Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Return of Olive Oatman

June 18, 2017
   Everyone agrees Olive Oatman left out some of the more sordid details of her five years in captivity. 

"Much of that dreadful period is unwritten, and will remain forever unwritten."
—Royal B. Stratten, Captivity of the Oatman Girls, 1857

   But did one of the unwritten periods include having children?

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Oatman's Despair"

   Her release from captivity was complicated. A faction of the Mojaves saw her as their property. (In her later lectures, Olive told spellbound audiences that her chin tattoos marked her as a slave. This claim is undermined by the fact that almost all the Mojave women had chin markings especially if they were married.) 

   The head chief's daughter, Dakota, accompanied Olive to Fort Yuma, partly as a friend (the two had grown close) and partly as an emissary of her father and the Mojaves. Part of the trade included a horse, which Dakota was promised on delivery of the American captive.

   Before she left the Mojave Valley, Olive was approached by the chief's son, who told her she could not take certain trinkets. Might these trinkets have to do with their relationship as a couple?

Daily Whip Out: "Olive's Rough Transition"

   After a nine day journey, the small party arrived on the eastern bank of the Colorado, across from Fort Yuma. The Colorado River in the old days—before the five dams—was a muddy, silty, roaring quagmire. 

Daily Whip Out: "The Lower Colorado: Too Thick to Drink, Too Thin To Plow."

   Most historians believe Miss Oatman was put in the care of Sarah Bowman. However, several accounts avoid giving The Great Western credit, the most obvious one being Royal B. Stratten's account in the best seller, Captivity of the Oatman Girls.  Stratten writes that Olive "was taken in by a very excellent family residing at the fort." The choice of the word "excellent" appears to be used to exclude Ms. Bowman.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western Stands Tall"

   To confuse matters even more, Olive herself told a reporter in San Francisco, four months after her arrival at Yuma, "I was taken to Fort Yuma and remained there a month in the family of Sergeant Reuben Twist." Twist was stationed at Fort Yuma at the time, but other than that we know nothing about him. Some believe Twist could have been boarding with Sarah, but that is just speculation. It's probably safe to say, even if she did care for Olive, Sarah was denied the credit in some circles because of her shady past.

   The one person who could have told us exactly what happened, was not asked, did not write anything down and died too soon. That would be Sarah Bowman, herself, who died of a spider bite on December 23, 1866. She was 53 years old.

"This is the last I shall see of you. I will tell all about the Mohave and how I lived with them. Good bye."
—Olive Oatman, shaking the hand of Tokwatha (Musk Melon) at Fort Yuma on the day she departed

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The History of Political Correctness vs. Seeking the Truth

June 20, 2017
   Gore Vidal once commented wryly, "Political correctness is tyranny with manners." That sentiment seems almost quaint today, considering the hatefest we are now witnessing.

   My whole deal from day one has been to find out the truth, warts and all. I was asked to come speak to a group of horse enthusiast publishers last Friday in Scottsdale and here is their report on what I said:

Surviving the New Media Landscape
Bob Boze Bell took over True West Magazine in 1999 and quickly was losing $30,000 a month. “If you try to do something different, it takes a while for people to catch on,” True West’s CEO and Executive Editor commented. “Content is king. Ask readers what they want and give it to ’em.” The enthusiastic Bell discussed survival in today’s digital world, including the use of Facebook to invoke reader feedback, and also shared some of the mistakes that he’s made along the way. True West is now in its 64th year of production telling tales of the Wild West. “My job here today is to tell you what not to do,” he said to a room of laughs.
   End of newsletter report.
   I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be quoted correctly. On the other hand, if you chanced to read my take on the swinging Mojaves (blog post "Enter The Talking Vaginas") I knew it would get some blowback, like this remark on the True West Facebook page:


   The inference being, evidently they didn't have any sex in the Old West, or, at least this woman doesn't want to hear about it. But the discouraging blowback from the post, at least to me, are these two comments:

"I call Bull Crap. Neither the first nor last time a "scientist" has made up lurid tales re the sexual practices of primitive cultures."
—Andrew Gribble

"Totally agree about your comment about scientists. The adding of lurid tales were found in many of the anthropology books I had to read while in college."
—David Quin

   First a clarification is in order: Koebler was not a "scientist" but rather an anthropologist, and he was not alone in his conclusions about the sexual practices of the Mojave, and, in fact, Mojave historians (that would be Mojaves who are historians) concur with the major points.

