Friday, July 30, 2021

The Best part of A Very Violent Journey

 July 30, 2021

  We're rapping up our big 140th Anniversary of the Gunfight at The O.K. Corral issue (October) and we have some wonderful and outrageous commentary from some great friends I have met along the way. Got a big thankyou from one of the guys, and in his email he casually launches off in to what appears to be a future cover story.

Another Cover Story In The Can

Violent Times

  "Arguably, the late nineteenth century was the most violent time in American history, not just in the West but nationally.  Three of the four assassinated presidents were killed between 1865 and 1901.  Lynching was widespread, and not just in the South.  Labor troubles, the boom town phenomenon, the last Indian wars, political violence in several states must also be included, and I think I have gained some insights into the nature and causes of violence as the results of my studies.  And relying upon my mentors from the early years and my ongoing debate with colleagues through the years, I can say honestly that the best part about the whole journey has been the dialogue I have enjoyed with those who have shared my interests if not my approach.  I look back grateful to them, and I think that over time they have proven the point that Old West history has (or at least can have) credibility and importance.  I include you in that merry band of searchers."
—Gary L. Roberts

"Most of my friends irritate me but that is part of the fun."
—Old Cartoonist Talking

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Friends Who Go Long

 July 29, 2021

   So, I asked all my Wyatt Earp authors and friends to weigh in on whether they believe Wyatt Earp is still the hero of the Tombstone story after all the revelations of him being a horse thief and a pimp. I asked everyone to keep their comments to 100 words. You have perhaps seen some of their succinct commentary in the past several days on this blog.

   One particular friend took his sweet time turning in anything and I kept bugging him to give me something, anything. I even called him and asked him to dictate a sentence, or two, over the phone. Then, the day before yesterday I get this.

Is Wyatt Earp Still the Hero?

