Monday, June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Graduated to the next level of cardio rehab this morning. Nurse Beth added 10 wall push ups, 10 medicine-ball-behind-the-back squat thrusts, and 10 arm curls, each side. Felt good.

On the recumbent cycle I sat next to Little Floyd, the blind war hero who told me a story about Korea. He's Roman Catholic and one of his friends was nervous about going to confession, so Floyd told him to just say this: "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, I peeled a banana and ate the skin." The guy did just that and the priest came out and said, "Floyd, I knew it was you!"

Got into the office at 11 and went over a couple hangouts with Meghan Saar our managing editor.

Went home for lunch and had a big plate of vegetables and a very small piece of steak. Worked on six sketches utilizing sepia washes. I think I'm getting something going here:

Especially today's efforts which have a very nice subtlety:

Friday night in Prescott, I met Craig Hamilton (not my Kingman Kowboy Kousin, but a different CH) and his lovely wife Marianne, who I have been corresponding with via email but had never met. Turns out Craig was in Tombstone on October 26, 1981 at the Centennial of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and I took photos of him, but didn't know him at the time. Craig gave me his big Stetson Tom Mix hat and a folder full of great photos from his career. Here is a shot from the folder showing him and his wife on the streets of Tombstone in the 1980s:

Over the weekend Kathy and I finally sat down and watched Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Ran (pronounced "Ron" and it evidently means "chaos" in Japanese). I've read about it for years but had never seen it. Kurosawa, who did Seven Samurai, which in turn was made into The Magnificent Seven, here retells Shakespeare's classic King Lear against a samurai backdrop. I really enjoyed the sweep of his film making, and his usage of long pauses between dialogue. He allegedly worked under the theory that those spaces in between are where greatness lies. Very Zen-like and I tend to agree. Very impressive.

"The past and future are real illusions. They exist in the present, which is all there is."
- Alan Watts, author of The Way Of Zen
June 30, 2008
Here's a good photo of Roger French and myself at the art opening in Prescott on Friday night. Roger is a very talented braider, and he did my hatband. The painting that sold, "John Wesley Hardin In El Paso" is over Roger's right shoulder:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29, 2007
In 1956 and 1957 I remember seeing Navajos still riding in wagons on the reservation. I also remember going to a cowboy dance on the Big Sandy with Bill Blake and his family. Highway 93 was still a dirt road from the Blake Ranch down to the Big Sandy. The dance was held in the Wickiup school house and everyone brought cakes and they had a band with a fiddle, a guitar and a piano. There was the prerequisite fight in the parking lot and The uncrowned queens of the young cowgirls were Roxie Stephens and Jeri Penrod. All the young boys my age, Jimmie and Tommy Short, Bill Blake, Tommy Penrod and Robert Odle were ga-ga over these two. I seem to remember Jimmie Short was the only one with enough nerve to dance with Roxie (and he married Jeri Penrod).

These traditions are all distant memories now, but when I hear about my son in Peru getting to attend festivals where the only way to get there is on foot with burros packing the hooch, I envy his experience, because, as I told him, how long will it be until those trails are traversed by ATVs? And then pickups? He's experiencing something really special.

Last week Thomas Charles joined his host father to deliver chicha (a local concoction of spirits) and other gifts and food staples high up on the ridges. They also planned to attend a Llama festival at a small town (The Peace Corp frowns on giving exact locations). Now high is subjective since the village where Tommy is, stands at 11,000 feet above sea level. They loaded up two burros with supplies and left at 4:30 in the morning and headed up into the mountains in the dark. T. Charles took this shot as they stumbled along the trail in the dark:

As it got light, the trail became steeper as they climbed out of the canyon where their village lies secluded. The locals burn the green, mossy stuff you see in these photos:

After four hours on the trail they stopped to rest the burros and eat. Tom's host father took these two photos of T. eating a local three egg concoction with potatoes prepared by his mom:

They are climbing from 11,000 feet up to about 15,000 so it's way above the tree line:

It is about an 11 hour walk to make it to the small village where they are going:

On the way, they pass isolated "estancias" or ranches and Tom's host father stops to chat with the ranchers.

After climbing up through the rocks and canyons, they reach the "pampas" a long flat plain on the top of the mountain range.

Here (below) is their destination. It looks like some little Sergio Leone concocted town out of "The Good, The Bad And the Ugly":

Hard to believe more than five people live here, but in the evening, more and more residents appear to begin the festival:

The local priest blesses the llamas at the culmination of the feast. In the morning, Thomas and his host father repeat the return trip, getting on the trail by 4:30 and getting back to their village late in the afternoon.

In shape? Oh, yes. Tommy says he's in the best shape of his life.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 28, 2008
Show last night at the Prescott Co-op Gallery was respectable. Decent crowd, met lots of Phoenix folks who drove up for the show. Here's a smattering of comments I got from those folks and the locals:

"When I was going to law school at ASU I used to read Honkytonk Sue in New Times. Whatever happened to her?"

"When I lived in Phoenix in the mid-eighties I drove every day to John C. Lincoln Hospital and I listened to your morning radio show. It was a life line for me."

"How come the Arizona Republic runs your comments all the time and they are always off topic from everyone else?"

"Are you related to our town councilman Bob Bell?"

Sold some six books and one painting, "John Wesley Hardin In El Paso" to Van O'Steen and his wife Debbie for $500.

