Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wedding Bells & Drummer POV

September 30, 2012

   My daughter's wedding yesterday came off with nary a hitch. The bride and groom chose a blueberry farm just south of Buellton, California.

   The ceremony was outdoors under a huge oak tree.This is prior to the ceremony when the photographers were taking shots of the couple and the families. The bridge actually spanned a pond to an island, but the drought has been so bad there is not water in the pond

A Bridge Over Nada Water

Here are the three Radina women, Betty, Kathy and Deena. I'm crazy about all three. There is a slight family resemblance, no?

After the ceremony we retired to a big, grassy lawn area next to the ranch headquarters where dinner was served for 91 guests. After a series of toasts and great food, we got up to dance. The band was the Mumblers from San Francisco. Having played many a wedding myself, I had to take a photo from the POV of the drummer, a very familiar view I witnessed hundreds of times for most of four decades.

After the band it was DJ time and many of the kids danced until the wee hours of the morning. We faded about 10:30, but we had a ton of fun.

"On behalf of the band I hope we passed the audition."

—John Lennon

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tying The knot In Joaquin Murrieta Country

September 29, 2012

   Big day in the mountains of  Reagan, Michael Jackson and Joaquin Murrieta. Our daughter Deena ties the knot today with some guy from Minnesota.

   Got here on Thursday after an 11 run in the Flex from Cave Creek. Took the Ten (I-10) all the way to downtown LA then transitioned to the 101, but got off at Las Virgenes (The Virgins) and took the scenic route down to Malibu (thanks Carson Mell!), past the familiar hills where they filmed Mash, past the lake where Butch and Sundance landed in Malibu Lake (after jumping off a cliff north of Durango, Colorado), past Barbra's beach house, up Highway 1 and into the mountains beyond Santa Barbara.

   Got to the Blueberry Ranch at four and went straight to the hanging tree, north of the ranch complex, where I found the groom and his brother buillding the gallows—I mean brush arbor.

That's Mike (the fiance) and his brother Mark working on the rigging and in the mini-jeep is Rolland, the owner of the ranch, who is reading the latest issue of True West.

We had the wedding rehearsal at 4:30 yesterday and then the rehearsal dinner at the ranch house last night. Radinas flew and drove in from all parts of the country. Here's Deena (at left, standing) and Tommy (at right, standing) with all of their Radina cousins, James, Aaron, EJ and Mercedes, with the woman who started it all: Grandma Betty Radina, 86. She is a hardy woman to make the flight and car trip all the way to the remote wedding site:

Went to the Union Hotel on Thursday night after pizza and wine at the Flat Bread Full of Life joint in Los Alamos. I believe Joaquin Murrieta was killed right over the ridge to the east of here. In the Union Hotel Deena had the bartender hit a button which activated a Victorian picture on the wall, and as it slid upwards a hidden video screen was revealed and up popped a video of Say, Say, Say, starring Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. The video was filmed at the hotel and someone said Jackson's infamous Neverland Ranch is nearby.

Had a wine tour yesterday and on the way back to the ranch I forced the wedding party to listen to ZZ Top's "I Gotsta Get Paid" with the stereo blasting their young, precious ears. I think my daughter was slightly irritated (in her defense she's a bit stressed), but I had to give them an audio send off, so that whenever they hear the tune in the future they'll say to their children, "Yes, that's that horrid rock song your grandfather made us listen to all the way to the wedding site."


Had breakfast this morning with my Kingman compadres Charlie Waters and Dan Harshberger and respective wives at 9 this morning at Paula's Pancake House in Solvang. They all drove in last night.

Ceremony is today at two and I give the opening toast at the dinner party at four.

"For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, I thee wed."

—Old Vaquero Threat

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Bad Boys of Quartzsite

September 27, 2012

Kathy and i left the house at 4:15 in the Ford Flex. Wanted to get through the Beast before the rush hour. Made it through smooth and got out beyond Palo Verde where it was Truck City on I-10 but it was smooth sailing in the fast lane.

Even though we packed bananas and coffee so we could make time (we were looking at a nine hour run) I still wanted to stop at a cafe and have breakfast. i know this is slightly irritating to Kathy but it's hard to break road trip habits instilled in me by my father. Got to Quartzsite at dawn and pulled off, and cruised down the main drag looking for a good cafe. The Mexican food joint Dave Daiss and I stopped at on our way to the Golden Boots several years ago was all boarded up with a for sale sign on it. Turns out they aren't alone. Several other big truck stop style cafes had plywood on the windows, which is about the most depressing thing in the world for a road warrior to see.

As we drove down the empty street I mentioned to Kathy that Quartzsite has been having a nasty recall election. Something about a mayor and infighting. It made the Republic several times but I couldn't recall the details.

