Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Contrite Yankee In British Air's Court

March 30, 2013
So the humorless lady at the Customer Service Desk at British Airlines in Heathrow Airport told me I needed to be through security by 5:20 the following morning or I would miss my 6:20 flight to Madrid and, thus, my connecting flight on to Sevilla, where my wife of 33 years was waiting patiently without knowledge of my problems because my iPhone could not find a carrier in the United Kingdom.

I was given a goodie bag full of plastic travel items and a white, extra-large T-shirt, and two bus vouchers and a comped hotel room with a comped dinner for my troubles. I instinctively knew the airline was not paying full price for the comped hotel room and I wondered what their sweetheart deal was. Incredibly, I would find out, but not in the happiest of ways.

I won't bore you with my provincial wonderment at how an entire nation could, somehow, someway destroy perfectly good cars by ripping out the steering columns and rebuilding them on the wrong side of the dashboard, but I never knew our cousins in Merry Old England did so many things so amazingly different than we do. For one thing, they don't count the ground floor of a hotel as the first floor. No, to the Brits, the second floor is the first floor. So, my comped hotel room, #1176, was on the second floor.

It doesn't stop there. I couldn't plug my computer into a wall socket because they've designed their own wall sockets which are incompatible with the Yankee plugs. I had to go down to the front desk to get an adaptor. If I didn't know better I would say they were doing this just to piss us off.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the comped dinner was only for the buffet, but the manager generously comped my salmon dinner (18 pounds, or about $22), which was a smart thing to do in light of what happened the next morning.

I asked for a four a.m. wakeup call because I wanted to catch the first bus at 4:30 to the airport and give myself enough padding to make it through security by 5:20.

I got the automated call at four, drug myself out of bed at about 4:05, dressed, cleaned up and was out the door by 4:25. But not quite. I noticed the bill slipped under the door and leaned down and picked it up. Glancing at it, I noticed the bill was for around 80 pounds. There were two internet charges of 8 pounds each, two glasses of wine at dinner for 15 pounds, a surcharge of some sort and then, at the bottom was the room charge of 40 pounds.

So now I knew what the sweetheart rate was for British Air but now I also had a bone to pick with the front desk. I got down to the front desk at 4:28 and asked the lone desk clerk the reason for the room charge and she defensively dismissed it: "that is a mistake, sir. Here, I will take it off your bill." Just then I nervously looked over my shoulder and I see the bus pull up. I step away from the desk. The desk clerk says, "Wait. It's printing out." I say, "He's not going to leave is he?" And I wave my arms frantically in his general direction to alert him I want to be on that bus. I turn back to the desk and she has the printout in her hand, I leap forward to grab it and turn to see the bus drive off into the night.

I started swearing and throwing my luggage on the floor. The frightened desk clerk calls the manager, who came out. He was about 12, but taller than me and he had a I'll-Take-You-Down-On-The-Floor-Right-Here-Old-Man look in his eye. He told me to calm down. I said as calmly as I could, "The Bastard drove off!" The manager says, "He is contract. He doesn't work for us." This makes me madder, not happier.

A crazy cab ride with a woman from Brazil who also got bumped off British Air ensues, and suffice to say, I made it through security and got on the flight to Madrid, but my first ever encounter with a Fascist Pig was yet to come.

In spite of all of this I somehow admire British Air. I don't know why this is. Perhaps it's a British trick. Is it the calming accent. An appeal to our roots?

"There is only the trying. Everything else is not our business."
—T.S. Eliot

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Made It To Spain!

March 29, 2013
After a disastrous day of traveling yesterday (thanks to a third party bungling and overbooking by the airline), I got up at four, got through Heathrow security at 5:30, made it to Madrid by 10:30 and on to Sevilla, Spain, landing at 12:30. Kathy picked me up, and she won't put me down! Ha. Great to see her after three months. Heading to Rota and the beach tonight.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Merry Old England? It's Just A Shot Away!

March 28, 2013
I booked my Spain trip through Expedia and flew British Air from Phoenix to London. Left last night from Sky Harbor at 9:10 p.m. After the all night flight I walked off my plane at Heathrow and went straight to the terminal (had to take that damn train) and I asked an attendant which gate my plane was at, and he said, "Around this corner, but you're not going to make it." I thought that odd, so I walked around the corner, only to see a big ol' line. I'm nervous now, but I wait patiently and when I get up there the woman says, "You missed this flight." And I said, "How could I have missed it?" It's supposed to leave at four, it's been changed from the three o'clock flight one." (I had the Expedia report  which was sent to me last night)

  And she calls a number and literally waits on hold for someone to answer for ten minutes. People are streaming by me and she finally says, gravely, "Sir, you were booked business and you are not. You'll need to go over there to that even longer line."

