Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31, 2006
I got a call from a fan who wants to buy all six of my books, the hardbound versions, so I went home to get them out of my private stash. On the way back, I encountered not one, but three sheriff’s patrol cars, sirens blasting, heading up Spur Cross Road at full blast. When I pulled into the True West World Headquarters parking lot, here came a fire engine and ambulance in the same mode. Something big going on up my way, anxious to know what it is.

If you’re interested in the trio of deerskin BBB books I mentioned yesterday, here’s the web address:

True Nudes
“Having read thoroughly the articles in the May issue of True West I then started looking over the ads. I note on page 74, middle column, bottom ad, you have depicted a seemingly nude young lady in a hammock. Even with a magnifying glass I can not make out her facial features clearly enough to identify her. I presume she is someone on the staff. Perhaps Meghan S? Or Jana B? Or Jane C? Or Sue L? Just curious. I recall some years ago when Helen Gurley Brown took over Cosmopolitan there was a nude Burt Reynolds in the centerfold. Perhaps we can look forward to a similar photo in a future issue of True West?”
—Chuck, the Maniac!

“He must have missed the nude shot of you and Marshall Trimble on your blog several months ago. It put the Burt Reynolds’ spread to shame. By the way, Allen Fossenkemper is coming out next week for lunch.”
—Carole Glenn

“If we go to lunch will Bob pull the ‘Kingman Shuffle’ on me?
—Allen Fossenkemper

FYI Allen: It's called "The Kingman Wallet Trick." When you go to lunch with someone from Kingman they invariably offer to pick up the whole tab and you think ‘what a nice fellow,’ and then they fumble with their wallets, which are, alas, empty (they keep their real stash in their shoes) and then they hem and haw, stalling, until someone else picks up the tab. This can be quite humorous when you have a whole table full of Kingmanites.

And yes, I will pull this on you.

“Thanks for the great Benson plug. I actually work for the City of Benson Visitor Center and not the Chamber of Commerce but that's OK. The Chamber office is right next to my office. Bev Stepp from the Chamber of Commerce has also had to tell people the statues are in Tucson and not Benson.”
—Bob Nilson

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Mass Grave Blasted For Lack Of Diversity

“If [something on a blog] makes someone happy, it goes viral. It can’t be undone.”
—Don Harmon, confounder of channel 101, in Wired magazine

Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 30, 2006 Bonus Blog
Bob Nilson from the Benson Chamber of Commerce just called our offices to tell us at least two dozen people have called or come in to find out about the statues of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday "in Benson". They have told Bob that they saw me talking about this on TV (several have said on The History Channel, which many get confused with the Westerns Channel, where it actually is running) and understood me to say that Wyatt shot Frank Stillwell in Benson and the statues are there.

Here’s the actual shooting script:

True West Moment #10: Tucson Train Shooting, Wyatt Earp vs. Frank Stilwell
The train from Benson glided along these tracks on the evening of March 20, 1882. On the train were Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and several others. They were guarding Virgil Earp and his wife Allie who were leaving the territory. Wyatt and his men planned on returning to Tombstone on an eastbound train as soon as Virgil and Allie were safely on their way to California. After reboarding the train, Wyatt, or someone with him, spotted Frank Stilwell lurking in the shadows and fearing he would attempt to shoot Virgil through the window as the train pulled out, Wyatt grabbed a shotgun and along with Doc Holliday, pursued the very man Wyatt believed was responsible for killing his brother Morgan Earp less than 48 hours before. Seeing Earp coming, Frank Stilwell tried to run down this way, but Earp caught up to him. Turning to face Earp, Stilwell cried out, “Morg!” as Wyatt shoved the shotgun up under the cowboy’s breast and gave him both barrels.

The next morning, Stilwell’s riddled body was found a few hundred yards west of the train station on the train tracks. Allegedly, Doc and the others had added their two cents to the outlaw’s body as it lay, crumpled along the tracks.

An eye-witness wrote: “Frank Stilwell was shot all over, the worst shot-up man that I ever saw.”

Today, this statue of Wyatt and Doc stands facing the location of the shooting. A grim testament to a deadly feud.

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

End of script. As you can see, although Tucson is in the title, it’s easy to understand why someone would think the statues are in Benson, since I don’t once mention Tucson, where the statues are. When I asked Bob Nilson what I could do to rectify the problem he said, “Bring me two statues.” Ha.
March 30, 2006
Working on a new Classic Gunfight. This one is Kid Curry vs. Pike Landusky two days after Christmas, 1894. Really more of a bar fight, but there are some interesting angles to it. Wild Bunch expert Dan Buck has steered me to some of the good stuff and so has Mark Boardman. I also blocked in my editorial for June and turned it over to Meghan this morning (running an ancient photo of a certain Little League Oddfellow Yankee. It's our Sports In The Old West issue). Office is quiet. Several still out sick.

What Happened to In-din Divide?
“I'm really sorry about your friend Wendell. You're lucky to have grown up in a small town and stayed close with your school friends. Not many people have that opportunity now with busing and mega-schools. By the way, you said you were going to talk about the funeral and the divide between the In-dins and the white people.”
—Lauren, Maniac #19

Yes, there was a noticeable tension at the funeral between the “traditional” Hualapais and the Christian faction of the tribe. Of course, most of the turnout was Native American and there we were in a White Man’s church (I think, but am not positive, that Wendell’s church was borrowing the large, modern Presbyterian church we were in.).

Among the non-Indians in attendance were Mickey and Zibby Campa and Mickey’s mom, Richard Montez, Bob Burford and his wife, Dorian Trahan, John Pemberton, Jimmie Carl Duncan, Karen Johnson and Phyllis Morton.

Wendell’s half brother spoke and he basically commented that he had said what he wanted to say at the previous night’s sing (I assume this was the all-night traditional wake at the Hualapai Gym in Peach Springs), and he seemed to intimate he didn’t put much stock in this “white man” ceremony. This prompted the preacher—a feisty, fire and brimstone cowboy kind of guy—to take back the mike and confront the half-brother. He was quite steamed and literally said something like, “That’s just not true. The Hebes who founded our religion are darker than you are.” At least that’s what I heard. At this point, Johnny Pemberton and Jimmie Carl Duncan got up and left in disgust (Someone also told me that Johnny himself is thinking of becoming a preacher).

It was quite fractious and unfortunate. After all, Wendell had obviously chosen the Christian path (see CD below). After the half-brother’s odd speech quite a few Hualapai women got up and many of their comments were more akin to an AA meeting: “I’ve been on a bad road. . .in the bars. . .but I believe Jesus will lift me up. . .” It didn’t have much to do with Wendell, but as John Lennon once sang, "Whatever gets you through the night. . ."

I got this listing from Buckingham Books this morning:

11. BELL, BOB BOZE. ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY THE KID, DOC HOLLIDAY, & WYATT EARP IN THREE SPECIAL PRESENTATION BINDINGS. LIMITED TO TWELVE COPIES. VOLUME I: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY THE KID. Phoenix: Tri-Star-Boze Publications, Inc., 1996. Second edition, Revised and Expanded. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies in brown leather, with gold stamping on the spine and front cover, numbered and signed by the author. Full leather, 192 pp., illustrated, maps, plates, portraits, credits. Illustrated by the author. This edition is expanded over the first edition from 120 pages to 192 pages. Full leather slipcase with gold stamping on front cover. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. VOLUME II: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF DOC HOLLIDAY. [Phoenix: Tri-Star Printing, 1995]. Second edition, Revised. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies signed by the author. Full leather, gold stamping on spine and front cover, 128 pp., illustrated, map, plates, portraits, credits. Illustrated by the author. This edition has been revised over the first edition. Full speckled cloth slipcase. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. VOLUME III: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF WYATT EARP. Phoenix: Tri-Star-Boze Publications, Inc., 1995. Third edition. Revised and expanded. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies signed by the author. Full leather, gold stamping on front cover and spine, 142 [2] pp., illustrated, map, plates, portraits, credits. Illustrated by the author. This edition is expanded over the first edition from 128 pages to 144 pages. Full speckled cloth slipcase. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. These three volumes have been specially produced for presentation in fine bindings and limited to twelve sets. Together they provide a host of information about three legendary characters of the Old West. The Set of Three: $2000.00 (22479)

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
America Reminded of Beef's Existence By Bold New Ad Campaign

“Help your brother's boat across, and your own will reach the shore.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

March 29, 2006
Still overcast and wet out. Went for a bike ride with the dogs at about seven. Cement trucks, dump trucks and back hoes everywhere, all with their incessant backup tooting. Building going on everywhere around us. One construction site north of us is digging up so much dirt they are offering it to anyone. I caught Bev the Barber last night opening the Barro’s gate so a dump truck could unload two loads of filtered dirt. The neighbors across the street have redone their entire driveway with the stuff.

Meanwhile at the office, Dave Daiss is putting in pavement at the entrance to the True West World Headquarters, and another crew is building a new road up the steep hillside behind our building (I’m looking out the window at the stakes and red flags and can hear the dozer’s grinding and tooting, as well.

Inquiring Blog Readers Want to Know
"Is BBB in the basketball photo?"
—Francine Alexander

Yes, number 13.

Wendell Havatone’s CD
“That was beautiful. I played it for everybody in my office and they all thought it was great. Of course I had to tell all about Wendell and his athletic escapades. I told them about the Exits and all the school dances and I'm sure they all started to get bored, but I didn't care. It was my memories and I hope I never forget them, I'll cherish them as long as I can. Thank you for being a part of them.”
—Scott Bell

Reader’s Poll Response
“Your Tombstone poll has perfect timing as me, my wife and our 11 yr old outlaw are planning our first TRUE WEST adventure to tombstone this summer (gee—I wonder if it’s hot down there in the summer time?) we would sure appreciate any tips from you or your readers on -good food -places to stay-etc. and things not to be missed in Tombstone and the surrounding area.”
—Kyle, Buffalo Prairie, Illinois

P.S. you must have decided to keep the blog—thats a good deal you sum bitch.

