Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31, 2010
Packing for my trip up the mountain tomorrow morning to Orme Ranch School. Going to be teaching a class on illustration and creating graphic novels to a dozen students at the international school (Robert Ray kidded me, last week, that perhaps they can teach me "How To Finish A Graphic Novel". Ha. Touche, Sir Snippy).

I've never taught a class before, so Kathy, an ex-teacher, ran me through the drill. She says I need lesson plans. Okay. How about this? 1. Learning to see. 2. Tell me a story. 3. Storyboarding. 4. Roughing it in. 5. Final scenes.

And what are my goals for these talented kids from Chinle, Brooklyn and China?

• That they hopefully avoid the many dead-ends I drove into. Check

• That I can teach them how to see and think like an artist. Check

• That I can inspire at least one of them. Check

My Mucous Motivations
I remember sitting in Mr. McCleve's Art Class at Mohave County Union High School (nicknamed "Mucous") in Kingman in 1965 and looking out the window and saying to myself, "Man, it sure is windy out there."

I also had other thoughts, such as, "I have really strong dreams about making it in some sort of media but I have no clue on how to get there from here, and Mr. McCleve just sits there at his desk, pounding leather with a leather punch, allegedly working on Christmas gifts utilizing leather he has charged to the school and he often leaves us for long stretches to fend for ourselves, and while he's gone, some of the tough guys pick fights, like when Philbert Watahomogie started poking Paul Clark and Paul told him to stop because he knew karate and Philbert didn't stop, and finally, Paul jumped up and went into a karate stance and everyone, including Philbert, froze. But then Paul let out a loud 'Heeee-yaaaaa!' and thrust his open hand forward into an alleged karate chop, which landed harmlessly on Philbert's shoulder, and Philbert just laughed as he beat the crap out of Paul. And I guess there was a life lesson in there somewhere, perhaps not to oversell your abilities, but I really wanted something more specific about how to reach my dreams.

And, so, as the bell rang and I stepped over Paul Clark sobbing on the floor, I made a silent vow that if I could ever go to a class, especially if it was way out in the country, I would answer the call, and maybe, if nothing else, teach them what not to do.

"Knowing what not to do, is as important as learning how to karate chop a Havasupai."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010
Man, did this month evaporate, or what? Nice day at home, although I did go into the office to finish up an overview-redesign on our travel issue. Did several roughs for layout consideration, but our server is acting up, not responding, so I couldn't even send email. Frustrating. Called Robert Ray at home, but the phone fix didn't work (take out the router jack on the little black box on top of the server for about 20 seconds and reconnect it. This seems to be tantamount to kicking the tires when your car engine overheats. Ha.).

Thomas Charles came out last night. Made him Bobby Cakes this morning, while he studied for a test he has to take online for work. At three, he finished and I was back from the office so we had Coronas with lime, and chatted up Onion headlines and American humor while I made carne asado tacos, from buffalo steaks. I had one, but also made chicken tacos and I stuck with those for the rest (2). Trying to be a good boy.

We're also trying to name our new gato. Carole suggests Roy or Emmett. T. Charles took one look at him and said, Zorrito, "Little fox." hmmmmm. might fly.

Hey Flying R, just got the latest T.A. Swinford Rare And Out of Print Books Catalogue from Tom Swinford today and he is listing the August, 1991 Arizona Highways issue with my Billy on the cover for $12.50. So, your 49 cent investment is looking good. At this rate, in about ten years you could buy a combo meal with the profits.

Tom Swinford also lists several of my other books, including Doc Holliday at $45 and my Billy the Kid book at $30. I tell everyone that if I sign it, I absolutely guarantee that someday it will be worth the cover price. So there's an investment strategy I can get behind.

Went on a walk with Peaches this morning and was inspired to tell this story:

My grandmother, Minnie, never liked the story where I ended up in the Buick with the Vegas Hookers. Makes some sense: she was 69, I was nine. Come to think of it, my mother didn't like the story either. Too unseemly. Better left out of my life story.

My father never admitted to liking it either. And, he never smiled when I told it, but I could see in his eyes, it amused him, perhaps because it upset his wife and mother so much.

And so, this story is for him:

66 Chix: the story of a life changing, cross country trip by Iowa Lutherans that ended in shame and worse yet, in Kingman.

Or, something like that.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself."
—George Bernard Shaw

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29, 2010
As an update, so far, I have never made it to 10,000 steps a day. The closest I came was about 6,500 and man, that was walking almost all the time. I lost my pedometer at the Desert Ridge 3-D showing of Avatar a couple weeks ago. Had my feet up on the stadium seating railing and the pedometer, which hooked to my belt, must have slipped off and fallen behind the seats. I realized it when I got to the door, went back and looked in vain.

Meanwhile, it's good to know that my quest did have a positive effect on someone:

A Retired Lutheran Pastor Steps Up To Good Health
"Bob—I've reading your blog for a couple of years now. Interesting stuff! I am 72, retired and part of a bunch/gang of Lutheran Pastors who would meet for breakfast at the MINE SHAFT.

"Two questions: What do you think of the Cartwright Family style of dress for the Bonanza TV show, and 2, are you still trying to walk 10,000 steps?

"I told my wife about your goal and she went out, bought me a pedometer at REI. Took me four days just to read the directions and get the thing to work. Now, I'm up to 10,000 steps after three weeks. Thank You!

"I recently spent five days Jeeping/hiking in the Cerbats, especially South of the copper pit. I'm still amazed at how much the early miners must have influenced the West."
—Paul Halvorson

Yes, the Cerbats, north of Kingman, are riddled with mines and mining lore. I just got Jim Hinkley's new book in the mail:

And he's got a great section on the Cerbats. Check them out at

Meanwhile, I went home for lunch to check on our new cat (long story, he's in the studio). While I was there, I whipped out a couple patina paintings:

I'm experimenting with a new technique. Kathy made me throw away one of my favorite denim shirts because it has a hole in the elbow. I loved that shirt and didn't want to part with it, so I brought it out to the studio to use as a brush cleaner, but then, with a thick load of paint on a sheet of watercolor paper I thought, "I wonder what would happen if I crinkled up my favorite shirt and pushed it down into that paint?" Pretty sweet effects, if I don't say so myself. Here's another one:

And, another one:

That shirt creates really cool fire effects, no? From there I tried to spit out a couple specific effects:

Apache Crown Dancers whoopin' it up. Plus, a strapped cowboy spurrin' it out of a desert firestorm:

I've got to hide my sources better. This was poached from a Hidalgo movie still of Viggo M. riding his paint through a dust storm and although I drew it freehand, and tried to hide it, that is Viggo big as day!

Did You Copy That?
Speaking of cheating by using photographs for art, I finished reading a new book: Norman Rockwell: Behind The Camera, which takes up this very subject and vividly illustrates Norman's tortured relationship with photography. He says, and I quote:

"The Balopticon [a machine that projects photos on canvas to trace the lines] is an evil, inartistic, habit-forming, lazy and vicious machine! It also is a useful, time-saving, practical and helpful one. I use one often—and am thoroughly ashamed of it. I hide it whenever I hear people coming."
—Norman Rockwell

I'll post the three or four photos he took to create one of my favorite Rockwells: "Breaking Home Ties" (1954).

"Let the next generation paint their own damn pictures."
—Norman Rockwell, when criticized for not properly sealing his paintings with protective varnish
January 29, 2010
Last night, Kathy and I met Deena Bean and Aaron up at C4 (Cave Creek Coffee Company) to take in Open Mike Night, hosted by Mad Coyote Joe. Stayed out way too late, but really enjoyed the music. I had forgotten how enriching music can be. One young guitarist told a story about being in Montana and meeting a pretty girl and she told him to meet her at Glacier Lake which was quite a hike, and, anyway, like so many frisky horndogs, he found himself driving halfway across the state, in the dark, and this song came to him: "Faraway Girls." And it was very insightful, in a Dan Fogerty kind of way, about the lengths guys go to for girls who are far away, sometimes in ways that are more than just physical distance.

Aaron closed the show and I enjoyed his two songs very much. Kind of reminded me of my days in the music biz:

Okay, maybe not.

