Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 31, 2006
Working hard on a new special project for the fall. Top secret, can’t divulge at this point. Dan Harshberger e-mailed up to us two cover design ideas. Lots of comments and debate. Went home after lunch and whipped out an illustration to possibly accompany the cover image. Not sure if it’s there yet.

Dale Miles, the San Carlos Apache historian, came by with his son Levi today and showed us numerous photos of Old San Carlos that were quite thrilling. I hadn’t seen half of them, and I would guess several of them have never published. For some reason there has not been that many photos published of Old San Carlos, even though it was home and headquarters for many historic army units and Apache leaders. Not sure why, but the photos we took there a couple weeks ago on the site of the old fort (it’s usually underwater because of San Carlos Lake), matched up with several of the late 1880s fort shots. We’re going to do a major feature on this in the near future.

Went to lunch with Terry Garrett at Saba’s (two Greek salads, baba ganush and iced teas, I bought, $27 biz account). It’s always fun to talk with Terry because he’s got his hand on the pulse of dynamic business ideas. He walked me through several new web trends and gave his theories about where it’s all going and what we have to do to be there.

True West staffer Rob Bandhauer and I are flying to Wichita tomorrow for a confab at the Old Cowtown Museum, then on Friday it’s off to Caldwell, Kansas and Medicine Lodge to do some research on the Henry Newton Brown bank robbery, and then we’ll land in Meade, Kansas for the big Dalton Days Weekend. More from the road.

I had a radio interview with Joe Demoyer of KSCB in Liberal, Kansas yesterday morning. As you know, I love those small town radio stations. I called their toll free line at 6:58 and the line went right into their sports show (and I naturally assumed it was a feed on their phone hold). I hear the two guys talking about the Phoenix Suns, I'm interested in how they'll report it, and then one of them says, "We've got someone on the line. What do you think?" Like the pro I am, I said, "Me? You're talking to me? I'm waiting for your next show, got dumped here, but all I got to say is: Go Suns!" Without missing a beat, one of the sports guys says, "What are you going to be talking about?" And so I take the ball and run with it: "I live in Cave Creek, Arizona and I'm flying into Wichita and then driving across your fine state to attend the Dalton Days Classic Gunfights Days. Gonna be the Grand Marshall, you can check us out at I love Kansas!" A pause, so I add, "So, how's that for a teaser?" They laugh and go to commercials (Tri City Utilities). It just doesn't get better than that, and it was so loopy if you saw it in a movie (I Survived Small Town Radio!), you wouldn't believe it.

We’ve got a new poll up. Do you believe Butch Cassidy bought the farm in South America? Wait. No, he and the Sundance Kid definitely “bought the farm” in Argentina, but then the Pinkertons got onto their hideout farm deal and they fled to Bolivia where many believe they “bought the farm,” or died. Do you believe they bought that farm? Oh, hell, it’s worded better on the poll. Just click here.

Helping Helper Help Themselves
Helper, Utah was selected as one of our top ten Western Towns this year. Sue Lambert told me today, that the woman she works with up there, Sue Ann, told our Sue that someone from Las Vegas saw her event in True West and has never been to Helper and plans on attending their event. She has banners with our logos, will be announcing the event on the radio this week, of course plugging TW mag. Will be making several announcement during Heritage week, also plugging TW. We will also be donating $10.00 to the museum for every subscription received from them or online. The Western Mining and Railroad Museum there will be celebrating their Heritage week June 5-10.

My Turn To Eat Crow
Yesterday I received Jim Johnson’s new Billy the Kid book, “His Real Name Was. . .” Since I hadn’t seen it before giving him a plug (see headline above), and then got all of the flak about the blind plug from Fred Nolan, et al, I decided to check it out firsthand. I skimmed the whole book, reading here and there, and then, skipping to the end, I checked out his payoff ending. Did he deliver on his cover promise?

I sent Mr. Johnson the following e-mail:

“Received your book today. Thankyou. It looks like you had fun doing it and it shows that you have a lifelong passion for the subject. However, I must say I am a little disappointed that you don't pay off the cover hype. You tease us with the idea of finding out his true name, and then on the last page you pull your punch and say, someone, someday might find out. And then it says "To Be Continued. . . ."

“Man, I'm sorry, but if that's all you have (I haven't read the whole book, I just skimmed it to the end), that's mighty misleading and a copout. No wonder everyone's upset on the Billy boards. I hope I'm wrong, but if this is all you have, expect more heat and more grief as the book gets out. I hesitate to be so blunt, but consider this a well meaning warning from someone who hates to see another writer walk into a noose.”

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Search For Wallet Self-Narrated

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

May 30, 2006
Brad and Carole Radina, and their kids, E.J. and Mercedes came out for a pool party on Sunday. T. Charles and Frank, a pal from New Jersey, were also there. We played pool volleyball and right after we got started, Buddy Boze Hatkiller pulled one of the dumbest stunts I have ever witnessed.

First off, I have to say I don’t like it when Deena and Kathy denigrate his intelligence. Deena does this mini-comedy routine where she looks at Buddy and says, “What’s going on in your sweet little head, Buddy?” And when he looks at her blankly, turning his head slightly, Deena goes, “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,” as in, there’s an empty brain. “Stop that!” I protested more than once, scolding my mean offspring. “He’s family and I don’t want you talking about a family member that way, at least not to his face.”

To their credit, both women have been very good to not make fun of the NYC dog’s IQ (at least when I’m around). So on Sunday, while we’re splashing and playing, Buddy walks around the edge of the pool and comes to an impasse. The net is stretched to a portable pole that rests up against the retaining wall. He can’t quite understand why he can’t go through this area (“Hey, I went right by here yesterday!”). Right in the middle of a volley, we hear E.J. calling for help. We stop playing and look over to see Buddy pushing through the net, or trying to, and his nose is poked through one of the small openings and his right paw is hung up on another square and he’s blindly, and stupidly I might add, trying to push his way through the net. With the help of Tomas, E.J. and Brad, Buddy is extracted from his web of twine and lumbers off in the direction he wanted to go.

The girls look at me, I look at them and go: “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. That is the dumbest move I have seen in a year and a half.”

Another True West Moment
“Was Doc Holliday as fast with a gun as he is portrayed in Western movies?”
—Joseph Landry, Lafayette, Louisiana

Yes, Wyatt Earp claimed, late in life, that Doc was the fastest he knew, however, we have to remember that "fast" at that time period did not mean the fast of the 1950s when it became a sport and steel clips were inserted into low slung holsters to help facilitate faster and faster millisecond draws. While Earp basically meant what he said, I think he also meant that Doc was quick at getting ready to fight and would fight without a hesitation. With that said, Doc was a horrible shot, missing two different opponents—Milt Joyce and Billy Allen—at close range (five to ten feet away). The "Deadly Dentist" was more scary than proficient, because he wanted to die, or as they said in his day, he "was willin'".

Three Favorite Onion Headlines de Jour
Amazon’s 1-Click Bankrupts Area Parkinson’s Sufferer

Grease Fire Rages Through Midwest

Jessica Alba Saving Money For When Audience Turns On Her

“A day is a miniature eternity.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, May 29, 2006

May 29, 2006
I'm working at a fever pace on all things slack-jawed. Here are my sketches for the past several days. I finally decided to see what it would look like—if various images would chang—if I gave them a slack-jawed mouth to match the pout of the modern female model. How would the Mona Lisa appear? (actually she looks like Madonna and this was unintended). What about Slackjaw Hitler? What about Cub Scout Slackjaw? Lance Armstrong Slackjaw? Or Jock Slackjaw? (actually Michael Hayden Church reference) I thought about doing Shaq Slackjaw, but realized he already has a slackjaw most of the time. Here they are in a series I call "Slack Jaw Gone Amuck"!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28, 2006
Nice and cool out in the mornings. Went for a solo bike ride with the dogs at about seven. Sweet.

Lots of immigration posturing here and down on the border. Several ranchers building private fences, much hand wringing in the local press. I finally weighed in this morning in the View section of The Arizona Republic:

"Yo Say, Jose! Because of the goon-ball rantings of some of my fellow gringos, I must say I think it's great that Latinos are altering our culture. I love their food, I love their language, I love their music, their culture and their sense of humor. Oh, and their women are damn good looking as well. If you lived here for more than 15 minutes, you'd realize that."
—Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

You can check out what others had to say at:

I've got some decent studies going on the Slack-jaw phenom. I never realized lips could be so nuanced. And it's easy to see why women want those big, fat collagen injected puppies, because it does look sensuous. Why? I'm not sure. Big tattas and hip ratio makes sense (reproducing capabilities), but the slack-jaw, I'm not sure. Still, it looks hot to our eyes today, but I have a hunch it could look mighty goofy in 50 to 75 years.

"Grandpa, you thought that was sexy?"

"Shutup, Junior I've got a hard-on just thinking about it."

"One of the reasons why sin is so attractive is because it is so well advertised."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, May 27, 2006

May 27, 2006
Nice day at home. Both my kids are here for an early Father's Day celebration (I'm going to be on the road for most of June). I told them I had three requests: a bike ride, and jump in the pool and make me laugh. After our bike ride (three women are riding in the new horse arena, and two of them are talking on cell phones as they ride), we all held hands and jumped in the pool (an old tradition from their early days, when I would take them by the hand and say, "There's only one way to get in this pool!" and then we'd run and jump in). We laughed and laughed (check off request no. 3).

Kid War Spreads to Ringside Seats
"Kudos to Freddy Nolan! That Jim Johnson guy is a real nut case. Be wary—once you show interest in him, he's like a tick you can't quite get to."
—Pamela Brown

"Who is Billy the KId? Was he a western character? Why are the British so upset about one of ours, go figure. Who was Jack the Ripper?

By the way, my wife and I have three dogs and five cats. All but one of the cats is a rescue. I say that to let you know we have a real heart for critters. Don't be scaring me about Buddy Boze Hat Killer possably being done in by coyotes. I'm glad you found him...I can't wait until he eats your new hat.

