Monday, August 31, 2015

A Map to The Stars

August 31, 2015
   I remember sitting in art class at Mohave County Union High School and looking out the window as the wind stripped the paint off a '64 Ford Falcon. I had a burning desire to become an artist but I didn't have a clue on how to get there. And nobody in Kingman seemed to know the route, which, when I think about it, is probably why they were in Kingman.

   I made a vow that if I ever figured out how to become an artist I would go to any classroom, anywhere, to tell kids what I know. That is why I'm going to NAU on Wednesday to talk to two classes of incoming freshmen about the perils and rewards of a career in the media.

   The El Trovatore Motel has long been a beacon at the top of the hill before you drop down into the old part of town. And, as I've mentioned before, it was right across the street from my dad's Phillips 66 service station.

   Also, as previously mentioned, the new owner of the motel insisted on giving me a map. Here it is with his notations on where the stars of Kingman were located.

A map to the stars of Kingman, Arizona

   My host was clearly trying to impress me with his knowledge of the area. "Pamela Anderson was once arrested here." Really? For what? "Riding a motorcycle without a license." Of all the hot rodders that grew up here (Billy Logas, anyone?) he trots out some false-chested has-been actress as Kingman's claim to fame? I flashed back on all the kids I knew who ripped along the surrounding dusty streets with no license and no cares. Hell, Denny Stahl rode his Ducati straight up the cut behind my dad's gas station, right across the street from where we were talking. I glanced out the window and saw that the cut was still there, but, of course the gas station is gone and Denny is long gone and like most men my age I wondered where that cherry Ducati is today. Not that the guy would even care, but for some strange reason, I care. Why?

   As the Kingman I grew up in fades beyond recognition why does it matter to me that I watched Edge of Eternity being filmed around Kingman in 1959? And a scene was filmed right outside the door of the motel office, but somehow I knew he didn't really care about that either, so I held my tongue—something I am somewhat notorious for not being able to do.

   Maturity? Or, a tired acceptance that betrays a deep, desperate yearning?

Daily Whip Out: "The Leaning Wreck"

"The past doesn't disappear so that we can write about it."
—Nate, in the play "A Delicate Ship," by Anna Ziegler

Mickey Made Us All Show Up

August 31, 2015
   Took me all day yesterday to recover from the reunion. This is what happens when you hang with two of the prettiest girls who ever came out of Kingman, Arizona. Granted both "girls" are grandmothers now, but you know you are having fun when you end up at the Kingman Denny's at midnight.

The Mohave County Union High School Class of 1965

   Actually, I could also make a strong case that you are in a very bad way if you find yourself in a Denny's at midnight.

   Great seeing all the old-timers. We had one surprise guest, Leroy Butler who has never been to a reunion. When I asked him why he finally showed up after all these years, he shook his head, looked down and said, "Mickey made me come."

The "Governor" Mickey Campa

"You will show up or I will kick your ass at Metcalf Park during lunch hour."
—The Goernor

Friday, August 28, 2015

Winged Monsoon Clouds & A Much Needed Map of Kingman

August 28, 2015
   Landed this afternoon in Kingman, Arizona at the El Trovatore Motel, across the street from where my dad's Phillips 66 was in the 1960s. 

El Trovatore Motel on Hilltop in Kingman

i spent at least four summers ogling the bikinis in the El Trove swimming pool when I worked at the station. Amazingly I never actually set foot in the place until today. The current owner is from Israel and he is gung ho about turning everyone on to Route 66. 

The new owner of El Trovatore Motel

   He is a sweet guy who saved the motel so I totally dig him, but he says, "First time in Kingman?" Well, actually no, I grew up here and my father owned the gas station across the street. "Do you want a map of Kingman?" I think I know where most things are. "Well, I''m going to give you a map anyway. You are HERE, the downtown is HERE and the new part of town is HERE. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married HERE.  ." Yes, I know, my parents were married in the same church. "The Episcopalian?" No, it was the Methodist Church. He shoots me a look that says you're going to need this map.