Western Road Trip On The Shanghai Highway
“I am on the trail performing with the Great American Cowboy Concert Tour in China. After appearances on The Great Wall, in Beijing and Shanghai, I will return to the office on April 5.”
—Jeff Hildebrandt, Westerns Channel

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Rumsfeld: Iraquis Now Capable Of Conducting War Without U.S. Assistance

News From The Front Lines
“Steve Michener from Pittsford, NY called to renew today. He said that he came to the west (AZ) for the first time 2 years ago and fell in love with the area. Last year they traveled to CA and visited Death Valley and some other areas. He said that he would like to visit Wyoming and Montana and that TW has been a part of spurring this interest.”
—Carole Glenn

“After about three lessons the voice teacher said, 'Don't take voice lessons. Do it your way.'"
—-Johnny Cash

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March 28, 2006
Raining again this morning. Local newspapers whining that “It’s not enough.” Someone recently remarked that they read the Sports page first because it’s a list of people’s achievements and the front page last because it’s a list of our failures. Hmmmm.

Wendell Havatone's CD of "I've Been Wandering" is available to sample right here. The song, by the way, is a reworking of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain."

It Pays to Know The Right Chaps
George from Scotland Emailed me this morning asking about a Billy the Kid book I had never heard about. I forwarded his odd request to Fred Nolan in Britain and got this reply back almost immediately:

“Willard Ballow's book is a large format (12" x 8" landscape) retelling of the Kid/Lincoln County War story, self-published in 1998 (Willard, who I met in NM in 1995, died in 1999). It's very reliable, full of photographs and fine graphic imaginings -- he was a very talented artist-draughtsman. Publisher is Owlhoot Trail Publishing Co of 1510 S. Main, Weatherford, TX 76086, price was $37.83 s/h $5.50 extra. They gave me this address for e-mail: _owlhoot@flash.net_ (
—Frederick Nolan

I received another inquiry from a reader about being related to Jesse James and a request to help him verify their family stories as true. I sent this reply:

Like you. I love these family stories. However, one of the things I learned along the way is that most family stories are just that, stories. My family claims connection to Big Foot Wallace and John Wesley Hardin, but today I somewhat doubt these claims (I say "somewhat" because In my heart I still want them to be true!). There really is no way to prove, or disprove, your family's claims at this late date. My advice to you is to cherish the stories, embrace them, and tell your kids. That, my friend, is how legends begin, and we need them more than ever.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Study Finds Sexism Rampant In Nature

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”
—Ingrid Bergman

Monday, March 27, 2006

March 27, 2006
Overcast and sprinkling this morning. Several of my staff out sick today. Lots of flu going around.

On Friday afternoon I met with James Ward and Kim Villalpando at the Phippen Museum outside Prescott. They chose a dozen of my original cartoons for their upcoming Range Humor show, including six, big Doper-Roper panels, each 20 inches by 25. The earliest stuff dates all the way back to 1972 when I was fresh out of college and full of underground piss and vinegar. I wasn’t too sure they’d want cartoons of pot-bellied Kingman cowboys roping hippies off the hood of a rusted-out ’49 GMC pickup, but they loved ol’ Granthum P. Hooker (actually styled after Buzzy Blair, Choc Hamilton and other Kingman Cowboys I knew as a kid).

Jim and Kim also chose a parody piece called “De Grazia In Hell” which I did for The Phoenix New Times in 1985, and, also, much to my surprise, “Homos On The Range: Is America Ready for A Gay Western?” the Clint cover painting I did for last December’s notorious True West issue on the movie Brokeback Mountain. If you ask me, it’s going to be a pretty edgy and impressive show. I’m going back up next month to give the docents a “walk thru,” an inside track on where all of this came from (come to think of it, all they would have to do, is read this blog). Ha.

I also stopped by Schepman & Associates in downtown Prescott. They head up the Prescott Area Coalition for Tourism and I dropped off two of the latest issues of True West and my card. Got up to Ed’s cabin, nestled underneath Thumb Butte, at about five, drank some wine and sketched on the deck. Piles of snow everywhere and the surrounding hills were still quite white with the stuff. At about seven I walked down to Casa Sanchez for dinner. Had a beer and the chile colorado ($13.22, plus $3 tip). Got back to the cabin at about nine and tried to watch some tv but couldn’t figure out how to get it off DVD settings and onto TV. Of course, I was embarrassed, but the more I tried different combinations on the four different clickers, the more I couldn’t get it to come on. Gave up and went to sleep. Bad dreams about a possible Onion newspaper headline: Old Man Can’t Turn On TV Set.

We’ve got a new poll up and I’m curious to see the results of this one: Have you ever been to Tombstone, Arizona? Vote now.

Our Shrinking Planet
“I ask apologys, because my english is not good. I'm your fan. I always look you in The History Channel on the program Old West High Tech with Keith Carradine. Please, what you know about the 1890 Thunderbird photo on the Tombstone, Arizona? What you can say to me? What is legend and what is reality???”
—Henrique Nogueira, Montenegro, Brazil

Actually, Henrique, very little reality and a whole bunch of legend. I assume this is that story about the alleged prehistoric bird supposedly found near Tombstone (it was written up in the local newspaper). As I told Henrique, that part of the country has always been full of leg pullers, BS-ers and big, fat liars, so I don’t put much stock in it.

Young Champions Looking Toward A Bright Future
Here’s a photo of the Kingman Junior High Championship Basketball Team, 1961. We went 16-1 (losing only our first game to Poston Indian School, down by Parker on the Colorado River). We won two tournaments, one at Blyth, California, where we beat Parker and then Poston (sweet revenge). Then we came home to the Kingman tournament and beat Bagdad, Blyth and Parker Dam for our second title. Philbert Watahomogie (#4), Delano Havatone (back row, third from right), David Ostermeir (back row, fourth from right) and Ralph Muleneaux (#8) made the all-tournament team. Les Byrum was our coach and he had even a better team the next year going undefeated, begging Phoenix teams to play them, then driving down to the Valley and whipping them all. That’s Wendell Havatone kneeling, front and center (#11). Everyone looks so young and innocent, but by my count (granted, there are two guys I’ve lost touch with) here are the current stats: two have done time in prison, one was addicted to crack, five are dead: including one suicide, one beaten to death outside a bar and one from acute alcoholism.

Again, by my count, only two have never been divorced (#14, Dan Harshberger and #4 Philbert Watahomogie), and one teammate has allegedly been married eight times. Wendell had three or four wives and as I mentioned yesterday, the newspaper said he left 21 grandchildren. By looking at the photograph it’s not hard to see why.

No doubt about it, Wendell Havatone was a stud. He was ripped, even in Little League. And, as Joe Powsky reminded me at the funeral, Wendell had wheels, (he could run like the wind). I remember in one game against the Oddfellow Yankees (my team), Wendell streaked around the bases on his way to an inside the park home run. There was only one problem. The ball miraculously, somehow, got there ahead of him. Wendell never slowed down and roared into home plate, bulldozing our stocky catcher, Gene Brummett, who, when Wendell plowed into him, was flipped violently backwards and ended up halfway up the backstop, his catcher’s equipment enmeshed into the chicken wire. Oh, and he dropped the ball, too. Gene’s mother, Wilma, was no shrinking violet, and she called the police and tried to get Wendell arrested for assault and battery (they declined to arrest the budding cocksman).

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Teen Vows Never To Follow In His Father's Incredibly Successful Footsteps

“Hope for the best, expect the worst. Life is a play. We're unrehearsed.”
—Mel Brooks

Sunday, March 26, 2006

March 26, 2006 Bonus Blog
As it should have been, music led the way, both driving up to Kingman on Saturday morning, and at the funeral for Wendell Havatone.

As I left Prescott at sunrise, I fired up my iPod and listened to my own private soundtrack as I cruised the winding backroads through Skull Valley, Kirkland, Hillside, Bagdad and Wickiup. More than one song fit the occassion, including Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, "When I go to my grave my head will be held high, let me die in my footsteps before I go down under the ground." And Johnny Cash's last album was full of poignant moments as well.

But the song that got me the hardest was John Hiatt's "Listening to Old Voices," off his Stolen Moments CD: "Is it true we are possessed by all the ones we leave behind? Or is it by their lives we're inspired. It's a new light, a new day, listening for the meaning, learning how to say, it's a new place but you've always been here, you're just listening to old voices with a new ear."

Of course I didn't want all sadness, so as I cruised in from the Blake's Ranch on I-40 I cranked up The Romantics: "That's What I Like About You!"

The kicker to the funeral ceremony was the playing of a song Wendell recorded in January of 2004 at Whiterocks Road Studio in Fort Duchesne, Utah. They projected the CD cover (pictured here, notice that Wendell still has that twinkle in his eye that produced 21 grandchildren!) up on the wall and played the song, "I Was Wandering" and it took a stanza or two to realize it, but it was unmistakeably The Havatone, and he was in great voice. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

The pastor who played it (I believe his name was Wade Large?) said he burned 40 CDs and we all lined up to get one. I'll post a snippet online as soon as I can.

"Someday when we meet up yonder, we'll go strolling hand in hand."
—Wendell Havatone, "I Was Wandering"
March 26, 2006
One of the curses of a good memory is remembering every slight, every ugly incident and every embarrassment.

And one of the curses of thinking you have a good memory is a wife and a classmate who remind you that your so-called "perfect memory" is only about half true.

Wendell's memorial service was a living testimonial to the vast divide that still exists in Mohave County between the "In-dins" and the "white people". More on that later.

Ten minutes into the three hour service, the feisty pastor asked if anyone wanted to get up and say something about the deceased, and Karen Collins (Johnson) leaned over and asked me if I was going to get up and talk and I whispered, "Only if Wendell wants me to." Of course, anyone who knows me, especially Wendell, knows that is a joke. A stage. A microphone. A captive audience. A fellow musician and Little League friend in a casket. Try and keep me off that stage. I dare you.

We heard quite a bit of music, both in Hualapai and White People, including a "singer" who was so flat even two drummers winced, and the casket was closed at the time, but I had a hunch Wendell was at the very least flinching (or doing the horizontal cringe).

Needless to say, Wendell's death affected me prfoundly. I got up this morning and told Kathy I need to get a will in place so that all my precious junk goes to the right people. Kathy laughed and reminded me I already have a living will, which we worked on in San Diego several years ago. "Don't you remember, Mr. Perfect Memory?"


