Wow, they’re not wasting any time.

August 21, 2014

From the San Antonio Express-News:

Even if you weren’t one of the 105,000 or so George Strait fans packed into the AT&T Stadium in Arlington in June for the final stop of the “Cowboy Rides Away” tour, you can still grab a souvenir of that landmark concert.

On Sept. 16, Strait will release a 20-track live album, “The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium,” featuring almost a dozen of the country stars who joined him onstage that day.

For those of you not keeping track, that’s barely more than three months after the actual concert. That’s probably the fastest turnaround on a live album that I’ve ever seen, and definitely the fastest for a live George Strait collection; For The Last Time: Live from the Astrodome came out a little more than a year after the actual concert, and Live At Texas Stadium (from the show with Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett on Memorial Day weekend in 2004) came out almost three years after that show.

Not that I think that’s a bad thing, mind you. I remember not long after the Texas Stadium show hearing rumors that a live recording of that show was going to be made available at some point and waiting with bated breath. Got an email in June ’06 about it, but it was a false alarm; it finally hit the stores the first week of April 2007. As far as this recording goes, it looks pretty cool. I am not sure about some of the guests, but I bet it’ll still be more than worth the money. It’d take a LOT to sour me on anything with George.

(I do still long for the video to be released from the 1999 tour that CMT aired as An Evening with George Strait. Of all the Strait tours I saw, I think that one was probably my favorite between getting to see the Dixie Chicks and Asleep at the Wheel with their then-new fiddler Jason Roberts. And George’s SET LIST. “There Stands the Glass,” “Cherokee Maiden,” and “Linda On My Mind,” along with all the great Strait originals up to that point….)

Well, this is interesting.

August 18, 2014

From the San Antonio Express-News:

A Southeast Texas father accused of killing a drunk driver in a fit of rage after his two sons were fatally struck on a rural road near their home is set to have his day in court.

Jury selection in the murder trial of David Barajas was to begin Monday afternoon in Angleton….

Prosecutors face various difficulties at trial. No weapon was recovered and no witnesses have identified Barajas as the shooter.

“No witnesses have identified Barajas as the shooter.” Is thaaat right? I would be quite interested to know how many people were in the area when Jose Banda got shot. I can only imagine what they all said.

“Wha? Some dude a few feet away from me got shot after he plowed his truck into a guy getting his broken down truck off the road? And he killed that guy’s two kids? Huh. How ’bout that. Bad deal, yo. Oh, the guy who crashed the truck was drunk?! No, no. I didn’t see nothin’. Didn’t hear nothin’ either. No sirree Bob. Scout’s honor.”

That doesn’t sound quite right.

August 15, 2014

From a comment at Saving Country Music:

I can’t tell you how many people discount the opinions of younger listeners just because they had the misfortune of being born after everything supposedly went to hell for music. This, I’d say, is the crux of the “country music must evolve” argument from the mainstream: acting like the only “real” country music available stopped getting made 30 years ago in the mainstream is what causes people to backpedal the other way.

Do those younger people’s opinions get dismissed just because of their age? Or do they get dismissed because they think that everything before Garth and Shania is just “tired old stuff” (as one Hot New Country station in Houston put it back in the late 1990s) and thus no good? Based on what I’ve seen, I can’t help but think it’s the latter; you can look at Farce the Music’s recurring “Country Twitterfail” feature for perfect examples of this.

And why should these people be taken seriously? One of the defining features of country music is its reverence for its roots and heritage — respect for those who came before, if you want to put it like that. You listen to the likes of Florida-Georgia Line and Luke Bryan and none of that reverence is evident in their music; country’s just a label to them, not a genre with a history that commands and deserves respect.

And sure, country music has to evolve. If it didn’t it would become more or less a historical artifact of American culture, much like, say, jazz music. But how does that argument justify, for example, Jason Aldean being the mainstream star and getting the radio airplay instead of Jason Boland? Which song is the better representation of country music — “Burnin’ it Down” or “Ludlow”? I know my answer, and I bet you know my answer too.

Well, buh-bye, KZEP. It’s been fun.

August 9, 2014

So, yesterday afternoon I was checking Facebook and something came across my news feed about KZEP 104.5 changing to 93.3. Google yielded nothing most of the day, but later in the evening this popped up on

After too many years to count at 104.5 on the FM dial, San Antonio’s once-esteemed classic rock station KZEP has been moved to FM 93.3, which used to be used for a relatively weak simulcast of country station KRPT (92.5 K-BUC).

“Relatively weak” is putting it mildly. To put things in perspective, the transmitter on 93.3 is 250 watts. By way of comparison, the transmitter on 104.5 was a full 100,000 watts — the most powerful transmitter allowed for an FM radio station in the United States. Now, what does that mean, practically speaking?

Well, theoretically, you could pick up KZEP as far out as south Austin. Now you’ll be lucky to get it in New Braunfels. Theoretically, anyway.

But I can tell you it’s not going to work like that. Before today, 93.3 was home to a simulcast of 92.5 K-BUC out of Devine. Sabra and I listened to that a lot and liked it pretty well; it and KKYX on 104.9 were the FM stations we listened to more than anything in the truck. But it didn’t come in worth a damn on a consistent basis pretty much anywhere in San Antonio. It didn’t even show up in the ratings in San Antonio, most likely for just that reason. Hell, they’ll be lucky to get it in Schertz on a clear night now. Between that and firing morning host John Lisle (poor dude, can’t keep a job for shit in this town anymore), it’s hard to argue that KZEP isn’t deader than a doornail now. I found this comment from the station’s Facebook page to be rather funny, in a graveyard-humor sort of way:

“X106.7 (SA’s other classic rock station-ed.) is telling people y’all are off the air!”

Weeeeell, for all practical intents and purposes, the good folks at X106.7 are exactly right.

There’s a reason for that.

August 8, 2014

Reason for what, you ask?

A reason for a lot of us calling New Jersey a “dark and fascist state”:

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Philadelphia who was arrested for driving through New Jersey with a handgun. Allen had a permit for her gun in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey doesn’t recognize Pennsylvania gun permits. Despite the fact that Allen volunteered that she was in possession of the gun during her traffic stop, she was still arrested and charged with a felony. According to her attorney, she is eligible for a diversion program for first-time offenders that would avoid a felony conviction and mandatory 42 months in prison. But for reasons he has yet to articulate, New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain has refused to allow her to take advantage of that program.

Now, New Jersey Judge Michael Donio has denied Allen’s request to have the charge dismissed.

“Fortunately, the notoriety of this case will make it less likely Pennsylvanians will carry concealed and loaded handguns in New Jersey, thereby making them and the Garden State safer from gun violence,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence.

Really makes you want to throw shit, doesn’t it? And as if that wasn’t bad enough

Ray Rice is a famous football player.  Rice was not prosecuted after he knocked his fiancée unconscious in an Atlantic City casino earlier this year.  Instead, Rice received a two game suspension from the NFL.

After their arrest, both Rice and Allen qualified for a diversion program for first time offenders.  Rice would take classes on domestic violence and have a clean record if he stayed out of trouble.  Maybe Allen would take classes on New Jersey’s crazy concealed carry laws.  Though both were accepted into the program, the prosecuting attorney accepted Rice’s diversion but rejected Allen’s diversion.  The prosecutor allowed a violent multi-millionaire to clear his record but prosecuted a single mom working two jobs.  They kept Shaneen Allen in jail for 46 days until she could make bail.  Because they kept her in jail, she nearly lost her jobs, her home and her children.  That is a real war on a real woman.  In contrast, Ray Rice received a two game suspension from the NFL.

Yup, there’s your War On Women, all right. But I guess Shaneen Allen doesn’t count to NOW or the NAACP because she had a gun.

As far as Bryan Miller goes…dear God, I really could sputter profanity about that sociopathic asshole all day long, but some kind soul at the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association forum summed it quite nicely for me:

All you need to know about Bryan Miller is that he wants all of us to be helpless against criminals, and trust our protection to people like his dead brother, an FBI agent who couldn’t even protect himself while sitting inside a police station.

