, and this is a mind blower to me, if we added 16 pages of the old pulp paper it will cost us an extra $1,200 in paper costs. When we bought the magazine in 1999, pulp paper was the cheapest you could get, but now it’s rare, because nobody uses it anymore, and thus, more expensive than the glossy paper we use today. Mucho ironic, no?

“Politicians are interested in people. Not that it is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.”
—P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October 11, 2005
Drove down into the Beast on auto-pilot at six this morning. Same place, same time: 7:30, Clear Channel Radio Headquarters, only this time I landed two doors south of Tim and Willy’s at Beth and Bill’s Radio Show on KEZ (99.9 FM). This time out I really got to rock. They aren’t as restricted as Tim and Willy and Beth let me off the leash and I ran for 35 minutes! Wow! That was fun and I really got in some fun bits, with great laughs. Of course we had some great material. One of the morning crew, Marty Manning used to date Kathy so we had fun with that. Sam said the interview appearance set off the phones and we got several orders and subscriptions from people listening to the show.

Got out of there at 8:15 and drove over to Sky Harbor to transfer a ticket to Thomas Charles, who is flying in from New York City on Friday. We bought the ticket with my credit card but you have to go down in person to transfer the ticket. You can’t buy a ticket for someone else, lest you pull an Atta Boy into the World Trade Center. So I had to wade through the worst airline terminal mess in the country and from the wrong end! I swear, Sky Harbor has the worst signage of any place, airport or not, that I’ve ever been. And I’ve been going there for years and it doesn't get any easier. In fact, the roads are all corkscrewed with really awful, misleading signs. For example, as you come in off the 202 on the east end, the road Ys and the main road says “Return Rental Car” and nothing else, even though it’s the main road past all the terminals. There must have been a thousand skid marks in front of this as no doubt a thousand cars have veered off, afraid they had missed the road to their terminal.

After that mess, I veered downtown and had huevos rancheros at the Matador ($10 cash, includes tip). Got waited on by a male impersonator. Actually a male who must do female impersonating at night. Or, he might just be a flaming Young Republican who impersonates Ann Coulter, what do I know?

Stopped at Dan Harshberger’s and gave him his copies of Blaze Away! and talked about a quarterly we want to do. From there I drove out to the office, getting back here at ten. Had several meetings about circulation, the quarterly and special events. We need to cut more radio spots for Pro Rodeo Radio. The New York Times is poaching one of our ideas. More on that tomorrow.

I’ve got a speech tonight for the Western Art Associates of the Phoenix Art Museum at a house in Paradise Valley. It’s a pre-party for the guys who help put on the annual Cowboy Artists Show, which opens this week. I was interviewed at length yesterday by a Republic reporter on the significance of the show. A woman is picketing the show this year for not having any female artists in the group and it’s being held in the Phoenix Art Museum which is a public facility. Ironically, someone told me the woman who is suing is a writer in a woman’s group that doesn’t allow men. ha. The world is so funny, I can’t top that. God is the big dog comedian, although sometimes his humor is too rough for human ears.

Got a call from Harold Jayne in Drybrook, Gloshire England yesterday. He loves the magazine and wants to buy a True West calendar. I tried to tell him we are planning one, but it won’t be ready until next year, but he kept saying, “Good, send it to me lad.” So I gave up and told him we’d send it.

“Believe that you have it, and you have it.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

October 9, 2005
This morning’s Arizona Republic held a nice surprise. The Viewpoints editor, Phil Boas, led with my History of Violence piece on the front page of the Viewpoints section. It’s actually a rebuttal to a column that ran this past summer on the “myth of violence” in the Old West. My scratchboard of the Hamlet inspired Ranger holding the sombrero-clad skull and pointing a pistol at it, is quite humungous. A very nice editorial plug for the magazine and the artshow still hanging up at Cowboy Legacy Gallery in Carefree is included. Dan Buck and Mark Boardman were quite helpful in getting the inside skinny on the author’s dubious claims.

If you’d like to see the piece it’s at

And speaking of scratchboard, here’s the final three images documenting the progression from total blackness to some semblance of Chief of Scouts Al Sieber’s visage. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to feather in the mid-tones with the sharp point tool, then get bolder with the mutli-toothed wire brush, and then for full-on high-lights, use the brush hook (sorry, I don’t know what these individual tools are called and this is an old surveying axe-like tool term we used when I was a rear chainman in the 1970s). The brush hook, when used properly, clears out dramatic whites for a bold emphasis.

