Sunday, April 30, 2023

Keep The Change, Bob

 April 30, 2023

   One of my favorite Western movie moments is when Billy the Kid is bucked off his borrowed horse in "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid."

Billy In The Process of Being Bucked Off

   This scene has a historical truth never before portrayed in any of the 66 other Billy the Kid movies.

   After the killing of his two guards, Billy commanded a cook, Godfrey Gauss, to go into the pasture to the west of the courthouse and bring him Billy Burt's horse, while the Kid tried to remove his leg irons. Gauss spent 45 minutes trying to corner the skittish horse and finally got him, saddled him and brought the horse around for Billy to escape on. Unfortunately, the Kid still had one leg iron which he couldn't remove and it had a dangling chain still attached to it. Even though the Kid tried to tuck the chain in his trousers, it still spooked the horse and bucked Billy off in the street. That the movie makers would choose to portray this odd little truth is nothing short of amazing, to me!

   Supposedly, the guy who gets credit for this historical truth nugget is Rudy Wurlitzer, the screenwriter for "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid," 1973. However, some believe it was the director, Sam Peckinpah who added it. Paul Andrew Hutton tells me Rudy was very upset with all the changes Sam made to his original screenplay. Wurlitzer allegedly took out his angst on Peckinpah in his fictional novel, "Slow Fade," about an egomaniacal director who ruins good stories. We'll soon see if that's true because I just ordered the book.

Kris Kristofferson as Billy the Kid

   As I rewatched the film last night I was struck by a couple things: the first is, the killing of Pat Garrett opens the film now (it was cut for the 1973 release by the studio), and the second is, I read somewhere that Peckinpah had never heard of Bob Dylan before the movie was made. I even seem to remember Sam being quoted as saying, "I'm a Roger Miller guy." Peckinpah allegedly hated the Dylan soundtrack songs and even cut "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" from the Slim Pickins death scene! I also want to say Sam even insisted on a Hollywood orchestra soundtrack and barely, if at all, used Dylan's work. Anyway, in the restored version (2006) which I watched last night, it's Dylan's music all the way and his music carries the entire movie. The film is a bit disjointed in sections but Dylan's evocative score ties it all together. I also remember him having a small cameo in the original, but now he is seen almost all the way through the film as the character "Alias." 

Bob Dylan as "Alias"

The songs soar. Bobby Zimmerman's acting, not so much.

   Also, it must be said. James Coburn makes a very compelling and accurate looking Garrett, full of angst and venom. And, other than the hippie locks, and not being six-four, he is almost a dead ringer for Big Casino.

"Keep the change, Bob."

"Hot, sassy insider movie books were truly a grand tradition, as integral to film culture as the pictures themselves. Half the fun was on-screen. The other half was embedded in those myriad tell-alls, exposes and romans-a-clef that created a myth many times larger than life—which, after all, was pretty large to begin with."

—Michael Cieply, writing for Deadline on the decline of Hollywood bad boy movie making legends, like Sam Peckinpah.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Banjo Boy, Being Aroused And Being Serene On Old Route 66

 April 29, 2023

   If you can look at this old photograph and not smile, you have no heart.

Banjo Boy & His Dog, 1900

   And, if you can look at this photograph and not be aroused, you are probably testosterone challenged or older than me. Or, both.

Pretty Curls, Prettier Girl, 1850s 

   They were called "sausage curls", which is not the most attractive name, but never mind, she is a cutie and overrides the negative context.

Roadside Attractions

   A week ago tomorrow, I traveled down a familiar stretch of highway that took me back, literally and figuratively. It was so serene to be out there. This is why I loved road trips. Also, this is the longest surviving stretch of original Route 66 highway left in the country. Unfortunately, thieves have stolen every Route 66 shield and of the three Burma Shave sequences put out there for our traveling amusement, this punchline Burma Shave is one of the last two standing.