"Robert has many stories but unfortunately only about half of them are true."
—Phyllis Morton

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 24, 2006
I picked out various original pieces of art featuring Honkytonk Sue, The Doper Roper and even a new one “Check Out The Dudes” which I’m driving up to the Phippen museum this afternoon.

The snowbound farm panorama (see yesterday’s post) is of my grandpa’s farm, taken in January of 1982. You’re only seeing half the panorama (I took seven shots and captured a 180 degree view of the whole place). This farm was our destination every summer when we took off from Kingman, usually in August, to go visit the Iowa Bells. Many memories there, most of them sweet.

Status of The Performance Hat?
“By the way, Has the $1,000 hat made an appearance yet. I can't wait for this one.”
—Hugh Howard

Here you go! The latest Grant Sergot original Optimo hat arrived via UPS yesterday afternoon. Carole brought it in my office with a smile. It’s got a wider brim, thus the moniker “Performance Hat.” Also, check out the custom hat band: rich, brown leather with belt buckle assembly. Yes, the photo was taken by Robert Ray in my office. The hanging dude was created by my friend and Cowboy Artist Davey Powell. Pretty cool, no?

We’re Dropping Like Flies Department
“Joan Deines, age 75, passed away March 16, 2006. Retired in 1998 after 38 years of teaching history, 31 of them at Kingman High School but active in volunteering. I would expect her to do that as she was very kind. Services Friday, March 24, at Kingman Presbyterian Church.”
—Francine Alexander

If memory serves me correct, around about 1963, Charlie Waters and I were walking out of Ms. Deines history class, discussing a possible name for our new band, and as we approached the stairwell, Charlie said as he pointed up at the exit sign on the wall, “Why don’t we call ourselves ‘The Exits’ because that’s where everyone will head for when they hear us.”

“They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness.”
—Louise Erdrich

I got this quote from Carole Glenn and it sums up what I often try to verbalize in Kathy and my Sunday morning life-solving, coffee driven gab sessions. America "fused" at the start of the twentieth century and it didn't matter that much of it was bigoted or wrong-headed, we had a single-minded stubbornness, and that is hard to beat, anytime, anyplace. I'm not too sure we have it now, though.

Mary Brown, Founder of Festival of The West Says Thanks
“Thank you so much for the great KUDOS on stage—it was a thrill to have Joel Klasky and Dave Daiss there. Thank you for making it special for me and for the festival crew. You are super. Saturday was a record breaking day—tons of people. Thursday we broke records also. Sunday was WAY down because of the rain, but we got through it all and I have to say it went well.”
—Mary Brown

“For most rockers, the only thing standing between them and total illiteracy is the need to get through their Mercedes-Benz owner's manuals.”
—cartoonist Garry Trudeau

Thursday, March 23, 2006

March 23, 2006
Last night and this morning I worked on an illustration called “Check Out The Dudes.” It’s a satire on each generation of cowboys who look on derisively at the next generation of “dudes,” all the way up to current cowboys. I got the inspiration at the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Rodeo last month. The small painting will grace the top of a new article I’m producing for the Cowboy Chronicle. The first one is called “Confessions of A Hat Nazi,” and this illustration will go across the top of the piece.

I’m heading up to the Phippen Museum outside Prescott tomorrow to show their staff some of my Honkytonk Sue and Doper-Roper originals and I thought I would include this latest piece to go into the Home Range Humor exhibit. The Show open on April 26 and I’m proud to be in the company of legendary cartoonists, like Ace Powell, Jimmie Swinnerton (Canyon Kiddies), Fred Harman (Red Ryder and Little Beaver) and J.R. Williams (Out Our Way).

I’ll spend the night in Prescott at Ed Mell’s cabin, then get up early and head to Kingman for Wendell Havatone’s funeral. Speaking of which, got this today:

“Wendell’s obit is posted on the web at Reading it reminded me that I worked with Wendell in 1973-75 at Citizens telephone. The last time I saw him was five or six years ago at a Mexican restaurant in Kingman we called ‘Enema's.’ I chatted with him then and learned he was working up in Alaska.”
—Tom Carpenter

I got an Email this morning from a company that is currently producing a board game on the old west and gunfights and would like my endorsement of the game. Their website is and the game is called, "COWBOYS: WAY OF THE GUN." The game will include historical gunfights as well as movie and TV gunfight scenarios. Several of their customers who have pre-ordered the game have said they read True West.

Dan Buck Turns Another Old Saw On Its Head

"I before E except after C."

Oh, yeah?

The feisty foreigner seized the beige reins in one vein-bulging hand and weirdly adorned in leis (a veil of distraction so no one would remember his face?) feigned disinterest no more. The heist of his neighbor's heir's freight had begun.

The Laibe-Man is leaving us to go make a roller coaster in Mexico. The Big Bastard! I'll miss him.

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
—Georg Laibe's last bit of advice to me

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 22, 2006
It rained almost all afternoon yesterday. Heavy frost this morning. Looked like snow on the Barro’s horse arena. Made the early morning bike ride nippy and fun. Need to enjoy it while we can. Won’t be much longer before our eight month long summer season.

A Horse With No Name
“Having spent a few years on the CBS Studio Center lot, and also having been fortunate enough to work on the show for four episodes in the final season, I'd like to share with you and your blog followers that several writers for Gunsmoke always referred to Matt's horse as ‘Alpo’ in their scripts.”
—Stephen Lodge, WWA Member

“Regarding Matt Dillon’s horse, here's a good site for you (and by the way, Marshall Dillon’s horse was a line back buckskin named "Buck").”
—Scott Bell

Darcy came to clean today and it’s her birthday. She’s 55 and just a baby. This morning I found a photo panorama of my grandfather’s farm in Iowa. It was taken in January of 1982 when I flew to Des Moines for my grandfather’s funeral. Huge snowstorm blanketed the state just before I took off from Phoenix. Thirty below windchill factor when we arrived. Plane landed on ice (this was a week after a plane in Boston skidded off the runway into water, so I utilized major pucker factor to slow and successfully stop our plane). It took us two days to get to northern Iowa and the funeral. I-35 was one-lane. Huge trucks buried by snow in the ditches. The photo series has been lost for about 15 years, and of course it was filed in my flat files in the garage, under the heading “priceless family heir looms to frame”. Ha.

”Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.”
—Earl Nightingale

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21, 2006
I just got word that the funeral for Wendell Havatone is this Saturday in Kingman. I called Dan Harshberger and asked if he was going. Dan asked me if I was going to attend the all night wake at the Hualapai Tribal Gym in Peach Springs and I said, “Yes, as long as it’s over by 9 p.m.”

There will also be a viewing at Suttons Funeral Home, Friday, March 24, 2006 from
2 to 4 PM. Services will be Saturday, 10 AM at the Manzanita Baptist Church, after the
service his body will be returned to Suttons for cremation. I'm definitely going. Wendell was an important guy to me.

Speaking of Kingman
“The driver's license that Tony Soprano picks up by mistake belongs to Kevin Finnerty, 29911 N. Stockton Hill, Kingman, AZ 86401. There's a Pizza Hut at 2911 Stockton Hill, maybe Gandolfini has fond memories?”
—Lauren, Maniac #19

Feedback and Sniping
“When I was younger and spending time on my Grandparents ranch we often burned cow chips in our camp fires. Since the methane (that caused the smell) has dried out of the buffalo chips and the cow pies, there is no smell!!! You should have tried it before you announced it to the world that people on the trail didn't bathe. That's also not true. Maybe there wasn't a lot of water for bathing, but that doesn't mean they didn't wash.”
—Unnamed Westerns Channel Viewer

“Mr. Bell, my husband and I are having a disagreement about Marshall Dillon’s horse on the show Gunsmoke. My husband says that he is a plowhorse. Can you help us with this disagreement? Did James Arness name is horse after the Duke? We find your info about the West very interesting and amusing.”
—Another Western Channel Viewer

Dear Bob Bell,
I am a history buff on Old West gunfighters. I want to be a historian someday. I live in Vale, Oregon, and I am junior in high school. I have some questions about gunfighters.
—Garret Way

1. Do you believe Hardin backed Wild Bill down with the road agent spin? No. I think that's Hardin BS-ing long after Wild Bill was in the ground.

2. Why did John Selman want to kill Hardin? I believe Selman felt threatened and wanted to get the drop on a very dangerous man. It was a smart move, probably, although Selman got his in the end.

3. Are you against or for the Billy the Kid DNA investigation? I think it's an honorable quest to determine if the real Billy the Kid is buried at Fort Sumner, or Hico, Texas. And I think it's small minded of Fort Sumner to not allow a dig to determine if the Kid is still there.

4. Who was “Killin” Jim Miller? A very dangerous man, who also got what he deserved.

5. Do you believed that Pat Garrett shotgunned Billy the Kid? I'm not totally positive, but I couldn't say I'd blame him if he did. I do believe Garrett shot him down without any chance. And I think the Kid was unarmed. No knife, no pistol.

6. Do you think that Wyatt Earp was in a shotgun duel with Curly Bill Brocius? I have a hard time believing Earp when he says he could name all nine of the cowboys shooting at him at Iron Springs (also styled as Mescal Springs). And I have a hard time believing Earp when he says he could see Curly's eyes, etc. However, that said, why didn't Brocius show himself? The Epitaph offered a $1,000 reward if he turned up living. And why did Curly's two followers then try to rob the mill office at Charleston to get out of the country? That is compelling evidence to me that Earp killed someone.

7. When was the last gunfight that an old west gunfighter was involved in? The gunfights have never stopped and continue on to this day. The only things that have changed are the weaponry and transportation.

8. Who is your favorite gunfighter? Billy the Kid, by far. So young, so bold, so humorous.

9. Do you believe that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid escaped backed to the United States after the 1908 gunfight in South America? Nope. Too much evidence that they got nailed down there.

10. What changes in the early 20th century affected the gunfighter’s way of living? Too much big industry, paved roads, telephones and air conditioning. Add to that labor strikes and modern corporations and the brief period from 1865 to 1888 seems like a blip. Or a fluke. Definitely a fluke.

