Random musings, 23.3.17

March 23, 2017

This is why progressives fail:

Senator Ted Cruz Has Forever Tainted The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Because God forbid somebody who doesn’t share your political beliefs like the same things you do but not for the same reasons you do, amirite? I mean, Bernie Sanders has gone on record as liking Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and God knows Sanders and I agree on precious few things politically, if we agree on anything at all. But does that taint them for me? No, no it does not. In a way, in fact, it makes Sanders kinda cool, more of a “regular Joe,” if you will. I know he’s not — let’s face it, by the time you get to the lofty position of United States Senator, you’re anything but a regular Joe — but some of the people who do make it that far are, shall we say, more relatable and down-to-earth than others, or at least have tastes that make them seem so.

But some people just can’t have that, it seems. No, if they find out that one of their political nemeses likes the same things they do, they can’t like it anymore because it makes them JUST LIKE the people they don’t agree with. I suppose you could call it the reverse of what we see so often with musicians and entertainers. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty fucking pathetic. And I would feel sorry for them…but no. Just, no. They deserve every bit of the existential angst that comes their way and then some, to say nothing of the political defeats that come their way just because they can’t shut the hell up. It sounds like a bleak, joyless existence indeed, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

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On the Live At Gruene Hall album, as he goes into the band intro in the middle of “Wishing Well,” William Clark Green addresses the audience, saying, “It’s such a pleasure to play music for people who give a shit.”

Well, as a fan, I will certainly say the same for the artists down here that play OKOM — that is, that it’s such a pleasure to still have artists to listen to who give a shit. I first got into the Texas scene back in late 1999 and early 2000 with Pat Green, Cory Morrow, the Robison brothers, etc. That was without a doubt the beginning of my disillusionment with mainstream country music, but I can’t deny that there was a fair bit of, well, music that I thought was good even that late in the game — music from people who, well, gave a shit. Now we just have a constant stream of brainless auto-tuned party songs and pseudo-deep crap like “Dirt” and “You Should Be Here” that wouldn’t even have made a B-side once upon a time. (And even that is giving those songs more credit than they deserve, because some of the greatest songs in the history of popular music were B-sides.) I mean, really. I saw the reaction to Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here” on a Reddit thread not long after it came out, and people were talking about how amaaaaazing it was…

…and all I could think was, “Obviously none of these people have heard George Strait’s “Everything I See.'”

“…it’s such a pleasure to play music for people who give a shit.”

What does that say about mainstream country fans? Well, nothing that hasn’t already been said, really, in this space or anywhere else. As long as they get another shitty party-on-a-tailgate song that validates their vapid existence, they, well, just don’t give a shit, about the music itself or anything else.

Maybe you shouldn’t be doing that in the first place.

March 21, 2017

From the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:

New legislation approved by Gov. Phil Bryant requires increased public disclosure when law enforcement agencies seize private property.

House Bill 812, signed by Bryant on Monday, requires the creation of a public database which will list and track assets taken by law enforcement through civil action.

The new law also requires agencies to obtain a warrant within 72 hours after a seizure takes place.

Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre, however, is a little uneasy and believes that transparency may hamper his department.

“I don’t necessarily agree with it. It could hinder us from doing other investigations,” Aguirre said. “By putting this on a website, it shows our hand.”

Weeeeell, Chief, here’s a novel thought: Maybe the Tupelo Police Department’s “hand” shouldn’t be in the business of taking people’s stuff just because they were selling a good the government doesn’t approve of them selling. I understand that we’re probably not going to be looking at widespread decriminalization of certain narcotics, let alone legalization of such, for a long time — if ever. I understand that the laws are on the books and they should be enforced, lest respect for the rule of law be lessened. (Yes, I know. The law is an ass and all that. That’s a perfectly legitimate point but a different discussion.)

But asset forfeiture never should have been recognized as a legitimate tool for law enforcement. Besides the fact that so many people engaged in malum prohibitum activities are the ones getting their stuff taken from them, there’s also the reality of such opening the door for widespread abuses of power against people who weren’t doing anything wrong in the first place, such as the shakedowns of motorists tracing through certain small towns in East Texas. We have a long way to go to even stanch the injustices being done in the name of the War On Some Drugs, but putting some sunlight on what’s being taken is a start. Way to go, Mississippi.

