I just heard that Norma McCorvey passed away, perhaps best known as the “Roe” of the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, which of course paved the way for millions of legal abortions in The United States.
In the late ’90s, I got to visit with Ms. McCorvey when I gave her media training in Dallas. She was not the person I have read about today in some of the articles about her life. I will always remember how she spoke of being misled and even railroaded into her dubious position as the poster child for the abortion movement.
You probably know she reversed her opinion on abortion later in life and became a fierce advocate for the Pro-Life movement and a Christian. Two decades after the landmark case she still suffered greatly from the decisions she made in her youth and for her cooperation with an intimidating legal team with an agenda …
I am happy for her that she was able to overcome some of the guilt and focus her energy and emotions into the positive life movement. It took a tremendous amount of courage to take back her own life and to act on her convictions, in spite of all the criticism, rage and attacks she suffered from those who once thought of her as an ally in their war. I have no doubt she is at peace now. God bless her!
I am late to the party — a day late and a dollar short — to wish Lubbock’s Joe Ely a happy 70th birthday. It sounds like quite a party they have planned down in Austin … jealous.
Let’s talk Ely.
And to talk Ely is to talk Lubbock, no two ways about it, despite his more recent decades in Austin. (Ely is actually from Amarillo and ironically, there seems to be no relation to Amarillo’s other famous Ely … Ron Ely … TV’s golden Tarzan. I digress …)
After a quick Google, I found some old Ely concert schedules, included in the list was the first time I ever saw Joe play — Jan. 25, 1980, at an upstart nightclub between Amarillo and Canyon, Texas called The Silvertooth. That was before Ely moved fro Lubbock and before I moved to. What a great time out on the Canyon E-Way (or that old Amarillo Highway as Terry Allen sung it). At the time, I thought I didn’t much like country, that is until I heard Ely rockin and helping his band out clickin around on the keyboard: “I keep my fingernails long so they click when I play the ‘piana.’”
Just two dates later in Ely’s schedule, after a flight across the pond, he opened for my favorites The Clash in London on The Lubbock Calling Tour … er I mean The London Calling Tour, Feb. 15, 1980.
Sadly, I missed The Clash shows in Lubbock that year, when Ely bonded with the Brits. No doubt Ely was the hardest working man in Lubbock back then. In the Internet search, more than 50 references to Lubbock shows popped up. I bet there were more.
The concert I was actually looking for was perhaps the last time I saw Joe E. in Lubbock, at an outside music fest — no not the storied Tornado Jam, a later show — where Joe shared the stage with The Blasters, a rockabilly outfit that produced gentleman farmer/Americana poet Dave Alvin after his stint in LA’s punk act X … I digress.
That outdoor show created so many great memories … thousands of fans, with several beers a piece on the ground … and overhead, an ultra-light aircraft doing low flyovers and figure eight manoeuvres above. Memories of the crowd coming alive for The Blasters’ minor hit “Marie, Marie.” And this special moment which I will never forget … a great legend among friends that arose from a somewhat mindless moment. After several of the aforementioned brewskis my buddy and fellow concert goer decided Joe Ely needed a gimmee cap.
More specifically, my friend decided Ely needed his gimmee hat, I guess. For whatever reason, my friend took off his hat during a song and threw it at the feet of Ely on stage. Hmmm … maybe this is a most-sincere sign of appreciation in some culture of which I am unfamiliar. The rest of the gang all laughed at what a dumb-ass thing to do, and we waited for Joe to put a pointed-toe Tony Llama to the cap, kicking it back our way. Ha … never missing a beat, Ely bent over and slapped the hat on his head — nearly sideways as the crowd roared approval for the look — and he jumped up to the mike for his next vocal. My friend had never experienced a more proud moment … I am sure. It was pure Budweiser magic.
The more famous Ely outings of course were his aptly named Tornado Jams (given Lubbock’s windy history). For whatever reason, I have always joked that I was conceived at Woodstock … but after later moving to Lubbock I added a new line to my B.S: “I wasn’t born at The Tornado Jam, but I got there as soon as I could …” Translation: I missed the first TornJam on May 11, 1980 which featured Ely of course, as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan and another Texas Panhandle son, Jay Boy Adams.
Darn it … missed the second Tornado too.
But three was the charm. Just a few months after moving to The Hub City, my buddies told me about it — “the biggest event in Lubbock.” We packed all the cold cans we could carry and headed to T. Jam III as clouds overtook the region. There were no tornados that day, but it poured and poured … pretty much a deluge all day. Joan Jett, Linda Ronstadt, The Crickets and others had a covered stage. Our choice was to go home or drink heavily while rocking/slopping around in the mud of Buddy Holly Park. We chose B. (And yes, we destroyed the grass … the lawn that is, much to the chagrin of Lubbock city commissioners … but what an event!)
