Sunday, May 31, 2015

Westies First Time On A Bus

May 31, 2015
   I'm in Pasadena where I go on a daily "suitcase walk' with this guy. He's almost two and has opinions on where and how to walk around town. G Pa goes with the flow, although I must say that suitcase is worthless for carrying anything practical.

Headin' out with my plasteic, rolling suitcase.

Sometimes on these walks I just sit down and stare at big white trucks
 for fifteen minutes because when you get right down to it, I am easily entertained.

I don't know why but I am just mesmerized by the sculptures of Rodin.

 I've never ridden a bus and Grandma Ha Ha thinks it's a good idea.

Now that I'm on a bus, I'm not so sure I want to be on a bus.

"Is that Mistress Mouse?"
—Weston pointing at his favorite character from "Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go." 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ghost Riders In The Sky Inspiration

May 29, 2015
   Got up this morning and took a stab at the inspiration for a classic Western tune. As the story goes, a 9-year-old boy and an old cowpoke were oiling a windmill when a big storm roared in and little Stan Jones was afraid. The cowpoke, Capp Watts, told the boy, "Don't be afraid, it's only the clouds stampeding and the ghost riders will get them rounded up. . ."

    Daily Whip Out: "Ghost Riders In The Sky Inspiration (that I love)"

      The problem is ol' Stan told a different story every time he was asked where the inspiration came from. This is from a new book on "The Life of Stan Jones: The Singing Ranger—Ghost Riders In The Sky" by Michael K. Ward. Interesting cat. I recommend the book, published by Rio Nuevo. Sometimes ol' Capp is on a ridge and Stan rides up to him, another time, well, here's a good example:

"Well, the idea for 'Riders in the Sky' came from an old Indian Legend which was first told to me when I was about, oh, twelve years old."
—Stan Jones on the radio being interviewed by Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1950

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Short Goes Long

May 28, 2015
   Went home for lunch and took another crack at Mr. Short.  At least he's reaching for a pistol, instead of his, well, you know.

 Daily Whip Out: "Luke Short Draws Iron In Front of The Oriental Saloon In Tombstone"

"The deeper we search, the more we find there is to know, and as long as human life exists I believe that it will always be so."
—Albert Einstein

Crossing The Line (If You Can Find it)

May 28, 2015
   Had a history talk last night at Cartwrights, next door. Full house, sold out. Did a slide show on "Wyatt Earp In Hollywood: The Untold Story." This time the slide presentation worked!  Sold 15 books. We all had fun.

   Got up this morning and took another pass at Luke Short before I came into the office. Unfortunately, I wandered into the Land-of-Unintended-Consequences:

Daily Whip Out: "Luke Short Pulls Iron" or "Luke Short Zips Up"

Heading for Pasadena tomorrow to do research on this guy:

  Charles Lummis, 1888

Crossing The Line
"I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."—George Carlin

"There’s a line somewhere that should never be crossed, but nobody knows where it is."
—Stephen Harrigan in his review of "Texas Rising" in Texas Monthly magazine

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Whip Out Too Far

May 27, 2015
   Spent the last couple of mornings trying to do two things: capture a good drawing of the windmill Stan Jones allegedly was on when he got the inspiration—from the ol' cowpoke Capp Watts—to write "Ghost Riders In The Sky" and a good likeness of Luke Short.

Daily Whip Outs: "Stan Jones and Capp Watts Atop A Douglas, Arizona Windmill"

Daily Whip Outs: "More Windmills & Luke Short & Friend"

Tried to do a color version, which failed:

Daily Whip Out: "Luke Short Ends Up As Piece of Crap"

Did another one before I came into work this morning, but overworked it, as well:

Daily Whip Out: "Luke Short Draws Iron No. 1"

   I'm also studying the films of William Surrey Hart, as part of my history talk tonight at Cartwrights, next door. If you've ever seen W.S. Hart flicks, you know he overacts to the point of absurdity. Hard to believe he was a big star, but he was.

Mister Subtle—William S. Hart (center)

Although he was a huge star and tried to be realistic in his portrayals, here is a quote from a review of his first movie, "His Hour of Manhood" (1914)

"[the film] is weakened by a mess of melodramatic happenings that are absolutely uninteresting."
Movie Picture World, July, 1914

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Battle of The Bulls

May 26, 2015
   Working today on a new True West Moment:

The Battle of The Bulls
In November of 1846, the so-called Mormon Battalion encountered wild cattle along the banks of the San Pedro River at a place called "The Narrows." Aroused by the invaders, several bulls charged the column, tipping over wagons and killing two mules and injuring two soldiers. Stunned by the aggressive nature of the beasts, the soldiers loaded their rifles and charged the chargers, killing between 10 and 15 of the wild cattle. The soldiers sarcastically named the encounter the "Battle of the Bulls."