At the west end of town I spotted a big, lumbering building set back off the road and as we shot by I saw a neon "Open" sign and pulled a U-ee. Only one car in the big dirt parking lot and it was a clunker, or as we called them in the old days, decoy customers. Ha.

Went inside The Times Three Family Restaurant and sat at the counter with these four ne'er-do-wells:

That's Ted, from Tennessee, second from left, who, by the way, pronounces his first name with two syllables. The dialogue among the four, went something like this:

"I got to get under the sink and cut the drain pipe today."

"I'll be changing carbs on Chevys all week."

"You ready for winter?"

"Ready as i'll ever be."

When I asked them about the scandalous politics of the town, Dick (far left) pushed his chin up with an over yonder gesture and said, "I don't follow politics but those people over at that table do."

Well, lo and behold, at a table in the middle of the empty dining room was the recalled Mayor, Ed Foster, and one of his town council members Pat.

I liked Pat because she has a high IQ (check out what she's reading). Ed gave me the Cliff Notes version of the scandal: He has found Good Old Boy networks with guys getting paid for doing little work and the power structure wants him gone. They tried to recall him and when that failed they still won't allow him to be seated at the council. Nasty, petty stuff. Made me glad I'm not in politics. But it did make me glad we stopped for breakfast in Quartzsite.

Had the oatmeal and the waitress forgot my toast, but hey, you couldn't pay for the amount of entertainment i received for $17.23.

I told Kathy as we motored on down the road towards Blythe, California that THIS is what I love about road trips and when I can't do this kind of roadside exploring any more, turn off the damn machine.

"We will not save this town wihtout a fight."

—Ed Foster

 I can tell you this: We will not save this town without a fight. As Mayor, I thought it my duty to tell you, while there's yet time.

Semper Fi!

Mayor Ed Foster


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tap Duncan Sidebar Won't Die

September 26, 2012

   Spent most of the day trying to nail the Tap Duncan sidebar for The Kid Curry's Last Gunfight Classic Gunfight. Rewrote it at least four times. Meghan took two cracks at it, herself. Had to finish it at five, because we're leaving at four in the morning for my daughter's wedding. About time. She's 32. Ha.

   On the road all day tomorrow.

   We have been attacked three nights in a row by the Biebers. They are so blatant they watched us pack the car while munching on a barrel cactus they disemboweled a week ago.

   The Toaster is packed. Waiting for lift off.

"Just can't wait to get on the road again."

—Old Nelson Saying

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's De Ja Vegas All Over Again

September 25, 2012

   My cousin Billy Hamilton has a ranch near Dolan Springs, Arizona. By his own admission he is a roping fool (well, maybe fool is too strong: he was the World Champion Steer Roper in 1964). One of his oldest roping friends is Ralph Lamb. If that names sounds familiar it's because Ralph was the sheriff of Las Vegas back in the sixties and seventies. And tonight CBS launches Vegas, a new series about the sheriff of Las Vegas, Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) who is a fourth-generation cattle rancher (true) who goes up against the mob during the transition from cow town to wowza town.

   I read this a couple weeks ago in The Hollywood Reporter and called my cousin who confirmed to me the show is about his good friend Ralph Lamb. Evidently, it has been in development for some time and Billy seemed a little bemused that it was finally going to happen.

   And speaking of Vegas and ranches in northern Mohave County, a certain Western singer and I have been noodling a cowgirl character who deals with Vegas hoods on her father's ranch which is near Lake Mead on the Arizona side. Dixxy Diamond returns from Iraq to find strange things going on at the ranch. I'm not sure I even know what those things are that are so disturbing to Dixxy, but Juni knows.

"Being infamous is not fun. It becomes a weird kind of occupation in and of itself."

—Michael Cimino, on making the historic bomb Heaven's Gate which is now enjoying a resurgence

We Aim To Get History Right

September 25, 2012

   Signed off on the final corrections on Kid Curry's Last Gunfight which will run in the December issue. Talked on the phone with Kid Curry author Mark Smokov in Seattle at nine this morning (we sent him a pdf of the article). He caught a couple errors (the date of Sheriff Hazen's death was off by one day on the timeline but correct in the photo caption). He also wondered where I got the information that one of the posse members, Elmer Chapman, was a brand inspector. In his research he only found him referred to as a deputy sheriff. These are the little details we go the extra mile on to try and get it right. Because:

We Aim To Get History Right


Meanwhile, Robert Ray has taken Gus Walker's excellent map of the Parachute robbery and subsequent man hunt and added a couple tweaks. Mike Bell wanted us to add the Gustafson Ranch to the map and Robert managed to shoe horn it in. Because of space restraints I was not able to include these little gems from Mike Bell:

Bob - just dug out my dog-eared copy of Garfield County, Colorado, The First Hundred Years, 1883-1983. had to retrieve it from our loft. Some of my notes come from it:

The robbers demanded food from Mrs. Gustafson and took fresh horses. They also cut her telephone line, but she repaired it. As the outlaws were about to ride away the young Gustafson  boy, about five, came running up and said: "Momma's fixed the phone so you can use it now". One of the outlaws responded; "Well if she's talking about us, at least she isn't gossiping about the neighbors".

