Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28, 2010
Last night Kathy and I joined Lew and Tara Jones and attended a concert, actually a guitar and cello gig, at the C4 (Cave Creek Coffee Co.). After a dinner here at the house with the Joneses and Deena and her friend Aaron, we motored up to C4 at about seven. However, according to the manager, because of a 100% chance of rain in the forecast (the gig was outdoors), the venue was moved up the street to the Buffalo Chip. The headliner, Mike Doughty, is a fave of Kathy's, since she discovered him in a dance class at Black Mountain Gym about four years ago.

"I know that you're in love with him cause I saw you dancin' in the gym. . ."
—Don McLean, American Pie

The cowboy bar was packed. We both kicked off our shoes, man I love those honkytonk blues! No, wait, that's still "American Pie." Actually, I sat in the back and since I was probably the second oldest guy in the room (Lew Jones being the oldest) I laid low and took in the cleavage.

Which reminds me, Marshall Trimble attended the premiere of a documentary on a winery owned by a rock star. Marshall is in the film and afterwards he said he was swarmed by a bevvy of babes for no apparent reason (this according to Marshall). He said, "I haven't seen that much cleavage since I was born."

Anyway, enjoyed the Mike Doughty show. He sang Kathy's favorite song, "Unsingable Name." Live music is really a tonic and a soul massager. Too bad it happens so late at night. Got home at 11! Ha.

Lots of news to catch up on. Got a great photo from Bill Dunn, Allen Barra and Henry Beck are sparring over Clint Eastwood, Army bomb tech guys are dissing The Hurt Locker characters as being "too cowboy," and my Kingman cowboy cousins are dissing bomb techies for being "too cowgirl". And so it goes.

Lots of new art to share, more debate on the politics of Doonesbury and finally, the belated cartoons from my Orme students and a photo of Don Imus on his parent's ranch east of Kingman in the 1950s.

Plus, Lew Jones tuned up the '49 Ford and I actually pulled it out of the garage today and washed it. When I went back in to sweep out the pack rat mess I noticed one of our dresser drawers stored along the walls was open a tad with a cactus spine inside. Ouch! That means only one thing: packrats have gotten inside and put the spines at the entrance to ward off predators. I opened it slowly and found, much to my dismay, a whole bunch of family photos eaten to shreds (see debate on this site about why so many Fly photos are missing). But, one photo, although it had a big bite taken out of it, survives. And it is of the Exits on New Year's Eve 1963 in the Girl's Gym in Kingman. It's a classic and shows Wendell Havatone in all his glory and my Montgomery Ward drum set ($117).

I'll post that puppy tomorrow.

"I was a teenage bronking cowboy buck, jacked up in a '53 Ford pickup truck, in a coat I borrowed from Jesse James, I was dancin' slow with Karen J. but thanks to Arnold D., I went down in flames. I'm on a highway to Crusher Hill. . ."
—Kingman Pie

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010
Like most people, it takes a lot to get me to write a letter to the editor. I usually read the idiotic remarks in The Arizona Republic and chuckle, or, perhaps, shake my head in dismay. Not so today:

Please Dump 'Dilbert,' 'Doonesbury'
"I am a retired airline pilot and consider myself fairly intelligent.

"I read The Republic cover to cover daily. I enjoy the comics, but for the life of me, I don't get 'Dilbert' or 'Doonesbury.' To my mind, they are pointless and inane."
—Bernie Reynolds, Scottsdale

Humorless Flyboy Takes Flak From Grounded Cartoonist

Dear Editor,
Hey Bernie Reynolds, you retired airline pilot. You say you don't get the humor in the comic strips "Dilbert" or "Doonesbury" and you want them out of the paper. You may know how to fly a plane but you've obviously had a humor bypass somewhere over the Asinine Sea. Both Scott Adams and Gary Trudeau are humorists of the first order. They lacerate pompousness and the human condition with a brilliance that is worthy of Mark Twain or Chris Rock. And that is the "plane" truth, Flyboy.

—Bob Boze Bell
Cave Creek, Arizona

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010
Working feverishly to finish more True West Moments which will begin running in The Arizona Republic on March 7.

Scanned a half dozen images this morning and then went home for lunch and finished the Martha Summerhays scratchboard, adding a steamboat—The Gila—and a longshoreman (or, in Yuma, would that be a short-shoreman?)

Meanwhile, here are my sketches for Goyathlay and Lt. Ives (at bottom).

Going to be a good one. Lt. Ives (above, giving his summary of the Grand Canyon) was in the army, I believe and he scouted Arizona in the 1850s. So I assume he would be wearing those quasi-service station hats from the Mexican War? Guess I better look up some of this stuff before I get in trouble.

"If an idea does not appear bizarre, there is no hope for it."
—Niels Bohr

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010
Last week when Jeb Rosebrook and I went up to Orme Ranch he regaled me with stories of the old days and some of the more famous names to grace the school grounds. Candice Bergen attended camp there, twice. Actor Jimmy Stewart had a kid there and Charles Lindberg sent his daughter and son, and Phil Harris' two daughters attended camp. But the one that kind of surprised me is radio bad boy Don Imus. I knew Imus spent part of his youth growing up on a ranch near Ashfork, Arizona (Marshall Trimble's home town), but I never knew he attended Orme School.

