Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 29, 2006
I was on the road all day yesterday. Made two trips to Prescott, once for the docent run-thru at the Phippen Museum's new artshow "Home Range Humor" and the second because I left my daytimer at the museum and it had all my notes for today's history session in Tucson.

Kathy joined me for the second trip up the hill and it made the repeat pass tolerable. We made the round trip in record time and made it home at ten last night. When I got up to the Phippen the first time everyone was talking about the death of the last living original member of the Cowboy Artists— Joe Beeler—who evidently passed away at a roping in Cottonwood on Wednesday. Another rider noticed he was slumping in the saddle. They tried to revive him but it was too late.

My talk with the docents went well. Sculptor Cynthia Ridgen dropped by and I had a nice talk with her. Most people don't know that Virgil Earp had a homestead on her ranch near Kirkland, and in 1985, when I came to Prescott on assignment for Arizona Highways, she and her dad took me to the site. She has tried several times to join the Cowboy Artists and has been turned down each time. I asked her if she thought they would ever wise up (her answer is below).

The show is quite good and I'm proud to say Honkytonk Sue and the Doper Roper look right at home next to cowboy cartoon greats Jimmy Swinnerton, Fred Harmon (Red Ryder), Herb Mignery, J.R. Williams and Jim Willoughby. The show will be up until September, so if you're in the Prescott area check it out.

Got up at five this morning and took off for Tucson. Got to the Hotel Arizona at the Tucson Convention Center at eight, and easily got to my session in the Grand Ballroom on "Peculiar Mysteries In Arizona's History." I was the chair (my first time at the helm) and when I was in doubt I just thought WWHD (what would Hutton do?) and it went fine. I was effusive with the praise on my panel members and then I shut up. Thanks Paul!

First up was Todd Bostwick, who presented a paper on the bizarre case of a whole bunch of lead swords and artifacts that showed up in a vacant piece of land outside Tucson in the 1920s, the seond up was Vince Murray who told the joke, "So a French guy walks into a bar. . ." and then segued into "The Legends, Myths, and History of Harqua Hala." And the biggest liar, I mean presenter, on the panel, was my Northern Arizona compadre Marshall Trimble who talked about "Father Keno and the Blue Maiden," a legend of the first flying nun, who allegedly flitted over from Spain, preached Jesus to the Pima 75 years before Father Kino set foot in Apacheria. It was fun. Standing room only. Gave out a bunch of True West mags.

From the session, I sped over to the Arizona Historical Society to bone up on the Wham Payroll Robbery. They have the court transcripts, which were thought to be lost but were found several years ago by author Larry Ball, who wrote the definitive book on the robbery. I have been unsuccessfully trying to get in touch with Mr. Ball for weeks. He lives in Arkansas, and every lead I got on how to get in touch with him went nowhere. When I walked up to the front door, Mr. Ball, of course was standing outside the Historical Society building waiting to get inside to do research on Tom Horn. Ha.

So we both went in the library and there, on reserve for me, was the official map of the robbery site and the five boxes of transcripts of the 1899 trial. When I would find something interesting, like say the map of robber forts on the west side of the road, I would say, "Hey Larry, is this where the boulder was?" And he'd come over and show me, adding, "What most people don't know about this location is that back here. . ." I swear, if I saw it in a movie I wouldn't believe it.

The museum closed at one and so from there I met writer Leo Banks at El Charro Mexican Restaurant in old downtown Tucson. What a great place! Old world charm and great margaritas! After the 48 hours I just had I was ready to have some fun. We did. Solving life and Old West magazine mysteries over the house specialty, carne seca, and we sat out on the porch on a beautiful Old Pueblo day.

I've got to get ready for the Forty Seventh Annual Arizona History Convention Banquet, which starts at 6:30. Then it's up early to make the trek out to the Wham Robbery Site north of Bonita and south of Fort Thomas (Safford area).

"I think they're afraid that if they let me in the CA, the only cowboy and the only woman would be the same person."
—Cynthia Rigden

Friday, April 28, 2006

April 28, 2006
Sprinkling and cloudy when I got up this morning. Drove up to Prescott and got to the Phippen Museum at 12:30 and heard the news. The last remaining living Cowboy Artist, Joe Beeler has died, someone said two days ago. He was evidently at a roping in Cottonwood and someone noticed him slumping in the saddle. They tried to revive him but he was gone.

A reporter for the Prescott Courier showed up and interviewed everyone. Cynthia Rigden came in to drop off a piece of art and said hi to me and we talked. She's a sculptor and from an old Arizona ranching family in Kirkland (Virgil Earp's farm was located on their land and she and her dad took me out to it in 1985), and she has been denied membership in the CA for years. It's embarrassing and a bad joke. I asked her if they were ever going to get smart and let her in and she said, "I think they're afraid of having the only woman and the only cowboy being the same person." Ha.

Walked the docents through the exhibit to tell them where all my stuff came from. Much of the history of my cartoons centers around Prescott. It was in 1978 that I drove up to Prescott and Charlie Waters, who was the publisher of the Prescott Courier then, printed the guts of my very first Honkytonk Sue comic. I think he charged me his price for the paper and printing ($875 for 5,000 issues, just the guts, the cover was printed in the Valley). My first big Arizona Highways assignment was to illustrate 22 washes for an issue on Prescott. That was in 1985, and that's when I went out to the Rigden's ranch. Several docents took notes. I told them if anyone tries to stump you, send them to and it's all there, or in this case, here. One woman asked me about True West. She said she has been dong this all her life and has never heard of the magazine. "That's why I'm here today," I told her. Speaking of which, Jennifer in the museum store ordered a whole bunch of True Wests, my books and even some of the old comic books. The opening is tonight at seven.

Left Prescott at two, stopped in Mayer for lunch. Fought traffic all the way in (95 miles). Got to the office at four, only to find out I left my daytimer at the Phippen. So, I'm debating whether to go back up the hill for the opening. Ha.

I leave for Tucson at five in the morning. Going to be a marathon weekend.

"A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 27, 2006
Beautiful weather, got the doors open, don’t even need the evap cooler, just sweet breezes and mild heat (mid-eighties).

At ten this morning, I went home to get some bola ties for Joel Klasky (he’s going to The WETA show, Western And English Trade Association, this weekend in Austin, Texas), and I found Peaches sitting by the front door, snacking on a carton of Fig Newtons. Yes, an entire pack! She’s got the long, thin pack, chewed open, and with her paws around the box, one by one, she’s popping them into her Australian Border Collie little mouth. She’s such a little thief, and I guessed she probably was prowling around over at the housing site next door and swiped the Newtons out of some poor construction workers sack. So I grabbed them out of her paws and walked it back over the construction site next door, but the workers didn’t want them back. So I stole the figs and gave Peaches two nuts instead. She looked P.O.’d about it, but hey, I’m trying to act like the lead dog around here.

Speaking of lead dogs, talked on the phone with Bruce Dingas at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson yesterday. They’ve got the original topo map of the Wham (rhymes with bomb, according to Bruce) Payroll Robbery site done by Lt. George Cartwright. I’m going to be in Tucson on Saturday and want to see it, before I make my trip out to the site on Sunday. They also have the complete court transcripts, several thousand pages, which I also want to take a look at. Going to be tight. I am chairing a session in the morning at the Arizona History Convention and the Historical Society closes at one, so it’s going to be Evelyn Wood time.

Do You Like True West Moments On The Westerns Channel?
If you do and want to see more of those bad boys, tell these two guys: (The Boss) (Head of PR)

True West Is Looking for Even More Talent
We are looking for another salesperson. Someone who can be creative, loves the Old West and can help us build the fastest growing magazine in the West. You will be working with Sue Lambert, Joel Klasky and Rob Bandhauer, three pros and great people. Contact Trish Brink ( you’re interested.

I phoned my old bootmaker compadre Johnny Weinkauf in Kerreville, Texas yesterday. When he answered the phone I said, “Do you remember where you were on April 30, 1983?” John, replied, “Nope, but I bet you do.” Ha.

As a matter of fact, I do, now. While cleaning out the garage yesterday morning I found an old sketchbook and inside were several sketches of John and I travelling to Kingman so he could buy some bootmaking lasts (wooden forms to stretch the leather over) from a Kingman Cowboy named Allen Miller. Johnny told me he still has those lasts. We talked a bit about the new boots I’ve ordered (I measured my heel to arch wrong and he’s sending back the tape) and then, old times in Tucson, and of course, this led to the time we almost got beat up in Nogales. “What was that guy’s name who saved our lives?” I could just see him but couldn’t remember his name. Without hesitation, Johnny replied, “Glen Gilkerson,” who was a young, brash kid who worked for John in his boot shop. This was in March of 1980 and Kathy was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with Deena, and we drove down to Tucson to pick up my boots, and after beers we all decided to go to La Roca in Nogales, Sonora to celebrate. There were about ten of us and during dinner in La Roca (literally, “The Rock”, actually a semi-cave going back in the rocky hillside about 300 yards south of the American line) Glen Gilkerson kept trying to tell joke, but we could only understand about every third word. After a great dinner, more Mexican cerveza, and a few shows, we drove back to our motel on the American side and some of us ended up in the disco. It was too loud in there so Johnny, Glen and I retired to the lobby to sit on the couches there and talk. Some tough looking hombres were standing nearby and it soon became obvious they wanted a piece of me. They didn’t like my new boots and especially my attire, which happened to be Daisy Dukes and, well, the new boots (Hey, I didn’t want excess clothing taking attention away from my boots, and besides, this was the end of the seventies and I thought I fit right in, especially in a Mexican disco). A huge, hispanic dude didn’t agree and basically called me out (something about a “puto” or “hoto,” or both), but before I could defend myself, or run, Glen Gilkerson, who was drunk on his ass (and the drunker he became the harder he was to understand), said, and I quote, “You wanna see my face on your dashboard?” End of quote.

