Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Duke of Dust And The Last Intern

June 30, 2015
   Drove from Tombstone to Cave Creek on Sunday, skirting rain and dust storms all the way. When I drive, I always look out the window and wonder what it was like to be out there in 1881.

Daily Whip Out: "Foot Soldiers Trudge Through The Dust"

   We had a very good intern work with us for the past couple months. Meet Mr. Cameron Douglas:

Toughest Unpaid Intern In Arizona

Cameron and I go back a bit. Cameron and my son Thomas Charles grew up together here in Cave Creek. Here they are on the set of a TV show filmed in Cave Creek in the late eighties. They are standing with one of the stars, a soccer star from Australia named Jocko, if memory serves me correct:

Thomas Charles Bell (with Uzi), Cameron Douglas and Jocko, circa 1988

Cameron was excellent at researching, filling holes, posting blogs and writing captions. His fingerprints are all over the Pancho Villa issue and he also improved the Billy the Kid Special Report, and he just finished researching Hollywood outlaws for our October issue. One of things we forced Cam to do is attend long meetings to get him prepped for real life.

2016 Planning Session, L-R: Ken Amorosano, Cameron Douglas, Rebecca Edwards, Meghan Saar and Stuart Rosebrook.

This was our Monday meeting and we had another one this morning to go over the September issue and features for the rest of the year.

Cameron's Last Design Review: arguing about what is on the wall (September issue).

Cam hits the road: Ken Amorosano, Cameron Douglas and BBB. Sad to see the boy go, but he's off to San Diego to conquer the world.

"Tom Wolfe ate the world and vomited lava."
—Ray Bradbury in Zen In The Art of Writing, a gift from Cameron

Monday, June 29, 2015

For The Love of Tombstone

June 29, 2015
   Had a great time in Tombstone over the weekend. Met some great people, had some damn good barbacoa, heard some tall tales, stayed out at Monument Ranch (named as such because it's near the Ed Schieffelin Monument),  filmed all morning yesterday with a BBC film crew shooting a documentary on the Old West in 3-D. Thanks to Steve Goldstein, we were treated to lunch at Big Nose Kate's where one of the British crew, danced on the bar:

Pistol Packin' Candice gets her booty on the bar at Big Nose Kate's

   But, not everybody was happy to see me in Tombstone. Got this on Facebook today:

    "Why are you wasting your time here in Tombstone? This town needs to die, the current crop of transients that want to call themselves residents are drug addicts, drunks, liars, and thieves. When you didn't even rate the town a few years ago the business owners cussed your name and vowed to run you out of town."

 All true (the part about many in town being upset with me about criticisms we made in True West about authenticity issues Tombstone had several years ago), but I still love that damn place. Shared this with a couple of my friends and got this response from Kid Ross:

   Here is my take on this sort of stuff. A historical event happens which eventually moves into myth.  Because it has the ability and the POWER to become mythical, everyone wants to define what that meaning is.  But they go at it via history...and history is only the foundation of this event.  It can supply dates, times, names, numbers etc. but history can not describe the myth nor the mythical.

So, people who don't understand the "doppelganger" aspect of this sort of thing constantly argue the HISTORY of the thing.  When the Facebook guy asks "why are you wasting your time here in Tombstone" he is asking you about the physical town itself: why are you here in this actual town?  What he doesn't realize is that you are there for the town, the time, the place, the people that once WERE there.....you are visiting merely the physical representation of the mythic Tombstone.  I am surprised people like us aren't driven over by cars as we wander thru the streets lost in our revery. 

It's like Spock says in "Specter of the Gun" (the episode on Star Trek when they wind up at the OK Crral): "none of this is real."

So this guy who is ranting about the town today and the drunks etc. is caught up only in the historical perspective.  AGAIN: go back to George Mallory....New York City......1923......after giving a talk on the first attempts to summit Mt. Everest, he is asked, "why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?"

think about that.....

How the question was phrased and in what manner was it asked we don't know.  Was the reporter asking it as if the attempt was foolish or was he truly bamboozled by why would ANYONE, in their right mind, try to climb that damn mountain?

again, we don't know.

But Mallory's answer could stand for everything that you and I love on that deepest, deeper, level.  Mallory said, "because it's there."

now....how did HE mean that?  Was he being flippant?  Was he exhausted after giving so many talks and was just tired of these damn reporters?  Or was it "zen"?  Did he respond with a zen masters reply? 

So even Mallory's answer posed merely another question.

And as long as we, or anyone else, tries to dig up the true meaning of the OK Corral (or "why Tombstone" or "why Everest") using the historical perspective ONLY, then the answer AND the ultimate truth, will elude them.  And because they don't even have an inkling of the existence of this other mythic realm (and it DOES exist.....it is exactly what I paint) then it will ALWAYS elude them; and they will look upon us (the "true believers") as they did Mallory, i.e. as complete fools.

But the fool is always the wisest one.  He can play the fool because he already knows the truth.

This is why O'Reilly's series is so boring to me.  He is merely rehashing the same old story from the same old HISTORY angle......and you'll NEVER pierce the profundity (thank you for that one, Herman Melville) by going down that same old tired road.

