Thursday, November 30, 2023

Larry McMurtry Remembers The First True Westerner Award

November 30, 2023

   Imagine my pleasant surprise, while reading the new Larry McMurtry biography, that I ran into a second encounter, in the book, regarding a presentation we made ten years go. Here is my blog about it:

BBB, Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry

March 13, 2013
   The presentation of our first True Westerner Award last Saturday night in Tucson was a hoot and a half. Got to talk to both Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana which was fun. I asked Diana how she met McMurtry and she said they met at the Catfish House out on Ruthrauff Road and I did a doubletake because that is where I played in a honkytonk band in the late seventies. The same building was then known as The Hayloft and it was in that bar that I drew the first sketch that would become my cartoon character Honkytonk Sue's best friend Donna Jean.

   End of blog quotes. In the new biography, author Tracy Daugherty talks about an event not long after McMurtry's second heart attack in Tucson, in July of 2013.

   "When he finally did feel like traveling again, he didn't go far—just a few blocks, down to Tucson's La Paloma Hotel, one of the city's grand old hospitality lodges. There, in the Cottonwood Room, Bob Boze Bell, the executive editor of True West magazine, gave McMurtry and Diana Osana the magazine's first True Westerner Award. True West had been publishing for sixty years, covering topics of general interest in the West. The award Bell explained, was meant to celebrate people who had been 'hugely influential on conversations of the west' He also admitted, 'Larry McMurtry bugs the hell out of me. He set out to 'demystify' the West and strip it bare—what kind of respect is that?' Nevertheless, he recognized the value of McMurtry's penchant for 'fanning the flames and promoting national discussion of the region.'

   "He wasn't doing too well that night,' Michael Wallis said. Wallis had come for the ceremony. "He didn't look great. Diana looked great. I couldn't hear him very well. He'd mumble. He was very taken aback—the men were all decked out in Stetson hat and boots. He was wearing something like Hush Puppies. He felt very embarrassed by this. Diana had on these glorious boots which cost her $2,500 or something."

   Despite the frailty, McMurtry enjoyed the evening—his first outing since the heart attack. It was 'low key' with 'little fanfare,' he said appreciatively. Bell gave him a little bronze statue of a cowboy fashioned in the style of J.R. William's old comic strip figures—the strip his father had enjoyed reading so much at the breakfast table in the ranch house.

   "He was very self-effacing," Wallis said. "All evening he shined the light on Diane: "This should be her award."

   End of excerpt from the book. And, by the way, here is a J.R. William's comic strip, Out Our Way:

"That was my country—terrible winds and a
wonderful emptiness."

—Georgia O'Keeffe

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