Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Random Thoughts

We're at war with the wrong country. Forget Iraq--Did Canada ever apologize for giving us Bryan Adams?


Why is it that whenever someone on the freeway pulls a bonehead move like cutting you off, the part of their car that nearly hits you ALREADY HAS A DENT IN IT?

Okay, don't answer that.


Classes are going well. Pharmacology grades are in, and I've got an A, so I can skip the final. Counseling is likely to be the same scenario, though I won't know until next week.


If you believe in a Maker, in someone who created you beyond your parents, and you try to live a good, mindful life as you think the Maker would desire, give thanks for health, ya'll. It's huge. It really is. I've got a nephew in the hospital with dehydration from a bad stomach bug. In the process his blood sugar dropped to just about coma-inducing levels.

My sister-in-law had acute kidney failure a month ago. Very little warning. Not sure what caused it, and actually, kidney failure isn't acute; it's chronic; this one just appeared otherwise since no one saw it coming. Still don't know what caused it, and now she's on dialysis. This is a fairly young woman, took care of herself, not abusing chemicals, not smoking...

Okay, enough of the drama. Just be thankful for the healthy days.


For pure soul singing I'll still pit Otis Redding against anyone. Al Green you say? Okay... all bets are off between those two. But really... no one else is close to them.


Had a sales guy yesterday get mad at me because his $0 spots (aka "bonus" spots) were placed too close together. Thought something about the placement of his freebies would make the client... what, refuse to pay? This industry is so bananas.


Starbucks Gold Coast is the bomb. Wow.


Been working some audio gigs for the first time in a decade. Easy stuff, just running a parabolic mic for high school football radio broadcasts. It's fun, it really is. And it's good to get my hands on cable, scratch my gadget itch a bit. But I'm still looking forward to getting a master's psych degree, looking forward to the day when my primary work tool is between my ears, and not on a desktop.


What'd Henny Youngman's dog say? "Take my wife's... fleas..."

If you got that joke you're a sad old person. If you laughed you're sadder still.

Guilty on both charges, your honor.


Geoff is in love. I'm always thrilled to see good things happen to good people.


Still buzzing on the Helmet show. Wow. Size Matters is now firmly ensconced in my brain. The verdict? A solid B. Not the masterpiece I'd hoped for, but you know, they had the nuts to try and progress, and it's a brainier record than the first few listens will reveal.


I have to get the second Robert Belfour record. Simply have to. And some Bukka White. What a cool voice he had. And some Ronald Shannon Jackson. The guy lives 10 minutes from my house; least I could do is help him pay his rent.


Things to do over the holidays, while school is out: Catch up on some movie watching. Write some short stories and polish up "Praying for Robinzon." Make a couple of my edited "Kevin-safe" versions of the newest Spiderman and X-Men movies for Kevin. Maybe go see my Pops and Whit in/around Houston. Sleep. Fix the sink. Yes, fix the sink. I hate plumbing. I can get by on electrical, fake it on a little carpentry... but with plumbing I'm a disaster.


I need more coffee. Caffeinated love to you.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Fresh! Joy!

I have zero trust for this. I personally think it's a variation of the same hysteria and fanaticism that got people burned as witches.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Texan am I

Written on a Saturday night/early Sunday morning when I really should be sleeping... too often I find myself compulsively writing when I should be in bed. Not sure what that's all about...

Really, you should see the Iron Giant.

I'm not kidding.


Culture. Watched some home movies sent to my buddy Erik Hood from his brother Carlos, a lieutenant with the national guard. Carlos and the others in his Hawaiian outfit are training in El Paso to go to Fallujah. Carlos, surrounded by his homeboys, speaks in a thicker variation of the accent Erik has. And there they were, having target practice, going through drills and whatnot, and at one point they burst into this song. Something about being back home on the islands, about the girls and all that. Pretty cool, spontaneous stuff.

And what would have a bunch of Texas boys done? Think we'd have done a little musical number? I don't think I even know all the words to "Yellow Rose of Texas." I doubt a bunch of us would feel compelled to sing it. Or anything else. I might vote for "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother" or something.

