Friday, December 15, 2017

HOW, White Man!

December 16, 2017
   For a town that I've never really liked, I sure am finding myself painting the local scenery around there lately:

Daily Whip Out: "Dust Storm Over The Needles"

   According to Olive Oatman's map that accompanied her best-selling tell-all, "The Captivity of The Oatman Girls," the Mohave Captivity location is shown on the east side of the Colorado River, which would put her in Arizona (actually New Mexico at the time of her ordeal). This map indicates her locale as being closer to Topock, than Needles, California.

The Captivity Map in Royal B. Stratten's book

   Of course, we now know the Tonto Apache Captivity site is completely wrong. At the time of Olive's capture and subseuqent release five years later, it was thought that the raiding party who massacred the Oatman's were Apaches. Any time an arrow flew in that time period, it was invariably blamed on Apaches. Turns out the raiders were more likely Yavapais, who were sometimes called Yavapai-Apaches.

   Most historians now believe the site of Olive's second captivity was right on the spot that became Needles, the town. And speaking of the name of towns, I just discovered that Topock was originally called Mellon, after this guy:

Captain Jack Mellon Museum in Yuma

Oh, and what's with White Guys dressing up like In-dins?

And speaking of White guys playing In-dins:

HOW, White Man!

   HOW! Indeed? As in—how in the hell did we end up at this crazy place in the long history of this country?

"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."
—Herbert Hoover

The Mapinator And The Nude Duel That Will Not Die

December 16, 2017
   This is what happens when whores and gamblers meet in the park late at night.

Daily Whip Out: "The Nude Duel That Will Not Die"

   I did a Classic Gunfight on this famous "duel" that came off between two Soiled Doves in Denver. Allegedly the two stripped to the waist so as not to inhibit their shooting ability. One poor bystander got it in the neck (see scalawag grabbing his neck, at right). Turns out the whole thing is a myth, but it's such a Good Myth, it gets repeated almost every year in the Denver Post, and every year the historian Clark Secrest sends the real version and every year the Denver Post runs a retraction. May I suggest a headline for this coming year?


The Late, Great Gus Walker, The Mapinator

   Gus passed in November of 2014. We really miss him and his wonderful maps. He was the best.

The Loco-Boze

   Taken at the Scottsdale Museum of the West shortly after their opening. They had this giant blow-up of a scratchboard of mine, which you ran into if you were on the way to the bathrooms. Needless to say I was very proud of the placement. It has since been replaced with other artwork, but this is a proud memory.

"There is no truth, no history—there is only the way in which the story is told."
—Richard Avedon

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Olive Oatman High Above The Needles

December 14, 2017
   Got serious this morning about the Olive Oatman story. Going to be on the cover of the next issue and I want it to be good. She deserves that.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive High Above The Needles

   Did she leave two children behind on the banks of the Colorado when she was "liberated" back into "civilization"?
   Kathy Sue had an observation when she saw the latest version of our next cover on the kitchen table. She recommends these cover heads:

   Rescued? Or, Kidnapped Again?

   If you read the story carefully, you realize the Mojaves were threatened with annihilation if she wasn't returned. Kathy feels like she lost her second mother. At any rate, the person who saved her life, more than once, was this woman:

Daily Whip Out: "Aespaneo, Queen of The Mojaves"

   I'll discuss her at length in the article. If there is a hero in this story, besides Olive, it is Aespaneo. But, first let's go back to her family of origin:

Daily Whip Out: "Olive And Mary Ann"
Both were taken captive

Daily Whip Out: "Lorenzo Oatman, 15"
Beaten senseless, but survived.

Daily Whip Out: "Royce, Jr., 11"
and Roland, 3. Both killed.

Daily Whip Out: "Charity, 5 and Mary Ann, 38"
Both killed.

Daily Whip Out: "Lucy, 17 and her father Royce, 41"
Both killed.

"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, in 1856

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Little Love for Barren Pretentiousness

December 13, 2017
   Sometimes, when I see photographs of the Southwest taken in the first half of the Twentieth Century it makes me happy all over.

