Sunday, September 24, 2006

September 24, 2006
Yesterday morning, Kathy and I worked four hours dismantling our neighbor’s chicken house. J.D. is moving to Utah and he said if we’d come up and take down his coop, we could have it, plus his 10 chickens. Hard work. It’s much harder taking out the nails than putting them in! Ha. Plus that damned chicken wire is lethal. I got poked all over the place. Started at seven and worked until about 11 when it got too hot.

At one I drove out to Pioneer Living History Museum for a Western Festival. We have a booth manned by Joel K. and Bethany B. Huge crowds. In fact I’ve never seen that big of a crowd out at Pioneer, and I’ve been going out there since the seventies. According to Joel and Bethany it’s all because of one guy—Buck Montgomery. He is a solid promoter and really got the word out. Very encouraging, since Pioneer has languished for decades. I was on the board of directors for several years and we couldn’t get much of anything going, so I was very impressed with the success of Buck’s efforts. Talked briefly with Peter Brown, plus Joey Dillon, Tony Cassanova, Dakota, and many Westerns Channel fans who came by our booth to rave about the magazine and True West Moments. And speaking of the TWMoments, here’s an Email I got today:

Cow Pies In The Saddle Again
“BBB: I've watched western movies since the birth of T.V. My uncle was a Vice President at Universal & I was lucky enough to spend a few summers wondering the lot.. I'm also friends with the Rutheford family of Brawley Calif, who own the flying U rodeo company. Mr. Rutheford was very good friends with Gene Autry and leased a lot of stock to the studios. Now my question—Of all the movies I've watched, I've never seen dung on ANY street or trail drive, let alone lift a tail."
—Sam Burch

Yes, Sam, good point. You never see any dung or tail lifting in Westerns. Simply put, cow poop (or any other kind of poop) is unseemly, although I'm sure there must be an exception to this, especially in the revisionist 1970s when Westerns attempted to show the "rugged truth," but I can't think of one off the top of my head. I have several reference photo albums full of horses on the march and the tails are going up all over the place! It's a good point, though, and shows how sanitized our visions of the West have been, for a very long time. You don't see paintings of it either. I can't think of one Russell or Remington where cow pies are being made, or are left behind in the streets.

I do remember a cattle drive scene (maybe Red River? or was it Culpepper Cattle Company?) where a bull is trying to mount another cow in the herd. My suspicion is they left it in hoping no one would notice.

And speaking of big cow pies and movies, I got Heaven’s Gate in the mail from Netflix on Friday. Plopped it in my laptop and watched much of it, while I was working in the office. I forgot how long that sucker is (three hours plus!), and even though there are some wonderful set pieces (when the conductor walks through the train station, comes out the door to meet the train and we see the main street, clogged with wagons and people and smoke curling from a dozen chimneys atop the buildings and I read in the book Final Cut they had to bring the train in piece by piece, well it's a stunning moment) in it and decent action, it doesn’t hold up as a compelling story at all. Still, I tagged a couple dozen snapshots for art reference (great lighting in the cock fighting sequence with a lone lamp shining in the foreground and Jeff Bridges walking back and forth on the other side of the lamp, creating superb chiaroscuro effects).

Speaking of trains, "Mr. Train," aka Jim Clark, came by our offices on Friday. He was at a car lot in Paradise Valley and ran into Minnesota Mike Melrose who gave him directions to our place. Jim came by and Bob Brink and I had a great talk with Jim about movie trains and the upcoming 125th Anniversary of the O.K. Corral extravaganza next month in Tombstone. Along with Bob Love, Jim is the lead dog for that event. They are expecting huge crowds and have sold some 500 VIP tickets.

From Pioneer, Kathy and I drove over to her mother’s for dinner last night. Nice visit with her. Got home at eight. Long day, no art.

I’m working hard in my studio today trying to get some decent artwork for Classic Gunfights, Honkytonk Sue and The Top Secret Project. Most of it comes down to commitment. Gee, I wonder if basketball coach Pat Riley has anything to say on this subject?

“There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either IN or you're OUT. There's no such thing as life in between.”
—Pat Riley

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