The Big Bad Guy looked at his compadres and back at us. “Say, what?” he said scrunching up his face. “We can’t understand him either,” Johnny said, and we all laughed, or rather, they snickered, and we guffawed, and, that my friends, was the night Mr. Gilkerson saved my life.

Here’s two photos taken of Johnny and I, on that day in March of 1980, showing off my brand new custom Weinkauf Boots. I retired them about six years ago, and they toured the country in a boot show curated by the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg.

PBS Reality Old West Show Premieres Next Week, I Think
“You have got to visit this site. Incredible.”
—Alan Huffines

Night Rider’s Lament Song Writer Writes Me
“I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your Web site, and how much it compliments my monthly magazine subscription to True West.

“One of the songs that I have written, Night Rider's Lament, has become a favorite western song, and has been recorded extensively by many artists including: Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux, Nanci Griffith, Suzie Bogguss, Don Edwards, and others. Night Rider's Lament has become a cowboy classic over the years.

“I have just recently designed my own Web site,, for the many other western artists that would like to record it and need to know how to contact me for a Mechanical License, or that are interested in the origins of the song.

“I would be honored to have you visit my site and look in the links page to see that I have linked to True West. I noticed on your Web site that you also have a links page, and I would be very grateful if True West would include my site in your Web site links page.

Please let me know if this is acceptable with you.

Thank you in advance, Bob, and keep up the great work in giving us all True West !
—Michael Burton, Tucson, Arizona

You are linked, my Man!

“There is just such a very shallow truth in facts. Otherwise, the phone directory would be the Book of Books.”
—Werner Herzog, in New Yorker, April 24, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26, 2006
Had a very productive day yesterday, but before we get into that, here’s important feedback from yesterday’s post:

(Brilliant) Insights From A Fellow Male
“For some reason gals always look at us as ‘fixer-uppers.’ In a perfect world they would ‘cherish’ us for what we are & use their ‘fixer-upper’ instincts on something useful... like a '49 Ford!”
—Lloyd Britton

With that said, and I totally agree, I must say, that damn article Kathy read out of Psychology Today really impacted me—in a positive way! Check out my Franklin Daytimer page for yesterday—every single item on the to do list is checked off! For me, this is nothing short of miraculous. Here’s the part of the article that really triggered the productivity:

“There are two basic ways of functioning in the world. There are action-oriented people, who move easily from task to task [not me], and there are the state-oriented souls, who have a lot of inertia—and are most likely to procrastinate [oh, yeh]. State oriented people rate tasks more negatively [yep]; they experience greater uncertainty [ADD anyone?], boredom, frustration and guilt [Lutheran style guilt to boot!] than do their action-oriented peers.

“What helps them. . .is to follow the ten-minute rule. Acknowledge, ‘I don’t feel like doing that,’ but do it for 10 minutes anyway. That gets you over the hard work of initiation. After being involved in the activity for 10 minutes, then decide whether to continue. Once you’re involved, it’s easier to stay with a task.”

The name of the piece is: “Getting Out From Under: How to Stop Procrastinating—Now!”
by Hara Esroff Marano

As you can clearly see on my daytimer, I wailed because I thought, “Hey I can do anything for 10 minutes,” and that broke down the barrier for me. By the way, the boxed As and Bs, are the ratings Franklin-Covey recommends for determining the level of importance of an item on the list. And they recommend an arrow pointing to the next day, on tasks you carry over (don't complete). This is the first day in memory, that there are no arrows, only checks.

Still, I have to agree with Lloyd, if only Kathy would apply this laser sharp acumen to the ‘49 Ford, the world would be such a better place!

More Circ Suggestions
"Been out of town and out of touch for a week but here's one I think would be a fitting setting for your mag. The Landmark Inn, Oberlin Kansas

"Gary Anderson has done a remarkable job of restoring it and making it modernly comfortable without loosing the old charm."
—Sharon Tally

Article Suggestion
“Have you ever considered an article on a ‘day in the life of’? I know, on the surface, it's not captivating but you know better than anyone else the real west, and how it really was.

“Anyway, enjoy reading your stuff and thanks for taking something that fascinated all of us growing up and making it a life's work. I hope to meet you one day and have the chance to visit. You're an interesting guy. I read your biography and I could swear you sat behind me in second period English! (Just kidding).”
—Erin Ford

You are probably not going to believe this, but we talk about this almost every day! It's true. How can we portray the every day life of people in the Old West? Thanks. I will give this some more thought. I am thinking of a cover story on "Working Stiffs" and featuring the many professions, and how they did them, and how much they made, what did they wear? etc.

Another side benefit from cleaning and getting organized is finding cool, but forgotten, art reference. Case in point, I’m doing the Wham Payroll Robbery and in the story is a crazy local blacksmith from Pima, who calls himself “Cyclone Bill,” and I want to illustrate him as a kind of pompous, goofy guy who would probably pose in a grandiose way. So yesterday as I’m filing in my morgue I find some old photos taken for the Razz Revue humor magazine (1972-76) and there’s Dan Harshberger all dolled up as a bad guy. I assume this photo was taken for one of our Old West parody issues (we did two), probably about 1975. Anyway, the pose is perfect for Cyclone Bill and here’s the resulting illustration. This will run in the July issue.

Robert Ray just told me he thinks the photo of Dan looks like a member of Three Dog Night. Ha. It does!

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Activities Director Makes Most of Hostage Situation

Coming Tomorrow: "How'd you like to see your face on my dashboard?"

“What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25, 2006
A week or so ago, I challenged blog readers to take a stab at an illustration for Leo Bank’s brilliant and hilarious take on The Tragic And Ridiculous Billy Buff War. Three of you took the challenge and here’s the winner. In addition to being a decent illustrator, Alan Archambault is also the director of the Fort Lewis Military Museum in Washington State. It is the largest U.S. Military Museum on the West Coast.

I was particularly impressed with Alan’s attention to historic detail (notice the anchor design on the shirt, buck teeth galore, Lightning revolvers, slouch hats and oversized sweaters). Good job Alan! You get $200 and the painting will appear in the July issue (the anniversary of the Kid’s departure from this planet). Check out Alan’s museum at:

Speaking of Billy the Kid, I got an Email from George in Tennessee who wonders if that was my artwork in a Billy doc he saw on cable last night and did they have my approval and do I agree with their claims? Here’s my reply to him:

I have contributed to so many Billy the Kid docs I'm not exactly sure which one you’re referring to, but yes, I most likely signed off on the usage, but that doesn't mean they did anything credible with the pictures or the subject matter. Ha.

Yes, you are correct, there is only one verified photograph of the Kid and it's the standing one with the Winchester. All the others are wanna bes and are suspect in many ways. Everyone wants their photo to be of Billy because, well, it's worth a fortune. The only known image is worth a reported $350,000, and it's believed the poor sap who took the photo got a quarter for it. If that doesn't sum up the fairness of life on this planet, I don't know what does.

End of reply

Random Advice From A Married Man
You know you’re in trouble when you wake up and your wife is reading aloud from Psychology Today. The article being read this morning, by my wife of 26 years, was on Procrastination, with a capital P, and to my ears her voice (and the article) was about as soothing as an alarm clock playing the dulcet sounds of a root canal. I did learn something from this incident though, and I’ll relay those multiple gems of wisdom tomorrow.

Silver City: What’s It Like to Live There?
Yesterday I talked on the phone with Laurie Pankey, Executive Director of the Silver City, Grant County Chamber of Commerce and she told me the average temperature in January is mid-40s and in July, it’s the mid-90s, so the average is about 65. Now that’s cool, no?

Laurie also told me The Big Ditch Restoration Project, Phase II, is just about completed, plus several old downtown buildings are being renovated even as we were speaking, like Isacc’s Bar & Grill and The Murray Hotel, a once very glamorous place. Curt Albertshart owns the hotel and is doing the remodel. One of the coolest signs in the berg is in front of the Buffalo (a biker bar now), but it has an oldtime cowboy bar feel. The locals call it simply, “The Buff.” I took a slew of photos of it when I went thru Silver City in April of 2004 with Bart Bull, but I can't put my hands on them.

The best chuckwagon show is The Copper Creek Ranch owned and operated by Floyd and Patsy Robertson, it’s out in Arena’s Valley, dinner show 20 Flurry Lane.

Best route into town, I’m told by my old Mineshaft friends, Lew Jones and Tara Laman, is to stay off I-10, and instead, go via Safford, taking infamous Highway 666 over the mountains and thru Mule Creek, and don’t forget to take a gander at Mangas, named for Apache warrior Mangas Colorados (Red Sleeves), then slip into Silver City the back way. Way cool.

And like so many small towns, Silver City has lost it’s local radio talent to satellite madness, but “The Ranch” is still kickin’ it with the hometown talent at KWNM 105.5 FM, and check out Kurt Staley in the mornings. Now that’s radio as it was meant to be! Check it all out at:

Buck Jones Fire Death Clarification
“Buck Jones died in the ‘Coconut Grove’ night club fire in Boston 1942. Nothing was built on that lot for many years, in memory of the 500 plus who died that night. Don't know if that's still the case."

More Bad Saddle Data
“Regarding the bad saddle Robert Duvall is sitting on, there could be several reasons for the mistake. A Canadian location means: Canadian prop people and wranglers. One or the other is responsible for procuring the saddles. A professional Hollywood prop person or wrangler would never let this happen. The director must also be held responsible for these types of mistakes. After all, it's the director's picture; remember - ‘A Film By’? And if the star - and I'm not saying DuVall did this - tells them all he wants to use a particular saddle, there's not much they can do about it. It's also my opinion, that today's audiences - with the exception of those like the writer of the original query - having never been exposed to Westerns like we old timers, won't know the difference anyway.”
—Stephen Lodge

P.S. For fun, I thought you might enjoy my Behind the Scenes web site. Or as my friends call it, Steve's Life in Pictures.