  Okay, she didn't say all that but that is the gist of it. I go over and wait in the longer, angrier line and finally this woman goes through the same procedure. Clicking around her computer with a grave face until she finally repeats what the other woman said. I say, "I don't understand. Tell me exactly why I missed this flight," and she tells me and I couldn't tell you what she said. it was ridiculous British doublespeak (which by the way they are brilliant at!). She says they are putting me up at a hotel just off the airport area and I can try again tomorrow.

  THEN I have to go through the god-damned immigration line, which was 45 minutes, but I meet a Phoenix couple who got bumped off their British Air flight as well and they were fun to talk to. Found about their early life, how they met, how many tax returns they have filed over the years. I had time to tell them about all of my books, how I met Kathy, the wedding at Pioneer Living History Museum, the research trips going back to 1991 and how much I enjoy Lincoln, New Mexico. When I get to the front of the damn Queue they tell me someone should have given me the immigration form to fill out and I say, "I'm going to a second class hotel for the night and coming back to maybe fly out in the morning, I'm not planning on farming the hedgerows near Eaton."). I had to fill out the form.

  Then to the bus downstairs where it was freezing. The only good thing that happened is that as I rolled to the final door (terrible signage!) a man was standing outside a liquor store with tiny shot glasses on a tray, and he says, "Anybody want a shot?" I laughed and took one and said, "You, sir, are the only good thing that has happened to me in this airport and this country today." It was whiskey and it was marvelous.

 So now I'm outside and it's flipping' freezing and I wait another ten minutes, then I get to my hotel and they comped my meal but after I ordered they said it was only for the buffet. I just laughed and said, bring me the salmon anyway. My waiter, East Indian, came back and said the manager comped the meal. That was the second best thing that happened to me in Merry Old England today.

"You sir, and your flippin' airline are Bloody Bastards."
—What I wanted to say, but never did

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sinking In Topock Marsh and Doing The Norwegian Jig

March 27, 2013

Taking off for Spain tonight. It's a long flight, 14 hours. Meanwhile, inventoried more of the old home movies I had converted into CDs last night. This is The Bell men, my father Allen P., my grandfather Carl Marin and me, in front of Glenn Marvin Bell's apartment in Long Beach, California in 1963:

I remember telling everyone this was a movie camera and we need to move around. So my grandpa starts doing a Norwegian jig:

About this time I had a recurring nightmare: I was walking with my grandfather at Topcok Marsh (across from Needles, California on the Colorado River) and the path we were on was full of quicksand and I kept sinking in up to my waist and my grandfather kept pulling me out. A couple days ago I painted the memory of that feeling:

Daily Whipout #499, "Topock Marsh"

"History is the inaccurate narration of events that shouldn't have happened."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where The Boys Are (hint: where jawbreakders are sold)

March 26, 2013
   Sometimes I'm kind of amazed at some of the people I've met who have impacted the world in ways I had no clue about. When I was doing freelance illustrations for Arizona Highways in the 1980s I attended a patio cocktail party at the editor's house and met the author Glendon Swarthout, who wrote, what became John Wayne's last movie, "The Shootist." I knew he also wrote "Bless The Beasts And Children" but I didn't know this: in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, they ran a feature called "Who Made That" and it said that in 1958 Glendon Swarthout, an English professor at Michigan State University, heard the student buzz about Easter Break at Fort Lauderdale. So, he tagged along, came back and dashed off a novel called "Unholy Spring" (kids used to go home at Spring Break to go to church), but Hollywood persuaded him to change the title to "Where The Boys Are." The resulting movie and the Connie Francis song doubled the amount of kids going in 1960, then it tripled and now it's in the hundreds of thousands and is a national rite of passage. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Speaking of history, I recently had all of our home movies and DVDs converted to CD and last night I was perusing one of the discs and discovered a driving tour of Kingman with my father, Allen P. Bell, in 1996, two years before he died. I basically drove him through Kingman and videotaped him as he showed me where he got his first job (a Shell Station across from Desert Drugs), the houses we lived in and all the businesses from the Stony Wold Motel, White Rock Court, Arcadia Court, Jade Restaurant, Branding Iron, El Trovatore, Hilltop Motel, City Cafe, Bells Motel, The Kingman Motel (being torn down as we drove by), Al Bell's Flying A, Mo Vaughn's Chevron, Whiting Brothers, the Felspar explosion site and several other classic locations that figure prominently in our Mohave County history. It's a little historic tour of Classic Route 66 sites. He gives some dates, like it was February 15, 1956 the first day his Flying A opened for business. And he puts the City Cafe at the mid-forties for being built and said it was one of the first businesses on Hilltop. He also told me he had to sneak into the Lockwood Cafe because if the cook, and owner, saw him, he would give him too much food. Ha.

