Tuesday, February 28, 2006

February 28, 2006
Supposed to rain. We need it. Meanwhile, my wife thinks I need to go into therapy and get medication for my ADD. My marketing guy thinks I’m “swirling” out of control and a new article that just came out this morning in the Fountain Hills Let’s Go! spawned this Email which was sent to the writer of the piece (I haven't read it yet):

That’s Mister Mind Thief to You!
“I got a kick out of your story about BBB.

“In 1999 Bob had a local morning radio program that my wife and I listened to. The thing we like most were his long stories about the old west. Well, in the fall of 1999, Bob announced on his show that he bought True West to save it from bankruptcy.

“I too had read True West when I was a kid living in Tucson in the late 50's. So when Bob announced on the radio that he needed a Marketing Manager to help him re-launch the magazine I, being retired from that profession, gave him a call.

“For the next 18 months I was the True West Marketing and PR manager.

“Point of all this is that you nailed Bob's personality on the head. He is a man who has a mind spinning like a top and 60 seconds of concentration on one thing, is a lot for him. When you meet with him you feel like his mind is somewhere else but he has a very good memory and is a prolific note taker who, buried somewhere, has a note on everything he has learned from his conversation with you.

“He is a great mind thief. He knows a good idea when he hears it and he'll capture it and make it his own. He is an Arizona treasure.”
—Alan Fossenkemper

Well, yes, if a treasure is something you find buried under a load of crap.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Scientist Has Nagging Feeling He Left Particle Accelerator On

“I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.”
—Washington Irving

Monday, February 27, 2006

February 27, 2006
"Is the flight sold out?" I asked the ticket attendant, standing at the US Air counter at El Paso International Airport.

She nodded yes, meekly. I started to swear (again), but then remembered the movie Anger Management with Adam Sandler.

"I've been a very good boy so far, " I actually told the woman. "I got bumped off two flights getting here and I spent all day at Sky Harbor Airport and although I had the priveledge of eating two $45 tacos, and hanging out with Cesar, a brilliant realtor by the way, I'm not real thrilled to be duplicating that experience here in El Paso."

"I will get you on this flight," the woman assured me.

I didn't believe her. I folded my arms and fumed. I stared at the far wall and envisioned the name of my new blog, "Don't Fly US Air." I had the logo half-finished in my mind (a big screw wedging between the U and S).

Meanwhile, the woman was on the phone waiting. For a long time. At least five minutes went by (I figured there was some US Air agent on the other end, either chuckling, or handling a dozen other calls just like this one; or both).

Finally, the woman smiled and hung up the phone. "You're on the plane."
I looked at her and said, "One person saves an airline."

I high-fived her. 'I'm not kidding," I reiterated. "You are the one person who has saved this airline a ton of grief, and money. I don't claim to be some powerful person, but I would have done everything in my power to convince everyone I know not to fly US AIr. Thankyou. What is your name?"

"Betty Flores." What a beautiful name, I told her.

The US Air people in Phoenix just made me madder by acting dull (I assume they get beat up and abused every day because of the overselling tactic and mock up a kind of shell-shocked non-commital attitude). But Betty Flores, assured me I would get on that plane, and she actually smiled, and she did her job. Whatever Betty Flores is getting paid, it's not enough. One person saved a company, and on this day, the name of that hero is Betty Flores.

And thanks to Betty Flores, I'm wiritng this from Cave Creek, Arizona.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
You Win Some, You Claim To Have Won Some

"Every man has three characters: that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has."
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 26, 2006
I got up at six, packed my rented, red Pathfinder, copped a banana out of the lobby (continental breakfast sans real cups or silverwear), set the thermostat for 77 and squealed out of the Alpine Best Western in the cloudy, morning twilight. Went about fifty yards and braked to get gas at the neighboring convenience mart ($2.23 a gallon for unleaded). I wanted to get gas quickly and go because it was, by now, 6:10 and I had four hours to get to the airport in El Paso, and I planned to take the long way back and see some scenery (I drove all the way to Alpine in the dark, missing Valentine, Marfa, Wolf and all the surrounding mountains, and besides, I hate going back the same way). Unfortunately, I spent five minutes trying to figure out how to open the fuel door. It had no indentation, or lock, or any visible clue on how to open the booger. I got back in the car and poured over the door, the dash, the steering wheel, the console, even the stereo, looking for the automatic button release. Yes, I could have read the owner’s manual, but that’s for women! Finally, I went back and pulled on it (I would have kicked it, but it was too high off the ground). Nothing. Then in total desperation, I pushed on the other side of the deal and it opened easily. Nissan Bastards! I hate this new streamlined mystery openers, almost as much as I hate new cars that automatically lock up when you get out. The rental car Sue and I had in Cody was maddening. I’d get out to open the back door to retrieve my briefcase and it would lock up before I could get there. This is nothing short of Demonic. I finally got in the habit of getting out, pointing the key fob at the door, and clicking twice, like it was a gun. I really hate that “smart car” crap. But, I digress.

Took the back way out of town because Larry Francell told me there is a ballpark on the edge of town, built to the exact specs of Comiskey Park in Chicago and there it was—home of the Cowboys, of course. Allegedly built by a rancher who loved baseball. Oh, those sum bitch Texans!

Having hung out with Joaquin for several days, I found myself saying sum bitch at the slightest excuse. It was exactly like that Seinfeld episode where George hangs out with The Texans and he starts using the term ad nauseum.

On the way to Fort Davis I hit a bunch of fog ("Sum Bitch!") and slowed down to forty so I wouldn’t rearend a deer. Two does, a buck and a coyote ran right in front of me ("Sum Bitch! four times) on the drive so I was glad I erred on the side of safety. Got into Fort Davis at about 7:30. Precious little village, very much like Lincoln, New Mexico or Graybull, Wyoming. Nestled in the foothills of the Davis Mountains, with a primo downtown, old hotel, classic courthouse, but no open cafes.

Took off from there and went up the mountain. I was a tad nervous because the night before Bob Hasslocher told me to watch out for this “high mountain road” because it is very narrow and treacherous. “Whatever you do, don’t look down,” he told me with some earnestness. I gripped the wheel and topped the first ridge, looking for the big, bald peak up ahead, but it never came. Went down the other side and realized Bob was either pulling a Texas ha-ha on a Zonie, or he ain’t never seen a real winding road across a big-ass mountain range. Sum Bitch. This road was somewhere between Cordes Junction and Big Bug Creek. Skill level, 2.0, steep drop-offs, 1.5. Hey, Bob, try the Silverton-Ouray highway sometime and get back to me, Sum Bitch.

Finally got breakfast at Chuy’s in Van Horn. Now this town has history for me because we have a family story that goes like this: the buckboard mail was coming out of Van Horn, Texas and on this particular summer day, along about 1900, a substitute mailman skirted the Guadalupe Range, and coaxed his team up onto Crow Flat, New Mexico (just across the Texas line). To this day almost every family up there is a Lewis. The new mailman made a half dozen stops before reining up at a small ranch. Pulling out the mailbag, the mailman said to the rancher standing there, “What’s your name?” The rancher replied, “Guess.” The mailman snorted, “Well, you’re probably just another Sum Bitch Lewis.”

My great-grandfather’s name was Henry Guess. When I went up to Weed, New Mexico in 1991, with my mama (Lillie Louise Guess) and Aunt Sadie Pearl, this story was still being told and I got it on video.

I had the huevos ranchers (very good), a small glass of orange juice and a decaf coffee ($14, left a $5 tip). I also had my Enterprise Rental Car free map spread out on the table. As the owner walked by I said, “Tell me about this back way to El Paso, through Cornudas.”

He gave me a funny look. “Why would you go that way? It’s muy longer.” I told him I had my reasons, and he told me there was some construction about ten miles short of the Guadalupes, but from there it was a straight shot to El Paso.

I took off north (I-10 runs straight northwest at El Paso from Van Horn) and enjoyed the rough scenery in those West Texas back canyons. Got up to the Guadalupes, turned toward the Salt Flats and saw the first mileage sign: El Paso, 101 miles. Sum Bitch. It was now 9:30 and I had to be at the airport by 11 at the very latest (flight at 12, see Friday’s entry). I also had to pee, but that was out of the question. I pushed the Pathfinder up to 95 and held it there. I shot by the Dell City turnoff, which takes you to Orange and Crow Flat, and kept the pedal to the metal. I passed every car I encountered (5) and hit the outskirts of El Paso at 10:45. Stopped and got gas to fill up the tank for the rental return. Relieved myself and headed in. Pulled into El Paso International at 10:59 and parked the car.

Got to the US Airways ticket counter at 11:05 and told the attendant my name. She typed it in the computer and got a furrowed brow.

“For some reason your ticket has been cancelled.”
—Betty Flores, US Airways Ticket Counter Associate

Bonus Quote
"You've got to be kidding me?"
—BBB (only I didn't say kidding)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

February 25, 2006
Got to have breakfast with a living legend this morning. Joaquin Jackson, Texas Ranger and best selling author (his first book “One Ranger” is in its sixth printing and he’s working on his second), picked me up at the Museum of the Big Bend on the Sul Ross State University in Alpine and took me downtown to the Holland Hotel for breakfast. Joaquin is six foot four and quite imposing, and as we walked into the restaurant, you could see the heads turn and hear the whispers.

