Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twilight On The Truth

September 30, 2018
   The problem with the truth is that it comes in so many shades.

"Twilight On The Truth"

Can a false statement contain truth?
   "90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong."
—Yogi Barra, explaining Jazz

Can a true statement be false?
    Colgate's long standing claim that more than 80 percent of dentists recommend its toothpaste is at the very least misleading. Here's what happened: the company sent out a list of toothpastes and asked dentists to check all of the ones that were good for you and the dentists checked many other brands as well. So, while it's true, that 80 percent checked Colgate on the survey, they chose many others as well.  So, it's a misleading true statement because the impression is left that the vast majority of dentists "preferred" Colgate, when they clearly did not.

"The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth."
—Georg Chistoph Lichtenberg

Friday, September 28, 2018

Guilty As Charged

September 28, 2018
   Here is how I would have handled that hearing.

Confirmation Hearing for BBB

Senator: "Mr. Bell are you happy with the huevos rancheros we imported for you from Sophia's in Gila Bend, Arizona?"

BBB: "Yes, I very much appreciate the food gesture of good will."

Senator: "Perhaps someday you will try some authentic Mexican food from my great state of New Mexico."

BBB: "In my opinion, any state where the vast majority of Mexican food restaurants serve store bought tortillas cannot in good conscious call itself authentic in any way."

Senator: "Are you a virgin, Mr. Bell?"

BBB: "No, sir, I am not."

Senator: "Do you remember when it happened that you lost your virginity?"

BBB: "It was April 14, 1964."

Senator: "Can you be more specific?"

BBB: "Yes, it was at a place called White Cliffs, which is a favorite parking spot about one-half mile north of the Kingman, Arizona Courthouse. And it was in a 1964 Nash Rambler."

Senator: "So you lost your virginity in the back seat of an old car?"

BBB: "No, it was a brand new car, and the front seat folded down into a bed."

Senator: "Back in those days, would you consider yourself a gentleman?"

BBB: "No, sir, I was a complete horndog and I thought about nothing else but getting laid for years on end."

Senator: "Would you say you were selective in who you attempted to sleep with?"

BBB: "Anything that moved, sir."

Senator: "Do you believe in God, Mr. Bell?"

BBB: "I believe in the teachings of Squibe, Moon and Nay."

Senator: "Do they subscribe to the teachings of Jesus Christ?"

BBB: "No, sir, they are Haulapai In-dins but they do take the name of Jesus in vain quite a bit."

Senator: "And what do these Native Americans espouse?"

BBB: "Moon likes to say: 'What if I told you the left wing and the right wing are from the same bird.'"

Senator: "I think it's safe to say you have no business being a Supreme Court Justice."

BBB: "Truer words were never spoken."

Senator: "Any last words?"

BBB: "Yes, good luck with that frat brat."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Son of A Witch

September 26, 2018
   In Mexico a witch is called a Bruja. This brings us to an intriguing and mysterious story that took place deep down in Baja many moons ago.

His mother was a witch

Ojos de Gringo's cousin gives us the skinny

"His mother is Indio. She is also a bruja."

Bruja Mamacita

 "His father was a missionary from the States."

The blue-eyed priest

   "He didn't stand a chance. Her power over him was too strong. There was a scandal in the church and he was sent home. In the spring Bruja had a baby boy with blue eyes."

Ojos de Gringo grew up a lonely boy

"The boy grew up without a father and was seen in our village as an outsider. The Mexicans don't trust him cuz he's a half-breed and he's got the Yankee eyes. The Gringos don't trust him cuz he looks too Mexican. We trust him a little, cuz he's my cousin."

    "He grew up to be a first rate vaquero and horse trainer. He has the magic hands. He got that from his mamacita. She was a healer."

The Vaquero With The Magic Hands

"He had good ideas about horsemanship:'You do not break a horse, you make one.'"

"Of course, there were many who hated the blue-eyed boy and they would have nothing to do with him."

"Mexicali Maniacs"

   "But the blue-eyed boy rode on."

 Ojos Under The Brim

   "In the Baja there was evil on the land and it came in many shapes."

