Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Last Hangout

October 19, 2017
   Just as you should never say never, a book is not completely done until the press starts rolling, and even then, I have been known to add another 76 pages and multiple new photos and artwork (see Billy the Kid, Book One vs. Book Two).

Kathy took this photo of me last night when I finally got home after finishing the Wild Bill book. I even added the wearing of this T-shirt as an added "ritual,"  making a vow to wear it until the book was done (much to the disgust of any staff member at True West who can still smell).

   This morning I woke up early and got ready to shave off my book ritual beard when I suddenly had an inspiration. The second to last page in the book needs a couple more images, like this:

Whipped this out and sent it via my phone to Robert Ray.

   And, by the way, here's the man who did all the heavy lifting on this project.

Robert Ray, my extraordinarily talented production manager who carried this project on his back, even as he juggles a full load on the January issue of True West, going out the door in two weeks. Look at how tired I look and how resilient he looks. Amazing. Can't say enough about this long time partner. He has been with me for 18 years!

   Oh, and here's one last sketch I did this morning to add to the final page mix:

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill Still Looms"

"To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The History of Classic Gunfights

October 18, 2017
      Next year marks True West magazine's 65th Anniversary and when our editor, Meghan Saar, was looking back through our archives, she found some interesting tidbits:

We are often mobbed just trying to drive through town and sometimes we are forced
to get out and walk.

   Meghan also found a few items on my blog that track the beginnings of Classic Gunfights, which runs parallel to my scattered and long exasperating efforts to do a book on Wild Bill Hickok (I actually started the book back in 1996).

The History of Classic Gunfights

March 7, 2000
I came up with the idea of Classic Gunfights and featuring a gunfight every issue. Will start with Wyatt Earp at Mescal Springs in next issue.

June 2, 2000
I worked one of the longest days of my life yesterday. Did three paintings and a scratchboard for Hickok Classic Gunfights piece, plus the usual publisher/radio madness. Finished at 10 last night.

The September, 2001 issue (yes, the 9•11 issue) although we produced it in May.

May 19, 2001
   I drove up to Camp Verde to shoot photos for Wild Bill's 7th Cav Fight, photo reference session at Old Fort Verde, Arizona

          Left to right: Michael Woodcock, Scott Dunkirk, Robert hunter, Garrett Roberts, Chris T.                  DeMille (yes, he's related to that DeMille), Ernest Cummings and Thadd Turner.

May 29, 2001
Working hard on 11 images for Wild Bill issue. I’m not as bad as I fear, but not as good as I hope for.

One of the Wild Bill Daily Whip Outs

June 1, 2001
Mike Melrose is above $14K for Wild Bill! I was so impressed I took him to lunch at El Encanto. Great guy.

June 26, 2001
I did 26 illustrations for the Wild Bill issue [where did I find the time?]

End of Blog archives. On a related note, I just finished the Wild Bill book this afternoon at 4:57. Lots of production left for Robert Ray and Meghan Saar, but I finished all the art and the last caption. Whew! Long strange, trip! Goes to printer on Monday.

"Progress might have been all right once but it has gone on too long"
—Odgen Nash

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Spaghetti Wild Bill Begets The BBB Wild Bill

October 17, 2017
   The Top Secret Writer gifted me a rare Italian comic book on Wild Bill Hickok by the artist Rino Albertarelli. Published in 1994, it features virtually all the episodes in Hickok's life with some accuracy (although the buscadero holster rig, below, is unfortunate. )

Rino's Italian Version of The Prince of Pistoleers

   Back in the nineties, Rino contacted Paul Hutton when the latter was a professor in Utah and Mister Albertarelli quizzed Hutton about various aspects of the real Hickok. Here is an example of an episode I am kind of amazed he covered:

Rino's version of the lance wound story.

   As a scout for the U.S. Army, Wild Bill was carrying dispatches when he was jumped by a Cheyenne war party and lanced in the leg. After a 14-year-absence, Wild Bill returned home to visit his ailing mother. While there it became obvious his lance wound needed to be, ahem, lanced, and so, Doctor Edward Thomas was called on and he came to the house to see what he could do. Lydia Hickok, James's sister, later claimed he would not take chloroform. She also reported that "the doctor made four cuts outward from the wound, making a cross with the lance. The he drew the flesh back and began to scrape the bone. I was holding the lamp and began to feel myself growing feint." Her brother said, "Here, give it to me," and he held the lamp for the duration of the operation, never flinching once.

