Banditos (Mexico, Part 1)

15 07 2017

I’ve been “blogging” since the mid 90s, but that doesn’t mean everything I’ve ever written is still available.  My previous blog host went *poof* in the night, so I lost a lot of the stuff I have written.  A few entries are still available via the Internet Wayback Machine, and some have even been re-posted here, but the bulk of the narration of my “crazy days” are gone.  So perhaps I should start trying to recreate them – the moments – here.  Now.

How ’bout we start with my one and only Mexico trip?  You know, that time I visited a border town…

So just how far down do you wanna go
We could talk it out over a cup of Joe
And you can look deep in my eyes
Like I was a super-model

My boss and her boyfriend (at the time) invited myself and another work compadre on a trip to the border town of Ciudad Acuna, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas.  I was separated from my wife at that time – we were well on our way to the eventual divorce – and I found myself with vacation time to spare.  So why not go?  I’d never left the country before, after all.

(Fun fact:  I started writing this about 2 weeks ago but I was too tired to finish.  Then, just this week, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of a road sign in Del Rio.  The sign noted it was a mere 3 miles to Acuna and I was reminded that I began this entry.  Now is the time to finish it.)

I’ll spare the details, fuzzy as they are, from the drove down.  It was rather uneventful, anyway, save for a funny story about a “West Texas how do you do”.  And even that story would probably be funny to only those of us on the trip.  You see, my friend Chad and I spent the entire drive from DFW to Mexico sitting in the back seat drinking beer.  (Don’t judge, please – this was a long time ago.)  Eventually, Chad got bored (or brave) and just started waving at people.  What I really mean is that he started waving at everyone.

Somewhere south of San Angelo we stopped at a rest area.  Not a rest area like you’d see on an interstate highway, with somewhat proper bathroom facilities, but basically just a pull off on the side of the road with a picnic table or two.  As Mike went into the scrub brush to find a place to pee, Chad and I stayed in the backseat and Chad waved at every passing vehicle.

Eventually, one of these wave recipients turned around to check on us.  The driver was worried that we needed some help.  “Is everything ok?”, he asked when he pulled up next to our truck.  “Yup”, Chad replied.  “Just waving at people.”  (I swear, that is *exactly* what was said.)

The friendly passerby then said “Well, a West Texas ‘how-do-you-do’ to you!” before driving off.  It was almost like visiting a foreign land.  Almost.

We arrived in Del Rio well after sunset, still having to make the border crossing and check into our hotel on the other side of the river, so we commissioned a taxi.  Keep in mind that this trip occurred in 2004 or 2005. Border patrol stringency, even post 9-11, was not yet at 2017 standards.

So give you ID card to the border guard
Your alias says you Captain John Luke Picard
Of the United Federation of Planets
‘Cause they won’t speak English any ways

Luckily, Taxi Jesse was there for us.

Don’t ask me how we found him.  Hell, he might have found us.  All I know is that he was a Mexican national who shuttled people across the border in his “taxi” – a small car of a make I cannot remember.  I will say the vehicle was closer to a Gremlin or Pinto than it was to a Taurus or Escort.  I’d probably not recall Jesse at all if it were not for his business card.

Jesse actually hand wrote/illustrated all his business cards.  Imagine the time it took to do that.  This was one enterprising dude.  It was the size of a typical business card, with his phone number and a crude illustration of a taxi, along with his name – Taxi Jesse.  It’s the only reason I remember so much about him (because I was probably about 12 beers in at the time), so it was definitely an example of his genius.

True to his word, Jesse got us across the border.  Highway 239 in Texas turned into Miguel Hidalgo in Acuna, and our hotel was probably only a quarter of a mile from the actual river crossing on that same road.  For the first (and only) time in my life, I checked into a hotel like I was buying tickets at a movie theater.  There was no lobby, only a street front window manned by a dude who acted like he had better things to do.  We walked up the stairs to our rooms – Deanna and Mike in one, Chad and I in the other – and then set off to find beer.  (Again, please don’t judge.)

It was pretty late so we were just looking for a package store.  You know, somewhere we could buy a couple of 12 packs and take them back to the room(s) while decompressing from the 6 hour drive.  I’m not sure if you know this, but 7-11s are not on every corner in Mexico – even a border town.  We walked for quite a while, venturing further into the city proper, and never once came upon a bodega for us to stock up on drinks.

We finally gave up our quest to find “beer to go” just as we happened upon a bar several streets away from the river.  Suffering from a bad case of the “give ups”, we sauntered into the cantina wanting only a cold beer.  Or six.

Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people
So meet me at the mission at midnight
We’ll divy up there
Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people

It was like a movie when we entered.  Not a heroic one, mind you.  More like an “oh, shit” one.  As we crossed the threshold into the bar, all eyes immediately turned to us.  Hardened eyes, those of people accustomed to hard labor (or perhaps worse?) who had no use for outsiders – which we clearly were.

Mental gymnastics told us that it would be better for us to continue into the bar instead of fleeing in fear.  After all, we didn’t want to offend.  All we wanted was a beer or six.  Each.

We found a table rather easily (closest to the door, obviously) and sat down.  We were soon visited by one waitress to take our order and two women of dubious distinction who took seats next to Chad and myself.  Both of these women placed a drink order along with ours like it was expected.

We (wisely) did not argue.

The woman who sat next to me placed one hand on my thigh and the other on my pack of cigarettes that I’d set upon the table.  Her thigh hand was lazy, but the cigarette hand helped itself to one of my smokes.  Drinks were delivered to the table, and an uncomfortable silence descended upon us gringos.  Until Chad broke it.

I fear that I’m now going to interrupt this story with a plea – a plea for proper punctuation.  Before our trip down to Mexico, I sent Mike an email (since he was the only one in the traveling party who had been there before) to ask if it was better to carry cash (I was worried about getting mugged) or if our debit cards were a better bet.

His reply?  “No cash is better”

I took that to mean that we should not carry cash, and I relayed that message to Chad before we set off.  Unfortunately, it did not take long at all (hotel check in) to realize that Mike left a comma out of his reply.  It should have read “No, cash is better.”

Cash is king in Mexico, so Chad and I were left with almost no money except what was available on our debit cards in US banks.  For want of a comma, all hell was about to break loose.

After drinks were delivered to our table, Chad (in hilarious broken Spanish) attempted to ask our two new lady friends if there was an ATM nearby.  He was doing the pantomime of inserting a card into a machine, which I’m sure these ladies found quite confusing.  Or interesting, perhaps?