Hey Stephen, I love the photo of you with actress Gail Davis on the set of Annie Oakley in 1955. You lucky dog, you!

And Speaking of Westerns And the Folks Who Love Them
“I watch the Westerns channel every day and always went to the movies before we had a TV years ago to see Western movies, but I've learned more about the old West watching you on the True West Moments part of the show. Really enjoy it when you're on. Thanks Very Much.”
—Richard Perry, Palmer,MA

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Former Coworker Romanticized

“Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 24, 2006

April 24, 2006
Yesterday afternoon Kathy went to Blockbuster and got “Capote” and “The Squid And The Whale.” I watched “Capote” on my laptop while I painted on Sue (see image below). It’s so amazing to me that I can slide this little disk into a laptop and watch a movie on a shelf? Incredible. That said, I’m even more convinced that Heath Ledger got reamed for the Oscar.

We tried to see “The Squid And The Whale” twice in the past three months and both times it was sold out. I can now see why. I really dug this movie. So smart, so honest, so amazingly profound. One of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Very New York, though.

Lo And Behold, Ask And Ye Shall Receive Department
The Rifleman should start running on Encore Westerns at the end of 2006. We are also going to work with Johnny Crawford to get some inside stories about his days on that wonderful series.”
—Jeff Hildebrandt

Wet Street & Dry Trails
“Another reason the dirt can be dusty in one movie scene, and wet in another, is: a lot of times, a water truck is used to dampen the ground to keep the dust from blowing. If it's a long shot, no one is really bothered by the dust. But in closer shots, billowing dust can obscure the actors' faces. And sometimes, by mistake, they over-water. That can leave mud puddles.”
—Stephen Lodge, Author-Screenwriter

I have a question for TW Moments on Encore TV. Could you answer this
on the bit you do?

Why is it in the Hollywood westerns, when someone is being chased or
something by men on horseback, they never just shoot the horse to stop
them? They always try for the men. Wouldn't it be easier to try for
the horse? It is a bigger target and would stop the chase right away.
I have always wondered about this. The horses hardly ever get hit. Is
this just Hollywood or was their a reason for it? Did horses get shot a
lot in the real old west?

This would make for a great TW Moment trivia question and I am sure you
have the answer for the viewing audience. I would appreciate it Bob.
—Bob of Olympia, Washington

Excellent question. The short answer is yes, horses were shot often and it was quite brutal. I'm doing the Wham Payroll Robbery for the next Classic Gunfights in True West magazine and in this robbery the robbers shot the lead mules of two wagons (3 total) and the other mules were injured trying to get away, pulling the wagon out across the desert, thru rocks, nasty stuff.

In my Çlassic Gunfights, Volume II book I relate the story of two guys ambushed at Steins Pass on the New Mexico, Arizona line, and the ambushers shot the horses out from under both riders. I have a hunch this was more common that movies would like us to believe.

One of the oldtime cattle guys allegedly called out in a gunbattle, "Shoot high, the horses are mine!"

This perhaps led to the old joke, "Shoot low, they're riding Shetlands."

Mas Circ Sites
Saludos, Bob! Hope all is aces, jake, and better than swell with you, amigo!

Even though I am about to be an Arizonan in four weeks, I thought I should
pop in and pitch a few Oklahoma possibilities to you for your Bonus Circulation Locations list. Such as:

• Cattlemen's Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

• The Seely House Bed and Breakfast Inn. Guthrie, Oklahoma.

• Best Western Territorial Inn. Guthrie, Oklahoma.

• Gold Penny Inn. Guthrie, Oklahoma.

I've listed the URL to the Gold Penny's links page because Guthrie, OK has what I would consider several good candidates for your list and this links page runs them down nicely.

Also, there is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City to consider. Of course, there is the possibility that your magazine is already on their Museum Store racks. But, in case not...

I hope you find some of the above helpful!

Take care!

Chris, Maniac #946

The Wild is back in the West
“This past year a French Film Crew made a film about investigation #2003-274 ‘The Billy the Kid investigation’. The Film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. The Film maker is taking [Tom] Sullivan and I to Cannes. Kris Kristofferson who played the kid is going to be there to meet us. We may have put the Kid on the front pages of the New York times but now we have taking our bandit buddy to Cannes. We should blend in France. Does it get any funnier?”
—Steve Sederwall

These Boots Were Made For Taking Off
“I was able to find you on the True West Magazine web site and also from the tag on the bottom. Bob. If you do feature any information about my question on the Encore Westerns Channel, I would love it if you would do the segment without wearing boots. It would remind me of the old western television series that used to be on television where the main cowboy characters were in situations where they may have had to give up their boots but were still able to deal with their adversaries, even though, the hero(s) were either socked-footed or in their barefeet. Besides, a good-looking cowboy without his boots is sexy.”
— Samantha Aldridge, Parsons, Kansas.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Report: 9/11 Commission Could Have Been Prevented

“Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23, 2006 Bonus Blog
We've got a new poll up. How did you find True West's website?

True West Magazine
Westerns Channel
True West Moments Ad
Google/Search Engine
This blog

Click right here.

"I was lost, but now I'm found."
—Bob Dylan?
April 23, 2006
I forgot that my title for the New Times piece mentioned yesterday was, "The Lighter Side of the Kennedy Assassination." Time and distance is the key on all human events eventually ending up as comedy. I think it ran on the 25 year anniversary (1988), and then later ran in The Dallas Observer, a sister pub to the Phoenix New Times. That made me pucker, as I'm sure the cartoons did in Dallas as well, but I'm still here. The Lighter Side of 9/11 is next, but I'd give it another decade, or two.

Speaking of rash youth desperate to be shocking, the Deck Show last night was quite a success. The Ice House is basically a gutted out cement, warehouse and the cathedral style room the decks were showcased in, didn't have a roof. It looked like the Dresden Chamber of Commerce about 1944, but then, that is pretty cool, when you think about it, as skaters are quite into black holes and the anger that makes them. They had a metal band and I'd say about 500 people (it lasted from three to midnite and we got there after Taco Villa, at about six). Ed Mell did a sweet little landsape, framed on top of his skateboard with the clever title, "Landskate." It had a price tag of $2,200 (a bargain!). My "Geronimo Does A Halfpipe Over Organpipe (pre-board) 1886" was priced at $500 but it had no red dot on it by the time Kathy and I left at about 7:30.

Art shows like these are always inspiring to me and I woke up this morning and bailed into a painting called, "Looking For A Good Man On The Western Frontier." It features Honkytonk Sue (great reference of Jackie King on her horse searching the horizon for available cowboys). The horizon is from two sketches I did last weekend at Rock Art Ranch, outside of Winslow, and the color scheme is from a 1946-ish postcard of desert burros ("Desert Sweethearts"). Verdict still out, but I'm hopeful.

"Drawing is the root of everything."
--Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, April 22, 2006

April 22, 2006
The palo verde trees have started blooming, one by one. We saw the first ones slowly turn brilliant yellow up at the end of the road (slightly higher elevation) and then the blooming spread southward, creeping down Old Stage Road until they blossomed all around us in a wave of golden sunshine. The saguaros are next. They're actually flowers, you know.

Found and filed a bunch of New Times original cartoons I found in the garage, but not before I started the '49 Ford and pulled it out onto the Spanish Driveway (for some reason it will only start and stay running on full choke). I threw away half of the stuff (much of it beyond awful), but I must admit, my color piece on the Assassination of President Kennedy still stands (in my version of the Zapruder film, Kennedy reaches in his coat and pulls out a forty-five, turns, shoots Oswald out of the Texas Depository window, turns back and lights a cigar, with Jackie hugging him. Wishful, juvenile thinking, I know.

Came in the studio and started three paintings for True West, and started sketching for the Wham Payroll Robbery, looking for young Mormon cowboys. Fortunately, I have just the book, "A Tough Job In A Hard Land: Cowboying," by James H. Beckstead. It's chocked full of Utah 1880s cowboys and the book is published by University of Utah Press. Great images, totally wrong cover (a modern cowboy silhouetted in an Arizona Highways sky). I need to illustrate 13 of the raiders, and of course there are the black soldiers, but I have good reference for that as well (see True West magazine on front page of this website).

The Deck Artshow is tonight, down at the Ice House in central Phoenix, across from the old train station. Over a hundred artists painted scenes on skateboards (thus, the title of the show "Deck" as in the deck of the board). A review tomorrow.

I'm meeting Kathy at Taco Villa on Camelback Road for dinner and then we'll take in the show.

My son Tomas called me yesterday from Philly and said he and Kendra were going to see Eagles of Death Metal, but the show was sold out. When they walked next door to an ATM machine, T. Chrarles recognized the band coming in the back way for a sound check. He struck up a conversation with the lead singer who said he'd put them on "the list" to get in. I told Tom, sometimes the big mouth pays off (actually it always pays off, just not in ways you sometimes like. Ha.)

"What you've spent, is gone, what you've kept is lost, but what you give away will be yours forever."
--Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, April 21, 2006

April 21, 2006
Dave Daiss is paving the driveway in front of the True West World Headquarters this morning. It was dirt for the past several years, but erosion and drainage problems just made it tough on some people (one of my employees lost his oil pan, not once, but twice pulling out onto Cave Creek Road). Here’s a photo of the project in progress. As I took this I reflected on the fact that we all love the old rugged West (a dirt parking lot!), but, it does come with a price and some amenities don’t look as cool, but they sure are nice. The road out to our ranchito, for example, got paved a couple years ago, and one of our neighbors fought it (and ultimately moved) because as he put it, “I didn’t move out here to live on a paved road!” I hate to admit it, but I like it paved, and we have saved quite a bit on tires (we had 11 flats one summer when it was dirt and rocky!).