   So I took the map. Now I know what Wyatt Earp would have felt like returning to Tombstone in the 1920s.

   On the drive up I had to pee four times. For the kids, this is way more information than you want but a.) it's a warning of things to come and b.) on the bright side I got some good pics because I stopped. Here is Pee Stop No. 1:

Winged Monsoon Clouds North of Castle Hot Springs

Here is pee stop number two:

Abandoned Gas Station On The Road to Congress Junction

And here is pee spot Number 3:

Monsoon clouds over Wikiup (actually over south Hualapai Mountains)

   If you're counting the fourth pee stop was at the El Trovatore in the John Wayne Room.

"Nobody believes half the stuff you say anyway, so why not just go with it?"
—The little Boze who sits on my right shoulder

Long Legged SOB

August 28, 2015
   Found a half-finished study this morning and finished it.

Daily Whip Out: "The Ruins of The Alamo Before It Was Taco-Belled."

    Last night as I was leaving work, I saw these huge monsoon clouds boiling to the south.

Monsoon Clouds Over Black Mountain

At the bottom is a Cave Creek road crew with their bright vests on. And all of them looking the wrong way, towards me! Why is that guy taking a picture of us not working?

   I like to get out on Old Stage Road before sunrise for two reasons: I don't like meeting neighbors out walking and I don't like being fried by the sun. So, I try to get out at 5:30 which gives me most of the walk in the cool twilight. I encounter full bore sunlight just as I'm turning in the driveway on the way back. How's this for long shadows? That's a long-legged SOB (as the Kid called Pat Garrett).

Long Juan Returns

"Today, people struggle to find what's real. Everything has become so synthetic that a lot of people, all they want is to grasp onto hope."
—Bob Marley

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Facetime On The Modern Range

August 27, 2015
   I was admiring a nocturne by Frank Tenney Johnson as I was proofing the November issue for pre-press check. Johnson was famous for his night herders lighting up a cigarette during a break on the range.

A classic example of a Frank Tenney Johnson nocturne

   So I got to wondering this morning what would actually be lighting up a cowboy's face on the range today. I think I know:

Daily Whip Out: "Facetime On The Modern Range"

   I was talking to an artist friend recently, who told me about his efforts to nominate me to be an artist for West Select a Phoenix Art Museum group of artists chosen to replace the departing Cowboy Artists show (the West Select group and the show have since been discontinued). While my friend was castigating the group for not considering me, a well-known painter dismissed my work, saying, "He's just an illustrator." Now this shouldn't get to me, because, in reality, I consider myself, first and foremost, a cartoonist (see above parody), but coming from this joker, it just made me laugh, because, Mr. Paint-by-Numbers dude projects classic photos and old postcards, utilizing a projector then has an assistant trace it and paint it with flat Southwestern colors. By one account his assistants executed 299 paintings last year at $10,000 a pop. You do the math.

   Anyway, the designation of who is a "Fine" Artist and who is just an illustrator, or a cartoonist reminds me of Martin Mull's classic comment that show biz is "high school with money." And if you get caught up in the money stuff it will drive you to drink and I drink enough already. 

   And speaking of high school and drinking too much, I'm driving to Kingman tomorrow to attend my fiftieth high school reunion (and I have a few classmates who don't even think I'm an illustrator).

   Last week as I was coming back from Durango, out across the Navajo Res, I saw a billboard with a shocking headline to the effect that—and I had to Google this when I got home to make sure I read it right—"One in three American Indian women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape, according to the Justice Department." This disturbed me, and so, in light of the billboard and the snotty comment from Mr. Paint-by-Numbers Dude, I was inspired to do something this morning that he would never touch:

Daily Whip Out: "One In Three Navajo Women are Assaulted—So
 Stop Looking at This And Do Something About It."

But, I suppose, in all reality, this is just another cartoon.