And that is how Chad ended up leaving the cantina with a strange woman in search of an ATM.  I stayed with my new “friend”, along with Mike and Deanna.  We all nursed our drinks as long as we could (except for the wench), waiting for Chad to return, until it became obvious that something had gone horribly wrong.  Chad had been gone too long.

Mike, veteran of previous Mexico trips, was tired of waiting.  And maybe a bit worried, too.  He told Deanna and I to sit tight while he went to look for our wayward tripmate.  So I was left sitting at a table with my boss and a Mexican strumpet,

I don’t know how long we sat there.  It might have only been only 15 minutes, but it felt like at least an hour.  After some time, Deanna and I decided to ditch the joint.  We figured that Chad and Mike knew where our hotel was, so they would certainly find us there.  Eventually.

As soon as we walked outside the cantina, we saw Mike walking rapidly toward us, all the while motioning us back inside.  If the gesture wasn’t enough, he was also saying “Get back inside!”  We retreated back to our table and soon heard the story of Chad’s travails.

Chad’s “woman” did indeed lead him to an ATM.  And that is when the federales descended upon him.  Here he was – a blond American at an ATM with a “known” prostitute giving him instructions (in a language he could not understand).  And that is when Mike found him, too.

Mike immediately pulled out his wallet (he did not know where to put an important comma but he knew that he could/should carry cash) and asked how much it would take to make the entire incident – harmless as it was – go away.  Much to his surprise, the cops refused his offer and backed away.  He and Chad then hurried back to the scary bar that had suddenly turned into our safe zone.

We all savored one more beer before heading back to our hotel if for no other reason than to waste time and to allow the police to find something else to occupy their time.  Surely this would be our only close call with bad news while in Acuna, right?

Wrong.

So I got the pistol
So I get the Pesos
Yeah that seems fair
– “Banditos”, The Refreshments

 

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Mr. Wrong

30 06 2017

Nelson DeMille once wrote “Nostalgia is basically the ability to forget the things that sucked.”  I realize that DeMille is not generally recognized among the darlings of American literary geniuses, but damn – I love that line.

And so I found myself engulfed in a sea of nostalgia tonight.

Well, meet me by the river that goes nowhere
Let me lay my sorry trip on you
Won’t you meet me by the river, little darlin’?
I might just let you see my bad tattoo

It all started… Well, I’ll be honest. I don’t remember where it all started because I began writing this a week ago and got too tired (or distracted) to finish.  But I’m pretty sure it started with me looking at my YouTube uploads and getting sucked in to past adventures.  And that got me thinking in all kinds of different ways.

My first video upload to YouTube was 9 years ago, and that is kind of crazy to think about.  Those were the days of flip phones and digital cameras.  There was no uploading on the spot.  The story behind my first video was that I was living in Austin (I had moved there in October of 2007) and my friend JP contacted me to let me know that he had some VIP passes to a free SXSW show and asked if I was interested in going.

Well, sure, I was interested.  I was still in my 30s then, after all. I didn’t know what VIP passes entailed, but I also didn’t care because this was before I got jaded.  And when JP told me that the headlining band was the BoDeans?  I was sold.

(I had already seen them once before when they opened for U2 at the Tarrant County Convention Center in 1987 on the Joshua Tree tour.)

It turns out that VIP passes got us “side stage” seats.  There was a park full of people to watch this free show, but we (my then wife and I) got to avoid that mass of humanity because I knew someone.  Pretty damn fortunate.

Also fortunate was that my wife at the time had a digital camera with excellent video recording capabilities and a removable SD card for an easy transfer to a computer.  And that is where this snippet of “Fadeaway” comes from:

Fun fact:  Not long after that show, we adopted a dog from the Georgetown animal shelter.  And we named him Bodie after the BoDeans.  The shelter said they thought he was 3 years old at that time.  It is now 10 years later and he is still my boy.

So here is the crazy thing… That first video I ever uploaded?  It is my most viewed video and second place isn’t even close.  Some of the disparity between first and second place might be easily explained by upload date (it stands to reason that an earlier upload would have more time to garner more views), but I think content is king here.

So with all that said, here are my top 5 videos uploaded to YouTube based on views.

#5:  The only time my brothers’ band recorded an “official” music video.  I had a friend convert this from VHS to digital format and uploaded it 10 months ago. (52 views)

#4:  “Broom, Broom – Out Go the Lights”.  Filmed (is that the right word?) while living in Round Rock.  I still think this is funny, but maybe you had to be there?  Oh, and thanks to Pat Travers for a kick ass song.  (95 views)

#3:  This was a recent entry from the Live Oak in Fort Worth when pop poppins had a reunion show.  I’m not a big fan of recording songs at concerts that I’m attending, but I made an exception for this one.  (267 views)

#2:  Another SXSW film, this one from 7 years ago.  And, believe it or not, it is again a BoDeans show.  It is also the same song that will be number 1 on this list.  Only this video is not about the band, but about the interpretive dance. (558 views)

#1: BoDeans at SXSW in 2008.  Sure, it is only a 5 minute snippet of the song, but this was 9 years ago.  And I guess it was good enough to garner 8,456 views.  Damn.

So earlier tonight I started thinking about these old videos, totally forgetting how I started this entry a week ago.  I knew I had an idea about my YouTube videos that needed to be finished, but that’s it.  I did not recall that I started this entry with this:

Nelson DeMille once wrote “Nostalgia is basically the ability to forget the things that sucked.”  I realize that DeMille is not generally recognized among the darlings of American literary geniuses, but damn – I love that line.

And tonight I posted on Facebook the following:

Nelson DeMille once wrote “Nostalgia is basically the ability to forget the things that sucked.” And that is where I’m at right now for a variety of reasons. Can’t complain.

I guess I really needed to get this off my chest. Or I need to work on my originality.

 

 





Once In A Lifetime

11 06 2017

Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about my past travels and travails.  Most have been the latter, I think, though that doesn’t mean they were without merit.  We are all a product of our past experiences, each one a new lesson.  Never mind the fact that some lessons need to be taught several times before taking root.

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

One of the cool things about my job is that – hypothetically, at least – I can work from anywhere I want.  Of course, I hear people who have similar jobs say this all the time and never act on it.  That includes myself, though other than last year I never had any reason to even think about moving somewhere else.

This will be a long entry because I’m working some shit out as I type.

Back in late 2005, I helped my friend Steph move two time zones away.  I helped her load up a Uhaul in Lewisville, Texas which we then attached to her Chevy pickup.  After that, my job was simple – just drive.  I pulled that damn thing across the Continental Divide near Raton, New Mexico, north through Colorado, and then west across the deceptively steep plains of southern Wyoming.  From there I continued to pull her belongings through beautiful parts of Utah before traversing the salt flats on the way to Nevada.