So Carlos and his boys struck me as being perfectly comfortable exhibiting their Hawaiian culture. And there just doesn't seem to be an equivalent in my experience.

Oh, I guess that's not totally true. I wore my boots, those beat-up Nocona's one day last week. And I got the jokes: "Gonna rustle some cattle, Briscoe? Mend some fences on the back 40?" Only a couple of us ever wear boots: Jennifer from (close to) Texarkana and me. She never catches grief for it, but then again, she proudly speaks in a very thick Texas accent. I lost a lot of my accent in radio classes, and my penchant for "50 cent words" makes me the target of a few jokes. Fine. There's nothing wrong with being semi-well spoken.

But shit, I'm a Texan. I grew up in boots. I don't ride a horse, don't wear a cowboy hat (just personal preference; I do wear a baseball hat a lot). I speak some Spanish, love my barbecue, eat jalepenos, love my state and feel most comfortable around Texans/Southerners (as I've discovered in my travels; I'd rather visit a place where people don't look at me funny when I say "ma'am").

And you know, I'm sure this struggle for cultural identity and validity gets played out more strikingly in some arenas. I know that when I was a kid, the kids who could drive a tractor, ride a horse or bring back a trophy buck were considered more redneck than most of us. To this day I'm sure there are Texas kids who long for acceptance as genuinely country while their parents' culture fades fast around them. I know the same thing happens to Mexicans living here whose parents opted not to teach them Spanish. They gain no cultural advantage or foothold here, and their own people may look down on them for it.

Maybe I'm part of a transitional generation. God knows Dad was more country than I'll ever be, growing up in the woods of Brazoria, Texas, dogs by his side as he fished in Freeport and hunted on the acreage around his home. He went into the navy and worked hard, did his job. Got a good blue-collar job that he somehow stuck with for 30 years, even after they made it a policy to treat him like crap. Raised Amanda and me the best he could in Angleton, which is not exactly rural. It's fairly suburban I'd say, even though our home was walking distance from the county livestock show each October.

And now I live near Ft. Worth, work in downtown Dallas. I ride the train sometimes. We had a possum problem a few years ago, and I was frustrated that I couldn't just shoot the little bastards. Wouldn't go over well in Hurst city limits.

I dream of leaving this area for someplace more secluded, someplace more like the spread in Brazoria where Dad grew up. But am I kidding myself? I sure love my Thai food, love being close to the ballpark.

If I had a double-wide on a few acres in Buda, do you think I could get the Dish network and DSL?

Hitting the dusty trail...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Helmet Me

(Taken from an email I sent to Michael Toland)

After much difficulty, I made it to the Helmet show last tonight. My buddy Mike Llorca had to cancel at the last minute. I'd have done the same thing in his shoes ('nuff said).

So I beat the bushes yesterday, asking my friends. One's into hip hop. Another said he's "too old" to go to concerts (and he's eight years younger than I). I kinda felt like I'm the sole member of this oddball headbanging cult. I couldn't even find anyone who'd heard of them when I emailed our whole staff in search of a partner. Eventually I decided to go alone, which didn't thrill me since the Gypsy Tea Room is in Deep Ellum, a decidedly rough area. Managed to park close and dart inside through a steady rain. The Tea Room reminded me of the late Liberty Lunch in Austin, though not quite as much of a wreck. Crowd started filling in early, and they were fairly receptive to a bludgeoning set by openers Totimoshi (think Kyuss circa Sky Valley). Pretty cool little trio there.

Techs started doing their thing between bands, and after one strum of the guitar I was thinking HOLY CRAP IZZIT REALLY GONNA BE THAT LOUD?? Had two sets of good earplugs with me, though, and they served me well enough.

Helmet hit the stage with "Pure," which I gather has been opening most or all of their shows. Big, big sound. Other folks were singing, a rough little pit started, and suddenly I'd found the other members of my cult (the place was full). It felt good. The band clearly had a ball. Hamilton was chatty with the crowd, having some belly laughs, clowning around much more than I would have expected. Traynor and Frank Bellow seemed almost ecstatic to be doing what they
do. Bellow especially seemed to just give off HOLY-SHIT-I'M-IN-HELMET vibes. Yelling, jumping...