The other snippet i'd forgotten is that the outlaws stopped at Banta's ranch for food but threw it away because for some reasons they thought Mrs. banta had poisoned it - hence stopping again at Gustafson's.

End of Mike's remarks. He also had a couple other little gems I didn't have room for, like this one: after Rolla Gardner had his horse shot out from under him by Kid Curry, Rolla came up from behind his dead horse and fired a shot with his deer rifle and hit Kid Curry across the arms and chest. When Gardner tried to remove the bullet it was rusted from the rain the night before and he had to use his pocket knife to get it out. I love these little details: Gardner must have left his rifle on the porch or somewhere and it got wet. Imagine being in a fire fight and you've had your horse shot out from under you, you are scared silly, and you have the nerve to raise up and fire, THEN you discover you can't eject the shell from your rifle and you have three outlaws armed to the teeth, firing in your general direction.

Just Dad-burned amazing.

Meanwhile, our November issue goes on sale this week and will be on an end cap position in every Barnes & Noble in the country. I want you to go in and have your picture taken like I have here and post it on Facebook. If you do, you could win a 5-year subscription to True West, or a DVD of our TV show "Outrageous Arizona." Or, perhaps both.

And if you go in and you can't find True West on an end cap (the display at the end of the aisles), then I want you to go to the manager and complain, preferably loudly. Thanks.

"History is too important to be left to historians."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, September 24, 2012

An Apache Named Fun

September 24, 2012

Talked with Lou Cady, Jr. this morning. He'll be 91 in October. Said he fell off our subscription list and wants to get back on because all the people in his assisted living quarters in Texas absolutely love them. Going to send him a care package of issues he missed. Lou married my mother in 1971 and he was with her until her death in 2004. He wants his ashes put in her coffin at Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman and I assured him I would take care of it.

Here's a little study I whipped out this morning before I came into work. Been noodling the idea for a long time. The poem came to me on my walk up Old Stage Road.

There once was an Apache named Fun

 Who lived for the run & gun

 But when the weather got heavy

 He switched to a Chevy

 And now all his running is fun


"Every car is full of stories. Who rode in 'em, where they went, where they ended up, how they got there."

—Neil Young

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Meaning of The Bad Banjo Dream

September 22, 2012

   Kathy flew to California this morning to help our daughter get ready for the big weekend. That gave me plenty of excuse to come out to the studio and jam.

   Whipped out a little scene for Mickey Free (The Duke of Dust Presents):

The Long And Grinding Road

Fifteen Miles south of Fronteras Mickey's mule Tu came up short and sniffed the ground, snorting in his unique but obnoxious way. Peeking over the rise, Mickey saw something strange in the middle of the road.

This, of course, leads them to Los Muertos:

The town of the dead. Any resemblance to Carefree in 50 years is purely conjecture on your part.

Bad Banjo vs. The Perfect Banjo Dream Analysis

In the mid eighties I got a call from Billy Gibbons who told me he was sitting with the president of his record company and they were discussing this new rock video phenom and they were wondering if I'd come up with a concept for them to launch an original ZZ Top rock video. To make a long story short, I didn't send them anything. I could go on and on, but this, in essence is the message in the dream. I have missed so many cues it's not even funny. It would be just like me to obsess on the instrument that Jeff Foxworthy was holding and completely miss my cue AND the opportunity. Of course, the kids in the dream ran right past me and ended up on the stage while I stood there, waiting for the perfect banjo. Which never materialized.

End of dream analysis.

"The dream is over."

—Yoko Flippin' Ono

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kid Curry Goes South And Banjo Dreams As Well

ttSeptember 21, 2012

   Woke up at three and couldn't go back to sleep so got up and came out to the studio to work. Did a couple gouache studies and worked on a master list for attacking the final approach to Kid Curry Classic Gunfight. A certain editor (her initials are Ms. M.S.) got very irritated last night with the "mess" she said Robert Ray and I had handed her. She left at about 5:30 in a huff, saying she would finish editing it at home. As a side note, when Marcus Huff left in a huff, now THAT was a Huff.

   But I digress.

