Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April 29, 2998
Big design meeting this morning at True West. Dan Harshberger driving out from the Beast to join in the fray. Going over new department heads (logos). Some resistance from production over the complexity of the design. Could get bloody.

Brenda and Kevin Stockbridge visited from Kingman last Sunday. Got to talking to Kevin about the family outlaw Blackjack Ketchum. The family (his great-grandmother was married to a Ketchum) has a story that Tom and Sam once took a little kid (I think it was Kevin's kin, he was a Duncan), tucked his pants into his boots and then filled the top of his trousers with silver dollars. They thought that was so funny. I asked Kevin if any of those silver dollars still exist, and he said he's carried one of them every day for a long time. He pulled it out. The date? 1888. Pretty cool.

Got some good sketches going for a running sequence in the Top Secret Project:

Been working for several days on this, hope to go to finish by this weekend:

Proof that productive and creative idea sharing can work for the betterment of Mankind. here's an inner-office exchange between True West staffers:

On Apr 28, 2008, at 12:23 PM, Editor wrote:

For all you dog lovers:

- The Role of Canines In the Ancient Southwest: Hundreds of prehistoric dogs found buried throughout the southwestern United States show that canines played a key role in the spiritual beliefs of ancient Americans, new research suggests. Throughout the region, dogs have been found buried with jewelry, alongside adults and children, carefully stacked in groups, or in positions that relate to important structures, said Dody Fugate, an assistant curator at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
—Meghan Saar

On Apr 28, 2008, at 1:07 PM, Bob Boze Bell wrote:

I'd love to put a dog on the cover. I'm not kidding.


Our production manager responds:

Calamity Jane?

—Robert Ray, Production Manager

Now this is totally, politically incorrect. Gee, I wonder what the guy who played Moses has to say about this?

"Political correctness is tyranny with manners."
—Charlton Heston

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28, 2008
Got five eggs today and the air is still cool for my walk. No million dollar women on horseback at the end of the road to disrupt my turnaround. Actually, no diversion for Buddy Boze Hatkiller to disrupt the women and scare their horses. So my morning was quite nice. Turned on the airpad cooler in the studio for the first time this season and even after a half-century on the desert, nothing smells quite as sweet as fresh cooler pads, soaking and wafting on cool air.

I have been adamant that I do something different with my life now that I have a second chance and one of the things I've come upon is Do The Hardest Thing First. I write down five things that I don't want to do but need to do. After my walk I pick one and bail in. Yesterday it was "start the '49, pull it out of the garage and move the drums from the breezeway back into the corner of the garage." I've been putting this off for a month. I just knew the Ford wouldn't start (it's been sitting there since the Wipeout). But after I primed the carburator with some fuel it turned right over and the next thing you know I was done and checked it off the list.

Yesterday afternoon I got my oil paints out and took a good whack at the commission "Ambush At Stagecoach Pass." That felt good as well.

So every morning I pick something I don't want to do, and I do it first thing. No newspaper and no email until I do this.

My Son, The Peruvian Basketball Coach
Just got this from Tomas in Peru. Here's my number one son with his basketball team:

Here's a couple pages from my new sketchbook:

Those are the final studies for the Illinois book cover. Here's a crack at hands and dynamic torsos, copied from Burne Hogarth (who I took a class from back in the 80s):

And here's Tom Horn and friends done in a Freddy Remington style:

Still wrestling with torsos and anatomy:

So, my latest efforts are to meet tasks head-on. I have spent my life avoiding tasks until the last possible moment and it has caused me untold grief. Gee, I wonder if anyone named Chandler has anything to say about this?

"What if everyone was doing everything they could to avoid effort--and yet the secret of happiness was, in fact, effort?"
—Steve Chandler

Oh, that's good.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 26, 2008
Very nice weekend. Worked on a commission painting, had dinner at the Conky Donkey (El Conquistador) with Deena and Frank. Deena bought.

Stayed home today. Started the '49 and pulled it out into the driveway and loaded my drums back into the garage (from the breezeway). Long journey from Kingman.

"Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25, 2008
Kathy's article in the Sonoran News referencing my heart attack hit the streets yesterday. The publisher, Don Sorchych, graciously added a postscript to her column saying if anyone wants to know more about my condition to come here to twmag.com. For any of you who are coming here for that update, check out the blog date postings from March 25—April 10 for the best coverage of the affair.

Had another appointment with a doctor this morning. This time with a dermatologist who took a sample from a "suspicious mole" on my back. Hey, heart attacks, skin cancer, welcome to the new sixties.

"History—the rational study of the human past—was invented by a single man just under twenty-five-hundred years ago. . .the risible figure in question was Herodotus, known since Roman times as 'the Father of History.'" Thus begins a great piece on two new books on the H-Man (the movie 300 is based on Frank Miller's retelling of Herodotus), in the current issue of The New Yorker, by Daniel Mendelsohn. If you enjoy history like I do, check them both out. I'm sending the issue down to Tommy in Peru. I know he'll dig it.

Finished the biography Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front ("Willie & Joe") a couple nights ago. Emjoyed the book, but did not enjoy reading about the end of his life. Like so many WWII guys, he came home from the war with unhealthy habits: drinking and smoking too much. My own father kicked both "Greatest Generation" habits late in life and probably added a decade to his life, but Mauldin more or less went out feet first, estranged from everyone, suffering from advanced Alzheimer's. When he attended the National Cartoonists Society convention in San Antonio in 1999, he tried to tell war stories but lost his train of thought. Of all people, Charles Schulz ("Peanuts") jumped up on the stage and finished the story for Bill. Mauldin passed away in 2003.

Still working hard on my drawing skills (6,161 sketches and counting). Strugggling with hands and torsos this week. Trying to storyboard a sequence. Gee, I wonder what a bigshot New Yorker artist has to say about this?

"Never draw what you can trace, never trace what you can scan, never scan wht you can photocopy."
—Tom Sachs

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008
Our palo verdes are blooming and the desert is full of glorious yellow blossoms.

It was six years ago today, Bob and Trish Brink walked into my life and helped save True West. I took Bob out to lunch (Trish had a prior commitment). We went down to Tonto Bar & Grill and had a half-Cobb salad and iced tea ($25-somethinig, plus $5 tip, I paid).

Here's the cover final I turned in the other day. Haven't heard from the client, so not sure they like it:

Dreamed last night, I actually finished the Top Secret Project. Woke up feeling hopeful.

"Dreams have as much influence as actions."
—Stephane Mallarme

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 23, 2008
Yesterday marks one month since my own personal Idaho Wipeout.

Came into the office again today, this time about 11. Set up a design meeting for next week, answered emails and went up to Carefree for my therapy session. Spent a good deal of time on the Top Secret Project and how to deal with the lack of progress on my part.

My son T. Charles is in Peru (in the Peace Corp) and got the following questions from a local Cave Creek school class. Here are the questions and his answers:

1. Are the women in town pretty?
Ahhh the women. Good question. Well, there really is a shortage of women my age, or even over 18 for that matter, in my town. It's a farming community and there's not much opportunity for much else so after high school you either embrace the farming lifestyle and get married or you move to the city to study or work. So, yes, there are pretty women around. Theyre just not available. Personally Ive been searching in Arequipa City for a girlfriend and its much more feasable. Theres a saying in Spanish, "pueblo pequeño, infierno grande." The gossip would just be too much if a tall, honky like me started dating a local.

2. What is your new favorite food?
My new favorite food in my town is the fresh vegetable soup you get before the main course at lunch and dinner. There are various recipes but the main ingredients are usually there: potatoes, lima beans, corn, zapallo (cousin of the pumpkin) and a small cut of alpaca meat. When I first got here I just kind of put up with it but now I find myself craving it. Especially since I'm at lot more active lately with basketball. It's just so damn healthy I think my body loves it. When you get it in a restaurant they bring you a side plate of fresh cut chiles and lime to put in it which brings it to another level. Now, having said that, when I go down to the city my new favorite food is Burger King. I swear to you I never really ate it in the states but here I just have to have it. Maybe I'm used to a diet much higher in fats because after 2 or 3 weeks of vegetable soup, nothing could stop me from getting my Megadoble and large fries. It's probabley also a comfort thing.

3. What do you miss the most from home?
The 3 Fs: Family, friends and food. When it comes to food, we just have such a variety in the states. I could get sushi in the middle of the desert! Its wonderful. Oh man, let's not forget some biscuits and gravy for breakfast or my dad's special pancakes, otherwise known as Bobby Cakes. Yummy. Now I'm getting hungry.