Something happened yesterday that really blows my mind. In the first year they ran True West Moments on the Westerns Channel, I got maybe six Emails and two or three letters. In the second year, a couple dozen. Starting last fall, the Email questions increased to several a week, until earlier this year when I started getting two or three every other day. Yesterday I received seven Emailed questions! In one day! We’ve evidently reached some sort of tipping point. Now, some are assuming I have more power than I actually have, like this one:

Hiya!! Bob , Just wanted to see if you had any pull to get “The Rifleman” series on !! Thanks.
—Joe Cottrell

But here’s a taste of what I’m getting:

Dear Bob,
I am an avid Western Channel fan and really enjoy your segment. I have a few ideas, suggestions, whatever, though.

I am interested in hearing about the early western movie stars such as Tom Mix, Wild Bill Elliott, Sunset Carson, Durango Kid, etc. Is it true that Tom Mix died in a fire saving a life? If so, this makes him a hero. Also, would like to hear about lots of other early famous Wester stars. How they became who they were. I would think lots of other people would be interested too.

I am a big fan of your work, but I have to say that I like reading Louis L’Amour novels, because you can really picture what it may have been in old days.
A Western Fan
Mrs. Helen Holt

No, Tom Mix died in a car wreck near Florence, Arizona. Perhaps you are thinking of Buck Jones who died in a nightclub fire when he pulled people out and went in one more time and didn't come out. And yes, that is my idea of a hero. Thanks.

Hello Bob,
In James Michner's novel, Centennial, they were always talking about a cowboy named O.D. Cleaver. I was wondering what they meant by that. Was Cleaver a real person?
—Harry Anderson

I don’t have a clue. Maybe somebody reading this on my blog will.

I saw your segment of a True West Moment where you said that some cowboys who were hanged did actually have their boots taken off their feet or requested to have their boots taken off their feet before being hanged to death. Was there any truth to situations where bandits who held up stagecoaches would also steal the boots and/or socks of the male passengers and force them to walk back to town bootless. I was also wondering if it was true that some women would try to get the boots off their cowboys' feet as a way to keep them from leaving such as prostitutes who would try to get the cowboys' boots off once they got the cowboys in a room alone with them. Also, I was wondering if there was any truth about comparing a cowboy's foot size with a certain portion of his male anatomy. If you do a ‘True West Moment’ on Encore Westerns Channel about these questions, would you please do so ‘footloose’ or without wearing any boots and/or socks on your feet and also let me know when it would air on the channel? Thank you for any response to these questions and requests.”
—Sincerely, Samatha Aldridge from Kansas

Everything you said is true except the part about foot size. You need to double the size to get a true measurement. Glad I could be of help.

I see you on the Western Station all the time. I would like to submit a question to you.
When giving direction, for horse riders, how come it is always in miles? The horses don't know anything about mileage. How do you calculate miles when riding a horse?
—Buddy Camp, Marmora, New Jersey

Excellent question and one I have often wondered about. Actually in the Old West they used a variety of measuring units, "rods" being the one I seem to see most often. In the case of John Tunstall's killing everyone who testified, including Billy the Kid, estimated the distance between the opponents in rods. And you are right, there was a definite inclination to measure distance in how far it would take a horse, as in, "That's about a three day ride from here." But, that said, they did have pretty accurate ways to approximate mileage. For one thing surveyors with their "chains" and transits were tabulating the mileage pretty early on. And most horseback riders knew the gate of their horses and could measure roughly the time it took to go certain distances and extrapolate the miles. There's more, but I'll save it for the show, and if we use it, we'll give you credit. Thanks again for the question.

Hello Bob Boze Bell,
First, I would like to tell you, how much I admire your Artistic Talent. Your Paintings amaze me. I wish the Western Channel could show more of them.

Thanks to you I feel like I am getting my second education, at least about the True West. My question is, What does it mean to ‘Draw to an inside straight?’ I hear this on some of the Western movies, for instance, the Cheyenne Social Club. No one I ask knows, but I am sure this would be in your expertise. Please explain this expression to me.

Keep up the Good Work, & Never neglect your Art.
—Your Friend, Sunny Richmond-Stratford, Oklahoma

Thanks for the high complement. As to your question, I had to ask our resident card shark, Carole Glenn, and here's what she told me: If you're playing poker and you have the makin's of a straight, say a two, three, five, six and seven, you would ask for another card (a draw) and hope it was a four which would make a straight. Thus, draw to an inside straight.

Hi Mr. Bell, On many films about the Old West, it would be dry and a lot of dust when the Cowboy rode into town, but when you seen them ride down the streets it would be mudded, could you tell me the reason for this? Thanks in advance, Bob.

One of the hardest things to do in a movie is keep continuity. A ride in scene may be filmed on a sunny day and by the time they shoot the scenes in town, maybe days, or weeks later, it may have rained. I heard that on the recent The Alamo film it rained and rained and they had to construct high tents, or awnings over the actors, with strong kleg lights to simulate sunshine so they could make up for lost days.

Dear Bob,
Can you tell me why in the movie's they always wear long sleeve shirts
—Billy Armer, Nampa , ID

Great question. In Victorian times everyone tried to cover up as much as possible to shield themselves from the sun. In those days, a tan was considered low class, someone who worked the fields, etc. That's why women wore bonnets, gloves full dresses, etc. They didn't want the sun touching any part of their bodies. The men also tried to keep off the sun as much as possible, thus long-sleeved shirts.

It wasn't until the 1920s, when rich people came back from Europe and being on the beach that the idea of wealth and a suntan gained popularity. All of a sudden someone with a tan signified wealth and the ability to go away for the summer. By the 1950s this fad had spread to the rest of the population.

Today with the knowledge of skin cancer, it appears it might go back in the other direction. That’s why I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt right now. Well, that and the fact it looks cooler. Ha.

“Please tell me something. I have noticed that when a bunch of cow pokes are sitting around the campfire, there are all sorts of equipment: coffee pot, dishes, cups, etc. But when they strike camp, I never seem to see this stuff packed onto any of the horses. How did they do that in real life??
—Loggie (Low-gi) Hull, Houston, MO

Yes, in Westerns the cowboys, who are away from the chuckwagon and the ranch sure seem to have plenty of equipment. This probably stems from a set designer (usually on a sound stage) dressing the scene with stuff that looks cool, and then when the outdoor scenes are shot, nobody wants a loaded down mule stumbling along with a mile-high diamond hitch and pots and pans dangling off it like Sancho Panza after a trip to the market place. No, that detail ruins the bitchin’ scene of a gaggle of cowboys, galloping across the tundra seeking more adventure.

“How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.”
—Christina Baldwin

Thursday, April 20, 2006

April 20, 2006
Cleaned out a huge portion of the garage this morning, so Eric from 24-Hour-Mobile-Car-Care could start the ‘49 and get it back in the garage. Eric was still working on the carburetor when I left, but when I went home for lunch I found this threatening note: “Start this car every day or I’ll turn you over to PCS (Protective Car Service).”

Working hard on the Wham Robbery for the next issue’s Classic Gunfights. One of the suspected robbers has a hilarious handle and if I saw it in a movie I wouldn’t believe it. His name? Sheriff Marshal. Yes, this is allegedly his actual given name. Imagine someone stumbling into a whore house and yelling out, “Is that you Sheriff?” And everyone clears out the back. Funny. But true.

Other Magazines Get Grief Too, Like This Letter From A Fellow Saddle Nazi to A Certain Magazine
“Dear Cowboys & Indians: I am a happy subscriber of your fine magazine. I just finished reading the article on Robert Duvall. I was very disturbed to see the cover of Mr. Duvall in his ‘Western’ wardrobe sitting on a 1980's calf roping saddle with nylon horn knot. How stupid do they think the viewers are? Why spend Millions of dollars on sets, wardrobe, weapons, and talent and then put the main star on a saddle worth $250 that totally is wrong for the time period???? I would be more than happy to furnish Mr. Duvall with an AUTHENTIC saddle for his next show, just have him contact me. He might as well have been sitting on the hood of a 2005 Chevy Crew Cab Pickup, it would be just as authentic. GREAT ACTOR, GREAT PERSON, don't ruin the show with cheap saddles.”
—David Carrico, professional saddle provider

“Stress comes from putting yourself in the position of constantly reacting to others' input.”
—Sara Schurr

Status of Operation Fifty Bonus Circ Locations
I received some great suggestions this morning from many of you regarding our expanded circ efforts (see yesterday’s posting). Here’s a smattering of them and their suggestions:

J.Rae’s Suggestions for additional outlets:
• Steamboat Arabia Museum/Gift Shop, Kansas City, Missouri
• Pony Express Museum/Gift Shop, St. Joseph, Missouri
• Frontier Army Museum/Gift Shop, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
• James Farm Museum/Gift Shop, Kearny, Missouri
• Patee House Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri
• Boot Hill Museum and Front Street, Dodge City, Kansas
• Historic Franklin Hotel, Deadwood, South Dakota
• Midnight Star (saloon/gaming), Deadwood, South Dakota
• Bullock Express, Deadwood, South Dakota
• Fort Abraham Lincoln Museum/Gift Shop, Mandan/Bismarck, North Dakota
• Wyatt Earp Boyhood Home Museum, Pella, Iowa

Many more ideas, and here they are (below)!

• Dalton Defenders Museum, Coffeyville, Kansas

• Darke County Historical Society Garst Museum, Greenville, Ohio

• The Coppock Wing houses the Annie Oakley Collection

• The Archer House (Historic Inn), Northfield, Minnesota

• First National Bank of Northfield (Bank Museum), Northfield, Minnesota—J.Rae

“A lot of good places on your list so far. The hotel you're looking for in Cimmaron, NM is the St. James. It was built when the Sante Fe trail was still in operation & has an impressive roster of frontier characters, shootings & ghosts.

