Friday, June 22, 2018

Muy Mexicana Women of The Mexicali Stud Story

June 22, 2018
   Working on a Muy Mexicano story. Woke up this morning and bailed into several females that will populate the tale.

"Tata-Anna Viagra" 

   She is a force to be contended with in upper Baja. Her husband owns the Mexicali Stud.

"Nepomuceno Barranca," an Indio women
who despises Tata-Anna Viagra

   Of course there are a garden variety of other women in the story, including:

"A White Woman In White"

And what would any story about the lawless Baja corridor be without these gals:

"One of the Heathen Sluts"

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite seniorita:

"Elena Andalucena"

   All of these women will run into Ojos de Gringo, the domador (horse trainer) with the magic hands, who is hell bent on retrieving a stolen horse that goes by the name of. . .

"To cheat wolves is to promise vultures."
—Old Vaquero Saying


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ten Painted Ladies

June 21, 2018
   Got up this morning and hand painted ten Painted Ladies. Here's the first one:

"Painted lady: Smouldering"

   And here's all ten of them:

Ten Painted Ladies

   These were all black and white art prints from Brent Bond of Santo Press, down at Cattletrack Arts Compound. He gave me ten to hand paint and as I did each one, they took on a life of their own and I ended up with different expressions and thus, different titles, for example:

"Painted Lady—Sneer"

"Painted Lady—Sad"

      Others include, "Come-on," "In Smoke," "Smirking," etc.

   Seven have already sold. Let me know if you want one of the last three.

"Support wildlife. Throw a party."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Introducing The Mexicali Stud

June 20, 2018
   Here's a story I have been wanting to tell you about for a very long time. It's a little different from my normal history stories because this one is only half-true. It's basically your job to figure out which half:

   He rode out of a dust storm on the Baja border. His mission is simple: bring back Don Diego Viagra's prize horse. The only thing that stands in his way is the Mojave Desert, crazed renegades, heathen sluts, patriotic slavers, General Crook and the U.S. Army, and, one big, fat betrayal.

"To cheat wolves is to promise vultures."

—Old Vaquero Saying

On The Border With Language Issues

June 20, 2018
   Like most border incidents it began with a simple question: "What do you mean, 'No tengo mas tequila?'"

Daily Whip Out:
"Three Dead In Cantina Fight"

   In the old days, I witnessed numerous misunderstandings on the border because of translation issues, petty bickering and racial hatred. I'm so glad we've moved beyond that.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Cockfighter And Cole Younger Survives

June 19, 2018
   Got up this morning and did a take on a little different subject matter:

"The Cockfighter"

   I also added a couple strokes to an earlier image:

"Cole Younger Shot All to Hell
And His Toenails Fell Off"

Hanska Slough

   Charlie Pitts: "We are surrounded. We had better surrender."

   Cole Younger: "Charlie, this is where Cole Younger dies."

   Charlie Pitts: "All right, Captain, I can die as game as you can."

   Charlie stands and fires at the oncoming posse, 7 townsmen from Madelia, Minnesota, marching towards the outlaws hiding among the willows in the bottom of Hanska Slough. Returning the fire, Charlie is hit in the chest and Cole takes a round in the face. Bob Younger is also shot in the chest trying to surrender. Numerous shots rip through the plum thicket where the boys make their last stand.

   After the brief tornado of lead, the seven volunteers wade into the outlaw's position and Sheriff Glisin barks, "Bring a wagon down!"

   As the possemen disarm the outlaws, Cole Younger, temporarily stunned by the shot in the face, rolls up on one elbow, beligerent and woozy, like a bear awakened from a long hibernation. "Come on," he says, "I'll fight any two of you sons of bitches!"

   A lumber wagon comes crashing through the underbrush. "Which one of you is Jesse James?" one of the posse members asks. "Anybody got a chew," Bob Younger replies.

   For a long time no one says anything as the men go about the difficult task of getting the wagon and their captured prey out of the slough and back up on the road.

   As the wagon comes back up out of the slough, spitting mud like an overloaded manure spreader, women passengers leer out of buggys lined up on the road. Hands to mouths, the women sightseers gasp at the awfulness of the wounds. Even the volunteer possemen are struck by the carnage they inflicted. Sheriff Glispin walks up close and puts his hand on Jim Younger's shoulder: "Boys, this is horrible, but you see what lawlessness has brought to you."

"Everybody is in a struggle you know nothing about."

—David Brooks

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cole Younger: As Rough As They Come

June 18, 2018
When the Younger brothers were captured at Hanska Slough after the failed Northfield, Minnesota bank robbery someone asked them why they did it, and Cole replied, "We are rough men, used to rough ways." It doesn't get much more honest than that.

