Friday, March 31, 2023

Feedback On Sub Promo & Charming Billy Died Like A Dog

 March 31, 2023

   If we are seeking historic truths—and I am—how often do we ever even find it? Here is one of those rare occasions when I got it right the first time.

Charming Billy Died Like A Dog
August 1991

   If you saw Dan The Man's first pass at my ideas on a new subscription ad two days ago, you might be amused by some of the responses I got:

Feedback On Our First Sub Promo Ad Idea

  Turns out my Kathy and Sheri Riley Jenson loved it. Our publisher is not hip to it and called to complain. Paul Hutton got hung up on the multiple meanings of "Straight." Mark Lee Gardner thinks the girls send a kinky vibe. Lynda Sanchez showed it to a friend who commented, " I would bet a $100 bill that men designed the ad!" And, it must be said, Lynda's friend is 100% correct. And, here is one of our sales people weighing in:

"I'm divided on this ad. In such a polarized world, our words need to be parsed very carefully. I interpreted this ad as having a 'political' bent to it -- 'under attack', 'here to tell the truth', 'future of the country.'  Maybe I'm just reading too much into it. I think we have to remain as neutral as possible. We have so many different constituents that we're talking to. Importantly, the tourism/travel industry advertisers. 'Kids do like history when it's done well'... Sounds like you're saying kids can pick and choose their 'history'? Don't mean to be too critical, but not crazy about this one."
—Greg Carroll

   Bottom line: they all have a point—every single one of these pompous bastards. So, I called Dan The Man and we went through everything and took another run at the ad, and with an assist from The Top Secret Writer, we ended up here. 

Camille Gerhards, age 3, Albuquerque

Invasion of Stinkweed!

A good shot of a mixed blessing.

   Globe Chamomile is an invasive grass with yellow buds. It has now returned after it was one of the principal fire accelerators in the May 2020 conflagration that burned and eradicated most of the vegetation in the foreground. With the recent heavy rains it has returned with a vengeance. Beautiful, but deadly when August comes.

"Only time can heal what reason cannot."

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Solving Our History Problem

 March 30, 2023

   We have a history problem. Let's start with the pain. A country that does not know its true past, has no future. Well, what about a country that is fighting for diametrically opposed versions of their past? This is exactly where we are today. For those of us who love history and our country, it is not a pleasant place to be.

   So, how do we solve this problem? First of all, we're Americans and we've been through much worse and we'll figure out a way to tell the true history of this incredible place we call home. If I were the King of History (rather than merely the Duke of Dust) here's what I would do:

• Strip away the political terms. Rather than banning books, I would ban the terms "woke," "Critical Race Theory" and "genocide." There are more, but even if we banned these, for a short time, it would be a positive way to start calming things down.

Find common ground. Was Custer a brave and brilliant cavalry leader? Yes. Many historians believe he saved the United States, not once, but three times at the battle of Gettysburg. Did he make a bad decision at Little Bighorn. Yes, he divided his command without telling anyone. Did he pay for his mistake? Boy howdy. Were there brave people on both sides of this fight? Of course.

• Tell both sides of the story with honesty and levity. Don't fight the contradictions, embrace them.

• Dig for the true history of people who did extraordinary things but have never gotten their due. That is exactly the task that Jana Bommersbach and I set for ourselves when we started our project to fill the pages of our Hellraisers & Trailblazers book. And, man, did we find some worthy women: we discovered over 200 worthy women and we got over 100 of them in the book.

• Tell better stories. When we are honest and compassionate, good things will happen and more importantly, we will understand how we got here to this place in history. And, believe it or not, good stories can give us a route out of this mess we are in.

   The bottom Line:

Kids Today Need to Know Our Past

   A country that does not know its past, has no future. Let's make sure our kids know the truth about our past. Buy a subscription for all your kids today.

Camille Gerhards, age 3, Albuquerque

"Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say, 'This is my community and it's my responsibility to make it better.'"

—Studs Terkel

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

We Are On A Mission

 March 29, 2023

   I asked Dan The Man to put together a nice little promo for our current efforts to fight civic illness. Here's what he came up with. What do you think?

