Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Fighting Earps vs. A Tyrant Father

January 31, 2018
   As fathers, we all carry a burden of regret and second-guessing, especially when it comes to our sons. Were we tough enough? Or, too tough? I worry about what I did, or didn't do, to my own son and I often think of my father's handling of my own upbringing (full confession: he grows taller every time I look back at the stubborn Norsky).

   So, it is with some empathy that we look at the early life of Wyatt Earp and his brothers. Thanks to the scholarship of acclaimed author, Mary Doria Russell, we now know those Iowa boys had a pretty rough upbringing.

What kind of father created The Fighting Earps?

The Genesis of "Sins of The Father" 

  I wanted to see if we could approach the legendary Vendetta Ride from another angle and I asked Mary to get inside the family dynamic and find out if there are any clues to account for the outburst of violence that drove Wyatt around the bend and stained Cochise County after the killing of his favorite brother, Morgan.

   Here is just a taste of the insightful feature article Mary has written for us:

"In 1864, an irascible 52-year-old Nicholas Earp proclaimed himself a wagon-master and offered to lead a group of Iowa emigrants to California. Sarah Jane Rousseau kept a diary throughout the seven-month trek and she has left us glimpses of the father who raised the famous Fighting Earps.

"It's not a pretty picture. Mrs. Rousseau describes Nicholas Earp as a man whose reaction to backtalk was volcanic. 'It made him awful mad and he was for killing. He used very profane language and he could hardly be appeased.' Disagreement was an insult and would set off an hour-long tirade with threats to abandon the emigrants in the wilderness for their opposition. There was discussion of the role 'too much liquor' played in his temper.

"On November 24, Mrs. Rousseau gave us a direct observation of Nicholas Earp, the father.

"'This evening Mr. Earp had another rippet [sic] with his son Warren [for] fighting [with] Jimmy Hatten. And then Mr. Earp raged about all the children, using very profane language and swearing that if the children's parents did not whip them as he did or correct their children, he would whip every last one of them himself. He shows every day what kind of man he really is. He is such an uncouth and foul-mouthed person I think we made a terrible mistake engaging him and furnishing him horses and provisions to lead this wagon train west.'

"This is not the strict but ethical paterfamilias played by Gene Hackman in “Wyatt Earp.” Nicholas Earp beat his sons. He cowed and terrified his wife and daughters. He always had some dispute going with their neighbors. He repeatedly packed up his family and moved on, to escape unpaid debts."

   And, so, to paraphrase Ms. Russell, Wyatt Earp grew up trying to be a better man than his father.

   Mary's piece, "Sins of The Father" will appear in the April issue of True West, along with the True Story of the Vendetta Ride, which, as it turns out, is what happens to the Iowa boy who fought his more violent urges until his favorite brother was shot dead, from behind.

Daily Whip Out: "Frank Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree"

It also explains earlier behavior:

Daily Whip Out: "The Horse Thief"

   Leaving us with a better understanding of what made him tick.

Daily Whip Out: "A Damaged Man"

Praise for Mary Doria Russell:
   Widely praised for meticulous research, fine prose, Mary Doria Russell is the award-winning author of six bestselling novels, including the science fiction classics The Sparrow and Children of God; the World War II thriller, A Thread of Grace; and a political romance set in 1921 Cairo called Dreamers of the Day

   With her latest novels, Doc and Epitaph, Russell has redefined two towering figures of the American West: the lawman Wyatt Earp and the dental surgeon Doc Holliday. The daughter of a sheriff, Mary grew up with cops and guns but also holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan and taught anatomy at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry.

Highly recommended.

"Suppose, suppose. . ."
—Wyatt Earp's last words

Fan Mail from the Frozen North

January 30, 2018
   We get quite a bit of mail here at the True West World Headquarters and here's one I'd like to share with you all:

Dear Mr. Bob Boze Bell & Staff,
    I would like to take this time to let you know what I think of your magazine. After living for more than 20 years in my cabin with no computer or TV in the mountains northwest of Golden, BC [British Columbia] I still reach out to printed entertainment. And one of those I reach for is your True West. I live somewhat of a singular, lonely life, but when reading your magazine, I feel warm and happy. Thanks!
Ken Galts, Golden, British Columbia

Ken enclosed this photograph of himself

The True West Class of 2018 Commencement Address

January 31, 2018
   If you saw yesterday's post, you no doubt noticed I asked everyone on staff and our contributing editors to send me a photo when they were young and to give me a couple lines on how they became interested in Old West history. Here is what the artist Thom Ross sent me:

Thom Ross: "This photo was taken of me at the local tennis court just below my home in Sausalito proves the power of television.  Although San Francisco was a "western" town in it's hey-day you very seldom think of it when the discussion of famous towns of the Old West come up.

