Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Van Gogh In Arles Flashback

 September 29, 2021

   Just ran across this historic photo and it took me back.

BBB and Kathy Sue in Arles, France

photo by Dan Harshberger, September, 2015

   See that yellow-awning-space over my right shoulder? That is the actual spot where this scene was painted.

Van Gogh Whip Out:

"The Terrace Cafe, Arles at Night"

September, 1888

   I seriously doubt the original cafe was painted yellow (in the painting it seems to be more a function of Vincent's attempt to paint the effects of a gas-lit canopy at night), but the cafe is solid yellow today to retrofit it to the painting!

   And, here is my take on the lad after the ear incident, which also took place in Arles, from my September 2015 sketchbook.

"Van Gogh's Severed Ear"

   More notes from that sketchbook. 

Vincent by The Numbers

• His career lasted a mere 10 years. He died at age 37.

This letter excerpt, above, is the basis
for the movie, "Lust For Life."

• His brother Theo saved 850 paintings, 1,300 drawings and 800 letters 

• He only sold one painting during his lifetime for 400 francs

• He lived in 23 places, including 3 places in England, 10 places in Holland, 6 places in Belgium and 4 in France.

   Thanks to Kathy, who booked the entire trip, we went to all four places in France, including the asylum near San Remy. This is at the front gate.

Tall, Dark and van Gogh Handsome
(and all the drawings are from this sketchbook)

And, the saddest and most haunting testament of all deserves to be repeated.

"Oh, the pictures I might have made."
—Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Big Kidbowski

 September 28, 2021

   My favorite little bastard from Down Under has been busy. Not only is his forthcoming Billy the Kid tome getting set for publication, but James B. Mills has been collaborating with a couple of his crazy friends on a parody comic strip about one of their favorite movies. You might recognize the model for The Stranger. Check it out:

Hang on. There's more.

     When I gave the boys my professional cartoonist opinion of their efforts, I got this in reply.

"Yeah? Well, you know, that's just like your opinion, man."

—James B. Mills

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Open Road Stetson, Part II

 September 27, 2021

   Thanks to my friend Greg Scott for finding this, but here's LBJ and his running mate in 1964, both wearing the Open Road Stetson hat style. This is classic.

Lyndon Baines Johnson and Hubert Humphrey sporting the Open Road Stetson

   There was a time when these guys looked like dorks to me. That would be basically from 1964 to about two days ago. The moral being, sometimes when something is so out it becomes in and that is the case with the Open Road. Check out these current day hipsters:

Open Road Hipster #1

Open Road Hipster #2

   I swear, if you live long enough you see with your own eyes, that what goes around, comes around.

Truman on the Open Road

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

Sunday, September 26, 2021

House of Canards And The Open Road Stetson

 September 26, 2021

   Light rain this morning. Very nice out, mid-sixties. Hasn't been this cool since Easter.

Back in the eighties, I would leave the house at five in the morning to drive down to Scottsdale to do the Jones & Boze Radio Show. It is a 45-minute drive into the Beast and I would listen to KTAR, the news station so I could catch up on the breaking news. At 5:15 they would do a syndicated break with wisdom from Earl Nightingale, and I grew to relish these little tidbits more than anything else. Earle was so inspiring. This morning I Googled him and came up with this site. Check it out:

   We went over the Hoss House yesterday to do our weekly F&F Saturday afternoon matinee extravaganza. We watched Fast & Furious 6 and I tell you, these car chase-fests are fantastic and ridiculous. So funny, and over the top action, we eat popcorn, pizza and drink beers and hoot at the screen. Doesn't get any better. Three more to go, although someone told me they are filming F10 this January and are scheduled to go to 12 before capping the mega-hit series.

House of Canards
   I'm also learning quite a bit about storytelling watching the series. So much of good storytelling is withholding information and they it with humor and elan.

Hat Diplomacy In Action
   I am a firm believer in hats solving most of today's problems. Case in point.