More Black vs. black Feedback
“I agree with Charlie on the black and white, reparations-by-stylebook issue. Jana's little diatribe reminded me of a saying from the wife of the old vaquero: ‘If it's got tires or testicles, it's going to give you trouble.’"
—Tom Carpenter

“I bet Jana Bommersbach hasn't noticed that racists always capitalize racial words because they think race is something real. The Aryan Brotherhood believes in White, and Black Muslims believe in Black. But the modern idea of race is relatively recent, and I see no reason to validate it by capitalizing the names. America and Africa are places, and you capitalize place names. But black and white are just nicknames for people of different shades of brown."
—Will Shetterly

End of sniping. Resume normal reading. I finished the deck artwork of Geronimo half piping it over Organ Pipe last night. I’m driving down into the beast to deliver it this morning. Also picking up artwork for a Fritz Scholder piece we’re doing.

“The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge.”
—Arnold Palmer

Monday, March 20, 2006

March 20, 2006
I spent all weekend cleaning my studio. Darcy Peterson came out yesterday and we filled three garbage cans with bad art. Mine. Ha. About a third done. Tons in the garage. Did find some great Doperoper art. May use it in a Phippen Art Museum show on range humor.

It rained almost all day yesterday, effectively washing out several shows, including Festival of the West. Although, Saturday was a great day out there. Dave Daiss and Joel Klasky, presented Mary Brown with a Best of the West award from us.

Our redesigned home page is up today and it is a beautiful thing. Hats off to Jason and Trish, who have worked diligently to implement Dan Harshberger's design. Also, Check out the Google search ap in the upper right hand corner. Just for grins I put in the name Tom Carpenter and it instantly put up every aricle he has done for us and every mention in the blog. I also did the same for Paul Hutton and every snide and snotty comment was at my fingertips. In one second! Really a cool deal.

Seven Degrees of Kingman Separation
Last night on The Sopranos, Tony uttered the words, "Kingman, Arizona." Granted, it's a freak-out, gutshot, parallel life, sub-plot, but it's probably not a non sequiter. Here's why. James Gandolfini, the actor who plays Tony Soprano, has dated a young lady who has connections to my home town. For many years, my cousin, Ann Marie Hamilton, dated a guy who proposed to her on the Eiffel Tower. That guy's daughter was hot and heavy with Gandolfini. Now Kathy claims the actors on the HBO show have almost nothing to do with the script writing, but still, I think there's a connection.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Willie Nelson Spaces On Holding Farm Aid

"The future is uncertain, but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity."
—Ilya Prigogone

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 17, 2006
On Thursday night, Mark Boardman, Paul Hutton, George Laibe and myself went out for beers. We started at the Buffalo Chip, and three pitchers of Fat Tire later, we floated, on foot, over to Harold’s for dinner and mas cerveza. Three more pitchers and a prime rib later (Mark Boardman was drinking diet Pepsi) we were getting quite rowdy and solving every problem known to man (or at least as it applies to True West).

I woke up Friday morning with a well-deserved headache and when I met Mark at the breakfast table I asked him what he got out of last night and Mark said, “I’m so glad I haven’t had a drink in nine years.” I laughed and asked him if we were really that bad, and he assured me, yes, we were pretty bad. He also commented that I got quite “morose.” I didn’t enjoy hearing this because I consider myself an upbeat guy (even in my cups), but when I later mentioned this to Hutton, he laughed and said, “No, I noticed you stopped drinking and stopped talking and it was obvious we were keeping you up past your bedtime.” He was right. When I saw it was approaching 9:15, I thought to myself, “Well, this is enough of that.” Ha.

More Broke Black Mountain Comments
“If I was to offer advice, which as you know I never ever do, I would say Do Not Go There, because you are on what we Brits call a thick ear to a hiding—by making a choice that pleases the 50% who agree with you, you are certain to infuriate the 50% who don't. And in the ultimate analysis, who cares whether TW capitalizes or lower-cases? What are you, the Supreme Court? Confucius, he say, man who try to please everybody end up pleasing nobody."
—Fred Nolan

“Re: Jana's comments. Wow. This from someone who seems to think every other cowboy did the Brokeback Mountain jig. Sheesh.

“Again, in terms of historic reality and accuracy, most folks back then used Negro or negro, not black. ‘Nigger’ was used more often. So her comment on ‘African American’ is specious. I love the word ‘specious.’ So I still argue...If the NAACP doesn't do it, why should we? If capitalization is a sign of respect, then we must capitalize Deaf, Blind, Leper, Pederast, Whore...whatever. Methinks this is just a strange strain of political correctness--one that is not even adopted by the liberal crowd, for the most part.

“Seriously, I think we strive to be fair to folks. We try to put them in the context of their times, which were so different than ours. We've directly attacked the misinformation promulgated about Kit Carson by minority groups and academics who want to blame whites for all the problems of the world. We've laughed that known outlaws like Tiburcio Vasquez and Joaquin Murrieta are regarded as heroic by at least some Californios, who ignore the depredations committed by these guys against their own people. And I think we've shaken our heads over politically correct folks who would paint all Indians with the stereotype of nobility, grace and peacefulness when at least some tribes (and individuals) were anything but that.”
—Mark Boardman

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Mexicans Sweeping The Nation

“It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to teach us the real value of a job.”
—Victor Hugo

Thursday, March 16, 2006

March 16, 2006
Yesterday, our Features Editor, Mark Boardman, got into it with our Managing Editor Meghan Saar over the usage of black and white as in, “Some Blacks sure get uptight about being referred to as blacks. Maybe us White Guys should acknowledge this and show some respect and start using Blacks.” At issue is how we should style these two words (black, white) in the magazine (hint: we used caps in the current issue on the racial West. And, by the way, as you can see, we capitalize West, and most don’t).

Meghan reasons that we capitalize African-American, why not Blacks? And by extension, Whites, for that matter, as it refers to race. Mark’s point is that neither The New York Times nor The Los Angeles Times capitalizes blacks, or whites, and why would we be different?

Paul Hutton weighs in on the history of usage (He was an editor for many years) and that it should not be capitalized, but why offend anyone? Go ahead and capitalize Black. I think that’s what he said.

Editors and Writers From Around The World Weigh In
“I would use African-American or black (lower case). We generally ask people of that ethnicity how they would prefer to be identified. We use black if they have no preference. I would never capitalize White, so why do Black? In the end, however, it is your call.”
—A Bigtime Editor Who Doesn’t Want His Kingman Name Used

“It should be Blacks in the Old West. The term African-American is WAY too new to be used then. Blacks SHOULD be capitalized, as should Whites. I love how afraid you guys are about "Political correctness", which actually means just being DECENT and not seeing everything through a White Guy's Eyes. Hate to break this, but you guys have lost the monopoly. So get over yourselves!!”
—Jana Bommersbach

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Poverty Stricken Africans To Receive Desperately Needed Bibles.

“Storms make oaks take deeper root.”
—George Herbert

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March 15, 2006
I posted two sets of photos from the snow. The second set of photos (see below) features Elephant Butte from two angles, looking quite Alps-like. This is the view to the north of our home. Good shadows in the center one with the saguaros poking up into the unlikely snow-scape. Almost a painting without even lifting a brush, eh?

Wonderful-Mad Going Brokeback
The bottom photo will take some “splainin’.” On Monday I met Wonderful Russ and Mad Coyote Joe at Keg Steakhouse for lunch ($54.45, I bought, plus Joe left $10 tip). Some have called our get-togethers the chapter meeting of the Zane Brothers: much laughter and solving of life takes place. Before the waiter came over I pulled up my camera and they got cozy. Maybe too cozy. Check out their websites at:

Fellow Mucous classmate, Dorian Trayhan has booked me for a Kingman writer’s conference in May. Here’s the link if you want to attend:

Paul Hutton (he’s the guy who wrote the great piece on Kit Carson in the previous issue), flew in last night and came down this morning for breakfast at Flapjack Deli ($22, Paul bought). He’s curating a Billy the Kid show in Albuquerque and we went out to my studio afterwards and he picked a dozen of my paintings for the show. Very exciting.

Great Idea for A Special Issue
I would really like to get a book of the everyday life, day to day, of a typical cowboy. What he does, eats, enjoys, his horse, belongings, even the kind of clothes he wears
—Gerald Butler, North Oxford, MA

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Spawn Of Satan A Failure In Father's Eyes

"Some people with mediocre talent, but with a great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent."
—Sophia Loren

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March 14, 2006 Bonus Blog
I got the film back from all the snow shots and even some of Darcy Peterson manhandling my studio so I thought I'd post 'em while they were cold. That's Darcy in the top photo trying to hold down Buddy Boze Hatkiller in his chair. And yes, that's the infamous Big Bug Creek stove at left. All those books on the floor are filed now. Really amazing.

Middle photo is the backyard looking toward the cave. A big ol' organ pipe style cactus arm protrudes on the right and a snow-tipped Horny Toad looks bugged coming out of the far wall.

Below, Peaches slinks across the snow (at bottome) and the '49 Ford looks Iowa bound (at right). And that's the Spanish Driveway in middle ground. More later.
March 14, 2006
Mark Boardman flew in for the week and is staying at our house. Paul Hutton is coming in tonight for a Western Writers of America board meeting and to attend this coming weekend's Festival of the West down at the new Rawhide.

My cousin, Brenda Stockbridge and her daughter Sharon, came down from Kingman on Sunday and we had a nice visit. Just a hint of snow on the mountain peaks around us. It was quite fleeting but spectacular while it lasted.