"And by the time I was born (Sept. 1952) it was moving into it's very hip music scene which would explode there in the 60's.

"My first hero was Siegfried!  My parents had a book on heroes and Siegfried appeared in those pages with a fabulous etching of him slaying the dragon, Fafnir.  I would listen to Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" each morning while eating breakfast before going off to nursery school.  (The two movements I listened to were "Forest Murmurs" and "Siegfried's Rhine Journey").  

"I remember my parents waking me up late at night during one of their cocktail parties and they took me downstairs still sleepy-eyed in my pajamas.  In front of all those grown-ups they asked me to strike my "Siegfried" pose....which I dutifully, and honorably, did.  My left-hand clenched behind me while my right arm thrust straight out as I saw Siegfried do, driving his sword into Fafnir.

"So I was already into my hero-worship phase!

"But it was the TV westerns that really grabbed me.  Like I said, I did not grow up anywhere near a place one could call "western" in feel.  My cousins, on the other hand, were raised on a cattle ranch outside Fallon, Nevada, and my uncle was the real deal.  After he sold off the ranch he spent several years as the  stud-duck of the famous Wine Cup ranch outside of Jackpot, Nevada.  My cousins, Jackie and Sammy, each had horses AND a gun!  I was sick with jealousy!

"But it was the influence of "Rawhide" (with that truly great theme song), "Bonanza", "Bat Masterson" and "Wyatt Earp" etc. that shaped me the most.  And it was at that time the I saw Disney's "Davy Crockett" series and THERE was my hero.  

"In my 2nd grade class photo I am wearing a fake fringed Disney shirt with Fess Parker's iconic image stamped on a label.  And a lot of the boys were into the westerns etc. but as far as I know I am the only one who made a life out of that passion for heroes and the Old West.

"Gosh, I remember going with my dad to see "The Magnificent Seven"....and then John Wayne's "The Alamo" came out and when it was playing in Sausalito I'd just walk to the theater and stare at the great painting by Reynolds Brown.  And then one Saturday I stumbled onto "The Last Command" starring Sterling Hayden as Jim Bowie.....and Hayden was living IN Sausalito!  (When Hayden took his kids and fled to Tahiti on his ship, the "WANDERER", it was skippered by Spike Africa....and I knew his kids, Deedee, Kit, and Dana (who was in my class).  

"And then there was the weekend day when my father read me Stuart Lake's account of the OK corral gunfight and I can still remember listening to every word and having them turn into pictures in my head!  I was just amazed that not one teacher had ever mentioned this all-important event to me!!!!!  

"And the weekend we went up to the Lambert's cabin in the Coast Range and on a wall in this rustic cabin was a print of "Custer's Last Fight".....and I was totally unaware of who he was.....I couldn't even pick him out in the print....I pointed to only men in uniform and completely missed our darling boy in flowing hair (like Siegfried for God's sake!) and golden buckskins.

"So all this played out in my head and did so every god damn day.  I would go to school and draw the Alamo or the Last Stand over and over and over, all day long.

"There was a dance school in San Francisco run by a guy named Dick Ford.  My class was invited to attend his class to be filmed and put on television.  My dad often told the story of how the camera followed Dick Ford around and each kid he came up to he would ask: "and what are you going to do today for your dance?"  And not a kid said anything....the parents at home, watching this on TV, must have been howling with tense laughter.

"Well, Mr, Ford, in exasperation, came up to me and asked me what I was going to do........and I jumped up and said, 'I'm a COWBOY!' and I began to run around the dance studio with the camera following me........and every kid jumped up and said, 'I'm a COWBOY TOO!' and we all began to dance and run around that studio pretending to be cowboys.

"It was ALL a fantasy for me.  I mean, I rode horses when I was very little (Topsie was my horse's name....the name of the stable in Fairfax was Sleepy Hollow.....and when I heard about the Headless Horseman riding around in the story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", well, I was always nervous riding there!  I thought that this WAS the same Sleepy Hollow!  That headless horseman stuff fucking freaked me out!

