Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Saguaros Need A Nurse Plant

March 20, 2019
Went for a walk this morning and spied a budding saguaro on the northern end of our property. I don't know why I hadn't seen it before.

Starter Plant Protects Young Saguaro

   According to a botany-minded friend of mine, "nurse plants protect budding saguaros and it may take 20 years for the bud to emerge into a one foot plant."

   This little plant is well on her way.

"The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Seeking Out Those Blue Highways

March 19, 2019
   For everything you gain, you will lose something. And for every thing you lose, you will gain something.

   That's it. That's all you need to know. Doesn't get much more concise than that.

   Speaking of which, we're approaching road trip season and I have a few destinations in mind this summer, including Seattle, Pasadena, Deadwood and Seligman, Arizona, where I'll be the Grand Marshall of the annual Route 66 Fun Run.

   In the loss column—things we've lost with all the innovations—is the wonderful world of detours and car trouble. Many, if not most, of the great memories of road trips are from those unplanned stops. Certainly, the best stories involve one, or both.

   Today, the cars are more sound and more comfortable and the freeways are faster and more efficient in terms of getting from place to place, but it sure is boring.

   Besides, I still enjoy being on backroads and discovering those little, out of the way places, on what used to be called Blue Highways. You know, on the old fold-out maps, the lines that weren't major thoroughfares were colored blue.

Road Trip Kids

   Those little tykes grew up to appreciate blue highways as much as their old man.

Bells Still Seeking The Big Bull 

   Even a road trip down to the Old Pueblo has its charms.

"I miss the old road trip and the way it could make you feel lost between here and the rest of your life. With a map you believed the world was large and the car was small and every possibility was open. With GPS you know when you will leave and when you will arrive and what will happen along the way. Or you believe you do, which is even worse."
—Rich Cohen, riffing on the 1982 classic book "Blue Highways"

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Pink Wheel Barrow Outside The BBB Hoosegow

March 18, 2019
   After all the rain, last weekend turned out beautiful, which made it especially nice to stay home and enjoy it all.

The Pink Wheel Barrow

   Look how green it is. The middle building, with the wooden bars, is our pump house, or, rather, it houses our water pump and we had Craig Hamilton build the jail-like adobe dwelling to make it look like a Mexican Hoosegow. In point-of-fact, here is an actual Hoosegow:

Juarez, Mexico police station

   Hoosegow is American Spanglish for juzgado, which means court of justice.

Daily Whip Out: "In-din Silhouette"

   Also, working hard on coverage for the opening of the second phase of The Pitch:

Daily Whip Out: "Sharlot Fights Back"

   It always amuses me how serious I tend to get about everything and sometimes I need to step back and take stock of it all.

"I take myself too seriously, probably because I'm a human being. With our big brains and our bigger egos, we can't help building the case to ourselves and others that we are very important creatures, when really we're ludicrous."
—Maeve Higgins, author of "Maeve In America: Essays By a Girl From Somewhere Else."

Sunday, March 17, 2019

White Hills Gunplay & Standing By Peaceful Waters

March 17, 2019
  Some historians today have this revisionist idea that gunfights in the Old West were very rare and a fleeting phenom, invented by Hollywood, and that certainly didn't last into the Twentieth Century. 

   Well, if you are inclined to believe that, here's an illuminating news item from my old stomping grounds:

Mohave County Miner, April 6, 1901

   This was posted by my friend Andy Sansom who goes through the old Mohave Miners and posts daily. Really love this stuff.

   Went for a walk last night with my honey and encountered this standing water up by Van Horn's old place. 

Standing Water

   The last vestiges of all the rain we've had. Thought immediately of a favorite John Prine lyric, "Standing by peaceful waters. . ."

   Worked on and off all weekend on coverage for the opening sequence of my proposed-and-in-progress graphic novel.

Daily Whip Out: "In The Lion's Den"

    And, who, you might ask, has wandered into the Lion's Den at El Alisal, California?

Daily Whip Out: "The Looker"

   To me she is beautiful because she championed history and the truth. Oh, and she carried a satchel like this:
The Navajo Satchel

   At least in my story she does.