We Are On A Mission

   At first glance the history dilemma in our culture seems pretty simple, but it is not. When I mentioned that teachers get called on the carpet if they try to teach the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, Remember the Alamo, or Custer's Last Stand, they are rebuked by angry parents. This elicited this response from a former history teacher:

"Dude I taught American History and Arizona History for decades. For ten years I was on the Council for the Social Studies board. Among other things like national history day, CSS helped draw up the State essential elements for SS education. Of course, the State Department of Ed. and State Legislature were involved. All elements, from World Geography to US Economics always had a Tom Horne type rep insisting that ‘Pilgrims good’, ‘Alamo good’ and ‘Custer good.’ Really?  Among other things Pilgrims kidnapped indigenous people, the Alamo had a generous dose of Texas slavery involved and Custer made a dumbass blunder and died running. The last thing I or you or anyone else need is someone telling us how to be a good American. My father was grievously wounded on Iwo Jima. I resent anyone giving me a civics lesson."

—Greg Scott

   One thing is certain, it is a fine line we are walking just trying to tell the truth about American history, but we have been doing it now for two decades, and at the end of the day, I believe we are Americans and we can handle this problem.

"Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths."

—Yuval Noah Harrari

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

We Are On A Mission to Save History

 March 28, 2023

   Get ready for some asteroidal fun. Wes Anderson's next movie is set in 1955 in a locale just down the road from us. Love the poster, but I sure wish they would have let me advise them on the corny cacti.

Great Poster, Bad Saguaros

The synopsis of "Asteroid City"

   “The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.”

Cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan and Jeff Goldblum. There were even cameos for musicians Seu Jorge and Jarvis Cocker who will play cowboys. That is, if they’ve made the cut.

   I, for one, am impressed by that incredible cast but I do agree with Carson:

 "Get ready for some symmetrical cacti and stunted cowboy yakking."

—Carson Mell

   Meanwhile, I want to talk about how we can save history.

We Are On A Mission to Save History

   Our motto at True West is: we tell the truth, warts and all. But, at the same time, we shy away from all the current inflamatory and political language. And, by that I mean we stay away from words, like "woke," "Native American," "Critical Race Theory," "White Privilege," or, even "genocide." Especially genocide. All of these have an element of truth in them, but our readers come to us to get away from all of that vitriol. That doesn't mean we don't deal with these topics, but they are presented as honestly as we can but without the trigger words. And I mean that literally.

   A nation that does not know its past, has no future. So, do the future a favor and buy your kids and their kids a subscription to the best history magazine on the planet.

Double your pleasure, double your fun,
buy True West subscriptions for everyone.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

—Mark Twain

San Simon Bad Boys

   One early settler recalled visiting Rustler's Park in the Chiricahuas and witnessing close to a thousand bad men milling around multiple campfires stretching across an entire ravine. If true, the Chiricahua Mountains, San Simon Valley and the Bootheel of New Mexico areas were outlaw sanctuaries in the late seventies and early 1880s. Legendary cowboy bad boys like Curly Bill Brocius (pictured above with three pistols) and the three heavily armed cowboys, below, represented a very large contingency of lawbreakers in the region to the east of Tombstone. It was rough country populated by rough men.

Three Rough & Ready Arizona Cowboys
(colorized by Rasmus Holmberg)

"It is foolish to think that a cow rustler gunman can come up to a city gunman in a gunfight."
—Big Nose Kate

Monday, March 27, 2023

What If Milk Cows Went On Strike? What if American History Was Actually Taught In Schools?

 March 27, 2023

   The Top Secret Writer is doing a cover story for us on this guy.

"Mister Controversy"

Maynard Dixon

      Marshall Trimble has a great road tale in our next book that involves this landmark.


  Here is a brilliant cartoon that answers the question, "What if Milk Cows Went On Strike?" It is by one of my cartoonist heroes, Heinrich Kley, a German artist, but I think it qualifies to be in an upcoming Humor Issue feature. It's not technically from the Old West, but it would have been seen by Westerners in the 1910 era. A bit of a reach but I think it qualifies as humor from that time, if not place. Especially since it would represent what Westerners found funny.

