Friday, June 29, 2012

James Gang Covers

June 29, 2012

Most of our September issue was uploaded to the printer last night. We only have a couple hangouts and one of them is the cover. You have seen the sketches and the roughs, now here are three different layouts featuring two different paintings by our art director Dan The Man Harshberger"

Cover Number 1:

Cover Number 2:

Cover Number 3:

I'm still bugged that I missed Jesse's visage in the above painting. May give it another go this weekend.

"Whatever you do, don't get up on a stool and try and straighten the damn picture!"

—Jesse James

Prescott Rodeo Parade

June 29, 2012

Heading up the hill in the morning to ride in the 125th Annual Prescott Rodeo Parade. Lee Anderson will be on horseback in authentic gear, like this, which was shot two days ago at Pioneer Living History Museum.

Buck Montgomery and crew will be with us, my neighbor and chicken wrangler Tom Augherton will be riding shotgun and Larry and Rose Mary Winget will be on the wave. Oh, and Greg Carrol and Sarah as well. We hope to see you tomorrow morning in Prescott for the annual rodeo parade. Starts at nine.

Look for the extended-vintage-Checker Cab with the True West logo on the side:

"Find a parade and get in front of it."

—Reid Reeker, a radio legend describing the way to get an audience on air

Hard Riding Vaqueros

June 29, 2012

   Finished taping the final segment of our new TV show last night at the state capitol. I was filmed standing on the state seal and pointing out a certain tragic miner who ended up on the floor in the rotunda. The whole crew was fried. We started shooting at nine in the morning at McDonald's Farm on Scottadale Road, shooting two segments by Marshall Trimble. From there we moved down to McCormick Railroad Park and taped another segment with Marshall on the cow catcher of a steam locomotive. And then down to the state capitol for two more segments.

   It capped two rugged days of working outside in the blazing heat. The day before we were at Pioneer Living History Museum where we taped a segment on Diltche, the Apache woman who eluded pursuers and walked 1,000 miles home from Baja. Here is a sequence I shot on my cell phone of two vaqueros on her trail.

   We also did pick up shots of the two vaqueros galloping. Note my new Ford Flex in the background.

"Allright, that's a wrap."

—Cecil B. DeMille

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vaqueros On Cell Phones?

June 28, 2012

Yesterday we shot out at Pioneer Living History Museum for a TV show we are working on. This is the area we were filming, which is called The Ranch (note the producer on the phone in the shade at left):

We were filming a sequence about Diltche, the Apache who walked a thousand miles to get home. At one point she was tracked by vaqueros. Not just any vaqueros but these dudes had cell phones and GPS.

That's Ken Amorosano on the cell phone and Lee Anderson on Concho. We had a great cast for the day. Names to follow.

Finished by noon. Everyone was fried. it got up 108 IN THE SHADE. Much hotter out in the sun where we were filming. Got some great scenes. I'll post a couple tomorrow.

"To be good is noble, but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble."

—Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Jesse James Cover Roughs

June 27, 2012

Had another taping out at Pioneer Living History Museum this morning. Really a hot shoot, with everyone wilting by noon. Got what we needed and I headed home to kick out a couple Jesse James cover ideas. Here they are:

And here's a scratchboard version:

And another, more colorful version:

Not really happy with any of them, but I've been running like crazy for the last three days.

"Not all horses were born equal. A few were born to win."

—Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Hanska Slough Crew

June 25, 2012

Worked this weekend on a new version the Hanska Slough Crew who rounded up the Youngers and Samuel Wells (alias Charlie Pitts) just west of Madelia, Minnesota. This version is a little snappier than the first which ran in True West back in 2001 and in Classic Gunfights, Volume I (page 68).


"Boys, this is horrible, but you see what lawlessness has brought to you?"
—Sheriff James Glispin, graciously putting his hand on Jim Younger's shoulder after the gang was rounded up and put in wagons after the fight

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hanska Slough View And Dad's Bridal Shower Duty

June 24, 2012
   Worked this weekend on new art for the Northfield feature in the next issue. Re-attacked a failed panorama of the very brave seven Medelia, Minnesota volunteers who waded down into the thickets of Hanska Slough to go toe to toe with the most dangerous gang of bank robbers in the Wild West. Bar none. Still tweaking it. I'll post the results tomorrow.

  Meanwhile, had some very pretty girls in our house today for a bridal shower. I was designated to wait on them hand and foot and as you can see, this was not very hard work.