More Wendell Remembrance
“I remember watching Wendell Havatone in Little League. He would out run one-hoppers, he was really quick. And, he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. What a ladies man!!!!!! He will be missed! Who's the other guitar player in the Exits photo?”
—Scott Bell

Terry Mitchell is the unnamed guitar player (second from left in photo, below). He had one of the only reverb amps in a 100 mile radius, and could play “Miserlou” and “Pipeline” perfectly. Unfortunately, soon after this photo was taken he defied Exit band rules and gigged with Arnold D’s band (there weren’t enough musicians in Kingman to make up two bands, so we fought like crazy, plus we were young, proud and crazy). Charlie Waters and I had to go to his mom’s trailer and demand his “official Exit” jacket back (yes, the one he’s wearing in the photo, with the Old English “e” sewn over the breast pocket by Mrs. Rutschman). During the confrontation Terry’s mom feinted (we think from the stress of the situation) and Charlie and I sat there in the small space looking at her lifeless form as we waited for Terry to bring out the jacket. We got it and fled in my Austin Healey. Terry later moved to Phoenix and played in many excellent bands. I ran into him about 1985 when my son, Thomas Charles, attended the United Methodist Preschool and his best friend turned out to be Terry Mitchell’s nephew. We reconnected, traded band horror stories and compared notes. It was hilarious to hear the story from his side, a quarter century later. When our wives asked us why the odd behavior (see jacket demand), Terry and I just shook our heads and said as one, “Kingman,” softly and reverently. Our wives looked at us like, “Why is ‘Kingman’ the punchline to all of your jokes?” Well, if you have to ask, we can’t explain it to you.

Wyatt and Morgan Earp Update
“I visited Wyatt and Josie's grave and they have a new headstone. I also went to Colton and visited Morgan's grave. The people in the city hall of Colton were very nice and helpful. The man in the Colton library and museum was even more nice and copied a print of Wyatt's vendetta ride for me for free. He also told me how to get to the Earp house. Why isn't there a plaque on the house? it seems like Colton doesn't care about their history except, in the museum. I asked people at the school board office and even at Burger King: where is Morgan and the Earp house? Who? was their answer!”
—Rob sheridan aka: old west maniac and as my wife says: “Nut case!!”

Nut Case Rob,
Many times, locals don't want the aggravation. For example, in Lincoln, New Mexico, the McSween house site plaque is put in the wrong place on purpose! The people in the house that partially encroaches on the original site demanded that it not include their property. This is unfortunate for people like you and me who care about where stuff was. Ha.
—Nut Case BBB

Misconceptions Galore
Because of my love of the Old West I am sometimes asked to talk to clubs about Western History. Although I have not even come close to doing the research you have done, I do know a little more than the average person. I talk about the outlaw history of San Luis Obispo County and various myths of the Old West. I'll show off some old firearms and have a good time. I do quote frequently from your books and display a few on the table when I talk. Great source! My question to you is, 'what are the most common misconceptions about the Old West'
—Sam Cotton, Cole Younger SASS#4237

The big ones to me is huge variety of horseflesh, weapons, building styles, carriages, etc. was so much more diverse than is portrayed in the movies. It would be like seeing a movie about the 1960s and all you saw were Fords and Chevy's. While that is accurate, what about Studebakers, Pontiacs, Corvettes, Austin Healey's, Jaguars, MGs? And on and on.

The other big misconception is they actually had many conveniences that we like to believe they didn't. Running water, indoor plumbing, elevators, ice cream, ice cold beer, oysters, were quite prevalent in parts of the U.S. and even out West (San Francisco, Virginia City and Denver). Even in Tombstone they had coffee shops (4), ice cream parlors (4) and wine rooms (26 imported wines form Europe!). Sound more like Palm Springs than Glenwood Springs, doesn't it?

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Bush To Iraqi Militants: ‘Please Stop Bringing It On’

“The metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the 9mm bullet.”
—Dave Barry

Monday, March 13, 2006

March 13, 2006
Woke up with a ton of good ideas. Don’t quite know why (maybe all the snow!). Although, I’ve lately been trying to be more patient (see OVS below).

Wendell Havatone Update
“Mickey Campa told me that Wendell was in Nome, Alaska when he had his heart attack. It was difficult to get Wendell to a hospital quickly because of where Wendell was at the time of his attack (sleds are the only transportation through tunnels because of the heavy snows) Wendell was working for the government when he passed away.”
—Francine Alexander

HH Maniac Blogging
"What have I learned from reading your blog? I've learned that Mexican or Tex Mex food is cheaper here in Atlanta. And I especially enjoy the dog stories and the whining about expenses while getting fitted for a $1,000 Cowboy Hat. I'll bet Buddy Boze Hat Killer
can't wait for this one. Your Blog and the TW Moments are a nice extension of the magazine. Forty hours isn't that big a deal. Sleep an hour less each night and you've almost made up the time. See you down the trail."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac # 9

Quaid Nails Doc But Comes Down With Manorexia
“EATING disorders aren't just for girls anymore. Dennis Quaid confesses in the new issue of Best Life that he battled "manorexia" in the mid-'90s. After losing 40 pounds to play Doc Holliday in "Wyatt Earp," Quaid says, "My arms were so skinny that I couldn't pull myself out of a pool. I'd look in the mirror and still see a 180-pound guy, even though I was 138 pounds." Quaid, now fit and elegant on the mag's cover, says, "for many years, I was obsessed about what I was eating, how many calories it had, and how much exercise I'd have to do."
—Bonny in New Mexico

Bloggers Blend Coffee?
Blogging coffee brand? yessiree. Samantha brought me the site. “Always blog on a full tank,” is the message on the coffee cup. Above the type is an image of a fuel tank on full. Underneath it says,

True West made the news again on Friday. The Dallas Morning News reported
our award to Goliad (see below).

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Weird Al Honors Parents’ Memory With ‘Tears In Heaven’ Parody

”Beware of undertaking too much at the start. Be content with quite a little. Allow for accidents. Allow for human nature, especially your own.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 12, 2006
Here's a photo of Wendell Havatone in the Exits, New Year's Eve (1964-65). We are playing in the Girl's Gym at Mohave County Union High School and I believe the song is "Surfbeat" by Dick Dale. That's Wendell on the left, Charlie Waters on guitar and Wayne Rutschman on sax. Wendell did a mean Roy Orbison and we covered "Pretty Woman," and "Mean Woman Blues," among others.

The first time I met Wendell was at the Kingman Little League Baseball Park, south of the tracks. A raging rumor claimed that one of the coaches had discovered this Hualapai Indian kid from Valentine, who was hitting home runs over the top of the lights and he was only eight years old! At issue was Wendell's birth certificate. He didn't have one, and his coach was probably hoping to leverage the strapping kid for a four year run (Little League eligibility was age 8 to 12). I seem to remember the other coaches made him compromise to age 10, which was my age.

Two years later, largely on Wendell's talents we plowed our way to a championship at the Little League Northern Arizona Tournament in Flagstaff. Local legend says Wendell was the only player to bring a shaving kit. While we ran around town unattended, most of us bought those paddle ball deals at the dime store where you hit a rubber ball that's attatched via an elastic cord, and you can hit the ball until the cows come home, or some adult, trying to get some sleep, breaks it. We would hit these contraptions incessantly, day and night, in the car, walking down the street, in bed. I distinctly remember, we were standing outside the Commercial Hotel, right on Route 66, when a carload of college girls slowed down to look at all the out of town geeks with high pants, banging away in every direction. Wendell, looked up and said, "Hey, check out the babes!" and we all looked at him like he had cooties and went back to banging. It wasn't until about three years later that I understood what was going on in Wendell's head (and pants).

And it was about that time (1962) that we formed our first, and only band, the Exits.

Our old neighbor, Elaine Steinegger, sent us some snow pics from Camp Creek (just up the canyon from Carefree. Every snowbird within 200 miles decided to come up here today to see the snow (like they hadn't seen it before!).

"I guess I'll go on home, it's late, maybe tomorrow night, but wait. What do I see? Yes, she's walking back to me."
—Roy Orbison

Saturday, March 11, 2006

March 11, 2006
"I am perfect. I am beautiful and I have everything I need to be happy." At least that was the message I got from Michelle in this morning's yoga class that Kathy drug me to. Of course Michelle is beautiful, lithe and can bend her body into a pretzel. Me and the other guy in the class (Jim N.), can get our bodies just about into a fruit loop (if you don't count the loop). Tight? Oh, Kimo Sabe, me so tight I can't throw back a drink without bending my entire upper body. I'm not joking. Kathy was ribbing me about swigging water and she suggested I bend my neck back instead of doing the limbo, and when I told her that my body wasn't going to cooperate, well, she suggested yoga, and there I was, quivering on "Down Dog" and collapsing in shame over the simplest of "stretches."

It started raining last night and we woke up to a soggy landscape. Drinking ooffee in bed, Kathy remarked, "It looks like it's snowing." I glanced out our loveseat windown and I'll be damned if she wasn't telling the truth! By nine, when we drove up to the gym for the yoga class, it was really coming down and the desert had a total Arizona Highways Christmas issue look. It snowed for about two hours and I took two rolls of film to prove it. I know, I know, I have a digital but I don't like it.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove down into the Beast. Had to deliver ten hardbound Wyatt Earps (very rare second editions with the diatribe against Kevin Costner's lawyers) to Greg Hays at American West Galleries on Main Street. Encountered the worst traffic in memory. In addition to the glut of snowbirds we have a wave of spring training goobers (I imagine this weather is all to familiar to most of them. In fact, they spent thousands of dollars to get away from this!).

I got a call from Gordon Smith and Heather the Weather Girl at about one. They drove out to Cave Creek to take in the snow and they wanted to know if I wanted to come out and play, but I was just about to take a nap and declined. They told me I was going to miss out on some quality Zane time, and I'm sure I did.

Most of the snow is melted by now (3 pm), but I'm snuggled in my studio with a fire going in the stove, Buddy Boze Hatkiller asleep in his favorite chair and Peaches stretched out below. Really a luxurious day, which just about proves Michelle's point (above).

"The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, March 10, 2006

March 10, 2006
Still cleaning and filing. Hung up the first framed cover of Razz Revue, the humor magazine Dan Harshberger and I produced (1972-1976). We put out sixteen issues and I’ll hang the rest this weekend (this is a homework assignment from Darcy) Hard for some to believe, but I’ve been in the publishing business for a long time.

One Of The Exits, Exits
"It is with a very sad heart today the I am informing you of another death among our class. Mickey Campa just called me to say that Wendell Havatone passed away this morning [actually, yesterday] of a heart attack. As with all of the others that have already left us, I know that Wendell will be missed too. I do not know anything other than this but as I get info, I will pass it on to you."
—Phyllis E., Mohave County Union High School Classmate

Wendell sang lead in the Exits, our first band. He was a talented, handsome Hualapai who the girls always went crazy for at our gigs.