BBB version: "Bad to The Bone"

   Hard to believe that an Italian would get American history more correct than any American cartoonist, until, well, my next book, which is due out in December.

Pre-orders are being taken now.

"Some things are over, some things go on, part of me you carry, part of me is gone."
—Tom Petty

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Prince of The Pistoleers Meets The Boy General

October 16, 2017
   Buffalo Bill Cody and George Armstrong Custer both had quite a bit to do with Wild Bill Hickok's fame as a frontiersman, but as you might have guessed, those relationships, at least with Cody, are complicated.

The Prince of The Pistoleers Meets The Boy General
   It's unclear exactly when Hickok met Custer but on November 17, 1867 General Carr and seven troops left Fort Lyon on their way to join four companies of the Tenth Cavalry, joined the Seventh Cavalry to do battle against the Cheyenne and Oglala Sioux in what became known as the Great Sioux War. Wild Bill was the guide for Custer on the mission, although he was not chief of scouts as some have claimed. That said, both George Custer and his wife Libby were quite fond of Hickok (see Libby's effusive quote, below) and their florid approval added to Hickok's growing image as a Western frontier hero.

Daily Whip Out: "Custer & Wild Bill"

Wild Bill's 'Undaunted Courage'
"Physically, he was a delight to look upon. Tall, lithe, and free in every motion, he rode and walked as if every muscle was perfection, and the careless swing of his body as he moved seemed perfectly in keeping with the man, the country, the time in which he lived. I do not recall anything finer in the way of physical perfection than Wild Bill when he swung himself lightly from his saddle, and with graceful, swaying step, squarely set shoulders and well poised head, approached our tent for orders. He was rather fantastically clad, of course, but all seemed perfectly in keeping with the time and place. He did not make an armory of his waist, but carried two pistols. He wore top-boots, riding breeches, and dark blue flannel shirt, with scarlet set in front. A loose neck handkerchief left his fine firm throat free. I do not all remember his features, but the frank, manly expression of his fearless eyes and his courteous manner gave one a feeling of confidence in his word and in his undaunted courage.’
—Libby Custer

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill's Undaunted Courage"

Wild Bill Lanced
   The Fifth Cavalry returned to Fort Lyon on February 19, 1869 and Wild Bill acted as a courier, carrying dispatches between Fort Lyon and Fort Wallace. While making a return trip to Fort Lyon, Hickok was jumped by a war party of Cheyenne and in a running fight he was lanced, deep into his upper thigh by a warrior who got close enough to wound him. Somehow Hickok was able to distance himself from the Cheyenne and continued on towards Fort Lyon. He was found the next morning, about a mile from the fort by a group of soldiers out on wood-detail. Hickok had lost his horse and was using the lance which had wounded him to walk with. Suffering from blood loss and half frozen, Hickok was rushed to the fort where Buffalo Bill Cody summoned the post surgeon. Wild Bill gifted the lance to Cody who kept it for the rest of his life.

Bad to The Bone 
  After a 14-year-absence, Wild Bill returned home to visit his ailing mother. While there it became obvious his lance wound needed to be, ahem, lanced, and so, Doctor Edward Thomas was called on and he came to the house to see what he could do. Lydia Hickok, James's sister, later claimed he would not take chloroform. She also reported that "the doctor made four cuts outward from the wound, making a cross with the lance. The he drew the flesh back and began to scrape the bone. I was holding the lamp and began to feel myself growing feint." Her brother said, "Here, give it to me," and he held the lamp for the duration of the operation, never flinching once.

Daily Whip Out: "Bad to The Bone"

With Friends Like These
   Although Buffalo Bill always maintained he and Hickok were best friends to the end, Cody let his true feelings show when he sent a letter to Sam Hall, seeking to discourage him from a stage career: "I would never again have another Scout or Western man with me. . .For just as soon as they see their names in print a few times they git the big head and want to start a company of their own. I will name a few." The first name on the list is Wild Bill.

