Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Bobcat Bite, Z.Z. Wei And Wipeout Revisited

March 31, 2018
   I had a great time in New Mexico, hanging out with my crazy friends:

My fave Santa Fe cats at The Bobcat Bite: L to R: Thom Ross, BBB, Paul Andrew Hutton, Randy Egan and Johnny Boggs.

   We checked out the paintings of Z.Z. Wei at the Blue Rain Gallery across town in Santa Fe:

Z.Z. Wei triptic painting

   I dig those trucks. He has a kind of Maynard Dixon meets Ed Mell esthetic. 

Z.Z. Wei Replay & Replicated Forms
(note the building at right is shaped like a truck as well.)

Thom Ross dissed Z.Z. Wei, but he's a cranky, old crank. For proof, I must mention he got kicked out of the lobby of the motel adjacent to the Bobcat Bite for looking, well, like this:

Artist Kid Ross tricked out in his Charlie Russell finest.

   We can't figure out why they kicked him out. He looks totally Santa Fe to my eye. "I'm sorry, sir, but you are going to have to wait somewhere else." Why? Because he looks too much like the locals?

Hutton's view of the Sandias in his back yard

   We spent some quality time looking at this view, solving life and talking trash about all our history-minded friends.

   Returned home today.

   I landed in Phoenix at two and walked through the chaotic maze of Sky Harbor, Terminal 4 walkways and down the long escalator to the lower level and then out the north door to catch a Preflight Courtesy Van.

 I waited at the pick-up zone for a couple minutes, until a Preflight van pulled up, empty. I was the only one who got on and as I hauled my carry-on down the aisle to the back, I heard a familiar, demonic laugh. As I turned and sat down, the driver took off and over the van speaker system I was serenaded for almost the entire trip to the garage where my Flex was parked by the instrumental song that almost brought me down. 

You know, THIS demonic laugh.

   It seemed like a movie soundtrack with me all by myself, riding along in that big, ol' lumbering van with the classic drum solos of the original "Wipeout" by the Surfaris punctuating my near-death experience thoughts. 

   The energetic drum solo was done by Ron Wilson of the Surfaris and the demonic laugh at the beginning of the song was created when one of the band member's father broke a surfboard near the microphone and the band's manager Dale Smalin, did a "maniacal laugh" followed by the words "Wipe Out." In my estimation, none of the other covers of the drum solo ever captured the crisp, driving beat of the original, including Ron Wilson, who later re-recorded it! A magic moment trapped in vinyl, indeed. Wilson, ironically died before his 45th birthday.

   I ultimately had to smile. 

   I'm still here.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

—Mark Twain, attributed, although Hutton scoffs at it

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Window of Opportunity

March 28, 2018
   Yesterday, my friend Mundo came out and gifted me a couple photo books by his uncle Ray Manley. Here's a classic 1940s photograph by Ray Manley of Window Rock, Arizona:

Ray Manley's "Window Rock"

   I've been aware of this photo for many years and, in fact, it inspired the following scene in "The Trickster With The Sidewinder Gaze," a proposed graphic novel by myself and the Top Secret Writer:

Daily Whip Out: "Window of Opportunity"

  This illustrates a scene where the Apache Kid and Beauty barely escape as Mickey Free fires his big Sharps at them through "The Window of Opportunity."

   And, speaking of the Top Secret Writer, I'm flying to Albuquerque tomorrow to speak to one of Paul Andrew Hutton's history classes at the University of New Mexico.

"Art and love are the same thing: It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."
—Chuck Klosterman

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Talking Out of Turn Pays Off Big for Loud-Mouthed Kingman Boy

March 27, 2018
   In the fall of 1959 a photographer for the Mohave County Miner came to Kingman junior high school to take a photo of Mrs. Bonelli's 6th grade class. As the caption, below, explains, we had voted to donate our class funds to the American Cancer Society. I was the biggest donor at $5 and that's why I'm standing out front at right.