"Many years ago along the Illinois-Wisconsin border
There was this Indian tribe
They found two babies in the woods, white babies
One of them was named Elizabeth
She was the fairer of the two
While the smaller and more fragile one was named Marie
Having never seen white girls before
And living on the two lakes known as the Twin Lakes
They named the larger and more beautiful Lake, Lake Elizabeth
And thus the smaller lake that was hidden from the highway
Became known forever as Lake Marie
We were standing
Standing by peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters

Whoa wah oh wha oh."
—John Prine, "Lake Marie

Dan The Man Services an AB Dick 360

March 17, 2019
   Last week I revisited my early adventures in the publishing game, highlighting my numerous run-ins with printing presses and the grizzled men (they were all men) who ran them. 

   In the list, I mentioned that my Kingman compadre Dan Harshberger, printed the Razz Revue (it's not a comic, it's not a magazine, it's a "magazomic!") on an AB Dick 360 press at RAU Advertising, located at 24-something Street and Indian School Road in Phoenix. Rau Advertising was run by Al Rau and Dan was his graphics guy.

   Dan and I were roommates at Park Lee Apartments and we got it in our Kingman-crazy heads we were going to produce a local humor magazine, like The National Lampoon. As someone later quipped—I think it was Daniel Ben Horen—we thought we were being so original, but our friend reminded us that Arizona already had a daily humor publication called The Arizona Republic.

   Anyway we talked Al Rau into letting us use his equipment after hours. Al was a great guy and he not only let us, he encouraged us.

   So I would show up at 5:15 p.m. just as everyone else was going home, and Dan and I would take over the premises—it was an old house converted to office space and the printing press was in the former carport.

   We and our girlfriends—Darlene and Terry—set type on a Selectric typewriter, shot PMTs of the artwork and type, then stripped it all up on a lightbox utilizing Rubylith (SIC), burned the plates and then Dan inked up the Dick, which was quite small really, like an oversized mimeograph machine. 

   More than once, we worked all night, then Dan went to work in the morning, having not left the building for 24 hours!

   So I called up Dan last Friday and asked if he still had a series of photos I remember taking of him standing at that press. He seriously doubted it.

   Well, against all odds, Dan's wife, Darlene (Yes, the same former girlfriend all these years later!) found a box of negatives in the garage and Dan scanned one of them and sent this to me.

Dan The Man Harshberger cleans the rollers
on an AB Dick 360, circa 1975.

   And, here is another view of Dan and the press which Dan found this morning by going through hundreds of negatives:

Dan coaxing the AB Dick to perform

   I sold the ads and Dan ran the press. The Razz lasted four years, and 16 issues, and we made zero profit, but we learned everything there is to know about printing and publishing from the experience. For me, in terms of an education, I had earned my Master's Degree.

"A free press belongs to the man who owns one."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How to Remember Everyone's Name Every Time

March 16, 2019
   I have a terrible time with names and I often get tortured at book signings by people who met me once and think I remember them. 

   Last Thursday afternoon I gave a talk out at the Superstition Mountain Museum and 683 people came through the gates to hear me speak on the Crazy Legends of Arizona. The speech was outdoors and some people arrived at ten a.m. to hear the talk at two p.m.

The gathering crowd at 1:30

   The talk went well, and afterwards I retreated to a table under the veranda of the bookstore to sell my books. 

The view from my book table

   There was a decent line and after about four sales a re-enactor type steps up who looks vaguely familiar (I must meet a hundred guys like this a year). He buys a book and I say my standard, "How would you like it signed?" And he says "Like you did last time." 

   Oh, boy.

   I tried to coax a name out of him: "Remind me how to spell your name?" He says, "It's D-I-E." So I write—To Die—and then he hands me his business card and it turns out his name is Dieter! So I add the extra letters and then he says, "Do you still have that T-shirt I gave you ten years ago?"

   Yes, of course, it's my favorite shirt.

   If you can relate to any of this, you need to watch this SNL skit. It is brilliant and speaks directly to some of us who have an insane inability to remember names. Bill Hader, as the host Vince Blight, is absolutely fantastic.