As a point of interest, we are having coyote problems in the suburb of Atlanta where we live. Small dogs and cats go missing so it's obvious that our house is interesting with our populstion onside. I keep my hats and boots under lock and key."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac# 9, SASS# 49890

"Johnny Baker was the male shooting star counterpart to Annie Oakley featured in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Fred Nolan would get my vote for the male counterpart to the unpleasant 'Nasty Nellie' in the Little House on the Prairie books written by author Laura Ingalls Wilder and subsequently became a popular television series. Nellie Oleson's character possessed a haughty & vile attitude, Nolan may be passionate in his ideals, but lacks the true spirit of any real Western pioneer - where a stranger is a friend and necomers are made to feel welcomed. Good thing that old salty mad dog lives on the other side of the pond, cause likely he's all piss & wind and wouldn't have lasted in a fair gunfight.
—J.Rae, True West Maniac #12

For your viewing pleasure (and, or critique), here's another page of Slack-Jawed Babes.

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have someone to divide it with."
—Mark Twain

Friday, May 26, 2006

May 26, 2006
Last night I made tacos for my son Tomas, and as we waited for his mother to come home we talked about his life in New York City. One of the latest trends, T. told me, is that he has a female friend who is a bartender in Hell’s Kitchen and she says, that more and more young women are turning their noses up at Merlot wine. Why? Because they’ve seen the movie Sideways. Isn’t that hilarious? A guy in a movie, plays a wine snob and speaks lines he didn’t write, about hating Merlot, and it catches on in the culture and actually affects wine sales. There’s a PR problem I’m glad I don’t have. Scary really, the power of popular culture to steamroll semi-innocent people.

Tommy and I were drinking a fine Merlot at the time, and I told him when I was growing up in Kingman, my family being Lutherans, the only wine I was ever aware of being in the house, was Mogen David. I didn’t even know there was any other wine (well, besides Thunderbird). Now track that time period to now and it’s quite an arc, no?

Having been in many a band, I’ve seen many a bar fight, both by fist and feet (oh, and don’t forget tire iron!). Since I’ve become an Old West author and editor, I’ve seen more than my share of fights, all by mouth. If you think your world is petty and juvenile, get a load of this:

Public Kid Fight Heats Up
"Hated by fools, and fools to hate,
Be that my motto and my fate."
—Fred Nolan

Fred sent the above quote to me and to new Billy the Kid author Mr. Jim Johnson, which resulted in this response:

“What gives you the right to personally attack me? I have done nothing to you. Your childish little slogan and actions don't impress anyone. If you have a bone to pick with me, get it out on the table. I have always thought you to be a man of honor and integrity. But, your recent actions make you look like a jealous back stabber. What made you want to stoop that low? Your little slogan is only half right. I am not a fool and I don't hate you!
—Jim Johnson

If Nominated, I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve Department
“Bob I think you do a great job with the True West Magazine and I enjoy your True West Moment segments I only wish someone like you could program The Encore Westerns channel. Take Care!!!”

Yesterday’s Snide Comment By Ex-Employee Tickles Longtime Friend
“Gus Walker's response was brilliant. I am still chuckling.”
—Charlie Waters

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Dry Wall Worker Plastered

“Learn to see in another’s calamity the ills which you should avoid.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 25, 2006 Bonus Blog
I thought Fred Nolan’s response yesterday was a tad over the top, but I assumed he was just being humourous (English spelling?), but evidently it wasn’t intended as humour:

“No, Bob, it's testiness. You know how us old farts are .See, I thought what we all do is TRUE West, not Let's Make It Up West. Just call me ‘bilious the kid.’”
—Fred Nolan

“I am deeply sorry if I caused you any problems. I don't know who Nolan was calling an asshole, but he is out of line for such a GREAT author. If you have a problem with the post, take it off. I would not want to hurt your reputation. He made a big deal out of my typing. If you look on the keyboard, you will see that the C is next to the V. I just hit the wrong key.”
—Jim Johnson

FYI: there is a fraternity hazing aspect to writing a book, especially a Billy the Kid book. As you just found out, most of the authors are quite territorial and easily provoked.

When I published my first Billy book back in 1992 I expected love and praise for joining the club. Boy Howdy! Was that naive!

The only encouragement I can give you is just be thankful you didn't write a book on Wyatt Earp. Then you really would get the abuse!

Speaking of Abuse
I want Gus Walker, “The Mapinator”, to do a map for my next Classic Gunfight on Henry Newton Brown (a pard of Billy the Kid!) and the ill-fated bank robbery at Medicine Lodge, Kansas. I faxed Gus, who moved to Alabama earlier this year, several overviews and my notes for what I want and when I bugged him this afternoon about it (“Did you get the faxes? Have you started?”), I got this reply:

“Yup, faxes be here. I try to work a little, take a break a little, even suck some crawfish haids a little, that’s the story of , that’s the glory of, not being in the same building with someone with ADD! Luv you bro!”
—Gus Walker

”Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
—Arnold Schwarzenegger
May 25, 2006
T. Charles and Kendra took off from Philadelphia, PA on Monday morning and drove straight through to Cave Creek. It took 48 hours and 28 minutes to drive 2,650 miles. Tomas said the prettiest part of the trip was in western Virginia. As I mentioned yesterday, they lived off tuna in a can until they got to New Mexico and Tomas related he just couldn’t take it any longer and got off at Tucumcari, and started looking for some bonifide Mexican food. He chose Elena’s (good name, good odds for home-made food) and it had all the earmarkings of a “real-deal-find” except, alas, the beans were out of a can and the green chile was, according to the T-Man, “Muy disappoint-tay.”

Another True West Moment
“Got a question for you. Was Ike Clanton a bully and whiney little coward as depicted in the movies Tombstone and Wyatt Earp?"
—George Gingerich, Birmingham, Alabama

Yes, the movies have portrayed Ike pretty negatively. Wyatt claimed Ike "talked too much for a fighting man," and that comment has pretty much tainted Clanton for all time. Ike, however, did have his supporters and they thought of him as more than a whining bully. Listen to this remembrance from somone who knew him in Charleston (outside Tombstone and near Clanton’s Lewis Springs Ranch): "Ike attempted to get between the gunmen and Billy Clanton during the fight. . .Ike was a moody and broken man after the fight. He would have chosen to die with, or instead of Billy, than to have lived and seen his young brother shot down.” The cowboy, F.R. Shearer, also claimed Ike never carried a pistol.

And here's what the same old cowboy said about John Ringo: "The outlaw John Ringo, rescued so many girls from the Tombstone dance halls, and paid their stage fare back home that Mayor Charles Thomas often said, 'What the world needs, is more John Ringos.'"

My guess is that Ike Clanton was more complex than he has been made out to be. He certainly is responsible for getting his younger brother killed, and although he may have had fine traits, it's believable to me that he went down hill from there.

Understanding Guy Behavior #246
Most guys believe that they're supposed to know how to fix things. This is a responsibility that guys have historically taken upon themselves to compensate for the fact that they never clean the bathroom. A guy can walk into a bathroom containing a colony of commode fungus so advanced that it is registered to vote, but the guy would never dream of cleaning it, because he has to keep himself rested in case a Mechanical Emergency breaks out.
- Dave Barry

“It’s official. True West is the Entertainment Sponsor of the 17th Annual Western Artwalk in downtown Scottsdale, Arzioan. October 19th, 7-9pm.”
—Joel Klasky

Five Favorite Onion Headlines
Jeff Gordon Never Gets Tired Of Seeing Face On Cheap Plastic Crap

Copies of Da Vinci Code Litter Crash Site

Bill Maher Spends All Night Arguing With Republican Hooker

Teen Gives Up Smoking Pot After Seeing Parents High

Goth Kid Builds Scary-Ass Birdhouse

News From The Front Lines
“Pat Beville from Homer Glen, IL called and subscribed today. He found TW at a Phoenix Airport newsstand and got home and subscribed.”
—Carole Glenn

Yoga Anyone?
“Whatever is flexible and loving will tend to grow; whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 24, 2006
T. Charles is driving in from New York this morning. He and his friend Kendra drove straight through, eating tuna out of a can and sleeping on the side of the road (ah, sweet youth). He called me yesterday, on I-40 in West Texas and asked me if there was anything worth eating in Amarillo and I said the only place I know is the Big Texan Steakhouse and that I remembered it was pretty good. I think they blew through there.

Speaking of good food, Here’s a reply to my Rockfish demise lament:

“Rockfish has been closed for a few months now. I was really disappointed. Great great food. Too bad for Phoenicians who never tasted well cooked fish. Its either a bunch of breaded fried crap that may have been fish or overpriced minute portions of cutbait (roughy) with some made up sauce, nothing in the middle.”

British Humor, I Presume?
"I see you are now offering free plugs to wannabe writers whose research is so incisive, so state of the art, so pioneering, that they can't even get William V. Morrison's name right in their handouts. I see this as a major step forward in historical research, and will shortly be sending you information on an earth-shaking new book I have just completed, which proves without a shadow of doubt that the Apache leader Mangas Coloradas was actually an Englishman named St. John Montmorency Musseltwit. It is a heartbreaking work of true genius and I would like to ask all your readers to send me $40. They won't get anything for it. I just want them to send me $40. Thank you. You are one swell fellow for an asshole."
—Fred Nolan, Chalfont St. Giles, England

”No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May 23, 2006
I went up to Bev’s this morning for a haircut and to catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Turns out a certain ex-neighbor sold his horse property, then sicced the town on the new owner for having a fence too close to the road and also for building a horse barn without a permit. Still not sure what precipitated it, but it’s nasty stuff. Bev and her husband have a sweet deal going with the local pizza parlor to get all of their old pizza grease which they’re going to strain and reclaim the vegetable oil to put in their bio-diesel Ford truck, thereby reducing their gas bills by half. The big roping arena going up on Rockaway Hills is going to be supplemented by a big barn (hope they have a permit). The owners are also building a huge house overlooking the creek. Some people just have way too much money, but hey, sometimes they keep the rest of us employed. Ha.