   Had a disturbing dream last weekend and it went like this: I was at a charity event and Jeff Foxworthy came up to me and said, "They want me to do fifteen minutes. Do you want to do a bit with me?" I said sure, of course, I'd be honored. "When I pull out a banjo," he said, "you come up and give me grief and we'll have fun with it and play off each other." He went up on the stage and did several You-might-be-a-redneck jokes, then pulled out a guitar. I was thinking of all the things i'd say and how I'd say it. I was getting rather amped, because the pressure was on—his could be hilarious, or it could bomb. Jeff put down the guitar and picked up a mandolin. I looked at it carefully. It didn't look like a banjo. Was it perhaps a weird, South Carolina banjo? I decided it wasn't and waited. I was getting more nervous. Jeff finally put the mandolin down and picked up a sitar. By now, several kids came to the front of the stage. They were laughing and joking with Jeff. He finally invited them up on the stage and they riffed on everything. They were laughing and having a good time. Finally, Jeff does one more joke, gets a standing ovation, comes off the stage, walks over to me and says, "You missed your cue."

   I woke up. The meaning was painfully obvious to me. Dream analysis tomorrow.

   At about six I went out to feed the chickens and saw Sir William Bieber standing by the chicken house. Said hi, stomped my feet and he casually sauntered off. Looked to my right and saw this:

Went for a walk and coming down Morning Star saw this:

The moral of this story is it's so nice to have a cell phone in my pocket because I'm never without a camera.

"You might be a redneck if you think a sitar solo would sound better on a banjo"

—Jeff Foxworthy

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wanted: Actual Payment of Amount Offered On Poster

September 20, 2012

   Doing a MM on CG (TW slang for "massive massage" on Classic Gunfights). So many intriguing facts to get into a six-page article. For example, the posse member who shot Kid Curry got $25, a horse to replace the horse shot out from under him by Curry, a bridle, a shotgun and a rifle scabbard (I have a hunch most of these items were provided by generous neighbors of the rancher). There were at least $13,000 in rewards out for Kid Curry, but as happened time and time again, when it came time to pay up, the railroads, the banks and the state treasurers all ducked and turned tail. Another example is when the posse members who went toe to toe with the Youngers at Hanska Slough got $250 each, even though the posted rewards for the James Gang reached $10,000.

   And so it goes.

Ran across this Duke of Dust special called "Running Late."

Meanwhile, Ken and I had lunch at Tonto Bar & Grill today and I had a cup of gazpacho and it was pretty dang good. Sat outside, looking over the golf course. Very nice day. We are still hitting 103 degrees for daytime high, but the nights are cool and it just isn't as hot as last month.

If you missed our TV show, I just found out that Outrageous Arizona will replay on Eight World, Channel 88, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 6.

"I work on the same principal as people who train horses. You start with low fences, easily achieved goals, and work up. It's important in management never to ask people to try to accomplish goals they can't accept."

—Ian MacGregor

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tap Duncan LIves to Tell The Tale

September 19, 2012

   No sight nor sound of the Javelinas From Hell for the past two nights. Not sure why. Kathy bought ammonia which they are supposed to hate. She spread it at all their entry points. We'll see. I have a hunch they'll blow right by that stuff when they want to. By the way, how voracious are they? Here's what they did to a barrel cactus in our front yard:

I'm telling you, those little Biebers will eat anything.

Meanwhile, spent all day with Robert Ray finishing a six-page Classic Gunfight that deals with the last ride of Kid Curry. More than a few never-been published photos appear. Had a lot of help from Mike Bell in England who knows his stuff. Going to be a strong one.

My cousin, Tap Lou Duncan-Weir, sent me some great photos of her kin, including this photo of Tap Duncan. He does appear to resemble the dead robber of the Parachute train.

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

—Teddy Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gullywashers, Peckasso, Tap Duncan and Kid Curry's Killer Eyes

September 18, 2012

   Went home for lunch and whipped out Kid Curry number four, "The Eyes of A Killer":

Went down to Tom's this morning to check out Peckasso's new harem. He has two French women who have moved in with him. Here they are showing off above him, giving copius peeks at their feathered gams.

Notice how big the bad boy painter is getting. According to Tom he is definitely ready to rule the roost.

Yesterday I whipped out a study of Eternal Wash." This is to commemorate our annual gullywashers:

And here's a work in progress of Kid Curry's Last Ride:

Also, thanks to Dan Bishop of Chloride, Arizona I made contact this morning with two writers in Bruneau (pronounced Bruno) Idaho. One of them, Mary Hall-Bailey has written a book,"Bruneau: Then And Now" which documents the shootout Tap Duncan had with a local bad boy Billy Hayes. I have heard of this fight my whole life and never knew the name of the man he was fighting. There's more, but needless to say, it fills in some huge holes in our family history AND the Kid Curry story.

"If you monkeyed with Tap Duncan, you were monkeying with a rattlesnake.”

—Attributed to anyone living in Mohave County between 1908 and 1944

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rollin Gardner Busts More Than Kid Curry's Chops

September 17, 2012

   Went home for lunch and whipped out a couple scenes for the next Classic Gunfight. Here is Kid Curry taking a bullet through his left bicep, his breast bone (took out two ribs as well) and coming out his right bicep. Needless to say, this must have hurt.