   What I read into these two comments is that the rejection of seeking the truth is part and parcel to the current culture wars. 

   Here's another attack on "revisionist history":

"McGinty's book ("The Oatman Massacre") is revisionist history. While he did his research, there is a definite slant to his conclusions that Olive did want to stay with her captors while if you read her book, page after page details her longing to leave, her hate for her captors and her desire to be free. It's a little too convenient to dismiss all the things she says in the book Stratton helped write as his 'editing.' McGinty and folks like him try to filter her experience through 21st century glasses when it was a totally different time back then. As Olive describes in the book, the Indians hated the whites."

   About half true. Not all Indians hated "the whites," just as not all whites hated the Indians. I really hate—he said ironically—how we have arrived at this cultural crossroads where anything that even hints at inclusiveness or PC is automatically rejected as only something a "libtard" would buy into.

   That said, I too am tired of lockstep PC as it relates to In-dins (I refuse to use Native Americans, or, Italian Americans because it smacks of Vidal's quip: "tyranny with manners"). But, then again, I do see where it came from and the desire to regain some pride in one's ancestry. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and at least some of us are merely trying to look for clues at the scene of the crime.

“Unless you’re ashamed of yourself now and then, you’re not honest.” 
—William Faulkner

   I'll let a historian have the final word:

"A decade and a half into the 21st century, what do we love in common? The painful but unavoidable answer is: not enough."
—historian Jon Meacham

Monday, June 19, 2017

Slim Pickens Goes Long

June 19, 2017
   Our cover story on Slim Pickens hit a nerve with the actor's daughter, Daryle Ann Lindley Giardino. Here she is with the issue. Special thanks to Page Williams for sending along the picture. Page told me the cover story brought back many memories for Daryle and she misses him every day. 

   He was a special guy and we are getting rave reviews on the piece, written by Henry Parke.

"What in the Wide World of Sports is ah-goin' on here? I hired you people to get a little track laid, not jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots."
—Slim Pickins in "Blazing Saddles"

The Hard Nurse Meets The Captive Gone Native

June 19, 2017
   Spent the weekend noodling images for both The Great Western and Olive Oatman who famously met at Yuma Crossing in late February of 1856.

Daily Whip Out: "Captive Audience"

   This would be how Olive looked when The Great Western took her in after the famous captive arrived at Fort Yuma in February of 1856. As would be expected, Miss Oatman was quite distraught and confused. She couldn't remember her English (both the Yavapai and the Mojaves forbade her and her sister from speaking Engish to each other and after Mary Ann's death, the year before, Olive had not heard nor spoken English since then) and she often resorted to Mojave, blurting out she wanted to return to her Mojave family and trying to escape. This happened more than once. Each time she tried to flee, the strong and gentle giant, Sarah Bowman, reeled her back in.

The Perfect Nurse for Olive

    Sarah Bowman had a saber scar across her cheek from the Mexican War. She was a giantess—well over six feet—and she a reputation for being a hard woman. But at the same time, she was known far and wide as a gentle soul, and she was beloved for being a nurse to wounded soldiers from Texas to Mexico and back. She was the perfect fit for Olive Oatman's return to anglo culture after five years in captivity and one can only imagine the challenges Sarah faced with her wild, hysterical charge. It took her a month of tender loving care to bring Olive back to some form of normal.

   To give you an idea of how difficult this transition was, when Olive's brother Lorenzo showed up to reclaim her, the two did not recognize each other and sat in silence for an hour, before either one of them spoke!

Daily Whip Out: "Sarah The Hard Nurse"

"I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.
—Florence Nightingale

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Real Life Wonder Woman Finally Gets Her Due

June 18, 2017
   The Top Secret Writer is coming back for another round in True West. Paul Andrew Hutton has written up the adventures of a real life Old West character who somehow—for the life of me, I don't know why—has escaped big screen treatment.

