Monday, July 31, 2023

Curly Bill On The Galeyville Trail

 July 30, 2023

   We are working on the October issue. We're going to celebrate the movie "Tombstone" at the 30 year mark.  We are asking our contributing editors and writers this question: What makes "Tombstone" such a good Western?" And, so, I am asking you. What do you think?

   Meanwhile, I am excerpting three takeaways from the Tombstone story from my three books on the subject. The first is a good hard look at the Cow-boys (for several years at the magazine we styled it with a hyphen just like the newspapers of the era did). Were they as bad as the Earp legend claims? Or, did they have more in common than not?

The Cow-boys of Cochise County

   After escaping jail in Ysleta, Texas, Curly Bill Brocius and Bob "Dutch" Martin steal their way westward and land in the Bootheel of New Mexico.

   They are not alone.

   Since the early 1870s, after the Apaches were moved onto the San Carlos Reservation, enterprising cattlemen like John Chisum began to drive herds of cattle into Arizona to feed both the Indians and the soldiers brought in to keep them corralled. These large cattle herds brought with them a few cow-boys who stayed on to carve out a piece of the business for themselves.

   Numerous other renegades from west Texas and New Mexico were either forced out or chose to move farther away from the law to this virtual outlaw haven.

   Curly Bill, Martin and the Clantons are some of the cow-boys attracted to the lush grasslands (old-timers in the Animas Valley tell of the groundwater being less than two feet under the surface near the Lang Ranch). Curly Bill ends up establishing the famous Gray Ranch, still in existence in the 21st century.

   The outlaws particularly enjoy the haven's close proximity to two borders and three jurisdictions (New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico). Plus, the bootheel is about as far from New Mexico officials and the law as one can get.

Daily Whip Out:

"Curly Bill On The Galeyville Trail?"

   I am doing an original painting taken from this photograph by Camilius S. Fly, outside Tombstone, A.T., in May of 1887. The cowboy in the original photo is J. E. Andrews. I especially liked his bib-front shirt, small cow pony (this is what so many modern Westerns get wrong when they show everyone riding big quarter horses, instead of these raw-boned ponies) and rifle stock sticking up on the left-hand side. He has Mexican style monkey-face tapaderos and the D-Guard Bowie Knife, which is quite rare at this late date. But the big difference is I made the outlaw chieftain grinning, because everyone who knew Brocius said he was always laughing. So there.

Daily Whip Out:
"Curly Bill Grinning On The Galeyville Trail"

   Coming up, the inside skinny on how I met this crazy guy.

John D. Gilchriese

   And, how he ended up finding this gravesite.

"You're a pious sort of man. I've been told, but I want to test it. You just naturally think of the savior while my bazoo [gun] works and at the same time pay a little attention to me."

—Curly Bill, fresh out of jail in Tucson, interrupting a church service four miles from Charleston and forcing the pastor to dance in front of his congregation 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Classic Arizona Six Inch Rain

 July 30, 2023

   Woke up to the distant sound of thunder. Got out on the road at 5:30 this morning, just in time to see this on the back trail.

Storm Over Mi Casa 

   It was eighty five, hot and muggy out, but, on the return trip, just before six this morning, we finally got a classic six-inch-Arizona-rain. That would be—one drop, every six inches. Then, at 6:15 we got a solid sprinkling. And then, at 6:55, a solid rain. Such a relief!

"Woke up to the sound of thunder, how far off, I sat and wondered."

—Bob Seger, "Night Moves"

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Bad Dreams O.K. Assumptions And Red Dead Redemption

 July 29, 2023

   I do some of my best work while I'm sleeping. Yes, I dream about writing and I dream about images and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write down the dream or sketch out the idea. Here are a couple notes from last night's dreams.

Daily Whip Out: "The Bad Boy"

   Meanwhile, our coverage of a certain street fight has not always been impeccable.


True West begins running a 12-part Wyatt Earp series by Glenn Boyer, which ultimately stretches to 14 chapters. The entire opus is riddled with inaccuracies and questionable sources, to say the least. The end result is a serious black eye on the credibility of the magazine at that time.

—Jana Bommersbach

The Beat Goes On

   "Tombstone is full of folks this weekend who’ve come to meet the voice actors from the game Red Dead Redemption.  A buddy of mine says it’s easily three times larger than the crowd for the Tombstone 30th—and they are spending money. Is there something to be gleaned from this?"


   Yes, there are online worlds that dwarf our old school media platforms, but it will take a younger and smarter person than I to figure out how to tie them into the history.

O.K. Enough

Much to do about that misdemeanor arrest gone awry.