Nick Nolte played Joaquin in the movie “Extreme Prejudice” and spent several weeks hanging with the ranger to get down his speech and mannerisms. “He’s a damn good mimic,” Joaquin said with a laugh. “He had down all of my mannerisms.” Joaquin told me plenty of great stories but the one that stopped me short, was when I asked him if he ever ran into any oldtimers who knew King Fisher (see Classic Gunfights, Jan-Feb 2006 True West). Joaquin smiled and said he was at Ulvalde when they dug up King in the mid-1960s. He said King Fisher had a glass window coffin and he still had his mustache in place and a nice black suit.

At ten the local newspaper took a photo of Joaquin and me in front of the museum.

Liz Jackson (Joaquin’s daughter-in-law) introduced me and gave True West a big, Texas style plug at their auction. I said a few choice words and thanked everyone.

Signed books all morning, then went to lunch with the director of the museum Larry Francell, and Michael Duty, Director of the Dallas Historical Society and his wife Laura.

Through the course of the day I heard about two new movies about to be filmed in the area: “There Will Be Blood,” an oil field movie (1906) starring Daniel-Day-Lewis and the Cohen Brothers are coming in to do Cormac McCarthy’s “Not A Country For Old Men.” Tommy Lee Jones has already signed on for that.

Met Will Sharp, who has an upublished photo of Pat Garrett and his second wife. Going up there right now (4 pm) to see that, then dinner at the Harts. Lots and lots of great cowboy stuff out here. I need to come back next year and stay longer.

“The most decisive actions of our life—I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future—are, more often than not, unconsidered.”
—Andre Gide
February 24, 2006
Got home at 8:30 last night. Long trip down to Bisbee and back, but a good one. Met Doug Hamilton at the Kelvin turnoff west of Winkleman yesterday at three. We piled into Doug’s Four Runner and climbed up Kelvin Grade. Topped out over the next ridge and saw the big, wide Kelso Wash. We stopped at this vantage point and Doug pointed out the old stagecoach road winding up the far ridge. Very rough country. Learned much about the Apache Kid escape from Doug. Fortunately, I brought the “finished” copy and read it outloud on the site of the escape. Doug caught at least a dozen mistakes. I’m not kidding. Probably the biggest mistake, is the stage being on Kelvin Grade at the time of the attack. This comes from two authors, both stellar researchers, but obviously copying each other, and obviously neither had been out to the site. One trip up Kelvin Grade and then seeing the actual site, destroys that “fact.” This was worth the whole trip because it really tightens up the accuracy. It’s amazing how far off one can get by just reading the facts. Ha.

Earlier, George and I stopped at Gammon Gulch, a one-man-town built by Ray Gannon out in the middle of nowhere. I have heard about this little, eclectic town for years. It’s about ten miles north of Benson, We saw the humble sign and pulled in and took in the town. Ray is a hoot. He gave George and I the tour of the place (think Old Tucson, but smaller), and told us the story of how he found this place. He was driving by with his wife in about 1973, saw a for sale sign for the acreage and told his honey this would be a good spot for his long dreamed of town. I asked Ray how long she lasted, and he thought for a moment and said, “Six months.” The clue was when he showed us the Wells Fargo building and mentioned he lived in there when he was first building the town and was “single.” Amazing. It really is a prevailing fantasy for guys, to own your own town. I took several photos of him with the idea of resuscitating an idea of mine: One Man Towns.

I got caught in travel hell this morning. Had a 9:55 a.m. flight on America West. Took off from the house at 7:40, chose all surface streets (mistake number one) and got to the parking lot at 8:45, took the shuttle and arrived at terminal four of Sky Harbor Airport at 9:05. Huge line to get tickets (mistake number two, should have printed out online boarding pass). Took twenty minutes to get ticket. Another fifteen minutes to get through security. Got to gate B-19 at 9:38 and was told the plane was full. I didn’t have an assigned seat so they gave it away. (mistake number three). When things like this happent to me, I think to myself, “Why is this happening to me? Pay attention, I’m supposed to meet someone. Up came Cesar D. holding a long-stemmed rose. But he was very upset. Kept pointing at the plane, “That’s my plane, I have a ticket.” The attendants were rather dull (they must deal with all the time, because all the airlines overbook, playing the angle of no shows).. US Air gave us a free flight (anywhere in lower 48) and booked us stand-by for the 12:40 flight.

That flight idn’t happen either. Flight oversold. No room. Cesar and I trudged the entire length of terminal four, which is about a half mile, to gate A-19 with an alleged flight out at 3:54. Every flight we heard announced had the disclaimer of being “oversold.”

Used the time to return calls. Had a nice talk with Arizona Republic reporter Angela (we have been missing for weeks). She is filing a story on Arizona people who have vision. Gave her some decent quotes (“A tough environment creates tough visionaries.”)

Cesar and I hung out together all day. We went and had tacos ($45). I kept looking at him. What am I supposed to learn from him? He is from a small village below Hermosillo. His father had a crop dusting business.l He’s now in real estate. He’s on his way to Juarez to meet a woman lawyer he met online. We sat side by side at Gate A-19, and while I wrote this, he went online and looked at Asian honeys (on AsiaFriend Finder.com) Great looking women but too good to be true. I really wanted to see the Juarez lawyer so he opened her file. Kind of a Kim Darby Mexican. Pageboy cute.

We finally got on a flight at 3:40. Got to El Paso at five (major turbulence near Las Cruces, plane really did a couple mid-air side steps, very scary what nature can do when she wants to, herre’s this billion pound piece of human machinery going sideways like it’s chicken wire).

Actually found my bag at baggage claim (went overl in morning) and rented a big, ol’ Nissan Pathfinder (red). Took off at 5:31 with the intent of making it to Alpine in time for the show. Met a very nice Texas Highway Patrolwoman who clocked me at 85 (she was generous. I was doing at least 95, but then that cost me $95, so there is some serendipity to it all. Hit big rain at Van Horn, rained on and off all the way to Marfa (no, didn’t see the lights). Got in at nine, too late for the show. Checked into the Best Western. Cowboys in the lobby singing and hooting. Looked like fun, but I’m done.

”Yes, I’m done.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

February 23, 2006
George and I just got back from the Bisbee Breakfast Club down in Lowell (one of the five districts comprising the Bisbee mining area. Grant of Optimo Hats joined us. Great cafe, totally remodelled from an old, classic, pleat-ceiling store. I had the eggs harnett (green chiles and eggs on homemade bisquits). Lots of talk about how to market Bisbee, since Tombstone gets many more visitors per year, and Grant thinks Bisbee has more history. True, but they don't have the icons (Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo, Doc Holliday, O,.K. Corral which are on the DNA of most tourists). Still, Bisbee is a great little town with mucho charm and a strong bohemian culture.

Lauren, Maniac #19, Emnailed me this morning and told me to check out Dot's Diner, and although I had been there, Grant and I took George to see the Shady Lane Trailer Park, where a guy put a bunch of retro Airstream trailers and made a motel out of it. Dot's Diner, is the classic little stainless steel, 1950s diner (holds all of 10 customers). The place has brought a lot of publicity for the town. And, Dan and Darlene Harsherger drove all the way down here just to stay in the damn things, so it must work.

I had a radio phoner interview this morning at 6:15 with KALP (Alpine, Texas) to promote my visit tomorrow night for their big museum event. They called me here in suite 8 at the Canyon Rose Suites in Bisbee. I looked out at the morning light tinging the mining tailings as I drank some coffee and waited for my cue. Once again, I so enjoy the small town radio station format. As I waited to go on the air, I heard the grade school cafeteria lunch menu (baked chicken and red grapes), the local happy birthdays (Ernie Layback and Gus Lines up in Arlington). I don't know why this makes me so happy but it does. By the way, it's 48 degres in Alpine this morning, and ol' Ray Hendrix can "smell the rain. Got about a forty percent chance and we sure need it."

Last night we drove down to Gavioto's Seafood Mexican Restaurant, just this side of Naco. Had a carne asado taco and seven seas soup. Another cool little place out in the middle of nowhere. We brought in our own beer and limes and, of course, solved life and George spun out a marketing plan for Grant on how he needs to market himself as the hatmaker artist. George is amazed that of all the hats I could have (I get offered free hats all the time) I drug him half way across the state so that Grant could create another "performance" hat for me. "That's your positioning campaign," George told him, after two beers. "That's what your ads should look like. It isn't the hats, it's you." I'm not sure Grant got it, but George is right.

My new performance hat has a bigger brim and will have a custom leather band, but no conchos (too pretentous). I want understated, but unique.

We are leaving in fifteen minutes to head to Kelvin Grade. We are taking the back roads from Benson, down the San Pedro, which is north, to Mammoth, then up to Winkleman and over to Kearney. I love road trips and this is the heart of the watermelon.

"We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do."
—Ethel Barrett

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 22, 2006
I'm in Sweet 8 at Canyon Rose Swuites overlooking a narrow street (Subway St.) in downtown Bisbee, Arizona. It is literally an apartment with a kitchen, living room, library, wood floors. Very San Francisco-ish. Thanks Joel! (he got us the room because they're his account). And yes, the woman who checked us in said it was "Sweet" 8. And it is sweet.

We've been on the road all day. Left Cave Creek at six this morning. Had breakfast at a great little cafe in Casa Grande called The Cook E Jar. ($13.33 plus $5 tip).

Drove to White Stallion Guest Ranch underneath Panther Peak and south of Marana. Met with Russell True and got the full tour. Got magazines in all the rooms. Great ranch. Want to bring the family back.