Stayed at Ed Mell's cabin. Came home this morning, back down into the heat.

"If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you."
—George Bernard Shaw

Friday, June 27, 2008

June 27, 2008
Hardly any of my Cardio Compadres were at cardio rehab today. Traffic as well, was light, or should that be "lite." Someone on the radio said it is the four-day work week kicking in (the radio guy also had no accidents to report—I've never heard that one before). Felt good to exercise alone and get the best treadmill. Ha.

Got into the office at ten. Robert Ray got me some new price tag-info cards to go with my paintings tonight. He got them printed at JC Printing. My big art opening is tonight from 6 to 8 at the Arts Prescott Co-op Gallery on Whiskey Row. Come by if you can. Hey, free wine.

You can check out the artwork at our new site:

In the Spring of 1978 I moved from Tucson to Phoenix and got a smokin' deal to room with two knocked out babes in an old farmhouse near Indian School Road and Seventh Avenue. One was a blond and one was a brunette and one was a teacher and the other worked for the community college. We were all young and wild and we went to concerts almost every weekend. I remember, not long after I moved in, the brunette told us George Carlin was playing the Celebrity Theatre, so we drove down there, but it was sold out. We hung around in the back hoping to get in through the rear entrance (with their heavy KDKB connections, the girls knew lots of the Celebrity crew), but we saw all these big TV trucks with gear everywhere. It was a locked set as George was filming the concert for a movie. I wondered what it would look like and why was he filming here in laid back Phoenix?

But I never saw the concert movie advertised or shown in our area and then after several years I forgot about it.

Two nights ago, I was channel surfing and came across the wall to wall programming on the Comedy Channel celebrating George Carlin and his many comedy specials. I clicked on it and came in the middle of George's "Two Minute Warning" bit where he makes the claim that two minutes before you die, you get a two-minute warning just like in a football game. He goes on and on about how only dead people know about it, and riffs on a crazy person on a bus getting the warning, then going into a rant, ending with, "If what I'm saying isn't the truth may God strike me down!" Considering his own death that day, it was a tad surreal. So I watched the rest of the concert and at the end it said, "Filmed before a live audience at the Celebrity Theatre, 1978."

So, it only took me thirty years to catch the film. And by the way, I married the blond. The brunette is my business manager.

Here's the last two days worth of sketches:

Closing in on 6,600 sketches (these are 6,584 to 6,590):

Deena got me a New Yorker cartoon daytimer calendar. I loved yesterday's cartoon:

And here's the cover of Mad Coyote Joe's latest book from Northland Press:

In addition to a great batch of chicken mole, Joe made calabicitas (squash), frying onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent but not browned. Then we added tomato and jalepeno and continued frying for another five minutes. We added zucchini, Mexican oregano and just a pinch of salt. Man is that healthy and good!

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues."
—Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 26, 2008
Another morning down at the Arizona Heart Institute. Left the house at six, got down into the Beast by seven, got my blood drawn at 7:40 and into the doctor at 8:40. My cholesterol is at 110 (never been that low, but then again I'm on staten drugs: Plavex). However my LDL is at 59 (supposed to be much higher). Not sure why. He upped my something, or other.

Treated myself to a light lunch on the way out, stopping at Chompies at Paradise Valley Mall, and had a vegetarian sando and decaf coffee ($14.50, left a twenty). Got back to the office at 11.

On AFI's three-hour special "10 Top 10" that aired June 17 on CBS, Clint Eastwood named his top 10 Westerns. Here's Rowdy Yate's Faves:

10. “Cat Ballou” (1965)

9. “Stagecoach” (1939)

8 “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971)

7. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)

6. “The Wild Bunch” (1969)

5. “Red River”

4. “Unforgiven” (1992)

3. “Shane” (1953)

2. “High Noon” (1952)

1. “The Searchers” (1956)

One of the criticisms I get from some of my old classmates at MCUHS is that I exaggerate (one particular critic whose name rhymes with Phyllis Morton, says you can only believe half of what I say). Gee, I wonder what David Sedaris has to say about this?

"On the American Humorist license, it reads: 'Can exaggerate your head off.'"
—David Sedaris, America's favorite memoirist, who has taken heat from his family and others for exaggerating his stories of them, to great effect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Had big True West pow wow at two this afternoon to go over the 2009 editorial calendar. Meghan and I pitched it to Trish and Bob Brink. Lots of good ideas and jamming (my favorite activity, besides drawing). Going to be a very exciting year for the magazine.

Also scheduled a staff meeting for next Wednesday. Haven't had one since BW (Before Wipeout). Ha.

I was supposed to go out to Bryan Neumeister's studio tonight after work to work on the Exits Exit video, but he had to cancel. He has a big job for a major client that dropped in his lap and is due tomorrow.