"With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wild Bill After The Storm

October 16, 2017
   The lawmen who policed the Kansas cowtowns were a special breed of cat. They had to be. Wild Bill had many attempts on his life when he was a lawman in Hays City, Kansas (he was appointed sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas on August 23, 1869). He escaped several assassination attempts and became very cautious when patrolling the streets of the roaring cowtown. He avoided the sidewalks and especially the dark alleys. He allowed no one to get too close, or to approach from the rear. He took to walking down the center of North Main Street, eyes scanning the saloons for potential trouble.

Daily Whip Out: "After The Storm"

Wild Bill strode right down the middle of the main street

"To the people of Hays he was a valuable officer, making arrests when and where none other dare attempt it. His power lies in the wonderful quickness with which he draws a pistol and takes his aim."
—W.E. Webb

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oh, The Mess I Have Made!

October 14, 2017
   Last full day to work on the book. It never gets easier. So far, I've done a dozen, but finishing a book is always difficult. All the last minute changes, trying to squeeze in all the things I forgot to put in, trying to edit out all the mistakes I thought were already taken out.

   It's a booger, I tell you. My neighbor, Tom Augherton, just came up the hill and caught me in my typical royal, serene, total confidence mode.

The mess I have created.

   But, like child birth, the misery will soon fade and the next book idea will loom ahead like a sensuous dream.

"If it wasn't for deadlines, nothing would get done."

—Every graphic artist, copy editor and show runner that ever lived

Friday, October 13, 2017

Swearing by Swearengen: Is The Cursing In "Deadwood" Historically Accurate?

October 13, 2017
  Once and for all, did the miners and gamblers in Deadwood talk as profanely as David Milch has portrayed them in his fictional HBO series, "Deadwood"? 

Dan The Man Harshberger's humorous, done in jest, cover concept

This is a popular opinion:

"I’re read that foul language was prevalent in Deadwood, the town, but came in the form of 'tarnation' and 'gol-darn',” Milch thought these would be laughable to a modern audience, and so the f-bombs (which I also read, didn’t come into fashion until the 1920’s) were used.
—Clint Johnson, on Facebook

  I personally don't buy the "gol-darn-it" school of thought regarding "Deadwood." I believe all those soft swear words were put into use by mothers and church going people, perhaps in that time, but certainly in the time I grew up (1950s). My grandmother—Minnie Hauan Bell—liked to say, "What in the Sam Hill!" and there are a ton of these replacement swear words. I don't think any self-respecting miner, gambler or gunfighter in the Old West ever walked into a saloon and said, "What in tarnation is goin' on in here?"

   I also don't buy the notion that the so-called F-bomb was not "in fashion" until the 1920s. I read a memoir of a young, newlywed farmer's wife from the late 1880s who was supposed to go to town, but the trip got cancelled and so she decided to eat her sack lunch she had prepared for the trip, out in the shade of the barn where her husband and hired hands were working. She didn't announce her arrival, but she was soon shocked and stunned by her new husband's language which she had never heard from him before. Now, this doesn't prove he was using the F-bomb, but it does illustrate that there was a profane vocabulary used by men when there are no women present. And, by one estimate, the local museum in Deadwood touts, the men to women ratio in Deadwood at that time was 100 to one. So I have a strong hunch it was pretty profane, even by Victorian standards.

   And, by the way, the term "F-bomb" is a new phrase, coming into vogue in the last decade, or so, underscoring how fluid language is.

   At any rate, I put the question out to our contributing editors and staff and here are their thoughts on the subject:

Historians Weigh In On Swearing By Swearengen
"Did miners and soldiers curse, especially in saloons--of course they did. Did they cuss in front of women and children--never, unless they wanted to get shot by an outraged husband, brother or bystander. Is the cursing in Deadwood overdone--of course it is. Language changes over time--recall the language we regularly heard in the 1950s as opposed to the language today (a total reversal on the commonality of the F-word and the N-word). The language in Deadwood was used for shock value because it was pay-cable TV and they wanted to see what they could get away with and distance themselves from broadcast TV. Its TV, not history."
—Paul Hutton, A Distinguished Professor of History at The University of New Mexico

"I truly believe that many miners and other resident of Deadwood did, but the Deadwood series went too far. This was, after all, the Victorian era and the words damn and hell were considered offensive! So, no, the whole damned town didn’t drop the f-bomb in every sentence.
—Sherry Monahan, Contributing Editor, True West magazine