At noon, George Laibe and I had lunch with Sandra Froman, the president of the NRA. Ate at the Metropolitan Grill (she bought). Lots of talk about Kathy's fave subject: The Second Ammendment. Ha.

Took George by Dillinger's apartment (see editorial, April issue). Then took off for Tombstone getting there around three. Met with Jim Clark at his store and went over logistics for a big show we want to do down there. Ended up in Bisbee at five and went to Optimo Hats to check out my "performance hat." Going to dinner with Grant down at a Mexican dive close to Naco. Got to run, no time for a quote.

"Hey, I'm happy to be posting on the road!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21, 2006
Sometimes dads get a little proud. Please bear with me:

"Deena Bell will be joining us on the RES team delivering both English and Spanish presentations. She joined Vanguard in August 2004 where she assisted as a Core Phone Associate, an IID Specialist, a Spanish Queue Representative, and a back-up associate for the Core Correspondence Team. In June of 2005 she accepted a position with Small Business Services, and just recently, an internship as a Senior Associate within SBS. Deena has assisted both in Core and SBS as a Metrics in Motion Ambassador, member of the Cultural Events Committee, and as a United Way Campaigner. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2004 with a BIS degree in International Business and a concentration in the Spanish Language. Deena will report to Steve Roberts."

Worked all day on the Apache Kid Classic Gunfight. It’s complicated because it’s really two gunfights in one with really bizarre Apache names like this: El-cahn, Hos-cal-te, Say-es, Has-ten-tu-du-jay, Nah-dez-az, Bach-e-on-al, Bi-the-ja-be-tish-to-ce-an and don’t forget Bob McIntosh. Can you spot the really hard case? If you guessed Bach-e-on-al, you are one fine judge of character. Or one lucky guesser.

Fossenkemper In The Limelight Again
“Every morning I go for a walk. I’m listening an audio book ‘Judgment of Paris.’ by Ross King

"This book explains the often used phrase, ' In the Lime Light.'

"In the 1860's many French artists (poor like magazine publishers) could only afford photographs to use as models. Before the invention of ‘flash powder’ the early photographers used a technique called ‘lime light’ for their indoor shots. This was a process where lime was burned using a flame of Oxygen and Hydrogen. This combination made the lime glow with a very ‘harsh and unforgiving light.' The artists usually didn't like the results but at the time it was all that was available to use with the primitive cameras. So it appears that to be in the ‘lime light’ came from this period and practice."
—Allen Fossenkemper

At one I went to lunch alone at China Joy ($6.55, left a ten, includes tip), then made a bank deposit. Came back, handed off CG copy, then went into an executive session. Finances look good, We're going to remodel the office space, so Dave Daiss went over the plans. Came back to my office and went over narrative problems in Classic Gunfights with Meghan. Much wrangling of verbs and sensitive, twisted historical meaning. Hard slogging. Going to be a good one though.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Wheelchair-Bound Student Would Have Preferred To Sit Out Pep Rally

"Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways."
—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, February 20, 2006

February 20, 2006
Last night I read more of Blog by David Kline and Dan Burstein. Of all the business models that are evolving out of blogging (there are people making $40,000 a month on it), I realized my motives are quite simple: I love the form, I love sharing my ups and downs (so far) and most of all I love sharing what I pay for stuff (those Wranglers Kathy bought me: $70). I find it rather strange that money upsets so many people. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone how much money they make. Now, it doesn’t upset me at all. Never has. But I’ve found that it sure upsets other people to know what I make, so I've learned to be careful about telling some people, for their own protection. Here's a couple examples: How much did I make at New Times? $35K a year (I started at $110 a week in 1978). How much did I make on my movie deal with Honkytonk Sue ($30K). How much did I make on the radio? ($120K a year). What's the most I've ever been paid for a band gig? ($250). What's the average, monthly royalty payment on my books? ($350). What's the most I've ever been paid for cartooning? ($6,000 for six pages in Playboy, December 1986). What's the least I've ever been paid over a five-year-period? ($0 dollars for blogging). Ha.

Both Robert Ray and Robert McElroy out sick today. Needed to get a bunch of stuff scanned and started but that didn’t happen.

Working hard to finish copy on the Apache Kid escape before a quick road trip on Wednesday and Thursday, to Tucson, Tombstone, Bisbee, Rodeo, San Simon, Bowie, Safford, Thatcher, Fort Thomas, San Carlos, Globe, Kearney, Winkleman and—ta da—Kelvin Grade where Hunkydory Holmes had a heart attack when two Apache prisoners, El-cahn and Bach-e-on-al, jumped him in.

Hunkydory (yes, that’s his real name) also wrote poetry and was allegedly singing some of it in the early morning twilight at Kelvin Grade on November 2, 1889. Here’s a sample:

Oh, I am a jolly miner lad,
Resolved to see some fun sir,
To satisfy my mind
To Phoenix town I came sir,
Oh, what a pretty place
And what a charming city
Where the boys they are so gay
And the squaws they are so pretty

No wonder the Apaches jumped him, no?

If You’ve Ever Had Kids In College Department
Your youngster comes home from college for the first time.

“So how are things going?”


How is the food?”


“And how’s the dorm?”


“How is the football team this year?”


“How are your studies going?”


“Have you decided what you want to major in yet?”

“Yes. Communications.”

Finally, Equality I Can Get Behind
“I don’t care about more black athletes. I want to see more Black doctors and Black lawyers and Black Indian chiefs.”
—Sir Charles Barkley

I went home for lunch today and had a pastrami sando, a carrot and an apple. Worked on Geronimo’s coat for the skateboard piece. Cheated and used gouache. I hate Acrylics! It’s too gobby and dries too quick (as opposed to oil which dries too slow!). Hope I can varnish it over and save the tonalities.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Transit Authority Pledges To Double Number of Out-of-Service Buses by 2007

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
Lost Blog (February 17, 2006)
The following blog was originally posted briefly on Feb. 17, but blogger.com lost all the postings for that day:

I met my neighbor J.D. at noon today to dig post holes in the front yard. He has one of those mini-jackhammers from Home Depot and it really busts through the rocks. We live on a virtual rock pile out here and it’s no fun digging by hand. Of course, we almost clipped the phone line (don’t tell Kathy!), but I think we spliced it back together decent.

After the digging, I did my 599th and 600th sketch without missing a day. George Laibe says I’m “wood sheddin’” which is a Nashville slang for practicing your chops at home to get in shape for a tour.

Speaking of the Laibe-Man, last night I went up to the Buffalo Chip and had a beer with George. He’s concerned I’m acting too much like a local band (showing up anywhere and everywhere and not getting paid). Ha. He’s right, of course, and I’ve had plenty of experience in “local bands: and know first hand it’s more than a metaphor. He’s also concerned about my “swirling,” which is another way of saying ADD, or going around in circles. I woke up at two in the morning mulling this and went out in the kitchen to write down a few thoughts. Here’s what I wrote:

What Do I Truly Want?
To be organized, in a clean space, and focus on the tasks at hand with clarity and single-mindedness.

What Stops Me?
Pretty much everything. This blog, Email, meetings, dog petting, Wrangler fittings, wine tasting, beers at the Buffalo Chip, road trips, The Colbert Report and post hole digging.

I try to be industrious. In fact, I made a vow sitting at the kitchen table to be more industrious, but then I read this quote:

“If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency.”
—Sir Joshua Reynolds

Another Passing
Veteran TV Western producer Frank Dobbs passed last night. You'll find his many credits on imdb.com. He'd had heart problems due to his overweight and then cancer caught him, so he went pretty fast. We got involved with Frank last year, since he'd been fond a long time of Glendon's The Old Colts and was trying to raise private financing for it with a couple of Western groups in Texas. No luck so far, but he remained enthusiastic until his health started declining. Frank knew everybody involved in Western films, so there may be a tribute out here for him. He was involved in the Golden Boots as well as the WWA occasionally. If there's a wake, I'll keep you informed.”
—Miles Swarthout

The Shirt Off of Brokeback
Corrine Brown in Denver tells me that one of the shirts Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Montain is in a bidding war on eBay that is approaching $55,000 (this was around noon time). I haven’t heard the final tally, but that’s a whole bunch of gay apparel, in any denomination. Evidently the shirt is a Rockmount, a Denver shirtmaker that supplied the movie with Western shirts

Hutton Alert
BBB: Tombstone is all over Fox news this morning concerning some fight between the locals and the town marshal. Lots of Earp references. Hope you can access cable TV in the office. Might also check Fox news on the net. Cute reporting.”
—Paul Hutton

Yes, I got this fax this morning from former Tombstone City Marshal Max Hurlbut:

• Fourth Tombstone Marshal Appointed This Year!

• “$40,000 in narcotic funds missing. The deputies allegedly are taking bribes, doing drugs, drinking on the job and asking for sexual favors in return for issuing citations.

Here’s my proposal for a new slogan for the Town Too Tough to Die: “Tombstone—Where Nothing’s Changed Since 1881.”