A certain writer (not The Top Secret Writer) has finished the fourth or fifth draft of an excellent piece on the events of Kingman. And as I told him, it's tighter than a gnat's ass stretched over the rim of a rain barrel. Can't wait to share it, but in the meantime here's a few wise words from my old vaquero compadres:

"Take risks. If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise."
—Old Vaquero Saying
June 25, 2008
Fourth day of cardio rehab. While I was workin' out on the recumbent cycle, got to talkin' with Bill, the guy next to me, who, on my first day, said to me "I got to see a man about a horse." As we cycled along, he mentioned losing a lung at the Battle of the Bulge, to which I said, "Billy, you're too young to be a WWII vet." He laughed, adding, "My driver's license says I was born in 1925, so I think I qualify." Amazing, he's my dad's age, so I instantly liked him even more (he has the same style haircut those WWII guys prefer). He's in great shape. He's lost four brothers to heart disease and he has 20 stents! He's suffered multiple heart attacks ("I've had a couple"), he's from Kentucky, drafted right out of high school, missed D-Day by a month and was sent into France to join Patton's division as one of the "replacement troops." It was freezing cold with ice on the roads. He was in a ditch below a line of Sherman tanks in the Black Forrest, when they started up. A German unit just over the rise, heard the loud engines and zeroed in with 90mm mortars ("We didn't have anything that big, just 30s and 60s."). As the incoming rounds landed he sought cover between two tanks when a round landed near the first tank. The explosion and shrapnel sent him flying back into the ditch. Metal pierced his nose, his jaw (taking out virtually all his lower teeth), splitting his tongue and a nasty piece of shrapnel embedded in his lung. Medics hauled him and several other severely wounded soldiers to a rear area. When they asked him where he was hit, he couldn't answer because of his split tongue and he looked bloody awful. They put a blanket over him and moved on. Later a nurse came through and said, "We've got to move you, it looks like you're going to make it." He's one tough American farm boy. They evacuated him and others to the south of England (Hampstead? Or South Hampton?) where they operated and took out his lung. Bill attributes his survival to 20 years of coming to cardio rehab.

Amazing what you can learn on an exercise cycle. I told Bill I wanted to be just like him when I grow up.

Seriousness And The Ventures
"Went to the BBB blog this morning, to get my fix. Enjoyed Brian Neumeister's video clip. Loved the old TV set. It looked liked one we had in 1959, when we moved to Phoenix, except ours had a pair of vice-grips attached to the broken channel selector.

"Jimmy Alfonso (My Sicilian partner in crime) and I watched the clip together. It dawned on both of us, at how grim everyone looked. Not a smile in the house. It's a testament to the dedication of all the players, that the Ventures song sounded , well, like the Ventures. It's a lot easier to make your fingers move correctly, than to make your face smile, when a shadow is hanging over a truly loved and respected friend. Music is healing. Perhaps we lightened up in subsequent scenes.

"I hope we never have to go through that again.

"they're gonna put me in the movies. they're gonna make a big star out of me"
—Steve Paroni

For every difficult problem you face there is a positive possibility that is even stronger. Make it your mission to find those possibilities and realize them."
—Ralph Marston

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 24, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Steve Lodge informs me the movie Bad Day At Black Rock was filmed up by Lone Pine, California and the town, or the set of the town still exists and the Lone Pine Film Festival, held each year takes visitors to the site.

News From The Front Lines
Neil Margel from West Point, KY called to subscribe. He found True West in the library and really liked it. He is also familiar with you from the Westerns Channel.
—Carole Compton Glenn

In Lassen County News in California: Biz News
MAGAZINES: Margie’s Book Nook in Historic Uptown Susanville has expanded its new magazine offerings, according to Manager David Teeter. Teeter said that he ordered many unique titles such as “True West” and “The Writer”. If you like Japanese comics, ask about the new Manga titles. Stop in today; Margie’s is now open seven days a week.
—forwarded by Meghan Saar, True West Managing Editor

Got behind on posting my sketchbook regimen. Here are more Sepia Storms, playing one frame into another. Nice, subtle effects:

Almost too subtle (below), but I really like the Apache with the headband down over his eyes. Very 'Pache Punk. I think our bad boy Curly will wear this style headgear (and also he'll wear his breech cloth way low, gangster style):

Decided to try adding some darker reds to my sepia studies. Pushed several too far, but I'm seeking clues at the scene of the crime:

Back to terracotta-ville. Not bad. Keep going:

Bye bye Tim Russert (lower, left). He had the best doctors, just had a stress test, they sent him to the best hospital and he still died. Meanwhile, as Alan Huffines recently reminded me, I was playing drums in a honkytonk with ne'er do wells and as a friend of Mike Torres' put it, "It just wasn't his time."

”The historian is a dealer, not in certainties, but probabilities, and is therefore a romancer.”
—Some brilliant woman in The New Yorker
June 24, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
In yoga class this morning, our instructor Debbie gave me a huge plug for the Cowboy Statesmen piece in the Republic and also for my artshow this Friday. That was sweet and unexpected. Meanwhile, here is a sampling of the email feedback on the article:

“I grew up on a ranch in Apache Junction. And I swear I've met half the guys in your cowboy statesman feature. I'd say you hit the bullseye on that 1.....Good Job Bad Bob.”
—Roger "Flying R" French

“Cow-boy Statesmen. Dang good article.”

“We enjoyed the artwork and story you did for the newspaper on Sunday. Being fairly new on this western scene, we have felt it sad that - as you mentioned - the ranches have been disappearing into into housing developments to accommodate "easterners" who want to bring their lifestyle with them and ignore the beauty and wonder of what is the true southwest. Your article encouraged us that there are still those who are carrying on this tradition. Long live the cowboy and Indian! Your humor and colorful way of presenting the 'true west' is a delight. Long live Bob Boze Bell! (healthy of course)

“Your blog is fascinating. We read it like we are reading a letter from a beloved relative we have not seen for a long time. Made notes of the cookbook and the 'kitchen tool' place as well as the Mexican food store, Food City. Plan to visit both places - and get the cookbook. Our plan is to open a guest house/small B&B in the area - southwest style - and we want to serve healthy and delicious dishes that are true to the area. People are even trying to make Indian Frybread more healthy - keep laughing - it opens the mind to all kinds of possibilities.