"The Strike of The Milk Cows"

By Heinrich Kley

The Problem We Face

   As you probably know, there is an epidemic failure in our schools regarding the teaching of Western history. Historian Jeffrey Sikkenga calls it a "civic illness,"  and if we don't get a handle on it we are going to lose our future by destroying our past. Here's the problem in a nutshell: any teacher who even tries to discuss the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving, the Alamo (much less, remembering it!), or Custer's Last Stand is going to get called on the carpet by angry parents spouting grievance politics. So it becomes safer and easier to remove all of these historical events from the ciriculum entirely. And they have been!

   So, what is the answer if we want kids to be interested in history? I'll have that answer tomorrow.

"History isn't just something that ought to be taught, read, or encourage only because it will make us better citizens. It will make us a better citizen and it will make us more thoughtful and understanding human beings."

—David McCullough

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Barrel Babes Plus Sue & Dixxie Diamond Still Ridin' High

 March 26, 2023

   One of the pure joys of being old is not being a total slave to testosterone. I remember reading this study that claimed the typical male thinks about sex every 3.5 seconds. I am so grateful to report that in my advanced age I have almost doubled that number and I have accomplished so much more with all that extra time. I tell you, it's the little things.

   That said, I still appreciate the bombastic babes.

Daily Reworked Whip Out:

"Dixxy Diamond Still Rides High"

   Like most strong Western women, more than a few cowboys are, well, cowed, by Dixxy.

Daily Reworked Whip Out:

"A Bulldogger's Confession"

   This is a shout out to Juni Fisher who has such immense talent. She and I spent some quality time on a storyline for Dixxy, but then in 2020 the whole world went sideways and the project got shelved. Well, it's not over yet, Baby!

   Saw this online and dig the motion and I will definitely do a number on it.

A Barrel Babe Makes The Final Turn

And speaking of the final turn, I have been noodling the Mickey Free story for 21 years and counting.

Daily Revised Whip Out:
"The Return of Mickey Free

   Someday, someone is going to figure out how to tell his story in a compelling way and it will be like he was always a legendary character.

   Until then. . .

Daily Reworked Whip Out:

"Sue Heads Out One Last Time"

"School was far easier in Shakespeare's day because you didn't have to study Shakespeare."

—Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk on the British TV mockumentary "Cunk On Earth"

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Mickey Free: Trapped Between Three Worlds

 March 25, 2023

   He was trapped between three different worlds. The Mexicans disowned him for being too Apache and some Apaches thought he was too Mexican. The Irish, especially disowned him. Perhaps, Al Sieber summed him up best: "He's half Irish, half Mexican and all son of a bitch."

Daily Whip Out:

"Poor Little Mickey: Trapped Between

Three Worlds"

   Mickey Free, of course, had a long career as an Army scout and he was perhaps the perfect candidate to track down his former friend, the Apache Kid, and bring back his head.  Mickey played it mean and vicious to the very end, but then. . . who knew there was a drop of compassion in that vicious little thug?

"By God, maybe he is Irish!"

—Lonnie Loggergram

Friday, March 24, 2023

Charlie Russell, Curly Bill Brocius And A Big, Bad Dog

 March 24, 2023

   I thought the storms were going to clear out yesterday, but in the afternoon, we got this.

Big, Bad Dog, Big, Bad Sky! 

   Me and Uno on the road yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, here is the cave that Cave Creek is named for, lit up this morning.

The Cave Creek Cave

   One of my favorite artists had a birthday last week and that would be this guy.

Kid Russell in front of his studio cabin
in Great Falls, Montana

   In March of 1996 I vowed to finally make the long trek from Arizona to visit Charlie Russell's studio and to pay my respects. I flew to Cody, Wyoming to visit my mother, then drove her and I the rest of the way in a massive snowstorm. The streets of Great Falls were snowpacked and icey, but I trudged and slid my way to the cabin and fell to my knees and genuflected in the snow. The guy and his humor had a huge influence on me.

Daily Reworked Whip Out:
"The Street Fighter"

   I also reworked "Three Gun Man" and it now has a new title.

"San Simon Bad Boy"

   Some believe this is a good likeness of Curly Bill Brocius who spent some quality time in the San Simon area. Hard to say, but he's certainly well armed.

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others to see."

—Edgar Degas

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Mickey Free Sees Red And More Fun With Footnotes

 March 23, 2023

  Rain is clearing out and man, is it green!