The Coronado Court Market (at right, above) is where many of the Hualapais kids, like Squibe, Moon and Alex Nish, would stop on the way to school and load up on fireballs and jawbreakers (huge gum concoctions that would, well, break your jaw, because they were so big and so full of sugar a normal person would go into shock upon chewing one).

Whipped out a little study this morning based on the photo of Lee Anderson I took this past weekend at the Festival of the West.

Daily Whipout #499, "In The Corral"

"Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else's can shorten it."
—Cullen Hightower


Monday, March 25, 2013

It's The Hat, Amigo!

March 25, 2013
   Fun day yesterday at the final day of Festival of the West. Check out this shot of Lee Anderson in our booth:

The Vaquero En Boxero

Going to do a drawing or two of this pose. May even end up on a cover. Great look by a great guy. Had some celebrities drop by. Here's Buck and Tammy Montgomery:

This ol' cowboy, George Williams came by and regaled me with stories about ropin' snakes and other cowboy windies. Fun guy. Knows my cousin Billy Hamilton. They roped and rodeoed and drank together.

And we had this bad boy show up as well, Buck Taylor from Gunsmoke and Tombstone fame:

We had dinner at Cartwright's in Cave Creek last night and tore up the art world with our theories. Ha. Buck also gifted me a photo from Cowboys & Aliens where he and his two sons, as scalphunters, open the picture, as they come upon Daniel Craig sitting on the ground. Buck told me they rehearsed the scene for two weeks with Craig's stunt double to block it out (I believe the photo below is of the double). I recently told Buck how much I enjoyed the hat he was wearing in the scene, since it wasn't the usual Hollywood-Gus crease that is so over done now.

So Buck signed the photo, "It's the hat!" Ha. Buck and I also traded Route 66 stories. He traveled it many times with his family going back to Oklahoma from Hollywood.

"You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world."
—William Hazlett

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On The Road vs. On The Commode

March 24, 2013
 On Friday morning I read with interest Bill Goodykoontz's re-review of "On The Road" in the Arizona Republic and ran out on Friday to see it immediately. I really wish I could say I loved it. I think Bill was generous (he gave it three stars out of five) and I thought Bill overall nailed it, but I have to disagree with his opening line "Okay, it's not the book." The problem with the movie is, it IS the book, just the wrong parts of the book.

  The movie begins with the first lines of the book and ends with the very last paragraph being read in voiceover almost exactly—same inflections and pronunciations and gravel voice—as Kerouac read it on the Steve Allen television show. I would guess about 95% of the dialogue in the movie is straight out of the book (I recently read both versions, the cleaned up 1957 version and the Scroll Version with all the real names and real sex).

  The problem is they tried to tell the story of the Beats which is historically accurate but that's not the power of the book (Man, is this ever a warning tale for me and my historically accurate obsessed friends). The reason the book is such a thrill is Kerouac's poetic waxing of his adventures on the road. NONE of his wonderful passages are quoted or narrated in the movie! They took the heart out of the book and filled the void with the setups to getting set to go on the road. Okay, there are some road passages in the film and some scenes are inspired, but they go by quickly and we're back to the city and the relationships of these doomed characters.

  Way too much smoking, drugging and emoting and not enough road adventure is my take away. It may be fun to get high (okay, it's a total blast), but it sure isn't fun to watch people doing it, over and over.

Why would you have Dean Moriarity TELL a braggadocio version of a three-way with a virgin and a black guy when we have already seen what a cocksman he is in almost every other scene in the movie? That is just dumb moviemaking (Rule No. 1: don't tell, show). Wrong narrative choice and just overkill, and besides, by the end of the movie we are so tired of his BS and selfishness (all historically accurate by the way) that when we are supposed to feel for him in his last closeup the actual empathy we have for him is somewhere south of zero. It just plays like bad parody.

