Tuesday, May 31, 2005

May 31, 2005
Big weekend. Tried to do nothing but didn't succeed. My former cartoonist neighbor, Jerry Scott (Baby Blues, Zits) recently turned fifty and his wife threw him a party down at the Scottsdale Princess Resort on Sunday afternoon. Gordon Smith was the entertainment so I brought my snare drum and high hat cymbals and we wailed on "Route 66." Finally got to meet Jim Borgman, who draws Zits (Jerry writes the strip). Jim is also a political cartoonist of some renown. Fun talking to him. Ed Mell was there (he's getting remarried next week), as were many syndicated cartoonists, including the guy who does Mutts.

After the Scott party, Kathy and I met Deena at Abuelo's for dinner ($28 Sue account) then took in a movie at Harkin's Cine Capri ($18 plus $6.50 for popcorn and water). Saw Crash and really enjoyed it. Quite original and brave. All about racism and redemption in LA. Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock were especially good.

Worked on the White Hat project and CGII images for most of Sunday and Monday. Also swam and took naps. Went over to Mother Radina's for dinner last night. Cooked salmon and watched the Suns beat San Antonio. That was sweet.

I’ve got a full week coming up with the BBC coming in tomorrow for a taping redux, and then two days of printing on the White Hat project on Thursday and Friday.

We got this Email this morning from Down Under:

"I rarely correspond to magazines, happy to be entertained by other's comments and just more than happy to enjoy the contents, and comments. If I don't like the particular mag, I just don't purchase it any more. I have tried many ‘Western’, magazines but all have failed to contain me, until now. True West, you have it just right, I love it, after almost giving up my search for the Holy Grail. The reality is, I have rediscovered True West, having copies of Frontier Times back to 1968, Yes, I'm no youngster, Old West and True West from 1980. They all disappeared from the news stand many years ago, down here, but came upon a back issue from ‘03, loved it and signed up. I've found you again and this time I ain’t letting go. I would like to re-create a Hope Saddle, if any one can supply me with some working drawings I would sure appreciate it. "  
—Graeme Young,  Melbourne,  Australia. youngk@optusnet.com.au

I just got the news from Sherry Monihan that Old West researcher Carl Chafin died on May 26th. He had been sick for some time.

"Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of this jewel-and, in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not."
—Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Saturday, May 28, 2005

May 28, 2005
Almost the entire population of the Valley is up north seeking cooler climes, but some of us just stayed home. Working on images from the air trip. Got the film back yesterday ($18 something, biz account). Much of it is washed out. Some is atmospheric conditions and some of it is shooting through a plexiglass window. Still, my goal is to mix the photo reference with what I saw with my eyes, especially at Redington Pass and Stein's Pass, two of the critical locations I wanted for CGII the book.

As a typical Boomer, I sometimes whine and complain about my lack of training, my lack of the right equipment, my lack of the right reference, but I must say I was very impacted by an artist we saw down at Armstrong-Prior on Thursday, Robert Crystal I belive is his name, and he was this deaf guy (he died in 1977 or so), who couldn't speak, lived on an isolated farm in Utah, drew with matchstick heads and spit, on cardboard and grocery sacks (I’m not making this up!) and his stuff sells for $75K today. He never had art training of any kind.

So just get to it, Pruit. Need to mock up some of that mind set. Look at the photo reference, study it, make working sketches, then put it away and call on my inner mind to make it happen (yes, I'm talking to myself!). That's the ticket. Go inside, trust my instincts, don't be hamstrung by Boomer shoulds. Okay, I feel better now.

At least until I read the feedback on my HBO vs. Fox analogy. Here's my two favorite responses:

"A little bit country a little bit rock and roll.....is more like it. Don't think the difference is that great between those media formats. Fox pretends to be a little conservative, but for a buck will sell their souls. And regarding the final Deadwood episode...I have shared the opinion with others of the similarity of this wedding scenario with the Godfather (2-3?) chapter when Michael's baby is being baptized, and a variety of heinous acts are being committed. Almost a great ending....but alas, wanted Seth Bullock to blow somebody up, but his smokewagon remained holstered."
—Jim Ed

Yes, I also felt that Deadwood ending was copped from The Godfather and I agree—it was a female ending. Not enough shooting and blowing stuff up. Here's the other response I liked:

"You shouldn't be comparing True West to other media products, in my opinion. There are a lot of differences. Yes, you should understand what media and shows the readers are attracted to--but that by itself does not define them. Yes, learn from some of the things those networks/programs do--the Deadwood website
is very impressive, and True West should adopt some similar approaches. But True West fans don't expect or want you to be faux HBO.

“We both know that your blog is ‘BBB lite.’ You should start taking it farther, making it a realistic expression of your likes, dislikes, insecurities, etc. That's what the truly successful bloggers do. Yeah, they piss people off, or embarrass folks, and spark controversy. But that's what blog fans want. If the greatest controversy you initiate is ‘Fox vs. HBO,’ or how much you paid for lunch, then you've got a problem--one that will only deepen as you try to
attract younger consumers.

"You should provide more ‘web only’ features--additional reviews, articles, commentaries, pictures, etc. People want ‘value added,’ and they're looking to the Internet presence to provide it. Put more sound on the site--whether it's music, comments from interview subjects, whatever. Use video to show some of your travels; that gives a clarity that still pictures can only hint at."
—Mark Boardman

It's seven in the evening and I'm still studying and wrestling with the airborne photos, trying to get a good angle on them. A great quote to end on this hot and breezy May day:

"Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings."
—C.D. Jackson
?

Friday, May 27, 2005

May 27, 2005
I met Tom Chenal of the True West Airforce at 7:30 at the Cave Creek Coffee Company and after a cup of decaf and a blueberry muffin ($3.60 cash) I followed Tom down to the Scottsdale Airport and we climbed in his single engine airplane and took off for the Wyatt Earp Yonder.

Tom wanted to get an early start because, as he put it, "It gets kind of rough up there in the afternoon." Evidently, the summer heat creates big wedges of unsettled air and strong currents. The takeoff was fine but I was a tad nervous as we fought our way out of the Phoenix metro area (other planes in the sky showed up like mini-tadpoles on our dash radar screen and it was unnerving to try and find them out the window, and then see a plane go under us at 150 knots while a big 707 arced into Sky Harbor airspace up ahead). Finally we cleared Gold Canyon Ranch and skirted the Superstitions, and the ride became quite smooth and wonderful.

Up in the sky, all of those segmented areas I normally drive through, like Superior, Hayden, Pinal (where Mattie Earp is buried) meld together and you can see the Catalinas in the south and the Grahams in the east and Four Peaks and the White Mountains in the north. In topo terms it makes much more sense up there. One range segues into another and you can see the relationship between them so much clearer.

We got over the first target at ten. Redington on the San Pedro is where the Tombstone posse found Luther King, who allegedly squealed on his cohorts, Bill Leonard, Jim Crane and Harry 'the Kid' Head. I asked Tom to swing out wide to the east so I could get a nice shot of the rugged canyons and terrain leading up to Redington Pass, where the outlaws fled, followed by the Earp posse.

Continuing up the San Pedro (the river runs north out of Mexico and drains into the Gila) we sailed over Benson, where I took numerous shots of the Southern Pacific Railroad lines, especially where the Santa Fe lines (1881) broke off to the south (eventually reaching Guaymas, Mexico). This is the line that ran to Contention and Fairbanks, before turning towards Sonoita, Patagonia and Nogales and I was curious to see the current railroad tracks and if any of the previous right-of-ways stood out from the air. Just north of Saint David, they did, with the vegetation giving way to several clearings wide enough to be former train track beds. At my age and temperament this is as good as sex. Let’s just say I was real excited.

We couldn’t go all the way to Charleston because of the restricted airspace surrounding Fort Huachuca, but as we skirted the San Pedro eastward, I caught the conical hills, behind which sat the three mills operating 24/7 across the river from Charleston. I got good images of the road to Tombstone, gathering in Pick-em-up, and then we took a slow 360 around Goose Flats and I got all of the town too tough to die, with special interest devoted to all the mining holes pocking the hills south of town.