“You might consider contacting the book stores in NPS historic sites. You feature them in numerous articles & it should be a good partnership.

“When I have a little more time I will get you a few more Colorado locations. It seems like your distributor up here needs to get you better exposure in the high visibility locations... supermarkets, Walmart, etc. I rarely see your product on their shelves.

"We are developing a B&B to compliment our chuck wagon catering business and would be happy to distribute some of your mags. I could pass some out during my rounds in my horse shoeing/blacksmithing business. We could use the same approach as the drug dealers... ‘first one's free!’ Maybe the printed word could back up the tall tales I've been tellin' em all these years.”
—Lloyd Britton

Some more suggestions, these from Tom Carpenter:

• Grand Canyon West Ranch

• The old Diamond Bar Ranch,Tap Duncan country. Hundreds of folks arriving weekly, including many international travelers, coming and going for helicopter rides and overnight stays, all of them interested in the old west. There are several cabins and (sigh) a few teepees for overnight guests--with no television or radio. So, you have a semi-captive reading audience.

• X Diamond Ranch ( in Greer. A slice of heaven that has several cabins and a store for placement. Lots of press coverage, usually booked heavily throughout the summer and not everybody who stays there likes to fish . . .

• Shady Dell Trailer Park in Bisbee ( for people who like to catch their breath by reading between bouts of randy sex triggered by Herb Alpert albums played on the phonograph in the Tiki Bus . . . or so I'm told.

• Noftsger Hill Inn B&B in Globe ( Old schoolhouse converted into B&B.

• Fort Beale Mercantile in Kingman ( because some people still know how to read in Kingman, and want something other than the Army Field Manual No. 21-76.

• And of course, in Denny's everywhere, for insomniacs like me who grow weary of reading the auto trader while we peck at our scrambled eggs and listen to the only waitress bitch about her bunions and her deadbeat ex-husband to the line cook whose meth recovery is about to go south again.

“Back to bed now, Tommy, work awaits in a few short hours . . .”
—Tom Carpenter

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Heinz Factory Explosion Looks Worse Than It Is

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”
—Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 19, 2006
T. Charles called me from NYC at eleven this morning and told me he is walking down museum row on the east side of Central Park and there is a new Winslow Homer show opening May 19 called “Tourism And the American Landscape.” Unfortunately I’ll be in Kingman that weekend, so I asked for a full report from Tomas on one of my painting heroes.

Operation Fifty Bonus Circ Locations
We are looking for fifty new places to circulate and introduce True West magazine to a larger circle of friends, and future friends. What we are looking for are hotels, motels, B&Bs and hubs of interest where visitors who are already interested in the history and lore of the West will have access to our publication (this is not a resellers program, but controlled circ placement, i.e. free). Hopefully my list will inspire you to add outlets I haven’t thought of.

• The Boulders, Carefree, Arizona
• The Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona
• La Posada Resort in Winslow, Arizona
• El Garces Hotel, Needles, California (being renovated by Allan Affeldt, same guy who did La Posada, scheduled to open in 2008)
• Rock Art Ranch, Winslow, Arizona
• Tonto Bridge, Payson, Arizona
• Kohl’s Ranch, Payson, Arizona
• Thunderbird Lodge, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
• El Tovar, Grand Canyon Lodge
• Quality Inn, Flagstaff, Arizona (I know the manager and he has frequently put mags in the rooms. He recommended a service that puts mags in all of the chains)
• Little America, Flagstaff, Arizona
• Lookout Lodge, Tombstone, Arizona
• Lariat Lodge, Tombstone, Arizona
• Holiday Inn Express, Tombstone, Arizona
• Sonoita, Arizona B&Bs and motels (Dave Daiss please help)
• Patagonia Hotel (Dave Daiss)
• Copper Queen, Bisbee, Arizona
• Irma Hotel, Cody, Wyoming
• Sheridan Hotels (Sue Lambert, help me with these)
• Helper, Utah
• Kanab, Utah
• Carson City, Nevada
• Alpine, Texas Best Western Motel
• Silver City, New Mexico
• Reserve, New Mexico
• Socorro, New Mexico
• Cloudcroft, New Mexico
• Ruidoso, New Mexico
• Cimarron Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico
• Santa Fe Hotels and B&Bs
• Willcox motels
• Gallup Hotels (El Rancho?)
• The Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado
• On the Plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico Hotel
• Sportsman’s Lodge, Burbank, California

Email me (see link above) with your nominations. Of course, my list is dominated by Southwest locations. I'm counting on you to spread it around. Thanks.

News From The Front Lines
I just wanted to let you know that for me the May 2006 issue is the best overall copy I have read since first subscribing a few years back. The many articles are so diverse, well written and informative and the photograph selection superb. I even enjoyed the advertisements. I guess that’s why I’m a True West Maniac (79)!
—Jack Ingram, Severn, MD

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Texas Environmentalists Lobby For Solar-Powered Electric Chair

“History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot.”
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18, 2006
Darcy Peterson came out this morning to continue our clean-athon. She told me she confided to her husband, “If it’s a horizontal surface, you can’t put it in front of this guy.” Ha. Darcy also vowed to make my middle name “Neat.” To that I said, “Good luck.” We are making good progress and I highly recommend her services to anyone with ozone layer ADD.

I'm still tweaking the Honkytonk Sue postcard color experiement. Here's a taste of my latest efforts from last night. Still not there, but I'm on the case and won't stop until it's right as rain, Roy.

La Posada Foddah
“Glad you had a great time in Winslow! My husband and I stayed at La Posada a few years ago (and loved it) but we certainly did hear the trains. No whistle noise, just the rumbling. The tracks are to the south of the hotel, and our room had french doors opening out onto the west side of the building, so we could sit on our balcony and see the trains. We had trouble sleeping, until we saw the window air conditioner and turned on the fan for the noise. We slept fine after that. Maybe you had in interior room, or one on the north side. You're right about the food in the restaurant - it's excellent. I recommend La Posada to everyone who heads up that way.”
—Lauren, Maniac #19

“Wow, sounds as if I'd better figure on a Harvey House Tour road trip
in a few years. And somebody needs to bop the Seligman city council
on the noggin--that's a great building, darn it!”
—Emma Bull

And speaking of Emma, she gave me a follow-up joke from the Easter one I ran (see below):

“A woman opens her refrigerator and sees a bunny sitting there. When she asks why he's there the bunny replies, ‘This is a Westinghouse, isn't it?’”

"No, it's a GE."

"Oh, sorry. Wrong joke."

The 125th Anniversary of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is happening this coming October. The official website with ticket info and events schedule can be found at

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Diabetic 8-Year-Old Throws Worst Birthday Party Ever

"It's all right to aim high if you have plenty of ammunition."
—Hawley R. Everhart

Monday, April 17, 2006

April 16-17, 2006
Kathy and I had a great road trip to Winslow over the weekend. Took off Saturday morning at 8:30 and met the Hawkins: Mike, Phyllis, Adam and Rachel at Carefree Highway and I-17 and took off for Flag. Tried to have lunch at Martan’s but they were slammed, so we walked over to Kathy’s Cafe, also on San Francisco and had lunch. Downtown Flag was full of tourists and locals with dogs, a bustling scene on a brisk Saturday.

From Flag the tour began, as Phyllis and Mike told stories of their courtship (driving from Winslow to Flag on their first date and eating at Miz Zips, a classic drive-in burger joint on old Route 66). Mike also told a funny story about his parents often taking him and his brother to Williams for dinner at Rod’s Steakhouse and how the parent’s would have two, stiff drinks before they left Winslow, then two more at Rod’s, then drive back to Winslow (it’s about 100 miles) on the narrow, always crowded, Highway 66, with no seat belts and plenty of dashboard buttons shaped like spears. And they survived!

We cruised by Two Guns, Twin Arrows, Meteor Crater, Leupp (which elicited a story about an Indian kid who kept running away from school in Winslow and running out to Leupp where his relatives were and the truant officers kept rounding him up and the principal kept punishing him, but then one day when they brought the kid back, the principal was out of town and the guy who was subbing for him was also the track coach. When he heard how far the kid was running every day he allegedly said, “This is not a problem, this is a good thing. “ The Navajo kid joined the track team and went on to several state records and almost broke the four minute mile, to boot.

We got into Winslow at about two and tried to check into La Posada but our rooms weren’t ready. The girls and I then took off for Rock Art Ranch while Mike and Adam took the father-son tour. After a 12 mile run out across the red dirt tundra we landed at the ranch spread Rock Art Ranch and met cowboys Brantley Baird and oldtimer Clem Rogers (85). Both cowboys knew my cousin Billy Hamilton, when Billy had a ranch near Joseph City. Clem commented, “Oh, we remember Billy. I never met a cowboy that loved to rope more than that boy.” That would be my cousin. After a tour of the ranch we caravaned out to Chevelon Canyon to see the “finest stands of Anasazi petroglyphs in the world.” We weren’t disappointed. Indian drawings stacked hundreds of feet high, dating thousands of years ago, filled the walls on both sides of the canyon, featuring turtles, antelope, deer and even a woman giving birth. Really a stunning site and here’s the kicker: Mike and Phyllis grew up in Winslow and had never been out to it, or heard of it.

At about five we checked into the rambling, magnificent La Posada (“The Last Great Railroad Hotel”). This is an old Harvey House from the 1930s that has totally been renovated by Allan Affeldt and his wife, Tina, whose paintings grace the walls of the lobby and alcoves.