  She was a pistol-packin' Mamacita. She had no children of her own but she adopted numerous Indian and Mexican orphans who stayed with her for life. One eye-witness claimed she was seven foot tall. That seems like an exaggeration to me, so we'll go with the next tallest observation: "she was six foot six."

   She founded two towns: El Paso, Texas and Yuma, Arizona and she was adored by all the soldiers in the Southwest for "her bravery in the field and for her unceasing kindness in nursing the sick and wounded." She was wounded herself in the war with Mexico with a saber scar across the cheek, and allegedly she shot and killed the Mexican soldier who cut her. She was awarded "rations for life" by the Fourth Infantry.

   The accolades didn't end there: 

"She packed two six-shooters, and they all said she shore could use 'em, that she had killed a couple  of men in her time."
—Jeff Ake, who met her in 1856 at her "house" in the Sonoita Valley called Casa Blanca

Daily Whip Out: "The Two-Gun Mamacita"

Daily Whip Out: The Great Suggestion"

   And, to boot, Sarah Bowman (The Great Western's real name) was the one who received and nurtured Olive Oatman when she was brought to Fort Yuma in February, 1856, after five years of captivity with the Indians.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Oatman"

Daily Whip Out: "Topock Marsh From Memory"

"I will tell all about the Mohave and how I lived with them. Good-bye."
—Olive Oatman to Tokwatha, a Mojave who shook her hand before she left Fort Yuma

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Olive Oatman Swims Her Way to Freedom

June 17, 2017
   After five years in captivity, it looked like Olive Oatman was finally going home. It was February of 1856 and after two nights of heated negotiations with the Mojaves, in which threats were made on both sides, the head Mojave finally relented and said the captive could go back to the Americans.

    However, there was one additional problem: Olive and her savior, an Indian called Francisco who had come to gain her release, had to travel 250 miles south to Fort Yuma, and even though he had help from a brother and two cousins (all four were Yuma warriors) there would be rough sections of the journey where they would have to swim through rugged canyons that choked the passage right down to the water. The area around Parker Dam comes to mind.

  According to Olive, they had to swim in the frigid water ten different times in order to make it through. Fortunately for her, in her time with the Mojaves she had learned to swim as the river tribe spent most of each summer in the water to escape the heat and they were known far and wide as superior swimmers.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Swims to Freedom"

   This brings up an interesting dilemma: assuming her guides carried firearms (this is early—1850s, and many of the Indians still carried primitive armament), how did Francisco and his crew keep their weapons dry? If someone has to wade into the Colorado River and swim downstream, for a mile or two, they really couldn't prop their rifles, knives, or even their bows and arrows, on their heads. Could they? It's unclear if they had horses or were all on foot. Of course, horses would complicate the logistics even further. Were they swimming their horses for long stretches? Seems a bit crazy to me. Any ideas?

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't really make him a flotation device."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In Search of The Real Curly Bill

June 15, 2017
   With the passing of Powers Boothe last month we made a commitment to build a wonderful tribute to him and to one of the most intriguing Old West outlaws, which he portrayed to perfection—Curly Bill Brocius. We have some new research on the historical outlaw's backstory, from the late great Paul Cool, and that scholarship will anchor the issue, but we will also feature a fitting eulogy to the actor best known for his role as the leader of the cow-boys:

Curly Bill & The Red Sash Gang, Sabino Canyon, June 1993

   When we posted this photograph on Facebook (which ran in my Wyatt Earp book) it was viewed by more than 1.1 million people and received 2,121 comments and 6,149 shares. I'd say it struck a nerve.

Daily Whip Out: "Curly Bill Cover Sketch"

So Dan The Man Harshberger whipped out a few cover ideas to look at:

Dan The Man's first four passes at the cover.

He did two more this morning, and they are looking good.

Dan The Man's Color Pass

Still moving things around in terms of type, but we're getting closer to the final. Stay tuned.