In honor of Texas Independence Day.

March 2, 2017

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS — FROM BUM PHILLIPS

Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas

Sunday music musings, 19.2.17

February 19, 2017

Well, this certainly answers some burning questions I’ve had since Lone Star Music moved their operations to San Marcos — namely why they left Gruene, and how they’ve been doing since. I had no idea of any of it — the fact that the Gruene building’s owners had jacked up the rent to untenable levels, LSM’s travails in relation to moving into the old Sundance Records building in San Marcos, or the issues they faced after the move, with the construction, landlords, and predatory towing company. (As for the last thing, putting the search term “San Marcos predatory towing” in Google, along with the towing company Zach Jennings mentioned, brings up some interesting results.)

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I must admit we never made the trek to Sundance. The trip to New Braunfels/Gruene is worth it for several things, as I have put it before, but the only reason to ever go to San Marcos would have been Lone Star Music. Since they moved up there I’ve done all my Texas music shopping through Amazon. I honestly don’t know why I never thought about the website, but as far as the physical store goes, the towing situation as detailed by Jennings makes me think we were better off not making the drive to San Marcos even if we’d ever really wanted to. The construction would have been worth dealing with, but having the vehicle towed by some asshole who was just out to make money by any means necessary would have been a lot more hassle than it was worth. It’d be interesting to see how many people in and around San Marcos had the same thoughts.

Regardless, though, I do hope it works out for them. LSM’s impact on Texas and Red Dirt music has been quite valuable and their music selection is second to none. If you look at the comments on the LSM Magazine post you’ll see San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery suggested as a possible location for them. As the commenter pointed out, the rent would probably be prohibitively high, but one can certainly dream!

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So with some Christmas Amazon gift card credit, I bought yet another multi-artist tribute album, Undone: A Musicfest Tribute to Robert Earl Keen, recorded at Musicfest, the big annual Texas and Red Dirt festival in Steamboat Springs. Colorado, in 2008.

So let’s get the meh out of the way: While not bad, REK has done much better versions of “Dreadful Selfish Crime” and “The Road Goes On Forever” elsewhere. (See: No. 2 Live Dinner.) And Cory Morrow did a better version of “I’ll Go On Downtown” on his first live album. Seriously, the version here was the second time he’s recorded a live version of that song, and then again on the Live Dinner Reunion album! Dude, it’s a good song, but really?!

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

I love Robert Earl Keen’s own versions of songs dearly, but there’s a lot to be said for a good cover. And this set is jam-packed with them, from some of Texas and Red Dirt music’s finest artists. My favorite of the bunch is Cody Canada’s beautifully stark version of “Shades of Grey…”

followed closely by Max Stalling’s buttery-smooth “No Kinda Dancer”…

and Jason Boland’s subdued “Mariano.”

Also not to be missed are Wade Bowen’s “Lynnville Train,” Brandon Jenkins’ “Wish You Were Here,” Randy Rogers’ “I’ll Be Here For You,” Josh Grider’s “I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight,” and, and, and…

…you know what?

Just go buy the whole thing. If you’re a fan of this music, you absolutely will NOT be disappointed.

Big applause for Fossil.

February 18, 2017

I would like to give a big shout-out to the Fossil Store at North Star Mall here in San Antonio. My watch band needed to be replaced, but the jewelry repair place to which I took the watch to get the band previously adjusted closed down. I took the watch and the band I ordered for it to the Fossil store and explained my situation, perfectly willing to pay, mind you…

…and they replaced the band and adjusted it to fit…for free.

Locals, next time you’re in the market for a watch or a nice wallet, you know where to go.

Sunday music musings, 29.1.17

January 29, 2017

Trigger at Saving Country Music, on Rolling Stone Country’s admonition to country stars to get political:

What is most dangerous here about Rolling Stone Country‘s assertions is this mindset that either you actively speak out and engage in political discourse, or somehow you are a party to the worst offenses of either Donald Trump or his supporters. In other words, you could have voted for Hillary Clinton, a third party candidate, or not voted at all. Yet if you don’t come out in vehement opposition to Donald Trump as an official stance as part of your pop country celebrity franchise, then you are complicit with racism, homophobia, lies, and environmental destruction. Even though Rolling Stone Country‘s Joseph Hudak at times tries to tell readers that if they disagree, the can feel free to stop reading, he also states, “You either accept that lying is wrong or you do not. You accept that mocking the disabled is wrong or you do not. And you accept that sexual assault is wrong or you do not. There is no middle ground.”