The next target was across the Sulpher Springs Valley in Guadalupe Canyon at the south end of the Pelloncillos and this was also a tough shot because we couldn’t go across the border into Mexico without coming back into U.S. airspace, landing, going through customs, etc. Not an enjoyable option. Plus, zig-zagging back and forth across the border at that border location would make a suspicious flight plan to say the least (there are several drug balloons tethered along this stretch). We still managed to get good angles at Cloverdale (just across the line in New Mexico) into Guadalupe Canyon, shooting from the north end towards the south. Then a dash up the Animas to Lordsburg (where my mama was born) and another 360 around to catch Shakespeare, the ghost town where Sandy King and Russian Bill were lynched (Curly Bill skated on a technicality the day before, just missing the noose). At this point I could see all the way from Shakespeare to Stein’s (pronounced Steen’s, not Stynes) Pass. Got the money shot and from there we cruised on to San Simon following I-10. Got a decent shot of the road to Galeyville but the clouds were building over the Chiricahuas and Tom didn’t want to chance it so we didn’t go up over them to Johnny Ringo’s grave site.

Got back to Scottsdale Airport at about 12:30 (flying time 3 hours, forty-five minutes). Once again the hairiest part of the trip was dodging all of the airplanes in the Phoenix corridor, but we landed safely and I dashed up to Foothills Photo to drop off four roles of film.

Got into the office at about 2:30, got a nasty phone message from Pete The Miner. I was quoted in this morning’s Arizona Republic bemoaning the demise of The Mistress Mine and Pete is PO’d because he built the place, and thinks the guy who is running it now is a pervert (not that there’s anything wrong with that). More on this later.

"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 26, 2005
It's Carole Glenn's birthday today and I asked her to join me for my meeting with The Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard down in Phoenix today. We met at the Armstrong-Prior Art Studio at 18th St. and McDowell to discuss the printing of the BBB commissioned artwork "The White Hat." After a tasty lunch in their studio kitchen, we looked at the various printmaking techniques and decided on a combination of etching, serigraph-chine collet and monograph. We pencilled in two days in June to do the work and I'm very excited and honored and nervous. I want to do a good job for Terry and do him proud.

Carole and I also stopped at Dan Harshbeger's studio off Seventh Ave. below Dunlap and talked at length about our problems with the August cover package layouts. I looked at his opening spread with some concern. I had initially initiated a layout sketch that was too in-your-face, and even Dan balked at it. Ultimately, I have faith he will pull it off. This morning Kathy came up with an analogy that applies to this as we discussed the love and hate polarity regarding the show Deadwood (we watched the final episode of the season last night). She commented that Fox is the number one network now and on shows like The House (I’ve never seen it) they had a plotline where a 12-year-old girl needed to get an abortion but she couldn't tell her parents. The conservative plot point angle made Kathy somewhat irritated (she once proudly worked for Planned Parenthood). She didn’t like their politics. On the other hand, she said, "The cussing on HBO doesn’t bother me at all." From there she made the leap that sometimes I want to go a little bit too HBO when my readers are more Fox. Interesting analogy. Do you buy it?

"A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lesson from the past, but he also is prematurely disappointed in the future."
—Sydney Harrise

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May 25, 2005
I woke up with an idea on how to massage the August cover story package. Got into the office and went over the idea with Robert Ray, Meghan and Trish. Jane Bishoff came in at 10 and we worked on making it fly. Got some very good stuff going.

Gus designed six postcard ideas for CGII and they will go up on the website next week. And speaking of Blaze Away! The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral, I got this request from yesterday's journal entry:

"If you get a chance to do the aerial photos of the J Ringo burial site I would like to get a copy of the photo. My wife's great great grandfather was "Coyote" Smith and the tree was just across the creek from his ranch. It would be really great to have an aerial view of the area."
—Jim kooistra

My pleasure. Now the pressure is on to the get the right location. I’ve only been up there once and I hope I can recognize it from the air.

Javelinas attacked us last night. The dogs were fenced in, but the three big, overgrown rats just came right up to the gate and snorted around with their big, fat snouts. Of course, Peaches and Buddy were going crazy, shrill barking and doing backflips. Man, those javes are obnoxious, plus they smell foul.

This report from the Tom Bomb up in Flag
So last Friday I went to a five keg forest party with special guest Phil Bunkman (I Hate You When You're Pregnant). The party kind of sucked because it was mostly high schoolers but there were hundreds of people there and a bon fire. They brought a generator out so bands could set up and play. The first group was some [poopy] punk band and then Phil played. It was pretty cold so I didn't think he would do his usual routine of wearing a speedo but boy was I wrong. The first thing he said was, "I'm about to get really cold" and just stripped off his clothes. It was a great Phil show as expected but the craziest thing was that besides us 20 or so older people who were Phil fans, everyone was the frat boy type. So you have Phil in his speedo screaming, "I'm sleeveless! I'm f------ raw! I look just like a f------- god! I'm sleeveless and I'm number one, what would Jesus do if he could see these guns!" and one car over you have these future frat boys blasting ghetto rap. At one point one of the Phil fans got on the mike and said it was ridiculous that they were listening to music because we had live music right there. They screamed back, "Your music f------- sucks!". It was quite the culture clash.

I love it that he refers to himself and his friends as “older people.” And I can totally relate to the frat-boy put down. Been there, many times. Here you are, putting it all on the line and some boorish idiots not only miss the point but are ready to kill you. For some reason, in my mind, this all applies to the war in Iraq, although I haven’t seen any gator lines over there, yet.

"If your project doesn't work, look for the part that you didn't think was important."
—Arthur Bloch

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

May 24, 2005
Another hot one here on the high Sonoran desert. Kathy went up on the roof this morning (I went up last night) and she managed to get the water turned on the studio cooler but the pads are bad. Need to go down to Home Depot tonight and get new ones tonight.

Here's a question me and my friends having been mulling lately. Would Deadwood be as successful without the cussing? What do you think? Vote here.

I’m trying to get out to Fountain Hills to see the True West display that Allen Fossenkemper put together. The website is at www.riveroftimemuseum.org

Tom Chenal and I are planning a plane trip down to southeastern Arizona to take some aerial photos of various locations including Gudalupe Canyon, Stein’s Peak Pass, Doubtful Canyon. We may stop at Reserve for lunch and see the Elfego Baca project. Then back in the afternoon. Exciting. I need to get all my cameras checked out.

Here's a basic list of the sites I'd like to photograph from the air.

• downtown Tucson from the Tucson Mountains (over A Mountain) looking towards the Catalinas. I'm particularly interested in the lay of the Santa Cruz River, to downtown, to the train station. And the alignment of the train tracks, both coming into town from the east and west.

• Looking back towards Tucson from Houghton Road Overpass (it's about 10 miles east on I-10). I have already painted this, but I'd like to be able to get a lay of the tracks as they approach Tucson, the landscape. As a bonus, I'd like to get a shot of saguaros from the air. They do not grow along that alignment (I know because I drove it two weeks ago and there aren't any natural saguaros in that immediate area), but I still need to get good art reference of looking down at saguaros from the air.

• Redington Pass between the Rincons and the Catalinas. Wyatt Earp and a posse trailed the Benson stage robbers from Benson down the San Pedro to Redington, then up Redington Road, over the pass and around the Rincons and back to the Benson area. I'd like to get good views of the Rincons and this route. In pieces of course. A view from Redington Pass looking down the rugged terrain to Redington on the San Pedro would be cool.

• Benson and the train tracks alignment as the tracks break off and go up the San Pedro River, south towards Fairbanks.

• The Whetstone Mountains, southwest of Benson. I'd like a shot of the pass at the south end of this range (it's just north of the highway that intersects Fairbanks and Sonoita) looking back towards Tombstone. It was in this pass, at Iron Springs (also called Mescal Springs) where Wyatt Earp allegedly shot and killed Curly Bill Brocius. I think I can spot it from the air. I have been up there several times and know the lay of the land.

• Various shots of the San Pedro River with Tombstone visible in the distance. Charleston (ghost town, nothing left but foundations), figures prominently, as does Contention. I'd like to fly from south to north along the river, and shoot from the left bank, out the right window and capture the mountains and roads leading to Tombstone.

• Tombstone from the air. I'd like to circle the berg and get the approaches and the mining holes, etc.

• South Pass of the Dragoons: The Apaches fought a fight here on their way to Mexico, and a Tombstone posse came out to try and capture Geronimo and his warriors. The view up to the railroad on the north end of the Dragoons would be great.

• A bonus shot would be of the Dragoons, and Cochise's Stronghold, with the labrynth of canyons intersecting the area.

