Friday, August 29, 2008

August 29, 2008
We might as well start with the best thing on the trip, in terms of Kathy and I being witness to Andes tradition. While visiting Tommy's town (as I've mentioned before, the Peace Corp frowns on naming the actual town) we got to attend a local wedding. It was a three day affair, with a Catholic mass one day, the wedding the next and the reception on Sunday. We peeked in on the mass on Friday and as I turned around to leave I saw two of the "wedding singers" just arriving and asked to take their photo:

Great faces and pose. As soon as I took the photo they each held out their hand and I gladly gave them one Sole each (about 33 cents each).

Kathy bought a Peruvian dress for the occasion and two of the women at our B&B helped Kathy with the fitting. Here she is (below) with our fave girl Berta (pronounced Bare-tah) who was incredibly shy (we think she had a crush on Tommy). A beautiful mountain girl:

Berta is wearing a collagua style hat. The Andes Mountain women wear this style and another, called the Cabana, which you will see plenty of at the wedding reception. Although the women of Tommy's town don't wear the bulging derby style, I can't wait to show you that one, but that will be later.

Here we are entering the reception area which was easy to find. We simply followed the sound of the music and we arrived behind the church (see in background) and as we stepped inside, Tommy gave me some advice: "Dad, do not decline anything they give you and watch out for the half-hour handshake." I looked at him funny, but he just smiled and we waded into the party:

The party was in full swing as we entered and it was here Kathy and I realized how much the locals love Thomas Charles. He stopped to talk with almost everyone and they all said heartily, "Que tal Tomas?!" He, in turn, talked to them in their native tongue, which is Quechua, and even though he's not fluent in this difficult language, they love him for trying.

The women of this region are the true caretakers of tradition and tribal style as you can clearly see from this photo (above), taken in the center of the party. The hat, at left, is a cabana, and all of the women are loyal to the age-old colorful dresses and shawls and headgear. The men, well, let's take a look at los hombres. . .

The hats are great, but these guys could be in Mexico, or even Cave Creek. Still, I sure dig that gold hatband, middle, right. You'll see more of that style at the bullfights, when we go there.

Our party was seated inside a long room that had religious decorations on one wall, and Donald Duck on the other. You can just make out Donald Duck's face and hand just over the top of my hat. And, yes, the guy at the end of the table is dozing off from having too much fun.

After we were served a delicious soup and main dish, we came out onto the patio and I stood in line to take a lock of the father-of-the-bride's hair. Evidently, it's an age old custom. I was a bit nervous as I stepped up and took the scissors and grabbed a lock of the poor dad's butchered hair (he was quite trashed and kept weaving with his eyes closed). After I cut the lock, I placed the hairs, and a ten-Sole-bill in a basket and I was immediately handed a huge glass of chicha (a mountain concoction), a shot of pisco sour and a beer. I remembered Tommy's advice and drained the shot and attempted to do the same with the chicha (above) but it was too much for me. Tommy said something to the guy, at left, and he set down a pitcher he was carrying and essentially drained my Chicha Barrel. Ha. I thanked him profusely.

Someone else handed me a ceremonial bag of cocoa leaves and I reached in and took several and put them in my mouth and started chewing. Everyone here chews cocoa leaves and drinks cocoa tea, which is quite nice. And, they are a bit perturbed that cocoa leaves have gotten thrown in with cocaine, which is an entirely different process. Still, I seem to remember someone in the seventies referring to the nose candy as "Peruvian Marching Powder." Ha.

Meanwhile, the band was getting set to crank up (check out the harp!) and Kathy got ready to boogie!

A mountain woman grabbed Kathy's hand and they plunged into the circle of dancers and did the local version of the country swing, which I have a hunch is a tad older than our version:

While Kathy was getting down, Tomas introduced me to more of the locals:

This very nice guy, who, I think Tommy told me is known for plowing the straightest furrows in the area, well, he gushed about our boy and the job he's doing in their town. It wasn't long after this, that I finally got a version of the half-hour handshake, which is what happens when some of the guys drink chicha for three days, start shaking your hand and talking a mile a minute, and they never let go. You just stand there, kind of shaking your head and agreeing with them until they pass out or, decide to go shake someone else's hand. Or both.