It's funny what navigational problems can do to enthusiasm and internet business. After I got the advance peek at the Illustration Magazine article by David Ashford, I went to their site and tried to order a sub and all the back issues. Unfortunately, the Pay Pal softwear kept telling me my address was wrong (they asked for a second address and when I put it in, I assume it didn't match the primary credit card address so it was denied. I have no idea, I'm just assuming this). I tried to correct it but after four attempts I finally got discouraged and left. Pay Pal followed me back to my computer and offered some download deal which I don't want to do. Then I got a nice e-mail from someone at the magazine offering me the same deal, but in pounds! Being a dumb American, I don't know the exchange rate, so as of now, I haven't ordered anything.

News From The Front Lines
Thomas J. Gryl from Downers Grove, IL called to subscribe today. He read TW at his barber shop and was surprised to learn it has been around so long. He loves the west and was very surprised to learn that we are located in Cave Creek - his daughter, Kimberly Gryl, is a vet here (CC Rd and the 101). Mr Gryl said he thoroughly enjoyed the article that he read by you and the BBB 5 Rules of the Road.
—Carole Glenn

Wow! That issue in the barbershop has to be at least three years old. I wrote my Five Road Rules way back in 2002, after I drove from Cody, Wyoming to Casper to visit my mama, and had breakfast at Patti’s Walleye Cafe in Shoshoni. The subsequent article, appeared in the July 2003 Travel Issue, and contained these BBB’s Road Rules:

•You must leave before daylight preferably one hour before (This was my dad’s regimen and I rarely get my wife, Kathy, to do it. She likes to leave around 10 in the morning and it ain’t the same. In fact, it’s totally unpioneer!)

•After you’ve driven for an hour or so, you must stop and eat at a real cafe that serves bacon and eggs (no franchises).

• If you listen to the radio, you must find a local station that does the hog report.

• You must stop at every museum and hysterical marker (or historical marker, if you prefer).

• You must avoid the freeway when possible, especially in towns. Take the business route and see the downtown decay (towns decay because the freeway bypasses them).

More Scan This Book Fallout
Explosive Words
At BookExpo America, Publishing's Digital Wave Crashes Against a Literary Pillar
By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 22, 2006

When John Updike approached the lectern in the Convention Center ballroom Saturday morning, most of his bleary-eyed, coffee-swilling audience expected him to talk about his latest novel, "Terrorist." But Updike, the much-honored 74-year-old author of dozens of volumes of fiction, poetry, essays and criticism, said that would be "immodest." Instead, he praised the assembled booksellers as "the salt of the book world" and reminisced for a while about bookstores he had loved in his youth.

Then, without warning, he opened fire on the technorati.

"I read last Sunday, and maybe some of you did too, a quite long article by a man called Kevin Kelly," he began. He proposed to read a few paragraphs so that listeners who hadn't seen the article might "have a sense of your future."

The reference was to a piece called "Scan This Book!" in the previous week's New York Times Magazine. (The title echoes activist Abbie Hoffman's 1970 provocation, "Steal This Book.") In it, Kelly described -- in the messianic/hyperbolic style favored by Wired, the magazine with which he has long been associated -- the inexorable march toward an "Eden" in which the totality of human knowledge will be downloadable onto a single iPod-size device.

" 'When Google announced in December 2004 that it would digitally scan the books of five major research libraries to make their contents searchable, the promise of a universal library was resurrected,' " Updike read. He then followed up with later selections that had, he said, "clarified" Kelly's vision: " 'At the same time, once digitized, books can be unraveled into single pages or be reduced further into snippets of a page. These snippets will be remixed into re-ordered books and virtual bookshelves . . . once created, these "bookshelves" will be published and swapped in the public commons. . . .

" 'The new model of course is based on the intangible assets of digital bits, where copies are no longer cheap but free.' "

Reading further, Updike noted Kelly's assertion that "copy-protection schemes" are helpless to hold back the technological tide. "Schemes," he repeated sarcastically, drawing a laugh. As his audience well knew, the Association of American Publishers filed suit last year on behalf of five major publishers alleging that Google's library scanning project is a massive and flagrant violation of copyright law.

Updike went on at some length, heaping scorn on Kelly's notion that authors who no longer got paid for copies of their work could profit from it by selling "performances" or "access to the creator." ("Now as I read it, this is a pretty grisly scenario.")

Unlike the commingled, unedited, frequently inaccurate mass of "information" on the Web, he said, "books traditionally have edges." But "the book revolution, which from the Renaissance on taught men and women to cherish and cultivate their individuality, threatens to end in a sparkling pod of snippets.

"So, booksellers," he concluded, "defend your lonely forts. Keep your edges dry. Your edges are our edges. For some of us, books are intrinsic to our human identity."

Amen, and Bravo to you, Mr. Updike.

Another True West Moment Question
What about those fancy mirrors hanging above the bar in the old saloons? Seems every time a rowdy cowboy came to town they broke the mirror and threw each other through the windows. Did the old west saloons really have those luxuries or is it Hollywood? Thanks for your great work.
—Stan and Becky, Conroe, Texas

Stan and Becky,
Yes, it's pretty amazing just how much luxurious stuff the old saloons actually had. As you probably know, shipping glass by wagon is not the easiest thing to do on even a smooth dirt road. But they had plenty of tricks, like putting glass in with the flour which acted as a shock absorber (and yes, sometimes the roads were so rough, the glass still broke, and you can likely guess if they still tried to sell the flour! ha). But the back bars of those frontier saloons did make it to the most isolated places and they were highly prized by the locals as something to go see ("Let's go look at the back bar in the Oriental this Sunday, Honey.").

As far as cow-boys shooting the mirrors and busting out the windows, it did happen occasionally, but I believe that's really more of an invention of Hollywood stuntmen, who always want to make bar room fights more dramatic.

Another Billy the Kid Book Author Needs Your Help
Please publish this for me. I need your help to to get the word out. Most all retirees and a few of the younger generation know the saga of Billy the Kid and would really enjoy this book.

Book Summary

I have just completed my first book, Billy the Kid, His Real Name Was ...., which can be viewed and/or purchased on the web page below from either or The book was published by Outskirts Press out of Denver, Colorado.

As you probably know, Billy the Kid's real name has never been substantiated. Also, it has never been proven that he was actually killed by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1881. Many people think that Garrett killed someone else and Billy the Kid lived to be an old man in Old Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, or even England.

Brushy Bill had claimed to be Billy the Kid just a year or so before he died in Hico, Texas in December, 1950. An Attorney named W. C. Morrison interviewed Brushy and even took him to New Mexico to try to get a pardon from the Governor. Brushy was very knowledgeable of Billy the Kid and New Mexico. He was very convincing, and a lot of Billy the Kid fans still believe that he was Billy the Kid.

On the other hand, John Miller never really claimed to be Billy the Kid except when he was drinking. When he sobered up, he denied that he was Billy the Kid. His family and close friends always thought he was Billy. He talked about Billy all the time and knew a lot about Billy's escapades in Lincoln County, NM. He died in Prescott, Arizona in 1937. After he died, his family and friends came out with convincing testimony that he was Billy the Kid. John Miller lived in northwestern New Mexico for 25 - 30 years after his supposed escape from death at Fort Sumner, and lived in southern and central Arizona for the last 20+ years of his life.

I think this will be one of the most memorable books ever published about Billy the Kid. It is factual with appropriate documentation. It will go a long way in helping identify who he was and who he was not. Communicate this to your friends and neighbors.

To view and/or purchase my book, you can go to my web page:

Jim Johnson, Author

End of plug.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Homosexual Tearfully Admits To Being Governor Of New Jersey

”Never look for this year's birds in last year's nests.”
—Miguel de Cervantes

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 22, 2006
Slight breeze as I rode up Old Stage Road this morning. Lots of big trucks dumping sand in a new horse arena on Rockaway Hills. Overcast, nice and cool out, but it’s been unseasonably hot this past week, with the thermometer hitting 104 more than once down in the Beast. We’re usually about ten degrees cooler, year round, up here in the foothills.

I called Bruce from down the hill on Sunday morning and asked him if Buddy Boze Hatkiller was at his house and he told me that he was. So I went down and got him. He’s a big sleep-around kind of guy. Typical NYC behavior.

The Incredible Power of Google
“Just googled my Dad's name ‘Steve Zagaris’ and found your quote from him on December 2, 2004. How did you know my Dad?

“For every action, watch out for the unintended consequences.”
—Steve Zagaris

Sorry, don’t know your father, but I love his quote! And, as you probably don’t know, I use a ton of quotes in my blog (1262 so far).

I was cleaning out my studio and found an old 1970s publication called "The Arizona Sheriff." It featured my old hometown sheriff and neighbor, Floyd Cisney, who was also my little league coach in Kingman.

Inside there is a long, rambling piece by Grace McCool, interviewing F.R. Shearer, Mule Mountain rancher who grew up in Charleston, Arizona. The piece is entitled "Teacher Made Us Check Our Guns," and it contains some interesting highlights about the town of Charleston and the events that happened there surrounding the Earp-Clanton feud. Neil Carmony has never heard of it. Interesting where these little gems turn up.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Local Sheriff Suspects Al-Qaeda Or Teens

”Truth is the mother of joy. Truth civilizes, ennobles and purifies. The grandest ambition that can enter the soul is to know the truth.”
—Robert Green Ingersoll

Sunday, May 21, 2006

May 21, 2006
Buddy Boze Hatkiller didn't come home last night. We heard him out beyond the side yard, barking and jumping around at something that sounded thick-headed and was growling back (Minnesota Mike?). I called and called and even drove down there but he wouldn't come. Visions of finding his half-eaten NYC carcass filled my dreams.

