Saturday, March 17, 2018

Don Dedera Still Has The Power

March 17, 2018
  I had a speech at the Rotary Club in Prescott yesterday and then traveled the back way to Payson to pay my respects to a legendary Arizona journalist, editor and author, Don Dedera. It was his 89th birthday and Marshall Trimble and myself spent part of the afternoon listening to the Man of the hour regale us with old-time Arizona history.

Marshall Trimble, Don Dedera and BBB

   Don is holding the pair of spurs the Power brothers made for him in prison. Their tragic story will be featured in an upcoming issue of True West.

The Power Brother's Spurs

    I later told Marsh I felt like we were visiting an old school teacher we admired from our youth. Don is a handful. At one point he said to me, "Where'd you get those ugly boots?" I started to answer, but he didn't want to hear the answer, he was off on another story. I think it's safe to say Marsh and I like to talk, but I don't think we got in ten words between us. As it should be!

      Full disclosure: The Power brothers is a story I have avoided telling for the past thirty-five years. I'm not sure why it never connected with me. Perhaps it's the pettiness of the spark that created the disaster—draft dodging! The newspaper at the time screamed, "OFFICERS KILLED IN BATTLE WITH SLACKERS".

   At any rate, this is a story I intend to tell with help from Don and a new book out on the 100th anniversary of the killing, "Arizona's Deadliest Gunfight: Draft Resistance and Tragedy at the Power Cabin, 1918," by Heidi Osselaer.

"Two old men, ghosts from the Old West, freed from prison by a crusading newspaper columnist, into a world of freeways, jetliners and space exploration."
—Scott Seckel

"These guys were in prison for 10 years before I was born. They served another decade before I ever set foot in Arizona. We're talking 20 years. They served another decade before I could get through school and my service and get through (Arizona State College) and get a job on the paper. Thirty years! They served another decade before I'm sitting across the table from them at Florence. That's 40 years!"
—Don Dedera, on how he came to the story of the Power brothers

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Rebirth of Print and Harvey Weinstein Gets Punched in The Face

March 16, 2018
   Drove up the hill to Prescott yesterday for a speech at the Phippen Museum on Olive Oatman. Big, ragged clouds all the way. Shot this right out the front window:

Storm Clouds Over Prescott Valley

   If you have been wondering where Harvey Weinstein has been hiding out, wonder no more. He did time at the Meadows in Wickenburg and he allegedly has a place in Scottsdale and has been seen out on the town, sometimes wearing a wig, a black T-shirt and a fedora. According to an article in the New York Times, someone punched him in the face at the Sanctuary, an upscale restaurant in Paradise Valley.

   I have another speech in Prescott today, then I'm heading over to Payson for Don Dedera's birthday party. I believe he's 89. I grew up reading his columns in the Arizona Republic where he was the driving force behind pardons for the Power brothers. We are doing a feature on that tragic shootout in an upcoming issue of True West. When Don was editor for Arizona Highways he gave me my first illustration assignment, thus the quote, below.

   Speaking of print:

   "We love print. I’m a huge believer in it. We’ve lived with devices long enough to understand their enormous advantages and disadvantages. If you’ve spent 90 minutes scrolling on your phone, you don’t necessarily feel more informed. You may feel listless and restless. We’re moving into a post-digital euphoria. We’ve seen e-books have plateaued, and real books have had an enormous rebirth. A magazine is restorative. You need to be able to unplug. You absorb information differently when you read it on the page."
Joanna Coles, chief content officer at Hearst Magazines

"I invented you."

—Don Dedera, in his invite to me for his birthday party

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Cowgirl Code: Honkytonk Sue Lays Down The Law

March 15, 2018
   Here's a board that has been sitting in my studio morgue for at least two decades. In fact, Robert Steinhilber did the lettering when he still lived in Phoenix. The actual drawing was unfinished, and this morning I finally decided to fix that and went home for lunch and returned with this:

   The model for this was Jackie King, one of the prettiest and nicest cowgirls Arizona has ever produced.

   More treasures from the garage. Back in the mid-eighties I got an assignment to go to Prescott and do illustrations for Arizona Highways. I found Jay Dusard on his spread and took this photograph of him (as reference for an illustration).