Once again, notice how dignified the women are, how they adhere to the local traditions of dress. Now look at the party crashers over the wall with their baseball caps. Ouch!

But, it's coming like a freight train. The globalization of urban dress, I mean. It's already infected the nearest town, with running shoes, baseball caps, fannie packs and sports jerseys. It's a crying shame, but I feel so privileged to have witnessed a bit of old style tradition high up in the Andes.

One of the reasons for this unique holdout, is that the outside world didn't reach here until 1970. The local museum in Tommy's town, shows an airplane belonging to two U.S. adventurers who flew over the canyon in 1929 and were stunned to see a thriving civilization down below. Supposedly, the canyon wasn't on any European or American maps at that time (1929!).

After the road arrived, a group of Polish guys came in the 1980s and filmed the whole canyon, went back home and posted the photos on the internet and the rush to see Colca Canyon was on.

It's only a matter of time before these clothing styles are gone for good. Sigh. Better make plans to see it soon. I'm sure glad we did.

By the way, today is a milestone. I just finished my 7,000th sketch on my quest to draw 10,000 bad drawings. Amazing. And, yes, I am very Andes influenced at the moment.

"We celebrate tradition because all of the odds are against it."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28, 2008
Where to begin? I uploaded 465 photos from my camera and I still need to load as many from Kathy's camera, and I haven't scanned but one of the 31 pages of sketches I worked on, but we might as well begin at the beginning.

After an all night flight from Los Angeles to El Salvador (which means "The Savior" as in Jesus. Most Spanish named countries and towns are named for the Saints, but I never knew E.S. stood for the Big Guy), we ended up in Suchitoto, a sleepy, quaint colonial town, north of San Salvador (I know, kind of repetitious aren't they?) overlooking Lake Suchitlan. Here is the view off the balcony of La Posada Resort, where we stayed:

And here's the restuarant where we ate breakfast every morning, also overlooking the lake:

On the wall at left (above) is an original, handmade antique plow:

But the real charm of the place was the custom breakfasts made each morning by the local cook. Check out the scrambled eggs with chiles, refried beans, fried bananas, creative tomatoes with the chile strips, fresh squeezed orange juice and cafe con leche (coffee with milk) the latter being the standard throughout central and South America.

After breakfast I would sit out on the balcony and sketch the scenery. Here's my take on the lake and the afternoon clouds:

Next stop, Peru.

"It is the greatest shot of adrenaline to be doing what you've wanted to do so badly. You almost feel like you could fly without the plane."
—Charles Lindbergh

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August 27, 2008
Home safe and sound. Got in today at about three. Flew all day yesterday and got into LAX at nine last night. Spent the night at a Ho Joes and caught a Southwest flight into Phoenix today at noon. Get ready for a visual feast as I'm downloading photos off of two cameras, and scanning sketches from 31 pages of studies at 12,000 feet above sea level.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 24, 2008
Kathy and I just returned from the Arequipa Cheese Festival in a park north of our B&B. Cheese ice cream (two Soles, which is the Peruvian version of the dollar). Yummy.

Tommy and I have been watching the U.S. Basketball ¨Dream Team¨ compete in the Olympics on Peruvian tv, and some of the comments by the Peruvian announcers are just outrageous. In the game against Argentina, one of the commentators mused, ¨Why don´t black people get white ink tattoos?¨ T. and I just looked at each other, stunned. The same guy has noted more than once that there is only one white guy on the U.S. team (Jason Kidd? Who´s not exactly a honky). Or, maybe he meant the coach. Ha.

We really enjoyed today´s final with Spain, as Tomas is a big Rudy Fernandez fan, who played for his home country of Spain. T. showed me Rudy´s crazy highlight reel online. Rudy was a hoot in the losing effort today, taking ridiculous shots with long, goofy arcs, that mostly, amazingly went in. Portland is expecting big things of him next year and some are predicting a championship (okay, Tommy is).