   Thanks to a forced tour of the past 70 years, I would put our coverage of that little old street fight in the town too tough to die somewhere between massive and isn't there anything else we could cover in this magazine besides Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday?

   As we have been preparing the October issue over Slack, our editor, Stuart Rosebrook encouraged me to look at all the cover stories we have created on Earp, Holliday and the movie "Tombstone" and I have to say it was both awe inspiring and painful. I think there have been 27 covers related to one of the three subjects and most of the coverage has been on my watch.

  I think it's safe to say we have gone to the well plenty, or, more than enough.

   I have a vow to make: enough already! We have other worthy topics to cover, I promise you. But, before we do, here's one last blowout on the movie and the events we love to cover perhaps more than any other.

   Obviously I am not O.K.

Daily Whip Out: "Virgil & Allie"

"All these books makin' him out a big hero are pure gingerbread."

—Allie Earp

Friday, July 28, 2023

Put Me On A Highway And Show Me A Sign

 July 28, 2023

   Thank god I married a therapist. How else would I know I am dealing with End of Life Issues? Randy Meisner of Eagles (they always eschewed the The) died a couple days ago at age 77. He is famous for singing the high falsetto lead on "Take It To The Limit," and late in the career of the band, he got panic attacks about singing the song and not being able to hit those high notes and so the band would get mad at him backstage, because the song was a natural encore exclamation point to the entire flippin' show and this pressure alone would bring on the panic attacks and he later quit the band, and man, I don't want to have to deal with THOSE issues.

   But here I am (stuck in the middle with you).

   Which is a long winded way of saying, today Kathy Sue and I have been married for 44 years. Damn, girlfriend. How in the hell did we ever pull this off? Well, for one thing we took it to the limit.

July 28, 1979

"You know I've always been a dreamer (spent my life running round)And it's so hard to changeCan't seem to settle downBut the dreams I've seen latelyKeep on turning out and burning out and turning out the sameSo put me on a highwayShow me a signTake it to the limitOne more time."
—Eagles, Take It To The Limit

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Christopher Creek Cabin Fever, Part II

 July 27, 2023

   Back in the saddle in the cool of my studio where I have been painting some heat, perhaps inspired by my Christopher Creek cabin fever.

Daily Whip Out:

"Bushwhackers Fresh From Hell" 

   Also, I've been inspired to do some more vaqueros in sugarloafs.

Daily Whip Outs: "New Old Vaqueros"

  Some things don't catch on. Take Bermuda shorts on Madison Avenue.

 "I didn't say you look 'gay' Frank.

I said you look like a woosie."

One man's idea of cool, is not necessarily cool.

"There's only one thing valuable in art: the thing you cannot explain."

—Georges Braque

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

How to Be Cool Without AC

 July 26, 2023

   What do you do with your dog when the cabin you are renting has no AC and it's 90 degrees—inside? You drive to the nearest lake and let your dog jump in to cool off.

Uno Owns Woods Canyon Lake

   Woods Canyon Lake is about 12 miles east of Christopher Creek and, more importantly, it's up on the rim, which is another 850 foot advantage in the coolness department. Add to that the slight breeze coming off the lake and it was a mighty cool balm. We lounged around the lake for over an hour.

Uno The Lounger

   Unfortunately, we still had to go back to our cabin where it remained in the 90-zone for most of the afternoon, so we took advantage of the creek in front of the cabin and tried to stay cool.

Uno Creek Jumpin' In Front of our cabin (#5)

 Unfortunately, it was still in the high eighties by sundown which is downright depressing and makes you think, "How did our pioneer ancestors survive this heat?" About nine at night it finally cooled down to the high seventies and with a fan blowing right on the bed we finally got some sleep.

   In spite of the heat, the boy did not want to leave this morning.

"Do we really have to go?"

One Hot Booking

   We booked the cabin for five days but as the temperatures climbed, Kathy begged off. She hates being hot. But since we paid a grand for the cabin in advance, over a year ago, I thought I needed to at least go up there and try and salvage some of the value. And I did. I read my Jesse James books and even sketched a bit on the porch. And Uno and I did a lot walking in the shade, of course.

   When we left this morning at 6:30 it was a very nice 67 degrees and by the time we got to Payson it had climbed to 80 and when we passed Rye it had passed 90. Then we saw the smoke.

Forest Fire near Sunflower on SR87

    Made it by the fire without a stop and all the way down the Beeline Highway and got home at nine, and it was already 101 degrees at our house, but with one big difference. It really, really, really makes me appreciate this guy.

  On July 17, 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier designed the first modern air-conditioning system, launching an industry that would fundamentally improve the way we live, work and play.

