Saturday, June 15, 2019

Deadwood Is Damn Grand!

June 15, 2019
   Had a glorious day in downtown Deadwood yesterday.

My gracious hosts put me up in the Deadwood Mountain Grand, high on the hill overlooking the entire town.

   I spoke at noon on the lawn at the historic Adams House to a packed, standing-room-only crowd. Afterwards, I walked down to the Adams Museum where I signed books and talked to all the locals and tourists who flocked in (we sold two cases of books and gave away three times as many copies of our True West Deadwood issue!)

   Two of my favorite people showed up:

The Jim and Kim Show!

   That's my artist compadre, Jim Hatzell, on the left (check out that fantastic rim lighting on his hat!). And between us is the dynamite tour guide, Kim Keehn who always styles it so cool. She has a Haunted History Walking Tour of Deadwood that is just the best. Check her out at:

   After we sold out of virtually everything we shipped to Deadwood, Jim and I walked over this historic hotel where Pete Dexter wrote most of his seminal book, "Deadwood."

Storm Clouds Over
The Franklin Hotel

      Special thanks to Rose Speirs and her crew for making my stay so delightful. I am inspired and I had a great time and now it's time to fly home and get back to work.

"If you don't think actors are animals, you've never eaten with one."
—Mel Brooks

Friday, June 14, 2019

Wild Women of The Wild West Back on the Burner

June 14, 2019
   Going back through some of my earlier projects that got waylaid when we bought the magazine (twenty years ago this September) I found this.

Daily Whip Out: "Latina Santina"

   So many women of the Wild West who need to be celebrated.

Daily Whip Out: "Hogtown Hussie #6"

   Yes, I almost could do an entire book just on Soiled Doves.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Hogtown Hussies #7"

Daily Whip Out:
"Hogtown Hussies Galore"

Daily Whip Out: "La Tules of Santa Fe"

   And then there were the big, I mean really big women.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western"

Daily Whip Out:
"The Great Western at Yuma Crossing"

Daily Whip Out: "Native Healer"

Daily Whip Out: "Sisters to the Bone"

Daily Whip Out (after Toulouse Lautrec):
"The Come On"

And here's something my Iowa kin would love. A bang board beauty. Otherwise known as a corn shucking Norsky big-bone babe.

A Bang Board Babe

   And, finally, here's my latest True West Moments doubletruck in The Tombstone Epitaph:

Wild Women of The Wild West

   Coming eventually to a surviving book store near you.

"When he once gives his word, nothing will turn him from fulfilling his promise."
—S.M. Barrett, on Geronimo

“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
—George R. R. Martin

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Apparently, Lummis Was A Swinger (yes, THAT kind of swinger!)

June 12, 2019
   Last weekend I finally got to visit El Alisal, the home built by Charles Fletcher Lummis (rhymes with hummis) who I have a few things in common with.

   Right off the bat, we both have a great love for the Southwest and want to preserve the history of the region and we both have published periodicals to that end.

Lummis is credited with saving the California missions, which were in severe decline at that time (early 1900s).

   Okay, I didn't do any of that. However, like me, Lummis really loved New Mexico and he took some pretty cool photos while he lived there.

Dig those taps, Baby!

   Like me, Lummis was always after the big story and this got him sideways with the super-secret society of Penitentes when he took the following photo.

Lummis Crosses (get it?) the Line.

   This didn't go over well with the self-flagilating-Hell-bent-for-secrecy-Penitentes and one of them allegedly knocked on Lummis's door one night and when Charles answered, he was blasted in the face and chest with a shotgun. Incredibly, he lived, and after he recovered, he moved to Los Angeles.

   As president of the Kingman Luther League, I once got sideways with a pastor who thought I was a little too hip for the room.

   I recovered as well.

   Like me, Lummis was into Country Swing before it was popular.

Lummis swings his honey in a pretty sweet
 cradle move.

   One time Lummis walked across the country to get a newspaper job.

Lummis wrote about his
"Tramp Across America" in a popular book.

   I actually read that book and once "tramped" across the street on Fourth Avenue in Tucson to avoid getting a job with an underground rag nobody read.