Daily Whip Out:
"Cole Younger As Rough As They Come"

  Unlike so many other outlaws, Cole Younger owned his outlaw status. Explaining his capture he said:

"Next to my father's murder, that was the worst day of my life. In addition to the pain and the humiliation, we were hunted for two weeks in the rain. After my capture, my toenails fell of, for Christ sake."
—Cole Younger

 "Cole Younger On The Worst Day of His Life"

   At Hanska Slough Cole was hit by a bullet in the right side of his jaw, which passed over the palate and lodging on the left side of his upper jaw. He was already carrying four bullet wounds in his back, which he probably received in the failed bank robbery two weeks prior. He had buckshot which had penetrated his left shoulder blade, two inches deep. He had another wound from a bullet that entered the middle of his arm, passing upwards two inches, still another bullet passed behind his armpit. A doctor at Madelia gave Cole and his two brothers opiates to ease the pain. Cole lived until 1916 with 11 bullets still in his body.

"Don't follow me. I've made a wreck of my life."
—Cole Younger

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Real Number 10 And The Difference Between Yanks and Brits

June 16, 2018
   Landed in Deadwood Thursday night. I've got a book signing at this place later this morning:

Deadwood Sidewalk Promotion

   Yesterday morning, I got a whirlwind tour of the area from Kevin Kuchenbecker, one of the head honchos as the Deadwood Historic Preservation offices. After a tour of their massive archives (very impressive what gambling revenue can provide for preservation), we took a driving tour of the entire area. I never realized that, like Bisbee, there were so many mini-enclaves, or settlements surrounding Deadwood up and down the canyon. They include Pluma, Cleveland, Chinatown. Elizabethtown, Montana City, Ingleside, South Deadwood and Deadwood City, among others! As usual, the real history of the town is much more complex than the legend of the one muddy street with the Gem Saloon on one side and the Number 10 Saloon at the upper end. And speaking of the Number 10:

A mighty fine painting of Tom Mix
that hangs in the Wild Bill Bar

The Wild Bill Bar is the actual site of the Number 10 Saloon where Hickok was killed. The other Number 10 was grandfathered in, if you know what I mean (if you don't, I'll explain later). 

   Poor old William was buried in what is known today as the Ingleside neighborhood, but when real estate started to boom, Hickok and some others were moved farther up the hill (skeletons still show up from time to time in people's yards), which is known as Mount Moriah. And, if you've read my book you know Wild Bill went through at least two monuments up there that goulish visitors chipped away at until they disappeared into nothing. Today, his grave looks like this:

The Crush at Wild Bill's Grave

Yesterday afternoon I got another grand tour from this guy:

"Dances With Wolves" Film Site

   Jim Hatzell, at right, has worked on many, many films, but "Dances With Wolves" was his first and he has fond memories of the shoot. This film site, above, is where they filmed the snow sequence at the end of the picture and Jim walked me (and two kids—boyfriend-girlfriend who happened to be there, and who listened with some interest, one of them took this photo) through the sequence, shot by shot.

    Jim told a funny bit a Brit told him about the difference between the Yanks and the British:

"The Americans think 100 years is a long time ago, and the British think 100 miles is a long ways off."
—Jim Hatzell

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bang for The Buck

June 15, 2018
   I'm in Deadwood, South Dakota. Took most of yesterday to get here. Had to fly to Minneapolis, then transfer to a puddle jumper and fly west to Rapid City, South Dakota, then rent a car and drive an hour west from there into the Black Hills where I finally landed, at seven last night, at the Hickok Hotel in lovely downtown Deadwood. A long and expensive slog to sell a few books.

  Speaking of being on the road to sell books, after the Tucson Festival of Books, our publisher Ken Amorosano asked me how we did and I told him we sold about 20 books over the three day festival and he said, "I sold 85 books in my underwear." He explained that he did an email blast from home to the True West subscriber list and sold four times as many books without even leaving his house. I told him this was a very impactful insight. From now on I'm doing these book signings in my underwear.

Daily Whip Out: "Mula Mula"

Daily Whip Out: "Sugarloaf Cowboy"

Daily Whip Out: "Diego de Viagra"

Daily Whip Out: "The Whiner"

Daily Whip Out:
"General 'Old Ironbutt' Bortscheller

Daily Whip Out: "Cole Younger Captured"

Daily Whip Out: "Zero Visibility"

"The law is an opinion with a gun."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Deadwood Bound

June 13, 2018
   Heading up north tomorrow. Hope to see you there this Saturday.

"Remember, if I sign your book, I absolutely guarantee that someday it will be worth the cover price."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Do You Do When Your New Girlfriend Wants to Visit An Old Boyfriend?