Fun with Footnotes

   I came out to the studio this morning to find some typical footnotes from my vast collection of stuffy historical tomes so I could parody and mock them. Unfortunately, or fotunately, I picked up a book that is chock full of footnotes that are already parodies of footnotes, like this one:

"Like German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann when discovering the ancient city of 'Troy' in Turkey during the 1870s, some researchers discover what they wish to find, rather than what is. This path has often been taken by various historians when attempting to solve the riddle of Henry McCarty's origins. I shall not be adding my name to the list."
—James B. Mills, End Notes on Chapter One of "Billy the Kid: El Bandido Simpatico"

   So, mocking footnotes is going to be a tad harder than I originally expected.

   Meanwhile, took a pass at a photo that John McWilliams found and is now in the Anthony Sapienza collection:

Daily Whip Out: "Deadly Blue Gaze"
And, I also took another run at this cat:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free Sees Red"

"He wasn't very tall, but he was big in all the ways that matter."

—James Young, describing his friend Mickey Free

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Running Washes And Idiots Like Me

 March 22, 2023

   Rained most of the night last night and this morning we heard Cave Creek raging down the slope. At about 8:30 I got a call from Bev, up the creek, asking me if I heard all the sirens up on Rockaway Hills? So, Uno and I set off to investigate.

Uno: "Man, I enjoy this wet!"

   At the top of Rockaway Hills we spotted this scene down below:

A flooded Cave Creek wash and TV crews

   As we got closer we saw what everyone was gawking at:

   Apparently, two construction workers were swept away at Rockaway Hills and Cave Creek wash. I think they were rescued, while sitting on the hood.

"Don't pump the gas, I think it's flooded."

   I know what you're thinking: what kind of idiot would attempt to cross a flooded wash like this? Yes, I always thought the same thing until it happened to me. I was headed for Scottsdale in the wee hours of the morning to do a radio show when I came upon a flooding wash in the dark. I was in a 5,000 pound Land Cruiser, so I thought, I should be able to clear this easily. So, I put my coffee cup in the cup holder, put that big, bad boy in low and hit the gas. The first thing I noticed is that the headlights went under water. The second sensation I had was our hefty Cruiser going sideways in staggered jumps. Incredibly I made it to the other side and then I realized I couldn't go back through that, and I had seven more washes to cross before I made it the KSLX studio for my first newsscast at 6. Which I did. Yes, I was an idiot, but I have never called anyone on TV an idiot who gets caught in the same predicament ever again.

"If idiots could fly, the sky would be cloudy all day."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Footnotes & Fantasies

 March 22, 2023

   Uno will literally eat anything, until I put a pill in it. Then he's Gordon Ramsey.

Thanks, but no thanks.

  Today is a weird but significant anniveresary for me. It was 15 years ago today I received a heart stopping experience while playing Wipeout with The Exits in the Old Elks Hall, in Kingman, Arizona. I want to thank the three members of the Exits who had just received CPR training prior to my wipeout and the quick acting paramedics at the Kingman Fire Department across the street from the Elks and to Dr. Michael Ward of Kingman Regional who saved my life, not once, but twice. Thanks to all of the above, I walked out of the hospital that killed my father and my grandfather. Also thanks to Ted Deitrich, Doctor's Hospital and Dr. Bhatt of Cardiovascular Consultants, I am still upright and ambulatory. If I saw all this portrayed in a movie, I wouldn't believe it.

   So, what have I done with the extra time? I lived to see my grandkids, I lived to write this blog post and I lived to see Japan win the World Baseball Classic.

   I also lived long enough to take another crack at the story of a certain one-eyed captivo.

The Village of 300 Widows

   On the hunt for the Apache Kid, an unlikely trio of searchers went deep into Mexico to bring back the head of the most wanted man in Arizona. They encountered quite a few strange and violent obstacles including a village near Opodepe that took the cake.

