Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31, 2008
Spent all morning at the Red Cross Center on I-17 and Bethany Home Road. Kathy, who's a disaster relief volunteer, signed us up for CPR training. Got there at 8:30 and went into a classroom in the basement where Sarah, the instructor, went around the room and asked people to state their name and why they were attending the class. My daughter summed it up when she said, "My name is Deena and I'm related to half the people in this room and we're here because of my dad's heart attack. We want to be able to respond like his friends did, who saved his life." Actually, there were more than half, with seven out of 11 in the class being Radinas and Bells.

The class was great and I really had to marvel (and shudder) all over again at the degree of luck I had in Kingman. For some reason I mistakenly believed that CPR resuscitated the heart and got it going again, kind of like jumper cables to a truck battery. No, CPR manually circulates blood and sends oxygen to the brain and critical parts of the body until first responders can get there and apply an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) device. When your heart stops like mine did, every minute your body goes without oxygen your chance of survival declines 10%. In four to six minutes brain damage is possible and over ten minutes, irreversible brain damage is certain. So Terry Mitchell, Wayne and Cody Rutschman kept the flow of oxygen going by tirelessly pumping my chest and breathing into my mouth. It's so unbelievably brave to step up like that. Thanks again guys.

During the first break, a fireman in the class came over and told me how lucky I am, that he had never seen anyone survive what I went through.

Regarding Maurice The Breast Starved Cowboy
"We sent old Maurice a poster of the girl sheriff and a couple of calendars. Should brighten up the bunkhouse."
—Scott Weber, The Gunrunner

"The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable."
—Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's another take on the Boggs "Happy to see me?" quip in the last issue:

"I agree with the new reader who commented on the cigar comment by Johnny Boggs. I don't care about so-called family magazines but I did think it was beneath Boggs and TW. I read all that Boggs writes in your magazine but that item did make my heart sink a bit.

"I might add that I thought Honky Tonk Sue was omitted due to space or some sort of magazine problem. So if she is gone for good----I say RATZ!

"Still love TW though."

—Gerri G. Gosney

And here's a hand written note from an old cowboy down in Texas:

“Talk about fine. How much would it cost for a big picture of the fine Babe Sheriff with half a tit stickin’ out of a white shirt?"
—Maurice Mason, San Angelo, Texas

Here's what he's referring to (above), this ad ran in the January, 2004 issue of True West. And no, you can't make this stuff up.

"The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out."
—Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire
May 30, 2008
Went to the skin doctor this morning and had my stitches removed from my back (errant mole removal). Cancer is clear for now. One thing at a time. Ha.

Last night Wonderful Russ and I motored down to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the sneak preview of a new Channel 8 documentary on Arizona in the seventies. It airs on Monday night. Theatre was almost full, lots of laughs, especially when we ran Russ for governor in 1974 and they showed the campaign poster that Dan Harshberger designed. Russel is standing outside the state capital with an enema bag and the caption says, "Wonderful Russ for Governer: he knows what Arizona needs." Of course, I was his campaign manager, which means I got him, maybe, three speeches lined up. Thanks to the equal time ammendment Russ was invited to all of the TV debates and made a mockery of all politicians. You can see for yourself this Monday (assuming you get KAET on your cable).

News From The Front Lines

"Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoy the magazine and the blog. I buy the magazine at the rack instead of subscribing. I have done this for many years, although I really don't know why. I should just subscribe. Maybe it's because it gives me an excuse to go to the book store. I think you have far and away the best western magazine, although my wife wants more home and lifestyle stuff. I find myself quoting from the magazine often, especially when it comes to gunfighter history. I spoke to you years ago, when you were deciding whether or not to drop the Old West Journal. You asked me what I thought. I was flattered! At that time I had been in the newspaper business about 20 years. I said keep it, I like it. Shows you what I know! I really like your blog and read it every day. Living in Tennessee, it makes me feel like I have a constant connection to the west. If forced to miss a day, I hurry to the computer to catch up. Thanks a bunch. Hope you get through your health issues. Suzanne and I will keep you in our prayers, if that's okay by you."

—Mike Dickerson, Sparta, Tennessee

Mike and Suzanne,
Thanks. I appreciate the feedback. The deal on Old West Journal is this: we ended up applying virtually all of the advancements from OWJ to True West. When Bob Brink came aboard he told me I couldn't afford to do both magazines and that my instincts were correct with OWJ, just apply them to True West. And so we did just that and haven't looked back.

One of Carole Glenn's friends from Texas, Julie Bradyshoks (who now lives in Tucson), just returned from Italy where she purchased a very popular comic book called Tex Willer, just for me. I'd seen it before, but evidently this is a very big deal in Italy. In addition to the comic book, behind it is a full page newspaper ad (one of several she tells Carole) for the books.

Meanwhile, I'm still noodling different styles. Got on a sepia wash kick yesterday:

And returned to my What Would Remington Do mode today:

Tomorrow I intend to blend Tex Willer (the Italian Stallion) with Remington, and see where that hybrid goes. Should be fun.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
—Alan Kay

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008
Went to yoga class this morning with all the "old" people. At the end of the class one of my yoga-mates said she was attending her husband's 60th high school reunion. Another yoga comrade mentioned that because of attrition, her class has resorted to five-year-combined class reunions. The oldest guy in the class, Jim, said his class did that (he graduated in 1939) until they dropped under 15, then they downgraded everything to a lunch, but now they've dropped under ten, and it's too far to go for a lunch. So they discontinued everything. Ouch!

QTL Baby!

Kickin' It Old School
And by the way, all you yoga haters (yes, I'm talking to you Paul Hutton), according to Jim, he's in the under ten crowd at his old school because he does yoga.

Speaking of dying too early, fellow cartoonist Dave Stevens, who created Rocketeer died on March 2. The cause was complications from treatment for leukemia. He was 52. That's him, and the Rocketeer in yesterday's sketches:

Also in yesterday's renderings, is Honkytonk Sue, who's mad because she was dropped out of True West last issue and no one noticed.

The screenwriters who brought back Zorro (The Mask of Zorro), and the three Pirates of the Caribbean films are in final negotiations to write a live-action big-screen adaptation of "The Lone Ranger," for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The tentative name of the movie appears to be Ranger. Kind of cool. Get it? The Lone Ranger, lone word, just "Ranger." Hope they hit it out of the park.

The middle sketch is of a legendary Zonie, Dick Wick Hall. Recently someone gave me a box of back issues of "The Journal of Arizona History." In the Spring 1984 issue is a big piece by Don Chaput on this odd character who he says, "was a strange amalgam of corn-pone philosopher, happy small-town business man, prankster, friend to all, and nationally famous 'writing man' from Salome—'where she danced'—Yuma County. He peaked in the years 1921-26, when his musings from the Salome Sun (a mimeographed sheet) were reprinted regularly in the Saturday Evening Post. His Yuma County characters were known across the land: The Reptile Kid, Gila Monster Jake, and the Salome Frog (who, due to Salome's climate), would never learn to swim."

Dick Wick was certainly an odd duck (maybe that's why I kind of identify with him), bordering on a con artist (he owed money to almost everyone) who went through all his money and became rather pathetic. His writings are juvenile and first line humor ("made with a laugh on a mimeograph") and at best sophomoric.

Like I said, I kind of identify with the guy.

On May 29, 2008, at 9:36 AM, Barbara Fahrlender wrote:
I was going to pick up a copy of your latest issue for my son who is a Western history buff last night UNTIL, I noticed the cover and the cover story. For your information, George W. Bush Is NOT a cowboy and never has been. As a Texan from a long line of REAL Texas cowboys, I found your story, “The Last Cowboy President,” to be extremely offensive. Using a phony Texas accent, wearing boots and a Stetson (in photo-ops) and owning a place with a lot of acreage and NO livestock, does NOT make a person a cowboy.