Barren Pretensions in Albuquerque

   The lonely sign, the disinterested dog, the lone house in the mid-distance with no vegetation, or fence even, gives me a warm feeling for a time that is gone forever.

   So much of New Mexico and Arizona looked like this when I first saw it, or rather, when I was old enough to remember seeing it. I have a hunch the feelings this photo produces in me were planted at an even younger age. We traveled often between Kingman and Iowa for the better part of three decades and I saw many scenes like this. In fact, I'm sure we drove right by this sign, or, where this sign was, because it's on old Route 66.

   Of course, Nob Hill today is a Hipster address on East Central and looks a lot like Silver Lake, California, or Fourth Avenue in Tucson, or Mill Avenue in Tempe, or South Beaver in Flagstaff, or, well, you get the picture. There are still plenty of barren places in the West but as I totter into my seventh decade, I damn sure miss the ones that have been swallowed up by urbanization.

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Grab Bag City & Mickey Free Engulfed

December 12, 2017
   Grab bag city. Engulfed in dust, Mickey Free rode on across the dry lake towards Los Muertos.

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free Engulfed"

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free In Dust Storm"

   Of course, Mickey knew who was waiting for him there. . .

Daily Whip Out: "Rudolpho Contrastoso"

Daily Whip Out: "Pancho's Wife #3"

Daily Whip Outs: "Panel Studies & Tombstone Whining"

Swaying backwards and forwards, sweeping high and low.

Daily Whip Out: "Midnite In The Mining Camp"

   The original of this hangs in Deena's room and I was in there this morning looking for a pair of pliers (long story) and noticed it on the wall and thought to myself, "How in the hell did I capture that little snippet of memory?"

"It's the good girls who keep the diaries; the bad ones never have the time."
—Tallulah Bankhead

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dude! Where's My Postcard?

December 11, 2017
   Carole Glenn was cleaning in the office (we are getting new carpet) and she found a couple large boxes of True West promotional postcards. We used to send these out every month to advertise the next issue, but with the rise of digital, we discontinued the practice about five years ago. Some of these little boogers were quite groovy, especially this little sucker:

Promotional postcard, July, 2006

   Some were quite risque and I can't quite imagine sending them out today:

Promotional postcard, December, 2005

   We did a cover story on Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005. Needless to say, we got some interesting phone calls after it hit the streets and our subscriber's mailboxes.

More Promotional Postcards, 2002—2005

   If I sent you one of these recently it's because I like you and thought you'd get a kick out of them. If you want some for your own, to send to people you like, they are a dollar a piece, while supplies last.

"You can't hate someone whose story you know."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, December 08, 2017

Happy Accidents And Cole Younger's Toe Nails

December 8, 2017
   Special thanks to my curator, Kristi Jacobs, who retrieved a half dozen "failures" out of the garage yesterday. This is a painting I started about 16 years ago and gave up on it. Shows Cole Younger after his capture at Hanska Slough. Added some detail, stripped aways some passages and here it is. Not bad.

Daily Whip Out: "Cole Younger's Toe Nails"

   This was part of a story I wanted to tell about Cole's 25 years in prison and his last years as a celebrity and legend. Still may revisit this in a feature for True West and as a book.

Words to Live By

"My pictures are of no value, though of course they cost me a great deal, at times even my blood and my brain."
—Vincent van Gogh

"A hasty study might be more effective and alive than the finished painting."


"Art runs parallel to nature."

—Paul Cezanne

"Paint without hesitation, be simple, be direct."

—Old Vaquero Saying

"The secret of success is constancy of purpose."

—Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rumble On: Three Chords And The Truth

December 7, 2017
   I remember exactly where I was when I heard those "dangerous and transgressive" chords for the very first time. I was in downtown Kingman, on Beale Street, in front of Mohave Electric and a cheap speaker was blasting out onto the sidewalk this revolutionary distortion—and I knew immediately, it just HAD TO BE ILLEGAL!

