Saturday, January 30, 2016

Buckeye Days Rodeo Parade

January 30, 2016
   Got up at five this morning and my neighbor Tom Augherton drove me out to Buckeye for the Buckeye Days Rodeo Parade. Checked in at eight, then had breakfast at the Sheep Camp Cafe. Tried the huevos rancheros, over easy with a flour tortilla. Went over to the staging area and met these guys milling about:

Showdown at The Western Motel

Love the shadows. Yes, I'm shooting right into the early morning sun. A no-no with my old cameras but my iPhone says, "Yeah, we can capture that." Here's a close-up on Lee Anderson on Concho in front of the Western Motel sign:

Lee Anderson Under the Sun and The Sign.

Parade went quick. It's a straight shot right down main street.

"Join us now for an appointment with destiny."
—Old TV show sign on

Friday, January 29, 2016

Billy Logas Postcard Blasts Doors Off Kingman Visitors Center

January 29, 2016
   Diane Silverman of the Kingman Visitor Center just dropped by to tell me that one of the five new postcards created by Dan "The Man" Harshberger is outselling all the other postcards. She thinks it's the colors.

Kingman postcard: "Billy Logas king of the Quarter Mile"

   Nice to see that Billy Logas is getting the exposure.

"The 413 is really diggin' in. . .tack it up, tack it up, buddy gonna shut you down."
—The Beach Boys, Shutdown, Vol. II

The Ponderers

January 29, 2016
   The Vincent van Gunfighter limited edition book has moved one step closer to becoming reality. Drove down to Cattle Track Art Compound in Scottsdale yesterday and collaborated with these two gents on selecting final images for the book. Brent Bond and Mark McDowell take a critical look at my Vincent-centric scratchboards.

"The Ponderers"

"You can pick your friends but you really shouldn't pick your nose when a photographer is around."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bull Hockey And Lee Van Cleef

January 28, 2016
   Just did a new True West Moment about "Cussin' Up A Pink Streak" in the Old West. As I point out there was a time when people went to great lengths NOT to swear around women and children. Today, of course, women and children swear like sailors, but on the American frontier adults got very creative when it came to creating softer oaths to use in mixed company. When did this end? Durned if I know.

   Here are a couple sketches that led me there:

Daily Whip Outs: "Soft Oaths #1"

Daily Whip Outs: "Soft Oaths #2"

Daily Whip Outs: "Soft Oaths #3"

   And speaking of Dutch dudes, I don't know how I missed Lee van Cleef, as a Vincent van Gunfighter model. He looks quite a bit like Vincent with the hawk nose and beady eyes. As a matter of fact, thanks to Gay Mathis, here is another connection between the two Dutchmen:

Bull Hockey! Lee Van Cleef paints!

"His glance makes holes in the screen."
—Sergio Leone's take on Lee Van Cleef

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Roy Rogers, Three Chords And The Truth

January 27, 2016
   Had a surprise visit from Tommy Nallie of The Sons of The Pioneers today. The Sons had a couple concerts in nearby Surprise, Arizona this week and since they were in the area, Tommy dropped in to thank us for naming them Best Western Music Group in our January Best of The West issue.

The Sons of The Pioneers' Tommy Nallie who has been with the group since 1983

   I asked the Trail Boss how the touring is going (this is the historic group's 82nd year on the road) and Tommy told me this story: they were back east—I think he said Chattanooga—and after a show with Roy Rogers, Jr., the guys went into an Applebee's and requested a booth in the back. A perky, 30-ish, waitress came over and said, "I'll bet you guys are in a band." They nodded and said, "Well, kind of." And she said, "Don't tell me—y'all sing gospel!" And they said no, not really. She looked perplexed, so Nolen Berry, their manager, said, to be helpful, "Ever heard of Roy Rogers?" And she brightened. "Yes, of course I have. It's a drink."

"Our ignorance of history makes us libel our own times. People have always been like this."
—Gustave Flubert

Attempted Murder?

January 27, 2016
   One of the strangest terms in the English language is the delineation of a "murder of crows," as in a flock of geese. Anyway—bad joke ahead!—does that make this scratchboard. . .