“May you enjoy many healthy years ahead as well as great Mexican recipes with delightful side-dishes of guacamole.”
—Jerry and Norma Reynolds

“Got back from another trip to New York last night, saw some plays and the Morgan Library for the first time. Those robber barons knew how to live, if we should come back let's be those guys. Much more fun, I think, than riding around on a horse.

“You touch a lot of lives, and not in a dirty, illegal, kind of way. Keep up the good works.”
—Jerry Joslyn

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
—George Bernard Shaw
June 24, 2008
Drove over to Bryan Nuemeister's video-recording studio last night after work to look at all the video files and see his proposed opening. Here it is:

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's the layout of the Cowboy Statesmen feature that ran in the Arizona Republic on Sunday:

If you'd like to read the entire piece, you can read it at:

Lots of comments, both good and bad. A very thoughtful response from someone in the cattle industry (at the end of the piece online). I'll answer that charge later.

Also, got some pleasant comments, like this:

"Message to Bob Boze Bell - I was Deena and Tommy's babysitter eons ago, (in Cave Creek). I read your article in the AZ Republic; Cowboy Statesmen. Loved it! Just wanted to touch base and see how you, Kathy and the children are."
—Kathy Turner

My editors at the Arizona Republic, Joe Garcia and Ken Western, did a great job, cleaning up my messy syntax and sloppy punctuation. Gee, I wonder what Hubbard has to say about that?

"Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed."
—Elbert Hubbard
June 23, 2008
Went to cardio rehab this morning. Swam ten laps yesterday. Feeling stronger all the time.

As promised here are some captured 8mm film stills off of the Mitchell family's home movie stash which features a live Exits performance, circa 1964. First up, an action shot of Wayne Rutschman, our sax player and me on drums (my King specials direct from the Montgomery Ward catalogue. The stage looks like the American Legion to me:

A close-up on Charlie Waters singing lead on something somber:

Terry's father did a good job getting close-ups on all the players. This is his son, our lead player, Terry Mitchell:

Wayne Rutschman is singing lead on something. Can't read his lips, but he has that Kingman reserve, even when belting something:

Perhaps because I knew the camera was on me (big flood lights in those days) I did a flurry of rolls on the snare and lone tom tom. Here I am mid-stroke:

What a ham! Terry's father turned the camera on the dancers and caught a few priceless scenes, like this one of Jennie Torres doing a mean pony. Don't recognized the guy she's dancing with:

Here's Mary Jane McGovern doing a suggestive, down and Dirty Dog:

And here's an isolated shot of Mary Kay Hokanson, looking radiant:

You can see it better in the actual moving footage, but I believe this is Ray Bonham, far left, and Rusty Petry, far right:

When Deena saw the footage she gasped at this closeup, and exclaimed, "Oh, my God, that jawline! It's Tommy!" Kathy finally admitted that, yes, he is my son.

Without any sound, going over these frames is very Zapruder-like. It has a crude, mysterious, Civil War history aspect to it.

Going over to Bryan's this evening to edit this priceless footage into the DVD of the Exits Exit. On sale soon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22, 2008
It was a record high (for this year) 115 degrees yesterday. Scorching hot today as well. Yesterday, Deena picked up the DVD conversion of the Terry Mitchell 8mm film of the Exits playing live in 1964. It appears to me as if the venue is the American Legion in Kingman (this is before sound, so the film is silent). The lineup includes Terry Mitchell, Charlie Waters, Wayne Rutschman and me. The late, great Wendell Havatone is conspicuous by his absence. We are wearing red vests and narrow, black ties and I have my blue, King drum set which I bought out of Montgomery Ward catalogue for $117. The really cool thing about the film is Terry's father, or mother, turned the camera around and filmed the dancers and they are doing Kingman proud, gyrating their little heads off doing the Dirty Dog, the Frug, the Pony and something that looks like the Watusi, but is probably the Oatman Flats Shuffle.

I quickly recognized Kingman beauties Jennie Torres, Linda Young and Mary Kay Hokanson. I'll isolate some of the frames tomorrow on my office computer and post them. I'm sure some of my sharp-eyed classmates will recognize others (yes, that would be you, Michelle).

We lost the little black chick a couple days ago. The little guy fell into the water bowl and drowned. A sad day in Chicksville.

Brad and EJ Radina came out this morning to go over a new website we are developing to feature my artwork. Hope to have something up later this week, in time for the Prescott Co-op Art Show opening on Friday night.

My big opus on the "Cowboy Statesmen" appeared in the Arizona Republic this morning. They bannered it on the front page as well, with my artwork. The layout was very clean and understated and they cleaned up some of my mangled syntax, so it reads well. I am very happy with the result. I got a phone call this afternoon from a woman asking if I was the guy who wrote the article on Cowboy Statesmen in this morning's paper. I told her I was and she said, "You drew my father, Ernie Oliva. How did you get his photo?" She seemed touched and yet a little accusatory. I told Nuvia, his daughter, I was glad she thought it was her father but I was just creating cowboy types. She wasn't convinced. "He was a lawman in Ajo. He dressed exactly like you have him in the article." Then to perhaps nail me, she added, "Are you related to the Charlie Bell from Ajo?" Nope. Sorry. Different guy.