Yesterday morning I drove down into the Beast to see The Last Mogul at the Fifth Annual Scottsdale Film Festival. It’s a documentary on Lew Wasserman, the agent turned movie mogul who was a dominating force in the entire entertainment biz, raking in fees with rumored mob-tinged percentages for a good half century (he died in 2002). It was quite good, but the doc tried to paint him as somehow tragic, fragile and unfairly dethroned at the end but it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who made hundreds of millions of dollars in a fifty year career, then sold out to the Japanese for billions, with Lew’s personal take-home check a cool $300 million. The doc showed Suzanne Pleschette and others crying, so this diminished clout evidently passes as human suffering in Beverly Hills.

After that film I went outside, met the girls, Deena and Kathy, and got in line to see the next film, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Wow! I really liked this film. It’s about two young intellectuals who are sent to the Chinese countryside for “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution in the early 1970s. The title refers to the two boys stealing a trove of “forbidden” books, including Balzac and Victor Hugo and educating the beautiful, but ignorant rural seamstress, who is a teenaged naive peasant. Of course both boys fall in love with her, but the enlightenment and influences from the reading of the books does not result in the effect the boys expected, nor does the film follow a typical Hollywood plot point of expanded love with a happy ending (see today’s quote, below). The “postlude” is both painful and truthful. We had ballots and I gave the film five stars. It is wonderful.

Afterwards we drove over to Grand L’Orange (or is it L’Orange de Grande?) for lunch. Big pizza-deli deal at 40th Street and Campbell. Nice talking to the girls. Had a BLT with guacamole and an iced coffee ($27 cash, I paid. deli-style counter service, but no tip for you! service was awful).

We going back down today to see Machuca, a Chilean film.

“Great writers are always evil influences; second-rate writers are not wicked enough to become great.”
—George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, October 08, 2005

October 8, 2005
In April of 1995 I attended End of Trail in Corona, California (just south of San Berdoo). At that time I had three Old West books out, my Billy the Kid book (1992), Wyatt Earp (1993) and Doc Holliday (1994). Tri Star, my publisher, had rented a booth space and I was there at the big Western festival to hawk my books and artwork.

On the last day of the show, a gentleman came up to the booth and said, “I’ll bet you get accused of doing scratchboard, don’t you?” He was right. Although I had heard of the technique I had never tried it, or even knew where to find the materials to do it, or how to even go about it. No artist I knew ever used the medium, but would often get comments from artists types assuming I was utilizing scratchboard. The guy told me he was an art teacher at Long Beach State and that if I wanted to try it I should buy only Essdee Scratchboard from England and Pelican Ink #14. I wrote this down in my daytimer and made a mental note to see if I could find such exotic art supplies in the desert.

When I got back to the Valley I called around and after numerous dead-ends finally located the English import at Arizona Art Supply deep down in the Beast. I bought about six boards (at $22 a sheet!) and a set of tools, basically knives of various widths, to scratch with and came home to try it out. Of course I was pretty bad, but I did have a knack for crosshatching (which is why so many thought I was doing scratchboard) and that helped some. The main thing is you have to think in reverse. You take away the mid tones and what you leave is the black lines. Just the opposite of pen and ink renderings. It’s quite a mind game and takes some getting used to. Needless to say, I ruined more than several boards trying to get the hang of it, but as I kept scratching I eventually stumbled onto some decent effects.

That was ten years ago. At my art show opening last week I must have had a half dozen people (most of them artists themselves) ask me what scratchboard is and how do I do it. I have about 35 scratchboards in the show and there are over 150 in the book, Blaze Away!

Yesterday, I had Abby Pearson come into my office and document the genesis and stages of an image I want to do in my forthcoming story on Mickey Free. One of the main characters is Al Sieber, the chief of scouts under General Crook and others. There is a great photo of him with a scowl on his face, hat in hand and covered in buckskin.

Having that reference material at hand, I started with the fine point scratcher and blocked in the face. Someone told me that the scratchboard process is quite ancient and involves clay coated board with the ink on top of it, which facilitates cleaner scratching.

I have tried other cheaper boards and they flake off erratically. Only Essdee has the clean lines I like. Tomorrow I’ll show you the end results of all my chicken scratching.