Daily Whip Out: "Attempted Murder"

"When your fear of not being successful exceeds all other fears, you will become successful."
—Larry Winget

The One Mile Drop Off: Buckey O'Neill's Cabin Revisited

January 27, 2016
   Several friends have commented on the photo John Langellier took of me standing on the wall in front of Buckey O'Neill's cabin. Yes, it's a one mile drop off to my left:

BBB Standing On The Rim of The Chasm (note French running shoes)

Here's the view straight down:

The One Mile Drop

   Now my mental hedge against vertigo, or panic, is to think of the trees in the foreground breaking my fall, or, at least slowing me down on the descent. This mental trick (delusion?) is what allowed me to stand up there.

   Speaking of death in the canyon, that is the name of a best selling book in the gift shop. Being a publisher, I always ask what is selling and "Death In The Canyon" is currently the biggest seller. The book lists all the mishaps, falling tourists (and perhaps even artists showing off) and deadly river trips. One of the Rangers in the gift shop says he hates the book. "People die here all the time," he scoffed. "But I don't want to know about it. That's not why we come here. Or, at least I HOPE that's not why we come here." He's right, of course, but I am intrigued, although I didn't buy the book.

   A week ago, historian John Langellier, and I made the trek to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. He had it on his bucket list to stay at Buckey O'Neill's cabin and since it was his birthday on January 20, we took it (the cabin is quite sought after and booked long in advance) Here is the birthday boy in front of Buckey's:

John Langellier points to the Historic Plaque On The Front Door of Buckey O'Neill's Cabin.

"What most people consider ordinary comforts, he regarded as debilitating luxuries."
—J. Frank Dobie, writing about legendary bear hunter Ben Lilly

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Crazy Crows Have Landed

September 26, 2016
   Getting serious about the Cattle Track book. Need to finish all the artwork in about a week. One aspect of the book is the ominous end of van Gogh's life. We know menacing crows figure prominently in one of Vincent van Gogh's final paintings: "Wheatfield With Crows." Some think he essentially painted his own obituary. Well, what about the crow's point of view? What would that look like?

   Went home for lunch and took a couple wild swings at this idea:

Daily Whip Out: "Crazy Crows Descending

Daily Whip Out: "The Crazy Crows Have Landed."
"Praise undeserved is satire in disguise."
—Hnery Broadhurst

Dylan Is Van Gogh by Tom Russell

January 26, 2016
   Still cranking on van Gogh art for my big show in March. Got this interesting take on van Gogh Is Dylan, by the recording artist Tom Russell:

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Prophecy: Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It!"

Dylan is Van Gogh. Van Gogh Is Dylan. In the Van Gogh book of letters and sketches are endless rough drawings - hundreds of working sketches of potato eaters, farmers, sowers, prostitutes, fishermen, weavers and endless attempts at sunsets, fields of flowers and on...all leading up to the final masterpiece paintings. The art begins wild, sometimes off balance, but ends up powerful and complete. I see the same processes in young Dylan in this release "The Cutting Edge." The rapid song processes and number of resulting masterworks - it's as unimaginable as the truth of Van Gogh painting three hundred great paintings in one year.  We are granted a full-on vision of the artist in the studio. We listen to the young Bob Dylan starting and stopping songs. Renaming them. Staring over. Moods shift, titles change, awkward poetry is smoothed into art. He keeps carving (in a matter of days) until the masterpiece unfolds. Dozens. The obdurate shard Like a Woman eventually ends up becoming the epic classic: Just Like a WomanVisions of Johanna survives dozens of off-base rock feels, until it glides safely home into a Beat, Rimbaud-influenced, love ballad for all time. And finally, the nail the point down here, Like A Rolling Stone survives days and days of rough transitions and dead-end turnarounds and young Bob blowing his voice out - to become the most important rock song of all time, with an opening snare drum call to attention that is the shot heard 'round the world.
          Dylan is Van Gogh. Van Gogh is Dylan. We are perceiving art that is forged in deep time, created by possessed souls - and does anyone have the guts now to trek that wilderness road again? Batting away the vicious critical gnats and the boo's? Certainly Dylan hammered the point home in his "Music Cares" speech. The bedrock of his art lies in the study, and assimilation, of ten thousand folk songs steeped in myth, deep poetics, and mystical melodies - which he borrowed heavily from and then carved into his own modernistic visions. There are no major young songwriters today capable, or willing, to do this heavy lifting. Welcome to the Dark Ages of song. 
—Tom Russell