I don't think I convinced her.

"Your own motivational level will always be lifted with humor. Laughter will destroy all limits to your thinking. When you are laughing, you are open to anything."
—Steve Chandler
June 21, 2008
Kathy, Deena and Frank all went in together and hired Mad Coyote Joe to come out and teach me how to cook healthy food. This was a belated Father's Day gift (Mad couldn't do it last weekend). First, the boys (Joe, Frank and I) went to Fry's grocery store and bought $140 worth of ingredients, then we motored down to Food City, which specializes in Mexican staples and bought another $80 worth of goodies, then another stop at Epicurean Delight for two specialty food tools, including a hand blender ($60).

Meanwhile, the girls went and got their nails done, while the boys came home and started food prepping: cutting and dicing garlic, onions, chiles, cucumbers, reducing balsamic vinegar and drinking iced cold beers.

The girls came back at about two and we really got into it, making homemade mole (pronounced moe-lay), fresh salsa, grilled vegetables and salmon, a pot roast and spaghetti, to name just a few of the dishes. We sat down at about five and had a feast. Then divided the food and sent everyone on their way with the delicious results. By the way, Joe came on an electric motor bike he bought off of one of my neighbors for $50.

Really a ton of fun. Joe also threw out practically all of the spices, cooking packets and cooking utensils I have used for the past ten years. For example I use a brand-named seasoned salt. No-no-no, it's all salt, msg and sugar. Three things I don't need. And, I learned if you strain your pasta and run cold water over it (which I have done religiously), you strip off the coating on the noodles that makes the spaghetti sauce cling to it, and you end up with white noodles and segregated red sauce. If you don't run cold water on the noodles you get rich, red spaghetti with red soaked noodles. Amazing. I knew none of this.

"If we had done as the kings told us five hundred years ago, we should all have been slaves. If we had done as the priests told us, we should all have been idiots. If we had done as the doctors told us, we should all have been dead. We have been saved by disobedience. We have been saved by the splendid thing called independence, and I want to see more of it. I want to see children raised so that they will have it."
—Robert Ingersoll

Friday, June 20, 2008

June 20, 2008
The Wyoming writer Annie Proulx (she wrote the short story Brokeback Mountain which became the movie) is an excellent writer. Last night I finished her latest. Loved this sequence:

“They passed the Persa ranch, where the youngest son had drowned in last spring’s flood. She realized that every ranch she passed had lost a boy, lost boys early and late, boys smiling, sure in their risks, healthy, tipped out of the current of life by liquor and acceleration, rodeo smashups, bad horses, deep irrigation ditches, high trestles, tractor rollovers, and unsecured truck doors. Her boy, too. This was the waiting darkness that surrounded ranch boys, the dangerous growing up that cancelled out their favored status. The trip along this road was a roll call of grief. Wind began to lift the fine dust, and the sun set in haze.”
—Annie Proulx, in her short story “Tits-Up In A Ditch,” in The New Yorker
June 20, 2008
As I drove down to my second day of cardio rehab this morning I had a strong sense of deja vu. When I arrived at the gym the feeling grew even stronger. Head nurse, Beth, introduced me to several regulars, who were on treadmills. I realized I felt exactly like I felt on the very first day of school, so long ago.

We lived in Swea City, Iowa and I was really excited to go to kindergarten. The whole school was housed in one huge brick building. Kindergarten in the basement and seniors in high school on the top floor. When I went with my mother to register, I was appalled and disgusted by all the mama's boys who cried and hid in their mother's skirts, hugging their legs (we ended up being great friends and, in their defense, they were farm kids and not used to being "in town").

I was perfectly fine with all that, but then came the first solo day when I had to walk the three blocks to the school—and actually go inside. As I approached the front of the building a group of high school kids were lounging on the front lawn, laughing and saying snotty things to the new kids as they walked by (or, at least I thought they were. Thinking back, they were probably not even paying attention to us at all).

I remember being very intimidated, so I turned around and walked home. My mother was shocked to see me, since she had just sent me out the door. "No school today," I said as confidently as I could. Quite bugged, my mother drove me back to school and walked me to class, which was even worse.

Of course, I finally settled in, got used to the routine, actually met some of the "big kids" and felt at home in the school (maybe 200 kids).

Then in 1956, we moved to a bigger town, Kingman, Arizona and I went through the same unfamiliar stress of the first day of school. That's how I felt this morning. Nothing has changed in a half century. Ha. "The New Kid" was still nervous about walking in. Self conscious about finding my heart monitor equipment, wondering if I could remember the settings on the playground equipment.

Beth introduced me to three of the "popular kids". Mary Jane was very friendly and I soon loosened up a little. Bill, who had new shoes (he said quite disgustedly, "Why do they make the shoe laces so long, these days?"), came over to me and said, with a sly grin, "I've got to go see a man about a horse." I thought this was some inside joke that I wasn't privy to, until later, when he said to me while I was on the recumbent cycle, "I see you on the Westerns Channel every night. Remember when you did the one on outhouses and you said, 'Excuse me, I've gotta go see a man about a horse.'"