I didn’t buy your magazine
—Barbara Fahrlender

You'll be happy to know that we had the same discussions on our editorial staff with many of us coming to the same conclusions as you have. I'm sorry you didn't pick up the issue, because the phenom of the "wannabe" cowboy politician was discussed in the excellent piece inside. Sorry, we turned you off to the degree you didn't get the magazine. Please try us again in the future, I have a hunch your son will enjoy the wall to wall Western history.

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

”Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28, 2008
Another day spent at the Arizona Heart Institute. Need another test. Sigh. This one is nuclear, not sure exactly what it does, but nuclear is in the title.

News From The Front Lines
Both Bonnie and I had voice mail messages this morning from a new subscriber, Laura Nelson, who wanted to tell us how she subscribed to the mag cause she loves the Old West stuff and that it is a very beautiful and great magazine. But she called to voice her disappointment in the June issue. On the top of page 69, author Johnny Boggs mentions ". . . is that a cigar in your hand or are you just glad to see Squirrel Tooth Alice. . ." She went on to say that this comment just totally ruined the great issue for her and that if she continues to see such "cheap" comments, she'll request her money back and cancel her subscription. She said she thought of it as a great family magazine until she saw that.

These are tough calls. She sounds like a very nice person, and we certainly don't want to offend her, but Johnny's comment is not exactly Howard Stern territory. Maybe "Three's Company" territory but it seems rather harmless enough to me in today's climate.

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."
—Christian Morgenstern

Amen, neighbor

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Went home for lunch and worked on a sequence for the Top Secret Project. I posted part of it before, but here's my vision of the entire sequence. Talking balloon and narrative to follow:

May 27, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's a refreshing take on today's movies from the Top Secret Writer:

BBB: Finally watched No Country yesterday. What a pretentious pile of crap. That Hollywood gave that inept piece of storytelling (with a few cute eccentric Coen Bros. characters) the Best Picture Oscar says everything about where the film industry is today. I liked nothing about it (and yes, it is a western I'm afraid). Here is all I ever learned about storytelling in my years on the planet--a beginning, a middle, and an end. No ending in No Country. I know they did that on purpose to make a point--but their point is absurd (just like the original novelist--I don't follow the rules of punctuation or grammar cause I'm smarter than everybody else--McMurtry can write rings around that guy). Of course the smart crowd on both coasts love the guy--but the people stay away in droves from both novel and film. I'm just sorry that I paid $21 for the DVD--how smart am I? Now the real question to debate is which film was worse--Jesse James or No Country. I guess No Country had more scary moments--but Affleck was more worthy of the Oscar than pageboy (who played a good psycho--but not as good as the henchman in 3:10 to Yuma or the shark in Jaws). No wonder the western is in such trouble.

Tracy Lee forced us all to watch The Waterhorse because she was disgusted that I had forced the children to watch Jesse James and No Country. What a wonderful film---full of life and hope. A magnificent fantasy for children of all ages. It even actually had a structure--beginning, middle, end.No Oscar nominations for that film.
Then today the whole gang went to the actual theater to see Indiana Jones (a total of $67 with popcorn and drinks--Paul Andy snuck his drink in to save us $5). Great piece of moviemaking--a bit long but you left perfectly satisfied that you got your moneys worth! Bobby--when you have a movie with aliens in it its ok if the guy gets his nose broken without suffering consequences or you go over Niagara Falls without a skratch (its fantasy time). Nice wrap to the series with a delightful commentary on aging where the old man still does just fine. Was glad I saw it with Paul Andy--memory time indeed. No Country was Bad Dream Country--and a waste of time and money. PH
May 27, 2008
Spent yesterday afternoon working on canyon lighting. Got a sweet little study going of a canyon precipice:

Also, I decided to re-scan the Apache Kid guarding his cave study on the office scanner since it will take the full size of the artwork:

More color and a more expansive view of the design.

Came into office today after a four-day-holiday. Went over the next Source Book cover ideas with Bob and Trish Brink and Meghan Saar. Got some good ideas. Need to send them down to Dan Harshberger now.

Proofs for the July issue just came in, and are spread out in the conference room. It's our last chance to go over the next issue before it goes on press in Liberty, Missouri.

I just proofed the issue (looks very good) and only made one change: we had on the table of contents page that a "shootout" occurred between Tom Horn and Isom Dart, when, in fact, it was a one-sided, cold-blooded killing.

"Thel" Keane, the wife of cartoonist Bil Keane, and the model for the character of Mommy in the comic strip "Family Circus," died last Friday of Alzheimer's. She was 82.

"Today's crime is tomorrow's history."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008
Rather quiet here on Memorial Day. Read the Arizona Republic this morning and teared up over the editorial on Saving Private Ryan being a cogent reminder of the people who have made sacrifices for our country ("Earn it."). I agree with the editorial that the Steven Spielberg movie gets better and better with the passage of time.

Speaking of the ex-Phoenician (Arcadia High) Zonie who made good, last night, on a last second whim, Kathy and I jumped in the Escape and drove down to Bell Road to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($19 cash, got a free popcorn with our Harkin's membership card). Theatre was about two-thirds full (7 P.M. showing). Movie was fun especially since much of the plot revolves around Peru and T. Charles is there so we recognized many of the locales (I think they filmed most of the film in LA but I mean they were supposed to be in certain parts of Peru which we recognized, and in fact we're going to see Tomas this summer and we'll see them for real). I hate to nitpick but there were some continuity problems. One character gets his nose broken, then a scene or two later his nose is fine, then it gets broken again, then again, and there are a series of scenes where he's fine, no wait, his nose is bloody, now it's not. Stuff like that bugs me, not to mention going over, not one, but three humongous waterfalls in a amphibious car and surviving without even a bump on the noggin'. I also read somewhere, maybe in the New York Times that the motorcycle in the library scene was filmed at Yale Library because Spielberg's son is going there and dad gave them a bunch of money. Sounds almost too precious. Now that I think about it, it was probably filmed in a sound stage in Burbank. I have to agree with Richard Corliss of Time, "Anticipation is often the better part of romance, including the form of ardor known as movie love."

And speaking of the Gray Lady, I found a photo in Sunday's edition of the New York Times of a canyon overlooking Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains (Boy Howdy!). I was intrigued by the contrast of the warm cliff and the deep canyon blue dominating the photo, with just a hint of detail as to what's out there. Very atmospheric:

I did six gouache color studies yesterday with limited success, then re-attacked it this morning:

And again simultaneously, this turned out to be the Apache Kid high in the Sierra Madres, astride a secret cliff cave, daring anyone to come get him. Too bad for him, one man will take him up on it.

Carole Glenn (it's her birthday today. Happy Birthday!) forwarded me a link to a very cool website featuring historic Arizona photos and when you put your cursor on the photo, a modern day photo appears taken from the same spot:

This was created from the Then And Now series photographed and compiled by Allen Dutton, who went to Mohave County Union High School with my mother, and if you'll remember, several weeks ago I ran his comments in my mother's autograph keepsake book.

"Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 25, 2008
Another beautiful day on the desert. Nice and cool out (low seventies in the morning). Had the road to myself today.

Lots of art studies in the studio. What do trees, deep in a canyon, in an atmospheric haze, look like?:

This was for a study for a study of a certain character caught between two cultures and one chasm:

Yes, I keep returning to this scene, trying to capture a certain twilight drama. Meanwhile Gordon Smith called and we had a nice chat about our specific diseases and our mutual business status. While we chatted, I doodled the wet paint from the previous study into this:

I call it "Olympia, The Ghost Riding Surfer." Meanwhile, when I cut up my boards there are invariably odd pieces leftover and I took two of these and, inspired by two Winslow Homer sea scapes I perused yesterday I chanelled these two Homer meets Thomas Moran meets Ed Mell type landscapes:

Not bad. My goal today is to have fun in the studio (can't remember the last time that was the goal).

Meanwhile. . .

"To be a strong leader you must not project doubt, but to be a strong artist you must embrace doubt."
—Vincent Van Google

No doubt.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 24, 2008
Rained most of yesterday. Really strong cells rolled over us in the afternoon. Even got hail for a short period. Lots of lightning and rolling thunder. Dogs freaked out. Went out a couple times and held Peaches as she poked her nose in my armpit. She was shaking like a leaf. Here's a question: do any other animals get freaked by thunder? Other canines, for example? Like coyotes or wolves? Or, is it just some domesticated animals?