Legendary Arizona Photographer Jay Dusard, in Prescott

   Here's another photo I found that made me smile:

Carson Mell "Looks Familiar"

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.” 
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Words to Live By And Clever Words Lined Up

March 14, 2018
   My mother and her four sisters had a way of speaking that was clever and infectious. Here's a list of words they used that I miss:

Lillie Louise Guess at the King Tut Mine, Mohave County

Ho Hum
Phony Baloney
Hardy Har Har

The Coffee Pot Cafe where all the above words were spoken.

Words lined up, like a train pulling cars.

Words Lined Up    I believe good writing is simply choosing the right words and putting them in the right order. So, with that in mind, here's a bunch of words put in an order that is pretty damn clever:

• "I have a step ladder. I never knew my real ladder."
• "I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize."
• "Borrow money from pessimists—they don't expect it back."
• "Half the people you know are below average."
• "99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name."
• "All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand."
• "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
• "I almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met."
• "OK, so what's the speed of dark?"
• "How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?"
• "Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now."
• "I intend to live forever. So far, so good."
• "What happens if you get scared half to death twice?"
• "Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?"
• "Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film."
• "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."
• "If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?"

• "It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it."
—attributed to comedian Steven Wright, although I believe there are some ringers in here.

BBB Bad Men Duo Monoprint

“Success doesn’t come with painting one picture. It results from taking a certain definite line of action and staying with it."
—Georgia O'Keefe

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Unfinished Kid: A Killer Billy the Kid Manuscript Surfaces

March 13, 2018
   I got a serious offer on this painting today:

"A Belle of Old Fort Sumner"

   I can't really sell it, and here's the inside skinny on why. 

   Several months ago, author Mark Lee Gardner bought an unknown collection of Walter Noble Burns manuscripts on eBay. It consisted of hundreds of pages of manuscript materials, mostly Burns' unpublished western fiction and an unpublished play about pirates! But there was some killer Billy the Kid-related items mixed in, and one of them was an unpublished article titled "A Belle of Old Fort Sumner," which predates the chapter of the same name in Saga that gave Burns' publisher fits.  Fearing a libel suit from the still living "Belle," Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo, his publisher forced Burns to rewrite the chapter.  Pete's sister (not his daughter as is often stated) was only 15 at the time of the alleged tryst with the Kid and this was probably the motive for Pete to throw the outlaw under the bus.

We are going to run this "lost" version in the next issue of True West (May) with Mark's commentary and annotations. It's very cool. 

When the design for the piece came back, I didn't like the art in the original layout (a typical bad, early drawing of the Kid in the same old pose and old-yellowed pages with Burns' handwriting underneath):

First layout

   So I asked our production manager, if the title is "A Belle of Old Fort Sumner" don't you think there should be a picture of the Kid with said Belle?

   To which he said, "When are you going to paint it?" 

   So I went home for lunch and found an old board upstairs which had this exact subject matter, but I got stuck and never finished it. I grabbed it and quickly gave it a go, but I ran out of time (lot's of nuance going on behind that picket fence) and the saddle and back end of the horse are unfinished. Here is the entire painting, un-cropped:

"The Unfinished Kid"

   I know what you're thinking—Why don't you just finish the painting and sell it? Well, because this issue goes to press on Thursday and I have June steaming in right behind it!

"If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Tucson Festival of Books Lovefest And Rockout

March 12, 2018
   We had a wild weekend down in the Old Pueblo. Woke up Saturday morning in our hotel and looked out at this fine sight:

The Mighty Catalinas at daybreak

   I had a book session with authors Rod Miller (below, center) and Alan Day (Sandra Day's brother), moderated by John Langellier, and we told some tall windies and then went out to the University of Arizona Book Tent and sold a slew of books.

   Went and visited Greg Carroll and Sarah at their digs which they found on AirBnB: they found a place called The Tin House at 7th Street and Tyndall. 

Pat Afseth, The Queen of The Tin House
(that's Greg and Sarah at the bar)

Quite a fantastic hodge-podge of Old West artifacts memorabilia, like this old sign, below, for the Round-up Bar on Benson Highway. I have a connection to the sign because I actually played the Round-up when I was moonlighting in a Country-Western band back in the day.

The Round-up Bar sign

   The Tucson Festival of Books gets about 150,000 people and there are hundreds of booksellers in tents, like the ones you see in the background of the photo, below. Sometimes it's hard to find your favorite author. 

Debbie Mecom and her daughter, Amaya, 8. 
Note the names on card.