"In chaos, there is fertility."
—Anais Nin

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gimme Three Steps

August 26, 2015
   Long one down in the Beast, today. Worked on a gaggle of studies this morning, an extenion of the work I did last night. Got into the office at nine, worked on a couple hangouts (Marsh had an answer in ATM that stated Bob Dylan got the gig on "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" because Sam Peckinpah dug his music and I knew that was suspect because in Paul Seydor's new book on Sam Peckinpah and Billy the Kid, he says Sam told Bobby Zimmerman he, Peckinpah, was a Roger Miller fan!). Emailed Paul S. to confirm this, left at 10:15 to motor down into the Beast. Stopped at Arizona Art Supply for, believe it or not, art supplies ($95 biz account), then motored on down to Cattletrack Art Compound for a meeting with Brent Bond and Mark McDowell. I'm a big fan of Mark's artwork and all the things they do at the Cattletrack fortress

Mark McDowell working on one of his big projects.

   Got back in the office at two and worked until five on various projects of my own. Have big plans for a couple of them, but you know what ol' Lokos says:

"Your actions are your only true belongings.
—Allan Lokos

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Walkdown Studies Continue

August 25, 2015
   Still seeking the right balance and thrust as regards a certain stroll down Tombstone way.

 Daily Whip Out: "The Walkdown #3"

   We've had big monsoon storms rolling over us for the past 48 hours. On my way home last night after work I encountered this big cloud convention over Cahava Ranch Road.

Storm clouds over Cahava Ranch Road last night

Finally rained early this morning at about 4:30.

Ratcliff Ridge this morning at about six a.m.

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either. It happens to be my view, but it doesn't challenge any of the findings of Darwin or Huxley or Einstein or Hawking."
—Christopher Hitchens

Monday, August 24, 2015

You Talkin' To Me?

August 24, 2015
    The older I get the more I talk to myself. Both out loud, and on paper. Here's a couple pages from my sketchbook.

 Daily Whip Outs: "You Talkin' To Me?"

   Sometimes I just enjoy simulating old photographs with all the imperfections and sepia saturated tones.

Daily Whip Out: "Sergeant"

And, sometimes I push washes around until they speak to me.

Daily Whip Out: "Crossroads"

   Wondering why I do all of this, but then, in a moment of introspection, I realize:

"Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being."
—John Hoyer Updike

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Train Keeps A Rollin' (but with a much needed correction)

August 23, 2015
   Tony Del Rosso emailed me Monday and said did I know there was an extra piece of masking on the final wall mural of my Choo Choo scratchboard, and I said, yes, I did know, but never mentioned it because it was still an honor to have one of my pieces featured so prominently on a wall at the brand new Scottsdale Museum of the West. Four days later, it was fixed. Amazing. Now when you see it, that black, semi-triangle just below the headlamp, and directly above Tony's right shoulder, is gone.

Tony Del Rosso standing in front of the blow-up of my "Choo Choo"
scratchboard BEFORE the fix.

   Stayed in last night and had homemade tacos, or, as they are called at our adobe:

Tacos de Bell

Filing some of my photos from my road trip earlier this month to New Mexico and Colorado. This is a cabin, at the entrance to Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch, in northwest New Mexico:

O'Keeffe Cabin with Pedernal Peak in the distance,
which is where Ms. O'Keeffe requested to have her ashes scattered.

The peak is featured in many O'Keeffe painting like this one:

Georgia O'Keeffe painting with Pedernal Peak in background.

"I loved it immediately. From then on I was always on my way back."
—Georgia O'Keeffe, describing her love for the desert Suthwest

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Is This A New Photograph of Doc Holliday?

August 20, 2015
   A True West exclusive: is this a new photograph of Doc Holliday?

 Even blurred, as shown here, you can make out the distinctive visage of the deadly dentist.

Mary Doria Russell has shared with us a photograph that is very intriguing. It shows a man who resembles Holliday, who is dying of tuberculosis in the 1880s. The face in the photograph has been blurred here to protect the subscribers who will get the crystal clear image in their mailboxes this week.

"This is funny."
—Doc Holliday

Shot Down In A Blaze of Gory. Yes, Gory.

