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Dog Days Of Duke — Another Place In Time

July 28th, 2019 · Tags: Uncategorized

When my children were young, we had a tradition of my telling the three city kids about the old ways — fun family history from many miles away — “Farm Stories.” The kids loved the stories, or maybe it was just one more ploy to get to stay awake a little bit later. I never told this one, or certainly not in its entirety. It’s the story of ol’ Duke.

Duke was from a different era. A farm dog, in the truest sense of the word. Duke was loved, but never pampered. His toenails were a la natural🙂 He knew he was a dog and not a human … and Duke was good with that. He seemed to understand that he needed to pull his weight to be justified on the team. Duke never saw a vet, yet was healthy until his final years. His shots were not current, but he had them a few times thanks to the vocational agriculture program in lieu of a small-animal vet. He wouldn’t dream of being “fixed.”

With Duke’s combination of bloodlines, he would grow into roles as both a protector and an instinctive herder. I first saw Duke’s protective side when — as barely more than a pup — he fiercely growled, barked and snapped at my cousin … when it only seemed as if there was an issue.

I am pretty sure Duke would take on any and all comers — any one and any size — if anyone raised a hand toward me or my sweet sister, or any of us kids. Duke probably learned the hard way that his job description would also include being a protector of our chickens … but he also learned, they were “forbidden fruit” despite the grizzly actions of of his cousins — raiding coyotes, if they ever caught a bird left out of the coop at night.

The only thing that scared Duke was was the firearm — for his entire life, as far as I know.

When I first met Duke and my dad started to train him as a cowdog, we had a maroon ’64 Chevy stepside pickup. It wasn’t very long before Duke could jump up, first on to the built-in step of that Chevy, and then on up and over to clear the metal sides of the truck bed … easily.

Duke loved to ride in the back of the pickup, head and neck preening to the side of the cab, to get the full cooling effect of the dry Panhandle wind as we drove down the dusty trails between green fields of wheat pasture and yellowy-grey maize stubble. He lived to ride in the back!

When we upgraded to a ’72-or-so yellow and white Ford Ranger fleetside pickup truck, Duke’s leaping ability wasn’t challenged at all … By that time, just a quick “Get in the truck!” … and he was mid air, flying over the Ford’s sides … just as a thousand bales of hay did back in the day.

Duke could still hold his own and jump over the sides of our red, ’75-ish, four-wheel drive Chevy … even though it was taller than the pickups he cut his teeth on, so to speak.

Get in the truck!” … Always his favorite words.

There were only two things Duke liked as much as riding in the pickup — working cattle and plowing the fields. Duke was as smart as any cowdog I ever saw. My dad would give Duke a stern “sick ’em” and as soon as Duke heard the words, the dog was flying out of the truck, hitting the ground on the run. No lie … I knew Duke was smarter than me, especially when it came to cattle — and I moved a few head of cattle, by the time I was 10 — both on a horse and in a pickup loaded with hay as bait. Instinctively — probably the Collie half of his blood (also mixed with German Shepherd) — he knew where the cattle were supposed to be headed and he would convey that to the beasts with a quick nip at their heels and a bark or two. Duke was happy to work cattle, hours on end just for fun and little reward. But, when he got to chew on the recently removed horn, previously adorning a steer’s bellowing head … well that was a bonus.

Duke’s other conditioning exercise of choice was to follow the tractor out in the field when my dad, brothers, sister and/or I were out destroying the weeds that stole the moisture from our fields … us turning the unwanted plants over fast with a roaring engine, a cloud of smoke and a quick slash of a steel implement, to reveal the sometimes moist, dark and aromatic soil beneath. The smell of fresh dirt, tall green Johnson grass, blue weeds with their tiny, shriveled daisy-like blooms and the sickening-sweet perfume scent of the white, pink and yellow blooms dangling from the hollow stems of a devil’s claw plant. … Smells and memories that remain fresh for a lifetime.

It was hard work and it was beautiful too, in many ways.