From yesterday's Santa Fe New Mexican, announcing the latest movies scheduled to be filmed in the state:

Wanted: Undead or Alive
"This is a good old cowboys ‘n’ zombies flick. In the synopsis provided by the Fourth Floor, “When Wild West misfits Elmer Winslow and Luke Budd rob the corrupt sheriff of a dusty Western town, they have no idea a plague of zombies is sweeping the country. In a bizarre turn of events, Geronimo’s sultry niece may hold the key to their survival.” According to the horror-movie Web site Bloody-Disgusting . com, this will be a comedy. The dusty Western town will be played by Bonanza Creek Ranch south of Santa Fe."
—sent to me by Johnny Boggs

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Nation Celebrates Awkward ‘Take Your Illegitimate Daughter To Work’ Day

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March 9, 2006
Yesterday, my personal organizer, Darcy Peterson, whipped my main library into shape, designing a legend, or key, to where the books should go. I have dozens of mini-categories (Native-Americans: Apaches:Scouts: Mickey Free: Mickey Free reference: Taharamara reference) but about a dozen major sections (Art, General: Western Art: B&W Period Illustration: Old West Photo books: Mexico: Trains: Route 66, Gunfighters: Cartoons & Comic Strip books: Civil War: Historic Biographies). She consolidated them, and streamlined the process. At least they're off the floor.

I also filed more artwork this morning and it’s great to see the surface of several desks (it’s wood!). Darcy succinctly described my predicament as “self-inflicted chaos.” Too true.

One of the tragedies of my cleaning is that I culled out a whole bunch of books that I planned to donate to the local library, put them in the back of my truck for delivery, but forgot about them yesterday afternoon when it rained. Had to chuck a few (“Feliciana Meets d’Loup Garou” a children’s book I got when I judged a WWA book contest).

Our offices are torn up as Dave Daiss reconfigures our space with new walls and alignment. It was long overdue, but we are living in a construction zone. Great New Yorker cartoon showing a couple talking to another couple in the midst of a torn up house. Caption: “Our dream is to live long enough to see the end of our renovation.”

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Study: Owning A Boat Not Worth It

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

March 8, 2006
It’s raining! (3:20 pm). Staffers are cheering as others run out to roll up car windows. This is the first rain we’ve had in a long time (I think I read 141 days).

Samantha took a call from Paramount Pictures this morning asking if she knew of a Western kind of guy, close to sixty, quite religious and stern, who could pass for Daniel-Day-Lewis’ father. Naturally, Sam patched the call through to my office.

The casting agent’s assistant, Andrea, informed me she had Googled several Old West words and immediately got to us (this made me happy). The name of the movie is “There Will Be Blood,” and yes, this is the movie I reported on last week when I was in Alpine, Texas. It’s going to be filmed down there and I met the location guy at my book signing. Incredibly, in my office at the time of the phone call were two Hollywood pros, Jeb Rosebrook (screenwriter for Junior Bonner) and Roger Pearsall (drummer for Tony Bennett and Superbowl Halftime Booking Legend). Both jags began to mouth questions for me to ask her. “What is my per diem?” and “What is the window of shooting?” and “How big will my trailer be?” Andrea seemed impressed with my photo, above (she was looking at this blog as we talked). She encouraged me to send more photos of myself to the casting agent and I hate to admit it, but I actually entertained the ridiculous notion of me beating out Harry Dean Stanton and Jon Voight for the part, and pictured myself exuding a dark, menacing presence on the big screen as I dueled with Daniel Day Lewis, chiding him, crying and laughing with some professional ease. After all, I was in the Mohave County Union High School Junior Class production of, “Arsenic & Old Lace.” I played the doctor (“No Johnny! No!”), in a period flattop (1963).

Speaking of Mucous, Penny Becker (Executive Director, Sheridan, Wyoming Travel & Tourism) and her husband Mont came in about 10:30 with her sister and her husband and her father, who sat in my office with a cane. When one of them asked me if I grew up in Cave Creek, I said no, I grew up in Kingman. Penny turned to her father and said, “One of your friends from South Dakota moved to Kingman Dad. What was his name?”

He thought for some time and finally said, “His name was Maurice, but I’m having trouble remembering his last name.” I didn’t think much of it because I haven’t lived there since 1965 and assumed it was probably some retiree who moved there long after I had left. “He was in the gas station business,” he said, still rubbing his brow and trying to recall the name.

“Gas station” triggered my ancient memory banks. I turned to him and asked, “His name wasn’t Maurice Burnham, was it?” “Yes, that's him,” he said. “He died changing a truck tire and it blew up on him.” Well, Maurice Burnham was my father’s partner. They bought two Phillips 66 stations. My father ran the Hilltop station and Maurice ran the truck stop, down by the south inspection station on old Route 66 (near McConnico). Small world, no?

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
—Bernard Berenson

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 7, 2006
Second solid day of cleaning in studio. Darcy and I started at seven and worked until about eleven. We plowed through stacks and stacks of scattered stuff. One of the funny, but pathetic, insights to these efforts is the realization that I have decent instincts in terms of organizing, but the follow through leaves something to be desired. For example, I do so many events where I get a name tag that I thought it would be fun to collect these. I designated a receptacle to save them, but after about six months, forgot where that was, probably because I started a new file for something else on top of it. Darcy and I found two different nametag caches today and combined them. This is one example of several. I’ve got too many overlapping efforts

In the Wow! I Was Wondering Where That Went! Department, I found great chasm reference (hidden under my Apache stuff), and very cool Northfield-James Gang reference photos.

I also found this query letter dated April 25, 1996:

Dear Greg LaLire,
I’d like to propose an ongoing feature for Wild West [magazine]. I’m researching and developing a book and an art show called ‘The Wild Women of the Wild West.” The art show will premiere this July 11th at the prestigious Suzanne Brown Art Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. The book will hopefully be out in 1997. Virtually everyone who has heard of the project raves about the subject’s potential (I truly believe this concept is long overdue). I hope you agree this would make an excellent monthly. Thanks for your consideration on this and I hope to hear from you soon.”

End of proposal. The art show was a moderate success (I sold a big painting of Honkytonk Sue on horseback with her arms in the air, parodying the classic “The End of The Trail,” only with my title: “Men!” this big gouache sold for a then record, $1,500), the book did not come out in 1997, but everyone who hears about it to this day raves about the subject’s potential. I gave the project and finished timeline to Jana Bommersbach last year and she is currently shopping the book under a different title (she would like me to do the art). Greg is still the editor of Wild West and he did buy the Wild Women concept for one issue, which I believe came out in the fall of 1996.

We’ve got a new poll question up: Do you believe Billy the Kid is buried in Ft. Sumner?

Here’s a pleasant shocker: Clarkson-Potter is going into a second printing on our Amazing Tales book. Got the call this afternoon. They are excited about the book’s performance and this is quite encouraging.

Don’t Mess With Success
“Be careful when ‘messing’ with your success formula. If anything I would suggest a reduction of the time spent on a daily basis, or perhaps blogging only once per week. But to eliminate it altogether could disrupt your formula for success. You're a person who needs to express himself. There is magic to the fulfillment of that need, for you and for your readers. My 2 cts.”
—Ben Cooper

McCartney And Tucson Addendum
"Tragedy struck the McCartney family in early 2000 when Linda's first husband shot himself to death at his home in Tucson. Joseph Melville See, Jr. reportedly suffered from severe depression since Linda's death. He was the father of Heather, whom Paul adopted when he married Linda in 1969. See was rumored to be the Jo Jo character in the Beatles’ tune Get Back."

Bond. Dwain Bond. Shaken, Not Queered
“Hey! Don't even think about quitting yer blogggg!!!! By the way. In the spirit of the Oscar openness night do I have to come out of the closet now and admit that I am straight?”
—Dwain Bond

Smart Advice From Alabama
Keep on drawing and painting daily. Remember, idle hands are arthritis’ workshop and, a sketch a day day keeps arthritis away! Besides, one day you might get published!
—Gus Walker

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department

“Smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, March 06, 2006

March 6, 2006
Well, it’s my personal opinion that Heath Ledger got screwed twice. Once in the tent scene and the other last night at the Oscars. Heath was heads down the best actor in that muy gay field of thespians.

Last Saturday, Kathy took me on a date to see “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” Wow! My kind of picture and it was filmed almost entirely in the country I just got back from.

As you know, last weekend I was in Alpine, Texas and one of the cowboys I met there told me that Tommy Lee Jones is a friend of his. When I asked what Al Gore’s college roommate is like, he said, “Tommy Lee Jones is a deeply intelligent man,” which seemed an odd thing for a cowboy to say, but then, Tommy Lee has that rep. I also asked him where Tommy Lee’s ranch is located and he said when I drove back towards Van Horn, about a mile west of Kent I’ll see a sign for “Boracho,” and that’s where his ranch was. He added that Jones just sold it..

In the movie, there is a reference to “Boracho Peak” (Spanish for Drunkard's Peak?) and it appears the town scenes were filmed in Van Horn (see last Saturday’s blog posting). About half the film is in Spanish with subtitles, and Tommy Lee is a joy to watch in his muy cowboy mannerisms and his authentic Spanish sounding lingo (remember the guy who said, “Get ready for a wave of Mexican Westerns”? Oh, wait, that was me!). I really liked this movie. Very Western and muy Mexican. The wave, my friends is upon us.

My new Dominatrix Organizer, Darci, came out this morning at seven and we bailed into the studio, plowing and pillaging from the front to the back. With her urging I threw away a ton of old business paper and correspondence, consolidated here and nuked paper there. Actually got to the bottom of one desk. Also liberated a half-dozen cubby spaces in my morgue area. Found my long, lost box of Apache photos (hundreds of images and reference art!). It was “hidden” in plain sight. Sigh.

Luf-ley Reasons to Blog, Ah One Und Ah Two. . .
I was reading a book this weekend entitled CHAMPAGNE MUSIC—THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW. An Affectionate Look at America's Most-Beloved Television Program.

“Be patient ... after reading this you will find a message.