August 20, 2015
   Unlike in the movies (where you get paid when you die on screen), it was a sad day in the Old West to be on the wrong end of a shootout.

Daily Whip Out: "Shot Down In A Blaze of Glory Didn't Pay Very Well In Real Life"

      Working on Old West street scenes perfecting my chops on the rackshamble nature of frontier architecture.

Daily Whip Out: "Shackramble Old West Architecture"

   And speaking of the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral, here is a sketch of the south side of Fremont, October, 1881.

Daily Whip Out: "South Side of Fremont Looking East Towards Fourth"

At far left, across the intersection of Fourth and Fremont is the post office, the Capital Saloon is on the west corner and then comes the Papago Cash Store, the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral, Baur's Meat Market and Fly's Boarding House. I have long wondered if the long pole that holds the O.K. Corral sign is, in fact, a flag pole. It juts out of the photos I have seen and would have made a great landmark advertisement coming into Tombstone with two flagpole signs on either end of the property. Just a guess, but a stylish one, you must admit.

   And finally, in the Wyatt Earp sweepstakes, check out this Marvin Gaye song (co-written by Bo Diddly?) in 1957:

Love the lyrics: "I was in the fight at O.K. Corral, tried to win somehow we failed, they gunned us down, like fish in a barrel, that was the end of our morale."

"In chaos, there is fertility."
—Anais Nin

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Monument Man And Mamacita Brujas

August 19, 2015
   Working on a new True West Moment:

Daily Whip Out: "The Monument Man"

   The Monument Man
   In 1923, cowboy Harry Goulding and his new bride, Mike (before they were married he sent letters to his Durango girlfriend, Leone, and didn't know how to spell her name so he called her Mike because he knew how to spell that—and it stuck!), bought 640 acres near the Arizona-Utah border for $320 and set up a tent to open a trading post. Things went well enough until a severe drought and the Depression kicked in, so, in desperation, Harry took a binder full of photos of the area to Hollywood, camped out at Untied Artists Studios with a bedroll until director John Ford happened by, saw the photos and within weeks filmed "Stagecoach" starring John Wayne, in Monument Valley and the rest is show biz history.

   Got the advance copies of the Wyatt Earp In Hollywood cover story. Looks strong. Now to move on to the book and the documentary.

   I have always been fascinated by Mexican witches, called "brujas." Sometimes they show up in the most unlikely places:

Daily Whip Out: "Mamacita Bruja"

"If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed."
—Ernest Miller Hemingway

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wyatt de la da Vinci

August 18, 2015
   On my road trip to New Mexico and Colorado, I frequented several used bookstores and found some gems, including a great book on da Vinci. Inspired by his light-touch sketches I took a swing at one this morning: 

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt de la da Vinci"

"Life is exactly one-half terror, exactly one-half exhilaration." 
—Ray Bradbury

Too Hip For The Room

August 18, 2015
   A long time ago, in an earlier century (1972) Dan Harshberger and I created a humor magazine, The Razz Revue. It lasted four years, 16 issues and made zero money. One of the lessons I learned from the experience is that you can be "too hip for the room," which I believe is a stand-up comic reference to going over the audience's head, by trying to be too clever.

BBB with copies of the Razz Revue and a KXAM microphone
 walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, 
for an Arizona Republic feature, published in 2000.

   Fast forward to last week when I "discovered" Georgia O'Keeffe after visiting her house at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I bought her biography and in it there is reference to a humor magazine called "291" published in 1915. So I Googled it and found out it was published by Alfred Stieglitz, the famous New York photographer and I believe husband of O'Keeffe. Anyway, it all reminded me of the Razz Revue experience. Especially this part:

Stieglitz had 500 extra copies printed of Issue No. 7-8, which featured his photograph The Steerage. Because it had recently been published for the first time and attracted very positive comments, he anticipated a huge demand for the image. The demand did not materialize, and none of the additional copies was sold.
Only twelve numbers of 291 were published, but three of them were double numbers so just nine actual issues were printed. It never attracted a wide audience, and the high costs of production became too much to sustain. Stieglitz had hundreds of unsold copies at his gallery when he closed it in 1917; he sold all of them to a rag picker for $5.80.

