Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wrappin' With Lettuce, Riding With 'Rhoids

April 29, 2020
Yesterday my quarantine cellmate cooked up some lettuce wraps for lunch. Here she is finishing up the fixin's on our stove.

Note: the reflection of the grizzled prospector in the microwave window taking the picture.

The Duke of Dust has been busy.

Daily Whip Out: "Pendejo Crosses Dunes"

  As I have been studying plagues and pandemics in the Old West, I have run across some pretty raw data, like this.

Priests Out Riding, 1820
a woodcut

Blazing Saddles, Indeed!
   Here's something you never see in Westerns: "Hemorrhoids were just one of the discomforts of the missionaries." This is from a special report compiled by Rick Collins for the Tumacacori State Park exhibit this coming October. "Stomach ailments were a constant issue. Father President Francisco Iturralde wrote of Father Ramón López that he was “very delicate . . . he eats with repugnance and his stomach turns over and produces pernicious humors.” Fr. Pedro Font reported a bad case of diarrhea after stopping at Calabazas during the October 1775 Anza Expedition. He had been eating trail food until he joined four other priests for dinner. He and the two priests from San Xavier were all reported ill, apparently suffering food poisoning. Malaria beleaguered most priests. In 1764, Fr. Custodio Ximeno suffered from a form of malaria that caused him to have chills every fourth day. Fr. Juan Agorreta dealt with bad hemorrhoids and malaria at the same time."

Daily Whip Out: "Blazing Saddles, Indeed"
A Rude Cut

"Bob McCubbin and I were best friends and then not so good friends—Hey, we bought a magazine together. Still, bottom line, the guy had the best historical photos in the world and he always, always, shared anything he had with everyone, especially True West. That, my friend, is a man with integrity."
—Bob Boze Bell

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

One Man Knew

April 28, 2020
   Back when this pandemic first began I reached out to The Top Secret Writer and asked him what he thought about us doing some articles in the magazine on pandemics and plagues in the Old West. He replied immediately:

"Just what I want to read! Disease stories in True West. How uplifting. NO!!"

—Paul Andrew Hutton

   So, without further ado, here are some "disease stories" we will not be running in the magazine.

One Man Saw It Coming And Nobody Believed Him

Daily Whip Out: "One Man Knew"

   According to an excellent book I'm reading, "The Great Influenza" by John M. Barry, the deadliest plague in history—1918-1919—started in Haskell County, Kansas and one man, Dr. Loring Miner, knew first hand about it, because many of his patients were dying, but no one would listen. Now, according to Barry, Haskell is about 50 miles west of Dodge City and you'd think that might be interesting to the readers of True West, but no, we will listen to the Top Secret Writer and not run this.

   A graduate of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Dr. Miner went back home to Kansas and spent 30 years on the prairie. He was a progressive thinker and when the germ theory of disease was first advanced he built a laboratory in his office, and learned how to administer the antitoxins for dipththeria and tetanus. He was the classic frontier doctor and his practice ranged over hundreds of miles treating townspeople and farmers alike.

   In late January of 1918, Dr. Miner came across several patients, on his rounds, with the same symptoms—violent headaches, body aches, high fever and a persistent cough. And then more and more came down with the same symptoms. He diagnosed all of them as influenza, but he had never encountered a wave of flu this strong and wide. By February, he was struck with how violent and rapid the sickness spread. And then they started dying, the strongest, the healthiest and even the most robust were struck down, as Barry puts it, "as if they had been shot."

   Miner turned all of his efforts to finding the source of this disease. He looked through all his medical journals and he called other doctors throughout the region and he even contacted the U.S. Public Health Service, but he got no help.

   He issued a warning, published in Public Health Reports to alert health officials to this new outbreak and it is the first reference to the outbreak on public record.

   And then, in March, the disease disappeared. The schools reopened and the locals went back to work. And everyone turned their attention to the war in Europe.

   A young soldier named Dean Nilson came home to Jean, Kansas on leave from Camp Funston, which is in the Fort Riley, Kansas military reservation. The fort held, on average, 56,000 troops. After his leave, Nilson returned to Camp Funston, and within a short time 1,100 men were sick and admitted to the post hospital.

   Many others didn't show symptoms and were shipped overseas and that's when the numbers go off the charts, with the lowest estimate of the pandemic's worldwide death toll being at 21 million and some now estimate the number is at least 50 to 100 million deaths.

   One Kansas frontier doctor tried to warn everyone, but they weren't listening.

"There is a fine line between telling the truth and being a pendejo."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 27, 2020

Rurales Ride Alone & Firewalking With Pendejo

April 27, 2020
   Here's a series I would watch.

Daily Whip Out: "The Lone Rurale"

   Meanwhile, along the border, another character I love, is making his way north.