Curry had just shot Rollin Gardner's horse out from under him and was turning his attention to another posse member coming up Gibson Draw when Gardner came up from behind his dead horse and shot Curry.

This is Gardner shooting at Curry after the Kid shot his horse from under him. I believe I am correct in assuming Gardner lost two horses to the outlaws when they raided his ranch a day or so earlier and now the bastards had shot a third horse of his. If so, no wonder he shot to kill.

"I'm all in and might as well end it right here."

—Sam (the outlaws shouted this name at their wounded comrade)

The Wild Bunch And The Future of ZZ Top

September 17, 2012

Wish I could say my door barricade worked, but it didn't. Woke up at 5:30 this morning when I heard the doggy door to my studio being used, and by that I mean, clanging and grunting. Put on shoes and ran out to discover one of the Beibers in my studio and another in the back yard. Had to go around to the back door to shoo out the studio Bieber and on my way I ran into the Backyard Bieber who just stood there looking at me (if I didn't know better I'd say he was chuckling at my outfit). He appeared to be the senior leader (Sir William Bieber?) and he wasn't afraid of me in the least.

Couldn't find any duck tape, but jerry-rigged the doggy door one more time, finished a painting and came into work.

Speaking of stinking outlaws who pillage and plunder the Southwest, I'm still working on images of the Wild Bunch and Kid Curry in particular. Took this stab at Harvey Logan yesterday:

A little young and a little light-headed (Logan was described as dark featured), but it does give him a tad of sympathy, which perhaps he didn't deserve, but sometimes my outlaw sympathy surfaces in peculiar ways. Meanwhile, this morning I whipped this out after the Bieber Rampage and before I came into work. This is "The Cowboy Train Robber."

This is how we want the Wild Bunch members to look but there is very little evidence to support this. In almost every photo the boys are wearing civilian or business attire. I assume this was to blend in more, but it sure doesn't fit our romantic idea of how they dressed.

I read a review of ZZ Top's new album "La Futura" in the New York Times and downloaded the sucker on my cell phone ($9.95) yesterday, then Kathy hooked my cell phone up to my Ford Flex radio and as we tooled into The Beast, I was grooving all the way down and back. Billy Gibbons is such a guitar genius. His grooves are so chunky you half expect the sides of a mountain to come tumbling down. It's their first album in 9 years. "I Gotsta Ge Paid," is the best tune on the CD. Regarding his chunkiness, Gibbons is quite humorous:

"It's a real uphill challenge to battle the white-guyness. White people get nervous and speed things up. You don't have to be in a hurry because you ain't got nothin' to gain and you ain't got nothin' to lose. And that's where the groove lies."

—Billy Gibbons

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kid Curry vs. Kid Beiber

September 16, 2012

Had another run in with the Biebers. Realized last Wednesday one of the more aggressive javelinas who is visiting our abode, looking for free food, is pushing open my studio door with his snout. The big oak door has a defective latch and if not closed completely can be pushed open. I came out Wednesday morning and my studio door was wide open. Didn't notice anything out of place, but before I went to work I made sure I closed the door with an extra pull, hearing the latch catch. Came out on Friday morning and the door was closed tight, but noticed there were tiny hoof prints around the chicken food bags I had stored in the back, under a desk. But it didn't make any sense because both doors, front and back, were shut tight. The next day, same thing, only this time the sacks of chicken food had been eaten through and food was all over the floor. I was mystified. How were they getting in? Certainly they weren't opening the door, eating the food and then closing the door on their way out.

I mentioned this to my neighbor Tom and he said, "Do you think they're using your doggy door?" Holy crap, the smart little shits, that's EXACTLY what they're doing.

D'oh! As you can see, I fortified the doggy door with cardboard and a broken draftsman triangle. Calling a welder tomorrow to come out and make a stronger contraption. Why?

About ten this morning I heard the door open. I was working on my computer, which is around the corner from the door and I assumed it was Kathy coming over from the house. I called her name. No answer. I got up and peeked around the corner and saw a snout. "Get the hell out of here!" I yelled at the little Bieber. He ran around into the back yard, but as I went after him, I saw he had made mincemeat out of my little cardboard fortification. Here he is glaring right back at me.

"You got a problem with me, big guy?"

"Yes, I do, you little Bieber."

"Well, in all the confusion here, i can't remember. Did I eat five bags of chicken food, your flowers and a large bag of charcoal? Or was it six? Oh, and by the way, how long did it take you to figure out i was using your doggy door?"

"My neighbor had to tell me."

"That's what I figured. You must be slipping. What are you, 70? 75?"

"No, sweet Jesus, I'm only 65."