Oh, Nevada.  Beautiful and forlorn at the same time.

Anyway, I got Steph (and her belongings) to Reno just fine and in time to start her new job.  My last two nights in the Biggest Little City were spent by myself in a now closed casino hotel.  I watched Monday Night Football (Washington beat my Cowboys 14-13), walked around downtown Reno (a lot), and joked around with people on the elevator of my hotel (also a lot).  Then I took a flight home to my 600 sqft apartment in Bedford, Texas and had an epiphany of sorts, though it was almost self destructive.

At that time, I’d been at my current job for 10 years and I had no interest at all in “moving up the ladder” – no matter how many times I was asked.  Longer, shittier hours for less pay?  Not my jams.

So I was jealous of Steph.  Actually, envious would be a better word.  I was stuck in a rut and she was on an adventure.  I was playing it safe and she was taking risks.  I was mired in a land of asphalt, traffic, and mini malls.  She was 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe.  And mountains.

About 5 months later I quit my job with no discernible plan in regards to next steps.  That was the first time I basically said “Fuck it – let’s make life interesting.”

I’ve done it many times since then, sometimes even on purpose.  A move to Austin in 2007 and an ill-fated (and very brief) move to Las Vegas in 2011 among them.

I used to take a lot of road trips.

It all started in 1990 when I hit the road with my first “serious” girlfriend.  We loaded up her Mustang GT convertible, put the top down , and headed east.  Our only plan was to meet up with my brothers in New Orleans while they were in that city playing a few gigs.  We were able to hang out a bit with my brothers in New Orleans at their crappy hotel, but only after spending the night in Baton Rouge first.  So the first two nights of this trip were spent in Louisiana, and after that?  We were all over the map.

We spent 7 nights on the road while traveling through 11 states.  We had no agenda, other than the aforementioned New Orleans escapade, and would decide where we were going next only after checking into a hotel from the previous night’s decision.

After nights in Baton Rogue and New Orleans, we stayed in Pensacola (FL), Montgomery (AL), Atlanta (GA), St Louis (MO), and somewhere in Arkansas that eludes me now.

After that trip, I got the bug.

Maybe it was that 1990 adventure, or the many camping trips to Colorado with my dad.  Then again, it may have started with the family move from Connecticut to Texas in 1975.  Or perhaps I would have been innately drawn to the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of the open road.

From Alpine, TX to Aspen, Co.  From Chico, TX to Chicago, IL.  From San Antonio, TX to San Jose, CA.  All places I’ve been, and all via automobile.

I haven’t taken a road trip in a long time.  I came close last year, but I ended up flying to Rhode Island with my brothers instead.

But all this talk about road tripping is nothing but bombast.  After all, it is only fun if there is a willing – and fun – passenger.

And those times when I actually moved?  To Austin and to Las Vegas?  Those were fun, too, in their own way.  I had a cohort for most of the duration in regards to the former, but the latter consisted of just a buddy to make the trip to Vegas.  And then I was on my own.

And when my buddy left?  Man, that was about as lonely as a fellow could get.  And his departure was on my birthday, no less.  True story:  I spent part of my 41st birthday between hotels – check out time at 11am from the first, check in time at 3pm at the other – texting with my brother Glenn.  It helped, albeit briefly.

I’m used to being alone now.

So that leads me to these burning questions… Is it time for another adventure?  Is there even another adventure out there for me?  And if so, am I up to it?

I’ve got a lot of friends, but it’s not like I hang out with them all the time.  At my age, most of my friends have kids, and kids mean obligations, and obligations mean less time for your friends.

So why not take another risk?  What do I have to lose?

The answer is “nothing”.

Earlier I alluded to camping trips in Colorado with my dad.  The picture below was taken on one of those trips.  I don’t know the specifics, but I can make a couple of guesses.

I think this photo was taken around 1977, when I was 7 years old.  (Yes, that is me in the picture.)

And I’m pretty sure (90% sure?) that this photo was taken at Cottonwood Pass, about halfway between Buena Vista and Gunnison, CO (if you take the back roads).

But what really strikes me is this:  Not a lot has changed for me in the 40 years since that photo has been taken.  I’m still looking out into the distance, still pondering possibilities.  Still creating adventures in my head.

Is there one more in me?

where

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
– “Once in a Lifetime”, Talking Heads

 





Country Feedback

7 05 2017

I’m not a TV guy, I swear.  At least, I’m not in the “normal” sense – or the traditional sense – if that makes se… well, you know what word goes there.  But I just can’t bring myself to do it three times in one sentence.

However, current technology and my Amazon Fire Stick have changed me.  Some might call it a problem.  Especially since the vast majority of my binge watching has occurred in these first three four plus months of 2017 and always after 9pm.  (Yeah, I started writing this a month ago.)

This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes
These clothes don’t fit us right
I’m to blame
It’s all the same
It’s all the same

And now I realize I need to keep some sort of a log about shows I’ve watched (or are in the middle of watching), so that is the entire motivation behind this entry.  But I’m also going to add a blurb about each show, so maybe if you’re looking for something to watch (or avoid) this will be helpful.  Also, I am going to group these by stream provider while totally ignoring the order in which they were watched.

Let’s start with the channel I clustered a bunch of my recent binging with:  HBO

  • True Detective (Seasons 1 & 2):  Season 2 was pretty, pretty good.  I know a lot of people felt it was a letdown from the first season, but I looked at them through different lenses and found the second story line quite interesting.  Of course, the first season was pretty damn remarkable.  Especially one moment in episode two.  (Guys reading this are now nodding knowingly)
  • The Leftovers (Seasons 1 & 2, first 3 episodes of season 3):  This is one of my most recent binges, and I hated for it to end.  I’m ready for season 3, for sure.  (That should let you know how long I’ve been working on this entry.  The final season has now started.)  This show is weird, creepy, and damn near believable.  Strong endorse.  In fact, I have watched seasons 1 and 2 twice.
  • The Night Of:  A long time ago, I had an idea for a novel.  It was going to be about a guy who gets absolutely plastered one night and then wakes up the next morning next to a dead woman with no recollection about what happened.  It was going to be called “Blind Drunk”.  Obviously I never wrote that book, and if I had, it would not have approached the brilliance of this nail biter show.
  • Big Little Lies:  This one-season show changed my viewing habits in that I could pretty much not stomach two episodes in a row.  Not because it was bad – no, this show was quite excellent – but because every episode was so tense.  And not in a Larry David/Michael Scott uncomfortable way, but in a punch to the gut way.  The domestic violence scenes were especially cringe-worthy.  Emotionally, it was too difficult for me to watch two in a row even though I wanted to know what happened next.
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  Game of Thrones (I’ve gotten 5 minutes into the first episode 3 times, so yeah), Westworld, and Veep.  I might get around to these eventually.