Went up to the feedstore this morning and got a bag of crumble chicken food and a bale of hay for the chicken house ($22 cash, plus $1 tip for the loader guy). Wasn't supposed to be toting around big bags of feed and hay bales, but I don't think I popped any stitches.

Still working on red and black sketches:

And perused a Winslow Homer website (I think it was hosted by Christie's the auction house) and got inspired by some of his sketching techniques:

And also his light washes on clouds:

Which led me to here:

These are pine cone runners, ascending Mount Turnbull to retrieve a pine cone all the while running with a mouth full of water which they must spit out when they return. Two of the young Apaches are quite competitive and they are, Rizado and Cabrito. At least that is their names as packer Tom Horn tells the story around the campfire. Rizado is Spanish for "curly" and cabrito is also Spanish for "kid." The little white boy captivo, no match for the fast Apache braves, trudges along, bringing up the rear.

"He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and he did it."
—Edgar Guest

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Got inspired this afternoon by Gus Walker, the Mapinator. He sent me an email asking me if I was familiar with the artist Robert Henri, of the so-called Ashcan School of Art. I actually wasn't, so I Googled Mr. Ashcan and got a whole bunch of museum sites that own his paintings. Perusing them I got inspired to do some sketches off his amazing style:

All of today's sketches are inspired by Mr. Henri, with the exception of a William Merritt Chase self-portrait (bottom, right) which was on one of the sites.

Thanks Gus! I appreciate the inspiration.

"Steal from the first truck that comes by."
—Steven Spielberg, when asked for tips on directing
May 23, 2008
I had surgery this morning to remove a suspicious melanoma-looking mole on my back. The doctor asked me if I was nervous and I said, "Are you kidding? I had an angiogram two days ago, and this morning I'm looking forward to the stomach time."

Went fine. A six-inch gash and two rows of stitches. As the doctor and nurse snipped away we got to talking and it turns out his wife has a Phd. in History and is doing a book on Billy the Kid. So we had a lot to talk about and the time flew.

Another True West Moment Question
"I have always seen on the westerns and heard about the jail breaks. and i was just wondering if there were a lot of jail breaks back then or was it more peaceful than what is shown?"
—J Collier

This is a great question. There were many jail breaks in the Old West and they covered the gamut. Outlaws dug their way clear quite a bit because many early jails were made of adobe (in Lincoln, New Mexico it was merely a dug out pit with boards over the top), or they used clever ruses (fake weapons made out of wood, or soap), or their friends stormed the jail and simply let them out. In the early days of Tombstone prisoners were kept in one of the hotel rooms with a guard, who sometimes looked the other way, or was easily bamboozled. When one reads about all of the escapes it's hard to imagine anyone being kept for very long, but of course, there were tough jails where prisoners seldom escaped. And usually, there were diligent guards to keep them there. One common thread in many of the escapes is exercise yards, or bathroom breaks. Billy the Kid escaped, killing his two guards after, a trip to the outhouse (legend says a friend hid a pistol there for the Kid to find), in Silver City outlaws overpowered a guard as they were coming back in from exercise, and in Tucson, Johnny Behind-The-Deuce climbed a 12-foot wall and escaped as the prisoners were being put back inside after an outside break. The suspicion is that several of the prisoners held back as the men were going inside and two of them formed a step-ladder at the wall and Johnny jumped up on them and made it over the top, where a friend had left a horse. Of course this was before razor wire. Ha.

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

Working on an Apache running sequence. Having fun (drawing and painting in the Now):

And I've returned once again to the red and black combo in my sketches:

And how!

FYI: my home scanner isn't big enough to pick up the entire sketchbook page.

"Happiness depends, as Nature shows, Less on exterior things than most suppose."
—William Cowper

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22, 2008
Woke up to a cold day! Surreal. I had stored all of my sweatshirts and sweatpants away last Sunday when we hit triple digits. Well, this morning we woke up to low sixties temps with a storm coming in. Really nice and chilly out. Another reprieve. Turned the coolers off and the chicken mister. Broke out the little chickie turtle necks and wrestled them on the hens.

All true, except for the last item.

Grief From The East
"Sure glad to hear that you avoided the chest cracker. Things seem to be going your way, my man. Excellent. Patty and I continue to keep you and Kathy in our thoughts and prayers. I can't wait to get out there. I've got to get some photos of you in a yoga class. Un-frigging-believable...Next it will be meditation, a guru, trips to India...And lots of incense."
—Mark Boardman

Mark is coming out for our annual editorial pow wow next week. And I told him if he wants to take a photo of me in yoga class he's got to come to the class and participate. Take that, you Hoosier Down Dog.

Kathy and I are reading an excellent book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I believe one of her patients recommended it. The message is quite profound, at least to a heart attack survivor looking for new meaning to apply to the extra innings, as it were. The basic premise is we live our lives tortured between regrets about the past and fears for the future and our feverish little minds keep us from living in the moment, or the Now. In addition, our egos, or in my case MY HUGE EGO! is addicted to thinking, blaming and judging my past and badgering myself to perform in the future.

The answer is quite simple and profound. Be present now. Don't judge the past or fear the future. Both are illusions. Nothing ever happens in the past and nothing can happen in the future. The test? Try to stay in the present for ten minutes. It was close to impossible for me. Every time I thought of something in the past (Man, I hated getting fired from KSLX) I said "past" out loud. Every time I thought of something in the future (I set a deadline for Mickey Free and I'm not going to make it because I'm a failure and I got fired from KSLX because they saw through me and know I'm really not worth a damn), I said "future." Or, in this case, "Future-past." I did this as I walked up the road on my morning walk last week and it sounded pretty ridiculous, especially to the dogs, who kept turning and looking back at me as if to say, "Are you alright?"

Well, actually I'm not. I've lived my whole life, six decades, tortured by massive guilt and regrets about my past, and fears and anxiety about the future. And I'm just tired of it. Here are a couple excerpts from the book that speak to me:

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, come from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness." I've sort of always known this, but when it comes to my artwork I invariably try to think my way clear and this rarely works. And yet I keep doing it because my mind enjoys torturing me.

"Don't think about it—don't let the feeling turn into thinking. Don't judge or analyze. Don't make an identity for yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you. Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of 'the one who observes,' the silent watcher. This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence. Then see what happens."

"Certain things in the past didn't go the way you wanted them to go. You are still resisting what happened in the past, and now you are resisting what is. Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future, and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the Now and therefore your unhappiness." This sure nails me to the barn door.

Yesterday, in the hospital I found myself getting anxious ("Future!") "They're going to find my arteries blocked and fire up the chain saw, grind through my ribcage, and take my heart out and throw it in a bucket!"

That was my mind racing with future anxiety, of course. I did actually look at the ceiling tiles and tried to stay present, asking myself, "Are they poking you now? Let's enjoy this moment when they are not." It worked. They gave me no drugs beyond the local numbing in my groin area. I'm telling you, this staying in the Now is a powerful deal.

Two weekends ago, Kathy and I went to Grandma Betty's and she gave me some grade school photos of Kathy Sue growing up. I love these photos! Notice how she goes through the bangly, gangly stage and ends up, at the bottom, a gorgeous young lady. ("Past!")

Actually, as I read it, it's okay to visit the past in your mind, just don't get caught brooding there.

"Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune and misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm."
—Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 21, 2008
Spent almost all day at the Arizona Heart Institute. Left the house at 6:45, got there at 7:30 and had a carotid artery ultra-sound at 8:30 then an angiogram at 10:30. My doctor warned me if they found significant blockage (and a CT scan already hinted at it) they would immediately wheel me across the street for bypass surgery. Tried to remain calm and stay in the present ("Are they poking me now? No. Are they using a chain saw on my sternum? No, not yet. Then stay focused on now. I am fine. Look at the ceiling tiles. Ain't they a pretty sight?"). When they finally wheeled me into the "germ free" operating room at about 10:45, guess what the four nurses were talking about while they started to prep me?