"Have no emperical data, but if I had to live in such an nasty, cutthroat, dirty town as Deadwood was then, I'd swear all the tine, too,"
—Jana Bommersbach, columnist, and contributing editor, True West magazine

Deadwood got it right--profanity was part and parcel of normal, everyday talk in the mining camps and frontier towns.  The words most often associated with the show--the long ones dealing with carnage knowledge?  I don't think those were used, for the most part (although the "f" word was).  And even rough-hewn miners and cowboys held their tongues a tad around a lady.  Folks wanted to retain some veneer of sophistication and class."
—Mark Boardman, True West columnist and editor of The Tombstone Epitaph

And finally, for all you who think the potty mouths on "Deadwood" are innaccurate, there's this:

Youthful Depravity
The fact must come home to every observer that Deadwood's rising generation is very depraved. Go where we will our ears are greeted with profanity and obscenity from al
most baby lips, while our vision is assailed by sights of the most lamentable character. These urchins are not all of that peculiar class known as "hoodlums" for whom ignorance is some excuse, as many of them receive the kindest and best instruction at home, but from too lenient parents who allow their children to wander through the city, visiting haunts of iniquity where are exerted those pernicious influences which sooner or later deaden the most acute sensibility, destroy all sense of right and morality and inspire to an emulation of the worst characters of the town.
--Black Hills Daily Pioneer-January 26, 1881

   Every generation thinks it's smarter than the last and wiser than the next. And, by extension, I think every generation thinks they more or less invented swearing. Why is this? Because nobody can remember their grandparents swearing. My grandkids have never heard me swear and if I do my job right, they never will. So these babies get to grade school and hear the inevitable swear words and they are excited and appalled ("My grandparents don't talk like this!") So they assume it's new. I think it's safe to say, this has been going on for about three to ten thousand years, and as long as there are grandparents, kids will grow up believing that swearing is a flippin' new thing.

"I am not young enough to know everything."
—Olscar Wilde

There Is No Other Charlie Utter

October 13, 2017
   Obstacles often lead to creative solutions. My production manager, Robert Ray, took a bad xerox of an old litho down to JC Printing and had them print it out on thick art stock ($4 a sheet) and then I painted over each one, which creates a pretty authentic looking art print, although each one is slightly different. 

Daily Whip Out: "Charlie Utter, There Is No Other"

   Okay, I lied. There is another one, with slightly different coloring:

Daily Whip Out: "Another Charlie Utter Slightly Colored Brother"

  This all stemmed from a funky copyright deal where the original art print had a French publication ownership warning on it and I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own version of the image. This was my test of the tester, below, on regular typing paper (note paper rippling at top):

Daily Whip Out: "Charlie Utter Typing Paper Flutter"

   I think I made it mine. It's a full page in the Wild Bill book, since it's Charlie who hand letters Wild Bill's tombstone headboard in a famous photo:

"Colorado" Charlie Utter
   According to Wild Bill expert and author, Joseph Rosa, we have to take this drawing of Charlie (also styled as Charley) Utter "with reservation." He doesn't explain, but I assume there is some doubt about it actually being our boy. It was drawn by Janet Lange and published in 1869 in the French magazine Le Tour du Monde (Tour of The World?). This is really early—1869—and predates Buffalo Bill Cody's European tours by a dozen years, or so. Utter evidently grew up in Illinois but moved to Colorado to become a trapper and guide. He was known to be a fastidious dresser and insisted on bathing every day (almost unheard of in the trapper-scout fraternity). He was also a close friend of Hickok's and it was Charlie who arranged for Wild Bill's funeral and paid for the plot.

"If it's true that legend is truth exaggerated to make a better story, then one of the things we historians do best is to ruin a good story."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Did Wyatt Earp Meet Wild Bill Hickok?

October 12, 2017
   By the early 1870s, Wild Bill Hickok was a national celebrity and, in fact, basically lived off that notoriety for the last two years of his life. Like all celebrities, people flocked to him, bought him drinks and fawned over him. After his death in 1876, many a Westerner claimed to know him. It became almost a touchstone, or badge of authenticity, to have even seen him.

