Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tunnel Saloon #4

August 30, 2018
   I wasn't happy with my previous attempts to portray the Tunnel Saloon shootout, so I got up this morning and did another one.

"Shooting Ghosts In The Tunnel Saloon #4"

   When Pete Gabriel and Joe Phy faced off in the Tunnel Saloon on May 31, 1888, the first exchange of gunfire snuffed out the lights (some reports say a lone light) and, as Pete moved down the bar to confront his adversary, he kept firing through the smoke and darkness.

   Here are several eyewitness accounts that show how hard it is to determine what actually happened, even if you have five, or more, eye witnesses standing in the immediate vicinity.

"The shooting occurred in my saloon in Florence, Arizona. I knew Gabriel, also the deceased. I had been out and came in the back door and had got within about four steps of Gabriel when at the time I saw Joe Phy come in at the front door. The only word that I heard between the parties was Gabriel said "Joe," at the same time Gabriel went for his pistol and shot. I cannot say how many shots he fired before Phy shot. I am certain as to Gabriel firing the first shot."
—J.G. Keating, owner of the Tunnel Saloon

"It seemed to be dark, the only light I saw was the flash of the pistols. I saw Phy enter the saloon; he did not have a pistol in his hand when he entered, that I could see."
—John C. Harris

"Phy did not have his pistol in his hand when he entered the door."
—J.W. Rannels

"I saw Joe Phy go into the saloon of Miller and Keating on the 31st of May, at about 7 or 8 o'clock as near as I can judge. As Mr. Phy was going into the saloon he had a six-shooter in his hand."
—Thomas Sullivan

"I saw a man with his hand on the door, the door opened and apparently backing out. While he was standing in that position I saw the flash of a shot which seemed to go directly against his breast. I remarked when that first shot was fired, 'That man is down.' Mr. Clark remarked, 'Upon my soul, let's get away from here.' We retreated rapidly towards Denier's store. The man in the door came out and started toward Jaun Cabeza's store, follow by Phy. There were, I think four shots fired, after they both came out. I think next to the last shot was fired by Phy as he was falling. As he fell he said, "Oh, my God! I am down." After the last shot the other man walked off toward the hotel. As I saw it was over, I started to the drug store to get the doctor. He was not there and I went to where Phy was. Mr. Laughlin and myself took him up and carried in the corral and helped to undress him."
—Dr. William Harvey

Reading between the lines, it appears that Joe Phy entered the Tunnel Saloon to have it out with Pete Gabriel. Perhaps he thought he could talk first, or give him what for. Pete did not hesitate, but drew his pistol—out of his pants, by the way—and fired. And, it appears his first shot hit Phy in the chest, which would have taken the fight out of anyone. The incredible thing is that Gabriel had been drinking all day on the trip to Florence, and then for an hour, or so, after he arrived. Several testified that he was "in the bag." So, that he could still shoot straight is amazing. And the fact that Gabriel had a chest wound and a gut shot, testifies to the ability of Phy to return fire after having been mortally wounded. 

More Telling Detail
   "Pete Gabriel was standing near the end of the bar when Joe Phy entered the front door. . .As soon as Phy appeared Gabriel drew his pistol and a moment later they were both firing at one another. . .the first shot put out the front lamp and all I could see as the flashes of the pistols, but I don't know how many shots were fired. [historians now believe there were 11 shots] Phy moved away from the door to the right corner and Gabriel worked along the bar towards the door with the evident intention of getting outside, and he was the first to go out. Phy followed and several shots were fired outside."
—J.G. Keating

   To find out more of the back story about this gunfight go to:

The Tunnel Saloon Back Story

 "Tests have proven that eyewitnesses aren't as reliable as they claim to be, especially when those witnesses are older than age 60. In one study at the University of Virginia, participants between the ages of 60 and 80 performed far worse than college-aged students, which is not that surprising given aging eyesight. But the study revealed another startling find: The older eyewitnesses were also more adamant and confident in their wrong answers. So jurors not only hear unreliable testimony from an older witness, but they're likely more convinced of that testimony because of the eyewitness's confidence."
—Charles Bryant

"Bias creeps into memory without our knowledge, without our awareness."
—Laura Englehart

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shooting at Ghosts In The Tunnel Saloon

August 29, 2018
   Working on a classic gunfight that took place in Florence, Arizona. The trick on these, in terms of getting it right, is to find the best scholar who has studied and written about it, and in this case that expert is my friend, John Boessenecker, who has no peer when it comes to any lawman or outlaw who ever took a step in the state of California.

