Friday, May 30, 2014

Powhatan Clarke Revisited

May 30, 2014
   We are doing a big feature on the Arizona Medal of Honor recipients in the next issue (August), which is part of a big show currently on display at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe (in Papago Park on the Curry side):

   One of the Medal of Honor recipients is the subject of a recent blog post about his father, who I discovered while visiting my son in Baltimore:

Powhatan Clarke, Sr. in a painting at the Maryland Historical Society Museum

   His son earned the Medal of Honor in Arizona. Here is my take on him, poached from a Frederic Remington rendering of Powhatan:

Lt. Powhatan Clarke and his Apache Scouts by BBB aping Remington.

   And here is a real Remington illustration that made soldier Clarke famous to the folks back east:
Frederic Remington's depiction of Lt. Powhatan H. Clarke rescuing Corporal Edward Scott of the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers and earning the Medal of Honor during the Apache Wars. And here is Lt. Clarke wearing his medal:

Lt. Powhatan Clarke, circa 1886. He earned the medal for his heroic actions on May 3, 1886 during the Geronimo Campaign. This photo is courtesy Heritage Auctions.

   And here's my take on the artist who painted Powhatan in the field:

BBB's Remington doing a Daily Whipout

"Ah, Arizona where young men are full of enthusiasm and old men are full of whiskey."
—Frederic Remington

Toasting The Hat That Is Toast

May 30, 2014
   AC in the studio is out. Had to call Desert Foothills Air Conditioning and then wait for a technician. One came around 9:30 and found out it was simply a breaker issue. Amazing how nice it feels in here with the cooler going.

   HAT NEWS: I brought one of my straws to Baltimore for T's graduation. Was tempted to bring one of my good felts, but after the graduation we were going to the beach in Dewey, Delaware and I was afraid I would ding the dang thing too much.

   Unfortunately, the brim on the straw went entirely flat, perhaps from the eastcoast humidity, although it didn't seem all that bad. I tried reshaping the brim, but it just got worse. Here we are on the last day in Baltimore, having shots in a harbor saloon near where T. Charles works at V-No (a wine bar, get it?):

Pattarapan and Kathy toast the guy wearing the hat that is toast.

   I'm embarrassed at how squirrelly the dang brim looks. Brought it into Watson's Cave Creek Hat Shop yesterday for emergency care. Could be expensive but I don't care. I want my hats to be happy.

"Hat's off to ya."
—Old Vaquero Greeting

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Powhatan Clarke's Old Man

May 29, 2014
   So, last week I'm in Baltimore at the Maryland Historical Society Museum and I see a big painting of a dude named Powhatan Clarke, and I send a text to Professor Paul Andrew Hutton who is writing a major book on the Apaches and ask him if this guy is related to the Powhatan Clarke who Remington drew and used as a model in the Apache Wars.

A BBB sketch from a photograph that Frederic Remington took of Powhatan Clarke.

  Hutton writes back and says, no, our Powhatan was from Louisiana. Gee, what are the odds? I think to myself. Oh, well.

   Today, I get this cryptic email from Hutton:

"BBB: I just came across a newspaper interview with Powhatan Clarke that mentions that his father PH Sr. was a famous professor in Baltimore."
—Paul Hutton

Powhatan Clarke, Sr. from the Baltimore Historical Society Museum

"Nothing is stranger than the truth."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Million Ways to Fail Making A Good Western

May 28, 2014
   Thanks to my movie critic pal, Henry Beck, Kathy and I got to see a sneak preview of Seth MacFarlane's new Western, "A Million Ways to Die In The West." We saw it last night down at Tempe Marketplace (Harkins) and everyone in that theater wanted this film to work, which was cool. You could feel it.

   So, what's the verdict? Well, straight up, it's very funny (in parts) too long (two hours!) and at times doesn't know what kind of film it wants to be: the bad guy (Liam Neesam) gets an overly serious, not-funny-at-all, introduction-set-piece so we can see how bad-ass he is, but it totally takes us out of the non-stop satire. Picture a scene from "The Oxbow Incident" showing up in the beginning of "Blazing Saddles." This is eerily similar to what happened in last year's Lone Ranger when they tried to set up the bad guy with a gory scene of death and mutilation. And, I would venture, they both failed to create the desired effect: it's such a cliche, we're not in the mood to believe it, plus it isn't funny, so why's it even in there?

  As tennis great Rod Laver put it, "Go to the net, or stay behind the baseline—don't get caught in the middle." And in this case, we're smack-dab-in-the-middle of Clicheville: we've got cliche bad guys doing cliche stunts in a cliche setting (Hey guys, at this point, there must be some other location in the West BESIDES Monument Valley!). Plus, I am so tired of Bonanza Creek (outside Santa Fe) as a go to Western set (it was used extensively in "Cowboys & Aliens" and "The Lone Ranger" and now here). It's a piddly set, unworthy of a big, Western. Tired stuff, all done with great affection and respect, of course, but it's killing the genre deader than a door nail.