Daily Whip Out: "Bulls Attack No. 1"

Daily Whip Out: "Bulls Attack No. 2"

Of course, drawing these vicious bulls reminds me of our 2008 trip to Peru to visit Tommy Bell in the Peace Corp. He took us to a Peruvian bull fight, where we saw a very unique version of bull fighting:

In the high country of Peru the bulls fight each other (as it should be).

"Possibilities are numerous once we decide to act."
—George Bernard Shaw

Monday, May 25, 2015

Judging Art & Other Blasphemies

May 25, 2015
  Spent the weekend in Prescott for the 41st annual Phippen Art Show & Festival. On Saturday I was on the jury to name the top three winners in seven catagories and also best of show. Fortunately, I got to share the burden with a sculptor—Ken Rowe—and this guy:

Edmundo Mell and his wife Rose Marie at the Phippen banquet

   The night before, on Friday, we roamed Whiskey Row, having a drink at the Jersey Lilly, above the Palace,  and then catching a co-op art show, where some very talented kids kicked out the jams for tips.

Jammin' for tips on Whiskey Row

   I threw in a five in the tip jar and when we got outside, I asked Kathy what she threw in and she said, "A ten." I had to laugh. It was either the drink we had at the Jersey Lilly, or we both have a soft spot for kids who are out there trying.

   Mark Lee Gardner just shared with me a photo he found online that is pretty amazing if you have ever wondered what Billy the Kid's bibbed shirt with the anchor on it, looks like:

Anchors Away!

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."
—Old bible saying

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sam Peckinpah's Pancho Villa

May 22, 2015
   One of the wonderful perks of my gig is to have contact information on most of the prime authors and researchers in our field. When I mentioned in a recent blog post that Sam Peckinpah was co-credited with the screenplay for "Villa Rides" (1968) I wondered about the rest of the story.

A sneak peek at our Pancho In Pictures splash page in the next issue of True West.

So I contacted Paul Seydor. We ran an excerpt from Paul's new book "The Authentic Death & Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: The Untold Story of Peckinpah's Last Western Film." So I asked him and here is his reply:

"Sam wrote an early version of the script; Brynner read it and said Peckinpah knew nothing about Mexico (!) and demanded Peckinpah be replaced. End of Sam’s involvement, though a lot of his research thereafter informed The Wild Bunch screenplay, which he turned to next. That was the silver lining in this particular cloud and I have always been glad Brynner had him removed. If this hadn’t happened, there would likely be no Wild Bunch, and that would have been a true tragedy—an incalculable loss."
—Paul Seydor

The Bandit General Meets Texas Rising

May 22, 2015
   Still working on faces of Division del Norte, the boys of the Pancho Corp:

Daily Whip Out: "Pancho's Compadres #33"

Daily Whip Out: "Pancho's Compadres #34"

   Made a note to myself something that Toulouse Lautrec said to the effect, when drawing, you must keep your pen moving, and if you stop, the drawing dies. I guess I would call this the "Degas Effect" or, draw like you Don't Give A Shit.

   Something I do care about is the portrayal of history and with all the controversy about Bill O'Reilly's new show "Legends & Lies" (Brushy Bill? Really?) I had to laugh out loud at Stephen Harrigan's review of the new History Channel series, Texas Rising, in Texas Monthly:

"How about some landscape respect, Hollywood? How would you like it if they had filmed Sunset Boulevard in Sabine Pass?"
—Stephen Harrigan


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Six Degrees of Pancho Villa

May 21, 2015
   Walter Noble Burns was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune when Pancho Villa's troops attacked Columbus, New Mexico in 1916. Burns got assigned to the story, traveled to Columbus, filed a story, or two, then went on to El Paso to file more stories on the Mexican Revolution, from there. While in old El Paso, Burns landed in Tom Powers' Coney Island Saloon and heard the stories from Tom Powers himself, about how Tom's friend, Pat Garrett, killed Billy the Kid. Powers proudly showed off the pistol—mounted over the bar—that Garrett used to do the dirty deed. Intrigued, Burns later visited New Mexico to visit his sister in Albuquerque. While there he traveled to Fort Sumner and interviewed Paulita Maxwell, and others, which resulted in the ground breaking book, "The Saga of Billy the Kid."

   From there, Burns sought out Wyatt Earp and created another classic book, "Tombstone: An Iliad of The Southwest" which helped establish Earp as the West's most fearless lawman:

The Old West was lawless
but one man was flawless. . .