Old Is Worth Keeping Department
“I have to agree with you about the demise of a community's core sense of who they are The major culprit of course is franchise mentality. But another one is ‘new is better’ or to put it another way, ‘old isn't worth keeping’. I am a watcher of Extreme Makeover. But a thing about it that troubles me is that they no longer remodel, or fix up. They tear down and replace, regardless. For instance, the one at Peyton, Colorado which is near one of my daughter's. The house was around 100 years old, one of the oldest remaining residences in the area. Site of where a local woman had raised a large family. Sort of a part of local history. And to me it did not appear too dilapidated. The people living there have taken on
foster kids and home school them. OK, they needed more room. So why didn't they build a new house for them to live in, and fix up the historic place for the home school. No, they tore it down and built 2 new buildings.The answer I've figured out is because Sears wants to showcase their products and they want new shiny places to show them off in, not some museum. So bring in the bulldozers. It really upsets me. There I feel better now....”
—Sharon Tally

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Psychic Helps Police Waste Valuable Time

“Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 19, 2006

February 19, 2006
Big Cuban dinner last night down in Scottsdale at Chef Jim Morgan's hacienda. Four couples, including Kathy and I, Cuban coffee and ropa vieja (jerked beef, "old clothes"). Got home at midnite. Stuffed and sated.

I've been invited to submit a skateboard painting for an artshow to be called "Deck." Each artist is given a blank skateboard to paint a scene. I've started mine with a scene I call "Geronimo's Halfpipe Over Organpipe (pre-board, circa 1886). It portrays the Apache warrior in a skateboard stance, without board, skimming over the tops of a gnarly stand organ pipe cacti. Check out the other artists at:


Got up this morning and started a fire in the studio stove and bailed into some sketches of Anglo-Apaches. Remember in the 1950s when all the Indians in movies and comics looked like Italians. Of course, in Westerns they usually were Italians but in comic books Indians looked like they were from New York with big noses and anglo cheekbones.

So I got out a couple of Kid Colt, Apache Kid comics (Marvel), plus an Italian comic called "Tex", where the creators, Bonelli and Tucci, obviously copped the movie "Stagecoach" stealing the likeness of John Carradine and Andy Devine, and almost everyone else except John Wayne. Their hero looks like a cross between Gene Autry and Steve Canyon. Most of the balloon dialogue is incomprehensible, with exchanges like "Andati, avanti, voi?" and "Niente in contrario!" Fortunately, the Indian replies, "Ugh!"

My character is going to be very close to Charles Atlas. Remember him? The sand-in-the-face guy?

"It is healthier to see the good points in others than to analyze our own bad ones."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, February 18, 2006

February 18, 2006
Got a call at about 11:30 that there had been a break-in at the True West Headquarters. Drove up. Big crowd in town for an arts festival. Front door ajar. Nothing amiss. Probably wasn't closed right last night, and some tourist blundered in and set off the alarm.

Went up to Bashas' and bought fixings for black beans ($35, house account). The chef I met in Salt Lake City a couple weeks ago is having a big Spanish dinner tonight. Leaving in about fifteeen minutes.

I miscounted my sketches yesterday. I'm over 600 (608 to be exact). Working on Apache images. I'm doing the Apache Kid for this month's Classic Gunfight. May meet a teacher and Kid expert at Kelvin Grade next week. It's down by Superior, just west of Winkleman. Big travel week coming up. Going to end up in Alpine, Texas on the weekend for a big shindig George Laibe set up over there.

More later. Got to go.

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, February 16, 2006

February 16, 2006
Yesterday at five, Kathy picked me up at the True West World Headquarters and drove me down to Saba’s Western Store (not to be confused with Saba’s Greek Food Restaurant which we also frequent) on Carefree Highway to buy me some Valentine’s Day Wranglers. Our style editor, Jane Bischoff, is going to get me some free Wranglers in exchange for my endorsement (something I’m not real comfortable doing), but I thought I’d better go try on a few pair to see what I liked best. Then when Kathy said she wanted to treat me, so, like a typical guy, I thought, "Hey, free clothes!"

I picked out two pair: The Original Cowboy Cut 13 MWZ, 100% cotton, heavyweight denim, and a Boot Cut "Authentic" 935 Slim Fit, heavy weight denim, easy care-shrink resistant. When we got the jeans up to the counter, Kathy noticed a sale sign that offered a third pair of Wranglers for free, if you buy two pair. So I picked out a third pair: a black pair of Wrangler jeans, all of them 36 waist and 34 length.

When I tried on the slim fit Wrangler jeans and came out of the dressing room, the clerk sighed and told me she had never witnessed such a total transformation in a guy. I was “somehow bigger” in certain areas, she told me, leaning against the counter, trying to catch her breath. Later, while driving back to Cave Creek, we stopped at a light and a truck driver in the next lane said pretty much the same thing (he was higher and looking down into our car, although, in the interest of full disclosure, Kathy heard him say, he “had never seen a bigger a-- hole,” but I choose to go with the more positive image). Yes, my Wranglers fit firmly and make me feel somehow more virile and successful.

Some people, such as older adults (i.e. someone who remembers the Bay of Pigs) should start with trainer pants. Wrangler is the official pro rodeo competition jeans and should be worn by persons much younger than the above mentioned geezer. Wrangler is not recommended for use on persons who have a torn retina, or consistently fail to clean up after their dogs. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or suspect you are pregnant. Otherwise, it’s safe to have the above wearer help you get pregnant. He is a licensed Baby Wrangler. You can wear Wranglers every day, in the evening, with or without food. If you miss a day wearing Wrangler, do not wear an extra pair. Just resume your usual schedule. If your stomach rolls off the sides of the pants more than two inches, ask your doctor if you need diet information. Continue following a cholesterol-lowering diet while wearing your Wranglers. Keep wearing Wrangler unless your doctor tells you to stop. Your doctor may do blood tests to check your liver before you put on your pants, or during the day, or, while riding side saddle. The following side effects have been reported by baby boomers while wearing Wranglers: swelling of the face, lips, tongue. Slim Fit jeans may cause difficulty in swallowing, rash, hives, joint pain, liver problems, inflammation of the pancreas, nausea, gallstones, inflammation of the gall bladder. This summarizes the most important information about geezers in Wrangler jeans. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. Or, maybe not.

Tombstone Gun Handling Feedback
“Bob, having Joey Dillon break down the gun-cup spinning scene from
‘Tombstone’ sounds too cool! It's this kind of thinking that keeps True
West ahead of the pack!"
—Mark Kilburn, Maniac 235

Huffines Translation
—Alan Huffines

”What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

February 15, 2006
Shades of my errant honkytonk past! Yesterday I was talking to Old West collector, plumber, and friend, Kevin Mulkins down in The Old Pueblo and he asked me if remembered the Lewallen Brothers and I told him, "Boy Howdy!"

The Lewallen Brothers band were the Kings of Tucson when I arrived for college in the fall of 1965. They had that brother harmony that is golden. One time (1967?) they opened for the Turtles in an empty department store on East Speedway and the Lewallen Brothers actually had the huevos to play “Good Vibrations” as part of their set. I remember Floyd and Eddie came out to do their set and proclaimed the boys as better than the Beach Boys themselves. A high complement from some guys who knew harmony themselves on a first-name basis.

In the summer of 1967, the band I was in, Faye Shaw and the Generation came in second at the annual Battle of the Bands at Hi Corbet Field, mainly because in the middle of “My Girl” the PA went out and Cliff Feldman went to the front of the stage and yelled out the lyrics to the delight of the crowd and the judges. Still, it was only good enough for second place because no one could touch the Lewallen Brothers.

This morning, the guy that was standing next to me at the Turtles show, Charlie Waters, forwarded me this:

Lewallens Made name Plumbin', Strummin'

“They may know their way around a pipe wrench. But it's their way with a guitar chord that Tucsonans of a certain age remember. Heck, you may have danced to their tunes at the old Sunset Rollerama or Hi-Ho Club. Their name was, and is, Lewallen. As in the Lewallen Brothers. . .”


Emma Weighs In On Tombstone Spinnin'
“Do that cup-spinning article, and my pal Steve Brust will be in your debt; he taught himself to roll a silver dollar across his knuckles as soon as he walked out of the theater, practically. Drives his friends crazy.

“I think Alan Huffines is right about the Yankees (term used flexibly) in cases like Phoenix. But Tombstone seems to be struggling with the other side of the problem. Tombstone's the physical, adobe-and-wood-frame representation of the conflict between the myth of the West and the history of the West that you talked about on the blog a while ago. I don't think Yankees can be held entirely accountable for that one, can they?”
—Emma Bull

Well, I do know that most of the people who live outside Tombstone are fond of dismissing everyone in town as being from New Jersey. I think what I'm really bemoaning is change. Which is inevitable, but I keep thinking of Spain where their towns are hundreds of years older than ours and they have retained a cultural identity or style that is intact. We seem so disposable oriented here, but I don't know what the answer is, or who exactly is to blame. I just hate to see it all evaporate, which it definitely is doing. I suppose there are oldtimers in Spain grumbling, “These towns today are crap. When I was a nino. . .”

And Huffines Votes, Cops to It
“I just voted yes in the drug poll, and was in the minority--again. Since it
was legal and OTC [over the counter?], I had to assume it was more prevalent. Ever seen the ads in the papers? All those cures for ladies' hysteria and so forth. That stuff wasn't cough syrup. Me thinks folks associate drug-use/abuse with seedy characters in an alley somewhere or selling the stuff to school children. When in reality it was our GGPs [gol-darned government persons?] walking in and purchasing some cannabis or opiates in an apothecary shop. There is a fantastic photograph of a Confederate Veteran sitting on a porch next to a large cannabis plant. Hemp, it's not just for lynching anymore. And don't even get me started on booze. How many of our favorite gunfights involved distilled spirits? {more than I’d like to admit] We get upset about the amounts of illegal drugs available today, when they don't even compare with the quantities of alcohol abused.”
—Alan Huffines

Man, Oh Man, Is Brokeback Infecting the Culture, Or What?
Fifteen people forwarded me this today: Willie Nelson Releases Gay Cowboy Song

Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine's Day.