• The dry lake south of Willcox as it relates to the railroad.

• In the Chiricahua Mountains I want to get a couple shots of Galeyville (ghost town) and the lay of the land. Fort Bowie is not essential, but since we are there, of course, we should get it for future reference. Also Rustler's Park which is not far from Galeyville. And West Turkey Creek, where Johnny Ringo's body was found.

• The Peloncillo Range running north and south from Stein's pass to the Mexican border. Geronimo surrendered four times in this range, as he liked the east-west escape routes of the canyons. I'm especially interested in Guadalupe Canyon and would like to circle this spot, right on the border, and get good views. Also Skeleton Canyon and then Canyon de los Embudos, which is in Mexico about ten miles south of the border (can we fly down there? Will we be viewed suspiciously as drug runners?). Cloverdale, just over the New Mexico line is of interest to me also.

• Old Hachita, west of present day Hachita and in the Hatchet Mountains, east of Animas, close to the bootheel of NM.

• Shakespeare, NM, just south of Lordsburg, NM. Ghost town. Anxious to get an angle from the east side looking west towards Stein's Pass.

• Stein's Pass, east of the Arizona-New Mexico line. I need good coverage of this landmark. Big gunfight here in 1880, outlaws ambushing two posse members as they rode by, need to get low and make a couple passes at the location. Also, north of here is Doubtful Canyon, where Cochise and the Apaches killed so many anglos, they called it Doubtful Canyon because it was doubtful you'd survive it.

• North of doubtful Canyon is Horseshoe Canyon where a big Apache fight took place with U.S. troops. Friends of mine went there with metal detectors and discovered that the army reported it being at Horseshoe but they found no lead in that canyon, when they went one canyon away, they found all of the lead, and determined that the fight actually took place one canyon over. I'd like to get good views of this formation from the east looking west.

And a couple others, but I won’t bore you with them here.

Crown Books sent me a publicity form to fill out for our impending book by True West writers. That book will be out in August, just ahead of CGII which will premiere on September 30. Worked on that book a bit today with Gus and I moving copy around on the South Pass fight. He’s doing a very ambitious map of Apache battles and all of the surrender sites of Geronimo (he surrendered four different times in the same mountain range). Actually quite a stunning trail of death. We have gotten so politically correct we forget just how brutal those “escapes” were. What’s even more amazing is that Geronimo basically got away with it four different times, killing, robbing and plundering all the way into Mexico. Then when it got too hot down there, he surrendered, and was protected by the U.S. Army until he got tired of res life and did it again.

Worked until about 5:30. We’ve got a mess of a feature in the August issue. We may throw out everything and start over. Much gnashing of teeth (mostly mine).

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

Monday, May 23, 2005

May 23, 2005
Today is the first day the saguaros in our back yard have started blooming. I was showing the multiple buds to our dinner guests on Saturday night and Roxie Bacon asked when they would bloom and I said, "Any day now." They started blooming a week or so ago down in Phoenix (1,600 feet) and then they slowly started inching northward until they started crowning out this morning at our house (2,200 feet). With the palo verde trees in full yellow glory, the desert has never looked more gorgeous. Too bad it’s too hot to enjoy. Ha.


"Suggestion for a Classic Gunfight: what about the Battle of Adobe Walls? The second one that is."
—Denver Kissinger

And speaking of gunfights, we got back a subscriber's True West today (Jesus Out West, June). The magazine came back from the Penitentiary of New Mexico and in addition to the magazine the packet contained a "Publication Review Panel Determination" form, on which the box Return to Sender was checked with the handwritten explanation, "Magazine promote(s) use of fire arms + photo of cowgirl pin-up. Make copy of pages #44, 47 & 90."

Poor prisoner Kirt L. did not get his True West. I wondered what awful, gun crazy pin-up filth the prisoner board had discovered.

So, naturally I looked at pages 44 and 47, which is, believe it or not, in the 2005 Dads and Grads Gift Guide. Page 44 has "personalized miniature branding irons," (alloccasionshopping.com), a book by R. Stephen Bloch called "A Hard Kept Secret" (www.ahardkeptsecret.com), a "full hair-on Cowhide Pistol Case" (www.dcleatherworks.com), A-1 beer advertisements (www.a-1beerprints.com), and a watch from Montana Silversmiths (info@montanasilversmiths.com).

On page 49 is a framed John Wayne print for sale (www.piecesofhistory.com), a "gunfighter coat", uh-oh, (www.frontierclassics.net), an ad for Western lighting, dinnerware, lariat rope baskets and bookends (www.AllThatCowboy.com), a Cobra Derringer (cobrapistols.com) and our newest t-shirt design "Ya’ll Killed Two Cowboys—Curly Bill". This is probably the one that put the big nail in the coffin. Well, that and the ad on page 90, with John Beckett’s "Painted Ladies." I commented to Bob Brink, "If this is the criteria, they must not let many magazines through at the New Mexico Pentitentiary." Bob laughed. I could go through almost every magazine from People, InStyle, Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, and find more skin. No derringers though.

"Good men must not obey the laws too well."
—Emerson

Sunday, May 22, 2005

May 22, 2005
Record breaking heat. Supposed to reach 112 today. Hit 113 yesterday.

Both the cooler on the house and the cooler on the studio aren't working right. Need to call in the pros.

Worked on a painting I call "Nekkid Fandango." This is the alleged Curly Bill incident where, fresh out of jail, he and his pards crashed a Mexican dance near Charleston and made everyone strip naked and dance at the point of pistols. I'm fighting the urge to make it humorous. I imagine it was quite terrifying for the locals, who no doubt had children in attendance. The inherent racism of the story (it was more or less played for laughs in the San Francisco newspapers at the time of the incident in 1881) is disturbing, but typical of that time period. In fact it's a strong metaphor for the racist conceit of the dominant anglo culture that existed then, and to some degree, still does. Imagine the incident the other way around, with a gang of Mexican bandits commandeering a white settler's barn dance and making everyone strip and dose-ee-doe. I'm cribbing from several John Singer Sargent paintings, most notably El Jaleo (ironically painted in 1882) which portrays a Spanish flamenco dancer in full stride, and the dramatic shadows along the far wall creates a dark, festive mood. Quite ambitious. Hope I can capture some of the pathos and mood.

Hotter than hell. Going to go swimming. It's too hot to type.

"Man is the cruelest animal. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions he has so far felt best on earth; and when he invented hell for himself, behold, that was his heaven on earth."
—Nietzsche

Friday, May 20, 2005

May 20, 2005
Last night both graduated kids met Kathy and I at Rock Fish at Desert Ridge for dinner and we had a swell time ($36 plus $7 tip, house account). Afterwards I followed Deena down to PV Mall to take her shoe shopping (a belated B-Day gift from the dad). I am proud to say I was pretty good for the first four stores. We started at Dillard's, where my daughter tried on a half-dozen pairs of wedgies (evidently the newest trend although it could have been in a thrift store and I wouldn’t have known the difference), then she stormed through the mall, stopping at every little shoe store on the right (so many stores, so little difference). Like a combat unit entering Falujah, Deena commandeered each store we entered and within three minutes had tried on half the inventory on the floor, and sent the clerks into the back for the rest. By the time we got to Robinsons May I was starting to wilt (How many shoes can you actually try on without buying anything? Answer: more than I have ever tried on in my entire life! And the prices! $120 for $3.18 worth of material. Ay-yi-yi!!!!). Finally Deena took pity on me and let me go home at about nine. I gave her a meager hug as she leaned out from behind a pile of boxes and kissed my cheek. She was just getting warmed up. I was fried.

I got home about 9:40, and Kathy asked me if I had fun. I said "If fun is described as the acquisition of multiple foot ornamentation beyond human need." Actually I said nothing, and went to sleep, thankful I am a guy with minimum shoe needs

This morning, before work, I went out to my studio morgue and looked for that image of Wyatt Earp that ran on Allen Barra's book cover. I had forgotten about it and realized it should be in CGII (painted c. 1988, done on duotone paper, which I used for my editorial cartoons at New Times). As I was looking through my Wyatt Earp boxes (yes, plural) I came across the Tombstone Directory and Gazetteer for 1881. It’s quite amazing what I have and don't remember I have. As I scanned it, I was amazed at all of the businesses in Tombstone. For example there were several "soda works" and "root beer and coffee" saloons. There were also three ice cream parlors and a ton of cigar stores and an ice plant. The undertakers are named "Ritter and Ream" which sounds like the punchline to a joke. Also, exotic seafood fare was available at the "Oriental Oyster House." There were several wine bars, including a "Sonoma Wine House" establishment and a "private school," called "The Tombstone Academy." And a store that sold "electric rods," whatever that is. Sounds more like Palm Springs than Goose Flats, eh?