"I should warn you that underneath these clothes I'm wearing boxer shorts and I know how to use them."
—Robert Orben

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Olive With Child

June 14, 2017
   Got up this morning and took another run at a theme I have been wrestling with for a couple months now. This time, rather than showing her topless, I gave her a discreet blanket. Perhaps, too discreet.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive With Child"

More Praise for Fly at Embudos Issue:
   I don’t know how you do it, after reading True West since my childhood in the 60’s, it just continues to get better. 
   As a professional photographer I was captivated by C. S. Flys technique, (glass plates-really), his composition, (using an 8 x 10 view camera), and his skillful posing of subjects who likely didn’t want to be photographed and didn’t speak the same language. Just when I thought I’d seen all the great photos in this issue, along came “Tombstone is Shaking!” and I recalled that day in 1971 in an east Los Angeles high school when the earth shook during the Sylmar Quake. I spent the day shooting throughout the San Gabriel Valley and even managed to get a couple shots like the one in the article.
Many thanks again for your great magazine. I read it cover to cover, I have to- I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.

Rick Higbee
Bandera, TX

The July issue is now on newsstands

"Better that a girl has beauty than brains because boys see better than they think."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mojave Men Meet The Shred Heads

June 13, 2017
   Our big Fly Shoots Geronimo at Embudos issue is out on the newsstand and we are getting some stellar reports. These were forwarded to me by Lynda Sanchez in Lincoln, New Mexico, who starts off her email with this:

   All,  Wow, what a great issue.  Just got my copies of the July issue.  I am going to mention it on my list that I use for my own historical buddies and those who care about the history of the West.  The CS Fly info is amazing.
[Linda included responses from her friends who found the issue]:

The July issue is out, I bought two at B & N today. Although I have yet to read the article, it looks to be good. I never tire of looking at the Fly photos.

Hola Lynda, Just got the July issue of TW and saw your great article. I didn’t know who the proud warrior was in the middle of the photo and obviously what happened to him. Outstanding information. I also note the photo of Ingstad and Yanosha in the next article. By the way, I can’t remember if I mentioned it earlier, but saw a National Geographic program that’s a series about a man who lives with primitive peoples and learns their skills for living and survival. The piece I saw was him living with the Cree Indians in Canada and going out in the middle of winter to find the caribou in the deep woods. He only took what any caribou spotter would have carried for survival. Reminded me of Ingstad with the Chippewa and how the Chippewa are first cousins to the Apaches.


   End of comments. More to come. Decided today I was going to emulate the late-great Stevie Ray Vaughan, who could shred a guitar like nobody I have ever seen. I was watching him do his thing to "Pipeline" on an old Youtube video and I noticed that his strumming hand kept up a solid rhythm, but his fret hand was doing all the crazy stuff. I made a vow to be more like Steve and Let It Shred!

Daily Whip Outs: "Shred Heads"

      Finding a variety of old images this week, with some decent effects, like this:

Daily Whip Out: "The Midnite Visitor"

   According to the Whipple report, Mojave warriors painted their faces black and then applied four, red, stripes. Not sure this is right, but it's a start.

Daily Whip Out: "Painted Mojave Warrior"

   This led to some splashy noodling:

Daily Whip Out: "Mojave Male #2"

     I couldn't resist adding a few strokes this morning.

Daily Whip Out: "Mojave Male #3"

"He who hesitates is a dmaned fool."
—Mae West

Monday, June 12, 2017

Enter The Talking Vaginas

June 12, 2017
   If you ever find yourself seeking out a tribe of hedonistic, party animals, it would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to top the sexual proclivity and ribald antics of the mighty Mojaves, back in the day. Situated on the banks of the Colorado River, the tribe lived, loved and frolicked in an Old West Shangri-la that would rival the erotic shenanigans of the French Riviera.

 Mojave Indians as illustrated by Balduin M√∂llhausenMollhausen was the artist and topographer accompanying the party led by Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple in the Pacific Railroad Survey Explorations of 1853. In his diary he tells of Mojave mothers bringing their babies to him to paint. He said he painted them up with wild designs, which the mothers loved.

A Wild And Crazy Tribe!
   Let's start with the nickname they gave Olive Oatman—Spantsa—which Wikipedia euphemistically translates as "unquenchable lust or thirst." A more literal translation is, "rotten vagina," or "sore vagina." And vagina is the nice way of saying what they really meant. Get the picture?