If the city of Lubbock collectively has regrets, it would have to be the expatriation of Joe Ely … was the final straw really the result of Lubbock city fathers prohibiting any more Tornado Jams hosted at Buddy Holly Park!?! (Never heard the entire story … but what a shame!)
Living in Lubbock during college years, our gang regularly saw Joe or his big guitar slinger Jesse “Guitar” Taylor … or “the other Rolling Stone” Bobby Keys around town … at Jagger’s joint “Fat Dawg’s” … or at the original Stubb’s Barbecue on “the east side” … or Pyrrha’s Main Street Saloon … playing music or pool or having drinks or stepping on stage to help out New Mexico’s The Planets or whatever.
Flash forward a few tornados … decades later, Joe Ely was a key ingredient in one of my most proud parenting moments — taking my teenage son to a honkytonk and turning him on to some Texas legends: Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Ely’s early band The Flatlanders had reunited and scheduled a Fort Worth show at the world famous Billy Bob’s Texas. Despite his early-teen music preferences, I pretty much forced my youngest son to see the show. A budding musician himself — he liked the show. Thanks for the dad cred, Joe.
A few years later, I ran into Ely’s bandmate Gilmore at Austin’s SXSW Music Festival, walking through the hipster throng, anonymous among all the young dudes, despite his cameo appearance as the stoner bowler “Smoky” in the cult classic “The Big Lebowski.”
No one recognized Smoky! A great example of how time moves on and ushers in so many changes of the guard. But Joe is still rocking … “Cool Rockin Loretta” as one of Joe’s recordings belts out … a song co-written with another Lubbock guy, an artist from another band, known as Eddie Beethoven … the very Beethoven whose one-time guitar player just happens to be the son-in-law of Gilmore (Smoky) in real life.
Anyway … Happy Birthday Joe … and thanks for the memories!
Last night my two high school spinal injuries were talking to me, keeping me awake past the normal cut off point for my day. I counted sheep … well, no, I didn’t. I am lying. I read Facebook and Twitter and such. No likes. No dice. Still awake. Then I decided to fire up an HBO movie in bed with my AppleTV unit. Was that Costner? Some detective show was just about to suck me in, when the picture froze, the scene buffered, and I began to curse AT&T Uverse Wi-Fi for the poor reception way back in the bedroom.
Naturally, I headed to the kitchen to see what’s to eat.
I haven’t had this house that long, but I have committed to memory the twists and turns from bed to fridge without the need of lights. So I stumbled on to the other end of the house in the dark, happy that Texas is having a spell of warm weather, and my boxer shorts are all I need.
When I got to the kitchen, the first thing I noticed was the clock on the microwave. The time was 12:34 … not that late, but wait … Perhaps there was significance. 12:34 … That’s 1-2-3-4 … I was looking at a digital clock, rather than the grandfather clock that had just chimed in the other room.
“Why is 1-2-3-4 significant?,” you might ask. Well … my friend … I will share. Not too many years ago, I dated a sweet, beautiful woman who told me a story about a mutual friend. The mutual friend is a young, wise, charismatic pastor in North Texas, and she relayed a story about one of his sermons. A sermon I didn’t hear, but her account stuck with me.
This pastor stumbled upon a little coincidence — coincidence, those funny things that I like to refer to as “God’s sense of humor.” The pastor’s name is Jim … Jim Mann. Well, Pastor Jim noticed something unusual about clocks and wrote a sermon about it. It seems, he kept looking at his clocks at random moments, and noticing the time always seemed to be interesting combinations of numbers.
What did it mean?
Mann would look up during a meeting and notice that lunch was almost an hour away, because the clock displayed 11:11 … or 1-1-1-1. Another day, Mann would just happen to notice it was 3:33 or 3-3-3, time to take his daughter to soccer practice or whatever. And maybe he noticed the time practice was over, at 5-5-5 …
You get it.
So anyway, Pastor Jim mulled this over and thought there must be some reason … that God must be telling him something in His ever mysterious, miraculous ways. I don’t know if Mann ever was able to put his finger on whatever it was … but he came up with a great idea and put it in a sermon.
Mann encouraged his congregation to pray for him at all times, but specifically whenever they see one of those numeric combinations as described above. Since hearing that story, I have prayed for and/or thought of Jim Mann just about every time I see that it is 2:22 or whatever.
So … last night, at 1-2-3-4, I immediately thought of Jim Mann. Sorry Jim. I don’t think I prayed, because I had my mind already “meditating” on the feast of whatever was inside the fridge.