Got packed this morning and headed out the door for Sky Harbor. About a mile from my house my cell phone rang and it was Lynda at the True West offices asking me if I was at the airport. She came in early and retrieved a frantic phone call from the Ranching Association. The Lubbock Airport is closed because of a major snow storm and they wanted to catch me before I took off. Whew! I was flying out of Phoenix at 11 to Vegas, changing planes and flying to Lubbock, arriving there at four, speaking at seven. Returning tomorrow the same way. Dodged a bullet on that one. They are going to reschedule my speech. Thanks Lynda!

Got this today, under the heading:

It's All Your Fault
"Awhile back you used Optimo hats (indirect) referral, and River Crossing (indirect)referral.. LOL.

"Then I had to order me the long Scout Coat from Mike at River Crossing. Just had to, lost control of myself. After I recovered from my loss of self-control, my new hat from Grant arrived.

"So new hat and Scout Coat within a week. I was dismayed at my weakness.

"Well what is my new Scout Coat worth, without a wonderful Hondo shirt to wear under it? I just don't know either. Both would be free-standing without the other, so my weakness came over me. My Hondo shirt will be coming next.

"My hat was really lonely. It wanted company of its own kind. We can't have that can we? So I had to talk with Grant again. My other new hat will be here soon. Maybe in time for it to keep company with its friend the other hat, and the Hondo shirt. Damn, ain't that pure beaver nice?

"Now since I get confused about these things. I figured I should let you know that it is all your fault for turning me on to those places.

"Now we could be twins for all I know. 'Cept I got me a 12" beard that gets tangled up in those buttons now and again. But that is OK. I sure am beautiful now."

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own."
—Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010
I am writing this with a big grin on my face. Why? Because a half century ago (actually 55 years ago, almost to the day), I had a dream of someday owning a fringed-leather pullover just like the Range Rider's, and now I'm wearing it as I type this:

TV was a brand new phenom and we were living in Swea City, Iowa where my dad had a Phillip's 66 gas station. We were one of the first families on our block to get a television. All my friends hung out at my house to watch the five hours of programming before the TV went to snow. There was a Western daytime kids' show out of Mason City and they had a contest—if you could draw something, they would get it for you. I became obsessed with drawing the Range Rider's pullover. I tried to enlist my Norwegian uncles to help me but they just laughed and continued to drink coffee. In fact, this led to me drawing my own pictures, but I never got the chance to turn in that drawing to the show.

In January of 1956 we took off for Arizona. My father was going to open a big Flying A in Kingman, Arizona where my mother's family lived. On this migration I was still obsessed with getting that pullover. As we motored into Texas and New Mexico on Route 66, I would run into the curios shops every time my dad stopped for gas (he wouldn't stop for much else) and try and find a Range Rider pullover. At first nothing, other than mocassins, but then, near Grants, New Mexico I came close. They had a fringe deal, but it was a jacket, not a pullover:

See how the kid (above) has a cheap jacket on (probably made in Taiwan) and the Range Rider (Jock Mahoney) has that cool pullover? No comparison, Man. And speaking of Man, here's Mr. Easy Rider in his signature fringed jacket:

Dennis Hopper made it cool for a while, mainly for hippies, which didn't sit well with my Kingman cowboy cousins and so fringe started to go south on the acceptability scale. Of course, fringe fashion really began with the mountain men back in the early 1800s, then on to Buffalo Bill and the scouts. Then it seems to have died down a bit but came back with a vengeance with Shane (1950):

From Alan Ladd in Shane, it then appears on two of the new TV shows, The Range Rider and Wild Bill Hickok In my book, these shows took fringe to another level:

Fringe Behavior
This morning Carole brought in a priority mail package from Bellvue, Colorado. I opened it with some enthusiasm. Thanks to a reader of this blog, I contacted Mike Guli, of River Crossing Leatherworks, who made me a custom Range Rider Pullover Deluxe, exactly like Jock Mahoney's (he even bought the DVD so he could study the garment from every angle!). There was only one problem: I was wearing sweats (yoga class this morning). Robert Ray and I looked at the above images before I went home for lunch. Someone under thirty said to me, "Are you actually going to pose in that?" Hell, yes, I waited 55 years to get this, I'm not letting a little thing like respectability stop me now!

"Is Jock wearing a shirt under that?" Nope. Bear-chested (or, should that be, barely chested?) Ouch! Well, I came this far, I'm going to go the entire distance. I went home, put on the pullover, grabbed a neck scarf, went out to the studio to grab my custom-made Apache Kid Gunbelt (made just for me by the legendary John Bianchi), came back to the office, wearing all of the above.

And that's when the laughter began. Some people never grow up. That's my excuse, what's yours Abby Goodrich? She just howled. I told Abby to go to her room. She couldn't, she was on the floor, convulsing in a fit. Robert Ray set up the lights, got out the TW camera and squeezed off two dozen shots. Here's one of them, just for grins:

More later. I know some of you have heart conditions like me, so I don't want to tax your laughter muscles too much. And speaking of which, do you know who I blame for ruining fringe for the rest of us?

Yes, the Village People. I know they meant well, but can't we get back to Range Rider cool?

Didn't think so.

"Fringe is just another way of saying fruitcake."
—Old Vaquero Saying
January 28, 2010
Yesterday we met with Marshall Trimble here at the True West offices about doing something regarding the state of Arizona closing numerous parks, including the Tombstone Courthouse. Here is what Marshall came up with:

Everyone knows these are tough times and I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been hurt by it but do we have to sacrifice our heritage and crown jewels?

I call on people everywhere to rally around the cause. Let Arizona be the focal point. I say this not because I’m an Arizonan. To paraphrase my idol Will Rogers, “I never met a state I didn’t like,” but Arizona is unique. The Spanish called it the “Northern Mystery.” When the Army of the West crossed in the 1840s they were accompanied by scientists who made the first studies of the geology, flora and fauna. The scientific community in America and the Europe waited anxiously to see their reports. Today, the biotic life in Arizona is the most diverse in the United States and scientists still come from afar to study here.

In December, 1983 “Arizona Highways” magazine published a special issue titled “Fifty in One,” where photographs exemplifying the most scenic places in each of the fifty states was shown. Every photo was shot within the boundaries of Arizona.

The science of Ecology was developed here by Clinton Hart Merriam, one of the world’s great naturalists. All seven of his Life Zones are found in Arizona.

We tend to think of the Grand Canyon as Arizona’s Crown Jewel, but in reality, Arizona is America’s Crown Jewel.

Why am I writing this? Because for the past several years politicians have been taking funds from our state parks and the Heritage Fund. This year most of our state parks have either had to close or are facing closure.

What can we do about it? I suggest we begin with a grass roots movement to gather strong public support. Public pressure is needed to persuade our legislators to pass a law that forbids a state legislature from taking funds from those entities that promotes and preserves our state heritage. If they won’t do it then let’s get it on the ballot

This is not just Arizona’s problem but something that should concern all Americans.
—Marshall Trimble, Official Arizona State Historian

“The Indians never got lost because they were always looking back over their shoulders to see where they’d been.”
—Will Rogers

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27, 2010
I'm flying to Lubbock, Texas on Friday for a speech at the Ranching Heritage Association, then up to Orme Ranch for a round of teaching the next Monday thru Friday. Then off to Utah on February 10 for a speech to history teachers. Going to be busy.

Had lunch with Marshall Trimble at El Encanto. Had fun telling each other historic lies. Got rather deep. Also talked about a possible centennial show and book. Had the special, green chile burro and decaf coffee (True West bought, $25).

This afternoon I wrote up a submission to the Arizona Republic Plugged In for Sunday. My editor, Ken Western, said he loved it, but they have a special series running and there isn't room, so, here you go:

A Bridge Over Troubled Memory
Last week I survived my third 100 year flood. I can remember the first one like it was only four decades ago: raindrops as big as Jim Larkin's head (that's huge, man!), hippies battling straights in rowboats, J.D.'s In The Riverbottom underwater (Gee, I wonder why). Bridges out everywhere and city and state officials ducking responsibility by blaming it on a centennial fluke ("Trust us, it only rains this much every hundred years"). Yes, time flies when you are counting in flood years. Hope I live long enough to see a couple more.
—Bob Boze Bell, Executive Editor, True West magazine

In my speeches I have been noodling a line about returning some dignity and respect to the Apache people. In our rush to relieve our collective guilt and shame we have whittled them down from noble savages to noble victims. Neither is correct. I have mentioned in a couple of speeches that we didn't name an attack helicopter after them because they were wimps. But, it needed a better kicker. Wasn't quite there.

