Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Punk Kid Grows Into Solid Citizen

January 23, 2019
   The kid went through a punk phase (along with his dad), but he grew up to be a solid citizen.

I'll give the lad this: he always could style a sugarloaf:

T-Bell Sylin' A Sugarloaf

He also had very creative ideas on fashion:

T-Bell's Strange Leg Deal

  Full disclosure, the boy was not always an angel and could be a tad irritating from time to time. For example, when pushed, T-Bell could really put on a prize winning whine:

"Do I HAVE to go on this hike?"
Deena C., Kathy and Tommy at
El Moro Rock in New Mexico

  I could always get the boy to sleep just by talking about Billy the Kid.

And now, he is a dad and he has taken on the mantle of being a good uncle to his niece.

Frances and Thomas

Happy 36th birthday, Thomas Charles Bell!

"Don't stop to count the years. Sweet songs never last long on broken radios."
—John Prine

Monday, January 21, 2019

My fantasy of what being an artist would be like when I was in my twenties

January 21, 2019
   When we are young many of us have unrealistic ideas on success and how our lives will end up. I was certainly one of those who had delusions of grandeur.

Successful Kingman Kid makes $10,000 per day
painting on a waterbed while an "assistant" tickles him.

   This was my fantasy of what being an artist would be like when I was just starting out. I believe this painting hangs in the Orsey, or, perhaps it's pronounced as the Horse-Hay (as in a horse hayloft) near Chloride, Arizona. It's not one of my favorites, but it is quite accurate to that time and place. I believe the female model later ended up as a Weather Girl on KSLX, in Scottsdale. Perhaps you remember her? Heather The Weather Girl.

"Art is whatever you can get away with."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp Meets Olive Oatman Under Water

January 19, 2019
   What happens when multiple stories collide and collude? Well, it gets rather murky, like being underwater.

"She Dove Deep"

"Sliver of Moon"

The "All-Around Sharper"
   Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp led a long, sordid life on the American frontier, moving freely between "sporting women" and the law. Although he was never the marshal of a town or the sheriff of a county he somehow managed to wangle his way into American folklore as the paragon of lawman virtue. There have been 35 films, so far, on his checkered life, mostly told through the eyes of the stalwart lawman.

"Wyatt In Hollywoodland"

   He only spent 22 months in Tombstone, but he spent 22 years along the Colorado River, on the California side, where he dabbled in mining and, according to some, he often frequented Needles where he reportedly fleeced the soldiers from Fort Mojave on payday.

   All of the above meets in an upcoming story I am working on with three friends.

"You sons of bitches have been looking for a fight and now you can have it."
—Wyatt Earp in Fly's side-yard

Friday, January 18, 2019

Furnace Creek Mule Team and Mojave Pitch, II

January 18, 2019
   Last October Kathy and I stayed at the refurbished Inn at Furnace Creek. Here is a photo of the place back in 1950:

Twenty Mule Team Parked In Front of
Furnace Creek Inn, 1950

   Here's a sneak peek at part II of the pitch for "Mojave":

   At Drennon, just below the railroad bridge that connects California to Arizona, Barry Stapp hands Sharlot off to a Chemehuevi guide named Moon who lives along the river on the California side. Moon is very tall, six foot three, and he wears an unblocked hat with two feathers stuck in the top of the crown. He speaks perfect English and he has a wicked sense of humor.

   Oh, and he gives Sharlot a very stubborn mule named Molly to ride. They do not get along, but Molly later saves Sharlot's life.

   End of pitch snippet. Meanwhile, here's a historic photo of my kids, Tommy and Deena on one of their first road trips back in 1984. This is at the turn to Billy the Kid's grave, about 25 miles north of Socorro, New Mexico.

Tommy, 2, and Deena, 4, at Fina

"The road is the only thing."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Mojave Pitch, Part I

January 17, 2019
   Here's a sneak peek at the project I'm working on.

Mojave: The Desert. The Tribe. The Captive.

   Out on the Mojave, water changes everything.

"Dust Storm Over The Needles"

"The Pitch"

The Pitch

   Sharlot Hall is nervous. If she can sell her pitch she will perhaps finally be taken serious as a writer (everyone underestimates her, especially her father). She has to sell two men, Charles Lummis, the publisher and driving force behind Out West magazine, and his managing editor, who is a gruff, ink-stained-wretch who sees Sharlot as a member of "the weaker sex".