4. Do you think you will stay for the full 2 years?
You better believe I'll stay the whole two years. Adapting at the beginning was really the most difficult. Now that I have daily routines and friends I feel quite good about being here. Plus the kids I work with are great. Funny you ask this question because as an April Fool's joke I wrote my mom saying that I was thinking about coming home. She called me a bastard, in a loving way, when she found out it was a joke. I asked my dad if I had gone too far and he just said, " did you get a laugh? Then no."

5. Where do the stray dogs come from? Why is it such a problem?
Getting a dog nuetered is just a foreign concept here. People have dogs and while theyre away working their fields the dogs roam the streets, fall in love etc. etc.

6. Do families actually have pets? Pet dogs?
Yeah, dogs and cats are the only pets Ive seen here. Even they arent really pets the way we think of them. The idea of owning animals here comes down to their usefullness. Dogs serve as night watchmen, cats eat mice and rats, donkeys carry things, cows give you milk and pigs are perfect for slaughtering and eating on special occasions.

7. Is there anyone there that you have met that has not been very friendly to you?
I’ve had people attack me with questions regarding American politics and foreign policy. I just answer by asking them about their president or government. Alan Garcia is causing inflation in food prices. What do you have to say for yourself?

[this is me, BBB, to give a sidebar to the above answer. Tom told me he was cornered at a party by a couple Peruvian dudes who, when they found out he was from the U.S. proceeded to question him about U.S. movie stars. "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger from the U.S.?" "No," Tom admitted, "he's from Austria." Then they asked about Van Damme. "No, I think he's from France." The two scoffed, "So you really don't have any good actors in the U.S.?"]

8. Are there any different sports there?
The only thing I can think of that’s different is sports having to do with animals. Like Pass Horse competitions and bull fights. We do have our own version of that in Arizona though. I think in the states there’s much more variety when it comes to sports. Here, the guys play soccer and the girls play volleyball. That’s probably why there’s a lot of interest in basketball. What if you don’t like soccer.

9. Are women ok with their traditional roles or do you think they want something different?
Good question. The other week I was doing a collage project with the sophomores in the high school and they were cutting out stuff from old Newsweeks that I had. A lot of the girls cut out things like nice houses, families and jewelry. I think that even the ones who don’t move to the city and embrace the lifestyle here still get to see the rest of the world through television, magazines and the internet and they say, hey, I want that too. Actually, its not just the media where they’re seeing these things. The vast majority have been down to the city and seen first hand the rising middle class in Peru. The role of the woman is changing, albeit gradual, but tradition here runs deep. Especially in the mountains.

The Diamondbacks are off to an incredible start and the Suns are playing game 2 of the playoffs against San Antonio tonight. We’ll hope for the best. The first game went into double overtime before the Spurs finally won by 2 points. What a heartbreaker.

Man I hate the Spurs. Come on Suns!
—Tom Bell

"To some will come a time when change Itself is beauty, if not heaven."
—Edwin Arlington Robinson

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008
Went into the office from 8:30 to 10:30 this morning. Caught up on the next issue and related business. Cleaned off my desk and returned a few phone calls. Had a nice chat with Bob Brink and Meghan and Robert Ray (who scanned my Illinois cover and sent it off). Ran out of gas and came home.

My step-father, Lou Cady, sent me a box of my mom's photos. Lots and lots of photos of unidentified people. I'm sure they were people who were close to my mother but I don't have a clue who they are. Did find a new Exits photo, that is a companion to one we ran on the poster (at top). The below photo, which was in my mom's keepsake box, was taken with the New Year's Eve 1964 dance in full swing. I recognize Grover Thomas, Salty Richardson, Karen and Leonard Cooper, Dale Nichols, Maureen Paup and Richard Glancy. Charlie Waters appears to have taken off his coat and is having a serious discussion with bandmates (probably about the key to a song):

On the back in my handwriting is the following: "New Year's Eve—1964-65, played for Demolee (sic?) Price: played for half the door, made $208, 250 people attended." Amazing. I was writing photo captions (with misspellings) at such an early age.

The photo strip is of myself and my Osage, Iowa cousin Michael Richards. His mother and my grandparents came out for my high school graduation (June, 1965) and Mike joined the Exits, as a roadie, for a gig up on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at Peach Springs. That dance went until the wee hours as the Hualapais kept passing the hat and we kept playing. A wonderful memory.

"We gotta get outta this place, if it's the last thing we ever do."
—The Animals, 1964

Monday, April 21, 2008

April 21, 2008
Kathy drove us into Paradise Valley last night and we stopped at Costco to get some new glasses for me (when I fell off my drum set I landed on my glasses). From there we drove down to PV Mall to meet the Harshberger's for an early dinner at Chompie's Deli. I usually get the pastrami on rye with cold slaw (The famous New Yorker) but I was a good boy and split a turkey sandwich and had a cup of tomato soup (the D's bought).

Got up early at six and had a challenge from Kathy. Can I bail into my work first thing in the morning and put off reading the paper and answering emails until 11? Oh, I think I can. Finished the Illinois book cover assignment at about ten. Felt good.

After lunch I took the Budster and we drove up to the Black Mountain Feed Store and got a sack of Laymash for the chickens ($13 cash, plus $1 tip for the guy who loaded it in the truck). Brought it home and successfully unloaded the sack into the back yard and into the chicken bin. Spike, the Silkie rooster, has got all dominant and won't let Bea-53 eat. He runs over and pecks her down and she is forced into the fetal position. She tries to sneak food and run off, but he chases her down with his dominance deal. So, I have trained Bea to sit up on the nesting bins as I come in the door and as I distract the others, I give her an apple slice or some such goodie as I spill out the regular food in the dining area. Bea has become so familiar with me she jumped on my back the other day when I came in. Which is a little more hen cuddling than I actually want.

Kathy's challenge really freed me up this morning. I have been wrestling with changing my life, or at least shaking up the way I approach things. I've gotten some good advice from Charlie Waters and his son Rich, as well. Gee, I wonder if that Baldwin chick has anything to add?

"When you're stuck in a spiral, to change all aspects of the spin you need only change one thing."
—Christina Baldwin

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April 20, 2008
I finished another sketchbook last night (6,130 sketches). Of course, this one has the big gap between March 23 and March 28. Man, you can see the skills take a nosedive , but I started a new sketchbook today and thanks to Kathy I whipped out some very strong little cowboys on horseback (she brought in half the newspaper and said, "Do your drawings first and I'll give you the rest of the paper.") Ha. It worked. I whipped out some nice little studies.

To be fair to her, I told her yesterday about my procrastination issues, so she was merely reacting to my whining. Ha.

Greetings Air-Tank Boy!
BBB Reading your blog, you seem to be getting stronger. Good. Finally saw There Will Be Blood. What a story, what a movie. You were right, Daniel Day-Lewis sounded like John Huston in Chinatown. Spoiler Alert: Did you think his son was really an orphan? I don't. I think after he went deaf and then wanted to leave him and start his own oil company, DDLewis character was so mean he just told him that. One of the quickest 2 1/2 hour movies I ever watched. The first 15 minutes of that movie there was not one word of dialogue. Boy, you want to get a good feeling about Hollywood movies, watch this along with No Country for Old Men and The Assaination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. Hey WATCH those Suns in the playoffs, first game against the reigning champs Spurs starts at high noon on Saturday. These games are better than March Madness! Stay strong, Lutheran Boy-out!
—Minnesota Mike

I hadn't talked to the Top Secret Writer in a good while, so I sent him a nice note and at the end asked him how Act III is coming on The Top Secret Project. Here's his reply:

BBB: I am delighted to receive your "How is Act 3" query! Thats my boy! Well, of course I am so distraught over your condition that I can barely function--since you are in therapy to offset the inevitable depression resulting from your episode it is up to me to face the burden unsupported. I am weighed down with depression over your situation without any damn help. Do you ever stop to think of the pain you have caused all your friends by this unfortunate dramatic episode? I think not. But do not worry about me--I have already been chided and instructed by the ladies at TW not to cause you any stress--I will soldier on! Now that you are back on me about pages I will get back to work and redouble my efforts. But I am so depressed...and the more detailed blog entries of your "episode" I read simply depresses me all the more (you actually have been taking care of yourself while my record speaks for itself--I am doomed. But then we all are--it really is the Alamo for everybody eventually). I'm so shaken I need another twinkie--washed down with my fifth beer of the evening. Glad you are feeling better--I'll get back to work. PH

He's a witty boy. A little snotty, but that's part of the charm.

Meanwhile I'm finally working up the final on the Illinois cover. I spent so much time turning it over in my mind. Gee, I wonder if my Norsky farmer relatives have any saying that goes with this thought process?