"The Cockfighter"

"There was an oprhan girl who lived near Tecate. Some say he went there often to see her."

      "Then one day they disappeared. No one knows where they went, or what happened to them. Quien sabe."

"The blame is on Satan's horns."

—Old Vaquero Saying


Night Blooming Neon vs. Night Blooming Cereus

September 26, 2018
   A perfect contradiction caught blooming in our back yard at 6:45 this morning.

Night blooming neon vs. night blooming cereus

   Finishing up our coverage for the December issue which includes an excerpt from the third edition of my Doc Holliday bio: 

   The name of this painting is Death at His Elbow.

"Courage waits; fear goes searching."
—Jose Bergamin

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Blaze Away!

September 25, 2018
   Blaze is an interesting word. It has some descriptive power, as in a sunrise:

A Blazing Sunrise Over Ratcliff Ridge
September 25, 2018

A Closer View of The Same Blazing Sunrise

   Or, it could be a quote from the historical record:

"Blaze away. You're a Daisy if you do."

—Doc Holliday

   And, or, it could be the subtitle to one of my Classic Gunfight books:

Blaze Away! The 25 Gunfights
Behind the O.K. Corral

  It could also describe something going down in flames:

The Jones And Boze Show Goes down
in a blaze of glory!

   Or, it could be the name of a country singer-songwriter—Blaze Foley—and the name of a new movie co-written and directed by Ethan Hawke:

   Yes, that's me standing in front of the parking garage poster for the movie at Harkins' Camelview Five in Scottsdale last Sunday.

   What did I think of the movie? Well, it was too long and I'm not a fan of movies where the protagonist—a musician!—basically goes down in a blaze of alcohol and cocaine, but emotionally it landed somewhere between "Dunkirk" and "Blazing Saddles."

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship."

—Saul Lieberan

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wyatt Earp Captured at Ringside?

September 24, 2018
   Got this in the mail today:

Dear Bob,

   I would like to bring to your attention, that Wyatt Earp was indeed attending that 1896 Bob Fitzsimmons fight match! Please take a closer look at the upper right-hand photo on page 49 in the September 2018 issue of True West.

   That's my Wyatt sitting down outside of the corner of the ring. His right hand is resting on his right thigh of his leg while his left hand is resting on the ring post.

    I should know, because his body shape and mannerisms are forever imprinted in my heart and mind.
—Tammy Saphiloff
Lake Havasu, Arizona

Calling All True West Maniacs!

September 24, 2018
   For years now we have been promising to offer some outrageous deals to our most valued customers, the True West Maniacs. Thanks to our publisher, Ken Amorosano, we are lining up some amazing offers and discounts just for the Maniacs. There's just one catch:

   For some reason we didn't ask for your email addresses. Wasn't that ridiculous?

   Yes, you Maniacs will get first dibs on my third edition of "The Illustrated Life & Times of Doc Holliday."

"Eighty percent of success is showing up."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Random desert photos off my phone

September 24, 2018
   Kathy asked me this morning if I had any photos on my phone that might work on her website. I sent her these.

Kathy Desert Shot #1

Kathy Desert Shot #2

Kathy Desert Shot #3

Kathy Desert Shot #4

Kathy Desert Shot #5

Kathy Desert Shot #6

Kathy Desert Shot #7

Kathy Desert Shot #8

   If someone had told me in 1978 that in the future I could throw my Nikon camera away because my phone would take better pictures I would have laughed in their face.

"Kodachrome it gives you the nice bright colors. . . and everything looks worse in black and white."
—Paul Simon

Saturday, September 22, 2018

We Can Work It Out

September 22, 2018
   One of the problems of getting older is that every extra day you are alive, is another day that more and more people do not get your cultural references. If you are over fifty, chances are you understand the title of today's blog. If you are under fifty, it is probably a bit iffy, and if you are under thirty, good luck, and, under twenty, not a chance.

Sunrise over Ratcliff Ridge,
September 22, 2018

   Back in 1984, I experienced this from the other end of the equation, with my Grandmother Minnie Hauan Bell. That summer, I took Kathy and our kids, ages 4 and one, to see their Iowa kin. My grandfather, Carl Bell, had passed recently, so Minnie, 94, was all alone. On one of the last nights at her home in Thompson, we decided to drive over to Osage where her daughter lived.  Minnie sat up front with me in our 1984 Ford Econoline Van, and, at her suggestion, we decided to sing our favorite songs, and one of the songs I chose was the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out." 