   This ribald sense of humor even translates to the naming of local geography. A promontory point near Parker, Arizona is known by the Mojaves and Chemihuevis as, well, what do you think it looks like?

"Chipmunk Dick"

   A clever—and accurate—description, if you ask me. The anthropologist, Kroeber studied the naming practices of the Mojave and reported they often used "names of the most undignified sort. . .there is not the least shrinking from obscenity. . ." and that Mojave men were prone to adapting names with sexual connotations "in the hope of attracting or impressing women."

   So, what else is new?

   Author Brian McGinty ("The Oatman Massacre") gives us this scholarly take on their sexual mores: "The Mohaves were an uninhibited people who engaged in sexual relations without embarrassment. Their traditional dress was scanty and would certainly have been regarded by most Christians as immodest." McGinty goes on to say, "Children habitually went naked, while adult males wore nothing but a breech cloth and perhaps a blanket thrown round their shoulders in cold weather. Adult females wore skirts of strands from the soft inner bark of willow trees but were naked above the waist. The Mohaves had no formal wedding ceremonies: if a man and woman wished to form an intimate relationship, they simply lived together; they were divorced when one or the other left the marriage house. Old Mohaves did not exhort the younger generation to chastity; on the contrary, they encouraged them to 'enjoy themselves' while they could."

   Add to that, the Mojave's feelings of superiority: Mojaves felt that the whites they met were puny and uptight and inferior to the Mojaves in every aspect, except one: The only thing they thought the anglos were superior at was in making weapons.

   While it's probably a trait we all share (our tribe is better than your tribe), the Mojaves carried some exceptional genes giving their conceit some merit. The head man, Irataba, was over six feet tall, and, according to Whipple's diary notes, his friend Cairook stood six foot six! The average height of anglo males in that era was five feet seven. So, they were big, tall and impressive. And, boy, did they like to have a good time. And, by "good time" I mean having sex.

Enter The Talking Vaginas
   When the Whipple expedition entered the Mojave Valley on horseback they had been on the trail for months and each man had a full growth of beard. All the Mojave women giggled when they saw the furred-out Americans and one of the women even approached and wanted to touch the whiskers. When she laughed and said something to her friends, who also laughed, one of the interpreters told Whipple they had never seen such bushy faces (their men were all bare-faced). He said the Mojave women called them "the talking vaginas." Such was the bawdy sense of humor of the Hilarious Mojaves.

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries."
—Aldous Huxley

Friday, June 09, 2017

How to Spot A Maniac

June 9, 2017
   If you are a subscriber to True West magazine you know we have been running a True West Maniac campaign featuring several of our most famous and favorite members, like this:

   Chris Casey Describes What Happened Next:

  While I was running errands for Mom, this morning, I had to pick up a few things at Food Pyramid.  Just as I was leaving the store I was approached by an elderly gentleman wearing a John Wayne T-shirt, a Korean War Veteran ball cap, and holding the latest issue of TRUE WEST magazine. He didn't seem to be in a very good mood. 

   When he got inside my bubble he asked somewhat gruffly, "You got a minute?"

   "Sure", I said. 

   The man flipped the magazine open and landed on the full page True West Maniac ad featuring my repellent mug.

   "This you?"

   "Yeah, that's me", I confessed. 

   I jokingly followed up with, "How'd you recognize me without the hat and the mustache?".

   "Ugly is still ugly", said the old man flatly.

   I laughed. "That's true!"

   "Next time you talk to the True West people", the man grumbled, "Tell 'em you spell carrying c-a-r-r-Y-i-n-g, not c-a-r-r-i-n-g". 

   The gent was referring to the typo in the ad of which I was already aware. But, I played like I was shocked.

   "Is that right? That's how you spell it?"

   The old man finally cracked a smile. "You're puttin' me on, now, ain't you?", he said with a chuckle. "Gettin' me back for that 'ugly' crack, huh?"

   "Probably", I said.

   The old gent stuck his hand out, we shook, and he said, "Pleased to meet you, Maniac".


End of Chris Casey's travelogue. By the way, Chris lives in Oklahoma. Note that we actually spell-checked this version of the ad.