My pal Mundo Con Queso took this photo
of the Aubrey Valley stretch which is west of Seligman on old Route 66

Meanwhile, back at the Triple B Ranch:

   My number one patron, Craig Schepp, just came out to the Triple B Studio this morning and walked off with a couple of my favorite pieces. Yes, that is the "Hello, Bob" original in his right hand and "Fighting & Dancing at Mr. Lucky's" in his left hand. Uno is not amused or impressed because we're cutting into his nap time.

Up Next:

"Quien Es?"

And. . .

"The Rise of The Regulators"

"The mountains climb out of the desert on bony, outlying fingers and knuckled ridges, rising up into high cliffs, peaks, and battlements, with further ranges stacked up behind them in paler shades of blue."

—Richard Grant describing the Sierra Madre in "God's Middle Finger"

Friday, April 28, 2023

Full House at The Scottsdale Museum of The West

 April 28, 2023

    We had a full house yesterday at the Scottsdale Museum of the West. They came to hear Jana Bommersbach and I talk about the our book, Hellraisers & Trailblazers: The Real Women of the Wild West. 

Five minutes before our talk, 
every seat was filled by showtime.

   We laughed, we traded insults and I called out a former teacher at Moon Mountain Elementary (third row, second from left). And to boot, we sold a record 52 books. My kind of history talk!

  Today is the anniversary of, perhaps, the coldest greeting in the history of human existence. "Hello, Bob," are the two alleged words Billy the Kid said to Bob Olinger before the Kid pulled both triggers on Pecos Bob's own shotgun. I wish I had a nickel for every time my Old West friends say this to me with a chuckle and a knowing smile.   

The Case for The Hat

   Quite a few portrayals of the Kid have him hatless when he kills Olinger.

The Kid Shoots Olinger circa 1924

   I chose to portray him wearing his famous sugarloaf, and, here's why. 

   The hatless partisans claim that the Kid was inside and everyone takes their hat off inside. Never mind that this concept says more about military manners (post WWII) when many cowboys who served, were finally broken of wearing their hats inside. If you don't believe me look at old photos like this one. And there are plenty more examples.

Tascosa Cowboys With Hats On Inside

   Even if you consider that he was not wearing a hat when he was chained to the floor upstairs in the Lincoln County Courthouse, when Billy asked Bell to take him to the privy, that was outside, and he most assuredly would put on his hat going outside. When Bell and the Kid came back from the outhouse, the Kid would still be wearing his hat going up the stairs and then after the melee that followed, with the Kid hobbling to the window, I think he would still be wearing the lid.

   So, there.

"You don't have to dig deep to find remarkable stories of the remarkable women of the West—you just have to care enough to dig. We cared enough. Meet some of the women who should be in every history book."

—Jana Bommersbach

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Grandchildren Know Nothing

 April 27, 2023

   What is it about linen postcards that give off a soothing feeling? Is it the softness of the colors? Is it the dreamlike effects? Is it the damn linen?

   Clines Corners On Old Route 66

   The rains came and the wind blew. That's how I knew I was home.

The Head of Railroad Canyon

at El Trovatore Hill

   This is a scene, above, I looked at almost every day when my father opened a new Phillips 66 service station across the street from the El Trovatore Motel, on Route 66, in 1963. And, here is a painting it took me 15 years to finish of this same scene, only a century earlier. It was commissioned by my Kingman compadre, Toby Orr, but it sat unfinished in my slacker file until this morning when I spied it and finished it off. My 66 mentor, Jim Hinkley told me how Toby was doing so much to help the Kingman restoration cause and I thought to myself, well, if Toby can work for a good cause, so can I!

The Beale Expedition Heads

Into Railroad Canyon

Got the following from my son, Tomas, in Japan.

   "A story happens and fades and no one tells it. And yet somewhere, someone lives on, afternoons are hot and Christmases come, that person dies and there is a new slab with a name on it in the graveyard. Two or three people, a husband, a brother, a mother, still bear the light, the legend, in their heads for a few more years and then they die too. For the children it remains only like an old film, the out-of-focus aura of a vague face. The grandchildren know nothing. And other people forget. Neither a name nor a memory nor even an empty space is left. Nothing.