This young lady, Debbie Mecom, walked up to our tent at about two yesterday and held up a hand written card and read off of it: "Can anyone tell me where I can find the tent that Bob Boze Bell and Johnny Boggs are in?" Johnny and I laughed out loud because we were chatting behind the table as she walked up. Turns out her father asked her to find us and buy our books for him, and she did.

At five, Kathy and I walked down to the free concert, featuring The Rock Bottom Remainders, a legendary (and literary) rock band put together by humorist Dave Barry—and his brother Sam Barry—featuring well known authors like Stephen King (who was not present for this gig) and Amy Tan, among other best selling wordsmiths. I have heard about this band for years and often thought I could be their drummer if I ever had a best-selling book. I wasn't expecting much but I have to tell you, they rocked the house (I think they had a ringer drummer, who was very good). They closed with "Wild Thing" and the encore was "Gloria," so they hit me right where I live. Kathy and I danced and grooved to the beat and had more fun than most of the retirees who were in the audience. Best free show I have ever seen and I saw the Beach Boys at a Get-Out-The-Vote free show at Phoenix Muni in 1971.

The Rock Bottom Remainders Kick Out The Jams

   The funniest guy at the festival was the writer Alan Zweibel (on stage, above, first guy from left) who has a new book out, co-written with Dave Barry, called "For This We Left Egypt?" He revealed what Larry David is really like ("very likeable and generous and not the loud cartoon he plays on 'Curb.'") and Alan also told the joke that got him hired by Lorne Michaels for "Saturday Night Live": "The U.S. Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp to honor prostitution. It's 10 cents, or 25 cents if you lick it." Alan started out writing jokes for comedians like Rodney Dangerfield and he got $7 IF the joke got a laugh. This one got a laugh:

"My mother didn't breast feed me. She said she just wanted to be my friend."
—Alan Zweibel

Saturday, March 10, 2018

It Was A Different Time

March 10, 2018
   When I was cleaning out my files in the garage last weekend, I ran across a slew of old magazines, a couple of which made me cringe—and, ultimately mutter, "Well, it was a different time." 

   Here are some ads and cartoons from one of those mags, a 1968 issue of Playboy. Hard to believe, but I have been carrying this mag from my dorm at the University of Arizona (Cochise), to five different apartments in Tucson, thru a rental house and a divorce and up to Phoenix (two houses) and out to Cave Creek where it has resided for the past 30 years in a box in the garage. It's a long, strange trip for a publication that once-upon-a-time had some major cultural clout (it's a whopping 242 pages!):

   And here for your cringing pleasure are just a couple of the outdated and very unenlightened tidbits that were considered so groovy at the time:

Big Tip Pall Mall Gold ad, 1968

   At the time it all seemed so liberated (seriously!) and new. We were all dreaming of a time in the distant future when no one would be hung up on sex. Well, at least for a certain type of old-school man:

Playboy cartoon, 1968

   Funny how the guy looks a bit like a cranky Hugh Heffner. But it gets worse, or, better, depending on your idea of progress:

Playboy cartoon, 1968


But One Thing Has Not Changed at All
   But the shocker, at least to me, is that the gun debate is exactly the same. It hasn't budged an inch in fifty years! Playboy sites the same statistics ("75 percent of Americans want gun control") and the readers site efforts they are making to change Congress and for two pages the case is made that imminent change is on the way.

"The More things change, the more they remain the same."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, March 09, 2018

A Belle of Old Fort Sumner And DeGrazia In Hell

March 9, 2018
   Found an old, unfinished board in my studio and gave it another go for a piece we are doing on Walter Noble Burns and a lost manuscript.

Daily Whip Out: "A Belle of Old Fort Sumner"

   Of course, Billy had a "querida" in every plaza, but it was the one at Fort Sumner that did him in. In case you don't know, it was Pete's 15-year-old sister. That would be Pete Maxwell.

   I also found this in the garage which dates from my New Times days:

   Just a hunch.

   The legendary Mundo Con Queso came into the True West World Headquarters today to pick up a Kid painting he bought. In return, he gave me this little gem which he found in an antique store:

An ashtray from Charlie Lum's Jade Restaurant

   Very cool. Thanks Mundo!

"I have a simple philosophy. Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches."
—Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Honkytonk Sue Lit Up

March 8, 2018
   Two different art buyers (one from Scotland) have requested a Honktyonk Sue original. Went home for lunch and found two in the archives and, of course, had to improve them. 

Daily Whip Out: "Honkytonk Sue Lit Up"

Daily Whip Out: "Honkytonk Sue With A Longneck."