   From the Journal of Arizona History, Spring of 2012, John Boessenecker's "Pete Gabriel: Gunfighting Lawman of the Southwestern Frontier," here are my notes from John's excellent reporting:

   John Peter Gabriel was born on November 17, 1838, in Kruft, Germany, the fourth of six children.  When Pete was nine, his parents emigrated to the United States, settling with their brood in Grant County, Wisconsin. Two years later, in July 1850, Pete's father died at the age of sixty-two. Anna Gabriel could not support her family. So the 12-year-old boy was taken in by a prominent lawyer, who soon joined the California gold rush.

   There, 16 miles north of Marysville in the Yuba River region he grew up among the rough gold miners and gamblers. In his early twenties he became by turns, a gold miner, a mule skinner and a guide.

"I was compelled to make a reconnaissance for the location of the road with one companion, a mountaineer named Peter Gabriel to whom I am much indebted for his self reliance, determined energy, and courage."
—Colonel Frederick W. Lander, in his official report, praising the young Gabriel while routing a wagon road that became known as Lander Cut-Off

    Within a short time, Pete Gabriel was known wide and far for his bravery and he soon enough gravitated to being a lawman. Several times he was elected sheriff (once the vote was tied and the two candidates rolled dice to determine who would serve and Gabriel lost, taking it all with grace and humor).  The only knock against him is that he suffered from severe mood swings which were exacerbated by drinking, which he tended to do a lot of (he had two ex-wives who would agree).

"Pete Gabriel Is A Moody Drunk"

   In November 1884, Pete Gabriel was elected by a 130-vote majority to his third and last two-year term as Pinal County sheriff in Arizona. He appointed thirty-nine-year-old Josephus Phy as his deputy. A miner and freighter, Joe Phy was born in Platte County, Missouri, on May 22, 1844. At age fifteen he ran away from home, eventually landing in Arizona, where he was taken in by attorney Granville Oury and his wife. Phy had been an unsuccessful candidate for Phoenix sheriff

in 1872, and later served at times as a Maricopa County deputy sheriff. In 1878, he was appointed a deputy U.S. marshal. Phy neither drank or smoked, but he had one trait he shared with Gabriel: he too had a bad temper.

   In 1886 Gabriel was going to retire from lawing and he threw his support behind his deputy, but then Phy pistol-whipped a teamster in Casa Grande who had allegedly misquoted him and Gabriel had to arrest his deputy and then fire him. That is when the bad blood started between the two former friends.

   By the spring of 1888, Gabriel was working his Monitor Mine at the head of Mineral Creek in the Dripping Springs Mountains northeast of Florence. Four miles distant, he erected a stamp mill for crushing ore.

   On the morning of May 31, 1888, Pete Gabriel, accompanied by his friend Mike Rice, left his mine near Riverside in a buggy, headed for
Florence. Rice recalled , "As was usual with Gabriel on such trips he had a quart of devil water along and imbibed freely of its contents. When we arrived in Florence Gabriel was practically all in."

   When they arrived in Florence, Gabriel retired to the Tunnel Saloon, where he continued drinking and soon enough he heard that Phy was gunning for him. Sure enough, at eight p.m. Phy showed himself in the doorway of the saloon and the ball opened. Eleven shots were fired. Both men were hit multiple times and Gabriel took a point-blank shot to his chest. He never lost his feet.

"Shooting at Ghosts In The Tunnel Saloon"

   Phy died, but against all odds, Gabriel survived his serious wounds and within a month he was back up and running. But the fight haunted him. The following sums up that claim and then some:

   Mike Rice recalled, "the killing of Phy preyed on him as long as he lived. He expressed his regrets to me on many occasions. It worried him in his waking and sleeping hours to the extent that he was often irrational on the subject. Once on the desert, while we were occupying the same blankets, he dreamt of his encounter with Phy and in a somnambulistic condition fired off every shot

in his gun, at the same time exclaiming, 'Joe, Joe, Joe!'"' 

   He was still shooting at ghosts in the Tunnel Saloon. Pete's friend ends with this comment:

"After this incident I never traveled alone with Pete Gabriel."