Lotta fun.

They did a good cross-section of stuff, though by my count they did eight songs from the new CD, which is about three too many. It went from "hey these are the three songs I know I like" to "wow--THIS is a bold choice" to "okay this is too much." Five songs would have served well the purpose of illustrating the meat of the songs minus the studio sheen. The attitude very much seemed to be "we like this CD, and damn it, we think you should too." The new songs really didn't slow the momentum like you'll see sometimes when an artist plays the new stuff (aka the time to make a bee line for the pee line). Just too much muscle for a complete flop.

They certainly hit the appropriate high points in their 75-minute set. The band is tighter than hell, and they enjoy playing together. Frank Tempesta is better than I gave him credit for, but I'd still prefer Stanier for his more distinctive drum tones.

Will review for High Bias (http://www.highbias.com).

Oh, I made it to/from the club without incident--sort of. Folks clearing out of the club and getting in their cars were being approached by these trashy looking guys (homeless? dealers? both?). Even as I was IN MOTION backing out, one was banging on my glass, and I was yelling at him, "Don't F*CK WITH ME MAN! JUST DON'T F*CK WITH ME!" He eventually got the

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Then go to the comments. I swear NO ONE loves to create drama and pity like Christians. They can't see the trees for the forest... (and yes, I meant to say it that way).


Supposed to go see Helmet (http://www.helmetmusic.com/) tonight, but my buddy Mike had to bail because his pregnant wife is on bed rest now. Can't blame him, of course, but it sure is tough to find someone else to go with me. Most haven't heard of them (it's been a seven year hiatus for the band, and I guess they weren't exactly huge to begin with; it's tough to be unique sometimes).

Others are scared of the neighborhood (Deep Ellum) or going to the show itself for some reason (I guess it could be a little rough, but where's your sense of adventure, people?).

Warming to Size Matters slowly but surely. What bothers me is that, scanning their old catalog I can think of three, maybe four guitar solos total, and the new record has that many on its own. And I think I understand what they were trying to do. Some of the whipcrack musical maneuvers have been polished a bit. The funny time signatures are there, but every time a chorus comes along it sounds so... normal. It's kind of a predictable pattern after a while.
But I didn't like Aftertaste at first either, and now it's my favorite Helmet record. I do expect Hamilton and the boys to grow and expand. I also expect them to challenge me, and let me tell you, sounding more straightforward is certainly a challenge to these ears.

Anyway, I've been dying to see these guys forever. I don't relish being alone in Deep Ellum at night, but with any luck I won't be utterly alone on some dimly-lit stretch of road. Once I'm inside I'm cool.

If you want to go, email me. Fast.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Christmas Darkness

The greatest spam I've received in a long time:

Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 03:18:22 -0000 From: "maturewoman2300"

Subject: Goodbye to lonely Christmas!

Find a gothic lover to share the gothic christmas darkness with! Action now and good luck :)


Admittedly, I haven't clicked the link (hey, I'm at work). I'm imagining lots of photos of guys/gals who look like Robert Smith/Edward Scissorhands. "Turn ons: Long walks through the dump, genital leeches and waterproof mascara. Turn offs: Sunshine, antidotes and puppies. I'm looking for a partner who's not afraid to bare their soul, with a straight razor if necessary."


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

That'd be me on Halloween.  Posted by Hello

Mr. Danny Barker

Back in '92 or '93, when I was a lowly second audio engineer on Austin City Limits, the one and only Dr. John came to do a show. He brought with him an old New Orleans musican by the name of Danny Barker (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00000AFUR/ref=m_art_li_1/104-3081343-9983902?v=glance&s=music). I didn't really know who he was, but he was to guest with Dr. John, and during setup and soundcheck Mr. Barker proved to be a genuinely likable old cat, sharply dressed in a suit and brown derby. Crew members gravitated to him as he made small talk and gamely took in the goings-on.