Jeb was one of Imus' counselors at the Orme Ranch Summer Camp and remembers him, prior to his being sent home for disciplinary reasons, as "a verbally aggressive fifteen-year-old, who rarely lacked for a moment to go out of his way to make himself heard. Especially," as Jeb said, "by his counselors or others in his peer group."

Jeb went on to say, "Looking back, Don always seemed angry. And I don't know that any of his counselors that summer could understand why."

Our local T-Shirt guy Gregg Clancy came by last night with a new design:

I like the design and the patina but the slogan is a tad questionable. Anybody offended?

"You can't crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them."
—Ursula K. LeGuin
February 24, 2010
Last August I taped a dozen new True West Moments to run on the Westerns Channel. Several of them are still in the can but need additional images to polish them off. Jeff Hildebrandt sent me a hitlist of images he needs and they include gunshot wound images, people on the streets of Northfield, Minnesota, cattle drives and cowboys singing around a campfire.

Tweaked a campfire painting this morning:

This may look familiar. I posted a rough version of it earlier, but added the tree, finished the horses and worked on the faces of the four guys beyond the fire. Here's the other one:

Same guitar player, different group of cowboys.

Speaking of True West Moments, I have the new print version which is currently scheduled to begin running in the Arizona Republic on March 7. And Jeff Hildebrandt and I are planning on taping our next batch of TV spots in Lubbock, Texas. I have a speech at the Ranching Center on March 26 and Jeff is going to fly into Amarillo and hire a local crew to produce a new batch of TWMoments while I'm there for the speech.

Meanwhile, talked with a TV producer yesterday about doing Arizona Statehood Centennial bumpers. Going to tape a sizzle reel with Marshall Trimble sometime next week.

The producer played drums with Dick Dale And the Deltones back in the sixties. Dick Dale is one of my heroes. The producer told a story about showing up for his first gig with the legendary surf guitarist (Surfbeat, Miserlou) in Newport, California. And as he brought in his equipment he noticed four good looking girls standing by the stage and he asked one of the other players who they were and the guy says, "They're here to [make love to] the drummer."

Ha. Every drummer's dream.

"There are no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something."
—Thomas Edison

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010
Last night, Mad Coyote Joe invited Deena, Kathy and I to a "soft opening" of a new restaurant in Cave Creek called Cody's (it opens to the public tonight, but a soft opening is a trial run to work out the bugs and get a buzz going). Joe helped them with the menu and the restaurant is in the old Fandango's location (across from the location of the legendary Mineshaft in west Cave Creek). The placed was packed and we had a fine old time and were treated royally by the staff. Had the salmon and Southwestern clam chowder and we enjoyed a very nice bottle of cabernet.

I Can't Believe I Actually Drew It

A nice scratchboard of Tule, the wild woman of Santa Fe in the old days. Very nice effects, all done with knives, of course.

The Verga Rider? Or Not?

When I taught at Orme earlier this month the school had an art show in the library and I brought along several paintings, including this one of Mickey Free returning to San Carlos at the end of the graphic novel story. I named it Verga Rider because the sky is filled with falling rain that doesn't reach the ground, thus verga.

When I showed this painting at last October's art opening at the Overland Galleries in Scottsdale, Deena's friend, Patricia, came over to me and said, "Do you know what verga means in Spanish?" No, I told her, I didn't. Evidently, it's slang for penis. So, I told the new owner, Jeb Rosebrook, to be careful when telling Spanish speakers the name of this painting. Still, I have to admit it works either way.

"When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college-—that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, 'You mean they forget?'"
—Howard Ikemoto

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010
Saw a couple of excellent movies this weekend. Instead of driving into the wet Beast to see Saint John of Las Vegas, Kathy brought home District Nine and The Hurt Locker from Blockbuster Video. Enjoyed them both.

The Hurt Locker is especially excellent. I had put off seeing it because of the tension buzz (I got enough tension in my life without paying ten bucks to watch it), but I'm happy to report it isn't all defusing bombs. In fact there is a very cool fire fight at 500 meters, set out in the Iraqi desert (actually shot in Jordan) where a modern day style battle takes place and at first the U.S. troops (half army and half contractors) don't even know where the bullets are coming from. There are no rifle reports because the enemy is firing from a mile away. As they finally get their bearings and begin to fire back with a fifty caliber rifle we watch the bullets hit through a telephoto lens, silently, as it would be in a real fight like that. allegedly real combat soldiers who have been in Iraq have been responding to a subtle part of the sequence: Sergeant James asks for juice boxes and they sip from inserted straws as they wait for the enemy to make their next move. According to the writer, who was embedded in 2004, Iraq vets are saying, "Hey, you got the juice box part right." Very cool set piece and I watched it twice: the second time with the commentary track with the director Kathryn Bigelow and the writer Mark Boal. For my money, this movie is much more satisfying than Kathryn Bigelow's ex-husband's flick. You know, the one with the blue Na'vi. The funny thing is, I read somewhere a month or so ago, that Hurt Locker had made a total of $200 million, and that Avatar was making that every day!