While the food is excellent here in Peru I have to complain about one aspect of dining down here: their idea of a napkin leaves much to be desired. In most restaurants, even the high class, expensive ones we ate at in Mira Flores, a Scottsdale-like suburb of Lima, you get these tiny pieces of paper that would make our U.S. cocktail napkins look like blankets. When we got up in the canyon, many restaurants simply put a roll of toilet paper on the table in place of napkins of any kind. This is a bit out of sequence as far as the meal digesting process goes, at least for my tastes.

Speaking of the canyon and the great soups we had there, Sherry Monahan has suggested that I post some of the recipes and I will do just that when I get home this week. I have photographs of most of the dishes and believe me, they are worth the wait.

Also, I have some 30 pages of sketches of the people, the land, the buildings and more importantly, the hats. It´s been a great trip, but I´m anxious to get home and see my dogs, my chickens and my staff and my friends and family. Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 23, 2008
Tomas asked me if I wanted to check out some of the music scene two nights ago and I jumped at the chance. After a traditional Peruvian dinner (I finally tried the cuy, which is ground hog) at the hip bistro, Aray Quipa (allegedly the Incas stopped on this spot 500 years ago and said,"Yes, (Aray) this spot will do (quipa)¨, or something like that.) Kathy went back to our B&B while Tomas and I walked down to the club district, not far from the main plaza.

The problem was, it was only nine o´clock and all the clubs were empty because it´s too early. So Tomas picked the one most likely to start early, which turned out to be Swedish Avenue, a clever name, not a location. The club is actually on San Francisco. The club was long and narrow with an arced ceiling that gave it a look not unlike the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool where the Beatles started out. The walls were lined with black and white photos of all the rock n' roll saints and like most saints worshipped in this arena they are long dead. John Lennon, George Harrison, Elvis, Freddie Mercury, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, the latter having a cutline that reads, "I hate my life and I want to die."

Comforting words from the late lead singer and saint of Nirvana.

Lots of pretty girls came in, in pairs and sat next to us. Several made eyes at Tommy and I'm not bragging, but I think it's safe to say, I personally sucked the hipness factor out of the room by at least 20%.

The all Peruvian band straggled in at about ten thirty and didn't start playing until eleven. All their songs were in English and they were an excellent cover band. I recognized a couple Oasis songs and a couple Coldplay tunes, and a U2 ditty, but I wondered when and if they would honor the saints on the wall. Finally, on the last song of the first set, they played "I'm A Believer" by The Monkees.

It was muy fantastico and I'm not even a Monkees fan.

Oh, and they played that rock song from the nineties where the chorus goes, "Turn your head, girl, just spit it out," which Kathy has always hated because she thinks it's about fellatio.

I laughed and hobbled home at midnite.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 20, 2008
Kathy is attending her first Spanish immersion session this morning. T. Charles and I are roaming the streets of Arequipa, Peru looking for trouble. We ended up here, in an elaborate internet tiende (store) called Cibermarket where all the hip Peruvian and ex-Pat gringos hang. I´m in a glass cubicle listening to some hardcore Peru rock playing throughout the building. Tomas called me over to his cubicle to listen to the Monks, circa 1965, a group of U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany, who stayed behind after their enlistment and started a rock band. Great tune, very ahead of its time. Can´t believe I´ve never heard of them.

Last Saturday night in the canyon, we went to a small restaurant off the plaza (no sign, the locals know it´s there). After some heavenly soup, topped off by Colca Sours (a local variation on the national drink, Pisco Sours), the owner, Jennie had her significant other, Dante, put on a concert DVD of the Eagles from their first farewell tour. Man, I enjoyed that. ¨Life in the Fast Lane¨, ¨Take It To The Limit¨, ¨Take It Easy¨, ¨Hotel California,¨ it was a groovy taste of home. Tomas and I regaled Jennie and Dante with the inside scoop on the band (basically that they all hate each other) and the story behind the songs (Don Henley wrote ¨Dirty Laundry¨after his scandelous affair, a la Roman Polanski, with an underage girl). And the locals in Tommy´s village were especially taken with the goofy antics of Joe Walsh (¨Quien es, loco hombre?¨), who burned up the DVD with his take of the James Gang´s ¨Funk 49¨and Joe´s masterpiece, ¨Rocky Mountain High¨. Tommy and I were howling with laughter at the lyrics to ¨Life´s Been Good To Me So Far¨. I´m not sure they appreciated the hilarious irony of the words: Ï drive a Masserati, it does 185, I lost my license, now I can´t drive.¨