“Art is a paradox: if you want to master it, you must become its slave.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, October 07, 2005

October 7 , 2005
Kathy and I were supposed to be in Roundtop, Texas this week for the big Old West Show we are co-sponsoring, but I had to cancel when Melrose resigned on Monday. I needed to stay close to home and mind the store. Anyway, Kathy had already rescheduled all of her clients so she still had Wednesday thru today off, and she has taken to calling this “vacation time.” It’s funny how much our attitude could be affected by such a simple phrase, but last night Kathy asked me if I would bar-b-que some hamburgers and my first thought was, “I’m tired, I don’t want to do anything, I’ve been at work all day.” But, I quickly realized if I was in Roundtop I’d be chomping at the bit to do something fun in a new place. So my actual response became, “Hey, we’re on vacation, I’ll light up the grill in our rented cabana.” And as I sipped some cabernet wine and looked out over the back fence at the saguaros, the cave and the creek, I remarked to Kath when she came out to join me, “Man, what a great view. I think we’ll come back here.” Although, next time I don’t think I’d rent the hat-eating dog.

“Boze, I must have missed something. What in the heck is a Charrette? (It is not in the dictionary.)”
—Leon Metz

Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, Leon. I didn't know what it was either until we did the saving Tombstone article and the planning company kept throwing the word around and I finally asked, "What the hell is a charrette?" They told me that a charrette is a fancy, French term for compiling papers for a study. Supposedly, the word comes from the French word for “cart” and refers to the cart that came to collect the architectural works of architectural students in Paris (circa 1869 to 1930). The word came to mean the harried period in which a student’s final drawings were completed.

More Tombstone feedback:
“To hell with Tombstone! You are giving them unappreciated FREE advertising. You and I know the rule. Good, Bad, Ugly, it's all great advertising. I wish you would have written something bad about the bookstore when I owned it. I would have thanked you!”
—Bookcrazy Deb

“I don't get it. I mean, I'm just mystified. I assume it's because you are just a few hours away from them, but obviously they look on the magazine as an extension of their Chamber of Commerce. No, that's not even right; the Chamber in Tombstone is full of quarreling factions who can't agree on how to promote the town. I wonder if it's like this in Deadwood?”
—Wordsmith Bill

“I can walk into most stores in Santa Fe, even art galleries where I can't afford a post card, and generally I get treated with courtesy (mainly because, this being Santa Fe, a guy dressed like a bum could in fact be as rich as Bill Gates). I go into most (but not all) businesses in Tombstone, and they act like they don't want to make a buck, don't want you in their store.”
—Santa Fe Savvy Man

“Tombstone is finally under scrutiny for failure to apply certain standards expected of them in exchange for the perks of being a Historic Town (easier access to federal grants, etc). So what are the Tombstone ‘elite’ doing about this? They are striking out at the people shining the light on the situation. Some of them will try to sidestep the issue of their personal & professional responsibility in the matter by slinging negative attention onto others. Why did these local experts allow this longterm movement away from historic to happen while they sat on their hands? Maybe because more tourists means more book sales?”
—Terry Jo Neff

Took the dogs for a bike run this morning. Very pretty out. Weather and scenery is just gorgeous. Even though we do this twice a day, every day, Buddy Boze Hatkiller lopes and prances up the road like we are exploring new country for the very first time. Paraphrasing Ray Bradbury: every day is a vacation day to a dog.

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.”
—Dave Barry

Thursday, October 06, 2005

October 6 , 2005
Evidently many in Tombstone feel we “trashed” their town with our October issue. A cover story in the Tombstone Tumbleweed rakes us across the coals for what they deem biased coverage. This is also the article that includes the Ben Traywick quote where he says I’m so perfect. If you’d like to check it out it’s at:

You’ll need to click on PDF Files (in the left-hand corner) and then on September 29.

I wasn’t going to respond but Bob Brink insisted, saying, “You can’t let this go by and not remind people down there how much coverage you have given that town.” So, here is my letter to the editor of the Tumbleweed:

Having read your coverage regarding True West magazine’s cover story on the recent Charrette please allow me to correct several misconceptions:

• Our October issue with Wyatt on the cover went to press prior to the Charrette. We interviewed the two principals, Dr. John McIntosh and Bob Frankeberger, so we could present their plans to our readers. Since we knew the issue would be out around the time of the charrette presentation, we asked guest editors and others to comment on what Tombstone could do to present itself better. We then sent our features editor, Mark Boardman, to the meeting, for an upcoming piece on the town’s progress. We are also looking for feedback from locals for this article.