"Well, get a grip grandpa. if you can't outsmart a pig, maybe you should move to town."

"Get the hell out of here Bieber! I mean it. I can talk even louder if i want to."

"See you tomorrow. Different time, different entry, same results."

And so the little thief took his time leaving, wagging his little butt at me as he wiggled under the chain link fence.

Worked a bit on two interpretations of Kid Curry. Extrapolating between the death photo and the prison photos of Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry, I came up with this:

He's a tad sensitive, but then so is the facial expression on the death photo. Of course, more than a few don't believe the death photo of Curry is really him.

Meanwhile, also took another run at a certain one-eyed-mule-ridin'-SOB you may recognize:

Love the ominous clouds ("Apache Midnite"). Need to work on his hand, arm and the blanket. Still wrestling with a serape that's half American flag and half Mexican, which would be the mash-up that underscores our damn story. Of course, whether you're talking about kid Curry or Mickey Free, it all comes down to your opinion about what really happened and what it means. But as Mr. Moynihan points out. . .

"You're entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts."

 —Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kid Curry Homeless?

September 14, 2012

Turns out the $3,000 number I quoted about Shakespeare performers in California in the 1860s is low! Just heard from Gay Mathis, quoting from a theater history book: "These expenses do not include the frequently high salaries paid to stars which often exceed $6,000 for six successive performances."

Amazing. So nothing has changed that much. We have long paid our celebrities the long dollar.

Been working on the Kid Curry death scene for the next issue of Classic Gunfights. Did this sketch of the scene based off a photo from Mike Bell, from Birmingham England, who trekked out to the site near Rifle, Colorado and took a panorama photo (the guy standing on the rock is where Curry fired from. The posse came up the draw at middle):

The Scraggly Dressed Wild Bunch

Sent this query to Mike Bell (no relation) this morning: Is it just me, or does Kid Curry, Tom O'Day, Ben Kilpatrick and Ole Beck look like homeless people? Granted most of them are photographed in death, but their clothing seems quite ragged, with holes in the coats and sweaters. Logan's coat seems especially torn up and ragged in the death photos. Do you think this is from wear and tear after his death, or was he, in fact, in need of a new outfit? I want to illustrate him as he looked before the Parachute robbery and I want to utilize his clothing from the death photo, but I'm at a loss as to how much I should distress his coat.

True, these photos were taken a week after he was brought down off the mountain, but before he was buried. I thought that these were of him after he was dug up for further identification but that was another week and he had mold on him! Crazy.

Meanwhile, here's fellow Wild Bunch outlaw Tom O'Day looking quite like a transient:

I realize they did not dress like Tom Mix or Lash LaRue, but this is quite a striking difference between the Fort Worth Five photo.

"Don't drive your horse with the whip—use the oat bag."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thar's Gold In Them Thar' Shakespeare Plays!

September 13, 2012

Doing a piece on the popularity of Shakespeare out west. Found a source online that claims actors could make up to $3,000 a week doing Shakespeare plays in California in the 1850s which seem very high. Any truth to this?

"I think thou doest claim too much!"

—Edwin Booth

Buzzy Blair Has Passed On

September 13, 2012

   It's funny how much influence someone can have in our life who we barely knew. Such is the case with Buzzy Blair of Kingman. Somewhere I have an article on Buzzy and his legendary Kingman cowboy ways. He liked his coffee "barefoot" (without sugar) and he loved to rope. Needless to say he fit right in with my Kingman cowboy cousins:


Billy, Brenda and Craig Hamilton, Turkey Track Ranch, Dolan Springs, New Year's Day, 1971

Buzzy was actually a huge influence on me and he was the main inspiration for my cartoon creation The Doper Roper.

My grandfather, Bob Guess, liked him and according to my Aunt Jean, gave him a vote of confidence when other cowboys from Mohave County wouldn't give him a shot at roundups, etc..

This is Bob Guess with his granddaughter Donna Duncan on Hilltop, outside of Kingman in the early 1940s

I went home to Kingman in the early seventies and had a beard and long hair and my dad and Shirley wanted to go to town for dinner. I really didn't want to see anyone (especially redneck cowboys) and we ended up at the Hafley's Holiday House and as soon as we got seated, out from the bar comes three cowboys and one of them is Buzzy Blair. He recognizes my dad, comes over and sits on the edge of the booth, right next to me. Starts talking about my grandfather with tears in his eyes. "I loved Bob Guess," he said looking right at me. And, of course, what I heard was, "Cut your goddamned hair and quit dishonoring your grandpa." Ha.

I actually went home and cut my hair and beard. I probably only saw Buzzy maybe five times in my life, but he had a big influence on me, which in a play-it-forward kind of way, he was merely paying back my grandfather.

 Service's for Buzzy will be held at Sutton's funeral home in Kingman next Tuesday at 10:00 A.M. for Buzzy (E.L.) Blair.

