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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Range Rider And Sally Field?!

September 13, 2018
   Sally Field has a new book coming out, "In Pieces" and in the book she drops dime on her step-father Jock Mahoney.

   The Range Rider and Sally Field? 
Oh, boy, is nothing sacred?

Jock Mahoney as
"The Range Rider"

So, let's get more positive. Check this out:

A great hat from the 1860s

And this:

Cross Draw Pistol Fighter

"You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic." 
—Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Growth: The Artist's Field Guide

September 12, 2018
   Learning to draw is all about holding on and letting go. First we grapple with learning a new skill by honing in all our concentration and with extra effort execute, however crudely our first attempt.

Daily Whip Out: "Ojos In Red"

   We do it again, and again.

Daily Whip Out: "Trail of Tears #4"

   When we let go, we have the opportunity to take it to a new level, somewhere beyond craftsmanship.

Daily Whip Out: "Doc Advances"

   And, speaking of craftsmanship, how many times have you heard someone say about an artist or a band, "They sound as good as the Beatles why aren't they famous?" Well, because they are copying the tunes, they didn't CREATE the tunes. There is a difference, you know?

Daily Whip Out: "Billy In The Rough"

   Most people don't know. Gee, my kid could do that, they say. Yes, perhaps if you gave him enough acid, he could create that, but that's not the real deal, Jackass.

   "I don't understand abstract art, but I'm not stupid enough to think it's worthless."

—Norm Macdonald

New Growth
   Of course, growing isn't everything.

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

—Edward Abbey

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Case Against Geronimo

September 11, 2018
   Imagine a time in the future when Osama bin Laden is enshrined as an American hero.

   If that sounds ludicrous—and it should—this is exactly how the majority of people living in the United States in the 1880s would feel if they could witness how we currently view Geronimo.

"Apache Raiders Terrorize Northern Mexico"

The Case Against Geronimo
   This is not easy to write because I know it's going to upset many of my Native American friends, but it must be said.

   Geronimo had many fine traits, bravery and adaptability being among them. But the warrior had a few ugly traits that make it hard for me to admire or accept him as an American hero.

   When, late in life, he was asked if he had any regrets he replied, "I wish I had killed more Mexicans."

   Okay, so not only was he a racist, but a racist killer. How many Mexicans did Geronimo kill in his lifetime? If you have read his autobiography, you know the number must surely be in the hundreds, if not the high hundreds. Were many of these soldiers or individuals who were trying to kill him? Yes, of course, but many were, by his own admission, merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is to say, people living on their land and farming it, for example. Was it Apache land? Sometimes. But more often than not, the Apaches were on long range raiding parties, deep into Mexico. In other words, a long way from their homeland.

   The G-Man had serious issues with alcohol. The peace parlay with General Crook in 1886 went south because Geronimo, Naiche and their warriors bought whiskey, got roaring drunk, set the grass in their camp on fire and Naiche shot his wife in a drunken stupor. Perhaps embarrassed and no doubt hung over, they bolted the peace talks and went on a barbaric rampage killing dozens of innocent men, women and children on both sides of the border.

   Here is how my hometown newspaper, the Mohave County Miner, covered the carnage on May 30, 1886:

"Geronimo still continues his savage and murderous depredations, and the chances of his capture seem as remote as ever. Mexicans and Americans, old and young, helpless woman and tender child, alike fall victims to his unsparing barbarities, and our great and glorious Government is apparently unable to cope with the emergency."

   The constant raiding and the murders of innocent people were not done in a spirt of protecting their homeland, they were made to take other peoples stuff, and lives. Granted, they were no different than the Vikings or the Huns, but they were not freedom fighters fighting for their homeland. They were, in fact, fighting for their way of life, which was a way of life that depended on killing and stealing from anyone within striking distance.

Geronimo 1904
From terrorist to freedom fighter?

   After the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden, we ran a cover story that answered this very question:

   Paul Andrew Hutton wrote the cover story, and in it, he tracked Geronimo's incredible transition from villain to hero. By the way, according to Hutton, the last negative portrayal of Geronimo was a Disney film, "Geronimo's Revenge" filmed in 1960. After than, Hutton notes "Hollywood screenwriters joined their literary cousins in portraying the Apache warrior as a heroic defender of native rights against the duplicitous white invader."

   Hutton wraps up his brilliant commentary with this: "The U.S. government, in what might easily be viewed as acts of more hypocrisy than contrition, honored Geronimo with a 1993 postage stamp. A February 2009 U.S. House resolution declared him a 'spiritual and intellectual leader' who 'led his people in a war of self-defense.'" 

   And then: "So the transition from bloodthirsty terrorist to patriot chief is complete. Now officially sainted as a native 'spiritual and intellectual leader' by the U.S. Congress that had once sent a quarter of its military forces to destroy him, Geronimo—'He Who Yawns'—has certainly had the last laugh. Peace to his bones—wherever they are."

   My prediction is that a similar transition looms out ahead of us, and it's coming whether you believe it, or not. It may not be Osama bin Laden that someday turns from a hated enemy into an American hero, but I can guarantee you it will be someone equally as appalling to our current sensibilities.

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Post Doc Thought

September 11, 2018
   People who knew the deadly dentist weigh in on his looks and his character.

"Doc Behind Bars"

   Bat Masterson described Doc Holliday as " a weakling who could not have whipped a healthy fifteen-year-old boy in a go-as-you-please fight."

   A Denver reporter, who met Holliday in 1882, wrote, "Holliday was of medium stature and blonde complexion. He was small boned and of that generally slumped appearance common to sufferers from inherited pulmonary disease. The clenched setting of his firmly pointed lower jaw and the steadyness of his blue eyes were the only striking features of his pallid countenance. He was scrupulously neat and precise in his attire, though neither a ladie's man nor a dandy. . ."

—E. D. Cowen

Doc In Prescott, 1879

   Of course there were those who didn't see the sickly dentist in a good light: "Holliday was the most thoroughly equipped liar and smoothest scoundrel in the United States."

   Holliday was a"shiftless bagged-legged character—a killer and a professional cut-throat and not a whit too refined to rob stages or even steal sheep."

—The editor of the Las Vegas Daily Optic

   A little known fact gleaned from Gary L. Roberts' fine book, "Doc Holliday: The Life And Legend": Five of Henry's brothers and sisters had died before the age of ten.

   After mentioning that Holliday left no writing to speak of (his cousin, or someone in the family, threw away all his letters). Roberts sums up Doc's life like this: "for one so well-known, Doc Holliday remains a mystery, a legend in the shadows."

"The truth of a life is more than a sum of the facts."

—Gary L. Roberts