Indiana Jones opens tomorrow. All four (who ranged in age from, I'd guess 22 to 45) got so excited and all four had plans: "I'm going to be in Show Low and I'm debating whether to see it there on a small screen or wait until I get back to Phoenix." Another debated whether to cheat on her boyfriend and go see it alone, or wait for him. As I laid there with a freshly shaven groin area (a pretty blond nurse from Iowa came in earlier and said, "I'm going to shave your groin on both sides," and I said, "Not unless I get to shave yours first."), I started staring at a new set of ceiling tiles as I continued my inner dialogue ("Are they poking you yet? No, but they shaved me pretty close to the family banana.") Still, I had to marvel at the genius of the promoters of this damn movie and the strength of the IJ brand. What are the odds that four nurses were all dying to see the same movie starring a guy who is eligible for social security?

Of course they soon got down to business (I was the second of five scheduled angiograms for today) and I saw my heart on a big, HD style TV screen. Although it was in black and white (I wondered how big the cable would have to be—that they inserted in my groin artery and ran up to my heart to take pictures—would have to be to transmit in color?). Frankly, it looked like bad science fiction from the 1950s of some exotic African frog covered in mud and bloating dramatically every second or so, with floating vines turning dark and emanating a spray at the weakened joints ("Don't start the chain saw! I'll be good! I'll never even look at a chimichanga again! I promise!"). In short, it looked pretty bad. Worse than I could have even imagined. The doctor, with his mask still in place, finally leaned down and looked in the crevice of the massive machines over my head and said, "Mr. Bell, your arteries are fine, the stents are holding and there is no further need to schedule any other procedure."

I was so thrilled I offered to shave both sides of his groin!

Got home at four. Can't drive or lift heavy objects.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 20, 2008
Turned the mister on in the chicken house yesterday. Went out to check on them late this morning and there they were hanging out at the water cooler. Ha.

Man, it's hot. Really wilting. And, as the summers pile up, I must admit, it never gets easier.

News From The Front Lines
"Larry McKinney of Sammamish, WA called to give change of address today. Before hanging up, he told me that he really enjoys True West and reads it “wall-to-wall” several times – and saves them. He said that True West is a wonderful information resource and wonderful resource for travel and museums."
—Carole Compton Glenn

Working on staying in the Now. Not easy. More on that later.

"Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation."
- Dale Dauten

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19, 2008
I was headed to cardio rehab this morning and got a call from Beth, the tech, and she said my doctor has cancelled any rehab until after the angiogram. Makes sense, but I wish they'd get their blips together.

Came into the office. Met with Bob and Trish Brink about filling the front office position.

And here's some more info on hangings in the Old West (see yesterday's post):

"A few 19th century Texas jails were constructed with hanging towers. The designs varied somewhat, but basically the prisoner was taken to the upper floor, where the noose was placed around his neck (suspended from specially built ceiling beams). The executioner would pull a lever and part of the floor--under the prisoner--would give way, plummeting the doomed man several feet down into the next story of the building. The clincher: there were large windows on those floors, allowing folks outside the building to watch the entire affair.

"I may be wrong on this one, but I seem to recall a TX courthouse having the same arrangement.

"What you ended up with, of course, were very public executions. People came from miles around to watch, to picnic, to drink, etc., etc. In most cases, officials eventually came to believe that such proceedings were unseemly spectacles and brought them to an end. Several of those buildings still stand, however. I think one of them is now a library."
—Mark Boardman

Here are my six sketches (6,318 thru 6,323) trying to capture campfire glow:

Also, worked on another big board and tried to zone in on face tones. Note the campfire glow on the left side and the soft, blue light of the night on the right. Also, I love the Mexcian trailer rolling his eyes at a story he's heard a thousand times before (a happy accident for sure!):

"Endurance is the crowning quality, and patience all the passion of great hearts."
—James Russell Lowell

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18, 2008
Finally, we got the scorcher today we have been dreading. Supposed to hit 107 in Phoenix. Here in Cave Creek it's 99.7 degrees at four P.M. When I went out to feed the chickens this morning I almost stepped on a four-foot Mohave Rattler. I don't know how the dogs missed him. I finally saw it on the way back from the hen house as it was stretched out full length waiting for us to make our move (they really blend in to the dirt, but his coon tail stripes gave him away). We went out the side gate and let it slither out under the fence.

Delivered a dozen eggs to Tom Augherton this morning. Received four questions for True West Moments. Answered this one:

On May 18, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Yvonne Stock wrote:


Hello, my husband Rick and I watch the Westerns Channel most of the time and your stories are very interesting.

My question is this: If hanging was a form of punishment in the Old West, why didn't they build a gallows outside of town and use it over and over, instead of building one in the middle of town every time someone needed hung?

I realize that from the Hollywood stories, that watching the hanging in the town square was quite an attraction. Especially if it were someone famous.

I would appreciate you checking into this, or perhaps you already know why, and letting me know.

—Thank you, Yvonne Stock

Hangings in the West were rare enough that towns didn't want a permanent gallows. It was bad for business. In Las Vegas, New Mexico they had an old windmill in the town square and after several lynchings the town fathers had it torn down. The only exception to this that I can think of is Judge Parker's gallows in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which I believe were semi-permanent. (and eventually, state prisons probably had a permanent gallows as well, because that was their job). There was a public hanging in Durango, Colorado that drew 10,000 but it got bad press (too much of a circus) and so it was mostly frowned upon. Sheriffs out West were in charge of building the gallows and supervising the hanging (invitations were sent out, which is a custom held even today). Then the gallows were torn town and the lumber sold, or used for public projects.

—Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

"The novelist is the better historian—and especially better than the empirical historian—because he admits that he is partial, prejudiced, and ignorant, and because he has not forsaken passion."
—Jull Lapore

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 17, 2008
Deena and Frank are with friends at Rocky Point, Mexico this weekend. Nice that they have made that sea port/resort their own. We took the kids there when they were mere babes in the early eighties and before the big hotels came ashore. In fact, the place was quite funky in a good way. We stayed at a teacher's cabin at Cholla Bay and had the beach all to ourselves until Saturday when the firecracker throwing mob showed up. Huge tide change every morning and night (allegedly the second most dramatic tide in the world) when the water goes out a half mile, or so. Great memories. Here we are, the only ones on the beach. The dog's name was Apache:

Kathy and I took recycling up to Carefree at nine, then went to Leslie Pools to buy a new pool pump. Ate at Kashman's Deli ($20 cash, includes tip). Had the turkey sando and a salad like a good boy.

Came home and worked on campfire lighting. Had some good reference from Frank Tenney Johnson, but the effect still evades me. Evidence to that effect tomorrow.

"History is a long and endlessly interesting argument, where evidence is everything and storytelling is everything else."
—Jill Lepore

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008
Still quite cool out. The palo verdes are still in bloom and now the saguaros are starting to bud out. Supposed to finally break 100 degrees this Sunday, but it's been a great dodge while it's lasted.

Got four eggs today and fried three. Was supposed to go to cardiac rehab this morning, but the facilitator called and cancelled. One of her technicians had a death in the family. Rescheduled for next Monday.

Heartfelt Advice
"I had my heart attack and 7 bypasses almost 11 years ago. The hospital and my cardiac Dr. set up a very comprehensive rehab program for me to take home when I was released. They stressed not trying to do too much too soon and to rest if I felt tired. The program consisted of some diet modifications, an exercise program that started out pretty easy and as time went on it became more strenuous. Something that really helped is that my wife of 56 years is a registered nurse who has worked in cardiac intensive care and rehab. she did not let me get away with anything! I go for a check up every 6 months and once a year they do an ultrasound scan as well as an electrocardiogram. Every thing is fine. I no longer leap over tall buildings but I can sure step over small dog houses. I really hope your recovery goes as well as mine did. Seriously, after about 6 months I could do just about anything I had done before the heart attack. The rehab specialists really know what they are doing."
—Brooks Baker

Samantha Somers is leaving True West. She is embarking on a new business involving pet care and we wish her the best. She really revolutionized our web sales. Thanks Sam!