"Artists do not make masterpieces. . .time does."
—Mark McDowell

Monday, January 25, 2016

Breaking News On Buckey O'Neill's Death

January 25, 2016
   I mentioned here earlier that Buckey O'Neill's alleged last words‚ "that the Spanish bullet has not been made. . ." are not backed up by history.  According to the definitive work by Charles Herner "Arizona Rough Riders" pp 158-159 indicates that Capt. McClintock "implied he never quite believed the story." Herner also points out that Pvts Webb and Tuttle who were eyewitnesses to the death made no reference to the quote. Well, I just got this from Mark Lee Gardner:

Thought you might be interested in what James D. Raudebaugh, a member of O'Neill's Troop A, had to say about his captain's final words.  He was just twenty feet away when O'Neill was killed by a sniper.  Raudebaugh recorded his captain's words in a letter to his uncle dated July 8, 1898, and published in The Coconino Sun of July 23, 1898.  See the attached.

—Mark Lee Gardner

Well, that's pretty convincing to me. Watch for Mark's next book which will be on Teddy Roosevelt.

"The Spanish bullet was not moulded yet that could kill [me]."
—Buckey O'Neill as quoted by James D. Raudebaugh

Murderer Or Saint?

January 25, 2016
   Worked all weekend on scratchboards for the limited edition book. Got some decent stuff.

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Cowboy"

Of course, we know who some of the bad guys are, pouncing in the dust of the fight:

Daily Whip Out: "Crows Attack"

And we know a couple scenes we have to do:

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Gunfighter In Barn Doorway"

Of course, everything is descendant from a time and place a half century ago.

"You could be looking at a murderer or a saint."
—Norman Mailer on the grizzled visage of The Man With No Name, Clint Eastwood

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Learning From The Dead

January 24, 2016
   Really knuckled down yesterday and did seven scratchboards, with an emphasis on crows:

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Crow"

      And I also did a whip out for Johnny D:

Arizona Cowboy Singer

   I was reading a tribute to David Bowie by Cameron Crowe, and in it, Crowe related that Bowie showed him how he writes songs: Take clipped single pieces of paper of the best lines and shuffle them together until it makes just enough sense, and no more. Leave the rest for the reader. So, I applied this to my book project, "Vincent van Gunfigher":

Daily Whip Out: "Learning From The Dead"

"Creativity is freedom. Ability is a poor man's wealth."
—Ricky Gervais 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Pacific Rim Kind of Guy

January 23, 2016
   Here's a nice little ode to a certain birthday boy from his mother:

On this date 33 years ago, Bob Boze Bell and I started a great adventure with our favorite son.
Was it easy? Sure, labor was only 1.5 hours.
Was it hard? You bet, he is an ADVENTURER and was a delightful? teen.
Was it rewarding? Absolutely, we never imagined that our genes could produce such a philosophical, compassionate, good looking human being.
Was it fun? Beyond a doubt, we traveled to Costa Rica and Spain to visit him in school, had themed birthday parties with dressed up little boys running amok, and made a fortune when he cussed and had to put a quarter in the "cussing jar."
Would I do it again? Not at this age. We are extraordinarily lucky to have The Amazing Amy Pothong in our lives to be his companion so all we have to do is visit.
What is my point?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favorite son.
Thomas Charles Bell
—Kathy Radina

   And here's how the little booger looked when he first arrived on January 23, 1983:

Two Big Babies: BBB and TCB

And here he is when he was a little older, on a road trip to New Mexico, circa 1992:

Thomas Is Thrilled With The Fort Thomas Sign (and by extension Mangas Coloradas)

   Of course, when he got older he did take after his dad in a couple departments:

T. Charles In The Kitchen Acting Like A Clown (note the Wheaties box 
with his likeness on it, over his head) and sporting
an Arizona Wildcats sweatshirt.