   Sharlot starts to make her pitch about the true story of a beautiful young girl on a wagon train bound for California who is captured by Apaches and marked for life. After five years in captivity, she is rescued, writes a book about her ordeal and becomes a national sensation, touring the country and. . .

   The managing editor cuts her off, saying, "Yes, everyone knows the Olive Oatman story. We've run a boatload of stories on her."

Sharlot [stalling for time to readjust her pitch which has been blown out of the water]: "Yes, but I believe something is wrong with the official story. Something is missing."

Lummis: "Like what?"

Sharlot: "Well, there is a rumor she had a child while she was a Mojave captive."

Lummis brightens: "Can you prove it?"

Sharlot: "That's what I aim to find out."

Managing Editor: "Good luck finding anything at this late date, Honey. And, besides, everyone knows she ended up in an insane asylum."

Sharlot [defensively]: "Don't you think we owe it to history to find out the true story?"

Managing Editor: "History has its own issues. Hey, Geronimo just rode in Teddy's inaugural parade. Give us 2,500 words on that old bastard—the Apache, not the president. We'll buy that right now!"

Lummis, [writing on a notepad]: "Okay, I have two leads for you. One is Susan Thompson, who was on the wagon train with Olive and lives near here, and two, is our cover artist, Maynard Dixon, who is on assignment in Needles."

Cut to Sharlot on the train home with a burning and determined look in her eyes. A conductor comes thru the car saying loudly, "Next stop Needles!"

"Next Stop, Needles!"

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
—Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A New Doc Holliday In The Works?

January 16, 2019
   Went home for lunch and attacked a character from the current project I'm working on. 

Daily Whip Out: "Chemehuevi Moon."

   I saw a posting this morning that got me all excited: "Jeremy Renner is taking aim at legendary gunfighter John Henry 'Doc' Holliday. PalmStar Media has optioned the rights to two Mary Doria Russell novels, Doc and Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral, that are being developed as a Renner starring vehicle."

   So I immediately contacted Mary Doria Russell who informed me that announcement is two years old and that the current option for her books with PalmStar Media runs out in April and she would put the odds of them making the Doc movie with Renner at "200/1."

   Rained again last night. Clouds lifting this morning.

Sugarloaf this morning.

"The closer I get to death, the less I want to hang out with people I can't stand."
—Adam Moss, the resigning editor of New York magazine

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ed Mell Clouds With Ed Mell Standing Next to Me

January 15, 2019
   Raining again today. Been very wet but it's also been very nice and brings out the clouds.

Ed Mell Clouds With Ed Mell
Standing Next to Me.

Ed Mell in The Crow's Nest

   Richard Ignarski posted a photograph from Lincoln, New Mexico that brought back some memories.

The Renegades, September 1997

  The Renegades were Old West nuts who traveled to Old West sites and then talked about Old West history 24/7. You will notice that there aren't many wives in this picture. There's a reason for that. (see previous sentences) I designed the T-Shirts. This is two years before Bob McCubbin and I bought True West magazine. Here's a closer look at the T-Shirt design:

   Speaking of the magazine, we're gearing up for our third big show down at Cattle Track next week.

Today is the last day to RSVP. So get on it.

"The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you how it felt."
—E. L. Doctorow

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Day Wyatt Earp Died

January 13, 2019
   He led a sordid life on the frontier, moving freely between "sporting women" and the law. He lost his share of battles and suffered grievous losses.  In the end, it is kind of amazing the old guy made it to eighty.

"Suppose. . .suppose. . ."
The old guy's last words.

"He was straight as a pine tree, tall and magnificently built. I knew he was nearly 80, but in spite of his snow white hair and mustache, he did not seem or look old. His greetings were warm and friendly. I stood in awe. Somehow, like a mountain, or desert, he reduced you to size."
—Adela Rogers St. Johns, who met Wyatt Earp just prior to his passing, 90 years ago today

Friday, January 11, 2019

Big Graphics In The Most Civilized City In The World

January 11, 2019
   When we came through the Lincoln Tunnel last Saturday night via New Jersey, our Greek cabdriver informed us New York City is "the most civilized city in the world." It struck me as an oddly positive statement coming from a guy who told us he was in the limo business for twenty years before he went broke and now he's been driving a cab for three years and losing his shirt because of the insurance payments he has to make that Uber doesn't have to pay.

   As we came up the ramp into Manhattan, he pointed out all of the bagged garbage on the sidewalks, with pride, and predicted they would all be gone by morning. He praised all the drivers around us as being kind and considerate as opposed to so many other cities around the world (having personally witnessed drivers in action in Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Paris and Juarez, I begrudgingly had to concur).