  Anyway, just really wrong headed. Oh, and it's way too gay (for mainstream success). Granted it's in the book, but mostly it's hinted at, even in the Scroll Version. I admit there is something perverse about Steve Buscemi playing an uptight traveler who gets his poop chute rammed in a hotel room, but do we have to see it? At that point I thought to myself,  "Well, you just lost the hetero-hotrod crowd." And what are they left with? An empty theatre at Camelview 5 with a cartoonist sitting in the dark wishing he was somewhere else. Now THAT is sad, because I loved the idea of this movie as much as the cats who made it (to paraphrase Jack).

 It's amazing to me how really smart, talented filmmakers (Francis Ford Coppola and Walter Salles!) can lose their way so badly. It's like a rocketship coming back into the earth's atmosphere. If the angle is off by a mere 5 degrees,  the spacecraft will miss the earth completely.  And they missed the magic of On The Road completely. Perhaps they should pull it out of circulation for a second time and retitle it: On The Commode.

   Just a thought.

"As in a dream, we zoomed through small crossroad towns smack out of the darkness and passed long lines of lounging harvest hands and cowboys in the night and were back out there. . .mad drunken Americans in the mighty land."

—Jack Kerouac, On The Road

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Legendary Lew Jones Hits A Milestone

March 23, 2013
After my appearance at Festival of the West today I motored up to Cave Creek for the legendary Lew Jones' 75th B-Day bash at a remote house on Lone Mountain. Here's the dreadlocked B-Day Boy himself. We did the Jones & Boze Radio Show live from the Mineshaft (1997-98) because of this crazy guy. The photo on the wall shows Lew in his racing days. All his former race car driver pals were at the party and told stories on him.

The dreadlocks are fake, the dude is not. The guy is real Cave Creek, before the Yuppie Scum moved in. Lew gave my son, Thomas Charles, his first job, raking the driveway of the Mineshaft. Here they are last year at a dinner party at our house:

Lew officiated the marriage of Thomas and Pattarapan. He also has a cabin next door to William Antrim's outhouse in Mogoloon, New Mexico so he is a God in our house. He is The Man and every story he tells comes back to Sperry somehow. His wife, Tara, is a Saint with a capital S and they broke the mold when he hit the ground. It's an honor to know the dude.

"If you're not confused and discouraged, you're not paying attention."
—Lew Jones

The Crazy, Beautiful People I Meet at Festival of the West

March 23, 2013
I am always amazed at the crazy, beautiful people I meet at the Festival of the West down at Westworld, in Scottsdale. These photos were taken at today's show. First up:

The "Please Lunge Me" Cowgirl

This pretty cowgirl has on a T-shirt that says on the back:
"The kind of girl that needs to be lunged. . ."
I don't know about you but that is kind of a turn on, no?

Meanwhile, these brothers from Maryland and Pennsylvania stopped traffic in front of our booth when they insisted on posing with me:

The Brothers From Another Mother: Quinn Massey of Harrisburg, PA and Charles Pryon of Upper Marlborno, Maryland flank me (I'm the white guy). We posed for so many damn photos I told them they need their own booth. ha.

Got lots of Maniacs coming by:

This is Harry Simpson as Wild Bill Hickok from Pembroke, Massachusetts. He's wearing his True West Maniac badge, which I am pointing at.

More pics tomorrow. Hey, we take you there.

"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate."
—George Burns

Friday, March 22, 2013

Doc Holliday: The Legend in The Sky

March 22, 2013
   Whipped out another Doc Holliday painting this morning before I came into work.

 Daily Whipout #499, "Doc Holliday: Legend in The Sky"

This will be married to a panorama of Leadville by our intrepid Illustrator master Dan The Man Harshberger and composited into the opening spread for The Lost Years of Doc Holliday in Colorado" by Dr. Gary Roberts. Going to be a good piece. Lots of info on Doc's last years. He was much more active than most know.

"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."
—Blaise Pascal

Jeff Hildebrandt Gave Me My Big Break

March 22, 2013
Got the word yesterday that my producer at the Westerns Channel has retired. Here's how he gave me my big break in the biz. Back in 2002 I attended a writer's workshop in Gunnison, Colorado where there were more teachers than students. I called Kathy and told her the trip (I drove there) was a total waste of time. They put us up in dorm rooms and mine smelled like dirty jockstraps.