• No other national magazine has given Tombstone as much coverage as True West has in the past six years. In fact, I get criticized constantly by our readers for giving too much coverage to Wyatt Earp and Tombstone. We have just finished a two-year series on the gunfights behind the O.K. Corral with many never before published images and rare source material from Tucson historian Neil Carmony who oversaw the entire project. To dismiss this painstaking coverage as “[BBB’s] history of Tombstone is what he wishes it was, not what it really was” is petty and unwarranted. Mr. Carmony, who is known for his no-nonsense research, deserves better than this.

• Our newest book, “Blaze Away! The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral” showcases all of this hard work, and is in effect a valentine to the town. Released on September 30th and featuring 236 original illustrations and paintings, plus many original photos from the collection of Robert McCubbin, this book is going to bring more positive attention and tourists to Tombstone.

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

I finished two articles today and a scratchboard of Lynx Lake. Samantha ordered out for Subway and we all pitched in $5 bucks and had a noontime feed. Lots of fun talking about the old days at Clantonville. Carole laughed until she cried telling us about the pack rats and stinky conditions (or was she just crying?). That was fun. We may do this once a month.

“Where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.”
—Rabindrannath Tagore

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

October 5 , 2005
I got an Email yesterday from an ex-Wickenburg guy who now lives in Italy and misses the Doperoper. Ha. It’s true. He moved over there about 18 years ago and misses the grit and 1950s feel of my cartoon character who roped dopers for fun and appeared in the Razz Revue. I’m going to send him the first Honkytonk Sue comic which has an episode starring the D-R called “Jackpot Roping” (get it?). Hey, it was 1974, Man.

One final note on the airtight discussion:
“The gentleman who said that Ben Johnson was the one who used the term ‘airtights’ is to be commended. As I ran the film Chisum again to cling to every word Johnson might mumble or say, sure enough, he does use that word. Can't figure out how I could have missed it and never even noticed it before. The scene is as follows: John Wayne is lying on a hammock on his front porch, and his niece in the film asks when Duke's men will return from Santa Fe. And there's Big Ben Johnson sittin' in a rocker, replying, ‘They better get here sooner than later. We're running low on grub. We're short on sugar, flour, airtights and everything else.’”

Samantha is so amazing. We had a woman come in our office looking for a birthday gift for her hubby (we haven’t really had a story for a month or two) and she ended up buying almost $600 worth of stuff, including a $200 collector’s edition of Doc Holliday (December, True West, 2001), all the t-shirts, a Blaze Away! book, and a Maniac membership. Women control the buying of almost everything, with the possible exception of porn. Ha.

Whipped out an illustration for a piece I wrote for The Arizona Republic. I was inspired by a grisly Texas Rangers photo that appears in a new book on the Rangers and the Mexican Revolution, showing a Ranger named Jack Webb, holding a skull with a cowboy hat on, and he’s pointing a gun at the head in a Shakespeare-MacBeth kind of way. It’s going to run this next Sunday.

In a delayed reaction to my press release, Beth and Bill have invited me to appear on their popular radio show next Tueday on KEZ (99.9 FM). Their studio is two or three doors down from Tim and Willys. Funny.

I received a strange package from Hong Kong recently and after I asked production if they wanted to open it, I found four books inside. There was no cover letter but we assumed it was a printing company sending us the books so we could see their printing quality and hopefully send them some business. For some reason I was very intrigued by the books. I am a firm believer in the idea that the Universe is trying to help us and I took the books home to study them. One of the books was basically the Bruce Lee family album. You know, the karate legendary guy who died mysteriously, then his son followed suite (killed by an errant squib?). Lee’s family lived in Hong Kong so that made some sense. Out of this book I was inspired by the names (they call it Gung Fu over there, not Kung Fu) and came up with a possible name for a Chinese gunfighter I’m thinking of doing: Loong Gung. Either that or Wan Hung Lo (as in his holster).

Another book had incredible lithos from 1839 of Egypt and they are stunning and I have thoroughly enjoyed using it as art reference for my desert paintings. Last Saturday I bought a big old book called Beatles Diary at Barnes & Noble ($3.50!) which has by date every gig the Beatles ever played, including the August 20, 1964 concert at the Convention Center in Las Vegas where I saw them. The Fab Four really went into a bizarre zone of celebrity with all the frenzy that ended with John’s death, by a fan. It’s all so incomprehensible. He’s in a rock band and you want to kill him? What’s with that?