I did know that Barker was primarily a banjo player, so I found it odd that some higher-up at ACL (presumably) decided that he should play electric guitar during his appearance. I watched closely as they strapped a blue Peavey electric on the poor man, and I have to say that, given his expression, they might as well have handed him an octopus. I can also say that I watched him in soundcheck and during the taping, and he didn't turn the instrument up. He may not have known how to. So his strumming was basically for show.

But he was a lot of fun, smiling and joking as he ran through one of his big hits from the 40s, "Save the Bones for Henry Jones." He thanked the crowd with a tip of his hat.

He passed away a couple years later.


In the late 90s I headed out to grab some supper for Kelli and me one evening. Popeye's was having one of their periodic crawfish specials, and I took the opportunity to satisfy my craving for some back-home sorta food.

I stood in line there and noticed a print of a watercolor on the wall. It was a band, portrayed just tearing it up in the middle of a lively crowd in some juke joint.

And pictured there on the banjo was a young Danny Barker.


Another anecdote from the Dr. John show:

The man himself was in foul spirits that day during soundcheck. His CD Going Back to New Orleans, a terrific old-school rave-up, had just come out, and he was touring in support of it. He'd assembled a crack band of funky N.O. guys, but clearly there was a black cloud over his head. I later learned that long about then he was kicking a decades-old heroine habit, which could certainly explain a lot.

But soundcheck was going well, and what few words he said were in that brassy N.O. accent.

They were running through one number when a trumpet player had the audacity to stop the band in mid-song. You could sense the tension as this guy dared to bring it all to a grinding halt.

He started to make his case about how this one particular part they'd played TWICE in a row on the record, but they kept playing only once live. Everyone went quiet as all eyes in the room turned to Dr. John to make the call.

"We played it twice on the record?" he asked.

Nods all around.

"FUG da record," he said.

And that was that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


I promise I won't just keep ripping off Geoff (http://www.geoffwashere.com). Well, maybe.

What’s the farthest distance you’ve ever traveled to attend a wedding? Whose wedding was it, and where? Did you have a good time? What was the wedding like? Went from DFW to Austin for Roel and Marie's wedding. It was a tremendously great Catholic ceremony with a fun reception. On the drive down, in the drizzling rain, the overwhelming scent of roses suddenly filled the truck as I drove through an old Austin neighborhood. Really no idea how that could have happened, but it was just a nice moment at the start of a beautiful evening. One of the bridesmaids invited me to "sleep" at her place that night. Flattering and all, but not my style, what with being married myself and all...

Have you ever been a wedding attendant [bridesmaid, groomsman, usher, etc.]? For whom? When and where? Groomsman a couple of times, usher, speaker, DJ. I'd say my favorite was speaking at the wedding mentioned above. There's something about reading aloud from the Good Book in front of a crowd that I dig.

What characteristics do you feel are essential for a strong, long-lasting marriage? [If you’re already married, did someone give you some good advice before you tied the knot? What was it?] Married 11 years. I had to learn this stuff for myself. Things I've found handy: Learn to listen, and learn to be quiet when appropriate (which is more often than you might think). Ask how their day went, and care to pay attention when they answer. Understand the importance of touch. Be spontaneous once in a while. Flattery never gets old to someone who can take a compliment; if you can't take a compliment (I'm guilty of this), learn to just smile when they tell you something nice. Accept change as you both grow. Don't be afraid to chuck aside sarcasm and humor, even with your friends, and take a moment to admit aloud that you cherish your partner. Value what they bring to your life in terms of growth and stability. Understand what they tolerate from you, and be prepared to tolerate in return. And remember that love grows; though it's not always like those early dating jitters, what it becomes is comforting, and one of life's greatest rewards.

What makes for a really awesome wedding reception? What are some of your favorite wedding reception activities, traditions, etc.? Honestly? You just cannot knock a good mariachi band, followed by a confident DJ who can feed off of the crowd. And a killer chicken salad never hurts.

Many celebrity marriages have failed after just a short time. Why do you think that happens? Who do you think is the most famous, interesting, or notable celebrity couple now or in the past? [Jennifer and Brad? Ben and J.Lo? Bruce and Demi?] I find celebrity marriages less interesting than navel lint.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hour of Need

(Culled from an email I sent to a couple of friends)

Last night, Kelli emerges from the bedroom, saying "Help me please." She's got a terrible pain in her head, and she's scared to death. I give her ibuprofen, but she's in bad shape. Sees light flashes with her eyes shut, her extremities are tingling, she's getting hot and cold flashes, and she's insatiably thirsty. Worried that she's having some sort of central nervous system catastrophe like a stroke, I scramble an ambulance to the house around midnight.

They take her, and I begin trying to figure out how to get myself to the ER. I can't quite make myself take the kids there. Handling two kids who should be asleep, by myself, in the ER waiting room is just not practical. And they'd likely not let them go back and see Kelli anyway.

I call Erik Hood, who lives 45 minutes away in Frisco. He's a night owl like me, up, and arrives in about 46 minutes. I give him quick directions on what to do should either child awaken before sunrise, and take off for the ER. Cat scan and tox screens are clear. The diagnosis is a migraine, which she has not had since I've known her. She says she's had a few, but never like that, and many years ago anyway. They say the tingling is from hyperventilating, and everything else is attributable to the migraine. Scary.

We return around 3am, and stunningly, Erik goes BACK to Frisco (instead of remaining on our air mattress). He hit the sheets at 4am and is here at work today. I worked an audio gig for him Saturday, and will do another this Saturday. Needless to say, I won't charge him a penny foreither.

SO... Gotta say it was my hour of need, and the guy came through.

Anyway... tired, but I'm glad I've still got my spouse.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Meaningless hoo-ha

Stole this from Geoff. It's THAT boring at work right now.

1. Starting with your head down to your toes, what health/beauty products have you used/applied to your body so far today? It's casual Friday. I put on deodorant, brushed my teeth, and put on a New Orleans Zephyrs baseball cap. Does the cap count as a beauty product?

But really... my coworkers are lucky I'm even wearing pants.

2. Do you have a ritual when you take a shower, such as washing your hair first or maybe even brushing your teeth in the shower? I kneel on the ground and knock three times, paying tribute to all those dead umpires who didn't quite make it into Heaven. Thus far that'd be all of them except Durwood Merrill.

Otherwise, hey, shampoo, a good shave and... nothing else.

I like the umpire bit better.

3. How do you get yourself up and going in the mornings? Coffee? A hot shower? Breakfast? Would you consider yourself a morning person at all? When do you usually get up? I'm a freak. I get up at 6:25 on the weekdays, and as late as I can on the weekends (with kids, I'm lucky if it's 8am).

I'm not a morning person, yet I do not use the snooze alarm. Alarm goes off, I jump immediately out of bed. I don't like it at all, but really, the snooze is a means of torture I just do not wish to inflict upon myself. Never used it. Cannot imagine lying there, thinking, Maybe today some miracle will happen and I can keep sleeping.

When unemployed I cycle forward and tend to go to bed at 3 or 4am. If I won the lottery I'd never see another sunrise. Unless I just stayed up that late.

4. Do you normally eat breakfast? What do you usually have? Do you usually make it at home or go out for breakfast, or do you prefer not to eat breakfast? I usually have biscuits with sugar-free jelly. I drink water, though once or twice a week I'll splurge on OJ. Then I'll have two cups of coffee at work before lunch and drink water the rest of the day. I carry so many water bottles around that Kelli says I'm like that freaky little girl in the movie Signs. Hey, I don't wanna get another kidney stone. EVER.

Well.. that was... 15 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Have a good weekend, ya'll.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Two Words

An exchange from the office this afternoon, as I listened to "Know Your Rights" by the Clash:

Normally Friendly African American Woman (via IM): "what is that?.....i'd rather hear the typing"

[We have an annoyingly loud typist in the office]

Me (speaking): "That's the Clash. From 1978 I believe."

NFAAW (speaking from here on out): "Oh. That's the year I was born. But it's all (imitates grating drum/guitar sound)"

Me: "Do you REALLY want to talk about music that's set largely to percussion and nothing else and is lacking in melody?"