No middle ground, eh? Do you want a Donald Trump re-election? Because that’s how you get a Donald Trump re-election.

Seriously, this “all politics all the time” in every single thing is going to destroy us. You kinda should expect political commentary from Steve Earle or maybe (to a lesser extent) Jason Boland, but why should a George Strait or Randy Rogers be condemned for not going on anti-Donald Trump tirades in studio or on stage, or, fuck, anywhere else for that matter? It is grossly unfair to them as artists and to their fans, and as Americans they don’t deserve to be called out for bigotry they’ve never expressed by Progressive assholes who are all pissy about everyone not falling in line with their agenda.

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Speaking of Rolling Stone Country, and I know I’m late on this, what the hell was with their best of 2016 list? Maren Morris’ Hero at No. 1? I know the pickings were slim compared to 2015, but, “Oh, honey, no.”

I say that, but there was some good stuff there, among them the latest albums from the Randy Rogers Band, Sturgill Simpson, and Hayes Carll. But none of those albums really struck me on a level that all the great stuff from 2015 did. Not that they weren’t good — maybe I just need to go listen to them all again a few more times — but the only new albums I got that I liked right off the bat were Robert Earl Keen’s Live Dinner Reunion and William Clark Green’s Live At Gruene Hall.

Both of those are great, but if I had to pick a favorite it’d have to be the William Clark Green album, for the extended “Wishing Well” jam all by itself. That song just flat fucking rocks live.

Funny thing about that song: it was off his first album, that I didn’t even know existed for a long time. I had thought for a while that Green’s first album was 2013’s Rose Queen. I really like the original version of it too. “Still Think About You” was surprisingly moving live; it was presented as a tribute to Kent Finlay, the longtime proprietor of the Cheatham Street Warehouse, who died last year. He did leave an indelible mark on Texas music — indeed, all of American music — and Green was one of his last proteges.

But then, there’s something just really magical, that I can’t quite explain, about Joe Ely singing “The Road Goes On Forever.” Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a legendary Texas artist singing a legendary Texas song. Yeaaaaaah, that’s gotta be it.

Live Dinner Reunion was a really pleasant surprise, to be honest. I initially thought that it was just going to be a re-recording of Keen’s 1996 classic No. 2 Live Dinner, which would have been borderline blasphemous; as it turned out, it was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of that album’s release (like N2LD, it was also recorded at Floore’s Country Store), with a bunch of special musical guests, some of them doing duets and some of them singing lead. Good stuff, though it would have been insanely cool to have another Cody Canada version of “Shades of Gray.”

What? Cody Canada recorded that song once already?

Yeah, he did, and it was freaking AWESOME. From 2008’s Undone: A Musicfest Tribute to Robert Earl Keen:

2017 looks pretty good so far, though, with new releases on the way from, among others, Aaron Watson and Deryl Dodd. Really looking forward to that DD disc; it’ll be a celebration of his 20 years in the music, and the track listing on it looks promising indeed.

Seriously, “That’s How I Got to Memphis” with Radney Foster? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Thursday tech musings, 22.12.16

December 22, 2016

So I am fully assimilated, or about as assimilated as I’m going to get, anyway..

How so? Well, all these years I’ve owned a Mac, but never an iPhone…until last Monday when my HTC One bit the dust. And I definitely don’t have anything  against the Android — I had a couple of them and they were great — but with the less-expensive iPhone SE in Apple’s lineup now, I thought, why not?

It’s pretty neat, honestly. With the way I feel about local storage I’ll admit I had always pooh-poohed iCloud, but the way the phone and the Mac use it to integrate with each other is really cool. I use iCloud on the Mac for the Find My Mac feature, but I had forgotten that I had it set to sync my Safari bookmarks…until I signed in on the iPhone and all my bookmarks came over from my Mac. And when I got home I enabled the iCloud Keychain on both the iPhone and the Mac, and all my saved Safari usernames & passwords came over to the iPhone from the Mac. It was quite convenient, as is being able to respond to my text messages on the Mac instead of the iPhone.