Charleze Theron is actually very good in this. Somehow, she manages to pull off a very difficult role and make it fly.

   Here's the review in Variety, which is dead on (sticking with the "Die" theme):

A Million Ways to Bomb In The West

"What you don’t expect from MacFarlane is a genteel, weightless genre parody that, even with its de rigueur parade of dick and fart jokes, is unlikely to offend anyone born after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral."
—Scott Foundas, Variety

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A New Billy the Kid CDV Has Surfaced

May 27, 2014

   We have long suspected that after Billy the Kid's fame grew after his death, someone probably made a CDV of the tintype to sell. Now one has surfaced from the Silver City area and Brian Lebel is going to auction it off next month.

A new version of the Billy the Kid tintype: Label estimates it will go for $8K to $10K. Want to go halfsies on it?

For more information, go to:

Brian Lebel’s

 Old West Show & Auction

 June 27th – 29th 2014

 Denver, Colorado

 Celebrating our 25th Anniversary

"He's back!"

—The Regulators

Monday, May 26, 2014

Get Ready for a new series to be called "Gunslingers"

May 26, 2014
   On our last day in Baltimore, my son drove us up to Hampden for breakfast at the Golden West Cafe. Had the local version of huevos rancheros, complete with a banana slice:

it was good, but the tortilla was store bought. I told my kids I couldn't live in a place where you can only get store bought tortillas. Unfortunately, that includes most of New Mexico. Afterwards, we walked around the neighborhood, which is quite funky-hippie.

I believe this is Cafe Hon, which was another eating place on the street.

  Just got invited to attend the premiere of "Gunslingers" a new mult-part docudrama series on a new channel—The Military Channel is changing their name to The American Heroes Channel—and they are launching the whole deal with this series, which I worked on. Here was my view last summer on a hot day, outside Santa Fe:

The Bonanza Creek set of "Gunslingers," where I channeled my best, poached Larry Ball factoids on Tom Horn, among others, and, the resulting stew, which will premiere on July 29 on the new American Heroes Channel should be a hoot.

In addition to the launch of the TV show I've also got to start getting ready to launch my own book, "The 66 Kid," which will premiere on August 14 at the Powerhouse in Kingman.

Lots of media to line up and it's almost as difficult as doing the actual book (and even more haphazard!). it ain't easy to be heard in a crowded marketplace. Or, as James Parker put it so succinctly in Sunday's New York Times:

"You [must] find new formats, new gimmicks, new shows to be on, new ways to prickle or perforate the oblivious disregard in which America holds you, the dark night of your unfamousness."
—James Parker

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More French Remingtons

May 24, 2014
   On Thursday Kathy and I walked from T's apartment to the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore. Yes, named for George Washington. The monument for the father of our country is currently under rennovation:

The Baltimore Washington Monument in Baltimore

   The area is also very rich in old buildings:

A Baltimore church in the Mount Vernon area, built circa 1876

We visited two museums in the area. One was the Maryland Historical Society Museum where they had a very good Civil War show and then we walked over to the Walters Museum where I discovered a couple of very cool gems on the fourth or fifth floor:

"Italian Brigands Surprised by Papal Troops," by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet, 1831

The text says Italy was plagued by stagecoach robberies in the frontier regions and this painting portrays a Papal posse rounding up some outlaws in the process of robbing the stage and carrying off  bootie and booty. The dude on horseback, center, is a dead ringer for Custer, and the brigand he is about to shoot in the head is almost a perfect Joaquin Murrietta. Great action and good horse flesh and this predates Freddy Remington by fifty years!

It gets better: around the corner from this painting is another French action masterpiece:

Another French guy predating Kid Colt Comics by a century (sorry, didn't write down his name or the date). Noticing the muzzle flashes, something I thought was pioneered with Kid Colt, Sgt Rock, and the 1950s comics, but no, here it is in the early 1800s. The modern day acolyte of this effect is Andy Thomas who seems to love the muzzle flash and uses it in many of his paintings of Billy the Kid and Mickey Free, etc.. Charlie Russell used it sparingly, and I don't recall any Remingtons utilizing the muzzle flash. Can you?

Anyway, I'm always amazed at how there is not much new under the sun, but these two gems take the cake in that department, proving for the umpeenth time Chaucer's line, "Out of old fields comes all the new corn."