Two weeks ago, when I was at the breakfast meeting with the Arizona Theatre Company people, I mentioned this to Ed Furman, one of the Second City writers. He asked about the Apaches and I said, "We didn't name an attack helicopter after them because. . ." and, like a good comedy writer he said, without a beat, "of their beadwork." Yes! That's it.

Come on, Man. The Apaches aren't wimps who play flutes. They deserve respect. We didn't name an attack helicopter after them because of their beadwork.

Perfect. Thanks Second City Writer Guy Ed Furman. I'll share the punchline credit with you.

And speaking of Apaches, local TV producer John Booth told me that Native American filmmaker, Dustinn Craig, I think is his name, recently did a much acclaimed documentary on Geronimo. When John asked him what he was most proud of, Craig said, "There's no flutes in the show." Evidently Apaches have no flute in their culture and hate it that white people always jam one in whenever a film score is written. Ha.

“You know you’re just somehow to me.”
—An Apache putdown, utilizing their unique syntax (told to me by Pastor Guenther of Whiteriver fame)
January 27, 2010
Cloudy and overcast again this morning. Walked down to the Rockaway Hills crossing this morning to look at the storm damage. Looks like Cave Creek crested at about 12 to 15 feet. It's running about three inches right now.

I have a couple of favorite art patrons. One is a highway patrolman in the midwest named Ryan Marcy. He has purchased about a dozen of my original images and has commissioned me to do a painting on the O.K. Corral. Another patron, sent me this photo of his BBB wall:

Craig Schepp owns several True West covers, including "Billy Breaks Out" (upper, right, in red), which appeared on the October 2003 issue) and "The Day of the Dead Billy" which appeared on the cover of the September 2003 issue. If you want to see these covers, and the 98 others we have done in our decade long march to solvency, check them out right here.

Also, if you haven't taken our reader's survey, please take the time to fill it out.

Marhsall Trimble just walked into my office. He's up here to talk about a couple of things. The legislature's approaching closure of 21 State Parks. We want to protest this and Marshall has agreed to be our point man on it. The other item on the agenda is Top Secret (at least for this blog post).

Anyway, Marshall commented recently that he was at a guest ranch in Oracle and they put him in Rita Hayworth's room (she stayed there in her heyday). Over the bed was the famous, signed photo of the movie star:

I think I read somewhere that this photo was a fluke, the flash misfired, or something and the shadows across the top of her bosoms created a sensation. She really does look spectacular.

Marshall said he offered to do the speaking gig for free if he could have the photo. He also said, gazing up at Rita's statuesque frame as he went to sleep, "Now I know what we were fighting for over there." Over there would be Europe and Japan in WWII. Rita was the number two favorite pinup in WWII behind Betty Grable. Marshall said he preferred Rita because she had a sadder story. Ha.

"If it's beautifully arranged on the plate, you know someone's fingers have been all over it."
—Julia Child

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010
Lots of people saw the PBS premiere of Wyatt Earp last night. I know because I have been getting comments, emails and blog postings about it all day. Most have been positive.

I really didn't like my performance. I looked pained and not unlike a grizzled old man recovering from a heart attack. Plus, I flubbed a line about Virgil Earp walking out of the "Oriental Hotel." I was thinking about Virgil walking back to his hotel from the Oriental Saloon and it got crosswired in my brain. I don't even remember saying it, but there it is for all time, on YouTube and network TV. It's a bit of a hot seat situation doing these gigs. Here's a peek behind the curtain of working on these type of documentaries:

Last May I accompanied the writer and director Rob Rapley on a tour of Cochise County. We met in Tucson, where I taped my talking head segment in a small recording studio on east Speedway. Paul Hutton had been there in the morning taping his part and another talking head was leaving as I came in. It was a wet, rainy day and the recording studio space we used to tape in was very tight (it was not a TV studio, but a sound recording studio in a small strip mall set back from the road). I literally had to snake myself around a ton of cords to get behind the desk and into position. All sorts of baffles and reflectors took up the space around the camera. It was like looking down a narrow, blanket wrapped tunnel, into the lens of the camera. With strong lighting from multiple directions in your face it's what I would expect a police interrogation to be like.

The director, Rob Rapley had two or three pages of questions and they always start by asking you to state your name, spell it, and give the credit you want under your name when you first appear on the show. I said, "I'm Bob Boze Bell, executive editor, True West magazine." This is so the editor, back in New York or Washington, doesn't say, "Who is this yahoo and how do we spell his name?"

About a month ago I got a phone call from Rapley lobbying me to use the credit "Writer" instead of executive editor, True West magazine. I wasn't thrilled about this because it's a chance to promote the magazine to a national audience, but Rob kept saying this was their policy and I suppose it does make the show less commercial looking (it is PBS). However, in the future I will demand, up front, that the credit goes in, or I don't do the show.

Then come the questions. It is tricky, because you have to start your answers so that it almost rephrases the question, like this: "Do you think Wyatt Earp had weak bowels?" The temptation is to say, "No, I think Wyatt Earp often let loose like a goose in a silo," but that will not edit into the piece. You pause, so the question doesn't end up overlapping your answer, then: "Wyatt Earp had the intestinal fortitude to eat beans almost every night of the week and still ride a horse."

See? It stands alone and can be used anywhere.

The second hardest thing to do for me is to remember dates, "The Earps came to Tombstone in late 1879. . ." (I don't remember the date so I fudged using "late") and names, especially a series of names: "Wyatt, along with Doc Holliday, Sherm McMasters, Warren Earp and Turkey Creek Johnson came in the back door of the Cosmopolitan and ran into Sheriff Johnny Behan. . ."

Whew! That's a mouthful and I usually avoid it. I noticed no one else attempted it either. Ha.

Now keep in mind that the other talking heads are getting most of the same questions, so you sit and keep score about who got the better answer, because that's who they used in the show. I did okay, but Hutton, Tefertiller and Gary Roberts probably won the face-time war.

The interview lasts for about two hours, then the director says, "That's all the questions I have, do you have anything to add that I didn't ask?" I usually answer: "On behalf of the band, I hope we passed the audition."

The next day we took off in a rainstorm for Cochise County. Do you recognize any of these scenes from the show?

"Those who know how to win are more numerous than those who
 know how to make proper use of their victories."
—Old Vaquero Saying
January 26, 2010
Mark Gardner just sent me another photo of a very controversial New Mexico character, Oliver Lee:

Considered by some to be the killer of Albert Fountain and his six-year-old son, Oliver Lee, got off due in part to the expert lawyering of Albert Fall (who, by the way, Mark tells me is the third guy kneeling from the right in the Garrett photo).

Anybody know the year of the car? Which would help date the photo.

"I don't mind being wrong, I do mind being dead."
—Albert Jennings Fountain
January, 26, 2010
Got this photo yesterday from Mark Gardner, who has been following our Size Matters quest:

It's not hard to spot Juan Largo's tall frame in the back row. I have never seen this photo. According to Mark, it's from the Center for Southwest Research, UNM (they don't charge a use fee).

The interesting thing, to me, is that the guy to the left of Garrett is probably about 5.5 or 5.7 and this is pretty close to how Billy the Kid would look standing next to the sheriff of Lincoln County. According to Paulita Maxwell, when the two hung out together at Fort Sumner, they were known as Juan Largo and Little Casino.

Mark goes on to say, "I got permission to use it in my book, but cut it because of space restrictions (my editor didn't want it to be a picture book). The image shows Garrett with several other prominent southern New Mexicans at the Torrance depot, on their way to George Curry's inauguration as territorial governor in 1907. You may recall from my book that an excited Garrett wrote Polinaria, instructing her to send him his dress suit and Prince Albert coat so that he could wear them to the inauguration. Sure looks like he's wearing that trademark coat in this image."