"No farmer ever plowed a field by turning it over in his mind."
—Old Norsky Saying

Saturday, April 19, 2008

April, 18, 2008
Nice and cool on walk this morning. Dogs really prancing. Need to enjoy it while I can. We've got about four more weeks of delightful temperatures, before the nuclear heat descends on us.

Ed and Rose Marie Mell came out yesterday and brought lunch. We sat out on the patio and had a very nice visit. Ed wanted a couple rooster reference photos for a painting he's contemplating so I took him in the chicken coop. He got several shots and smiled saying he could now write off the trip. Ha.

Frank Ricci and Deena came out today and Frank made fresh and non-greasy tacos with his patented marinated beef and homemade ingredients. Really good. Almost all the Radinas on earth came as well, including Betty, Debbie and Ken, Brad, E.J. and James (visiting from San Diego). Played Scategories and another word game. Yes, this is the first Mexican food I've had since the Wipeout Stent Session.

It's A Small World, General
"My first boss in the Quinn Martin costume department when I went to work on The Fugitive television series in 1965, was Elmer Ellsworth, a wonderful gentleman who had done the (uncredited) costume work on Gone With the Wind. Before he became a costumer, Elmer had been a young cameraman in the silent days. He was behind a camera which had been tied down on top of the train for The General; he was facing toward the rear of the train and wasn't aware there was a low overhanging something or other behind him. He was knocked off the top of the moving train and badly injured. By the time he healed up and haired over, his cameraman job was no longer available. That's how he ended up in the wardrobe end of the business."
—Steve Lodge

Finally got untracked on the Illinois book cover today. Put in a light wash of the main characters and feel good about it. Need to make hay tomorrow.

"Imagination is as good as many voyages—and how much cheaper."
—George William Curtis

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 18, 2008
Eating lots of fruit and greens. Had strawberries and cantaloupe for breakfast. My chickens absolutely love the leftovers. Buddy watches them like a video game, sometimes for hours. I'll come out on the patio and there he is at the top of the steps, peering out at the chicken house like it's Halo or sumthin'.

E Street Exit
NEW YORK (April 18) - Danny Federici, the longtime keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen whose stylish work helped define the E Street Band's sound on hits from "Hungry Heart" through "The Rising," died Thursday. He was 58.

So young. I read somewhere that pop musicians in the U.K. have a life expectancy of 31 years (all those twenty-something overdoses factored in). Also, NFL players tend to check out sooner than later (I think their number is 64).

Retiring Regimen
"The first two paragraphs of your April 16th blog (with exception of taking medication) make it sound as if you have the routine for retirement down pretty good."
—Gus Walker

The June issue of True West went out the door yesterday (actually uploaded online to Kansas City). I went into the office and proofed the pdfs. I had very little to do with this issue. Mark Boardman wrote Classic Gunfights and Meghan and Robert Ray schmoozed the layout to look like me, poaching a piece of my art from another gunfight. The whole issue is quite good and I'm proud they carried on with such style and wit.

Drove down to Aaron Brothers at Desert Ridge yesterday afternoon to get some much needed art supplies. Farthest I have driven since my date with the Kingman Regional ER crew. Woman almost turned in front of me at Dynamite and Tatum on a yellow light(she made the feint, then stopped and I snaked around her going through the yellow). I made it through and shuddered. Wouldn't that have been something to have survived two heart attacks and pneumonia only to crap out in a traffic accident?

"Death is never at a loss for an occasion."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008
Much cooler out this morning. Low fifties when I went for my walk. I had two therapy sessions yesterday. The first with my family appointed counselor and then I met at two at our house with with Gail Peterson and her Lutheran Pastor Roger Thompson and his wife Cheryl.

Roger and I have a lot in common. Rock bands for one, but he also had a heart attack, when he was fifty and so we compared notes and he told me about the road to recovery. We also talked a bit about my guilt tripping which I don't think he really enjoyed hearing I ascribed to my Lutheran upbringing. He had some good advice about letting go of the past.

Every year I donate two or three BBB illustrations and paintings for a charity auction they have.

"Art for Health!" year 5
at Grace Lutheran Church, Hope Hall
Friday, May 2, 2008 6:30 to 9:30 pm
1124 N. 3rd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Roger's band, "Social Graces", will be playing. Also free food.

Tales From the Crypt
"After reading Steve Paroni's entry I read some of the early TW Business Timeline myself...fascinating, terrifying and eerily familiar all at once."

Yes, I'm tempted to go read it myself, but with my heart condition I better not.

Last night I caught Buster Keaton's silent classic "The General" on Turner Classic Movies. I have heard about it forever but had never seen it. It's about a squad of Union men in the Civil War who steal a rebel locomotive and attempt to disrupt Southern supply abilities. The movie had great trains and in one scene an entire engine plunges off a burning bridge into the water. I wondered what that cost? Leave it to Thom Ross to know the answer:

"Yeah, that Buster Keaton version.....he wanted to film it on the original
tracks through the original countryside BUT when they (the SOUTH) found out it
was going to be a comedy they denied Keaton's request.

"So he found the area around Cottage Grove, Oregon (ouside Eugene) and filmed
it there. The train that crashes into the river (1927) lay there until World
War II when it was removed and reduced for scrap metal! There is a large
mural in downtown (?) Cottage Grove showing Keaton and the 'GENERAL.'"

"Keaton was quite the baseball nut and during production of "The GENERAL" he
would halt filming when the weather was good and they'd all play baseball

"You missed a wonderful time [at last weekend's Old Westfest in Georgia], but for the amount of times your damn name came up you'd think you were THERE. For instance, your name was used as:

A Deity: "God damn, Bell!"

A part of anatomy: "Bell is an azzhole!"

An object of lust: "F**k Bell!"

A Misplaced location: "Where the f**k is Bell?"

When confused with a lady: "Bell is a c**ksucker!"

As a bad historian: "Well, don't blame ME....Bell wrote that!"

As an artist: "Christ, Ross, Bell is better then YOU!"

And as a missed bar partner: "If Bell was here we'd make him pay!"

Hope you are on the mend and feeling better. Gotta be there next year and
we'll tour some Civil War sites.

I offered your doctors my heart in the event a transplant was needed to save
your useless life.....but our blood types were incapatable....my blood type is


"In a recent survey, only 43% of American teenagers knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900."
—Kenneth Davis, "Why Don't We Know Much About History?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008
Been waking up at seven for the past week. Kathy brings me a piece of banana and a cup of coffee and I sit up and have it in bed. I get dressed and walk to the end of the driveway and get the paper (today is recycling day so I bring out the roller trash can).

After reading the paper at the kitchen table I check email then take the dogs for a walk up the road (one mile). Very cool out today and my sweatshirt felt good. When I get back I go out and feed the chickens. I come back and make some breakfast: cereal (fake Cheerios) and strawberries. I take my pill regimen (four pills and a puffer). I go out into the studio and do a pencil study of the Illinois book cover (still not right). Go back and talk to Kathy and settle in for my first nap (at ten).

Yesterday we sent back all the oxygen bottles. When we checked out of Kingman Regional several weeks ago, I had a portable oxygen tank on wheels with the tube into the nose. When we got to Wickenburg Kathy stopped at a gas-convenience store on the edge of town and she pulled into a handicap space. When I objected, she said, "If you aren't handicapped, who is?" I got out and had to take out the tube because the tank was in the back seat. Kathy came round to put it back together. I turned around to see a pretty, young mother with her seven-year-old son, both eating ice cream cones and waiting for us to move so they could get into their giant Expedition parked next to ours. "I'm sorry," I said," we'll be out of your way in just a second." Still wrestling with the wheels on the oxygen tank, Kathy says out of the blue, "He never smoked a day in his life." The mother seemed incredulous, or at least quite curiouos. Finally, as I grabbed the handle on the unit and started to move by them, the woman said, "What did you do?" I pointed at her cone and said, "I ate ice cream."

As they sped off, I imagined the boy saying to his mother, "Was that old man telling the truth." "No, honey, don't listen to him, he's just a bitter old man."

Here's another take on the events at the Exits Exit, this one from our bass player Steve Paroni:

I decided to read your entire blog while you were still "Questionable in Kingman". Charlie Waters was e-mailing us a couple times a day for progress reports. I knew that you really needed a couple of weeks of down time. I started with the True West Business Time Line , then to your oldest post and skimmed a few months a day. I wanted you to rest while I read your diary. Of course I read the daily current blog to see how you were. Glad that you are now walking a bit. I must say my passage through your diary has been a blast. My office mates and partners in crime, were a little less enthused, as my head was continuously buried in my computer screen the last few weeks. I countered by reminding them that I was a Genius and 1/2 hour a day of my time was worth more than eight hours of other, more menial people. They quickly proceeded in trying to disconnect my AOL account.