And, by the way, when you adjust for inflation, Avatar is somewhere down around 32 on the all-time box office gross, behind Pinnochio. As it should be.

Went home for lunch and grabbed a bowl of green chile and two flour tortillas and bailed into another True West Moment scene for the Arizona Republic. This is the one for the Martha Summerhays tidbit where she meets the army wives coming out of the Arizona theatre of war in 1874 and shudders in horror at how out of date their fashions are:

Need to add a steamer (The Gila) and I think it's done.

Also, worked on a midnight cloud scene:

I regret having started to do these landscapes so late in life. Gee, I wonder what ol' Sydney has to say about this?

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
—Sydney J. Harris
February 22, 2010
Interest in the Coen brother's next film, a remake of True Grit is heating up. Yesterday, in The New York Times, a photo feature on Jeff Bridges included this shot of him trying on the custom boots he may wear in the production:

Interesting tops. Looks pretty cool, eh?

"These boots are made for walking, that's just what they'll do, one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you."
—Nancy Sinatra, These Boots Were Made For Walking
February 22, 2010
We got soaked this weekend. Still overcast on Monday. Stayed home all weekend and watched movies and did art in my studio.

I'm working on a new series of True West Moments for the Arizona Republic, which should premiere in about two weeks. I've got five in the can and I worked on sketches and scratchboards for another five. Here's one of them:

That's the acting governor of Arizona, John J. Gosper, on the left, and Doc Holliday on the right. Both roomed together in Prescott in 1880 and showed up on the census as roommates. What historians want to know is how Doc Holliday could have sunk so low as to room with a politician?

Caught Ref. Handed
Like most artists, I have a dreaded fear of being found out when it comes to the "art reference" I use to create my "original" artwork. Case in point, when I posted the gouache of Dr. Whitlock being riddled with 130 bullets (see last week's posting), I got this email from Jim Hatzell:

"I'm just curious, did you use a photo of Shadow from our Artist's Ride shoot?"

Attorney: "Notice the splattered paint, which will be submitted as Exhibit A in the Copycat Trial of Mr. BBB, where we will prove conclusively that Mr. Bell is a shameless copier."

"I am only human, although I regret it."
—Mark Twain

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010
It's been beautiful all week but today we woke up to overcast skies and rain at about ten, which is when I believe the Scottsdale Parada del Sol was supposed to get underway. Of course, the cruel joke is that the parade, loosely translates into Parade of the Sun, although I think I heard somewhere that the syntax isn't right on the name (it was created by a bunch of white guys most of them from the midwest). Still, it's a shame that the parade which preceeds the Scottsdale Rodeo got rained on bigtime.

I was going to join Kathy for a new Steve Buscemi movie (Saint John of Las Vegas) at noon down in the Beast but I think we'll snuggle in and rent a movie instead.

An Education In Reverse
Having essentially died once already I am quite aware of getting a second chance and one of the byproducts of this mindset it that I've been going back and trying to reclaim an education I avoided like the plague the first time around.

Yesterday, when legendary screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook (Junior Bonner, The Black Hole, Mystic Warrior, The Gambler) and I drove up to Cordes Junction to interview an old cowboy (he's 81) who still goes out dancing several times a week, Jeb asked me about my reading habits when I was a kid. Like most writers he naturally assumed I read voraciously as a young man. I had to laugh because I don't remember books being discussed at all when I was growing up, unless you count the bible. And, in fact, that's the only book I remember in our house, or in my grandparent's houses (one in Iowa, on the farm; and the other in Arizona). I think my farmer kin had Reader's Digest by the bushel but no books that I can remember.

The only thing I did read voraciously, and I know this is going to sound phony, is True West magazine. But, it's true.

Just recently, I read two classics, Tales of Canterbury by Geoffrey Chaucer and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. I was thrilled by both of them, but it's not just books. Last night I watched the classic movie Harold & Maude, which I had never seen.

Yes, I'm finally doing at 63 what I should have been doing at 13. One of these days I might even get around to my multiplication tables.

When I flew to Salt Lake last week, I was reading Catcher in the Rye on the plane and when we landed, two women sitting nearby both asked me as we stood up to deplane, "Reading it again for pleasure?" No, I sheepishly told them, I'm reading it for the first time.

That's not totally true. In 1962 I was at Rick Ridenour's house and he asked me if I wanted to see a book with the word "fart" in it. I was stunned. Really? There is a book that actually prints that? I couldn't believe it. We went back into his older brother's room and he pulled the book out from under a matress and as I sat down on the bed he handed me the book, opening it to a dog-eared page.

Wow! I thought. What's this world coming to?