Speaking of 1955, I finally saw Bad Day At Black Rock the other night. Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan and a very cool Lee Marvin as a redneck cowboy. About a town in Arizona (although it looked to be filmed in Nevada or the California desert) that had a dark secret involving Japanese relocation and racism during WWII.

It really reminded me of Kingman when we first moved there (both the setting and the racism). Most of the businesses were still downtown and I would buy my True West magazine issues at Desert Drugs (see photo below, Desert Drugs at left):

There's something about desert towns that really appeals to me. Also, if you noticed yesterday's post with the checkerboard cowboys, I have a strong attraction to this kind of layout. Here's my illustrations, tweaked by Dan Harshberger, for our Billy On The Brain, which was a cover of True West and a coffee mug we still sell:

And here are a couple pages from my sketchbook, catching up with those I missed:

"Every publisher should have an older brother who is a pimp. After all, the publisher needs someone he can look up to and borrow money from."
—Bob Hofkin

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 19, 2008
Finished my first session in cardio rehab this morning. Beth quizzed me on my eating habits and what a typical day's eating would be. She nixed my morning V-8 (someone told me tomato juice is good for the heart) as being too salty. She recommended a Trader Joe's version. She stunned me when she said I could have Canadian bacon. Then she floored me when she said I could eat mole and guacamole! I told her, "Keep talking dirty to me, Baby!" I felt like she gave me back my life. After my heart monitored physical workout (fat ratio: 21%, weight 172, blood pressure: 110/60, average heart rate after treadmill: 78) I drove down to 3 Margaritas on East Bell and had the mole, whole beans and a side of guacamole ($24, includes tip, sue account). Man, that was sweet!

Beth also recommended several cook books by Joe Piscatella who had a heart attack, thought he could start over on eating what he wanted, then had another one five years later and vowed to clean up his act. He wrote a cookbook called "Don't Eat Your Heart Out." I intend to get it. Sounds like my kind of guy.

After my heavenly Mexican food lunch I waded down Scottsdale Road to a Audio transfer store to get the Terry Mitchell 8mm film of the Exits playing live in 1964 transferred to DVD video. Paid for a rush on it (20% surcharge) and I'm supposed to get it on Saturday.

Yesterday afternoon I finished the layout for the proposed BBB artwork on my Cowboy Statesman op-ed piece that will run this Sunday in The Republic. Here is the layout I submitted:

I sent word to the Arizona Republic art department they could reduce it in size, tilt it (Dan H. would), reverse it, cannibalize it, or whatever they want to do. I just wanted to give them somewhere to start. Can't wait to see what they come up with. The piece is supposed to be on the cover of the Viewpoints section.

You should recognize quite a few of these cowboy portraits since more than a few were poached from my sketchbook.

Speaking of my sketchbook, here are the sketches from last Saturday, drawn at the WWA marketing session. Yes, that's Johnny D. Boggs and Cotton Smith and Sherry Monahan, to name just a few of the libelous images. However, I will not I.D. the Custer nut. He was weird, but nice.

And here's the next day's series of sketches:

Back to the sepia washes I love so much. The old coot, bottom right, resembles the legendary Western movie heavy Jack Elam (who was from Globe), but it was totally unintentional.

Oh, and Beth also told me if I'm going to Peru to visit my son (at 11,000 feet) I have to start getting in shape now. She recommended I go north to Prescott, Flagstaff and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and go hiking, so as to get my heart ready for the high altitude. Man, I love this woman. Hey, honey, we got to go north and hike and eat mole.

"Balance is the key to success in all things. Do not neglect your mind, body, or spirit. Invest time and energy in all of them equally—it will be the best investment you ever make, not just for your life but for whatever is to follow."
—Tanya Wheway

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18, 2008
Staring at a double deadline. Not supposed to do this. My Cowboy Statesmen op-ed piece is due today at noon, with the art deadline tomorrow at noon. Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish this issue's Classic Gunfights which has some hangouts regarding the historical veracity of claims made about Canyon Diablo. I have heard for some time that it was the deadliest town in the West, allegedly 35 died in one year, which would make it ten times as wild as Tombstone or Dodge City, combined. Every lawman who put on a badge died, the first put on his badge at 3 P.M. and was dead by 8 P.M. When I started writing this up, my B.S. flag started flying. So I emailed Mark Boardman and Marshall Trimble. Mark sent me an email this morning echoing my suspicions. Need to rewrite the copy this afternoon.

Mark Boardman's Musings On Canyon Diable

"I've got my doubts about these 'facts' regarding Canyon Diablo.

"I mean, most of them say that one marshal, Bill Duckins, lasted 30 days in the job--and killed a man every day. If you extrapolate from those accounts, there should have been hundreds of violent deaths in town over the years--and Boot Hill would have been the largest in the West.

"As far as I can tell, the stories seem to originate with Gladwell Richardson, a trader in the area who also wrote more than 300 novels under the name Maurice Kildare. In 1932, he also wrote the story for a Tim McCoy Western.

"Every written description of the town composed over the last 50 years or so uses much of the same terminology as he did in his stories about Canyon Diablo. They all cite the info on the saloons and lawmen and killings, etc.