Lined out a scene by scene storyboard for the Top Secret Project last night. Input those scenes in the 24-page-excerpt that will run next fall in True West. We've got too much story, but I'll make it fit. Robert Ray helped me with creating a style sheet for the typography this morning. Going to be sweet. Still studying Remington via John Ford. Here's what I mean:

News From The Front Lines
"I must admit I was a bit concerned when you said 'W' was going to be on this month's cover. YOU GOT ME. My wife heard me laughing from the mail box."
—C 'Kip' Coryea

"If you want to be the best, find the best in others."
—Ron Kaufman

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 15, 2008
Went to my second yoga class this morning, where we did a movement called "Pigeon On My Back." It's not as fruity as it sounds. Hate to admit it, but I feel rejuvinated. I start cardio rehab tomorrow and travel down to a hospital on Bell Road.

News From The Front Lines
"Karine Elsener from Vanves, France called to renew her subscription today. Before hanging up, she said that she wanted to tell everyone that you make a great great magazine. She said she has been reading it for many years. This all sounded really lovely with a French accent."
—Carole Compton Glenn

Yesterday, Robert Ray helped me print out some captured video shots from the movie Rio Grande. Utilized them in the sketches, below:

Great action shots and wonderful lighting effects to poach from.

"Of course the government and the newspapers lie. But in a democracy, they're not the same lies."
—Steve Jackson

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's a sampling of the emails I get each week regarding True West Moments which run on Starz-Encore:

Hi There,
We certainly enjoy seeing you on the Encore West True Moments. Can you tell us if there will be any new more episodes or will there be repeats from before. ? If there will be new episodes coming up, can you tell us when it will air date the first one? We really enjoy it and don't want to miss it.

We look forward to see this on the Encore West station in Phoenix, Arizona. I think it is so interesting to see and hear all about the history.

Thank you and will be looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you once again.

A Fan Of Yours

Hello Bob, my wife and I enjoy your (Real West Moments) on the Encore Western Channel. We would like to know where the term (Chuck Wagon) came from. The information you give on the TV are informative and entertaining. We appreciate your dedication to the OLD WEST.
—Thank's Dan & Kathy Warrick Stanwood, WA.

My name is Flecia Howard. I am from Kentucky, and I watch the encore
western channel all the time. My favorite show to watch is the Rifleman.
It is my daughter and son's favorite as well.
I always listen when you come on with your true west moment, and I
have got a question that I hope you might know the answer too.
I am interested in the cowboy hat. Where did it originate from and who
was the first cowboy to wear one?

Thank You

I just re-watched the 1951 movie "Oh! Susanna" starring Rod Cameron
and Forrest Tucker. I was profoundly impressed by the actual (correct)
military aspects of the movie, such as proper military saluting (rendering and
returning) since this alone is almost NEVER shown in any Hollywood movie
covering the military in ANY era.
I wondered about the propriety of the cavalry procedures shown (I
honestly don't know anything about cavalry etiquette) and was wondering if you
could research / pass judgment on this. [Specifically such things as intervals
for walking rather than riding horses, etc.] Cavalry procedures are almost as
rarely touched on as saluting.
My ultimate goal was to post this information on in
connection with "Oh! Susanna," but I am not committed to being personally
involved with this avenue of comment.
In any event, the details about this movie would make a great snippet
for you to do on the Westerns Channel, or at least a great informative lead-in
for the movie itself.

P.S. I particularly enjoyed your research you aired for "Tombstone."
—No Name

I am a US Customs and Border Protection Officer in El Paso. In March 2003, I was sent on a 30-day detail to Turner, Montana.

One weekend, I took a trip down to the Charles Russell National Wildlife Preserve and made a side trip to the ghost town of Landusky, Montana. I had read a couple of locally-produced books that mentioned Harvey Logan killing Powell Landusky, Dec. 27, 1894 in a saloon in that tiny mining town.

One article said Landusky had pulled a semi-automatic pistol which jammed. After that, Logan shot him dead with a good old Colt .45.

I am a gun nut and was immediately seized by the thought of a man having a semi-auto pistol in 1894. The only semi-auto I knew of that existed at that time was the 1893 Borchardt which could not be considered a poicket pistol by any stretch of the imagination. In the ensuing years, I have searched the internet in vain for some clue as to what kind of pistol old Pike had and more details on the shootout.

About 30 minutes ago, I stumbled on an article you wrote which gave the information I had sought.

I just wanted to thank you for that.

I see your stuff on TV and thoroughly enjoy it, by the way.

As a side note, I have always been a history freak, but my college history professor, Bill O'Neal, really boosted my interest back in the early 70s. I am sure you have heard of him and may even know him since he has written a number of history books including several about gunfighters.

As long as I am writing to you, how about a show or segment about the most prolific of all old west gunfighters and the man I am convinced killed Pat Garrett - Jim Miller of Pecos, Texas, aka Killing Jim Miller or Deacon Jim Miller?

He is virtually unknown to the general public but put a lot of folks into the ground. Another of my favorite gunfighters was Barney Riggs. He also doesn't get much press.

Anyway, thanks for clearing up the mystery of Pike Landusky's "new-fangled" semi-automatic pistol.

—William Charles (Billy Chuck) Sutlive Jr.
El Paso, Texas

Pretty amazing, eh?
May 14, 2008
Finally got my angiogram booked for next Wednesday morning. After my bike ride this morning I whipped out a scratchboard of Apache runners, traversing a morning light canyon. Some decent effects. I need to do more scratchboards:

Still wrestling with Tom Horn and how to illustrate him in a consistent basis:

More canyon sketching, plus Al Sieber in the post hospital (below, right). And yes, that's Anson Mills at top right:

Back on track to do a new book: "The Best of BBB In Black & White." This is the book Kathy and Theresa from Tri Star Boze are going to publish. Got some sweet pieces to go in there.

"It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, y ou very often get it."
—Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 13, 2008
It's snowing in Flagstaff! Quite overcast and cool here. Supposed to rain later today. This is heavenly for us desert dwellers. Wore a sweatshirt on my bikeride this morning.

Went to a yoga class this morning for old people. They sure looked old too, but I have a sneaking suspicion half the class is younger than me. Ha. This made Kathy very happy (me going to the class) and she gave me a big kiss.

Came into the office and worked on the 20-page excerpt for Mickey Free. Got a haircut at noon. Made salmon last night and having that for lunch.

A freind of mine who lives in Tombstone says the town too tough to die is getting weirder and meaner. As I understand it, two local re-enactors began arguing before a recent show at the O.K. Corral about which one of them would play Doc Holliday. The guy who lost and was forced to play Morgan Earp, shot the guy playing Doc in the face with a blank during the performance. This is very dangerous, as a point blank shot even with a blank will tear a big hole in a coke can. The victim was airlifted to a hospital.

My friend says there's a drunkin' veneer of meanness that has spread over the town.

"This fight has commenced. Get to fighting or get away."
—Wyatt Earp (the prototype for all of the above)

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008
I'm on hold at the Heart Institute's Scheduling Department (11:40 A.M.). They were supposed to call me regarding my angiogram appointment but it's been five days and I fear I've fallen off their radar. After ten minutes I took the option of leaving a message only to get this message: "Mailbox full." So, back to the operator who agrees to write down my request and walk it over to the Scheduling Department. And all this, so they can poke a big tube with a TV camera on the end of it up my groin area. Needless to say, I have conflicted feelings about me TRACKING THEM DOWN!

Meanwhile, here's the cover final for the book illustration I did recently for the University of Illinois Press:

Pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. Book will be out in September.

"I have the world's largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world. Perhaps you've seen it."
—Steven Wright
May 11, 2008
Very nice Mother's Day festivities. At her request, I made homemade barley cereal for a healthy breakfast, then took Kathy into the Beast to see, not one, but two movies: Son of Rambow at the Camelview Five, then Forgetting Sarah Marshall at Desert Ridge. We met Deena for the second film and had a grand time.

"Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret love outlives them all."
—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 10, 2008
This morning was payback time. Kathy reminded me she slept in a chair in the emergency room at Kingman Regional Hospital for six nights. Several weeks ago she informed me I owe her six requests. I agreed.

This morning at 8:30 she reminded me of my debt to her, and, so, seeing her rolled-up floor mat under her arm, I knew immediately what the request was. And without whining or rolling my eyes, I went to yoga with her at nine. I've learned to cheat at downward facing dog (my least favorite movement), so it was fine. Not fun, but fine. She wants me to go five more times in a row. Given what she went through I really can't deny her.

Tomcat Replies to Description of Sensuous Peruvian Women Excerpt. . .

"Yeah baby!! That is some dope history right there [see The Mapmaker's Wife excerpt from yesterday]. As for vestiges, I'm not too sure. I think our culture [The U.S.] is much more liberal at this point but Peruvian women are great. They are very feminine and sensual and great flirters. Everyone in Peru dances and that's where the women really shine.

"My friend Claudia is visiting and is reading Moby Dick. He refers to Lima as the tearless city. I wrote down a great quote of his (Melville):

"The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality that is not what is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more."

"This especially speaks to me in my current circumstance coming down to the city from the mountains. The contrasts make [a nearby city] the best place in the world.

"In that New Yorker you sent me there's an article about a Chinese dude who teaches English as a shouted language. He's training doctors for the Olympics and he was shouting with the doctors repeating him. 'I! Want! To! Take! Your! Temperature!' Anyway, Claudia and I were busting up at that. The original name for his book was I'm Psychotic, I succeed but the publishing house rejected it so he had to change it to I'm Crazy, I Succeed. So funny."

Dearest Son,
A guy goes to see the doctor. The doctor says, "You have to stop masturbating."
The patient says, "Why?" And the doctor says, "Because I'm trying to examine you."
—The Dad

Friday, May 09, 2008

May 9, 2008
On my daily walk this morning, my neighbor Bev ran out to meet me and told me she hadn't heard about my heart attack. She asked me if I was following my doctor's orders and I said, "Yes, he told me I need a haircut." Going next Tuesday at noon.

Got a call this morning from the new manager at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Don Taylor. If his name sounds familiar it's because he was at the Tombstone Courthouse for many years. He wanted my permsission to use the two fire maps Gus Walker and I created for Classic Gunfights, Volume II: The 25 Fights Behind The O.K. Corral. Don paid us the ultimate complement: "Nobody has explained it better and we want them for our new museum." Gus and I worked hard on those two maps, pouring over contemporary newspaper accounts to delineate exactly where the two fires started and how much real estate they burned.

Speaking of Classic Gunfights, I worked with Robert Ray this morning on Isom Dart vs. Tom Horn layout for the next issue.

My good friend Jim Hatzell sent me a book I've been wanting to read: The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare And How It Changed America. I started it last night and am really enjoying it. Kathy is reading The Mapmaker's Wife by Robert Whitaker and I perused it this morning and fell on this passage:

"Nearly all of the visitors were quite taken by Peruvian women, entranced in particular by the mestizos and mulattos who were mistresses to the rich. In Lima, reported Pedro de Leon Portocarrero, a Portuguese trader who lived there in the early 1600s, such women liked to 'display themselves strolling about in public,' and had a ravenous 'desire to satisfy the carnal appetites.' In 1714, the Frenchman Amadee Frezier similiarly marveled at the lusty Peruvian women. They would sneak out from their homes at night under the cover of their veils for 'immodest' purposes, he wrote, performing 'the part which men do in France.' At societal events, he added, they favored risque dresses that left their 'breasts and shoulders half naked,' and they were pleased to field 'proposals which a lover would not dare to make in France without incurring the indignation of a modest woman.' When it came to 'matters of love,' Frezier concluded, Peruvians,'yield to no nation.'"

Now that's history worth reading! I'm going to recommend this to my son Thomas. I wonder if there is any vestiges of this behavior leftover in Peru? Hmmmmm.

Got this comment on the photos of Kathy and I with Deena 28 years ago:

"What genuinely pisses me off is you look the same age twenty-eight years ago as you do today. And why do we dads all have pictures of us asleep and holding our babies? What kind of a Richard Pryor fire-trap shirt are you wearing in that picture? Good thing you weren't freebasing when you wore it.

The shirt, which New Times head honcho Jim Larkin gifted to me, is a shiny, 1920s-style-Western shirt with a classic, white bone yoke. I loved it at the time, but yes, today it could be mistaken for a freebasing, fire-trap shirt that Richard Pryor would have loved.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
-Maria Robinson

Thursday, May 08, 2008

May 8, 2008
Spent another morning down at the Heart Institute. This time I went alone (so Kathy can catch up on work). Dr. informed me the CT scan shows reduced blood flow. Need to have an angiogram so they can see if the stents are still working. Worrisome because the first two stents they installed in Kingman did not do the job and a couple days later they needed to go back in and put in two more. This latest setback points toward the possibility of open heart surgery, but I'll take the odds.

The doctor also read my Kingman emergency room files and pronounced me, "Tough and lucky."

Drove back out, listening to Barbara Walters being interviewed on the Diane Rheem Show. She said a very inspiring thing: "I didn't have the skills, I didn't have the confidence, but I had to do it." She was referring to some aspect of her TV career, but I applied it to my Top Secret Project efforts. Arrived at the office at 11. Fought a couple editorial fires, signed a stack of books for mail orders and came home.

Had leftover roast beef for lunch. Man, that sucker turned out great. Kept my portion small and chased it down with watermelon.

Speaking of food, here's a comment I got about not going to the Matador on Tuesday:

"If you passed on the best huevos rancheros in the world, you can do anything."
—Charlie Waters

And Speaking of Uncle Bugs
Here's a photo of Charlie Waters in Prescott with his namesake, Thomas Charles Bell (about 1983-84). Left to right: T. Charles, Jolyn (behind), Charlie, Deena and Linda Waters:

We had just got done eating at the Dinner Bell Cafe. Charlie was still the editor and publisher of the Prescott Courier.

"A film is just like a muffin. You make it. You put it on the table. One person might say, 'Oh, I don't like it.' One might say it's the best muffin ever made. One might say it's an awful muffin. It's hard for me to say. It's for me to make the muffin."
- Denzel Washington

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

May 7, 2008
It was 28 years ago today at 6:11 P.M. that Kathy and I welcomed Deena Bell into this crazy world and to our home at 707 W. MacKenzie. Yesterday we took a photo on the same porch (behind Kathy, below).

Even though I did absolutely nothing at the hospital, having a kid really tired me out, as you can see, above.

Deena came out to the house at 5:30 today and, at her request, I made Robert's Roast. There was only one problem: I haven't made a roast in at least five or ten years, but my number one daughter wanted a home cooked meal, so, rather than do the crock pot deal like I did in the old days, I called Mad Coyote Joe and he walked me through his fail safe recipe over the phone. Although I was missing a couple ingredients it came out spectacular and we had a fun time having a great meal, looking at photos of her as a baby (like those above) and reminiscing about her best and worst times growing up (hint: being a teenager is a dark time for everyone).

"Historians and novelists are kin, in other words, but they're more like brothers who throw food at each other than like sisters who borrow each other's clothes."
—Jill Lepore

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

May 6, 2008
We were at the Heart Institute almost all day. Just got home (4:30). Based on viewing a DVD (I'm not making this up) of the angiogram and the placing of the stents in Kingman, my doctor here decided I didn't need a full angiogram so they did a modified cat scan where they injected my veins with iodine dye and did that. I'll have the results on Thursday.

Got down there deep inside the Beast at seven, got blood work done, then left to meet Deena for breakfast at The Good Egg at Park Central. Yes, I wanted to go to The Matador for huevos rancheros but the two women I was with talked me out of it. Sat outside on the patio. Beautiful day, ordered some "heart healthy" egg whites with Mexican salsa (stewed tomatoes with a pinch of mild Anaheim chiles), and black beans. Ate half of it. Too bland. Of course this is playing right into the heart healthy lifestyle. On the morning of March 22 I weighed 200 pounds. Today I weigh 175.