Like our pickup trucks, our tractors got bigger and our methods more advanced. We started using more and more sweep plows and tandem discs and such. But Duke … he was a purest — or “old school” — you might say, when it came to plowing the fields. The farm dog preferred the already antiquated one-way plow. If you don’t know, a sweep plow and a tandem disc typically go back and forth and back and forth as they turn the weeds to barren ground. (Now of course, farmers conserve more moisture with no-till farming methods …)

But in the farmers’ world of driving tractor back then, pulling a one-way was sort of like the old joke about being a NASCAR driver. “Go to the end and turn left.” Pulling a one-way is hours and hours of circling the outer perimeter of the weeds — turning left — with each lap getting shorter and shorter and the dark brown, plowed-out “frame” growing bigger as you work your way to the center … the green interior diminishing … until you reach the middle of the field in a day or two, depending on the acreage.

Contrary to how a Hereford calf or an Angus steer would behave, I think Duke liked the predictability of the one-way plowing. I think he loved to let his mind wonder to the careless days of his youth, when my sister Cindy and I would push Duke in the old tire swing … or put a suit jacket on him, or turn his floppy ears inside out and change his name from Duke to “Whammos” because his ears were folded under … or laugh at him when he would roll around in the mud of the playa lake to cool off. I don’t know where it came from or why the “Whammos” nickname was a thing. But it is a cherished memory of good natured Duke.

But, yes … I think Duke could daydream about stuff like that following the one-way … he could follow with his eyes closed, because one of the other characteristics of the oneway is that the plow moves at a slight angle, as the tractor moves straight and one of the back wheels of the plow — the wheel nearest the center of the endless circle — cuts a distinct furrow in the ground, beside the freshly plowed soil. On the next revolution, the tractor driver puts the front wheel of the tractor in that furrow, from the previous lap around the field. It’s a way to mark the place, when driving. That way, the farmer doesn’t miss any ground or weeds, but also maximizes the reach of the plow … the plow only overlaps a tiny bit. It was that “mark” — that furrow — that helps to keep the plow in place … and from Duke’s perspective, the furrow also created a nice little smooth, level, cool path for his feet. He could have ran ahead of the tractor on unplowed ground, or anywhere else … but the furrow, with the topsoil freshly dug away was much cooler and easier on Duke’s pads. Now, in the event that a fun lizard or tasty rabbit or something else hopped out of the plow’s path, that would be a bonus.

Duke was happy to follow that one-way hours at a time.

My dad was Duke’s favorite person in the world, except for us kids. I mentioned that Duke snapped at some of my cousins when he thought teasing or other shenanigans were going to somehow harm me. But also, there is a family story — that I might not should tell — about one of the siblings returning home past curfew. Upset and concerned, my dad had some heated words for the rebellious youth, late one night out in front of the farm house. Apparently Duke mistook heated, parental advice for something else, and he jumped between father and son, taking a bite out of my dad’s thigh. Those were the days of “monkey blood” or mercurochrome — the bright orange miracle cure for all cuts and nicks and punctures. I saw the bites as Dad covered them in orange.

Whenever there was the much-beloved rain, and by chance some vehicle became stuck in the seldom-seen mud, Duke would position himself near the muddy vehicle and then if the back wheels began to spin, he would bark at the tire, just as if it were encouraging a heifer who had lost her way. So funny! Tractor tires, pickup tires, car tires … Duke “herded” all of them out of the mud.

Duke didn’t like dog food, but he loved table scraps (in addition to an occasional rabbit without the stew). Thee was an ample supply, because all farm boys learn gun safety and then marksmanship … or at least they did when I was a kid. And we were taught there was no killing without a reason. Shooting a rabbit for Duke was totally acceptable and justified. He loved it … but bless his heart, like the guy who needs an antacid after satisfying a pizza craving … Duke usually paid his dues after enjoying a nice fresh rabbit, who had unfortunately wondered into the wrong wheatfield. But Duke never stopped loving “wabbit.” And he never stopped hating the gun that made the dish possible.

Anytime a gun was pulled from a pickup, or taken from the farmhouse … for whatever reason, Duke would kowtow instantly and as fast as he could — tail between his legs — he would hide and not come out from under the wooden shelves or the workbench in the back of the old ramshackle garage. He would hunker down, long before the first report from any weapon fired. He was so smart. He new the smell of gunpowder and the noise and the results. He was petrified … until the weapons were put away.