NFAAW: "Oh you DIDN'T go there."

Me: "Two words: hip and hop."

Scarily Conservative White Guy Who Never Talks to Anyone (standing up in his cube): "Yeah!"

NFAAW: "There you went and lumped us all into one basket. Two words you won't have to listen to again: hip and hop."

(She lends me CDs sometimes. I'm guessing she was trying to tell me that the loans would stop.)

Funny how you say one thing and someone can perceive something else out of it. Didn't mean to cheese her off, but...

So was I a jerk? She hadn't complained about the Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire or Bukka White at that volume...

Monday, November 08, 2004

Two Gypsy Stories

We were in Spain in the late 90s. We'd been warned about this and that, typical stuff. And of course, we were warned about the gypsies.

It's an interesting parallel there, by the way. Dark-skinned people, reputed to be trashy, criminals... If someone came to Texas, would you warn them, "Watch out for the Mexicans"?

Anyway, we were aware that tourists are common targets for petty crime. At the Alhambra, an old Moorish compound in Granada, I experienced that firsthand.

I spotted a pair of boys who looked to be no older than 11 or 12. In a place crawling with tourists, they stuck out simply by looking local. I could hear them feigning excitement as they chattered loudly about being at the Alhambra. This was the only flaw in their approach.

I was walking up a steep sidewalk, and they were perhaps 15 feet ahead of me. The day was warming up, and I had my jacket tucked under my arm. I knew they were up to something, but didn't know exactly what.

Then came the move.

They stopped and did an about-face suddenly to descend the sidewalk. I had to step off the sidewalk and into the street to make room for them, and in a brief moment we were within touching distance. One slipped a hand deep into my jacket, making a precise movement for the pocket within. He got nothing, as my money was tucked into a money belt under my shirt.

Still, I was furious at their nerve, and at my complete inability to stop them from trying, even though I knew it was coming. I called them "motherf*ckers" quite loudly, and they went on their merry way. I can only imagine what accomplished pickpockets they might be at 16 or 25. Stunning.

My pharmacology professor, Connie, travels to Italy sometimes. Besides teaching, she works at Samaritan House in Fort Worth (http://www.samaritanhouse.org/bobsandersstory.pdf is all I can find on them offhand). Her clients/patients come to her with HIV/AIDS, addictions, mental illness and more. She's quite clear about the fact that dealing with someone who isn't "normal" does not bother her, and that it's her gift from God.

She told us the story of the "bag lady" she and her family encountered in Italy somewhere, a gypsy woman who was shuffling along the sidewalk, muttering to herself. Locals and tourists alike crossed the street or gave the gypsy a wide berth, though Connie did not.

As they encountered each other, they stopped. The gypsy woman reached out, caressed Connie's cheek, and said, "Bella madonna." I'm told that's Italian for "beautiful mother." Connie said the same thing to her, and they each moved on.

Connie says that at that moment she knew she was looking into the face of God.


I would have crossed the street with the others. I think most of us would have.


Unrelated... sort of.

It's hard to do the right thing sometimes, isn't it? I'm not talking about those clear-cut choices about right/wrong, good/evil. But it's hard to bump oneself out of complacency and inaction to step forward and raise a voice in the interest of what is best for you and those close to you, isn't it?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Blues, man

Blind Willie Johnson wasn't born blind. He stumbled upon his stepmother cheating on his father. In order to keep Willie from ever seeing such a thing again, she threw lye in his eyes, robbing him of his sight.

He went on to record 30 stunning gospel songs. His hellfire and brimstone voice lent incomparable passion to songs like "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine" (which Led Zeppelin covered) and "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed." His instrumental "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" is one of the most haunting songs ever recorded. This was in 1930, a singles-driven era in "race" music, and the fact that this song was even put to wax amazes me.

What do you think Johnson would have thought about Eric Clapton calling himself a blues man?

I'm not saying white guys can't play the blues. They can--sometimes. BB King said it best: "No race has a monopoly on the blues."