   What is not in the caption is that I was fined 10 cents for every time I talked out of turn in class and I ran up the $5 in fines. Jimmy Covarrubias came in a distant second, and the reason he looks so sheepish is he only "donated" $2.50.

   Cathy Cannon, in the back row, was one of Mrs. Bonelli's pet monitors (I think she had three and, if memory serves me correctly, Lynn Leichsenring and Elise Reichardt were the others) and Cathy would catch me talking to my neighbor and she would conspicuously and dramatically put a check mark next to my name on a list of students which she kept on her desk. When I would protest, she would make another mark. So I would stick out my tongue at her, and she would put another mark next to my name. This went on for the entire semester, and, well, the results speak for themselves. 

   The lesson here, is, sometimes it pays to talk out of turn. I thought of this often when I was on KSLX, 100.7 FM radio in Scottsdale, where I basically did exactly what I did in Mrs. Bonelli's class: for three hours a day, five days a week, I talked out of turn on the Jones & Boze Show. The only difference is, on the radio I got paid $112,000 dollars a year to do what I was trained to do in Mrs. Bonelli's class.

   So thank you Mrs. Bonelli and Cathy Cannonball!

"And that's the news, smack-dab-in-the-middle of the West's Most Mid-Western Town!"
—BBB sign off from 1986 to 1994

Sandra Day Desert And Ray Manley Rocks

March 27, 2018
   The legendary Mundo Con Queso (the only super-surfer-cowboy I know on the planet) came out to the True West World Headquarters this morning and gifted me two Ray Manley photo books. Ray Manley (Mundo's uncle) along with Josef Muench, were the go-to guys at Arizona Highways, when I was growing up. Here's a taste of Ray's work:

A Classic Ray Manley Photograph of Window Rock

   Which inspired a scene from The Trickster With The Sidewinder Gaze. I'll post tomorrow. I also have a cartoon I did a couple years ago that was inspired by the following Ray Manley image:

Navajo Men Watching A Woman Work

And just who is this Mundo character. Well, wonder no more:

Mundo And Triple B

  And, finally, here's a layout board buried in my office, from the eighties that probably was intended for a Honkytonk Sue story. Yes, that is the first female Supreme Court Justice at top, right. 

"Sandra Day Desert"

"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there would be no concept of history."
—Hermann Hess

Monday, March 26, 2018

Big Clouds And Cantina Misfits

March 26, 2018
   Had fun this weekend working on a variety of things.

Daily Whip Out: "Arizona Cloud Panorama"

"In-din Rising"

   Have you ever walked into a dark bar and as your eyes adjusted, you realized you were in a tough scene? That's the inspiration for this scratchboard:

"Cantina Misfits"

   Just sold it.

   Meanwhile, got another Old Vaquero Saying in the works. Here's the rough sketch:

"The Law Is Far, The Fist Is Near"
—Old Vaquero Saying

"Painting is marvelous. It makes you happier and more patient. Afterwards you do not have black fingers as with writing, but blue and red ones."
—Hermann Hess

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Birth of Old Vaquero Sayings

March 25, 2018
   Back in the days before Google search—circa 1992—I wanted to know who said, "History is a cruel trick played on the dead by the living." I had my suspicions it was Voltaire, but I couldn't find the attribution. So I called the Reference Desk at the Phoenix Public Library and a very nice woman down there took up the challenge. It took her several days (oh, the Humanity!) and when she called me back she told me she looked and looked but she couldn't find it either. I had a book deadline and wanted to use the quote, so I came up with a creative band-aid and attributed the quote as an "Old Vaquero Saying."

   Thus, the birth of Old Vaquero Sayings, which is a staple every month in our Truth Be Known section of True West magazine.

   I have long thought Old Vaquero Sayings would make a good, little bathroom book and the boys down at Cattle Track Arts Compound—Mark and Brent—agree, and we have decided it's going to be our next project.