So it was fun to read that page in context, 48 years later. I must admit, I didn't laugh as hard as I did when I was fifteen. Meanwhile, The Canterbury Tales was written in 1399 and it is full of fart jokes.

"He must need swim that is born up to the chin."
—Geoffrey Chaucer, The Knight's Tale, Canterbury Tales

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 2010
Jeb Rosebrook is coming out this morning. We're driving up the hill to Cordes Junction to interview a dancing legend, as in honkytonk rounder. Going to do an article in True West on this guy's exploits.

Just got word that Billy the Kid documentary I have been talking about will premiere on Saturday, March 13 at 10 P.M. on the Discovery Channel.

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.”
—Erica Jong

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010
Dan The Man's latest cover with the train going between Marilyn Monroe's legs is getting quite the buzz. Jeff Prechtel told me he couldn't find the issue at his local Barnes & Nobel because it was sold out. We've had several walk-ins here at our Cave Creek offices, with people subscribers wanting to buy extra issues.

Meanwhile, got this:

The author of To Hell On A Fast Horse on Boot TV This Saturday

Wanted to let you know that I'll be on Book TV this Saturday at 12:30 P.M. Eastern Time. Here's the schedule: I'm performing the music of Billy the Kid with Rex Rideout. Hope you all have a chance to watch (Jeff Hildebrandt was in the audience).

—Mark Gardner

I'm still in negotiations with the French publisher about doing my books for the French market. And speaking of France, got this from a client of ours, the folks at the Wolf Hotel:

Thank you so much. We will be delighted with room 15! I read about you in the TRUE WEST Magazine and in COWBOY & INDIANS. Both recommended you as you certainly know! My husband is French, but I am of German origin and have always been
interested in the history of the Texas Germans. So it's really nice to stay in
the Wolf Hotel!

Also thank you for thinking about dinner! We intend to be at the Cowboy Gathering in Encampment which starts at 7pm. So we can't really say yet how we will organize our evening.

We are looking forward staying with you!

Greetings from France,

—Ulrike L.

Watched a WWII movie a couple weekends ago from my John Ford-John Wayne Christmas collection DVD (thanks Grandma Betty!). Filmed during WWII, the film, which is a depiction of the defenders of the Philippines after the attack on Pearl Harbor, is quite good:

As I was born the year after the war ended (Whew! That's over, let's have children!), the movie has an especially warm feeling for me (and it doesn't hurt that Donna Reed is stunningly beautiful!). Some of my earliest memories are of the massive amounts of war equipment stored at the Lowry's, next door to my grandmother's house on Jefferson Street in Kingman. I remember going in this long barracks style building (after the war ended, many of the Kingman Air Base buildings were sold or given away and the locals moved them to town). All sorts of gas masks and B-17 equipment in boxes all lined up, made a strong impression on me. Plus, on snow days in Swea City, Iowa, the grammar school teachers would put us in the gym and play war movies, like Victory At Sea, so my school papers were riddled with sketches of kamikazis dive bombing air craft carriers. So Expendable is like a warm bath. Very primal. As I was a result of the war, or a by product of it (ha!) I guess it will always be a touchstone for my life.

Speaking of which, Band of Brothers was playing on HBO the other night and I caught a battle sequence in the snow, as the allies tried to take a French town. Man, that was well done! Very cool effects with bleached out film stock, that replicates those grainy, black and white, combat scenes I remember from the Swea City gym. It really is WWII porn, and I can't get enough of it.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17, 2010
A milestone: this is my 2,900th post.

In April of last year I drove to Lincoln, New Mexico to tape an interview segment on a documentary for a British video production company, Parthenon Entertainment (they are somehow associated with, or, were doing work for, the National Geographic Network).

The show: Mystery Files: Billy the Kid, appeared about a week ago on British television. It's supposed to run in the States sometime this spring. Today, I got a DVD of the show and watched it and sent the following email to one of the stars of the show:

Adelaide Lane, the co-producer, sent me a DVD of the Billy show and I watched it here in my office. Man, I have to say, I think they did a great job. I was worried about the scenes filmed in England, thinking it would be glaringly obvious (too green!) that it wasn't the Southwest but I couldn't tell which was which and wouldn't have even known if you hadn't told me.

Also, the dark clouds, with the young actor in the pretty decent hat (hey, they were trying!) running with the storm clouds was muy noir. In fact, the New Mexico stuff was travelogue-lishish. My favorite shot, though, was J.W. Bell going into the outhouse and we see a poop POV (camera in the john, looking up through the hole!). Now that was rich and very creative.

I also thought Steve Sederwall was very convincing, but I did cringe when I saw him, thinking to myself, "Oh, crap, Fred's not going to like this." What did you think?

The only time I flinched (other than seeing my craggy face in deep shadow) was when the narrator said Fort Sumner was 200 kilometers away. I know, I know. The entire world is on the metric system and here we are stubbornly adhering to the measurement of an English King's foot, but, but, but crap shoot! I can't defend it, but, even though it's right, it's just WRONG.