"Being uncool is being pretty much the coolest you can be."

—Rufus Wainwright

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Cool Not So Cool

 July 25, 2023

   Here's something I thought I'd never say: One last walk in the cool before heading up to the heat of the White Mountains. Yes, Uno and took a walk up to Morningstar while it was in the mid seventies and then got in the Flex to drive two hours up to Payson where it's in the mid-eighties.

Let's get this show on the road.

   Stopped in Pine to visit Mad Coyote Joe. 

Stud Hoss With Stud Gun

He's building another house all by his lonesome. He gave me the tour of the neighborhood, we had breakfast at Alphonzo's in Payson, then Uno and I drove on to Christopher Creek where we checked in to our cabin.

   Got a little toasty around two but I found a fan upstairs and that made it tolerable. Slept good. Woke up to this.

Walk Time?

"That's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats. You make them follow you."

—Ray Bradbury

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Broncs In The Living Room

 July 23, 2023

   Debating whether to go up the hill today. We rented a cabin near Christopher Creek but it's in the nineties up there and the cabin doesn't have AC so it begs the question: why trade one hell for another?

   Meanwhile, here is a bit of history about a couple of the broncs in our living room. First up is a bronc that greets everyone in our entryway.

Ed Mell's "Rearin' Back"

   When we visited our son Thomas Charles in Valencia, Spain, back in 2003, he was in a NAU student foreign exchange program, and walking around down town we wandered into a poster store down a very nice alley and with Tommy translating I bought two huge 1920's Toros El Rodeo posters created locally for the promotion of a touring American Rodeo performing in the local bull ring. They are displayed prominently in our living room. Here's one of them.

   I have always had my suspicions that the image of the cowgirl on a bucking horse was probably taken from a photograph and yesterday I stumbled across the cowgirl and the photo.

Claire Belcher on the 101 Ranch
April 27, 1925

   A friend of mine with very good taste in art, wants a print of this scene.

Daily Whip Out:
"Mickey Free Stares Into The Abyss"

       One more bronc for the road.

Daily Whip Out:

"Bull Tripping Mexicano Style"

"You win some, you lose some teeth."

—Old Bronc Rider Saying

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Hell Rider Meets The Horndogs From Hell!

 July 22, 2023

   Working on a couple projects. Got a call from Mark McDowell down at Cattletrack Arts Compound requesting a couple more Old Vaquero Sayings for a new batch of coasters he wants to produce. Here's the first one I knocked out this morning.

"There are two kinds of people in this world. Avoid both of them."

—Old Vaquero Saying

   If this old vaquero looks familiar, it's because of Lynda Sanchez who sent me the coolest Mexican Sugarloaf hat photograph I have seen in a long time.

Muy Mexicano Sugarloaf Suprema!

Damn, that old man rocks that hat. And what's up with that super thick, braided hatband with the coffee cup knot?

Daily Whip Out:

"The Conflicted Eyes of Jesse James"

All Night, Every Night

"Lots of younguns and second shift workers in the Valley are complaining about few late-night options anymore. And late-night starts at 9 PM. Remember Brookshire's at 16th and McDowell? The Bashas' and Safeway at 7th Ave and Osborn?"

—Some Old Codger Who Will Remain Nameless

Horndogs From Hell!

   They were good kids from good homes. What the hell happened? Rampant gonads! That's what happened.

Can you say that on Facebook?

   Going to Christopher Creek in the morning. May do some work on the book, although my hero in that department is this guy:

"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done."

—Stephen Wright

Friday, July 21, 2023

The Early Birds Are Winning In My Time Zone

 July 21, 2023

   Starting in my band years (1964-1978) I was a total night owl, staying out to all hours of the morning and sleeping often 'til noon, or later. 

The Exits, New Year's Eve, 1964

   Two women cured me of this. That would be Carole Compton and Kathy Radina. We were roommates and they both had jobs and both got up early and started drinking coffee and laughing. I couldn't stand it, so I joined them and have been an early bird ever since.

Pretty Girls With Jobs

   Front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal: "The early birds are winning." The news feature reports trendy restaurants are now closing their kitchens at eight. Many Broadway shows now start at seven, and in night-owlish New Orleans main acts used to start as late as 1 a.m. Now a typical event starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 11, at the latest. Uber says trips to restaurants have increased nearly 10% in the 4 p.m. hour since 2019.

Dinner at Taco Villa at 4 p.m.

   I guess I never realized just how hip Kathy and I have become. These days we book dinner with friends at four, and we're in bed by eight. How hip is that?