"(We went riding there one time and we were listening to a Giants - Mets game on the radio.  We turned it off when we went riding...but when we got back in the car to drive home, low and behold, the game was still on!  It went 23 innings and the Giants won it when their pinch-hitter, Del Crandall, hit a double off the centerfield fence which scored what proved to be the winning run (May 31, 1964 - Shea Stadium - 23 innings - SF 8 - NY 6.  It was also in this game that Gaylord Perry first threw a spitball......he had to do something because the Giants were going to get rid of him!  He was the winning "pitcher of record" too!)

"So I do not know if I had a vivid imagination myself or if it was born within me by all this input from without.  And as you know, it is still with me today although it has branched out into fields of interest other than just westerns.  But whatever that place is that is inside me, inside my head, inside my heart, I would not trade it for anything else on this planet.  It has become my own religion as well as my own has been a miracle."

"I would have sent you a shorter letter but I didn't have the time."
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The True West Class of 2018

January 30, 2018
   Here's a fun little feature I am working on which will run in the magazine later this year. I wanted to honor the many fine people who contribute to the magazine's success and I thought it would be fun to show them at a young age, to illustrate that their passion for all things Western has been a lifelong pursuit. This is a sneak peek, at a work in progress:

Let's pay tribute to the scholars, teachers and students of the Old West who have made True West magazine what it is today, the very best history magazine on the face of the Earth. The matriculation continues.

Allen Fossenkemper : Four Years Old (1947) Tucson.  
"I had spent a winter in bed with Scarlet Fever and the Measles so the Doctor told my Mom to take me to Arizona for six months to recuperate." Allen was our first promotions director and to this day promotes the magazine through his performances in his singing group, "The O.K. Chorale."

Tom Jonas: "I think I was about 6 years old in this 1956 photo. We were living in Glendale, Arizona at the time. I don’t remember which cowboy was my favorite—it might have been Roy Rogers. I was also a fan of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett and Guy Williams’ Zorro." Tom does great maps and has located hard-to-find historical locations, like the Canyon de los Embudos site where Geronimo almost surrendered in 1886. Tom anchored our coverage on the Geronimo surrender and the Fly photos in the July, 2017 issue of True West.

GREG CARROLL: "My seventh birthday (1963) on the front porch of my boyhood home in Wichita, Kansas. That's my older sister Jan. I am defending the Plains of Kansas, as the lawman Matt Dillion. I was a late bloomer to True West magazine, discovered it thru BBB's discussions on his radio show. I wasn’t a very good student of history, but now love it and have a lot of catching up to do." Greg is our regional sales manager for Arizona, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas (his home state!), Nevada and Washington.

Rod Tinamus: "I was five years old when the shot was taken in 1953. I inherited my interest in American History from my father; whose family arrived here in 1732. I remember there was a picture of the Alamo church in the family photo album that my grandfather had taken in 1936, and when I asked my father about it he told me the story of the battle. At that point I was hooked and began my study of the history of the Old West." Rod appeared prominently in our Emmy Award winning documentary, "Outrageous Arizona" (2012).

Rhiannon Deremo: "I was six or seven (1996) when this photo was taken at a stables somewhere in the Valley of the Sun. I have always loved horses and growing up I loved watching Westerns with my dad. My favorite was 'True Grit' with John Wayne." Rhiannon came to True West in 2015 and is in charge of all things online (she is our social media editor).

Rebecca Edwards: "This photo was taken in May of 1957 when I was four-years-old, at Houston Farms in Rushville, Illinois. I was inspired at an early age by my grandfather's love of history. My great, great grand-father, the Rev. L. John Scripps and his nephews were prominent in newspaper publishing, and my great, great aunts inspired me with their artistic talents. My mother loved Westerns, and we would watch them together as I grew up. As I look back today I can see how the stories of the Old West, injustice, good triumphing over evil, along with art and publishing led me to True West." Rebecca joined us in April of 2012 and she is the graphic designer on the feature you are reading.

"You can accomplish almost anything if you don't care who gets the credit."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday Front & Center

January, 30, 2018
   Just got this from the Top Secret Writer who had a speech in Bozeman, Montana:

The March issue of  True West, front and center,
at Barnes & Noble in Bozeman, Montana.

   When Kathy and I motored down to Desert Ridge to see "Hostiles" last Saturday I had to check our rack position at Barnes & Noble.

Face out at B&N, Desert Ridge, North Phoenix, Arizona

   On the way home, Kathy wanted to stop at Tractor Supply to see if they had storage bins for the garage (they didn't), but they did have this little surprise at the check out stand:

Tractor Supply, Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, Arizona

   So, you all have your assignment. Go to your store that carries True West and make sure we are front and center. I'd love it if you included a photo of yourself in front of the rack.