I have now read your entire blog and am up to date, and will continue to read it for as long as you decide to write it. It is quite good you know, with little bits of artist observations and humorous tidbits that prompts the hungry reader (me) to devour it on a daily basis. I feel like I am acquainted with your most excellent wife Kathy, your children, Hatkiller, and even your chickens. I didn't want you to think that I was coldly forgetting you. It's just that I knew you would be inundated with calls, letters etc., so I researched instead to let you rest.

These are the events, from my perspective, of that day:

I had been at the hall, that Saturday since 10 am and had played bass for several hours with the various incarnations of the Dimensions, the Exits, and Smokey. I saw you come back to the hall with part of your lunch about 2:00 pm. I remember thinking " Robert knew where the good s...t was at." You mounted the drum kit, center stage, and we played a few surf tunes, plus Lonely Bull. It was time for me to let Burf use my bass for his two songs, so I got to sit down. ( My P.A.D. in my right leg was making my Dog Bark and I knew that was it, for me) In between songs I stuck my head up through your Hi-hat and said I'm going to call it at 3 pm. (In order to rest an hour with my foot up on the bed at the motel , take a shower, and make it back with Jeannie for the 5 o'clock dinner with all the musicians and wives/girlfriends) You agreed with me that you were going to cut it off at 3 pm. 3pm came and went and it was about 3:15 or so when Mike Torres called down from the stage and said "Steve, come back up and lets rehearse "Wipe-out." I told Mike to do it without me, as I knew it cold. (besides the bass and the guitar are doing essentially the same part throughout the song, and it was the drummers that needed to do the bit.)

I stayed to see the drum show and witnessed you pounding the heads, making it sound like the Safari's. I saw you do your spontaneous bit " Drum Wars" You made faces at the other two drummers and then got off of your drum stool and started rhythmically playing the wall, the door frame, and the floor, like some demonic wild child from Stomp.( I think I saw an old Fred Astair flick where he did the same bit ) After throwing an epitaph at the other two drummers, and some air "fisticuffs" you flung your drumsticks across the room. Like everyone else, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.. I walked up and said " You have to leave that bit in for tonight, it's priceless". I then turned around and picked up my bass case and walked out, immediately got in my car and headed back to the hotel. ( you must have dropped down just a few seconds after I left).

At the Hotel I changed my bass strings with fresh ones, got in the shower, and was resting on the bed when I called Mike Torres to find out the exact name and location of the restaurant we were all meeting at. It was about 4:10. Mike told me that he had been trying to reach me. " Bob had a heart attack, he's in the hospital." Upon hearing these words I shifted into that strange Rod Serling mode, that quasi,surreal existential moment, where time seems to stand still and disbeleif and uncertanty seem to be some kind of defence mechanism. (It took me a minute or two to get it.-- Denial is not just a river in Egypt.) Mike didn't know much more other than you were in the Hospital and Charlie was with you. He told me to meet at the restaurant at 5 pm and the musicians would discuss what to do.

I got off the phone and told Jean " You're not going to believe this--Bob is in the hospital, he's had a heart attack!". Jean asked if you were alright and I told her we would get more info at the restaurant.

My thoughts going down the hill were many. Would you ultimately be OK. Could we pull off the show without you?. Should we even do the show without you? ( I believe that I came to the same conclusion as
everyone else on that drive, as my sense of reasoning came back.) The show had to go on, we had over 300 R.S.V.P s, with some people coming from out of town. Bob would agree with this!!

As Jean and I pulled up to the restaurant, there were seven or eight people standing on the sidewalk. We got out of the little Aveo and everyone seemed very subdued and quiet. Larry Archer filled me in with a few facts of what went on after I had left the hall. Larry said we should probably go in, so we did. Everyone was in agreement that we had to go on. I wasn't hungry and just had a salad. Mike Torres told me he wasn't going to stay because he wasn't hungry either. After a while, we left the restaurant to walk over to the hall.

At the hall, I gathered Bebe over to a table and started writing a short 2 paragraph monologue for Roger to say during the intro to Pretty Woman, in your place. Bebe pointed out who was to receive the framed poster, and I went and located it. I told Mike T. to sing the slow part with me, enableing Roger to be free to do the dedication to the Havetone family.

Larry Archer went out to Mike's van and listened to all the beginning drum beats of the songs. I told him I would que him wile we were playing, for endings . I sang Honky-tonk woman in your place. Roger did La Bamba. We were all adament about doing the best show possible under the circumstances.

I believe when you see the video, you'll, see that it was a good event. It would have been over the top ,if you had been with us--but oh well...next time.

Would like to have margueritas on the patio and solve all the worlds problems when you feel better.

—Your friend Steve Paroni el paron the silver fox

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008
One of the regrets of my prolonged recovery is I missed the True West Weekend at the Booth Museum in Georgia last weekend. I have never been to that part of the country and was looking forward to the art show featuring Thom Ross and BBB artwork, plus a variety of panels on the Old West.

This morning I heard from one of the attendees and panelists:

The impact Wild West personages have made on American or world culture was a thought that surfaced during the True West Weekend. That got me to thinking, what's the metric? How could we determine with something approximating measurable standards Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp's mark?

We could count the number of books written or movies made about each one. We could poll leading authorities. That, however, might not result in anything beyond more discussion, and, worse, would involve a lot of work.

I enlisted the assistance of my research Igor, Dr. Google, and we devised a simple, quick standard: number of Google hits. In order to provide some context we Googled not just Wild West figures, but other famous personalities from American history. The names were searched enclosed in quotation marks, and the number to the left of the period is millions, thus 2.650 represents 2,650,000.

The results speak for themselves. America is represented in the world by a ditz, a rock-and-roller, and a troubadour, albeit a Pulitzer-prize winning troubadour. We have to dip all the way to tenth before we can offer up an outlaw. The first officer of the law does not make an appearance until slot 21.

Wild Bill Hickock, inexplicably, came in last. He needs a new press agent.

Direct all complaints, quibbles, and hate mail to Google.com

Britney Spears: 97.700 (millions)
Elvis Presley: 22.300
Bob Dylan: 21.400
Johnny Cash: 13.400
Mark Twain: 12.800
Marilyn Monroe: 10.600
Abraham Lincoln: 9.410
Geronimo: 8.090
Dolly Parton: 7.290
Jesse James 7.190
Ernest Hemingway: 3.910
Babe Ruth: 3.200
Crazy Horse: 3.080
Anne Rice: 2.890
Al Capone: 2.470
Billy the Kid: 2.100
Jefferson Davis: 2.010
Buffalo Bill: 1.670
Butch Cassidy: 1.570
Sundance Kid: 1.260
Wyatt Earp: 1.220
Sitting Bull: 1.020
Joe Dimaggio: 1.000
Doc Holliday .531
Annie Oakley: .501
Pat Garrett: .432
Nelson Algren: .122
Wild Bill Hickock: .094

I wanted to add some non-American names to the list, but they don't have work permits and I didn't want to run afoul of the INS. But just between you and me, here are the numbers:

Harry Potter: 124.000
Shakespeare: 47.000
Jesus Christ: 31.300
The Beatles: 22.000
Emiliano Zapata: 1.430

John Lennon's remark notwithstanding, the Beatles are not more popular than Jesus, but Harry Potter and William Shakespeare are, as well as Britney Spears.

—Dan Buck

It's all fascinating, but what is especially interesting to me is that Geronimo out pulls Billy the Kid by some four times and Wyatt Earp is way below that. Nice to see that Nelson Algren is hanging in there, whoever that is.

"Hit me with your best shot, fire away."
—Pat Benatar

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14, 2008
Actually did some True West work today. Wrote up my editorial this morning for the June issue, accessing the server from the office on my laptop. Thanks Robert Ray for hooking this up so I can work at home. Very sweet.

Kathy writes a column in the local paper about family counseling and here is the lead on this week's column:

"On March 22 my husband had the first of two heart attacks in four days that nearly ended his life. The irony is that this happened while he was checking something off his Quality Time Left (QTL) list."
—Kathy Radina

The total irony of The Exits Exit still hasn't completely sunk in to me. Meanwhile, the ripples of realization continue to fall into my inbox:

"Jeez BBB, remember this Blog post from January 4:

"It's going to be an intimate affair with just our old friends and family. And hey, it's in Kingman, so what could possibly go wrong?"

[Ouch! Yes, I wrote that on the blog. Mildly ironic now that I reread it. But there isn't anything else of this nature, is there?]