But what would the old-timers, the originators like Blind Willie or Robert Johnson think of the guitar and Lite beer-soaked blues of today?

Just some food for thought.


New High Bias is out: http://highbias.com

Friday, November 05, 2004

Happy Friday

Happy Friday, and caffeinated love to you all. We've just about cheated Death for another workin' week.

"Funny thing about weekends when you're unemployed--they don't mean quite so much. 'Cept you get to hang out with your workin' friends." -- Primus

KERA had another round of layoffs. My buddy Danny kept his job. My buddy Chris did not. This is the status quo in 2004. Looks like this'll be the status quo through at least 2008.

But have a good weekend. Cherish the ones you love. Be good to yourself. Make that phone call that's long overdue. They'll be happy to hear from you.

And be sure to visit High Bias (http://www.highbias.com). Send the editor wads of cash. And nekkid photos. Well, I'm not talking to you, Geoff...

Thursday, November 04, 2004


If you spend years dealing with every single problem, crisis, challenge of whatever degree of difficulty with alcohol and other illicit substances, let me tell you, dealing with them sober is tough.

Being sober is hard, period. Triggers are everywhere. It's powerful stuff really. Know that song that takes you right back to your prom? I have a song that takes me right back to that weekend I spent loaded on vodka and beer, huffing amyl nitrate. Long long ago, but vivid nevertheless. That's one song, one incident. There are other songs, other triggers. Plenty.

If the sunlight catches me right I can see the six-inch scar and the surprisingly tidy "B" I carved into my arm one drunken night.

The waiter at Texas Land and Cattle last Tuesday was oozing alcohol through his pores. I don't think my lunch partner smelled it. I sure as shit did.

Had a kidney stone a month ago, and I made it clear to the doc that I did not want any narcotics. She said, "Sure. We can go either way. You can have anything you want, narcotic or not." It's my responsibility, but man, it's hard to police oneself sometimes.

Nobody knows the whole story. Not sure if they ever will.

I'm not normally so down. Really.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

War Pigs by Black Sabbath

Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death's construction.
In the fields the bodies burning, as the war machine keeps turning.
Death and hatred to mankind, poisoning their brainwashed minds.Oh lord, yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away.
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah.

Time will tell on their power minds, making war just for fun.
Treating people just like pawns in chess, wait till their judgment day comes, yeah.
Now in darkness world stops turning, ashes where the bodies burning.
No more War Pigs have the power, Hand of God has struck the hour.
Day of judgment, God is calling, on their knees the war pigs crawling.
Begging mercies for their sins, Satan, laughing, spreads his wings.
Oh lord, yeah!

Just seemed like an appropriate theme song for the day. Sue me if it seems juvenile.


I dreamed that Jon Bongiovi had a child with Rita Marley, and they named him Homey.

This election gives me comfort in a way: At least it's not JUST the South that's dumb. Anyone know the words to "O Canada"? What are interest rates like up there?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What Blood?

The following is what happens sometimes when I'm writing something yet falling asleep at the keyboard at the same time.


"What blood are you?" asked the mariachi, touching my forearm and eyeing me

Ah, the question.

Funny how patterns emerge from the din, from the chaos that makes up one's life. Questions about who by way of WHAT I am emerge sometimes. Not by my choice, but it happens often enough that I can't ignore it:

In the chiropractor's office, where I've struck up a conversation with the doctor's ladyfriend: "Can I ask you a personal question? What ethnicity are you?"

At work, after I've spent an hour listening to the transcendent voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a Pakistani Qaawali singer, I learn about the conversation that occurs in my absence: "What IS Brian, listening to that music an all? Is he... Indian?"

Similar question, implied, from a pair of smiling neighborhood girls who stop by on their bikes and catch me pulling into the driveway with banda (Northern Mexican) music blaring. "Why are you listening to that?"

Some don't even question it, making an assumption that puzzles yet amuses me. In Chipotle last week, while having my burrito prepared in a chain restaurant in the West End, the servers solicited my ingredients, and where I wanted to dine, in Spanish only. Didn't happen to my lunch partner (who is, coincidentally, half Mexican). Luckily, I could answer.