June 12, 2018
   True story: my new girlfriend wanted to go visit her old boyfriend in Austin, Texas. So I drove Kathy Radina from Phoenix to the Lone Star State in her car to visit the infamous DJ who had just been fired from KOKE FM (LBJ's station) for refusing to play disco. 

Marty Manning on a little train bound
for nowhere.

   Needless to say, Marty Manning was the hero of the entire town—for refusing to play disco—and everywhere we went (The Broken Spoke, Wylies, Oat Willies, The Armadillo, Sixth Street, etc.) everyone bought us free drinks and free food. 

   If you don't believe me, here I am outside of El Taquito Cafe in Austin with the chef. Someone sitting next to us in a booth recognized Marty's voice from the radio and bought us breakfast (megas!):

Free megas in Austin thanks
to Marty Manning.

   Marty also hooked me up with several underground cartoonists and we had fun chatting about the biz. That encounter ended up in the newspaper:

Austin Statesman, May, 1979

   On the way home from Austin we went the northern route through Big Spring (where my mother's kin are from) and then on over into New Mexico, landing at Carlsbad Caverns and then on up to Mayhill where we spent the night in a snug log cabin. 

Mayhill cabin breakfast on the grill.

   From there we made it up to Cloudcroft and Ruidoso and as we came around and down the mountain towards Hondo, we pulled the car over to take a photo. A tourist who had stopped at the same lookout, offered to take our photo, and here it is:

Two lovebirds before the storm.

   Continuing on down the Valley past San Patricio we realized we were in love and we started talking about getting married and where we might hold the wedding. After I rejected a couple of practical suggestions from Kathy, I made the turn at Hondo and as we meandered northwest alongside the serene Bonito River we got into our first fight. Kathy wanted to know why everything always had to be "so Western" with me and I defended myself by saying, "I'm sorry I don't want to get married in the Polanski Club on McDowell Road, so sue me!" 

   Granted, I was new at the relationship game and didn't know this was like throwing gas on a fire, so as we drove through a very quaint little village, it got pretty ugly and I didn't even stop, the car.

   Fortunately, things calmed down by the time we got to Socorro and we later (July, '79) got married at Pioneer Village, thank you very much. But before that happened I looked on a map to see what the name of the small village was that we drove through while fighting like cats and dogs.

   Lincoln, New Mexico—Billy the Kid's hometown. A place I had wanted to visit my whole life, and I drove right through there, without stopping!

"Pay attention, the universe is trying to help you."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, June 11, 2018

Buzzard Bait, Ojos de Gringo, Baja Hinny And Juni Fisher's High Hand

June 11, 2018
   Got some catching up to do. Worked this morning on a couple things:

Daily Whip Out: "Ojos de Gringo Portrait"

    Old pulps were kind of masterful in a gawdawful way. Check this out:

Buzzard Bait, Indeed!

   Check out those great hats and the guns are rendered with some excellence. Thanks Chris Casey. Also, speaking of lower California:

"The Baja Hinny"

   One of the things I'm studying and researching for my "Mexicali Stud" project is—vaquero horsemanship—and the guy who knew that subject backwards and forward was the late, great Tom Lea, who wrote "The Wonderful Country." He also wrote another classic, "The Hands of Cantu," which I'm currently rereading, and, in it, he describes a vaquero's riding style as:

"He rode with a high and light hand."
—Tom Lea, "The Hands of Cantu"

   So, I asked Juni Fisher, what this means: riding with a high and light hand? Here is her reply:

   "A true bridle horse is ridden with the hand above the saddle horn, and with the fingers closed around the reins, but with the elbow loose...close to the rider's ribs, but loose so that the hand is raised to signal the horse that something is about to happen. And of course, very light....Lee Anderson is a fine purveyor or this, and instead of rein connectors (made of rawhide or other leather to connect the rein chains to the bit, he uses a piece of string, reminiscent of the bridle horse guys who used the string from a tobacco pouch. Does that help? The elbow to hand line is parallel to the ground on a bridle horse."
—Juni Fisher

   Well, hot damn, she should know:

Juni Fisher's latest CD

"Your horse’s behavior always seems to depend on the number of people watching you."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saguaro Partners

June 11, 2018
   Saw these two cuties on my morning walk today. Note how they stand together and compliment each other, almost like they're dancing together. Oh, and they've been doing this for 257 years, so they must know something we don't.

"Saguaro Partners"

   Now, I believe the buds on the one on the left is a female and the one without is male? Help me botanist people.

"Crushed by a flower."
—My headline on the True West Moment where the dude shot off one of the arms and it fell on his head, killing him

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Disappearance of the Good Guy on The White Horse

June 10, 2018
   What happened to the Good Guy on the White Horse?