We have featured five Maniacs so far and we have been getting unsolicited submissions like this:

True West Maniac #81
J.W. Atkinson

   Don't know who to contact for a Maniac picture.... My name is  J.W. Atkinson ..True West Maniac # 81.   Hastings, Minnesota.  Cowboy Action Shooter... 50's and 60's Western lover... Retired and married to a school marm...owner and operator of Hastings Firearms...( yes I sweep out the place!)   Love your mag !

   Keep 'em comin'!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Most Ridiculous Outfit Ever Worn to A Gunfight In The History of The American West

June 8, 2017
   Imagine you are the costume designer on a Western movie set. The producers have tasked you with the job of making sure all the costumes are authentic and accurate to the times portrayed in the film. The story in the film takes place in Nebraska and involves elements of the U.S. Army's Fifth Cavalry and Cheyenne warriors who crossed paths at Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876.

   Two actors, Ryan Gosling and Adam Beach, have been hired to portray the two main combatants. You have big plans on how to dress them in authentic garb because you have called Old West clothing experts Jim Hatzell and David Carrico to assist you, so you have done your homework and you are ready to rock. There is only one problem. On the first day of filming, Gosling shows up wearing this outfit:

Buffalo Bill, 1876

   People ask me all the time: how do you find out the truth on all those gunfights you feature in Classic Gunfights? The simple answer is, I find the person who knows the most about the event, and, or, the combatants. Sometimes it turns out to be several people, or, often as not, people who don't agree. My job is to extrapolate between the various versions and arbitrate the outcome, hopefully giving both sides their say.

   Our August issue will feature the famous fight between Buffalo Bill Cody and Yellow Hair (also known as Yellow Hand). Turns out there are four people who know the ins and outs of this fight the best, with Paul Hedren having a slight advantage in terms of the details. I used his version for the narrative, but there was one sticking point for me. And this morning I sent a furtive email about it to my key experts:

The Three Pauls,
   I am covering the Buffalo Bill vs. Yellow Hair fight in the next issue and I commend you Paul Hedren on your fine articles in True West. Meghan found them for me, and they are stellar. One aspect of the fight really bothers me: Cody wearing the "vaquero costume" and, in fact, CHANGING into it the morning of the fight?! Pardon my French, but my Bullshit flag is flying at full mast.

   So Cody and King wrote up the account to send to the New York Herald and it reads like mega-purple prose that would shame even Zane Grey. Do you actually buy that he wore the costume he is photographed in? He looks like a Plains Pimp, not a frontier scout. Please advise. We go to press today. Thanks.


   Fortunately, the answers to my burning questions came back fast and furious:

Yup, no question Buffalo Bill wore the vaquero outfit at Warbonnet. But here's what's new. Steve Friesen has a letter from him telling how he wore this stage costume straight from stage to field. His bags did arrive simultaneously in Cheyenne and thus he had nothing to change into. Vaquero it was.
—Paul Hedren

   As Hedren mentions, it turns out Steve Friesen of the Lookout Museum outside Denver had some insights as well:

   In 1903, in a letter to artist Irving Bacon, Cody wrote that he did wear a showy outfit that he "had worn when playing a Mexican on stage."  However, he preferred that Bacon show him in buckskins.  When artist Robert Lindneux was working on a painting of the Yellow Hair incident in 1929, he wrote Charles King to verify the outfit.  King replied that Cody had rushed out from his stage appearance in Wilmington, Delaware, barely joining the battalion in time before it marched westward.  His baggage had not yet arrive with a suitable outfit so he was forced to wear the "jaunty Mexican jacket and long trousers."  Like other portrayals before it, Llindneux's painting ended up showing Cody in the typical scouting buckskins rather than the Mexican outfit.  Cody's flamboyant outfit was a result of chance; not of posturing for show business.
    For all of us who have had our luggage delayed or lost while traveling, this seems like a pretty logical explanation.  My sources were a letter to Irving Bacon from Cody and the letter from Charles King to Lindneux.  Unfortunately, I don't have copies of them here, they are at the museum. 
 —Steve Friesen

Dear Bob et al -- The costume is right.  The only thing I can add is that the description of Yellow Hair's outfit comes from the testimony of Sgt. John Hamilton, Troop D, 5th Cavalry.  Hamilton added other details, such as that the blond scalp was a "young woman's," though you have to wonder how he could tell. 
-- Paul Fees 

What astonishes me is that we have so much info on his outfit. Incredible. And I love the painters putting him in buckskin. Its like the Alamo hump. Painters and movie makers put it in even though they know it was not there in 1836.
—Paul Andrew Hutton

Charlie Russell's 1917 painting of the Buffalo Bill vs. Yellow Hand fight. 