   One hundred and forty years after that perfectly named gunfight that made him famous, and ninety years after the publication of Stuart Lake’s biography that ensured him immortality, Wyatt Earp remains firmly fixed in the pantheon of America’s heroes. The tireless work of debunkers in history, fiction, and film has failed to tarnish the shiny star of the town-taming marshal who finally had to step outside the law to deliver true American gunpowder justice. Their work has had scant impact on public perceptions (and of course the sometimes sordid details of his life are far too deep in the weeds for most people to care about anyway). The latest Earpiana—most notably the books by Casey Tefertiller and John Boessenecker and the films Wyatt Earp and Tombstone starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell—have all cast Earp in a heroic mold. Earp’s supreme moment of truth at the O.K. Corral has become part of the American lexicon while also serving as the prototype for every western showdown written about or filmed since October 26, 1881. 
   Wyatt Earp was a late bloomer as a hero. While he was certainly well known on the frontier, especially in boomtowns, on the gambling circuit, and as an all-around “sporting man” of some distinction, he was never remotely as famous as Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, or Buffalo Bill Cody. The O.K. Corral fight was reported in the national press, but usually in a negative light as an example of uncivilized lawlessness in the West. Bat Masterson and Pat Garrett were far better known as frontier lawmen in their own time than Earp.
The seed of Earp’s fame was planted, fertilized, and carefully nurtured by Stuart Lake, a gifted writer who had once been a press agent for Theodore Roosevelt. Lake crafted a remarkable American epic in Wyatt Earp Frontier Marshal published by Houghton Mifflin in 1931. This was perfect timing for the public was eager for tales of the American frontier just as the generation that had “won the West” was dying off. Western histories by Walter Noble Burns, Emerson Hough, Frederick Bechdolt, and William McLeod Raine had all recently done well and Lake also enjoyed considerable success as his Earp biography became a bestseller and was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post. Lake’s Earp was central to the frontier story. “The Old West cannot be understood unless Wyatt Earp is understood,” he wrote. “More than any other man of record in his time, possibly, he represented the exact combination of breeding and human experience which laid the foundations of Western empire.” Thanks to Lake an itinerant gambler and sometime lawman that lived rather precariously on the dark underbelly of frontier boomtown life emerged as the towering legend of the incorruptible marshal who tamed the toughest towns in the West. Lake’s book was optioned by Fox studio for $7,500 and would be filmed four times (Frontier Marshal with George O’Brien in 1934, Frontier Marshal with Randolph Scott in 1939, My Darling Clementine with Henry Fonda in 1946, and Powder River with Rory Calhoun in 1953). Over forty films have been based on Earp’s career and Hollywood has played the critical role in creating and sustaining his glossy legend. Lake’s book also provided the inspiration for the ABC television series starring Hugh O’Brian that premiered in 1955. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp ran for six seasons and its success helped initiate a decade-long period where westerns dominated the small screen.
   In a snide 1959 article on the western TV boom Time magazine noted that the real Earp was “a hardheaded businessman, less interested in law and order than he was in a fast buck.” The success of the show Time attributed less to history than to O’Brian’s muscles and square jaw. “Actor O’Brian (real name Hugh Krampe) looks like an Oklahoma Olivier. In his flowered vest, ruffled shirt, string tie and side-burns, and with two 16 in. Buntline Specials strapped to his thighs, he really cuts the mustard with the teenage cow bunnies.” This television white knight was ripe for debunking and Ed Bartholomew and Frank Waters promptly obliged. Their Earp, a con artist and ruthless killer who hid behind a badge, was copies by a string of lesser talented researchers and writers. Waters, a distinguished western writer, was a caustic forerunner of the current “woke” generation. His attack on Earp was also meant to deconstruct the
frontier myth of American progress and exceptionalism that he blamed for many of the planet’s problems. The source of all these ills, according to Waters, was “America’s only true morality play—the Cowboy and Indians movie thriller…the basis of our tragic national psychosis—a fixation against all dark- skinned races, beginning with the Red, which was killed off, and carrying through to the Black, which was enslaved, the Brown legally discriminated against, and the Yellow excluded by legislation.” Waters felt that if only he could dismantle the heroic Earp legend he could begin to destroy the whole frontier narrative. Lake’s Earp was central to his task: “this veritable Wild West textbook…[the source] of other books, pulp-paper yarns, movie thrillers galore, radio serials, a national TV series, Wyatt Earp hats, vests, toy pistols, tin badges—a fictitious legend of preposterous proportions.” In two books, The Colorado in 1946 and The Earp Brothers of Tombstone in 1960, Waters attempted to bring down the Earp legend and the American frontier story that it was such an integral part of. Waters failed in his own time to destroy the heroic story of the frontier movement but his writing foreshadowed the so-called “New Western History” that would come to dominate college classrooms a generation later. That dark vision of the American past in turn spread to public schools across the nation. The result is the bitter debate over our shared history that dominates public discourse today. With the gentlemen on Mt. Rushmore targeted for cancellation it may be that Wyatt Earp is low enough on the totem pole of American heroes to escape attention—but do not count on it. If he does raise the ire of the “woke mob” it will not be in response to the reality of his life, but rather to the frothy legend so lovingly constructed by Stuart Lake and his posse of fellow travelers in Hollywood. Heroes are but a reflection of the beliefs and aspirations of those who embrace them. People identify with heroes, and as society evolves and changes old heroes are often replaced by new figures. But some characters are so great that they have resisted change. These heroic figures, from the time of Homer’s tales of Greek and Trojan warriors to the last stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae, from the legends of King Arthur and El Cid to the battles between Richard the Lion Heart and Saladin, to the forests, mountains and plains of the New World where the names of Boone, Crockett, Carson, and Cody would become legendary alongside those of their foes Tecumseh, Red Eagle, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Geronimo, have all shaped national identity. Our heroes define us. If these hero tales (no matter the truth of them) are rejected it indeed makes a powerful statement and can erode any sense of national unity.
   Is Wyatt Earp still a hero? Time will tell.
—Paul Andrew Hutton

   Okay, for the record, that is 1,000 words and it is not a comment at all, but it is a brilliant essay, cutting across all of the historical currents and nailing the current status of the "Lawman who was flawless."

"When the facts get muddied, go to the Top Secret Writer."
—Old Editor Saying

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wider Herd: Long May His Story Be Told

 July 28, 2021

   Speaking as a published writer I have a confession to make. One of the obligatory duties of my profession has made me feel like the lowest of the low and it has taken years of therapy to recover my self esteem. Of course, I am speaking of the in-store-book signing.