"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year's Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" made gay cowboys a hot topic.

Available exclusively through iTunes, the song features choppy Tex-Mex style guitar runs and Nelson's deadpan delivery of lines like, "What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?" and "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out."

The song, which debuted Tuesday on Howard Stern's satellite radio show, was written by Texas-born singer-songwriter Ned Sublette in 1981. Sublette said he wrote it during the "Urban Cowboy" craze and always imagined Nelson singing it.

Someone passed a copy of the song to Nelson back in the late 1980s and, according to Nelson's record label, Lost Highway, he recorded it last year at his Pedernales studio in Texas.

Nelson has appeared in several Western movies and sings "He Was a Friend of Mine" on the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack.

Now, I get this:

Fishing Buddies
"So, what did you think?" my wife asked as we exited the theater.

"Kind of brings a whole new meaning to the word cowpoke," I said.

She tried again: "Seriously, what did you think?"

"Seriously? Seriously, I think it's going to put a huge dent in the fishing industry."

"Let me guess, because now men will be reluctant to go fishing together because they'll be worried someone might think they're gay?"

"Bingo," I said, "particularly if they're fly-fishermen."

"You're not kidding, are you?"

"Absolutely not. You mention fly-fishing from now on, and the first image men are going to see is a zipper."

"Men are pathetic."

"Look, guys will still call one another fishing buddies, and they will still go on fishing trips; the only thing that will be different now is that they will be chaperoned."

"Let me ask you something. Why is it that men don't mind watching women kiss?"

"Because they don't see that as being homosexual."

"Really, what do they see that as being?"

"A warm-up."

"For what?"

"For them."

"Beyond pathetic."

"I'll tell you another thing..."

"I can hardly wait."

"`Brokeback' is going to have people re-evaluating the whole Western genre."

"Why's that?"

"Think about some of the classic cowboy relationships from the classic television shows. Here were these middle-aged guys who just kind of roamed around the West together! , had romantic campfires and seemed totally disinterested in women ."


"I mean the Lone Ranger and Tonto? He wears a jumpsuit, shoots nothing but silver bullets, and never takes his mask off? And Tonto is decked out in buckskin and fringe. I'll tell you the only way that relationship makes sense is if `kemo sabe' means sweet cheeks."

"Or how about `Wild Bill Hickock' and his partner, Jingles. Jingles?"

"Or how about 'Gunsmoke'? Isn't it obvious that Chester had a thing for Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Dillon didn't have a thing for Miss Kitty?"

"All right. All right. So getting back to my original question: Did you like the movie?"

"I did."

"Thank you."

"But don't tell anyone."

"Those who have succeeded at anything and don't mention luck are kidding themselves."
—Larry King

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

February 14, 2006
I've got a new laptop computer and it's state of the art, but I feel like a fish out of water (finger mouse, among other maddening aspects). But I'm going to be on the road quite a bit this summer and wanted the ability to blog from the road. So I'm back down on my knees crawling again, and I can't access many of my fingertip tricks (like cutting and pasting Mark's and Alan's quotes below, so I did their quotes from memory. Sorry guys).

I'm taking my main girlfriend to see Jessi Colter tonight at the Carefree Opera House. She's taking me to Saba's after work to buy some comfortable Wrangler's. Ain't love grand?

Boardman Gets Snarky
"Kingman lost whatever it had at the same place you lost it—the golf course."
—Mark Boardman

Here's Huffines' Take
"The reason Western towns are losing their soul is unassimilating Yankees."

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Bush Urges Iraqis to Pass Ammendment Banning Gay Marriage

Paul Hutton sent me a cool Billy the Kid comic and a bubblegum card on Tiburcio Vasquez. The Billy comic is called "Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities" by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz. Excellent artwork. Cool stuff.

Tony Casanova and Joey Dillon came by with their new DVD "Dillon" which features Joey's incredible gun handling tricks. We watched it on my new computer. Now that was quite bitchin'. Crisp and clear on a laptop! I told them we should do a piece in the magazine taking apart the legendary cup-gun spinning scene from "Tombstone" and show step by step how each spin of the gun and the cup was done. Joey says it's the number one question he gets at shows. I think we'll do it.

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
—Old Vaquero Saying
Februrary 12, 2006
We got a call from Tomcat in New York City this morning telling us they got a blizzard overnight and the NYC skyline is surreal. It's deathly quiet. He went outside on 92nd Street and a woman on skis went by him! They got almost 27 inches of snow! Hard to believe from here.

For my Valentine's treat to Kathy I told her I would work in the yard with her, and we transplanted six Spanish daggers along our driveway. I also caught Juan on the road and told him I wanted to do some tweaking on the Spanish driveway. We are also going to be attending a big Spanish dinner in Paradise Valley this coming Friday. So we've got some major Spanish stuff going. The chef we met in Cody three weeks ago, Jim Morgan, is throwing the dinner and I need to bring black beans.

Took the dogs out for a run in late evening. Peaches did her fence attack, turn against the three-legged dog Frosty, and I kept yelling, "Do the turn, Baby! Do the turn!" but I don't know if she's getting the message.

"When a dog runs at you, whistle for him."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, February 13, 2006

February 11, 2006
I rode in the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days parade this morning. The Sons of the San Joaquin were the parade grand marshals, and I rode in a second wagon hitched behind theirs. Just before we took off, one of the band members, Rich O’Brien, gave me this gem: "Dallas is to Fort Worth as Pat Boone is to Miles Davis." We were talking about Western towns losing their soul, like Scottsdale, who used to have a good-natured competition with Wickenburg over which berg was the most Western (Scottsdale’s claim, "The West’s Most Western Town" seems like a bad joke today). Wickenburg, on the other hand still has it. They are not afraid to wear their Western heritage on their sleeve. As we lumbered down the street and the crowds waved enthusiastically, I wondered where my hometown of Kingman lost it. Is it the subdivisions? Or the developers, who seem to circle a town like Apaches around some wayward wagon train? Whatever it is, it’s spreading, and the true Western heritage that’s still seen in towns like Sheridan and Wickenburg is getting more scarce as the days go by. I think the part I hate the most is the homogenization of everything. As I drive through Snottsdale today, with the wall to wall franchises and cookie cutter strip malls, it could be Burbank, or Dallas, or Cleveland. We are losing our regional and local feel on everything. As the wagon made the turn on Yavapai, I made a vow that this is a fight we are going to take up: saving our Western Heritage. I’m not going to be preachy or picky, but dammit, save something!

When the parade got to the downtown area, with the crowds banked ten deep along the sidewalk, the cheering increased, and the big draft horses pulling our wagons, stepped lively, their ears tweaking back and forth. A marching band behind us started hitting the high notes and I fought the urge to do my dance. I ultimately decided to act restrained for once and not steal thunder from the Sons. I was glad I did, this was their day, not mine. I was just proud to be in the dang thing.

After the parade, I walked downtown and went into Johnson’s Dry Goods Store and announced, "I’ve been driving by here for 50 years and I thought it’s about time I stop in and buy something." The owner looked at me like I was nuts (or from Kingman), but the clerk said, "I miss you on the radio," so I imagine the owner got an earful when I left the store with my $28 Western shirt.

At noon I drove out to the Everett Bowman Rodeo Grounds on Constellation Drive and set up shop next to a horse trailer and did sketches (19) for an hour and a half, then went up into the announcer’s booth and met the head hotdog, Shane Burris, and he introduced me to the crowd and I did a True West Moment. Here’s the copy

Endurance of the Horse
Paul Boord of Point Marion, Pennsylvania wonders about the endurance of the horses in the Old West. Paul wants to know “how far could a horse and rider travel in a day and, more importantly, how long could a horse run full out. In the movies they seem to go on for miles and miles.”

I contacted longtime horse trainer and Cave Creek cowboy, Floyd Brooks and he told me a horse in good shape can run full out for about two and a half miles, but if you push them much farther they’ll tie up (that’s cowboy for “get a Charlie Horse”).

On the other hand, Floyd tells me, if you know how to pace a horse, you can stretch that distance by trotting and loping, with short bursts in between. Floyd says a horse will regain its air as it trots. It will pick up more oxygen and regenerate itself. Riders with good horses, using this technique, have been known to cover 50 miles, or more, in a day. To give you an idea of that distance, that’s all the way from here to Phoenix. Never mind that a cowboy on a horse could not survive beyond Bell Road.

Floyd also told me that the idea of a cowboy busting out of a saloon and jumping on his horse and galloping off at a dead run is one of the biggest myths in Hollywood. “You have to warm em’ up like any athlete,” he told me. “We move ‘em around, flex their rib cage, get ‘em warmed up. It looks good in the movies, but you do that to one of our horses and he’ll probably buck you off pronto.”

Remember—in the movies the horses get to rest between takes.

I’m Bob Boze Bell and this has been a True West Moment.

Took off for home at two, after a very fun and successful time Out Wickenburg Way.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Political Cartoon Even More Boring and Confusing Than Issue

New poll question:
Do you think drug dealing was more prevalent on the frontier than it is in the West today? Vote here.