Just as I was about to open the door, I noticed another light. A light from above … I swear to God, so to speak. On the tiled floor, near the refrigerator was a square “box” of light, illuminating a couple of square feet of my floor. It was just about the same place the bright light normally hits the floor, when I open the fridge in the dark. But the door was closed, and this mysterious light was more subtle … more natural … than what the fridge put out in the dark.
“What the heck?,” replaced my thoughts of 1-2-3-4. “Where is the light coming from?” I had never seen this light before. I looked up. Ah … I didn’t build this house, and I didn’t put the unusual skylight above the center of the kitchen. Light was coming in through the skylight and leaving its evidence on the floor. But wait. I haven’t seen this before. There is no street light close enough to shine in through the skylight.
Looking up again, I took a step to the side, centered, and saw one of the brightest, biggest full moons I have seen in months. It was the first moon — of any phase — I had ever seen through the kitchen skylight. (Ha … of course I will be watching for them from now on, throwing private little watching parties in my kitchen … I digress …)
Ha … I wondered if the builders had any idea that the moon would ever be visible. My imagination — after many a year reading National Geographic features about ancient structures designed to track the movement of the heavenly bodies — went wild. Ha … and now I have discovered that my own house has a built in “watcher of the skies” feature. How fun!
So … from now on, when there is a full moon, I will be reloading my ice cream bowl in the dark, standing there, waiting … waiting on the cold tile floor, looking up into the skies, through the skylight … searching for that special astronomical event … that kitchen anomaly …that celestial phenomena that will forever be known in my house as The Jim Moon.
Two minutes left in the game and 75 yards of natural turf ahead of you … who would you want as your field general? The two-minute drill. Many might say Graham Harrell, if they have seen the replay of arguably the biggest come-from-behind upset in college football in the last 10 years.
Harrell On The Offensive
That was the scenario at the 2016 Zaxby’s Heart Of Dallas Bowl matching the West Point Black Knights of Army against the North Texas Mean Green Eagles … only this time Harrell was offensive coordinator, rather than the quarterback who threw that famous touchdown in ’08 to Michael Crabtree vaulting the receiver to instant stardom and a lucrative NFL career.
A cloudy Fort Worth sky prevented the pre-game fly over at The 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. There wasn’t an air-raid offense in sight, per se. But the bowl matchup still set a new record for points with 93 cumulative — 48 of those tallied by Louisiana Tech in a three-point win over Navy, with a walk off field goal.
LA Tech set tone early, with Carlo Henderson’s 86-yard return of the opening kickoff, setting up the game’s first score, 7-0, with 13:35 remaining in the first quarter. Navy followed up with a fumble at the LA Tech 48 yard line on its second play from scrimmage, shifting all momentum to the Bulldogs. LA Tech answered with its second score, a 22-yard field goal by Jonathan Barnes, 10-zip. On their ensuing possession, Navy moved the ball only seven yards on three plays before punting and it looked as if it could be a long day for The Midshipmen.
Forget that. On the next series, the Navy defense took control, sacking LA Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins for a seven-yard loss. After three and out, Navy fielded the Bulldog punt at their own 45, with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
Via the magic of Wi-Fi, a promotional calendar for Dallas/Fort Worth music events just popped up in my e-mail, so I opened it to see what’s on tap for the holidays.
Up popped Neil Diamond and a blurb about his 50th Anniversary Tour … Ha … a vision of “cougars” on the prowl danced in my head. (The show is not until July … So I hope I can “un-see” those images by then.)
Neil Diamond — an interesting case — in my mind an artist whose music I kinda hate … IMHO just too crooning-mellow-romantic-introspective for my tastes. Howeva … howeva … there was a time when Neil was a rocker. Did you know this? Another sad turn of events, kind of like the BeeGees making good music before they overdosed on Disco … I digress-es-es …
In my PR life, I was working at the hottest high-tech firm in the country, just before the dot.com bust … and one of my favorite bosses of all times, thought I was some sort of animal … actually a couple of animals. First she complimented me and said that I was a “media hound,” a good thing for clients because earned media (media coverage) arguably adds credibility to a marketing mix. Ha. She also called me a “deer in headlights” when it came to billing the client for every minute of my day, and launching “best practices” which actually did little more for the client than run up their bill. I take both as compliments … I digress …
One hundred feet below, the emerald waves pounded the shore, one after another after another. Relentless. Sqawking seagulls circled around me, and the tall mast rocked in the wind. A low-gliding “V” of pelican bombers dove down, descending in a smooth formation, just over the waves in the distance. When the gusts flexed their muscle, the platform atop the mast swayed as much as eight feet to either side as I took the knife from my teeth … holding on and struggling to cut away the white fabric, reducing the effect of the strong winds of The Atlantic.