Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24, 2009
Another beautiful day in sunny Arizona. Got on a short-sleeved shirt and used the AC coming back to the office from my home studio. Supposed to hit 83 today.

Kathy met me at the house at 2:30 to move out a big desk in my studio so I can bring in the big oil painting of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. While I waited for her I whipped out a trio of landscape studies:

I guess you could collectively call these the Tree Line. FYI: these are sketches 8,217 thru 8,219. Just this week I passed 2,500 blog posts. Not sure what all this means, but let's just say I'm not doing either for the money, which is a good thing because I've never made a dime off of either endeavor.

Speaking of money and endeavors, Bob Brink lent me his copy of "Call Me Ted," which is the incredible tall-tale (but-true) about The Mouth of The South, Captain Outrageous, father of TCM, CNN and the Comedy Channel and The Super Station. It's a blow by blow story of his rise and fall in the media world, and it is just breathtaking.

First of all, his huevos grandes when gambling on business and projects is truly outrageous. Talk about a river boat gambler.

I've often thought of myself as a risk taker and a gambler: when we bought this magazine we started losing $30K a month and because two of my wealthy partners wouldn't put up any more money, I had to go get, what my wife lovingly refers to as "a Mafia loan" against the equity of our house, just to meet payroll at a critical juncture. I think the interest was compounded and capped at 10%, or 15%, but I may be wrong.) We survived this and many other timultuous trials (see BBB blog archives for the blow by blow). Anyway, I thought this was high stakes brinkmanship in the art of wheeling and dealing. But, as my friend Wonderful Russ would say, "It wasn't a pimple on the ass of wheeling and dealing."

No. In the book, Ted Turner, tells how he had leveraged all his holdings to create the Super Station, no bank would lend him money so he had to get high interest loans (24% interest!) with $400,000 a month payments and he was still losing a "couple million a year" on the Super Station when he decided to create an all news channel. He sold one of his radio stations in Charlotte for $20 million, but before the deal cleared, the general manager at the station snotted off a group of African Americans who filed a complaint with the FCC, stopping the sale dead in its tracks. Desperate for cash to save his entire company, Ted flew to Charlotte bringing along Hank Aaron, who told the group, while pointing at Ted, "He's not a racist." Then he begs them to help him make the sale. (He's notorious for getting down on the floor in high level meetings and crawling around the table saying, "Who's feet do I have to kiss to make this deal happen?"). He ended up contributing an unknown amount to the Negro College Fund and various other promises and he gets the deal, then RCA won't give him a satellite hookup. The obstacles just keep coming and he just keeps swinging at them.

Anyway, the guy is a total phenom, a dynamic, relentless American, in the best sense of that phrase. And he's wayyyyyy beyond anything I could even dream of attempting, much less do it.

His downfall is a warning tale for us all, and quite interesting and I'll give my take on that tomorrow.

"Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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