   In 1968 Robert Towne and Sam Peckinpah wrote a screenplay, which became "Villa Rides" starring Yul Brenner as Pancho, and Charles Bronsen as this guy:

Daily Whip Out: "Pancho's Enforcer: Rudolfo Fierra"

   In the movie, Bronson as Fierra portrays the famous incident where Pancho's enforcer allowed a bunch of prisoners a chance to escape death if they could make it over a wall while Rudolfo practiced target shooting. In the movie, one is allowed to escape, but I seem to remember that Fierra shot them all in real life.

   The other henchman for Villa was this cat:

Daily Whip Out: "Tomas Urbina"

   Urbina wanted to execute a federal band of musicians that were captured but Pancho wouldn't give Urbina permission, saying they could be better used to perform for the revolution. Urbina protested they had enough musicians in the revolution but Villa persisted and saved their lives.

   Robert Towne went on to write "Chinatown," and Sam Peckinpah went on to do "The Wild Bunch."

   And all because Pancho Villa had the temerity to attack the United States.

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."
—George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Miner's Claim

May 20, 2015
   There are over 250,000 mines in Arizona. When a representative of the federal government came out to see if Arizona was ready for statehood (early 1900s), the rep wrote off the state as "one big mining camp."

   When I grew up in the 1950s Arizona was changing rapidly, but there was still a strong mining presence in all corners of Mohave County. We played in abandoned mines, going down ladders we shouldn't have even been looking at and, I'm ashamed to admit, we poached old mining claims, from inside tobacco cans and placed on wooden stakes that riddled the landscape. I kept a few of them for a while, but after a couple moves they ended up in the dumpster.

   Maybe that's why I started a drawing this morning, which I finished at lunch, about a type of man I faintly remember growing up.

Daily Whip Out: "The Miner's Claim

   "Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes and hopes of his early youth, invariably deceives himself. Each ten years of a man's life has its own fortunes, its own hopes and its own desires."
—Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The Mad (Madam) Hatter

May 20, 2015
   Got up this morning and grabbed four patina boards and applied contour drawings to each, then locked 'em down. This is one of them.

 Daily Whip Out: "The Mad (Madam) Hatter."

      Just received the new book "American Mythmaker: Walter Noble Burns and the Legends of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Joaquin Murrieta" by Mark Dworkin. A wonderful book about the guy—Burns—who really made all three Old West characters into legends (and he's also the buy who brought me to the dance). As he tracts the genesis of the Billy the Kid legend, he gives credit to Ramon Adams, who Dworkin credits as positing the Billy arc goes like this: Pat Garrett and Ash Upson originated "infected legends,' Charlie Siringo "marketed them," Emerson Hough "spread them abroad" and Burns "made them immortal." That says it all.

   After the huge success of the Billy book, Burns went looking for another character to write about and he landed on Wyatt Earp, but Earp was committed to his mining engineer friend, John Flood and his florid and horrid manuscript, so Burns says he's doing a book on Doc Holliday and would Earp help him with that, which Wyatt did. Then Burns' book "Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest" comes out and there is a chapter called "The Lion of Tombstone," which features Wyatt Earp in a very positive light. Instead of being flattered, or inspired, Wyatt dictates the following:

"Doc was not any pal of mine. Only an acquaintance. First met him in Dodge City. He was then practicing dentistry. Met him again in Tombstone. . ."

   That Wyatt Earp—and his crazy wife—were that confused and dimwitted about the potency of their legacy is nothing short of mind blowing. There's more.

"My health will be back to normal when this story business is all done with."
—Wyatt Earp, one month before his death in 1929

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drawing Blind: An Old Dog Tries to Remember Old Tricks

May 19, 2015
   Hard to believe, but it's been 49 years since I attended my first art class at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I was an incoming freshman from a small town—Kingman—and me and my classmates were the first wave of Baby Boomers to blitz the campus scene, and, by sheer numbers, we blew out the allotted classrooms in the fine arts building (which was pretty new at the time) and the university had to rent studio space in an ex-shoe store on Speedway Blvd. Our drawing professor, Mr. Scott (complete with a French beret and a cigarette holder) was very brusque and loud (more than one female student fled from the class weeping from his loud critiques: "You call those hands!? Those are Platypus craws!"). Mr. Scott's first order of instruction was to beat out of us all our bad habits and preconceived ideas about drawing good pictures.

   Much to our horror and humiliation, Mr. Scott made us draw contour drawings by not looking at our paper (also called blind contour drawings). He made us draw with our opposite hand. He even made us take off our shoes and socks and draw with a charcoal stick stuck between our toes.