"Work is only work if you'd rather be someplace else."
—Old Cartoonist Saying

Friday, June 22, 2012

Jesse james at Northfield and Chip DeMann

June 22, 2012

Because I have covered a broad range of gunfights in the magazine and in my books I am often asked how I get past the myths and legends and find the closest thing to the truth. The trick, I always say, is to find the one person who has spent their entire life researching a specific event. Many times you get guys (and gals) who specialize in researching everything about one person (Joseph Rosa, the renowned expert on all things Wild Bill Hickok comes to mind), but the rare bird is the one who has spent a lifetime researching one event. In the case of the failed Northfield bank raid by Jesse James and his cohorts, that person is Chip DeMann.

I first visited Northfield and met Chip in the summer of 2000. I returned the next September to take reference photos and Chip allowed me to shoot in the First National Bank, so I could block out where each cashier was sitting at the time of the robbery. Here's Chip, as Alonzo Bunker, looking at the books.

That's his son to his right, standing in for cashier Frank Wilcox. And that is the actual clock and safe, at right, that was in the bank at the time of the robbery. Local tradition has it that the clocked stopped at 2:10 during the robbery and has never been reset. Here is the scene from the other angle:

That's author Jack Koblas (also an expert on the raid), at left, portraying Joseph Heywood. After this, Chip took a group of horseback riders on the gang's actual escape route, through Dundas and out the Millersburg road.

Chip and the boys landed at the Millersburg Store where we had a rousing dinner. In the morning the gang posed for this group photo before moving on to Shieldsville. I took photos all the way and have a veritable gallery of James Gang on the run images.

The chilling part of this for me is that this was September 10, 2001.

"We are rough men used to rough ways."
—Bob Younger

Our Booth at Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction

June 22, 2012

    Come visit us at the Denver Merchandise Mart this weekend. We are an official sponsor of Brian Lebel's 23rd Annual Old West Show & Auction!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kissin' Jennie In Prescott

June, 21, 2012

   left the house this morning at 5, got up to Prescott at seven.Met up with a film crew from Channel 8, then filmed a segment, "Kissin' Jennie" in a historic hotel downtown. Here's a photo of the shoot.

Tell, me honestly what does this look like? That's what I thought.

After that session we walked over to the Jersey Lillie Saloon above the Palace Bar on Whiskey Row and filmed the other part of Kissin' Jennie. Here is the crew, along with Tommy, the owner of the joint. Great guy.

Filmed two other segments at Sharlot Hall Museum then drove out to Watkins Lake for the final set up of the day. Got home at six. Long day, but we got some good stuff.

"Don't come home unless you get the money shot."
—Old Film Guy Saying

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Co Pay Jose?

June 19, 2012

   Had a stress test this morning (my third). They basically inject radioactive isotopes into your bloodstream and then make you run on a treadmill 'til you drop, with an MRI at either end of the procedure. Takes about three hours ($250 co pay, which means you can pay for the procedure because the insurance you allegedly have ain't payin' for it. That's what the "co" part means).

A few highlights from the BLT tour. Stayed at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos on my way back from Iowa. Found it by accident after visiting the Kit Carson home in downtown Taos. Went up the street, started to turn around, saw an alley with a dead end sign and took it. A narrow one-car lane eventually opened up on a big rambling adobe which, it turns out had been owned at one time by Dennis Hopper. According to the administer (it's run as a non-profit) when Dennis knew he was dying, he brought his family back to see it. He is also buried in Taos which says something about his attachment to the place. Anyway, I stayed in one of the casitas next to the big house ($105 vs. $135) and this is what those bad boys look like:

You can certainly see where Blumenshein got his color and forms from. And speaking of visual sights I'll never forget, at the WWA conference in Albuquerque i was interviewing a young history major about writing for True West when the actor L.Q. Jones walked by with his wife. The young student lept up and asked me to take a photo of her with her arms around him. So I obliged.

it was also a bonus to see someone else besides me is still wearing white socks.

And speaking of model behavior in a striking setting, this is my son, T. Charles taking a photo of his new wife in Canyon de Chelly. Sweet.

And this is Newberry Mesa, northeast of Flagstaff. These kinds of spectacular buttes and mesas are endlessly enchanting to me. I could look at them all day long. Very serene to me. We encountered these the second day out, on the way to Hopi land.