   The only difference between 291 and the Razz, Stieglitz and me and Dan, is that he made $5.80 more than we did on all our back issues.

"Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment: the moment when a man knows forever more who he is."
—Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, August 17, 2015

Frontier Looki-loos

August 17, 2015
   First day back after my 11 day road trip to New Mexico and Colorado. Dug out this morning and hit the scratchboards this afternoon.

  "Gonna be a fight?!" 

Daily Whip Out: "Frontier Looki-loo"

   Most people don't realize that before the so-called Gunfight at The O.K. Corral there were a whole bunch of Frontier Looki-loos egging on the participants. The Epitaph reported over 200 miners and men egging on the Earps and the cow-boys with dispatches from each side fanning the flames. Sounds more like a school yard fight, except with shotguns and revolvers.

Daily Whip Out: "Sonoran Herder"

 Daily Whip Out: "San Carlos Scout"

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt's Determination"

   What does all this mean? Why am I constantly seeking excellence with a scratchboard pen, trying to let it go where it wants to go? I wonder what ol' Lao has to say about all this?

"On Earth all can see beauty as beauty only because there is
ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is
evil. Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short
contrast each other; high and low rest upon each other;
voice and sound harmonize each other; front and back follow
one another. Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing,
teaching no-talking. The ten thousand things rise and fall
without cease. Creating, yet not possessing. Working, yet
not taking credit. Work is done, then forgotten. Therefore
it lasts forever.
—Old Lao Tzu Saying

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sourdough Slim, the Cascade Picnic And Roadside Elephant's Feet

August 16, 2015
   On Saturday all of our True West friends boarded the Durango-Silverton Presidential train for the ride to Cascade. Here we are crossing the legendary Highline:

The True West Presidential Train crosses The Highline

Here's what the Highline looked like in the 1880s:

Photo taken in the same spot on The Highline, circa 1880s.

All weekend everyone was talking about the EPA spill, at Silverton, and the orange water, but here is how it looks a week later: 

The view, straight down, at the contaminated Animas River.

Al Harper, the man who owns the railroad, hired musicians, gunfighters and dance hall girls to entertain us on our outing and here is one of the best Old West yodelers on the planet:

Sourdough Slim busts out a magnificent yodel in Al Harper's plush parlor car.

We got to Cascade Campground around noon and had a catered lunch with table cloths, towel-draped waiters and filet mignon steaks. 

The "talent" table.

   After lunch we horsed around in front of the train and took a thousand photos.

The Good, The Talented And The Flat Out Ugly: That's trick roper Will Roberts kneeling. Paul Andrew Hutton, at left, with his son, Paul Andy, BBB, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson.

   Wrapped up everything with a big street dance in downtown Durango and we all kicked out the jams. This is a great event and we need to get more of our True West friends to join us every year in the cool pines of southern Colorado. It's was 68 degrees this morning! Brrrrrrr.

   Hit the road this morning at around seven and came back across the Navajo Res and it's always fun to see the peculiar rock outcroppings. I believe this is called Elephant's Feet, and they are just beyond Tonalea.

Elephant's Feet on the Navajo Res

"That was my country—terrible winds and a wonderful emptiness."
—Georgia O'Keeffe

Friday, August 14, 2015

High On The Highline

August 14, 2015
   I'm in Durango, Colorado for the Fourth Annual True West Railfest. Big opening party last night, going on the Presidential Train tomorrow for a True West picnic, beyond the Highline. This is a photograph of the Highline back in the day (looks like 1880s. That is a 900 foot drop. Spectacular):

The Highline on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Guage Line

   Beautiful weather, slight sprinkles in the afternoon. Beats the 112 degree days back home.

"Filling a space in a beautiful way—that is what art means to me."
—Georgia O'Keeffe