Allan originally wanted to renovate the Harvey House in Seligman, which is supposedly the grandest of the Harvey Houses designed by the legendary Mary Colter, but the town fathers in Seligman supposedly told Mr. Affeldt they liked their Harvey House the way is is (shuttered and empty). Affeldt is currently renovating the El Garces Hotel in Needles, California. Also a railroad hotel located in the heart of downtown Needles at Front and G Streets, and the train tracks. It was long shuttered when I was a kid, but it’s expected to reopen in 2008.

Here’s the shocker: there was no railroad noise at La Posada! Several years ago Kathy and I stayed at a renovated hotel in Kingman and the trains kept us up all night. Every fifteen minutes the horns blasted and the trains rumbled by, shaking the bed and furniture. The La Posada is even closer to the tracks than the Kingman hotel, but we never heard the trains! For one thing, there were no horn blasts, but evidently the thick walls of the hotel absorb the train noise. I don’t know why exactly, but it was a profound difference, and it’s the same trains that run through Kingman.

After a great meal in the Turquoise Room and a good night’s sleep we met for breakfast and then got a walking tour of Winslow and all the Hawkins’ old haunts. We saw where Mike shot Jesus (he was aiming his brother's .22 at the Catholic Church across the street from their house, specifically at the crucifiction statue on the front of the church when the gun discharged), we saw the oil ditch that ruined many an outfit, we saw the Indian dorms where the Navajos and Hopi kids ran to for lunch, we saw the little league dugout where I sat for the entire tournament in 1957 (it had been 49 years since I had stood there!). And we saw where Mike’s father’s gas stations sat and where Phyllis’ house was (her father was a doctor for the Santa Fe Railroad). We heard about all the Winslow sports legends, like basketball great Issac Bonds who averaged 40 points a game in 1964 (I saw him play in Phoenix that year), Pepsi Davis and many others. Winslow always had great sports teams.

We took off at eleven and after a leisurely drive back through Strawberry, Pine and Payson, we got back to Cave Creek at about three. Great trip and great people. Fun was had by all.

“Life has to be in the moment, spontaneous and venerable. There isn't any winning or losing. Life itself, as it flowers in depth and subtlety, is the reward, and it isn't always an easy or fun process. We must learn to see that the issue of happiness is irrelevant. The relevant quest is the expansion of consciousness.”
—Richard Moss

Friday, April 14, 2006

April 14, 2006
Ron is up on the hill behind our building putting bird food in the feeder (a miniature log cabin with a cute stone chimney, floating on a palo verde branch straight out my window). A cottontail rabbit just hopped down to feed on the overflow on the ground underneath the feeder.

Speaking of wabbits, I got this Easter Email this morning: a woman opens her refrigerator and sees a bunny sitting there. When she asks why he’s there the bunny replies, “This is a Westinghouse, isn’t it?” And when the woman admits it is, he says, “Well, I’m westing.”

Art Assignment For You So Inclined
We need a small illustration of a cartoon battlefield. Explosions in the air and a soldier in the foreground is yelling at people behind him to move forward (he's yelling out at us, the viewer), with a Charge! expression and his arm pointing into the fray. He is obviously Billy the Kid, and several soldiers moving out in front are clones of Billy, and the guys coming from the other direction are Billy the Kid as well. And the head is: The Billy Buff War.

Please submit sketches to Meghan Saar at

Deadline is next Friday. Thanks.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Heartbreaking Country Ballad Paralyzes Trucking Industry

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. In describing today's accelerating changes, the media fires blips of unrelated information at us. Experts bury us under mountains of narrowly specialized monographs. Popular forecasters present lists of unrelated trends, without any model to show us their interconnections or the forces likely to reverse them. As a result, change itself comes to be seen as anarchic, even lunatic.”
—Alvin Toffler

Thursday, April 13, 2006

April 13, 2006
This morning I hit a milestone: 1001 sketches, without missing a day! Quite an accomplishment for someone riddled with ADD, if I don't say so myself. This morning I worked in the newly designated Honkytonk Sue workspace that Darcy helped me set up in my old dark room/spare bedroom in the studio. Today’s six sketches featured iconic Sue images for a possible poster.

News about the latest Billy dig up in Prescott. A Detective, Anna Cahall, nailed the latest wrinkle in the sordid soap opera: "It's a Billy Buff War," Cahall concluded. Meanwhile, down in the Old Pueblo, our own Leo Banks has written a blistering account in Tucson Weekly. Here’s an excerpt and the link:

A New Billy the Kid?
The mad search for the bones of an American outlaw icon has come to Arizona


Historians still puzzle over such basic Billy facts as the day and place of his birth, and even his real name.

Our Western legends often repel logic because, ultimately, they're not about the truth. They're about us.

Here we have a street fight, a nutty, eye-gouging brawl over a juvenile delinquent who, through some strange historical alchemy, captured America's imagination. Billy the Kid's legend has hovered over the landscape of the American West for 125 years, a Hindenburg of hype and fantasy, always there to nourish those who merely look up. It will never crash and never burn.

End of excerpt. Here’s the link for the entire article:

News From The Front Lines
Lee Jacobson from St George, Utah called to renew today and became a Maniac. He really enjoys the magazines. He asked if I was related to you and I told him that we are not related, but have been friends for many years and said to tell you that you have a friend that you have never met.
—Carole Glenn

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Shotgun Blast To Abdomen Just Pisses Wilfred Brimely Off More

“We can all sleep easy at night knowing that somewhere at any given time, the Foo Fighters are out there fighting Foo.”
—David Letterman

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

April 12, 2006
I had to wait for the plumber this morning to “vet” and fix the water lines on the air evap cooler sitting atop the studio. Worked on Honkytonk Sue images (her bridling and saddling a horse). Also story boarded out the next CG which is going to be on the Major Wham Military Payroll Robbery near Safford (1889). A gang of Mormons (12!) from nearby Pima is believed to have pulled the job ($28,000) and they all got off, because it was a federal crime (and Arizonans have historically hated the federal government since day one) and most of the soldiers guarding the payroll were African-American. Nasty stuff, but true.

We’re planning a feature on the old Ranch Romance pulp magazines (they died out in the late 1950s). We have some real sexy covers we borrowed from Jeb Rosebrook and Mark Boardman is set to write the piece. There’s only one problem. Since Mark bailed to Indiana he is asking for examples of the writing to be found in these pulp-throbbing precursors to Cathy McDavid’s “The Gate to Eden” (see the salacious and racy excerpt from previous post). So, I brought in two of my personal stash of Ranch Romances (March 28, 1940 and July 12, 1942). Here is a smattering of ripe excerpts:

Love Stories of the Real West: Lay Down The Iron Rail (1940)
Mary Kate remembered how the bitter wind stabbed through her red cape, even chilling the steel stays of the red silk dress underneath, as she sat beside her sister Devinia in the back seat of the carriage Jack Langrished drove to the People’s Theater. [They’re actresses and in Denver City, as it was called in the old days]

Under the too-tight bodice, which had been stayed to fit Devinia’s seventeen-inch waist, panic and desperation roiled. . .It turned the plumes on Devinia’s bonnet to lavender the breath of the heaving mules to pink chiffon [interesting, even the mules heave]. . .two fighting dogs, snarling and snapping, thumped against her legs. . .[believe me, I know what that’s like, I’ve had more than one dog thump my leg] He took her two ungloved hands in his to steady her. She could feel the warm firmness of his steady hands under the horsehide. . .she looked at him with desperation naked in her eyes and, to her horror, began to cry. “Why do you have to—to keep pushing that accursed railroad in on top of us?” [Oh, I get it, the good ol’ iron rail metaphor].

“I’d even like one of those colored-boy hitching posts to tie the horses to. [Whoa! Nellie!] Because he has one. It always seemed as though that Negro-boy hitching post would settle old Mr. Seifert for good.” Mannie interrupted, “They gave me a banana.” [This has something to do with the impending railroad, but pay attention to the colored rein catcher, it shows up later]

The red cape was fluttering, warmthless, behind her as she hurried toward the carriage with the long-legged four-year-old in her arms. [Can something really be warmthless? And what does she have in her arms—a giraffe?]

Devinia had loved young Zeb Seifert. It had been Devinia, not Mary Kate, who had fainted at his funeral. But it had been Mary Kate who old Zebulon Siefert had decided would be the mother of his grandchildren. [Good luck with that today, Flinthead!]

The call-boy was thumping on Devinia’s dressing room. “Half-hour! Half-hour!” [first the dogs, now the call-boy, I’m so grossed out]

Mary Kate looked into the glassy purple of Devinia’s unfocused eyes, and cried out strickenly, “Devinia! You’ve been drinking cognac. We’ve told you and told you not to drink it when you’re chock full of pain-killer.” [better thump her, thump her good]

Mary Kate, even as Devinia, was light-headed, light-footed with joy. . .Mary Kate was making herself a new dress for the banquet [she makes her own clothes and all the girls like her]. For the banquet? Why not for her wedding? What was there to keep her from marrying Emmet after the banquet? I promise not to marry Emmet Gast until he can provide a suitable home for my son. . . [Emmet is a cad, and not worth a thump]

Mary Kate panted out, “John—I need you!” And then in a great flare of the bonfire, the fright and bewilderment went out of her face. It looked young and peaceful and triumphant. [Sort of thrumpmificent]

The girl caught her as she fell there by the iron Negro-boy hitching-post. [See, I told you!] Mary Kate’s son—the Mannie of those long-ago days—came running out the door and carried her in. [and no doubt, thumped her good]

End of Excerpt. Need I remind you young whippersnappers, there’s not one kiss! Not one feel [If you don’t count the dogs or the call-boy], and not much romance, either. Yes, but plenty of naked eyeballs and heaving mules. I guess we’ve come a long ways. Or, not far enough. Ha.