“"The real voyage of discovery consists not in making new landscapes but in having new eyes."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, February 11, 2006

February 10, 2006
I took off for Wickenburg at 7:40 this morning. Just a beautiful, sunny Arizona day out. Ran into a big traffic jam at Carefree Highway and I-17. Four DPS officers directing traffic. Hundreds of cars trying to make it through there. Five years ago, it was nothing, today it's gridlock with a ton of new homes and shopping centers on the northeast corner.

Got to Wickenburg at about 8:40, drove straight to KBSZ (1280 AM) radio station and walked in. The owner, Pete Pe terson, yelled at me to come in the studio (I love small town radio stations). We did a half hour interview on me coming to town for their 68th Annual Gold Rush Days. After the interview, Pete's friend Tom fired up his truck to deliver us down to the trai n station for the opening ceremonies. As we jumped in Tom's big F-250, Pete got in the middle (even though I didn't call "shotgun") and everything was cool until the radio came on. Pete got really irritated that Tom had another station on. "I was listenin g for some scores," I seem to remember Tom saying in his defense, but Pete was offended and wouldn't let it go. When we got out of the truck, Pete reprimanded Tom one more time about listening to some "good radio." Petty, yes. But, personally, I love this about small towns. It's all personal, and for Pete, his radio station is his all consuming passion. He doesn't work for some big chain. This is his deal and if he's going to ride in your truck, you'd damn well better listen to his radio station!

Had a dece nt crowd gathered in front of the train station (also the Wickenburg Chamber offices). The mayor spoke, a fifteen-year-old from the high school sang the National Anthem (or was it "God Bless America"?), they introduced me and I gave my remarks ("Hang onto your heritage here. Don't become Snottsdale!") and then told them I was going to do a dance for good luck (I was inspired by the dance I did with Joe LaForge in Sheridan a couple weeks ago). I think I did okay because for the rest of the weekend I got re marks like this: "I liked your dance. Was that the Watusi? Or the Frug?" It was actually a bit of surf combined with the Ska and just a pinch of Chuck Berry and Pete Townsend).

After the ceremonies and a book signing, the director of the chamber, Julie, tucked a stipend in my sketch bag of $100. This really impressed me (she didn't have to do that. I was in town to support them!). I decided on the spot that I would not leave town without returning this to the local economy. I walked across the street to the Copperstate Cowboy (a great store that advertises in True West) and asked Ray Arena where the locals eat lunch. He sent me to Rancho Bar Seven, a cafe and bar that I've been driving by for 50 years (I'm not exagerating. We moved to Kingman in 1956 and would come to Phoenix via Wickenburg at least several times a year). I walked right over there and ordered the priciest thing on the lunch menu (The Rancho Bar Seven Steak, $16.95). Classic Wickenburg place with great waitresses who call you "Hon". Co uldn't believe I had never been in there. In high school, the coaches always had us eat at Jean's Cafe across the street (and for a short period The Texas Cafe, a block east). Great food. Left a big, fat tip ($5).

Went to the crafts fair and bought a sign that says, "Hippies Use Back Door—No Exceptions" ($14 cash). Very cool. Going to put it up by my office, or at our front door of the house. Went down to Caballeros Museum and bought at ticket ($6), stopped in front of Ed Mell's painting, and called him on my cell phone. I got the machine, and left this message: "Hey Ed, I'm standing in front of your painting in the Wickenburg Caballeros Museum and even thought this is extremely offensive to the other patrons around me, I had to call you on my cell phone and tell you the painting belongs here." And it was offensive. The guy next to me one of those Muslim-Danish-Cartoon looks.

From there I drove out to the Vulture Mine, founded in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg. Once again, this is a legendary place I've heard about my whole life but have never been to. It's about 12 miles southwest of Wickenburg. Got out there at three and ran smack dab into Jackie Thackery, whose name I recognized immediately because she sends us cartoons all the time and Gus keeps rejecting them (I blamed Gus for this, but he's in Alabama and can't complain. Ha.). Jackie lives on the site six months a year, and in Indiana the rest, where she drives a school bus. She took me on a personal tour of the place. At one time The Vulture Mine was the third largest settelement in Arizona with 5,000 residents. The A-Frames and crushers, with the big Assay buildings Reminded me of Oatman and Goldroad in the 195 0s before scavengers hauled it all away. Can't believe the mining equipment and stuff is still there (although thieves have picked clean other buildings).

On the way back to town, I rolled down the window of my crappy little Ranger and yelled at nature. Okay, I get nutty when I'm by myself out in the wilds of Arizona. I talk to my dad, my grandma, past dogs (Apache, the dog that almost cost me my marriage last weekend). I'm just kind of a goonball out on the desert. But it makes me feel good, so sue me.

Last week I was interviewed by Linda McThrall of Let's Go! the Fountain Hills magazine and she mentioned off hand that she enjoyed reading about my daily details (how much I pay for lunch, etc.). I laughed and told her George Laibe wants me to stop doing that because it destroys the mystique. Linda said, "There is no mystique."

"By learning to discover and value our ordinariness, we nuture a friendliness towards oursleves and the world that is the essence of a healthy soul."
—Thomas Moore

Thursday, February 09, 2006

February 9, 2006
When I first imagined being a cartoonist in Kingman Junior High School, I pictured people going crazy over my cartoons. And one of the first attempts at a strip was an end-of-the-world prediction. With that said, I never really dreamed I would live to see people dying over a cartoon.

And the irony is that the Danish cartoons that have set off the destructive and violent clashes are over a dozen cartoons that supposedly make light of non-violence. Kathy and I were watching the Daily Show last night and Jon Stewart did a brilliant parody of the situation showing Billy (or was it Jeffy?) from Family Circle comic strip fame doing his famous dotted-line trip around the neighborhood, only in the Daily Show version he?s carrying an AK-47 and setting fire to buildings, yet still stopping to swing on the swingset.

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker said it for me: "The cartoon implosion rocking the Muslim world is based on equal parts fake photographs and a default riot mode looking for an excuse. Extreme propaganda and a lack of fortitude have brought us near the brink of extinction through a global act of accidental self-mockery. The world isn't mad over cartoons; the world is a cartoon."

Or, as one of my generation's best cartoonists, R. Crumb (Keep On Truckin?) put it, "Hey folks, it's just lines on paper."

And while the world burns frame by frame, some old friends still light me up.

Mike Lacey Takes His Standup to NYC Department
Ex-New Times staffer and friend Jerry Joslyn forwarded me this piece on our mutual old boss:

Lacey to Voice staff: Drop dead
By Tim Redmond
"The merger between the nation's two largest alternative newspaper chains was finally consummated Jan. 31, and the very next day, Mike Lacey, the new owner of the Village Voice, was in New York City giving the staff the facts of life.

Lacey met with Voice staffers Feb. 1, and, according to sources who were present at the meeting, announced that the Voice news section was too soft because it was full of commentary and criticism of the Bush administration. He said he didn't want any more commentary--just hard news and long-form human-interest stories.

He also insulted the entire news department by saying Voice reporters 'need to stop being stenographers' and, the sources told the Guardian, warned the staff ?to be ready to say goodbye to some of your friends.

When one participant said the description of the staff as 'stenographers' was unfair, Lacey reportedly responded, 'So, I'm unfair.'"

A Report From the Front Lines
"Eldon Lawson of Bay Village, OH called to renew today. He said he has
subscribed for 40 years and has always enjoyed True West."
-Carole Glenn

An Email I Forgot to Run Yesterday
"My wife read in some medical journal or magazine that using aluminum
cookware and drinking from aluminum cans has been linked to Alzheimer's
-Scott Bell

Too Close to The Truth Department
Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?

A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Kids In Bus Accident Mocked By Kids In Passing Bus

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
-Robert Frost

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

February 8, 2006
The April Travel Issue landed at our office this morning and it produced gasps everywhere it landed. I was talking to Robert Ray about getting a new computer and someone walked up and stuck it in front of us and I literally yelled out, “Ay! Yi! Yi! Now That’s a coffee table book!” Similiar comments all around. Warning: if you are a subscriber, you are going to need a wheel barrow to haul this puppy inside (it’s 156 pages, a True West record!).

First Teflon, Now This:
After our talk yesterday, Kathy sent me this: Dioxin chemicals causes cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. Also, he pointed out that Saran wrap is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

Another Smart-Ass Retort From Huffines
[Quoting from yesterday’s post] “She said cowboys ate out of cast iron skillets and the iron came off and made them stronger.”

Yeah and this allowed them to live long enough to get dragged to death by a
—Alan Huffines

The Laibe-Man Has A Way With Words
Thanks again for your support of our common mission "To Partner Up and
Preserve the West"
—George Laibe

This Just In From Fred Nolan
"Historian: an unsuccessful novelist."
— H.L. Mencken

Ol’ Rain In The Face Rubs It In
“I understand you guys are in your 10,000th day without rain. We just had 12 inches of rain in the past 6 hours. Its still raining. I'll try to box some up and send you.”
—David K. Jones, in rainy and depressing Florida

“One who has a dog does not throw away bones.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

February 7, 2006
Warmer out. Didn’t get a paper this morning. It breaks my routine and makes me irritable. Had oatmeal and a muffin. Lots of talk about healthy eating with Kathy around the breakfast table. When Sue and I were in Cody for the Dude Ranch Association gathering, we had a dinner at the Irma Hotel and I sat across from a woman who regaled me with horror stories about teflon and aluminum. “Did you know if you fry something on a teflon pan in a closed room,” she told me for openers, “and you put a bird in the room, the bird will die?” Supposedly, the teflon materials are toxic, come off and into the food and then we eat the food. She went on to blame aluminum foil and its multi-uses as a cause for the dramatic rise in cancer in the 1950s. She said cowboys ate out of cast iron skillets and the iron came off and made them stronger.