   Thanks to my curator, Kristi Jacobs, who went through my massive scratchboard stash, and culled these images for possible usage in the book:

Daily Whip Outs: "A Gaggle of Old Vaqueros"

  In addition, I have half-a-dozen other boards in the works and I'll post those as we move along.

   Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't Google the quote in question (something I haven't done, by the way, in the past 26 years). It appears the quote is, in fact, from Voltaire, but with a couple variations:

"History is a pack of lies we play on the dead," and "History is after all a pack of tricks we play on the dead."

   I'm sorry, but I like my version better. "a cruel trick" is just a tad more undeserved and descriptive of the corrosive and unsettling nature of the process, but then I have been saying it for a quarter century and that probably disqualifies any objectivity I might claim. 

   I also found a few more "History" quotes on Wiki-quotes worth repeating:

"Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child."
—Cicero, 46 B.C.

"A generation which ignores history has no past—and no future."
—Robert Heinlein

"Most historical facts are unpleasant."
—Aldous Huxley

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,—so good night!"
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, August 1, 1816

"If Napoleon had nuclear subs, we'd all be speaking French, so the history thing can be oversold."
—Mike Murphy, February 7, 2018

"History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit."
—Hunter S. Thompson

"Every decade or so, the world is tested by a crisis so grave that it breaks the mould: one so horrific and inhumane that the response of politicians to it becomes emblematic of their generation—their moral leadership or cowardice, their resolution or incompetence. It is how history judges us."
—Jo Cox, October 13, 2015

"History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks."
—Will Durant, 2006

Friday, March 23, 2018

When Cowboy Democrats Became Republicans

March 23, 2018
   A Facebook history buff wanted to know if my grandmother was a Democrat.  This was in response to my telling the story about my grandmother disliking Wyatt Earp. I replied that she, and most of the cow-boys in the Arizona-New Mexico corridor at that time were Democrats and that the Earps were Republicans. I ended by saying that it's hard to make too much of this political divide because at a later date the two parties switched places. 

   Well, this last comment was met with hostile resistance and I got the distinct impression that the writer wanted Earp to be a cast-iron Republican (i.e. Trump supporter) and that the cowboys were Democrats (i.e. radical leftist lying manipulators) and the very idea that they ever switched sides was somewhere beyond blasphemy.

Guess Democrats Later Became Republicans

   So I asked the Top Secret Writer to help explain to us just how volatile the American political landscape has been in the past couple hundred years.

Musical Chairs
   "By 1860 the South had pretty well purged itself of Whigs and had no Republicans to speak of. After the war the Republican Party in the South consisted mostly of African Americans who were quickly disenfranchised. The South remained reliably Democrat until the Dixie-crat walkout in 1948 (although many southerners had refused to vote for Al Smith because he was urban, wet, and Catholic.) Running the liberal Adlai Stevenson did not help the cause in the 1950s, so the stage was set for the big shift that started with JFK (liberal on race and Catholic) and LBJ (who still held many southerners since he was a Texan). Remember that all the major Civil Rights legislation from the 1940s through the 1960s only passed because of strong Republican support from the northeast, Midwest, and Far West. After the Democratic party imploded in 1968 and then put the nail in its coffin in '72 with the nomination of George McGovern (the first Pres candidate I voted for--and a long string of Dem losers followed). It was then that Nixon craftily worked his "southern strategy" and turned the South totally to the GOP. Migration since then has broken down the solid South, and certainly Bill Clinton (as a middle of the road Dem) helped with that but as the party has moved further left (toward European-style social democracy) it has solidified a rural/urban split that has more to do with cultural than racial issues (although race remains central). 