Ironically the last book was the dumbest by far but had the biggest payoff. It was a photo book of Hawaiian Legends and had stills from some hokey educational films, including the Legend of Boyhood of Kamehameha, whatever that is. The book was so stupid I forced myself to read the whole thing because I knew the Universe might be hiding some kernel of truth or contain some key that just might unlock the door. Here’s an example of dialogue: “Wiki had placed Pele’s fire into the hau tree so Mokea no longer needed to journey to the distant volcano to light his Fire Stick.

And then, two thirds in, I found it. This is what it said: “Captain James Cook chanced upon Hawaii Island in 1778. The Islanders, believing him to be their god Lono, honored him but, finding him mortal, killed him.”

That one paragraph, explains the Beatles, Ghandi and every celebrity who ever walked the earth.

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

October 4 , 2005
I got some funny and poignant responses to the “Ben feud” from yesterday’s post. Here’s my favorite:

“It seems to me that to be perfect at anything is quite an
accomplishment in this day and age. Congratulations!”
—Paul Andrew Hutton

As for the two photographs from the artshow opening, the top one is of me with my friends at Armstrong-Prior, on right is Alexis (the platemaker who helped create the chine colle that led to the poster) and on the left is Joan Prior, wife of artist John Armstrong. In the second photo are three of my favorite employees, Sue Lambert, Meghan Saar and Abby Pearson all dressed up and having fun.

Mike Melrose has resigned as general sales manager. He came in last night and told me it was time for him to move on. At first I was stunned and tried to get him to stay but after talking to him for a while, I realized he was right. He has been with us for five years and I’ll miss his daily, zany antics. Mike gave us credibility when we had very little. I wish him the best.

“Unless both sides can win, no agreement can be permanent.”
—Jimmy Carter

Monday, October 03, 2005

October 3 , 2005
Well, just when I thought the “airtight” debate was finished, I get this:

“I noticed that some of your emails were about the use of the word Airtights in the movie Chisum. Someone said that someone else who heard the word used was mistaken. They are wrong. Ben Johnson’s character Pepper uses the word while he is talking about food provisions. I can't remember exactly when but if you watch again and listen to him you will hear it, listen closely.”
—Richard Kenney

We’ve got a new poll up: If Custer had Gatling guns at the Little Bighorn, would it have made a difference? Click here to cast your vote.

Here’s a couple of photos that Captain Ray took last Friday night at the artshow opening. I’ll tell you who they are tomorrow.

I guess the first time I met Ben Traywick was at the O.K. Corral Centennial on October 26, 1981. Ben played Wyatt Earp that day as the famous re-enactment came off right at 2:30, one hundred years to the minute that the original fight went down. I was on the roof of Fly’s Boarding House shooting the event with my state-of-the-art Super 8 camera. Ben cut a dashing figure and I told him it was an honor to meet him.

At the time I think Mr. Traywick was Tombstone’s official historian and had begun to write a series of books on Tombstone and its characters.

When I was doing my book on Wyatt Earp in 1993 I interviewed Ben and he graciously allowed me to use a rare photo of Allie Earp in my book. I gave him and his bookstore credit in all four editions of the book.

A couple years later I was in a saloon on Allen Street with two Earp authors who are notorious hotheads. Ben happened to be at the end of the bar, having a beer. We joined him and after pleasantries my two companions proceeded to get into it with Ben about his alleged alliance with Glenn Boyer. I thought my two companions were out of line, but I said nothing and didn’t join in the debate.

The next day I had a book signing at the Territorial Bookstore and during a lull in the signing I looked up and saw Ben stick his head in the door and say, “Oh, it’s Bob Booze Bell.” Now this is a common semi-humorous take on my name and is usually a heavy-handed clue that someone doesn’t like me. I wondered why he was being so hostile, but there were other people in line for my book and I got caught in the crunch of signing and thought no more of it.

In 2000 I asked Ben if we could run an excerpt of his forthcoming book on Texas John Slaughter book and he agreed. Our editor at the time, Mare Rosenbaum, edited Ben’s piece for publication and after the issue came out I got a snippy note from Ben along the lines of “I didn’t appreciate the heavy editing.” Fair enough.