Believe it or not I actually found the artwork and brought it in for Gus to scan. Worked on several additions to CGII.

Went over the History of Western Wear feature we are working on with Robert Ray. Lots of loose ends. Came up with the idea of doing "Hats from Hell" and if you've been paying any attention to Country music lately, you know we’re talking Hell on a head, Man. Toby Keith looks like a hair dresser who moonlights as a pimp. And how about that black shellack that protrudes from the cabeza of Tim McGraw? And it gets worse. Kid Rock has something that looks like a pheasant took over his head. If I didn't know better I'd say much of it seems inspired by the Doperoper, a cartoon character I created back in 1972. I did a parody of the rural jackpot roper cowboy lid I used to see on the heads of old Kingman cowboys like Buzzy Blair; creased hard and laid low, a total parody. But even though I thought my cartoon hat creation was totally over the top, these hats make DR look like Cary Grant. One dude actually wears a “cowboy hat” with flames coming off the brim. I kid you not.

Went to lunch with Carole and Melrose at the Bad Donkey. Had the rueben. Conned Mike into paying for half my lunch (only had $3 dollars on me, or so I told him).

"Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness."
—Publilius Syrus

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 19, 2005
I have wondered how long it would take for one or our Western friends to tap into the China market. Well, wonder no more. Got this Email this morning:

"'The Great American Cowboy China Tour' starts in San Francisco at the historic Masonic Theater on March 26th, 2006. From March 27th—April 2nd, 'The Great American Cowboy' will be performed throughout China. Starting with a Cowboy concert on the Great Wall of China, the Kansas Cowboys will perform at children's hospitals and schools as well as the largest theaters in both Beijing and Shanghai."

My Irish documentary friends are working their way through New Mexico even as you read this. They are filming Dr. Paul Hutton in Santa Fe tomorrow. After a couple of days shooting in northern New Mexico they will wend their way back across Monument Valley and down to Cave Creek on June 1, where I will tape another interview for their four part BBC series on the American West. And yes, their bench seat is still in my garage.

Got a packet from Henry Martinez in Reserve, New Mexico today. He is heading up the drive to honor "Frisco's" most famous gunfight. Henry and his committee have chosen a sculpture for the Elfego Baca monument. Arizona sculptor James Muir got the gig and says, in the Mountain Mail, "What I'm trying to dramatize is the fight against tyranny." Reserve was originally called Upper Frisco, in Baca's time. We are going to design the billboard for the site and I need a better photo of the sculpture. The sculpture will be unveiled in October of 2006. The artist is from Greer, a beautiful White Mountain village in northeastern Arizona.

The Graduate is coming into town this morning. Thomas "Edison" Bell is supposed to arrive around 11. He told me he met a beautiful black girl named Ivory last week. I told him this is fine with me because we need better point guard genes in the family. To this his mother quipped, "How sweet, Edison and Ivory." One thing's for sure: we don’t need any more zane genes.

Allen Barra's book Inventing Wyatt Earp is going back on press. He sent me a bonus check (my drawing of Wyatt with a pistol is part of the cover montage). I may buy a '57 T-Bird with the money. Kath and I were at the Dairy Queen on Sunday and longtime Creeker Hank Z. pulled up in a canary-yellow custom Bird. I was so jealous I crammed a blizzard into his face as he tried to get out of the car and he cried like a little baby.

Well, half that's true, except I was the one who cried like a baby. I WANT MY OWN T-BIRD DADDY!

"Everybody in Country music is two decisions from dry-walling. So we're happy to be here."
—Jeff Foxworthy on why Country stars are so nice

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 18, 2005
We had a big election yesterday and I forgot to vote. Got tied up at the office, went straight home, had three messages from Kathy, but by the time I got them the polls were closed.

Robert Ray and Abby are at a Photoshop seminar all day today. Can't wait to see what they've learned.

I don't know why, but I have gotten more comments in the past four days from people who have seen me on the History Channel. When we were in Flag at Tomcat’s bar-b-que at least three of T’s friends came up to me and said things like, "Hey Dude, saw you on the History Channel at two in the morning." And "You look bigger on tv, Man." In fact, when we were coming back from breakfast on Sunday, Tomas took a cellphone call from Kendra. She was yelling into the phone, "Your dad is on tv right now!" Hmmmm. Here’s an Email I got today:

"My wife and I were channel surfing last night and saw the description for 'Modern Marvels' was Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Not exactly modern, but marvels in their own right. Intrigued, we turned it on and there was your face and voice and a rather sharp looking red shirt.”
—Jim the Reader Bolek

Got a phone call earlier this week from a fellow publisher who is interested in merging mags. Interesting proposition and worth considering.

Johnny Boggs has written a wonderful history of poker piece for us and I want to illustrate it with a sepia photo of an authentic looking female gambler spreading out a royal flush on a green felt table. Shamie Maxwell is providing the authentic cards. John Beckett is providing the model (she looks a bit like Alma Garrett from Deadwood) and Jenny Smith is going to provide the authentic female attire. I got this question from Jen this morning:

Bob,
Give me a bit of background info on Poker Alice. What class of woman was she? I can then find the appropriate top for her to wear. Sounds exciting!!!!! I love doing things like this!!!
—Jen

Jen,
Poker Alice was busted for prostitution in the 1920s and there is a famous photo of her with a cigar and no teeth, looking more like a grizzled grandma than a sexy cardsharp. Still, she is the epitome of the female gambler, has a great name, possibly looked good when she was younger, we don't know.

I want to thread the needle somewhere between fantasy and authenticity. I definitely don't want the Miss Kitty look, but I would love to have a French whorehouse Toulouse Latrec type gal, haughty and stylish but whorish nonetheless.

Probably the best fantasy image ever is that damned Soiled Dove book cover illustration. She's sexy, she's smoking, she's got a flimsy something on. What is it? So, be creative, and don't be hemmed in by being too literal. I want an authentic fantasy. I want people to look at this photograph and say, Wow! I've never seen an outfit like that before. Could that be real? Did they really wear that? Must look inside! Must buy issue! Must buy subscription! Must buy a gift subscription for everyone I know!!!

Or some version of that.

"No man is wise enough by himself."
—Plautus

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

May 17, 2005
Lost today's blog. Went into a meeting at five with blog all but done (no quote), Abby must have done something when she turned off the server, came back at 5:40, computer frozen, restarted, no copy.

Let's see, I talked about the two consecutive fires, the St. Clair fire which has burned 1,900 access and the Bart fire which is at 11,500 acres and counting. Both originated in the same area, near Bartlett Lake. Damn it was funny, poignant. But we'll never see it, not that I'm bitter or petty. Or immature.

We’ve got a new poll up. Do Hollywood Western movies distort the public's view of the Old West? Please vote.

Last night, after work, I drove out to Bryan Neumeister’s house and studio in New River to pick up the True West radio spots we cut last week. Bryan is amazing (he's won 28 Emmys for his tv camera work, mostly with Jerry Foster and Sky 12, and he produces music for Blue Oyster Cult, among other things). Bryan asked me what kind of music bed I wanted on the ads and I said I wanted something edgy, zany and modern, yet with a Western touch. And please, no Hee Haw hocum, or Classic Rock, a la 1982, which is where every documentary producer turns to when they approach the West and especially True West.

Bryan nailed it. He created everything from the ground up, complete with an overmodulated dinner bell, that he turned into gigantic Mexican church bells out of a Sergio Leone movie, to eerie steel guitar techniques that sound like they were recorded on Saturn. Just very inspired and zany. Just what the doctor ordered. We will get them up here on the site so you can hear them for yourself, as soon as we can MP3 them, whatever that means.

More later. I forgot half the stuff I had in here.