"Heffer Dust!"

—Granthum P. Hooker aka The Doper Roper

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Napoleon Bonaparte vs. Napoleon Dynamite

September 11, 2012

    Raining on and off all morning. A gang of javelinas broke into our yard this morning and ate all the chicken food I had stored in a trash can ($14.95 worth!). When I went out to shoo them out of the yard (must have been a dozen of them—The Dirty Dozen?) one of them didn't even budge. Kept yelling at him. Only when I kicked the can did he move and then only a couple feet. So I named him Bieber, because he is pesky and wouldn't leave no matter what I said or did.

The suckers ate an entire bag ($14.95!). Crazy.

On my way into work I spotted low hanging clouds over Black Mountain and had to pull over to take a photo of it.

This is close to Grapevine Wash, looking south. Mad Coyote Joe lives just to the east (left) of here.

My daughter is getting married in a couple weeks and she wanted some family quotes from me for the ceremony. I sent her these off the top of my head:

 "Be silly. Be honest. Be kind."

 —Ralph Waldo Emerson

 "If you can't say something nice about someone, come sit next to me."

 —Teddy Roosevelt's daughter (can't think of her name, but she was a pistol)

 "For everything you lose, you will gain something and for everything you gain you will lose something."

 —I've been saying this so long I can't remember who said it


 "Creativity is remembering what was said, but forgetting who said it."

 —Old Vaquero Saying

 "When in doubt, turn towards each other."

 —Great advice from a sociologist Kathy knows, John Gottman?

 "Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but it only takes one to burn it."

 —Julia Child

 "By all means pray, but keep rowing for shore."

 —Old Vaquero Saying

 Sometimes we learn from others what NOT to do:

 "I wanted too much. I strung the bow too tightly, and trusted too much in my good fortune."

 —Napoleon Bonaparte

 "What the flip was Grandma doing at the sand dunes?"

 —Napoleon Dynamite

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Cowboy Way vs. The Rocky Mountain Way

September 10, 2012

In about 1963, I graduated from cowboys to rock stars as my guiding role model. I think this had more to do with puberty than anything else, but at the time I thought the cowboy was beginning to look outdated and corny (I was all of 15!). Rock and roll was, well, young and sexy.

I never completely abandoned the cowboy ideal but it certainly took a back seat to my new found love of living dangerously (at least metaphorically). Much to my mother's regret (which probably added some octane to the fuel) I quickly migrated from Cowtown to Underground.

Although it seemed to me at the time this was a major part of my life, this rock star infatuation lasted but a short time. Okay, maybe 25 years. In 1989 I rediscovered my prepubescent love—outlaws and gunslingers.

The Cowboy Way vs. The Rocky Mountain Way

In some ways the rock period of my life seems like an exception, a misspent youthful culdesac. Or was it merely an extension of the bad boy on horseback?

I read an excellent essay in the New York Times yesterday, "Off the Charts" by Jay Ruttenberg about how the rock star has gone the way of the cowboy:

"How has the rock star—a giant cultural figure who once so happily tangoed with groupies and seafood—come to symbolize all that is rundown, emotionally hampered and moralistic? it struck me as a sad fate: another American hero cut down. And it was certainly not without precedent. In particular, the rock star's fall from glorious licentiousness evoked the rough treatment the cowboy suffered at the hands of '60s and '70s filmmakers, eager to expose a previous generation's idols as nasty old coots wasting away in saloons before embarking on their doomed last rides. Now the baby boomer's heroes were themselves getting a comeuppance. Woe betide the fictional computer whiz 20 years hence."

Pretty profound, really. Here's the wrap-up:

"As with the beleaguered cowboy before him, the rock singer had somehow grown alluring through his woes. On stages large and small, the person gripping the microphone appeared to me a tragic figure, resigned to live forever in the shadow of our youthful dreams and missteps—rock 'n' roll star, sacrificial loser." So, perhaps the rock star and the cowboy are cousins? merely an extension of each other? Interchangeable?

"I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted, dead or alive."

—Bon Jovi

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Slow Turnin' And Photographing The Back of John Hiatt Fan's Heads

September 9, 2012

Kathy and I did something totally crazy last night. Drove in to the Beast around 5:30 and had dinner at Gallo Blanco, then motored down to the Crescent Ballroom to see John Hiatt. I have been a big fan for the past decade but have never had the chance to see him.

A very intimate venue, with a dance floor and small bleachers straight away from the stage, only four tiers high. Of course all those seats were taken. Tickets were $50 each (actually $43, but with tax, etc. it came to $107) and, of course, a plastic cup of cabernet was $10. I was banking on the show starting at eight, over by 9:30 and then an hour drive home, but I had forgotten about the OPENING ACT! What an idiot I am.