   "But sometimes fate is fortuitous. The burning of a barn in Alamos leads to the discovery of an old safe. And in that safe, a diary. And just like that, a legend is reborn, brought back to life to travel once again amongst the imaginations of the living." 
—"The Bass Saxophone", the preface to a novella about Jazz in German occupied Ukraine

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Billy the Kid Made J.W. Bell Famous And Other Ridiculous Connections to Coffee Mug History

 April 26, 2023

   Rewatched both Young Guns and Young Guns II last night because I wanted to see the "Hello, Bob," sequence and I just had to take a screen shot of this scene that precedes the window-shotgun-Olinger shot. 

   Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) has just shot deputy J. W. Bell and he had warned Bell not to make a dumb move before he did make a dumb move. I have to admit one of the early inspirations for me getting into Billy the Kid history was the fact that he shot someone with my last name, which only proves the John Fusco line repeated throughout the film, like an anthem, "I'll make you famous!" 

   Yes, it was Fusco who wrote both films.

Opening credits to Young Guns II

   Here's the line and scene I was after:

   And, here is my version of this scene:

Daily Revised Whip Out: "Hello, Bob."

   And, here is this art applied to a coffee mug:

   Want one?

"Keep the change."

—an Alleged add on quote from the Kid because Olinger allegedly packed his shotgun with dimes

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Kingman Cowboy Send Off for Bud Linn

 April 25, 2023

   We gathered graveside for Bud Linn's send off at noon yesterday in Mountain View Cemetery.

Kingman Cowboy Bud Linn

   Yes, those are the Hualapai Mountains looming behind Bud at his famous ranchito on Airway in Kingman. Our family often visited the Linns on holidays. Here we are at Christmas 33 years ago.

Grandma Bobbi Guess Cady, Deena Bell,

Jean and Bud Linn, 1990

   Over the same holiday I took this photo of the three remaining Guess girls at their father's grave.

    Left to right: Sadie Pearl, Lillie Louise "Bobbi," and Jean, the last surviving daughters of Bob Guess at Mountain View Cemetery. FYI: he had five daughters, all of them lookers! Today all five are interred near their father.

Pat Linn at the Bud Linn graveside eulogy

  The graveside eulogy was delivered by Pat Linn, the adopted son of Bud and Jean. He told wonderful stories of growing up with the legendary cowboy and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Pat's message was clear and well stated: a good one is gone.

"You don't have to be happy, but I want you to look happy."

—Pat Linn, quoting his father, Bud, when Pat and his sister Stormy were acting all pouty and teenage-put-upon while laying irrigation pipe on their Big Sandy Ranch.

Monday, April 24, 2023

One Thing Remains The Same: The Hualapai Mountains

 April 24, 2023

   As the days go by, it's becoming harder and harder to find any evidence of the town I grew up in, but one landmark still stands tall.

The Hualapai Mountains

   Fitting then that the burial plots where both my mother and father reside is called Mountain View Cemetery and it looks across the valley at this very range. This is also going to be the final resting place of Bud Linn who will be interred here today at noon.

"You can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory."

—John Steinbeck

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Obtuse Significance of Buck And Doe Road

 April 23, 2023

   Took off this morning from Prescott, and headed north for Old Route 66. Had a date with this zany gal who runs the Ashfork Route 66 Museum. She is standing next to a tribute to Ashfork's Favorite Son.

Fayrene Hume,

Director of the Ashfork Musum

   We are planning to have some fun, this coming fall. From Ashfork I motored westbound to one of the most legendary bars in the West.

The Black Cat Bar in Seligman,

 also known as

"The Church of Burch"

   Why is it known as the Church of Burch? You need to ask a local like I did, or, wait until our book comes out this fall on "66 Legends." In other cryptic messages left semi-unanswered, Kathy once asked me where I want my ashes spread and I facetiously said I want them scattered halfway up a very specific road that is 60 miles long.

My final resting place?

   Yes, this is a very funky, 60-mile dirt road on the Hualapai Reservation that goes the back way to the Diamond Bar Ranch and The Grand Canyon Sky Walk. Kathy told me she was concerned about a couple of my rabid fans wanting to go somewhere to honor me and I told her this road is perfect because it would tax the patience of even my mother. Especially my mother!