Here's the link to it from UNM's digital collections:

Albert Fall, the "fall guy," and the attorney who went after Garrett on the witness stand during the trial of Oliver Lee (and got Lee off) is supposedly in the front row. Not sure which one he is but if I had to guess I'd say either the gent second from left, or third from right.

"Tall tales from tall people are easier to swallow than tall tales from short writers."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25, 2010
Tonight is the broadcast premiere of the PBS American Experience show Wyatt Earp which I worked on. If you see fast moving clouds, I helped the crew find those locations on a scouting trip to Cochise County last Spring, and if you hear ridiculous statements about Wyatt Earp, that's Jim Dunham.

That's a joke. All of us who are talking heads are at the mercy of the writers and producers who can edit and fashion theories from even the most careful answers.

Speaking of Tombstone, here are my lineup sketches for the Size Matters series we are creating: This is for the O.K. Corral Edition. Starting with Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp:

This is actually a rendering of the city marshal, Virgil Earp, but supposedly all three Earp brothers were the same height and weight: six foot and 165 pounds.

I did a Doc Holliday but he ended up in the Pinhead school of art (if I didn't know better I'd say Thom Ross drew it):

Meanwhile, on the other side of the lot, is Tom McLaury:

Gee, he looks a little like Richard Ignarski, doesn't he? He should, that's who I used for a model (see this morning's post). Next up, is Tom's brother Frank:

Arguably the most dangerous of the cowboys, Wyatt said he shot Frank first to take him out of the fight. Although gut shot on the first fire, Frank did some damage, hitting Morgan Earp across the shoulder blades, Virgil Earp in the calf of his leg and John Holliday in the hip, although Doc's holster deflected the bullet.

I seem to remember the McLaury's were about 5.11 and Billy Clanton at six foot and his brother Ike at 5.10. I also seem to remember that Johnny Behan was about 5.11. Need to confirm all these. If you know, I'll be much oblidged.

"Tall Paul, he's my all, Bob Paul six foot six is all."
—Old Pop Song
January 25, 2010
Skies have cleared but we supposedly have another storm coming by Wednesday. Came in the office early to get ready for tomorrow's design meeting. Dan the Man is coming out and we are going over some of the new tidbits we are developing for the new year. Always exciting. We've got some great stuff.

Speaking of Dan the Man, he and I were really into re-enacting when we were kids (we just didn't call it that). Of course, our models were TV shows, particularly the short-lived, but long-loved 26 Men about the Arizona Rangers:

The show, which was filmed at 40th Street and Camelback in Phoenix, utilized cowboy fashion from the time period it was filmed, not the era it portrayed: i.e. waist cut Levi jackets and 1950s style cowboy hats with medium brims and most notably a tail fin, or spoiler in back (think Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead Or Alive). That was the conventional wisdom of that time about how cowboys and gunfighters looked in the Old West.

We were not alone. Check out this photo of "real cowboys" reenacting the O.K. Corral shootout:

On the back of the photo it says in pencil: "late 40's—early 50's Tombstone cowboys, these guys—real ranchers from Gleeson/Tombstone." The photo is by Reginald Russell, a photographer for the Tucson Daily Citizen. To our eye, it's painfully obvious they are adhering more to 1940s and 50s cowboy style that anything worn in the actual Old West.

It wasn't until I attended the October 26, 1981 centennial of the O.K. Corral fight in Tombstone that I saw the future of super authentic re-enacting. A gunfighter group from California was there and they put the local group to shame when it came to authentic gear and style. They even incorporated blood bags in their enactment of the famous street fight.

Here is how the locals looked on that day in 1981:

The sideburns and bell-bottom pants, give away the era pretty strongly. There are exceptions to the rule. One guy I met at the centennial, Richard Ignarksi, of Albuquerque, New Mexico is a stickler for the smallest detail, including hair, and when I look at a photo of him it's pretty timeless:

Mainly, though, it's the hair styles that tend to be a dead giveaway. This is also true in movies, Faye Dunaway's 1960's poofy hairdo, blatantly gives away the otherwise excellent period costuming for Bonnie And Clyde.

I imagine the red sashes and the huge brims of current day re-enactors will someday look dated. As much as I like the big brims I have to say:

"If everybody's wearin' a big hat, ain't nobody wearin' a big hat."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24, 2010
Spoke yesterday to a standing room only crowd at the Cave Creek Museum. Sold a box full of books (plus three Even Lower Blows) Talked a bit about surviving last Friday's historic 100 year flood.

I think this is my fifth, or sixth 100 year flood. I distinctly remember the one in 2000, and I want to say there was one in 1993, one in, maybe 1983, one in 1976 and I know there was one in 1966 because that's when I first heard the term.

I was a freshman in college and went home to Kingman for Christmas. I was tired of the collegiate look (actually a uniform): penny loafers, no socks, light blue button-down long-sleeved shirt and yellow slacks (I'm not making this up!). I bought my uniform at Franklin's Men Store just outside the main gate, and, the last time I was down in the Old Pueblo, last October, it is still there, apparently still selling overpriced clothes.

So while I was home visiting my Kingman cowboy cousins I bought some rough out cowboy boots at Alex Toggery ($25!) and then went to visit my mother in Prescott (she was estranged from my father at the time). It was questionable whether to go because a huge snowstorm slammed the state and traffic from Kingman to Prescott was icy and slow. Fortunately, thanks to my father, I was driving a 63 Ford Pickup, and I got to Prescott fine, but got stuck in a snowbank coming up a snow-packed dirt road to the apartment building where my mother was staying. An old cowboy in a pickup came out to save me. His name was Johnny Mullins and he is, to this day, a famous Prescott cowboy. He's even in the movie Junior Bonner, when Steve McQueen is registering to compete in the July 4th rodeo, a cowboy says to McSween, "You know Johnny Mullins." Thanks to that snowbank in 1966 I can say, "Of course, we all know Johnny."

Anyway, after a short visit I left Prescott bound for Tucson and the University of Arizona. As i drove out across Prescott Valley I remember there was a pure blanket of crystaline snow sweeping across the valley without a roofline in sight. The only blot on the horizon was a lone sign that offered cheap acreage and housing sites. I thought to myself, "This is crazy. Who in the hell would want to live out here?"

I still feel that way, but today, Prescott Valley is a big, sprawling town. Anyway, the radio said because of massive flooding all of the bridges across the Salt River in Phoenix were out except for the Mill Avenue Bridge going into Tempe (The I-10 freeway was incomplete and stopped at 40th Street). When I got to Phoenix, traffic was backed up for about ten miles on every road leading to the bridge. It took me over two hours to get across.

The excuse by state and city officials was that this was a 100 year flood. A centennial fluke, and we shouldn't worry about it because we'll all be gone by the next time and maybe someone will build a few more bridges by then.

My goal at this point it to live long enough to witness a couple more of these rare and unique 100 year floods.

"Those who remember the past are condemned to repeat it to others who are tired of hearing it."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010
It's Thomas Charles' birthday today. He's 27 and actually has a job (he was in the Peace Corp in Peru for over two years). Speaking of which, late last week he sent me this email:

I know you probably heard this way too much at KSLX but Bill [Glenn] had a ZZ Top CD in the other night and Just Got Paid Today came on. Holy Moses that's a bad ass song. Talk about standing the test of time, who can't relate to "Just got paid today, got myself a pocket full of change" backed by a mean guitar riff? I gotta say I'm proud they were my first concert. Bragging rights!


Funny what having a job and getting a paycheck can do for one's maturity level. Ha. And, by the way, after his first concert at the Phoenix Coliseum I took him backstage where he got to meet guitar god Billy Gibbons. Although Tomcat thought it was cool, it probably wasn't the best thing a dad could do for future expectations: "Hey dad, we're going to see Green Day tonight, can you get me back stage?"

No, son, I cannot. I shot my entire celebrity cred with one of the only rock stars I actually knew at the time (although I used to get annual Christmas cards from Billy, I haven't heard from him in a long time).