"Would anyone have gambled on the bet that this dirt-poor child with no social or economic advantages would one day become America' premier bandleader with a television cast of several dozen people and a top draw in concerts around the country, making him one of the wealthiest men in show business with an empire generating an estimated $25 million annually?

"The fact that Welk's climb was so seemingly unlikely has only further endeared him to the millions of fans who were uncommonly loyal to Welk and The Lawrence Welk Show for the several decades of its run.

“Welk was born in a sod house on March 3, 1903 in North Dakota. His parents were German immigrants ‘They brought with them nothing but their prayer books, their high hopes and their utter belief in freedom and democracy.’

“Of the eight children born to Christina and Ludwig Welk, Lawrence was ill-suited for the rigors of farm life. Rather, young Lawrence had an intense passion for music.

“In exchange for Lawrence remaining on the farm for four additional years his father presented him with four hundred dollars to purchase an accordion. In 1924 Lawrence left the farm on his 21st birthday ‘dressed in my best and ready to tackle the world.’

“While there were struggles in his early career, Lawrence eventually found hard work, dedication and his intense devotion to music paid off. He loved his audience. He never lost his popularity. Welk believed in listening to his audience. "He had secretaries answering his mail and every letter that had suggestions or comments was listed. When requests came in, they listed how many times a song was requested. He gave people what they wanted to hear." Welk had a deep reverence for his public. From his days on the road he would send a postcard "Dear so and so, I'm going to be in your hometown.' Everybody who got a card, would think, 'Hey he's acknowledged me."

“He catered to people. He mingled with the people. "Fans are a tremendously important part of our daily business life. What they think and what they want is of vital importance to us." Sometime 600 to 800 people were in line to see a show. Welk would sign autographs and chat until the last person left.

"One of the earlier traditions, and an example of how things go wrong and turn out unpredictably right during the broadcast , was the cast members' spouses and children joining them on camera for the Christmas show. As Welk remembers, the first Christmas show was a disaster. He began the tradition by inviting the band to bring their children down to appear on the broadcast. Much grabbing of the spotlight resulted as doting parents made certain that the proud grandparents at home got a good close-up look at all of them. By air time, tempers flared and the babies were fidgeting and crying to such a degree that the show's timing was off. By the time Santa Claus appeared pulling his sleigh loaded with presents, time had run out. The program ended with the yelling and tears of indignant children demanding presents. Welk considered the whole show to be so terrible that he seriously thought about calling the sponsor and offering to resign. At Sunday Mass the following morning, however, the parishioners at St. Martin of Tours Church in Brentwood applauded Welk, remarking how much they enjoyed the Christmas show and adding that the same things happened at their houses. 'It was just like home.' Welk observed almost with surprise "how much the human touch counts."

“And that, Boze, is why the blog is not a waste of time. It provides a human touch to the publishing business."

Where’s There’s A Will There’s A Clever Answer
“Okay, I waste too much time blogging, too. But we've got to waste some time. We've got to have something to do that we feel guilty about doing so then we'll buckle down to the things we need to do.

“Yes, our distractions can get out of control. That's why you need to do the periodic assessment: If I die in a month, what do I want to have done? (I don't like the "die tomorrow" test, 'cause if I know I'm dying tomorrow, screw work; I'm spending the day with Emma.)

“So cut back on blogging if you want. Shoot for every other day, or twice a week, or weekly. You might combine your blog and your work a little more, feeling more free to run early drafts of editorials or articles as blog posts. If you know the right folks, you might turn your blog into a group blog, the western equivalent of I get the impression you get a lot of traffic by western afficianado standards. I do understand the desire to keep folks coming back.

“Also, if you need some money from the blog to justify doing it, try putting some ads in a sidebar. I don't know if you'd make anything, but when I tried Google's Adsense (which sends ads inspired by the words in your post), some of the results were amusing. I dropped the ads because I think it's better to do something for free than to do it for almost free, but you've got a much more targeted audience than I do, so it could be worth the test.”
—Will Shetterly

If you want to check out Will's blog, here's the link, plus a bonus link:

Also, since I mentioned, here're their links to a
working robot mule being developed for the military:

Mules are True West, even if they're robots.

”If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, March 05, 2006

March 5, 2006
Still wrestling with the pros and cons of doing this blog. As Emma Bull and J. Rae so succinctly pointed out, I love doing it and that’s probably the strongest reason to continue doing it, but there are other uglier realities (see remarks below).

But First, Carole Glenn Forwards Me This Gem
“Clarity accounts for probably 80% of success and happiness. Lack of clarity is probably more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor. That’s why we say that “Success is goals, and all else is commentary.” People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. This is true everywhere and under all circumstances.”
—Brian Tracy

A Jerk for The Memories
"Kill the Blog? Bob, you've made this decision once before.

"The first of my many disappointments in Phoenix radio was the day you announced that you really needed to focus on True West and the radio show had to go. I hoped your ADD would kick in, pushing such thoughts into the memory abyss; but of course that didn't happen. Jerk.

"But here's another data point for you; back before the Internet meltdown, fortunes were made selling executives on ways they could make their websites "sticky." If nothing else, your blog is the essence stickiness. I check it everyday, and a TW site without it would hold no interest for me. (I'll conveniently ignore the fact that a great number of sites continued to burn cash magnificently, regardless of the adhesives they implemented.)

"Then again, I'm a liberal whose only knowledge of the West is that Cosmatos' Tombstone beats the hell out of Kasdan's Wyatt Earp. TW isn't going to live or die on my demographic. But then again, having visitors to every day who normally might never have taken a look around has got to be worth something, no?"
—Dale in Mesa, AZ

Actually, the example Dale gives (pulling the plug on the radio show) is a perfect example of me trying to do too many things (“He who sips from many cups, drinks of none.”). And, in fact, the radio show had many of the attractions of the blog. It was fun to do, I thought the audience would support the magazine efforts and it took a whole bunch of time away from actually running the magazine. Plus, the last incarnation of the radio show, with Buffalo Rick and Gordon Smith, made zero money (just like the blog!)

As the magazine struggled (in the time period Dale is mentioning) and our finances looked bleaker and bleaker (see March 3, 2000 entry below, and by the way, part of that entry that I didn’t include was that the radio show “was really cooking” and the future looked bright.), I was increasingly spread too thin.

At some point, Kathy came out to my studio and famously said, “Everything we own is invested in this magazine and I just wish you’d act like it.” That’s all she said. She didn’t yell, or act angry, she merely said her piece and walked out the door.

I quit the radio show the next day and started spending the extra time (at least four extra hours a day) on the business. That we are still publishing six years later, tells me that was the right decision.

Is the blog the same thing? Not exactly, but, as I said, it does have some of the same components. Here’s another view:

"BBB Blog – Humm, what is it?

1. People locating resource (found family members through blog)
2. West / southwest travelogue – especially featuring rural and small town
3. History come alive
4. Western fashion rag
5. Movie review
6. A peek into mag publishing
7. Music reference of sorts
8. Comparative economics
9. Well-edited electronic bulletin board

"An interesting inside look into the life of an artist! Wow!"
—S. Tally

“Young men think old men fools, and old men know young men to be so.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, March 03, 2006

March 4, 2006
I called my old Carson City bootmaker friend Johnny Weinkauf yesterday and told him I need a new pair of custom boots to match my $1,000 Optimo “Performance” hat. John, who moved to Kerrville, Texas last year, informed me that to cover the bottom extremities of my body, he will match the price of covering the top end. John and I go back to Wyly’s Leather days in Tucson. In fact it was John who took me out to Paul McCartney’s ranch out on East Tanque Verde, near Redington Pass, when the cute Beatle was closing on the ranch. We snuck in and looked around. Frankly, the place was kind of underwhelming. Ironically, this is where Linda spent her last days. She and I almost crossed paths at the Fine Arts College at U of A in 1965 (she left the semester I enrolled), and it was only a couple of years later, when I was driving down Speedway Blvd. and first heard the lyrics, “Jo Jo left his home in Tucson, Arizona. . .” and I thought, “Hmmmmm, from Liverpool to my back yard. How strange is that?” Suffice to say, it was the late sixties and it was strange.

Here’s the photo of me and legendary Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson (on right) in front of the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, Texas last weekend. A photographer for the Alpine Avalanche sent me the pic. I told Kathy this is as close as I’ll ever come to meeting Wyatt Earp. Joaquin is the modern day equivalent or incarnation of the taciturn lawman. It was a total thrill to meet him and I enjoyed the whole event down there.

Does Blogging Have Any Inherent Strengths?
“Blogging makes it possible for writers to commit instantaneous worldwide libel without having access to traditional media.”
—Terry Teachout

News From The Front Lines
“James Wilkins from Poynette, Wisconsin called today to straighten a problem with his subscription. He said that he found TW on the newsstand, is 62 and has never grown up! He said that he has horses and dresses western. He likes the History Channel and likes the segments that you do of TW Moments. He vacations in Western States and visits museums and historical sites (mentioned Cody). He said that True West magazine is a good fit for him.”
—Carole Glenn

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Visiting Liberian Dignitary In No Hurry To Leave

“As I get older I seem to believe less and less and yet to believe what I do believe more and more.”
—David Jenkins
Bonus Blog, March 3, 2006
What was I doing six years ago today? Well, recently, I was cleaning off a desk in my studio and found this journal entry for March 3, 2000 (this was before the blog):

“Lots of business dealings. We are still losing around $30,000 a month. Ouch! Really scary. [A salesman] quit. He was on crack or something. Told Brian that Mike and I were ‘switching personalities’ on him, sending him on bogus ad leads and tracking him via Carole. Very disturbing stuff. Glad he’s gone.

“Finished a Val Kilmer cover for Old West Journal. Not great. Have another one about 2/3 done, may use inside. Also have developed about six t-shirt designs. Went up last night and had Jane Bischoff critique them. She had good things to say, however, she didn’t like Marcus Huff’s Andy Warholesque image of Val [this is ironic for several reasons: Jane is now our style editor, and the “I’m Your Huckleberry” t-shirt that Marcus Huff designed is still one of our best-selling shirts].

“Marty Manning is getting married to Wendy today at 3:30. We’re going [and I did the gator during “Louie Louie” and threw out my back, ha.]"