"Do you think anyone actually cares whether you can still play Wipeout?"
—J. Waldon, Kingman Area BBB Anti-Fan Club President"

"Are you sure your waitress at lunch that day wasn't named "Joan"???

[I don't remember. Well, at least there isn't some profound quote that references
someone depressing, like, say, Nietzsche?]

Here's what Milan Kundera has to say about trying to recapture the past:

"Kundera says in the last pages of the novel: 'And therein lies the whole of man's plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.' Thus Kundera seems to accept Nietzsche's argument that only an eternal recurrence allows one to survive meaninglessness, but then leaves Nietzsche in holding that the survival itself is impossible since the eternal recurrence does not and cannot happen."
—Wayne L.

And, of course, friends from around the country continue to check in:

"Bob! WTF!!

"I was bored and thought I'd see what my old compadre was up to and checked out your blog. I couldn't believe it. You're still playing with the Exits? Jeez, Bob, you should switch to shuffleboard. (Real big here in Florida!)

"Seriously, I picked MYSELF in the office pool to have the first heart attack.
I love you Bob. Your a tough old cuss and I'm sure you're recovering nicely. There are too many dirt roads out there your haven't traveled yet!

"'I think I'd better gator.'....Pancho Villa would have preferred that one!"
—David K. Jones (my old radio partner on KSLX)

And finally, here's something that Carole Glenn sent me that just makes me smile. A Finnish band, the Leningrad Cowboys played in Russia and teamed with the Red Army Choir to do "Sweet Home Alabama," in perfect English. I don't know whey but it makes me smile. Check it out:


With that I think we need to end with a quote from David K's favorite coach:

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."
—Vince Lombardi

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008
Still quite sore in my rib cage. Can't sneeze: hurts too much. Easily tired, although Kathy and I walked all the way to the end of our road and back (1 mile).

My neighbor Bob Haas came over with Dos Equis at three and we solved life. I put him to work posing for me with a Colts .45 posed for the Illinois cover that's due this week. Got some good sketches.

Deena called and she and Frank are headed for the Socttsdale Culinary Festival today. Yesteray they climbed Squaw, I mean, Piestewa Peak, then went to a jazz festival last night. They are so cosmo.

Marine Robert Chenal, fried our hair yesterday with his Iraq stories. In addition to being shot in the back by a U.S. Army unit in a friendly fire incident (his Kevlar vest stopped the bullet but it knocked him down) he told these amazing stories of being on patrol in his "office" an M-60 machine gun mounted on a tank with bullet proof glass all around him. He was scanning the horizon, looking to the right, than back to the left, and as he turned back to the right there was a bullet smash in the window right at eye level. Talk about close calls and amazing equipment. He showed us a slide show (edited together to "Pink Houses" by John Melencamp), and a video mash-up. Some of it is top secret stuff so he kind of glossed over some stuff. He survived roadside bombings, sniper attacks and patrol ambushes (two tracers cut right in front of him, missing him by two feet). On the bright side, they provided security (and sometimes pitched in) while the U.S. built 16 schools a bunch of new hospitals. Amazing. He says he misses the place.

"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."
—Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 12, 2008
Walked almost to the end of the road this morning. Could have made it but wanted to have a decent stretch for tomorrow. Two days ago I had on a sweatshirt, jacket and Babushka hat, but now it's warm and no jacket nor hat is needed. So much for Spring. The dogs like the walking better than the bike riding because they get to smell more stuff and mark it with urine.

Robert Chenal is home from Iraq and he's coming by this afternoon to visit. Anxious to see him.

Kathy helped me get untracked for the cover painting that's due on the 20th. Needed to blow up the rough proportionately, and needed her math skills to make it come out right (I somehow misplaced my proportion wheel in my studio pit). Got a good pencil down and I need to lay in a light wash tomorrow and then attack the main figures.

Just had a flower delivery, a pretty bouquet delivered from Colleen and the Dude Ranchers Association. Very sweet. We also received a huge gift basket from Larry Siegel at Barnes & Noble and another gift basket from Faith at Big Bronco.

My neighbor Tom Augherton dropped by last night and told me I need to do a comic strip in the Republic. Ironically, Betty Radina called this morning and suggested the same thing. Not sure what that means.

My therapist suggested I read "The Death of Ivan Ilych" by Leo Tolstoy. Kathy actually had it in her library, so I started reading it this morning:

"The expression on the face [of the dead Ivan] said that what was necessary had been accomplished, and accomplished rightly. Besides this there was in that expression a reproach and a warning to the living. This warning seemed to Peter Ifvanovich out of place, or at least not applicable to him. He felt a certain discomfort and so he hurriedly crossed himself once more and turned and went out of the door—too hurriedly and too regardless of propriety, as he himself was aware."

Pretty dense prose, but he's a straight talking little Rushkie. Gee, I wonder if the Apaches have anything to say about this?

"You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight to our hearts."

Friday, April 11, 2008

April 11, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Just for grins I went and looked through some of my old annuals to see if I could find my dancing partners from the Rainbow Girls Ball. Well, here's Mary Jane Rutherford "diggen" the last word in pop tunes at Mohave Radio & Electric.

This is from the 1961 Mohave County Union High School annual. And here's Michele Gilpin when she was Homecoming Queen in 1965:

April 11, 2008
Wayne and Marilyn Rutschman were up from Tucson yesterday and drove out to visit
me. Wayne said he needed to look me in the eyes to make sure I was still alive, adding the last time he saw me was on the floor of the Elks and, as he put it, "You didn't look good."

Wayne also filled me in on the details of him and his son Cody doing CPR. They traded off until I vomited up my lunch. Cody looked at his dad and said, "He's your friend." Wayne cleaned out my mouth as best he could and continued the mouth to mouth. He also mentioned I had corn in those tacos, which I realize is more than anybody, even me, wants to know, but I say it, only to show the level of commitment those Rutschman boys went to in order to save my life.

My son Thomas is in Peru and just started teaching the locals in his village how to play basketball. I asked him if they were savvy to the sport and here's his reply:

"Oh, it's a brand new game baby! We're starting from absolute zero with these guys which is challenging but also fun to see their progress. This is the second week and they are finally playing somewhat like basketball should be played and not soccer. The biggest problems still are excessive fouling, thank you soccer, and traveling. It also took them a while to realize that it's much more fast paced than soccer. At first it would take them a half hour to score and when they did they would run around and celebrate like it was a goal. I helped them dispel that by running the court and busting layups on them. Defense drills I do daily because that's pretty vital to the game. In soccer you can give much more leeway because the fields so big. Now I just gotta get them to use their feet and their bodies to stop your drive instead of their arms.

"In other news, I think I'm going to be in the best shape of my life pretty soon here. Were doing basketball practice tuesday through friday from 5:30 in the morning to 6:30 and Ive been showing up early to practice and get in shape. The idea being that if I can run up and down the court at 11,000 feet, when I go down to the coast I should be schooling people. Not only that but I eat fresh vegetable soup twice daily.

"Speaking of vegetables, I had the day off from classes today so I went to help my dad reap lima beans. While we were cutting the stalks, my mom made a fire and boiled fresh from the field corn on the cobb, lima beans and mini potatoes with a little salt and garlic. Then she broke us each off a chunk of fresh farm cheese to accompany the veggies. Man, it was so simple but so fresh and delicious."
—Thomas Charles Bell

Memories of A Midget Dancing In The Stars
"I don't now if you remember telling me that the first time you were in the Elks was with me at a Rainbow Girls Ball. Guess I had a dance card & insisted that you get it filled out. One dance we traded you had your face in someone's chest the entire dance. Sorry if I was a brat - I'm sure my mother had directed me that the card should be filled out! Anyway, thanks for going with me (50 years later!)
—Love, Michele (Gilpin) Bonham

The deal was, if I remember correctly, the Rainbow Girls spanned the ages of junior high to high school. So here I was (and Charlie Waters, see below) in sixth grade when the girls in our own class were taller than we were. And we had the big, wool suit on with the corsage to pin on while the father films it in 8mm. But then we get to the Elks and here are all these "dreamboat" high school couples cavorting around and we had these damn dance cards and we'd have to go around and ask these studs if we could trade dances, with the idea of having a full dance card. The exchange Michelle is reminding me of, was with Mary Rutherford, who was vivacious and full figured. The only thing I remember of the dance is my forehead against her clavicle and my ears moored on her giant breasts. As you can imagine, it wasn't without its charms but I wasn't a very good dancer so I kept banging from side to side, like some blind yahoo lost in a fun house. At the end of the dance I remember my ears were sure burning.