Lummis was actually a swinger.

   Yes, THAT kind of swinger. His wife divorced him over it, and, according to the docent I talked to at El Alisal, Lummis then lost the financial backing of Phoebe Hearst and almost lost his house.

   I almost lost our house because I invested our life savings in a sketchy magazine deal, and it was only through the help and love of two women—Kathy Sue Radina and Carole Compton Glenn—that we still have the house—and the magazine.

   I know what you're thinking: "Damn that Kingman kid is lucky in love."

   That I am.

   So, needless to say, I wanted to sit where Lummis sat, and I wasn't disappointed. Although the "Lion's Den" is off limits, the before-mentioned docent, took me into a back room where they keep his roll top desk and I was allowed to take a seat.

BBB channels Lummis

   It was cool to sit there, but, of course, it's always smaller than you think it is going to be.

"America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. . .It's time to demythologize an era and build a new myth from the gutter to the stars. It's time to embrace bad men and the price they paid to secretly define their time."
—James Ellroy, "American Tabloid"

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thin Skin vs. Brown Skin

June 11, 2019
   If you have been following along here, you know I really tortured myself and ended up way out in the weeds on the recent Billy the Kid cover. 
   So, forgive me, in advance, for perhaps overreacting to this email we got yesterday.

To the editor:

   Though I sure understand America's push toward 'political correctness,' 'inclusion' and 'diversity' I'm puzzled, perplexed and bewildered as to why Billy the Kid is portrayed as African American on your July cover.
—Dan Katz, Westport, Connecticut 

   This irritated me to no end and I quickly wrote this reply:


  I must commend your vivid imagination for seeing race where none was intended. I didn't paint my Billy cover portrait to make him look like an African American but then I didn't set out to perplex some blind idiot from Connecticut either.

   Before I hit send, I asked Carole Glenn to come into my office and read it. I asked her if it was over the line, and, without saying so, she said I might consider rewriting that last line. So I did:

   I must commend your vivid imagination for seeing race where none was intended. I didn't paint my Billy cover portrait to make him look like an African American and I'm a little puzzled how you got there as well.

   This morning, I received the following reply:

   Sorry, Bob, that you took my comment as an insult. I meant it to be humorous because I, and four other readers who contacted me, think the likeness does, indeed, look African-American. I regret the misunderstanding.

   I was picturing this guy as a young, angry Twitter-type guy, but with this sincere reply I suddenly felt immature and more than slightly chagrined. So I sent this:

   Oh that is too funny. Yes I took it as an insult. In fact I had a nastier response which I didn’t send, and I’ve got to send it to you because it’s so amazing what happens when you realize that someone is joking. Kind of insane but there you go. Thanks for being such a zany guy. I’ve got to go back and look at the cover. As you may or may not know I had a really difficult time with this drawing and had a better face on another image but at the last minute it was too late and I couldn’t exchange it. There you go. Thanks for being out there. And being so damn funny.

All The Damn Billys (21+ covers!)

   To which Dan replied:

   And thank you, Bob, for being so candid and accepting. . .very nice to have had the exchange.

   Now I'm really intrigued. Who is this guy? So I asked him and got this reply:

   I know you through Brian Lebel. He and Melissa are close friends of my wife and mine. I've known Brian for twenty-plus years, go to his auctions. I am a lawman-gun-badge and cowgirl memorabilia collector. You published an article some years back on the Wyatt Earp gun I bought at Brian's auction back in Cody and have subscribed to True West magazine since then (2002). I'm 81 and thanks for the funny compliment.

   I have always thought you to be unusually broad-minded in your approach to history and unusually curious about your present and past surroundings. Both of which have given True West the luxury of being a read for both the mental yahoo and the intellectually curious and liberal. A pleasure for that reason.

   So, for the record, here is the image, below, that should have graced the cover. 

Best Damn Billy

   A much better likeness and the vest is much better. However, it was too late in the game—Dan The Man did 24 covers!—for me to torture him anymore, and so that's how we ended up with Shaft on the cover.