   So,  after a $95 cab ride, plus a $25 tip (his stories of woe did get to me) I actually saw NYC with new eyes. Is it the most civilized city in the world? I was about to find out.

On The Lookout for Big Graphics   Bitter cold on Thursday (34 and strong wind gusts) but we went out to see what we could sight see. Didn't have to go far.

Crime Still Pays In The City

   This 19 Crimes wine truck was parked at the curb of our hotel in mid-town Manhattan. Just down the street I caught this overblown cutie.

BBB Watch Now

   Walked over to the High Line and dropped into The Whitney to catch this cat.

Warhol Skulls at The Whitney: 
Red Scarf-Red Skull.

From there we caught the Disney Exhibition.

In The Breeze With Mickey & BBB

   I am literally leaning into the wind outside the Mickey Mouse Exhibit. Wind blasts coming off  the Hudson went right through you. Bitter cold! Still New Yorkers seemed warm and accepting. Well, almost

Parking Garage Message

   The only fly in the ointment, I noticed, in our Greek cabdriver's claim is this two-story high billboard looming over Times Square.

A Gut Check Two Stories Tall

   The Blade Runner-esque copy next to the looming gut guy says "Shower products for cleaning every nook and cranny even those you haven't seen since the high school glory days." And the guy is looking down at his penis, or, at least where it should be (he can't see it, right?).

   Tasteless? I think so. In your face. Yes. Funny. Maybe. But when it comes to real funny, we saw The Seth Meyers Show on Wednesday night and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah last night and those dudes are flat out hilarious.

   We've seen two brilliant plays, "The Lifespan of A Fact," and "The Waverley Gallery," and we're going to see "True West' tonight.

   Been to the Met and the Whitney, and to MoMa today, so the town is full of great art and gigantic graphics. On some level I think our Greek cabbie is correct.

"New York is so nice, they named it twice."
—A New York comedian-historian on the boat to Ellis Island

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Two Beautiful Ladies

January 10, 2019
    I have been to New York City at least five times but I've never had the privilege of going out to see Lady Liberty and yesterday Kathy and I got a real good view of her and she is a real beauty. This is part of our just beginning 40-year-anniversary celebration. 

Visiting The Liberty Lady

   Man I love that girl! And I mean both of them.

   It was a rainy day in the city and I decided to leave my hat at the hotel and go with a hoody, thus the bare head. Kathy said I look naked.

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 
—The Statue of Liberty

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

A Walk Down to Ground Zero

January 8, 2019
   Walked from our hotel down to lower Manhattan to see this.

September 11, 2001

   A moving memorial and a wonderful museum, covering every aspect of that awful day.

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
—David Levithan

Monday, January 07, 2019

Hyperbole Wins The Day

January 7, 2019
   Lots of walking today. According to my phone we walked 6.3 miles and 15,654 steps on our way across midtown Manhattan to see some art.

   Walked through Central Park and caught this bizarre nature shot with looming skyscrapers (three being built even as we walked by).

Skyscrapers coming right out of the ground
at Park Central South

   Also, we passed by this cool statue of some dude getting shot out of the saddle.

Shot Out of  The Saddle

   We landed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we saw some damn good fine art.

The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur

   Just one of many stunning paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Horse Fair was painted by a woman, Rosa Bonheur, who had to disguise herself as a man to get the sketches she needed to make the painting in 1852. Quite powerful.

Napoleon's Greatest Victory

This work, actually just a section of it, is the largest and most ambitious painting by an artist renowned for meticulously rendered cabinet pictures, evokes one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s greatest victories. Ernest Meissonier made hundreds of preparatory studies for it, including drawings and sculptural models. He conceived the picture as part of a cycle of five key episodes in the life of the Emperor, only one other of which was completed: The Campaign of France—1814, an image of defeat (Musée d'Orsay, Paris). The present work gained notoriety in 1876, when the American department store magnate Alexander T. Stewart purchased it from the artist, sight unseen, for the then astronomical sum of $60,000.

   And, of course, what would a good day at the museum be without running into a Toulouse-Lautrec painting I have never seen before:

Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec's portrait of
Henri-Gabriel Ibels

   Kathy wondered aloud if the MET perchance had a painting by her fave artist and, lo and behold they did:

Kathy in front of a painting by
the Spanish painter Joaquin Sorollo


   A good play, like "The Lifespan of A Fact" makes you think about things the next day. Thus, this exchange transpired in my head:

FACT CHECKER: "In yesterday's post you claimed you "openly wept" more than once at the play 'The Lifespan of A Fact.' Is that actually true?"