"The Stetson Silverbelly Open Road cowboy hat is my favorite hat, man! The profile of this hat is an old white guy from the south in the 1960s. I never thought I'd be wearing that, but I love it."
—David Alan Grier, in The New York Times

A good example of the Open Road Stetson,
at left.

   Lyndon Johnson also wore an Open Road. Very Texan, expecially from that time period. Pretty cool that a black-hipster-comedian has got into the retro-Panhandle headgear look. Perhaps there is hope for us as a people, yet.

“Success is not a destination but a journey. Anyone who is on course toward a worthy goal is successful. Success does not lie in the achievement of a goal but in its pursuit. Success is a journey!”
—Earl Nightingale

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Red Glow Sunrise and The Kid On The White Horse

 September 25, 2021

   More clouds, more rain. Woke up to a red glow sunrise over Ratcliff Ridge this morning. Cooler and nicer, but also quite buggier.

Red Glow On Ratcliff Ridge

   Still seeking relief from long haul Covid. Got a couple angles I'm pursuing.

   Here's a scene you don't see much anymore.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"The Kid On The White Horse"

   Perhaps it's time for a hero to ride one, again? When things are so out of fashion, look for them to arrive once again.

"La ambicion rompe el saco."

—Old Vaquero Saying (Ambition will tear your coat)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Mountain Men On The Move, Insane Doctors and Red Taillights In The Distance

 September 24, 2021

   We've started working on our December issue. Traditionally, we do a Mountain Man cover, and I have to say when it comes to MM artwork, it's hard to beat these two guys:

Frank McCarthy

"Mountain Man On The Move"

James Bama

"Mountain Man"

   Another book I am itching to do is "Don't Touch My Hat!" with the subhead: "The ten hard and fast rules to avoid getting your patootie kicked." And I think this might be the cover image. 

"Don't touch my hat!"

   Or, if that one is too soft, perhaps this one:

"Don't touch my hat! II"

   What do you think?

    Speaking of Classic Cheese this is a tad racy, but I sure love this parody.

"The Doctor Is Insane!"

   Got up this morning and got out on the road about six and it was quite overcast, and sprinkling. Big swirling clouds in every direction. This is looking north towards Elephant Butte and the red taillights are the newspaper carrier's ripping up Old Stage Road to the next stop.

Red Taillights In The Distance

   One final thought.

"Exactly when is this 'old enough to know better,' supposed to kick in?"

—Every Aging Boomer I know

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Molly Brown Stare Down

 September 23, 2021

Here's a fun one: Margaret Brown, better known as The Unsinkable Molly Brown after her feisty actions aboard the Titanic on April 15, 1912. She was a handful and I wanted to convey that in this scratchboard for the Untamed Women book.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"The Molly Brown Stare Down"

  Grabbed a half-finished board and got back into some color.

Daily Whip Out: "Another Kid Escape"

  Still working on True Stories from my early upbringing. You might have trouble believing them, but just remember, these stories have been told to me by people who were there at the time, and they heard it from someone else who probably did witness everything I am saying.

Just sayin'.

Daily Whip Out:

"Rough of the movie poster for

'66 Sick Chicks'"

"A guy who says he will never lie to you is probably already lying."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Jim Hatzell Out On The Prairie, Shorty Harris On The Mojave & 66 Sick Chicks On The Mother Road!

 September 22, 2021

   Been chasing untamed women for weeks now. Needed to cleanse my palette. Went with one of the usual suspects.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Jim Hatzell Out On The Prairie"

   Speaking of the usual suspects, we're running a piece on one of the legends of the Mojave Desert and that would be Shorty Harris, last of the old time prospectors.  Here he is, second from right (not counting the jackass), in all his old time glory. 

Shorty Harris and crew.

   Looking for an angle to take a portrait photo in my studio. This one was suggested by Kathy.

Studio Angle of Respose

Here's a story from my youth that needs to be told: crazed, nympho-bi-polar-women—off their meds and off their rockers— they seduce and attack everyone they come across, up and down The Mother Road. They became known as. . .

The 66 Sick Chicks!

   Based on several true stories told to me by someone who wasn't there, but who knew someone who was.