This next provider is one I purchased a subscription to for two shows only – South Park and Fargo.  So basically any show named after a town, real or fictional.  Of course, it also came with Seinfeld and a few other things I found interesting.  So let’s talk about HULU.

  • Fargo (Seasons 1 & 2):  Billy Bob Thornton’s acting in season 1 led me watching another show that will make this list below.  But that shouldn’t detract from season 2.  I found both of these seasons to be enjoyable in a cringe-worthy way.  Many years ago I read a book by a guy named Scott Smith (generic?) concerning several normal men who stumble onto a ton of cash.  Things spin wildly out of control from there, with every negative action spawning others exponentially.  And that is both Fargo seasons in a nutshell.  Coincidentally, a movie was made based on that Scott Smith novel and one of the stars was Billy Bob Thornton.
  • Shut Eye (incomplete):  My friend Nathan suggested this one to me knowing that I was a sucker for the campy demeanor of USA Network’s “Burn Notice” and that this show stars Jeffrey Donovan – the star of the aforementioned USA show as well as a main player in Fargo season 2.  But this show just didn’t grab me.  I might pick it back up when I run out of internet, but for now it goes in the reject pile.
  • 11.22.63:  This was a one season adaptation of Stephen King’s novel by the same name.  I’d previously read the book and loved it, but was a bit wary about the show because I’d been warned by my UK brother that major changes were made from the novel.  However, I felt that the changes didn’t really detract from the story as a whole but they were significant enough to make me feel like I was watching a totally different, yet still enjoyable, tale.  It might not be for everyone who read the book, but I loved it.
  • Homeland (incomplete):  I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series, but I only started it this week.  Way too early to state a definitive.  (UPDATE:  I’ve already forgotten about it.)
  • Seinfeld:  This is something I’ll watch just as background noise.  I’ve seen every episode multiple times, and I own the entire catalog on DVD, but it is still my siren song.  Hell, I wrote my own damn episode.
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  South Park (yes, one of the shows I purchased the subscription for has gone neglected), Top of the Lake, and The Path (on there just because of Breaking Bad’s Jesse).

This next provider is the one that got me into this mess to begin with because of the first show I’ll list.  It’s a little can-do company called NETFLIX.

  • Breaking Bad (all the seasons):  I started watching “Better Call Saul” with my girlfriend at the time, and thus was talked into watching the series that spawned it.  I was hooked and really enjoyed it, but I thought two other series were a tad better.  These three shows are what I call the Triumvirate and finishing third is nothing to shit on. The other two will be mentioned below.  Eventually.
  • Better Call Saul (in progress):  It would not surprise me if, at the end of this series, I end up liking it more than “Breaking Bad”.  I mean, Saul is so much cooler and interesting than Walt.  I recently described him as “an evil George Costanza”.
  • Narcos (Seasons 1 & 2):  Enlightening, scary, great acting, etc.  Some found season 2 to be too drawn out, but I didn’t really get that vibe.  I’m ready for the next chapter.
  • Mad Men (all the seasons):  I’ve never been much of a “follow the crowd” type, but I have to admit that the only reason I even started this show was because of all the hype it got from radio shows I listen to.  I expected to bail after a few episodes, but instead I cruised through the entire series in what I’m assuming to be record time.  I now remember why I always found advertising to be fascinating. I missed my calling.
  • Black Mirror (most of season 1):  Each episode of this show is a new story, so it is hard to judge this series on a whole.  I mean, some episodes I found amazing (the first one and the one about recorded memories) while others I found totally uninspiring (the treadmill one being the biggest culprit).  I’ll give this one a thumb sideways.
  • The Fall (I’m somewhere in season 3):  This one had great promise.  It started out quite strong, but season 2 began a steady decline that has forced me to move on to other, better things.  (Metaphor alert.)  It became a weekday soap opera on steroids with melodrama overload.  Meh.
  • Paranoid (very incomplete):  This is not a bad show, but with so many choices, it was easy to drop this one.  And I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t just a Black Sabbath song on a loop.
  • Weeds:  I’m on season 3, episode 4.  The same place I’ve been on this show for over a month.  Don’t get me wrong – it is highly entertaining (get it?), but similar to Seinfeld above, it is one that I don’t really have to dedicate my full attention to in order to maximize its value.  And, dear creator, I have always loved Mary-Louise Parker.  From West Wing to The Client to Weeds.  There is a metaphor in there somewhere…
  • Broadchurch:  My Alabama girlfriend suggested this one.  (I think?)  It has great promise, but I forgot all about it after being distracted by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of other shows.  But I will continue it.
  • Twin Peaks:  I need to start this one over.  I started watching it late one night, squiffed, and was immediately distracted by the fact that both of Susan’s parents (from Seinfeld, yo) are in the series.  Incomplete grade.
  • Nothing on my watchlist that I have not at least started.  So I’ve got that going for me.