Afterwards we went over to Landis Cycle, behind our old farm house (built in 1915) at Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road. This longtime bike shop was there when Deena was a baby, and I bought a baby carrier for Kathy's bike 28 years ago so the two of them could tool around the neighborhood in style. Deena picked out a bitchin' bike (Man, they make amazing bikes today) for her birthday tomorrow. She also bought a Bell helmet (the safest, and we told her the name is convenient because she won't need a name tag stitched on it.). Afterwards we drove around the corner and went up to our old house at 707 West Mackenzie and knocked on the door. We wanted to see if the owners would let us in the back yard so Deena could pose by the tree we planted when she was born. No one answered the door, so we took a couple photos in the front yard and left. The Western style ranch mailbox complete with barbed wire and saguaro spines for a base, is still there and in use. I put it up in 1983.

Delivered Deena's bike out to her condo in Scottsdale, then went back to the Heart Institute for the rest of the tests and a meeting with my heart doctor. Had a long wait (one and a half hours) but utilized the time doing six sketches, then kept going and did twelve. Felt productive and good.

Dr. Lee gave me a pep talk about surviving and told me he has two kinds of patients: the first really makes an effort to change and when they come in for their annual checkups they are thin, healthy and happy. The other kind of patient, well, you can guess what they do, not much, and they are ready candidates for another heart attack, because once you've had one. . .

I promised to be the first kind of patient, but it's going to take some work. Gee, I wonder if the Old Vaqueros have anything to say about this?

"It takes work to stop working."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, May 05, 2008

May 5, 2008
Had a very productive day yesterday. Finished the painting "Powhattan Clarke Pulls Iron," at about ten, then shifted gears and got out my oil paints and attacked "Ambush At Stagecoach Pass." Here's the Powhattan piece:

And here's the big oil painting I have been working on in the breezeway:

I finally realized I need to be able to draw In-din anatomy with my eyes closed, as opposed to say Hulk anatomy or Batman anatomy. In-dins, in the 1880s were very lean and mean, not muscular superheroes (which ironically is how graphic novel artists draw them today and I hate it, so false). Here are several attempts to capture the Apache physique:

Borrowed Robert Ray's camera this morning and went home to shoot the "Ambush" painting and on the way back saw this Cave Creek street scened and shot it right out the window. It shows three things that make CC great: palo verdes in bloom, a huge sale sign, and an even bigger American flag. It doesn't get much better than this in our little town.

Here's another shot of palo verdes in bloom along Cave Creek Road. This is at the top of the hill going into Carefree:

Last night I drove down to Tempe to hear Johnny Waters' group The Average White Haired Band. They were playing at Macayo's on the patio as part of a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Met Bill and Corene Jordan, oldtime Kingman friends along with Johnny's wife and related friends of the band. Deena and Frank, along with Patricia and Justin, showed up with Kathy and we ate dinner and listened to the band. Really enjoyed them as they played all of my faves (Eagles' "Take It Easy", Eddie Money, Marshall Tucker). Johnny asked me if I wanted to set in on drums and I thanked him but declined. Some of the crowd must not have liked me very much because they began looking at me and chanting, "Gator! Gator! Gator!"

Just kidding.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

May 4, 2008
Hit a milestone today. After a week of doing the hardest thing first, I put the finishing touches this morning on two commissions: "Ambush At Stagecoach Pass" and "Powhattan Clarke Reaches For Iron." Feels great. Both have been on my to do list for a very long time.

Thanks to Scott Dunton, I got this cool autographed photo from Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man). Very nice. Evidently, Scott has a beach house on a certain lake near Kingman, next door to Lee.

Got seven eggs yesterday. All the hens are really laying. Gave Buddy Boze Hatkiller a flea (and flee) and tick bath. He hated it, but he was chewing on himself all the time.

Speaking of doggeral poetry (see yesterday's posting), I got a computer generated animation get well card from Will and Patty Hagerty. A pug-nosed bulldog dressed as a pirate sings: "You are the great pirate Robert Boze Bell. Sailing ships without water, I hope you are well. You're the greatest drummer that there is no doubt, next time you play music skip the Wipeout."

While we're on the subject of zany, one of my editors at New Times Weekly won a recent New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. Here's the cartoon:

Most of the entries were lame, like, "Forget Oregon, I'm going to Vegas." Jeremy Voas, of Phoenix, Arizona came up with this: "Indian casino. I'd say Comanche."

Now that is damn funny. Good job Jeremy. He won a signed print of the cartoon. Woo-Hoo.

"I never smile when I have a bat in my hands. That's when you've got to be serious. When I get out on the field, nothing's a joke to me."
—Hank Aaron

Saturday, May 03, 2008

May 3, 2008
Nice Saturday at home. I was supposed to deliver the Exits Exit video materials to Bryan Nuemeister this morning but he is sick so we rescheduled for next week. Terry Mitchell sent me an 8mm film his parents took of the Exits in 1964, so we'll have two authentic films of the band (the other was taken at a USO show east of Yucca, also in 1964, complete with Go-Go dancers, Jan Palmer and Emily Quintana. Sexy footage (of course it's silent because this was pre-sound), but it should make for a historic DVD.

Kathy is at a Red Cross training session all day.

Meanwhile, here are selected passages from my mother's Schoolday Memories book:

The earliest dates are 1934 and she evidently carried the book to Kingman, when her family moved there, and continued adding passages. The last entry appears to be in 1937. One of the first pages is a listing of class mates and they include, Jesse Foote and June Sherman of Duncan and Della Stokes and Harrietta Paup of Kingman, and Leroy Guess (her cousin) from Lordsburg, New Mexico.

Here's an example of how a typical entry looks:

The pages are full of poems that were evidently "all the go" at that time:

"Dearest Bobbie: When you get married and live across the see (sic), put on your specs and think of me."

"Think of George Washington, think of Lincoln, but think of me when your a drinkin'."

"Remember me erley (sic), remember me late, remember me as your old school mate."

Evidently, the salutations had to run along these lines:

"Yours till pussy willows have kittens."

"Yours till butter flies."

"Yours till the cat-fish has kittens."

"Yours until the negro turns white."

"Yours till the roosters lay hard boiled eggs."

"Yours till hairpins get sea sick riding over permanent waves."

"Yours till the cowboy rides the kitchen range."

Now back to the entries, which are in order of appearance:

"Dear Bobbie: Flowers may wither, leaves may die, some may forget you but never will I."
—Your Best Friend, June Sherman

"Dear Bobbie, When you get married, and your husband gets cross, Pick up the broom stick and show him show him whos (sic) 'boss.'"
—Your friend Arleen Stowell, Duncan Arizona, January 30, 1934

"Dearest Pal of mine, You ask me to write in your book. Pray tell me how to begin because there is nothing original in me except original sin. Now for a little poetry. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if Mr. Simme's little boy (or box?) don't get you, someone must."
—Leroy Guess

"Dear Bobbie, When you get married and live over the river, kill a hog and send me his liver."
—As B.4. Lurline Patten, Duncan, Ariz. Jan. 30, 1934

"Dear Bobbie, My love for you will overflow like lasses down a tater row."
—Jo Francis Smith

"Bobbie now, Bobbie forever. Guess now, but not forever." [very clever. Her maiden name was Guess and she would be marrying and changing her last name.]
—Helen Stover

"Lock up your heart in an old tin trunk and give it to the boy that don't get drunk."
—Lucille Armstrong

Ouch! My father was an alcoholic. And speaking of boys, notice how the boys aren't half the wordsmiths but their communication is clear:

"Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you."
—Ben Simms

"If you see a monkey climbing a tree, pull its tail and think of me."
—Gilbert F.

"Over the river, over the lake, remember me as a dear class mate."
—Edwin Cleas

"If the sea was whiskey and I was a duck, I'd dive to the bottom and drink my way up."

