Friday, April 16, 2021

Wild Women, Las Bravas Locas, Boss Bitches & Very Angry Women

 April 16, 2021

   I would peg 2020 as the year the entire world lost its sense of humor. Neither you, nor me, can make fun of a whole raft of things that were game BEFORE the pandemic. Actually, it's true, things were ratcheting downward on the Humor Acceptability Thermometer at an alarming rate for the past couple decades but the quarantine has frozen that goose to the gills.

   Speaking of mixing metaphors and alienating the fairer sex, I have spent the past week trying to find a fitting title to a wonderful book Jana Bommersbach and I are co-authoring and publishing on all the trailblazing women on the American frontier. My original title for this book—way back in 1994—was "Wild Women of The Wild West" but today, well, that title is overused and overcooked.

   So, I sent out a querie to 100 of my most creative friends with this rough cover and the question on how to improve it:

    And here are a few of the responses I got back:

   "Do you really need an adjective? What's wrong with Women of the West? I had a month long argument with the publisher over the title of my last book. He kept wanting to layer on adjectives. The Defiant Women of the Copper Country, the Marching Women of the Copper Country. The Courageous Women of the Copper Country. I didn't even want the definite article but we finally compromised on just plain The Women of the Copper Country. I asked the cover artist to put the THE in a smaller font."

—Mary Doria Russell

Brave And Bold And Yaddah Yaddah

"We think the 'Wild Women' title, especially with a subhead of "Corrupt & Crazy" is far too condescending to 21st Century women.  Hedy said that if she saw it on Amazon or at B&N she wouldn't even bother to look beyond the title."

—Allen and Hedy Fossenkemper

"The Fun Loving Slightly Gender Specific Group Of The Half Of The Country That Isn’t East"

—Larry Winget

"My first inclination was to go to Spanish...'Las Jefas Cabronas of the American West' which translates to 'The Boss Bitches of the American West!' but that's probably reaching too much. :-) How about  'Las Bravas Locas'...translates to brave & crazy!"

—Jeanne Sedello 

"Throw the term True West in that pile of words. Put your money where your mag is, is the answer. True Western Women."

—Buckeye Blake

"Since you and Jana are associated with True West magazine why not work that into your title and possible future titles. 'The Illustrated Life & Times of TRUE WEST(ERN) WOMEN Of Frontier America'?"

—Greg Smith

"Instead of Wild, I like 'Dynamic' or better yet 'Real'……..we're are always talking about Real Men… about Real Woman?"
—Dennis Corderman

—Amy Watts


—Juni Fisher

   "One of the real problems is that the 'wild' West wasn't all that wild.  As Evan Connell wrote in 'Son of the Morning Star' it could be downright boring.   For his audiences Cody's Wild West show probably WAS wild but that was because for those few hours it was drama and excitement and therefore non-stop wildness for the audience. But the real 'wild' West wasn't. And were the women of the 'wild' West all that wild? So yeah, the term 'wild' is way overused (and over believed, too). Look how proper Annie Oakley was!  She could shoot with the best of them but that doesn't make her wild, it makes her fascinating. And how did life end for Mattie Earp or Calamity Jane?  Drunk, drugged, and pathetic. So maybe the focus should be off 'wild' and geared more towards 'real'...the REAL women of the West."
—Thom Ross

A Snowball's Chance In Yuma

Charlie Meadows, AKA "Arizona Charlie," co-founded the first Payson Rodeo (it has since billed itself as oldest and longest continuously running rodeo), then went on to a celebrated career in Wild West shows, including Buffalo Bill's, with a stop in Dawson, Alaska where he ran a celebrated theatre. Afterwards he became a rancher and the newspaper publisher of The Scorpion in Yuma, Arizona where he attacked everyone with his pseudonym, I. Sting. He predicted he would die in a snow storm in Yuma, and on December 9, 1932, he did! It had been fifty years since it last snowed in one of the hottest spots in Arizona.

Well, hot damn!

Arizona Charlie Meadows

  I think this is a quote by him.

"I came in on a snowstorm and I'm going out in a snowstorm."

—Charlie Meadows, predicting the weather on his death bed and he was correct!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Horsemen Passes By Horsewomen?

 April 15, 2021

   Man, oh, man, where do conundrum terms go to die? Can a woman be a fly fisherman? Can a woman be a horseman? Can a man be a total pussy?

   Yes, to all of the above.

Daily Whip Out: "Dixxy Diamond In Sepia"

   Is Dixxy Diamond a cowgirl or a horseman? Well, if Juni Fisher has any say in the matter—and she certainly does—Dixxy will be a Horseman. Not a horsewoman, not a horseperson, but a Horseman, with a capital H. Oh, boy.

   Where's the grammar police when you actually need them?

   Here's how Juni puts it: "Remember when Anne Hathaway got after someone for introducing her as an actress? 'I am an actor.' And some made fun of her. But I totally got what she was saying. She did not want to be called 'okay for a girl' ;)"

"Finding the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."

—Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Two Words Men Do Not Like to Hear

 April 14, 2021

   Here's two words in the English language I do not care for:

Castration Aftercare

   This is the title of a pamphlet we received to care for a male in the family who just had his balls snipped. (Sorry ladies, not me.)

Last photo of Uno with balls

    Harry Randolph posted this cool, old photograph of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

  From the March 12, 1956 issue of LIFE magazine, in an article entitled, "Sands of Desert Turn Gold, Southwest's Boom Enriches Scottsdale."

Location, Location, Speculation

   The above scene takes me back. Around this same time, my family drove down to Phoenix, from Kingman, and we visited with relatives who had moved there. On Sunday, after church, we visited an Open House just beyond the dark horse's head, at East McDonald Drive, just east of Tatum, where someone had built three, spec, state-of-the-art rambling ranch houses. We walked thru them and when we came out, someone asked my dad what he thought of them and he said, "They're great, if you've got $30,000."

"Buy low, sell high."

—Old Vaquero Saying

This picture is from te March 12, 1956 issue of LIFE magazine, and the article is entitled, “Sands of Desert Turn Gold, Southwest’s Boom Enriches Scottsdale.”

Thanks Tom Dr

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Almost Back On The Road Again Post Pandemic

 April 13, 2021

   As the song says, "we just can't wait to get back on the road again." Boy Howdy!

   Got a big road trip planned for June. Heading north taking all the back roads. Here's what I abide and drive by on my adventures:

BBB Back Road Rules

1. No national chains

2. Find the hidden gems in every small town

3. Never return the same way you went

4. Stop at every "hysterical" marker

5. listen to local radio stations if you can find them

   Speaking of small town gems, me and this Kingman guy go way back.

Jack Duey, 1962

   My Kingman compadre dropped in on his way to Phoenix today to give me this knife he made for me.

Jack today with the BBB blade and sheath
 he made for me

   What's interesting about these two photos is that Jack has a knife in the first picture as well. Tough school, mucous high school was. That would be Mohave County Union High School, but we called it "mucous" high to be smart asses. Jack was as smart as they come.

Daily Whip Out:
"Cowboy Comin' at You!"

"All the cowboys I know are afraid of only two things. A decent woman and being set afoot."

—Teddy Blue Abbott

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Rookie With The Rocket Right Arm On Our Patio

 April 12, 2021

   We were living in a rental house off Lone Mountain Road, when our contractor and friend, Bud Glenn, called us to say he had just poured the stem walls on our dream house. We couldn't wait to drive out and take a look.

   First we had dinner at The Tree House in Cave Creek, then Kathy and I, and the kids, motored out Spur Cross Road, at dusk, to see the progress on our new home. When we arrived at the construction site we noticed two people, a man and a woman, scoping out the site. They seemed sheepish about being caught looking at our place but I walked up and introduced myself and we made small talk. They said they were visiting friends in the neighborhood and had come over to see the progress. The year was 1986. The guy was wearing a hated ASU jacket (I went to the U of A), and at one point he gestured at the cave which prompted me to ask, "So where'd you get the world series rings?" He smiled sheepishly, and, of course, by that time I had a pretty good idea who he was. And that would be this kid, on the right.

Two of the heroes of The Miracle Mets,
 after they won the World Series in 1969.
Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry.

The Rookie With The Rocket Arm
Gary Gentry

   In truth, I had some history with the guy. I had watched him pitch for ASU several times at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson (where the U of A often played home games) and I had sort of followed his career along the way. He pitched the winning game at the 1967 College World Series, which accounted for one of the rings he was wearing on our patio.

   A couple weeks later, I invited him on our KSLX morning radio show (Jones, Boze & Jeanne) and afterwards we walked over to the Safari Resort and had breakfast. Over eggs and hashbrowns, he confided to me he never made the big money. Don't quote me but I think he said he only made $30,000 the year he blew out his elbow and washed out of the Bigs. He had to start all over again and he was selling real estate in Scottsdale at that time. 

   When people talk about sports figures being overpaid, I always think of Gary. Someone said he retired recently. I hope he's happy.

"A man's character isn't his fate; a man's fate is the joke that his life plays on his character."

—Philip Roth

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Crows On The Brain

 April 11, 2021

   In case you hadn't noticed, I can get a little gonzo on a subject I am interested in. Last week it was Ghost Rider clouds, the week before that it was Honkytonk Hoo Doos and this week, well, I don't think I need to spell it out, do I?

Daily Whip Out: "Classic Grumpy Crow"

What do you get when you cross a crow with a parrot?

Daily Whip Out: "A Punning Parrot-Head"

   And, if you can believe this, crows using a vending machine!

Vending Machine Crows TED Talk

"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."

—Jack Handey

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Something to Crow About

 April 10, 2021

   Since our devastating fire, I certainly have a new appreciation for crows. We have two who visit us almost every day. Some have postulated they are actually ravens, but I discovered the two—ravens and crows—are part of the Crovids family which includes rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, coughs and nutcrackers. Such hilarious monikers. Bottom line: even their variations are clever.

    Earlier this week, I spied one of them perched on a burnt saguaro stalk to the south of us and decided I needed to go out and capture him on paper, at least.

Daily Whip Out: "The Crow Has Landed"

   It was Juni Fisher who got me interested in what the crows were trying to say. If you've ever heard a crow cawing, they are quite insistent about something and according to Juni, it's our job to listen and figure it out.

Daily Whip Out: "Cactus Crow"

 Something to Crow About

   Did you know crows (English magpies) can actually recognize themselves in mirrors?

Daily Whip Out: "Well, Hello Handsome!"

   Did you know crows make their own tools? 

   Did you know crows play elaborate social games, like "King of The Mountain" and "Follow the Leader"? Did you know crows enjoy sliding down slippery surfaces?

   Did you know their favorite dishes include bread, spaghetti, fried potatoes, chile (green), dog food, sandwiches and livestock feed? Not to mention roadkill, cutworms, grasshoppers and "harmful weeds"? 

   Did you know crows not only outperform dogs in cognitive tests, but they then taunt the dogs for being so inferior?

   Did you know crows have elaborate grieving rituals where they lay grass wreaths over the dead body of someone they loved? 

   Did you know a clever crow was observed leaving nuts in a crosswalk so that passing cars would crack the nuts and then when the light turned red, the crow would go out to retrieve the cracked nuts until the light turned green and then he retreated and waited for the next light?

   Did you know crows laugh at scarecrows and perch on them and use them for hunting platforms to mock farmers?

   Did you know crows have excellent memories and often bring gifts to people who have been kind to them? Including jewelry found on the ground!

   Did you know the Crow tribe is literally named for "the children of the big-beaked bird"?

   Did you know crows can recognize you, and they sometimes will give you a special name and your own special caw?

Daily Whip Out: "Something to Crow About"

"Caw, Caw, Caw—Triple C—Meet BBB"

—One Crazy Crow I Know

Special Bonus Crow Humor Quote

"It's only a murder of crows if there's probable caws."

—Old Crow Saying

Friday, April 09, 2021

Redneck Mothers And Catty Honkytonk Women

 April 9, 2021

   I've been having a total blast revisiting all my Hayloft-Honkytonk adventures and I have a hunch everything will be in a book one of these days.

Confessions of A Honkytonk Drummer

How to survive nympho rodeos, barroom brawls and live happily ever after.

   Here is a scene that takes me right back.

Daily Whip Out:
"The Heatwave On A Saturday Night"

   Hot neon and a sea of trucks and one Caddie in the parking lot of the Heatwave Cafe. Oh, and an A-1 Pilsner Beer sign hanging over everything.

Here's another scene I saw plenty of times in my honkytonk years:

Daily Whip Out: "Catty Honkytonk Women"

I'll buy you lunch if you can tell me what they're saying.

And, here's another scene I witnessed a couple thousand times in my honkytonk career. A stoved-up cowboy hittin' on a waitress. What are the odds?

Daily Whip Out: "Pinball Cowboy"

Alternative title, or caption, via Juni Fisher: "She Apparently Has Not Gotten Her Tip Yet"

This was at the legendary Tara's Mineshaft Bar & Restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona back in the Naughty Nineties.

Wild Women of The Wild West

I met some very wild women in my crazy honkytonk years, and the good news is, at least for me, is that I married one of them. Of course, there were other women, including this gal, who I ran into way back in the Savage Seventies.

Daily Whip Out:
"Knockin' One Back In The Parking Lot"

   Yes, that would be Honkytonk Sue a young cowgirl dear to my heart and my pocketbook. Which, come to think of it, who in the hell calls a wallet a pocketbook anymore? Except in the slang cliche, "Well, that hit him in his pocketbook". Oh, really? He had a book in his pocket? Did it stop the bullet? Hope so.

Last Call
   At 12:45 A.M. at every honkytonk I ever played, the bartender would yell out "Last call (for alcohol)," because in Arizona, anyway, you legally couldn't serve alcohol after one A.M., or on Sunday until noon. The drunks, who were already trashed, ordered a double, or two, and the drivers got one for the road (this was light years before the "designated driver") and, after that rush of activity, even the stragglers started to clear out, but not everybody. In my experience, there was always this one drunk guy (never a girl) who refused to leave, smashed stuff, often in the bathroom, and the bouncer(s) had to beat his ass and physically take him out to the parking lot. One time I was loading out my drums and I had to step over the bouncer grappling on the floor with the drunken galoot in the front doorway. The drunk was screaming about being a veteran and how it just wasn't right to be treated like this since he fought for his country. I kind of agreed with him, but I stayed out of it and when I came back in for the second load, I used the back door.

Daily Whip Out: "Redneck Mother"

"And it's up against the wall, redneck mother. Mother who has raised her son so well. He's thirty four and drinkin' in a honkytonk, just kickin' hippies' asses and raisin' hell."
—Ray Wylie Hubbard

   And, if you are not familiar with the song, or just want to get a big, fat grin on your face, here's the tune in all its glory.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Red-eyed Cattle And Horses Snorting Fire? You Be The Judge Mister Yippie Eye A

 April 8, 2021

   As promised, here are a couple of the go-for-broke versions of my painting "Ghost Riders In The Sky." First up, this is where I left off yesterday:

Daily Whip Out:

"Ghost Riders #4"

  This morning, I thought to myself, maybe I ought to refer to the actual lyrics one more time. Okay.

Genius Lyrics to A Genius Song

  And here, for your inspiraton and my edification are some of the key descriptive words to the song which I knew I had to at least try to squeeze in: "When all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw. . .their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel, their horns were black and shiny. . ." and then if that isn't enough missing detail, "horses snorting fire. . ."

   Oh, crap. Okay, here are two wing ding attempts to corral all this dramatic and ridiculous detail. I know. A little over done, but that's my process. Keep going until you've wrecked everything!

Daily Whip Out: "The Devil's Herd"

   Black horns, check; red-eyed cattle, check; and that damn cowboy's horse is even snorting fire; check.

   Took one more swing at it about fifteen minutes ago, but it went nowhere.

Daily Whip Out: "Ring of Fire"

   Okay, this is a good example of my MO: ruin four, save one. I think it's safe to say, I beat this concept to death. 

   Note to Self: If you don't change your ways you'll be trying to catch that devil's herd all across those endless Arizona skies.

"As the riders leaned on by him, he heard one call his name, If you want to save your soul from hell a riding on our range, then cowboy change your ways today, or with us you will ride, tryin' to catch the devil herd across these endless skies. Yippie I Oh, yippie I Aye, Ghost riders in the sky. . ."
—Stan Jones, lyrics to "Ghost Riders In The Sky"

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Ghost Riders Reprise: Ruin Four, Save One

 April 7, 2021

   It's been a long road to customer satisfaction on the Ghost Riders art print front. Here's the history: 

May 29, 2015
   Got up this morning and took a stab at the inspiration for a classic Western tune. As the story goes, a 9-year-old boy and an old cowpoke were oiling a windmill near Douglas, Arizona, when a big storm roared in and little Stan Jones was afraid. The cowpoke, Capp Watts, told the boy, "Don't be afraid, it's only the clouds stampeding and the ghost riders will get them rounded up. . ."

    Daily Whip Out: "Ghost Riders In The Sky Inspiration (that I love)"

      The problem is ol' Stan told a different story every time he was asked where the inspiration came from. This is from a new book on "The Life of Stan Jones: The Singing Ranger—Ghost Riders In The Sky" by Michael K. Ward. Interesting cat. I recommend the book, published by Rio Nuevo. Sometimes ol' Capp is on a ridge and Stan rides up to him, another time, well, here's a good example:

"Well, the idea for 'Riders in the Sky' came from an old Indian Legend which was first told to me when I was about, oh, twelve years old."
—Stan Jones on the radio being interviewed by Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1950

   The problem for me is, the art print I ordered did not match the above scan (for some reason the reds in the clouds dropped out) and I have a customer who gifted it at Christmas and I promised to get it fixed. The original painting is owned by my crazy friend and major BBB collector, Craig Schepp, but I didn't want him to have to take it out of the frame and deliver it to Cave Creek to rescan. A long drive and such a pain. That would be ridiculous. So, last week, I did something even more ridiculous and ordered five prints of the bad scan from JC Printing in Phoenix, on art stock paper, so it will take new layers of paint. The prints arrived via UPS yesterday. My biggest concern was the weak sky, so I immediately attacked three of them as strong as I dared. My MO is this: ruin four, save one.

Daily Whip Out: "Ghost Riders Reprise #3"

   Perhaps the cattle are too enhanced and deliniated now? Was it more powerful to have them rather vague, like in the original? Certainly the landcape is better with the distant ridges defined and the vegetation enhanced to indicate a dry, parched land.

   Which brings us to number four.

Daily Whip Out: "Ghost Riders Reprise #4"

   Much more subtle on the cattle in the sky and I also fixed a couple anatomical issues on the two guys on the windmill and the overall storm is more uniform in this one, which pops the windmill out a little better.

   Tommorrow, I'll give you a taste of the two I ruined, just for grins.

"One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Cat On A Hot Adobe Roof

 April 6, 2021

   We once had a cat we called The Cuddler, which was a joke because that's the last thing the little, feisty feline wanted to do. He was a loner and he didn't really care for us, or, the other cats who came with him. And we had our share of rescues who we let run wild on our desert property, to hopefully kill the scourge of pack rats who plundered our cars and our garage. The new-lease-on-life cats were quite effective until the food chain conga line kicked in and the local coyotes, hunting in packs, took them down, one by one. But not the Cuddler. He lived on the roof and rarely came down.

Daily Whip Out:

"Cat On A Hot Adobe Roof"

   We tried more cats, but now that we were on the buffet circuit for the coyote crowd, they didn't last. Still the Cuddler watched the carnage from the safety of his regal perch and his survival seemed to defy gravity.

   But often success is marked by vulnerability to an even higher power.

Daily Whip Out:

"A Great Horned Owl Gets A Midnite Snack"

   Thus, we swore off cats. It was just too sad for us, and especially our kids. So we put a moratorium on cats, even rescues. Especially rescues!

   But I often think of the Cuddler and how ingenious he was and how he beat the odds for a long, long time. In the end we are all on the food chain conga line and the older I get the more I appreciate the little, temporary victories, like his.

"The only thing success does, is give you a ticket to a bigger problem."

—Henry Kissinger

Monday, April 05, 2021

Dixxy Diamond Leads The Cavvy. Comprende Cav-rone?

 April 5, 2021

   Working on a Dixxy Diamond scene this morning: 

Daily Whip Out Sketches:

"Dixxy Leading The Cavvy."

   Cavvy is an American bastardization of caviada, which is Spanish for a bunch of saddle horses.

The Insult Enhancer

   The Goose and I are watching the Amazon series "Zero Zero Zero" and in the Mexican cartel parts of the story they seem to leave out quite a few "Pinches" in the closed captioning. Pinche cabrone (pronounced cahv-rone in English), of course means, ahem, flippin' A-hole, but the real words, not these default, ninnie words.

   All of which led me to seek out the true meaning of "pinche cabrone." Turns out, via Google, pinche means "kitchen boy" in Spain. "To hairpin" in the Caribbean (?) and"lovers' kisses" in Chile. In addition, "cabron" literally means "male goat." So how do we get from these literally innocent meanings to one of the most profane phrases on the planet?

   Quien sabe?

   And, by the way, in one of the posts, "pinche" is described as an "insult enhancer." Loved that.

Back to the Dixxy Split
   Yes, so how exactly does this outlaw punk turn into a cowgirl, honest and true?

Daily Whip Out Sketches: "The Dixxy Split"

   Yes, you might have noticed that the above sketch shows Dixxy behind the cavvy, but the sketch, up top, shows her leading, this was not an accident. Juni Fisher and I have been discussing gear and horseflesh and according to Juni, where she leads, they follow. As for her riding a blue roan. . .

"Grandma Nellie always said that pinche-pig-eyed blue roan would blow up right when I needed him most, and she was right."

 —Dixxy Diamond

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Confessions of A Honkytonk Drummer: Nympho Rodeos and Barroom Brawls

 April 4, 2021

   It was a tough time and I was going through a divorce and I found myself in a rough place.

 Confessions of A Honkytonk Drummer 

   Playing in honkytonks was theraputic to me and gave me a new lease on life. Some have accused me of slumming, but I have never seen it that way. In fact, when it came time to do my stories of the experiences I had there, I tried to disguise most of the characters I met and the places I worked at to protect their privacy. I created a fictitious bar, featured in this version of a thinly veiled character I knew growing up in Kingman.

Hayloft Whip Out:
"The Sons of The Anglo Pioneers
at the Heatwave Cafe"

   The Sons of The Anglo Pioneers did a live, weekly radio show on KATL (Moo!) Radio, which was in a fictional town called, of course, Cattletrack. This was before I knew there was a real Cattletrack Art Compound in Scottsdale, and it's entirely why I have held several art shows there. To me, the name Cattletrack perfectly captures my imaginary world and is still one of the coolest names in all of the Southwest region.

Nympho Rodeo!

   Those were horny times. Both for me and for the country. I am somewhat embarrased to admit this now, but some of the honkytonk cartoons I did during my Nympho Rodeo period, border on pornographic. I was under the influence of the fearless, underground cartoonist, S. Clay Wilson, and balls to the wall gonzo seemed at the time to be liberating, but today, as a grandfather of four very sweet kids, not so much. Without being too graphic, here is a sample, run small, to protect the vision impaired:

The Punchout

   The barroom brawl is a cliche and I've seen a couple, but from my experience it's mostly one punch and done. Case in point: at The Longhorn, another classic, extinct Tucson watering hole, I witnessed a crazy guy come in the front door, obviously high on something, and he was super giddy as he lunged at the first person at the bar and bear hugged her, and kissed her on the cheek; then he quickly went to the second person, who passively allowed his creepy fawning and so did the third person. But the fourth person at the bar was an old cowboy looking straight ahead at his beer, and when Mister Giddy came to him and attempted to hug him, the old cowboy turned on his barstool and punched him right in the face. Mister Giddy was horrified and holding his bloody nose, he staggered to the front door and disappeared into the night. One punch. Done.

Hayloft Whip Out: "One Punch. Done"

   Oh, and the thinly veiled character, above, who I called Granthum P. Hooker (The Doper Roper) was actually based on a feisty Kingman cowboy who was a big fan of my grandfather, and his name was Buzzy Blair. I know, I know, it's such a great name but I couldn't use it because I knew my grandfather would kick my ass. And he still might!

"I can't live where I want to, I can't go where I want to go, I can't do what I want to do, I can't even say what I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to."

—Georgia O'Keeffe

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Dancing Cheek to Cheek Or Face to Face

 April 3, 2021

   As the world I grew up in continues to disappear in the rearview, the Hayloft Bar looms larger than ever in my mind's eye. Here's another scene I found yesterday, inspired by my tenure as the house drummer at the venerable, long gone watering hole on Ruthrauff Road in Tucson.

Hayloft Whip Out: "A View From The Rear"

   Note the broken tom tom with duck tape holding it together (such a dead sound!) and check out the steel guitar player looking dumbfounded at how out-of- tune Jay Bob's guitar is (in my retelling of these experiences I created a fictional band name—Jay Bob & The Ramrods—to stand in for a variety of bands I played with). At one gig, actually at a Moose Lodge out on Wilmot Road, our steel guitar player was going absolutely ballistic about our lead singer's guitar being out of tune. In the middle of our third song ("Take the ribbons from my hair. . .") he started to unscrew one of the legs of his pedal steel and I leaned over my kit and asked him what was wrong (I knew he was upset and thought he might be breaking down his gear to leave). He said under his breath, "I'm going to beat that son of a bitch to death with this if he doesn't tune that guitar!"

   Long story short, he didn't leave and the guitar never did get tuned to his satisfaction. This, along with severe monsoon weather, became a running joke in all my honkytonk cartoons.

Hayloft Whip Out:
"My View of The Honkytonk World"

   This scenario of a wedding party, above, was inspired by an actual event at the Hayloft, which I sketched.

Hayloft Whip Out:

"Terry and Mark's Wedding Receptcion

Hayloft,  April 19, 1978"

Like In A Silent Movie

   The drummer is always in the back and on a tight stage that is not as cozy and wonderful as it might sound. I can't begin to tell you how many hours I spent looking at the backside of farting goobers and narcissist gitpickers.

Witness to The Pre-Horizontal Bop

   In spite of my obstructed view, I witnessed on the dance floor numerous scenes of promiscuity in slo-mo, drunken rage, and, major marriage disolution, sometimes all of the above unfolding during a single song! It was very much like watching a silent movie. You couldn't hear because of our loud music, so these scenes unfolded like an old Buster Keaton-fractured flick. Two couples are in a booth and at first they dance with their partners but eventually they trade off and dance with their friend's spouse and then the shenanigans begin and one couple dances away, sashaying as far away from the booth as they can get but I, of course, am up high and I can see them clear as day. Major copping of feels is witnessed and even kissing ensues and then it's back to the booth. Repeat. Eventually there are words exchanged, some shoving and both couples leave. I could only imagine the conversation in those two separate cars on the way home. Or, maybe they do this every weekend?

Can She Make It Through The Night?

   One of the most tragic silent movies I ever witnessed from the bandstand was a young guy in a white T-shirt having the time of his life, buying drinks for everyone and dancing with a couple three women seated along the wall away from the bar. It was clear to me he was flying high and footloose and fancy free. Or, one would think. Soon enough, a young woman in cutoffs and flip flops came through the front door, carrying a baby. It's storming outside and we can see lightning out in the parking lot which illuminates her and gives her a dramatic glow. She came right up to the Party Boy and they exchanged words. She was crying and he looked sheepish, and he looked down, but he stayed put. She gave him what for and left with the baby. A common tragedy in honkytonks everywhere to be sure. I have always assumed he eventually went home. He had to. All his stuff was there. Did she forgive him? Are they still married? Perhaps. I've seen stranger things. After all, I was a drummer in a honkytonk band and nothing suprises me when it comes to the lonely desperation of men and women out dancing and looking for a good time.

   Tommorow we will get serious and talk about the knockdown, drag-out barroom brawl, honkytonk style.

"Take the ribbons from my hair, shake it loose and let it fall, layin' soft upon your skin, like the shadows on the wall."

—Kris Kristofferson, "Help Me Make It Through The Night"

Behind The Scenes of The True Westerner Award Show Last Night

 April 3, 2021

   Doing Facebook Live is a stressful gig. Picture being on a god damn Zoom call (yes, I absolutely hate them) and then imagine you are the host and it's a live broadcast open to the public. Imagine having to introduce guests and site their bios and history and then imagine a producer telling you, in rehearsal, not to look at your notes because, "your eyes are darting around and you look like a lunatic." And then the same said producer keeps correcting and demanding you to look at the green light at the top of the computer, because that is the camera. "Keep your eyes locked there," he says like the demonic, dungeon master he is. Now imagine the old fart you are supposed to kick the first segment to, mistakenly muting his microphone and no words are coming out of his mouth and it's live and he doesn't know it. Now imagine the producer frantically texting you in the chat room column on the right side of your screen, but you don't see it because you are concentrating on the tiny, green light at the top of your computer screen so you don't look like a lunatic!

   That was the cold opener, and I do mean cold. Thankfully we had a Zane Master on board and I do believe he saved the show. More on that in a minute.

   Here is a sample of my script, which I couldn't look at as much as I would have liked:

First up, he started out as a research editor at Arizona Highways and he even did a TV news stint as assignment editor at Channel 3 in Phoenix. He was the assistant headmaster at Orme School, and his father wrote the Steve McQueen classic Western, "Junior Bonner." He is now the esteemed editor at True West magazine. He is my friend and yours, Stuart Rosebrook.

Jeb Rosebrook, Stuart Rosebrook, Paul Andrew Hutton and BBB at Arizona-New Mexico joint history conference at Little America in Flagstaff.

She is the assistant Professor of History at the University of Kansas and the Executive Director of the Western History Association, a position Paul Hutton once held. She was also a former student of the Distinguished Professor, she is Elaine Nelson.

Elaine Nelson

   He and his brother and a friend blew the doors off the so-called Hollywood "vehicle" with their Independent sketch comedy movie "Kentucky Fried Movie." (1977) and then this trio went on to write and direct the maga-hit "Airplane!" Plus "Top Secret" starring Val Kilmer and they co-created the Naked Gun films. He is also a big fan of Davy Crockett and this might help explain something, but I don't know exactly what. He is, of course, the multi-talented writer, director and Zane Master, David Zucker.

Paul Hutton, Fess Parker and David Zucker at the latter's ranch in Ojai, California, 1984

   And, so, with the introduction of David Zucker to our live broadcast, things got very, very interesting. If you are a fan of high zane and cleavage, as I am, you will want to watch the show just to see what that little bastard Zucker pulled off.

Zucker pulls major Cleavage ploy
to great acclaim

Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

The True Westerner Award Show for 2021

"Nice Beaver."

"Thanks. I just had it stuffed."

—Leslie Nielsen and Pricilla Presley, Naked Gun

Friday, April 02, 2021

Back Road Bob Cashes Out On Buck & Doe Road

 April 2, 2021

   This morning Kathy asked me once again where I wanted my ashes spread and, to be funny, I said, "I want my ashes spread at the half-way point on Buck & Doe Road." When she asked where the hell that was I confessed I had traveled that lonely, dirt road, only once. And then we both laughed at the random absurdity of it all, and she added this: "Well, laugh away Buster, because that's where I'm putting you," and I laughed, because, ultimately, what the hell do I care where my ashes are spread?