   Note that Russell has shown Cody in traditional buckskin, which it turns out is inaccurate.

A Postscript:
   A cowboy friend of mine has this to say about the Charlie Russell painting:

"First I believe Buffalo Bill is not wearing buckskins, or not entirely. Take a close look at the inside of the legs of his pants. Russell has painted Bill wearing cloth pants because the pants are 'foxed.' As to the shirt, it could be cloth too because the sleeves have no fringed leather. This could well be part of the vaquero outfit which Bill no doubt had in his collection."
—Bill Dunn

"When the legend dresses like a pimp, dress him down."

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Buffalo Bill And The Pucker Factor

June 7, 2017
   It's been said, every great idea makes someone pucker, and Buffalo Bill had a great idea: what if he took his successful, indoor, stage show and put on an outdoor, frontier extravaganza, with an Indian camp, cowboys, a stagecoach, and then, utilizing the railroad, load up 250 actors, horses and as many stagehands—who would need to be fed three times a day—and chug on down to the next town and put on another show.

   I read somewhere that the first tour lost money (I want to say $80,000) but Cody had the huevos to keep going and take this lumbering idea out on a second tour. Now, if you had $55,000 of your own money in an idea like this that lost money, would you go out again? Not me. I'm puckered just thinking about losing that kind of money. But he did and the rest is history. Everyone knows about Buffalo Bill's Wild West show (by the way, he NEVER called it a "show") but most have forgotten just how incredibly impactful it was, both in the United States and on the world stage.

   So we asked The Top Secret Writer to give us a short introduction on: Why He Still Matters. Hutton is so good. Here's a taste: "He was, like the nation he came to symbolize, a bundle of contradictions: a hunter who became a conservationist; a friend to American Indians who was famed as an Indian fighter; a rugged frontier scout best remembered as a sequenced showman; a living artifact of a pioneer past playing out his role in a world of telephones, motion pictures, automobiles, airplanes, skyscrapers and world wars."

Buffalo Bill Rides On

   Jana Bommersbach produced a fine story about Cody and his mine down by Oracle, Arizona. So this all leads us back to the cover:

Dan The Man's First Four Cover Concepts

   In spite of all the massive grooviness, we ended up with none of these. Two were considered too negative, one was considered misleading and the last one was criticized because as one of our outspoken staffers put it, Cody looks like a "damn banker."

   Still, by all accounts, featuring Cody on the cover is a great idea, but guess who is puckering? Me. The problem for me is Cody has never really done that well for us on the newsstand. We have featured him on four covers in the past 18 years, and, well, they all performed so-so. Is it the design? Is it the cover headlines? Or, lack of them?

   We'll soon find out. It goes to press tomorrow.

"Yellow Hand was the only Indian I ever scalped. I did not believe in scalping."
—Buffalo Bill in a letter to Irving Bacon. By the way, although Yellow Hair is the more accurate name for the Cheyenne warrior, many, including Cody here, referred to him as Yellow Hand

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

One Man's Trash Is The Model's Treasure

June 6, 2017
   Went home for lunch and worked on a little set piece for the transition sequence where Olive and Mary Ann Oatman are sold to the Mojaves. 

Daily Whip Out: "They Marched Northwest Under An Anvil Sky Towards The Needles"

   And, as I was looking for some lettering in the garage, I found six paintings the pack rats got into, so I threw out four of them and called the models who posed for the other two:

Daily Whip Out: "Cowgirl Up"

Yes, the model (Deena) took it.

Daily Whip Out: "Pioneer Confusion"

And, the main model, Jenny Smith, took this one.

"Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story."
—Homer, as quoted by Bob Dylan in his Nobel Lecture