   The boy loves the road, just like his mom and dad:

Thomas and his dad And The Longhorn Skull On The Way to Arivaca,
circa 2014.

   But no matter what else is said, the boy is not afraid to take the plunge:

Tommy Taking The Plunge In Thailand

"Dad, I'm just a Pacific Rim kind of guy."
—Thomas Charles when I asked him why he always chose Thai restaurants for his birthday treat.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Vincent's 100 Yard Stare

January 22, 2016
   Missed a couple days in my sketchbook due to driving all day Wednesday and Thursday to the Grand Canyon and back. Got up this morning and finished another scratchboard for the Vincent van Gunfighter book:

Daily Whip Out: "Vincent's 100-Yard-Stare"

   More than a few of my neighbors are a hoot. Fran and Mike Douglas were at the Scottsdale Museum of The West last night for Abe Hays' induction as the 2016 True Westerner of the year award, and Fran said she had never been to the museum and I said, "Don't miss my artwork on the way to the bathroom." This morning, I found this in my mailbox: 

"Fran Ran Over By The BBB Train."

"Last night at the Grand Canyon we walked from Buckey O'Neill's cabin in the snow to El Tovar for dinner. It felt like 'The Revenent' the whole way."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The View From Buckey O'Neill's Front Porch

January 21, 2016
   A good friend of mine, John Langellier turned 65 yesterday and he wanted to celebrate his birthday at Buckey O'Neill's cabin on the South Rim of The Grand Canyon. We got there about four yesterday afternoon and were not disappointed by the view out the front window:

Buckey O'Neill's cabin, at right, is allegedly the oldest building on the rim.

Here is the view from the front room:

The Million Dollar View Out The Front Window

When we got there and I opened the front door, a woman was reading the historical plaque at left and I said to her, "Do you think I should complain about our view here? I wanted to be closer to the rim." She thought I was serious and told me, "No, you shouldn't complain." So, I kept up my ruse and said, "I'm sorry, but I'm really upset. We were supposed to have a view, and this—sweeping my hand at the expanse—is all we get?" She was very sweet and tried to convince me I shouldn't complain. I finally just laughed and said, "I'm being ridiculous, you know?" She didn't know, and fled the area. Had dinner in the historic El Tovar dining room and I treated John to a birthday taco dessert:

The John Langellier Birthday Chocolate Taco

Had some fun,  drank some good wine and solved some life. 

BBB On The Wall In Front of Buckey's Cabin at Sunrise This morning.

   I am standing on the wall in front of Buckey's cabin and it is a mile-long drop to my left, but—full confession—I am wearing $100 French running shoes, which I cropped out so I wouldn't look like the French Pussay Cowboy I really am.

"The Spanish bullet hasn't been made that will hit me from this. . .,"
—Buckey O'Neill's alleged last words at the foot of San Juan Hill in Cuba, but according to John, he never said this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The New Winged Cowboy Hats Debated

January 20, 2016
   We had our semi-annual meeting of the Hat Nazi Club, so named by artist Thom Ross to describe Rusty York's ruthless passion for authentic cowboy hats in movies. Rusty wants to know why, with today's technology, we can't go back and re-edit Westerns from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and digitally replace all the incorrect hats with more authentic hats. While I understand this to be very close to pure lunacy, I have to admit I emotionally agree with him. Thus the meeting and thus, why he is the president and I am merely in charge of the membership drive, which you can clearly see, is going really well.

The Hat Nazi Club's Annual Meeting, December 19, 2015

Left to right: Rusty York, Thom Ross and Paul Hutton, the latter is not a member of the club, but he was at the meeting to show off the galley proofs of his new "Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History." And, of course, he's wearing a cap, so what does he know? True, it's a True West cap, but still. . .