—Mike Rice

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Original Rockin' Rappers & Shooting Ghosts In The Tunnel Saloon

August 28, 2018
   Went home for lunch and did a quick study on the shootout in the Tunnel Saloon between Joe Phy and Pete Gabriel. The first shots knocked out the lights and the two adversaries shot it out in the dark moving closer and closer until they were firing point blank at each other. Gabriel was shot point blank in the chest and the gut and Phy was hit through both lungs, and a bullet broke his thigh bone. One of them never lost his feet and, in fact, lived to tell the tale. An incredible, true story for the next issue of True West magazine.

Daily Whip Out:
"Shooting at Ghosts In The Tunnel Saloon"

Photographic proof that Rockers and Rappers have nothing on the original stylin' stylers:

Chief Chula, also known as "Bull Head."
Tsuu T'ina. Calgary, Canada, 1899.

"We never hide from history. We make history."
—John McCain

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Eyes Have It

August 27, 2018
   My father's birthday. Miss the man. He was born in 1923 and died in 1998. Wish I had back all the cringeworthy pompousness I laid on him. He never responded. He just smiled and let me go on, and on. It's tough being a damn, know-it-all foolish kid. I thought I was "The 66 Kid," but that's not true at all. It was Allen P. Bell.

   When I study old photographs I am always drawn to the eyes.

Santa Fe Trader William Messervy, 1849
from a photograph

   In the most intriguing photos it's usually the contradiction between the eyes. Sometimes one is sympathetic, and the other one is a killer's eye. They're rarely, if ever, the same. Sometimes one eye is fearless and the other is fearful. It's the conflict between the two that can sometimes capture the soul of a character.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: "Seri Witch"

"Evil Eyes"

   Notice how the eye on the right is slightly fearful. Gives him humanity. Other times it can be the environment they are in.

Daily Whip Out: "El Vato II"

   Storms always give me an insight in a character.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Lightning Rider"

So, what is my philosophy on all this? It's all in the contradictions.

"I have O.C.D. and a phobia of antique furniture."
—Billy Bob Thorton

"I have O.C.D. and A.D.D.; everything has to be perfect, just not for very long."

Saturday, August 25, 2018

When Swans Attack

August 25, 2018
   In the 1960s left-leaning Hippies were convinced the FBI and the CIA were corrupt and doing the bidding of "The Man." Turns out they really were spying on Martin Luther King, Jr. and on behest of Nixon they tried to get John Lennon deported. There were riots on campuses all across the country if the CIA even came looking for recruits.

Big Storm A Comin'

   These storms are cyclical. They roll in almost every evening in a clockwise circle. You can see them coming from a mile away.

   The left and the right have now circled around and switched positions. The right now believes there is a deep state and it is corrupt and politically motivated. The left is singing the praises of the FBI and the integrity of the "intelligent gathering community."

   Twenty years ago the Republicans demanded Bill Clinton's impeachment because he had corrupted the moral fiber of the country.

   And, well, I don't need to explain that switch.

"Liberalism is a perpetual program of reform, intended to alleviate the cruelty we see around us."
—Adam Flippin' Gopnik, in The New Yorker

   Conservatives believe they got what they have earned through hard work and perserverance and they don't believe in giving any of their hard earned money to "slackers."

   I hate to use a sports analogy, but here you go:

   Picture the two camps as sports teams. Let's call them the Sun Devils and the Wildcats. Both sides hate each other and think the other side is full of evil brutes and cheaters (picture Duke here, or Hillary Clinton). The Wildcats have been on the losing end for a while now but then they hire a sketchy coach who talks tough and "recruits" Dick Butkus type players. They are rough and they get away with bending the rules and the Wildcats start winning against the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils try to have the whole team arrested, but the Wildcats defend the coach and the players ("You're just jealous, Man!" "Hey, we won fair and square, get over it!").

   Game over. Or, at least until the Sun Devils get hip and get a rougher coach and team. Repeat until hell freezes over.

   In August of 1966 police officers in Sweden were puzzled by reports of unusual damage to cars. Turns out a swan had attacked its own image in the polished surface of 12 vehicles.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
—Winston Churchill

Friday, August 24, 2018

When Dentists Attack

August 23, 2018
   Editing and tweaking, adding and subtracting images for the next edition of Doc Holliday.
  Liked this first image, but thought the darkness was weak. And decided to take another pass at it.

