Monday, June 30, 2008

Marcia Ball speaks for me

Marcia BallPhoto by madamjujujive | [News link] [forum feedback]
Marcia Ball played at Blues on the Green last week, a free show in front of as many as 6,000 people, and told them she was boycotting Austin Java because of owner Rick Engel's tearing down of trees. He's one of the developers of Barton Springs Place -- a condo project that is being built in the old location of the Pecan Grove RV park -- one of those places they are getting rid of to make more room for people who want to live closer to places like that except that they won't exist anymore.

Well, you go, Marcia Ball!!! We've been boycotting that place for a very long time, ever since Austin Java moved in a took away my favorite pizza place, Pizza Nizza, the funky pizzaria with a huge tree growing inside the place and out through the roof. Then we found out about their plans to put in the high end condos, and haven't gone there since.

FYI, the same guy owns Uncle Billy's Brews and Qs down the street, so that is now part of our boycott, unfortunately, because it's a microbrewery and now I won't get to taste their beer (but there's plenty more beer out there, no worries).

Engel has defended himself, saying that he had permission to take out all the trees, and a couple of them were taken down by a storm instead of by him -- but here's the thing... just because you have the permits, and you're legal, and everything is signed on the line, it doesn't mean you're doing the right thing. Marcia's awareness-raising at the event hurt their business for a few days, but you know what? These damned developers are hurting things too. They are not just cutting down a lot of big trees, they are changing the neighborhoods. They are bringing in a pricey, high-end yuppie clientele and running off the folks who used to be able to afford to live there.

At least they are not calling the new development "Pecan Grove Place." I hate it when they destroy something and then name the replacement after it.

This is a sign on the fence of one of the old Barton Strings Road trailer residences. It speaks volumes.

(Yes, I know, I've been focused on this topic lately. It's just really bugging me.)

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend odds and ends

Just stopping in for a quick post. It's been really hectic around here for the last week or so. Not a bad thing, really, but I'm starting to wear out from it. There was a birthday party at some friends' house last night. Actually we hadn't been there before, we know these people from meeting them out and about at the shows. It was a great party where I drank too much wine. We met LZ Love there, and got acquainted. We had another mutual friend besides the hosts, so that topic broke the ice. Really nice person and wonderful soul singer. Listen to her here on MySpace.

Today, there is another show that I'm looking forward to. It's a fiddle/mandolin/guitar thing at 6pm over at a place called Roadhouse Rags. It's a vintage clothing store, from what I understand. The address is 1600 Fortview, Austin, Texas 78704. Dennis Ludiker (from the South Austin Jug Band), and Noah Jeffries (from Jason Boland and the Stragglers) will be jammin with Brian Beken (also from the Jug Band) so it will be an awesome session. Listen to some of their beautiful tunes here. It's not bluegrass, it's more like "progressive acoustic." The event is BYOB, but I am still trying to recover from last night, so my bottle will probably be filled with water. Ugh! I am getting too old for hangovers. Ouch.

Lots of work hit me late in the week too, so I've been trying to keep up with that, plus still attempting to switch over to the new iMac. As I suspected, all software needs to be reinstalled either from disk, re-downloaded or upgraded. Microsoft will be getting some more of my money tomorrow for a new Office package that will work. Sometimes new acquisitions can be a pain in the ass, even the pretty ones.

The grocery store is now beckoning... hope that chilly air conditioning they have will soothe this hurtin head.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Furbaby Friday - 2 close!

You really need to back off. You're seriously interrupting our siesta.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Victor Tabbycat's on Sunday - -

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not Mac Same at all

We have a new guy in the house. Nooo, it's not another cat, it's a new iMac! My PowerBook G4 that's going on 6 years old is still working, except that the USB port I use for the mouse has been dying, and I am very mouse-centric. Yes, it does make me sad to pass this machine along to MrB, whose iMac is nearly 9 years old. Dubya's stimulus check should be on the way soon, and I truly hope it gets here before the credit card bill does! No new CDs for me this month, somethin's gotta give.

Now, I am not an early adopter, and although I loooove my Macs, back when I first got the PB it took me quite a while to get used to OSX. It was radically different from the previous OS, and it left no doubt that my days as a Mac whiz (I was a Mac network manager back in ancient days) were O-V-E-R. So I've gotten really used to Panther, let Tiger go right past (based on the advice of Happy Mac*), here I am with Leopard (so I guess this really IS another cat).