"I wouldn’t change places with

the President of the United States. My only

regret is that I didn’t start sooner. When I

go out [prospecting], every time my foot touches the

ground, I think before the sun goes down

I’ll be worth $10,000,000.”

—Shorty Harris

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Cry Macho, Dia del Polvareda & Framed Billys In The House

 September 21, 2021

   We finished watching "Cry Macho" last night and out of respect for Clint I will refrain from ripping his film, but I will say it was pretty thin.

Cry Macho Film Location?

   According to my film saavy friend, Kirk Ellis, this scene was filmed in Polvadero, an unincorporated area just off of I-25 and north of Socorro, New Mexico. When I complained that all the scenes in Mexico appear to be shot in New Mexico, I got this response from someone in the biz.

 No Go Mexico

  "It's really impossible to film a bonded production in Mexico anymore. First of all, just about every state is at a level 3 or 4 security concern as far as our state department is concerned and you're not going to secure binding or worker's comp to shoot there (not to mention more recent COVID concerns). New Mexico, on the other hand, offer amazing budgetary incentives for a film that executives know won't make any money."

—Sam K. Dolan

  And, by the way, someone told me the community was originally called Polvareda, which means "dusty" in Spanish, but somewhere along the line the town fathers changed the spelling to distance themselves from the downer description.

Daily Whip Out: "Dia del Polvareda"

A Sneak Peek @ Framed Billys
   This isn't official yet, so don't spread it around, but I have framed over 72 pieces of my original Billy the Kid artwork and my curator, Kristi Jacobs, and I are cataloguing them all for a semi-private presale to be held before the holidays. By semi-private I mean all of you who love Billy like I do will get first crack at them before we open the buying to a broader audience.

Just a small fraction of the framed, originals
sitting in my studio this afternoon.

"Remember that what you now have was once among the things you hoped for."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Cry Macho Gate

 September 20, 2021

   We started watching "Cry Macho" last night. Didn't finish it, but intend to watch the end tonight. Got some issues with it, but I did see a cool gate.

Cry Macho Gate 

  I have always prided myself on having a good memory. Not as good as Charlie Waters, perhaps, but I could always hold my own with remembering who wore what and when, who said what, and why and who sang that at what concert. I say "could" because like all geezers I am slipping, which gives me pause and also makes me want to get down on paper what I remember before it's lost. That said, recent studies on memory and "self-awareness" are more than a little depressing. Turns out all of our memories are pretty shabby and can't be trusted.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:


Covering Myself

   I am going to write a memoir and call it:

Tall, Dark & Handsome

My life as a gifted liar.

Cover roughs for The Exits and

Tall, Dark & Handsome

   In the spring of 1963, I was a sophomore at Mohave County Union High School in Kingman, Arizona. My best friend and I had just started a surf band. On our way to third period in the New Building, we were walking up the stairs to Miss Deines' class, debating possible band names. Charlie looked up at the stairwell signage and quipped, "Why don't we call ourselves 'The Exits,' because that's where everyone will go when they hear us play?"

   What a prophetic name that turned out to be. Charlie exited in October of 2014, Steve Burford and Wendell Havatone have both passed. And now we are down to two original members.

More Accurate Narratives

   But, back to sloppy memories. In spite of the bad news, I still strive to be a more accurate storyteller. Is it a fool's errand? Yes, on some level, of course it is.

   In 1993 I worked closely with researcher and Wyatt Earp scholar, Jeff Morey, on the exact movements of the Earps and the Cowboys in the so-called O.K. Corral fight. By pouring over the volumnous evidence and testimony, and by drawing rough maps and correcting them, and by going to Tombstone and walking the actual ground, I was able to pinpoint almost exactly where each combatant stood and their movements in that legendary 30-second street fight.

   Recently, Jeff contacted me and told me he now thinks they were closer to the sidewalk and didn't get all that deep into the lot. And so it goes.

Taking Our Medicine

   A local hospital here is going to replace doctors with parents who have done their research. "I can't tell you how happy and relieved I am when a patient tells me they have done some research on the internet," said the head of Epidemiology, Dr. Greg House. "It's only topped by a patient telling me they have a family member who is a nurse."

The Four Stages of Covid Denial

1. It's a hoax

2. Don't be a sheep

3. Prayers needed

4. Visit our GoFundMe

"Hotel California is asshole music, in some ways introspect from the window of a Learjet."

—James Parker, on The Eagles' current "Hotel California" tour

Sunday, September 19, 2021

On The Fence With Checkered Women And Indigenous Cross Dressers

 September 19, 2021

   Just wrapped up another sketchbook this morning. This one was pretty much dedicated to the pursuit of Checkered Women. You know, like this:

Daily Whip Out: "On The Fence"

  And this. . .

Daily Whip Out: "Gracey from Greer"

   Of course, not every cutie in my studio is a girl.

Uno gets the bandana humiliation treatment.

   Framed a colorized photograph of a certain Tombstone lawman. Thanks Chris Eveland.

Earp On The Door

      Still trying to capture a certain, ahem, domestic.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Indentured II"

Daily Whip Out: "Eva Chin"

   And I want to go lighter as well on tone.

Daily Whip Out: "Faded Love"

   One of the aspect of the Old West most people forget is that all the variations in our culture, were present before we came.

Daily Whip Out: "Navajo Cross Dresser"

   It's the truth. Look it up. It's one of the things I thought was so brilliant in Thomas Berger's "Little Big Man."

"Failure lies at the heart of all art and any story about art is a story about progressive failures."

—B.D. McCay

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Difference Between Lying And Fibbing And The Zone of Ridiculousness

 September 17, 2021

   I hate lies and the liars who tell them. While I basically consider this to be a virtue, I have to confess I am perhaps a tad too zealous in my hatred of untruths and the worthless scumbags who spread lies all over the landscape. Not exactly sure where I got this from, but if I had to guess I would put the blame at the feet of The Boy Scouts, my mother, Luther League, or Spin & Marty. Or, perhaps, I was influenced by all of them together! Some of my friends have even made the connection that this hatred of lying led directly to me buying True West magazine, for the title alone. Perhaps there's some truth to that as well.

   I say all this because, I have to confess, I am, by nature, a giant "fibber." I know, I know. It's probably a sad conundrum mascerading as a life quest. And, well, frankly, I come from a long line of fibbers (the Iowa-Norsky brand) and some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather, Carl Bell, "pulling my leg."

Carl "The Leg Puller" with BBB,

 north of Thompson, Iowa, 1950

   All of which begs the question: what is the difference between a fib and a lie? A quick search online brought up these good examples:

   "A fib is telling your mother-in-law you love her meatloaf when you don’t."

   "A lie is telling your wife you have no idea how she suddenly has herpes."

   It’s a matter of scale and intention:

   "You don’t want to hurt your mother-in-law’s feelings, and it’s just one meatloaf dinner—no harm is done, but you may have to eat meatloaf every time you dine at your in-law’s house. A fib.

   "You don’t want your wife to divorce you when she finds out you’ve been cheating on her and gave her an STD - you’ve deceived your partner and endangered her health with your lie."

   And, then, there's this:

   "They are the same thing, a fib is considered a “small lie.” We probably invented the term fib to make ourselves feel less guilty about lying. But it’s really the same."

Lying vs. Fibbing

   So, if I hate lying so much, why do I like fibbing? Perhaps as a guilt ridden compensation? In my defense, I see most fibbing like hyperbole—obvious exaggeration. The receiver of the fib certainly must see the twinkle in my eye, telegraphing I am not serious, only "joshing." 

   Still, it's a bit unnerving to realize how close they are on the tone scale.

Now, The Greatest Scratchboards Ever Done!

   Okay, this is somewhere beyond bragging, fibbing and hyperbole and we are close to being in the Zone of Ridiculousness.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Checkered Women #4"

   I'll have more to say about this and the drawings to prove it. Tomorrow.

"Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost."