"I am both a night owl and an early bird. So I am wise and I have worms."
—Steve Carell

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Yes, It's Hot And So Is El Chingadazo

 July 20, 2023

   Uno and I at the top of Morningstar this morning looking towards that funky transformer and J-box at middle right. No, sorry, I am actually referring to New River Mesa in the background lit up all rosy on a cool morning before the nuclear heat blasts in.

Top O' The Walk to Ya!

  Yes, the heat is almost unbearable and I'm not talking about the weather, I'm talking about El Chingadazo. It's this new drink (2016) that someone at Mariscos Playa Hermosa (one of our fave cantinas) invented and we need to go there to see how hot and funky it really is. If you go, let me know!

El Chingadazos

   You think you've got it rough waking up on days like this? Here's what I open my eyes to every morning.

Room With A View (of bitchin' hats)

   A quick inventory: Yes, that's my Johnny-Behind-The Deuce, Navajo Boy by Delano, Deb Gessner's Billy sculpture, three Maynard Dixons, an Ed Mell original, Dick George photo of Lincoln New Mexico, Death Valley poster, Dusty in The Cave and Carson and Tomas on the Copper Canyon Railway. And a ton of reference books on Jesse James. Oh, and The Triple B Ranch light box.

   And, by the way, if you don't know who Delano is, here's a taste:

Gerard Curtis Delano

    Damn, he was good. So simple and so strong. I want to be Delano when I grow up.

"Simplicity in art is omitting all non-essential or un-important elements and details which don't really contribute to the essence of the overall composition in order to emphasize what is important."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

First Light, More Jesse James and Nelson Harshberger at Valentine, Arizona

 July 19, 2023

   Got out on the road at 5:30 this morning. Slightly cooler, 73 degrees, until the sun comes up and here it is lighting up Elephant Butte on the road up to Morningstart.

First Light On Elephant Butte

   Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm still trying to thread that needle between a simple Missouri farm boy and how he became a cold-blooded killer.

Daily Whip Out:

"Jesse James Stone Cold Killer"

So Dan The Man came up with this combo idea:

Jesse James Remains The Same

   Yes, that Harshberger Kid is not too shabby. Must have got his design sense from his dad Nelson, seen here at their gas station in 1932.

Nelson at Valentine, Arizona on old Route 66

"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it."
—Robert Frost

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Van Gogh Does Jesse James And Other Wing Ding Portraits

 July 18, 2023

   Still goofin' on Jesse James cover ideas. Here's a fun one, just for grins.

Daily Whip Out:

"Van Gogh Takes A Stab at Jesse James"

   I wasn't actually emulating Vincent's numerous self-portraits. I was thinking more along the lines of this approach by the Dutch master:

Vincent van Gogh's

"Portrait of Armand Roulin"


   Meanwhile, I'm also pursuing more of the Jesse In Hell angle. . .

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse James In Hell"

   He went there quite early and never quite returned. However, coming at it from another direction. . .

Daily Whip Out:

"The Catastrophic Storm

That Created Jesse James"

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse Triste"

Daily Whip Out:

"Blue Eyes Dead Giveaway"

A fellow Creeker asked me if my daughter knew of any good places to camp in Washington state, so I called her and here is what she recommended:

1. Deception Pass

2. Bay View State Park

3. Cape Disappointment

   Those are some odd and zany names for campgrounds, eh? Oh, and Deena then texted me to make sure that when they are at Cape Disappointment, to not miss the Point No Point Lighthouse. I kid you not. Those Washingtonians are sure a zany bunch.

"The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter."

—Mark Twain

Monday, July 17, 2023

Service With A Smile And The Truth of Uncertainty

 July 17, 2023

   Back on old Route 66 for another cruise. Thanks to Mike Ward's fabulous collection of original postcards, let's take a cruise down memory lane.

   The Bell Motel (also styled as Bell's Motel, and later, The Bel-Air Motel) on Route 66 on Hilltop, east of Kingman and catty corner and across the street from Al Bell's Flying A. Many have assumed this was owned by my family but it was actually owned by the Richardsons and I went to school with their kids, Salty, Punchy, Karen and Shirley.

   Speaking of service stations, I tell young people this and they really don't believe me. Back in my day "Service with a smile" meant crisp uniforms with caps and bow ties (yes, bow ties!) with the service station attendant's name embroidered over his heart, and at least four guys, dressed like this attacked every car that came in the driveway.

Full Service, Boy Howdy!

The first one started the gas flowing, the second one washed all the windshields, the third one checked the air in all the tires—including the spare in the trunk—and the fourth guy went under the hood and cut all the fan-belts. Like I said, it was FULL service and you never forgot getting gas in Kingman, Arizona.