"Ah, yes, the Rainbow Ball and the dance cards. Marsha Alger Burford invited me in sixth grade, and my mom made me go. Even bought me a suit. Seems like you and I were always asked because we would dance."
—Charlie Waters

"Diamonds are only chunks of coal, that stuck to their jobs, you see."
—Minnie Richard Smith

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008
Spent all morning at the heart doctors. Tired. The news was all good. Chest X-rays showed major healing and breathing tests (46% capacity currently).

Stopped by Betty Radina's on the way back and had lunch with her. Kathy drove me home.

Restarted my six sketches a day last week. Pretty weak drawings, but I'm back at
it. Have a cover painting due on the 20th. Need to get back on that.

The therapy session yesterday was good. I haven't been in a Lutheran church in thirty years but I still carry around the guilt. Didn't even realize it until the therapist asked me how I feel about missing the gig. Guilty. How I feel about surviving. Guilty. It went on, but I won't bore you with it. Pretty pathetic (as you can see I feel guilty about feeling guilty). Talked a bit about reclaiming my life and what I would like the second half to resemble, which in a nutshell is: less naked ambition more reconciliation with the people I love. We talked about forgiveness and I said I had pretty much forgiven everyone except one of my ex-partners, and I'm working on that one.

Meanwhile, got this advice from a school teacher in Denton, Texas:

"My husband had a triple bypass, and medicos said 'look out, your life will chance, he will change, he'll suffer from depression big time.'
He never did.

"Of course docs also found really advanced throat cancer from 40 years of smoking.
Tell Kathy- I was very positive and up all the time. I refused to let him feel sorry for himself or feel helpless. You seem pretty strong willed on the blog and may not have a problem.

"I made him make decisions and be a part of his illness. I think it really helped his moods. We laughed a lot and continued on with life. He lived at least a year longer than anyone thought he would.

"But he made it through the heart surgery like a champ - so did his 65 year old brother and 80 year old uncle who are still going strong. (Could heredity have an influence here? duh! You might warn your children to get check ups around that age.)
I guess the moral to this story is good attitude, good nutrition, don't smoke...
and, have a good woman to kick your a** if you get too wonkie."
—Marilyn Stevens

"One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning."
—James Russell Lowell

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

April 9, 2008
Kathy booked me a session with a therapist this afternoon. All the doctors have warned me I will probably get depressed during my recovery (some brain chemical supposedly gets depleted) and it wouldn't hurt to have a sounding board outside my home.

Got the medical files from Kingman last night. A phone book sized swatch of papers. Kathy started to read them then said it is still too traumatic to her. I picked them up this morning and read a couple pages with much interest (mainly because I don't remember being there):

A Supine Gentleman's Infarction
"E11 on scene to find patient lying supine on the floor, in the old Elks Lodge, and was pulseless/apneic.

"Bystanders stated they started CPR PTA. No CPR witnessed on arrival. Patient information obtained by a bystander talking to the patient's wife on the phone. Patient was pale, dry and warm."

The rest is medical lingo beyond my reach. Anyway they handed off to Kngman Regional Emergency Room and here's the attendant doctor's notes:

"The patient is a 61-year-old gentleman who was visiting from Phoenix to town here. He has nonprevious clinical history. He was admitted through the emergency room when he was in a music rehearsal group when he suddenly collapsed, but prior to that he developed some chest pain but he ignored it and then suddenly he collapsed on the floor. He woke up shortly, 3 to 4 minutes after that. In the emergency room he collapsed again and was found to have acute anterior lateral wall myocardial infarction. He had a cardiac arrest and they tried to intubate him. They could not, so they did emergency tracheostomy on him."

It goes on in bloody detail, but suffice to say this supine gentleman appreciates the infarction work and the four stents on the left anterior descending coronary artery (which was totally occluded at the distal branch). Which reminds me, if we do another gig Charlie Waters recommends calling this one:

The Exits: Back for another stent in Kingman.

Ha. Too funny.

"A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

April 8, 2008
Had a bit of a setback yesterday. Felt light-headed, weak. Perhaps the bike ride and partying over the weekend was a bit too much. Took it real easy. Feel better today. Went out on the road for a walk at about eight. Saw Joe Yaeger and his wife coming out of their driveway with Amy, the dog that got into it with Peaches several months back. Went back to the house and waited. Joe came down and we chatted about J.D., who's up in Utah. Sounds like he's got cabin fever. Wants to come down and cut the weeds on his house here. It would be great to see him.

Went an extra twenty yards on the walk. Took it slow.

Mike Torres and Gary Conrad returned my drums this afternoon. Gary also gave me a CD of his video which he shot of the entire practice, including the Wipeout sequence. Kind of hesitant to look at it. Mike also told me about the actual gig on Saturday night and how good the original Exits sounded (Charlie Waters, Steve Burford, Wayne Rutchman, Terry Mitchell) along with Larry Archer who filled my vacancy. Mike said he was especially proud of Burf, who he said, "nailed his parts very cleanly." Gary told me about how Charlie handled the MC chores and gave wonderful testimonies for myself, Wendell Havatone and his late sis Sara Ann.

Mike also told me about some of the people he was suprised to see, among them, Alan Tapija, Lynn Lichenring, Marsha Ely and Hubby Grounds. This made me the saddest because half the deal of doing the damn gig was to see all the people we hadn't laid eyes on in forty-some-odd years.

Awake At My Own Wake, Part III
"You are a very lucky man. The reunion saved your life!"
—Dr. Michael J. Richards (my cousin from Des Moines)

"I tried to get in but the bouncer at the door stopped me because my CPR certification had lapsed. Glad you're on the mend, amigo."
—Tom Carpenter

"Gordon said you just had to one up him. He gets Leukemia and so you have to let your heart stop. Said you always have to be number one. I'm actually pretty sure he caused your heart attack. Think back to when you had a bad cold and he started 'Kick the cowboy, win a potato.' It was so popular you ran out of potatoes."
—Heather The Weather Girl

Tell Gordon he's right. I was so pissed when I heard he had leukemia.

"F**k that. You can die. I want to be the leader for once. More Beatles – less Stones."
—Gordon Smith

"I hear you Chemo Sabe."

Monday, April 07, 2008

April 7, 2008
Deena and Frank came out last night and Frank made some fantastic Shish-Ka-BBB on the grill. We sat outside and I asked them to fill in the blanks for me when they were in Kingman.

Stitching Together The Blackness
Deena and Frank had just arrived at the Hampton Inn in Kingman for Saturday night's gig at the Elks Hall when Kathy called and told them I had a heart attack. After the first operation on Saturday night, Deena and Kathy met the ER doctor in the hallway and he told them I was going to be fine, but will probably need some "occupational therapy." Both women took this to mean I had major brain damage. Kathy envisioned putting together a special wheel chair with a tray in front of me with all of my books, and a sign over my head that says, "Ask Me About The Old West." She planned on wheeling me to the nearest park and helping me to relate.

On Sunday morning at about eight I opened my eyes for the first time. I couldn't talk but asked for pen and paper. After I asked about my dogs and chickens, the first question I wrote was, " What day is it today?" Third question: "Did I miss part of the gig?" Yes, had missed the entire show.

On Wednesday at about one, the nurse said, "It looks like he's having another heart attack." After three EKGs they took me to the operating room and put in two more stents.

The worst complication was I had asperated pneumonia which developed from the first heart attack, when I vomited up my lunch and it went into my lungs. Two weeks later, I'm still battling that pain. I was also battling a high fever. Deena remembers them taking my temperature and it registering at 100.7 (the majority of my radio career was spent on KSLX FM, 100.7). They rammed ice water down one nostril, while sucking up dark stuff from the other.

Frank left Sunday night and drove home. My cousin Brenda Stockbridge drove Deena to the airport on Wednesday night, and Kathy and I checked out on Friday. When the volunteer wheeled me to the front door, while Kathy got the car, the nurse asked me if I wanted to stay inside, or be outside. I said, "Are you kidding, I want to go outside and look at the beautiful Taco Bell across the street!" I wasn't kidding. One of the ugliest streets in America suddenly lookend heavenly to me.

Funny what close encounters with death will do for your outlook on life.

Awake At My Wake, Part II
"Whatever spirit is taking care of you, you're a lucky guy. You're truly loved by a whole lot of good people and you're truly blessed because of it. Maybe that love wraps you up and keeps you immune to the 'Gator' spirit that means to take you out! I'm confident you'll be fine and when you're better, LETS TALK! "
— Love you, Jeanner (Jeanne Sedello)

"You're just lucky that you were in the company of people who knew how to keep you alive until the pros go there. I have a Friend Dave Zorn, who was with KNX CBS in LA for 30 years as the news anchor and he suffered an attack and his wife didn't know what to do. By the time the ambulance got there it took 11 tries with the paddles to get him started. Because of the damage he lost 65% of his heart function and now has a motor in his chest to help pump blood.