Interesting what travels this far south on the continent. And what doesn´t. I remember when R.G. Robertson wanted to narrow our reader´s poll to a choice between rock and country. His comment that ¨there is only one kind of music and that´s Country," kind of irritated me. I do like Country but I got news for R.G.: es nada aqui. No George Strait, no Dixie Chicks, no Willie, no Waylon. I´m now listening to ¨Video kiled the Video Star.¨Pop is huge here, some rock, but not all. Madonna, of course. Strangely, I haven´t heard one U2 tune.

More later. T. Bell has the video highlights of the U.S. Basketball game. We can´t hardly find out any details down here. It´s all soccer, all the time. Futball es muy major. That´s irritating to a norteo americano.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 19, 2008
After a week in the high mountains of Peru, we took a luxurious bus ride back down to the lowlands (at 8,000 feet!) of Arequipa this morning. It was a Mercedes-Benz double-decker bus and we had front row seats upstairs thanks to Tomas. I´ve never ridden on a bus as plush as this. We literally had a living room window seat on the world with a badly dubbed flick on the tube (Nicholas Cage speaking Spanish in ¨Next¨). Made for surreal ride and I got some of it on video tape to post when I get home next week.

Looks like we won´t make it to Bolivia and the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid death site. It was too many airplane rides and bus transfers (one 14 hour ride on a bus, plus two plane rides) and we just ran out of time.

Ate Chifa food today. That´s how the Peruvians spell ¨China.¨They also spell the horse breed ¨Paso.¨In the States we call them Peruvian Paseos, but here they are called simply Pasos. Not sure why.

Tried to post blogs at various times up in the mountains with little luck. Went to Chivay on Saturday and the two kids at the internet cafe said meekly, ¨Our mother didn´t pay the internet bill.¨Yesterday, in Tomas´s village we went to the biblioteca (the library) and the librarian said, ¨The government stopped the internet subsidy this morning.¨When I did get online on Sunday it was a Spanish computer with strange commands (by the way, the at symbol, @, is only obtained by hitting the alt button and the numbers 6 and 4). So that is why the posts have been few and far between. Sorry about that.

I´ve had a high mountain common affliction that occurs while sleeping. As your body slows down during REM sleep, in high altitude (we were at 10,000 feet) your body feels like it isn´t getting enough oxygen and you do this gasping reaction thing. I felt better hearing that even the youngsters in the Peace Corp have all experienced it.

The soups down here in Peru are exceptional. I´ve never had better. Also, they have about 15 varieties of potatoes and they serve them with almost every meal.

One of the main reasons for this trip, besides seeing our son, was to get me as far away from deadlines and pressure as Kathy could. As part of Tommy´s Peace Corp assignment, he told me he wants the kids in his village to do a mural on a wall of his village. I got real excited and posed several locals for art reference and went to the local library for research. T. Charles and I even met with the mayor about funding and locations and I showed them my sketches. When I told T. that we needed a Monday deadline for final art, Kathy laughed and said, ¨You just can´t shut if off, can you?

Nope. But it´s going to be a bitchin´mural though. Hope you can come down and see it. The making of the mural book, goes to the printer next Tuesday.

Just kidding.

It´s Thursday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 16, 2008
I´m sitting in an internet cafe in Chivay (pronounced Chi-Vye) after spending several days in Colca Canyon which is located high in the Andes. The headwaters of the mighty Amazon River are just over the ridge from here. We came in on Wednesday with both Kathy and I wearing our heart monitors. I admit I was a tad nervous at 14,000, then over a pass at 16,000 feet, but I did fine, matching Kathy´s heart rate beat for beat.