"When Dentists Attack"

   This illustrates the attack in the Oriental when Doc Holliday burst through the doors brandishing a pistol. I thought it needed more murky, nighttime effects:

"When Dentists Attack Final"

   Had a similar problem with the Tucson Train Station on the evening of March 20, 1882 when Doc Holliday detrained with an arsenal of weapons the Earp party was carrying to protect Virgil Earp and his wife who were traveling on to Colton, California. So I added some detail to Doc to bring out a tad more definition to the scene:

"Doc Detrains Final"

   I also didn't like a portrait of Doc that I wanted to run showing what he probably looked like before he started to be ravaged by his disease:

"Doc Before The Dissipation" 

  Got some more work to do this weekend and will share the results.

"I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn't write anything without hope in it."
—Oscar Hammerstein

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Docs Galore & Dead From The Eyes Down

August 23, 2018
   Rounding up all the images of a certain drunk dentist for the third, expanded edition. It's kind of surprising how many runs I've made at Mr. Holliday.

"Doc Behind Bars"

"Dead From The Eyes Down"

   There is only one known photograph of Doc in Arizona and that is this one taken in Prescott in 1879. This was just prior to him going to Tombstone and joining the Earps on a certain stroll just past an okay corral.

Doc Holliday in Prescott

Some of us see glasses. Do you?

"Doc In Glasses?"

"The Doctor Will See You Now"

"Doc Galore"

     Of course, we have featured the good doctor in a solid dozen issues of the magazine and the best info from those will be featured as well.

"Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a cafe named Mom's. And never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own."
—Nelson Algren

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Kelo Henderson Is Still Ridin' High

August 22, 2018
   Just got word from our friend John Bianchi, that the star of one of my favorite TV shows growing up, "26 Men," just turned 95!

Kelo Henderson, "26 Men"

  According to John, Kelo is still kickin' and still havin' fun. Amazing.

Kelo Henderson, John Bianchi and Chris Alcaide, 1996

   John Bianchi who owns Frontier Gunleather in Rancho Mirage, California, did the gun rigs for Kelo and they have been good friends for the past 25 years.

"Twenty-six men, who lived to ride again, they rode the Arizona Territory. . .saddle up, saddle up, saddle up. . ."
—Theme Song to "26 Men"

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Return of Doc Holliday

August 21, 2018
   Finishing up my third edition of Doc Holliday which will go to press later this year. In addition to much new scholarship there is also a bunch of new art:

"Ace Up The Sleeve, Death at the Door"

   We've all learned a lot since "The illustrated Life & Times of Doc Holliday" appeared in 1993. And, of course, most of it appeared on the pages of True West magazine. 

"Doc Holliday Detrains In Tucson on the evening of March 20, 1882"

"Doc In His Cups"

"Doc Behind Bars"

"Doc and Wyatt: The Deadliest of Friends"

White Hills in northern Mohave County.
Wyatt Earp reportedly gambled here.

The Faro Game

"This is funny."
—Doc's alleged last words


Monday, August 20, 2018

The Drunk Fighter

August 20, 2018
   Over the weekend, I started a typical gunfighter pose, modeled off of a cool little photograph someone forwarded me. As it progressed in my sketchbook, his visage started to go south, as in sobriety. So, instead of a gunfighter, here's a new look at an old genre:

"The Drunk Fighter."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you took the alcohol out of the Old West equation you would have a much shorter and quieter history of the era.

"We was so high we could'ah hunted doves with a rake."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Born Riding: A Bow-legged Vaquero

August 19, 2018
   My Kingman Cowboy Cousins have bowed legs and they come by it honestly: riding horseback daily, often for long hours, over many decades (in the case of Billy Hamilton, 8 decades!).

  Here's an example of an oldtime vaquero down Mexico way who has them all beat:

"Born Riding: A Bow-legged Vaquero"

   This is from a photograph of "Senor Cuesta, overseer at Hacienda Xalostoc," 1936.

   Meanwhile, more work on the shade under a certain mestizo's hat brim:

"Ojos de Gringo #17"

   Just saw a piece in the Wall Street Journal: "Shall We Have Civil War Or Second Thoughts?"

   Is it in the water? Why are we all mulling this right now?