That’s right, super specially trained FBI Agent Miller was gunned down at his desk inside a busy police station, despite the presence of dozens of armed cops and his own issue weapon. But when we little people face threats, we should dial 911, wait on hold a bit, then convince an operator that we really, really need help, then provide our full street address, name, date of birth, and then wait on the line while we’re killed, to give those super specially trained cops and FBI guys time to set up a perimeter, decide who’s in charge of the scene, order donuts, pick the best seats in the Command Van, and vote on who gets blamed for the bodies. Oh, and the drugged-up illegal alien with the knife, you can just ask him to wait, say “por favor no me maten antes de que llegue la policía”. 

The surviving Miller (not the one killed while relying on cops to protect him) is like some weasel trying to get everyone to smoke cigarettes, and whining that it’s what his dead brother would have wanted if he hadn’t died of lung cancer from his 2 pack a day habit. His dead brother couldn’t react fast enough to shoot the maniac who was shooting up the PD, the fraction of a second he had just didn’t provide the means of survival. But scum like us can just wait 10 minutes for help, for the official Government Men With Guns to come rescue us. Like they did at Columbine, where they saved zero lives. Or Virginia Tech, where they saved zero lives. Or that poor bastard in Connecticut whose wife told the bank teller that her family was being held hostage, and the cops showed up and the entire family (except for the dad) was raped and slaughtered while the cops set up the perimeter and played rock-paper-scissors to decide who was Site Commander and ordered donuts, so they saved zero lives. 

Some people overcome tragedy and move forward. Others just go obsessively nuts. Laws against citizens with guns would have saved his brother exactly as effectively as laws against shooting cops and FBI agents inside police stations; which is to say, not at all. 

This prick never misses an opportunity to spin a tragedy in favor of unilateral disarmament, so fuck him and his dead brother. He put his “personal tragedy” into play in the gun control debate, I’m going to point out that his dead brother doesn’t translate into a compelling need for more helpless citizens.

And here we are, ten years later….

August 5, 2014

The musical protest song has a long and storied history in country music, as the traditional-pop cycles have gone on through the years, going back at least to 1975 and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.” They come about every few years still, even now as new duo Maddie and Tae are making a splash with their debut single “Girl In A Country Song.” While songs like “Girl…” have their place (and make no mistake, lyrically speaking, the tune is absolutely brilliant), I’ve always thought a protest song works a lot better when it decries what seem to be longer-term trends. “Murder on Music Row” was one, and the song featured below is another.

“Hank Williams Wouldn’t Make It Now In Nashville, Tennessee” was written by Aaron Wynne, steel guitar player for Texas country band Eleven Hundred Springs, and originally recorded by that band on their 2004 album Bandwagon:

“What happened to the music I loved so long ago? It seems it’s been forgotten on our country radio, where steel guitar and fiddle have become a novelty. What I’d give to make things like the way they used to be.”

The song also showed up later that year as the opening song on Jason Boland and the Stragglers’ Somewhere in the Middle; it was Boland’s version that I first heard, but both of them are great:

To hear that song, you’d never guess that it had been recorded when it was. Seems even more timely and relevant now, and that really is a damned shame.

You knew this sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later…

August 3, 2014

didn’t you?

Long story short: Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies get into a gunfight with a wanted parolee and mistakenly shoot an innocent man. According to Los Cerritos News, “Detectives have learned that the suspect, 24-year-old, Cedric Ramirez, a resident of Pico Rivera, was a parolee at large, wanted for two felony warrants, Ex-felon In Possession of a Firearm and Taking a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Consent.”

Felon in possession of a firearm, eh? Those Cali gun laws worked like a charm yet again!

I’m going to guess Cedric Ramirez wasn’t exactly a choir boy, as from pretty much every news account I’ve seen he was wanted for numerous parole violations and was a gang member before he went to prison, and I’m going to bet based on his actions immediately before his demise he had more than proved himself to be a danger to society before then.

So, why was Cedric Ramirez let out of jail in the first place?

That about sums it up.