Somewhere between the red Chevy four-wheel drive pickup and its successor, a brand new white four-wheel drive Chevy originally intended to be a public utility work truck, Duke “lost a step.” He never stopped riding in the back of the truck, but slowly, his ability to get on board was fading.

Toward the end of the red Chevy 4-wheel drive’s time in our family, time was catching up with old Duke too. He wouldn’t admit it though. He would try to jump in the truck when he knew we were headed to work in the fields … but it was no longer graceful. He would jump and scratch the sides and claw at the metal and pull his weight on over the side of the truck — kind of like an infantryman training to climb over the wall in “basic” … Duke’s face would look as if he was embarrassed, and knew it was awkward, but then when he was safely inside the truck, his face beamed with happiness.

We loved to see his sense of accomplishment when he struggled but then achieved his goal of riding in the back of the pickup … still hopping up on the tool box across the back, or propping his front paws over the side of the bed to look outside …

But, Duke … it was time to face reality:(

In addition to me stepping out of the pickup truck and opening the barbed wired gates, when my dad drove us up to the tractor parked in the field, I took on the new task of having to let down the tailgate for Duke.

Get in the truck!

The first few times that I helped him, he looked at me questioningly … “You serious?” … as if to say.

In about ’72 something changed Duke’s life forever — a huge wheat crop — for our farm and pretty much everyone in the area. After so many years in a tiny, rundown farm house, our family bought a nice house in Vega. Texas … and moved to town. (I became known as “the city kid” to my brothers.) We knew Duke would never adjust, even to a small town lot with a fence, after having more than a thousand acres of ours to call his own — not to mention the adjoining, uninhabited farms — for the first dozen or so years of his life. So, the decision was made to allow Duke to continue the peaceful, carefree life on the farm that he loved, knowing we would see him every day, just as we had before. He would lack for nothing. But, his best friend, and smaller peer — a housedog named Snoopy — made the move to town … and sadly it was Snoopy who would be poisoned for roaming the neighborhood as other dogs did in the tiny town. (It was rumored that a very close neighbor was putting out poison … and we found it to be true the hard way.) Snoopy lasted just a few short months in town and Duke continue on several years at the old homestead … Increasingly happier and happier to see us every time we drove the seven miles to the farm, fed him and loaded him up for field work.

“Batchelor life” in the country was wonderful for Duke, even as the effects of age continued to slow him and his system.

Then one day, we arrived at the farm to find Duke limping badly— more like hopping on three legs — with blood oozing from a bullet hole in his leg. Someone shot Duke while we were away. Duke’s only “crime” — his yellowish brown coat and his size probably resembled a coyote to some passerby in the remote, unpopulated area of the county. At least we hoped it was a case of mistaken identity and not just pure meanness.

Duke survived, but he was never the same again. He hobbled for the rest of his life and didn’t eat as well and his health and weight continued to decline. I have no doubt, despite the limitations of his farm dog existence, he would have eventually have died of old age … if some idiot had not put a bullet in his leg.

Duke had lived in a different world from our animals today, so when my dad faced the inevitable — that Duke had “had enough” — the time came for a merciful ending. I don’t think I had ever seen my father so miserably sad as when he saw there was no choice but to put ol’ Duke down. Duke had been the best cowdog ever and a wonderful daily companion to my dad for so many years. They had raised a pack of kids and a few thousand cattle together. Accordingly, my dad reached the decision that he wouldn’t let just anyone — some stranger — end Duke’s life. I can’t imagine how difficult the decision must have been for Daddy.

Like I said, it was a different time … a totally different era … and things were done differently back then. And, anyone who has ever lived on or been around a farm knows the animals are loved and highly respected and well treated … but subject to different things than their city cousins. Duke’s last time would not be like that of a city dog, or any dog nowadays.