Three years ago Ben and I sat on an Earp panel down in Wilcox and had a pleasant time talking about his long history with the magazine. I encouraged him to submit some more things and I would take care of him this time and not allow any heavy-handed editing.

Last year I ran into Ben and his wife at the Golden Boot Awards in Hollywood and we shook hands and marvelled at being in such a ritzy place.

Today we received a copy of the Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper and here’s what Ben had to say:

"Bob Boze Bell is the most perfect asshole I know. He is not a historian—not a bad artist—but not a historian. . .He has probably made more on Tombstone than any other man in this country, but he loves to badmouth us. . .Unfortunately, his history of Tombstone is what he wishes it was, not what it really is."

"Two men look out through the same bars; one sees the mud and one the stars."
—Frederick Langbridge

Sunday, October 02, 2005

October 2, 2005
I woke up at four fretting about the weak sales on the art. Much mulling about what I could have done better. We got zero coverage in The Arizona Republic (although we got a nice plug in the Scottsdale Republic zone section). I know many of the editors and writers at the main paper, but evidently it didn't help. Ultimately, I'm afraid my press release efforts were too little, too late. I should have been hammering these media contacts much sooner. In the good news department.Curtis Riggs of The Sonoran News has expressed interest in doing a photo feature on the show. That will definitely help us for the two week run of the show. We got no support from the Desert Advocate (where the Cowboy Legacy Gallery actually advertises!). That was a shock, considering the publisher, Karen Seemeyer is a friend of mine. I don't think there was any malice involved, it's just a case of the event slipping through the cracks. I thought the gallery was taking care of it and put it out of my mind. This happens to us at the magazine all the time, (events getting short shrift based on the flow of so many things happening) so it's hard for me to get too upset about it.

Ultimately, I dedicated myself to create more due diligence for the rest of the two week run. On the 16th, the show moves to Tucson at the Transportation Museum. The show will premiere down there on October 21. This isn't a battle, it's a campaign, and I need to keep the long view and keep fighting. I ran an impactful quote a few weeks ago: "If you're facing the right direction, keep walking."

Kathy and I went into the Beast at two to see the much touted movie A History of Violence. ($14 for tickets, but got a free, small popcorn with our AMC cards, but bought a bottle of water, $3.25. Ay-yi-yi! $3.25 for a small water? Imagine paying that twenty years ago? I can't even imagine). Ironically I???m writing a View piece for The Arizona Republic on violence in the Old West, so I was particularly interested in seeing this movie, because of all the raves about what it says about violence. When I saw the disclaimer at the beginning, "Based on a graphic novel" I should have known what was coming. Turns out it's not an in-depth look at violence at all, it's just an excuse to show violence with comic book plotting. Like Sin City, it was five miles wide and two inches deep. How they got all of those great actors, like Ed Harris and William Hurt to be in it is beyond me. And speaking of Hurt he is absolutely fantastic. You have never seen a "mobster" like this. Incredible. He made the whole movie worth seeing for me, but sad to say, the film's integrity is about three degrees from Death Wish III.

We were at Desert Ridge, so after the movie I ran over to Aaron Brothers and bought more watercolor paper and more gouache tubes of paint ($45 Sue account). Then Kathy wanted to go to Barnes & Noble so I followed her in there and lo and behold there was the new issue of True West, facing out, visible from the doorway: "Is The Wyatt Earp Era Over" The big red X blasted off the stands and the white space really set it off from the avalanche of titles around it. Hats off to Daniel Harshberger who designed it. They only had four left (I believe they get 10). That really cheered me up and I caught myself going to different parts of the store and seeing if I could still see the magazine, and I'm happy to say I could see it all the way from the calendar clearance table.

Afterwards we went to Rockfish and had dinner ($27, includes tip), then to a birthday party for Lynn Hauss (our new neighbors, building downstream from us).

Got home about eight and checked my Email. Had a couple raves about the show and that was nice. Here's two of them:

"You should be very proud of yourself. Last night's gallery opening was a BIG HIT, with tons of admiring folks and LOTS of great vibes for True West. You really are an Arizona treasure and I hope all this doesn't burn you out, because you are so special. I loved the art work, wish I could afford some of it, and felt proud to be among your entourage last night!!!! Love you, pal."
--Jana Bommersbach

"Thanks, Bob, for your thoughtful inscription in my book. It was great to be able to see your art in 'full size'. I hope it was a good show for you. Naturally, if I win the lottery, I am going to come to you first for that really awesome portrait of Billy. That's a real 'wow'. I still think a few votives would have been appropriate -- ha ha.

