— PingWiFi (@PingWiFi) July 25, 2016
July 26th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized
July 24th, 2016 · Tags: Cities · Coffee Shops · Hotels · Wi-Fi
“That’s right, ‘I AM’ from Texas,” to misquote a lyric from AggieLand’s Lyle Lovett … but even though I am from Texas, sorry to say I don’t like very much country music. But, there have been a few moments when country music has struck a chord … I remember several of my buddies and I made exceptions for Merle’s “Silver Wings,” Freddie’s “Easy Lovin,” Pure Prairie League’s “Tears,” Kenny doing Mel’s “Ruby,’ and all them “drangin songs” by Gary Stewart. That’s my kinda country. And of course there’s that Outlaw Country thing …
But today, the artist I want to talk about for a minute falls into that last sub-genre. There was this one recording by the late Texas outlaw Rusty Weir … Do you remember Rusty? Yes, I Iove and still have Rusty’s “Black Hat Saloon.” Only recently did I learn he wrote “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance.” Apologies. I always thought that was a Jerry Jeff Walker original. I was wrong.
But when I think of Rusty Weir, the recording that comes to mind most is not one of his hits, it’s an old Lone Star Beer commercial in which Rusty is singing about the “Turkey Trot in old Cuero.” I have Googled until I got finger cramps looking for the old clip. No luck. Do you know it? (Hopefully, it was Rusty …)
Well … ever since I heard that song in the TV ad — probably back before I was old enough to drink longnecks — I have wanted to visit Ol’ Cuero.
Last week was yet another mixture of sunscreen, a Triumph motorcycle, Texas music, Texas history and Wi-Fi blogging as this wanderer completed what may now be known among Wi-Fi/motorcycle circles as … or maybe it won’t … as “The Ping Triangle.” (See PingWF logo … I digress). That’s what I am now calling the 80-mile jaunt from Victoria to Cuero and to “Remember Goliad.” What a nice little Texas history ride.
First stop Victoria. After all, it is “The Crossroads of South Texas” (and Vega is The Crossroads Of The Nation … I digress …)
I spent the night in my hotel of choice as of late, a Hilton Garden Inn, right off the loop on the northwest end of Victoria.
Hilton Gardens Inn has great Wi-Fi, with the only downfall being that you have to log back in every 24 hours. Not a problem for a one night stand, but upstream in Houston, I have logged on about 95 times now at my other HGI. Both HGIs have pretty good baked cookies every afternoon. Whereas the Houston HGI serves too-sweet “lemonade” and also melon water, the Victoria HGI served up cucumber water … a first for me … interesting … its like a salad you can slurp. Do hostesses with the mostestes serve cucumber water with cucumber sandwiches? Regardless – 5 pings
(I was going to deduct a point from Hilton Garden Inn Victoria for the low-lives blockading one side of the pool and chain smoking in the public area … but I later found out they were hotel crashers … not HGI’s fault … much.)
Before the hotel, my first stop in Victoria was merely for the air conditioning and a cold beverage. The first place I spotted near downtown on US 59 Business was a chicken joint called Moo-Moo’s. What’s up with chicken and cows these day, huh? Well, I popped in Moo-Moo’s and downed a Dr. Pepper, but unfortunately had recently eaten. The aroma of the fried chicken almost prompted me to eat again any way. Smelled wonderful … but over eating fried food in Texas heat … not a good idea. I skipped and then revisited a day later on Sunday. NO! Moo-Moo’s chicken was closed on Sunday. What is it with chicken joints and Sunday? By the way, I think that is about three chicken joint blogs in a row here on PingWi-Fi … I digress. No Wi-Fi at Moo-Moo’s … no score.
The big score in Victoria was Ventura’s Tamales. The locals tell me the place has “gone a bit commercial” now that they have plates and new digs and everything … alluding to a simpler time and a more “rustic” building. Regardless, I ate it up and I am not a big tamale lover. I had my usual enchiladas, but also a tamale on the plate. Get this … Ventura’s smothers the tamale in sauce just like the enchiladas. I had not seen that before, but what do I know? It worked.
Ventura’s smothers a mean tamale. Sadly, no Wi-Fi, but hell, they just recently got plates. You can’t have it all … 6 pings.
Next up … back to the triangle … I got an early start to Ol’ Cuero before the heat set in. It’s a pretty straight shot, with little to blog about … mostly farm land northwest on 87.. I love that, but it’s not very exciting. Then, I pulled the Thunderbird off the main road in Cuero and saw some treasures — so many old, cool two- and three-story mansions. Very nice.
