Thursday, May 19, 2011

Joaquin Murrieta, Last Minute Changes

May 19, 2011

Our June issue goes out the door today and we're fighting fires and making last minute corrections. Put in a quick email to John Boessenecker. I was proofing the Classic Gunfight of the California Rangers gunfight with Joaquin Murrieta and I seemed to remember that I just read that the ranger Harry Love cut off Murrieta's head and packed it in "brandy," to be preserved, as opposed to whiskey. John confirms it was whiskey but there is a twist. As I now understand it, they cut off two heads and one hand (of "Three-fingered Jack") of the bandits, rode quite a ways to a fort and there the trophys were packed in whiskey for the rest of the ride to Sacramento in order to claim the $1,000 reward. I think it's a 175 mile ride from the site of the gunfight to the capitol. That is a long-assed ride to carry a sloshing cabeza. No thanks.

And, speaking of rough, old birds, Ranger Harry Love didn't end his days happy, either. Bought a big tract of land with the reward (and the ticket revenue he charged to see the head—$1 a view!) Within a few years he had lost the land, lost his wife, tried to accost her but her "handyman" shot him in the arm. A doctor attempted to amputate his arm (poetic justice) to save him, but it was botched and he died from complications of the gunshot wound, alcohol, a badly sawed-off arm and bad medicine.

There's a moral in there somewhere. Anyway, I hope we got the story right. We certainly try to do due diligence on these matters.

Meanwhile, speaking of botched stories, here's the status of the new Lone Ranger movie:

Ay-yi-yi! Tonto lords it over the Lone Ranger. Really? Could be zany, could be absolutely a train wreck.

Yesterday at lunch I finished a painting I call "Moxie Lady":

The tag line is: "Keep your hat on." This is for my take on the next batch of outlaw women movies.

My staff, which includes Dan Harshberger, Meghan Saar, Abbie Goodrich and Robert Ray, spent many hours bringing this project to the finish line. I am very proud of their effort and the follow-thru. I brought home the finished print outs last night and this morning Kathy took one look at them and said, "What is this doing in your magazine?" Okay, not the praise I was expecting, but perhaps, I asked her, she could edify me on why she is so adamantly against this. "Your readers want history not this crap." So, we just wasted two weeks of everyone's time? "Yes," She said, "I count on Meghan to stop you from this kind of madness. What happened to her?"

When I laughingly told the crew about this cute little exchange, Robert Ray quipped, "Some of us agree with Kathy."

Okay, so I'm a lunatic. Still, I'm proud of my team for having the discipline to carry out this ambitious task, no matter how ridiculous, or, however marginal it may be to the readers of True West. We got it done!

"People talk about discipline and writing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but discipline doesn't involve things you enjoy. If I said I have sex every day at noon, you wouldn't ask about discipline. I write every morning, and it doesn't feel like discipline."
—Walter Mosley, author of "Ptolemy Grey," on the discipline of writing

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