"Mike and I enjoyed the Stillwell Purchases the Farm (aren't you glad I don't title art for a living), and I was really really taken in by the Tunstall Purchases the Farm. Powerful stuff. Love it."
--Linda B. AKA Sallie Chisum

And speaking of Sallie and John Chisum, the other day I got a question about the term "airtights" being used in the movie Chisum. Although I got some great answers from the experts, I got this interesting reply from a Chisum, the movie, expert:

"Well, as promised earlier today, I ran the film, Chisum in search of the
word "airtight" and never heard it once. I've never heard the word in the film all the times I've seen it. In fact, I've never heard the word used in any Western.

"I watched the film tonight on DVD with the English subtitles on, just to make sure I'd catch it. Still, nothing. In fact, there is no reference to food in the film at all, even during the party scene. So, I'm afraid our friend in search of an answer might be a little confused."
Ed G. Lousararian, publisher of WILDEST WESTERNS magazine

My guess is that the guy was confusing Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid with Chisum, since both include John Chisum as a character.

"Celebrate what you want to see more of."
--Tom Peters
October 1, 2005
Big crowd at the opening and many surprises. Our old editor Marcus Huff showed up. I haven’t seen him since he stormed out of our offices almost five years ago to the day. We actually hugged and clasped each other warmly with major slaps on the back. He congratulated me on the new work and introduced Kathy, Carole and I to his new wife.

Three major paintings sold as soon as the doors opened. Another three sold within an hour. Richard Ignarski, who drove over from Albuquerque with Bob McCubbin, bought the portrait of Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce ($600). Richard asked for and received his Maniac discount (10%) and confided to me he bought it for his forthcoming Gunfighter Museum.

My daughter came early and brought me a bottle of Chilean wine with a sweet note: “Age appears to be best in four things, old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read.” Pretty classy, I wonder where she got such manners? (hint: not from her dad).

A couple from Chandler bought the painting of the Milt Joyce showdown with the Earps (I hope they don’t read the blog archives here where I bemoan my failure with that painting. Ha.) They also confessed they have lived in the Valley 20 years and this was their first visit to Carefree. They heard about the show “on the radio.”

And speaking of the radio, The Tim and Willy Show pulled more than a few people out from the Valley. One pretty woman walked up to me and reminded me of several stunts we pulled on KSLX, then introduced me to her husband and their daughter Kelly, who told me she was on night shift on Wednesday, driving home half asleep, heard me on Tim and Willy’s Show and called her mother to tell her. They all came.Funny what hits and what misses. If you read Thursday’s blog I was kicking myself all the way home from Tempe, wondering aloud whether it was worth it to spend three hours and five gallons of gas to be on a radio show for fifteen minutes. Well, it was. Thanks Tim and Willy!!

At least a half-dozen people quizzed me on scratchboard. What is it? How do you do it? I need to do a demonstration here and document the phases: a blank, black piece of Essdee scratchboard ($22 a sheet), then the first scrapings of the knife, until I actually have a decent image. Then all of the extra scrapings where I actually ruin it. Could be quite instructive to younger people. Or not.

Some of my friends got more than their share of free wine at the opening. I won’t mention any names but here’s a clue: they do a lot of flying, but on this night they were really flying!

Wonderful Russ held court as he’s prone to do. After nine, when most had left, he and I tag-teamed a local doctor who was bemoaning an early Saturday morning caseload. Russ volunteered the two of us to come in and “loosen up the patients with humor and a full body enema.” I don’t think the doctor thought it was as funny as we did.

In spite of the light sales on paintings, Bill Welch and Brian Label were quite upbeat about the night. “There were some heavy hitters in here tonight. This was very good for us and for you. Trust me. We’ll sell quite a few more paintings before the show comes down in two weeks.”

Well, I certainly hope so. The sale of the six paintings puts me about half-way to paying off the framer. Ha. Sometimes I think I should have listened to the hip-hop bad-boy, Andre 3000.

“I thought I was going to be an artist when I grew up. And then I figured out artists don’t get paid.”
—Andre 3000, one-half of the hip-hop eccentrics OutKast, in Spin magazine