"The heart of rock 'n' roll is still beating."
—Huey Lewis And The News

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010
It is a blessing to have good friends and a double blessing if they are scholars obsessed with all things Billy the Kid. Case in point:

My good friend Lynda Sanchez from Lincoln, New Mexico suggested we do a Classic Gunfight on an incident that took place at Fort Stanton, New Mexico. Utilizing her fine book on the subject, I came up with the following narrative:

November 1, 1862
Army Surgeon John Whitlock is visiting his good friend Kit Carson at the newly rebuilt Fort Stanton. Carson is in command of five companies of New Mexico volunteers who are in the process of rebuilding the fort, which was abandoned and burned when the Confederates fled.

Dr. Whitlock is engaged in a game of cards in the Sutler's tent when the name Captain Graydon comes up in conversation. Whitlock has nothing nice to say about the controversial Indian fighter and makes, what one eye witness claims, are "serious criticisms concerning Captain Graydon's killing [of] sixteen [Apaches]. . ."

Alarmed at the nature of the verbal abuse, one of the card players leaves the tent and goes directly to Captain Graydon's tent and informs the latter of the comments. Minutes later, the soldier returns with a note and pushes it in front of Whitlock, who reads it, and writes on the bottom, "Accepted."

He points at the paper and says to his fellow card players, "That is a challenge—I'll have to fight."

Several men in the tent try to talk Whitlock out of fighting and try to encourage him to pass out the back of the tent and return to Carson's tent. Whitlock absolutely refuses to do this and picks up a Colt's five shooting revolver lying on the card table and examines it.

Someone comes in and says Captain Graydon is on his way with a pistol in both hands. Meeting outside, the two agree to a duel with "the running gears of a wagon standing between them." Dr. Whitlock is armed with the five shooting Colts and Captain Graydon is armed with a Navy Six. As they step off and turn to fire, Graydon's Navy misfires (he earlier had gotten it wet "while chasing Indians") and he manages to fire twice, only slightly wounding the doctor. Whitlock shoots Graydon, hitting him square and knocking him down.

Lieutenant Morris of Captain Graydon's company rushes the site with "about 75 soldiers" who open fire on the doctor, who is crawling along a ditch trying to reach his tent. The soldiers riddle the doctor with more than 100 shots and throw stones on his body.

What started as an almost spontaneous duel, has ended with the brutal murder of the good friend of Kit Carson.

End of narrative.

As I often do, I sent the narrative to all the historians I know who might proof the copy and make sure it's accurate. One of the historians I sent it to is Fred Nolan with this cover note:

Still not sure if this is something you are conversant with but here's rough of fight.


Got the following clarification back today:

You've picked a beaut to bend your brains on. More controversy over this incident than some of Our Billy's adventures.

The name of the officer was Capt. James "Paddy" Graydon, although it's sometimes given as Grayden or Grayton. In May '62 General Canby had given him command of a company of 1st NM Cavalry and told him to go out and scout for hostile Mescalero Apaches (this was at the time of Carleton's notorious order to "kill all the males who resisted but save the women and children").

Late in October Graydon encountered a band lend by Manuelito at Patos, in the Gallinas Mountains which are almost directly due west of Corona NM where Graydon 'lured' the Apaches into his camp, got them drunk, had his men shoot them down in cold blood, and took their 17 horses with him back to Fort Stanton (an act which Dr John Marmaduke Whitlock denounced in a letter to the Santa Fe Weekly Gazette as barbaric treachery). In his official report, however, Graydon claimed he had refused to give whiskey to Manuelito, who drew his gun and declared he would fight for it, whereupon Graydon gave the order to fire. Whatever the truth, at least 11 Apaches were killed, and twice as many wounded. Both Carleton and Colonel Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson, who had assumed command of Fort Stanton, expressed considerable annoyance but no further action was taken.

The Graydon troops were sent in advance of Carson, who was moving south, but whether they were coming from Santa Fe via Socorro would seem unlikely because they would have had to take a U-shaped route to get to the Gallinas mountains -- unless of course they rode across country via Albuquerque/Manzano. Many sources have them coming out of Fort Stanton where they were rebuilding the fort. Sorry: dunno.

Shootout, Version One:

Whitlock, who had served inthe Territorial Militia as a surgeon, was a close friend of Carson who came down to the Fort on November 1, 1862 to have Carson sign some papers. On November 4 (or 9, take your pick) while Whitlock was at the sutler's store/tent playing cards, Graydon burst in, confronted Whitlock, and demanded to know if it was true he had called him "an assassinating cowardly son of a bitch." Whitlock coolly replied he "could not recollect exactly having used such language," but agreed that was more or less the gist of it. Graydon left the room, then came back and presented Whitlock (still playing cards) with a letter, presumably challenging him to a duel. "As you see, Captain, I am engaged" Whitlock said. "Let the matter rest until tomorrow and I will give you an explanation and satisfaction if you desire."

Next morning, Graydon confronted Whitlock. ‘If you come to this post again and insult an officer, I will horsewhip you,’ he barked. ‘I am an officer and you are a pimp that follows the army.’

Graydon stomped off to his tent and got heeled while Whitlock picked up a gun and waited for him at officers' quarters. When the soldier reappeared, Whitlock shot at him and missed. Graydon's return shot shattered the butt of Whitlock's pistol, wounding his wrist. Whitlock fired again, inflicting a fatal wound, ran into the sutler's store and grabbed a shotgun as Graydon's troopers carried their C.O. to his tent, where he died almost immediately.

The incensed troopers rushed back to get Whitlock, who ran for the rear door but was shot down and killed. His body was then thrown into a ditch (acequia?) and then soldier after soldier/every man in the company filed by and fired a shot into the body either with rifle, pistol or shotgun. An examination found 130 gunshot wounds in the body.

In a "towering rage" Kit Carson had every man in the company disarmed, presumably with a view to havng them all shot, but was persuaded to have only the ringleaders arrested and held for the civil authorities.

Shootout, Version Two:

As Graydon re-appeared, the surgeon suddenly drew his pistol and fired; Graydon immediately reciprocated. Both men missed. Graydon retreated behind a wagon, while Whitlock crouched behind a Sibley tent. The two men kept firing. Suddenly, Graydon clutched his chest and yelled, "The son of a bitch has killed me!"

Graydon’s troopers, attracted by the gunfire, rushed to their wounded captain. Whitlock had been non-fatally wounded in his side and right hand; Graydon’s men pursued him and gunned him down. The doctor’s body was thrown into a ditch, and Graydon’s soldiers continued to fire round after round into the lifeless corpse. Carson estimated that more than 100 shots had been fired at Whitlock.

Four members of Graydon’s company — Lieutenant Phillip Morris and Privates John Murry, Albert Overall, and Estevan Aguilar — were charged with murder and sent to Santa Fe to stand trial. On January 1, 1863, Morris, Aguilar, Overall, and three other prisoners escaped from the jail. Overall was captured the next morning, but Morris and Aguilar remained at large until January 18, when they were apprehended by General Carleton himself.

Graydon died three days after his gunfight with Whitlock and was buried at Fort Stanton. A small collection taken up by his colleagues enabled his widow, Eliza, to travel from Santa Fe to pay her last respects. Twenty-four years later, Graydon’s remains were moved to Santa Fe National Cemetery.


All that having been expounded, (and I am sure there are other versions) I think yours (or rather George Kimbrell's -- and yes, there is a photograph of him, but not a very good one, taken in old age: TWOBTK, 190) is much more detailed and exciting. How true it is, I am honestly not well informed enough to say.

For "other" versions of the Manuelito massacre see inter alia Sonnichsen, The Mescalero Apaches 111-112; Terrell, Apache Chronicle, 235; Worcester. The Apaches, 85; Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue, 236.

See also Ryan, Fort Stanton and its Community 1855-96, 53-54.

I have more on this elsewhere, but don't know how much of a hurry you are in. As a result, I doubt any of this is much help, but what d'you expect -- even though it's taken me most of the day to do, it's only a freebie.

"If you want to keep the herd moving put your best man on point."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010
It started raining last night at about 1:30 in the morning and it's been raining all day. One of our local staffers, Joe Freedman, went out for lunch and checked out Grapevine Wash (we both have to traverse it on the way home) and came back to report it was running about six inches deep and rising.