Daily Whip Out:

"Mickey Free, Tom Horn & James Young Approach The Village of 300 Widows"

Footnotes & Fantasies

   I have long despised footnotes. I hated using them in term papers and I have never used them in my books and I resented the slam from a recent reviewer of our Hellraisers book who dinged us for not having them. But, with that said, wouldn't it be a bit of a hoot if I used them in a story about the warping and distortions of history, utilizing oodles of faux footnotes to underscore the ridiculousness of them? And, what if these faux footnotes pointed to a bigger truth about history? Well, that would be just hunkydory in my book, literally.

"The footnote crowd took over."

—Elizabeth Small, wife of our founder, Joe Small, on what eroded True West magazine's broad appeal

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Look for The Ridiculous In Everything And You Will Find It

 March 21, 2023

   Here's a shot my friend Jeff Mariotte took of me several years ago when we came back from a Zane Grey Conference in Wilcox, and took the back way through Bonita, Klondyke and Bloody Run. Great little backwater route. 

BBB outside the Klondyke Bar

   I still think this would make a cool coffee mug.

   Uno is still guarding my Jump Time Breakthrough corkboard.

Daily Whip Out: "Sombreros Shadows"

   Yes, I am always looking for the sublime and the ridiculous and I agree with Jules.

“Look for the ridiculous in everything, and you will find it.”

—Jules Renard 

Monday, March 20, 2023

A Mexican Standoff And Rasmus Colorized Cowboys

 March 20, 2023

   The more things change, the more they remain the same.

A Mexican Standoff

   A rare 1911 photo of El Paso, Texas residents, watching Pancho Villa's men watering their horses on the other side of the Rio Grande River. Note the two armed U.S. soldiers. You can see what appears to be the Villa column against the bluff, at upper right. A great photo of intrigue, and—ahem—a real Mexican standoff between the two countries, and a portent of things to come, that continue to this very day.

I Can See By Your Outfit You Are From Sweden?

   Rasmus Holmberg (below, right) and his Swedish cowboy compadre, Tommy Johansson, visited me at the old True West World Headquarters in 2016.

Two Cowboy Swedes 

   Turns out Rasmus Holmberg is quite good at colorizing old photographs, like this one of a Texas Rangers Frontier Battalion.

Rasmus Colorized Cowboys

   And here's another one.

Another Trio of Rasmus Colorized Cowboys

      We are going to feature some of Rasmus's fine work in our True West Moments which run in the Tombstone Epitaph every month.

"Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth."

—Pablo Picasso

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Black Bart Has Only One Movie About Him. Why?

 March 19, 2023

   I taped a new YouTube history video on Friday and this is what I talked about.

Why Isn't Black Bart More Famous?

   He robbed more than 30 stagecoaches while Jesse James robbed maybe six. So why isn't Black Bart more famous in the annals of the Old West? Let's take a closer look. The reasons just might astound you.

   About twenty years ago, I was in San Francisco with my honey and I went into one of my favorite Old West haunts. That would be the Argonaut Book Store at 786 Sutter Street where they not only have a ton of old musty, first edition books on the American frontier, but more than a few classic, original photographs. In fact, I bought a pristine, original carte de visite of Lotta Crabtree for $200 which I still keep next to my desk in the studio.

And yes, this was the inspiration for my cover painting for "Hellraisers & Trailblazers: The Real Women of The Wild West"

Whole Lotta Love Quad

  Anyway, back to the Argonaut, while I was looking around for something else, my wife Kathy said, "Look at these photographs of Wanted men carried in the saddlebags of a California sheriff." I scrunched up my nose and said, "No, thanks." The former Moon Mountain Elementary school teacher said, "Pray tell, why?" And I said, "Because they look like urban criminals." Perplexed, she then asked, "Do you mean to tell me if they were wearing bigger hats and looked like cowboys, you would be interested?" She had a good point, and I replied, "Right as rain, Roy."

   This, perhaps, more than anything else, explains why the notorious stage robber, Charles Boles, alias, Black Bart, has never really captured the imagination of those of us who love the Wild West. True, he's very well known but think about this: there have been 67—and counting—movies about Billy the Kid and north of 37 movies on Jesse James and the same for Wyatt Earp, but there is only one film on Black Bart. Why? Because he looks like a dapper dude, not a daring cowboy. He's a city slicker, and an old one, at that.

Dapper Charles Boles, alias Black Bart

   And, here's another problem: Black Bart walked to and from his robberies! Think about that. He pulled off a whopping 32 stage robberies in his storied career. He robbed 29 stages before he was captured in 1883, then after his release from prison in 1888 we think he robbed three more before he disappeared completey. That's a lot of walking. In one suspected hold up he allegedly walked 250 miles!

Black Bart's Ingenius Motus Operendi

   Most bandits in the Old West rode horses to and from their robberies. Of course they did. It's what we expect. Not Black Bart. He often took the ferry from his headquarters in San Francisco to Oakland, then he hopped on a train to, say, Sacramento, and from there he would walk the rest of the way to the robbery site. In one robbery, he carved mock gun barrels out of wood and stuck them in the bushes, pointing at where he knew the stage would stop. When the stage appeared he would walk out into the center of the road in front of the lead horses and say, "Throw down the box." If the driver got cute, Black Bart would say, "Don't shoot Boys," looking over at the fake gun barrels, "until I say so." That cowed more than one brave reinsman. That is just crazy amazing, and clever, and it's what allowed him to escape time after time as posse after posse went looking for a mounted man. You can imagine they must have ridden right by him more than once and he probably just smiled as they rode on oblvious to his clever ruse. But even this, his counter-intuitive genius, robs his image of being a daring brigand. So, perhaps this is why there is only one movie about him. Here's what my good friend, John Boessenecker has to say about the film.

   "In 1948 the film Black Bart was released, starring Dan Duryea as the slippery stagecoach robber. Like most Hollywood westerns, it was fiction and had little to do with Black Bart except for its title. In this rendering, Boles is an outlaw who abandons his gang, goes to California, and embarks on a spree of stage holdups. Finally he stops a coach that happens to carry his old bandit partners as well as the famed performer Lola Montez, played by the sultry Yvonne De Carlo. Bart and Lola form an attachment, and following a series of improbable adventures, he is killed by a posse. The film was a success and revived so much interest in Black Bart that the following year Wells Fargo Bank offered a reward to anyone who could prove what happened to the mysterious bandit. The reward was never paid."

—John Boessenecker

   In real life, Boles served a six year sentence for the last robbery only, then was released for good behavior after four years and two months, and then he pulled off three more stagecoach robberies and vanished, for good. This also does not make for a good movie story. No resoution to sink our teeth into.

   Here, once again,  is author John Boessenecker, on what he speculates happened to Boles:

"In 1903, a newspaper in Santa Rosa, California, reported that Boles 'was in Arizona or New Mexico, aged and respected, his identity not known, a man of family in affluent circumstances, an extensive stock range being his realm.' This could also be dismissed as another wild yarn, except the newspaper provided some accurate details about Boles’s background and said that its informant, who lived in Santa Rosa, had been a fellow volunteer in the 116th Illinois. That man was undoubtedly Charley’s friend Dr. Joseph Hostetler, the surgeon for the 116th, and it is possible that Boles wrote to his old Civil War comrade and boasted of the success that had so long eluded him. So, did Black Bart use his stolen loot to acquire a ranch in the American Southwest or in Mexico? Did he live out his final years in quiet anonymity as a prosperous cattleman? Surely that is how Charley Boles would have wanted his story to end. Perhaps some day the truth will out, but until then, the fate of Black Bart, the poet highwayman, remains one of the great mysteries of the Wild West."

—John Boessenecker, author of "Gentleman Bandit: The true story of Black Bart, the old west's most infamous stagecoach robber"

   But John believes Boles commited an even worse crime:

"Mary Boles never wavered from her firm conviction that Charley would come back to her. In another letter she sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, Mary insisted, 'I am convinced that he never thought of deserting me when he left Montana for California after the most severe struggle against the drought of that year and the one before. As to him not sending money to us, he well knew I would rather suffer want than be supplied with a dollar that did not come honestly.' But Mary’s beliefs were simply delusional. Her blind faith that he would return was based entirely on the empty promises in his letters. Charley’s correspondence revealed him as a selfish, manipulative liar, for Mary and her daughters never saw him again. And that was the greatest crime he ever committed."

—John Boessenecker

   And, the lawman who tracked him down. What does he think of the prolific stagecoach robber?