My dad made the perfect plan, thinking it through and through for days. He knew that potentially, Duke would run away and hide as best he could, if he ever spotted or smelled the gun. That could not happen. So, when my dad drove out to the farm on that day, he had a small rifle loaded and ready in the pickup floorboard beside him. When he got to the farm, my dad stopped and unlocked the gate, and Duke hobbled out to greet my dad, as he always did. My dad placed Duke’s meal on the ground by the gate. It was an extra portion of table scraps, served in a used plastic milk jug with the top cut away to allow the dog to eat all he wanted, easily. This day, the scraps included an extra serving of everything … and an especially large piece of a juicy steak. As Duke enjoyed the meal — living what had been his best life and enjoying his favorite — my dad climbed back in the truck as he sometimes did on a short visit. Duke’s face was buried deep in the plastic container, chewing and gulping down meat and chomping on a small bone. Slowly and silently, my dad reached for the rifle and turned the barrel toward the door, still concealing what was about to happen. Slowly, my dad eased the rifle to the top of the door, poking the dark barrel through the open window, still partially hidden by the large side mirror of the truck. Duke was only a few feet from the door, so however dreadful, this would be a quick, painless end.

My dad readied the gun, took aim and cocked the gun.

For a fraction of a second, I am sure that all of the wonderful years of work and companionship all flashed through my father’s mind. And in that millisecond just before my dad pulled the trigger … Duke stopped eating and looked my dad right in the eye … and then he fell over dead.

When my dad told me about this day, it was the only time I ever saw him cry.

 

Know what I’m sayin?

Fly Away Little Bug, Before VW Kills Off Species

July 13th, 2019 · Tags: Cities · Satire

 

Social media tells me that the Volkswagen Beetle is no more … again!  Remember the U.S. “Bug” was quashed years ago, although the Latin American-made Bugs continued to multiply south of the border, following that whole Boys From Brazil kinda thing – German stuff migrating to the southern latitudes and all that … I digress …

So, with the demise of the most peculiar of all automobile species, accordingly … how about we focus on the VW Bug for a moment with a few randoms … Do you have some favorite Volkswagen stories too?

Ha … In a few years, will it be that the Volkswagen Beetle becomes the “New Coke” of the automobile world, again?  Is this another “Now you see it, now you don’t” marketing ploy?  Will the Bug be back, after consumer outcry? I wonder …

Small Wonder … that reminds me … that is the name of a book that Volkswagen published and packed in its Bugs along with the owner’s manual, back in the day.  I had my hands on a copy of it in like 1970 — right about the time of the famous Lubbock, Texas Tornado … the storm that almost quashed the hometown of Buddy Holly & The Crickets … I digress … Anyway … in my mind the Bug and that tornado are mashed together.  My oldest brother had a brand new Volkswagen and was living in Lubbock at the time of the devastating storm.  The first or second time I saw his Bug, it bore a “spiderweb” cracked/shattered imprint all the way across the automobile’s front windshield.  What is that, about four feet across on a Bug?🙂 My brother and the car were caught in the high winds of the Lubbock storm’s path, when a metal trash can flew across their path and left a mark. Ouch!

I wonder how many Bugs got smashed in Lubbock that day. If you ever visited 1970-era Lubbock, you know the place was crawling with Volkswagens, probably not unlike most college towns of the day.

So VW has a special place in my heart, although I have never owned a “Bug” … because I stole one once:)  Ha … it was that very Lubbock Bug, after its windshield and black eyes had been mended.  For some reason, my brother left his Bug on our farm for a few weeks for us to use.  It was quite the farm-boy thrill when I was allowed to fill up the VW with gas, because it meant I could drive the 1/20th of a mile loop from the farmhouse to the gas tank and back … ha … never needing to shift out of 1st gear on that brief drive — shifting, still a bit of a tricky maneuver for this 10 year old (at the time).

Driving that little fill-’er-up circuit was fun … But not as much fun as the day I stole the Bug.

My mom could barely master a stick-shift transmission, like the one in the loaner Bug we had at the time — but that didn’t stop her.  One day she was determined to attend some Home Demonstration meeting, or 4-H Leaders event or something at the Oldham County Barn in Vega, Texas, and she took The Bug.  What’s more, she took me, my sister Cindy, and our friend Teresa was with us too.  For some reason, we were left out in the car in the shade that day, with the keys so we could listen to Top 40 tunes on KIXZ or KPUR on the AM radio in dash.  That’s when a great idea hit me.  Let’s go for a little ride!  So I hopped behind the wheel with my two accomplices (“older women, no less) … and we took off down the dirt and caliche roads around the County Barn.  OK … “stole the car” is a bit of hyperbole, but still … what a great adrenalin rush … that whole “doing-something-a-little-daring” thing … I think we drove around for about five minutes before we parked the Bug without mishap.  So fun … thus … I rave about it about a half century later … I digress …

I’ll never forget the smell of a nice clean vinyl Volkswagen interior back then.  Maybe the plastic mixture of the vinyl from Germany was different or something.  Ron’s bug was white with a red vinyl interior … “four-on-the-floor” transmission … (although I only needed two gears for my getaways) … oh that little rumble and shutter as I let out the clutch and putt-putted down the road.