The question that needs to be asked and the answer that needs to be explorer is WHY does this transformation happen?  How DOES Leonidas and Travis, Gordon and Mallory, move with such ease from this world into that other world, the world of the Great Mystery.  As a new and different world it has it's own meanings and vocabulary......it is NOT beholding to historical fact...it does NOT function under the rules of natural law.  It is a nether world, a dream world, that really exists (and, as Pat Garrett once wrote about the Kid, I speak of what I know.)  Again, to quote Spock, as he and the other members of the Enterprise crew stood in Tombstone (and it had a reality to it) "none of this is real."

But until your eyes are open and you can grasp this reality (the real reality of that which is unreal) then you have no chance and you are FOREVER stuck in this kinda boring world of natural laws and our own drunken reality.

I know what happened to me that magic June day in 1976.....I saw and felt that nether world.  I KNOW it.  So now today I can move between those two worlds with the ease
of George Mallory climbing some rocks in Wales.

Yesterday Rachel and I visited with Romona Scholder, Fritz's widow, who lives not 6 minutes from me.  We were with her for an hour.  When we left and were driving back to Lamy EVERYTHING I SAW, the mountains, the bushes, the clouds, the sky, the pink roses of the blooming cactus, all became a massive painting by Fritz Scholder.  It was like we were driving into a canvas of his that covered the entire universe; it was BEAUTIFUL.

Very few people can do that.....very few (if any) can even grasp the concept of the existence of this "other" world....but it is all around us and, most importantly, IN US and we don't even know it.

This is why I rant against the Howard Terpenings of the "art" world.....they are showing me what I already KNOW exists; I see it every damn day.  I want artists to show me the world of their mind and the world of their soul and of their dreams....I want to see how THEY see the very same world that I do.  This is why the entire landscape we drove thru yesterday, for the period of maybe 3 minutes, was ALL Fritz.  I was fucking beautiful.

So when people like this Facebook guy asks such stupid questions I just shake my head in real pity.  The real world of the Most High Truth is right there in front of him and all around him and he can't see it.  What a dull dull dull DULL world that must be.

So when these "historians" etc. argue about the location of Co. "E" at the Little Bighorn or what Virgil meant when he said, "Hold! I don't mean that!" or how did Davy Crockett die.....I, the fool, just shake my head and walk away; it's not worth the time because it doesn't GO anywhere.

The answer lies inside you......as Old Lodge Skins says at the end of "Little Big Man":

"Thank you for my visions, and my blindness in which I saw further."

One must close your eyes (basically deny the confinement of natural laws) and see with your heart......you will see much farther, deeper, and truer.

I've been to the Tombstone the Facebook guy is talking about......I just prefer the one I visit which exists in my heart...now THAT'S Tombstone!

—Thom Ross

"I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn't have the time."
—Mark Twain

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pancho And Lefty

June 28, 2015
   I'm meeting a BBC film crew at nine this morning at a certain corral:

Tombstone gets the "Tombstone" treatment

   Last night I had the honor and privilege of attending the 100th birthday party of Francisco Pancho Villa at the Rose Tree Inn. Here is the birthday boy surrounded by his extended family.

The birthday boy, seated at center, with his many admirers underneath the historic rose tree just off Toughnut Street in Tombstone.

   I did a little painting of the birthday boy and presented it to him.

Pancho and Lefty, Daily Whip Out: "Hellbent for Tombstone"

"When in doubt, whip it out."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tombstone Telephones

June 26, 2015
   For a guy who claimed to hate telling his story, Wyatt Earp sure told it plenty of times. In 1896, The San Francisco Examiner ran a three-part feature on Earp's adventures on the frontier and all the basic plot points are in place, with a few misspellings here and there. By 1915 he's actively trying to produce a book with a mining engineer, John H. Flood, acting as his ghost writer. When that fails, he is interviewed by Walter Noble Burns, then Stuart Lake. Each time he tells the same stories with slightly different details. Both the Burns and Lake accounts are similar, although Lake amps up the number of gunshots wherever possible. If Burns has Wyatt dodging two bullets at the Tucson train station, Lake has him dodging four (and, for the record, there were no bullets to dodge at the Tucson train station, unless your name was Frank Stilwell).

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Gives Both Barrels to Frank Stilwell"

   I once had the theory that if I could read the Flood manuscript I would hear Wyatt's voice unadorned, without the hero worship and exaggerations. Well, Mark Boardman sent me his copy of the Flood manuscript which I received on Monday and I have been pouring over it ever since. It is a tough slog. Here is Wyatt talking about how he found out about the Benson stage robbery attempt in March of 1880 (Flood's type written quote styles are kept intact): 

Page 195:

   A few minutes before eleven p.m., the United  States Deputy Marshal at Tombstone was summoned from his rest in the Grand Hotel by the ringing of the telephone bell.

"Hello!" "Hello!" "Hello!" came the sound of a voice as if it were some distance away. "Is that you Wyatt!"

"Yes, hello, who is this: I can hardly hear you."

"This is Bob. Bob Paul: can you hear!"