Staring Straight at Statistical Oblivion
I got a call from the Neilsen Ratings people yesterday. The young woman talked very fast (I got the impression she was paid by the number of calls she could complete) and she wanted to know my sex, my level of education, my marriage status and number of children and lastly, how old I was. She asked me to rate everything on a scale (definitely, probably, might or might not, probably not and definitely not). Was I going to go see "Mission: Impossible III"? Definitely not. Was I going to see "The Da Vinci Code"? Probably not. Was I looking forward to seeing "Prairie Home Companion"? Definitely. Was I going to go see "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"? Might or might not. Was I going to go see "X-Men: The Last Stand"? Probably not. Was I going to go see the new Disney-Pixar flick "Cars"? Probably (It's about Route 66, otherwise no way). Was I going to go see "Over the Hedge"? Probably not. Was I going to see the new "Miami Vice"? Definitely not (I hated the old Miami Vice. Ditto for "The Poseidon"). Was I going to see "The Break-up" with Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn? Probably not. Was I going to see "Nacho Libre" with Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler? DEFINITELY!!!! I can't for this movie. It's from the guys who did "Napoleon Dynamite." Are you nuts?! It looks hilarious. Do you have anything higher than "Definitely"

She didn't.

She also asked me how much it cost to fill up with gas recently, and I said, "$45 for a Ford Ranger! I can't imagine what the Hummer crowd is paying, maybe $200? Incredible!" Then she asked me to rank on a scale of one to ten, with ten being, totally agree, the following questions: Would the high gas prices limit my shopping trips? (five) Would I consider not going to a movie because of the high gas prices? (0) Would I consider riding a bike or taking public transportation to a movie? (0) How far is it to the nearest movie theater? (12 miles)

At the end of the call (twenty minutes) she asked me when I would turn 60 and I replied "December," and she said, and I quote, "Well, maybe we'll get to talk one more time between now and then." As I hung up, I realized I am approaching a statistical cliff. After Christmas, nobody will care what movie I go to see. Nobody will care if I have an opinion. I will be residing in Statistical Oblivion full time.

"When a man is humiliated, he suddenly shrinks to his normal proportions."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 20, 2006
Kathy walked by my open sketch book yesterday and remarked, "Why is the Sultan of Sun City an old guy, but all the women around him young?" I smiled. "Because, in his mind all of the women his age still look like that to him." She didn't quite seem to believe this, but it's true. When I attended my 40th high school reunion last summer I was shocked at how sexy so many of my female classmates still looked. Then when I was talking to them and they talked about being a grandmother, I kind of did a double take and realized I'm like that old blind guy in John Couger Mellencamp's song ("Little Pink Houses"?) who thinks his wife can still stop a clock. Ha.

Speaking of what turns men's cranks, I have been studying the symbols that make women sexy in our culture and I think I hit on a strange phenom. I call it the "slack-jawed-look." Have you noticed the proliferation of models who let their lower jaw go slack and you can see their front teeth? It's rampant and certainly a cliche by now. But when I go back and look at Victorian art and photographs, it's not there (well, I mean as a symbol of sexiness, there are a few examples of classic art, Degas and the "Absinth Drinker" comes to mind, but he's illustrating how dumb she is!), and even up into the 1920s, it's not used. I first notice it with Marilyn Monroe, but it could be earlier. Maybe that famous Rita Hayworth, the WWII GIs went so crazy over, I seem to remember her mouth hanging open.

Anyway, the irony is, imagine a guy with that look? I know, I know, Billy the Kid has it in his only known photo (and maybe in some perverse kind of way, that's why we find him sexy). But, by and large, a guy with his mouth hanging open so the flies can get in, is a sure sign of stupidity (or worse).

I'm trying to capture this look in all of its nuances, so here's a page of sketches I did yesterday. And as I've signed it at bottom right, I intend to become "The King of the Slack-Jawed-Look."

"Sex appeal is partly what a woman has, but mostly what a man thinks she has."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, May 19, 2006

May 19, 2006
Last night Wonderful Russ and I travelled down to Mary Morrison’s TV and Radio Museum on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale to attend a party for the Twentieth Anniversary of KSLX (100.7 fm). I started on the station not long after they went Classic Rock, so it's been twenty years! Amazing. John Giese, Robert Hancock and Peggy Atchison were there as was Steve Trella, who is still on the air! I asked him how he has survived seven regime changes (I survived three, then got nuked) and he said, “It’s hard to hit a small target.” Plus, he told me every time they brought in a new “hero” program director, and were getting set to fire the “former hero”, they came to Steve and asked him if he could keep the station on the air during the transition and he assured them he could, and did, then went back to his airshift and stayed small. Amazing. He deserves a statue on Scottsdale Road for radio longevity.

Afterwards Russ and I motored up Scottsdale Road and landed at Houston’s for dinner. As the hostess walked us to our table she turned to me and said, “We ask that you take your hat off in the dining room.” Of course I obliged, but I wondered who that rule was intended for? Gang bangers? Baseball cap wearing punks? Republican Lobby Spooks? Or Kingman Cowboys who spoil the Snottsdale ambiance? Not sure. Meal was good. Had the chicken salad, an Oriental spiced take on the dish. Russ bought ($55). Much talk about True West Moments and True West financials. While Russ was giving me great advice (True West financials is "Target One"), our waiter came up, and asked Russ for advice on real estate (the waiter just got his real estate license and recognized Russ from his TV commercials). Russ gave him a $1,500 seminar on how to list and sell every time. The waiter was African-American and Russ also told him flat-out not to hide his blackness). Both the waiter and I were much impressed as we both got stellar advice from a zen marketing genius.

The article by David Ashford (see May 17 post) is going to appear in Illustration Magazine. Yesterday I ordered a subscription and all the back issues. It’s an English pub and I really like what they’re doing with it. Here’s the website address:

True West Moments Update
“Hey, Bob, this is Richard in Virginia. I’ve been a railroader for 25 years and the locomotive you’re walking by [in the True West Moment filmed at the Tucson Train Station Museum] is off the Southern Pacific Railway and it is a 2-8-0 oil burner. The Southern Pacific done that because there was no wood or enough coal for all of the railroads out there. The SP learned real fast so that they could have longer runs between stops and pull more loads.”

“I enjoy your spot on Encore's Westerns Channel. It's good to hear real stories about the West. There is one item I'm hoping you'll include some day—leather craft.

“I have been carving leather for the last forty years and really enjoy the craft. We always see carved saddles and holster in all of the movies along with saloons, general stores, black smiths, and more; but, you never see a saddle shop. And, you never ever see a craftsman carving the leather. Soooo.where did all of those saddles and holsters come from? I would be nice if you could include it in one of you spots.

“By the way, you might consider a trip to Sheridan, Wyoming, if you ever get the chance. That's the birth place of a special style of Western carving.

“Thanks again for the entertainment.”
Ray Chrisp

Tales From The Triple BBB: “Two Girls For Every Guy.”
Well, I went to Surf City for the two to one
But all I got for my trouble was sunburned buns
I tried to make time with the Beach Boys’ honeys
Seems I was a tad short in the jammies with surfin’ USA money
I jumped the skate, the frug, did the ska too, I moved real bitchin’ and almost got the nod
But I always went home early ‘cause I had a real job

So I missed the revolution and the three-way with tripped out hippies
And I flat-out never got to experience the Swinging Sixties

But now I live in Sun City where it’s two to one
And I snuggle every night with another hon
Widows and divorcees, I’ve had them all
Listening to Zeppelin and sipping Geritol

Two girls for every guy—Boy Howdy!
If you live long enough two’s just the start of a crowd—Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

I thought of this little dittee while executing my six sketches yesterday (see art). I found this goofy, old guy (probably from the Class of 65!) in an Indian casino ad in the Republic. The ad was appealing to seniors and as I was drawing his jowlly countinence, I thought about all of us horndog Boomers who never got to live the Beach Boy/Jan and Dean driven nirvana of “Surf City” where it’s “two to one” and I realized that if you take care of yourself and live long enough, you will live that fantasy in spades. Sun City is full of knocked-out-honeys who lost their husbands (probably because those guys didn’t miss out on the Swinging Sixties and died of a heart attack, or worse). But here’s this little old guy who was a wallflower in the Girl’s Gym, but now he’s the Sultan of Sun City.

End of pitch. Tell my agent to get a meeting with Tom Hank’s people. It’ll be perfect for him in about six years, or six minutes.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog

”Hindsight, usually looked down upon, is probably as valuable as foresight, since it does include a few facts.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, May 18, 2006

May 18, 2006
Another storm blew in last night, but the weather goobers (meteorologists) are warning us it’s not the summer monsoons (or the “Guacamuggies” as we christened them on our old radio show). Didn’t get any moisture, but it blew and blew.

We had a staff get-together-dinner down at Mimi’s in Desert Ridge at six last night, and as I drove down I could see the wall of dark blues up over the McDowells and across the Bradshaws. Very dramatic lighting. And windy. Tumbleweeds and styrofoam coolers blowing across Tatum. Had to pull over and secure the top to my magazine carrier in my pick-up bed.

I asked Mimi’s hostess where a “big-ass party of misfits” was sitting and she said, “Oh, you mean the Abby party?” Yes, Abby Pearson set up the dinner and I found Robert and Beatrice Ray, Sue Lambert, Abby, Bud and Carole Glenn, Samantha and Jason, Joel Klasky, Rob Bandhauer and Mark Boardman all seated at a long table in the back room. Had the blackened cajun salmon and an “Arnold Palmer” (iced tea and lemonade). Great time visiting with everyone ($20 cash).

As I was leaving Desert Ridge I noticed one of my favorite restaurants has bitten the dust: Rock Fish was dark, and the vacant building looked sad and forlorn. I loved that place. It had a Minnesota Fishing Lodge theme with knotty pine and big kitschy Field And Stream style paintings. Great food too! And it seemed packed everytime we went there. Tough business. Almost everyone I know has the conceit that they could open and run a successful eatery. That is, everyone but me. Having married into a restaurant family and hearing the daily horror stories I would not want anything to do with one. Now, if only someone had warned me about the magazine business. . .