Kiefer Beefer Hits So What Snag
“Kiefer Sutherland just got $30 Million for 3 more years of 24. He can afford plastic surgery and time in a spa if he wants to now, or more strippers, depending on his priorities.”
—Curt Rich, True West Maniac #244, Houston, TX

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
U.S. Gives Up Trying To Impress England

“Luck always seems to be against the man who depends on it.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 11 Bonus Blog, 2006
Well, it didn’t take long to get the actual quote (see Fred Nolan’s request from yesterday’s post):

Rascoe wrote. "The one known authentic photograph of him shows him to be a nondescript, adenoidal, weasel-eyed, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered, repulsive-looking creature with all the outward appearance of a cretin." This is in his Belle Starr, The Bandit Queen", 1941, Random House. By the way, did you know I corresponded with Rascoe back in 1954? When I was in kindergarten?”
—Bob McCubbin

“It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
April 11, 2006
Clear skies and balmy, beautiful desert weather. Took the dogs up the road at 7:22. As Napoleon Dynamite would say, “Sweet!”

Darcy Peterson came out this morning, bringing a carload of cabinets and book shelves. We loaded a table and bookshelf into the studio bedroom for my designated Honkytonk Sue work area. Upstairs in the loft area, a specialized video, CD, DVD bookcase was filling up as I left to come into the office (one whole shelf is Starz-Encore (Westerns Channel’s True West Moments).

Robert Ray and I are dealing with computer woes, playing computer chess, moving Gus’s old computer over here, my laptop over there, a new screen over here, better scanner over yonder. Meanwhile, I brought in some new Sue drawings and 1940s postcards and told Robert I want to take Honkytonk Sue to the next level. When he asked what that means, I said it’s time to colorize the strip and I want it somewhere between Nagel (artist Patrick Nagel) and those pale, hand-tinted postcards from yesteryear.

Meanwhile, we got some art images from Wayne Justus from Pagosa Springs, Colorado and he’s quite an artist.

Deadwood Prep
“In preparation for the new season of Deadwood, I just ordered Geoffrey Hughes' new 600 page magnus opus, AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SWEARING. It's a whopping $110, but no one ever said erudition was cheap.”
—Dan Buck

When I Emailed Dan back and asked if he is serious and is there really a book with that title, I got this:

“Geoffrey Hughes is a professor of History of the English Language at the University of Witwatersand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and the author of several books, including HISTORY OF ENGLISH WORDS (2000) and SWEARING: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF FOUL LANGUAGE, OATHS AND PROFANITY IN ENGLISH (1991). AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SWEARING will be released April 20 and can be ordered here:

“Now you know.”
—Dan Buck

Here’s a website that may be of interest to you. It’s the Kansas Historical Quarterly, which has been archived online. Starts in 1931 so it appears to be a veritable gold mine.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Great-Grandmother Actually Not That Great

“It’s not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10, 2006
Spent all weekend cleaning, throwing out junk and working on Honkytonk Sue drawings. Found a ton of old comics and magazines in the garage, including a Young Guns cover story in Premiere (1988). Contrasting the Kiefer Sutherland pictured here with his latest image on the cover story in Rolling Stone is a sad decline. He’s so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the former (didn’t he play Doc Scurlock?) and twenty years on he looks like a stripper’s boyfriend (which, according to the article in RS, he is).

Also found a stash of old Easy Riders (BBO: Before Bolt Ons, as in breast implants), Heavy Metal (dark comics and some of those 80’s French comics were muy French, as in flat-out porn), and a big ol’ stack of 80’s Texas Monthly’s, including the Davy Crockett issue, written by none other than Paul Hutton, who I didn’t know at the time. But the real kicker was an October 1970 Centennial issue of Phoenix Magazine, with this fearless prediction from then mayor John Driggs: “There is no doubt that Phoenix will continue to grow rapidly. . .but whether we reach a million population in 1990, as our planners estimate, or later, or never, is not really important.”

Well, Mr. Driggs, we are on the verge of six million, headed for ten, with an article in The Arizona Republic this week predicting a solid city mass from Prescott thru Phoenix and Tucson and ending somewhere south of Sierra Vista.

On Saturday evening, Kathy and I drove down into the Beast to attend the Fortieth Wedding Anniversary of Phyllis and Mike Hawkins at their home. They renewed their wedding vows and a fun time was had by all. In fact, next weekend the Hawkins have invited us for the grand tour of their hometown, Winslow. I’ve specifically asked for the Mike Hawkins Juvenile Delinquent Tour. Where he fought, where he caught (he was the catcher on the several Winslow teams from 1955-1963), where he made out. You know, the kinds of places a federal judge would not be comfortable showing someone, unless they themselves grew up in a railroad town, down track (in, say, Kingman).

We’ve got a new poll up: Have you ever been to Lincoln, New Mexico? Vote here.

A Wishbone Hips Question
“I really believe that saying about ‘if you want a fast response ask a busy man.’ So I'm asking you. The writer Burton Rascoe once famously described Billy the Kid something along the lines of his being weasel-eyed and slope-shouldered with wishbone-hips and all the outward appearance of a cretin. Do you (or anyone) know the actual words he used?”
—Fred Nolan

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Gun Pays For Itself On First Day

A writer friend of mine, Cathy McDavid sent me her latest historical novel, “The Gate to Eden.” I casually opened it up to this: “He’d meant to savor their undressing, drawing it out until they were both wild with desire. Such was not the case. Their clothes were removed and discarded with lightning speed. His first. Propped up on one elbow, he lay naked beside her and fully aroused. Maddie wore only her chemise and not for long if her busy hands were any indication.”

God, I love history.

“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful."
—Jacqueline Bisset

Friday, April 07, 2006

April 7, 2006
Peaches got trimmed down to the nubs. When I picked her up last night after work, she looked like a coyote disguised as a poodle. She did look younger though, and I told her so.

Meetings, meetings and more meetings today. Planning session with Trish Brink, then Meghan Saar, then Robert Ray. Gun spinning master Joey Dillon came in after that, with images from the cup spinning scene from Tombstone. Robert Ray shot him doing the tricks so we can run it in an upcoming issue.

Marshall Trimble came out at 10:30 and we discussed a possible special project with him. Then Steve Sederwall, of digging up Billy the Kid fame, drove in from New Mexico and we went down to El Encanto for lunch (he bought). Ran into Minnesota Mike Melrose who was there also, with one of his good looking cousins and her daughter. Mike looked happy and threatened to come back out with Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Arizona Republic.

Over a fajita salad and iced tea, Steve Sederwall spun out his CSI theories on the shooting of J.W. Bell (no relation) and the killing of the Kid by Pat Garrett. Steve has scored a sketch of the Maxwell house in Fort Sumner which appears to dispel the outside door theory which all of us Billy authors have promoted for a long time. If true it changes the scenario of the Pat Garrett shooting on July 14, 1881 and makes the official version seem very questionable, indeed.

Speaking of questionable writing, Stephen Colbert is writing a book and promises it will “change the world one factual error at a time.”

Mark Boardman Sent Me An Online Interview With Sam Elliott And Here’s the Question And Answer I Wanted to Read

Herndon, Va.: “Mr. Elliott: Any chance of you appearing in a ‘Western’ in the near future?”

Sam Elliott: “I'm always looking for a good western. Unfortunately, Hollywood isn't. I have a few that I'm trying to develop and I have every intention on getting them done. I personally love the western genre, you know, and I know for a fact that there's a worldwide audience for westerns.”

Another Criticism of One of Our New True West Moments
“I enjoy most of your True West Moments that appear on the Western channel. However, one that I think is not entirely accurate is the hitching post one. True, today most people do not take time to properly train there horses, but growing up on a ranch in Nebraska during the 50's and 60's, most of our horses were what was called "ground broke" as I'm sure 99% of the old west horses were.

“Any time the rein was down the horse stood still. Most would stand for several hours. This was done so that if you had to get off to tend to a calf or fence or whatever, you didn't have to look for a place to tie your horse up.

“Most cowboys would not like the thought of having to walk back to the ranch because his horse took off. So, even though the rein is wrapped once around the rail, to the horse it is still "down", therefore the horse would stay there.
—B Zimmerman, Las Vegas NV

Well, you make a good argument and it sounds like you've walked the walk, so far be it for me to argue with you (too much! ha.) While I've seen ground broke horses, I still have to wonder, if a bunch of movie star cowboys threw their reins over a hitching post the way they used to do in the Westerns, and then stayed in a saloon for an hour or so, I just have a hunch that more than one horse would take advantage of the situation. In fact, I've seen horses eat their way through a corral fence! Anyway, I'm just lookin' for something to talk about, and thanks for taking the time to write.

Another Across the Pond Dispatch
“Hope all is going well at True West. Was a foreign subscriber a while back, but what with the way 'Princess Tony' Blair and his tax collector Gordon Brown are running this country basically, into the ground), afraid we just had to make cutbacks. Times, there are, when we consider emigration! May your day go well, sir.”
—David Pilcher, Dorset, England

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Naive Teacher Believes In Her Students

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen.”
—Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 6, 2006
More rain last night. Nice and juicy out this morning. Took the dogs up the road at about seven. Still cool, which in our neck of the desert, is fun.

I talked to one of our writers, Henry Beck, yesterday and he’s recommending an Australian Western called “The Proposition,” starring Guy Pearce. Evidently it has won a bunch of awards Down Under and hasn’t opened here yet, but Henry has a copy and assures me I need to see it. Henry says it has a very Cormac McCarthy feel.

Took Peaches to the groomer on the way into work. Kathy gave her a sedative so she put her chin on my lap and sighed all the way into town. She's a high strung bitch.