And yes, I rode the bike along the route where the turkeys actually compete for fun and prizes. The Turkey Trot is now called TurkeyFest, but they say it gets bigger and bigger each year … despite the fact the same turkeys are featured every year … at least the same names. And the name of the hometown favorite turkey? Ruby! Love it. And there is quite a hoopla for the winner, upon which the titled is bestowed: ”The Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph,” (yes Triumph … I digress.)
The old downtown looked like a great potential backdrop for a period film … or a turkey race. Very cool. But I cruised on.
On to Goliad … Why did I think that was a famous line from Texas history? I must have been thinking of some other war … But Goliad saw its share and “Remember Goliad” is a runner-up as famous slogans go from the Texas Revolution, helping to inspire the Texans who won the Battle of San Jacinto … you can read all of that (see link) … The Goliad story culminating in the infamous massacre/execution of 300-400 Texans by Santa Anna’s forces, after the Texans surrendered, out of provisions and ammunition.
Despite the heat, I roamed around the fortress grounds at The Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía and saw the stone walls where the firing squad massacre took place … sweltering and watching other tourists “re-enact the battle” with their cell phones and Pokemon Go creatures. Ha … I think that is what they were doing, as I was climbing around the old gun turrets. Pointer … stay inside the fort and read all of the historical accounts on the wall. Sure, you can read the information on line, but the best-kept secret is that the air conditioning vents in the tourist center are in the floor right below the plaques. You read, you get cooled. I like incentive-based learning …
Also … checked out the old mission between Goliad and The Presidio, adjacent to Goliad State Park – the Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga. Pretty scenic … wish I had carried the Nikon. I suppose shots from the iPhone will suffice.
Earlier in the day, on the square in Goliad I spotted a little coffee shop out of the corner of my squinty eye. There was a sign that said coffee. Needed it. Got it. And what a cool cafe — Mattie’s Bakery & Cafe — with an upstairs complete with a shower in the bathroom (I looked to make sure no one was in it before proceeding) and an awesome view of the old Second Empire style courthouse. The cafe touts on Facebook their recent addition of a very cool and colorful saltillo tile stairway … and I agree it is pretty fancy … But not so decorative that I didn’t almost fall down it … missing the first step on the way out, still in my riding shades. There was Wi-Fi, but the waitress didn’t know the password. I assume it was just for the staff. Regardless, the coconut pie — both the meringue and the whipped cream varieties — were delicioso!
Get me Wi-Fi and a better highlighting of the artful stairway and it could be a perfect score. Two of the best wedges of coconut pie on the entire triangulated journey, and a room with a view … 6 pings.
And back to Victoria and Houston …
Know what I sayin?
July 23rd, 2016 · Tags: Satire
— PingWiFi (@PingWiFi) July 23, 2016
July 22nd, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized
— PingWiFi (@PingWiFi) July 22, 2016
Last week was The Chicken Ranch blog. This week the blog zeros in on a different kind of chicken joint. Have you checked out PDQ? Several Houston locations were my first exposure to the franchise, although I see there is at least one in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metromess.
I didn’t have time to stop at PDQ during recents jaunts to Katy, Cinco Ranch and Sugar Land … then I noticed a location on Louetta, off of 249 in extreme “North Houston” … very near my current “Dirty Gig.”
So, right off the bat, I checked and yes, PDQ has Wi-Fi PurDy Quick and free. For dietary sustenance, I shelled out 10 bucks for a combo meal … After the first favorable impression, the chicken chain “blinded me with science” with their multi-drink dispenser kiosk machine thing — which seems like a really good concept. However, all the flaves I craved were sold out, and all of the crap drinks were available. So of course, you could drink free refills until the cows come home … if you like diet rootbeer, strawberry soda and off brand teas. I wanted the Real Thang, baby.
On the other hand, the chicken tenders were excellent (certainly rivaling the Mon. through Sat. Chick-Fil-A) but the zucchini fries were served old and cold. Bummer … I was excited about some fried zuke.
So, PDQ was clever enough to draw me in … And I was inquisitive enough to ask “What does PDQ mean?”
People Dedicated To Quality … or so their signage says. That’s the best they could do!?! For fun, we tried to come up with some better ’breves, but failed miserably.
What kind of a play on words is that. Ha … do you remember AFROS — America’s Finest Receivers On Saturday? Now that’s an acronym for yah … (yes I am ready for college football) … I digress …
What else could PDQ mean? I mean abbreviations with the letter “Q” are tough. (It’s not an acronym, btw. Acronyms, technically, can be pronounced as words, like SCUBA or NATO or NASA … as any word nerd can tell you …) I digress …)
- Pings Don’t Quit
- Pudding Doesn’t Quiver
- Ping Declared Quirky
- Pullover at Dairy Queen
- Ping’s Downright Quirky
- Provide Desert Quench
- Panza & Don Quixote
- Pass Da Quinine
- Pocketknives Destroy Quilts
- Pachouli Deodorizes Quietly
- Ping Digresses Quickly
- Posing Difficult Questions
Anywho … PDQ, brainchild of the Outback Steakhouse folks — earned points for Wi-Fi but lacked zuke followthrough — 4 pings.
Moving on, we checked out the Starbucks across the parking lot. What is it with Starbucks in greater Houston? In most cities you can pretty much guess where the green mermaid will be setting up shop, or hiding among the rocks … or whatever. Typically, you see a nice retail area, and Starbucks is there … a given … Not so much in Houston. I would say the coffeeshops are few and far between for a city of this scope. I mean, maybe Houstonians are anti-big-coffee chain??? But if so, where is the local player/homegrown cafe they patronize? I haven’t found it.
Still looking … hmmm … just found a Starbucks near Rice with potential. More on that and some other Starbucks news in a later blog.
Know what I sayin?
July 10th, 2016 · Tags: Arts · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi
With this new fad, now that records … or albums … or vinyl have become back en vogue, I don’t feel as silly for still carrying around a few crates of music from back in the day. But man … I wish I had my old 45s too. For the younger audience, 45s were the small records … the singles … the hit songs and an extra song on the back … a couple of songs sold separately from the record albums or LPs.
My friends and I used to play Led Zeppelin’s “Over The Hills And Far Away” over and over trying to figure out the lyric. I think the line is “Darlin, darlin, take a walk with me … you’ve got so much …” We were convinced Robert Plant was asking the darling lady to do something else … I digress.
Lots of other singles come to mind … but perhaps none conjure memories like one of my ZZ Top 45s. There were extenuating circumstances. Every summer, this friend of the family came to town to visit. She was my older sister’s friend … and hot … and had a great personality and looked mature for her teen years … but best of all, she really liked this same ZZ Top song. So we would wait for it to play on the radio, and turn it up, singing along, trying to mimic Billy Gibbons’ cool bluesy lines.
“How, how, how …” “Hmm, hmm, hmm …” “Have mercy!”
Ha … at that point in my development, she could probably match Billy’s low, gravelly voice better than I … I digress.
I had to have it and so I bought the single at the first opportunity, in order to play it over and over on a very mediocre little record player.
Do you remember “La Grange?” For additional points, what was the flip side of the record?
Ha! Side B was the song “Just Got Paid.” I think the only reason I remember that is because I thought it was fun to play “Just Got Paid” with the record player set on 78 speed. Ha … “That little ol’ band from Texas” could really crank out that chord progression with a little more rpm. I digress …
Debbie was not impressed …
Anywho … the song “La Grange” has always been a favorite and a subject of fascination, given its topic — a seedy part of Texas lore about a house outside La Grange. (ha … think “rhymes with lore” …)
So … all this is to set up a blog about a recent motorcycle ride between Houston and Austin for the Fourth of July, which put me smack dab in the red light district of Texas Rock History … such history … I had no choice but to stop and shoot a selfie, and cruise around.
“Rumor spreadin’ around, in that Texas town
‘Bout that shack outside La Grange
And you know what I’m talkin’ about
Just let me know if you wanna go
To that home out on the range
They gotta lotta nice girls out there.”
As I was riding and humming the song, I saw a sign promoting another establishment … a coffee house with a sign out on the highway touting wireless Internet.
It said, “They gotta lotta nice Wi-Fi there …” or maybe I made that part up …
Timing is everything. The more famous of the two establishments is said to have closed many years before and the Wi-Fi coffee house was closed on Sunday.
But for the sake of a blog, and hopeful that I could also use their network to send an e-mail or two, I whipped off the road and got off the bike by the courthouse on the quaint town square, and tried to log on at Latte On The Square. Of course I checked in on Facebook as well.
By the way, in the hundreds and hundreds of places where I have checked in on Facebook, I think Latte On The Square is the first to “like” the check in (which I noticed later.) Gratitude!
But darn the luck. The coffee shop’s hotspot was up and running, but password protected. No free ride, so to speak.
“I can do this,” I thought, trying to fool myself, or pretending to be a hacker. Surely the password is something memorable and La Grange specific.”