BBB: "Not really, but my eyes did well up with tears a couple times."

FC: "So that is a lie?"

BBB: "No, it's hyperbole."

FC: "Why would you say something that wasn't factual?"

BBB: "Because it's funnier?"

FC: "You are going to end up in Fact Checker Hell."

BBB: "Too late, I have worked at True West magazine for twenty years."

"There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth."
—Maya Angelou

Sunday, January 06, 2019

When Fact Checking Goes South

January 6, 2019
   It was a cold day in New York City, at least for a shivering Sonoran Desert couple who traipsed up Broadway to a cold marquee on West 54th Street.

   Past the Naked Cowboy on Times Square (why I didn't think to stop and get a photo with him is a huge regret).

   Kathy booked us for a play called "The Lifespan of A Fact," which I knew zero about.

   Turns out, the play is about a proposed magazine article, written by a creative, but touchy writer (think The Top Secret Writer) who insists it's not an article but an "essay," and his put upon editor, and a millennial—and a rabidly-over-zealous—fact checker assigned the task of finding errors and false statements in the proposed article and correcting them. This may sound thin, but it is a brilliant, and, by turns, hilarious take down of art vs. commerce, small facts being subverted to tell a bigger truth, or whether that is even legit. I felt like my entire professional life was laid bare, and I felt like someone was reading my mail and I openly wept more than once.

   But, full disclosure, I laughed more than I cried.

   It is a three person play and all three leads were just dead-on excellent.

"A movie is never any better than the stupidest man connected with it."
—Ben Hecht

Saturday, January 05, 2019

True West Goes to New York City to see True West

January 5, 2019
   Heading to New York City today to see this Broadway play:

   Opposites attack in Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play about two brothers with more in common than they think. Holed up in their mother’s California house, lowlife Lee (Ethan Hawke) and screenwriter Austin (Paul Dano) wrestle with big issues—and each other. Order vs. chaos. Art vs. commerce. Typewriter vs. toaster...Shepard’s rip-roaring classic returns to Broadway, gleefully detonating our misguided myths of family, identity and the American Dream.

   Sam had the courtesy to contact True West magazine about using the title in his play, and so, this week I am returning the favor and buying two tickets to the play with the same title as our venerable magazine.

Out On The Mojave

   Meanwhile, got some rippin' trippin' images for my special project taking shape later this month:

 Daily Whip Out:
"Olive Sequence Extraordinaire"

Daily Whip Out:
"In The Shadow of The Mojave #6"

   The desert itself is a character. Out on the Mojave where water changes everything.

Daily Whip Out:
"Out On The Mojave"

Daily Whip Out:
"Dust Storm Over The Needles"

   I finally have an inkling, or, dare I say—understanding—of where this story is going.

"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter."
—Malcolm Gladwell

Friday, January 04, 2019

Lawman Star Lights Up Kingman Sky

January 4, 2019
   In 1962 me and my pals attended the Fourth of July fireworks at the Kingman Fairgrounds and this guy sat right in front of us with his family.

Seeing Stars

   We were too shy to talk to John Russell of "Lawman" fame, but every time a rocket lit up the sky we looked at him, not the fireworks. Cool guy.

   Speaking of cool guys, three years ago, this month, my good friend John Langellier booked Buckey O'Neill's cabin on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and we got to join him for a stay at the historic cabin, which is perched right on the rim. Here is a shot of the cabin back in the 1920s:

Buckey O'Neill's cabin in a snow storm

   Okay, a confession: I have watched "Roma" three times, so far. I just love this movie.

"Roma" is Muy Muy Mexicana

   In this scene, above, Cleo the housekeeper, is the only one who can assume the Tree Pose without faltering or stumbling. It is a testament to her grace and centeredness, which is the theme of the entire movie. Note the guy on the far left, who is so great—and muy muy Mexicano. I have a hunch he didn't want to be in the scene but Alfonso (the director and writer) insisted that he get in there and try to do a yoga pose!

   Went home for lunch yesterday and re-tweaked an earlier Whip Out (Van Gogh Billy) and gave it another go.

Daily Whip Out: "Vanguard Billy"

   One of these days I'll get him.

"I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."

—Steve Jobs