"As the wind blows, you must set your sail."
—Thomas Fuller

Monday, May 16, 2005

May 16, 2005
The graduation bar-b-que on Friday afternoon was a ton of fun. Catered by Brandon and Route 66 Catering, the owner Brandon cooked up homemade beans (this alone won him my lifelong loyalty), beef, chicken, homemade potato salad and cold slaw. It was the best, especially since the last bar-b-que I had was when one of our advertisers treated the TW staff and it was so bad I can’t even begin to tell you. I made the first toast and told about all of the people who counted Thomas Charles out, and ended with the line, "Like my Kingman cowboy cousins tell me, the wildest colts make the best horses." To which Robert Chenalt and several other hell raising friends of my son’s said, "Man, I'm using that line!" Ha.

Had dinner last night at Josephine’s on Humphrey. Great meal. Just Kathy, Tomcat and the Dad. I had the pork mole, T.Boy had the salmon and Kath had a nice salad, plus wine and dessert ($98 plus $20 tip, house account). Really nice time. Went back to the Iranian Country Inn (not really, but that’s what I kept calling it, much to the irritation of my liberal wife) and watched Life Aquatic with Bill Murray. Thomas loves this movie. I thought it was very uneven and loopy, but then I think cutoffs at graduation is over the line.

On Saturday morning, Tomas and I met Carole and Bill Glenn at Martan's. We also met Chuck and Patty Holmes, oldtime KDKB people and friends of Carole's and Kathy's. Chuck just got a new gig at a medical company that makes the machines that make heart stents, etc. Chuck bragged that, "The owners invested $1,000 five years ago and they billed $5 mil last year and they’ll bill $18 mil this year."

To this, I said, "that’s the opposite of our company. We invested way more and today we’re billing way less." Carole and I laughed the loudest because we know it’s more true than I’d like to admit. (actually we invested about $600,000 five years ago and we billed $1.2 mil last year and we’ll bill around $1.5 mil this year). Carole paid for breakfast over my protestations.

On Sunday morning I played basketball on campus with Jake the Snake and Tomas. I got creamed in every game we played (21, horse, around the world). The only saving grace is I didn’t wrench my back).

We got up Sunday at the Iranian Country Inn and walked over to Macy’s Bakery on Beaver Street and had some java and toast ($12 cash). Dropped T-Bell off at about 11 and got home at one. Great weekend.

"Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings."
—C.D. Jackson
May 15, 2005
We got to Flag at 12:30 on Friday and picked up the graduate ("I've got one word for you: 'Plastics'") and went to a pre-grad party at Kendra's rental house. Her entire family was there complete with new baby. Several champagne toasts to the grads, several photo ops. Two people from Philadelphia said they recognized me from the History Channel.

Got to the Walkup Skydome at two, parked in a dorm lot and went in early to grab decent seats. At about three Carole and Bill Glenn showed up, then Brad, Carol, EJ and Cedes and finally Debbie, Kenny and Mother Radina, who we guided in off the freeway by cell phone. One of the more positive-phenoms of late is the honing in by cell phone. A guy comes out of the tunnel, leans over me and says, "I’m at the lower tunnel, Section H, where are you? Okay, white shirt? Raise your hand. Okay, got ya." Back in 1969 (when I should have graduated) this conversation would have sounded like this: "We waited for you for a half hour. We never did find a seat. Where the hell were you?"

The warm-up act were those Ko-pee-koo-aii dancers I saw two months ago. They had the jungle drums and the watusi-hippie dancer gyrations. Kind of groovy if you were on acid which we weren’t.

The grads came marching in at about 3:15. Way too slacker for me. Throwing stuff. Guys in cutoffs and flip-flops! Beach balls flying around. Stupid stuff written on their hats. Peace signs, crap like that. But I can't really complain because it was our generation that started all this in-your-face posturing. And now I see what we got for it. Kids who make us seem like choir boys.

I think there were 6,100 graduates spread over four ceremonies: two on Friday, two on Saturday. The Friday morning session got the governor of Arizona so I was glad I missed that (just kidding). Finally the NAU band cranked up the graduation march and Kathy hugged me and said, "Can you believe it, Thomas Charles is graduating?" I smiled and said, "I won’t believe it until I see the cap go in the air." And it was true. I kept expecting campus police to come into the concourse area at any moment with night sticks, surround Tomcat's chair and escort him out of the building.

For a good two hours we listened to those Wal-mart boat squawkers rip through the air. I never saw one, so I don’t even know what they look like but the sound is like a trumpeter on meth being goosed royally, over and over.

As the Masters degrees were being handed out a mail voice from behind us, boomed out, "Jake, I love you!" I leaned over to Kathy and whispered, "Over emotional dad, or gay lover?" When Kathy responded that she thought it was the latter, I asked why and she said, "Tenor."

Finally, we could see T-Charles approach the stage and everybody got excited. The latest speaker aid is to have the impending grad hand the announcer a sheet of paper with the appropriate name and how to pronounce it (one of the more clever ideas to come down the pike since my day when Coach Cook announced Alex Nish and handed a diploma to Katherine Lamb.) T. Bell handed the piece of paper to the announcer and we all stood and cheered. My son broke into a hook-em horns meets Metallica air-guitar hand stance, and stuck out his tongue like Gene Simmons. We all turned to each other and said, “What was the name he gave them? It didn’t sound like Thomas Charles Bell.” Later, at the $850 catered bar-b-que (Route 66 Catering) at Kiwanis Park, I finally cornered the grad and he admitted the name he handed them was, “Thomas Edison Bell.” Where are those campus police when you need them?

"There's more learning than is taught in books."
—Lady Gregory

Friday, May 13, 2005

May 13, 2005
This is a day we have been looking forward to for some time. The Tomcat graduates from college this afternoon. Last night I was standing in the middle of a lonely road, above New River, waiting for Wonderful Russ. I scanned the long, broken ridges and sloping plains and reflected on my checkered life, and my son's. I dropped out of college six units shy of a degree and for the past 36 years I have had it on my list of things to do, to finish.

Thomas Charles, the boy who gave us some fits and was kicked out of more than one school, will have done it in four years. Amazing. I guess I won’t believe it until the cap goes in the air. That will be at about 3:30 this afternoon.

Russell got lost and showed up about 6:30. He followed me in his Porsche up to Brian Newmeister’s extravagant studio in the high foothills, overlooking I-17. Russ and I have been recording radio spots together for 25 years so we have some experience at the game. However, both he and I were stunned at the newest computer technology. In the old days. I would bring the scripts, Russ would do several read thrus and we would pick the best one. Sometimes if there was a flub or glitch on a word we would re-record a paragraph and cut it in, by hand, on tape.

Not anymore. Brian had Russ read each word with two different inflections and then he cut all of them together, using just the best ones. He literally built the spots word by word. Amazing. And scary.

Got out of there at eight, Deena called and wanted to know if I’d join her for dinner, so we met at El Encanto at 8:30. Place totally slammed with a twenty minute wait. Decided to sit at the bar and eat. Good talk with her. As we were eating several of her Creeker cronies, kids she grew up with, came in. Kaylin Cumming and Hillary Williams joined us. Kaylin is going to ride his bike to Boulder, Colorado. He says it will take 21 days and he’s following the interstates. I told him to be careful. Crazy Cave Creek kids.

Got home at about ten. Long day. We’re going up the hill in about a half hour. Tomas just called and warned me to bring my tennis shoes so he can whup my ass in B-Ball. Frankly, I don’t have to go up to Flag to find out the answer to that question.

"People are capable of doing an awful lot when they have no choice and I had no choice. Courage is when you have choices."
—Terry Anderson

Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 12, 2005
I got a call from Dan Harshberger this morning and he said, "Hey, I was at the vet yesterday and they had a Phoenix Magazine there and I was waiting and I saw your picture in there." I asked him how it looked and he said, "Terrible. You look like a cripple in a wheel chair."

This is that photo session we had in our front yard a couple months ago and the guy, Werner, shot me sitting in a lawn chair on the Spanish driveway with Kathy sitting next to me and Deena standing behind, and Peaches at my feet (Buddy ran off and hid). The guy must have taken thirty shots and really seemed to know what he was doing. Had a big ol' 4X5 camera and everything.

At lunchtime, Carole and I drove down to Walgreen's and I bought the new issue ($4.10 cash), and as we drove to China Joy for lunch, Carole leafed through the pages until she found it. Yep. There I am, looking like that wheel-chair bound physicist guy (David Hocking?). I’m hunched down and pained. Really pathetic looking. Peaches looks good though. And so does Deena. Kathy looks pained (she's squinting). Other than that, it's a great shot of the family.