   On paper it seems like such a glorious enterprise. You show up at your favorite book store and there is your book in the window and as you walk inside, you see a gaggle of customers waiting at the check out counter and when they spot you they say your name out loud and clamor and shove to get you to sign your book to their husband, their father and their best friend (in my experience, women buy 90% of books). After about ten minutes of this, these people leave and then you are ushered to a small folding table with a pile of your books on it, and you are instructed to sit there and sign books for whoever wants one for the rest of the time allotted (usually two hours). The mad crush at the beginning gives way to a quiet loneliness. Book browsers come by and pretend not to see you. You notice the ceiling needs serious repair. Someone comes by and asks where the restroom is. You tell them you don't work there and they look at you like, "Then why are you sitting here in the middle of the store?"

    When my Wyatt Earp book was first published (1993) I did a book signing at the Phoenix Public Library. Someone there came up with the groovy idea to put me outside on the front steps during a rodeo parade to cash in on all the potential book buyers watching the parade. Short version: not one person watching the parade ever turned around or came to my table. However, an aging hippie on in-line skates did glide up to my table and he looked curiously at my wares. He had ear buds on with Lynyrd Skynyrd blasting so loud I could hear the lyrics to "They Call Me The Breeze." Flipping thru the pages, he looked up and said, "What's this?" I said loudly, "A book on Wyatt Earp!" to which he said, "Wider herd?" Before I could tell him again he skated away, uninterested. Like I meant to say earlier, marrying a therapist has saved me so much money.

Hugh Krappe (aka Hugh O'Brian) reads a bunch of gingerbread to a couple of gullible boomers

    Photo courtesy of Paul Andrew Hutton, who apparently has great book signings that invariably run over the alotted time and he never suffers the ignomy of an upstart like me.

   People, if we are ever going to get kids to start reading books again, I think we have to expand our efforts and I would call this venture Operation Wider Herd.

"And long may his story be told."

—Ending lyrics to the theme song for the TV show "The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp"

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

When The Smoke Cleared We Could See Him More Clearly

 July 27, 2021

   Well, I've been obsessed with the image of seing a certain, part-time lawman more clearly for our October special O.K. Corral issue:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"When The Smoke Cleared"

   I had high hopes for an art cover that would ask a similar question.

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt O.K.?"

But, Dan The Man created a very strong cover utilizing a real photo of Wyatt and we all agreed it should work magnificently.

Dan the Man's Sweet Cover Concept

We continue to get excellent commentary on our cover question:

"The  real Wyatt was certainly a man of physical courage, as were many people of the Western frontier. But it’s the other half of the definition that’s the harder test, the part about being a person of high moral principles. And the answer is, sadly, no, unless you consider things like frequenting bordellos, gambling, and killing your enemies to be high moral behavior. Neither in his time nor in ours would those things be considered principled activities. So, although his real adventures make for a good story, they do not reveal true heroism, in the total sense of the word. It took novels and Hollywood to make a hero out of Wyatt Earp."

—Victoria Wilcox

Who Found The Mattie Earp Suicide Info?

 I sent this query out this morning: Do any of you remember who the two researchers were who discovered the Mattie Earp suicide in the mid-sixties? That's who I was quoting with the "Wyatt Earp will be relegated to the ash heap of history." I want to say it was about 1967 and I seem to remember it was John Gilchriese and someone else, but I can't recall. Do you remember?

Mattie Blaylock Earp

   Both John Boessenecker and Casey Tefertiller responded. Here's John: "Gary L. Roberts says that Frank Waters and John Gilchriese found the inquest records on the suicide of Mattie Earp in 1959."

   And, here's Casey's response: "Waters and Gilchriese went on research trips around Arizona around 1957, searching out information, including the reports on Mattie Blaylock’s suicide.  Waters actually wrote a fascinating article about these trips with Gilchiese. In the article, he said that he found the information, then took it back to TO SHOW TO ALLIE EARP. Recall, she would have been dead more than a decade by this time. Waters obviously was doing some fudging. The info on Mattie’s death appears in Waters’ 1960 The Earp Brothers of Tombstone."

   It pays to know the guys who have done the heavy lifting and these three guys—John Boessenecker, Gary L. Roberts and Casey Tefertiller are golden. Thanks Gents!

   And, finally, when it comes to hero status, perhaps we should go back to someone who actually knew Wyatt Earp to get the full measure of who he was.

"Wyatt Earp. . . has excited by his display of great courage and nerve under trying conditions, the envy and hatred of those small-minded creatures with which the world seems to be abundantly peopled, and whose sole delight in life seems to be in fly-specking the reputations of real men."

—Bat Masterson, 1907

Monday, July 26, 2021

Homestretch on Wyatt and O.K. Corral at 140

 July 26, 2021

   Well, I got caught in a side trip that got out of control. I had planned on finishing the Women of the Wild West cover last weekend, but there was concern from one obstinate holdout of our team about the Wyatt Earp cover Dan did ("tired image") and, well, three studies and two painting attempts later, I ended up here this morning.

Daily Whip Out:

"When The Smoke Cleared

We Could Finally See The Man"

   More answers to the question, Is Wyatt Earp still a hero?

"It’s easy to get bogged down in the weeds with someone like Wyatt Earp. Is he a hero? Sure. A villain? Probably. He embodies everything we Americans like about ourselves, our history and our so-called 'great men.' And everything we don’t like, too. There’s a little dirt on most American 'heroes' and Wyatt Earp is no exception."

—Samuel K. Dolan

"Although Wyatt Earp demonstrated toughness and bravery, he was really only out for himself and his family. Having the cover of being a law enforcement officer (which in many cases allowed him to collect fines and taxes and license fees) provided perfect opportunity to run his grift. He probably enjoyed free coffee and drinks around town in addition to a salary and whatever he could skim."
—Greg Scott, Nogales, Arizona

   Just got this from researcher extraordinaire Janice Dunnahoo in New Mexico.

Phoenix, Arizona, August 21, 1939

   Yes, the wisdom of our forebearers sometimes stuns me. This is a perfect coda to our current angst on whether Wyatt deserves to be called a hero.

"Perhaps it would be best if all the old Tombstone folk could be remembered as heroes."
The Arizona Independent Republic, 1939

Sunday, July 25, 2021

More of my friends, some of my adversaries and a whole lot of Earp experts weigh in on the hero question

 July 25, 2021

   More spirited conversation from my friends and other Wyatt buffs on the question, "Is Wyatt Earp still the hero?"  

"I think he was a pimp, a thief and a killer."

—Michael Biehn

Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo,
"Tombstone" 1993

"My two cents in five words: Nope. Never was. Romanticized huckleberry."

—John Dougherty, Phoenix, Arizona

Daily Whip Out:

"And The Dark Clouds Came Over Him"

(In progress?)

"Humans need heroes. All great heroes are flawed, both real & mythical: Samson, Hercules, King Arthur, Frodo, Mickey Mantle, The Duke, Patton, Reagan, Wyatt Earp. A hero is just someone who does the right and necessary thing at the right time—even if it's not always for the right reason. Yes, Wyatt is still a hero."

—Lydia O'Rafter

"My Own Pal," starring Tom Mix, 1926

This was the era—1926—when Tom Mix and Wyatt Earp would take lunch at Musso & Franks in Hollywood. My agent at William Morris, Michael Peretzian, took me to lunch there after my character Honkytonk Sue sold to Columbia Pictures in 1983. I had the Caesar Salad. Not sure what Earp or Mix ordered.

"Wyatt Earp, to me, has never been either a hero or a villain, but a complex individual with some admirable qualities and flaws; pretty much like any other gun-toting historical figure on the frontier. The contradictions that partly come out of the “legend” portrayals and differing perspectives are very interesting to me. Most Earp aficionados have no objections to his going on a rampage during his “vendetta ride” and pitilessly gunning down men in vengeance. I have no problems with it either, but, why has it always been seen as okay for Earp to do that, but Bonney and the Regulators are routinely condemned for their own vendetta ride in the spring of 1878 when gunning down Morton, Baker, Brady, Hindman to avenge a brutal murder? I fail to see the distinction between the two courses of action. What, because Brady wore a badge? Pah-lease, so did John Selman for Christ sake."

—James B. Mills, Australia

"As the western was revived as a genre in the 1980s and 1990s, Wyatt Earp was again was reborn as a hero in two separate well received movies and other works, both of which portray his faults and nobility, which, is how he remains to this day. So, is Wyatt Earp a hero? In this writer’s opinion, he meets the criteria, by virtue of his actions and what his story did for one of my favorite places in the world: the town, too tough to die, Tombstone."

—Randie Lee O'Neal, stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"So he was friendly with whores. So was Jesus. So Earp clobbered people with pistols. So did Hunter S. Thompson. So he was a Republican. So was John McCain. Heck... your question takes me by surprise... as if it was written by an associate professor of Woke Studies."

—Red Shuttleworth

   I will say this: my friends in the Wyatt Earp field differ wildly on opinions, but we can still have a beer and laugh about all of this. Well, most of us can. Like in any field there are a couple who are beyond hope or beer drinking. After reading all these comments, I think you know who they are.

   And, finally, I'll leave the final word to my artist amigo.

"Wyatt Earp matters because of what he means, not for who he really was."

—Thom Ross

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The History of My History With A Certain Pimp

 July 24, 2021

   "Wyatt Earp is now relegated to the trash heap of history." So pronounced two prominent historians who had uncovered evidence in the mid-sixties that Wyatt Earp's second wife—who he had abandoned—had turned to prostitution and commited suicide with an overdose of laudinum. Oh, and on her deathbed she is quoted as saying: "Wyatt Earp ruined my life."

   And then it got worse. But let's go back to the beginning of the myth-making process.

   Thanks to authors, Walter Noble Burns and Stuart Lake, Wyatt Earp basically came out of nowhere in the 1930s and after this initial discovery period he then had a huge resurgance when Stuart Lake sold the Earp as Super Lawman idea to TV and we get the Hugh O'Brian TV show in the mid-fifties. This image held solid, until researchers (like the two historians noted above) started turning up murky, and even more shady aspects of his life, full of scandalous and sordid, edgy and violent aspects, writ large for the consumption of a very unwoke audience. 

Daily Whip Out:

"When The Smoke Cleared

We Could Finally See The Man"

A Pimp's Progress

   Then came even more damning evidence when it was discovered that Wyatt Earp had been a bouncer on a floating bagnio (whorehouse) in Peoria, Illinois at the time he claimed he was hunting buffalo on the plains and that the census for 1872 appears to show him living in a whore house. Of course we already knew that later in Dodge City several soiled doves went by the name Earp, but this really put Wyatt in the camp of the procurers. Not a nice place for a legendary "flawless" lawmen.

Daily Whip Out:

"When The Smoke Cleared #2"

"When the Old West was lawless, one man was flawless. . ."

—Lyrics to "The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp" TV show theme song, starring this guy:

Daily Whip Out:

"Hugh O'Brian Portrays Flawless Lawman"

   Let's just say that over the span of my life time, Wyatt Earp has been shown to not be flawless. In fact, any objective bystander would have to admit he played both sides of the law and at times he was as crooked as a dog's leg.

   Still one should not underestimate the staying power of the Wyatt Earp brand.

   None of these aforementioned bombshells have sunk the old, humorless bastard. Perhaps what we choose to believe about him says more about us than it does him. He no doubt would be chagrined that we found out most of his darkest secrets and that they directly challenge any claim that he was morally superior to any outlaw he was chasing or killing.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Guilty As Charged"

  As for myself,  I always had a strong suspicion that Earp was not quite the legend that has been portrayed by O'Brian, Lancaster, Russell and Costner. Still, it's been a long journey of discovery and I have mixed feelings about the old part-time lawman, but the most wonderful part of this effort has been meeting the fellow buffs and historians who study this history and try to make sense of it, every day. That has been the true reward for me. So, thank you Wyatt Earp for bringing me together with some pretty brilliant and humorous people. I decided to ask all my friends and acquaintenences to weigh in on this question: Is Wyatt Earp still the hero?

   Here for your edification and entertainment are just a few of the answers we will be running in the next issue of True West magazine.

"During the last three decades, an enormous amount of material has been dug out to better illuminate Wyatt Earp and the Tombstone saga. Some may seem to tarnish Earp; some may seem to enhance his reputation. Together it shows that Wyatt Earp was never the stainless hero created by legend-making writers and filmmakers. Very few historical figures can live up to their legends. 

   "With Earp, the more we learn, the more interesting he becomes. He certainly had his personal flaws, but when the time came to stand tall, tall he stood. The Tombstone story is really about what happens when outlawry grows out of control, and how a community responds. It resonates today as it did 14 decades ago. 

   "When that challenge came to Wyatt Earp, he responded with remarkable courage. If that is the test of heroism, then he passed with nobility."

—Casey Tefertiller

"Directly after the shocking assassination of President Garfield, Tombstone’s city government enacted zero-tolerance gun control ordinances. On October 26, 1881, Police Chief Virgil Earp was ordered by Mayor Clum to disarm men seen carrying weapons inside city limits. Those men were at the O.K. Corral because they were leaving town and they had the right to take their guns with them, but the confrontation accelerated within moments. The officers were later exonerated using legal logic that protects police in officer-involved shootings to this day: they reacted quickly to a perceived threat in a pressured situation.

   "Where’s the heroism? Wyatt never claimed it. He was dogged for the rest of his long life by the worst 30 seconds of it. After he died, his widow took control of his posthumous reputation, insisting that Stuart Lake write the hagiography that became a TV show: 'The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.'

   "I can still sing the theme song, but the West was not lawless and no man is flawless. I look for my heroes elsewhere."

—Mary Doria Russell

"Wyatt Earp: Frontier lawman, gambler, outlaw, Western legend. An icon whose reputation, justified or not, has been created and enhanced through literature, films, and television.  Justified by some, vilified by others.  Loyal, vengeful, complicated, egotistical, arrogant, passionate, moody, stoic. Before you develop your opinion, however, forget the film and televisions. They are just entertainment, and, in most cases, highly fictionalized. Read the books…plural. Some well researched, others not so. Then, make up your mind. All Earp wanted to do in life, as with many, is to take advantage of the situation and do what he thought was right."

—John Farkis 

"I'm not sure if Wyatt ever deserved the 'hero' designation. The Earps as a family were shameless opportunists who never took a stand without a buck being attached to it. The celebrated gunfight was the culmination of a petty political squabble that had little impact on the outcome of American history -- like so many legends, a local affair blown all-to-hell out of proportion. Unimportant and irrelevant, especially at a time when a new generation of learners fail to find themselves in the prevailing narrative."

—Kirk Ellis

"I don't think of Wyatt Earp as a hero.  The very premise of a 'good guys-bad guys' approach to history distorts the humanity of the individuals so labelled and the issues that they confronted.  Honestly. I can't even call him a good man, given his checkered career and flaws of character.  But he was respected and even admired by good men who saw in him qualities they envied.  He lived for eighty-one years, and the violent moment for which he is best remembered lasted less than thirty seconds.  Add the few months of the Vendetta and the deaths that came with it, and he was still a better man than those he killed."

—Gary L. Roberts  

"Wyatt Earp will always be my hero.  Sure, he wasn’t a saint, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Next to the Cowboys gang, Wyatt, brothers Virgil and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday, were a band of angels. The Cowboys terrorized both sides of the border for years with their rustling, robbing and rampaging, and were regarded by the people of Tombstone, as being bad for business.  It took Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan, and Doc to finally tame the town. In today’s upside down world, cops are the bad guys and robbers are the good ones.  Cops are handcuffed and criminals are set free!   Law and order is thrown out the window, as cops are thrown under the bus."

—Paul Hoylen, Deming, New Mexico

"I don’t look at Wyatt Earp as either a hero or a villain.  Projecting our own mores and values on people of another time leads to false perceptions and a warped view of history.   He was a man of his time, doing what seemed right by his own lights.  The heated rivalry between Republicans vs. Democrats, North vs. South, and the battle between different factions of law and anarchy was as tinder waiting for a spark.  Add to that, even all these years later, we do not know all their perceptions of events as they happened, what they thought, or what other course could have been taken at any given time along the way.  But, it's still makes for a ripping good story."

—Doc McCandless

"It’s doubtful that any American has had more of his legend turned into 'fact' than Wyatt Earp, who had a brief career as a frontier peace officer and scarcely wore a badge over the last 48 years of his life. Before and after 'lawing,' as it was called in the 19th century, Earp was a teamster, boxing referee, prospector, buffalo hunter, racehorse owner, croupier, stagecoach guard, bouncer, saloon keeper, bodyguard, Hollywood movie advisor, and, for a while before he became a noted lawman in Kansas, a pimp. He’s been portrayed by more actors than any American president — Walter Huston, Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster, Hugh O’Brian, James Stewart, James Garner, Kurt Russell, and Kevin Costner, to name just a few. But the only years Hollywood has taken notice of are those spent in the cow towns of Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas, and the silver mining camp, Tombstone, Arizona. What happened over that brief span has engendered enough books to fill a small library."

—Allen Barra

   Expect even more comments when Paul Andrew Hutton, John Boessenecker and many other heavyweights in the Earp world weigh in.

"If you want to know what my friends really think of me, go ask them about Wyatt Earp."


Friday, July 23, 2021

Soaked and Stoked On Women of The Wild West

 July 23, 2021

   Woke up to rolling thunder and rained most of the day. We really got soaked and we needed it.


   Dan and I are playing with this amazing image for the cover of the Women of the Wild West book.

Olive Oatman

   My gut tells me the tats will enhance the millennial stats. Playing with adding an array of background scratchboard women, inspired by the artist Klimt, with something like this:

Daily Whip Out:
"Olive And Menagerie Crew"

   Should have something definitive by Monday. Clock is ticking. We want the book by December 1.

First cover rough by
Dan The Man Harshberger

“It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.”
—Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Is Wyatt Earp Still A Hero?

 July 22, 2021

   I was in the corral on October 26, 1981. That was for the centennial. Now here we are coming up on the 140th anniversary of the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral. A whole lot of water has churned under that bridge.

Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt In Shadow"

Expect major coverage you know where. If you want to contribute your two cents, send me your take on: Is Wyatt Earp still a hero? Keep it short (100 words) and send it to me at

"A large group of Karens is called a Homeowner's Association."

—Old Sarcastic Saying

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

One of The Finest People Currently On The Planet

 July 21, 2021

   I am humbled by the graciousness of a certain local guy. It doesn't get any classier than this.

Coach Monty Williams with Dante Booker
and Chris Paul, the guys who he brought
to the dance.

"You guys deserved it, and I am thankful for the experience. You guys made me a better coach, made us a better team. Congratulations."
—Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns coach who walked into the Milwaukee Bucks locker room last night to deliver this short congratulations speech to the team that just beat his Suns.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Two Lane Blacktop, The Flirter And Clint Retires?

 July 20, 2021

   Sometimes when we see old photos I am shocked at how modern they appear.

Civil War gent wearing shades

(his future is so bright, he has to wear them)

   Full disclosure, he's actually blind, but if you saw a character in a movie about the Civil War wearing these you would comment on how wrong it is for the time period. Wouldn't you? Come on, admit it.

   Speaking of Civil War era photos, here's a couple in the background of a group photo and it certainly seems like that guy is a major flirt, doesn't it?

The Flirter

Is she sewing up his coat, or one of his garments? Love the boots. What's up with that kepi cap? Extended? Ornaments?

Here's another scene that is very poignant to me.

The Mechanic, "Two Lane Blacktop" 1971

Dennis Wilson, drummer for the Beach Boys

   This is fifty years ago and Dennis left the planet quite a while ago. The film is one of my all-time favorites, although it is very flawed. It has great moments within a dead on arrival arc. What I love about it is the integrity of the road trip. The director, Monte Hellman evidently insisted on actually driving Route 66 backwards from LA to points east. When they are driving up Perfume Pass on the way into Kingman, you can see that's exactly where they are and on the radio is K-triple A, Kingman, Arizona's Air Address. Wow! Doesn't get anymore authentic than that. It is a time capsule of the Mother Road. On the negative side. Hellman supposedly would not show the script to the actors until the day of filming to get "fresh" takes, rather than studied performances. It may have worked with veteran actors like Warren Oates (who is brilliant here), but the two guys in the car, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson look even more wooden and fish out-of-water-ish.

   Then there's this classic Western and a classic photo of the classy star, who just announced last night he is giving up public life, because it's "too late" to "age gracefully."

Clint Eastwood,
"The Outlaw Josey Wales"

      He's 91.

Olive Gets The Tease

   Hey, Dan The Man Harshberger, that is inspired!

"The notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous."

― Cormac McCarthy

Monday, July 19, 2021

Belle Starr & Lil' Miss Determination

 July 19, 2021

   Honkin' and jammin' on scratchboard whip outs of frontier women. I'm covering the dog, as we like to say, and my goal is to do100 of these in a small format, 5" X 7". Here are a couple examples:

Daily Whip Out:

"Belle Starr With Hog Leg"

Daily Whip Out:

"Lil' Miss Determination"

Daily Whip Out:

"Spanish Eyes"

Daily Whip Out: "The Cook"

Daily Whip Out:

"Miss Haughty"

"I regard myself as a woman who has seen much of life."

—Belle Starr

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Capturing Western Women Who Broke The Mold—Boy Howdy!

 July 18, 2021

   Is it possible to sum up the entire Wild West experience for frontier females with ten to twelve scratchboards? I'm afraid not.

   Okay, what about two dozen?

Daily Scratchboard Whip Outs:

"Women of The Wild West Collage #1"

   Closer. Needs more Commanches. And, so it goes.

   One thing is for certain. A certain writer has nailed the premise.

“The pioneer woman won her fight for freedom and equality by enduring with men the same deprivations and hardships,” wrote Nancy Wilson Ross “Her sacrifice and her trial became her opportunity for advancement.” And given an opportunity, she grabbed on and wouldn't let go. The West had four times as many female lawyers and twice as many
journalists and doctors as the East during the 1800s. The nation's first female office holders came from the West—including the first woman in Congress who took her seat at a time Eastern women couldn't even vote. Women owned land in the West, homesteaded on their own, ranched under their own brands, The West gave America its first professional female athletes, and while female suffrage
wasn't born here, the West is where it flourished.
By 1914, every Western state except New Mexico had given women full voting rights—the first being Wyoming in 1869, a full half century before the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. To this day, you look at outstanding moments in women's history, and you find the West dominating. The first female member of the United States Supreme Court came from Arizona; the first female Speaker of the House came from California; the first female Secretary of State came from Colorado; and the first
female vice president of the United States of America is a California girl. We want readers to meet some of these women. This isn't going to be a complete history—you couldn't lift the book if we included everyone—but we will strive to give you a good and honest read on the accomplishments that are often ignored or minimized."

—Jana Bommersbach, an excerpt from her foreword in our forthcoming book, "Women of The Wild West"

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Duke of Dust Luanches More Women Teasers

 July 17, 2021

   Here they come. More Women of The Wild West teasers.

   A powerful influence in the Native New Mexican culture back in the day was the bruja who could cast spells on your enemies, cure disease, or even bring back the dead.
Daily Whip Out: "Bruja In Dust"
(Bruja is Spanish for witch)

   A big hat on the frontier was a staple, but among the women, the hats were often even larger, replete with feathers and flowers and they made for an impressive sight from Saint Louis to the Columbian River.

Daily Whip Out: "Big Hat, Big Shade"

   Many a young boy went astray without the guiding influence of a strong mother and nowhere was this more pronounced than in the New Mexico mining town of Silver City where a young lad by the name of Henry McCarty lost his mother to tuberculosis when he was perhaps 15. Not a good age to be cut loose. A river of blood followed him to his grave.

Daily Whip Out: 'A Mother's Influence"

   She made her mark through the fog of prejudice and tradition—an American-born girl of Chinese
descent who defied her parents for her freedom, and then defied the White community for her love. Her
bilingual skills were so valued, she became the first Chinese-American woman to work as a civil
servant for the U.S government.

Daily Whip Out: "Tye Takes On The World"
( Tye Leung Schultz, California. 1887-1972)

   And here is an example of the layout we are shooting for.

"Some broke the rules. Some broke the mode. Some broke the law, but they all broke through."
—BBB on the theme of the book