Picture the highest town in the U.S., which I believe is Leadville, Colorado at 10,000 feet. Well, we are at 12,000 and it is their winter. Day time highs in the eighties but it sinks to the twenties, or lower, at night. The factor, of course, is the sun. Tommy says it gets colder in the summer, because it´s the rainy season and the clouds block out the sun and it gets really cold.

We´re going to a wedding this afternoon in a small village. We went to a bar-b-que two nights ago. The tradition is to drink beer sitting around in a circle and they pass the bottle and the glass to each person as they go around. After about 25 beers I started dancing, and at 35 I started telling jokes. Then I realized, Hey, this is how I had a Wipeout, so I begged off and went home.

My doctor told me to stay away from anything that comes from a cow, but they eat alpaca up here and the steaks are mighty fine. Lots of soups and vegetables, though, and Tommy´s host father is 71 and still farming the high steppes and going to his estancia (ranch) 21 miles up in the mountains, walking all the way. His mother lives next door and she´s 95. Saw her today on the plaza as she hobbled along. These mountain people are quite healthy, but I can´t keep up with their drinking.

Lots of painting reference. Great hats! I´ll post all of them when I get home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 12, 2008
We´re checking out of the Queen´s Villa in Arequipa, headed up into the mountains. The shocking thing about Arequipa is it´s at 8,000 feet and it is their winter, but it´s maybe 80 in the daytime. Tomas says it´s the proximity to the equator.

Kathy is in the process of renting a taxi for the three hour ride to Tommy´s village. Going to be expensive ($100) but I´m not up for a bus ride. No stops and my old man bladder won´t handle that.

We´re still trying to figure out if we can go to Bolivia and San Vicente where Butch & Sundance cashed out. It´s 40 hours of travelling by air and by bus and by jeep. And it´s going to cost about $2K. Verdict still out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

August 10, 2008
We are at 8,500 feet above sea level and my heart is doing fine. There are over 1 million people in Arequipa, Peru but there must be twice as many taxi drivers ("Two cabs for every guy. . .") and they drive these little PRS cars (pregnant roller skates). I´ve literally had to dodge several by lifting my foot.

We went to a bull fight this afternoon up in the mountains, east of town. Only in Peru when bulls fight, they fight each other. El Toro vs. El Toro! No puny humans using shivs or cheating methods. And it is so cool. Two big, studly bulls come into the arena from opposite corners, snorting and pawing the ground. They smell each other first and it is so typically male. First they circle each other and one usually goes passive. Eight out of ten do not want to fight (the crowd whistles, which in Peru is a boo), they just want to act like they want to fight. But when you get that one, the one that truly wants to fight, lookout! It is amazing to watch. I´ve got it on video and will post it when I get home.

It seems to me, there is nothing males like to do more than watch other males fight. Whether it´s boxing, ultimate fighting or hockey, men really enjoy a good fight, as long as the blood is on someone else. Personally, I resemble that remark. My son, T. Charles and I really enjoyed the big balls in cowtown parade and all of its man-ifistations. Kathy just rolled her eyes at the typical male behavior. Ha.

Kathy and I flew out of Sky Harbor a week ago, on Monday night. Flew to LAX (Los Angeles) on USAir arriving at 11 at night. Boarded a TACA airplane at 1:30 in the morning and flew directly to San Salvador, landing at 7:30. We were on the beach by nine, drinking cafe con leches and Cinquesto beers, along with mixto fish dishes. Really fine. Our driver, Freddie (actual name Walfredo) drove us to Suchitoto, a leftist pueblo on the edge of a giant lake and we had reservations at a great resort where we dined on great food, walked around town flaunting our wealth and prestige. Not really, but as an norteo americano, that is the fear. Stopped in a leftist bar on the way home. It was full of Che and Fidel posters (and John Lennon!). We laughed at them and taunted them to give three cheers for Bush.

Not really. I may have come damn close to death in the past 90 days, but I´m not that dumb!