   After our pledge of allegiance: On our honor, we solemnly swear, if we ever get to make a movie we promise to get the hats right in every scene and in every Western we make! The order of business then shifted to Rusty's remark that there have been no new cowboy hat styles in the past 50 years. I begged to disagree. And a motion was made, by me, to grab him by the stampede string and shake some sense into him. "No," I said with a tinge of superiority, "there is a new hat style from down Texas way, that all the kids are touting with the ironed front brims." Kid Ross had seem them, but incredibly Rusty had not. Hutton kept shoving his galley proofs in front of my face, trying to get me to commit to doing a cover story on his new book for True West in 2016. I waved Hutton off my lap and turned to Mr. York: "I will email you a few jpegs," I told York, who looked at me like I was, well, a bonified Hat Nazi.

An old style photo of the new look
 with the ironed front brim and exaggerated
 side wings Here's an even better example:

Flat front, big winged sides, 
like a '57 Chevy
 meets a pre-formed taco shell. 

"I can see by your hat you are out of your flippin' mind."
—Hat Nazi Greeting

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sisters to The Bone

January 19, 2016
   I sometimes start scratchboards by whittling away at a corner and seeing where it takes me. This one took an odd and unexpected turn.

Daily Whip Out: "Sisters to The Bone"

   Don't ask me where that title came from.

"Making your unknown known, is the important thing."
—Georgia O'Keeffee

It's A Girl My Lord In A Flatbed Ford Slowing Down to Take A Look at Me

January 19, 2016
   Thanks to Mark Boardman for sharing with me the Washington Post article about Glenn Frey's passing, which quotes me:

Standing On A Corner In Seligman, Arizona With A Beatle Jacket

On the other hand, maybe the girl was not in Flagstaff: “A friend of mine who grew up in Winslow and is married to a federal judge, adamantly proclaims, ‘I was the girl in the flatbed Ford,'” wrote Bob Boze Bell in his True Western Magazine blog. But the raconteur took the story with a grain of salt: “I’m sure she’s not alone in that claim, but on some level she’s probably right. A glancing semi-encounter with a gypsy song-writer on old Route 66 gets elevated to epic myth in a popular song. We can all relate to that fantasy road trip narrative on some level and stake a claim to it.”

And here's the link to the blog:

Standin' On A Corner

   The "girl" from Winslow who told me that is Phyllis Hawkins. She is married to Mike Hawkins, also of Winslow. Several years ago we went to Winslow to stay at La Posada and get the hometown tour from Mike and Phyllis. She said at one point, "you know I was the girl in the flatbed Ford?" and I thought it was so cocky and cute in a Winslow kind of way, that I wrote about it in my blog. I assume this turned up in a Google search. Kind of funny and amazing. I actually sound kind of intelligent in the passage. I assume the writer cleaned up my spelling (like Meghan Saar does in every issue of True West except one: she went on vacation the last week of the Feb. issue and Agent Godfrey is spelled five different ways in Classic Gunfights).

"The only thing wrong with immortality is that it tends to go on forever."
—Herb Caen

Monday, January 18, 2016

How Much Did I Hate The H8teful Eight? Allow Me to Count The Ways

January 18, 2016
   I wanted to like The Hateful Eight, I really did. I was up for an over-the-top Tarrantino take on the Wild West, I was really up for the 70MM film stock, with the Anamorphic lenses with the 1.25X compression and I was more than ready for a romping good time with an amazing cast:

The Heavy H8teful Hitters

   I love everyone on that call sheet. The opening started out spectacular, with an extreme closeup on a snow covered crucifixion statue in the middle of nowhere.

A 70MM closeup on a snow-covered crucifixion

   As the camera pulls away from the cross we see a tiny blob in the distant whiteout. As the credits roll, the blob becomes clearer and we realize it's a stagecoach being pulled by four horses. Wonderful.

   Two shots later, we see the stage plowing along only now it's a six-horse team. Really, Quentin? You went to all the trouble to get the opening shot and you couldn't match the team of horses?

   Strike one.

   As we move along we see shots of the side of the stagecoach: Butterfield Stage Line. Okay, so they are in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California. Nope. We're in Montana (most of the exteriors were filmed near Telluride, Colordao).

   Strike two.