"Oh yes, all right now: where are you?"

"Benson: I just got in." "The coach was attacked Wyatt; just after we left Drew's ranch." "Bud Philpot and a fellow on the dickey seat were killed and the horses ran away."

"Killed!" "They were!" "Did you get any of the gang!"

"No, they all got away but they left a trail." "I think we can have a pretty good chance of nabbing the whole crowd." "Can you come down right away?"

""Yes, right away; I'll get Virg and Morg and Bat." "It'll be thirty minutes before we get started; we'll meet you at the ranch at daylight." "Are you alright yourself?"

But the only reply was a jumble of words, and then he heard the telephone ring off at the other end of the line.

 "Telephone, Mr. Earp, it's for you."

End of page, end of quotes, end of credibility. While it's true Tombstone had telephones in 1880, they only connected the Grand Central Mine to the Tombstone Stock Exchange (and Tucson had a modest line that connected the mayor's office to city hall). Long distance telephone coverage between Benson and Tombstone was at least a decade away from the events of 1880.

Reading on, we discover that Wyatt adheres to the Philpott changing places with Bob Paul theory even though  author John Boessenecker, who wrote the definitive bio on Bob Paul, says it's hooey and tells us convincingly that the switching places story stemmed from one of the outlaws making that claim much later to cover their dastardly deed of shooting the driver dead. Granted, Earp may have believed that story from the get go, but Bob Paul didn't buy it and he and Earp were friends, so it seems curious.

Here's Wyatt quoting Bob Paul from the Flood manuscript, " "Poor Bud Philpot, he wasn't feeling well last night and I had just changed seats with him to spell him a bit, and he toppled over at the first crack."

   Wyatt also claims the outlaws never said a word, but just opened fire without warming. He has Bob Paul saying this as well, which is at odds with Paul's own account that the outlaws shouted "Hold!" and Paul retorted, "I hold for no one," at the same time unlimbering his Wells Fargo shotgun and blasting the darkness in the direction of the voice.

   Incredibly, Earp seems uniformed about this incident in spite of the fact that he was a major player in the posse that chased the outlaws the next day. He was on the ground, in the center of the action and yet, I hate to say this, but he seems clueless. Half the stuff he remembers is wrong. If he was grilled by today's historians he would be cut to shreds and no doubt would come off sounding like some dim wit Brushy Bill. What does this say about remembered history and human folly?

   Plenty. The faintest ink is better than the best memory (a placard on display at the Tucson Historical Society).

"The real story of the old west can never be told, unless Wyatt Earp will tell us what he knows; and Wyatt Earp will not talk."
—Bat Masterson, according to Stuart Lake

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Famous Was Wyatt Earp Before Frontier Marshal?

June 25, 2015
   Many Earp buffs believe that Wyatt Earp was not all that famous before the publication of the books, "Tombstone" and "Frontier Marshal," and that his fame went through the roof after the books came out and then everyone sort of assumed he was always famous, back dating his fame, as it were, to the events in Tombstone. That belief, that Earp was not that famous nationally, prior to the books and movies, took a hit yesterday, at least for me. Stuart Rosebrook, our book editor, forwarded me quite a few links to east coast newspapers covering Wyatt Earp. This is a good example:

The Boston Daily Globe, December 5, 1896

   The article is about Earp's controversial refereeing of the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight in San Francisco, but as you can see it's front page news. Also, that is an excellent illustration of Earp from the famous photo of him taken while he was in San Diego, circa 1885. Now, some may make the claim that this is a more negative, or infamous fame, kind of like the NFL's "Deflategate" and Wyatt is the trainer who took the air out of the balls, but still, this is pretty well known, if you ask me.

 And by the way, the long mustaches are from his San Diego realtor days and speak more to his salesmanship look, than as how he probably looked in Tombstone. While he may have had significant handlebars at the O.K. Corral fight, it's more than likely his style, in terms of length, was more in the Morgan Earp zone. 

"My father lived to be 96 years of age and he always kept liquor in his house. That's a better way than this prohobition business which results in just as much liquor traffic but much worse liquor."
—Wyatt Earp, in the Los Angeles Record, October 19, 1928

The Florid Flood

June 25, 2015
   Got up this morning and took a crack at another crack at Wyatt Earp, wearing his shirt sleeves with the unique badge he and fellow deputy, Bat Masterson wore in Dodge City when they were policemen.

 Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp In Dodge, 1876"

   I sit in my office, surrounded by Wyatt Earp books. There's Casey Tefertiller's classic "The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp," and Allen Barra's "Inventing Wyatt Earp," plus "Lady at The O.K. Corral" by Ann Kirschner, and, "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal," along with "Tombstone: An Iliad of The Southwest," and the newest book of the bunch "Epitaph" (actually historical fiction) by Mary Doria Russell. All of them pack a punch and every one has something pertinent to say about Wyatt B.S. Earp. Most of the above books deal, allude to, or talk about The Flood Manuscript. John H. Flood was a mining engineer who befriended the Earps and typed their correspondence and took care of business matters from time to time. They didn't pay him, they needed him, and he felt kindly towards them. At some point, around 1915, they all decided that Flood should write a book about Wyatt's life. We assume Flood was flattered and so the young mining engineer came to their house in the evenings and wrote down what the old gambler and lawman had to say. He once said the cigar smoke got pretty thick in there. I imagine that wasn't all that was thick. I've always wanted to read the Flood Manuscript because I felt like it was probably closer to Wyatt's version of the Tombstone events than either Burns or Lake, and perhaps the truth would be more apparent, or at least not as adorned, or stretched. A copy is very expensive (Glenn Boyer published a limited edition of 100 for $100 each back in the early eighties) and I never bought one. Well, thanks to Mark Boardman, who has a copy, I finally have a chance to take a peek at it.