August 2, 2014

Re: this


Streetcar musings, 31.7.14

July 31, 2014

So, it looks like the signature drive for the petition to put the streetcar project in San Antonio to a vote was wildly successful:

In a Wednesday memo obtained by the Express-News, City Clerk Leticia Vacek informed City Attorney Robbie Greenblum that she sought a legal opinion from the Texas Secretary of State’s office regarding the nearly 27,000 signatures collected by the Streetcar Vote Coalition.

That was some 7,000 signatures more than the coalition needed. In other words, they beat their goal by almost 35 percent. I don’t know how long it took them all to do that, but it’s pretty significant. No doubt County Judge Nelson Wolff saw that and translated it as 27,000 people that weren’t going to be voting for him in the next election.

Meanwhile, over on the editorial page, here’s how the Express-News is spinning the whole deal:

Leadership void derails streetcar…

That City Council, VIA Metropolitan Transit, former Mayor Julián Castro, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and business leaders couldn’t sell this vision is troubling.

It undercuts their ability to sell any vision for this community — and portends a leadership void that could haunt the city, in particular, for years.

Well, when what you’re selling doesn’t have any real advantages to offset its myriad disadvantages, it does make your product that much more difficult to sell. Look at what Nelson Wolff himself was saying six months ago: “But every city our size has them.” That was pretty much the streetcar boosters’ argument right there. Well, that and, “we need a multimodal mass transit system” and “we need to get all the buses out of downtown.”

That last thing, as I’ve said before, was just a smokescreen. I rode the bus through downtown going to work Monday through Friday for the last couple of years, on several routes, among them the 2 (which runs down Blanco and Fredericksburg into downtown via Flores and St. Mary’s), the 3 and 4 (both running down San Pedro), the 97 (which comes into downtown via Fredericksburg, Cypress, and St. Mary’s), and the 34 (which comes back up Navarro from St. Mary’s on the south side and keeps going as the 2 outbound up Navarro, Martin, Flores, and Fredericksburg Road). Yes, there were buses downtown, as befits the center of a major city with mass transit. But the way the streetcar boosters talked, you’d think the buses were choking the streets and choking the life right out of downtown, and that was just not the case.

And as I’ve freely admitted before, a multimodal transit system is a good, desirable thing — but, again, what happens when you have the low ridership on the streetcars that would justify a route change if that ridership was on a bus? Well, that’s just tough shit, isn’t it? And we haven’t even gotten to things like what That Guy talks about here:

“We have a light rail that goes from where very few people live to where very few people work. But it does snarl traffic when it crosses the surface streets that people use to avoid the freeways!”

Maybe you could argue that the whole streetcar thing was a failure of leadership. But to the extent it was, it’s due to the fact that the city leadership was trying to sell San Antonio citizens a questionable bill of goods.

Wow. This is huge.

July 28, 2014

From the San Antonio Express-News earlier this evening:

City support for VIA Metropolitan Transit’s controversial streetcar collapsed Monday as recently appointed San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor called for the $32 million that the city had pledged for it be redirected to other center city development initiatives.

She also said that the streetcar, and any rail plan, should not proceed without a public vote, and she pushed for the creation of a city charter commission to explore transportation and other issues.

“The current proposal is very unpopular,” Taylor said. “We certainly believe there needs to be community consensus on a comprehensive multimodal transportation plan.”

In a stunning reversal, County Judge Nelson Wolff said he would ask Bexar County’s appointees on the VIA board to withdraw their support for streetcar, a plan several years in the making. Wolff said officials simply were unable “to gain sufficient public support” for the rail project.

That’s quite the auspicious debut for the new San Antonio mayor. I don’t think Julian Castro said anything about the streetcar project one way or the other; from what I could tell, it seems that he was content to let Nelson Wolff be the point man on it on behalf of the county and the city.

It’s also quite an auspicious (and suspicious) change of heart on Nelson Wolff’s part as well. Six months ago Wolff went on record as saying the streetcar wasn’t big enough for a vote, thereby implying its popularity didn’t matter one way or the other, and today he’s saying streetcar boosters couldn’t gin up enough support from the public to justify it. I’m going to guess he got really scared when he saw the number of signatures on the petition and figured he’d better lay off if he wanted to keep his job. ‘Cause party affiliation be damned, if there’s one thing a politician fears more the anything, it’s getting fired.


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