   From there, the story rolls along with the usual Tarrantino whiplash plot twists and N-word laden dialogue (why does Louis CK and Quentin Tarrantino get the by on usage of the word that would get the rest of us fired, or worse?) until , at about the two-hour mark we get an out-of-nowhere narrator, who comes on for a couple of minutes and explains what happened while we were watching the scenes that just happened. It's so lame I can't even imagine how Harvey Weinstein let this slide. Acutally, I can't imagine why Harvey didn't kick Quentin's ass. Just amazingly lame.

A room full of great actors try to carry an overcooked and exceedingly lame story.

   I did really enjoy Jennifer Jason Leigh, who carries a certain integrity even though she spouts some of the ugliest dialogue a woman (who has her front teeth knocked out) has ever spoken in the history of cinema. 

   Strike 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10. H8ted this movie.

"All creative people should be required to leave California for three months every year."
—Gloria Swanson

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The book you have to read or you can't live in Arizona, I'm sorry

January 16, 2016
   Martha Summerhayes recorded her Arizona adventures in a classic book, “Vanished Arizona,” which came out in 1908. In it she describes, as only an astute woman can, all the hardships of traveling to, and across, Arizona in the year 1874. Several hundred miles by steam, then overland from Fort Mojave to Fort Apache (her husband walked!). It’s a breathtaking read. If I was king of Arizona (full disclosure: I’m considering a run) I would make it a law that anyone who lives here has to read this book. It’s that good. Now go get your copy at Guidon Books in Scottsdale.

"Read this book, or leave."
—The King of Arizona

Counting Crows

January 16, 2016
   The big Vincent van Gogh-Buffalo Bill in Paris cover package went to the printer yesterday and now it's on to the limited edition book—Vincent van Gunfighter. I want to hone in on the Murder of Crows concept a little tighter, but I have a question: what's the difference between a crow and a raven? Turns out, not much, other than ravens have feathers on their beaks and crows do not, and the two have slightly different tail feather configurations. Got up at four this morning and called up some Google reference and did a couple dozen sketches of crows, mostly in flight:

Daily Whip Outs: "A Murder of Crows studies"

   My production manager, Robert Ray, met me down at Santos Press at Cattletrack Compound yesterday and we are going into production on a limited edition book (100 copies). Going to be sweet.

"The value of repeated studies of beginnings of a painting cannot be over-estimated. Those who cannot begin, do not finish."
—Robert Henri

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bultaco Territory

January 14, 2016
   Went home for lunch and was talking to Curator Cal in the studio when I spied an unfinished scratchboard that had some potential. For a short period in the early seventies I raced on TT tracks and did my share of off road riding as well. 

Daily Whip Out: "Bultaco Territory"

   I really loved my Triumph 500cc Tiger and modified it for racing. If the background looks familiar, well, that's the view I see every morning on my walk up Old Stage Road. And, when we moved out here in 1986, it was a dirt road.

Sugarloaf Lit Up On A Rainy Day

   One of the things we off-roaders were obsessed with was jumping stuff. Arroyos, cutbanks, irrigation ditches and small cars. But, in the scheme of things, we were pretty small potatoes.

Tom Mix Jumps Beale's Cut (allegedly)

   This famous photo is very controversial. I personally believe this length of this jump would break both of Tony's front legs. Many believe Mix actually made the jump. He certainly was bold enough to consider it, but I think it was faked. It just looks fake.

"If I die, I forgive you; if I live, we'll see."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Hell Is Coming With Me!

January 14, 2016
   A brisk 46 degrees out this morning. Got a fire going in the studio stove and since Kathy is in Turkey, I have nothing but art to concentrate on in the morning. That's leads to some interesting little studies, like this one:

Daily Whip Out: "Hell's Comin With Me!"

       Got up this morning and worked on sketches of various van Gogh paintings. Trying to study his approach. I was intrigued by the landscape design, at center.

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Sketches"

   So I decided to expand that design into a scratchboard:

Daily Whip Out: "The Early Riser"

   This is based on the fact that van Gogh got up at four and hit the road by five a.m. almost every day to find spots to paint. He as truly a fou roux (a redheaded madman).

"Happiness does not lie in results, but in the effort."
—Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky