Going camping in the Texas hill country tonight, so this is probably me signing off for the day. The Texas hill country is stunningly beautiful and looks nothing like what myself, and many who have visited, imagined when we think of Texas. Tuscany in Italy is the closest landscape I can think of. It is usually a deep green full of medium sized trees and rolling hills. I have been all over the world and live oak trees are aome of the most beautiful I can think of. They look like they were created with children playing in mind. There is something warm and comforting in the hill country’s beauty. Many beautiful places in nature overwhelm you with their scope. They can leave you feeling small and lonesome even as you stare in wonder. Meanwhile the hill country is inviting and fills you with a sense of safety, even if it is sometimes probably misplaced. If you are a traveler, and haven’t yet been to central Texas, Google the Texas hill country. I think you will be surprised by what you see.
Today the video for Old School Austin Groove premiered. It’s a song that is part of the soundtrack for the movie Crazy Carl And His Man-Boobs: An Austin Love Story. Both were filmed by Beef & Pie Productions and you can stream the movie in full for free here. The song was written and performed by Shawn Sahm and Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell. That is Keith Langford, of Shinyribs and the Gourds, holding down the rhythm with myself. The Crazy Carl movie is actually a really great documentary about Austin, despite its seemingly bizarre subject matter, though the title character himself is an interesting character study with a lot of heart for anyone interested in the strange thing we call humanity in general. A must see for anyone that has any interest in the city of Austin past, present, or future.
The recording session and the filming of the video were great fun. If I said any more someone would kill me…
Today I was reading about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s mind bending defense of banning gay marriage. Being a Texas resident, I know that we are in for the long haul concerning this kind of idiocy. Recently I also posted about Florida Governor Rick Scott’s insane banning of the terms global warming and climate change. I am well versed on his idiocy as my girlfriend lived in Florida for ten years. Rick Scott vs. whoever was the Governor of Texas has been a constant argument as to who lived in the state with the dumbest head politician. We can’t very well leave out Scott Walker of Wisconsin either. You can learn about him at the Scott Walker is a douchebag Facebook page. I just decided this morning that these three, especially because they actually have some power on a national level, are our three worst governors. I think we should start calling them The Axis of Stupidity. Even if you find this grouping to be a little bit random, it’s really no more random than the Axis of Evil grouping. So go forth into your day, I have now given you The Axis of Stupidity. Enjoy…
Allergies in Austin have knocked me out of commission the last few days. For any of you who are thinking coughing and sneezing, I hope you are not asking me to laugh in your face. It’s more like someone is injecting one with Nyquil, but a brand of it that is actually increasing your cold. I sometimes wonder if my conspiracy-theory friends are right about the government and chemtrails. Anyway…
The Walking Dead is the best show on TV right now. (At least until the return of Mad Men.) Describing why would take a whole series of posts, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that week after week it pushes the limits of what you can do with characters in long form writing. Breaking Bad, which I love, took Ned Flanders and turned him into Scarface, but this has done that for almost an entire cast. Meanwhile, while you knew Walter White was crossing a line that shouldn’t be, with the rules of society gone out the window on The Walking Dead, you don’t know whether the characters are people that should be rooted for or feared. The show has a moral complexity to it that I find really interesting. It looks at human nature outside society in the same way that a novel like Lord of the Flies does. As a bonus, it is flat out entertaining as hell!
I’m watching Better Call Saul right now. I’m still on the fence about this show. There is a lot to like in the performances and the details of the writing. However, the show still feels like it is building towards something, that it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m going to stick with it as I trust Vince Gilligan, also the creator of Breaking Bad, will pull it all together.
If anyone is interested in South African Music, I can’t recommend the compilation Homeland: The Best of Black South Africa enough. It’s one of those rare compilations that plays like a really great album. Every track has a commonality that feels related to the others, but the diversity of artists means that it also never gets boring. I clearly can’t understand the lyrics, but this is soul music, in the sense that it is uplifting and life-affirming, even if you get the sense that it was created under hardship.
This week I go on the road with Shinyribs to Florida for a festival. You can get the details here:
I hope to be back up at my usual posting rate by tomorrow, but if I’m not, you know why.
In the future when all’s well…
If you happen to live in Austin, or be in town for SXSW, I will be performing tonight with Shinyribs at 9:30pm during a free show. It’s called Rock the Lot and it is held in the Austin American Statesman parking lot. We will be putting on a 90 minute show. If you are interested get there on time, because there is a strict 11pm curfew since we are playing live outside in the middle of the city.
In the future when all’s well…
Last night in Nacogdoches, Kevin Russell told me the story of how the Marx Brothers got their comedic start here. I had no idea their story involved Texas at all. From Wikipedia:
One evening in 1912, a performance at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas, was interrupted by shouts from outside about a runaway mule. The audience hurried out to see what was happening. When the audience returned, Groucho, angered by the interruption, made snide comments about its members, including “Nacogdoches is full of roaches” and “The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass”. Instead of becoming angry, the audience laughed. The family then realized it had potential as a comic troupe.
P.S. If today is anything like yesterday then posting will be slow until I get back to Austin.
Heading back to Austin from a brief tour of Louisiana. I will catch up on posting when I am home. I did see a sign in a gas station today that said: “Jefferson Davis Law – No Alcohol Sold Between 2 and 6am.” So that happened. I am glad that the ghosts of the Confederacy are attempting to keep me sober in the wee hours of the morning.
In Denis Johnson’s book Tree of Smoke, his epic Vietnam novel, one of the characters come to the conclusion that different parts of the world are governed by different deities. Each area operates under its own unique set of supernatural laws. When one travels the United States, one can’t help but feel the same way. Louisiana is not Texas is not Colorado is not wherever. It isn’t just different cultures and economic forces shaping human behavior, but almost nature itself. The haunted swamps of Louisiana create a different emotional context than the comforting greenery of the Texas hill country. “God is alive and magic is afoot.” The only question is what god and whose magic? Anyone that claims to know is deluding themselves…