   Hey, I'm always here to help.

Once again to recap the news, a certain editor of True West turned 60 and had a big party last night.

Stuart Rosebrook enjoying the candle power of turning the big 6-0.

   And, here are the locals at his party who told me about "The Church of Burch."

Danny & Mary

They were also very high on Buck And Doe Road.

"Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."

—Oscar Wilde

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Chairway to Heaven & Paying A Kingman Cowboy Respect

 April 22, 2023

  We're still dodging the heat out here on the Great Sonoran Desert. Last night was delightful. Caught this sunset scene on the Triple B North Forty.

Chairway to Heaven

   This photo contains almost everything I love on the planet. Crumbling adobe, peccary eaten cacti, blooming succulents and one hammy dog who wouldn't pose in the chair. 

Road trip alert

   Heading up north this morning for a two-lane-barn-burner, with stops at the Phippen Art Museum, Prescott Valley, Stuart's house in Yavapai Hills, then on to Chino Valley, Ashfork, Seligman, Peach Springs, Hackberry, Logasville and Hilltop. Here's the reason why:

A Kingman Cowboy's Stairway to Heaven

   My uncle Bud Linn passed last week at the age of 92. He was living in Old Fort Sumner, of all places, and died after a short illness. One of my earliest memories is our family visiting Bud & Jean when he was the ranch manager at the Muleshoe Ranch in Yavapai County (between Bagdad and Prescott).

My dad, my grandparents, Jean and Bud,
 and me on the Muleshoe Ranch, circa 1952.

   Me and and the ranch, are all that remain (and maybe, just maybe, that cherry truck), although the ranch is a conservatory, and you can visit. I think the most amazing thing about this photo is my grandfather is wearing a suit and tie! Granted it was probably a Sunday and we left Kingman after church, but still, dang that is some formality that is long gone from today's yoga pants formal look.

   The memorial service will be held graveside at the Mountain View Cemetery on Hilltop, at noon on Monday. If you knew Bud, please drop by and say goodbye to a very good cowboy.

"You can't appreciate what you have, until you know how bad it can be."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, April 21, 2023

Finally: A Never Before Published Image of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

 April 21, 2023

   Hard to believe, especially at this late date, that there would still be an image of Billy the Kid that hasn't been published. Well, today would be that day.

"Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid In Front of The Lincoln Courthouse On April 21, 1881"

   Of course, the Kid has that perpetual smirk that says, "Good luck keeping me locked up in this building." True to his smirk, seven days later, on April 28th, he did just that by killing both his guards and escaping the gallows. Tradition says, Garrett was in White Oaks that day buying lumber for the gallows. Notice the height difference: Garrett was six-four and the Kid five-seven. As my friend, Bob Yoho, puts it, "He wasn't large, but he was big in all the ways that matter."

Never Give Up On Your Dreams?

"Several years ago, there was a man who wouldn't give up. He was just an actor, but he had bigger things in mind, in the world of politics. People tried to talk him out of his wild-eyed notions but he wouldn't listen. And that man was John Wilkes Booth."

—Jack Handey

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Around The Horn And Behind The Tail Fin!

 April 20, 2023

   How much fun is tracking down history? Here's a good example.

   In 1991, I landed in Lincoln, New Mexico to take reference photos for my first illustrated book on Billy the Kid. With a Billy look-alike in tow, I basically went around the small village and took photos on the actual spots where history happened.

   For example, here is my model, William H. Cox, assuming the position of William H. Bonney on April 28, 1881 in the Lincoln Courthouse.

   This was photo reference for the "Hello, Bob" sequence and was taken on the actual spot, in the actual window well. The window was nailed shut at this time. And, of course, we didn't have a shotgun but Cox had a '94 Winchester and I wanted to get the positioning right, especially with his hands, and would later change out the weapon for Olinger's shotgun in the final illustration.

   Reference photo taken the other way on the actual spot where Billy the Kid shot Bob Olinger.