"some [bullets] come with a sharp 'click', like striking a cabbage leaf with a whip lash, others come with a screech, very much such as you would get by treading on a cat's tail."
—Wilbur Fisk, 2nd Vermont infantry, at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June, 1864

Gettysburg and Devils Den

May 24, 2014
   When I was a lad in school, I often got in trouble for talking too much and would sometimes be sent to the library, of all places, which was intended as a punishment but actually inspired me. While nosing around the stacks at Mohave County Union High School, on one of these solitary confinements I discovered a book full of Mathew Brady Civil War photographs. I loved them all, but I especially loved one photo in particular: a dead Rebel sharpshooter in a battlefield location known as Devil's Den. This photograph haunted me. The sharpshooter looked so young. I made a vow to someday stand on that exact spot which was at Gettysburg in a spot known as Devil's Den.

   Well, yesterday afternoon, I finally got to stand on the exact spot:

A lifetime dream to stand in Devi's Den on the Gettysburg Battlefield. The famous photograph is on the plaque, but unfortunately, it's washed out in the sunlight. Also, I believe it was Gardner who took the photo, not Brady, but in those old books it seemed like Mathew Brady got credit for more than he took (or, I was a careless reader and assumed it was Brady).

Of course there were other nearby places I was dying to see and stand on, like Little Round Top, The Peach Orchard and Seminary Ridge and they were all thrilling to finally see with my own eyes. This is the Confederate view from Warfield Ridge, looking across at Sickle's position on the extreme left of the Union line:

Longstreet's view from what is known today as West Confederate Avenue. Of course every square inch of the battlefield is documented—and still fought over—with dueling memorials, statues and plaques cluttering up the roadsides like a back woods yard sale, but what is so vivid when you walk the sprawling acreage is the realization that all the Rebels were fighting on ground they had never seen before and it's probably safe to say, most of the Yanks weren't familiar with the ground either. I suppose this is true of every battlefield, but the juxtaposition of random geography being utilized by giant, moving armies, with the leaders making decisions on the fly and today all those same, random spots are sanctified and carved in marble, is pretty profound.

The Visitor Center had very good displays and the film narrated by Morgan Freeman is most excellent, but the mind blower for me was the 360 degree panorama painting of the battle done by a French painter, Paul Dominique Philippoteaux. Here's just a small portion of the huge painting:

Known as the French Master of the Cyclorama, Philippoteaux, did at least eight other colossal canvases in the late 1800s, some on other battles—one in Egypt— and he is very, very good. There is not one weak rendering of horse or man in the entire epic sweep (and believe me, I was looking for one). Here's another portion of the canvas depicting cannon being brought up to the front lines:

The restoration of this epic painting is a story in itself. The painting moved around and then was cut up into smaller paintings and much of the rest was in ragged shape when they started to reassemble the thing in the 1950s. I don't even know how you would have moved the original, or how Mr. P. could have painted it unless he had a railroad roundhouse as a studio. Why this dude isn't more famous I don't know. It's a masterful, tour de force.

"War does not determine who is right—only who is left."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quote The Ravens Nevermore

May 22, 2014
  We woke up to a slight mist in Baltimore this morning. This is the view from T. Bell's third story, loft bedroom (the kids are letting mom and dad use their bedroom):

Good morning Baltimore!

It's misting out which is just heaven to a Zonie. Here's a closer look:

Baltimore in the morning: that's M&T Bank Field, where the Ravens play, at left.

Lounged around and had coffee. Pattarapan made Thai porridge before she left for work. Since Tomas is now a graduate he has a ton of job interviews. Here he is putting on a tie while his mama irons his pants:

Mama said there would be days like this.

   I'm tempted to say he's still mother dependent, but at least she's helping him, while his father sits on his big, fat ass and blogs about it. Here's the posed version:

You missed a spot, Mama.

   Going to go to Gettysburg tomorrow. Decided to walk around and look at art and be tourists in Baltimore. Speaking of which, last Friday we drove by Edgar Allan Poe's old house which is about a block from T's apartment:

Bill Glenn and T. Bell (in his graduation gown) in front of Poe's house, circa 1834.

   It just dawned on me, are the Baltimore Ravens named for Poe's famous poem? Really? I never realized this. A football team named after a poem?! That is crazy cool.

"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'"
—Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dewey Beach, The Hustler Club & My Thai in Baltimore

May 21, 2014
   Spent a couple days off the grid in Dewey Beach, Delaware right on the Atlantic Ocean. Drove through the capitol of Dover on Sunday. Stopped for gas then found a great little place called The Governor's Cafe in an old house. Believe it or not, had coffee and B-52 shots:

The Governor's Cafe in downtown Dover, Delaware

Landed in Dewey, Delaware at about three. Kathy rented us an upstairs funky apartment space right on the beach:

Our Dewey Beach House

Walked on the beach, sketched, made notes for a new project, solved life, played cards and ate good food at Fin's Seafood and Raw Bar in Rehoboth Beach and The Starboard in Dewey Beach. Left this morning at ten and traveled down the coast to Ocean Beach, also in Delaware and walked the boardwalk and posed on the pier:

Our gang on Ocean Beach Pier: Sci, Thomas, Pattarapan, Maliwan, Kathy and BBB

Had lunch a Seacrets, right on the water, then drove back to Baltimore via Annapolis. Landed back at Tommy's apartment in the city. And decided to go out for Thai noodles at about six:

Downtown Baltimore in rush hour rain.