   "The West is the wild card in all this, with the two largest western states (Texas and California) completely switching over in party loyalty over the last 25 years or so. In the Civil War and Reconstruction era the ruling class in the West was solidly Republican (Democrats were often migrants from the South). The West turned more radical in the 1890s with the rise of Populism and then Progressivism so it was ripe for the picking by FDR and the New Deal. The rise of cities exacerbated feelings of Western alienation from eastern urban centers as the region embraced a nostalgic post-frontier mindset (the country became half urban half rural in 1924) The Far West remains mixed--often along urban/rural lines (except for NM which is Dem and rural and Hispanic). West coast is liberal on the coast, but is more conservative in the rural, eastern sections. Arizona is solidly GOP along with Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and the Dakotas (North Dakota was once quite radical). Colorado and Nevada are a mixed bag along urban/rural lines. Race, as expressed in the rise of the Hispanic population and immigration issues on the border, is important in Arizona and New Mexico and to a lesser extent in Texas, California, and Nevada. 

   "So yes, the two parties have shifted positions and voting blocs many times and are certainly in flux today."
—Paul Andrew Hutton

"The only way to understand today is to see it in the context of yesterday."
—Eli Lehrer

Billy Undone

March 23, 2018
   Woke up. Still alive. Went to work.

Daily Whip Out: "Billy Undone"

   Found this undone Billy upstairs in the studio while looking for something else. Gave it a couple tweaks and thought I'd spend some time on the shirt and scarf but then I asked my curator, Kristi Jacobs, if she thought I should work on it some more and she basically said, "I like it as is," so here you go—literally—Billy Undone.

   Found another "Whip Out" with the same issues:


Daily Whip Out: "Arizona Charlie Headshot"

   Fretted about it some. Then decided to take a walk. Beautiful skies out this morning.

Ratcliff Ridge Sunrise

   A little later, it turned into this:

Ratcliff Ridge Cloudburst
Cecille B. DeMille Clouds. 

  So, this whole thing about finishing paintings earlier and leaving undone passages has got me all worked up. Have I killed countless paintings with overwork? Without a doubt. 

"Vendetta Riders"

Have I missed the boat on paintings that needed another layer of effort? Without a doubt.

"Topock Marsh"

   So, will I ever know when a painting is done, or needs more work?  I doubt it. Or, more importantly, am I lying to myself?

"Art that doesn't contain lies isn't really a great piece of art."
—Damien Hirst

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Surviving Wipeout

March 22, 2018
   It was ten years ago today I had my own personal wipeout, while playing a drum solo on "Wipeout." This happened at an Exits reunion at the rehearsal in the afternoon, before the show, which was to take place that night at the site of our very first gig, the Elks Hall in Kingman, Arizona. You couldn't make up anything more ridiculous: the band's name, the song I was playing, or, rock musicians knowing CPR. And, yes, the three heroes of the moment: Terry Mitchell, Wayne and Cody Rutschman, all had just received CPR training (what are the odds?) and when I collapsed with a heart attack, they each took turns and gave me CPR until the Kingman Fire Department (stationed directly across the street) arrived.

The Ill-fated Poster

And here are actual photos of the rehearsal and me playing "Wipeout" on my butt and doing the gator, moments before I collapsed. I have no memory of it.


   Thank you boys. All of you. And that includes Dr. Michael Ward at Kingman Regional.

   Four stents and two miracles later, I embarked on my afterlife journey. If I had died on that day (a doctor who saw my medical chart said if he didn't know the outcome he would give the patient a 1% chance of survival), I would have missed both my kid's weddings, the birth of three beautiful grandchildren and trips with Kathy to Paris, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Guatamala and Bolivia. Oh, and Thailand. To say I am thankful for the extra time on the planet is an understatement for which I cannot begin to fully understand or get over.

    Thanks for the extra innings.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cowboy Hat Etiquette, Part V: Bronc Riders Take Their Hats Off for Nobody

March 21, 2018
   Two weeks ago I was on a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books with two very interesting cowboys. One of them, Alan Day, is the co-author of "The Lazy B" a classic book about growing up on a ranch near Duncan, Arizona. His co-author was his sister, Sandra Day O'Connor, and he told some great stories about cowboying all over the southeastern part of Arizona.