I could set the Mac up to make and receive phone calls, but that’s just a bridge too far…

As far as getting everything off the old phone? Well….remember how I told you that I had that phone backing up to the cloud? Yup. I was able to get all my contacts & pictures back, more than 2,000 pictures from the day I got the phone to the day it kicked the bucket. I was able to download all the pictures onto the Mac, where they will stay. I was able to download all my contacts into a vCard file and import them into the Contacts app on the Mac, where they were uploaded into iCloud and synced to the phone. And, as the saying goes, nothing of value was lost.

phone

And as you see in the photo above, I put a heavy-duty case on it — the Griffin Technology Survivor All-Terrain. Drop-tested, water-resistant, all that good stuff. Sabra had one on her iPod, and we had one on the iPad as well (though the one on the iPad didn’t hold up well at all…)

“But it’s so pretty! Why put it in such an ugly case?”

Well, it’s not so pretty with a cracked screen, and I don’t have the money to be shelling out to fix said cracked screen, or God forbid get a new phone if it gets dropped that hard.

(Apologies for the crappy picture…)

I do still like my Kindle, though. I suppose I could get an iPad mini if I were so inclined, but the kindle is just the right size for a tablet for me. Maybe if Apple made a smaller one (iPad nano, anyone?), I might think about it…

On respect.

November 22, 2016

You know, sometimes I’m a bit slow…

…but I like to think that if I was on a plane, and the captain said a “special military family” had to deplane before everyone else, I like to think that I’d have some idea of what that meant and show some goddamned respect, or at least exercise some damn discretion and keep my mouth shut. I mean, really. You hear all these people talk about “supporting the troops but not the mission”…well, if you ask me, not booing a fucking Gold Star family as they’re getting off the plane is pretty basic support of the troops themselves — the absolute bare minimum, if you will. I mean, really, how can people do that and live with themselves?

Random drive-by rant: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo

November 11, 2016

This? This is the lineup for the 2017 lineup for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo? Sam Hunt? The Band Perry? Dan + Shay? Good grief. Last year the lineup included Alan Jackson, Gary Allan, and the Turnpike Troubadours.

At least they have Aaron Watson this year. And I suppose the final lineup might not be the dumpster fire it looks like right now, as several of those slots are still yet to be determined. But just…wow. Pretty much the only thing that’d fully make up for Sam Hunt would be a George Strait appearance — but I seriously doubt we’re gonna get that, as Strait has only played the San Antonio rodeo twice, in 1986 and 1990. Jason Boland? Randy & Wade? Another TT appearance? We’ll see, I guess…

Observations on last night.

November 9, 2016

A lot of people didn’t see this coming, and it’s not surprising when you think about it. I think there were a lot of people who kept their choices on the down low, and all things considered, I cannot blame them. How would you feel if someone you didn’t even know disparaged your character, called you racist, misogynist and any number of other epithets, solely because of your choices in the voting booth? More than that, how many of the things that were said about Donald Trump were said, albeit to a lesser extent, about every GOP candidate going back to at least Bob Dole? There are a lot of people — on the left, especially — who need to think about that last thing in particular, if they’re ever going to even begin to understand last night’s events.

And there were many issues in play last night, but I wonder how differently things would have turned out if Hillary had not only been so open about her agenda in relation to more gun control but also not brazenly lied to everyone about supporting the Second Amendment.

(Also, how crazy would it be if supporting the Fourth Amendment, or the Eighth Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, were such a controversial thing? If it were so, you’d have people rightly shouting from the rooftops about how were were living in a burgeoning dictatorship or something. Some freedoms are definitely more equal than others.)

Also, I’d like to think that we won’t see any more shenanigans like running guns to the Mexican drug cartels, but as Sabra so astutely pointed out to me, Trump was a Democrat not that long before he was a Republican, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.

But since Trump is a Republican now, perhaps the media will do its job if this happens as opposed to turning into glorified PR hacks for the ATF.