Monday, May 31, 2021

Future Researchers Beware: Me Making The Dean's List Is A Bad Joke

 May 31, 2021

   Still struggling with Covid symptoms. Yes it's been six weeks and according to the CDC they could last for three months, or more. Still, mighty glad I got the vaccine or I would probably be in some ER on a ventilator (if I was lucky). Here are the stats, so far. The State of Arizona has given out five million doses of the vaccine to three million people and 1,009  of us got "breakthrough" Covid, meaning we showed postivive after the shots. Fifty-eight percent of us who are breakthrough got the Pfizer vaccine. Do I regret not getting Moderna (32%) or Johnson & Johnson (10%)? A little, but it is what it is. Thanks to Lauren Kormylo, I am on a high dose regimen of vitamins, in the hopes of kicking this nasty bug out of my system, sooner than later. I'll let you know if it works.

Daily Whip Out:
"Here's Smirking at You Kid"

A Warning to Future Researchers

   Imagine some future twit researcher (sorry for being redundant) digging up a news item that undercuts and "disproves" my longstanding self-deprecation about being a terrible student. Imagine if this researcher found a news item where it was reported I had made the Dean's List at the University of Arizona and how proud everyone was of me.

   Okay, here's the punchline: the news item is real, how it got printed, in the Mohave County Miner, is a bit of a bad joke.

   When I was registering as a freshman at the U of A in 1965, there was a form to fill out (this is pre-computer) giving the University the name of our hometown newspaper. When classes began, I met another art student in a drawing class with the same name as mine, Robert Bell. We laughed when the teacher called roll and we ended up talking after class. The difference between us was he had just returned from a stint in the army and he was dead serious about being a good student and, here's the ironic part: he was a prolific sketchbook producer and I couldn't believe he was actually drawing outside of class because I never did.  Anyway, we both got As in the drawing class but I was failing almost everything else (I ended up flunking Art History multiple times). Fast forward to the end of the semester and when I went home to Kingman for the holidays, my mother was beaming because the Mohave County Miner had just printed an article about how I had made the Dean's List and how proud everyone in Mohave County was of me. I told my mother this was a dreadful mistake and I had a hunch I knew how it happened, but it never stopped my mother from showing off the news clipping. When I confronted her on it, she said, "You're talented, it could have happened." Yes, Mom, if I had studied, but I didn't!

   My theory is that the Dean's office had a secretary, or two, who went through those forms we filled out giving our hometown newspaper and then they matched the paper to the students on the Dean's List. When the secretary got to the first Robert Bell, she just assumed that was the correct student (we were both in the Art College) and contacted our newspaper. When I later saw the other Robert Bell on campus I told him what had happened and he laughed, because, unlike me, he actually did make the Dean's List. I asked him if his hometown newspaper ever gave him credit and he said they didn't. The final irony is that I do believe I was inspired by his prolific sketchbook work and subconsciously wanted to emulate him. So, thanks Robert Bell, for the lifetime sketchbook dedication!

   Anyway, here's my, ahem, educated guess at the outcome of the future researcher's gleeful reporting:

That Lying Sack of Sugar, Bob Boze Bell

   For those who have had to suffer from the late Bob Boze Bell's incessant and narcissist ramblings about how self-made he was and what a terrible student he was, take heart that the Duke of Dust and the King of Hyperbole was also a blatant liar. Lo and behold, in the online archives of his own hometown newspaper, The Mohave County Miner there exists a news item that undercuts his incessant false claims of being an awful student. Turns out he was merely an awful liar.

   Or, something like that. Whenever I read a "gotcha" news item I always think of this little twist of misinformation and a small measure of sympathy goes out to the hapless vicitms.

Daily Whip Out: "The Kid From The Side"

(who knew a thing or two about newspapers

being full of it.)

"Not everything you read in the newspaper is true."