What's That Name?

"The secret to remembering names is IRA: Impression (look at them and say their name to yourself), Repetition (say the name five times) and Association (combine their name with something funny or unique like a pun or a rhyme)."
—A book I read in high school that promised to give me the key to remembering everyone's name every time. I have remembered the acronym for 55 years but I still can't remember names! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

If I Need Any Crap From You I'll Squeeze Your Head

March 15, 2019
   Had a wonderful time out at the Superstition Mountain Museum yesterday. They clocked 683 people in line to hear me talk about Arizona's Crazy Legends. For the record, only one person walked out and his wife told me afterwards it was for oxygen. Sold a ton of books and met some great people.

   Had some fun this morning with a certain young lady who "had a mouth on her."

Daily Whip Out:
"If I Need Any Crap From You,
I'll Squeeze Your Head"

   Here's the most famous photo of said woman:

Sharlot Hall With Binocs

   Absolutely love the hat, but what's the deal with that footwear? Are those laceups? Or, modified boots? Need to know.

"Always trust your gut. Your brain can be fooled and your heart is an idiot, but your gut doesn't know how to lie."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, March 14, 2019

She Had A Mouth On Her

March 14, 2019
   I've been doing research on Sharlot Hall and I got this interesting insight from a certain 90-year-old wordsmith:

     "Sharlot was a cruelly crippled and sublimely (think Elizabeth Barrett Browning) constricted passionate poet/cusser, who if necessary donned a cactus spine hat and a sheet copper dress to dissuade a cabal of Back East male asshole politicians in Congress from naming her beloved land 'Gadsonia' and imprisoning it as a vast county of New Mexico reporting to another cabal of Far West male asshole politicians in the capitol building at Santa Fe?
  "Then, should you put word or image onto paper, be sure to use a Z in the English Elizabeth and an S in the Germanic form of the name.  Lesser journalists have gotten this wrong."
—DD the Wordsmith

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Sharlot Hall In Profile" 

   So, I am given to understand the little lady "had a mouth on 'er."

Daily Whip Out: "Sharlot Charges On"

"If you want to know what Sharlot is thinking, go stand near her."
—Old Prescott Saying

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1900 Street Scenes And Getting Into Harvard 2019 Style

March 13, 2019
   Working on a set piece for the Sharlot Hall pitch at El Alisal.

Daily Whip Out:
"Sharlot's Pitch at El Alisal"

   Looking for street scenes of women from the 1900 era.

   Found a colorized film from Berlin in 1900 and got some good sketch reference off of it:

Daily Whip Outs: "1900 People"

Daily Whip Outs: "More 1900 People"

   Also, still scratching away.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
 "Grumpy Gus"

This Just In From Wonderful Russ:

HARVARD: We seem to have a problem with your daughter’s application.

RICH PERSON: Here is a large bag of money with a dollar sign on it like in the cartoons.

HARVARD: Welcome to Harvard!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Drummer's Rest

March 12, 2019
   I met the legendary drummer Hal Blaine when we did the Jones & Boze Radio Show on Scottsdale's KSLX. He regaled us with stories about playing drums for Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, the Byrds and others. He moved to the Valley for a short time and played drums in a Country band at Harold's in Cave Creek. He was married five times.

Recording Wunderkind Brian

Wilson and Hal Blaine in the recording studio in the 1960s.

   Drummer Hal Blaine, who propelled dozens of major hit records during the ‘60s and ‘70s as a member of the “Wrecking Crew,” Hollywood’s elite, ubiquitous cadre of first-call studio musicians, died Monday, according to a statement from family members on his official Facebook page. He was 90.

“May he rest forever on 2 and 4.” 
—A loving final statement by his drummer friends

Monday, March 11, 2019

Secrets of The Stogie And The Pint

March 11, 2019
   Regarding yesterday's post and my managing editor stereotype from days gone by, I got this feedback from a certain 90-year-old mentor of mine about the ink-stained-wretch scratchboard:

   "In your otherwise correct depiction of the gruff, grizzled, green eye-shaded editor, where's the stogie and the pint?"
—DD the Wordsmith

   Oh, you mean this?