After the hectic ordeal of getting it home yesterday (long story) I finally got it out of the box today. First impression... it smells good... aaaaah... brand new. Second impression, it's gorgeous. Third, I am again completely overwhelmed with technology stuff I am not familiar with. It is comical. I am in full "hillbilly gol-dang, looka here whut this dang thing just did" mode.

When I was setting it up, it took my picture! I'm not used to having a camera pointed at me, and then there are just so many widgets and gadgets, some new and some just options I didn't have before. I am techno-stressed. I really like to have minimum gadgets, and only very useful ones, so when it asks me if I want to set up such and such, I am looking for the "I don't know, I have to do some more reading, where's the manual?" button.

To make my techno-shame even worse, the new guy came with a free iPod and a printer! Now, I am going to make a very surprising secret confession, but I've never had an iPod. Yes, that's right, the music nut had no iPod. I am just an old fuddy-duddy CD lover who downloads almost nothing and I hardly ever do headphones. I either need to hear what's around me, or I need to be asleep (preferably with ear plugs). Plus it's kinda hard to get someone to autograph your download -- I like to buy from the artist and get them to sign it. Old fashioned. And I am writing this on the old machine. It's now the comfy old chair with the stuffing coming out, but the new guy is waiting for some attention. Macs have always been kind of personal, there's a relationship there, nearly like it's a person. Now, someone tell me why my computers are all males? Even though this is decidedly showing his feminine side with that big X.

*they had nothing against Tiger, just didn't see any real good reason to upgrade our particular machines.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cool houses, parts 2 & 3

[Just added 6/25: related news]
Part 2 - South Austin Condomania
Saturday all we did was go to Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse (one of our favorite places) and whine about the destruction of the South Austin style that is going on. From right there, you can see these two sights:

This used to be a really funky-looking video store. It had this mural that I loved. Click to enlarge:

Now it's empty and awaiting tear-down, soon to be replaced with "24 luxury residences" that look pretty much like all the other gawd-awful condo developments that are spreading like wildfire.

This is the view directly across the street from the coffeehouse. Another tear-down to make way for... something... something high-end fitting the standard of all the new stuff being built everywhere.

This is over on Barton Springs Rd. where they took out Shady Grove RV park to put in Barton Place, another high-end complex. [article]

What is going on in places like South First, South Congress, Barton Springs Rd., South Lamar (and so many more locations) is that they are putting in developments in places that people enjoy being because of the high level of creativity that has been shown in the character of the people, dwellings and businesses, and in the process they are tearing down and driving out those very people and places that make the areas appealing (either by changing the character and flavor or raising costs out the roof). You can't cut out your heart and use it for a facelift.

Part 3 - Artsy Smartsy
On Sunday, we went on the Cool House tour, which is another event we've been doing every year. The "cool" part of it actually means "green" as the house featured have acquired very high ratings for energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. It is our ultimate lookie-loo experience of the year, as these houses are more or less all dream homes that we could not afford - not even the small ones. All of us can change little things in our homes to make them better for the environment (not to mention lowering the bills) but doing the big things is NOT cheap (like solar panels, new roofs, insulation, new walls...). A lot of these homes are very interesting on the inside (well... very affluent people live in them, so they tend to have cool stuff, but at least they are using their bucks to help out the planet a little). In some cases, we muttered amongst ourselves that... ahem... having a humongous TV in every room is not exactly "green", and neither is that waterhog in the yard known as a swimming pool. Meeeowrr. And in this one particular case, this stunning little house off South Congress...

...presented quite a contrast to the house right next door, which badly needed a roof, and lots of junk removed indoors and out (when boxes cover the windows, that means you've officially got too much stuff in there). But, I couldn't help but admire that they've made a statement with a yard sculpture from concrete blocks and milk crates (and some found objects). This place is really more in tune with that neighborhood, which is a neighborhood that can no longer afford the cost of living there.

Cool houses, part 1

The weekend had a theme to it with 2 annual events -- houses and buildings. Friday was the one with the live music. (see later postings for the rest of the cool house theme) It's a benefit for Family Eldercare, held outdoors at Threadgill's always sometime around the Summer Solstice, starting at 8AM and going until nearly 7PM. The event is held to purchase fans for elderly people who may not be able to afford air conditioning, so it's a good cause. Lots of people die in this oppressive heat. Pictured on the right is Bobby Whitlock and his musician-wife CoCo Carmel. Bobby has quite a history, as he was a member and an integral part of the sounds of both Delaney & Bonnie and Derek & The Dominoes (Eric Clapton). He's been in Austin for about a year and a half. [their official site]

Usually it's as hot as a blast furnace during this thing, and in the past I have stuck it out, sunburn and all. But the excessive heat we've had so early in this year has turned me into a bit of a wimp, so I decided to just go for the early morning. Friday turned out to be the coolest day we've had for a month, and only got up to about 92 (there was even rain in some places!), a one-day break from the triple digits. That's Paula Nelson (who usually has "Willie's daughter" automatically added to her name) and George DeVore. By 10AM I'd seen two bands, and KSGR lets us rummage their promo CD bins where I got a free copy of Steve Earle's latest record, Washington Square. Have not yet had a good listen to it though.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dirty Freaky Commie Pinko Fag Hippies

There's the soundtrack for this post --Our House by CSN. I googled-mapped the house where I lived in Sarasota, Florida in the late 60s, which was a very special time. The Air Force offered us a free move one-way anywhere in the world after my dad died in 1967, my mother picked Boston (long story). We were there for less than a week when we changed our minds, hailed the moving van en route, and told them to head to Florida instead. Wheee! Close your eyes and stick a pin in the map. This is about the house on Magnolia.

There were many cultural changes happening during that time, and my mother, although still grieving, was feeling emancipated from the Air Force and loving not having a boss anymore. She was around 50 yrs. old. Here she is hamming it up for the camera. Someone spray-painted that ceiling tile green! It could have been me… not sure…
She felt like she could live anywhere and do anything she damned well pleased for once. She had already been playing mother hen for years; she would gather young people around her in droves, many of them cast-offs of their real families and of society in general. Tired, poor, humbled masses yearning to breathe free*… let’s party! Come on over, come on in. Stay all night, stay a little longer. Dance all night, dance a little longer. Kick off your shoes and throw them in the corner, don’t see why you don’t stay a little longer**. She had done it already in Albuquerque and in Greece… now it was the late 60s in Florida. The kids looked a little different, but we did too by then. Here she is sitting in the middle of our typical weekend crowd.

The kids were mostly around my age (15-16) to 19. We mostly didn’t drink (drinking wasn’t considered that cool, except for occasional wine), but drugs were plentiful. Mostly pot, LSD, and a few others. She hated needles and didn’t allow anyone to bring them into the house. Also, no sex allowed. Amazingly, everyone respected the house rules. Everybody was peaceful and got along. Nobody had guns (except my mother had a stupid little .22 handgun). There were no fist-fights, rather there were trippy debates about the meaning of life, the universe and everything... mostly everything. The different social sub-groups partied together with us and didn’t have problems with each other (gay, straight, Pagan, Christian, biker, whatever). Here she is with some folks just sitting around chatting.

We covered our domain with contact paper (the tacky velvet flocked or mosaic for windows) and sometimes I did paintings on walls or ceilings. The rest was decorated with posters, more of my art, or weird finds. Like that orange plate with the devil’s head. She was a Christian but was fascinated and open-minded about anything mystical or spiritual. “You want to have a séance? Let’s do it! You worship Satan? What’s that like? Your house is haunted? Wow. Who's haunting it?” The bookshelves were lined with everything to do with the spiritual: Josephus, Anton LaVey, Aleister Crowley, the Lost Books of the Bible, Edgar Cayce, Egyptian Book of the Dead, even Criswell.

The centerpiece of the room – the record player. It was one of those kind that folded up into a suitcase. That Jefferson Airplane poster would probably be valuable now. Also featured, our beloved Rolling Stones. She always carried a teensy crush on Mick. Mine was for Brian. I was a very bad girl and stacked the records up vertically, many not even in their cardboard sleeves – but what a stack of great records they were! Now all worn out, of course.

Here’s the kitchen. More contact paper!

Me, sitting in front of one of my paneling paintings.

This is our friend, BW.

This is GP, I think he was BW’s cousin. He’s wearing a getup that we bought in our favorite theatre costume shop. GP loved to cause a stir using nudity. He and another friend (a girl) went into the burger place in the wee hours of the morning, both dressed in see-through gauzy robes with nothing underneath. Anything to freak people out and get some laughs!

This is my charcoal drawing of Jim Morrison. Behind it is a chicken I painted on the wall.

We bought this big school bus, even though neither of us drove. We relied on others to drive it for us, which wasn’t that easy! We took out most of the seats, padded and upholstered the walls, carpeted it like a crazy-quilt using free scraps, and made fringe to hang over the windows. I painted some Yellow Submarine art here and there on the inside, and decorated the sign with an Egyptian circle and wings (the name of the bus was “The Flying Void”. Cosmic!).

The freak flag on wheels, with the gang.

Our spaciest friend, SK, painted this “Jesus and the flying saucers” thing on the back. I hated it.

Here is SK and another friend, MM2, goofing it up for the camera in the yard.

SK liked to sit in trees for hours, and sometimes he would be running around in the yard naked, rather embarrassing later on when we were trying to sell the house. We didn’t always know if he was there or not, he just hung around. He enjoyed chanting and making buzzing sounds. Last I heard of him, he had gone to join the Children of God cult. Here I am with another friend, MB (SK can be seen behind us in the doorway), and I am wearing SK’s wonderful jester hat.

My mother always took an “in your face” attitude, especially during this time. She decided to paint the house with horizontal stripes, royal blue with one orange stripe.

We lived in a fairly conservative neighborhood (with a big church across the street!!), and the local lawmen kept a close eye on us. As you can imagine, we were under surveillance, and unsurprisingly one day (it was on Valentine’s Day) there was a bust. Turns out that one of the kids who had spent the night on our couch had told us that he was 18… and he wasn’t… and he was on probation… and his dad was in law enforcement. They charged my mother with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and others were busted there too, but I can’t remember what for. The whole affair dragged on and on for many months, court dates postponed, I’m sure they were hoping for something bigger to happen but my mother was progressively more and more freaked out with paranoia. They really WERE out to get her, so it wasn’t unfounded, but after the bust, the fun was mostly replaced with worry. It was kind of a death of innocence, the party’s over, time to clean up, wake up call. Nobody with any sense wants to be in jail. And of course, after a bust, people tend to hang around less so our inner circle got smaller. After a year of having the white cars parked in front and the black suits with face shields cruising the house on motorscooters (and after the contributing charges petered out) she decided to move us up to Carbondale IL so she could be close to her parents. Another chapter begins there.

So, getting back to where this post started, I googled-mapped the house, and noticed that they provide street views for that area. Here is the house now. It’s GONE. The shopping center that was a couple of blocks away has grown, and our old house is part of the parking lot. If there are any old-timers who still attend that church that was across the street from us, I know they are thanking Jesus that the notorious abomination was torn down. Praise the lawd!

My mother (whose name was Lola) always counseled young people that they were responsible for their actions, and would have to live with the consequences of them, and if they needed help or a place to stay or just wanted to talk, she was there. The door was open. Comments welcome, and I know it will be tempting for a lot of people to be judgmental about this post concerning youth, drugs and parenting. Believe me, there’s absolutely no point in preaching. There’s no situation described here that can be corrected by any amount of that. It is just part of my history.

*Lady Liberty
**Bob Wills

Somewhat related:
My mother and Pop Festivals

Another of BW's cousins, and Led Zeppelin

Monday, June 16, 2008

They might want to reconsider attacking Michelle Obama

While the wingnuts are scrounging for everything they can find that can be twisted or spun, or just making stuff up (like the "whitey" comment), they might want to reconsider opening that particular can of worms that says "Candidate Spouses" on it. This graphic comes from 23/6 [read the source post here]

Found via This Modern World. Yes, it's true (what it says in the graphic).

OK, let's back up a little. Cindy is McCain's second wife. He and his first wife divorced after his extramarital affair with Cindy surfaced and he married Cindy soon afterward. She tells Jay Leno in this video [sorry, but video was deleted] how they both lied to each other about their ages (and the truth was only discovered when it was published in the paper after the wedding) and how she lied to him, telling him she was afraid to fly, yada yada, when she was actually getting her pilot's license. She also tells Leno about hiding her addiction to pain killers from him. That's just part of the story though.

Here is Salon's article on Cindy's drugs, her drug theft, and the other shady deeds. A quick sum-up: She was addicted to drugs and stressed out by her husband's involvement in the Keating Five scandal. Her confession was thought by some to be a diversion for the news media to follow rather than the Keating mess, as she did it on the same day that the Keating records were made public. Her confession came after she was reported to the DEA (as a drug thief) by the director of the charity that she owned and founded. The McCain lawyer machine then tried to make him appear to be an extortionist, and they, the lawyer(s) are the ones who outed her in the media and prompted a teary scene that pulled the heartstrings.

Apparently even this heartstring-pulling, young trophy wife gets under McCain's skin sometimes, as when he decided it was OK to call her a c#nt in public. I think that McCain figures it's OK to say anything you like as long you're angry enough. Seems to be his style. This is a funny video about how that little episode seems to have rolled off him like a greased pig, and take note that the audio is totally not safe for work.

[found via AMERICABlog] ...and the recipe thefts... well, those are just too tacky to mention. ;-) Cindy McCain wiki John McCain wiki

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father time

I don't write about my dad much. He wasn't around for much of my life, he was military and would be stationed away from us for a year or two at a time. Then he died of a heart attack at age 44 when I was not quite 14, so we never got to know each other very well, and when my parents last saw each other they were on pretty bad terms (they were separating and planned to reunite later when he got home from Greece. He was waiting for the plane when it happened) so my last year or two that I was around him were very intense. Sometimes I dream about him, and we have conversations that we never got to have and I try to let him know who I turned out to be. Maybe I'm trying to figure that one out for myself. I've really had no other father substitutes in life, and have always rejected parental-type authority anyway so I didn't seek them out.

A few years ago, I wrote a lengthy post about him.

If not for little things like that, he would be forgotten. My mother has been dead for 15 years, I had no brothers, sisters or children, and his own immediate family is nearly gone (7 sisters, 3 brothers, all their spouses, a mother, father, and 2 step-fathers -- gone all but one sister or maybe two. I'm not even sure). His real name at birth was Junior Bill, kind of a hillbilly name. He was not a "Jr." of his father, he was just the youngest kid in the family. He officially changed it later to William, but everybody called him Bill. I called him Daddy Bill or just Daddy. Always.

Republican music

Republicans sure do seem to have a hard time finding appropriate music to use on their campaigns! A couple of Democrats have too, but not nearly as many problems. The candidates and the people in charge of such things don't seem to be willing to either A) read all the lyrics, B) figure out what the song is really about, C) find out who the song belongs to and check to see if it's OK to use it.

Remember when Ronald Reagan's campaign used Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," thinking it was a jingoistic/patriotic song, when it was really about Vietnam veterans and their difficulties.

McCain is breaking records with campaign song problems. He had a problem over using the John Mellencamp song "Pink Houses," which Mellencamp made them pull. Well duh! Mellencamp supports Democrats and has made appearances at rallies with Obama, Clinton and Edwards this year (originally he was an Edwards supporter, and he is always a bit of an activist). McCain was using "Johnny B. Goode," and although Chuck Berry is still letting them use it for now, he's made it clear that he supports Barack Obama. The latest flap is about him using the Orleans song "Still the One," but someone failed to realize that the co-writer of that song and founding member of Orleans (John Hall) is now a Democratic congressman. Even Abba reportedly freaked over his use of their song "Take a Chance on Me".

I don't see why they have such a hard time. He could tap into all those country songs (and by that I mean the plastic clear-channel stuff on most radio stations) that will work for Republicans, there's plenty of it that's on-message.

Links and sources:
Candidates' songs hit a few sour notes
Chuck Berry joins chorus of musicians snubbing McCain's campaign
Stop Using My Song

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I saw this on a mailing list I'm on. It's a joke about having A.A.A.D.D. (Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder). I don't think there is such a thing, but this is kinda funny. I've had symptoms like these most of my life. I'm good at starting things but not so good at finishing them, "finephobia" being a term I think I made up, meaning "the fear of finishing a task." ;-)

I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway,
I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage,
I notice mail on the porch table that
I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table,
put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table,
and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back
on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think,
since I'm going to be near the mailbox
when I take out the garbage anyway,
I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table,
and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study,
so I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks,
but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Coke is getting warm,
and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke,
a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye -- they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter,
and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk,
but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter,
fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,
I'll be looking for the remote,
but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table,
so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs,
but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers,
but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table,
get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to
remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

the car isn't washed

the bills aren't paid

there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter

the flowers don't have enough water,

there is still only 1 check in my check book,

I can't find the remote,

I can't find my glasses,

and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,
I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day,
and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem,
and I'll try to get some help for it,
but first I'll check my e-mail....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Captions? Comments?

Here is the first President Bush (a.k.a. Former First Lady Barbara Bush's Baby Daddy) engaging in a terrorist fist-bump with Anna Kournikova, which has obviously made his tennis racket happy. ;-)

Found here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

...but the fastest growing religion is "Jedi"

[LINK] This study suggests that intelligent people are less likely to believe in God. I don't really think it's that simple. Yes, they've shown that IQ is going up (I am not so sure of that!) and church attendance is going down, and I hate to say it but the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster has presented a parody of just this sort of statistic by demonstrating that global temperatures have increased over the years with a reverse correlation to the number of pirates worldwide. (Sister Angel Hair of the Pastafarian persuasion (a.k.a. Blueberry) says "May You Be Touched By His Noodley Appendages")

OK, OK, this is less far-fetched than the pirates, and there really might be a relevant correlation, I just think it's hard to prove.

I do think that in general, a lot of people with high IQs are curious, questioning, and maybe a tad skeptical -- but just as many are deeply religious, like to follow traditions whether religious or not, and some are even evangelical or fundamentalist! I have heard many more people confess their atheism at Mensa gatherings than I've heard in random gatherings of people, but it's very likely to be because people at Mensa gatherings have no reason to keep things like that hidden, there are no social repercussions. It's an open and free situation. People are quite willing to frankly discuss any topic you'd care to bring up.

I also firmly believe that as people are exposed to global cultures (whether through personal travels, books, movies, TV shows, or NPR) they are likely to come to the realization that there are more "realities" out there than they one they were raised with from their cradle to their current four walls. It is simply not satisfying enough to believe everything that you were taught by parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Those people were fallible and we have all been let down by their versions of the truth. When it comes to religious leaders in particular, they are so elevated (sometimes even considered to be divine!) that when they fall, they fall hard. They crash and burn. And your faith can go with it if they were the stewards of it.

Even without fallen idols and disappointing heroes, once the same cold light of reality shines upon your own myths as harshly as it shines on the myths of others -- you often re-evaluate everything that you believe(d).

And there are "true believers" (a.k.a Koolaid drinkers, a.k.a Sheeple) in every group you'd care to assemble, no matter what "gods" they believe in -- could be a supernatural being, a sports team, a candidate, or a band. Whatever thing is guiding your life, you could make the case that there's your god. It isn't right or wrong -- it's dangerous, yes, if you follow bad leaders or causes or let someone else do your thinking for you -- but it's human to look for paths in life.

I'm pretty sure humans are evolving. Not saying it's positive or negative, but we are bending the curves in any case (just like the global temperature numbers are, by the way) (and if I wonder of those two statistics are related? I'm thinking that if we don't evolve quickly, we are going to do ourselves in)

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Purrsday Night - Separated at birth

This is one of our street cats (above). We don't know his name, but think that there's a chance that he might be Jax's brother. They look quite a bit alike (see Jax on the right), not just because they are both black, but this guy has that magnificent mountain lion chin that Jax has. It juts out, where most kitties have a small chin, their faces are shaped the same and they have slanted eyes. I guess it's also possible that this guy is either Jax's dad or son. Jax was already fixed when we took him in. His first "caretakers" did that, even if they thought caring for him was finished after that. He lived on the street with almost no care for his first 7 years.

As you can see, the street guy has also been modified in some very undesirable ways (at least for him) -- he is missing his tail and one of his ears. MrB has managed to get acquainted with this very sweet kitty, but I have yet to actually make contact, other than to scare him into the storm sewer. Some day, when the weather is nice and the mosquitoes aren't feeding, I hope to be sitting outside when he comes over to drink out of the birdbath. Then maybe we can make our introductions.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Mind of Mog on Sunday - -

PC gone too far

[LINK] OK, normally I do not mind it when political correctness pushes the envelope. I actually think it's better to err on the side of there being too much of it rather than not enough. It's important to respect people.

BUT... in this case I have to object.

The Williamson County Animal Shelter is was having a special promotion offering reduced adoption fees for animals with black coats. Black animals are adopted less frequently than others. This is a national statistic. The shelter was calling the promotion "Black is Beautiful". People protested the use of that phrase because of the Juneteenth celebration that is held on June 19th. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery.