The Flood Manuscript Title Page
I wonder how long it took Flood to create that title using a manual typewriter?

John H. Flood, left, circa 1896, and as an older man

Flood gave it his best shot, but the manuscript was rejected by everyone the Earps sent it to. Everyone who tried to read it agreed that it was "florid." Here's a taste from page 32:

"The breeze was warm, and mingled with the breath of Spring, was the smell of sawdust and the sound of pounding hammers. Hope was new, and courage, and anticipation; they filled the air, even to exhilaration, and Wichita, flat squat, pudgy Wichita, toiled with perspiration and struggled upward with a pomposity and importance that heralded to the world that it was the one great, great howling cow-town, paramount to all other cow-towns, big cow-towns and little cow-towns."

   More to report as I work my way through it.

"The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment."
—Pema Chodron

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big Brims And Wyatt Earp

June 24, 2015
   Did my due diligence sketches this morning and discovered something:

Daily Whip Outs: "Big Brims Don't Work On Wyatt"

   Not sure why. I'm talking about looking authentic. Is it Wyatt Earp?  I don't think so, at least on the big brim versions. Is it because the real Wyatt Earp wasn't a cowboy? And that he is shown in all his photos with a gambler sized hat? You know, a townie hat? Come to think of it, he never even wore a river-boat-gambler style hat (in his known photos, at least). I noticed this even in the movie "Tombstone." Kurt Russell's hat is almost too big in the brim. I say "almost" because it looks enough like the Dodge City Peace Commission photo hat, but it's certainly pushed in the brim zone. And, besides, we want to stretch things because it looks cooler, but is it authentic?

Big Brims All Around

  We all want bad-ass brims, but it looks a tad over-the-top to me now. How 'bout you?

   Another detail that rings a bit false to me now, is in this quick study I did this morning for a friend of mine:

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Don't Need No Badge"

   Wyatt with a badge looks kind of fake. Granted, it's a big ol' sheriff's badge and the dude was never a sheriff of a county, but I may redo with a smaller badge, or a semi-hidden badge (for a fitting metaphor). Okay, that's enough over producing for one morning.

Favorite Onion Headline
Mass Grave Blasted For Lack Of Diversity

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wyatt's Last Look

June 23, 2015
   Lots of action on the Wyatt Earp cover story we're working on. Kathy is in Spain, so I can pretty much work around the clock, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Daily Whip Out (scratchboard):
 "Wyatt's Last Look"

Daily Whip Outs: "Wyatt Sketches"

 Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt's Last Look #2"

   If I was making a movie of Wyatt's last days, I would hire Mark Harmon. He would give it that taciturn, yet sympathetic turn needed to capture the old lion. And no movie about the Lion of Tombstone would be complete without a few cameos from the miners who knew him:

Daily Whip Out: "A Miner's Rant"

 "Hell, I knew all them Earp boys. Tough old birds, they was. Wyatt had sand. I'll give him that much. Didn't much care for his politics, though."
—Old Miner's Lament

Monday, June 22, 2015

Semi-Total Recall

June 22, 2015
   I mentioned that Walter Noble Burns and Stuart Lake had a hell of a time interviewing Wyatt Earp. The old man was in his late seventies and he wasn't the most talkative guy to begin with. In fact, when he did talk he answered with mono-sylabic words, he couldn't remember names and dates and he had more or less a one-track mind: he simply wanted to defend his actions in Tombstone.

  Daily Whip Out: "I Don't Recall"

   As I've grown older my impression of Wyatt Earp has changed dramatically. When I was nine-years-old, he was the fearless lawman, who drank milk, beat up the bullies and killed the bad guys. Oh, and he had a super-long-custom weapon—a Buntline Special—that was bigger and longer than any of the other kid's, I mean men's, weapons.

   When I turned 14 I began to discover Wyatt's darker side (in the pages of True West magazine, by the way) as the scholarship and research unearthed ugly anecdotes and flaws in our "flawless" hero.

 Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp In His Prime"

   When I turned 40 I thought I knew everything there was to know about the big-fat-fraud. A pimp, a cold-blooded killer who threw fights and jumped claims, abandoned women and tried to fool the public. I really had a hard-on for the guy.

   So, here I am, twenty-eight-years later (and almost 60 years from discovering him on TV), and as I have been researching his final years I have begun to see him in a completely different light. An old man, who, as a hot-blooded youth, did some crazy things (ditto), had some major regrets (ditto) and as the end closes in, wanted to get his version of the events of his life out there. 