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"The Stogie & The Pint"

   Actually, on the first pass, I had half of it right:

"El Cid With Stogie"

   I had some good art reference from past illustrations including the famous Norman Rockwell painting of a green-visored make-up man applying lipstick to Gary Cooper.

Daily Whip Out Sketches:
"A Green-Visored-Cigar-Chomping Dude"

   Which begs the question, "Why a 'green' visor?" What is the significance of the green? What is it supposed to be accomplishing?

  Well, speaking of headgear, I also dig those old school hats popular on women around the turn of the Twentieth Century:

Daily Whip Out: "Sharlot Hall Stylin'"

      I also need to do some more research on that broach, because I want it to shine.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Starry Starry Broach"

"I can't believe I forgot to go to the gym today. That's seven years in a row now."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Hot Type Memories And El Cid

March 10, 2019
   I've spent my share of time in a press room inside a printing plant, both descriptors of a dirty, industrial type building where ink meets paper.

   In the 1950s my best friend's father—Dick Waters—was the publisher of The Mojave County Miner, and I remember going into the back of the building and seeing and hearing those big, ol' clumsy presses grinding away at the printed page in downtown Kingman.

   In the 1960s at the University of Arizona I did a cartoon strip for the Daily Wildcat called "Dick Matric" and I got to see the nighttime shenanigans of the hot lead setters down on South Fourth Avenue.

   And, in the 1970s, Dan The Man Harshberger and I published The Razz Revue and, believe it or not, we printed the whole shebang on an AB Dick 360, which is a legendary press that looks basically like an overgrown mimeograph machine.

   In 1978 I became the art director at New Times Weekly and it was my job every Monday to deliver the paste-up boards of type and waxed down photos to the printer at 20th Street and Jefferson in downtown Phoenix. I'll never forget one summer afternoon driving in my Ford F-150 pickup down Washington St. with the boards in an open, flat box next to me on the seat. It was at least 118 degrees out and my truck did not have AC, so I had the windows down and the heat began to curl the edges of the type and soon enough little pieces of type (mostly corrections cut out and run through a waxer, on top of the set type) began to fly around the cab of the truck. When I finally got to the printing plant,  I had to reassemble the paper from all the tiny loose ends I could find so the pressmen could shoot it and turn it into plates.

   All of this brings me around to the managing editor of Out West magazine. I don't know who Charles Fletcher Lummis's actual managing editor was—or, whether he even had one—but in my graphic novel he is going to be a guy named Sid, who everybody calls "El Cid," because he is the guts of the magazine. I've known many of these guys and here I am trying to channel all of them into one image. 
Daily Whip Out: "El Cid"

   Grizzled, to say the least, ornery by necessity and inked-stained up the wazoo. That would be my take on the profession and the guy.

"Never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel."
—Old Newspaper Saying

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Girl On The Train And Starry Starry Sharlot

March 9, 2019
   Here is my take on Sharlot on the train to Pasadena.

Daily Whip Out:
"One Hopeful Young Lady"

   Of course, on the way home, she had to go through Barstow and that would depress anyone.

Sharlot In Shadow

   On one level she is a shy, country girl, but if anyone on that train takes her for being meek they are going to be sorely mistaken!

Sharlot Shypoke?

Starry Starry Sharlot

Starry Starry Sharlot Two

"When you're 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you're 40, you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you're 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place."
—Winston Churchill

Friday, March 08, 2019

Graphic Novel Scratchboards In Progress

March 8, 2019
   I can rarely ever decide when to stop working on a piece.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out In Progress:
"The Eyes of Charles Lummis"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out In Progress:
"The Eyes of Charles Lummis, Part II"

   Same goes for this scene.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out In Progress:
"Sharlot In Chair"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out In Progress:
"Sharlot With Her Letter of Recommendation"

   And this one.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"El Cid Makes His Point"

   In my defense, I love doing it and I love the process and, I also realize, that at some point, I will no longer be able to do it, and, so, I'm running in front of that train.

"You're on earth. There's no cure for that."
—Samuel Beckett