Fight The Tsunami, Or Ride It?
“You have it right. The Internet is an opportunity for writers and publishers and academics much more than a danger or a limitation. Magazines on paper will be around for many years -- at least until I check out, when my interest in such matters will fall off dramatically. I would not think of reading the ATLANTIC MONTHLY, NEW YORKER, or TRUE WEST online. Curled up in an easy chair under warm light with a cold drink, that's the reading ticket.”
—Dan Buck

Check This Out: Lonesome Dove Exhibit Website

About ten different people have forwarded me the following humor bit:

Top Ten Old West Phrases That Will Never Sound The Same After That Damned Gay Cowboy Movie

1. "I'm gonna pump you fulla lead!"

2. "Give me a stiff one, barkeep!"

3. "Don't fret---I've been in tight spots before."

4. "Howdy, pardner."

5. You stay here while I sneak around from behind."

6. Two words: "Saddle Sore."

7. "Hold it right there! Now, move your hand, reeeal slow-like."

8. "Let's mount up!"

9. "Nice spread ya got there!"

10. "Ride'em cowboy!"

We all laughed and enjoyed it and even considered using it in our Last Stand humor section of the magazine, but after sleeping on it, I’ve decided to pass on it. (Maturity? Or Old Man Syndrome? Probably both.)

Royal Wade Kimes Rides The High Country
True West is supporting The First Annual Mount Royal Trail Ride, October 6th & 7th in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, just north of Fort Smith, Arkansas. So saddle up with Royal Wade Kimes on October 6-7, 2006 in the beautiful Ozark Mountains just north of Ft. Smith Arkansas. The ride will be an opportunity to see some of the most incredible scenery you’ve ever laid eyes on while supporting two very worthwhile charities that have a real soft spot in this cowboy’s heart.

Part of the proceeds from the trail ride and concert will go to Meals for Kids, The Backpack Program and Future Farmers of America.

The trail ride will feature breathtaking views, authentic chuck wagon cooking, campfire entertainment and a cowboy’s mercantile with the latest in saddlery, horse trailers, RVs and sport utility vehicles for today’s cowboys and cowgirls. The ride will end on Saturday with a chuck wagon BBQ and ranch concert by Royal Wade Kimes and his band. The weekend promises to be relaxing, rewarding and very entertaining! Come join us for some incredible Ozark scenery, biscuits in the ground, cowboy coffee and the best Country and Western music there is, bar none! Check it out at:

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Garroting Survivors Call For Wire Ban

”Your opponent, in the end, is never really the player on the other side of the net, or the swimmer in the next lane, or the team on the other side of the field, or even the bar you must high-jump. Your opponent is yourself, your negative internal voices, your level of determination."
—Grace Lichtenstein

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 17, 2006
We got a freak thunderstorm which blew through last night at about five PM. Big, black sky and a brief, heavy downpour. Desert looks quite gorgeous this morning.

Lots of buzz here about The New York Times Magazine piece on “What Will Happen to Books? (Publisher, be very, very afraid)”. The essence of the thought provoking “manifesto” by Kevin Kelly is that we are rapidly approaching the point where every book, (and every article), regardless of copyright, will be online, scanned by Chinese robots and every book will become one book, with links and active footnotes and—authors and publishers be damned—zero copyright protection.

Dan Buck sent me the link, but Trish Brink brought me in the actual NYT magazine yesterday and I sat out by the pool at lunchtime and read the whole thing (and, I must say, I prefer the tactile experience of reading the mag as opposed to perusing the online version). Mark Boardman read it this morning and weighed in, warning that this is where it’s all going and as a publication printed on dead trees, we also, should be very, very afraid. You can check out the piece @:

I personally feel it is an opportunity for both True West magazine and my books. I think the online accessibility will far outweigh the negatives, and I think it’s going to be major cool when you can click on a footnote while reading an online book, and the link will take you to that book, or periodical and you can read it for yourself. This will apply to art and photos as well and will really enhance the reading experience.

We had a good meeting this morning to talk about all of this and how it applies to us. I feel like it’s a tiny peek at the road ahead, and I like what I see (so said James Dean just before the fatal accident in his Porsche nicknamed the “Little Bastard”).

British Illustration Magazine Article Also Printed On Dead Trees
I was interviewed via the web by an English writer about my artwork and love of the West. Nice piece. Notice the quaint Brit spellings, like watercolour. Here’s the piece:

The Wild West, Warts and All
by David Ashford

“I was lucky to have some cowgirls for a mother, aunts and grandma, but it meant that it soon pricked the balloon of reality. I quickly saw that there were two distinct Wests, the one we fantasise about and the one that's rougher, more practical and not very glamorous. I think I've been wrestling with this dichotomy for my whole life.”

Bob Boze Bell believes he was probably around ten years old when he began this 'wrestling match'. He was watching a TV show, “The Life and Legends of Wyatt Earp”, with his grandmother when she remarked that the real Wyatt Earp was “the biggest jerk who ever walked the West”. As his grandmother had actually lived on a ranch near Tombstone, Arizona, at the turn of the century, young Bob sat up and took notice and made a vow to search out the truth. The result of this vow is that Bob Boze Bell has become the most accomplished and acclaimed contemporary illustrator of the reality behind the myth of the American 'Wild West'.

Robert Allen Bell was born in Forest City, Iowa, in 1946 (his nickname 'Boze', a shortened version of 'Bozo', was given him at High School) and studied commercial art at the University of Arizona. His work in magazines began with his own publication, the Razz Review, a humour magazine that, although it lasted four years, was none too successful financially. In 1977, Boze Bell created “Honkytonk Sue” for National Lampoon magazine. This marvellously evocative comic strip was based on reality: at the time he was playing in a honkytonk band and was therefore steeped in the lifestyle and the main character - 'the prettiest cowgirl the western cartooning world has ever known' - was based on his aunt who was a rodeo queen. Boze Bell says about his Aunt Jean that he “grew up being in awe of her and her four cowgirl sisters (one of whom was my mama)”. His admiration for his aunt is further attested by the fact that a photo of her on her favourite horse adorns his office wall.

It was, however, the tremendous success of an assignment for the prestigious Arizona Highways magazine in 1985 that was to put Bob Boze Bell on the path to becoming one of the most visually authentic Western illustrators of all time. He was asked to execute 14 small black and white wash drawings to help illustrate an article on the town of Prescott, Arizona. He went, as he says, “hogwild” and drove to Prescott, sketching everything he saw. He ended up with 30 pieces, none of them small and many in colour. The editor was so taken with the pictures that he demanded even more and the resulting issue was jam-packed with his illustrations.

Encouraged by this success, Boze Bell decided to put together an illustrated book on the famous Western outlaw known as Billy the Kid. As no publishers were interested in the material, he decided to publish it himself. The result was phenomenal. “The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid” was a sell out (he later spent a year and a half rewriting and redrawing this first edition, resulting in a second edition that is 70 pages and 400 images larger!). A second book, “The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp” was even more successful (it is now in its fourth edition) and this was followed up with the third in the trilogy, “The Illustrated Life and Times of Doc Holliday”. Nothing like these books had ever appeared before. These pictorial biographies are written as well as illustrated by Boze Bell, his drawings and paintings, cleverly combined with contemporary photographs, bringing the characters and their milieu to life in an intensely vivid and totally authentic way.

By the mid 1990s, Boze Bell's work was fast gaining nation wide recognition and he was commissioned to do paintings for the covers of three magazines: Arizona Highways (he also did internal colour paintings to illustrate his own article on Tombstone), Wild West and True West magazine. Television then began to take notice of his work and he was asked to contribute 40 illustrations for a four-part documentary series, “Outlaws and Lawmen”, for the Discovery Channel and yet another 40 pictures for Northport Pictures' documentary on Billy the Kid entitled “The War in Lincoln County”. His artwork has also featured in the Disney documentary, “AKA Billy the Kid”, in the “Gunfighter Series” produced by the Learning Channel and “True West Moments” for the Westerns Channel.

At the end of the century, Boze Bell brought out his fourth book: “Bad Men: Outlaws and Gunfighters of the Wild West”. Unlike its predecessors, all the illustrations are in black and white, many of them utilising the scraperboard technique. As the illustrations are, as always in his books, combined with Old West photographs, the result has a particularly compelling historical authenticity. When I asked him about his use of scraperboard (or 'scratchboard' as it is called in the U.S.), he gave me an interesting insight into his art:

“Early on in my career, people would accuse me of working in 'scratchboard'. I would sheepishly tell them no, it's just pen and ink, with white ink or paint brought back in to create a crosshatching effect. I was embarrassed that I didn't even know how to do scratchboard, or where even to buy the materials. Then, in April of 1995, I attended a big cowboy festival called “End of the Trail” in Corona, California, selling my books and artwork from a vendor's tent. It was here I met a man, an art teacher, who told me that if I ever wanted to try scratchboard I should buy Essdee Scraperboard, made in England, and that I should accept no substitutes. Now, when people accuse me of using scratchboard, I plead guilty with enthusiasm! I love scratchboard. I was born to use it.”

Boze Bell uses scraperboard, as he uses pen and ink and watercolour, with dash and élan. There is always movement and action in his work. His portraits of real-life Westerners are never static or stiff and, although the physical likeness is always there to see, they never have the appearance of being slavishly copied from nineteenth century photographs.

Bob Boze Bell's work is a manifestation of his personality: it is rugged and often violent as are his themes but, at the same time, it is highly sophisticated, sparkling with humour and a sheer love for his subject matter. His passion for complete historical accuracy is shown by the fact that he insists on using models who resemble physically the characters he portrays, always ensuring that they are dressed in the authentic clothes of the period (and are using the correct firearms!). All his illustrations are imbued with a determination to get it right, to picture the truth, palatable or not, about the historical West. In his work there is, as he has said, ”no glorifying the 'good guys' or vilifying the 'bad guys'. Just the truth, warts and all.”

In 1999, together with two other “Old West friends”, Bell bought up True West magazine. First published in the mid 1950s, True West was the most widely read of all the U.S. Western history magazines but, by the end of the century, it was looking its age. Bell completely transformed the magazine, giving it new life thanks to his passion for the subject combined with his distinctive and remarkable creative vision.