Daily Whip Out Sequence:
"Firewalking With Pendejo, Part I"

Daily Whip Out Sequence:
"Firewalking With Pendejo, Part II"

   So, if you haven't guessed by now, "Pendejo" is a Mexican slang term that means several things: it's a definite putdown and can either mean, "coward" or "asshole." I like it for both meanings, and it's a character that I think has a bunch of potential.

   Then there's this new word:

Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

   Got this from Dan The Man Harshberger, who forwarded it from a Washington Post contest for new words. 
   The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

   Here's one more that Dan rather liked:

-Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.


Daily Flashback Whip Out:
"Rurales On The Move"

"We seem to be having a plague of pendejos."
—Old Rurale Saying

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Border Riders And The Secret to Good Storytelling

April 26, 2020
   Got a couple dozen paintings going at once. Amazing what can be done when one is able to stay in all the time. Here's one of them.

Daily Whip Out: "Border Chase"

  I was searching for the meaning of life and found these pictures instead:

Deena Horsin' Around
Deena Bell on Cleo (in Kingman at the Linns spread) and other mounted friends, including Maki Sato. The dog's name (middle, right) is Peaches and the rearing dude is Tex Ritter (found the publicity photo while looking for something else at the office).

   Meanwhile, here's what Tommy was doing while Deena was horsing around.

Thomas Charles with Cameron Douglas (Davy outift) and with Bill Glenn, under the lizard head.

   And, so, turns out one of the main secrets to good storytelling is withholding information.

"Anything is much more believable, if it happens in the past."
—Richard Lester

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Under The Influence: Here We Go Again

April 25, 2020
   A couple days ago I found this old, unfinished board—and character—and gave him/it a tweak, or two:

Daily Whip Out:
"The Red-Headed SOB Mickey Free"

   I didn't just make this up. Al Sieber, chief of scouts, said of Mickey Free: "he's half Mexican, half Irish and all son-of-a-bitch." If that isn't the subtitle of a book I would love to read, I don't know what is.

Daily Whip Out:
"Pendejo Wandering Above The Tree Line"

   Got some facial things I'm working on. Seething for example.

Daily Whip Out: "Buck Seethes"

Here We Go Again
   My father posed for this drawing in his favorite chair—a bonified Barcalounger—in our house on Ricca Drive (circa 1963), BUT he never once uttered these words.

Every Generation Hates
The Next Generation's Music

   And, so it goes.

"Bonito lejos y feo cerquita"
—Old Vaquero Saying (Some things look attractive at a distance, but not so much when close at hand)

Case in point:
Peter Beard Passes at age 82

   Frankly, I had never heard of the guy, but in his obit, two things got my attention. The dude was married to Cheryl Tiegs for three years (one of my high school crushes) and he did some pretty amazing collages.

   I love the little sidebars and gutter crawls. I think there is something in here for the future of narrative storytelling, i.e. graphic novels.

Peter Beard collages

   Apparently, there is a great book full of his collage work that sells for $150. I need to check it out. Meanwhile, I am also studying the old masters. And by "old masters" I mean Alex Raymond:

"Rip Kirby," syndicated cartoon
by Alex Raymond, 1951

Great blocks of black, plus excellent draftsmanship. Nice! I need to emulate.

Daily Whip Out: "Jim Young Trailblazer"

Here We Go Again, Part II
   If you live long enough you see things repeat, and repeat again: the width of ties, the hem of skirts, plagues and pandemics. . .

Mohave County Miner, January 14, 1898
Posted by Andy Sansom

"Whoever said one person can't change the world never ate an undercooked bat."
—Old Wuhan Saying

Friday, April 24, 2020

Pandemic Riders

April 24, 2020
   Found this old True West Moment this morning, while looking for something else.

The Real Scourge of The Old West
   As dangerous as the Wild West was, all the battles and armed conflicts paled when compared to the deadly foe of smallpox. An airborne scourge for centuries, smallpox arrived in the New World with the Spanish in 1509 and spread from the Caribbean to the North American Native American population where it decimated entire tribes. Although vaccination campaigns began in the early 1800s, the disease was not eradicated until the 1970s.

Daily Whip Out: "Pandemic Riders" 

  Hard to believe anyone would actually think this current pandemic has never happened before, but then, you know what the old Haberdasher says.

"The only new thing in this world is the history you don't know."
—Harry Truman

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bob McCubbin's Friends Say Goodbye

April 23, 2020
   In the upcoming June issue of True West magazine (we go to press a week from today) we are going to feature just a fraction of the outpouring of love for our late friend Bob McCubbin. 