Today My Vital Time Will Be Spent On
clean and find stuff

End of journal entry. File that last item under: Some Things Never change

On A Positive Note
This morning I just finished sketch number 700 in a row without missing a day, since November 12th. Still going strong. That’s very positive.

Logical Reasons Why I Got Bumped Off US Air Last Week
“If I'm understanding this correctly, his return reservation or ticket got cancelled. I'm guessing that this happened because he didn't take his original flight and their computer counted him as a no show for that flight, but each airline has their own policy. I have heard that the usair/am west merger has caused a lot of problems because their computers still use different systems.”
—An airline official contacted by Carole who doesn’t want to be named

“Experience: a comb life gives you after you lose your hair.”
—Judith Stern
March 3, 2006
Trying to work smarter and save time. Here’s some of inspiration I’ve been receiving. Thanks.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Frank Zappa Fan Thinks You Just Haven’t Heard The Right Album

Tomcat Selman Heir Weighs In
“My name is Reggie Selman and I live in Alamogordo, NM. I am maniac #98 and I
was born and raised in Clovis, NM on a ranch. My great Grandfather was Thomas Clark Selman better known as Tom Cat Selman. He was John Selman's brother. The one of John Wesley Hardin fame.”

J.Rae Has Her Ways
“Remember U.S. Air flight attendant Betty Flores who you credited with the line ‘one person saves an airline.’ Creating the blog made you the face and voice of TRUE WEST MAGAZINE. It's not just a corporate business with never to be seen executives running the show. TW is Bob's magazine and Bob's staff. You have established a personal connection with your readership. You have created an interest in your product. You have established an avenue in which to exchange ideas with others who are interested in history and the Western lifestyle. You have a network to obtain valuable feedback world-wide. Maybe some would describe the blog as a waste of time. I would wager it is a smart and affordable marketing tool and has played a significant role in the current success of your magazine.”

A Bookkeeper’s Bottom Line Advice
“I enjoy your Blog because it gives me an overview of the Arizona lifestyle and your publishing business, but its your call.

“If I was distressed because I couldn't allocate time to handle important matters crucial to my practice that affect others who are rely on my judgement then I would be concerned about spending 40-hours a month on Blogs.

“Maybe you could do weekly Blogs and still have the PR exposure.”
—Francine Alexander

Bell On Bell On Blog
“I look forward to reading you blog every morning and I too get irritated when it's not there and have to wait. I like hearing your witticisms and the wacky way you look at things. I especially like hearing from a fellow Kingmanite. You keep me in touch with the Southwest. I really cherish the old memories that you help stir up about our old school, teachers and classmates. MCUHS rules! The Mexican food is cheaper in North Carolina. If you decide to stop blogging I'll understand. I won't like it but I'll understand.”
—Scott Bell, former Kingmanite

Brokeback Huffines
“If you stop blogging I will hold my breath until I turn gay. You don't want to be responsible for that, do you? Sure, the blog is a distraction but you have created a water-cooler conversation that ties many of us back into the magazine daily instead of once
a month.”
—Alan Huffines

“I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard, and floor it. Floor it, that’s technical talk.”
—Stevie Ray Vaughan

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bonus Blog Regarding the Blog, March 2, 2006
Well, I've gotten some pretty funny and insightful responses and frankly, I can't wait until tomorrow to run these. But, first, an Onion headline:

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Furniture Store To Pay Employees Nothing Until 2006

Whither The Blog
Finally, a chance to use 'whither' in a subject line. Every so often I'm approached by a student who is interested in a career in magazine publishing. Once I've stopped laughing hysterically at their reckless youth, I've suggested that they visit your blog, particularly the archives, to get a sense of what the challenges are.If they do, inevitably, they switch their majors from journalism to chemistry. I've enjoyed reading your blog, but I also understand your inclination to eliminate the task from your daily to-do list—list? What list? I suspect your blog does play a roll in the marketing of TW, though, and that writing it is sometimes cathartic for you. Other times, of course, it's just one more damned thing to do. Of course, the cool thing about the question you're asking is this—there's no wrong answer.”
—Tom Carpenter
Flagstaff, Arizona

Eating the Results
“Let me assure you that this will be as unhelpful as possible.

“I enjoy the heck out of your blog; I check it every morning, and grumble when there's no new post. I've learned cool stuff from it, laughed out loud at it, and gotten the heads-up from it on old west events, issues, and controversies I would never have heard about. I'd miss it if it went away.

“But I wouldn't forget to keep subscribing to and reading True West, and I'd enjoy the magazine as much as ever.

“On the other hand, I may not be the person you're maintaining the blog for. Some new or potential readers will make a stronger connection with the magazine because they know a little more about the editor (I think we did, but it's hard to say whether we'd have subscribed anyway). It also reminds people that you're not just That Magazine Guy, but a participant in the larger western history community, who lives the modern western lifestyle (whatever the hell it is).

“The only reason to blog, really, is because you enjoy it. Novelists are being told, ‘Start a blog to promote your work!’ But if the writer in question is only interested in self-promotion, it shows in the blog content. Readers check it out once, but they don't come back; if they want an ad, they'll go to the publisher's site, not the writer's. A writer who blogs because blogging is fun, however, does get some self-promotion mileage out of it, because readers make a personal connection to the writer through the blog. But a writer who figures his blogging time is part of his work hours is fooling himself. Blogging is recreation, and should be assigned to the goofing-off budget. If it's keeping him from goofing off in a more agreeable manner, he should ditch the blog and spend more time snowboarding or scrapbooking or whatever it is that makes him happier. A happy artist is a more productive artist.

“If you decide to stop blogging, the trick will be (speaking from experience) to assign that forty hours to something that isn't just as much of a distraction as your blog was. If you figure out how to do that, let me know. When we lived in Minnesota, I had a big garden. Will looked at it one day and said, ‘At least, when you procrastinate, we can eat the results.’

“There: Enough ‘on the other hands’ for six or eight arms, at least. And whatever you decide to do, it'll work out.”
—Emma Bull

“If merely ‘feeling good’ could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.”
—William James
March 2, 2006
Meghan, Robert Ray and I are frantically putting the the final touches on the Apache Kid Classic Gunfight. Were there eight or nine prisoners on that ill-fated stage? One source says “nine Indians,” but one of them was Mexican and not an Apache, so is that ten, or was the newspaper lumping the Mexican in with the Apaches? Probably. I’ve got a call into expert Doug Hamilton to confirm this. We want it to be right. I wasn’t happy with the title (“Family Feud Flares Up “Unusual Commotion”), so I had Meghan come in and we started jamming. How about "Outlawed Without A Shot"?” But Meghan thought, correctly, that it misleads the reader, because there were plenty of shots in the original melee, although the Apache Kid didn’t fire any shots and yet was outlawed because of it. Then we played with “Apache Sign Turns Deadly” because the interpretor’s Apache sign triggered the fight (the Apaches saw the sign for “island" and thought they would be sent to Florida where Geronimo was being held, or Alcatraz, where the Apache Kid actually did end up). We kept going, Meghan jotting notes like crazy. We ended up with “Tragic Powwow” which I thinks nails the whole kit and kaboodle in two words. I high-fived Meghan and we went on to nail down the photo credit for Sheriff Glenn Reynolds. We think Gus Walker scanned a photo of the sheriff out of our archives, but we don’t know for sure. Meanwhile, Doug Hamilton alerted me to the fact that there is some contention as to who owns this photo and the owners are allegedly sticklers about usage. This is always a red flag. So I Emailed Gus Walker in Alabama who originally scanned the photo (from somewhere) and hopefully he’ll get back to us before the issue goes out the door this afternoon.

Ooops. He got my Email, and just now phoned Robert Ray and told him that he scanned it out of an old issue of True West which qualifies it as being from the “True West Archives.”

Speaking of Gus Walker, I got this last night:

News From Alabama
“Thought you would like to know, I saw the Travel issue in the Decatur WalMart today. four copies. don’t know how many they get. Also, I’m sittin’ here watching the Encore Westerns when they air a True West Moment, some guy talking about Earp blastin’ Stillwell on the tracks of the Tucson train depot. Tryin’ to place the face, looked familiar.”
—Gus Walker

Well, that’s one of the new True West Moments we filmed last December in Tucson with the steady-cam.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Room Scanned For Something To Sell On eBay

“The book of my enemy has been remaindered and I am pleased.”
—Brian James

Weighing In On The Big, Bad, Blog Debate
“I read and like your blog. That is how I keep up with you all the time.
Don't stop now!!”
—Reggie Selman

“You must keep the blog you sum bitch.”

“Please don't take down the blog. You would lose the input from REAL honest to God maniacs like myself. You really thought Barro's pizza was actually. . .good? But you really create a bond with your readers. Hey do you think the editor of ‘Massive Ass Illustrated’ would ever e-mail me? Hell no!”

“Robert the decision to continue the blog is yours. You already know that a great many people get enjoyment from the blog, But when you make the decision you should consider what the journal means to you. Here is the final entry from Samuel Pepys diary. Writing a journal had become very important to him. He felt that ending the journal was "almost to see myself go into my grave". Here are his words: "And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal, I being not able to do it any longer, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time that I take a pen in my hand; and, therefore, whatever comes of it, I must forbear....And so I betake myself to that course, which is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave: for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me!”: May 31, 1669. END OF THE DIARY.”
—Cathy Lamb, Sweden

“Please do not stop your blog.”
—Cactus Dan

“I haven't sent out any comments (or opinions, of which I have many) about anything in your blog in a long time, but I check in most every day. I would miss it if you stopped writing it. That said, if you need to be spending the time doing something else, that's fine, too. I still haven't subscribed, but I do go down to the local magazine stand and buy a copy of True West whenever I see a new issue is in. I would subscribe to your blog, though, if you decided to use it for a little extra cash. (grin) Support the arts, right? I'd consider it money well spent. Your blog is consistently interesting—you're a hell of a storyteller. And if that's not an art, I don't know what is.”

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Christian Rock Band Gives Up Pyrotechnics For Lent

“It is so comic to hear oneself called old, even at ninety.”
—Old Vaquero Saying