Don’t know if any of this is true, but I made salmon last night in an iron skillet.

Working hard to work smarter. Juggling meetings and appointments and artwork. Need to stay focused. I remember reading somewhere that the challenge is to reduce the gap between your actual performance (inside the comfort area) and your potential performance (outside the comfort area).

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
—Stephen Covey

More Author Humblings
“Here’s what happened to me when I was doing a book signing at the Alamo. I had anticipated a holy experience and the gratitude of the masses when I walked in there that day. The first humbling came when an Asian tourist asked me in broken English (which is still much more than I could speak Chinese) how much the Alamo Salt and Pepper Shakers were, and then tried to pay me for them.”
—Alan Huffines

“Please join me in praying that I don’t say something we all regret.”
—Bono, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington last week

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
That Guy From That One Show In Rehab

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”
—Joe Paterno

Monday, February 06, 2006

February 6, 2006
Watched the Super Bowl for the ads. Did my sketches (Mickey Free and Nympho Rodeo) during the game. Whenever there was a good play, I had the luxury of stopping and then watching the five replays. Interesting way to watch, mainly considering I didn’t miss anything. Kathy recorded the game, so we could go back and review the best ads. We agreed that the Fed-Ex ad was funny (8), and the Dove ad was poignant (8), you know the one where the little girls had sayings next them like, "She hates her freckles," "she thinks she's fat," but the Budweiser “Streaker” made us laugh out loud (9). And our own homegrown company, GoDaddy.Com went to a lot of trouble for a yawner (3), but I’ve heard the final version was their 16th run at it, the rest being rejected by the NFL and, or ABC.

By the way, if you’re into numerology, I read somewhere that the average age of an NFL player is 26 and the average age of the Rolling Stones is 62. On the last song of their three-song set, Mick said, “This is a song we could have played at the first Super Bowl. Everything comes to one who is patient.” Or, something like that. The song was Satisfaction, and I have to say the Stones do the worst version of that song than anybody. Worse than the worse garage band I've ever been in. The Exits did a better version. It needs fuzz, Man. Keith plays it like it’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, which when you think about it, is about a half step away, musically, but, as they say, the devil’s in the details. Sympathy not included.

News From The Front Lines
“Erich Highet from Haines, OR called to subscribe today. He is a Civil War buff and his wife picked TW up in the grocery store because she thought he would like it. He really enjoyed it and called to subscribe.

“Then, Graves Smith from Briarwood Queens, NY called and, if you want to feel good, you should call him. He and his wife love True West and they love you. He called to subscribe because he could no longer find TW in Borders or Barnes & Noble. He was excited to find us (was afraid TW had gone out of business because he couldn't find it).

“His favorite magazines are an Opera Magazine, Cowboys & Indians and True West. He said there is no magazine like TW - it has the best articles. Graves said that he likes Cowboys & Indians for the clothes and that TW has great articles and clothes.

“He asked me to tell you how much he enjoys it and that his wife is nuts
about you—‘there is no one like this man.’”
—Carole Glenn

News From The Mapinator In Alabama
“I went to a great bookstore called Books A Million here in Decatur yesterday. As good as Barnes & Noble or Borders. HUGE magazine section! and there it was, the March issue of True West, so I snatched up a copy. It was displayed in the history section with Civil War Times, etc, not anywhere near American Cowboy or Cowboys and Indians. It was displayed well tho, not hidden behind any other mags. Felt very good to see my work in there and my name still in the masthead. Great issue. I must say I think I was even more impressed with it viewing it as an ex-employee. I don’t know exactly how to express it, but it seems like being a step back from it gave me a chance to examine it more objectively and it sure passed the test!”
—Gus Walker, still part of the True West family

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Guy Just Totally Smoking Weed On Street

“Where can I find all of the Old Vaquero Sayings.”
—Caz, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Sorry Caz, you can't. I haven't finished writing and poaching them all yet. But there will be a book someday, and if you've read this blog for a while you know exactly how I came up with the concept in 1992.

“It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 4, 2006
I had another book signing on Thursday evening from six to eight at the Arizona Museum of Radio and Television in downtown Scottsdale. Maniac Number 19, Lauren, was there. Sold about ten books. Mary Morrison is the force behind the museum. Cool photos of all the oldtimers like Bill Heywood, Lew King, Wallace & Ladmo. Enjoyed it.

On Saturday morning I drove out to Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, for an all-day teacher art class. I instructed 16 high school art teachers on doing portraits and scratchboard. Before we started I asked them to name their biggest challenges on reaching and teaching kids today, and one teacher said many of her students want to simply download images and call it art (they’d rather click a mouse than move a pen on paper), and another talked about lack of motivation (which unfortunately, all of my teachers would have used to describe me), but the funniest one was an art teacher who, when I asked what the biggest challenge was, replied, “To get them to clean up.” Ha.

Afterwards I drove east on Baseline and took a gander at all the new homes (one of the teachers said they are getting 250 new students a month in the area). Then turned north on Central and landed at the Phoenix Art Museum for the Impressionist Show ($65 for a year’s membership, house account). Show was somewhat underwhelming, but I still had fun.

At five I drove out to Scottsdale to meet Kathy at Deena’s abode. While the girls did hair care, I drove up to Oldtown, walked over to Mei Lei’s and got Thai takeout. Went into the bar and got a glass of cabernet wine while I waited. The bartender, Steven, is a big fan of Rembrandt and Dutch art, so we hit it off, and he regaled me with how great Holland is, and how much more art friendly the Dutch are than the French.

Went back to Deena’s, ate, got into a fight with Kathy about a dog we had 25 years ago. We lived in downtown Phoenix, and, Apache, an Australian Border Collie, got hit by a car on New Year’s Eve (1979-1980) because all the shooting freaked her out and she got out of the yard, ran out into the intersection of Indian School and Seventh Avenue. Her paws were bloody, etc., and I let her recuperate in a chair in the living room. Unfortunately, while I was at work, she relieved herself on the rug, daily, for a week or so, before we spotted it (get it?). There’s more, but the short version is I didn’t take care of it (the rug) and this has evidently festered for a couple decades. The next day I asked Deena how excruciating it was to see us fight in front of her and on a scale of one to ten, with ten being insufferable, Deena said, “Eleven.”

We have decided to stay married for the sake of the children. That would be me. Ha.

More Author Questions From The Typical Book Signing
• “Where's the bathroom?”

• “Did you write this?”

• “What makes you think you know enough to write a book?”

• “Is this in paperback?”
—Alan Huffines

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Jogging Fat Man Watched From Apartment Window

“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.”
—Wayne Dyer

Friday, February 03, 2006

February 3, 2006
I spent all afternoon yesterday driving to two different book signings. The annual Hashknife pony express mail was riding into Fountain Hills and the River of Time museum at three and they had a big gitdown to celebrate. I had a table full of my books in the lobby and sold Classic Gunfights, the posters, T-shirts and subscriptions to True West. Last weekend I was inducted into the FH artgroup Los Artistas Vaqueros but I was in Cody. So Kathy represented me. Evidently she made an impression on the locals because more than one person came up to the table, looked at the stuff, then at me and said, "Oh, you’re Kathy’s husband." Ha.

These kinds of events and sitting at a table with other venders always brings out weird questions. Here’s a couple I got yesterday:

• "What time is the raffle?"

• “Is the parade at nine or ten in the morning?”

• “You ever run into ol’ Bob Shue-fly?”

• “Do you know Howard Rogers? Now he’s a good artist.”

Just how big is the Boomer Generation? According to Ellen Goodman, “about 7,918 people turn 60 every day.”

Amen, Bro
“The Oscars should have an occasional category for best previously nonnominated performance. Among the first nominees would be Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.
—Jim Chambless (in Esquire magazine), 45, Lewisville, Texas

A Certain Daughter Reports In
“I went to see Aerosmith on Wednesday and man was it depressing. Here I am trying to have a good time and rock out to a pretty cool band and all I could do was think of how bad I felt for the drummer. I kept saying to Frank, ‘Dude, the guy looks like he just wants to take a nap... not rock a stadium!’ So, every time I would start to get down with ‘Love In An Elevator’ the cameras would zoom in on the drummer, sweating profusely, all tattooed up, trying his hardest to keep from falling asleep on the drum set itself.....and I kept thinking of my dad trying to rock out at that age.”
—Deena Bean

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Pregnant Woman Acting Like No One Ever Got Pregnant Before

More Brokeback Feedback
“My forty something wife and my 50 something self went to see the thing (Valley Art is still a very nice theater), and I have the following comment; A very well told story of a very plausible situation, albeit probably not a common one. I could imagine every character really existing, and every reaction as realistic. The accurate portrayal of the 'true west' invoked the love affair many of us have for the simple, hard life that existed [and still does]. I guess those two love affairs portrayed together don't mix well with the straight crowd, but only in the fact that when viewing the movie, you can't enjoy the one without considering the other.”
—Glenn Wirgau

Comedy Central's The Daily Show finally ran the gay rodeo-Brokeback piece last Tuesday (Jan. 24), the night before I left for Cody. As you know, True West columnist, Marshall Trimble turned them down, but, incredibly, Jon Stewart’s crew nabbed another True West writer, Ron Feldman, who is an expert on the Lost Dutchman Mine. Ron is a good guy, but they managed to get him to say, in terms of the so-called gay agenda, “Just stop crammin’ it down my throat,” which the reporter, Dan Backinall, managed to tie to the obvious gay angle of oral sex. I felt for Ron. I wish he had called me.