   In last Sunday's New York Times Magazine there was an evocative piece about "Blind Contour Drawing" and how it liberated the author—Sam Anderson—and allowed him to do drawings with "little slivers of excellence." Anderson pointed out how the problem is control and how control, or, the attempt to control sabotages perfection. He adds, "you can't control your way out of control." The fine piece of writing reminded me of something I have known but sometimes forget.

An Old Dog Tries to Remember Old Tricks

Daily Whip Out: "Blind iPhone Drawing"

Inspired by the exercise, I bailed into a half-finished whip out and came up with this:

Daily Whip Out: "The Approach"

   When I was at the Arizona History Convention a couple weeks ago, I bought "Shootout At Dawn," a book on the Powers Brothers shootout where three lawmen, who approached the Powers cabin just before dawn were shot dead ( a fourth lawman escaped). Whenever I read about lawmen serving warrants I think about how dangerous this work is and what trepidation must run through their minds as they approach the address in question, knowing it could be the last thing they ever do or see.

   Meanwhile, back to blind contour drawings. Having just read the Vincent van Gogh biography I realized, after doing the contour drawings this morning, that a large part of Vincent's power stems from his letting go of the drawing, but controlling the color. This is a powerful combination. Vincent utilized very complicated color schemes and used his left brain to work overtime on every painting to align complimentary colors in very sophisticated ways, while at the same time shutting off his left brain when it came to the drawing and letting it go where it wanted to go and the result is vast slivers of excellence."

"As painters we must always remember that the spirit is more important than the fact."
—Harold Von Schmidt

Monday, May 18, 2015


May 18, 2015
    Here I am, last Wednesday, boning up on a certain boxing referee—circa 1896—deep in the bowels of the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson.

BBB Bones Up

BBB Faces The Music (and the director, bottom right)


   The taping went fine, results to be aired next fall.

"Modernity uproots both the best and the worst aspects of tradition."
—Old Archivist Saying

Fred Nolan Finally Spills The Beans on Billy the Kid's Childhood

May 18, 2015
   Our Special Report on Billy the Kid has landed in subscriber's mail boxes by now, and here is the link to Fred Nolan's long-awaited report on the possible childhood of Henry McCarty:

Where is the truth in the Kid's childhood?

"In a short time this will be a long time ago."
—A researcher in the new Western Slow West

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Mexican Food & Old Wyatt Earp Stories

May 15, 2015
   When someone says New Mexican in my family they are not talking about the state, they're referring to the state of Mexican food as in, "Where's the new Mexican food, Ese?"

   Phoenix Magazine did a big feature on Mexcian food and I culled out the new ones I want to try:

Daily Whip Out: "New Mexican"

I especially want to try the one with the weird name LA 15 Y Salsas at 1507 W. Hatcher Road. They have 7 different moles, including a "negro mole" that takes two days to make and has 25 ingredients. Ay Yi Yi! I am so ready to try this.

Daily Whip Out: "Yellow Sky Sunset Rider"

Yesterday I had a taping down in Tucson for the Travel Channel show Mysteries At The Museum. They were filming a segment on this dude:

Daily Whip Out: "Wary Wyatt Earp"

And we were at the Historical Society Museum adjacent to the University of Arizona campus where they have this artifact:

Wyatt Earp's "Baby Pony"

And here is the Travel Channel crew who taped my interview:

Travel Channel crew

"The palest ink is better than the best memory."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Spitfire Who Pancho Never Tamed

May 13, 2015
   There was one woman Pancho Villa could never "marry" much less tame for a night. He saw her in the hills south of Agua Prieta, just prior to his disastrous defeat in that border town. She was a spitfire from Sonora, an untamed colt, a scorpion of the heart with her thick In-din mane of jet black hair, like a crow's wing and ever so saucy. It would take more than a general and his Del Norte legions to tame this heart.

Daily Whip Out: "The Sonoran Spitfire Who Pancho Never Tamed"

   Speaking of forced marches, made a vow this morning to do five scenes a day emulating a Mexican novella. I have always loved the photo comics of Mexico and to my knowledge, the only American attempt at this Latin Soap Opera On Paper phenom, was the short-lived "Photo Funnies' that appeared in The National Lampoon in the 1970s.

Daily Whip Out: "Sketches of Mexicana Mamas"

I have been threatening to do one of these for thirty plus years (way back n the Razz days) and I guess it's about time to pull out the stops and let 'er rip. What say you Digby?

"Here’s to the kids who are different,
Kids they call crazy or dumb,
Kids who don’t fit,
With the guts and the grit,
Who dance to a different drum.