"You should send a Birthday card to your Rock Band buddies every year on the date of your heart attack and rebirth.”
—Allen Fossenkemper

"I heard from Kathy that Mexican food would not be allowed in your new diet. Well, that's not such a tragedy; after all, as I've told you many times, everyone knows that New Mexican food is far superior to that Sonoran slop you have in Arizona anyway. So it all works out for the best in the end."
—Tracy Lee Hutton

'"You are a true innovator and your talents are yet required in the western history and publishing fields so please get better soon and get back to it."
—Eric Weider, President and CEO of Weider History Group (among other titles they publish Wild West)

"There is no stress in the world, only people thinking stressful thoughts and then acting on them."
—Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April 6, 2008
Went up the road this morning and met my goal of making it ten yards further than yesterday. Still quite weak, but I'm improving slowly but surely.

Wonderful Russ and Wendy came out Friday night and brought food from Saba's. Lots of laughs and fun. Minnesota Mike Melrose came out yesterday and we watched the Final Four and told lies. Kathy ordered out for Barros' pizza ($45, includes big tip) and that felt good.

Awake At My Own Wake
I've received such a mountain of cards, letters and emails from the most amazing places, I feel like I'm peeking in on my own funeral. Of course with my set of friends, the sentiments run from the humble to the humbling. Here are a few, and I'll try to run several a day, so you can get a taste:

"No more Gatoraid for you pal. Like my Mum says, 'You better be careful' or you'll have to deal with her and I wouldn't wish that on you. Glad you're feeling better. Very traumatic time for everyone after reading your blog. Better get rid of those damn chickens, must have been the eggs that got ya.+
—Julie Smith

[Actually, Kathy told me the first thing I wanted to know when I regained consciousness in the hospital and I couldn't talk, but wrote her a note: "How are my chickens and dogs?"]

"Glad you didn’t try to exit during one of those True West jams . . . you might have gotten mouth-to-mouth from Minnesota Mike!"
—Gus Walker

[Gus is referring to a couple of lunchtime concerts he, Mike Torres and I put on for the True West staff. Interesting to know that Richard Pryor had the same sentiment, below:]

"Richard Pryor talking to someone needing CPR: Pryor: 'Unless you get somebody to wipe that s**t off your mouth, you ain't gonna make it.'"

"I hope that the song 'Wipe Out' will cease to be a negative in your past, and represent that you can wipe out all that crap. To me 'Wipe Out' represents alot of people who love you dearly and were in sheer fear that we might loose a one of a kind person. You got it all Bob--a beautiful family, you lay it down on the drums, on vocals on canvas, on the radio, your great magazine, and an army of people who are SOOOOOO relieved to still have you here.
Get all the rest you can my friend. There is alot more living to do, and we are all so grateful for that.

Your friend and huge fan
—Larry Archer

"Best wishes for a speedy recovery. You are a stalwart, and I hope to see you this summer at the WWHA meeting in Tulsa. I'll have good thoughts about you every day as I read your blog."
—Mark Dworkin, Toronto

"Well Buddy,that's one hell of a way to get some time off. Try to dream up something more enjoyable next time
you need a rest. I'm really glad you are back and doing better. A hospital is no place to get rest is it? What with
someone coming in every hour or two to poke or prod you somewhere. Do what Kathy tells you to do and follow
the Dr.'s orders. I have been recuperating for the last 15 months myself after a trip to the hospital and am trying
to learn to walk again so I know recovery can be a bitch. I'm just glad to see you back and wish all the best for
you and you family. I know that when something major happens with our health the family usually takes it
harder than we do. That's because they love us so much. I look forward to reading the blog. Keep up the
great work.+
—A fan and subscriber, Mike Gibson

"I think I've seen you perform 'Louie, Louie', 'Gloria' and 'Satisfaction' more then I've see the Beatles perform anything!!! And I'm a Beatle nut! The weather is beautiful. Hope all is well over in Cave Creek and you are able to enjoy it. Please say hello to Kathy from us."
—Heather The Weather Girl

"Last month I finally allowed Cox to upgrade our cable to an expanded digital service. Right away Encore Westerns was a big hit, (Can you really rig a Winchester to fire as fast as Chuck Conners in the Rifleman?) and there you were in my living room, doing True West q and a. I will see you and yell out, "Honey look, it's Bob Boze Bell!" She always yells back, " Who the hell is Bob Boze Bell!" I yell back, "You know, the etching of the two dead guys in the hay with a lot of chickens, that covers the fuse box at the back of the hall?...That Bob Boze Bell!" She yells back, "There's a fuse box under that?"

Bob, I have always connected with your work, from Honkytonk Sue on. Remember judging the country swing dance contest at Cactus Country with Kathy, Tex Earnhardt and some dufus rodeo cowboy..."That's not swing dancing!" I loved every minute of the morning show, and called almost everyday for years to join in. The books are great, the history is always so real and well researched, but the artwork always blows me away!

You have brought many laughs, dug up the facts, been a straight shooter and a kick in the pants. Thank you!

In the eighties your New Times strip covered your family vacation. You championed a theory of running the kids to tire them out before long periods of driving. Right?

Long may you run!


"Besides several heart attackes I feel good."
—Dick Cheney

Saturday, April 05, 2008

April 5, 2008
Feel much better today. Went for a walk up the road with the dogs. Made it to Ratcliff's driveway, which is about 100 yards north of us. Dogs confused by the short route, but I was thrilled to be out walking.

Meanwhile, here's another narrative of the Last Wipeout:

The tragic episode at Saturday's Exits Exit practice began when Bob Bell performed "Wipe Out" with Ken Kingman and Larry Archer. We thought it was part of Bob's continued wild man performance.

Bob was playing his drumsticks on the floor, his bottom, jumping up, playing
on the wall, then throwing his sticks while heckling Ken. We were all laughing thinking "that's Bob!" pushing himself to the max! Bob retrieved one stick then Roger Enrico retrieved Bob's other stick, handing it back to Bob with a big smile. Bob layed his sticks on his drums. So I stopped taking pictures. As I walked back to my table to check my camera, I could hear people howling evidently more was going on. I turned back to see what I had missed. Roger tapped Bob with his foot saying. Bob you can get up now...
Hey Bob that's enough, stop kidding around. Bob, Come on Bob. I heard voices echoing from the crowd."I don't think he's kidding! Somebody help him!" "I think he's having a heart attack!"

"Anyone know CPR?" "Call 911!"

I felt helpless seeing our friend lying on the floor. I felt an overwhelming need to pray ....just pray. Tell everyone to pray. Bob was face down, unrecognizable.

Gary said, Who is this guy? It's Bob!!! It's Bob!!! Gary was filming everything up to the point that Bob ended "Wipe Out". Gary straddled Bob's legs and worked Bob's sternum and back like a bellows.

Terry Mitchell took over starting CPR....Cody Rutschman cleared Bob's passage way and began giving Bob mouth to mouth resuscitation. Terry Mitchell had completed a training course in C.P.R. only days before.

Gary Conrad coached them on...don't break his ribs! ...breathe....Wayne's wife helped set the pace of compressions and breaths to give. My husband Mel lifted Bob's wrist and felt to see if he had a pulse.

"I feel a weak pulse" Then Bob vomited, Mel said roll him on his side!

I ran into the kitchen with another woman looking for paper towels. She quickly grabbed them and ran back to help. I followed her.

Cody Rutschman turned resuscitation over to his dad Wayne Rutschman. Mel and Gary got out of the way to go help get the front doors open. It was stuck. Gary Conrad stepped up and kicked it loose. Terry Mitchell and Wayne Rutschman continued to give Bob C.P.R....

"Waiting on pins and needles" has a whole new meaning for me now. Minutes felt like hours, where's that ambulance! What's taking them so long?

I called 911 again, the dispatcher said we've already received several calls. Give them a few minutes they're on the way. Please tell them to hurry! He's still purple...just tell them to please hurry...

Charlie Waters and Ken Kingman ran down the street to the fire dept. It was only a half a block away. Charlie and Ken had a mission. To get Bob help by hurrying the paramedics up one way or another. The paramedics were just leaving, help was on it's way. Upon arrival the paramedics continued the cardiac treatment.

Asking questions about Bob's medical history. Why are they asking me? I filled out the clipboard while Charlie gave me the information. Bob's wife Kathy was on Charlie's cell phone giving us more medical history. Kathy was already waiting at the ER for the Ambulance to transport Bob.