On Saturday morning they had a field trip and I was asked to choose between a farm visit to see a calf being born or a school bus ride up the mountain to see the ghost town of Tin Cup. I almost left at this point, but at the last moment I chose the school bus ride up the mountain. I sat in the back and talked to Corrine Brown about Old West stuff and she asked me about the movie Tombstone and I told her a couple anecdotes about being on the set. About halfway up the mountain, the bus stopped on a slope and we were all asked to get off. I saw a woman setting up a tripod next to a crumbling log cabin and a guy with the woman asked me to come over and stand in front of the tripod, look into the camera and talk about Tombstone, like I had been doing on the bus.

About fifteen minutes later, he told me to stop and we got back on the bus and resumed our trip. Here are two photos of that brief encounter:

The guy's name is Jeff Hildebrandt and he was the head honcho at the Encore Westerns Channel, and not long after this I started getting phone calls from people saying, "Hey, I saw you on the Westerns Channel." Really? Not long after this my friend, and legendary screenwriter, Jeb Rosebrook (Junior Bonner), was in Denver and he pitched The Western Channel on a film project. Jeff declined but somehow made the leap to having Jeb get me to do what became True West Moments. From that time on, Jeb always refers to himself as my agent. Ha.

The first batch were actually filmed in late 2002 at my house and studio in Cave Creek. Jeff was the producer and director on almost all of the Moments. Over the years we did many shoots at different locations, including Wichita's Old Cowtown, Tombstone, Tucson, Prescott, Festival of the West, Pioneer Living History Museum; Lincoln, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado.

Here we are in Prescott, at the Fort Whipple Buffalo Soldiers House filming a couple segments on The Buffalo Soldiers. This is my view of the camera with the teleprompter over the camera lense. The crew, like all film crews, is hamming it up:

And here's Jeff and I at the Buffalo shoot:

Altogether I think we produced about 75 True West Moments and the best were culled for a DVD, "Bob Boze Bell's Favorite True West Moments."

I'm not sure the Western Channel will continue with the popular feature (I've heard scuttlebutt the suits think there are enough in the can to run for another decade or so). So It may be awhile before I say this on camera again:

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a True West Moment."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

First Day at The Revived Festival of the West

March 21, 2013
   Had a meeting with Ed Reilly of Bronzesmith this morning, then tweaked cover ideas and sent them down to Dan The Man Harshberger, then I took off for The Beast. Dropped my Flex off at Power Ford (used to Lou Grubb Ford) to have my oil changed by Tommy Amorosano (Ken's nephew) and a tire checked. Ken picked me up there and we motored on to the first day of the revived Festival of the West at Westworld in Scottsdale.

  We've got a great booth right next to celebrity stage where I gave a talk at one. We are testing a cover I am curious about using. We put three real issues down next to a fake cover of a subject I want to test. I ask everyone who comes up which cover they would buy on the newsstand. Hint: the fake cover has the words "Soiled Doves" on it. Now don't cheat tomorrow when you come by. I want your honest opinion.

"I guess I just felt safer when Martha Stewart was still in prison."
—Mark Janetti

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight #5 and #6

March 20, 2013
  Hit the wall yesterday. Had great photo reference, thanks to Chad Hays, who modeled the pose I wanted.

But I totally tubed it:

Sometimes having too good of reference stymies the muse. Woke up this morning at 5:45 and bailed into another version:

Daily Whipout #498, "Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight #6"

Tried to give him a little bit of a shopworn look. Sickly and a bit unsteady. A little older than his salad days in Tombstone.

"You know what it's like having five kids? Imagine you're drowning and someone hands you a baby."
—Jim Gaffigan, who has five kids

Monday, March 18, 2013

Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight #4

March 18, 2013
   Went home for lunch and whipped out another Doc Holliday.

Daily Whipout #496, "Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight #4"

Someone commented on the bullet hole in his hat, but it's actually the sun going down on his head.

"The average Westerner will will take offense if you say his father was a crook, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was an outlaw."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight Concepts

March 18, 2013
Spent the weekend working on a cover concept illustrating Doc Holliday's last years in Colorado, which is being written by Doctor Gary Roberts, the foremost expert on Doc. I am going to do "Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight" for Classic Gunfights which was in Leadville, the two miles high mining town. I'm thinking of these headlines:

• Sky High Gunfight

• Two Miles High Gunfight

• Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight
After the OK Corral Fight Doc Landed in Leadville Where the Lead Flew

• Pasty, Cantankerous, Dyin' & Still Willin"
Doc Holliday's Last Years in Colorado

I'm doing a painting of this image (below), but here is the rough sketch which has some potential perhaps all by itself?