One of his innovations for the magazine was the creation of a new feature entitled, “Classic Gunfights”. His concept was to tell the stories based on the most up-to-date research and combine contemporary photographs with his own illustrations. It was his colourful, action-packed pictures, which are so authentic to the times in which the events happened, that made this series quickly become the most popular feature in the magazine. As a consequence of this success, Boze Bell decided to bring out a series of books using the same material. “Classic Gunfights Volume One” was published in 2003 and was followed two years later by Volume Two, subtitled “Blaze Away! The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral”. The latter tells the story of Tombstone and, most particularly, of Wyatt Earp's contribution to its history and contains, he believes, some of his best work. He says, “no matter how many times I revisit this incredible story, I always find something new and intriguing. I imagine I always will”. The book is much more than an excitingly detailed roundup of all the Tombstone gunfights: Boze Bell's graphic illustrations imaginatively convey the every day social life of the boomtown, putting all the gunfighting violence into context. Incidentally, although not emerging as a hero in the TV Western mode, the reader of this book realises that Boze Bell does not agree with his grandmother that Wyatt Earp was “a jerk”!

Bob Boze Bell has a number of new projects on the way that will doubtless illuminate more areas of the historical American West. He has found his goal in life. As he said in answer to someone who alluded to his work load: “Work is only work if you'd rather be somewhere else. And I'm right where I want to be.”

End of article. Now back to the usual snide comments.

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Internet Collapses Under Sheer Weight Of Baby Pictures

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
—Billy Wilder

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May 16, 2006
Three meetings this morning. Mainly with Mark Boardman (who’s in town for the week), Meghan Saar, Trish and Bob Brink, Robert Ray, Carole Glenn and Jane Bischoff regarding our Style section, editorial directory, etc. Very positive and we got some good input and ideas.

Buddy Boze Hatkiller got into it this morning with coyotes. A big, fat coyote feigned injury and limped off, which the NYC dog falls for every time and then when they get him away from the house, the pack jumps him. Incredibly, he survived and came home later with bite marks on his behind. Yesterday I was driving home and saw a coyote crossing Spur Cross with a broken right front leg (it dangled like a key chain) and I winced, imagining how tough it would be to hunt with that handicap. Life is tough enough, with all of your limbs.

A Horse With My Name: “Cause there ain’t no one for to give me no pain.”
“Last summer I was visiting the Fort Worth stockyards and met a cowboy on a horse named Boze. He named his horse after you.”
—Raymond Hill

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.”
—Federico Fellini

Monday, May 15, 2006

May 15, 2006
Over the weekend we rented three movies from Blockbuster. In honor of Mother’s Day I let Kathy pick. She chose The Family Stone, Match Point and Proof. We all enjoyed Proof (Gwenyth Paltrow and Jake Gillenhaal) and Family Stone (Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker), but Deena and I thought Woody Allen’s Matchpoint was weak, although the mama liked it, and it was her day, so that’s fine. Speaking of my daughter, she sent the following to me after her business trip to Minneapolis last week:

Deena Bell Runs Into Strange Minnesota Custom
“The people in Minnesota are so incredibly nice, I don't think I met one snotty person... and that's hard to do! I sat next to a nice couple on the way home. the wife had just gotten knee replacement surgery and her husband was 6'6" and he had to sit in the middle because she couldn't straighten her knee... He wasn't happy to say the least but they were really cool. They were flying to Phoenix for her brother's graduation from ASU.”

I told my daughter she had just encountered "Minnesota Nice." I was doing research on the Jesse James robbery attempt in Northfield, Minn (just south of Minneapolis) and part of the lore is that the gang was very strict about their raids, being sober, etc., but on the day of the robbery attempt, Jesse himself, got a jug and the three designated guys who went into the bank were pretty sloshed, and Cole Younger, who was outside, didn't know this and it unhinged the robbery and they got shot to pieces. Everyone wonders why Jesse would do something so stupid, but here's my theory:

When Jesse, Bob Ford and Charlie Pitts were coming into Northfield they stopped at a small store. They got some tobacco and stuff and when they went up to pay, the woman said, "No, that's fine. Have a nice day," and Jesse looked at her incredulous and said, "Well, I'll take a jug over there." He told the Boys they would have no problem with these passive Norsky's. Big mistake. Those sweet Norsky's are nice until you try and take their money and then they get vicious (it’s the Viking DNA).

I got this inspiration when I stopped at a convenience market on my way to Northfield on September 10, 2001 and got coffee. I went up front to pay and the woman smiled and said, "No charge. Have a nice day." Amazing. Yes, enjoy Minnesota Nice, but whatever you do, don’t take advantage of it.

New Zealander Discovers True West
I discovered this really interesting magazine at Wellington Library last week called True West. It's amazing what I've discovered in it. For instance, you can buy a CD called The Frontier Saloon Piano where Dwain Bond plays authentic music from the Wild West on a 1879 Adam Schaaf of Chicago upright. I quite like what the founder of True West, Joe Small said (as printed at the bottom of the Letters to the Editor section) - "Now let the letters roll in and bare your very soul. That is what has always kept us going and I think it always will."
—New Zealand Guy (I forgot His Name And Lost The Link)

First Train to Albuquerque
FYI: One of my Santa Fe civic contacts informed me this morning of the State's recent purchase of rail corridor rights between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, approximately 60 miles. The intent is to develop commuter/passenger train service, This could be a potentially great distribution venue for us to explore as it progresses. I envision a trainload of folks reading True West between these two heritage cities, how about you?!
—Rob Brandhauer

A True West Trauma: Don't Try This At Home
“Had a horrifying experience last night when after making love to my beautiful wife I rolled over to immediately see a True West Moment on the TV. Therapy to follow.”

The View of Ghost Towns From Down Under
As a kid who grew up here is Australia watching the American westerns of the 50s and 60s, I became convinced that all Old West towns were clean, neat and tidy affairs.Watching Deadwood just blew me away, especially when your magazine authenticates it with pictures taken at the time the show is set.

It got me wondering - with the technology of satellite imaging are any previously unlocated ghost towns ever found? Also, is there a 'Holy Grail' of towns that every historian/enthusiast would love to locate?

Being over here makes magazines like True West important—since I can't afford to visit (and be accompanied by someone who could answer all my questions!) your magazine goes some way towards quenching my curiosity. Reading the history of the magazine and your involvement in it makes its continued publishing a must - especially for us 'Colonial Convicts' (ask the Brits - they STILL think of us that way!) who can't see all this stuff in person.

Thanks for a great magazine!

These days, ghost towns and even most mines (250,000 in Arizona alone!) are easy to find with GPS equipment. A couple months ago, a historian, Vince Murray and I went out to Harqua Hala and found Wyatt Earp's "Sore Finger" mine by using GPS (Global Positioning System via satellite). The GPS device actually wasn't completely accurate, but we were close enough and could extrapolate to the topo map we had with us.

Most real Old West ghost towns have evaporated by now. A decade ago we had a guide take us out to Drew's Station, which is a famous stagecoach robbery site outside of Tombstone, Arizona. All that was left of the station was the adobe corner of the main building (we assume). We took pictures and whooped it up. A couple years later I tried to go back with some friends and couldn't find it (all those damn creosote bushes look alike).

Other towns like Charleston, which is upstream from Drew's Station, are completely overgrown with catclaw and the foundations are all that remain, and they are hidden by the brush. When you drive by you’d never know a town was there.

When I was a kid, you could go out to ghost towns like White Hills, Cerbat and Gold Road and we'd play cowboys and indians in the buildings. It made for a great Old West playground. But time and people who want to redo their den with old barnwood, have stripped all these towns of everything.

The big almost-ghost towns that survive, like Bisbee, Jerome, Virginia City, Goldfield, Lincoln and Body have the best of both worlds. They still look old timey and for the most part authentic, but people have come in to renovate and restore what remains. And those towns usually have the best vibes

I just passed the 1,200 mark for sketches (six a day without missing). As some famous 96-year-old cellist remarked when someone asked why he still practices four hours a day: "I noticed a slight improvement."

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Traveler Amazed By Sheer Number of Mexicans

“Who is wise? He that learns from every One. Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.”
—Ben Franklin

Sunday, May 14, 2006

May 14, 2006
Got up at 6:30 and treated Kathy to coffee and a banana in bed. Went out and started planting the Mother's Day ocotillos and plants. Deena joined me and we transplanted a couple Spanish Daggers as well. Made pancakes for Mother Radina and Debbie, who came out at 9:30.

Called my mother in Wyoming and wished her a Happy Mother's Day.

Fun morning. Going to work on several projects this afternoon.

"There never was a great man who had not a great mother."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, May 13, 2006

May 13, 2006
We're celebrating Mother's Day a day early. Deena met Kathy and me at Home Depot at ten this morning and Kath (The Designated Mother) picked out two ocotillos and a Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica, $30 cash), and we brought them home to plant. We fixed lunch, leftover munchilada from Pita Jungle dinner last night with the Wonderfuls, plus three cheese crisps, jumbo shrimps (three) and avocado. Deena went over financials and how much we should be putting away for retirement (hint: more than we're putting away now!).

I backed out the '49 and got it limbered up for an off-road race.

Not really.

Quite warm out. Must be close to 100. May go swimming this afternoon.

Been trying to post the Isaiah Mays Medal of Honor painting for a week, but it keeps falling through the cracks. Here it is, finally. This is from the forthcoming Wham Robbery Classic Gunfight which is at the printer in Kansas City even as you read this.

Deena got an iPod for her birthday last week and she and I are going up to Kathy's office to download some cool tunes (and delete all of those damn Steely Dan tunes Tommy loaded me up with!)

"Work is not always required. . .there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected."
—George McDonald

Friday, May 12, 2006

May 12, 2006
I almost forgot, last Sunday we had a great birthday dinner for Deena at Taco Villa down on Camelback. Hard to believe we have been going there for 26 years. Dora, the owner hugged Deena and related how she remembered holding the Deen as a little baby so her parents could eat in peace. All the Radinas came, and Brad picked up the check ($200 plus!).