I started typing … 78 speed … spitting out words and phrases, hoping to get on.
Of course I tried, “Z-Z-T-O-P.” (That’s what I would have made it.) I tried “Tres Hombres,” … strike two. I tried “beard,” and I tried “Frank Beard,” (ironically the name of the only ZZ Top band member without a beard.)
I continued with “La Grange, chicken ranch, have mercy, home out on the range” … and “the air is fine,” and the one I considered to be my finest work “They gotta latte nice girls there.”
Side note … all of this was going on about the same time Led Zeppelin was being sued in court, accused of plagiarizing a band called Spirit (yes, we know them) in the all-time FM classic of classics “Stairway To Heaven.” And also interesting, ZZ Top was sued over the blues intro to La Grange, so strongly influenced by John Lee Hooker’s version of “Boogie Children.”
But anyway … Wi-Fi out on the range was not to be. Not even a close shave with rock destiny. This day in La Grange, I did not get lucky. On to Austin …
Know what I sayin?
How far must I ride to get a win out of my alma mater Texas Tech in the College World Series? In 2014, I rode the new Triumph over from Columbia, Mo., not such a big deal, just 315 miles. This year, I caught the first game of the school’s second ever visit to the College World Series after a 652-mile stretch from Fort Worth. Well … Tech finally got a win over #1 Florida, right AFTER I headed back to Texas. As I write this, both Texas Tech and the purple horde of Texas Christian University have been eliminated from the CWS … but oh my, what a game the two Texas teams put on for my hot sweltering visit to TD Ameritrade Ballpark!
If you have been following the series, you may agree that Texas Tech blew it in two of their losses and likely should have made it to the finals … Oh well … first Tech served up a nice fat juicy pitch over the plate for TCU’s designated hitter, giving up a three-run homer and the lead, rather than walking him and coasting to a win, with a 9th inning lead. Later in the losers bracket, The Red Raiders committed fatal errors and mental mistakes against upstart Coastal Carolina (the guys who beat TCU twice in a row to advance to meet Arizona in the finals).
So about the one game I saw, TTU vs. TCU at 2 p.m. … in temps that reached well over 100 on the field …
Funny start. I asked the attendant at Will Call for my electronic ticket. They instructed me to walk to any gate and show my ID and the computerized system would print a ticket. I looked at one gate up the sweltering stairway, and then I saw a second gate in the shade with an elevator. Aboard the elevator I went. When it opened, I was in the ballpark (camera and all … which they tried to prevent during my last CWS …) … without an actual ticket. “Was that how it was supposed to work?” It didn’t seem right. So I found another ticket person and asked if I could get a paper ticket. Ha … they quizzed me for five minutes before they accepted that I was not a terrorist or a crook, and simply found a glitch in their system. I mean … I was being honest and trying to do the right thing … and they were so skeptical. No one hurt … but interesting.
So about the game …
They say “luck rewards the prepared mind” or something like that. TCU must really, really be prepared. I jest. Hats off to them. The Frogs’ Luken Baker stepped up big time to hit a huge homer, snatching a win from Texas Tech. Why did the Red Raiders pitch to the designated hitter when there was room on base for him? … I don’t know. Hindsight and all that.
How about Luken Baker’s name. I had not heard or seen it before the series … although I am sure he must already be a legend. That name has got to be a play off of “Willie and Waylon and the boys,” does it not (Luchenbach)? And wow … this kid or at least his mugshot on the Jumbotron is a smiling, baby-faced kid … but in stature he is like any any of several menacing characters off of Game Of Thrones. I think one of the sportscasters referred to him as a “man child.” Well … back to the Game of Thrones reference, I admit it …. I tried to get the chant started every time “Luchenbach” went to bat, “Hold The Door!” “Hold The Door!” “Hold The Door!” You do watch GOT, right? Ask someone … its a comical reference:)
Talk about clutch hitting … LB won the game for TCU with a big homer, just a foot or two inside the left field foul pole. I was sitting just left of the plate, when the ball exploded off the bat and I watched it and watched it and watched it … I thought surely it was going to go foul. It did not. My first reaction … stunned, I looked at the flag pole to see the wind direction. The entire game prior to this, the wind had been blowing strong, right to left. During that at bat, the wind had changed slightly … blowing the flag straight toward the field of play.
Maybe God is a Frog fan?