Got a call from Kathy at 2:30 asking me to come home before the washes get any higher.

Left at about three and made it across all the washes, although the last one on Cahava Ranch Road was ripping pretty good. Made it home okay, although our driveway and the yard appear to be floating in one big lake. I can only imagine what it's like north of here. Deena Bean was supposed to go snowboarding at the Snow Bowl with a friend today but decided not to go.

Just got this report from an old Kingman friend who now lives in Flag:

"We've got snow up to James Arness's ass here."
—Tom Carpenter
January 21, 2010
The third storm is upon us. Started last night about 1:30 in the morning and it has been drizzling and dribbling ever since. Washes all running (I go through 5 on my way into town) but nothing major yet, although our yoga instructor, Debbie P., did not make it in this morning (she lives across from us on the other side of Cave Creek).

The Daily Dribble
If you are reading this sitting down, please, for your own good, stand up. Turns out sitting is deadly. Especially if you sit for long stretches like we do who work on computers all day. Several new studies suggest we are more likely to be fat, have a heart attack and die. I hate to admit it, but I resemble those remarks, especially in the attack area. Been there, had one, don't want another.

So, when I read this sitting at the kitchen table this morning, I immediately stood up and kept standing for about 20 minutes while I finished the Arizona Republic. I'd like to say I'm writing this standing up, but my desk is too friggin' low. Robert Ray has suggested putting our desks up on blocks and perhaps even adding a treadmill. That sounds funny, but I'll bet if I live long enough it will be standard equipment in the workspace of the future.

Speaking of predicting the future, it's quite amazing to me that with the release of Avatar, 3-D is finally such a big deal after all this time ($1.65 billion in ticket sales!). I remember seeing a couple 3-D movies at the State Theatre in Kingman in the mid-1950s and they were quite cheesy and not very good (both the movies and the effects). In fact, 3-D quickly became a bad joke (see quote below). Remember that famous Life magazine photo:

Photo of movie-goers in 1952 by J.R. Eyerman. Man, don't they look goofy? Well, here we are a half century later and the market finally caught up with the technology. Or, is it the other way around? And, by the way, what's next? Hula Hoops?

"I'm waiting for 3-D."
—Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramdem, 1955, using it as an excuse not to buy a new television set on The Honeymooners

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010
Got another intriguing email from Dan Buck on the haphazard aspect of pegging outlaws:

"Exhibit A regarding the notion that height measurements of outlaws were imprecise. This morning, among our Pinkerton paraphernalia, I came across the mugshot card for Ben Kilpatrick when he was arrested in St. Louis in 1901. His height is given as 6.1, which is 1 5/8 inches taller that what he was measured at in Atlanta five years later.

"Someone with more time on their hands than me could probably pull together, from mugshots, police reports, wanted posters, news accounts, etc., a fairly wide array of descriptions of the same handful of outlaws.

"Of course, it works the other way round. One reason the Bertillon system failed, aside from the fact that it was a pain in the ass to implement and way beyond the ken of your average sheriff, was that measurements varied with the skill of the measuring technician and that different suspects did share identical measurements. Also, fingerprints came along, unique identifiers, requiring only an ink roller and paper. At least that's my understanding."
—Dan Buck

Speaking of extreme height, went home for lunch and whipped out a black and white sketch of James Arness:

He's 6'7", man that is a tall boy. Also worked on a stagecoach scene:

Patina In Progress

A dentist has ordered a stagecoach scene and I love doing dust. In fact, you might call this one "Last Stage to Dustville." Or, not.

We're still working hard on the new featurette Size Matters. Found this photo last weekend of Wild Bill Hickok:

This is just part of the photograph by Alexander Gardner taken in 1867. It's easy to see how Hickok used his size to control the many drunken cowboys he encountered in Fort Harker and elsewhere.

“If you aren’t living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
January 20, 2010
One of the dilemmas for us history fanatics (and Hollywood costumers, as well) is, how did city folk dress for posse duty? One school (the 30s and 40s Hollywood version) has the entire posse made up of cowboys. Or, at least they all wear cowboy duds, complete with chaps and tall crowned hats. The other version is to have the city guys wear pretty much what they wear in town (see Tombstone, the movie).

I think this classic C.S. Fly photo nails it:

This is Doc George Goodfellow of Tombstone fame, goofing for Buck (Fly) with a horse that Porfirio Diaz, the president of Mexico, allegedly presented to the doctor. The year is 1888.

Doc is dressed for a ride in the country. He has most assuredly exchanged his formal city hat for a big Sonora sombrero, adding riding gloves and canvas, or leather leggings. I think this is how the Earps, and their fellow townies probably dressed on their Vendetta Ride. Or, at least a variation of it. In other words, I think they adapted their normal city clothing, by adding a broader hat and various other accouttrements to fit the gig. Just a subtle difference, but a significant one to me.

"The Devil is in the details."
—Old Vaquero Saying
January 20, 2010
Without further ado, the launch of a new segment:

The Daily Dribble
Second big storm soaked us good last night. Rain lasted until past midnite. Creek really ripping this morning. Heard it from the chicken coop (about 200 yards away). Took Peaches for a walk about 7:30 and went up Old Stage and down Rockaway Hills to the creek crossing north of us. Water running about ten yards wide across the cement apron and maybe a foot deep. Saw today's Arizona Republic, wrapped in blue plastic, resting about ten feet from the water line. The newspaper delivery person no doubt pulled up in the dark, made an executive decision: "I ain't crossing that," threw the paper out the truck window and turned around. Meanwhile, yesterday's paper churned in the current, wrapped in white plastic, submerged among the rocks (I will resist the obvious but tempting metaphor).

The third storm is supposed to hit tomorrow and according to the TV weather people, it's going to be the really big one. You couldn't tell it from the sky. Some scattered, low hanging clouds over Elephant Butte this morning, but otherwise, if I didn't know better, I would think the worst was over (I will resist the obvious economic metaphor), but we know because of computer and satellite generated data that the next storm is coming and it's even bigger.

Speaking of computer generated data, did you know that in the typical workplace coffee area where everyone is on scouts honor to put in money to pay for the service, the money actually put in goes up significantly when the image of a human eye is put up above the coffee machine? And it goes down when the image of flowers is put there?

See? Now that's some fine dribble, if I don't say so myself.

I Can't Believe I Drew It

Sometimes I go back through my sketchbooks and find stuff that stuns me. Why? Didn't seem that good at the time, but with the passage of a couple years (almost), I can see it with new eyes and, it's not too shabby.

Found the image of Wild Bill Hickok looming over his fellow Fort Hays fellows and will post it later.

“When you come to the edge of your reality as you presently know it, and step off into the darkness, faith is knowing that there will either be ground just below your feet or that you shall sprout wings and fly.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010
Just got word that the writer Robert Parker has died at the age of 77, "just sitting at his desk" at his home in Cambridge, Mass. The news of Parker's death on Monday has been confirmed by Parker's U.S publisher, Putnam; an official statement is expected later today, though on Twitter a representative wrote: "R.I.P beloved author Robert B. Parker. You were indeed a Grand Master, your legacy lives on, and you will be missed by us all."

Went home for lunch and whipped out a William S. Hart sketch:

It's serendipity that one of the first Western movie stars has his hat in hand, almost in respect for Parker.

Meanwhile, found this great photo of Alan Ladd from the movie Shane:

This photo illustrates a couple things. The first is that his leather shirt helped popularize the style for upcoming TV shows The Range Rider and Buffalo Bill. And, the photo clearly illustrates how directors and photographers had a challenge to hide his short stature. Here the photographer has creatively put his co-star up on a stump and the another actor is placed behind at a distance. Of course, in Westerns everyone plays Big, even Jimmy Cagney in The Oklahoma Kid (1939):

Yes, that's Humphrey Bogart on the right. Both look quite out of place in a Western.

We had a wet storm move through last night. Supposed to have another tonight and then a big one on Thursday night. Forecasters are predicting 8 inches for Cave Creek area.

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”
—Joe Ancis
January 19, 2010
Got this missive this morning:

"I have to finally speak up. You keep writing dribble while the world is collapsing around your ears. There aren’t a whole lot of 'good historical' people about.