   In the book, "Frontier Marshal," on page 43, the author Stuart Lake quotes Wyatt Earp as saying he met Wild Bill in Kansas City, in 1871. The dates don't quite work (Earp was in Peoria, Illinois working in, ahem, beaver procurement) and historians wonder if Lake was trying to tie the two together to make Earp look better. Earp author, Casey Tefertiller, doesn't think Earp made the claim, but that Lake put the words in Earp's mouth.

Wyatt Earp in Los Angeles about the time he met Stuart Lake in the late 1920s
The original photo was photographed by a historian in March of 1957
(thus the time stamp on the border of the photo).

   On the other hand, Casey maintains, "There is a brief mention that Earp met Wild Bill in passing. I think it is in the disputed Adelia Earp Edwards memoir, which I think is probably real. I would have to dig it out to be certain.  I think it very possible that Earp met Wild Bill in passing, perhaps long enough to shake hands." 

   There is another Earp connection to Hickok, and that is, in 1924, Western movie star William S. Hart returned to the silver screen after a two year absence, with a story written by himself, "Wild Bill Hickok." Hart supposedly used Wyatt as a consultant on the film and Hart included many frontier characters Earp did know, like Chalk Beeson, Charles Basset, Bill Tilghlman and Luke Short. In fact, an actor portrays Wyatt in the film, and it's the first portrayal of Earp on film.

   Here is a newspaper clipping Casey Teferteller found and shared with me:

Stevens Point Journal (Stevens Point, Wisconsin), March 20, 1924

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Getting The Look of Wild Bill Right

October 11, 2017
   I've spent a good part of my life trying to capture the look and feel of a fleeting time in history: basically 1860-1890 on the American frontier. Like so many of my Old West maniac pards, I spend an inordinate amount of time studying the details of photographs like this little gem:

Deputy U.S. Marshal Wild Bill Hickok, at left, with a group of locals at the
Quarter Master's Department, Fort Harker, Kansas. Author Joseph Rosa
speculates the date of this Alexander Gardner photograph as 
"on or about September 27" 1867. Notice how Hickok looms over 
his fellow citizens and wears his two ivory-handled Colt 1851
model Navy revolvers in open-topped holsters
worn butts forward in a simple belt rig.

This photograph was shot at Pioneer, Arizona. It was not intended to duplicate
the top photo, but taken merely to document all the people who posed for
photographs that day. But the similarities to the Hickok photo are striking.
This is my volunteer crew who often showed up
and worked for free to help me capture authentic reference photos
for my books, and this was for my Wild Bill Hickok book
(which I started 22 years ago!). This photo is circa 1996 and
there are three Wild Bill's in the photo. Can you spot them?
Hint: Jerry Crandall, at far left, and Jerry Terrantino, second from right, 
and Doc Ingalls,  fourth from left.

All three show up in various guises in the book, like this reference shot for Hickok's wedding to Agnes Lake in Cheyenne:

Wild Bill Wedding: Jenny Smith,
Jim Dunham and Jerry Tarrantino

   When I get on the last leg of a book project, I stop shaving. Kathy calls it my book ritual, as in "Oh, I see you are in book ritual mode." Here I am with the guy who does all the heavy lifting, Robert Ray, tweaking a spread on Wild Bill that includes the top photo of Hickok at Fort Harker. Also notice we have blown up Wild Bill so you can study the details in his gun rig. Drop dead deadline is next week. Hairy, eh?

"A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also truth."
—Thomas Mann

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Deadwood" Is Dead-On

October 11, 2017
   When I was a panelist at the Lone Pine Film Festival last Saturday, the panel moderator told us the word in Hollywood is that the reprise of "Deadwood," the HBO acclaimed series, is apparently a go. As I have been researching the authentic Wild Bill and his demise in the illegal boomtown, I have been struck with how authentic many of the characters in the fictional David Milch production really are:

Timothy Oliphant as Seth Bullock in the HBO series "Deadwood"

"Deadwood" Is Dead-On

   Here are a few of the things the HBO show got right historically:

• Seth Bullock and Sol Star, did establish the Star and Bullock Hardware Store in 1876.
• Al Swearingen did own the Gem Theater but he was from Iowa, not England.
• As many as 400 Chinese lived in an area of Deadwood, known as the “Badlands.” They elected their own mayor and council, as well as establishing their own police force and fire department.
• George Hearst did come to Deadwood and eventually bought the Homestake Mine.
• E.B. Farnum was appointed as mayor by the first miners’ court in Deadwood. 
• Calamity Jane was every bit as foul-mouthed and drunk as she is portrayed in the series. 
• Lucretia  Marchbanks was known as “Aunt Lou” in the camp and she did work at the Grand Central Hotel as the kitchen manager.
• Albert W. Merrick did found the Deadwood Pioneer newspaper in 1876. 
• There actually was a Gem Theater prostitute named Tricksie, who shot a man through the front of his skull for beating her up. The attending doctor was amazed that he survived the gunshot.
• Jack Langrishe did in fact come to Deadwood Gulch in 1876 along with the rest of his troupe. They temporarily conducted their productions at the Bella Union Theatre before building their own building.
A Slight Nitpick:
• Jack McCall’s first trial that acquitted him of murder was not held in the Gem as shown, but instead at the Deadwood Theatre, sometimes referred to as McDaniel’s Theatre (for its builder,) or the Langrishe Theatre, for Jack Langrishe, the performer’s troupe manager.
I need to thank Mary Kopco, director of the Adams Museum in Deadwood, and Jerry L. Bryant, the museum’s research curator and archaeologist for this great inside information.
Also, it must be said, the best portrayal of Jack McCall, based on the descriptions of him (there are no known photos) is this guy:

Garret Dillenhunt as Jack McCall in "Deadwood"

"Here's my counteroffer to your counteroffer: go f--- yourself!" 
—Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), in "Deadwood"


An Inspiring Talk, A Deranged Billionaire & A Deadly Poker Hand

October 10, 2017
   Last Wednesday, on my way to the Lone Pine Film Festival, I stopped off at Mohave County Cummunity College, outside Kingman, Arizona to talk to several art classes about making it as an artist. I made a vow in 1964 that if I ever discovered the secret to making it I would return home to give them the inside skinny. Here is the local newspaper's account of my efforts:

Kingman Boy Makes Good On Promise

   Not the best photo ever taken of me, but I dig that T-shirt. Got back in the trenches this morning:

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill's Last Hand"

   Yes, Jack McCall walked up behind Hickok and shot him in the head. The bullet went through Wild Bill and hit William Massey sitting opposite him, in the hand. In fact, Massey, initially thought Hickok had shot him. McCall tried to fire the gun again, but it misfired, as if it's only purpose was to dispatch Wild Bill (this is Thom Ross's take on the jammed gun). Massey carried the bullet in his wrist for the rest of his life and proudly displayed it when anyone brought up the subject.

William Massey, at left, was wounded in the hand, by the same bullet that killed Hickok.

   When I was a talking head on the Discovery Channel's "Gunslingers" series several years ago, the guy they hired to portray Hickok was pretty good:

Walt Willey as Wild Bill on the cable TV series "Gunslingers"

   We did a joint appearance at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, at the TV Critics annual showcase, to promote the series and Walt and I had lunch afterwards with various Discovery Channel executives. He was a former soap opera heart throb and I must say he is still catnip to the ladies.

I'm not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. Dammit, I'm a billionaire.
—Howard Hughes, an alleged quote, not sure I believe it.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Needles In The Rearview

October 9, 2017
   Traveled all day yesterday, driving home from the Lone Pine Film Festival. Drove right by Olive Oatman's Mojave home:

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Oatman On The Colorado"

   That would be just north of a distinctive Arizona landmark, below. Her Mojave home was actually on the California side (at the current site of Needles, the town).

The Needles south of Topock Marsh

   This is a sight, she woke up to every day for four years. It's another four hours from Needles to my front door. Needed to get back on Sunday so I can finish up the book on this guy:

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill Bust"

   Worked all day today on the layouts with Robert Ray. Locked down a ton of pages, with about 17 holes to fill, Got about ten days to finish. Going to be tight, but it's going to be mucho groovy.