Worked on copy for the 25th CGII gunfight, Bob "Dutch" Martin in a fight I call the Good Rustlers vs. the Bad Rustlers. You'll need a scorecard for this one. Quite amazing and I wasn't even aware of this fight at Stein's Pass, New Mexico (my great grandfather, Henry Guess, is buried there and my great uncle, John Guess, had a ranch just north of there, so that location has family ties). Steve Gatto gave me the goods. Gus and I reshuffled the schematic for CGII to add this fight and in the process I lost four pages of wrap-up, but it's time to cut my losses and finish. Quit jackin' around Wheel Chair Boy.

John Beckett shot a whole bunch of Western Wear stuff for us today. I didn’t go out but Joel Klasky went out and covered everything for us.

Going out at six tonight to cut two True West radio commercials at Brian Newmeister's radio ranch in New River. Wonderful Russ is the voice talent and is meeting me out there.

"People would have more leisure time if it weren’t for all the leisure-time activities that use it up."
—Peg Bracken

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

May 11, 2005
I woke up at 3:30 mulling my current situation with the magazine. So many options and problems and opportunities. So many aspects of the magazine biz are fluid and changing (even while I’m in bed!). Someone in the biz told me it's kind of like changing a tire on a car, only the car is going forty miles an hour! Ha.

At 8:30 this morning I drove out to John Beckett's home-studio to photograph the real Honkytonk Sue. Jackie King Ellis is down from Durango and we shot her out by John's rounding pen. She looked great. While we shot, a dozen earth movers were scraping a distant ridge to make way for some 400 new homes for Anthem. The ground all around here is literally teeming with the hiss of real estate tremors and obscene offers. Speaking of which, Kathy called me and wants to sell our house for [an obscene amount], move into a condo and relax. I told her I'd think about it. I imagine if we did actually sell the first thing the buyers would do is rip out my Spanish driveway.

The Irish host of the BBC show I taped in Tombstone last Friday once toured with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. This is the band that ended up to be The Band, as in Bob Dylan's Band. When we were having lunch in Big Nose Kate's a guy came up and recognized him from the "telley." Fun talking to Jerry between takes on Allen Street. When I asked him what the biggest culture shock is in America, he said, "You get up too bloody early!" I guess they think eight is the crack of dawn over there.

After the taping, the director, Moore Sinnerton, asked me if I'd pick up a rear seat that they left in Tucson at their hotel. This simple task produced the following two Emails:

Steve,
Last Friday I was in Tombstone filming with the BBC. When we got done the director asked me if I would stop in Tucson and pick up a rear bench seat they had stored at your hotel. I told him I'd be glad to, as long as I had a contact person at the hotel so I wouldn't get held up there.

He gave me your name. When we got to Tucson at 4:30, I couldn't resist grabbing dinner at one of my favorite Mexican food places, El Charro, and so that put us behind and we arrived at Inn Suites at about 5:30. The young woman at the front desk informed me that you had already left. When I asked if she could help me find the seat she got very defensive and said, "Sir, he's not here and we have no record of anything like this being here."

There were people behind me, but I just wanted her to check because I knew it had to be there. She begrudgingly called you and left a message. Realizing I would have to wait until you came back to work, or hell froze over, I asked her if there was anywhere else she could check. Her attitude was, "Sir, if it's not in luggage, we have no record of it." At this point she apparently went in the back and hid.

Enter Erik. This young man came out and asked me politely if he could help me. I told him about the missing seat. He immediately called "Banquet" and asked. They didn't have it. Erik was not deterred. He said, and I quote, "Let me try one other place." And he called "Maintenance." They had it.

Wow! Thankyou Erik! Someone on the premises who actually can think outside the box and be pro-active, even though it's probably "technically" not his job.

As a business owner myself (True West magazine at twmag.com) I would want to know when someone on my staff turned around a negative situation. Erik actually made me feel good about Inn Suites.

As for the curt, unhelpful young lady, someone needs to talk to her. I would recommend Erik.

Westernly,

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

This morning I got this reply from Steve:

“Thanks so much for your input, I find this to be very helpful. Erik is one of our exemplarily employees and we are well aware of this, he has saved the day numerous times. I'm not making excuses for our Gal at the front desk, but I'm partly to blame for what happened, Moore Sinnerton asked me to have the seat up front for you however; we had a Tour group coming in at the time and our maintenance guy felt it would be in the way, I assumed he let the front desk know about it, here was my mistake. I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

This just in from Tom Carpenter in Flag:
The comedian Mark Hedberg died last month, age 37. Here's a quote of his I
thought you might enjoy: "I had a stick of Carefree gum, but it didn't
work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as
the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality."

"The schools and university curricula today are stuffed with therapy -- drug counseling, AIDS warnings, self-improvement advice, sex education, women's/gay/Chicano/African-American/ Asian/peace/urban/environmental/leisure studies. These are all well-meaning and nice -isms and -ologies that once would have been seen as either non-academic or left to the individual, family or community. But in the zero-sum game of daily instruction, something else was given up -- too often knowledge of the past."
—Victor Davis Hanson

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

May 10, 2005
In meetings all morning. Staff meeting at 8:30, editorial session at nine with Meghan and Robert Ray. Dan Harshberber drove out for a design meeting at ten. Went over the History of Western Wear editorial package for August and jammed on great stuff like the ten most unique cowboy hats ever, like Tom Mix, Gabby Hays, etc. (thanks Corrine!).

At noon Dan and I drove up to Carefree in his 1954 turquoise Ford pickup. Stopped in at Cowboy Legacy Gallery and talked to Brian Label, then went over to Carefree Station for lunch (Dan had a burger and I had a steak salad and iced tea, quite good, $28 plus $5 tip).

Proof That You Get-More-With-Sugar-Department:

Ok Bob. I thank you for your personal response to my criticism. One of the
things I really miss about True West magazine is the pulp style paper it
used to be printed on. Having that kind of paper tended to add a certain
"atmosphere" or historical ambience that's missing with the slick paper used
now.

Also, there is a certain new style in magazine layouts that I've seen being
embraced over the past few years. It's where the actual articles and the
advertisements tend to almost look the same throughout the magazine. I
guess I'm from the old school where I like to see the ads clustered near the
back and the articles, editorial, letters etc. concentrated at the beginning
and middle of the publication.

I'll check in from time to time when I'm at the magazine store and see how
True West continues to evolve, and perhaps it will change into a western
magazine that's more to my liking again.

Thanks!
Bill Sievers

And my reply to Bill:
Bill,
I am a huge fan of the old paper myself. In retrospect, I kind of wish we had stayed with something a bit more funky but it's too late to go back now (however, we have played with the idea of having a center section on the old paper just for guys like you).

As for the layouts, we have tried our hardest to distinguish our design between feature layouts and ads. That's why we have the strong black and white imagery to start our departments. Still, I agree that the blend between editorial and advertising has been getting harder and harder to decipher. You can thank computers for most of this. Today almost anybody can produce a slick, multi-layered ad. And they do.

Anyway, we've got some great articles coming up, so keep your eyes on our rack position and I hope you give us another chance.
—BBB

"Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
—Pablo Picasso

Monday, May 09, 2005

May 9, 2005
Well, it isn't all glitz and "Dig Me!" glory in the magazine business. Here's an Email I got this morning:

Disgusted with True West magazine
After several years of hoping True West would get back to its roots of a high-quality, informative, western publication. I see its main purpose is an advertising vehicle. Bob Boze Bell should be ashamed of himself for purchasing this magazine from its former owner, and converting it into a slick medium designed primarily to attract advertisers, and sparingly "squeeze in" some history about the old west. I used to look forward to buying my copies when it was published out of Oklahoma, but no longer. You've certainly lost me as a reader. Perhaps you should consider renaming the magazine to TRUE WEST ADVERTISING! It certainly would be more appropriate.
—Bill Sievers, Natick, Mass.

Here’s my Email back to Bill:
Well, it pains me to read your thoughtful Email. I'm sorry we haven't achieved the balance between history and advertising that would keep you as a regular reader.