Hmmm … other top VW moments … actually this is perhaps the low point … an old friend once confided in me that an old girlfriend OF MINE “slept” with HIM in a VW.  Wish I could forget that one … or that my “filter’ worked, and I would have better sense than to report it.

Another Bug that comes to mind is Eli’s baby blue Bug — the car of a co-worker at my first, part-time college job on the fuel island, fueling up 18-wheelers at Ryder Truck Rental in northeast Amarillo.  Eli was not a tall man, nor was he fast at filling and washing trucks, but he was pretty interesting.  I still remember his best stunt that he taught me.  Back in those days, the aluminum of canned drinks was slightly stronger, and you could stand on top of an empty can on one foot, and it would hold your weight.  However … if you stood on the can and at the same time bent down, and with your index fingers, tapped both sides of the can at once … voila! … it would instantaneously crush into a perfect little “hockey putt” of recyclable goodness:) Ha … Eli forgot to tell me that you had to be very quick, or when the can crumpled in a flash, it would also catch and pinch the hell out of your fingers.  Ouch!

Of course no VW tale would be complete without … “SLUG BUG!”  I bet you played it too on road trips … you’d see a VW Beetle, call it out loud to your friends or family … and “find me somebody to ‘slug.’”  Ha … in my PR career, I pitched many an out-of-box idea (because those are the ones that get attention, despite what corporate America PR might think/say and want to bill you for) … and at some point, I pitched a “Slug Bug PR” idea to some large company.  The idea was to lease and logo-wrap VW Beetles in every major city where the company had offices … but most importantly to put the company logo on the very top of the Bugs … then have drivers go up and down the streets of the downtown, between the skyscrapers.  The plan was to put out a news release in advance, to tell other companies and potential clients about the ploy … and to suggest that office dwellers — those lucky enough to have a window in their cubicle — watch for the Bugs every day and then to race across the office and punch their coworkers, yelling “Slug Bug!”  Workplace bedlam would ensue, I predicted, and everyone in the financial districts would be watching for the company’s logo on the streets below … every day.  They didn’t buy my idea … 🙁 … I digress …

And now, leaving the canyons of Manhattan behind, mentally, travel back with me to the level Texas Panhandle.  Certainly, If you have followed this blog — or Route 66 for that matter — you have seen or viewed many references to and photos of the art installation … or maybe you have seen the world famous “Cadillac Ranch” near old Route 66.  Well … have you ever heard of “The Ranchette?”  As you may know, Stanley Marsh 3 commissioned a group of artists from California — The Ant Farm — to assist with this famous art monument to roadtrips.  But also, sometime after the Cadillac Ranch’s initial notoriety and early, new coats of paint, a friend or family member of Marsh 3’s presented him with a present — a VW Beetle planted in the ground in front of the Marsh home … “The Ranchette”  … Stanley also had a giant “pool table” — a green pasture of grass or winter wheat, planted to resemble a playing surface and pool table pockets — visible from an aerial view with assorted brightly colored and numbered Volkswagens — moving around like billiard balls.  How fun!

 By the way, is Volkswagen already the plural form?

Also in the Panhandle … The owner of two of the coolest, best AirBnBs on Old Route 66 had a great, off-white VW Super Beetle, cleverly named “Pearl.”  But dang it … I just learned that Pearl was sold … like a year ago. Ha … and I was not consulted!?! Oh well … glad I didn’t create any ideas for future tourist postcards to promote the AirBnBs … or anything like that:)  I am in shock.  But regardless, can’t wait to see “Station 66” and her sister AirBnB “The Lucky Horseshoe” again!