Robert G. McCubbin 

   Here are a couple of tribute tidbits:

"Robert G. 'Bob' McCubbin passed away, peacefully in his sleep, on Thursday morning,
April 9, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the age of 83. Bob was the founding president of
Wild West History Association and known world-wide for his two important collections:
photographs of Wild West and frontier characters, and his one-of-a-kind collection of first
edition books and pamphlets. Born February 17, 1937, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, he was the father
of four children, Cody, Julie, Tacey and Bobby, and several grandchildren. He is also survived
by a dear brother, Don and wife Mary Ann, and their daughter, Cheryl.

   "Due to the current situation with COVID 19, no funeral service will be held at this time.

   "A memorial service will be conducted in Lincoln, New Mexico, at the first opportunity. Long-time friend, Roy B. Young, will deliver the eulogy. Further notice of arrangements will be
announced as soon as they are known."
—Roy B. Young

Apache, Oklahoma

   "The problem with asking what image or artifact Bob McCubbin was most proud of is that it’s like asking, 'which one of your children do you love most?' Bob did not discriminate. He seemed to think of his entire collection – books, photos, manuscripts, artifacts – as a single thing: 'The Collection.' He acquired (and let go of) items relative to their value to the Collection. From garters to guns, every piece was special and had a place in the whole.  Even the Billy the Kid knife (which he was definitely proud of), was part of his overall vision. Bob was unique in the way he collected in that he did it because of his love of history and commitment to accuracy. When Bob identified something he wanted or needed, he dug deeper than anyone to make sure he acquired all the knowledge and accouterments to go with it. He had a great sense of humor about things he wished he might own (like the Billy the Kid Upham tintype), but he was never jealous of anyone else’s collection. Always honest (occasionally to a fault) and generous, he was a historian who happened to be a collector, and he just wanted to share it all with the rest of us."

—Brian Lebel
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Bob McCubbin in his incredible home library
outside Santa Fe, New Mexico

   When Bob and I were scheming to buy True West magazine back in 1999, McCubbin suggested to me that we ask his boss at El Paso Gas, Rick Baish, to join us in the purchase, which Rick generously agreed to do. Although Rick eventually tired of the negative cash flow and the snake pit of problems in a business he knew nothing about, he did provide us with much needed extra capitol and we couldn't have succeeded without him. Here is Rick's remembrance of his friend and colleague.

   "Bob McCubbin was my friend over a period of nearly 30 years.  Readers of True West likely will know him as an historian and preeminent collector of photographs, books and artifacts relating to the Old West.  Likewise, I expect most of the remembrances will focus on that aspect of Bob's life. I'm not going to be able to add much that is new or novel in that respect.  Maybe, though, I can add something concerning Bob's 'day job.'   

   "Bob and I both worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company.  Bob was an Oklahoman, with an engineering degree from Oklahoma A & M (now, Oklahoma State) University.  He worked for EPNG in a variety of capacities for more than thirty years, including an assignment that took him to Algeria to train workers in that country to operate and maintain a major liquified natural-gas export facility.  His competence and leadership skills earned him a succession of increasingly important jobs over the years, culminating in the position of Vice President, Operations and Maintenance.

   "From the mid-1990s until his retirement, I was Bob's 'boss,' but really, only in the sense that my name was above his on the company org chart.  When it came to the actual, physical pipeline system of steel and horsepower, Bob ran the show.   Aside from my corporate, legal and financial responsibilities, my role basically was to make sure that Bob had the space and resources he needed to keep the physical system running.  Otherwise, I tried to stay the heck out of his way.  As a 'recovering lawyer,' I thanked my lucky stars every day that I had Bob McCubbin to make sure that gas actually flowed and nobody got hurt.

   "Running EPNG's pipeline system was a job worthy of Bob's skills.  The system is both a marvel of engineering, and a monster requiring constant attention. Imagine being responsible for the delivery each day, every day, of billions of cubic feet of highly-combustible natural gas, at pressures measured in hundred of pounds-per-square inch, across thousands of miles of desert and mountain, and to do so safely, reliably and efficiently, 24/7/365.  And imagine that you had to oversee an O&M workforce of over a thousand people, and an annual budget measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, to make that happen. 

   "When Bob was running it, the system consisted of roughly 10,000 miles of large-diameter, high-pressure steel pipe, powered by some 1,000,000 horsepower of compression, with associated monitoring, communications and control elements.  it stretched in interconnected segments, across the Southwestern US, from the oil-and-gas production areas of west Texas and New Mexico, across Arizona, to delivery-points on the the Colorado River to southern and northern California and to Las Vegas.  During periods of peak demand, the system was designed to deliver up to 4,000,000,000 cubic feet of gas each day to meet virtually the entire natural-gas needs of far west Texas (including the City of El Paso), southern New Mexico,  Arizona (including Tucson and Phoenix), and Las Vegas, as well as the majority of the gas required by the State of California.  The importance of the EPNG system to the national economy is such that during the Cold War, the Soviets had targeted some of their arsenal of nuclear-tipped ICBMs to take it out.
   "That, in a nutshell, is what Bob did for a living.