And now to the final provider – the Sears for the millennials: AMAZON

  • The Wire (all the seasons):  The greatest show of all time (in my opinion).  Gritty and crude, but also very realistic feeling.  Fight through season 2.  It is necessary for character and plot development.  Trust me – you will be rewarded.  (This is show #1 in the Triumvirate I mentioned earlier.  And I just finished watching all 5 seasons again.  It will most likely not be the only time I do that.)
  • The Sopranos (all the seasons):  #2 in the Triumvirate. But also the one most likely to drop out when something better comes along.  In other words, I think Breaking Bad has more staying power than The Sopranos.
  • Mad Dogs (season 1):  My only explanation for this is that I must have been drunk when I started watching and that my personality was stubborn enough to make me finish this stupid season.  I should be better than this.
  • Treme (all the seasons):  Stellar cast, great story about New Orleans rebuilding after Katrina.  Its main focus is on the service industry of the city – music, bars, and restaurants.  This was the first show I watched after my Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire binge and the paucity of dead bodies was refreshing.  I loved this show and will most likely revisit it.  Created by the guys who created The Wire, it seems to nail the pulse of the target city.  Again.
  • Sneaky Pete (season 1):  When I asked Facebook friends for a binge suggestion, this show was the overwhelming favorite.  Yes, it beat out stalwarts like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  And damn, my friends are good.  I’ve always been a sucker for a good conman or grifter story, and this one is excellent so far.  No idea when season 2 comes around, but I’m ready.
  • The Man in the High Castle:  Alternate history, based on the Philip K. Dick book of the same name.  What if the Allies had lost WWII?  What would the United States look like?  I loved this show, though opinions seem to be split on it.  I will most likely re-watch it, too.
  • The Americans (seasons 1-4):  I didn’t even realize season 5 was available for streaming until writing this.  I loved the first 3 seasons, but I started feeling lukewarm during season 4.  The weird thing is that when the show started, it was a throwback to the Cold War era of the 1980s.  And it still is, but with recent events it seems kind of prescient.  Please do not let season 5 be a letdown…
  • Patriot:  Only one season to date, but I have watched it twice.  So far.  It is funny in a subtle way, and the Beastie Boy references are genius.  I posted on Facebook about this show once.  Something about it being akin to an Elmore Leonard novel mixed with Napoleon Dynamite humor written by someone who was squiffed out of his mind.  In other words, right up my alley.  There had better be a season 2.
  • Goliath:  I’m not really a Billy Bob Thornton fan, but damn.  He was great in Fargo’s first season and phenomenal in Sling Blade.  So what do I know?  This show was entertaining, and thoroughly unbelievable, but it still worked for me.  We need mindless entertainment from time to time.  Only one season so far, so we’ll see how this holds up.
  • Bosch (seasons 1-3):  I’ve read several of the Michael Connelly novels chronicling the life and work of the title character of this series, but it is just another cop series, right?  Wrong.  Bosch is the hero of the anti-heroes.  And the procedural details in this show are top notch.  This is a smart cop show done right.  The acting is great, including two veterans of The Wire (wait – Milo is a good guy?), and the storyline of the (unsolved) murder of Bosch’s prostitute mother permeates throughout.  One of the best “true” cop shows I’ve seen.
  • Fortitude:  My latest “find”.  Two seasons available, but I’ve only watched the first so far.  Great acting and casting – Stanley Tucci is amazing in the first season.  (Season 2 features Dennis Quaid.  What a coup.)  Many of you are probably familiar with Michael Chricton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Congo, and Disclosure).  But most of you are probably not familiar with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  The latter two have written many entertaining books about science gone awry with tinges of horror, the occult, and general greed.  (If you’ve seen the movie The Relic, that was a Preston/Child creation.) Anyway, this show is like a combination of the three of them – lots of science (dumbed down for us lowlies) and suspense.  Totally hooked.  And let me add this – the town of Fortitude has an inordinate amount of good looking women.  Who knew they were attracted to glaciers?
  • On My Watchlist But Not Yet Started:  Only one show  – The Missing.  I’ve run out of things to say.

The link to this blog goes automatically to both Facebook and Twitter for those who would like to contribute their thoughts and/or show suggestions.  There is also the comments section here, though that goes almost wholly unused.

But for now?  I’m just glad I finally finished this SOB.

A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot
Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged
A hotline, a wanted add
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
– R.E.M., “Country Feedback”

tv_zombie

 





Man, I Didn’t Even Title This One

27 04 2017

This all started when I opined on Facebook that if Seinfeld were set in 2017 then there would definitely be an episode about ending a text conversation with “K”.  And since the show has been off the air since 1998, I guess I have to write it.

But the one thing I cannot write is the “stand up open” that often preceded episodes.  For that, I present you with Jerry Seinfeld himself.

(Also, I have never written a script, screenplay, or even a treatment – whatever that is, but I’ve heard it’s nice – so just roll with me here.  I hope you enjoy it.)

[Setting: Monk’s Diner, Jerry and George sitting across from each other in a booth]

GEORGE:  Is it weird that Janet only wants to communicate via text messages?  I swear, Jerry, I am a neanderthal.  And my fingers are too fat to reply without a stupid typo.

JERRY:  Wait – I thought you were a hand model?  Doesn’t that help when you text?

(Jerry smirks and George scowls. Then George’s phone starts playing “Hello” by Lionel Richie.  Jerry cannot help himself.)

JERRY:  Hellllloooooo….. la la la.

(George stares at phone and then slowly looks up at Jerry.)

GEORGE:  K

JERRY:  Ronnie Kay?  Why is he texting you?  Did he pick up a stand up gig somewhere?

GEORGE:  No, no, no, NO.  Not Ronnie Kay.  Just the letter K.  That’s all it says.

JERRY:  Well that is certainly better than “no”, right?  Unless you just asked someone to engage in a menage a trois with her roommate and the roommate is a guy.

GEORGE:  No, it’s Janet.  I just asked her if she would like to eat at my parents’ on Saturday.  My mom is making paella.

JERRY:  Well ok, then.  It sounds like she is on board with this.  What is the big deal?

GEORGE:  I take the “meet the parents” step, with a home cooked meal on their turf, so that she can see why I am as twisted as I am, and all I get is one letter?  K?

JERRY:  Well maybe she’s driving.  Or grocery shopping.  Or pulling a golf ball out of a whale’s blowhole.  You can’t make assumptions based on a single letter text message.

GEORGE:  You know as well as I do that she is not pulling a golf ball out of a fish, or…

JERRY:  Mammal.

GEORGE:  Whatever.  (Waves dismissively.) We’ve been seeing each other for a month now, you’d think I’d rate more than a one letter reply.

JERRY:  Again, maybe she is pressed for time?  And she just wanted you to know that she got your invitation and is ok with it?  If she waited, say, an hour to reply, you’d freak out about that, right?  (Blank stare from George) Right?

GEORGE:  Is the “O” too much to ask, then?  Couldn’t it be “ok” and not just “k”?  For that matter, “sure” is only 3 more letters and “sounds great” is only 10 more.  Or 11 if you count the space. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

JERRY:  Oh, Biff…

(scene ends)

[Setting:  Jerry’s apartment, George and Jerry standing in the kitchen)

JERRY:  I really think you’re overreacting.  There are a million reasons why she replied with “K”.  All of them valid, by the way.

GEORGE:  But this is a big step, Jerry!  She’s going to meet my parents!  She’s going to see my loins, Jerry.  MY LOINS.

(Door chime buzzes)

JERRY:  Saved by the bell.  (Presses button) Who is it?

SPEAKER:  It’s Elaine

JERRY:  Come on up. (Presses button)

GEORGE:  You’ve met my parents.  You know how traumatic it can be.  And by just replying with a “K”, I have to think… (Door chime buzzes again)

JERRY: (Pressing button) Again?

ELAINE:  (Over speaker) Jerome… (Jerry presses a different button and cracks the door)

GEORGE: (looking exasperated) Anyway, I don’t think she understands the… the gravitas of this night.  My mom.  My dad.  The possibility of a cape being worn, not to mention the Manzere.