Jeb Rosebrook and I went to lunch today to talk about his current movie and script projects. He jokingly calls himself my agent, because he got me my deal at the Westerns Channel for True West Moments (which he did and I owe him a car). We went down to El Encanto and sat outside by the pond. Beautiful day, high seventies. I had the blackened chicken and rice and he had two tacos ($22.25, plus $4 cash, I paid). It’s always fun talking to Jeb, who was the screenwriter for the Steve McQueen movie Junior Bonner, among other films and TV series. He and his son Stuart are forming their own production company and we kicked around a few ideas. Jeb got kind of excited about my graphic novel character Johnny Loco which I sketched out right here a couple weeks ago. We’ll see. Jeb has some pretty stellar connections and a good rep in Hollywood. And by the way, Jeb enjoyed Brokeback Mountain and is mystified by the “Texan comments” from a few days ago.

“If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms,—never, never, never!”
—William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham

Thursday, February 02, 2006

February 2, 2006
Dan Duffy and Jessie Colter came by the office after their lunch at El Encanto yesterday. We had a very nice talk and Jessie ended up buying a bunch of books, back issues, T-shirts, etc. She is appearing in concert up at the Carefree Conference Resort on Valentine’s Day, and she has a new album coming out soon, produced by Don Was, who also produces The Rolling Stones. I gave Dan a hardback edition of CGII and a chine collet (French for “Layered Paper”) art piece of mine.

Maniac Feedback
“I like hearing what you paid for food, too. It keeps me up to date on Mexican food prices around the valley.

“Have you any idea how many people read your blog every day? How about putting a counter on the page? I'm curious.

“And finally, how about a photo of DAN !!!”
—Lauren, Maniac #19

Here he is, posing for one of my gunfighter references (in this case a study for gunfighter Gus Gildea). This was taken in my backyard about seven years ago. The photo doesn’t totally capture Dan’s studliness, but you get the idea. Yes, that’s a horny toad head coming out of the wall in the middle distance. Fitting, no?

More Brokeback Feedback
“Just read your email exchange about Brokeback Mountain and Bareback Mountain in your blog. It's just so depressing.

“Take any post like that, and replace 'homosexual' with 'nigger', and there's not a nickel's worth of difference between them. The only solace the old timer can take is he'll probably be dead by the time the majority of our kids grow up free of the hate he was taught.

“Well, that's my hope anyway."
—A friend who doesn’t want his name used

"Three things:I don't find [The Texas Cowboy’s comments in yesterday’s posting] a paradox at all. I laugh all the time at parodies of situations that I may not like or am uncomfortable with---i.e., SNL, The Daily Show.

“And while I personally don't care who someone is committed to (unless it involves children or is some form of victimization) or how they express it, voluntarily, I have no interest in seeing this movie. Then again, I don't care much for love, unrequited-love or lost-love stories or movies, period. And I don't care whether there are gay cowboys---or surfers or even American Presidents (unless they were hypocrites and opposed gay rights)---or who they were or the historical accuracy.

"I would, however, love to see a Saturday Night Live parody of 'Brokeback Mountain,' even if I don't know the story or have seen the film. If I were writing it, I would have someone impersonating John Wayne and Gary Cooper, confused about their sexual identities."
—Another friend who doesn’t want his name used.

However, Cathy Lamb, our Mohave County Union High School valedictorian (class of 1965) doesn’t mind if I use her name. She sent yesterday’s missive about salvaging cyberspace diaries, etc. I didn’t have time to clear her permission and posted her comments without her name to be safe. This morning she told me it was cool (for school).

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Texan Feels Emotionally Empty After Chili Cook-off

I just finished off the last page of my sketchbook last night (494 sketches!) without missing a day (November 12th thru February 1). I drove down to Desert Ridge Mall after work and bought two more sketchbooks and some new pens and ink ($48.75 biz account). Did first six sketches in the new book (which brings my total to 500). Working on a postcard scene of “Dude! Where’s My Ranch?” It’s for an upcoming issue. More later.

”Language most shews a man: Speak, that I may see thee.”
—Ben Jonson

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February 1, 2006
I just got back from El Encanto (1:15 PM). Went there for lunch with George Laibe to talk about our True West road trip to Alpine, Texas later this month. Sat out by the pond. Beautiful out. Five minutes later, in walks Dan Duffy, male model and major cowboy stud. One time he and I were walking down Main Street in Scottsdale and an SUV full of women from Michigan stopped dead in the street. We heard squeals, the doors swung open, all the women ran over to us, handed the camera to me and told me to take their picture as they took turns hanging all over Dan. He’s that good looking. Today Dan was with two stunning babes, one a blond, the other a brunette, the latter wearing sunglasses. I didn’t recognize her until she took off the shades but it was Jessie Colter, Waylon Jennings’ wife, or I guess widow is the accurate title, the mother of Shooter Jennings, a Phoenix native and the singer of the classic Country hit, “I’m Not Lisa.” Of course, she and George Laibe go way back and they laughed and traded barbs.

I bought ($16.16, plus $3 tip).

I owe Dan a Classic Gunfights, Volume II hardbound book and a piece of artwork. This is for all the times he has posed for gunfighter images. In fact, the laughing Curly Bill image that is our logo for the True West Maniac Club is none other than Dan.

We are working on a cover story for this summer on our concept of the New West and the kids who will save it from extinction. Talked to two young cowkids yesterday and the father of one today. More later.

Dancing with Custer Update
“Just got off the phone with Joe LaForge, and his family story is different. His Great-grandfather Tom LaForge was Mitch Bouyer's best friend. When Mitch died in the Battle of Little Bighorn, Tom LaForge took over Mitch's family (as was the custom then). Tom LaForge was not in the battle due to an earlier injury, according to Joe. And as Joe indicated, he would not be here today if his Great grandfather had been in the Battle."
—Penny L. Becker, Executive Director, Sheridan Tourism Board

I got an Email from a friend in Texas telling me to go to a website that has a parody trailer of Brokeback Mountain. Here’s the address:


It is grossly funny, the punchline being that a cowboy is in love with his horse, complete with a silhouette of the horse making love to the cowboy. They stole the music and the title cards from the actual trailer. The irony to me, is that the guy who sent me the Email is very opposed to the movie and that led to the following exchange:

My Email to A Certain Texas Cowboy
Now, what's funny (and odd) to me, is you won't go see the movie because of
the ass business, but you really enjoyed a horse reaming the same territory?
Can you explain this paradox to me?

His Reply
“One is funny gross and the other is just disgusting. I won't go see the movie because it shows an abomination between two men and endorses the behavior (but I will see CAPOTE and own ALEXANDER). I read an interview with Annie Proulx and found her to be so presumptuous it put me off anything she will ever do. I don't mind liberalism, what I mind is an agenda. To pick the reddest of states and the most American of Icons to illustrate this has to be more than a simple paradigm shift. Now those people (and I do mean THOSE PEOPLE) will be dressing like we have always dressed, guess I will go back to fall fronts.

“Anyways, arse or otherwise, I won't pay eight bucks to see that. Whether one is pitching or catching, they are still in the game. Besides, the BAREBACK Trailer is just funny and I do think bestiality an apropos comparison to Homosexuality.”

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Six Dead In West Point Panty Raid

George Laibe just came in and said he hoped I wasn’t putting the price of today’s lunch in the blog. When I asked him why, he said, "Because it destroys your mystique. It makes you seem too frugal and not as powerful an individual as you are."

Fair enough. Here’s an opposing view I got yesterday from the valedictorian of our class in Kingman:

"It's ten o'clock in the morning. I am on a tea break. Previously, a break consisted of me brewing a pot of tea and Googling the news. But recently I have expanded this ritual to include reading your blog. I am amazed at myself. Although I collect English diaries written between 1750 and 1850, I have been prejudiced against blogs. Diaries are almost always written for private use (sometimes even written in code to prevent others from reading). I think that is why I like them, they feel so honest. Blogs, on the other hand, are written for the whole globe to read. So in spite of my fondness for diaries, I regarded blogs as self-serving advertising by attention-hungry exhibitionists. But your blog won me over. I am amazed at the similarities in your entries and entries written 200 years ago. Health problems, dinners eaten, and amount paid for purchases. I was smiling as I read a recent blog thinking how in 200 years, historians will use this as source material to calculate the buying power of US currency, and to research medicinal treatments in 2005. But then I started to worry and that is why I am writing. 15 years ago, I saved information on floppy disks, and just 10 years ago on diskettes. None of that info is accessible to me today. The information technology which produced the Rosetta stone resulted in a medium which is still readable 2000 years later. But will our current information technology leave any information behind in a medium which is readable a mere 200 years from now? Prospects look dark to me. I am not suggesting that you write your entries in granite, but as a historian yourself, give a thought to your successors."

"The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is."
—Old Vaquero Saying