"To be honest, I'm not sure where to look to get the real scoop. But on the face of things, I've got serious reservations about that info.

"Gladwell Richardson also wrote books under the pseudonym John Winslowe. The Western writer Luke Short accused Richardson of plagiarizing his 1943 book Ramrod, recasting it for the 1951 publication Short Trigger Man.

"Richardson was a frequent contributor to True West through the years, under various names.

"I found this commentary on the guy at the site--filed by one of our pals:"
—Mark Boardman

"Gladwell Richardson, a.k.a. Maurice Kildare, was perhaps the most prolific writer for western history magazines from the 1950s through the 1970s. Unfortunately, his legacy is tainted. The articles he wrote, though based in fact, are heavily fictionalized. He published a great deal of folklore and fabrications and passed them off as facts. He wrote many memoirs of his childhood, but they conflicted with each other. At different times he claimed to have grown up simultaneously in Oklahoma and Arizona. When called on this by a complaining reader to Real West magazine, he claimed to have grown up in both places. This memoir, and anything else he wrote, should not be relied on as history. Gladwell Richardson was a story teller, not a historian, and his articles should never have been published in magazines like True West and Real West, because much of what he wrote was neither true nor real."
—John Boessenecker

Yesterday's Cowboy Sketches
"Your cowboy's names are Bill Wagoner, Jr. Johnstone, Bob Gibbs, Lee Martinez, Bob Christian and Harold Jarrard. Amazing. Also weird seeing a picture of you seconds before you almost blasted off the planet. At least you were having a good time."
—Julie Smith, Wyoming

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 17, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Finishing up the Canyon Diablo Classic Gunfight for the August issue which goes out the door Thursday. Robert Ray is tweaking the layout. Great photos from a book Marshall Trimble recommended to me, "The Hash Knife Brand" by Jim Bob Tinsley.

Went home for lunch and worked on more "Cowboy Statesmen" portraits for the piece I'm writing for The Arizona Republic. These cowboys are representative of the 1970s:

Even though they are "types" I feel like I could name each and every one.

"You can come to understand your purpose in life by slowing down and feeling your heart's desires."
—Marcia Wieder
June 17, 2008
Last Saturday I drove out to Bryan Nuemeister's studio in New River to go over the Exits Exit footage. Bryan is creating a DVD of the event and we have five hours worth of footage. Included in the video is footage of my heart attack inducing performance where I played Wipeout on the drums, on the wall, on the floor, and yes, on my patootie:

Bryan sent this over this morning, and it has to be seconds away from cardiac arrest. More later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008
Got an assignment from the Arizona Republic to write an op-ed piece on cowboy statesmanship. Rep. Jake Flake passed away recently and there was this outpouring of love and respect for the longtime rancher and legislator. I'm playing with the idea of having a checkerboard of portraits of typical Arizona cowboys, kind of like this:

Although a rough, I think you can spot the Navajo cowboy and the vaquero (upper right, lower right). The Navajo Ka-boys have a great style. Very distinctive and original. The vaqueros used to have an even cooler style but they lost it sometime after the revolution and now they just wear Resistols and Adidas knockoffs. Not sure why, but it's a sad slide of classic style.

A man is recovering from heart surgery when a nurse asks him how he is feeling. 'I'm O. K. but I didn't like the four-letter-word the doctor used in surgery,' he answered.

'What did he say,' asked the nurse.


I finally start my cardio rehab this Thursday. Looking forward to it.
June 15, 2008
Last night at the WWA Awards Dinner (black tie optional) True West magazine won the coveted Lariat Award for our "Outstanding support of the Western Writers of America" and our steadfast efforts to keep the Old West alive. Really a vindication for our staff for their nine years of hard work. Believe it or not, I received a standing O as I went to the podium. Very touching. I made a vow to make everyone in the room rich and famous. Not sure I can do that, but we're going to give everyone in the WWA that opportunity with even more exposure in the future. A great group of people.

Today, Kathy and I delivered 15 Billy the Kid paintings (plus one John Wesley Hardin) to the Arts Prescott Gallery on Whiskey Row in the mile high city. It was even hot up there (91 degrees at three). My old U of A friend, Janet Childress, curated the show and after hanging the paintings, we went and had dinner at an Italian restaurant around the corner ($75, Sue account). Got home late, went right to bed. Long weekend, but fun.

"Behind every successful man, is a surprised woman."
—Fred Nolan

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 14, 2008
Last Wednesday, when Kathy and I met Deena at The Breakfast Club in Scottsdale, Kathy gave Deena $200 in cash. Deena was embarrassed by it and didn't want to take the money, but her mother insisted saying, "I've given Tommy some extra money lately and it's only fair. Take it. You never know when you might need it." Deena looked at me and I shrugged, (what I should have said was this: "You better take it. Mothers know stuff."

Read on.

Spent all day yesterday down at the WWA convention in Scottsdale. Bob Brink and I sat in on a publishing forum along with Eric Weider, the owner and publisher of Wild West magazine. I had never met Eric but we hit if off immediately. He is a huge Stones fan and crunches guitar in the Keith Richards method, so we had fun at the luncheon that followed the session, comparing our fave Stones licks (he leans towards Tumbling Dice and I towards Honkytonk Women and Jumpin' Jack Flash).