JERRY:  I thought it was The Bro?

GEORGE:  Semantics, but the visual is the same.  Plus… you know. (George walks to the couch)

JERRY:  I know what?

GEORGE:  I’m not sure how my parents will feel about me dating a… you know…

JERRY:  Woman?

GEORGE:  Har, har, har.  A woman who happens to be black, Jerry?

(Elaine enters the apartment)

ELAINE:  What’s up with the buzzer?  It’s been terrible ever since that new company took over the management of the building.  Vanda whatever they are called.  But guess what, boyz-os.  Have I got some news for you guys.

JERRY:  The sponge is making a comeback?

GEORGE:  Joel Rifkin was found innocent and you got back together with his namesake?

ELAINE:  No – that guy I mentioned meeting at the bodega?  He sent me a text today.

JERRY:  Oh, good.  Bodega meetings always go well.  So how much do you have to traffic?  A kilo?  More?

(Door bursts open as Kramer enters)

KRAMER:  Is it edibles?  Because if it is, I’m in.

ELAINE:  What is it with you guys?  It’s not like that.  In fact, Randy is an undercover police officer.  He’s looking for people selling cigarettes to minors.

JERRY:  You and the cigarettes again…

GEORGE:  So he just told you that?  That he is undercover?  Cops don’t do that.

ELAINE:  I’m not a minor, so I guess he felt it was safe to tell me.  What am I going to do to undermine him?  Hang around middle schools and tell everyone to be careful?

KRAMER:  If you want the good edibles, you should.

(Elaine rolls eyes and takes a Snapple out of the fridge)

JERRY:  So what’s the big news?

ELAINE:  I invited Fern to a baseball game at Camden Yards.  To watch the Orioles play the Yankees.  With my parents.

JERRY:  Well at least this time you’ll be in Baltimore wearing that cap.

GEORGE:  Wait – you said he texted you back?  What did his text say, exactly?

ELAINE:  (glaring at Jerry) Fern said he’d love to and that he was looking forward to it.

JERRY:  What kind of name is Fern, anyway?  It’s an a-frond to my nomenclature.

(Everyone rolls eyes)

ELAINE:  (to George) Hold on… let me look. (pulls out phone)  He said “That sounds great.  I look forward to meeting your parents.  I hope they like me.”  Then a heart emoji.

GEORGE:  Son of a…

ELAINE:  What’s wrong with that?

GEORGE:  Nothing.  Fern…

JERRY:  … texted on the spore of the moment.

(Eyes roll)

GEORGE:  As I was saying (glares at Jerry), I invited Janet to my parents’ for dinner.  And all she sent as a reply was “K”.

ELAINE:  That’s it?  Really?

KRAMER:  One letter.  The kiss of death.  (Makes a Kramer face. You know what I mean.)

GEORGE:  Yes – one letter.  But Elaine’s new houseplant somehow managed a thoughtful reply to her.

JERRY:  Houseplant?  Let’s be fair.  We have no idea how much… Never mind.  You have no idea how hard it is to come up with fern-centric jokes.

ELAINE:  (to George) So you invited Janet to meet your parents and she replied with just “K”?

GEORGE:  Yes.  It’s the risotto all over again…

ELAINE:  No… She has to do better than that.  There is a text code.  Something of this magnitude deserves a better reply.

GEORGE:  That’s what I told Jerry, but he just smugly told me that I was overreacting.

ELAINE:  So, Kramer – what do you think?

KRAMER:  I think that the radiation from cell phones is going to take care of this supposed “problem”.  Hey, Jerry – do you have any scallions?

JERRY:  Scallions?  Who has scallions?  And who expects their neighbor to have scallions?

GEORGE:  (to Kramer) So you don’t have a cell phone?

KRAMER:  Nope.  Don’t believe in them.

JERRY:  How can you not believe in them?  They exist.  Just look.  Look at George’s cell phone.  George, show him your phone.

GEORGE:  What?  No way!

KRAMER:  C’mon.  What’s it gonna hurt?  Do you have some (Kramer winks) photos on there I shouldn’t see?

GEORGE:  (defensively) No… (hands phone over to Kramer)

KRAMER:  (looking through phone) Well here’s your problem.  There are no sexy George photos here.  And you, my friend, are sexy.

GEORGE:  You really think so?

KRAMER:  You better believe it, bogombo.  Jerry – do you still have that sexy picture of George?

JERRY:  I have the picture that I think you’re referring to, but I don’t know if I’d call it “sexy”.

KRAMER:  Come on, Jerry – it isn’t all svelte people out there.  Some prefer a larger man – or woman – despite how superficial your tastes might be.

JERRY:  Ok, fine.  I have the photo.  Give me your number and I’ll send it to you.

KRAMER:  Oh, send it to George.  Cell phones are dangerous.  I won’t have one.

(Jerry sends the following picture to George’s phone)

george

KRAMER:  Send that to Janet, George.  Let her see that you deserve more than one letter.

JERRY: I hope she doesn’t mind back hair…

ELAINE:  I don’t have a good feeling about this.

(George’s cell phone starts playing Lionel Richie’s “Hello” again.)

GEORGE:  (looking at his phone) Janet says she is “really looking forward to meeting the parents”.

KRAMER:  Tell her that she won’t regret it, and send that photo with your reply.

JERRY:  This has disaster written all over it.

GEORGE:  You know what?  You’re right, Kramer.  I am going to send that picture, but I’m also going to add “K” just to let her know I’m on to her minuscule missives.

ELAINE:  And this is why only adults should have cell phones.

JERRY:  But George is… Never mind.  I see your point.

GEORGE: (hitting buttons on his phone) Ok, I’ve got the photo on there and the only thing I’m adding is the letter “K”.

JERRY:  That’ll show her.

GEORGE:  What the… ?  My key is stuck!  It added “KKK” for the message with my photo!  What should I do?

JERRY:  Turn the phone off, you idiot.  The very last thing you want to do is to send that message to your black girlfriend…

GEORGE:  She just HAPPENS to be black.

JERRY:  Anyway, you don’t want her to see “KKK” as a message, right?

GEORGE:  Well, no.  Obviously.  How do I make sure it won’t get sent to her?

KRAMER:  Let me have your phone.  I’ll fix this.

(George reluctantly hands his phone over to Kramer)

KRAMER:  So is this the backspace button?

ELAINE:  You handed your cell phone over to someone who has no idea how to use one in this time of crisis?

JERRY:  This cannot – will not – end well.