The answer to the broader question: I'm a cracker.

How's that?

Okay. I'm a slightly dark-skinned Caucasian with French Canadian (or Cajun, depending on who you ask), Cherokee, Choctaw, "black Dutch" and various other mutts thrown in. Makes me a lot like you (and you and you and you).

This isn't intended to be a "we are the world" anti-racist diatribe. No, the lines I think we should be ignoring are much less challenging than a racial divide.

I think about Doug Sahm, who played whatever the hell kind of music he wanted. Farfisa-based rock with the Sir Douglas Quintet, border music with the Texas Tornadoes, rollicking blues and R&B as a solo artist. And more, much more. It was a very natural approach for him, and by gum, if it's good enough for Sahm, it's good enough for me.

Not that I've intentionally modeled myself on the man. No, I can remember hitting the Pearland flea market as a child, listening to white people grumble about the Tejano music blaring from boomboxes in the booths. And I remember thinking, I'll bet somebody likes this as much as I like Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Beatles.

The Texas Gulf Coast, while not offering much in the way of, uh, appealing stuff, is not far from proper Cajun country. When I was growing up there were always little bands with accordions and stuff around, and we ate dirty rice and boiled shrimp and gumbo. I didn't know it was a rich culture with a tragic history; I just thought it was "coonass." Grandmother "Babbi" Pourcein
was from the New Orleans area, and she threw a few French words our way, and speaks to this day in that great N.O. accent.

The Texas Gulf Coast is also home to a large Czech community. Kolaches and polkas certainly weren't uncommon. Ever had klobase on your nachos? English was the third language at the wildest party I ever attended, distantly trailing Czech and Polish.

There are lots of little bridges across those imaginary borders. Led Zeppelin certainly helped turn me on to blues, but Robert Plant also talked about his love for Moroccan music, and about singing in quartertones, an entirely different musical approach than we're taught in the West. Though I'm not certain Plant's quartertones are always intentional, my interest did broaden just a bit. A local indie station features Indian (as in from India) music on Saturday mornings, and sometimes it's wonderful (and sometimes it sucks; just because it's exotic and different doesn't mean it's always great).

The station also has Indian (Native American) music on Sunday nights.

So I don't have a good answer as to why, sometimes, a complete stranger makes an assumption or asks a question about who/what I am based on nothing I can discern. It's certainly interesting, and it's flattering when someone assumes I'm part of an interesting culture (because really, I'm not; white culture is based on super-sizing our meals and oppressing brown people as
far as I can tell). I don't know if the blurred borders within me are somehow apparent to others outside of any recognizable context. I do know that I really wish I had more company in this attitude. Why am I the only white guy at a Mexican wedding reception who can make a request when the mariachi band comes to the table?

We're in Texas, and I think any self-respecting Texan should make some effort to speak Spanish. Look at all the interwoven countries in the U.K. and Europe. They don't tend to adhere to the "speak my language or get the hell out" credo. Lots of Englishmen speak passable French, you know?

This all probably sounds really egotistical, but that's not my intention. I just wish people would put down their copies of Slippery When Wet and open their ears, hearts and minds.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What's that fly doing in my soup, waiter?

"The backstroke..."

Howdy ya'll.

This is BB Am I, a place for me to vent, to set loose some of those words and thoughts that keep hanging around. I named it thusly because I spend a lot of time thinking about who we are and why we do the things that we do. I criticize a lot of things, but I'm actually tremendousy happy. I mean, I'm no Richard Simmons or anything, but I've got a damn good life.

I just have a hard time fathoming a lot of things. But I'll get into that later.

If you're here, you probably know that I'm 36, live in Hurst, Texas, and have two great kids (Kevin and Laura) with my wife of 11 years, the beautiful and talented Kelli.

My turn-ons... blech. Can't pursue that joke any further. But I like humor, good writing, good music (and boy, THIS one will be the subject of some discussion, one-sided though it may be...), beauty, and Tex Mex food.

I dislike things that are fake, over-produced, reek of commercialism, etc. Guess that's triply redundant.

This'll do. More soon.