   I am fond of saying the problem in this world is everyone is about half right, but this quote says it better:

"The world is divided into people who think they are right."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Hangin' With Tom Mix, Bogie's '37 Plymouth and A Six String Samurai

October 7, 2017
   Second day of the Lone Pine Film Festival. Just did a great panel on "The Image of The American Cowboy: John Wayne and John Ford." The panel was moderated by Ben Mankiewicz, the Turner Classic Movies host (his grandfather wrote "Citizen Kane"!); and, Scott Eyman, who has written excellent biographies on John Wayne and John Ford; Western film historian Ed Hulse; and actor Ed Faulkner, who starred with John Wayne in "McClintock". We hit the ground running and although most of us had never met, we played off each other like seasoned pros. When I referenced being a fan of AC/DC, Mankiewicz asked the audience (average age, 62) if anyone present has ever been to an AC/DC concert, and three people raised their hands and I stood up and gave them a shout out. Ben quipped that he would have "bet the under" on that premise before the vote. Hulse is second to none with his knowledge of early B-Westerns—who was in them, how they were made, who got stiffed and who got laid. Ed Faulkner had funny stories from the set, including playing chess with the Duke:

   "You just made your first mistake, Pilgrim."
   "But I just sat down?"

   "That was your first mistake."

   I, of course, sang the theme song to "The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp," and when the entire crowd helped me finish it with loud bravado, and to great applause, Mankiewicz quipped, "When I signed up for this gig I was told there would be no singing."

   It was a rare panel where everyone knew their place, took their shots and then lobbed watermelons to the next guy.

   Afterwards, I went over to the Lone Pine Film Museum for a book signing. Sat next to William Wellman who has 180 movies and television credits, 17 stage productions and 200 commercials and is the son of the legendary directory, "Wild Bill" Wellman. Bought his book and had it autographed, met some great folks and sold everything I brought with me and I had a ton of people ask me how to subscribe to True West (the main reason I am here).

   Also got to hang out and chat a bit with these two lovebirds:

Linda and Bruce Boxleitner celebrating their one-year anniversary this week.

   The museum has some of the best lobby cards I have ever seen. Many of them brand new from my visit at last year's festival:

Tom Mix at the Lone Pine Film Museum, in Lone Pine, California

Bogie's '37 Plymouth from "High Sierra"

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon's "Tremors"

   This is a display that celebrates the cult film that is known world-wide. When I was up in the Alabama Hills last year gawking at the sites of countless classic Westerns, a rental car pulled up and one of the two Euro trash kids inside rolled down the window and said, "Is this the canyon where 'Tremors' was filmed?"

Six-String Samurai

"John Ford is our Homer and the Western is our Illiad."
—Scott Eyman

Friday, October 06, 2017

Zabriskie Has A Point

October 6, 2017
   Didn't get a chance to lollygag in Death Valley on Wednesday but I did buy four books and a poster:

Zabriskie Point poster
Zabriskie Has A Point
   A tireless worker for Borax, starting in 1885, Christian Brevoort Zabriskie worked his way up to vice president and general manager of Borax and was instrumental in taking the Borax company into the hospitality industry. In gratitude, the company named a prominent landmark in Death Valley after the loyal producer. The landmark with the exotic ethnic name has gone on to star in a surprisingly broad range of the popular culture. It is the name of the 1970 movie by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, with music by Pink Floyd and Jerry Garcia, and, allegedly, the cover of U2's album The Joshua Tree was shot at the location. The 1959 movie "Spartacus" used the location, showing Gladiator school master dude, Peter Ustinov, on a mule trekking to an Egyptian mine to buy slaves. Oh, and the philosopher Michel Foucault went on an acid trip at the Point in 1975 and said it was the greatest experience of his entire life.

Death Valley By The Book
   "Nothing prepares you for the scope of the landscape. With 96 percent of Death Valley designated as wilderness, this terrain remains fierce and untamed. Sudden mountains are bracketed by the sultry curves of alluvial fans. A sea of spindly creosote washes up against slanted cliffs with swirls of strata like the grains of exotic woods. Soft gnawed badlands slouch across the valley floor and desert winds etch intricate patterns into shifting sand dunes."
—Roger Naylor, "Death Valley: Hottest Place On Earth"

A view of the original Borax loading docks where they hauled out the materials
from the dry Furnace Creek lake bed, seen at right.

"It was an ashen gray through a leaden haze. Iron walled and sun blasted. . .as hateful and horrible as the portal of hell. . . Death Valley will never be popular with men, and is fatal to women."
—Zane Grey, 1918