"Whenever I'm caught between two evils, I take the one I've never tried."
—Mae West

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Log Rolling On My Watch

March 7, 2018
   The term "log rolling" entered my consciousness perhaps 25 years ago, when one of the national magazines (Esquire? Time?) used it as a header on a column that outed authors for touting each other's books in blurbs.  You praise my new book, I'll praise your next book. 

   Evidently the term is quite old as there is a reference to author "log rolling" in an 1877 edition of The Saturday Review.

   So, without further ado, here are some of my friends log rolling for me and my new book:

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Swingers of The Country Kind

March 6, 2018
   Cleaning out all my photo files today and found some gems, including this series, shot for New Times in the late seventies, or early eighties.

Country Swingers Swingin'

   These kids were "The Regulars" at Honkytonk Sue's on Scottsdale Road and McDowell, a short-lived Country Swing bar named after my cartoon creation. They loved to dance and people enjoyed watching them dance, but, one of the downfalls of the club was that the bands they followed were expensive (like $1,500 a night if I remember correctly) and these dancers drank water! And the bar owner finally threw up his hands and sold the place.

Russ The Teacher And His Girl

Country Swingers On Cover

   I believe this is the photo, above, we used on the cover of New Times. The photo session was shot at the Point Tapatio, just below Northern. I can't remember the photographer's name, but he was quite good.

Country Swingers

   Is it just me, or is she cuter than a bug's ear?

"Amy, what-chu gonna do? I think I could stay with you,  for a while, maybe longer if I do. . ."
—Pure Prairie League, "Amy"

Monday, March 05, 2018

Mickey Free's Big, Bad Jack

March 5, 2018
   Here's an art print from deep in the Triple B files that needs a good home. Let me know if you want one (only two left):

   I sometimes walk by finished paintings in the studio and think to myself, I can improve on that. Here's an old DWO (Daily Whip Out) that I thought needed a little more definition, so I gave it another go this morning before I went into work:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free's Big, Bad Jack"

   Over the weekend I let a few paintings go where they wanted to go. That is, I didn't set out to do anything specific, theme wise. Added the tottering fellow at the last gasp:

Daily Whip Out: "Old Man Totters On"

"I'm too shy to express my sexual needs except over the phone to people I don't know."
—Gary Shandling

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Too Much of Everything

March 4, 2018
   Last night I read the following with interest:

"There are more muzzleloaders in the United States than there were people in Colonial America in 1775."
—John McPhee, in The New Yorker, March 5, 2018 issue

   While this statistic is kind of stunning and amazing, I have a hunch there is more of everything these days. For example, someone was bemoaning the lack of Westerns on TV and that in the late fifties there were some 26 Westerns on in prime time. Well, according to my friend and author, Allen Barra, there are more Westerns on TV now than there ever were AND they are on 24/7 because of the proliferation of channels and platforms to watch them on. 

The "Last Frontier" is a running joke!

Daily Whip Out: "Ghost Riders On The Move"

Daily Whip Out: "Quemado Riders"

   We went from three networks to, how many? Twenty? I know we had 900 channels at one point, but with Netflix and Hulu and Blu Ray and MoHo, I have lost track.

   Are you aware that 90 million Americans listen to podcasts every day?  It's basically radio on your iPhone. And did you know that in addition to the new programming of radio-theatre-type shows there are a ton of podcasts that feature old time radio dramas like "Gunsmoke" and "The Lone Ranger"? And did you know that these podcasts are replacing, or, rather, outperforming music themed platforms? Remember when Top Forty Radio replaced the scripted drama radio shows in the 1950s, and now the tables have been reversed, or rather, what was once lost has been found.

"Are we strangers now, like Rock 'N' Roll and the radio?"
—Some Rock Guy singing the Blues

  The same is probably true of horses, mules and cowboys and Indians (not the magazine but the breed). We have this idea that everything peaked in the Old West and all the things we love are diminishing and barely alive (I am often thanked for "keeping the Old West alive.") If you ask me, there is too much of everything, starting with people. Book agent extraordinaire, Jim Donavan, mentioned to me there are over 500 scripted TV shows in production today. Last night Kathy and I were trying to find something to watch on the "stick" and we couldn't find anything, or, rather we couldn't agree on what to watch and we ended up on a show called "Mute," which is a fitting title.

   But, of course, all these "air-quote" statistics are just that.

"There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics."
—Old Vaquero Saying