  So, in conclusion, imagine how incredibly smart this wonderful man from Connecticut became to me. In my mind his IQ went from the low eighties to somewhere above 160. Isn't it passing strange how we react to perceived slights and digs?  Thin skin, oh yes. 

   Perhaps old Charlie said it best:

"In the end, everything is a joke."
—Charlie Chaplin

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Graduate Chapel Gets Zonie Usage

June 10, 2019
  The Carson Mell Show has a new addition to the family.

The Mells go for a walk

   Kathy and I were in LA this weekend for the wedding of Carson Mell to his lovely bride Kelly, who will forever more be known as Kelly Mell. She is a documentary film maker, of course, and has a penchant for offbeat subjects (the jury selection questions in the Timothy McVeigh case?)

  The ceremony was totally zany and inspiring right down to the choice of the church, which is the chapel used in the classic film "The Graduate." 

Katherine Ross and Dustin
Hoffman "escape"

   You may remember, at the end of the movie Dustin Hoffman's character bangs on the glass in the balcony of the church to disrupt the wedding of Katherine Ross's character.

Carson and Kelly got married on the same exact spot as in this scene from "The Graduate." Kathy and I were sitting to the right of Dustin's right elbow.

   This is so Carson that he would want to be married there.

"What now?"

   After the wedding we met at a historic museum and ranch.

That Guy With the Multiple Business Cards

   At the reception we sat across from Jim Cherry and Evie Ryland. Evie is a bit of a pioneer as she started the first art gallery on Roosevelt, in downtown Phoenix, which has blossomed into a wonderful street of galleries and on a weekly basis, 10,000 people are on the street on Thursday evenings. Evie is the founder of that feast.

   Jim is a hep cat, one of the heppest I know. Through the course of the evening, he gave me at least six different business cards, all foisted on me with Jim's best oily-networker voice. A parody of earnest networkers and media savvy social climbers. In short, we laughed and laughed. Jim's prose has been described as "Hilarious, disturbing, heartwarming." That pretty much sums him up.

   Here's some of Jim's work:

"There's nothing worse than an idiot with a valid point."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, June 08, 2019

D-R and Donna Jean Come Clean at The Heatwave Cafe

June 8, 2019
  When it comes to cantakerous, crusty cowboys, it's hard to beat old D-R.

   Granthum P. Hooker puts the moves on a Heatwave barmaid.

   It's also hard to beat the Queen of Country Swing when she and her best friend, are on a case.

"Donna Jean, there's something fishy about all the cash in this hatbox."

  On the other hand, you could probably beat the entertainment value at a certain watering hole they all frequent.

Heatwave Come Ons

   Perhaps that's part of the reason the place is being bulldozed to make way for condos. 

   Well, that, and the fact that everything in that damn strip went off a cliff, forty-some years ago.

The Doper Roper on Shamrock
in a cliff hanger, circa 1976

   In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, it appears some old hippie cartoonist is going to go back there one more time, even though everyone he is married to tells him it is a total waste of time and money.

Last call at the Heatwave Cafe.

   If we're lucky, you may still run into the Queen of Country Swing. She's older, but wiser now.
Honkytonk Sue gets real, again.

    One warning: If you plan on attending the last fandango at the Heatwave Cafe you need to adhere to certain customs of that time and place.

The Last Fandango at The Heatwave Cafe
Coming too soon to a Magazomic near you.

"This whole idea is totally lame."
—Kathy Sue Radina

Friday, June 07, 2019

When The News Hits Close to Home

June 7, 2019
   Sometimes when we are watching the news we think to ourselves, "Man, I'm glad that's nobody I know?" And then when this bizarre rescue goes viral and hits the comedy shows, like Stephen Colbert, we have a different reaction, something like, "Well, I assume she's okay so it's okay to laugh at this. . ."

Spinning Out of Control Rescue

   Turns out Kathy and I know this woman! Her husband taught eighth grade with Kathy at Moon Mountain Elementary. And, for the record, she's not okay:

   "As the husband of that 74 year old woman, I can state that she was more then dizzy after her helicopter ride. She told me that she thought that she was going to die and that she tried to control her breathing because she felt that she was going to pass out. She is now recovering in the hospital and her face is still black from all the small blood vessels that broke during to her numerous spins. It also affected her arms and legs. I do want to thank all the fireman who help treat her during this rescue. I only hope that they can find a way to avoid this type of spinning in the future...."

