The Axis of Stupidity

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…

Austin, Allergies, and Other Things

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:

Shinyribs Shows

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…

Jeff

Shinyribs Live Tonight Free in ATX

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…

Jeff

The Marx Brothers in Texas

image

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.

Under Different Deities

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…

New James McMurtry Out Today

James McMurtry’s new album Complicated Game is out today.  McMurtry is one of the best songwriters in America.  I probably won’t be able to review the new album until next week.  In the meantime here is one of the tracks off of it.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this record when I get the time.

How Far Will You Drive?

Today I am hitting the highway for some weekend Shinyribs dates.  Being in a band one thinks nothing about driving to get somewhere unless maybe it happens to be over 10 hours.  However, having lived in both Texas and Pennsylvania I know that geography and population density play a role in how far away somewhere feels.

Even though Pa is not small, Texas is a gigantic state.  People will think nothing at all of driving an hour or two to hang out with friends or go to an event that they want to attend.  Even driving to a city four to six hours away is not that big of a deal for many people, if there is a concert, sporting event, or some other event that appeals to them. Some people will even drive further than that for a weekend without much thought put into it.

Pennsylvania is the state of a thousand small towns.  I lived in a small town, but my town pushed right up against other small towns on the borders.  People seemed less inclined to drive somewhere spur of the moment.  A show an hour or two away would be more like driving from driving from Houston to Dallas in Texas.  Even for large concerts or events, events that would only happen once every few years, people seemed less willing to drive long distances for.  We were about two hours from Philly, about four hours from Pittsburg.  Although we drove to Philly many times for large events, I can only remember driving once to Pittsburg for a large concert.  In my experience that was typical for a lot of people.

I’m not saying this is scientific proof, or that there aren’t always exceptions to the rule.  There are also cultural reasons for this, as well as reasons having to do with topography and weather.  Driving somewhere in Texas, where it doesn’t rain, on flat roads, is easier than driving through Appalachia, especially in winter.  However, I do think that people will adapt to their surroundings.  When I am in Texas I think personally think nothing of driving long distances.  When I go home to visit families the old mentality takes over to a degree.

If any readers have any feedback or thoughts on this, I would love to hear from you.  I have to approve all comments, so if you reply you can let me know if you want your comment shared or not.