I thought you were quite good. Was that shot in your upstairs studio? Loved the lighting. Very bold. I thought the production values were quite high. I would go as far as say it's the most creative and solid Billy doc I have had the pleasure of appearing on.


And here for your Kid viewing pleasure is a photo taken at End of Trail at Founder's Ranch, New Mexico when I had my art show there and had my Billy the Kid painting on display. One of the shooters, who had on a great sugarloaf sombrero, asked to have a photo taken next to the painting. Here tis:

“One must still have chaos in him to dance with a shooting star.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche
February 17, 2010
Meghan Saar and I worked until eight last night on the big Road Trip cover story for our eighth annual travel issue, which goes to the printer tomorrow. Stumbled out of here in the dark and forgot my truck was still down at Red Truck Trading Co., so after a double take (my truck's stolen!) I walked down the road against traffic, got in the Ranger and fired it up and headed for the homestead.

One of the towns we were researching last night was Elk City, Oklahoma. In 1974 I was driving back from the family farm in Thompson, Iowa in my grandfather's 1964 Ford Galaxy. I had delivered a new Ford Crown Victoria to my grandpa and after a ten day visit, I was driving back the '64 to my father's house in Kingman. When I got down into Arkansas, on my way to visit my mother at Fort Smith, the car started overheating. The local Ford dealership claimed it needed a new thermostat, which they installed. But as I came across Oklahoma on I-40, it still kept overheating and I landed at a gas station in Elk City. The service station operator claimed it was sawdust in the radiator and said he'd have to pull the radiator and clean it out. Although it sounded suspect, I called my dad and he said it was probably true. As I waited for him to fix it, I took this photo of an old cowboy who made sailing ships in old whiskey bottles:

He brought them into the station to sell to tourists and as he sat there a local boy who knew him, sat down and began to examine the ships in one of the bottles. Having grown up in a gas station myself, I loved the clutter in the grease room and snapped off a couple black and whites. Yes, that is a creeper leaning up against the Dr. Pepper pop machine, used by mechanics to slide under and creep under cars. Not sure they even make these anymore. I wonder where that kid is today? Probably some old grandpa himself. Ha.

If I remember correctly, car makers put sawdust in the radiators and it was standard procedure at the time. My grandfather drove the car from 1964 to 1974 and never had an overheating problem because he never drove anywhere farther than nearby Forest City! Ha.

“If I think, everything is lost.”
—Paul Cezanne, French Impressionist painter

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010
Went home for lunch and whipped out a sweet little gouache of Dr. Whitlock being riddled by the bullets from 75 guns:

This is the Classic Gunfight that took place at Fort Stanton, New Mexico in November of 1862 between Surgeon John Whitlock and Captain Paddy Graydon. As soon as Whitlock got the better of Graydon, 75 of his fellow soldiers opened up and riddled Whitlock with 103 bullets.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but of the hundreds of gunfights we have covered in True West, I can't think of another fight with more ridiculous odds. Can you?

76 against 1.

And, I must add, this is the fight Frederick Nolan spent an entire day helping us with (you can Google Fred on this blog and find the post where he took this fight and spun out the three different versions, backed up by page and verse. I'm still amazed.)

Coming back into the office, the gas pedal on my Ford Ranger stuck, in traffic. Fortunately, because of all the news reports on Toyota's problems, I had sort of walked myself through what I would do in that situation and I quickly put in the clutch, pulled off the road, with the engine revving 10,000 rpms and shut off the ignition and pulled into an empty parking space at the Little Red Truck Consignment Store on E. Cave Creek Road. Walked up to the office, called Eric from 24-Hour-Car-Care, scanned the above art and posted this blog.


Lynda just paged me, as I typed "Priorities" (2:21 P.M.) and said, "Eric is here to fix your Toyota. I mean your Ford."

Eric took my keys, came back in five minutes and smiled. He shook his head sadly and told me to hold out my hand. He placed a half of a rotted lemon or orange (totally brown and dried) in my hand. According to Eric it had slipped down between the plenum chamber and the throttle return spring, jamming the accelerator wide open. Yes, it was pack rats, trying to build a home in my engine.

Charge? $5.

"Have you driven a Ford like a Toyota lately?"
—Suggested Slogan From A Loyal Lifetime Ford Owner

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010
The holy grail of early film photography is to find an Old West icon in grainy old footage. The Oklahoma Outlaws, circa 1905, features Bill Tilghman, Quanah Parker, Al Jennings and other notable Oklahomans moving, riding horses and firing guns. One old newsreel allegedly shows Bat Masterson in the ring before a boxing match, although I haven't seen it.

Here's a seven minute segment of film taken on Market Street in San Francisco in 1905 or 1906, just prior to the earthquake. The camera appears to be mounted on the front of a trolly, and as it moves down the street towards Embarcadero I had several thoughts: notice how many horse drawn vehicles there are sharing the road with electric trollys and cars, and also notice how they cut in front of each other like crazy, with no road rage. Amazing. Lots of bicycles too. Kids selling newspapers.