"We rewrite the past to serve the needs of the present."
—Stephen Marche

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home, Home On The Strange

June 18, 2012

   Got home yesterday afternoon after 17 days on the road. Saw some new country, met some interesting people, learned some history I didn't know and came home with some great memories. For me it doesn't get much better than that.

   I have to say, of all the places I visited there is one region, actually a county, that is certainly the most cantankerous of all the places I visited. Here's a couple clues:

Home, Home On The Strange

Where the deer and the antelope are prey.

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,

And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Oh, and I know this isn't part of the song, but their storms are full of ash.

"One of the reasons I live in this county is because there are no synagogues or mosques."

—A resident of Catron County, New Mexico who shall remain nameless

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Alma on the Homestretch

June 17, 2012

   Lew Jones and I are having breakfast at the Alma Cafe, just up the road from the WS Cattle Ranch where Butch Cassidy worked. Spent the night last night up at Lew's cabin in Mogollon. They dodged a bullet last week. Big fire came within a couple hundred yards.

   Came from Albuquerque and the Western Writer's of America Conference. Here I am with some of my staff who also attended. From left to right, Jana Bommersbach, Meghan Saar, BBB, Sherry Monahan and Marshall Trimble. Marshall and I represented Arizona in a debate hosted by Johnny D. Boggs. If laughs count, I think we smoked the New Mexico boys.

"It's no honor to be on TV."

—Neil Young

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do You Know The Way to Santa Fe?

June 15, 2012

   Had a great northern New Mexico breakfast at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house yesterday morning. The resident Mexican cook whipped up a spicy green chile egg concoction that was pretty amazing. Met two sisters (I know, this is a trend) who were there to finish a book, and of course i enjoyed talking with them about good books and good art.

   Speaking of good art, one of the surprises on this trip was discovering that one of my art heroes, Robert Henri, is actually the son of a gunfighter. When we were on the way to Iowa last week and crossing Nebraska, I noticed a small sign in a cornfield that said, "Robert Henri Museum next exit". I thought this can't be the same Robert Henri who studied in Paris and established his own art school. My son quickly Googled it on his phone and sure enough, it's the same guy. Not only is Cozad, Nebraska Robert Henri's hometown, but his father, founded the town, got into a gunfight, killed a guy, fled and everyone in the family changed their names (his real name is Robert Henry Cozad). I had never heard the pronunciation of Henri and wondered if it was French, as in On-rye, but the locals pronounce it as Hen-rye. I'm going to do this as a Classic Gunfight. I'm noodling titles: "Impressions of a Gunfighter" (Robert painted a famous portrait of his father), or, "Son of A Gunfighter" or simply "Son of a Gun."

Took off from Taos and went over the mountain through Truchas and Rancho de Chamayo and on into Santa Fe. Stopped at Due West Art Gallery to talk about our upcoming Arizona-New Mexico Centennial Art Show on August 11. Going to be big. Did an interview with a local magazine, had lunch across the street. Had the green chile posole ($6.49). Was going to try the famous Coyote Grill, or cafe, but they had a menu posted on the street and too many of the prices were in the threes, as in, $36.

Came the back way through Bernalillo into Albuquerque. I'm here for the Western Writers of America Conference.

"Art is in the eye of the beholder with the gun."

—Old Cozad Saying

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Lone Ranger Over Budget?

June 13, 2012

Last Thursday was Kathy's birthday so we surprised her on the morning of June 7 as we drove into Kearney, Nebraska on the BLT. I asked her to look for a cafe for breakfast and as we drove into town she saw this:

After we sprang this surprise on her, we all attended a Zumba class at the Kearney YMCA, paid for by Deena Bell. We actually have video of that and I'll post that when I get off the road next week.

Meanwhile, I couldn't have done it alone. Had the great help of the gals at Miller Signs in Kearney. Here they are with Kathy after the big surprise:

Some real smart, talented Kearney cuties they are.

From Kearney, we motored on to Lake Okoboji, Iowa, where we enjoyed an evening boat ride. Meanwhile, just prior to this we had a great birthday dinner at Estes Park, cooked by Pattarapan. We ate on the deck of our private cabin and were serenaded by a lightning strike which struck so close there was no delay at all. As we sat there we felt like the lone ranger.


"No one will ever scale Pike's Peak."

—Zeb Pike, who was obviously high on something

Hairpin Turns on Oh My God Road!