Home of The Heatwave And The Return of Jay-Bob and the Ramrods

June 7, 2019
   You may be wondering, as I was, where the hell did the original drawing of the Heatwave Cafe end up?

   Well, wonder no more:

"The Heatwave" hanging in
Marty Manning's home office.

   This was gifted by me to Marty many moons ago. Marty has just retired from radio after a fifty year run!

   Speaking of the Heatwave Cafe, I am in the process of reviving this guy:

"The Return of Jay-Bob and the Ramrods"

   If you'll remember, we last saw Jay-Bob live at the Heatwave Cafe back in about 1976. Here's what has happened since.

   Jay-Bob survives, barely.

   His shortness—he's five two—probably saved his life more than once because honkytonk bullies couldn't bring themselves to punch that low. On the other hand, perhaps making up for his size, Jay-Bob has a massive ego, which he fails to hide, even to this day. His long suffering wife, Mert, still thinks he has a shot in Nashville, even though, at 83, the little git-picker has arthritis so bad he can't do more than three chords at a time without stopping to rest. He stopped smoking in '87 but it was too late to save his lungs.

   Jay-Bob always hated the Beatles and the Stones and everyone who came along afterwards, especially Eric Church and Hank Williams, Jr.

   His favorite saying, at every gig he has ever done, is, "Close enough for government work," which he says with a chuckle during each and every tuning.  The fact of the matter is, he isn't even close to being tuned and never has been. 

   The legendary steel guitar player Buddy Piles, once threatened to beat Jay-Bob to a bloody pulp, by unscrewing one of his steel guitar legs and waving it like a baseball bat at Jay-Bob's head while Jay-Bob butchered "Take The Ribbon From My Hair" for the umpteenth-hundred time. Buddy was restrained by the drummer, Snowy Keplar, and lead guitarist, Richy Fenderson, and had to be physically removed from the Moose Lodge on east Wilmot Road in Tucson. The two haven't spoken since, but rumor has it, Buddy will be on stage at the memorial for Snowy at the Heatwave Cafe.

   Could get interesting.

"Some men tell you all they know, and keep on talking."
—Honkytonk Sue

Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Edge of The Painted Desert And The Apache Kid Stands in The Pass

June 6, 2019
   The heat is finally here. We dodged the bullet for a solid two extra weeks but now it's time for heatwaves and heartache. The good news is that it only lasts for four-and-a-half months.

   Speaking of heatwaves, one of my earliest memories is coming across old Route 66 in eastern Arizona with my dad driving and out the open window (no AC) I spied the rippling mesas of the Painted Desert. This is my memory of that scene.

Daily Whip Out:
"The Edge of The Painted Desert"

      Rounding up all my Apache art for my next book. Found this tall piece and gave it another go:

Daily Whip Out:
"The Kid Stood In The Pass Defiantly

   This is actually only a part of a taller painting.

   Speaking of the Duke of Dust, here is another piece I grabbed for the book:

Daily Whip Out:
"Dust Devils Are Bad Medicine"

   For some reason, I'm feeling very creative. I wonder if Raymond Chandler has anything to say about that.

"The more you reason the less you create."
—Raymond Chandler

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Death Valley Dust Storm and Geronimo In Sunset

June 5, 2019
   Sometimes I have the good sense to not listen to good sense. A couple cases in point:

Daily Whip Out: "Geronimo In Sunset"

   I'm always noodling dust storm effects.

Daily Whip Out: "Death Valley Dust Storm"

   In the run-up to the August cover, I did five different Billys and we ended up with what became known as "Buck-toothed Billy" which was not my favorite facial expression. So, I asked Dan The Man to marry the best body of Billy with the best head and we ended up here:

Daily Whip Out Composite:
"Billy Stands Tall"

"The chief enemy of creativity is good sense."