Al Bell on the south terminus of Buck & Doe Road

at Peach Springs, Arizona

   Besides, if someone wants to visit me out there they are in for a hell of a scenic drive! And the Hualapais might make a buck or two on flat tire repair. So, it's a win-win. Here's my original travelogue, posted four years ago today.

The Buck & Doe Road Less Traveled

  I don't know where I got this phobia, but I have an extreme aversion to returning from a trip, even to the grocery store, by the same route. Maybe it's because we did this every summer on our trips to the Iowa farm? One thousand-seven-hundred-miles up, and one-thousand-seven-hundred-miles back to Kingman, seeing the exact same scenery from the opposite direction. Although, to be honest, starting in about 1963, my father did take alternate routes, the most memorable, across the Navajo Reservation to Four Corners and on to Durango and then over Wolf's Creek Pass to Colorado Springs and on to Iowa. Now THAT was a trip to remember, and perhaps that's what lit the fuse on my backroad mania.

"Bob Boze Bell 
is backroads famous. He seldom takes main highways; he prefers instead the secondary, less-used routes. He believes in knowing the country and it's people, neither of which is present on freeways. If you are going to follow him, I'd suggest solid maintenance, strong horses, full tanks and new tires."
—Mort Mortensen

Thursday, April 01, 2021

The Birth of Honkytonk Sue And A Led Zeppelin Riff Ruins Gig

 April 1, 2021

   My time spent playing drums for a Country Western band in the Hayloft Bar on Ruthrauff Road in Tucson paid off nicely, because I channeled all those crazy experiences and all those sketches (see below and in yesterday's post) into the launch of a certain, young woman.

Honkytonk Sue premieres in

The Phoenix New Times Weekly

March, 1978

   And speaking of New Times, a friend of mine who writes under the nom de plume—The Arizona Dude—sent me an article he did on The Hackberry Hippie Bob Waldmire and he asked me what I thought of it. Here's my reply:

   "I appreciated your Bob Waldmire article and thought you did a good job, but I am not a fan of his nor was he of me. It started when I did a parody of vegetarians in New Times Weekly and I got a nasty letter from him and from there it went straight downhill."

Part of the BBB Vegetarian Parody
That Ticked Off Bob Waldmire

"Two cartoonists with huge egos. What could possibly go wrong?"


   Meanwhile, back to the Hayloft and the sketches that launched the cartoon character that led me all the way to Larry McMurtry's typewriter.

Hayloft Whip Out: "Doris and Willie."

   I met some really interesting people at the Hayloft, in fact almost all of them were wonderful people, but danged if they didn't smoke like chimneys.

Hayloft Whip Out:
"Hayloft Honey & Hayloft Hunk"

    This next page of sketches shows part of the stage and The Southern Tornado's piano and mic stand. 

Hayloft Whip Out: "Inside And Outside"

   After a long stint as the house drummer in a revolving lineup of Country musicians at the Hayloft, the owner asked me if I had anybody in mind to replace the last leaving git picker. I told him I had been jamming with a wild-and-crazy piano player who we called The Southern Tornado and that I was part of a three-piece back-up band that featured Steve Denis on the stand-up-sit-down bass (he played a stand-up bass, but sat on it like a horse) and Jack Alves on lead guitar. The owner agreed to give us a try-out and we frankly blew the doors off that place, both figuratively and literally. After our set with the Southern Tornado (real name Kenny Brazell) which consisted of mostly Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis covers, we did a Country set, but quickly ran out of material and decided to end the show with a Led Zeppelin tune called, "Whole Lottah Love."

   Everyone watched this with a little horror, some wonderment and even amusement, and, in all fairness, it must be noted, nobody threw anything at us, or even got snotty, but very few applauded either. And, for some strange reason, that was my last gig at the Hayloft Bar on Ruthrauff Road in Tucson.

One Quick Note On The Challenges of Sketching In The Hayloft

   People in a bar do not normally want their pictures taken or sketched, if you know what I mean. Several of my subjects, of course, caught me and demanded to see what I had drawn and usually they just laughed at how silly I had made them look, but nobody threatened to beat me up, which is kind of hard to believe, but it's true. Still, most of the time I tried to sneak glances, find the right angle and pretend to be doing something else. I also forced myself to go outside and see if I could document the rides, like the construction worker's iron hauling-rig on a Chevy truck (above). Was it for hauling steel, or rebar, or, what? I don't know but I drew it the way I seen it.

One Last Hayloft Whip Out:

"The Long Shadow of Two Bar Stools"

"Way down inside, woman-woman-woman, you need, looooooooooooooooooove. . ."

—Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lottah Love"