"Your web site has seen a massive desertion of positive contributors while you keep writing dribble! I don’t mean to belittle what you have to say, but it’s insignificant compared to what’s happening around you!

"That magazine deserves to fold unless you open your eyes. H E L L O. The Sky is falling."
—Morgan S. Earp, And I’m pissed at you for ignoring it!

Everyone on our site is free to speak their mind as you have just done. And everyone is free to go where they want to go. It was unfortunate that a group left over a string of posts that I started. For that I take responsibility. I thought we could all talk about Brokeback and laugh about it and remain civil. I was wrong.

I still admire and respect most of the people who left. Some I do not miss at all.

Our membership is growing every day and people are still expressing their passions about the West. Not sure how that is tantamount to "the sky is falling."

I'll post your comments along with some other dribble later today.


End of exchange.

“It’s necessary in order to attract attention, to dazzle at all costs, to be diapproved of by serious people, and quoted by the foolish.”
—Jill Jonhston

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010
Right about now, I'm predicting our Production Manager, Robert Ray is rolling his eyes. Here's why: I conceived of the "Size Matters" as a tidbit. Gave a long speech last Friday to Robert and Abby on how we need to develop these stand-alone, sidebar, partial page deals so that they could easily be put onto an existing page and enhance our issues with added value. Get in and get out. Simple and clean. Don't overwork it.

Well, since I've posted this Size Matters work in progress, I began to get excited about the prospects for a larger piece. For example, I came back from lunch with this photo:

A casual observer might note that the guy on the left, Dennis Weaver, is a little runt of a guy. Well, this really illustrates the phenom of Size Matters because, as we all know, Mr. Weaver is a six footer. The reason he looks so diminutive is because the guy he's standing next to is Matt Dillon (James Arness) arguably the tallest Western star ever at six foot seven! Amazing.

From there I began to wonder if this warrants an entire feature, perhaps even a cover story:

Or, perhaps we show the twin towers: Clint and Duke looming, and then we have a really short guy on a box, between them, shouting, "Get back in the ditch! Come back! Get in the ditch! I'm Shane!" (Alan Ladd, as Shane was so short—five two?—that many times film crews had to dig ditches for taller actors to walk in, next to Ladd, and, legend says, he often had to stand on a box to romance his taller female co-stars (almost everyone). It must have been awful for Mr. Ladd in his private life. I remember when he came to Kingman to film The Badlanders, the local scuttlebutt was that he got in fights at the El Trovatore Bar because locals were constantly making fun of his smallness. It's hard for me to believe that someone from Kingman could be that rude and cruel.

That's a joke.

Someone who historically was even smaller is Mr. Cannibal Alfred Packer:

I need to confirm this but I think Packer was five foot, that's tall, not the number he ate.

Conversely, I read somewhere that real tall guys are often very self conscious because all their life people have admonished them ("Hey, pick on someone your own size!"), or mocked them ("How's the weather up there?"). FYI: Dan the Man Harshberger is six foot three, Charlie Waters is also. I'm six one at night, and six foot in the afternoon.

Anyway, there is the long and the short of it. Now you know why Robert Ray is rolling his eyes. Can you really blame him?

“Take the obvious, add a cupful of brains, a generous pinch of imagination, a bucketful of courage and daring, stir well, and bring to a boil.”
—Bernard Baruch
January 18, 2010
When we talk about tall bad boys we have to include Native Americans. Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves) comes to mind:

The notorious Apache leader was reportedly six foot three. A wonderful description of him involves a group of anglo mountain men types encountering him in the mountains of New Mexico (I want to say in the Black Range east of Silver City) and they are all bundled up against the cold in fur and wool, and up comes Mangas in the snow, all but naked with a loin cloth, as comfortable as a sun bather on a balmy day at the beach.

Paul Andrew Hutton nominated Touch The Sky, I think that's the name. Evidently a Sioux warrior. Is there a photo of him? And do we know his actual height?

Just got this report from our features editor:

"There was Big Steve Long of Laramie, WY. He was a lawman/outlaw who was a bit too quick on the trigger. He and the Moyer brothers were lynched by vigilantes in 1868--the well-known photo shows Steve as a quite tall guy, supposedly 6'6".

"Dallas Stoudenmire was about 6'4".

"Bob Paul was estimated at 6'6". His weight fluctuated, although during the Tombstone troubles he was over 300 lbs. He later dropped a bunch of weight and got down to about 250.

"On the other end, John Slaughter was about 5'5" (I've got a pair of his chaps and he was small, even by the standards of that day).

"If we're looking at some outlaws, Ben Kilpatrick (The Tall Texan) was about 6'3". [Dan Buck disputes this and says one of his prison charts notes he was close to six foot.]

"Bill Longley was 6'1" or so.

"On the short end of the stick, Ed Maxwell was about 5'3" and his brother Lon an inch or two taller."
—Mark Boardman

"The race doesn't always go to the fastest and the strongest but that's how to bet."
—Damon Runyan
January 18, 2010
Started raining this morning at 7:30, just as I was getting ready to go for a walk. Not really raining, though, misting would be more like it, or as the Navajos call it: a "female rain." We're supposed to get five inches out of this weather front coming through.

Speaking of inches, I worked all weekend on a series of police line-up characters from the Old West to illustrate their towering presence. Here's a familiar figure who needs no introduction:

Hickok was tall, maybe six foot three. There is a photo of him at Fort Hays and there must be thirty or forty guys lined up and Wild Bill is at the far left. He is literally head and shoulders above the crowd.

One of the perks of this gig is being able to question the experts on just about any given subject and get the skinny. Case in point: I emailed Wild Bunch expert Dan Buck about The Tall Texan's height. Got this intriguing reply:

"I doubt if Ben Kilpatrick was called the Tall Texan for nothing. In Soule's The Tall Texan: The Story of Ben Kilpatrick (1995) he says that the records at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, which Kilpatrick entered in 1905 at age 31, indicate that he was 'roughly six feet tall.' That seems a bit vague. Maybe Art can supply a more precise answer.

"Butch Cassidy's Wyoming prison record has him at 5' 9". Per a medical record the Pinkertons uncovered, Sundance was 5' 9", but on their wanted posters, they listed him as 5' 10". Kid Curry the Pinkertons marked at 5' 7" 1/2, but I don't know the basis.

"At 5' 7" 1/2, Curry was about average for the period.

"Larger question: How do we now how tall an outlaw was? Self-reported? People (male and female) typically exaggerate their height. Measured? How? Boots on or off? (What do boots add? Two inches?) Measuring tape; guesstimate; pencil marks on the wall of the sheriff''s office? Also, outlaws cannot always be expected to cooperate with such exercises. (Both Kid Curry & the Sundance Kid reportedly squirmed their way out of having their mugshots taken.) Morning or night? People gain about 3/4 of an inch at night as their body expands and shrink the same amount during the day, as it compresses. Thus a person is tallest in the morning and shortest in the evening.

"For more general info on heights, historical trends, etc., Wikipedia is a starting place: Height of the American people

"Lots of quirks & anomalies: Apparently white males shrunk between the 19th & early 20th centuries, then began growing again. Rural born were taller than city born. Average height of 1918 white male conscripts, born ca. 1900, was 5' 7" 1/3 Black conscripts, though, were on average taller.

"An academic paper that might be useful: The Heights of Americans in Three Centuries: Some Economic and Demographic Implications

"An abstract:
"This paper discusses the potential usefulness of anthropometric measurements in exploring the contributions of nutrition to American economic growth and demographic change. It argues that although the value of height-by-age data to economic historians will ultimately be resolved in the context of investigating specific issues, the early results of the NBER Projecton Long-term Trends in Nutrition, Labor Productivity, and Labor Welfare have been encouraging. Among the most significant findings to date are: (1)that by the time of the Revolution, Americans had attained a mean final height (and net nutritional status) that was very high, one that European populations did not generally reach until the twentieth century; (2) that the variation in stature across occupational classes was much less in the U.S. than in Europe; (3) that natives of the South have been taller than those from other regions of the U.S. since the middle of the eighteenth century, and that their absolute height increased during the antebellum period while mortality was declining there; and (4) that natives of large antebellum cities were much shorter than their country men born in rural areas or in small cities. The paper also examines, in a preliminary fashion, how a newly available data set bears on the hypothesis that a cycle in U.S. final heights began during the antebellum period. The theory might continue to be sustained, but a sample of U.S. Army recruits from 1850 to 1855 does not seem to provide much support for it.