Fought our way through The Block, which is a notorious skin bar area right next to the police station:

Larry Flint's Hustler Club on The Block in downtown Baltimore

Landed at My Thai Restaurant on Central Ave.

Tommy puts in parking meter fees while the girls run for a table in the rain.

Long day traveling but got back to T's place at about 8:30. Thinking of going to Gettysburg tomorrow.

"How can you live in that first draft world?"
—An old writer at seeing Facebook and Social Media for the first time

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chadds Ford Pays Off

May 18, 2014
  We flew east last Thursday to witness the graduation of Thomas Charles Bell from the Masters program at the University of Maryland on Friday:

The guest graduation speaker was Wes Moore, who you will be hearing more from in the future.

Afterwards we motored down to Jeff & Patty's house in Severn, where we partied on the patio:

Tom Bell's graduation party

The next day, we drove to Philadelphia and I saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall for the first time. Also, the Philly Art Museum where Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) ran up the steps. Everyone, I mean everyone runs up the steps and does the victory dance at the top.

Afterwards we went to a great restaurant in China Town:

Dinner at Dim Sum Garden in Philadelphia: left to right T. Bell, Kendra and Jeremy, Kathy, Maliwan, Sci and Pattarapan.

This morning we drove out to Chadds Ford where we saw a bunch of paintings by this guy:

A certain artist dressed as a cowboy in Colorado in 1904

Got to visit his house and studio, which was a thrill:

BBB in front of NC's studio

Great little details, like these death masks:

Death masks in NC's studio, bottom one is of Lincoln which had been removed for a display in the museum showing the artist's props.

And here he is painting in his studio:

NC painting in his large studio on a hill in Chadds Hill.

I'm reading "Treasure Island" so it was great to see so many of his original paintings that were created for the book.

NC Wyeth's most famous work, is probably the paintings for "Treasure Island"

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest—Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
—Long John Silver's familiar tune

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The River Dance Boy

May 17, 2014
   Yesterday, a certain kid from Arizona brought his Zanie Zonie antics to the Lyric Auditorium in Baltimore, Maryland:

The River Dance Boy


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Kid In The Crazy Hat

May 14, 2014
    I am leaving town tomorrow to attend Thomas Charles Bell's graduation ceremony in Baltimore (he has earned his Master's Degree) on Friday. This prompted Deb Gessner driving down from Prescott Valley this morning with the Billy the Kid sculpture in progress. Ed Reilly at Bronzesmith sent me jpeg images of the work yesterday, but after a round of changes, Ed thought Deb and I would work it out faster if we were in the same place at the same time. So Deb came in after our Design Review meeting at 11 this morning to work on it. After an initial pow wow, she started revamping the face while I went next door to Janie's to order out for lunch.

Deb Gessner rebuilds the Kid's facial features while I eat lunch and chirp in know-it-all suggestions.

   After nailing the face (Deb got his eyes just so), we went over the enigma of his hat (so odd looking, crazy crease, distorted crown) and tried to make sense of the whole thing, giving it style, but at the same time trying to be true to the damn photograph. Not an easy thing to do:

Deb builds up the hat brim on the Kid's hat while I hold my breath.

Deb deals with the crazy crease in the Kid's lid

"Teachers may come where you don't look for them."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

So, Who's Kidding Whom?

May 13, 2014
  Dan The Man came up with another PPP (proposed promotional postcard):

The 66 Kid will premiere on August 14, 2014 at the Powerhouse in Kingman. Go to for more details.

   Need to get back in the patina business. You know, stuff like this:

Daily Whipout, "Patina #1986"

   Also working on a ride for the TV documentary. My good buddy Steve Wahl came by yesterday. He's got this cherry ride:

Steve Wahl's 1956 Ford

One Baby Boomer In Denial
   I have definitely turned another corner on "old." Last weekend there was an article in the Republic about a popular professor at the University of Arizona who is retiring. After talking about his quaint ways and extolling his long tenure, the article ended by saying he started teaching at the U of A way back in 1996.

   Last Friday when I was waiting in the doctor's lobby for my stress test all these old farts came in and were hobbling around and complaining about everything. I couldn't believe how old and crotchety they were. One of the oldest and feeblest lurched up to the window and the nurse asked him about his insurance and finally his birth date. He said he was born in 1949. The old fart is three years YOUNGER than me!

So Who's Kidding Whom?
"De Nile is more than a river in Egypt."
—Old Vaquero Saying