—Every person who has ever been misquoted in a newspaper

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Battle of The Cover Bands Lincoln County War Style

 May 30, 2021

   As many of you know, we work really hard at True West on our covers because the difference between a compelling cover and a so-so cover can mean tens-of-thousands of extra dollars in our coffers, which pays a lot of bills. 

   I must admit, with the exception of one cover, we have been on a streak of very strong covers for the past year, or more, with our recent Quigley Down Under cover (April, 2021), selling almost twice as many issues as anything else in the past three years. On the other hand, one cover this year has not done well at all and that is the Bass Reeves cover (Feb.-March 2021).

   Perhaps it's too cute? Or, too clever by half? Or, maybe the racial aspect of it turned people off in these racially divided times? I still love the Bass Reeves cover and I think Dan The Man did a great job on it, but it has sold about half as many as the Quigly cover. That represents a whole lot of lost revenue.

   Which brings us to our next cover. We argue constantly about the "sweet spot," which is that area in the upper left corner, just below the title, which is often the only thing a consumer sees if the magazines are stacked, overlapping to the right.

The "Sweet Spot" cover

   This cover image adheres to the Sweet Spot theory. However, if you are familiar with the original photo, you know that one of the guys has been cropped out to liberate that space for the headline. Here is another Dan The Man version of the cover with the full photo.

The Full Quartet Version Cover

   To my eye, there is no comparison. In the above four-guys-version the boys surround the headline and all of the bad boys look menacing and it has a gravitas the other one doesn't have. However, if we go by historical newsstand statistics, the Sweet Spot version will sell more issues.

   What do you think?

"At the center of the [the current race] conversation is a battle about the past, and it’s not just a battle over what we should remember, but how we should remember it."

—James French

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Mexican Moonlight & Peaches In The Rearview

 May 29, 2021

   I  have long admired Frank Tenney Johnson's nocturns and for the past couple days I have been trying to capture some of his deep night color vibrancy for a sequence involving a certain bandito and his querida.

Daily Whip Outs:

"Studies for Mexican Moonlight"

   Of course, when it comes to raw and subtle lighting, I don't think I've ever have topped this.

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Women Seeds"

Blogging And Bloviating

   Here's a ridiculous realization: I have been writing and posting this blog for almost two decades. By my count this is my 6,717th blog post. Believe it or not, I do it mainly because it keeps me loose for the writing I have to do for the magazine and my books. Here's a little slice of life going way back to the beginning, with another dog, who we called Peaches.

December 8, 2002
   Went for a walk this morning and Peaches got attacked by two coyotes. We were coming back down the hill by Barros’ and Peaches took off out across the desert to avoid a house where the dogs are rather aggressive. About two minutes later, here comes Peaches back to the road about fifty yards ahead of us, and right on her heels is a big, rangy coyote and another one about ten yards behind. We, of course, started yelling, but they were not deterred and soon Peaches disappeared around a bend in the road with both coyotes in hot pursuit. Kathy took off running and screaming and I guarded the back trail (I was in my slippers, okay?). The noise and the excitement brought out Chuck Van Horn from his horse arena and he and I had the following exchange:
“They’re getting real nasty,” Chuck says, shaking his head.
“Brazen, really,” I say, walking past, hoping he doesn’t notice my fluffy slippers.
Chuck says, “Got any guns down at your house?”
“Yes. A Winchester and a Colt .45.”
“Well, if you need any help...”
“I think we can handle it, but thanks.”
“Maybe they’re riled up because they saw those slippers.”

"Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you."

—Satchell Paige

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Revisiting The Quest to Do 10,000 Bad Drawings

 May 27, 2021

    Yesterday, I looked back on the time when I was hot on the trail to execute 10,000 bad drawings.

Daily Whip Outs: "Pat Garrett Sketches"

   Trust me, most of the 10,001 drawings were supremely bad, but sometimes, in spite of myself, I got into the Zone, which was part of the reason I went on the quest in the first place.

Daily Whip Outs: "Covering The Dog"

Daily Whip Outs: "Angst Sketches"

   Alternate title:

"Reactions to Covid Shot"

   And sometimes I was so loose, I couldn't replicate the fluidity if I tried.

Daily Whip Outs:
"Loosy Goosy Landscape Sketches"

   And in that long quest I still managed to do a couple keepers.

Daily Whip Out: "Don't Touch My Hat!"

    And, who exactly, sent me on this quest?

"Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him."

—Dave Sim, cartoonist of Cerebus fame

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Flashing Gang Signs In The Old West & Breakthrough Covid Violence

May 26, 2021

   People often ask me how I interpret and equate today's awfulness with times past. My answer is I try and strike chords of harmony and disharmony between the two time periods and then reference both, like this:

Daily Whip Out:

"The Spanish Dowry Queen"

alternate title:

"Flashing Gang Signs In The Old West"

Breakthrough Covid

   Well, it has a name, or, at least I was informed of the name by a CDC worker who called me to ask about my positive test for Covid and my symptoms. It's called "breakthrough" Covid, as in, I had both my shots and I still got Covid because the disease, somehow broke through my defenses. If you believe some, I got it from the shot. If you believe others, I was exposed to a variant. Either way, it must be said, Kathy and all our family who have been around me have tested negative. Go figure. I have had mild symptoms—headache, fatigue—for five weeks and counting. I have had it easy compared to friends who have been in the ER more than once and we even had a former employee who died of it. So don't feel sorry for me. If you saw me you'd never know I was sick, unless you read one of my blog posts.

History Repeats Itself And This Time
 It's Personal

Who Was That Unmasked Man (or Woman)?

   Southwest Airlines has announced it has had 477 incidents of misconduct by passengers between April 8 and May 15. In a recent one, on Flight #700 from Sacramento to San Diego, a woman passenger began causing trouble in the back of the plane, refusing to put up her tray table, ignoring the stay seated request and when a flight attendant attempted to intercede, the woman punched the attendant in the face twice, knocking out two teeth. Yikes! Imagine telling that to the three people in the 1918 influenza photo, above. I think their response would be, "What happened to you people? Are you animals?"

"The arc of history bends towards delusion."

—Stephen Kotlin

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Five Nifty Tricks to Become A More Successful Artist

 May 25, 2021

   I've learned a few nifty tricks over the years and I want to pass them along to anyone who is just starting out, or, who perhaps just needs some inspiration.

   As I told the freshmen class at NAU (they were all born after 9•11!), when I was in high school I so desperately wanted a professional artist to come visit our school and tell me what I could do to become an artist, but no one ever came and so I made a vow that if I ever did learn anything I would share it. So, here you go.

Lesson #1: Inspiration Is Not The Answer 

    If you are waiting for inspiration to create, or draw or start a painting, you will never make it. The biggest factor for success is to draw and paint—without hope, without despair—until the cows come home. I actually learned this on my long quest to make good on the audacious claim that, "Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him." It's both funny and outrageous, and I laughed at it and thought it was probably true, but I finally got tired of hearing this bromide and decided to do six "bad" drawings a day until I completed the task and see if it made a difference.

   Of course, it did, but not in the way I thought it would.

   The very fact that I was trying to do bad drawings, freed me to produce some very loose suprises, like this page of quick color landscapes. The amazing thing is I couldn't have done this if I tried!

Daily Whip Outs: "August, 2009 Sketches"

Lesson #2: Let Go

   When you are learning any skill you invariably use every muscle in your body which overloads your circuits and usually leads to initial failure. Think water skiing. With practice, you learn which muscles are actually doing the task and you begin to relax the rest of your body and that's good enough to be proficient, but it's still not enough to be a master. In order to master a medium you need to relax to the point of total sloppiness, BUT only after you have mastered the holding on part. I will show you a good example of this in a minute.

Daily Whip Out: "Alchesay Cuts The Sky"

"Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings."

—John Baldessari

Lesson #3: Everything Is Counterintuitive

   I swear, the damn duality in this world makes me dizzy. I can't think of a single thing I've learned that didn't have an opposite dynamic that was just as legitimate. You know, like this:

"An arrow can only be launched forward by pulling it backward."

—Old Vaquero Saying

   Another example: when you go to college and study fine art, like I did, you invariably learn how to build a painting from the ground up, adding loose washes and light detail and then locking it down, step by step, until it is "finished." If you are ever going to be anything more than a hack, you need to learn how to do that, but then take out everything until it is even better. As one wise artist put it, "You need to know what to leave out." Or, to put it even more succinctly:

"The paradox of creativity. Your work is done when it looks so simple that the consumer thinks they could've done it. which means they won't appreciate how hard you worked."
—David Perell

Lesson #4: Perfection Is A Curse

   Are there any perfect pieces of art in this world? None so far. So stop chasing that insane game. It's an ego crusher and a dead end and it's probably ruined more budding artists than anything else. However, you need to be open to the idea of aiming to be the very best (see Lesson #3).

   Oh, and stay open to all ideas.

Daily Whip Out: "Old Woman, Old Ways"

Lesson #5: The Road Is The Only Thing

   Growing up on Route 66 I had a passion to make it to the promise land. I wanted someone to tell me how to take the right roads and arrive at the dream where I would make art that mattered and more importantly, where I could marry a blond and drive an XKE. Okay, I was very immature, but I did marry the blond. Anyway, when I actually met the most successful artist I have ever known, I asked him what was more satisfying, the road getting to the top, or arriving at the top and without hesitation he said, "The road is the only thing."

Daily Whip Out: "The Sky For Mike"

   So, get out there on that road, and make bad drawings until the cows come home, draw with your opposite hand, set out to actually ruin a painting or two (I do this almost every single day) Then look at that drawing and actually laugh at how bad it is. This is so healthy and cleansing you will be shocked at how good it feels. 

   Good luck. I've had more than my share of luck, and I firmly believe part of my penance is to give some lucky guideposts to you.

Daily Whip Out On Letting Go:

"The Baja Hinny"

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 24, 2021

Uno at Sunset And A Broken Shadow Box

 May 24, 2021

   It was so nice out last night we sat out in the front yard and enjoyed the sunset. Here's Uno looking the other way, with that look that says, "Nyeh, if you seen one, you've seen 'em all."

Uno at Sunset

   Speaking of the puppy with the crazy back end, Uno went crashing through the studio a couple weeks back with his wagging tail and knocked over this True West Shadow Box we inherited from the Stillwater, Oklahoma TW crew. Uno broke the glass and the very first issue of True West is starting to curl up on the edges.

A Broken Shadow Box

Perhaps Foreshadowing

The Future?

   Well, of course, eventually it will all be over. When Professor Martin Summerness introduced me to the NAU Beginning Journalism Class several weeks ago, he mentioned I had done work for National Lampoon and Playboy. He got this off of my bio, but it suddenly dawned on me both publications—giants when I was just starting out—are kaput in terms of a print version. So, that we are still standing as a magazine is a miracle to me. And even if it all ended tomorrow I would be so thankful for the long run. We're coming up on twenty-two years and counting.

"All things must pass."

—George Harrison

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Covid Status & Dust In The Past

 May 23, 2021

   Eighth day in lockdown isolation. One positive thing about the current situation is that there has been plenty of time to draw and paint.

Daily Whip Out: "Dust In The Past"

   Actually, the title started out to be "Dust In The Pass" as in, "We Saw The Dust And Our Guide, Mickey Free, Estimated Whoever It Was They Were Riding at Least 200 Strong." But "Dust In The Past" has a nostalgic, evocative feel and that is the mood I'm in at the moment.

   I also found time to catch up on a certain punk cowgirl.

Daily Whip Out:
"Dixxy Diamond Portrait #3"

Covid Update #3

  Everyone asks me if I lost my sense of smell or taste with Covid. Not really, but for some strange reason I have lost all interest in watching sports. Just dead to me. Kind of weird, but there you have it.

   As to the taste part of it, Juni Fisher weighed in with this: "Let's see today's outfit so we can judge on the loss of taste or not."

   The old turn around at the art desk and turn the phone camera on flip and document the outfit and the lack of a shave, a persistent pandemic problem. Full disclosure: I just finished a staff Zoom meeting and had on the hat and custom shirt (courtesy of Randy Lee O'Neal and his Riyadh tailer, Akram Khan).

   It's often hard to be inspired in these ridiculous times, but sometimes a voice from that past can not only be uplifting, but inspiring to boot.

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, May 22, 2021

A Loving Tribute to Betty Radina

 May 22, 2021

   A wonderful woman passed last week at the age of 97. 

Betty Radina

May 4, 1924—May 14, 2021

     She was born in Essexville, Michigan, to Sidney Willet a fisherman and Jennie Black. She grew up in Unionville and went to St. Mary's Hospital Nursing School in Saginaw graduating with the class of 1945. She married Earl Radina and they had four kids. In 1958 they moved to Phoenix, Arizona where Earl opened a cafe and she went to work as a nurse at St. Joe's Hospital. She was head nurse of Barrow's Neurological Institute from its founding until 1974.

 Betty was widowed at age fifty when Earl passed away in August of 1974. She then took over the family restaurant, and ran Earl's Fine Foods in Phoenix until 2007.

   "She loved Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. She was a big fan of James Garner. And she loved Laughlin, Nevada and she and her friends did numerous bus trips there and she and her gal pals loved to play poker. She was a poker fiend. She played Mahjong until she was 95 and consistently won."

—Debbie Radina

"My brother Donnie told me about Verde Hot Springs where young college females were running around stark naked, so I dove up to the Verde Valley in my new Jeep and I had the only vehicle that could cross the river which is where the spring was. I saw plenty of naked females and drank beer with them. Late in the evening I decided to drive back to the Valley and on the way out of there, in the dark, I missed a turn and rolled my jeep. I remember crawling out of it and my arm was scraped up pretty bad and I sat down and went into shock. Fortunately, a couple of guys came down the road and pushed the jeep back upright. The battery was ripped out and ended up down in a side canyon and they went down and retrieved it and spliced the broken cables back together and got it running again. The whole fiberglass front was ripped off. So these guys got me back out on the road, and I didn't have insurance and I knew I couldn't go to a hospital and there was only one place where I could go to get medical care. I drove for two hours with one arm and went straight to my mom's house, arriving at four in the morning. I was crying when she answered the door in her nightgown. She took me into the shower and hosed me off, and then she dressed my wounds and bandaged me up. She helped me keep everything clean and she gave me the loving care I needed to carry on. Later when I was actually in the hospital for another serious injury she came in to see me as she did every night. She asked how I was doing and I told her that the IV in my arm was really hurting me, so she calmly leaned over and ripped it out which set off an alarm and the nurses came running in and they started yelling at her, but mom stood her ground and told them what they had done wrong and how to make it better, which they did. She knew more than they did. She was always our emergency room, no matter where she was."

—Brad Radina

"She loved the quail release in Cave Creek and she went every year."

—Kathy Radina

   "She was a Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra fan, but she adored Jon Bon Jovi and she liked that he never forgot his roots. She liked the idea he married his high school sweetheart. She didn't care if he was a rocker and I just think that is so cool."

—Debbie Radina

   "I remember her being a brownie troop leader when I was in third grade. I know she did cub scouts with my brother Don and Brad and my sister Debbie, as well. She was a very busy woman who made time for her kids."

—Kathy Radina

   "She had a quiet dignity about her but she often had a twinkle in her eye and a conspiratorial smile that conveyed to me she was up for almost anything. She was always quick with a quip especially when anyone got snotty around her. I think this stemmed from being the head nurse at Saint Joseph's Hospital which gave her a gravitas that commanded respect from everyone. She always defended me and she even lent me money for publishing one of my books. She was just the best. I often called her my favorite mother-in-law because I had another one who was pretty solid, but not as sweet as Betty Jean."


The Young Nurse

"I first met Betty in 1978. She was nice, smart and had a great sense of humor. I liked her immediately and that never changed - and neither did she. Rest In Peace Beautiful Betty." 

—Wonderful Russ

Betty (center) and her brood
January, 2014

   "As the first grandson, I always felt like I had a special place in grandma Betty’s heart. But as I read the tributes from the other grandchildren, I am reminded that this woman loved everyone unconditionally. After my mother died when I was young, grandma Betty became like a second mother to me. She was the closest thing to a mother that I had since 5 years old. She never missed a birthday, even well into adulthood. My favorite memories are of being in the kitchen during Thanksgiving and helping out in anyway I could just spend some extra quality time with her and following a long creating her favorite recipes.  I truly never have experienced anything but love from this incredible woman and she will be severely missed. I know our relationship will live on in a different way now." 
—James Sol Radina, Grandson #1(second from left, seated, above)

   "For me, the things I loved most about grandma was her ability to bring us all together. Some of my fondest memories as a child are with grandma at her house on Carole Ave. When I was a young adult I remember moving out on my own and realizing what a special place Grandma had. The garden, the cats, the neighborhood the neighbors. I always looked forward to Christmas meatballs and tamales, and going swimming at the pool down the street. I loved flipping through the family photo albums and walking the halls of her house and admiring the family (and how much I look like my mother when she was my age). When I got older and realized I should be helping to clean the kitchen Grandma would get irritated at me for putting the dishes away in the wrong spot. As a teenager Grandma sewed with me. She let me pick out the fabric and I chose monkeys. I loved doing yard sales with grandma! Me and my friend Maki did it a couple of times. In college I came by her house once and she was having a yard sale and I bought a book her neighbor had for sale called “Cooking with 6 Ingredients or Less” and that’s how I learned to cook for myself (not well). When I got married and had kids she adored my babies and my husband. I’ll miss her dearly ❤"
—Deena Bell Bortscheller

   "I can sum up G Betty in two stories. When I was a teenager I went to stay with her for the night and she got on me hard for not putting the toilet set down. It was a shock to me because she was usually so easy going and kind so if she got on you you knew you had done it. I never left the toilet seat up again (until I got married but that has always been more out of spite than forgetfulness). And then, when Amy and I lived in Phoenix we would pay periodic visits to her. One day we brought over the Disney movie Ratatouille where a rat aspires to become a French chef. Very inspiring story about overcoming odds. When it was over G Betty was not so easily moved to sentimentality. 'But still,' she said, 'no rats in the kitchen.'”
—Thomas Charles Bell

"Grandmother Betty Radina remains one of the most influential and caring people that I've met.  She had a gift for being light and agile in her character, whether she was hosting a family Christmas dinner or playing cards with her friends.  She was the type of person who lived gracefully and I believed she was rewarded with exceptional peace, gratitude and community.  It was my pleasure to know her in this life and be so close to such a great spirit and being.  I love you Rad-ma Betty!"
—Aaron Radina (standing at far left in above photo)

Last Family Portrait, December, 2019

   "As a 'married into the family' gal, I had my first Christmas dinner at Grandma Betty's in 2009. We had a white elephant gift exchange and if I remembered correctly, Grandma ended with one of Tom's gag gifts which was a book with a hole in the middle that was called "Insert Here". She smiled, made a face, and kept the book without exchanging it with anyone. That's when I knew this woman was awesome. Another cherished moment for me which ended up being one of the most meaningful stories of my life was when Tom and I decided to get married. Tom had asked Kathy about rings, Grandma Betty offered up hers. We went for dinner there while G-Betty brought up a ring decked with diamonds. There were about 6 diamonds on this ring with various sizes or carats so I chose 5 small diamonds sitting at the bottom of the ring. After the selection, I looked over and G-Betty said 'Oh, those were the diamonds on my original wedding band' and I teared up and hugged her. She was the OG Queen B, way before Beyonce and I am so privileged to have traveled all the way from Thailand to have met her and married into the Bell-Radina clan. Miss you a TON Grandma."

—Pattarapan Pothong Bell, (second row, far right in above photo)

   "Every once in a great while, you have the great good fortune to meet someone really special.  Betty Radina - Mrs. Radina was one of those people. She was kind, loving, caring and fun. I'm so fortunate to have known and loved her."

—Carole Compton Glenn

Friday, May 21, 2021

One Happy Owl, Utes With Pistols & One More Billy In The Moonlight

 May 21, 2021

   Rained most of last night and this morning our entryway saguaros were blooming, making our resident owl very happy. Look at all those budding buds!

One Happy Owl

   Full disclosure: the owl was created by my Cave Creek artist compadre Judy Darbyshire.

In-din Young Guns

   My good friend, Mort Mortensen sent me this excellent photo which I have never seen before. Anybody know where this photo came from? Or, better yet, what tribe? What year? Who owns the photo? We want to run it in True West magazine. Thanks.

   Thanks to Chris Eveland, we have found out they are Utes and the photo was taken in 1867.

   Speaking of images that make me smile.

Daily Whip Out:

"Billy Smiles In The Moonlight"

   Speaking of the history I love and we fight about every day.

"There's much to admire in Texas history and there's a lot to cringe about. If they choose historians that are worth their salt, that are honest to their profession, nobody's going to have anything to worry about."

—Historian Donald Frazier, the director of the Texas Center at Schreiner University at Kerrville, responding to a bill in the state legislature that would encourage the teaching of "Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state, " while some opponents believe the bill will "over-romanticise Texas history."

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Boy Who Always Stood Erect

 May 20, 2021

   In many ways, the Kid was like a rock star and when he arrived in the plazas up and down the Pecos hearts were soon aflutter.

Daily Whip Out:
"The Mex Girls Were Crazy About Him"
—Frank Coe

   When I do sketches like this, the figures begin talking to me, like this. The first girl, coming out the doorway, is exclaiming, "Oh, you're here Bilito. I'm pregnant!" The second woman, in the long robe is clutching her rosary beads to ward off temptation, saying, "Dios te salve Maria, llena eres de Gracia," and the third and fourth young girls are crying out, "Me! Do me next!"

   You know how horses do that quick sideways stepping-hop when someone approaches too fast? That's what the Kid's horse, Dandy Dick, is doing here as a young querida runs out to welcome her amante masculino.

Daily Whip Outs: "The Sideways Hop"

The Boy Who Always Stood Erect

“[Billy was] an attractive, handsome, smart, active boy that always stood erect.”

—Carlotta Baca, adding that the boy bandit had "laughing blue eyes."

   This quote, above, is from the highly anticipated new book on Billy the Kid from Australian author, James Mills: "The Nature of Billy the Kid: El Bandido Simpatico," published by University of North Texas Press.

Daily Whip Out:

"The Boy With The Laughing Blue Eyes"

   These sketches may strike you as slightly odd since I made the announcement earlier this year that my third edition of "The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid" would be "the final word." Well, for one thing, there's just too much new scholarship on the Kid's life that we will be running in the next issue of True West magazine (July) and, two, now you know I am a big, fat liar.

   But, admit it, you kind of knew that.

"We're all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding."

—Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Wonderful Western Women With Attitude

 May 18, 2021

   I've been in isolation for the past four days, feeling somewhat decent, considering I have Covid. I have a neighbor down the creek who got it prior to the vaccine being readily available and she has been to the ER twice, so I feel fortunate in that regard. I've got minor aches, tinnitis, slight fever and a daily headache, but no loss of taste, or smell, and no chest pains or trouble breathing. I chalk that up to the fact that I got my shots before contracting the damn virus. Still can't figure out where I got it, although, there was this one old cowboy who wasn't wearing a mask and insisted on shaking my hand. Normally I would have given him the gratuitous elbow bump, but he was so insistent. I thought, Oh hell, what are the odds?

   Well, pretty good actually, looking back on it.

Wonderful Western Women With Attitude

Daily Whip Out:

"Hopi Matriarch With Attitude"

   Spent some of the weekend noodling angles on how to illustrate our cover on the Wonderful Women of the Wild West that would show the diversity and the range of all the crazy females who made the American West what it is today.

Daily Skethbook Whip Outs:

"Women With Attitude, Oh, We've Had A Few"

   Every woman I have ever loved has had attitude. My grandmothers had it, my mother had it, every one of her sisters had it, my very first girlfriend in Kingman had it and my wife and her female offspring definitely have it. So, what is that?

   Part of it is in the eyes. You can just tell they are not going to put up with any of your bullshit. Period.

"A strong man can handle a strong woman. A weak man will say she has attitude."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, May 17, 2021

The No Kidding Kid And As The Crow Flies, Part II

 May 17, 2021

   Here's a place I didn't think I'd be today.

Daily Whip Out: "The No Kidding Kid"

   No kidding. I thought I was long done with the lad, but a certain faraway Kid got me going again. Damn that Aussie Bastard! One of these days I'll leave this subject all behind. I swear to God I will.

   Spent some time today on this overhead scene.

Daily Whip Out:

"As The Crow Flies, Part II"

   Going to add another crow flying even higher. Then add this text box:

   High in the sky, the crow peers down on the '69 Barracuda navigating the tight curves into the desolate foothills of the Tortalita Range. Whoever is in that car is not coming back.

Nothing kills a story quicker than the truth. There is plenty that is false and wildly absurd in any era. There isn't more lying, or false news now, everything is simply louder and in your face. Still, some things remain the same.

"Old myths, old gods, old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our mind, waiting for our call. We have a need for them. They represent the wisdom of our race."

—Stanley Kunitz

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Barstool Roper Meets Bilito In Moonlight

 May 16, 2021

  Return with me now to those thrilling, unwoke days of yesteryear.

Daily Whip Out: "Bilito's Big Brim"

    Just when we thought it was safe to be finished with Billy the Kid, here's the actor tapped by Michael Hirst (Vikings) for the new BtK series being developed for Epix. It's set to premiere in 2022.

Meanwhile, this just in from my artist amgio.

The Barstool Roper
"Twas on the border at Ajo or Tecate. I could rope 50 bar stools in a row! My old man won a lot of money on me after the rodeos. All them cowboys was drunk as hell and would lay that money down. My mother painted a lot of murals in them dives and my old man would just grin and count that dinero."
—Buckeye Blake

The Barstool Roper, age five

And back to the Overkill Kid.
Daily Whip Out: "Bilito's Big Brim II"

Lynda Sanchez proclaimed this Billy as "Dwarky." And perhaps he is a bit too brutish. My hunch is, if you are going to do a book on Bilito being sympatico with the Hispanos, it had better have a tinge of Mexican lilt, like this.

Daily Rough Whip Out:
"Bilito With His Querida In Moonlight"

More on this later. Meanwhile, there's this guy.

Daily Whip Out:
"Punchie, Two-Lane Flattop"
Featured in "The 66 Kid" (2014)

"We were kids, and then there was that one Kid."
—Delia Majente, Class of '65