Here is my first crack at this idea:

And here is a study to illustrate Doc Holliday's Last Gunfight (The legend, that is):

A little bit of a red nose, but the guy was a roaring alcoholic! Finished this before I came into work this morning. Don't tell anyone but I poached the stance from a poster for the Matrix. Ha. Meanwhile, here is a version I did earlier of this same idea. This is how we WANT to see him, although the reality of his last gunfight is a stumbling, bumbling one-way shootout. Here's another version of the legend::

 Any of these ring your chimes?

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."
—John Cage

Friday, March 15, 2013

The True Westerner Sculpture

March 15, 2013
   I'm looking at our newest sculpture from Bronzesmith which just arrived to us from up in Prescott Valley. Ken Amorosano wanted us to come up with something to go along with our True Westerner Award, a statuette, something akin to the Oscar, that we can hand out once a year. I thought we could do worse than base a statuette off of, what we kiddingly refer to as The Stud With The Gun:

Two problems: you can't see his other hand and it's apparent he must have another pistol in his left hand because he has two empty, cut-down military holsters around his waist. Plus you can't see his boots. So I did this sketch:

And we sent both up the hill to Prescott Valley via The Cloud and Deb Gessner bailed in and came up with this:

This is the  second in a series of award-statuettes. We gave the first one to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana last Saturday night (with their names on it, of course).

Deb Gessner is so good. She's the one who created the ten-foot-clay "Not-So-Gentle Tamer" which we are still raising money for. You can check all that out at:

Not-So-Gentle Tamer Video

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
—Benjamin Franklin

Texas Ranger Border Greeting, No. 2

March 15, 2013
   When is a painting finished?

Well, evidently, not when I say it is. My good friend Richard Ignarski bought this painting yesterday but as I was getting it ready to ship, I thought I could improve it:


Daily Whipout #418, "Texas Ranger Border Greeting"

"Every painter needs another painter standing behind him with a mallet: Stop! It's done! Give it up! Don't make mud!"
—Walter Henn, the late artist and husband of Nora Henn, Lincoln New Mexico

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Legend of Low Pants Janc

March 14, 2013
   A couple years ago I created a True West Moment for the Arizona Republic that featured a guy I remembered growing up with who was known as "Low Pants Vance."

At least that's how I remembered it. After this ran I got a call from a guy who told me I must have been thinking of, not Vance, but "Low Pants Janc." The lightbulb went off. Yes, that is the name! I knew it didn't sound quite right, but the rhyme was so great (plus none of my Kingman compadres could remember either name, so there you go). Anyway, here's Jerry's annual photo from 1958:

And here's my take on him from memory:

Daily Whipout #416, "The Legend of Low Pants Janc"

Now, the story gets even better. According to the caller, Jerry died young from drinking, but he married someone who has become a very successful author:

"My ambitions to become a writer were frustrated in college and later, first because the professor who taught creative writing at the University of Arizona in those days thought girls 'ought to be teachers or nurses' rather than writers.  After he refused me admission to the program, I did the next best thing: I married a man who was allowed in the program that was closed to me.  My first husband imitated Faulkner and Hemingway primarily by drinking too much and writing too little.  Despite the fact that he was allowed in the creative writing program, he never had anything published either prior to or after his death from chronic alcoholism at age forty-two.  That didn’t keep him from telling me, however, that there would be only one writer in our family, and he was it."
—JA Jance

The Legendary McMurtry Waxes Effusively On Honkytonk Sue

March 14, 2013
   Haven't had time to report on our gala party at La Paloma Resort in Tucson last Saturday night. We presented our first True Westerner Award to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and upon receiving the award, Larry talked at length about his adventures writing the first three scripts for my cartoon creation Honkytonk Sue. I was quite honored as you can see in photo (Perhaps stunned is a better description).

March 9, 6:47 P.M.: Cottonwood Room, La Paloma Resort, Tucson. Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry receive the first True Westerner Award.

This morning, I got this report from Tom VanDyke who wrote "Cowboy Christmas" and attended the Tucson Festival of Books Author Presentation the next day (Tom also took the above photo):

"FYI. Mary and I attended the Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana author's presentation on Sunday. Approximately 1500—2000 people in attendance. 