   Thanks for shopping True West!

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams

P.S. someone sent me a link to an old BBB blog post they liked and I had forgotten how cool this song is:

Like Rock & Roll and Radio

Are you still in love with me
Like the way you used to be or is it changing?
Does it deepen over time like the river
That is winding through the Canyon?
Are you still in love with her?
Do you remember how you were before the sorrow?
Are you closer for the tears
Or has the weight of all the years left you hollow?
Are we strangers now?
Like the Ziegfeld Gal and the Vaudeville show?
Are we strangers now
Like rock and roll and the radio?
Like rock and roll and radio
I can see you lyin' there
Tying ribbons in your hair and pullin' faces
I can feel your hand in mine
Though were living separate lives in separate places
Are we strangers now?
Like the Ziegfeld Gal and the Vaudeville show?
Are we strangers now?
Like rock and roll and the radio?
Like rock

The Ghosts of Kingman Graveyards

Monday, January 29, 2018

Francisco: From Hero to Hubris to Annihilation

January 29, 2018
   Francisco, the Quechan tribesman who "rescued" Olive Oatman by threatening the Mojaves and predicting annihilation if they didn't release her, became quite full of himself and went around preaching and talking down to the various river tribes. He boasted of his prowess at war and preached revenge and finally talked the Yumans and the Mojaves into going to war against the Maricopa and Pima tribes. Francisco's combined war party attacked at Maricopa Wells and in an all day In-din fight the Pimas and Maricopas prevailed and killed over 200 of the best warriors on the Colorado River. 

A "Yuma Apache" in full dress uniform

In grief, on the return march, the story goes that Francisco's own men killed him because they thought that he had brought disaster upon them by befriending the whites and getting so many of their best men killed in the folly of war.

   There are no known photographs of Francisco, but this image, above, perfectly captures his visage, in my opinion.

"He who lives far from neighbors may safely praise himself."

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hostile Emotions

January 28, 2018
   Well, I cried three times Saturday morning. At a Western movie. And, full disclosure, I put off seeing this movie for a long time because I heard mixed reviews: "It's too slow," "It's too PC," and I dreaded seeing it (it felt like homework, I had to go so see it, BUT. . .), and I am so tired of slow, PC Westerns. Turns out I had bad intel.

   As we walked out of the theater, Kathy said to me, "Well, if you ask me, that is the most emotional Western that has ever been filmed." She's right. I got tears in my eyes at least three times—in a Western! True, it was slow in parts and not perfect, but it really takes the genre to a new level, emotionally.

   And, for the record, it's not overly PC, it show Comanches being "like rattlesnakes," according to the Wes Studi character. And Christian Bale is absolutely fearless as a hard bitten, racist warrior. My only disappointment was that my favorite bad guy, Ben Foster, didn't get more screen time. He is just the best at playing unhinged characters and he got one here.

   Last night I emailed our Westerns editor, Henry Parke and asked him about how "Hostiles" came into being. Here is his reply:

"The genesis of Hostiles was an unpublished manuscript by Oscar-winning screenwriter (for 1982's MISSING) Donald E. Stewart. Stewart died back in 1999, and if I remember correctly, his widow showed the manuscript to Scott Cooper."

   Here is Henry's review of the film.

A decade ago, Christian Bale played the reluctant temporary deputy escorting outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crow) to a train in the remake of Elmore Leonard’s 3:10 TO YUMA. In HOSTILES, he’s more than reluctant; he’s defiant. A heroic, much-honored veteran of both the Civil War and Indian Wars, Cap. Joseph J. Blocker (Bale), is ordered to escort captive Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) back to his homeland in Montana, presumably to die. Having lost many friends at the hands of Yellow Hawk and his men, Blocker refuses, and it is only the threat of court martial, and loss of his pension, by Col. Briggs (Stephen Lang), that induces Blocker to transport Yellow Hawk and his family through deadly territory.

Jonathan Majors & Wes Studi

The movie becomes, in a sense, a ‘road picture’, with Blocker and Yellow Hawk gradually coming to grips with their intersecting pasts and their terrible memories. There are chance encounters along the way. En route they meet up with Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike, Oscar-nominated for GONE GIRL), a settler whose husband and three daughters have been piteously butchered by Comanches. Her mind shattered by her pain, she is brought along, and begins healing along the way. Soldiers and Cheyenne must do battle with Comanches, enemies of both. They’re also asked to transport a soldier to a court for trial and presumably a hanging – Sgt. Charles Wills (Ben Foster) hacked a family to pieces with an axe. Wills has a history with Blocker – they soldiered together – and Wills is eager to convince Blocker that his crimes are no worse than Blocker committed, and that they’re a pair of angels next to Yellow Hawk. Interestingly, Foster, who all but walked away with last year’s HELL OR HIGH WATER, as the bank-robbing brother with no off-switch, has a history with Bale, as he played Crow’s obsessively-loyal right-hand in 3:10 TO YUMA. Come to think of it, he all but walked off with that movie as well.