Daily Whip Out: cover rough, "Wyatt Earp In Hollywood: The Untold Story"

   By the time Burns and Lake show up, he's really only interested in defending his version of the Tombstone travesty, but the country wants a super-hero, a mighty brave lawman who cleans up every hell-hole in the West and Burns and Lake are prepared to dish up that treat.

   Burns even goes to a reunion of old-timers in Dodge City to find out the truth about Wyatt Earp in Kansas. Note to journalists: A reunion of any kind is the last place anyone should go looking for the truth.

   And, so THIS is where we get the story of Wyatt disarming Ben Thompson, from a bunch of old windbags (note to my high school classmates who are gearing up for our fiftieth MCUHS class reunion: I am not referring to you, I am referring to those other windbags).

   From my perspective today, I see Earp trying to get his story told to vindicate his felonious actions in Tombstone. He didn't want to necessarily become a heroic do-gooder, but that was not in the cards.

   From there, a crooked town spun out a crooked fable that has spanned the globe. Equal parts hype, nostalgia and human longing, the old lawman stands tall and, at least on film, he vanquishes his enemies, the facts be damned.

"I will not say that all of the people in the motion picture industry are crooks, but I will say that all the crooks in Hollywood are in the motion picture industry."
—Zane Grey

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wyatt In His Prime

June 21, 2015
   Been working all weekend on Wyatt Earp in his final years. Studying his photographs He seemed resolute, yet kind of defeated. His eyes still burned with an intensity, but he seemed beat down, to me. I can relate. So much of our world, the world we knew, is disappearing right before our eyes. From his Boomer days in the 1880s to 1929 is a long slide to witness.

Daily Whip Out: "Old And Grumpy Wyatt"

   Stuart Lake admitted to a friend that Wyatt was almost impossible to interview. He answered everything with a "Yep." Or, a "Nope," and occassionally, a "Don't recall." Then, of course Earp dies and Lake can have him say anything he wants him to say. One of Wyatt's friends said, after reading Frontier Marshal,  "I never heard Wyatt talk like that."

"Morgan had a boyish curiosity which I never knew to be satisfied. He had been much interested in reported experiences of persons who were said to have had visions of heaven when at the point of death, and who had rallied long enough to leave behind them word of what they saw. Morg got me to read one his books on this subject, and one night when he and I were camped on the desert, we had quite a discussion over it. I told him I thought the yarns were overdrawn, but at his suggestion we promised each other that, when the time came for one of us to go, that one would try to leave for the other some actual line on the truth of the book. I promptly forgot the thing. Morg didn't. He was sensitive to the fun others might poke at such notions, so, in the last few seconds of his life, when he knew he was going, he asked me to bend close. "'I guess you were right, Wyatt," he whispered, "I can't see a damn' thing."
—Wyatt Earp as quoted by Stuart Lake in Frontier Marshal

   Late this morning, I wanted a change of pace, so I dug around in my failure pile, which I keep in the breezeway, and located a failed board and thought it had some potential and gave it another go.

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt In His Prime."

"You talk too much for a fighting man."
—Wyatt Earp to Ike Clanton the night before the O.K. Corral fight

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Justified Haticide?

June 20, 2015
   Thanks to Paul Seydor, a respected Hollywood film editor ("White Men Can't Jump" among many others), and the author of the excellent book "The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: The Untold Story of Peckinpah's Last Western Film," I binge-watched the entire last season of  "Justified." A couple weeks ago, when we were in Pasadena babysitting Weston, I had a chance to meet Paul and have lunch. Paul asked me if I had seen the last season of "Justified," and I hadn't, so he implored me to check it out because he believes it's one of the finest TV narrative productions ever.

   So, it took me a couple nights, but I watched the whole last season. First off, I loved the repartee, the music, the quirky acting (Sam Elliott as a badass bad guy!) and the many, many classic Elmore style one-liners {"Yes, I shot you in the back. To shoot you in the front you need to run towards me."). An original, authentic Western set in the East. Amazing.

The last cowboy hat on scripted television, Raylan Givens
 (Timothy Oliphant) in "Justified."

   I thought some of the episodes were long on crazy plot twists and short on believability (I especially disdained the episode where Walton Goggins' character, Boyd, takes Eva out under the pretense of hunting—but we know he is probably going to whack her for being a snitch—but the writers milk us for every false turn and set-up). Beyond that and a couple flat spots, I absolutely loved the shootouts and the mayhem. The RV gouge-fest where the Snitch, handcuffed to a table leg is the last man standing, or in this case—sitting, was just wonderfully original. And, I loved the last shootout on the highway with Raylan and the punk Kid, Boon (a definite Billy the Kid influence).

Raylan and the bad guy Boon slap leather in the final episode.

They both go down, and it appears Raylan has been kiilled. We see a hole in his hat about where the top of Given's head should be.

Boon gets his hand stepped on.

   Boon is going to finish Raylan off, but the heartless weed girl steps on his hand so the punk can't finish off Raylan. Cut to, an overhead shot:

   Just damn cool. So, how could our Hollywood friends possibly ruin the whole thing? By giving us this:

Raylan gets the Stingy Brim Pussy hat.