KRAMER:  There!  Got it!  It says “message sent”, so that’s good, right?  She got the “K”?

GEORGE:  Yes, she did.  Three times.  In a row.

(Blank stare from Kramer, head shaking from Jerry and Elaine)

KRAMER:  So I guess there is some paella available?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Summer Teeth (2017)

12 04 2017

Last week was the busiest, most eventful week I can recall having in quite some time.  Three dentist appointments in a two-day span, a night out in Dallas, an afternoon in the trendy Magnolia area of Fort Worth, two concerts (multiple bands), all the while never missing a beat at work.

I’m not used to being so… social.  Long entry follows.  And if you want to read about the tasing on the DART train in Dallas, you’ll have to read to (or skip to) the end.

Like a cloud his fingers explode
On the typewriter ribbon, the shadow grows
His heart’s in a bowl behind the bank
And every evening when he gets home
To make his supper and eat it alone
His black shirt cries
While his shoes get cold

The excitement started on Tuesday.  It was a day I had been planning on for so long that I began to think it would never happen.  But recent events really motivated me to make it happen, so I did.  And I showed up promptly at the dentist office at 8am.

You know the phrase “it’s like pulling teeth”?  Well, that doesn’t really apply to me because mine are (were) so bad that it is actually easy.  And Tuesday was the day to get them all out and replace them.  Gone were pipe dreams of saving them, and honestly those days were gone long ago.  Probably in my early 20s.  And my jaw bones continued to recede, making my partial denture virtually hidden by my upper lip, to the point where I looked toothless anyway.

I had considered just getting a new partial, but why not splurge (after a purge)?

So my morning appointment consisted of the worst part – making a mold of my mouth by filling it with goop that could best be described as, well, goop.  This stuff is thick, gooey, and had to go all the way to the back of my mouth, which is hell for me because I gag easy.  But I was home by 9am with little blue play-doh like bits stuck in my facial hair. Time for some more work before returning to Arlington for my 2pm appointment when the dirty work would happen.  So I worked until about 1:15 and then hit the road again.

It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything

It all started with shots to the gums.  I declined the gas because I was driving myself home, and the local anesthesia never bothered me (except for the initial pinch of the needle in my gums).  And while waiting for the numbness to set in, I killed time by posting to Facebook (a reference to the Seinfeld episode when Kramer is numb from the dentist and Mel Torme mistakes him for a “special needs” adult) and texting with my friend Nathan.  These types of things were not possible on my last tooth pulling outing. I think I watched TV, or something lame like that.

When it came time for the extractions, they were done with ease.  All 14 of them.

And then with a numb mouth full of blood and gauze, I headed home to work.

Yes – that’s right.  I had 14 teeth pulled and went immediately to work.  And worked until closing time.  Big, HUGE thanks to Peggy for going to the store to get me more gauze as I was going through those supplied to me like crazy.  Evidently I’m a bleeder.  And hydrocodone makes me extremely sleepy.  I learned that, too, but fought through it.

I was told to sleep in a sitting up position that night, which I did not trust myself to do in my bed, so I slept in a chair in the living room with my dog Bodie dutifully on the ottoman.  But before I even got to the chair, I ended up involuntarily emptying my stomach in a violent fit of throwing up basically nothing but blood.  I was glad I had changed into a t-shirt that I didn’t care about earlier in the evening, because this was going to be a long night.

All that stuff that happened in the dentist office earlier – the goop, the shots, the 14 extractions – those were the easy parts.  The challenging moments were just beginning.

I dozed on and off all night, probably never sleeping for more than one hour at a time.

One summer, a suicide
Another autumn, a travelers guide
He hits snooze twice before he dies
And every evening when he gets home
To make his supper and eat it alone
His black shirt cries
While his shoes get cold

I woke up at 8am with a mouth full of coagulated blood but also scared to spit it out lest I disturb the clotting in progress.  Thankfully I had a 10am appointment with the dentist, and just as thankful that Peggy was driving me there (and back).  The aide that put the goop in my mouth the day before dutifully cleaned out my mouth and said “Yeah, it looks like a liquid diet for you for a while.”  And, no, not the liquid diet that many of you used to see me on back in the day.

It might be a good time to point out that I had not had a cigarette since my 2pm appointment the day before, nor had I had a Diet Coke.  Two of my biggest vices right down the drain.  All I had indulged in was water, and that would continue until the following day when I slowly reintroduced nicotine back into my system.

Once home from that appointment, I went straight back to work.  Blood all over my shirt and in my mouth, but we have a business to run, you know?  I was in pain, and the pills helped, but also made me doze off at my keyboard several times while in the middle of something for five minute intervals.  After this day, the only time I took the pills again was right before bedtime for the next few nights.

Mercifully, when I woke up on Thursday morning, the bleeding had seemed to stop.  Healing had begun in earnest, and Peggy had bought me meal replacements (Boost, Ensure) and pudding cups, so I was finally able to get something into my stomach that was not a reddish bodily fluid.  The only thing left now was to learn how to talk again.  (That’s still a work in progress.)

And would I feel up to my weekend plans?  The answer was no, but also yes.  Because I gutted it out.  So to speak.

It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
It’s just a dream he keeps having

It’s rare that I quit working at our closing time of 2pm on Saturday, but I did on this week.  At precisely that time, I piled into the Jeep and headed to my friend Katy’s house in Dallas.  From there, she and I were going to a park in downtown for a concert/fair and also to meet a couple of other people – my friend Devin and my ex-wife Care.  Please, no questions.  Just roll with this.

Katy and I hung out in her backyard for a while before heading to the DART station to take the rail downtown.  That trip was relatively uneventful, which is amazing because the Deep Ellum Arts Festival was going on at the time and we went through that stop.  When we got to the park, I got Katy a beer and a water for me and then we walked around for a bit while listening to Mavis Staples just absolutely kill it on stage.  That woman and her band were amazing.  She definitely stole the show, and I found out later that I was not the only person who thought that.

Next up was Lucinda Williams, a crush of mine (hard living looks be damned), and I was disappointed in her set.  She did open with an Elvis Costello song (What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding) and close with a Neil Young song (Rockin in the Free World), but overall it was uninspired.  And she did not play my favorite song of hers (Hot Blood), so demerits were issued.

The Old 97s, hosts/organizers of the event closed the evening.  They sounded great, as usual, but Katy and I were so far away from the stage (by choice – no way we wanted to join that mob up front) that it was nothing really special.  Besides, I had seen them a dozen times or more before, so I just wanted to listen.  But it was the DART ride home that was exciting.

dallas

There were several cars on our train, but we happened to sit in the one that featured a man an a woman getting into a verbal altercation that led to the woman dropping her two bags of Williams Chicken before attacking the dude with a taser while people stood around yelling “Don’t hit her, man! Don’t hit her!”