True West picked up two awards a the luncheon, one for Jana Bommersbach's piece on "The Man Who Saved The West" (her article was on Robert Utley, who was seated at our table) and the other award for Paul Hutton's piece on "Dreamscape Desperado," his opus on Billy the Kid.

Trish Brink, our publisher, was on the marketing panel in the afternoon, and then we all went to Larry Siegel's Barnes & Noble on Shea for a big book signing event at seven. There must have been at least 40 authors there and a ton of books.

I got seated next to Andrew Fenady, who had a stack of his paperback books, including "Big Ike" and "The Trespasser's." We hit it off immediately when he told me he had two stents, but he also offered that he is on his fifth hip and I couldn't top him in that arena. As his fans came up and gushed, it soon came out that in addition to his writing he also wrote and produced the classic John Wayne flick Chisum. Andrew told me a few Duke stories (Fenady loved Duke and said
Wayne called him "McKinnedy"). But the real kicker came when Andrew mentioned writing several TV theme songs. Like what? I asked. The theme to "The Rebel." Johnny Yuma!? Wow! That just floored me. I have always loved that song and used to watch the show just to hear the song. Andrew regaled me with inside snippets on the recording session with Johnny Cash and told wonderful anecdotes about Cash and crew. Andrew also confessed he still makes $30K a year off of royalties on the song.

Got home from the convention at 10 P.M. and found Kathy up waiting for me. Deena was in a car wreck returning from Casa Grande where she and two employees had a financial seminar. A jacked-up truck came swerving into her lane and caused a three car smash up, with Deena's car ending up going backwards at 75 and into the median where she crashed into two trees. Everyone was okay, although the guy in the back of Deena's car suffered a bump from his Blackberry hitting him on the head.

The kid in the jacked-up truck got a ticket and the tow truck driver arrived and said, "It's $55 an hour and it started when I got the call and it's $17 a mile and you have to pay me in cash. No checks."

They towed Deena's car from milepost 185 to Thomas and 68th Street where Deena found an ATM machine. The tow truck driver got out and demanded $275, in cash. However, the ATM machine had a limit and wouldn't give out more than $100. Still in shock from the wreck and its aftermath, Deena wondered what the hell she was going to do. Then she remembered the $200 in cash her mother gave her, which she pulled out of the bottom of her purse and paid the bill in full.

Wow! How do mother's anticipate this stuff?

Speaking of mothers, one of our hens gave birth to a little black chick. So Spike is a daddy and he's crowing and preening like a, well, a proud cock.

"The best thing a father can do for his children is—love their mother."
—Old Kingman saying

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
I've been living with a heavy heart. Literally. After the angiogram, last month, appeared to clear me of any more probings, my doctor ordered a nuclear test with the prognosis being, if it showed the lower heart with any life he was going to propose open heart surgery to go in and fix the damage. The angiogram showed the stents they put in at Kingman working fine, but the test revealed a trickle at the bottom and that was worrisome.

Spending so much time with people poking my veins, and ramming cameras up my arteries, I've started to dream about my interior plumbing. This is an artistic take on what I think it looks like inside my body:

Right after my Wipeout emergency jam session at Kingman Regional Hospital (where they flat out saved my life), I felt like my heart had a hole in it, kind of like this:

When I saw my heart on the Angiogram Cable Network (only available in arteries near my heart), although I couldn't actually see the stents, I pictured in my mind it looking something like this:

The problem with stents three and four (by the way, stents are mini-balloon type contraptions that they place in blockage places, and these stents, which I think are now made of metal, keep the artery open, after years of clogging said artery by eating bacon. In fact, I call all of my fellow patients at the Heart Institute—and it's about 70% male—The Bacon Brigade) is they bypass the downward flow of blood from stent #3. [Warning: This is how I picture it in my mind and probably has no physical or scientific reality.]

Yesterday they injected me with a nuclear isotope (thallium?) which lit up my innards. Then I had to lay on a table while a sophisticated camera took 30-some shots at 30 second exposures and then arced five degrees or so to take another shot, thirty in all. The test was repeated at noon, and after compositing them the nurse told us to come back in the morning for another round.

This morning I got right in at seven, and while on the table, I had to lift my left arm over my head, just like in the other sessions, and hold it still for 20 minutes. On the second group of photos, yesterday, they increased the exposure to 40 seconds each. My arm was tight and quivering (worse than yoga!) and I was counting the seconds this morning until it was over. When I got out, the nuclear tech, told me the photos were washed out and I needed to do it again, only longer. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. I got back on the table and endured another 35 minute session with the camera.

Both Kathy and I pictured this procedure producing a high tech hologram of my heart showing every ventricle and byway. But no, when the doctor brought them in, they looked like this:

Only smaller. My heart looked like a horseshoe with the bottom part burned out. That is the part of my heart that died in Kingman. As of this test, there appears to be no reason for a bypass, my doctor said with a sad face. I tried to hold back my glee ("My heart is dead! Whoop-ee! My heart is dead!"). The doctor told me to start cardiac rehab and that some patients actually reconstitute dead parts of their heart. I assured him I was going to be that guy!

And, I intend to do just that. Exercise is a major part of it and, as my good friend Wonderful Russ, who beat cancer, put it: "Talk to your heart. Say, 'Hello heart.'"

Hello heart! Thanks for the extra beats, my Man.

"Your beatin' heart, will tell on you. . ."
—butchered Hank Williams lyric