   So, Raylan survives, just barely, and his hat is ruined, and so he goes and trades in his signature hat—the last cowboy hat on national TV!—for an urban, stingy-brim, pussy hat! That was so false and so Hollywood wrong. You might as well throw away the entire seven seasons if you're going to give him that piece of shit hat. Who is he now, Indiana Jones? I may have to see a lawyer about this.

   Semi-forgiveness—they actually plug one of Elmore's favorite authors and his best known book, post haticide:

"He had ridden so far and sent men to hell, and for what? A God-damned stingy brim?! No flippin' way!"
—BBB, who is obviously not over this, yet

   Okay, got this link to a Vanity Fair review of the finale from Chris Casey (thanks amigo) and I agree completely:

Did 'Justified' Get The Ending It Deserved?

"And that, perhaps, will be the Justified finale’s most enduring image: a poor gunned-down Stetson on the border of Harlan County."
—Joanna Robinson

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jerimiah Was A Bullfrog

June 19, 2015
   Got up this morning and worked on a couple images. In the mid-1920s a sports writer from Chicago named Walter Noble Burns, sought out an old, part-time lawman, and featured him in a book "Tombstone: An Iliad of The Southwest." From that point on, the nation became both enamored and disgusted with Wyatt Earp.

Daily Whip Out: "The Lightning Rod"

The old gunfighter had his share of fans, including President Teddy Roosevelt, who invited several Old West characters to the White House including Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson and Geronimo. One of Teddy's young aids remarked, "Why does he like killers?"

Daily Whip Out: "Into The Eyes of A Killer"
    I was attacked earlier this week in the pool by a frog. He jumped out of the return slot, right onto my arm as I was sitting on the steps after swimming laps. I think he was looking for a leverage out of the pool. Well, I jumped so high, I think I cleared the water and then I couldn't get to him as he dove to the bottom (the pool skimmer is broken).

   When our good neighbor Tom came up to exchange newspapers this morning, he helped me get the big boy out of the pool. Tom claims he is a bonified frog and how he got to our pool is anybody's guess. We put him in the corner by the ironwood tree. Here he is:

Jerimiah Was A Bullfrog. He was A Good Friend of Mine.

   According to Carole Glenn, they eat bugs, so I need to set him up near a light tonight so he can grab the bug buffet.

"I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine."
—Three Dog Night, "Joy to The World"


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eternal Anger at The O.K. Corral

June 18, 2015
   The Tombstone story has always brought out severe animosity from both sides of the equation. "Same story. Different loyalties." Sometimes it's hard to see clearly. Went home for lunch and executed this study.

 "Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp Smoke Screen."

   Of course, I don't mean the smoke screen was created by Wyatt himself (although he could be misleading when it served him—buffalo hunting in 1872? That's a joke. He was arrested twice on a floating bagnio—a whore house on water—in Peoria, Illinois in 1872). Perhaps a better title would be "When The Smoke Clears." On second thought, the first title stands.

Eternal Anger at The O.K. Corral
    And speaking of Frontier Marshal, Casey Tefertiller is fed up with the lies (that means you O'Reilly) and the fabricated fantasies of "The Icon," and all the other con men masquerading as writers (full disclosure: I am a cartoonist masquerading as a writer). Casey has finished writing a new book about separating the factions from the fiction.  He is also writing a piece for True West on this subject and it will, at the very least, stir the blood, and probably fry a few brains. I guarantee it.

"If the solution to a problem of absolute disagreement extends to a call for bloodshed, then neither party has demonstrated the intelligence to formulate the question properly."
—John Steinbeck

The Final Verdict—What Goes Around. . .

June 18, 2015
   This day is an interesting place to be in the scheme of things—how the history of my time (the 1950s and 1960s) is being remembered and exploited for literary gain. Greg Hays, of Arizona West Gallery in Scottsdale, told me last week that, according to his teenaged kid, "Hippies are hip again. Big time." At first I found this amusing, and it makes some perverted sense (the new TV show "Aquarius" cross-pollinates Raymond Chandler and Charlie Manson). For a while it seemed as if the Happy Days syndrome went in ten year cycles: "American Grafiti" came out in 1972 and celebrated the car culture of 1962. Then it seemed to go in 20-year cycles, and then 30-year cycles: "The Wolf of Wall Street" sending up the coke-fueled eighties. What's clear is that what goes around, comes around. Or, as Mark Twain famously put it: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." 

   Which, of course, led me back to the pivotal year of 1929, when the Roaring Twenties came to a skidding halt and a certain old lawman cashed out without making a damn penny on his life story.

   With his 81st birthday in sight, in many ways, the past must have seemed like a distant mirage to the grizzled old man. The worst part is, he really didn't have much to show for any of it.

 Daily Whip Out: "Suppose It's All B.S."

   All Wyatt Earp claimed he wanted was to be vindicated for his Tombstone travails. He didn't live to see the vindication, but after the gravy train got rolling, some five years after his death, one can imagine him declaring, "Enough already. I never said I was a saint!"

"Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by children."
—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wyatt Has to Wear Shades

June 17, 2015
   Sometimes my library stuns me. I am often amazed at what I actually have (I just can't find it half the time). I'm working on researching Westerns from 1896 to 1929, to get an idea of what was going on in the film business before and during the time Wyatt Earp was trying to get his story told. Of course, after he died, his story took off and we look back at the 35 plus films based on his life and assume the story of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp was always there.

   I must have 35 books on Westerns and at least a dozen on the history of Westerns. For the past several days I have been looking through them all trying to find a Western, before 1930 that deals with Wyatt and Doc and the Tombstone story we all know so well. Now granted, both Doc and Wyatt are minor characters in William S. Hart's 1923 film "Wild Bill Hickok" but even here I believe the story concentrates on Kansas and the plains. So it is an exception, but a minor one. Like Vincent van Gogh selling one painting.

Daily Whip Out: "The Future Is So Bright Wyatt Has to Wear Shades"

  All during the teens (1913-1919) countless Westerns were being produced, mostly one-reelers (about 9 minutes) with flimsy plots and goofy titles, like, "The Golden Thought" (Tom Mix, 1916), "Alkali Ike's Misfortune" (1913), "Broncho Billy's Conscience" (1915), "The Conversion of Frosty Blake" (W.S. Hart, 1915) and, I kid you not, "The Aryan" (W.S. Hart, 1916),

   My theory is that the Tombstone story came late to the dance. If you know of any exceptions to this I want to know about it.

"I ask for your indulgence when I march out quotations. This is the double syndrome of men who write for a living and men who are over forty. The young smoke pot, we inhale from our Bartlett's."
—Rod Serling

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Was Wyatt Earp Stupid?

June 16, 2015
   First day in the pool yesterday. Got attacked by a giant toad after I swam laps. Came out of a return duct and jumped on my arm. I think I cleared the water getting out of there. Pool skimmer is broken so I couldn't get under him (he dove to the bottom) to get him out of there. The bastard is still in there. I'll deal with him this afternoon.

  Recently, I thought I heard an author make the claim that Wyatt Earp wasn't all that smart. This shocked me, more than I am comfortable with admitting. So I attended a book signing and asked the author point-blank exactly what she said and here is the quote: "Ike and Wyatt had a great deal in common. They were the same age. They both had fathers who were considered unusually brutal, even in a time when beating the hell out of small children was considered good parenting. Neither of them was well-educated and frankly, I don't believe that either Ike or Wyatt was working with a triple-digit IQ."

   This is from Mary Doria Russell. Her new book "Epitaph" is an excellent read. She elaborates: "If they'd lived in the 1950s when IQ testing was common, they'd have come in a little below average, is my guess. I'm not saying that Wyatt was stupid, I'm just saying he wasn't a great intellect. He does seem to have been rather rigid in his thinking and when you see the world in black and white, you can be vulnerable to manipulation by those who are more agile intellectually. Johnny Behan, for example."

 Daily Whip Out: "Was Wyatt Earp Stupid?"

    The question forces us—okay, at least me—to examine why this claim upsets us. Is it because, in spite of Wyatt's many flaws he was a man of action and resolve and we naturally think of him as superior both physically and mentally to his enemies? I think so. And to be lumped in with that frontier idiot Ike Clanton. Really?! But, to the degree that we get upset, I think it reflects how invested we are in the character. The more the upset, the more likely there is some truth to it: "I think thou dost protest too much."

   And speaking of the Bard, I love Wyatt's line, when Tom Mix suggested that he and Wyatt read Shakespeare to gain some culture:

"He sure was a talkative guy. He wouldn't have lasted long in Kansas."
—Wyatt Earp

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wyatt Looms Large On The Colorado

June 15, 2015
   The Kingman Junior High Bobcats were on their way to play Poston on the Colorado River. A second-string guard fell asleep on the bus somewhere south of Needles and when he awoke he saw a strange apparition: a giant Wyatt Earp figure, taller than the bus, looming in the twilight.

The Kingman Junior High Bobcats. The sleeping guard is standing, second from right .

   The cheap wooden sculpture, long since gone, was a tourist trap novelty-come-on at the Drennan Store (Earp). The little guard scoffed at the absurdity of Wyatt Earp being out there in the middle of nowhere. He religiously watched the TV show on Wyatt starring Hugh O'Brian and knew the frontier marshal was famous in Dodge City and Tombstone, but out here in the Colorado River bottom boonies? Ridiculous.

   I thought about this early impression as I studied Wyatt's last years when he was desperately trying to get Hollywood to tell his story. From about 1905 to 1927, Wyatt and Sadie summered in Los Angeles and then headed out to their Happy Days mining claims, via wagon, when it got cool. Evidently Earp had a little mining shack at Drennan and a camp out at the mines and a third dwelling in Vidal, near Vidal Junction, several miles to the west of the river. Earp roamed all over the Colorado River basin, with numerous stops in Parker, Yuma, Needles and the mining camps of Oatman, Goldroad, Mineral Park, Chloride and White Hills. Think about this: Wyatt Earp spent 22 months in Tombstone and he spent 22 winters along the Colorado River.

 Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp Looms Large On The Colorado"

   "It has all the exciting qualities of a dime novel, the added value of authentic history, and the curious virtue that it might be used as a Sunday School text or a Hollywood scenario."
—Lewis Gannett's review of Frontier Marshal in the New York Tribune

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Show Biz Is High School With Money

June 13, 2015
   Studying why some people never manage to succeed with their life story. Writer Chuck Klosterman has a theory: "All information is legend, and experience is show biz."

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Hates Show Biz."

   Wyatt Earp was a bit of a conundrum: he claimed to hate notoriety—and by extension media and Show Biz—yet he sold his story to the San Francisco Examiner in 1896 and spent years working with John Flood to get his version of events in print. His sister-in-law Allie, who was married to Wyatt's brother Virgil, claimed she didn't hate him (as she was portrayed in Frank Waters' book, "The Earp Brothers of Tombstone") but she did think he was "a bit of a show off and took all of the credit for things" Virgil actually did.

   It took a sports writer, Walter Noble Burns, to give Earp's story some juice and heft because Burns understood something about human nature and myth-making that Wyatt did not. Earp had a great story, he just wasn't telling it right: he didn't get the Show Biz part.

"Imagined history can be more persuasive than fact."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tombstone vs. Los Angeles

June 13, 2015
   Got up this morning and broke out my scratchboard supplies and gave them a go before I came into work:

Daily Scratch Out: "Wyatt In The Shadows"

   I'm also studying early day cinema and I have to say, the early days were much earlier than I thought.

July 17, 1894
   Senator Bradley forbids the projection of "The Serpentine Dance," an Edison film, because the dancer Carmencita shows her undergarments. This is the first case of censorship in the moving pictures industry.

 Daily Whip Out: "Carmencita Hides The Goods"

October 16, 1894
   An open air rodeo scene is filmed by W.K. Laurie Dickson utilizing Buffalo Bill's troupe of cowboys who just happened to be in the area (New Jersey, I believe the report said).

Daily Whip Out: "Cowboy Fun"

Lawyer: I would like to ask you to state your observation of those times and tell us what the condition of this community [Tombstone] was for law and order?"

Wyatt Earp: "It was not half as bad as Los Angeles."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Good Clean Story, With Pep

June 11, 2015
   Went home for lunch today to try my hand at a portrait of a certain lawman in the sunset of his years. Unfortunately, he ended up looking more like a cross between Lute Olson and Ben Traywick.

Daily Whip Out: "Some Ol' Bird Who Looks More Like Ben Traywick"

And yes, the date is wrong on the drawing (one day too early). This morning, before I came into work, I was studying old cartoons, looking for line work style to lift from and saw an old school kitchen and started copying. One thing led to another and the balloon wrote itself:

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp Writes A Grocery List"

   When Wyatt left Tombstone as a fugitive, in 1882, he left behind two years of investments and was able to divest himself of only a few, while many of his investments were sold off for taxes and he, and his brothers, lost everything.

   Wyatt almost cashed in when he and Sadie were in San Diego. He sold saloons and gambling halls like crazy (he allegedly had four at one time), but in the end it all crashed and they left for another boom town. As Allen Barra points out in his excellent book, "Inventing Wyatt Earp" ". . .the more money Wyatt made the more he gave it to friends or invested in oddball schemes. Wyatt may have been a capitalist, but he was never a businessman."

   Studying his life it seems a long way from "Law And Order," (1932) the first movie supposedly inspired by the events in his life, to hit theaters after his death that featured him as the main character.

"The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order."
—Alfred North Whitehead

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Deadliest Foe

June 10, 2015
   Working on the ridiculousness of Hollywood and how you get from this guy:

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Befuddled"

And, of course, this led directly to the legend of this guy:

Daily Whip Out: "Say Hello To My Little Wells Fargo Friend!"

The Deadliest Foe
   As dangerous as the Wild West was, all the battles and armed conflicts paled when compared to the deadly foe of smallpox. An airborne scourge for centuries, smallpox arrived in the New World with the Spanish in 1509 and spread from the Caribbean to the North American Native American population where it decimated entire tribes. In the Lincoln County War, both John Tunstall and Cattle King John Chisum came down with the disease (both survived). Although vaccination campaigns began in the early 1800s, the disease was not eradicated until the 1970s.

Daily Whip Out: "The Deadliest Foe—Smallpox"

   In the Lincoln County War, both John Tunstall and John Chisum came down with the disease. In his diary, Tunstall described the daily misery he suffered from the insidious disease. Cholera was another big killer on the frontier. My grandfather, Bob Guess, contracted it when he was riding in the Guadalupes east of Crow Flat, New Mexico. He barely made it home, but his two younger sisters, Sadie and Pearl contracted the airborne disease and died of it. They are buried in the Orange Cemetery, northeast of Orange, Texas. When my grandfather married and had his first daughter, he named her Sadie Pearl.

Mr. and Mrs. Guess with their first daughter Sadie Pearl.

   "History would be a wonderful thing, if it were only true."
—Old Vaquero Saying