“In the popular mind, Black Bart, as he so romantically styled himself, has come to be regarded as a sort of modern Robin Hood, a stage robber of heroic mold, a gallant free lance, who never robbed the passengers or the poor, but confined his attentions entirely to wealthy corporations such as Wells Fargo & Co. This is a delusion. He is, in fact, the meanest and most pusillanimous thief in the entire catalogue, for by his own statement he made all his large hauls from the mail, which he always rifled, and from which, excepting his last robbery, he always obtained more than from the express. . ."

—James Hume, the detective who busted Boles for the 29th robbery based on the handkerchief laundry mark he left behind

   So, in conclusion, Black Bart was too dapper, too old and too clever for his own good, at least when it came to his outlaw image.

“Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else.” 

– Michael Jordan

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Razz Survivors

 March 18, 2023

   I was in a few solid bands back in the day and perhaps the most solid of them all was this version of the Razz Band.

Razz Band, circa 1983

Jack Alves, BBB, Hans Olson and Rick Unger

   Jack is wearing a Razz Revue T-shirt, as he should, and I am wearing a 10X Beaver Stetson, as I should. And, here we are today at The Sesame Inn in Carefree, 40 years later. Still rockin' the hot and spicy soup.

Jack shows off his new reading material

   Jack tells me he is busier than ever on the music circuit. He plays Baby Kay's in Mesa every Tuesday and he also does a ton of gigs at Independent Living facilities, Assisted Living facilities and Memory Living Facilities (dementia wards). When I asked him if he gets any requests for "Stairway to Heaven," he says, "Not yet." Dang. I hope I live long enough to request "Communication Breakdown." And then fall out of my wheelchair and writhe on the floor like Robert Plant (or, Little Big Man).

"Communication breakdown, it's always the sameHavin' a nervous breakdown, a-drive me insane!"

—Led Zeppelin, 1969

Abandoned Art & Other Unfinished Business

 March 18, 2023

   Got some new interest in an old character I primed for a graphic novel.

   Along with Tom Horn and Jim Young, this one-eyed captivo tracked down his best friend. Did he bag the Apache Kid, or not?
   Meanwhile, ransacked the studio the other day in search of this rider.

Daily Revised Whip Out: "Back Lit Rider" 

   A good friend of mine is considering this for the cover of his next book so, of course, I had to find it and improve it, proving the old artist adage: 

"Art is never finished, only abandoned." 

—Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Whip Outs In Progress And Cave Creek History

 March 16, 2023

   Lots to talk about. We're chugging along on the May issue and I found this in the upstairs morgue while looking for a cover image for Jeff Mariotte.

Daily Whip Out: "Rurale On The Jump"

Daily Whip Outs In Progress

   I usually work on multiple paintings and scratchboards at the same time. When I get stuck on one, I move to another one and then hopefully come back and finish the original piece. Occassionally, I will become super-over-extended and overwhelmed with too many pieces in progress, like today.

Ridiculously Over Extended

Cave Creek Fireside Chat

   Meet my sidekick for my fireside chat at the library this afternoon.

Allison and Mystic

   His name is Mystic and he had some great vibes, barking at all the appropriate pauses in my history of Cave Creek monologue. He is being held back by Allison Taylor, the Desert Foothills Library Adult Program Manager. We got some big ol' raindrops at the 4 o'clock mark and had to bail, but it was a ton of fun. I opened with this tidbit that is 53 years old!

Cave Creek History

   The first time I visited Cave Creek was in 1970 as a surveyor-lineman for Arizona Public Service. Our job was to locate and put in stakes indicating where the J-boxes (junction boxes for electricity) would go for new homes and businesses and the word was that little old Cave Creek was getting a bowling alley. So our line crew drove out to Cave Creek to locate the property lines and establish exactly where the J-box would go. Not long after we arrived at the empty lot on the snorth side of Cave Creek Road I was sent up on a saguaro studded hill to get an elevation marker and as I sat there waiting for the instrument man to set up his tri-pod I looked over the lush landscape and thought to myself, "I could live here."

   Almost a century earlier, someone who probably thought the same thing was living in the cave that Cave Creek is named for and on Christmas Day, 1874 they were attacked by Al Sieber and his scouts, looking for "bucks" off the reservation.

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

—Harry Truman