June 13, 2012

   Woke up with two sisters looking straight up at Pike's Peak this morning. The two sisters would be the Two Sister B&B in an old house in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Had a great breakfast with the two sis's and a couple from Atlanta. After breakfast a musician compadre, Louis Mock, took me on a tour of the legendary Broadmoor Resort where he has played for the past 23 years. Really a classy joint.

   The kids and Kathy flew out of Denver yesterday, so it's just me taking the back roads.

   At around noon I off to Cripple Creek which I have always wanted to see. Stopped at the Mining Museum and talked with Jan Collins the director about the town, Wyatt Earp in Cripple Creek and prostitution back then, not now. She wrote a book on it and I bought it. I asked her if there was a back way to Canon City and she said there was if I wasn't afraid of dirt roads and scary heights. I said, "Is it any worse than the road from Idaho Springs to Black Hawk?" She laughed and said, "You mean 'Oh My God Road'?" Great name for that road. Pattarapan actually took a video of us traversing it and I'll post that when I get home this weekend.

   Took the county dirt road and saw some crazy rock formations and of course had to stop to photograph it (with my PHONE!). Only met one car on the entire 27 mile run.

I just had lunch at Michael's Deli on Main Street in downtown Canon City and am heading for Trinidad, Raton, E-Town and Taos.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Road Trip Notes

June 10, 2012
   Been off the grid and on the road for the past week on the BLT (Bell Legacy Tour) in the Toaster. Got Thomas Charles and Pattarapan with Kathy and I.

   After a cool night in Flagstaff we hit the Hopi Res on Second Mesa, then out to Canyon de Chelly and Los Gigantes Buttes, Shiprock, Farmington and up into Colorado. Enjoyed Wolf Creek Pass and landed at Creede where Walt Disney was prepping the climatic scene of the Lone Ranger where Johnny Depp, as Tonto saves the Lone Ranger on a train bound for hell.

   From Creede we motored to Lake City and on to Gunnison, then north to Estes Park where we stayed for a day and relaxed. Took off last Wednesday for Kearney, Nebraska where we had a wonderful evening and a morning surprise for Kathy's birthday with a sign (pics to follow), and a Zumba class (video to follow).

   Left Kearney and landed at Lake Okoboji in Iowa at about four. Got in Mike Richards' boat and did a booze cruise at five and then had dinner at the Richard's cabin next to the water.

   On Saturday we took off at about nine and visited Swea City, Iowa where I attended the first three grades before we moved to Arizona, then on to Forrest City, where I was born and on to the Surf Ballrroom where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper bought the farm after the gig. Drove out to the actual site.

   Then back to Thompson where Froggy Hauan gave us the tour of the Hauan and Bell farms and a dinner at the Branding Iron. Got back to Lake Okoboji at about ten. Got up this morning and took off down the back trail and landed at North Platte, Nebraska. And we're off to Denver tomorrow.

   The biggest change in road trips is the smart phone ability to find the cheapest gas in the surrounding area at any given time and also the best rates on motels and cabins and restaurants (including reviews). Totally changes where we stop and mostly for the better (two miles up the road the gas is 10 cents cheaper a gallon). And speaking of gas, we started off in Arizona at $3.86 a gallon, dropping to $3.76 in Colorado, then $3.50 in Kearney, Nebraska, and down to $3.25 in Grand Island and then an astounding $2.60 a gallon on the Winnebago Res just below Sioux City, Iowa.

"Welcome to the Roadside Beaver Tour and I can clearly see your nuts."
—Some smartass in our car

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The BLT Road Trip

June 2, 2012

   In Flagstaff, on the way to Second Mesa and Canyon de Chelly. Road trip. We're called it the BLT tour in the Toaster. BLT stands for Bell Legacy Tour, since we're headed for Iowa and the Bell Family Farm area. Got out of Cave Creek at 3:30 yesterday. My neighbor, Tom Augherton installed custom license plates on my Flex (priority for trip).

   Deena couldn't make it because of her job, but T. Bell and his new wife are joining Kathy and I on this road trip in the new Ford Flex.

   Flag was hopping last night for First Friday. I think everyone in town was downtown walking around. A very lively scene. Had an outdoor dinner at the Carriage House ($136 plus $26 tip). Very nice out, as opposed to Cave Creek where it was 108 degrees when we left).

   On the road this morning for Second Mesa to see a dance, then on to Canyon de Chelly for a horseback ride into White House Ruins.

"I'm on the road, Baby!"