No lanes, no traffic lights, or no apparent right of way and yet they seem to be doing just fine, don't they?

But check out the gents walking across the street, standing along the curb. What are the odds that one of them is a man who was no stranger to the Bay Area. Could one of those tall gents on the right side of the street be Wyatt Earp?

Wyatt Earp in San Fran?

“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
February 15, 2010
I've been sitting here this morning racking my brains over our April travel issue cover story. We are doing 83 Must See Destinations for those who are interested in historic travel. Most of the towns we picked have very good write-ups on the Inside Skinny (locals recommending good stuff that tourists might miss). Towns where I have put a (?) by them means they have an inside skinny, but it's kind of weak and I'm not sure it's the right one.

You are the perfect sounding board, if not a flat out contributor. If you are familiar with any of the following towns, give me a short take on the Inside Skinny.

Here for your inspiration is Johnny Boggs' tidbit for Santa Fe: Inside Skinny. . . locals love breakfast at the Tecolote Cafe, be sure to order the atole piñon pancakes (a short stack's fine -- you can't eat a full stack!), then walk down Water Street to Collected Works Bookstore for good reads, good coffee and great coffeecake (imported from Harry's Roadhouse) and imagine where the jail stood that held Billy the Kid.

Got it? Very short, but pack in some inside stuff that you can't get off a chamber of commerce brochure.

• Northfield, Minnesota

• Cody, Wyoming (?)

• Walla Walla, Washington

• Silver City, New Mexico (?)

• Laramie, Wyoming

• Mountpelier, Idaho

• Kearney, Nebraska

• St. Joseph, Missouri (?)

• Taos, New Mexico (?)

* The Dalles, Oregon (?)

• Lincoln, Nebraska (?)

• Amarillo, Texas (?)

• Edmond, Oklahoma

• Great Falls, Montana

• Kanab, Utah

• La Claire, Iowa

• Elk City, Oklahoma

• Bartlesville, Oklahoma

• Fort Pierre, South Dakota

• Fort Pierre, South Dakota

• Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

• Buffalo, Wyoming

• Abilene, Texas

If we use your copy we'll give you credit and a free subscription to you (or a friend if you already have a subscription).

"Only a fool ever wrote anything, except to get paid."
—Some Dead Writer

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14, 2010
Nice Valentine's Day here on the Great Sonoran Desert. Went over with Kathy to her mother's for a late brunch. Deena Bean met us at Grandma Betty's, along with Brad and E.J. Radina. I made pancakes and sausage. Had some laughs talking about the torture of the teenage years, from both sides.

On the way home, Kathy and I got a hair and stopped at Harkin's on Bell to catch Crazy Heart, the new Jeff Bridges film about a fictional country singer named Bad Blake. I swear Bridges was channeling Waylon and Kris K. It was uncanny how much he had them down, but the real surprise is Colin Ferrell as a modern style country boy, a la Toby Keith or Tim McGraw. And, both actors did their own singing. Thank T Bone Burnett for the songs which landed somewhere between the Eagles and Charlie Daniels. Very honest film, as it pertains to Country honkytonks, of which I know a thing or two. Robert Duvall co-produced it and also makes a cameo reminding us of passing on the torch from his great understated Oscar performance in Tender Mercies, which this film resembles, except for the redemption at the end (hint: we don't get one this time around: think The Wrestler).

Afterwards, I asked Kathy where she wanted to go for a Valentine's evening dinner and she picked Pita Jungle at Desert Ridge. Nice dinner ($40 something Sue account). Got home at sunset, another seventy degree day on the great Sonoran Desert (but don't tell anyone or they'll all move here).

I've been contacted by a French publisher who wants to translate my books into French. Mr. B. bought my Wyatt Earp book at a National Park (Moab) and thinks it might sell in Paris and Quebec. How about them cherries?

"Head 'em up, and move 'em out!"
—Old French Saying

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010
Flying R came out yesterday and gifted me with a new hatband made out of rawhide. Very cool. Thanks Roger.

Going to lunch with Mad Coyote Joe. Heading up to Saba's in Carefree.

To pay off yesterday's posting, here is the final cover for the Billy the Kid Robbing Circle K cover:

And here's the payoff to the other image:

Notice that in this photo, the fishing wire is pulling the edge of my vest to simulate wind. And speaking of the Razz, about every six months I get contacted by a guy named Fabio in Italy who wants to find a Volume I Number 2 issue of the Razz. He is a Beatle fanatic, allegedly works for the Italian Rolling Stone. Here's the cover:

This cover was illustrated by Dan The Man Harshberger and if you have a copy of this issue I think I could sell it for a bundle to Fabio.

"All creative people are kids at heart.”
—Steve Carmichael

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 11, 2010
Last Sunday, Lew Jones, of Tara's Mineshaft fame, came out to work on the '49 Ford, which is parked in our garage. I kept him company and while he fiddled with the points and the carburetor, I started cleaning up multiple messes.