Rosamund Pike

HOSTILES, written and directed by Scott Cooper, based on a manuscript by the late Donald E. Stewart, an Oscar-winner for 1983’s MISSING, is a deeply felt story, peopled by soldiers, Indians and civilians who express their feelings with utmost caution.  Despite the familiar premise, the flow of the story, and the people who populate it, are happily unfamiliar. The cavalry soldiers assisting Blocker include a young Frenchman (Timothee Chalamet – currently starring in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME), a sergeant recently treated for melancholy (Rory Cochrane), and a loyal black corporal (Jonathan Majors) ironically in charge of chaining the Indians. It’s full of both quiet passages, and jarring, unflinching violence – in some ways it’s the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN of Westerns.  

Christian Bale & Adam Beach

Scott Cooper made CRAZY HEART with Jeff Bridges, but his Western credentials go back further, to his acting career, in GODS AND GENERALS, with Stephen Lang, and the excellent miniseries BROKEN TRAIL. Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, who also shot Cooper’s BLACK MASS, makes full, beautiful use of the New Mexico and Arizona locations, and at times effectively thrusts the viewer deeper into the action than we want to go. There is also frequently a classical look to the images – his doorway compositions are not merely an homage to John Ford, but a jumping-off point.
My one disappointment is that the excellent Adam Beach, who plays Yellow Hawk’s son, has virtually nothing to do. But with a performance by Bale that runs from barely contained fury to understated grace, and a story that is frequently grim, but never without hope, HOSTILES is one of the finest Westerns in several years. From Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, it opens in theatres on January 19th.

"There are no good guys or bad guys in the West, everyone was a victim, everyone was guilty. It's a movie about transformation and the power of forgiveness!"

—Amy Wilmoth Watts, two sentence review of "Hostiles"

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rock And Roll Never Forgets

January 26, 2018
   Most people who meet me naturally assume I am a Country & Western fan. No doubt it's the hat, the frock coat and the handlebar mustache. When I was on the Jones & Boze morning show at the Classic Rock station, KSLX-100.7 FM back in the eighties, we had a Christmas party at a Scottsdale resort. Our general manager, Reid Reeker, hired a DJ to play music in one of the small conference rooms he traded out for (by his own admission, he is a cheap bastard). As soon as I walked in the door, the DJ slammed on a George Strait tune followed by Reba and Waylon. When Reid went over to complain, the DJ pointed at me and said, "I just assumed you were a Country station!"

   Last October when I appeared on a John Wayne—John Ford panel at the Lone Pine Film Festival, someone in the audience asked me what my favorite Country tune is and I confessed to being an AC/DC fan. And, although the person who asked this question was horrified, I must say I am partial to "Girls Got Rhythm."

   However, since Country has drifted more towards Classic Rock, I really like Eric Church, Forida-Georgia Line and the Hank Williams Jr. rocker, "Are You Ready for the Country?" Which is, in fact, poached from Neil Young. But, you get my drift.

   I personally have never seen the disconnect between Gunslingers and Rock. Or for that matter, why Gunslingers would prefer Country. I understand how Cowboys lean towards Country, but even that is changing as the younger cowpokes absolutely love Country Hip-Hop, which has been nicknamed Hick-Hop. And so it goes.

Daily Whip Out: "Rockabilly Git Picker"

Daily Whip Out: "Drummer POV"

   Full disclosure: I did do time in an old school Country band in the mid-seventies because I needed the bread. We played mostly VFWs and American Legion Halls and the odd Moose Club. And, all told, I must have spent a thousand nights looking out on the dance floor from this position, above. I saw nasty and wicked things. I saw fist fights and wagon tonguing. I saw the horizontal bop and stand-up fornicators. I may even write a book someday, "Confessions of a Honkytonk Drummer."

   Or, not.

Daily Whip Out: "ZZ Top Linebackers"

Daily Whip Out: "Reagan Rocker"

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program:

Daily Whip Out: "Rancher Dan Comer"

"Girl's got rhythm, she's got the backseat rhythm. . ."