John Hiatt took the stage at about 9:15 and never looked back:


Yes, he's wearing a tie, a jacket AND a cool hat. One of the biggest changes in concert going in the past 15 years is photos. Remember when you'd go see a concert and they banned cameras? People had cameras taken away form them and security was on constant vigil looking for flash bulbs and they would pounce on the illegal photo takers. We own our image and you can't come into our house and steal our souls, seemed to be the message. Well, at some point in the past ten years that became absurd with cell phone cameras. At any given point in the entire concert you saw six or seven cell phone cameras stuck in the air recording video and still shots (mostly video). Kathy even took a few photos using my cell phone (the above shot of John being an example). Here we are, dancing in the dark and up way past our bedtime:

The show ended at about 11:15 and on the way to our car I came up behind a couple I recognized. As we passed them I said, "If you ever need photos of the back of your head, let me know. We have a few." They laughed and then, with the magic of cell phone technology, I whipped out  my cell phone and showed them this:

Couldn't have done this ten years ago.

"Sixty is the new twelve."

—John Hiatt, responding to his wife who said to him as his sixtieth birthday approached, "sixty is the new forty."

Crazy—this thing called love.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hot Off The Grill And Hot Off The Press

September 8, 2012

    I went to my heart doctor last Thursday and he gave me high marks on my stress test (I lasted 10 minutes and, kept going on a 16 percent grade on the final assault!), he raved about my LDL and all those crazy numbers. He asked me what I attributed it to and I said, "someone told me four years ago, 'If it comes from a cow I don't want you to go near it.'" he laughed because, well, he's the guy who told me that. Then, much to my surprise, he added this, "You are doing so well, I think you could actually eat some grass fed beef, but stay away from corn fed, or any feedlot beef." He also told me that there has been an alarming rise in pancreatic cancer, which he guessed is from eating processed foods.

    Lo and behold, the very next day, Dave Daiss came in to the True West World Headquarters from his ranch at Sonoita with a small sample of his grass fed beef, including a nice, big porterhouse steak which had my name on it, literally. No, really. He had a packet with my name on it.

    Today, I treated myself with a porterhouse steak, eggs and rice—Pattarapan style (with fish sauce over the top— fresh greens and radishes, and, to top it off, the latest issue of True West magazine (October) hot off the press. I topped it off with a glass of cabernet and I would call this a perfect Saturday.

    Actually, now that I think of it, this is a prelude to a perfect Saturday because tonight my lovely girlfriend, Kathy Radina, and I are going downtown, into the Beast, to the Crescent Ballroom to see John Hiatt at eight P.M. For that we will bring a thermos of coffee.

 "Stay all night, stay a little longer, dance all night, dance a little, then go to bed early."

—Old Vaquero Warning

Friday, September 07, 2012

Lon Megargee, Rain and White Hills Redux

September 7, 2012

   Went down the hill to Tom's house at about eight to deliver the paper and see how Picasso is doing. The latest on that front is that he tried to crow yesterday, so maybe he's a rooster after all. This has more twists and turns than a soap opera. In fact, I think we have here the latest installment of As the Coop Turns. Here's Kelly, Tom's daughter, feeding the boy in his new digs.

Started sprinkling right after this and Tom and I stood under the awning and talked shop. He has been doing research on Picasso and it turns out he's a French purebred (a Moran?) and that hens of his persuasion lay chocolate colored eggs (of course, so French!).

Got into the office about nine, just as a deluge of rain hit. Here's the view out my office window:

Really coming down (10:04 a.m.). Herman Dickson is coming by today. He bought the scratchboard I posted a couple days ago of Lon Megargee. Hermann has a business selling reprints of the famous A-1 prints, like "Cowboy's Dream" which hangs in my office. And he recreates the original rope borders for them. Anybody who calls themselves a Zonie should have the entire set.

Here's the scratchboard Herman bought:

White Hills Redux

  Here's the irony of visiting White Hills ghost town, and for that matter, Oatman, Gold Road, Chloride and Mineral Park. Those are all "ghost towns" in Mohave County when I was growing up (Oatman and Chloride never went totally bust). When Dan Harshberger and I were playing among the ruins, we envisioned these buildings as being from 1881, but in fact, most of them were from the 1920s, 30s and even 40s.

All the above mentioned towns were active until WWII when silver and gold and other minerals tanked as investments. So the wooden (key word) buildings in the pictures are probably only about twenty years old. That's why they're still standing! I know this now, because I have a chicken house built in 1986 that looks exactly like this.

   The moral: if it's wood, it ain't going to outlive a turtle. This is why ranchers went to pipe fences and corrals. Wood looks great, but it don't last for beans. End of sermon (for today). Ha.

 "Historic buildings are by and large a mirage, hyped by the living to embarrass the dead."

 —Old Vaquero Saying