Wilco is a kill shelter. "Kill shelter" seems like quite an oxymoron, doesn't it? But the truth is that animals brought there have very little chance of surviving the experience. They are supposed to give unidentified strays 72 hours, and identified ones a week, but that shelter has been notorious for making mistakes and killing animals that should have been kept longer (but that is another issue, along with the investigations of animal abuse and neglect at the shelter). The point is that they (these cats and dogs) need all the help they can get. It's a matter of life and death... and it's mostly death... so shame on the party-planners who have traded political correctness for who knows how many dog and cat lives.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Heathens and beloved Pig

A blog re-post from The Band of Heathens (linking to MySpace blogs is a pain). I'm always glad when people get home safe. Too bad they missed that Nashville gig though. That would have been a good'un with great exposure. Here's your soundtrack on the right.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tankers on Fire

Last night we played a benefit in San Marcos for the youth shelter there. It was a good time and I think they raised a bunch of money for the children. Help for the little heathens. Always a good thing. We left by 11pm, giving us exactly 15 hours to drive through the night to Nashville, for a show at the CMA Festival on the big Chevy Stage outside the next afternoon. We figured 2 hours of slop time was enough for the 13 hour drive… Normally we'd leave earlier to give us more time, but we wanted to play both of these shows, so that's what it would have to be…

We were somewhere east of Greenville, Tx, about an hour from the Arkansas border around 4 or 5am when there was a loud explosion a couple hundred yards ahead of us. We roll up around the corner and there is a tanker truck engulfed in 100 foot flames laid out across the road before us, burning to a crisp. We come to a stop about 10 or 15 cars behind it as everybody gets out and gets as close as possible until we realize there is really nothing we can do. It's impossible to tell if anybody is inside, or if they all got out, or what was going on. One car turned around and came back towards us with it's whole front end charred and burned black. Must've been close when it happened. Fire trucks show up, 3 or 4 ambulances come and go, and we're in the pitch black early morning hours, wandering the streets of burning hell, wondering if and how anybody would have survived the mangled, burning heap of molten steel and rubber. Hopefully they all got out before it exploded. We're still not sure whether there was a collision with another car, or if it was just the truck, but either way, it was ugly.

Still in shock, somebody remembers the show we have in t-minus 8 hours, 550 miles away. I silently said a prayer for the early morning souls of I-30, and we press onward across the median to the feeder road and start backtracking to find some Deliverance back road and a pathway around the mess on the highway. Along the way we pass a couple horses spooked by the explosion milling around in the roads. They must've jumped their fences.

About an hour after the explosion occurred, we're back on the highway, farther down the line, on track to make it to Nashville with time to spare… until we hear another explosive sound coming from the engine of our Mighty White Pig, the Faithful Dodge Sprinter 2500. After a couple brief stops to bang on this, rattle that, and jiggle the fuel- combustible- injection- turbo- hose- something or other, we could not find the problem so we pressed on. At around 6 am (Saturday), 8 hours before our show, the Pig took her last breath and coasted to a silent stop in the parking lot in Mount Pleasant, Tx. Needless to say, there was nothing pleasant about this scene. We spent the day talking to mechanics, tow trucks drivers, rental car companies, and hecklers who thought it was funny to see the long haired hippies in their European looking Sprinter van with nowhere to go. There would be No repairman who knows this particular diesel engine until Monday, because he was at a funeral. There would be No rental companies from Dallas to Arkansas that have a single 15-18 passenger van to fit 6 of us and our gear. There would be No pleasant memories for the Heathens from Mount Pleasant, Tx. And most importantly, there would be No Heathens at the gig in Nashville at the CMA Festival this afternoon.

Although it sucks to start off our 12-day trek to the east coast by leaving our van with an auto repair shop in Mount Pleasant, Tx and by canceling our first show at the CMA Festival, we will not be denied. We found an econoline cargo van in the parking lot across the street from the mechanics shop and we're renting it for 2 weeks along with a 4-door sedan. We will caravan to the rest of our shows, bringing American Rock 'n' Roll to the people of this great nation, in rememberance of our Mighty White Pig, who we hope to reunite with in 2 weeks.

Since it's been 2 days without sleep, and we've got some miles ahead of us, I must go. I hope to see you in New York on Tuesday, New Jersey on Wednesday, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Arlington night... Blablablabla.



The Band of Heathens

Tags: - - -

A brief snack

Seattle has a sense of humor

They named their trolley "S.L.U.T."

(something tells me this might change)

Monday, June 09, 2008

In the water, in the blood

Just catching up on reports for the last week (and a half) here in the music town. I already posted on the Wed. June 4th Quebe Sisters' show - featuring 3 fantastic sibling fiddler/singers from Texas. The following evening, on Thursday, was Paula Nelson at The Shady Grove. Paula also comes from a musical family, being the daughter of Willie, and having grown up around the extended "family" that included people like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and nearly anyone you could name in country music. Shady provides a nice, relaxed backyard groove. I got to meet Paula's mom and other family members, which was pretty cool, and really enjoyed the show too.
Following Paula was Micky and the Motorcars, a band that features 2 brothers who are the 2 brothers of the ones in Reckless Kelly: Micky, Gary, Willy and Cody Braun, respectively. The 2 bands have a similar feel, and you wonder why the Idaho natives didn't end up in the same band after landing in Austin, Texas many years ago... but maybe they had their fill of that in the 9 years they spent in a band with their dad as kids (they were good enough for The Tonight Show!)