—Dan Buck

So now I'm intrigued by this sidebar tidbit. Is there such a thing as being too tall in the Old West? Was someone who was seven foot just a freak? Evidently not entirely (see comments on yesterday's post regarding an alleged seven foot lawman in Oklahoma), but it seems that there might have been an optimum height, that was still dominating and intimidating, but not too tall. Thus the Six Foot Four Club.

It certainly speaks to Western movie stars with The Duke:

The ex-football player was very commanding at six foot four and when you added the high heel boots and Stetson he supposedly approached seven foot.

And at the other end of the spectrum we have the short guys. In the Billy the Kid saga, Pat Garrett is six foot four, the Kid is five seven (average height in that era), but the leader of the Boys is the notorious Jesse Evans:

I believe his Texas prison records show him to have been five foot two. Man, that destroys his image. And now leading the New Mexican outlaws is Mickey Rooney!

“I’d feel a lot braver if I wasn’t so scared.”
—Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010
Working today on a new featurette for the magazine to be called Size Matters. Although I've read somewhere that the average height of a male in the Old West was around five feet seven, I am struck with how many legends belonged to the Six Feet Four Club. Off the top of my head I count: Lincoln, Pat Garrett, Dallas Stoudenmire, Mangas Coloradas, Touch The Sky, Sheriff Bob Paul, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood as being in the club. Paul Hutton mentioned Sam Houston and Wild Bill Hickok as being big boys as well, but I'm not sure of their actual heighth. And what about Bill Tilghman?

On the other end of the scale is Alfred Packer at five foot and Jesse Evans at five feet two.

What other tall guys were there? Don't want to miss anyone, and that goes for the short guys as well. I'd love to feature them all in a police lineup style graphic and show the disparity.

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
—Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16, 2010
Drove down into the Beast this morning to meet with two guys from Second City (the famous Chicago comedy improv group whose alums include John Belushi, John Candy and half the cast members of almost every season of SNL). They are working on a show for the Arizona Theatre Company to be called "Close But No Saguaro," which will play in Tucson and Phoenix in a couple months. The two young writers were looking for material on the two cities and Arizona so myself and three other media types (to be named later) met at ten at the Breakfast Club, 4400 N. Scottsdale Road.

The place is quite hip, with great food and was slammed with very attractive people. As one of the newspaper guys told me while we waited for a table, his office is nearby, and he finds it fun to go in on the weekends and watch all the awkward diners, who obviously hooked up the night before at a nightclub and now are sharing, what he terms "The Breakfast of Shame."

I later met up with T. Charles and Kathy for lunch at a new place in North Scottsdale called The Kitchen and when I told this to my son, he laughed and told me this is a takeoff on The Walk of Shame, which is usually, but not exclusively, a young woman in high heels walking to her car on Saturday or Sunday morning and everyone who sees her knows exactly what she did, thus The Walk of Shame.

I'm tempted to say I need to get out more, but it would be a lie. I did my time in that scene.

"I'm gonna wait til the ten o'clock hour, when my drool comes tumbling down."
—Wilson Pick it, Sr.

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010
Just got back from a lunch at Flo's Asian Kitchen down in Scottsdale ($27 biz account). Met with a local TV producer who just won an Emmy. Pitched him on a new crop of bumpers I want to create, utilizing all of our talking head experts like Marshall Trimble, Jana Bommersbach, Paul Andrew Hutton and Sherry Monahan, to name but a few. Has potential. Next step: budget and sizzle reel.

As I mentioned I will be teaching an art class at Orme School next month. It's going to be five days of classes with an art show thrown in. Rather excited about it since I feel like giving back, or at least passing on some of the knowledge I have gained (mostly about what not to do!). To my credit, I do remember when I was at New Times in the seventies and eighties I would sometimes get budding cartoonists asking me for advice. I always took the time to look at their stuff and offer suggestions. One tall, geeky kid, I'll always remember. His name was Hap, and he was deaf. Good kid. He even bought one of my books and I signed it for him. I could tell that it meant a lot to him and that he would probably treasure that book forever.

Since I have a $50 gift certificate from my family I went on Amazon and bought several Tintin books. When I posted my sketches based on the books, I got contacted by one Ge in the Netherlands. I asked him how he found out about me, and he told me a fellow Tintin fanatic from Brussells got a Google tickle alert that some yahoo in the States was yacking about Herge and Tintin. After a couple email exchanges, Ge sent me their Tintin magazine and I got it in the mail yesterday:

Really a spectacular product. Very clean design, and, although I can't read a word of it (it's in Dutch) I really enjoy the graphics. Here's a taste:

And speaking of old comics, when I ordered the books on Amazon, I had some leftover credit and one of the books they recommended was Low Blows:

Since I've only got one left in my entire stash, I thought I'd restock, so I ordered it. The book came yesterday and I wondered if per chance it was signed, and, sure enough, on the first page it says:

"To Hap, you are a very talented cartoonist who just needs to be heard, uh, I mean seen!"
—Love Boze

“Enjoy yourself—it’s later than you think.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
January 15, 2010
As a fan of authentic Western history I am always on the hunt for photos, paintings and illustrations from the mid-to-late 1800s. Here is a painting I found yesterday by Boldini from 1874:

The two big billboard advertisements in the middle background seems quite modern and if I saw it in a Western movie about Denver, or, say San Francisco, I would probably blanch and say, "I don't think they had big billboards that early." But there it is, and very early (1874). Of course, it is Europe and perhaps the new technology (massive scale printing) wouldn't have made it out West by that early date, but I kind of doubt it.

The longer I do this the more I think they had almost everything we can imagine. Telephones, ice cream, coffee shops, exercise equipment and The Super Information Highway: the telegraph. For example when John Clum is in Washington D.C. in December of 1881 he reads about the assassination attempt on Virgil Earp in the Washington newspapers, the day after it happened. How did they get the info? Really fast burros? Nope. The instantaneous telegraph. Now, the system was very slow, but then so is AOL.

“To look at a thing is very different from seeing it.”
—Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010
Big rainstorm blew in last night. Windy and rainy until about 11 P.M. Clear this morning. Worked on a couple sketches for Mickey Free:

Yes, that's He-Who-Yawns, middle sketch. Apaches have real interesting cheekbones. It is the secret to their facial structure. Not sure I still understand it, but their cheeks are set high and tilt at almost a 45 degree angle down towards their nose.

Meanwhile, saw this funny ad for the Communism Museum in Europe. Very clever and shows how even the most heinous despot can be made humorous and sexy.

Based on this ad, I'd love to see the museum. If it works for Stalin and Communism, it should work for Billy the Kid and Jesse James. No?

Good news on my fifty-five year quest to get a Range Rider pullover just like Jock Mahoney wore in the popular TV show:

Mike Guli of River Crossing leatherworks in Colordao has agreed to make me an exact replica of the pullover. I sent him up my measurements and a deposit and he told me he'd have something for me soon. I'll keep you posted on the progress. Mike also told me the fringe phenom probably evolved from Alan Ladd's fringe shirt in Shane (1950). That shirt had straight across fringe, but the later Range Rider and Buffalo Bill TV show shirts had a deep V which amped up the look. I'm very excited about this dream about to come true.

A TV show I worked on last year will premiere on PBS on January 25th:

News From The Front Lines
"John Bellano from Abington, PA called to subscribe today. He has been watching you on the Western Channel and looking for True West and cannot find it on newsstands – so, he looked for you on the internet. He subscribes to Wild West. He asked me to tell you to keep up the good work. He really enjoys you on True West Moments. His girlfriend is a city girl and doesn’t care for the western shows, but likes you and watches when you come on."
—Carole Glenn

Been quite busy. Wish I had a bit of extra time, but here's what the Old Vaqueros have to say about that:

“The days are long enough for those who use them.”
—Leonardo da Vinci