The final sequence which ran in "The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid," second edition, and in the third and final edition. So two days. ago I wanted to see what that scene looks like from the other direction and knowing that the Kid was probably wearing a sugarloaf sombrero and not a slouch hat, like in his only known photo, I had my curator, Amy Dunn snap this photo for reference. Yes, that is one long shotgun barrel, but then so was Olinger's.

Hello, Bob shotgun reference

   One of ideals we are developing on the sequel to the "66 Kid," is what I call the Bob Petley Color Palette. Petley Postcards were a staple in my dad's gas station back in the day and a large segment of them had a washed out aqua-fushia patina, like this:

   So, I asked Dan The Man to come up with this look for a scene in the new book and this is what he came up with on the fly.

A '56 Chevrolet Bel Air with a gas cap
hidden behind the tail fin!

      Sweet! Gonna be a slick, slick book, I tell you.

"Life is a quest whether or not you want one."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Bob Says Hello Right Back at The Kid

 April 19, 2023

   I read recently a famous artist's advice to up and comers: do not show them how you do the art because it kills the magic. Sorry, too late for me.

Daily Whip Out: "Hello, Bob #11"

   When the Kid was cornered at Stinking Springs Pat Garrett got word Billy was sporting a sugarloaf sombrero with a green hatband. Makes some Irish-Mexican sense, so that is most likely the headgear Billy Bonney was still wearing at his final incarceration in the Lincoln County Courthouse. As for his clothes, that is another matter because a mail contractor, Mike Cosgrove, bought five new suits for Billy and his cohorts in the Las Vegas, New Mexico jail so the boys would "go out in style." So the Kid was most likely still wearing his new suit of clothes but probably the same old sombrero. There is some argument about whether he was even wearing a hat when he leaned out the window of the courthouse and hailed Bob Olinger (above). Would he be wearing the headgear inside? Perhaps not, but, he did ask deputy J. W. Bell (no relation) to go the outhouse and that was outside and no self-respecting man would step outside without a hat on. My guess is he had the hat on in the privy trip, then coming back into the courthouse, still had it on going up the stairs and after the killing of Bell he didn't bother to take off the hat. Yes, that is a long-winded way of saying, I'm going with the big-ass-hat.

   Okay, I admit, in some ways, the big sombrero looks wrong, because we're so used to seeing the Kid in the slouch hat he is wearing in his only known photo. So that brings us back to here.

Daily Whip Out: "Hello, Bob #13"

   And if you are paying attention, all of which, leads us back to here.

R. Crumb's Clear-eyed View of the Universe

"When it comes to beating a dead horse, metaphorically, nobody does it better than me."


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Hey, Bob, How Are You Progressing On Hello, Bob?

 April 18, 2023

   Working on three versions of the "Hello, Bob" coffee cup and T-shirt design. The first one is a straight up design idea put forth by Dan The Man, who thinks we should go with my cover painting as more of an overview of the Kid and his career, rather than concentrating on the actual event at the Lincoln Courthouse in April of 1881.

Daily Whip Out:
"Dan's Hello, Bob #1"

Daily Whip Out: "Hello, Bob #5"

   Then there's this slightly different take where it's more site specific:

Daily Whip Out: "Hello, Bob #6"

   And then, there is the full blown window scene.

Daily Whip Out:

"Full Blown Window Scene"

(in progress)

   And then, I got this feedback:

"Dude, I’ve already praised the artwork in your book of Billy blasting Olinger: the Kid still in chains looking down on the armed Olinger, who must of known he was toast. It’s the iconic shot (no pun intended) from Young Guns which was directly borrowed from One-Eyed Jacks. Will make a great tee shirt print as those who are eager to purchase Billy merchandise will recognize it from the Young Guns movie. Those of us of a certain age will recognize the progenitor shot by director Marlon Brando in Jacks. Extra credit to those of us who’ve read The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones by Charles Neider, which Jacks was based on."

—Greg Scott 

"Remember, nobody liked van Gogh's work, and if nobody likes yours it's probably a sign you're a genius."

—Bruce Handey