We had a herd of javalena get in through our new gate (if a javalena can get his head through at any point, his whole body will fit through, amazing but true), and, after they slipped through the tiny space between the brand new gate post and the adobe wall next to it, they head-butted their way into the garage sidedoor and started breaking open any and all containers to find food. This happened around midnite. I stumbled out of bed (Peaches was barking like crazy) into the yard in my underpants, armed with a hoe handle and my biggest verbal weapon ("Hey! Hey! HEY!!!"). Me and Peaches managed to get the last one out the front door after a ten minute battle. But, by then, they had done their damage.

Anyway, while Lew tweaked the points on the Ford I picked up the strewn boxes of my sordid past. Found several 8mm film canisters and other assorted garage-worthy items like my Ludwig drum kit, back issues of New Times and paste up boards, etc. In amongst this mess I found three boxes of Razz Revue treasures. Well, at least they are treasures to me. The Razz Revue was a humor magazine founded by Dan The Man Harshberger and me in 1972. It lasted four years and 16 issues and made zero money, but we had fun doing it, and in some weird way, it led to straight to here—True West.

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Gee, I wonder what Boze's first wife looked like in a wooden coffin, with Dan The Man holding her ankle?" Well, wonder no more:

This was a staged photo done out at Old Tucson Studios, circa 1974, for our very first Old West issue of the Razz Revue. I think we were parodying an old undertaker ad. Here's a better shot of Olive Mondello (at left), and Dan's girlfriend Darlene:

This was a shot for our "Turquoise Lust" issue of the Razz (1974) and the idea is that they are wearing these huge turquoise rocks for rings. This was shot at the Lodge On The Desert in Tucson and the people who worked there thought we were mighty weird. You should have seen the shots we did at San Xavier. Ha.

Meanwhile, in these Old West themed issues we loved to pose old timey photos with a bent angle and we encouraged our advertisers to do the same. Here's one of our best advertisers, The Oxbow Inn, a Country-Swing joint on North Stone. I believe the Floyd brothers owned it (that's one of them, standing at right, and that's his girlfriend, front and center). Notice how the long hair styles give away the era totally.

Well, that and the Budweiser glass electric Clydesdale sign, top left. I have to say, I have known some pretty cheap Bastards that were club owners, but the Floyd brothers were the exception to every club owner rule. They always paid for their ads on time (absolutely incredible) and even offered to pay for future ads! I'm not making this up, and if I didn't live it I wouldn't believe it either. Not sure what they are doing today but I hope they are very happy. Good kids and clients, and she was a beauty. I hope they are still married, have a gaggle of grand kids and laugh all the time.

Speaking of laughing all the time, we really had fun with a cover idea that answers the question: what would Billy the Kid be doing if he was alive today (in the 1970s)?

Yes, probably robbing Circle Ks. And here's Billy (me) robbing a real Circle K near Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix. Someone, I think it was Dan and Darlene, knew this very nice woman who worked there and she agreed to have us come in during a slow time and, ahem, "shoot" in the store. That's Tom Story, at left who was a local surveyor who I worked for when I first got to Phoenix in 1970. On the final cover, Dan painted in a hole in one of the Coors cans (or is that a six-pack of Bud?) from the six-pack he's holding and he had beer gushing out in a stream, onto the floor. The kicker is that, as soon as we started shooting, someone called the owner and he came in and read us the riot act, shoving me out the door, shouting all the way: "Do think this is some kind of a joke?!" And, "Why don't you grow up?!"

It was a good question. And, to be fair, he wasn't alone.

The next year, we shot our next Old West Razz cover out on the desert west of Tucson. We got real tricky, utilizing fishing wire to hold up one of the arrows. Too bad that hammy model is wearing modern Levi's. Dan The Man added fringe on the final cover to try and hide this authenticity fow-paw.

I still have that hat. It belonged to Bill Stockbridge, one of my Kingman Cowboy uncles.

"It's not a magazine, it's not a comic, it's a magazomic!"
—Dan The Man Harshberger, describing The Razz Revue

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10, 2010
One of our sales reps, Joe Friedman, got an earful last week when he talked to a Tombstone city official who shall remain nameless. According to the official, many in The Town Too Tough To Die are miffed about not making our Top Ten Western Towns list this year. I got a call from a Tombstone Epitaph reporter saying that the scuttlebutt around town is that they didn't make the list because they didn't buy an ad with us. As I pointed out to the reporter, then don't tell our number two town Florence, Arizona, because they didn't buy an ad either. Nor did Virginia City, Nevada, also a top ten finisher.

Anyway, I was a little nervous about being misquoted on the dustup over this but I shouldn't have worried because the reporter is a student at the University of Arizona journalism department. Here's the link to her excellent story:

"A free press belongs to the person who can afford one."
—Some Broke Newspaperman
February 10, 2010
Without further ado, here are my Orme School Graphic Art students, holding up their favorite sketchbook page:

That's M.K. at left with his sketch of Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill (which he free-handed out of a True West magazine), and Ephraim Park with a page of cartoons about his math teacher (hilarious, by the way). Both M.K. and Ephraim (we called him "Ephee") are from South Korea and they were great students, respectful, polite and hard working.