For me personally it has been a tough balancing act to say the least. From day one, my goal has been to have at least 60 pages of editorial in every issue, because that was the basic formula in the old magazine. As we have come to depend more and more on advertising, sometimes that mix has gotten watered down. I think the last issue had 56 pages of editorial. Still, we have tried to get the best writers, photos, maps and artwork we can get, and I'm disappointed you don't feel that quality has kept pace with your interests. I do appreciate your honesty, and that you took the time to write.
—BBB

Robert Ray finished up most of the newest issue this afternoon. It's chocked full of great cow-boy images from Bob McCubbin. Too bad Bill is going to miss those. They are humdingers, every one.

Our good friend Bob Reece sent me this:
As you may know I've been covering Thom Ross's crazy art project from the beginning via the Friends of the Little Big Horn website—Thom recently sent me a few of his new posters for the project and they're fantastic. We're selling them for him (he's donating a percentage of each poster sold to the Friends projects for 2005). Of course, the Friends are non-profit like you are non-profit and almost like NPR is non-profit, but they make more non-profit than all of us combined!

So, if you're feeling generous, I would appreciate it if you would note the poster being available for sale in your journal. (No, Thom did not put me up to this) The link to the poster sale is at: http://www.friendslittlebighorn.com/thomrossposter.htm

Had a very nice Mother’s Day celebration over at Mother Radina's yesterday. Kathy sent flowers to my mother in Cody, and of course, I get the credit. Sweet!

"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness."
—Honor√© de Balzac

Saturday, May 07, 2005

May 6, 2005
Got up at five, picked up Mike Melrose at six and we got through the beast without much trouble, rolling into the Old Pueblo at about nine. Stopped at El Indio, of course, and had the huevos rancheros ($10 cash, went dutch). Both the waitress and I tried to teach Melrose how to pronounce "huevos" which he mangles into "Who-ah-wave-ohs." I pointed at him and said to the hispanic waitress "Es estudiante de Espanole," and she visibly brightened, and seemed to think he was cute (which is more than I can say). For the rest of the meal she kept coming back and saying things to him in Spanish, which drove him crazy and made my day.

We rolled into Tombstone at about 10:30 and ran smack dab into Timothy Fattig, which seems to be a tradition. After shaking hands, I asked him what the status of his book is. For some reason Timothy answered in a Scottish accent, sounding a bit like that deranged custodian character on the Simpsons. The rumor is that Tim's publisher, Michael Hickey, has withheld the book because Tim made peace with Allen Barra and Hickey hates Barra because of a dustup on a certain website and now Hickey won't let Tim sell his own book. As absurd as that sounds, that's the rumor, but I wanted to find out from the author himself. As we walked along the boardwalk at Fourth and Allen, Fattig's Scottish answer sounded something like this:

"Well, me book is grounding the waves, Mate. Und the poobleesher es playing der games, but iss rocking-wall, der fine."

As we turned the corner, Melrose said to me: "I didn’t know Fattig was Scottish." I told him he isn't, that it's possibly just Tim's way of being funny. We decided he had succeeded quite well in that department.

Met the Irish film crew at 11 and we knocked out the BBC commentary in about an hour. More on that later.

Got home at about 8:30. Long day. Went right to bed. Big weekend. My daughter turns 25 tomorrow.

"We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."
—Lee Iococca

Thursday, May 05, 2005

May 5, 2005
Last night Kathy and I met Deena down at the Superpumper, just off the 101 and we all drove over and picked up Mother Radina and took her out to Earl's on Peoria for her birthday dinner (she's 81). Brad, Carole, EJ and Mercedes joined us and we had the banquet room all to ourselves and had a good old time. I had two horni margaritas and the chile colorado ranchero steak. Brad made the chile colorado himself. Quite tasty. Got home around nine. Long day. Dogs all pissed off. Wouldn’t even look at us (I know, I know, they’re so spoiled).

Today I finished three scratchboards for the July issue, tweaked my editorial, adding a bit on draw-string shirts being authentic (our cover cow-boy and several of the McCubbin photos inside feature this unique style, that never gets any play in Hollywood movies). Also went up and had a facial that Kathy had paid for. That was kind of fun. Forgot to eat lunch. Worked until around 5:30. Melrose and I are driving down to Tombstone in the morning at six. This is for the BBC taping. They’re doing a big series on the American West. Going straight down and coming back the same day. Have to stop in Tucson for Mexican food of course.

Porn star Jenna Jameson and her husband have bought a 10,000 square foot mansion in Paradise Valley. Six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. I guess when you’re in porn you need eight bathrooms. Just thought you'd like to know.

Speaking of pornographic size houses, a 9,000 square foot monster burned just south of Rancho Manana last night about 4:30. We all ran out on the porch to watch the smoke, trying to figure out where it was. When I drove down to meet Kathy I met all the fire trucks coming up from Phoenix. There were at least three fires yesterday around the Valley and the wind and the drying grass has everyone worried.

A good friend of mine just got a new sportscar. I'm so jealous.

"Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself."
—Mary Schmich

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

May 4, 2005
As of seven this morning I took my last dose of coumadin. Based on my latest catscan the clot is gone. However, the report noted “chronic thrombosis” which basically means it could return at any time. My doctor said it's hard to tell with all of the scarring how much damage is there. And she wished me luck.

After reading the obits for the past week (every day there seems to be a guy my age, or younger, who has done thrombo-mosied over to the other side), so I'm just real happy to be here, and if you're close to my age you know exactly what I mean.

The comments on the Religion cover and story continue to come in. Just got this one from San Francisco:
“Let me just say again how much I loved the Clint Eastwood Jesus. but you've
gotta give the devil his due. After all, it's the role Lee Van Cleef was made to play.”
—Damian (a minister and artist)

And here’s a report on End of Trail which moved out of Southern California this year and into the backwoods of New Mexico. I have been concerned that they might lose their substantial attendance. Here's a report by our piano-playing neighbor at Festival of the West:

"I just got back from the SASS event near Albuquerque...as this was my first time at this event I don't have any comparison to the past in Calif. but in my humble opinion and perspective as just the piano player..it went exceptionally well. The playing from 8 to midnight at the "Belle Union Saloon"..three nights...was an ideal fit for me and I guess it all went OK cause nobody shot me. Elevation was something like over 7000 feet, mountains,cedar trees, big valley...no modern stuff stuck around to be seen so it will be a neat place for their plans to build a western town which they have already started. Nearest town with a lot of motels and some stores..Moriarty..about 20 minutes. Albuquerque & WalMart.. about 45 minutes. The event was sold out. It drew a lot of new attendees from the mid to upper Rockies states as it was closer than Calif. Some from England, Europe, Australia. The people were a class act and made it good for us. The weather turned unusually cold and windy and it even snowed but Sat & Sun were fine."
—Dwain Bond, frontier piano player extraordinaire

I was contacted last week by the editor of Route 66 Magazine, Bob Moore, who said he is downsizing his life and going on the road with a trailer to pursue novel writing. Bob also told me he has a full set of Razz Revue magazines and would I like them. They came in today and Gus and Mike Melrose have been ogling them ever since. The Razz was a humor magazine that Daniel Harshberger and I published from 1972 to 1976 (16 issues). Many painful and great memories. In 1974 we ran Wonderful Russ for governor of Arizona (no joke!) and Daniel took Russ down to the State Capital and posed him out front. The subsequent political poster (free inside every magazine!) had a headline that read: "He Knows What Arizona Needs" and in Russ's hand is an enema bag. Russ came in third (I want to say he got 276 votes) and because of the equal time rule, Russ got on all the tv stations (4) and told about how he was going to blast California off into the ocean so we could have ocean front property and how he would free all the prisoners and let real criminals run the government. Oh, and don't forget “free drugs and free food.” Needless to say, the people who ran Arizona at that time were not amused, but several of us were, and damned proud too.

"Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream."
— Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

May 3, 2005
Gus and I worked on the CGII postcard this morning and I ran it up to Bill at Cowboy Legacy Gallery in Carefree to proof the copy. Also picked up the photo prints for CGII artwork, shot over the weekend ($6.75 biz account).

At ten, Gary Mathewson, the executive producer of the tv show Arizona Backroads picked me up and we drove out to New River to Brian Newmeister's Skymeister Production studio to tape a Tombstone session for an upcoming show. Backroads is hosted by Marshall Trimble and runs on a local station.

Got back to the office at about 1:30. Got an Email from Tomcat regarding the Coachella Music Festival he attended last weekend. Take a gander at his running narrative and tell me if you recognize any of the bands he saw:

"The festival had four stages; the main outdoor stage, a smaller outdoor stage and two tent stages. We just went around to the shows we wanted to see and drank a lot of water. Sometimes we could only catch part of a show because they overlap and we wanted to see someone else.

