It was ten years ago today—November 2, 1999—three moving vans pulled up to Clantonville and demanded a cashier's check for $12,000 and change. The vans were full of True West back issues and assorted office materials from a warehouse in Stillwater, Oklahoma. As me and my small staff helped the Mayflower crew unload and put the boxes in our flimsy storage shed behind the Goat Sucker Saloon, I was quite aware that one era was expiring and another beginning.
It's perhaps fitting that today is the Day of The Dead celebration when Mexicans everywhere celebrate death in high style. I noticed when I was in Nogales a couple weeks ago that Day of the Dead skeletons have become all the go in the curio shops, commanding entire aisles of goodies, whereas I don't recall seeing many Day of the Dead inspired skeletons 20 years ago. What I guess this means is that tourists from the United States are finally catching on. Yes, Posada inspired skeletons are all the go today. Ironically, ten years ago I created a couple Day of the Dead style logos for our morning radio program: The Jones & Boze Show: "Live from the Mineshaft in Cave Creek, Arizona!" And, yes, that radio show is dead, as well.
100 Covers: Stunts Galore
Our covers for 2005 reflected a growing effort, on my part, to try and get some much needed attention for True West. This led to what some have called Stunt Covers. See if you can spot them.
In January we went back to the Bob McCubbin well and featured more of his amazing photo collection:
In March we featured a cover story on the phenomenon of the HBO series Deadwood: Although we had a honeymoon of sorts with HBO and the production company, a tongue-in-cheek ribbing about the costuming on the TV show by Alan Huffines ended up getting us banned from the set. David Milch, the creator of Deadwood would not even talk with us and would go into a rant if any reporter even mentioned True West.
Yes, that show is also dead.
For April we featured our growing category of Western travel, while also featuring a good grave feature:
Continuing with the travel theme we expanded to include trains:
One of the aspects of the Old West that kind of gets overlooked is the influence of religion in the West and so, we decided, or at least I did, to tackle this head on with one of the most provacative covers we have ever done:
Someone once said that all good ideas make someone pucker. This cover made my mother pucker. Ha. In July we featured another Bob McCubbin photo article, this time about cowboy images:
The issue was quite popular, especially with collectors. Next up, we wanted to feature Western wear but from the perspective of history, and so, who better to put on the cover than Tom Mix:
A painting of mine, done for the Blaze Away! book Classic Gunfights, Volume II series graced our cover for September:
A chance comment made by a friend of mine (Leon Metz) about "the Wyatt Earp era in Tombstone being over," led to this cover story which attempted to tackle the issue of historic authenticity (the town was about to lose its historic designation). Of course, some in Tombstone hated this cover and I am reminded of it to this day. I was filming a batch of True West Moments on Allen Street when the mayor walked by, saw the camera, recognized me and shouted out, "Tell the truth!" Whenever I'm accosted, I'm tempted to say, "Hey, don't kill the messenger," but I usually bite my tongue when I'm getting a tongue lashing from well meaning Tombstonians:
As if the Wyatt Earp cover wasn't controversial enough, I created this painting to illustrate the impending gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain:
Anyone who answered the phone at True West in the winter of 2005, often first held the receiver out away from their ear to defend against the screamers who hated the movie and hated us for covering it. Of course, not everyone hated the cover or the coverage and some even hailed us as being brave to tackle the controversy with wit and style.
Two more stunt covers followed, the first about the controversy in Texas over Mexican insurgents (with echoes to the war in Iraq):
And the second, which resulted from a comment made by Paul Andrew Hutton in Tinnie, New Mexico in 2002, which led to this award winning cover story:
In April we would take a new tact with our covers, one that we still mostly adhere to today.
"It pays to examine each activity carefully and determine which category it's really in. It may feel urgent. Is it? Or does it just seem that way because someone or something else is creating pressure? Is it really important? Or has the feeling of urgency made it only seem important?"
—Stephen R. Covey