While the competition on the field was incredible, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the less-than-stellar behavior in the stands. First, I think everyone in my section was annoyed by the Texas Tech fan who repeatedly yelled after bad calls made by the umpire. Have you ever seen an umpire change a call or correct his vision after a fan yelled? But what really chapped me was the antics of one of the Frog faithful. After a huge double, Tech Centerfielder re-injured a hamstring as he went in hard to second base. For a minute or two, it looked like the injured player would leave the game, as he lay on the ground. Very gutsy — Tanner Gardner who was pretty much tied with Luken Baker in this game for heroics, limped around and then jogged and stayed in the game. (Have you ever pulled or torn a hammy? … Oh my!)
During the brief hammy stretch, that is when the TCU guy yelled, “Will you get on with it you morons!” … This at a time when most of the crowd was quiet, out of respect to an injured athlete, which is the custom … like everywhere. So it just echoed through the park. Ha … well played Frog. I digress …
Don’t ever tell me Texas Tech has the worse fans.
Before the game, I didn’t get to sample any Wi-Fi, however I was drawn in to an AT&T kiosk on the concourse, near right field. I hoped it was a misting station, but the attendant insisted I stop in to charge my iPhone. “But I have several bars, don’t need a charge.” She insisted and assured me that later, I would need that phone to call my Über driver.
“Oh this chick’s good!” … I thought, as I was reminded of how my sister insists her cell phone reads her mind and gives her ads based on her thoughts … I digress.
How did this AT&T charging station lady — who by the way in her own words was “rocking the Aunt Jemima” look — know that I had just taken my first ever Über ride to the stadium? Well I had because, tragically, after the 10-hour ride to Omaha, the day before, my bike broke down in downtown Omaha … which is another story.
When I got to Omaha, I circled the ball park area, passed The Old Market and rode by the edge of Omaha’s Happy Hollow (which I of course call “Hippie Hollow”) and back to downtown on the side streets, as I got my bearings. I whipped into a sketchy looking convenience store for a bottle of water and a look at my GPS. Hmmm … as I dismounted, I noticed the cable down near the clutch was frayed. “That ain’t good.” I slugged down a bottle of H2Omaha and reproached. I planned to take ‘er easy and ride my bike to the hotel for closer inspection. One pull of the clutch — the very next pull — and the cable snapped. How crazy … or blessed by the good Lord … is that to have ridden 650 miles of often times barren road and not break down until I was at my destination. I felt the protection, for sure.
But … but as I looked around, I felt less safes as I noticed for the first time that the very cool city of Omaha also has an underbelly. And that’s where I was parked, by no choice of my own. Numerous women, wanting crack or money or me … or a combination of the three approached me. I was at their corner and the sun would soon be going down. Did I mention it was Saturday evening and all the motorcycle shops were closed? I contacted a friend with Omaha connections and asked strangers about mechanics and towing services.
I pushed the bike to the other side of the parking lot away from the ladies of the night and was planted there Googling and thinking when a guy came out of the convenience store and offered to help me, after the cashier asked him if he knew of a motorcycle repair. Good fortune.
So this young, maybe somewhat scruffy guy offered to give me a ride anywhere I wanted to go … and added that he knew of an auto shop and a parts store a few blocks away. Against my better judgement, I climbed in his car and we rode away, as I wondered if the “ladies” were now rummaging through the saddlebags of my wounded bike. My trust in humanity was strengthened by my choice to legally conceal, I must confess … but I am all about people trusting people. And what the heck … what blog doesn’t need a little adventure?
Me and the good Samaritan made small talk, and he told me his dad wouldn’t forgive him if he had left a biker stranded. (Thanks for raising this boy properly, I thought …) “What does your dad do? Does he ride?” Ha … The dude told me his dad is in The Hells Angels, and he asked if I was affiliated with a motorcycle club. I thought: “No, but I once rode an elevator with three or four Hells Angels after the funeral of their murdered leader … does that count … it’s in one of the blogs?” … Actually, I said, “No, I just ride,” as I responded, thinking “Did he think I rode with a bunch of unshaven computer nerds?” More small talk, and the young man informed me that he no longer rode, but that he was hooked up with a youth group called The Aryan Nation. Ha … life on the road. Well … I ain’t gonna judge. He drove me to several shops with not luck and even offered to take me to the clubhouse. And most importantly, he and the ladies were not in cahoots. I declined the clubhouse invite, thanked him profusely, and called a tow truck. But stereotypes aside … nice guy.
The next day at the hotel, I was up at sunrise calling and searching for more options. I found a motorcycle parts store that would custom make a clutch cable. I limped the bike the 10 miles to the shop … Shifting on low r.p.m., without a clutch. No big deal except for starting the big heavy bike in gear … Soon I was out of the neighborhoods and the troublesome red lights and on to the freeway … when I encountered yet another Omaha guy wanting to be friends.
This guy rode up beside me in the next lane and started doing all kinds of strange hand gestures and arms motions.
I immediately recognized he was trying to play highway Charades:) I mean … I had just realized one of my saddlebags was open and flapping, so I knew he wasn’t trying to point that out to me. I was already driving with one hand and holding the saddlebag closed with the other … As he pulled along side me and crossed his arms over his chest (as he drove) and grabbed his shoulders. Ah … I see … He was serious about charades! I guessed he was trying to gesture “you’re parachute is open.” No not that, he kept gesturing. Was he saying his parachute would not open??? Very confusing. He pointed back to the highway behind me. “I’m going the wrong way?” Well how could he know where I was going? Finally, he ran out of gestures and I ran out of guesses, so I pulled over. HA! “Your jacket flew out of your saddle bag when you entered the highway.” OH! … It was just a freebie jacket from a college bowl game covered by the PingWi-Fi Blog, but a good one … waterproof. I had carried it for years. But, reluctantly, I needed to get the bike fixed and rode on.
It was when I parked at the motorcycle shop that I first learned they didn’t have a shop or a mechanic … Just a cranky old fart who sold me the cable and reluctantly loaned me a few basic tools … as he offered both some good advice and also some wrong instructions on how to install the cable. I made it work, crawling around the bike in the hot parking lot on the black asphalt, as various bikers smoked cigs nearby. I hopped on the bike … and yes … I backtracked and snatched up my riding jacket from the side of the road … Thanks friendly Omaha guy! I headed back to Texas, my trip cut short by the chance of more motorcycles troubles. It seemed prudent to head on home.
Oh … back to the Jemima phone charger lady and Über. YES! Just as Texas Tech’s luck ran out in game one, and the temperature soared … my phone went dead, just as Jemima predicted. I returned and charged up and called for my second ever Über — and called a new BFF in Omaha — Isidor … an excellent driver AND a walking, talking, driving, baseball statistics encyclopedia … or rather wikipedia. He could recite entire rosters of major league teams throughout the years and knew lots about the College World Series … and he was a gambling man.
When he asked my opinion on the upcoming NBA final game, I predicted that LeBron James would indeed win a world championship for his hometown Cleveland. The driver agreed and placed a bet at a stop light via his phone. I guess sometimes the luck is on my side …
What a trip! The entire ride to Omaha was characterized by decent temperatures, in spite of the heat wave of late. As I rode north on I-35, most of the way, there were clouds to the West, on my left and clear skies to the East, to my right … with a cool breeze between along the long road.
On the ride back to Texas, the weather was overcast as I left Omaha, but then got pretty warm through the “Endless Toll Road” that they call Kansas. The cars behaved for the most part, and as I hit Oklahoma I saw one of the best sunsets ever, with sherbet orange/pink clouds and massive wind turbines in the distance. A few miles later, as I hit the southern border of Oklahoma, the sun had faded and revealed a giant, red, full moon … with lots of scattered fluffy clouds moving around the big red ball … pretty scenic and truly relaxing after some of the more stressful points of the trip. By 1 a.m., I was back in Fort Worth in my own bed … a bed I have missed for two months, as I continue to work in Houston. Yes … what a trip!
Know what I sayin?
— PingWiFi (@PingWiFi) June 23, 2016
A diminutive, yet scrappy kid from Fort Worth moved up north and found himself managing a record store in a place that gets entirely too much snow.
He moved back to Texas and settled down in Austin to be a writer, at a time when the folksy city was little more that the State Capitol. All of that was about to change.
Within a couple of weeks of Joe Nick Patoski’s return to The Lone Star State, another Tex-patriot did the return trip from psychedelic San Francisco, still high on the fame of a hit record.
One of the two men — Doug Sahm — changed Austin and therefore music forever. The other — Joe Nick — jotted down the play-by-play, starting way back before media was social, writing about the exploding Austin scene.
Mix the two together, and you get “Sir Doug and The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove,” freshman director Patoski’s new rockumentary film on one of the founders of Americana/melting-pot rock – Doug Sahm.
At two film festivals in 2016, conflicts in the Ping schedule prevented viewing this film. But, the day the film screened in Brenham, Texas — through the wonders of Facebook — I saw a post a few hours before showtime, and I hit the road from nearby Houston. When I reached the theater, I checked in on Facebook (of course) just before the introduction of the film … and by the time the film was over, the director had seen my post and knew I was in the audience. Pretty cool.