"The funny thing is that on all three sides—white, black and red—there was the warrior’s mutual respect. The tale would become a Caucasian’s Iliad in the hands of John Ford and John Wayne. White people (to borrow Saul Bellow’s phrase) had movies to keep the wolf of insignificance from the door."
—Lance Morrow

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Things You Should Know I Know

August 18, 2018
   Here's a quote I love: "If you are going to tell the truth, better make them laugh, otherwise they will kill you."

   This brilliant sentiment—variously ascribed to George Berhnard Shaw, Cecile Starr, Charles Ludlam, Richard Pryor, James L. Brooks and others, I kid you not—perfectly captures what I am about to tell you.

   Two weeks ago I talked my good friend, the Top Secret Writer, into giving us a no-holds-barred rant on the state of history in this country. Long story short, he did just that, at some expense,  in terms of time and effort.

   I love Paul Andrew Hutton and I love his rants. When he gets going on a topic, it is nothing short of mesmerizing to hear him launch off on something he sees as untrue, unfair and hypocritical. And through it all, he makes me laugh, and then some.

   I asked for a thousand words, I got two thousand. I asked for examples and he was quite specific.

   I believed my staff and our readers would get the acerbic wit and the insights and enjoy the hell out of it. Well, my staff had a cow when they read it, so the piece has gone through some emotional editing gyrations since last Thursday and the tweaking continues into the weekend. I will keep you posted.

   Meanwhile, other sources are weighing in as well on this controversial subject, i.e., our sordid past.

   "The U.S. has. . . endured reversals, crises, malaise and committed its share of crimes. There is an extensive literature, dating to the 1780s and continuing through the present, predicting imminent doom or long-term decline. There's an equally long literature cataloging America's many sins, most of them real but very few of them all that particular to us, including slavery, ethnic cleansing, territorial conquest, racism and misogyny.

   "But the consistent theme of American history has been one of continual overcoming by way of direct recourse to first principals—principals that are timeless and universal, even if they were laid down by hypocrites."
—Bret Stephens, in The New York Times

"There is nothing wrong with America, that cannot be cured by what is right with America."
—President Bill Clinton

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Richest Hole of All

August 17, 2018
   Got up this morning and re-attacked a painting that I thought needed another tweak, or two:

"Ace Up The Sleeve, Death at The Door, #4"

   This is for the third edition of "The Illustrated Life & Times of Doc Holliday" which will come out next year.

   Speaking of rare and out of print books, when I was at Bookman's in Flag on Tuesday, I spied three of my books. A first edition of "The Illustrated life & Times of Billy the Kid," signed by me to "Lynda, your grandparents got you this. They must really love you. 10-24-92". That was at Suzanne Brown's Art Gallery when the book premiered and evidently Lynda didn't love the book as much as her grandparents because it's for sale at Bookman's for $30. The other two books were hardback editions of my Wyatt Earp books and one was for sale for $50 and the other for $60 (with the annotation "Very rare").

    I picked up a great little gem at Bookman's. "Ballad of a Laughing Mountain" by Art Clark and Richard Snodgreass. It's a black and white photo book that documents the not-quite-ghost town of Jerome from the year 1955, when the town went from 16,000 down to 300 almost over night. The striking photos are of the stubborn stragglers who hung on, hoping the town would come back. 

 One of those stragglers was an old Mexican miner named Tisnado who walked from Phoenix in 1899 to get a job (that is a 110 mile hike!). He worked in the mines for 53 years, and as he puts it, "never lose one shift. Never sick, never hurt." Now THERE is a hero.

"The Ballad of Tisnado"

   The local bartender at Paul's Place, in Jerome, remembers when the town was roaring: "Rough as hell, and tougher. Four deep at shift time, she was. Dutch lunch every Monday. Them boys [could] kill six, seven kegs [every] Mondays. A shot was fifteen, beer a dime. I've still got a tear gas bomb the cops gave me over in the safe. They could drink, them boys."

   According to the book, by 1897 they were pulling four million pounds of copper out of the mines every month! In 1915 the Little Daisy claim was discovered and is considered "the richest hole of all." The mines and the town went on highrolling until "one cool morning in 1953" when it all ran out.

"To see a mine die is to see a living thing die. For months, even years after the last shift comes off, the people refuse to accept or recognize the death, laugh about it, agree this is only temporary."
—Richard Snodgrass