—Khalil Gibran

Thursday, September 16, 2021

BBB Entryway Display And The Ginger Baker Drummersberg Address

 September 16, 2021

   Sometimes I see scenes as if for the very first time that I have been looking at for months and even years. This is an example of that.

BBB Entryway Display.

    The historic blanket is a gift from Roxy Bacon. Her grandfather was a park ranger at the Grand Canyon in the early 1900s and scored this beautiful Navajo blanket. The sculpture at top is an Ed Mell and the scultpure below is dedicated to my grandmothers. Our skylights did the rest. Thank you Perry Nathan Becker (the first-time architect who riddled our living room with rows of checkered skylights).

   Meanwhile, on the Checkered Women Quest:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: "Indentured"

   And, finally, what do Abraham Lincoln and the drummer for Cream have in common?

Ginger Baker's Drummersberg Address

   You have to admit, this photo of Ginger looks like that creepy new AI app where an old photo starts moving and smiling.

"A really good band with a bad drummer is not a good band. A really bad band with a good drummer sounds better."

—Ginger Baker's Drummersberg Address

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Back Story On The $6 Million Dollar Gun That Killed The Kid

 September 15, 2021

   If you missed today's Facebook Live broadcast, here is basically what we talked about:

   What the hell is the back story on the $6 million dollar gun that killed Billy the Kid? And who do I think has the ponies to pay that price tag? And what does Pancho Villa and a Teddy Bear have to do with anything?

Sheriff Elect Pat Garrett

   In the fall of 1880, Sheriff-elect Pat Garrett was given his marching orders by the cattle king of New Mexico, John Chisum: "Clean out that squad east of Sumner." By mid-December, Garrett and a motley crew of Texas cowboys had surrounded a rock house at Stinking Springs, New Mexico in the freezing dark and as the sun came up they coldly shot down the first person who walked out the door. It turned out to be Charlie Bowdre and not the Kid. Garrett's posse had already shot and killed another of Billy's pards, Tom Folliard, back in Fort Sumner and with the death of Bowdre, two of the Kid's gang were toast. After a long standoff, everyone inside eventually surrendered and, gave up their arms. They included, Billy the Kid, Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, Tom Pickett and Billy Wilson. At some point Pat Garrett took a liking to Billy Wilson's Winchester and pistol and like lawmen have been doing for a long time, he purloined these two guns for his own use. 

   Beaver Smith ended up with the Kid's Winchester, Frank Stewart was gifted the Kid's horse by Billy himself and the young outlaw is reported to have given his pistol to the mail carrier's brother Mike Cosgrove.

   As a side note, after a stand off in Las Vegas, New Mexico, Garrett delivers his prisoners to the Santa Fe jail, where the Kid spends three months before being tried in Mesilla and sentenced to hang. While in the jail, a reporter asks him what he thinks about getting as famous as Buffalo Bill and the Kid replies, "There's no money in it."

   Nineteen months later, Garrett dispatched Billy the Kid with Wilson's Seven-and-a-half inch, .44 single action Colt.

• So, how do we know, 141 years later that the gun that recently sold for over $6 million is actually this same gun? And, more importantly, what do Pancho Villa and a Teddy Bear have to do with this whole story? And, finally, who would pay that kind of money for a gun even if it turns out it is the actual gun that killed the Kid?

   Well, let's examine the evidence.

• In the early eighties—that would be the 1980s, I was in a small cafe-saloon in Goldfield Nevada, and behind the bar on the wall was a non-descript pistol and under it was a sign that said, "This is the ONLY gun in the West that did not kill Billy the Kid."

• Sometimes it seems like there are enough Billy the Kid guns to arm a junior high school. They show up everywhere and often. During a debate about all this in the 1930s the newspaper reported there were at least 50 guns that claimed to be the killer of the Kid.

• Pat Garrett rode the fame of killing the Kid all the way to the White House. In 1901 he was called to Washington and gets the job as Customs Inspector in El Paso, Texas. It is the top of the roller coaster for the old lawman. But the Rough Riders Reunion in San Antonio, in 1905, did him in when Garrett introduced his friend Tom Powers as a "cattleman," when in actuality Powers was a "saloon man," an occupation Garrett didn't want the president to know about because there were suspicions about Pat's drinking issues. Of course, when the Texas newspapers ran this item then corrected Garrett and the president felt like a "chump," and Garrett wasn't reinstated.

Tom Powers, second from right, at the event

where Garrett lost his gig.

• Pat Garrett drinks more, loses money and asks for a loan from the same Tom Powers who owns The Coney Island Saloon in El Paso. Powers is then loaned the gun for display, or he took it as collateral, or he flat out bought it. Powers had a signed agreement with Pat's signature and the serial number on the pistol.

• In 1908, Pat Garrett is assassinated while urinating along the road to Las Cruces, which prompted his biographer, Leon Metz, to dryly note, "It's the only time in history a man has been assassinated while urinating that the defendant claimed self-defense."

• And then the story went dark. The Kid was forgotten and nobody cared about the pistol or what it meant. Then a strange set of circumstances changed everything. In 1915, the United States supported Vestuciano Carranza and a crime reporter from Chicago covered the attack on Columbus, New Mexico by Pancho Villa and later, went to El Paso and went into the Coney Island Saloon for a beer and asked the bartender what was the significance of the pistol behind the bar, which resulted in 1924's "The Saga of Billy the Kid," by Walter Noble Burns and the Kid is back on the map.

• Rich, despondant and riddled with cancer, in October of 1930 Tom Powers shoots himself in the heart at his house on Wyoming Street in El Paso, Texas. Incredibly, Powers lives for three months and dies in January of 1931.

"The pistol is value at approximately $500."

• Widowed and poor in the middle of a national Depression, Mrs. Pat Garrett sues the Powers's estate to return the gun. The Power's estate claims the gun was payment for bad debt and not a loan and they have the paperwork to prove it. The case goes all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. The court sides with a lower appelate court that stated Pat couldn't have signed over the gun without his wife's consent and on October 7, 1934, Apolinario Garrett stands on the front porch of her modest Las Cruces home holding the returned Colt. She is comforted by the fact that someone told her it could be worth as much as $500.

Mrs. Pat Garrett with the gun.

• Two weeks later, after riding in the Roswell parade as the grand marshall, Mrs. Pat Garrett dies and the valuable pistol is kept in the family until 1983, when Jarvis Garrett sells it to a collector, who then sells it to Jim and Theresa Earle of College Station, Texas. Jim also bought the Wilson Winchester as well. It is believed that Jim paid in the ballpark of $45,000 to $150,000 for the gun. With the passing of Jim Earle, the daughters are the one who put it up for auction at Bonham's where it sold for over $6 million dollars. I would say it has very solid provenance as being the actual pistol that killed the Kid.

Now, as for the question, who would have paid that price? It is a bit of a mystery because during the Bonham auction the buyer was on the phone and he requested his name not be used. Now everyone in our history world has one suspect in mind, the one who we think has the ponys and the motive to pull this off and I think if you watch our video of an event at the Denver Merchandise Mart from 2010 you might recognize who that would be.

Our Number One Suspect

   And, by the way, we HOPE he did buy the pistol because then both the only known photo AND the pistol belong to the same person. Someone we know cares about preserving the history of the Wild West.

• And, so, finally how does a Teddy Bear come into this story? Well, after the dustup with President Teddy Roosevelt at San Antonio in 1905 that lost Pat Garrett his job, Tom Powers remained friendly with the president and later gifted the president a bear cub from a hunting trip which he nick-named "Teddy" as in "Teddy Bear." And, so now you know the entire story behind the the $6 million dollar gun that killed the Kid.

• I want to thank Samuel K. Dolan for the fabulous newspaper clippings from El Paso and Mark Lee Gardner for his research on this piece and also James B. Mills.

• And The final word goes to the guy who started it all and bought low, but didn't get to sell high.

"There's no money in it."

—Billy the Kid