Today we’re working hard on a Cowboy Chronicle piece. We are on the same deadline schedule so we had to wait until our mag went out the door, yesterday, and then shift gears on doing something worthy for Tex, Chis and Dobie. Abby Pearson is hammering it out and we need to overnight this puppy this afternoon.

I woke up this morning thinking about the potential for the Whambam CG as a full blown book. It has so many elements: The Buffalo Soldiers, Mormons, politics (all the way to the White House), then when you factor in the side stories: Billy the Kid killed his first an at Bonita, just off the Fort Grant reservation; Geronimo and his Apaches came through the same area and had a big fight with the army about three miles from the Wham site; one of the lawmen (Whelan) who tracked down the Mormon robbers, faced off with Johnny Ringo, the Clantons and Johnny Behan; Tombstone Deputy Billy Breakenridge arrested several of the suspects; two of the defense attorneys lived in Tombstone and knew all the legendary men of that story (O.K. Corral); Gibert Webb went to Mexico and dealt with Pancho Villa, and W.T. Webb helped draft Arizona’s constitution. It really has everything. Almost too much.

News From The Front Lines
My girl friend and I watch the western channel faithfully with our 7 month old daughter. As a matter of fact our daughter who's name is Grace, can be asleep in her mothers lap and hear your voice, wake up to watch you then go back to sleep. Even if shes not asleep when you come on you get her attention.

Lately we have been watching you tell about steam engines, you give us all kinds of information we enjoy learning about. But what we would like to asked you is how did they get the water into the water towers? Especially in the desert?
—Raymond Hill

Excellent question, my Man. I know they used pumps, but I'll have to do some research on what kind and how. Of course, the water tanks were placed at springs, creeks or rivers, so the water supply was already there. In fact in the Southwest the rails headed for the water at every turn. More later.

Mark Boardman forwarded me this movie review and I agree, Stephen Hunter is an excellent writer. Check this out (and the movie as well!):

White Hat, Dark Heart In 'Down in the Valley'
By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006

Hear the wind blow through "Down in the Valley": It's an ill gale, the wind of memory and illusion, the wind of ugly violence, the wind of domestic turbulence.

David Jacobson's harsh, possibly twisted but always mesmerizing little film begins with America's fondest dream -- the cowboy. He's lean and lanky, calls everybody "sir" or "ma'am" and looks you straight on when he shakes your hand. His eyes are blue; he's true, he's steady, a man's man. Any adult would see the other thing: He's also a psycho.

But no 15-year-old can, like Tobe (the luminous, dangerous Evan Rachel Wood of "Thirteen") and when she meets Buffalo Bill, no, Wyatt Earp, no again, Harlan Carruthers (Edward Norton) in a gas station off the freeway in the valley called San Fernando, she is taken.

The psychology is transparent. Adrift in the scrubby fast-food and doughnut-shop wilderness that is the San Fernando, Tobe is a latchkey child. Her father, Wade (David Morse), works for the Sheriff's Department. He's not a bad man, but he carries melancholy and repression wherever he goes (lost dreams? a vanished wife? memories of a war he fought in heroically?) and he lashes out in profanity and anger when challenged. So naturally, his daughter challenges him a lot, and the silent witness to this bitter discord is the second sibling, Lonnie (Rory Culkin), upon whose grave face is marked the bitterness of the family's fetid inner life.

So for both Tobe and Lonnie, Harlan is a godsend: He's a man off the screen, idealized, fair, perfect. He listens, he comforts, he adores, and of course, ultimately he seduces and usurps. For Wade, Harlan is the Devil: He sees Harlans everywhere in his professional life, that is, drifters with screws loose, with narcissistic impulses that require them to think far higher of themselves than any accomplishment merits, boy-men who want it all, and fast, thank you.

But Wade, inarticulate and already distanced from the kids by virtue of his harsh temper, can't find a way to express his doubts and fears except via rage, which is hopelessly futile. The more he seethes, the more he drives his kids away to the waiting arms of the seemingly better man, Harlan.

And who is Harlan? Isn't that the interesting question? Connoisseurs of the career of Edward Norton will immediately associate this tour de force performance with Norton's first film role, the Oscar-nominated turn in "Primal Fear." It's that same trick: the mild, decent exterior, the anonymous face, the unassertive body language, the small, still mouth, the diffident posture; but underneath, there might be something else, something darker. Somehow Norton is able to carry these contradictions easily and make them whole. He's also always, and to his and the movie's benefit, a surprisingly agile, athletic presence. He seems so wan, so ephemeral, so insubstantial -- and then he whip-cracks into action with stunning speed.

The subtext in all this happens to be the western movie, and some of its
icons, namely guns. Dad Wade carries a gun, cleans it frequently, and is also a gun collector. Cowboy Harlan has a couple of Colt single-actions -- Jacobson loves the geometry and grace of the old Equalizers -- and a low-hanging speed rig built for fast-draw contests. Rory, like most boys, is drawn to shooting irons, and his father's passion for safety is another source of discord, in contrast to Harlan's openness and willingness to share in the fun of the things. For the record, Norton has become a extremely impressive gun handler. When he draws and shoots, it's clear he's had professional coaching. Memo to Edward Norton: Get yourself into (producing and directing if necessary) a movie on the life and times of that other youngster of speed and violence, Billy the Kid, before you lose your youthful looks. I kept thinking: What a Kid this guy would make! And as much-movied as that tale of New Mexican clan warfare has been, no one's achieved greatness yet.

Anyhow, soon enough Harlan has become Lonnie's best pal and Tobe's lover. He shows them a world they never knew existed. But soon enough also, he shows them oddities of personality that would raise the hackles of any adult: A horse-riding expedition almost turns violent when it's discovered that Harlan stole the horse they're riding. Harlan's mystery is of course ultimately revealed, as is his true nature, and in an impressively light way, Jacobson maneuvers events toward a western make-believe town, where the games of white hats and black hats, of men facing men in streets of mud in front of rows of wooden buildings, will be played for real.

"Down in the Valley" is exactly what we don't have enough of: It's singular, unusual, unexpected, fresh and familiar at once. Maybe too long and maybe cinematographer Enrique Chediak's photography of a natural zone of beauty blighted by Mr. Doughnut and Carl's Jr. lays it on a trifle thick, but it's a surprisingly intense and disturbing movie.

End of piece. Google the Washington Post if you'd like to see more of Stephen Hunter's prose. This is the same guy who wrote so eloquently on the demise of the Winchester a couple months back. I'm a big fan. And I want to see the movie!

“The future is made of the same stuff as the present.”
—Simone Weil

Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11, 2006
We just finished Classic Gunfights (2:58 pm). The whole mag goes out the door at three. I worked last night until about seven on a title art piece of the robber dressed in buckskins who confronted the Buffalo Soldiers at Bloody Run. Did a scratchboard and got some cool effects of the boulders in Fort #1 (as it was referred to in the trial) from the photos I took two weeks ago. Got up early this morning and whipped out a loose wash of Frankie Campbell, the woman in the bright yellow blouse, riding a big bay, and also completed an overview of "The First Salvo," a panorama of the fight scene with the mules, the soldiers, Frankie getting bucked off and a wall of smoke from a dozen rifles coming off the cliffs above the payroll detail. Decent. Could have been better. Same old srtory.

Got into the office at nine, had Robert McElroy start scanning the new art, while Robert and I wrestled with layout problems from yesterday. Meghan Saar had a whole bunch of changes in copy. I had many sloppy mistakes (Webb died in 1923 not 1926) and she is great at getting those kinds of things right. She had all 11 soldiers listed in a row, to keep them straight, and she took the Ball book home last night to familiarize herself with the story. Worked through lunch and rewrote ten captions, fixed five others and. . .

Finally faxed a printout of the piece to Larry Upton in Gilbert and he e-mailed back two more mistakes he found (private Cox should be private Fox, and epithet was misspelled in Aftermath). Got it all shoe-horned in and out the door with 38 seconds to spare. Whew!!

Deena called from Minnesota where she is giving a presentation for her company. She googled good places to eat and found Broder's in Edina and called me to tell me how great a restaurant it is. As she says, "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree."

News From The Front Lines
Duane McCormick called to get a 2 year subscription for his barber shop, Sit-in-Bull Barber Shop, in Dewey, AZ. His Cave Creek dentist had a copy of TW in his office and Duane decided to subscribe. He is a fan of yours from KSLX days when he worked for Del Webb, pounding nails. He said that listening to you in the mornings helped them get through many days.
—Carole Glenn

Hi Bob,
Your magazine has recently helped me through some difficult health challenges. While I have enjoyed each and every issue of True West since you acquired the magazine and then created the interesting and entertaining format, each more recent issue took on an even more valuable and important place in my life.

You see that I had to have emergency surgery because of a serious internal blockage. More surgery is also in my future. So when I was asked by my wife as to what I would like to read while spending my days in the hospital I asked her to gather up several recent editions of True West and bring them to my room. For the past few weeks I have re-read through each and every issue, and when I felt that my health problems were getting the better of me your magazine and writings took me away to wonderful western places and made western American history have an even closer personal relevance. Now I am home recovering and dreaming of visiting some of the historic places your have written about in the American Southwest.

Thanks and hats off to you, Bob. Your True West magazine made a big
difference here and helped this old cowboy when he really needed it.
—David Knowlen

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Bill Gates’ Wife Worried He’s Lying In A Ditch Full Of Money Somewhere

“He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

May 10, 2006
Got up this morning and whipped out a mug shot of Corporal Isaiah Mays. There is a photo of him, but he’s in civilian clothes and I wanted him in Army blues, with this Medal of Honor medallion hanging off his breast, a rifle, his corporal stripes and an authentic field hat. I think I nailed him. Finished at 8:30, had Kathy put a bobby-pin in my shirt sleeve (missing a button, still wanted to wear the shirt). Got into the office at nine.