 

 

Like I said … I never owned a Bug, but was part owner of a VW Rabbit convertible once … that was fun, but no one ever punched anyone because of the rabbit, to my chagrin.  Ha … I still remember the classified ad I put in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when we sold that car:  “Topless bunny wants to play.  Fast. Good condition, but needs facelift”  … The first looker bought the car, the day the ad ran.

When I first moved to Fort Worth, I used to see a camouflaged version of VW’s other fun car — The VW Thing — which looked pretty much like a WWII-era, German personnel carrier … ha or maybe like Dr. Doolittle’s mythic creature the “push-me-pull-you.  The box-like body was pretty much the same shape coming or going. But here’s the thing … about the Fort Worth Thing … it had a band name spray painted on the side of the car.  “The Toadies” … never did find out if that was an early sighting of one of the bandmembers — Fort Worth’s most famous rockers at the time.

The Toadies “Possum Kingdom” … what a great song … what a great rock voice!  “I’m not gonna lie …” I digress …

Ever see any of the quirky old VW advertisements?  They were always fun … My favorite: a TV ad that featured a Bug being driven over a river bank or into a lake or something like that, to illustrate that the VW was airtight and would float … pretty much just like a fishing bob … you know in the event that you were ever in a 40-day downpour or whatever …  What a great advertisement!  Other’s claim that Volkswagen’s “Think Small” ad campaign was the best of all time.  I still prefer the floating Bug, hook line and sinker.  But here it is:

Think Small Campaign

“SLUG BUG!”

Know what I sayin?

Happy Fourth! Make America Great Again!

July 4th, 2019 · Tags: Politics

Starbucks Floorplan Not Enough For This Footprint

July 2nd, 2019 · Tags: Coffee Shops · Satire · Wi-Fi

 

AND THESE PEOPLE DRIVE CARS!?!

I’ve told the story many times about the day that I took the driving portion of the test for my Texas Driver’s License.  My parallel parking abilities back then were pretty good at 16, but not used very often in Vega, Texas.  So if there was an area of concern for the driving test, it was parallel parking.  I practiced a little, but for good measure, I also went to the courthouse the night before and spread the rusty, iron “pylons” a few feet wider.

I was reminded of spreading the obstacles, just now … in Starbucks … as I hopped up from my seat in the coffee shop and moved the two tables directly in front of my usual seat, further away from my seat … creating a bigger passage way for customers.  Was I about to test some tricky maneuver? Or just needed a bigger walkway for me?  Well … not exactly …

Read More »

Boys Of Summer Played In Vega, Texas — Old Home Week

June 23rd, 2019 · Tags: Sports

You might be from Vega, Texas if … you remember the good old days when the Little League baseball teams consisted of boys from the age of eight competing on teams with boys up to the ages of 12 & 13 … all mixed in one league. 

These days, I think it is great that Vega has t-ball for the young children, and has mixed softball to include the girls too … but there was something really special about small town Little League. Doing whatever it took to put a few teams of guys together, most of the players “fresh off the tractor” for practices and games.

 

Way back when, we had three Vega teams and we also competed against Adrian, Texas, and Wildorado, Texas a time or two (a Palo Duro Baptist team).  But most of the time it was the yellow-and-white Eagles, the blue-and-white Dodgers, the red-and-white Giants and the Adrian guys in Matador maroon.

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Will Texas Tech & Ping Do Omaha College World Series?

June 4th, 2019 · Tags: Cities · Sports

 

Well … they made me park the bike today (figuratively) … said I was “a quart low” on chemo:) So I am parked at the clinic for treatment #16. Ha … not gonna say “Sweet 16” in a post about cancer:) I will say this: “Guns Up!” … What a great year to be a Red Raider … basketball … baseball … track … softball … tennis … meat judging … (yes that’s a thing) Lot of successeseseses. I digressessessess …

But this … most cool today … #16 Josh Jung, the third-baseman-turned-shortstop for Texas Tech, will be a Texas Ranger. Congrats on being the eighth pick overall in the MLB Draft!

So many great things for Red Raiders this year … I can only hope the team wins in Omaha this year … and maybe I can be there to see it!

Know what I sayin?