"Day 1: we started with the Sexy Magazines from NYC at 12:30, then Katie Melua at 1:35 (Norah Jones type), then The Raveonettes on the main stage at 3:00 but left early to catch Ambulance LTD in the Mojave tent (Awesome show). Then back to the main stage and chilled on the grass for Snow Patrol at 4:15 at the main stage (cheesy emo), back to Mojave for The Kills at 4:50 (Awesome and intense show). Back to the main stage and relaxed on the grass for Keane then tried to get close for Wilco at 6:45 but it was way crowded (Weezer played next). Got pushed up fairly close by Weezer fans and the sun finally went down for their show at 8:00. I really didn't enjoy that show because I'm not a huge fan and I wanted to see The Secret Machines in the Mojave tent but Monica really likes Weezer. Caught the last half of Sage Francis on the outdoor stage and the show was surprisingly amazing. He's all about poetry, poetry slams and what he calls intelligent hip hop. At one point he just recited a poem for about ten minutes and it was awesome. The funny thing is is that he's a big, bald white guy with a huge beard from Rhode Island. Kind of a side note but did you know most of the underground hip hop these days comes from Rhode Island and Minnesota? Finished out the night with Bloc Party at Mojave and ate Carne Asada burros on the grass for Coldplay. Talk about superstars, there must have been all 50,000 people at that Coldplay show.

"We had some Pacificos iced down in the car but when we got back to the car (that's where we slept) we had one and passed out from exhaustion. The Cav [his rental car] isn't as bad as you would think.

"Day 2: Zion I in the Gobie tent at 1:00 (hip hop), Jem (Jewel type) and got really close for Fiery Furnaces on the outdoor stage (too hot!). These were the guys I was most excited to see. A brother sister duo from Brooklyn. It was kind of disappointing though because they sped up all there songs and mixed them together. Creative but not cool. The sister was very hot though. Then we cruised over to The Bravery in the Mojave tent. They should have been outside because like Bloc Party they are really hot right now and the tent was overflowing so bad you couldn't even get in. So we just sat in the grass outside and listened. Bloc Party we got in half way through because Coldplay was starting. Anyway, back to the outdoor stage for The Arcade Fire and got pretty close. This was hands down the sickest show we saw. Really amazing. They have two violin players, an accordion, keyboard and they all switched up instruments a lot. Then we finished up the day with The Dresden Dolls (just drums, keyboard and vocals, 2 people), Pinback (really good), The Faint, Blackstar (hip hop) and Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes was terrible. He was drunk and I hate that emo shit anyway.

"One more thing I forgot to mention is that for most of these bands these were the biggest shows they'd every played. They're used to playing bars and small venues and here, even in the tents, you'd get thousands of people. The Wilco and Arcade Fire turnouts were amazing and the Fire even said it. PS, the singer from Arcade Fire threw his microphone and it went like five feet over my head. Damn!

“I had my second wind and thought I could make it back to Phoenix but after leaving Indio at 2:00 a.m. I pulled over a half hour later and slept till 6:30 and drove back. We got back to Flag at noon, returned the car and I went to work at 2:00 and they had me stay until midnight so I'm exhausted today. It did feel good to shower and brush my teeth.”

Ah, to be young and totally ridiculous when it comes to sleep and distance (and music).

"I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to."
—Elvis Presley

Monday, May 02, 2005

May 2, 2005
My back feels much better today. I don’t know why. Maybe it's the heat. And speaking of me speaking about the heat landing on our heads the other day, here's a response to that blog from Bonny:

"You give good sky."

I really had a good day painting yesterday. Finished at least six images, including a scratchboard for the Blaze Away! contents camapaign and a pen and ink drawing of Curly Bill poking a pistol in the ear of a Charleston minister. Very encouraging (the artwork, not the poking). I always get cranking when the deadline draws near.

Went for a bike ride this morning about seven. Still cool out this time of day, but not for long. Tried to enjoy it and soak in the cool air, while I can.

Got into the office at about 8:30. Called Brian Label about our CGII postcard campaign. He's in LA and we need to get him 500 cards in the next two weeks. Got Gus designing the first of 25 cards. Going to do one for every gunfight. Very ambitious, but that's what keeps us off the streets.

At about one we had birtrhday cake for Crystal (she's 25) and Ron (he's the same age as Roger Maris' asterik record, hint 61*). That was fun. Now we're all jacked up on chocolate cake, staff bouncing off walls, talking too much (and that’s just me).

Carole just stuck her head in my office and said the bank is getting more bad checks written using our original account number. The bank cuaght it early and we changed everything but the guy who made the fake checks got one past Home Depot for more than $300. According to Carole, he must have a pretty strong fake ID, because everything on his check is fake, the address and everything. NSFS, our subscription service had the same thing happen to them. Carole wants me to warn you to keep good tabs on your account and track every check.

The BBC is in town and I'm supposed to go to Tombstone on Friday morning to film on Allen Street. Meanwhile, the Crown book galleys are coming in tomorrow morning and they want corrections by Monday, but that's also the day the July issue of TW goes to Banta and we're supposed to be turning out 16 pages a week for the CGII book, and Gus and I are working on that CGII postcard campaign for Brian Label, which needs to be to him in two weeks.

Other than that, not much is going on around here.

"One who stands on the edge of a cliff is wise to define progress as stepping backwards."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, May 01, 2005

May 1, 2005
Okay, it's hot. We got a couple reprieves from our patented Master-Blaster-Roaster-o-Sphere, with a little extra rain and cool nights, but today, on the first of May, it plopped on us. "The eagle has landed—on our head."

Back feels a tad better. Kathy was going to force me to go to yoga (or as my mom calls it "Yogi"), but she worked in the yard and I worked on a Blaze Away scratchboard and hid in the back yard (where Peaches ducks the truck rides) and the appointed hour has passed, and maybe, just maybe I have put off getting healthy for another day.

Yabba-dabba-do!

Painted on the Doc Holliday-soiled dove painting. She's sexy and pushed back in a Toulouse-Lautrec kind of way. It felt good to finally finish the Pa pago Station scene. Here's a peek at all the studies. The finished version is at bottom left.

Watched two Daily Shows last night. Jon Stewart makes me laugh. Then Kath and I watched the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carey and Kate Winslet (I think she got an Academy Award nomination for her role) I should have known it was going to be a convoluted and tricky story because I saw Charlie Kaufman's name in the opening credits. He wrote Adaptation, one of the most painfully contrived movies I've ever encountered, but this one was very good and once again, like Sideways, it's got the honest ending, rather than the movie, fantasy ending we all expect. I'd classify it as Total Recall meets W hen Harry Met Sally.

I've been studying the pile of magazines we bought on Friday and there are some interesting trends. More successful magazines are moving towards what Bob Brink calls the "service area," with the fashion mags like InStyle and Real Simple running individual products like dresses, shoes, even tooth brushes, with the price and where you can get it (usually an Email address). I think this is something we can easily do and should. Featuring boots, hats, gunbelts, saddles, ropes and general True West gear is a great service to our readers.

One of the other things I have gleaned is that the new editorial-ad balance is tighter than the old days. Out of 96 pages, Workbench committed 64 pages to editorial. This is a slightly higher editorial ratio than we have been using, but I think we need to lean towards adding more editorial, especially if we are going to add new departments, which we intend to do.

Other magazines were even more skewed towards edit orial. In a 360 page book, InStyle has 214 pages of editorial! How they can even produce this on a regular bases is beyond me. They must have a staff of hundreds.

Here's the ratio of the other mags we bought:

Smithsonian: 124 pages, 79 editorial

History Today: 64 pag es, 61 editorial

Hot Rod: 170 pages, 89 editorial

Southern Living, 236 pages, 112 editorial

Popular Mechanics, 160 pages, 80 editorial

Outside, 140 pages, 74 editorial

Men’s Journal, 256 pages, 127 editorial (very difficult to discern some editorial as being editorial and not ads).

We have some big plans for 2006 which will mandate us getting up into the 160 pages zone, and I have a very good idea on how to fill those pages. Very exciting.

Our man at the Westerns channel, Jeff Hildebrandt wonders if we merged with National Geographic, would our website then be:

TWANG.com?

"Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut."
—Daniel Greenberg,

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