Called Gary A. Wilson in Havre, Montana as soon as I got into the office and he had a boatload of corrections on the Pike Landusky vs. Kid Curry gunights. Embarrassing ones (Lonnie Logan is actually spelled Lonie, and is pronounced Lone-ee) and critical ones (Parachute, Colorado robbery date was off by two years), Elfie Landusky never got pregnant by Lonie (that's a local myth), however, Gary gave us another tidbit to replace that one, and that is John Logan sponsored a Christmas dance at his livery stable the night before the shooting and at the dance Harvey Logan and Pike had words and they both agreed the next time they met one of them would die. That's pretty cool, no?

Regarding Yesterday’s Hunt for An 1893 Semi-automatic Borchardt
“Enjoy the blog & the magazine. Wondered why you didn't just check the
internet. First hit on Google was the following with nice illustrations/pictures

Best regards
Randy Brown, Mesa AZ

Well, duh! Thanks. What an odd looking pistol for an Old West gunfight! Amazing. We are using the image and have squeezed it in the layout (the issue goes out the door today!). Randy Brown, I owe you one. And speaking of the power of Google, I got this Email this morning:

“Just happened on to your site, see'n how I try to gobble up anything on the net doin' with the ole west, and especially Arizona. See Arizona is my home, where I grew up and where I played rock-n-roll at places like the Hi Ho Club, Doll House, Cedars, Embers and almost every frat house at the U of A. From 62' till 69' I was the drummer with the Lewallen Brothers and I'm write'n ya to thank you for the kind words you wrote, back in Feb., about the group. Those were the days! Ya know that whole Battle Of The Bands thing was really cool and it lead us to some great adventures.

“I often sit around and recall in my mind all the good times, and crazy times that Cal, Keith, Tim and I had. I'm live'n 2,000 miles away now from Tucson, but sooner or later I'll be retiring again and this time settling down for good out west.”
—Dennis Gamble

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Woman With Six Dogs Resents Non-Dogs

“One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.”
—Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April 5, 2006
Big wind during the night. Rained pretty hard this morning. Got in a walk with Kathy and the dogs before the deluge. Retired to the studio and whipped out two Kid Curry paintings. Really struggled. Worked until about 12:30, broke for lunch and finished at 1:15, got dressed and scooted up to the office for an executive session with Bob Brink and Carole Glenn. Growth issues, i.e. too much growth, not enough money. Ha.

Robert Ray scanned in the last two images for CG (Classic Gunfights) and I wrote the cutlines. Wanted to do an illustration of the unique pistol Pike Landusky was carrying (see Spangenberger Emails below), but ran out of time. Oh well, we’ll include it in the book version of the fight.

More Loud Gunshot Ricochets
"When we shot 'The Honkers,' way back in 1971, the sound we used for a double barreled shotgun blast was a howitzer."
—Stephen Lodge

One of the last authentic sign painters in the U.S., Alan Scott, is in town. I saw his big, sign-painting truck parked by the school house two days ago and I pulled over and yelled at him to come see me at the office. He came in yesterday and we talked about a new design for our outdoor sign. It currently says True West Trading Post, but we don’t have the store anymore. We’d like the new one to say True West World Headquarters. In the sign making biz, virtually everyone has gone to computers, but Alan still does it the old way, by hand, and they his signs are without peer. If you’ve ever been to Bisbee, you’ve seen his work, which is where I found him.

In case you think “World Headquarters” is just an empty slogan, here’s a letter marked “Urgent”, “Prior” and “Personal” I got today:

“I’m a Belgian subscriber from your beautiful magazine. Congratulations for your magazine ‘True West.’ I’m a great fan from Old West and I enjoy read your magazine (excuse me for my bad English language).
—Guy Jacquemin, Saint-Leger, Belgium

Ex-New Times Staffer Points Out Sweet Irony of Executive Editor Mike Lacey’s Legacy
“Do you realize the federal law that prohibits the illegal transportation of reptiles is the Lacey Law? Ha ha.”

Knowing The Right Chaps Department
Yesterday, I sent the following Email to Phil Spangenberger: I'm doing a gunfight for the next issue on Kid Curry vs. Pike Landusky in Montana. The fight took place two days after Christmas in 1894 and Landusky was carrying a semi-automatic pistol (an 1893 9mm Borchardt, supposedly a Swedish gun?). I tried to look this up in my Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms, but it ain't there. It seems so exotic, I'd love to illustrate it in Pike's hands. I envision a kind of German pistol with one of those magazines in front of the trigger kind of guns. Any idea what this bugger looked like?

Phil’s Immediate Answer
“The Borchardt was a German pistol, not Swedish. You need to get a copy of
the new 2006 Standard Catalog of Firearms, by Ned Schwing, and published by
Krause Publications, Inc. You should be able to find one at any gun store. I suspect they have a recent copy at Legendary Guns in Phoenix. You can get a picture there. The Borchardt is a unique looking auto pistol. Nothing else looks like it.”
—Phil Spangenberger

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Insomniac Pulls All-Dayer

”A man shares his days with hunger, thirst, and cold, with the good times and the bad, and the first part of being a man is to understand that.”
—Louis L’Amour

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4, 2006
I went home for lunch yesterday and forced myself to kick out a sepia wash (actually a gouache) of Wyatt Earp Punts at The O.K. Corral. It’s not perfect, and in fact is a knockoff of L.C. Lyendecker (I stole the pose and the football pants from him). A decent likeness of Earp, although Kathy came home, saw me perusing it, and said, “Nice picture of you kicking the football.”

A Sobering Response I Get From Time to Time
“I just started [an old west business] last year and I'm busy going broke. I got a link to your website [from a friend] and I read your True West Business Time Line for the first time about a year ago. I want you to know that you are pretty much my sole inspiration for keeping my business going now. Knowing how much debt you were in vis a' vis how much I am in now, and knowing that you were able to work your way out of it and eventually turn a profit gives me hope. Every couple of months I re-read your time line and then find the inspiration to keep plugging away. Thanks for taking the time to chronicle your story.”
—Name withheld by request

I Emailed the guy back and told him it takes courage and a little bit of luck to survive in our biz (actually any biz!). I also whipped out the biggest lessons I've learned from this endeavor and I’ll share those at a later time.

“Were the same type weapons used in the spaghetti movies that were used in Hollywood Westerns? There is definitely a different sound when weapons were fired. Could it have been a different amount of gunpowder charges used?”
—Pete Moore, Columbus, Georgia

Great question, Pete. We'll probably use this one in an upcoming True West Moment. The short answer is this: Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) used Winchester sound effects to portray pistol fire and cannon explosions to simulate the rifle fire! He definitely upped the ante, no?

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Old, Resigned Woman to Watch The Young And The Restless

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
—Eric Hoffer

Monday, April 03, 2006

April 3, 2006
Well, I did a record 28 research sketches on the Wyatt Earp blitzing illustration and I've got not one usable image, yet. In the good news department, I’m at 917 drawings, at six a day, without missing a day since November.

Paul Hutton sent me a great French Comic Book, “Histoire Du Far West” featuring Wild Bill Hickok on the cover (by the way, I got a phone message over the weekend from a guy arguing with his friend, a filmmaker, who claimed Wild Bill was not a real person and completely made up. I just called “Greggor” from Cosanti, like Arcosanti, but without the Ar, who told me his friend said, “If you don’t believe me, call Bob Boze Bell.” So he did). Anyways, back to Hutton’s oversized comic book, it was published in 1981 and has some pretty remarkable artwork in it, although heavily influenced by the movies. Here’s a sample of the dialogue balloons in the O.K. Corral part:

“Compte sur, moi, Whyatt!” (yes, they spell Wyatt Earp with an h)

“Ike. . .me Vengera!”

“Tom et Frank Maclaury (sic) sont Morts.”

“Ou vas-tu, Clanton?”

“Vous arrivez un peu tard, Sherif!”

I can’t speak French, but I assume the last passage is a reference to Sheriff Behan being a tad tardy at the fight, even though he was, in fact on the scene.

One More Tidbit On Wendell’s Funeral
“I heard about Wendell’s funeral. Did you stick it out for the entire time? I think I would have like to have gone to the wake the night before. They said the funeral on Saturday that you went to was actually for all the Christian Hualapai, and the wake was where the action was.”
—Brenda Hamilton

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Hungover Heineken Promoter Can’t Remember What He Said About Heineken Last Night

“[Historian J. Frank Dobie believed] that truth lies in narrative and allusion, more than in facts and proof.”
—A quote from a new exhibition on the Texas legend and former True West contributing editor by the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University at San Marcos

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April 2, 2006
Patented Arizona weather this morning. Balmy and crystal clear. Waiting for the palo verdes to bloom, then the saguaros. Or, is it the other way around?

Struggled all day with the Tombstone footballers illustration. Did three pages of sketches, trying to capture Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp on a third down blitz. Aiming for something between James Montgomery Flagg and Burne Hogarth. Unfortunately, I'm floundering somewhere south of Ted DeGrazia. Still on the case though (3:40 p.m.) and aim to nail it before the sun sets.

Signs of Old Age
—Debbie Kelly

Sorry, our honorary uncle Charlie is a Waters, and the Norsky Bells I'm related to all hail from Iowa, and family tradition says that the name was originally Bjelda, but that it was voluntarily changed or the port authority officials changed it. (depending on who you want to believe)

Deena Bell and her boyfriend Frank came out yesterday. They hiked the creek while Kathy and I made tacos, guac and cowboy beans. Watched George Mason go down and UCLA dominate Big Baby and the swamp boys. After the kids left, Kathy and I rented "Ice Harvest" off the dish ($3.99). That's the film with John Cusack and Billy Bob Thorton that came out last year about small town hoods and a heist in Wichita, Kansas. It was okay, Kathy liked it more than I did. I thought the script lifted a whole bunch from the Cohen Brothers' "Blood Simple."

"Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men."
—Kin Hubbard