Robert McElroy showed me his photos of the Wham site. He’s got a cool one of Rob B. posing outside of Fort #1, as the buckskin clad Mormon outlaw who opened the ball on the Wham robbery. And speaking of the next Classic Gunfight:

Even God Only Bats .500, Or: So That’s Why Pima Is Still So Tiny!
Pima tradition maintains that Mormon Church authorities in Salt Lake City sent a high-level delegation to Graham County a few weeks after the robbery and scolded the local communicants for not being truthful with federal lawmen. The visiting Mormon officials prophesied that God would punish their community predicting it would not prosper for 100 years and that God would withhold “heavenly fruits” from the guilty parties. Pima’s still puny size in 2006 would tend to concur with the first prophesy, but robber W.T. Webb’s eventual rise to political and financial success (he ended up owning most of Graham Mountain) would tend to dispute the latter part of the prophesy.

Postcards From The Edge of Production
“Hey Bob, how does one get on the postcard mailing list? Being a Lifetime subscriber I'm going to get the mag anyway but those postcards look too cool to pass up! Thanks.”
—Mark Kilburn TW Maniac 235

Humor Master Insight Series #346
I am a big humor fan and I assume this is why Dave Daiss, excuse me, one of my partners, put a bumper sticker on my truck the other day (see below). The rumor was that this person was also thinking about putting this bumper sticker on Kathy’s car: “I’d Rather Go Hunting With Dick Cheney Than Driving With Ted Kenneday.” Yes, that's funny, but I wonder if the person who did this would be laughing if the bumper sticker joke went the other way? Hmmmmm.

So I asked Carole yesterday where she thought I could get a “Liberal” bumper sticker to pay back this certain True West partner. She smiled and said, “How about ‘Nobody Died When Clinton Lied’?” I laughed out loud and asked her where she could get one. She went to her office computer and went online and found it in two minutes flat. I also ordered, "Somewhere In Texas A Village Is Missing Its Idiot." But here’s the cool part: They have these new bumper stickers where they are transparent. You put them on and you can't see them, and they slowly develop (think invisible ink), in about 24 hours. Now let’s imagine I put both of these bumper sticker on the partner’s truck and he drives back down to Sonoita (or some such place) and two days from now, people are shooting at him along the highway and at the feed store and he doesn’t know why. Now that's funny to me.

”Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward.”
—Carol Channing

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

May 9, 2006
Finished the Isaiah Mays Under Fire painting at two this afternoon. Some decent effects. It’s not the big panorama I originally wanted to do with the plunging mules, the entire ridge and the retreating Buffalo Soldiers, but as I say every deadline, “It’ll have to do.”

Robert Ray tweaked the Classic Gunfights layout to include a segment on the robbery I wanted to get in (Homeward Bound), which made me realize, you are getting a more thorough education on the Wham Robbery here than readers will get in the magazine version. There simply isn’t enough room in six pages to track the 30 participants in the fight alone, not to mention all the lawmen and lawyers and politicians who got involved. Larry Upton contiues to amaze me with his knowledge of the affair. Here’s his take on the stolen loot and where it went:

“It is true that Gilbert Webb ended up broke, but that is because after paying the lawyers (say $10,000, and I believe that is a realistic figure based on billings to the U.S. Gov't for their ass't prosecutors), gave Marcus Cunningham about $3,000, gave the Folletts their share (say $3,000 each), leaving him with about $6,000. He didn't pay the younger cowboys like Rogersand Lamb. He didn't have enough money. It is known that he paid about $1,000 in personal debts, and he gambled some of the money away. That left about $5,000 to pay all the expenses of the trial. People told me that many, many people in Pima received a gold coin or two for testimony favoring the men in jail in addition to their out of pocket expenses for living in Tucson for a month during the trial. Most of the regular people camped in the old military parade ground near Ft. Lowell. I think that $5,000 went fast. The real winners were the lawyers."
—Larry Upton

Which just proves the old gypsy curse: “May you be found among lawyers.”

Turn Me On Deadman With The Standup Bass
“Did you know that Too Slim, bassist for thr Riders In The Sky, is credited for starting the old rumor that Paul McCartney was dead?”
—Gus “The Mapinator” Walker

No, that can’t be, can it? That must be an urban myth, no? Who knows the real story? Or is this one of those things everybody claims, like the guy who came to my house a couple years back and said, “I invented cool deck,” and when I voiced my amazement, he told me the “ingredient is a secret.” I took the guy for his word, then later was talking to Bud Glenn, a contractor and Carole’s husband, and he said, “All cool deck is, is layered cement, with ridges and valleys, there is not secret ingredient in cool deck.”

“If passion drives, let reason hold the reins.”
—Benjamin Franklin

Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8, 2006
Still wrestling with Buffalo Soldiers in the fog of war illustration. Got three overheads going, illustrating the enfilade fire, and a close-up, modeled after Robert McElroy’s dramatic stance (see photos below). I have four more I want to do, but the mag goes out the door on Thursday so I need to jam.

On Friday I connected with Larry Upton who went to high school in Pima and in fact married the great-granddaughter of one of the suspects in the Whambam robbery. She didn’t even know it, her mother didn’t know either (imagine that!), but when Larry happened upon an Old West magazine in Clifton, he saw the name Thomas Lamb connected to the Wham robbery. He bought the mag (not sure if it was True West or Old West or even Frontier Times) and brought it home and decided to show it to the grandmother (outlaw Thomas Lamb’s daughter) the next time they travelled to Pima. When he walked into her house with the magazine to show her, she grabbed it out of his hands and threw it across the room, sneering, “Get that damn pack of lies out of my house!” This is how heated the memory of the robbery still is in that neck of the woods. Of course, from that point on Larry was hooked on the story and managed to interview quite a few family members about the robbery. Here’s my favorite:

“Milton Rogers, son of accused participant David M. Rogers. . .had never heard of the 1889 incident until he was grown and his father had passed away. The younger Rogers was selling Raleigh Home Products door-to-door when a woman responded to his knock with an insult and a refusal to buy anything from the son of a Wham robber. Totally perplexed, Milton asked his neighbor Fred Webb [see his bio mention below] about the robbery. Webb responded that the heist had been planned by Chauncey Gilbert Webb, his father, and carried out by Webb Cattle Company cowboys. Dave Rogers was a Webb cowboy. . .Dave Rogers never got a dime.”

To me that is a very telling, and damning statement. And probably the truth. All the evidence, it seems to me, points to a cattle round-up with extra curricular activity. It seems likely that Gilbert got the inspiration while out on his leased land rounding up cows, probably saw the payroll go through (it came through there every month), then got the inspiration, talked about it to his cowhands, Rogers and Lamb, speculated how to pull it off and where, scouted around, found the perfect spot, and it grew out of the cow operation. One of the cow boss's from a different ranch remembered on the day of the robbery, five or six of his cowboys just rode off, during the round-up. The implication being they all went to work as usual, then headed for the robbery site. When the robbers split up after the fight, they rode through a cow herd to mix up the trackers, and that seems planned as well.

Joel Klasky just got back from the annual WETA (Western English Trade Association) convention held this year in Austin, Texas. Here is a summary of the awards that True West won:

Bronze Award: Cover-Consumer:
2005 August issue: History of Western Wear (Tom Mix dressed all in white)

Silver Award: Direct Mail Campaign
True West Postcard Campaign (we send out postcards promoting each upcoming issue, here’s the next one, promoting our October issue)

Gold AIM Award: Public Relations, Supporting Product or Product Series
“True West Moment-Fire Danger” by Bob Boze Bell, on the Westerns Channel

More R.L. Wilson Dirt
“Received June 2006 Vanity Fair today and in Dominick Dunne's diary this month is a page on R.L. Wilson, who was his neighbor in Connecticut and who you mentioned in your May 4th Blog entry. Dunne has a show on Court T.V. called Power, Privilege, and Justice and his diary usually is about celebrities who have run afoul of the law. Thought you might enjoy the article.
—John Hinrichs TWM #15

Kid Curry Query
Dear Mr. Bell:
I enjoyed the article on Kid Curry and Pike Landusky. I have written several books one of which had a chapter dedicated to Kid Curry, Pike and Jew Jake. I was curious regarding the two illustrations that you did for the article. The one sketch with Jew Jake in the front of the saloon with the fourth person believed to be Thomas that a sketch from an actual photo...which may be in the forthcoming Gary Wilson book? Also, the make of the gun held in Pike Landusky's coat is news to me also.

You may find it interesting to note that Methodist minister Brother Van had visited the camp of Landusky a few months earlier and that Kid Curry and his clan and Pike and Jew Jake attended the Sunday service together though likely separated. That had to be quite a sight. All the best.
—Samuel Phillips

That's very interesting, the Methodist minister part. These guys led such bizarre lives, pious one moment and deadly the next. I guess that's what makes them so interesting. My painting of Jew Jake, et al, is just fantasy. I often think when I'm doing a Classic Gunfights, "Okay, there's the known photos, now what photo would I love to find? Let's illustrate that!" Ha.

News From The Front Lines
Eleanor Gill of Gilbert called regarding her subscription ( she is a TWManiac) and used to teach high school. She said that she still misses your radio show and enjoys reading your work in the AZ Rep when they get around to publishing it. She was very sweet and sounds like a long-time fan of yours.

She said she was recently in Bisbee in a shop and suggested that they advertise in TW and was told that they do not because of the gun ads. Eleanor said she understood that if you were going to publish a magazine, you need advertising
—Carole Glenn.

Dear Bob,
Yoga....Recycling? OK.... you still ARE the editor of a mag called TRUE WEST right?

Yes, but this is where a former underground cartoonist, rock drummer and weekend hippie comes home to roost (and do the down dog). Sorry. Hope I haven't busted the Old West perception bubble too much, but it's the truth.

P.S. on a related note, someone put a gag bumper sticker on my truck today (prime suspect, Dave Daiss):

Annoy A Liberal: Work • Succeed • Be Happy

Actually, a more accurate bumper sticker for my truck would be: How to Annoy A Liberal: Marry One

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
—Lao Tzu, A Flaming Warrior