Skipping backwards a week to May 29th at Shady Grove, there was Del Castillo. If you read this blog regularly, you know they are one of my favorite bands to see live, and this show did not disappoint. Like Reckless Kelly and Micky and the Motorcars, the band features 2 brothers... the enormously talented guitar playing Rick and Mark del Castillo, who are some of the finest guitarists I have seen anywhere. Add Alex "Lobo" Ruiz's passionate vocals, bass, 2 more on percussion, lots of energy and there you have it. I've never seen Shady Grove turned on its ear like that. The shows they have there are played to seated, relaxing folks or standing socializers in the back. Normally the music promotes that groove, but this one was quite a bit more intense. There was dancing!! (It's practically required at a D.C. show). All of the above-mentioned shows were free, by the way!

The last event was this past Sunday, June 8th at Antone's. It was a benefit for prostate cancer awareness, and for our friend and Austin music legend Van Wilks. Van is a survivor of this disease, having discovered his in the early stages and undergoing surgery this past February. As you may or may not know, Austin is home to some of the best guitar players in the world (some more famous than others, but fame is not always the best indicator of talent and skill). Quite a few were on hand to play this benefit. It started very early in the evening with a couple of young bands (Fireants and Joker). I dug up some video on the performers, so get ready for guitar, Texas style!!

Dave Sebree, rarely gigs with his own band, plays with Beto and the Fairlanes, owns and runs the Austin School of Music. This vid is a few years old. Also, super nice guy and no big ego. Great player!!!

Carolyn Wonderland (pictured above), been playing the clubs in Austin for years, has shared the stage with Bonnie Raitt who gave her some major kudos, just did a taping of Austin City Limits (the PBS show).

Van Wilks (pictured above), this is an older video (but the intro features the poster for Sunday's event)

Eric Johnson. EJ is extremely copyright-sensitive, so here's his video that was on MTV awhile back, a gorgeous instrumental he still plays, "Trademark":
The band in this video is the same one Eric played with on Sunday. He hasn't (to my knowledge) played with bassist Kyle Brock for many many years, not in public anyway. I had not seen Eric for over a year, and we didn't have time to hang around to say Hi because of MrB needing to get up at 5am the next day for work (I took a vacation/recovery day off -- after about 8 hours of standing with very sweaty hot temperatures and nothing to eat but 4 crackers -- Gaaaah! My dogs were barking!!). Eric Johnson is my favorite guitar player in the world, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Carson Brock is the son of the aforementioned Kyle Brock, and I believe he's one of Van's guitar students. Anyway, I don't even know if he's in high school yet, and he kicks ass on guitar!! Definitely in the vein of Eric Johnson in style. He will only get better and better.

David Grissom is another local guitar god. He's known for playing with Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, the Dixie Chicks, and Storyville. Here he is just being impressive all by himself:

It's great how this community pulls together to raise funds for causes and for each other, and all you men need to make sure to get yourself checked for prostate cancer. It's a hell of a lot more common than we realize, and if it's caught early there are good recovery statistics.

Happy Birthday Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp turns 45 today, but can still pass for 20 years younger. He makes any movie he's in worth watching just for his performance if nothing else. He looks a hundred different ways in photos, even those taken off the set, because he's never truly between characters. He's known for playing really eccentric characters, and likes to get "uglied up" although that never actually happens.

J.D. wiki

IMDB bio

Friday, June 06, 2008

Clark! and Dylan!

General Wesley Clark has endorsed Obama in a call for unity. He made the announcement on his mailing list, and you can read the text of the endorsement here. He's my top pick for VP, or at least something in the Obama administration.

And Bob Dylan has stated his support for Obama in this article which quotes from an interview with the Times in London. Also, according to the article, Dylan has never endorsed a candidate before. Here's a quote:
"Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval.

"Poverty is demoralizing," he said. "You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up Barack Obama. He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to."

Dylan, 67, reportedly shook hands with his interviewer and as he walked out the door, added, "You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future."

Furbaby Friday - Jax's pillow

This cat does like people feet. Jax sez we should be glad that somebody likes our feet since they are usually not our best feature.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at COTC - -