"Larry's opening remarks after thanking the Tucson Festival of Books for inviting him and Diana to present was to go on for the next five minutes about how good it was to have the opportunity to meet his old friend Bob Boze Bell and how proud he was to to receive the True West Magazine, 2013 True Westerner Award.  He went on to talk about meeting Bob when he was a cartoonist. He just keep going about this and that, talking about the screenplays he wrote for a story Bob had written.  He was most animated and enthusiastic in his recollections and in  receiving the award.  Thought you would like to know."
—Tom VanDyke

"That is Larry Flippin' McMurtry talking about a character I created in our spare bedroom on West MacKenzie."
—The thought running through my head when the above photo was taken

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Praise of Authentic Jugs

March 13, 2013
   The presentation of our first True Westerner Award last Saturday night in Tucson was a hoot and a half. Got to talk to both Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana which was fun. I asked Diana how she met McMurtry and she said they met at the Catfish House out on Ruthrauff Road and I did a doubletake because that is where I played in a honkytonk band in the late seventies. The same building was then known as The Hayloft and it was in that bar that I drew the first sketch that would become my cartoon character Honkytonk Sue's best friend Donna Jean.

   Went home for lunch and found this sketchbook page:

In case you didn't know, Larry McMurtry and Leslie Marmon Silko wrote three scripts on Honkytonk Sue for Columbia Pictures in the early eighties. So the fact that McMurtry would meet his next writing partner in the same building where I created my cartoon honkytonk world is pretty sweet. Small world, yes?

Meanwhile, while I was home for lunch I whipped out this little sketch, utilizing the authentic jug I bought yesterday at the Rattlesnake Ranch east of Tombstone:


Daily Whipout #445, "Jugs Iced Free #4"

Notice how much more authentic the jug is and how it gives heft and gravitas to the scene. It makes me feel like I could tap that spigot, drain the warm water, fill it with clean ice cubes and top it off in 15 seconds flat.

"Thanks for shopping Flying A ma'am. Drive safe and come back and see us on the way back thru."
—The 66 Kid

Doc Holliday's iFlask

March 13, 2013
   Last Sunday we rolled into Tombstone and landed at the Palace Saloon for a drink (coffee actually). Ran into these two well known ne'er-do-wells—Ike Clanton and Doc Holliday. Doc appears to be carrying a flask:

But when the errant Knight of the Green Cloth turned around the flask is actually:

An iFlask! Ha.

"This is funny."
—Doc Holliday

Treasures From Rattlesnake Ranch

March 13, 2013
   Back from a long weekend field trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and Cochise County. On the way back yesterday, my regional sales manager, Greg Carroll, and I decided to take a detour and visit the Rattlesnake Ranch which is closing down after a 33 year run.

   The ranch is on the Gleeson Road, down a dirt road, east of Tombstone in the South Pass area. John and his wife Sandy quit the corporate world in Chicago and landed out here in the middle of semi-nowhere in 1979. John is 80 and needs to be closer to old age amenities so they are selling everything and moving to Sierra Vista. John was doing a brisk business selling off his stock when we pulled up about ten in the morning, but I got him to stand still for a moment:

John and Sandy definitely have some treasures. Check out this gun display:

I bought a rusted shotgun out of this assemblage ($20) because it reminded me of the legendary "Twilight Zone" episode where a pioneer (Cliff Robertston) with a sick child is transported forward in time to the 1950s, gets medicine for his son, gets chased by a cop back to the sand dune where he disappears in the wind just after dropping his rifle. The policeman runs to the top of the dune, sees no one, reaches down and picks up a rusted rifle with the stock rotted away and Rod Serling comes on and explains the unexplainable.

That's why I bought the shotgun.

I also bought one of these puppies ($35):

The 1876 Winchester on the right (it's actually a squib but I don't care. Just dig it and want it in my studio). The Rattlesnake Ranch is not without irony. Here is part of the "Camera Graveyard":

I still have my "State of The Art" Sony camcorder (upper right) which I bought for $1,500. Sign of the times—everything State of The Art eventually becomes ghost town junk.

But the crown jewel of my purchases was a dilly. For the past couple years I have been noodling a painting "Jugs Iced Free" which pays homage to my first job at my father's gas station where I iced jugs for free (and tips).

The problem is I was faking the jug from memory. I kept thinking, Dang, I need to find a real jug from the 1950s with all the bells and whistles on it. Where in the hell will I find THAT?!

Well, Rattlesnake John had one and I snatched it up for $25:

Here is the Royal Jug with the spigot at the bottom and the classic wooden handle. Just really a treasure, to me.

"One man's junk is another's treasure."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Town Too Full of Idiots to Thrive

March 11, 2013
  Had a great day at the Tucson Festival of Books. Met some great people, heard some good news: Jeff Guinn, who wrote the New York Times best seller "The Last Gunfight" about Tombstone told us the New York Publishers are scrambling to sign up Western authors and he predicts a big boom in westerns in the next two years.