Thankfully, he didn’t hit her otherwise who knows what would have happened.

The crazies got off a few stops before our destination, so the rest of the ride was calm – yet a bit tense for this non-city boy waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The drive from Dallas to home was uneventful, and I went to bed damn near right after I arrived.  That’s pretty rare for me.  But the hydrocodone I took didn’t hurt.  I had to get up early on Sunday to work before I left again at noon for another concert.

He feels lucky to have you here
In his kitchen, in your chair
Sometimes he forgets that you’re even there

And that’s where this week ends – at the Live Oak in Fort Worth for a reunion concert from pop poppins.  This would be the first time I’d seen this band since Edgefest 2 way back in 1993 (when they shared a bill with – among others – Dada, Belly, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Dinosaur Jr).  Of course, I’d seen them many times before that show as my brothers’ band was a frequent opening act for them.

I met my friend JP and his daughter at the show and was also able to at least say hello to 3/4 of the band.  I said hi and chatted very briefly with bassist Mark, got a hug from drummer extraordinaire Michael (current drummer for Better Than Ezra and the best drummer I’ve ever seen in concert), and talked a while with guitarist Bill.

While with Bill, some other guy walked up and Bill introduced us by saying that I was the brother of the guys in My 3 Sons/Digbees which was his “favorite local band”.  The other guy (I forget his name) said “Cool! I am a fan!”, to which I replied “Nice – I am, too.”

Yeah, I am a conversation master.

The show was great in a weird way.  There were some stops and starts, but it was all in good fun because it seemed like everyone in the room – and it was packed, but we had a reserved table – was a friend in some way to someone in the band.  So in a way it felt like we were all friends.  In other words, it reminded me of watching local bands at dive bars like The Crossing, Greenhouse Cafe, or Joe’s Garage back in the day.  It was pleasantly nostalgic.

pop poppins

It was also a fitting end to a long week – one filled with blood, music, tasing, and friends.  Something I could truly, finally, smile about.

me spare

 

 

It’s just a dream he keeps having
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
It’s just a dream he keeps having
It’s just a dream
And it doesn’t seem to mean anything
– Wilco, “Summer Teeth”





Shy (A tale in three small parts)

4 03 2017

It seems like another life (and in a sense, I guess it was) when I used to go watch my brothers’ band (Digbees) play.  I’d mainly go to their Fort Worth shows – places such as The Hop/Aardvark, Greenhouse Cafe, The Crossing, etc. – while passing up their Dallas shows.  That is, unless a Dallas show had them opening for pop poppins.

That actually happened a lot, almost as often as Anorex Cafe (say it fast – it’s kind of clever) opened for Digbees.  pop poppins (yes, they eschewed capitalization) got pretty big in the DF-dub.  They got nice airplay on the local alternative station (the one I wrote about when it went away), and even got some MTV time.  Things were looking up for the lads from Saginaw.

I’m not sure what happened after that, but I’m going to blame the grunge movement.  Both pop poppins and Digbees had great musicians (and songs, of course), but the flavor of the month ended up ruling the day.  As usual.

When I get up
Will she come back to me?
Should I give up
Or will she be a part of history and time?
Shy
Won’t show it
Shy
Don’t care
Shy
He won’t show it
Shy
Don’t even care…

When I was working in Pantego, sometime around 2002-2005 or so, our local all sports station The Ticket was doing a remote radio broadcast from J Gilligan’s in Arlington starting at 3pm.  Those boys didn’t often venture into the 817 area code, let alone a few miles from my work.  So plans were made to attend that day with my co-worker Debra and her P1 husband David.

While we were sitting there nursing our respective beers, I started getting gentle nudges from the two of them.  They were trying to get me to look over my shoulder at something that they found interesting, but they also didn’t want to call a lot of attention to their curiosity.  So of course I was then curious, too.

As casually as I could, I managed a glance behind me.  I knew immediately what had drawn their attention:  a man, leaning against a wall, wearing a full length white dress.

I turned back to my friends and asked “How much do you wanna bet I can go get a hug from that guy?”

Back then, I had been known to do some crazy stuff (nothing dangerous, just silly or frivolous), so I imagine there might have been some trepidation on their part.  But they were also game for my challenge.

I approached the man, he flashed a huge perfect smile, and we embraced without a word being spoken.

What David and Debra did not know was that the man in question was none other than William P Love (Bill Hitri in real life), guitar player and harmonizing vocalist extraordinaire from pop poppins.  And of course I knew him.

I should have bet them money…

When I get up
I know she’ll come down on me
If I grow up
I want to be a yogi, a part of me
Shy
Won’t show it
Shy
Don’t care
Shy
He won’t show it
Shy
Don’t even care…

People say a lot of bad things about Facebook, but it has its place when used wisely.

For example, I became Facebook friends with all four members of the band.  Bill used to interact with me often until his self-imposed silence.  Michael, who is now the drummer for Better Than Ezra, wishes me a happy birthday every single year.  Broose?  He’s in England, I think.  He always was the quiet one, even if he was the front man.

And the bass player Mark, who is also brother to the aforementioned Bill?  Facebook is how I found out that he was the head chef at Billy Bob’s.  (He has since moved on to a different chef post, but that is not germane to this story.)  While he was at Billy Bob’s, he got me on the guest list for a couple of Bob Schneider shows.  We always had good seats.

On one memorable night, he got me and five of my friends in for a Bob show and assigned someone to host us and that guy treated us like royalty.  One of those friends is no longer among us, but that night is filled with great memories for me.  Of course I wrote about it.

Now I get up
I know that she’ll come down on me
Never give up
Until I see a part of her in everything

Now, thanks to Facebook (and Mark, specifically), I have learned that pop poppins is playing a reunion show in Fort Worth in April.  Right now the date is April 8, but this is the third date so far, so I’m not making a definitive announcement yet.  Especially since I have tickets for the Old 97s County Fair that same day. (Lucinda Williams, yo.)

The venue, however, is not in question.  They will be playing at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, and I am keeping an eye on their calendar to see when/if it is set in stone.  Or font.  Whatever.

There are two things that would make this a perfect night for me, the first of which is possible, the second being only a pipe dream.

  1. The date changing to a different weekend so I can keep both commitments
  2. Digbees also getting back together to be the opening act

One can hope…

Shy
Won’t show it
Shy
Don’t care
Shy
He won’t show it
Shy
Don’t even care..
– “Shy”, pop poppins