Daily Whip Out:
"The Good Guy On The White Horse"

   When I was a kid, he was everywhere, from  Buck Jones (who the above was modeled after), Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger. It was shorthand for purity, good guy-white, yeh, we get it. Black hats, white hats, all that. Of course, today, it seems naive, in a big way. In a painful way. Still, I kind of dug it and it seems like the entire concept is being erased.

"The Good Guy On The White Horse
Is Being Erased"

   Was there ever a good guy on a white horse who was actually good? Ghandi Ranger? Okay, so, where does that leave us?

"Ojos de Gringo"

   It's in the hands, man. The guy has a way with horses and the magic is in his hands. And he's after a white horse, a stallion called The Mexicali Stud. If he rides it will that make him good? Pure? I think you know the answer to that one.

"The Mexicali Stud"

   And speaking of heavey-handed symbolism:

Juni Fisher Crow Carrying Cross #6"

And. . .

Juni Fisher Crow With Cross #7"

    It's been fun, but I'm done.

   Two things: when something is so out, get ready for it to come back in. And, two, who would look mucho groovy on a big, white horse?

Yes, indeed!

"The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money."
—A. J. Liebling

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Card Carrying Crows

June 9, 2018
   Worked on Juni Fisher's book cover image most of the morning, although I did sneak in a couple little Mexicali Stud sketches, as well.

Daily Whip Out: "Mexicali Stud Study"

    In addition to big hats, dust, XKEs and two-lane-blacktop, I am a big fan of crows.

Daily Whip Out:
"Crow Carrying Cross Earring"

   Last night I watched the CNN special on the life and passing of Anthony Bourdain. That guy was so damn good. I always feel bad when someone who brings me such joy, can't have enough for themselves. I enjoyed how all the CNN people who talked about him, called him "Tony," but that just doesn't have the ordained impact of Anthony, does it? He did sum up his life's mission rather nicely:

"I would describe myself as a lucky cook who gets to tell stories."
—Anthony Bourdain

Friday, June 08, 2018

Hot On The Trail of The Mexicali Stud

June 8, 2018
  My son, Thomas Charles, is the one who turned me on to the Graham Greene classic, "The Power and the Glory" and I am so impressed that Greene has this incredible ability to capture humanity with so little description. When the whiskey priest is arrested and thrown in the drunk tank (a scene eerily familiar and accurate to my overnight stay at the Nogales Arms—okay, jail—in 1968) the prisoners are let out in the morning into the yard and Greene says, "A queue of men were bathing their faces at a single tap; a man in a vest and pants sat on the ground hugging a rifle."

   That's it, and you can SEE THEM in their entirety. Every single one! And he only chose to say the seated man had on a "vest and pants" and nothing more (although "hugging a rifle" is perfect), but I can see that guy completely. How does he do that?!

   So, I started writing down potent phrases like the one noted above, as an exercise, to see if I can uncover his methods and the geometry of it all. This morning I applied some of them to a story I am working on for a graphic novel.

Hot On The Trail of The Mexicali Stud
   The mule stopped dead. A tiny green snake hissed away into the blackened rocks. He rode on and came to a long line of crumbling adobes and rode cautiously down the center of the dusty street. It was early afternoon. The vultures lined the tin-roof tops. A ragged peon lounged on a hammock in the shambles of a courtyard.
    Ojos de Gringo reined up and leaned forward on his pommel. "How far is it to Yuma Crossing?"
   "Three leagues."
   "Is there a ferry?
   "There was," the peon cackled as his yellow canines framed his crooked mouth. "Somebody stole it."
   The flies came down and settled on the mule's neck. Osos flicked his hand across the tough grey skin and the mule flicked his long ears, drooping his head down.
   "I'm looking for a white stud."
   "Somebody stole it?"
   "Is there a reward?"
    "Lo siento," the fanged-one shrugged. "I know nothing."

Daily Whip Out:
"Hot On The Trail of The Mexicali Stud"

   "Mula. Mula!" Ojos de Gringo spurred his mule across the plaza and as he rode past the crumbling band stand, an uneasiness came over him. He turned the mule towards the Colorado and the desert took them again.

   With apologies to the estate of Graham Greene. The "uneasiness came over him," and the "desert took them again," are straight up phrases from the wonderful book. As is the "green snake" and the "canine" smile. And so is "the flies came down and settled" and the mule "drooping his head down." Just so strong in a Spartan, deflecting way, which I think is a good part of Greene's genius.

   In my defense, a graphic novel doesn't need most of these descriptions, since you can see the green snake and the yellow canine teeth and the crumbling bandstand, but I have to say, I am going to be using a few of these phrases, heavily changed, of course, to hide my source.

   An uneasiness overtook him and, as he looked back down the trail he saw a tall cloud of dust gaining on him. It was the Plagiarism Police.

"Steal from one person and it's called plagiarism. Steal from a whole raft of writers and it's called research."
—Old Writer Saying