Got to Lima, Peru on Thursday night and met Tommy. Deena asked me what I would say to him since I´ve not seen him in over a year and her prediction was correct: "Mi hijo Bastardo!" (My Bastard Son!") I yelled in the crowded terminal as we saw each other. We hugged three times. Once for me. Once for Carole Glenn, and once for Uncle Charles. It was great to see the boy I wanted to kill when he was 16.

He´s grown up a bit, and so has his dad.

Going up to 11,000 feet on Wednesday. A little nervous about it but so far I am digging Peru.

Monday, August 04, 2008

August 4, 2008
Got four baby chicks in the hen house. Cute little boogers. My neighbor, from down on the creek, Tom Augherton, came up last night and we went out to figure out how to protect them while I'm in Peru. I had to remove all the deep water dishes because the last chick drowned in one, but the hens kick straw in these shallow pans and they dry out in record time.

When Tom and I went out around dusk, the three mother hens were in a pile in the corner with the chicks underneath their skirts, as it were, to keep them warm (a website on caring for chicks claims they need to be at 85 degrees for the first three days to survive). While the hens were piled there, Spike the Rooster runs over, jumps on top of them, and starts humping the air. I knew what he was thinking: "Oh, Man, a four-way!"

Men are so gross and so predictable.

Worked all weekend on cloud paintings and TW assignments. Here's a nice little Ed Mell cloud painting study (above):

We're flying to LA tonight, then boarding a flight at 1:40 in the morning for San Salvador. Two days there, then on to Lima and T. Charles' town in Peru. Going to be gone for three weeks. May be spotty in here, although I'll post when I can.

Speaking of posting, AOL did a poll on email addiction and here are a couple stats:

  • 62% of people check work email on the weekends
  • 19% choose vacation spots with access to email
  • 59% check email from the bathroom (up from 53% last year)

"Keep learning about the world. Use your mind to the hilt. Life passes quickly and, towards the end, gathers speed like a freight train running downhill. The more you know, the more you enrich yourself and others."
—Susan Trott

Sunday, August 03, 2008

August 3, 2008

A new study printed in today's issue of The New York Times confirms the "six degrees of separation" theory, pegging the actual stat at 6.8, meaning you and I are 6.8 people away from everyone else on the planet. Don't believe it? Well, if someone asked me how many people I am removed from the Queen of England, I would venture it must be at least ten to twenty people away.


Received a couple photos from across the pond this morning. Fred Nolan sent me both photos (at left).

The bottom photo was taken last weekend at Paul Hutton's home (it had to go to England to get to me. Ha.).

Left to right: Bob McCubbin, BBB, Paul Hutton and Richard Ignarski. Fred attached this comment:

"Did you get any photos from the Hutton bash? I did and I see from them why Ignarski greeted you as he did [greeting me with "Hey, Bag of Bones"]. But then I cannot imagine you even as fat as Ignarski, let alone that guy with the beer belly to your left."
—Fred Nolan

Ah, British wit, barbed with a dash of ribbing. Mr. McCubbin should be proud of his stomach at his advanced age. No, wait. He says, "to your left." That would be my left, and the guy to the left of my left hand is The Top Secret Writer. And yes, he's proud of that gut.

Fred also included an amazing photo (top photo) of him, his wife Heidi (great hat, Honey!) and, well, the next King of England, followed by Fred, Heidi and, as Fred informs me: "Frederick Earl Howe, descendant of a great British naval hero and Chairman of the Trustees (of which I am one)."

So, I'm technically one person from the crown, and if you know me, you're two away. Amazing.

In a dark time, the eye begins to see."
—Theodore Roethke

Saturday, August 02, 2008

August 2, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
When I talk to history groups I often tell the story of how ignorant I was of my surroundings as a kid. I tell them how I sat in the office of my father's gas station with my lower lip sticking out, rolling my eyes at the "stupid" surroundings and longing to get out of Kingman so I could go find a place that actually had some history. To my way of thinking, NOTHING ever happened in Mohave County and certainly nothing historic ever happened where I was forced to sit every day after school!

I then tell my history-minded-friends, not-so-long-ago I got a call from a writer who was doing a book on Route 66 in its heyday. He had seen the article I wrote for Arizona Highways on my dad's gas station and he asked me, "What was it like growing up in such a historic place?"