  "Meanwhile, I'll give you a few specific recollections that show something of Bob's character. 

   "Bob was not a big talker,  He made himself understood without a lot of fancy speech.  I asked him once why he didn't use words of more than two syllables.  He answered that growing up in Oklahoma, he had no need to learn longer words.  Or many words, for that matter.

   "When he chose, Bob would crank up his Oklahoma accent.  As has otherwise been noted, he particularly liked to pronounce the word 'lawyer' in a way that made it sound like he was saying 'liar.'  He would introduce me, for example, as 'my boss, who is a liar.'

Bob was definitely 'old school.' When EPNG's Information Systems people offered to put a personal computer in his office, he absolutely refused.  He said all he needed was a pencil and a pad a paper.  He took to calling that 'McCubbinSoft.'  I believe he also kept a slide rule in his desk until the day he retired. 

   "As a general proposition, Bob had no use for the legal profession.  He once told me that I was only tolerable because I didn't do divorces.

   "When Bob found himself single again at a relatively advanced age, the first thing he did was buy himself the cutest little dog he could find. He took that dog with him everywhere, including places where you wouldn't expect to see an old guy who himself, looked like the leader of a gang of border bandits, with a  fru-fru dog.  Bob named the dog 'Bear' because it looked like a teddy bear.  Privately, however, when I called it 'Chick Bait,' he would just smile, and offer no objection."

—Rick Baish
El Paso, Texas

"The only thing new in this world, is the history you don't know."
—Harry Truman

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Out of The Failure Pile: Billy the Kid Walks Alone

April 22, 2020
   Sometimes, I try to avoid working on what I should be working on. You could say I'm easily distracted. 

From Out of my Failure Pile
Daily Whip Out: "Billy Walks Alone"

   Case in point: I happened to see the corner of an unfinished painting in my failure pile, below, which is stacked next to my studio stove.

See the edge of the painting at far right?

   So, I pulled it out and saw some potential and gave it another go, because nothing says let's waste some precious time like, I really need to knuckle down on this project I'm currently working on.

   So, what is the project I'm currently working on? Okay, which one?

Daily Whip Out:
"Pendejo Wanders The Trackless Desert"

      Or, specific scenes from that project, storyboarded:

Daily Whip Out: "Bold Talk Showdown"

   And then there are the cover ideas I can't quite let go of:

Daily Whip Out Study:
"Mexico Reaps The Whirlwind"

Daily Whip Out:
"Dust Devil Rider, Studies, #5"

   And then there are another gaggle of half-finished paintings lying around, like this:

"The Pile"

   Scattered? Oh, I think so. I often wish I was different, but it has been my method for a long, long time. Perhaps it goes back to my quest to purge the bad drawings out of me—all 10,000 of them—or, maybe it's just an excuse to have fun, when I should be working on something worthwhile?

"An artist is not a person endowed with free will, who seeks his own end, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him."
—Carl Jung

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Ghost Walker and Pump House Bloomers

April 21, 2020
   Third Zoom staff meeting this morning. Getting better and getting it down. The future is here, not sure I like it. Miss the human interaction.

    Went out to water at about five. Noticed the plants all blooming.

Pump House Bloomers

   Worked on an opening sequence for a graphic novel.

Daily Whip Out: "Pendejo Ghost Walker"

   And that led to here.

Daily Whip Out: "A donde andan, amigo?"
(Where are you strolling my friend?)

Bell family portrait by Ralph Rippe

   When I think back on my life, this is the stage I think of. Love Dusty (the dog). Ain't she sweet?

"It's a slow process, but quitting won't speed it up."
—Old. Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 20, 2020

Slaughter Ranch Cowboys And Santa Fe Cats

April 20, 2020
   Storyboarding a sequence for a movie on paper. Here's the opening shot:

Daily Whip Out:
"Three Slaughter Cowboys
Heading Down The Road to Naco"

   Cleaning in studio and ran across these two cats:

Santa Fe Cats, Carson Mell and Tommy Bell
at Ray Dewey's Canyon Road Casita, 1993

   I'm still groovin' on the Rodney Crowell tune that Billy Gibbons plays on. When I get a song in my head I want to hear, I literally play it into the ground.

   Meanwhile, I'm reminded of the Harry Truman quote: "The only thing new in this world is the history you don't know."

"Two door hard top, coupe so sleek and sexy, grown men moan. Jet white, streak of lightning, destination long since gone. Back off V8 Ford, back off Chevrolet, Pontiac and Cadillac ain't even fit for hauling hay. . ."

—Rodney Crowell, "56 Fury"