  On Saturday night we feted Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana at La Paloma Resort, presenting them our first True Westerner Award. Photos and details to follow.

  Left Tucson at one on Sunday with my regional sales director Greg Carroll for a road trip to Cochise County. Our first stop was Tombstone to meet the folks. That poor town. Most of the people there love the Old West and want to do good, but the town is cursed with an inordinate amount of idiots who just don't get it. My heart goes out to the ones who try to make a difference. The guy at the Crystal Palace is a saint, so is Bob Love down at the O.K. Corral, Terry Ike Clanton, Stephen Keith, April Hinton and her Temperence gang. We met some great guys who are doing a theater show at Doc Holliday's Gunfight Palace next to the Birdcage. Talented guys who put on a very good show. It's their passion to keep the history alive. We need to support them.

  From Tombstone we motored down through the Mule Mountains and landed in Warren where there is a classic Victorian just south of Bisbee. Ate at A Taste of Italy last night and it was very good. Met the "Hugging Mayor" a 92 year old woman who still drives and is sharp as a tack. She, of course, hugged us both (I personally got four hugs during our dinner). She had great stories about all the infighting and politics going back to the 1920s! And then she drove off into the night—at 92! Need to do a story on her. Meetings all day today in Bisbee and we return to Cave Creek in the morning.

"Tombstone would be a good town if you could have six funerals, and name 'em!"
—A Tombstoner who shall remain nameless

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Synchronicity And The Renting of Pigs

March 10, 2013
As I look at my most recent post in my room at La Paloma Resort in Tucson I see there have been 66 views. How ironic and symbolic (66 views as I write notes on my memories of growing up on Route 66 and I turned 66 last December). I'm not sure it amounts to anything but I do take note of these things.

  Had another synchronicity moment last night when I presented a True Westerner award to Larry McMurtry and Dianna Ossana in the Cottonwood Room here at the resort.  Before the ceremony I asked Diana how she and McMurtry met and she told me she met him at the Catfish House out on Ruthrauff Road. This resonated with me because I used to play in a honkytonk band in the same building when it was called The Hayloft. In fact it was in this very establishment when I was on a break I sketched a local honkytonker who would become Donna Jean in my comic strip Honkytonk Sue which ran in National Lampoon in 1977 and which McMurtry and Leslie Marmon Silko wrote three drafts of a script for Goldie Hawn some four years later. That same year—'77—Diana had just arrived in Tucson seven months pregnant and lived in her van for a year. Her eventual partnership with McMurtry led to an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain" and numerous movies and mini series. How's that for three degrees of Lonesome Dove?

"A man that ain't willin' to cheat for a poke don't want it bad enough."
—Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Friday, March 08, 2013

Day of The Dead And Night of The Lone Light

March 8, 2013
  Big rain storm hit this morning in Cave Creek. Dropping snow up north. Ken, Greg, Meghan and I are headed down to Tucson later today for the Tucson Book Festival this weekend. Supposed to rain down there as well.

   Found a scratchboard logo I did for a certain radio morning show that broadcast live out of the Mineshaft Restaurant in Cave Creek in the late 90s.

Actually, Gregg Clancy, the local T-shirt guy (Strawberry Fields) had it in his files and brought it to me during our meeting with Eric Flatt at Tonto on Wednesday. Decent likeness. Ha. Actually David K. Jones and his wife Tera hated this concept and I don't think we ever used it. I found that odd because the Jones clan are big fans of The Day of The Dead, but they thought this portrayed a negative image of the show. Two Dead Guys on the radio. Really?

Oh, and by the way, the show has now been dead for 15 years, so prophetic, no?

Meanwhile, been noodling more Lone Light studies. Did this one earlier in the week:

Daily Whipout, "Played Out"

And, another one. . .

"Lone Light In Golden Valley"

And finished a similar one this morning:

Daily Whipout, "Darkest Before Dawn"

And yesterday I whipped out this Route 66 memory:

 This is a rough stretch of Route 66 east of Peach Springs. I'm aiming at capturing that early roadway phenom of heatwaves eating away the roadway on the horizon with an approaching car seemingly floating on air. Not quite there yet, but I aim to get it.

"People in flight along 66. And the concrete road shone like a mirror under the sun, and in the distance the heat made it seem that there were pools of water in the road."
—John Steinbeck, "Grapes of Wrath"