A long pause, as my audience slowly gets the cruel irony of my ignorance: "I told him it was FABULOUS!"

Well, the author's name was Michael Karl Witzel, and here's the excerpt from his book on The Legend of Al Bell's Flying A:

I found this excellent bit of writing after Googling my name this morning to see if there were any links off of Charlie Waters' Las Vegas Review-Journal piece last weekend. I didn't find any, but I did find the above piece and also one of my first edition copies of "Low Blows," collection of New Times cartoons, which recently went for a healthy price increase: $14 new, just sold for $65.

This makes authors smile.

And, my painting "The Fighting Earps" recently sold at auction for $1,350

But enough ego crap about me, when it comes right down to it, what do YOU think about my stuff?

"All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. the big art is our life."
—M.C. Richards
August 2, 2008
Fellow cartoonist and drummer, Bob Steinhilber, sent me the following:

Playing the drums for a rock band requires the stamina of a Premiership footballer, research suggests.

Tests on Clem Burke, the veteran Blondie drummer, revealed that 90 minutes of drumming could raise his heart rate to 190 beats a minute.

Despite rock's reputation for unhealthy living, Dr Marcus Smith, from Chichester University, said drummers needed "extraordinary stamina".

A hour in concert could burn between 400 and 600 calories, he said.

Clem Burke, who provided the beat for hits such as "Heart of Glass", "Atomic" and "Call Me" was invited to take part in the eight-year project by Blondie fan Dr Smith.

It is hoped that the results could help develop outreach programmes for overweight children who are not interested in sport.

It is clear that their fitness levels need to be outstanding
Dr Marcus Smith
Chichester University

Burke was connected to equipment to measure his heart rate and oxygen uptake, and the levels of lactic acid in his blood.

He found that during a performance, his heart averaged between 140 and 150 beats a minute, peaking at 190, levels comparable to other top athletes.

However, Dr Smith said that while top footballers were expected to perform once or twice a week, drummers on tour would be doing it every night at a different venue.

—BBC News

"No wonder I had cardiac arrest."
—BBB, who practiced every day for weeks prior to the Exits Exit, but when it came time to flat out boogie, his 61-year-old arteries said, "No. I don't think so."

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 1, 2008
Working on some new Billy the Kid designs today. Here's an idea I got in San Francisco several years ago. I was walking down Market Street on my way to the Wells Fargo Museum when I spied these kids wearing Gap sweatshirts. Just those three letters: G-A-P. The idea hit me. What if you had a design that just had the K and the D with the Kid himself standing in for the I. Hmmmmmm.

Got tested at cardio rehab this morning. It was my eighteenth visit (amazing) and they had me do a six minute walk around the track. Last time I did 10 and a half laps in six minutes and this time I did 13. My body fat is exactly the same, but I have lost four pounds, so that is good in terms of fat, but I'm down to 169 which is too thin for my tastes. Just had a Snickers bar which I copped from Carole's office.

Finished Classic Gunfights on the Elzy Lay vs. Cicero Stewart shootout at Chimney Wells. Life and the law is so weird. Elzy was known as Butch Cassidy's chief lieutenant and took part in many successful robberies. He cheated death by hanging, while Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum was hanged for train robbery.

Kathy and I are going to Binkley's, a five-star restuarant here in Cave Creek, for our wedding anniversary tomorrow night. Everyone raves about it. Never been there. Supposed to be expensive, someone said $100 a person.

We didn't get each other presents on Monday, our actual anniversary, but when she got home late that night from a date with the girls from the gym, I thanked her.

She was kind of embarrassed and said, "Thanks for what? I didn't get you anything."

And I said, "Yes you did. Thanks for the gift of not making me go see that damn ABBA movie!"

Yes, she and the girls from the gym all went to see Mamma Mia! and I was just thrilled that they did, because I hate that band and their insipid music. Now if it was an AC/DC movie ("Highway to Hell"?) I'd be in the front row.

"To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate
the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life."

—T. S. Eliot