That's Ashley and Zack to the right of Ephraim, and they hooked up during the class. Next up is my TA Amy (who kept everyone in line) and then Andy, from China, and Diana (born in China, but raised in the U.S.) and Savannah. I had two other students but they were not in class when I took this photo.

"Teachers are the lowest paid soldiers in Uncle Sam's army."
—Three Trees, the drum teacher
February 10, 2010
Flew in from Salt Lake City last night. Attended an all day seminar for high school history teachers. Spoke three times. I have much empathy for what teachers do, having taught last week. Speaking of which, got this when I came home from my teaching gig at Orme School:

From the home office in Dolan Springs, and with love and affection from a couple of your old public school pals:

Top 10 Quotes from Art students at Orme School This Week

10.) "Who's the old fool crippin' around campus this week, somebody's great-grandpa?"

9.) "If he ADD's off one more time into stories about Wyatt Earp, I'm gonna urp."

8.) "He made us call him 'professor' and continually referred to us as Ginger, The Skipper and Gilligan . . . WTF?"

7.) " The first day he talked about The Apache Kid. By the third day I could repeat it in my sleep. Then he started in on the OK Corral. . . I'm looking forward to my class nap."f

6.) "He had some of us do Yoga while others sketched us. He farted one time while getting up, then blamed it on Downward Dog."

5.) "It has no sex, car crashes, explosions or zombies and yet he calls it a 'graphic' novel?"

4.) "Until this week, I was excited to be an artist. Now even being a hedge-fund manager seems more

3.) "Unbelievable. This guy showed us 500 drawings he'd done of some dorky-looking dude named Billy. Must be his grandson."

2.) "He showed us stuff I'd only heard about: Like
drool coming out of both sides of his mouth at the same time."

1.) "Which do you think makes him look lamer, the cowboy hat or the fringed leather shirt?"

—Charlie "Bugs" Waters and Dan "The Man" Harshberger

Monday, February 08, 2010

February 8, 2010
Back from a week of teaching a graphic arts class at Orme Ranch School which is about 70 miles north of Cave Creek. Really hard work. I apologized to Kathy for all my years of thinking she had a cake job when she taught eighth grade math. Was I ever a nut job! She taught 25-30 Westsiders for nine months and I tried to ride herd on seven high schoolers for five days, and the sad truth is that I was in over my head! Still, I ended up having a great time, and I'm very proud of my charges and the artwork they produced. Pictures and drawings later.

I'm actually flying out tonight for Salt Lake City for a speech to high school history teachers tomorrow and then I'll be back on Wednesday. Lots more to say about a ton of things.

"Measure yourself by your best moments, not by your worst. We are too prone to judge ourselves by our moments of despondency and depression."
—Robert Johnson

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

February 3, 2010
Had a half day of classes today at Orme Ranch School, so I drove down off the mountain to feed the chickens, pet the dog and stroke Honey Boy Roy, the name Kathy came up for the new studio cat. He's a cuddler. Name fits.

I had a rough start with my students (for a first-time teacher, I have to say it was really hard work to get a rise out of them) on Monday, but they seem to be coming around. One of them, Amy, came up with "Orme-ics" as the title of our graphic arts presentation at the Saturday Art Show. Orme-ics is off of comics, and once we got that going they settled on doing a series of comics about the school and their unique situation (unlike many high schools, they live on the ranch). Their arch rival is Mayer and they have a notorious meeting area called The Commons, so as you can see they are picking up the comic essentials quick quickly. Part of the reason I came home was to get more books on comics and art to inspire them. Andy, from China, wants to see books on clouds and landscapes, so I pulled down my Maynard Dixon and Ed Mell books and put them in the truck. Savannah wants books on how to draw squirrels, so I got several Disney books. The front seat is full of books. Can't wait to show them the goodies in the morning.

Last night several faculty members, including myself, practiced a Stones song, "19th Nervous Breakdown" for talent night, which is tomorrow night in the chapel, I think. Don't get worried, it's a cut time song, straight ahead, no drum solos, or even fills. And, I promise, no gatoring! Felt good to play around a bit. Never played the song before which is weird because I used to do a ton of Stones songs.

Someone came out to hear us, jamming on the patio, and he kicked over Three Trees' wine glass (yes, the drum teachers' name is Three Trees, real hip dude, playing a crate, or box, which he sat on), and the music teacher said, "It's all fun until someone gets hurt, then it's hilarious."

That was worth the session right there.

Going to spend the night at my house and drive up in the morning for class. It's about a 70 minute run up I-17 to the Orme Ranch turnoff. Classes end Saturday. One teacher, a creative writing instructor, has been doing this for 40 years. Amazing. And, one of the teachers was a student in 1970, who got into textiles because of the Fine Art Week festivities at Orme and now has come back to teach. When he saw me at dinner last night, he smiled and said, like the veteran he is:

"What did the kids teach you today?"
—Jim Carrol