   Kathy backed me up loudly and enthusiastically and even Deena knew some the lyrics (Tommy was one and didn't know where he was or what we were doing), "Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing or fighting, my friend. . ." Minnie was a good sport and ended up humming along with a smile that said, I have no idea what you kids are singing about. She then offered a couple tunes, but, of course, none of us had even heard of them (as I remember, these were tunes somewhere out beyond the turkey and the straw). I remember she made a couple jokes on this trip with cultural references that we knew nothing about. I gave her a courtesy laugh because she is my grandmother, but I had no idea what the set up meant or the joke referred to.

   That, my friends is just one of the many curses of old age: nobody gets your jokes!

And in the end, the love you take
is equal to the love you make.

"The love we give away is the only love we keep."

—Elbert Hubbard, 1927, well now we know where John and Paul stole that concept

Friday, September 21, 2018

Problems? Sleep On it

September 21, 2018
   A couple days ago I spied a sweet little sketch on Facebook by the late Buck Dunton and it looks like this:

   I like the concept of a dusty vignette. A gaggle of riders who could be outlaws or cowboys riding into town. Or, out of town. I put it in my clip file for future reference.

A Cover Design Problem
   For the past six or seven years we have done a photo issue in January. They are invariably good sellers for us, but by this time, I have a serious problem with them. We have done the basic cover design—with the same type style!— to death. The covers were intended to look the same, by design, for collecting purposes, but to those of us who hate to repeat ourselves, it started looking wayyyy too much the same. 

Too much of a good thing.

   I went to bed that night with a series of problems. How do we keep the basic theme but change it up, without ruining the impact? What can we possibly do to keep the theme fresh? We have already done gunfighters and Native Americans and Pancho Villa.  I woke up in the morning with a few insights. I grabbed my sketchbook and scribbled the ideas down as fast as I could write.

Dream Notes

   The theme of the issue—and the title of my next book—is in these mash of notes. I see a big type cover with a small vignette at the bottom that looks like this:

Sketch for "American Outlaws" cover

   Gee, I wonder where I got that idea?

  The difference between a Master and a beginner is the Master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.

   Keep trying.

"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it." 
—John Steinbeck

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tattered Clouds Over Ratcliff Ridge And Swollen Streams On The Way to Hopiland

September 20, 2018
   It sprinkled on and off for most of the day yesterday, lifting around six last night. My neighbor, Tom Augherton, came up to get the papers and caught this sweet shot of the ridge across the street from our house:

Tattered Clouds Over Ratcliff Ridge 

   Speaking of unexpected rain on the desert, I have always loved this wonderful photograph, taken in northern Arizona in 1901:

"It doesn't look that deep," is probably what the men in this photo thought before they attempted to cross a deceptive stream on the Navajo reservation. Photo is by Adam Clark Vroman, 1901. "Something that happened on the trip," it says on the back. They were evidently on the way to Walpi and Tewa, both Hopi towns, at that time a remote part of Arizona.

Working out of Pasadena, California, Vroman took some great photos of In-din country. Here he is posing with his pony and camera in Canyon de Chelly in 1904

Vroman died in 1916 and his photographs were forgotten until Lawrence Clark Powell, then librarian at U.C.L.A., initiated a search for the lost negatives in 1953. The search was successful, saving some real treasures. Part of his impressive collection, including these two photos, is on display in a book I own called, "Photographer of the Southwest: Adam Clark Vroman, 1856-1916." Published by Bonanza Books out of New York.