Don't Forget Winona!

 I read with interest of the passing of Milan Kundera, 94, the Czech author who "Gave comical flair to despair." Isn't that rich?

   He admitted that the names of his books could easily be swapped around. "Every one of my novels could be entitled 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' or 'The Joke' or 'Laughable Loves,' They reflect the small number of themes that obsess me, define me and, unfortunately, restrict me, Beyond these themes, I have nothing to say or to write." That is so damn honest and authentic.

  Put another way, he was obsessed with "The Truth of Uncertainty." In his book, "Insignificance," he wrote, "We've known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There's been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously." That, my friend, is a mantra to embrace, at least on paper.

   One more gem:

"In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine." [and I might add, cut fan-belts]
—Milan Kundera, Czech author of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

Sunday, July 16, 2023

The Search for The Real Honkytonk Sue Gets Real

 July 16, 2023

   Got up early this morning and got out on the road with Uno. Still not too bad out, if I beat the sun.

The early bird gets the, well, you know.

   Meanwhile, as the theories and the debate heats up I am even more jazzed.

In Search of The Real Honkytonk Sue

   To recap, here are a few HS fan theories about exactly what happened to The Queen of Country Swing since we last saw her more than three decades ago:

"She loves horses more than anything. Has 5 acres in Laveen, right next to South Mountain Park and the Gila River Indian Community. Four husbands, all dead now. Only one was worth the trouble, the last one. He brought her flowers every payday and built her the small ranch house where she still lives. Her career of being an electronics assembler at the factory are over, she now lives off social security and her blue collar pensions from Motorola and Sperry. Rides her mare Wiffle daily, setting out just at sunrise on the trails in South Mountain. Buys her hay from a Pima farmer near Komatke. Her pickup still runs, maintained by her son Billy, a firefighter who lives in Glendale with his nurse wife and Sue's grandchildren. Sue's health ain't the best nowadays but she manages as best she can. Sits on her doorstep and watches the sunset over the Sierra Estrella every evening, with her border collie."

—Ken Thomas

Husband Number 4


  "Honkytonk Sue remained childless, but no matter. An award-winning barrel racer when she was younger, she volunteered for a time teaching the sport on her Southeastern Arizona ranch to interested kids who weren't able to fund lessons themselves. Yeah, heart of gold! She also possessed a lyrical ear and ended up being drawn to cowboy poetry, writing lines about her wild days in a freer time, gathering with Baxter Black and the like. But now, travel seems a burden, so Sue stays local. Once in awhile though, when the full moon reveals a youthful twinkle in her eye, she'll head to her favorite waterin' hole for a shot of Patron! It ain't over till it's over."

—Darlene Koch Kline Mitrevics

   "I always imagine that she has a small, exclusive boutique selling HS branded cowgirl clothes and bags. One in Tucson and another in Old Town Scottsdale (Arizona’s most midwestern town, I’ve heard) this and her fame, as promoted by a famous publishing magnate keeps her and her adult daughters, three in total, very comfortable. She has a house in Patagonia, close to her ranch and winery In Sonoita. She also runs, with her daughters, a “rodeo queen camp” that travels and trains young women how to compete and win as a Rodeo Queen."

—Randie Lee O'neal

HS Branded Cowgirl Clothes

   These are all intriguing to me, but some of my friends believe Honkytonk Sue should not be subjected to the wrinkles, or the sad part of life.

   "Honkytonk Sue needs to be remembered  by those who loved her then as she was then. The new era of curiosity seekers as to her fate just need to cool it and remember the era, pro and con.  Why bring up how she looks now?  Few women want to be reminded of how many wrinkles they have, or the sad parts of their lives.  Let her memory die in a dignified way.  I am sure she does not like this new world and would much prefer going back to the ranch and riding into the sunset. So please no swan song or how much has she aged. Would you want that for yourself?"
—Lynda Sanchez

"Well, what did you expect would happen?"

   Oh, yeah, that probably happened. And, I have a hunch certain relatives would know the truth about what happened to her.

Daily Whip Out:
"Uncle Guy Spills The Beans"

   According to Uncle Guy, Sue did some time. In Minnesota.
   Also, I am intrigued about the musical acts that have played the Heatwave, and might show up at the last fandango.

"Blind" Riley Puckett of The Skillet Lickers

Not to mention that little ol' band from Texas.

Billy Gibbons is a fan of Sue

   If Gibbons shows up, you know the joint will be rockin'.

   The last word goes to the man who started this whole conversation.

"One place she will always remain, is in the hearts of her fans!"

—Randy Lee O'Neal