The paramedics tried to clear Bob's airway bending his head back and inserting a long tube down his throat. They placed an oxygen mask over his face. Another paramedic was inserting I.V's for any medications needed. Things were looking very grim as they then placed electrodes on his chest. The word "CLEAR" rang in my ears, disbelief setting hard in my throat. Praying please God let Bob live, please God, give him back! The emotional level was tremendous. There wasn't a dry eye. We all prayed for a miracle. Our prayers were answered that day.

Bob started breathing. Praise God! Bob was then transported to the hospital ER. I said, "Take care of our boy" One of the paramedics motioned me over..."It's not good" It's really not good"

"If you know of some other power"...I said don't worry we've got it covered....I was a bit perturbed, but continued to pray, Vern Andrews stood by me, are you praying? Yes "I haven't stopped praying Bebe...I'll keep praying.

John Waters walked over and asked if he could join me in prayer.Ken Kingman said he was praying and wouldn't stop praying. At one time we all held hands and bowed our heads and prayed together.

This was for you Bob, if you could have witnessed the love that poured out for you, your heart would have turned into solid gold. We were all so numb, it was hard to focus, nothing mattered at that time. Nothing seemed important...only your life.

We heard Bob underwent a procedure to place two stints into his clogged arteries which stabilized him. Bob should get an award or something! Bob brought us all back to a new connection. A new Exits Family. To forgotten times, when nothing mattered but our closest friends and relatives. Bob this story will be told around the campfires. This was an awakening. Bob's wife said "the show must go on", Bob would want you to perform for him. Everyone met back at The Elks buildings that evening to make Bob proud. The main link had been broken that day, but everyone helped hold it together.

"This was a very heartfelt tribute for family and friends" For those whom had passed away, and to Bob that actually made a brief exit...but came back. We all have witnessed miracles. This one won't ever be forgotten. The Exits Exit was almost the "real deal" that day.
—BeBe Doshier

Thanks BeBe. One suggestion, if you do tell this story aroundthe campfire could you eliminate the vomit part?

Just kidding.

Friday, April 04, 2008

April 4, 2008
Went to my family doctor today and he checked me out. Ripped off my final bandages, which were slapped on the entry area for the angiogram-stent procedure, which is in the groin area. Needless to say, this woke me up.

Got some great photos of the Exits Exit and accounts of the event:

Good shot of the Elks as the musicians arrived for rehearsal on March 22. From left, Terry Mitchell, Charlie Waters, BBB, Wayne Rutchman and Steven Craig Burford.

"We all have witnessed miracles. This one won't ever be forgotten.The Exits Exit was almost the 'real deal' that day."
—BeBe Doshier

I'll run her narrative tomorrow. Here's a couple more shots BeBe took:

This is when I jumped off my drums and started playing on the floor.

This is a photo of the last Gator.

Pondering my mortality?

Terry Mitchell's Account
"I feel in my heart that I was supposed to be at the Exits Exit to HELP others along with myself, save your life.

"The reason I feel this way is because from our prior conversation on how you took the time to track me down and personally call me and invite me to the gig.
"I had plenty of excuses in my mind not to attend and I know I gave them all to you. I wasn’t going to go either. My wife Kathy said you should go Bob obviously wants you there or he wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to locate you. Next, Charlie emails me asking me to come. So, the culmination of things said and done prompted me to go.

"The company I work for is adamant about ensuring their employees are trained in First-Aid, every 3 years, BBP and adult CPR, yearly. This training is done through the Red Cross. I am the manager for this facility and one of my responsibilities is to follow through on this and not let them become overdue. It took almost two weeks before I could get a scheduled training date set. I still have 3 weeks before the BBP and CPR training becomes expired, but because of what I felt was a busy work schedule at that time I decided to get it done and get it out of the way, before I went to Kingman. Sometimes you start to feel like these training programs are a waste of time and money and that you will never need it or use it. We had received our training on 3/12/2008, so things were fresh in my mind.

"I am not going into any details on this, but believe me it was total pandemonium when things started to happen. I swear on the Bible though Bob I DID have my faculties about me when 5 people, Gary Conrad, Cody Rutschman and his fiancé Jenna Doucett, Wayne Rutschman and myself all rushed to your aid. EVERYBODY played an important roll. There is no one person that did anymore than anyone else. I looked each one of these people in the face as we performed a miracle THROUGH GOD.

"The only thing that matters is Bob you are still with us and we WILL play together again

"I was so gratified (and I’m not sure this is the right word to use here) that I contacted the Red Cross instructor who trained me and my fellow workers, just to say thank you so much for your commitment to train people because it does make a difference. Well now they want me to speak at a Red Cross seminar about how important it is for company’s and the public to receive the Red Cross training that is available."
—Terry Mitchell

"Who knew that off rhythm drumming caused heart attacks? Stay strong."
—Minnesota Mike Melrose

Thursday, April 03, 2008

April 3, 2008
Robert Ray came out again today and hooked up my office account (bozebell@twmag.com) so I can finally answer many of the get well emails and zany remarks that have come in from over there. He also hooked me up to the server so I can check the progress of the latest issue.

Trying to be a good boy and take it slow. Kathy put a sign over our front door that says, "No Stress Zone." When I was asking Robert about a layout problem we are having for the cover, he said, "Calm down, I don't want Kathy on me."

She later questioned me on how much work I did yesterday, with this caveat: "I didn't sleep six days in that emergency room chair for you to mess this up." For all of you who know Kathy, you correctly guessed she didn't use the word "mess."

Numerous friends have pointed out how lucky I was that I had my heart attack in a public place where so many knew CPR. I'll give the skinny on those who jumped in, tomorrow. Here's an Associated Press article from Monday that clearly backs up that point:" Three-fourths of the 166,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside hospitals each year happen at home, and only 2 percent of victims survive."

You can call me one Lucky Dawg.

"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April 2, 2008
I've been getting great advice from everyone. Especially loved this one:

Gator Aide Vs. The Dirty Dog
"We’ve been on the road and just heard the news about Bob nearly cratering on us all. This Kingman incident had to have been the first time he was first to leave the party. We’re so glad to hear he’s gonna make it and doing okay. Really, it’s also good to know that people our age shouldn’t be trying to do the gator anymore. I wasn’t sure it was safe, but now I know with certainty it’s downright dangerous. A good low dirty dog is probably about the extent of what we should try from here on out."
—Tommy & Liz Vascocu

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April 1, 2007
Still quite weak. Tried to go out and feed the chickens and I felt like I had run the New York Marathon.

Brad and Betty Radina came out for lunch today. Or, I should say, they brought me lunch. Most food I've eaten since the heart attack. I've lost about 25 pounds, but I wouldn't recommend the method I used to accomplish it.

Just got off the phone with Dan Harshberger. We're wrestling with the next cover. He asked me if I should be doing this so early and wouldn't Kathy be upset? I told him in the hospital, everyone called Kathy "The Rock." She slept on the chair next to my bed every night and when anyone came in to do anything she wanted to know why. As they are fond of saying in Falujah, she had my back.

Dan reminded me I'm a lucky guy having Kathy and I agreed, but also given all the help I got at the Elks, and from the paramedics, doctors and friends. One of the most valuable allies in all of this has been Jim Kornberg, who writes "Frontier Doc" for True West. He lives in Colorado and Kathy has been on the phone with him daily going over meds, pulmonary experts in Phoenix he recommends. Believe me, I do feel blessed.

One of the blessings of being housebound is being able to read a whole bunch of magazines I haven't had time to even look at. Here's Jack Handey on, "How I Want To Be Remembered:"

"We are gathered here, way far in the future, for the funeral of Jack Handey, the world's oldest man. He died suddenly in bed, according to his wife, Miss France.

"He passed away after a long, courageous battle with honky-tonkin' and alley catin'.

"Even though Jack was incredibly old, he was amazingly healthy right up to the end. He attributed this to performing his funny cowboy dance for friends, relatives, and people waiting for buses."

And this brings us to my Wipeout Meets The Gator at the Elks Club on Saturday afternoon, March 22. I instinctively knew I should just play my part of Wipeout (we had two other excellent drummers, Larry Archer and Ken Kingman). All I had to do was
lay down that para diddle for six beats and hand off. But no, I had to start playing on the wall, the floor and then, tragically, I went into the Gator (see Jack Handy dance above). I overextended my abilities by about 20 years. But thankfully, even if I had checked out that day I probably wouldn't have had this as part of my obituary:

"Children loved him, but not in the way his teen-age neice claimed."
—Jack Handey, in The New Yorker