And speaking of the old days, the following quote by a regional writer makes me smile:

“The farmer’s wife who raises a large family and cooks for them and makes their clothes and keeps house…and thoroughly enjoys doing it all, and doing it well, contributes more to art than all the culture clubs.”
—Willa Cather

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Corporal Buffalo & Mutual Climax

September 19, 2018
   Did this little study over the weekend, utilizing a still I took of Woody Strode from "Sergeant Rutledge":

Daily Whip Out: "Corporal Buffalo"

Speaking of Retiring:
   I hired Allen Fossenkemper back in 1999 to be our Marketing Director at True West. At the time I was still on the radio and Allen set up a True West-KXAM Radio tour of southern Arizona. We did shows in Tucson, Sierra Vista (in a grocery story), Tombstone (in the Birdcage) and Bisbee (in a hotel) where we did live shows in all of those bergs. It was fun. Allen went on to create a barbershop quartet called "The OK Chorale," and they were quite good, and funny, in a historically accurate way.

The True West Crew at Clantonville, 2000

   That's Allen, kneeling at left, in front of the True West Headquarters sign.

   Today I got this from Allen:

   So I asked Yodel'n Al why he retired and I got this:

 "I started the OKC when I was still at TW in 1999.  I thought it would be fun to have a Barbershop Quartet dressed like and singing cowboy songs.  For the last ten years we have been a trio with instruments, sound system, agent, CD and 250 shows.  If we are performing in Sun City at a certain time we have to load up, drive, set up, sound check, and clear the stage by the appointed hour, then cocktails followed by dinner.  We finish singing at about eight, sell CDs and chat till 9.  Take down equipment, pack up, load up, drive 50 miles home, unload to storage and in bed by 11.  10 or 11 hours for $800 max. 

"Over the years we raised about $75,000 dollars for the Fountain Hills High School Band Instrument fund.  Mission accomplished.  

"I turn 75 in October.  Time to spend more time painting."

   And then, I got this:

   Last month on Dr. Phil his theme was "Geriatric Sex."   He had this 80-year-old couple who had been married over 65 years. One of the questions he asked them was "Do you have mutual climax?"  The husband thought for a minute and said.
"No we have All State!" 

"We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
—Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Sunday, September 16, 2018

There's A Place Where I Can Go And Tell My Secrets To

September 16, 2018
   We have been talking about the pros and cons of selling our house. My only concern is what am I going to do with all my stuff, like this:

The Arizona Republic, September 1964

  This historic newspaper has survived at least two dozen moves, starting with my parent's house on Ricca Drive in Kingman. Isn't it funny, I can remember where I put this newspaper in my room? Not sure how it survived my college years—moving almost every semester— then my parent's divorce (an entire storage shed worth of stuff was trashed because no one would come get it!). It has spent the last 30 years in my studio here in Cave Creek and I found it in a box looking for something else. 

   Now, I just don't know. I can't imagine my kids wanting it. Or, this:

"There's a place where I can go and tell my secrets to, in my room. In my room."
—Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

Friday, September 14, 2018

Prairie Girls Are Back In Style

September 14, 2018
   Guess who's back?

Prairie Woman With Load of Buffalo Chips

Yes, the Prairie Girl look is back in style, proving that, if you live long enough, you get to see things go out of style and come back in, at least a couple times. When I was a precocious lad (1965-75), they were called "Granny Dresses," and a certain hippie-type girl wore them with style and pride.

A Retro Hippie "Chick" in a Granny Dress

   They were called Granny Dresses because to young females in the sixties, their grandmothers wore dresses like this, and if there's one thing that drives young fashion, it's the answer to the age old question: "What will piss off my mother?"

  Proving once again the reason grandparents and grandkids get on so well is because they have a common enemy.

   Here is the latest version, as reported in The New York Times, yesterday:

Millennials are "Totally Frocking Out"

   This time around the look is more inclusive. Quoting from the article, "Politically speaking, my head space right now, I'm trying to maintain my love for this country and for some reason that makes me gravitate toward wearing a certain style of prairie dress, which is interesting because that was never, as a woman of color, something I was included in."
—Aurora James

      So, let's take a look at the real deal.

A Joseph E. Smith photo of a ranching family near Socorro, New Mexico in 1888

A mother and her children pore over
an 1880s Montgomery Ward catalog.

"Some women have embraced the straightforward prettiness of the trend, adding a wicker basket and clog sandals. . .It's a whole new breed of Pioneer Woman. Call her the Urban Prairie Girl (U.P.G.?)"
—Chloe Malle