"As sure as a vine grows around a stump, you're my darling sugar lump."
—Bobby Cochran

Now we get a teacher:

"Dear Bobbie: I can truthfully say that I have never had a pupil whose friendship I valued more than I do yours. Friendships with such nice boys and girls forms the most happy memories of any teacher. You have the ability to go far in life. May I hope that I have had a part, a vital part, in your life."
—Your teacher and friend, Mr. Casey

And, of course, what would a small town be without the religious zealot:

"To Bobbie—Heed how thou livest. Do not by day which from the night shall down thy peace away—In months of Sun, so live that months of rain shall still be happy ever more. Restrain evil and cherish good so shall there be another and happier life for thee."
—Your friend, Edda Ayers

Here's an entry from Bobbie's oldest sister, Sadie Pearl, who took three pages (this is funny to all of those who loved and knew her):

"My dearest Bobbie, I hope that you will always be as sweet and unaffected as you are now. I hope that you will always be something fine and I know that you will not disappoint me. 'Hitch your wagon to a star.'; keep your high principals, and no good will be unattainable. But don't let the curse of taking life too seriously make it bitter for you! [I edited out a page and a half of existential expostulation] Bobbie I wish you a happy and a beautiful life, crowned by success."
—Love Sadie Pearl

And here's Bobbie's mother's page: both Sadie Pearl's and my grandmother's entries were written from York, which is the tiny settlement on the Gila where the Guess family had its ranch:

"My Dear Bobbie, It's such a pleasure for a mother to know that she has a Dear Sweet little girl like you have always been. I have often wondered if you being my girl made me think that you were as fine but I don't think that is so. Bobbie we have been such good pals all your life & let us continue to be for I love you so much I hope that you'll always be the same as you are now & that each year brings you happiness."
—Love Your Mother

"Dear Bobbie, When you get married and live on the flats, come to see me but don't bring your brats."
—Dora Ruth Lovette

Now Bobbie moves to Kingman (first entry Feb. 19, 1937). Let's see if the humor improves:

"I don't write for fame, I don't write for fun, I just write merely to sign my name."
—Francis May

"Upon this book you look, upon this book you frown, But remember the dirty crook, that spoiled your pretty book, by writing upside down."
—Lillian Crabtree (who indeed wrote her inscription upside down, ruining my mother's pretty book. That is so Kingman.)

"I never went to college, I never went to school, but when it comes to kissin' I'm an educated fool."
—Harriette Mae Paup ("But I'm savin' my kisses for buddy"), May 21, 1938, "I am 13, almost 14."

"Dear Bobbie, I'm not a northern beauty, I'm not a southern rose. I'm just a Western girl, with freckles on my nose."
—Frances May Miller

"This world that we're living in is mighty hard to beat, you get a thorn with every rose, but don't the roses sweet." [say what?"]
—Allen Dutton [who became a well known Arizona photographer and published a book on "Arizona: Then And Now," which is highly collectible]

"I wish you luck, I wish you plenty, I hope you get married before you are twenty."
—Edna Shelton

"P.S. So you won't have to join the old maid's club organized by Minnie C."

The final entry is from my mother's grandmother:

"May you live in this valley of contentment where Joy for ever will overtake you. Will you then think of me, your grand mother."
—Dolcie A. Guess

I know that my mother often did.

Friday, May 02, 2008

May 2, 2008
Had an appointment at the Heart Institute this morning. Dr. Lee looked at my charts and shook his head. He kept looking at me with this incredulous expression. Frankly, I was kind of embarrassed. Finally, he confronted me on how "lucky" I am to be sitting in his office. He wouldn't let it go. "Do you know just how DAMN lucky you are?" When I said I didn't, he said, "the survival rate for what you have just gone through is one percent." I knew I was lucky, but I didn't know how lucky. He wasn't finished: "Do you know what the survival rate is on aspirated pneumonia?" Zero percent? No, he told me, "it's 50%." When he asked me if I had any chest pains, I told him yes I do, but that the lung doctor showed me an x-ray detail that when my bandmates did CPR on me at the Elks they fractured a rib, and he said, "Tell that person, thankyou, because they got blood to your brain and saved you from being a vegetable."

So, Terry Mitchell, I thank you. You can crack my ribs anytime. Dr. Lee explained that if you do the chest thumps too lightly it doesn't work.

I have to go back next Tuesday for an angiogram.

Got back home at one. Took a nap and came into the office. The new issue of True West is here (June) with George W. Bush as a cowboy on the cover. Should upset some, and thrill others. He's damn cute, if you ask me.

Still working on Remington style sketching in sketchbook. Here are a gaggle of takes on Apache headgear. In the movies they always just take a scarf and wrap it, Rambo-like around the head. As you can see, the Apaches had a wide variety of head wraps, more Bedouin than Bloods and Crips.

I'm also studying Maynard Dixon;s sketchbooks for his take on Apache style:

I promised I'd run some of those silly poems from my mother's school book, but I'll do those tomorrow.

"A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits."
—Richard Nixon

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 1, 2008
Had my first speech last night since my personal Wipeout. It was at the Airport Hilton which is way down into the Beast, below Sky Harbor, and Kathy didn't want me driving that far, in rush hour and enduring that much stress. So, she hired a driver. Louie, who is from Baghdad, Iraq, picked me up at the True West offices at 4:45 and drove me in his Lincoln Towncar down into the Beast. Louie is about 6' 4", a former pro soccer player and when we got to the hotel and he walked next to me people gawked because it looked like I had private security.

The speech was for the Arizona Tooling & Machining Association. About 130 people in one of those mini-ballrooms. Steve Alexander introduced me and told the audience I had recently had a heart attack (of course as he said this I was walking toward the podium and feigned another heart attack, dipping low, to guffaws of laughter). I was a little nervous but I did fine. The only loss of skills was my ability to do the Sergio Leone coyote calls from "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly." I think the radical tracheotomy I had has scratched or modified my vocal chords a bit. I hope it's just temporary.

My mother has been gone a year and last weekend I finally looked inside her keepsake box. Here are a few of the items I found:

Included are her report card from Duncan, Arizona elementary school (1934-35). She got straight A's in spelling, music, reading, effort and conduct. But she only got B+'s in art. Dang it! I wonder why?

Lots of photos of young girls with no I.D. on who they are (which is a shame—note to self: I.D. your photos so your kids will know why the hell you saved the pictures!).

She saved her 1949 driver's license (height: 5' 6" and weight: 100). And that photo is of my father's gas station: Al Bell's Flying A with a mileage chart on the back telling how far towns are from Kingman.

She saved a couple newspaper clippings: one is from the Swea City, Iowa newspaper that says:

Kindergarten News
Fifteen of us have now counted to 100. Our names are Robert Bell, Paul Danielson, Robert Johnson, Cheryl Kvamsdale. . ." I remember that Paul and I were in a "gang" modeled after the "The Black Commandos" a serial we saw at the theatre, Robert Johnson was my neighbor in Swea City and Cheryl was my "girlfriend." We left Iowa for Arizona when I was in the third grade and I had given Cheryl a plastic ring I bought. Hmmmmm.

Another newspaper clipping is from the Mohave County Miner, dated December 25, 1956 and it says:

Robert Bell Feted
Robert Allen Bell celebrated his twelfth birthday [which has to be a typo, because I was only ten in 1956] with a luncheon at Bill Oswalds Restaurant on Saturday, December 20th. Later the youngsters enjoyed the matinee at the State Theatre.

Invited were: Bill Blake, Tommy Penrod, Charlie Waters, David Oswald, Daniel Harshberger, David Ostermeir, Philbert Watahomagie, Jerl Stockbridge, Ralph Mullenax and the honoree.

I also discovered a School Book Memories autograph booklet my mother kept from Duncan and Kingman and the poems are touching and hilariously goofy:

"Dear Bobbie: May your life be bright and sunny. May your husband be fat and funny. May your path be filled with roses and your children have pug noses. A downhill start to a successful and happy life."
—Clara Chapman

By my count, only half those predictions came true, but they were the right half. More poems tomorrow.