   It took a while, but that distortion paved the way for the Stones' "Satisfaction" (1965) and almost every song Led Zeppelin ever did. 

   Oh, and the entire Metal catalogue. 

   Hard to believe, but this powerful, but simple riff, was created by an In-din boy named Link Wray.

Link Wray And The Wraymen Get Down

"In 1958, the guitar riff known as 'Rumble' shocked audiences. Its use of distortion and bass made it sound dangerous and transgressive to audiences at the time."

—Lulu Garcia, Weekend Edition, NPR

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Living My Big, Fat American Dream

December 6, 2017
   I had a dream last night about my big, fat American dream. Major parts of the dream came true. Some of it took a long time and other parts happened rather quickly.

   Of course, some parts did not come true. In 1964 I saw the Beatles and decided I wanted to become a rock star.

   In 1965 I dreamed of owning an XKE (it's a Jaguar and yes, I admit it's a very shallow dream considering it's a mechanically unreliable car) and I saw myself driving to California with a blond. I didn't get the XKE but I scored bigtime on the blond, and instead of California, we headed south to Puerto Penasco in my new Ford Flex. And, yes, I'm happy to report, we slept together, more than once!

BBB's Blond Ambition

   In 1989 I read "The Saga of Billy the Kid" by Walter Noble Burns and suddenly, rather dramatically, I saw myself doing something Western (prior to this I was still in rock star mode). I didn't know what exactly, but in a superstitious, baseball-player-kind-of-way, every time I saw a penny on the ground I would pick it up and say the word, "Western," as I squeezed it. Three years later I published "The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid," followed by similar books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. More books followed (13 so far), and then in 1999 we bought True West magazine.

   Thanks to an old book I bought in 1974, I fell in love with Santa Fe style adobe houses. I dreamed of some day owning one, preferably on an historic site.

Adobe Dreams
From the book, "Adobe Architecture"
by Myrtle & Wilfred Stedman, 1973
The Sunstone Press

   Now I live in one on the site where Al Sieber shot it out with Apaches in 1874.

BBB's dream house on Sieber site

   So, I'm a big proponent of the American dream and I feel lucky I live in a country where all of this is possible. If it all falls apart tomorrow you will not hear me complain. I had a shot, I took it and I have an embarrassment of riches. My goal now is to help others realize their dreams and if this example inspires you to reach your dreams, then it was worth the telling. If it irritates you, well, that gives me pleasure as well. I enjoy snotting people off. Call it my wet dream.

"Nothing happens unless first a dream."

—Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

El Vato And Olive In Shadow

December 5, 2017
   Working on a variety of things today:

Daily Whip Out: "El Vato"

   I'm noodling a new character and I dig the sobriquet El Vato. Speaks volumes really.

Daily Whip Out: "Welcome to Hell"

Here are two quotes that sum up today's headlines:

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened."
—Willa Cather

"Nothing dead is buried, and what we thought was dead lives on."
—Jelani Cobb

   I'm also finally getting around to a story I'm itching to do:

Olive Oatman's Dark Secret
   Everyone who loves Arizona history is familiar with the Olive Oatman story: how most of her family was murdered on the Gila Trail and that she spent five years in captivity, four with the Mojaves, on the Colorado River. Upon her release, in 1856, she co-wrote a best-selling book, "The Captivity of The Oatman Girls" and toured the country as a much sought after speaker. But there is a darker, undercurrent to her story that has always been just below the surface: did she have children while she was a captive? You might be as surprised by who thought she did.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive In Shadow"

Daily Whip Out: "Olive In Shadow, No. 2"

Daily Whip Out: "Olive In Shadow, No. 3"

Daily Whip Out: "Olive In Shadow, No. 4"

Daily Whip Out: "Olive With Child"

""Much of that dreadful period is unwritten, and will remain forever unwritten."

—Royal B. Stratten, Captivity of the Oatman Girls, 1857

    Did one of the unwritten periods include having children?

   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.)