Time well spent. Trust me, I never thought I would be in Brenham for any reason that didn’t involve Blue Bell ice cream. But I was. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity … for the music history and to rub elbows with Patoski. Joe Nick’s been round. In my PR days, I stayed in contact with him for years, always hoping to have a client featured in Texas Monthly. But it was further back in about 1984 that we first hooked up when JNP was the manager for another Tex-Mex artist, Joe King Carrasco. We have traded notes over the years, forever discussing that elusive sit down over a beer … As of late, I have tried to get the writer/author/filmmaker to try some kava with me over in Austin. But that’s another story:)
You probably know J. Nick’s name from his four decades as a writer, perhaps most visible as a senior editor and writer for Texas Monthly … or his Dallas Cowboys book. But, in my opinion, if you want to see what really makes Joe Nick tick, check out his radio Marfa program, — The Texas Music Hour Of Power. It offers, or could offer, a master’s degree on-line in Texas flavored rhythm & blues, country, TexMex … you name it. Oh … and by the way, Patoski already has a book on Stevie Ray, and has a biography coming out soon … on Willie himself.
But back to the film topic … You know Sahm? (Hey, that’s sort of like “Know what I sayin?” … I digress …) Many don’t, but most have probably heard his music or that of Sahm’s peers and protégés. “She’s About A Mover?” “Mendocino?” “Sheila Tequila?” ““Hey Baby Que Paso?” The Sir Douglas Quintet? Augie Meyers? The Texas Tornadoes? I bet you have … certainly you know Sahm’s boyhood friend and bandmate Freddie Fender … any who …
When I think of Sir Doug, I think of the Vox organ/Farfisa days of songs like Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs’ “Wooly Bully,” or ? And The Mysterians’ “96 Tears” … that subgenre of garage band rock. Heck … watch this video … ring a bell?
“She’s About A Mover … Looking Fine” … ha, dig this groove, daddio:)
But before Sahm sired Tex-Mex, he crooned his earliest records as a solo artist. At the ripe old age of 17, he pressed “Why, Why, Why” on the Harlem label … His first recording though was 1955, when the boy sang “Rollin, Rollin.” (“I ain’t nuthin but a rollin stone …”)
Such history! Get this … Sahm played on stage with Hank Williams Sr., at the prodigious age of 11 … at a show that would prove to be Hank’s very last. “IF that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your ass!,” (to borrow a phrase.)
As I reminisce about this rock history, I am thankful my oldest brother played in a garage band, and helped inform/influence me on music, perhaps ahead of my time. The bro played “Wooly Bully,” … But, I am not sure about “She’s About A Mover” … I digress.
So, young Sahm was playing in bars before he was old enough to push a lawn mower … not that he had one on the wrong side of the tracks in San Antonio. He was performing for people at the age of five, and at 11 he was recording … He was offered a residency at The Grand Ole Opry at 13. Then the young man went West. As Patoski’s film points out, at a time when the Grateful Dead were just starting to gain momentum with the hippies, Sahm already had Haight-Ashbury “cred.”
Always the mover, he then returned to pioneer the Austin music/twang thang. As Patoski points out … Early on, Sahm was more established than Willie Nelson and had more impact on what would become the music capitol of the universe, what we now know as the ATX. It is interesting to note that Sahm & friends were busted in Corpus Christi long before Willie transformed into the long-haired, “country jesus.”
Check out Bob Dylan lauding Sir Doug in this groovy clip:
But about the film …
If you like music — especially Texas homegrown like I do, you should see this film. Perhaps on Netflix … I’m not for sure. I think the film has finished its film festival schedule for a while. However … a big side note … “Sir Doug and The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove” will be screened in Cleveland at The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame this year, as Patoski continues to promote the film … and as he pushes a grassroots effort to get Sahm inducted into the hall of fame. Pretty cool!
The film has great, great footage from the tv rock classic “Hullabuloo;” concert footage from Austin’s coolest joints; and many “cameos” — Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel), Fender … even Trini Lopez (Hey, I interviewed Trini back at Texas Tech … I digress …) And there’s lots of insight into the crazy world of a musician on a forever road trip … from the family’s perspective, including Shawn Sahm, who bears a striking resemblance to Papa Sahm. By the way, father and son were on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1968. How cool is that?
You had me at cowboy hats and TexMex … I’m thinking love beads are in there too … “Sir Doug/Cosmic Groove” – a genuine 6 pings.