(Oh … and here are some Texas Tech Baseball blogs from the PingWi-Fi archives, posted below …)

 

 

 

 

Rode To Omaha VS. Road To Omaha … College World Series

 

Pinging The College World Series … Steely Dan

Texas Tech College World Series #1 … #WreckEm

 

‘Austin To ATX’ Author Represents PingWi-Fi

May 15th, 2019 · Tags: Music

 

J. Nick

In Lubbock, while working at the college paper many years ago, I heard that “nuevo wavo” musician Joe King Carrasco was coming to town. I had seen the Dumas, Texas native on “Saturday Night Live” (where he tore it up for a national audience), and I had a Carrasco record or two in my collection … so I HAD to interview him! … Got on the phone. … Talked to his manager — some nice guy named Joe Nick Patoski — who set up the interview for me. (It was so much fun, I actually interviewed Carrasco on two of his visits to Lubbock.)

Ha … being the “undisputed master of misunderstood lyrics,” The UMML — in one of the interviews — Mr. Ping asked Mr. King about a favorite line from one of Carrasco’s songs … something about “peyote tengo.”  (English translation: “I have enough of a certain fun sort of cactus to land in a Mexican prison …”) Joe King told me there was no such lyric in the song … although he added, “But … Hey, I like that!” To this day, I don’t know how the actual lyrics went. I digress …

The best part of the meeting was that I made first contact with a man who evolved into one of the most prolific authors in Texas … a long-time Texas Monthly regular … a Marfa radio host … an expert musicologist who NEVER gets his history wrong … nor the lyrics, I am sure.  

All of this is to say that I enjoyed the book signing at Record Town in Fort Worth the other day, J. Nick. Thanks for shakin’ yo “Wi-Fi Money Maker” the PingWi-Fi way — for the photo!  Yes … J. Nick will live forever in infamy in my VIPings photo album on Facebook.

Know what I sayin?

Annexico? Enhance Mexican Lives In Mexico!?!

May 10th, 2019 · Tags: Politics

 

Not being a political scientist, or historian or diplomat or economist —and certainly not politically correct — I don’t know why I should NOT ask this question.

Why doesn’t the Mexican Government put it to the voters in that country?  How about if the U.S. annexes parts of Mexico that may want to become a U.S. Territory?

Crazy right?  Or is it?

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Pink And Purple All Over — Is This A Case Of Same Same?

May 7th, 2019 · Tags: Music

 … So this is one for only my most hardcore music nerd friends. See if I have lost it on this comparison … or could I be on to something?

Since I have down time today, I broke out a famous album that I have never played, although it has been in my collection for about 35 years. It was time to check it out:) — “Music From Big Pink,” by The Band, circa 1968. (You may know the song “The Weight” (Take a load off Annie — or Fannie — depending on who you talk to.) I digress …

So, I was spinning this on the Wi-Fi turntable … and on side two, some obscure song starts with a very ’70s-sounding organ solo. Then the song progressed and I heard the bass line and the background instrumentation. “Where have I heard that before?,” I thought.

 

 

Wow … to me it sounds way too similar to the bass line and background instrumentation to an obscure Deep Purple song from ’72. Trust me … I am probably the only person on here who remembers “Might Just Take Your Life,” on Deep Purple’s “Burn” LP. I digress …

I wish I could orchestrate a better head-to-head comparison of the two. But I really think I am on to something here … for those who are into this kind of thing. Not the lyrics or vocals or tempo … just the bass line and instrumentation. Ha … you be the judge, if I am successful in posting both songs.

 

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Fort Worth Love For Leon Bridges At #FortressFestival

April 29th, 2019 · Tags: Arts · Cities · Music · Uncategorized

 

Night-and-day … the different scene at the the 2019 Fortress Festival, Day 2 with headliner Leon Bridges.  I walked away from the show thinking of one word — LOVE.

That man is an entertainer!  And seldom have I seen a guy who so loves being on stage and loves the audience and loves performing and loves creating beauty — in the form of blues, rhythm & blues and a touch of gospel.

Nothing but positive vibes at the final performance of Fort Worth’s best music festival.  This, contrasting somewhat with the mood of malcontent/race/battle lines being drawn by a performance witnessed on the previous day on the Fort Worth stage.

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