Here’s to the kids who are different,
Kids with a mischievous streak,
For when they have grown,
As history has shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique."

—Digby Wolfe  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mexicana Mama Trauma

May 12, 2015
   Nobody suffered more than the women of Mexico during their revolution. 1.5 million (mostly men) lost their lives in the ten years of fighting. In contrast, the United States has lost that many, but in all our wars combined, including our revolutionary war.

 Daily Whip Out: "Mexicana Mama Trauma."

The Nine Lives of Pancho Villa's 25 Wives
   It's hard to imagine what the women in Mexico put up with in those traumatic times where bandits and thugs roamed the countryside having their way with everything and everybody. In spite of these horrible conditions, some of Pancho's women lived a very long time.

   Think about this: My daughter was alive when Pancho Villa's first wife was still alive.

Deena Bean Outside Tombstone

Luz Corral lived until 1983 and until the end, she received visitors at the mansion Pancho built in Chihuahua in his last years.

Luz Corral, Pancho's First Wife

Of course, some of Pancho's wives he married on impulse and they had a severe quality:

Daily Whip Out: "One of Pancho's Severe Wives"

And more than a few of Pancho's wives were not far from the line:

Daily Whip Out: "Pancho's Puta"

"Pancho left a legacy of a being a bandit, rowdy, rank, and an outlaw writ large."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, May 11, 2015

So Who Killed Pancho Villa?

May 10, 2015
   We know how Pancho got started in the revolution business: On November 20, 1910 on a small ranch called La Cueva Pinta in the mountains, not far from Chihuahua, a group of armed me sat around the campfire and elected their military leaders. Francisco Villa was elected to lead 28 men, his first assignment in the history of the Mexican Revolution.

Daily Whip Out: "Blue-eyed Vaquero"

   We know that some of Pancho's men were psychopaths: One mean dude was Rodolfo Fiero: it was said he once shot a stranger in Chihuahua to settle a bet on whether a dying man falls forward or backwards. Fierro walked up to a stranger and shot him in the head and then won the bet when the man fell forward.

 Daily Whip Out: "Badges?"

   We know, from newspaper reports why many in Mexico loved him: Edwin Emerson, a newspaperman, reported "Villa's greatest asset is his personality. As a former outlaw and bandit, who successfully stood his ground against Porfirio Diaz' soldiers and rurales for over ten years, Villa is idolized by all the lower classes of Mexico." He goes on to point out that Villa is a "splendid rider" something the "all Mexicans set great store by," and that he is a "dead shot." Whenever he is interviewed by the press "he always makes it a point to lay stress on the fact that he is a simple, uneducated unlettered man who never has had any advantages of culture."

Daily Whip Out: "Vaquero In Corral"

   We know that Pancho was ingenious about how to get men to fight: Villa also convinced recalcitrant peasants to fight far from their native regions by allowing them to take their wives, girlfriends, and mistresses along. These women were known as soldaderas, and sometimes as adelitas, a name derived from a popular song.

   We know that young men sometimes don't need too much convincing when it comes to a chance to fight: When John Reed spoke with Villa's soldiers he asked them what they were fighting for and one of them said "justice," but one soldier asked Reed if there was a war in the United States. When Reed answered no, the soldier replied "How do you pass the time then. . ."

   We know Villa was good at winning hearts and minds: Pancho was able to talk many peons into fighting for his cause because they were being paid only five centavos a day non the haciendas. Another reason Villa was so successful in raising an army is because when he captured federal army soldiers he often gave them the choice of joining Villa's forces or being shot. Most had been pressed into the federal army against their will, and with the promise of better pay, they almost always joined the fight, and never went back.

   We know that in order to get men to fight, you sometimes need to have someone burn the boats: One of Villa's commanders, Manuel Banda was in charge of making the soldiers fight. He roamed behind the front lines on his motorcycle and said, "I have killed many, in some battles I may have killed as many of our men as the federal troops have done."

Daily Whip Out: Manuel Banda

   We know that Pancho Villa was driving a Dodge on the streets of Parral when he was assassinated.

   We know that he was retired and living on a government pension on a hacienda paid for by the Mexican government.

   We know he was a little bitter about his ten years of fighting to replace the Hacendados who ruled northern Mexico with an iron fist.

Daily Whip Out: "El Jefe"

   We know he was insecure about his own illiteracy and lack of culture. But at least he had his priorities straight

   "I fought for ten years for them. . .but most of them were too ignorant to understand my ideas. . . Poor ignorant Mexico. Until they have education nothing much can be done."
—Pancho Villa, explaining why he quit fighting