See it, if you can … meanwhile this Sahm Wikipedia should be required reading for any who study the craft –
By the way, also check out the theater in Brenham. I thought it was well worth the trip for the film. And, the historic Barnhill Center, circa 1925, was an added bonus smack dab on Main Street in the ice cream capital of the South. Wi-Fi at the Barnhill? … well, I was pretty focused on Sir Doug, and turned my handheld device off … courtesy and all that. Perhaps Blue Bell and Wi-Fi should be the subject of yet another Brenham visit.
AND … yes … there is a Doug ‘Sahm Hill’ in Austin … I assume a play off of “Where in the Sam Hill …?”
Know what I sayin?
There’s not much worse than hotel laundries for the traveler. Seldom does anything positive come from there. To summarize:
- Typically the machines are old and slow
- Typically the machines are full, but have stopped spinning sometime … yesterday
- Typically the owner of the non-spinning clothes has passed out after gorging on room service
- The sky’s the limit on the price for a load. Hotels will charge as much as modern coin insert hardware will allow
The saving grace for hotel laundry? Wi-Fi … the greatest technology for down time … ever.
So the other day, I had been writing a blog and headed to the laundry with my computer when a woman stopped me in the hall.
“The laundry is full right now,” she said … awkward pause. “I know that because the clothes in the machine are mine … and there is only one machine.”
(I gathered that lady … about your involvement with said load in progress … and by the way, I have been here 60 days so I am well aware on the inadequate number of machines …)
OH … but did I mention the lady had the coolest Australian accent? Well, she did.
I waited a while, 30-minutes to be precise, because I had started the stopwatch on my iPhone so that I would know when the Aussie cycle should be coming to an end. (Yes, I have this hotel laundry thing down … Ha … full-time travelers have little choice. The competition for an open washer can get pretty cutthroat.)
So I was loading an empty washer, when the the Aussie came back in. I couldn’t resist and complimented her on her nice accent. Ha … Instant friendship. Soon she was borrowing my computer to look up her “mum’s” flight information. The two Australian ladies were meeting in Houston, and boarding a cruise ship for the Mexican coast, I learned with little effort on my part.
It was just a fun little cultural exchange, albeit brief. I started my load, after retrieving a spare quarter from the washer, and handing it to Karen … the Aussie. “What’s that?”
“We call it a quarter,” I joked.
“What is it good for?,” she asked.
“Nothing … the coin is absolutely obsolete … except for maybe hotel laundries and those machines that kids ride in front of the grocery store.” (Do kids still ride those, or have the lawyers and litigation put an end to that fun?)
She took it after several attempts to get me to take the obsolete coin.
I went back to work on a blog out in the lobby, never giving the meeting a second thought.
Ten minutes later, Karen joined me on the couch and said she had a favor to ask, as she showed me a photo on her phone. The photo featured Karen in the side car of some old scooter. The side car looked like a 1950s sci-fi rocket … pretty nostalgic. The favor? I guess Karen has a thing for taking her selfies on other people’s scooters, so she asked to get a shot on my big-O Triumph Thunderbird. Sure … “knock yourself out.”
We snapped a quick photo, and I went back to work … and later went back to the laundry. Karen was retrieving her dry clothes as I was emptying out my wet ones.
What the heck I thought … Maybe this American should be a nice guy and give the woman a memory of her trip, even better than a selfie on a motorcycle.
“How about a ride?,” I invited. “But … it will cost you a quarter.” (You saw that coming, dint you? … I digress …)
Ha … she didn’t hesitate. Now wouldn’t it be more fun if everyone would be more social with strangers and more spontaneous?
Ha … we rode only for about 15 minutes. Karen had to pick up her “mum.” (Mum would also get a selfie on the bike later …)
Before we road, Karen whipped out some tourist book, featuring “Texisms.” She fired one off about “the kind of guy who would battle a bull with a switch.” Hmmm … That doesn’t sound like anything from the Texas I know. (Hell. We had bulls, but now trees and therefor no switches …) Wonder who compiled this list … I digress.
As we rode, I commented that she is pretty trusting, and should be more careful in a big Metropolitan area … Ha … and it also occurred to me … “What if she is a really, really good professional scam artist, and maybe I am about to be robbed.” It was just a passing thought. I didn’t buy into it.
Hearing my concern, she said … “Yes I should be careful. You could have a gun. You Texas can carry guns now.”
I just smiled.
Bon voyage, mate. Hope your ride made the complete Texas experience.
Know what I sayin?