   The other session cowboy was the author Rod Miller, who said a very interesting thing about hat etiquette. Rod is a former bronc rider. Here he is, when he was on the Utah State University Rodeo Team:

Rod Miller, middle row, far left, with the
Utah State University Rodeo Team, 1973

And here's Rod in action, back in the day:

       And here's Rod after landing face first in the mud:

Key point: his hat resembles a mudflap but he's still got it on!

   Here's what Rod told the audience about cowboy hat etiquette:

Bronc Riders Take Their Hats Off for Nobody

   During the late sixties and through the mid-seventies I rode bareback broncs in high school, college, amateur, and pro rodeos around the Intermountain West. The rodeo cowboys—rounders—I hung out with believed being a cowboy was an all-the-time thing, and we dressed the part with pride. That included hats. Going without one was akin to being naked, and we wore our hats everywhere, including classes at college, in cafés and bars, at home, and pretty much everywhere we went. The only rule concerning hats in our crowd was never—ever—put your hat on a bed, as that was considered bad luck. We screwed them down tight when we rode, the thought being that if a horse or bull bucked off your hat, you wouldn’t be far behind. Off-the-rack Resistol hats were the preferred brand, with Bailey a distant second. Felt in fall, winter, and spring; straw in summer. But, always, a hat. 

Well, what about your mama's house? Did you doff there?

   Mom didn't care much about head cover. But when I first met my future mother-in-law my hat was on my head and stayed there, and it never occurred to me it should be otherwise. I found out later that my lack of couth did not impress her much. She got over it--or used to it--and came to appreciate my finer qualities, even so far as to actually like having me around as a son-in-law. 

   I did take my hat off for the Star Spangled banner at rodeos, unless I was astride a bronc in the bucking chutes setting my rigging. In those instances, someone might or might not hold it for me while my latigoes were being stretched. 

   Coming and going for short periods we wore our hats in and out of the house, but when settling in for the evening they went on the peg, to be put on again when going out. 
—Rod Miller

We've covered old time rodeo, like this cover back in 2010.

   And if you want to see our coverage of cowboy hat etiquette, here are a couple posts:

The History of Hat Etiquette, Part I

   And if you want to read even more, check this out:

Saloon Etiquette for Cowboys

   And here's Rod's latest book. Check it out:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Five Unattainable Girls I'm Still Trying to Impress

March 20, 2018
   Like more than a few boys who grew up in a small town, I have a thing for beautiful women who are unattainable. At that time (late fifties, early sixties) there were perhaps a couple hundred available "girls" in Mohave County and five of them were absolutely beautiful. These gorgeous "babes" (Sorry, I'm not sorry) also had another thing in common: they wanted nothing to do with me. Some of my friends said it was because I was too skinny. Others reminded me I was obnoxious and had a severe case of acne. Whatever the real reason (all of the above?) I finally realized, quite a few people are into that whole physically attractive deal and apparently it's reciprocal.

   So when you are totally out of the running, what does a poor boy do—except play in a rock 'n' roll band—well, you fixate on totally unattainable females. And when I was in the eighth grade that would be this very mature and very unattainable girl:

   When I got to high school, the unattainables branched out a bit:

A mixture of the unattainable babes on my pubescent radar

   Eventually, I actually did date a few of the babes, above, with the notable exception of Brigitte Bardot.

   But back to the High Five from Kingman. The irony is, it's been sixty years, and I'm still trying to impress those five girls.

   And two of them are dead! ("The first edition is sold out, Renee. Now, will you go to prom with me?")

    I know it sounds weird and comes off as extremely immature, but it has been my motivation and driver for a very long time and on some level I will die with this odd, five-unattainable-girls-muse pushing me onward.

One of the High Five is in this old picture.

"Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you'll begin to discover the perfection in life itself."
—Richard Carlson