South Louisiana Light Sweet

Today was a good day for learning the names of types of crude oil.  Source.


Maine and Texas

This one came up on Succession, a fave show. (Had to look it up because I wondered if they were doing a double joke where the guy was attributing Emerson to Thoreau)

Usually I’ll approach with tentative openness the pastoralist, simpler times, “trad” adjacent arguments of weirdbeards but Thoreau here WAY off.  Maine and Texas had TONS to communicate!  Who isn’t happy Maine and Texas can check in?  (Saying this as a Maine fan whose wife is from Texas, fond of both states and happy for their commerce and exchange).  Plus, if Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough, I WANT to hear that, that’s interesting goss!

The “broad flapping American ear” there — a snooty New England/aristocrat attitude we haven’t heard the last of.  These guys are the original elites.  There’s really two classes in America: Americans, and The People Who Think They’re Better Than Americans.  Though they’re a tiny minority the second group wields outside power and influence over the first group.  I’m a proud member of the first group though I admit I have second group tendencies due to my youthful indoctrination in the headquarters of these Concord Extremist Radicals, in fact at their head madrassa.

When you hear America assessed by Better Thans / eggheads, wait for the feint toward fatshaming.  It’s always in there somewhere.  American Better Thans adopted this from Europeans, whom they slavishly ape.  It’s a twisted attitude, designed to take blame away from the Better Thans and their friends in the ownership.

As if it’s Americans fault that they’ve been raised associating corn-based treats with love and goodness!  Or that corn-fatted meat is the easiest accessed protein on offer!  You think that’s more the Americans fault, or the fault of the Better Thans, who manipulate our food system with their only goal creating shareholder value?

Is it the fault of the American that a cold soda is the best cheap pleasure in the hot and dusty interior where they don’t all have Walden Pond as a personal spa?

Thoreau.  Guy makes me sick.

In researching this article I learn about Maine-ly Sandwiches, of Houston.

 

 


Adobe Walls

Best as I can tell both the first and second Battles of Adobe Walls happened somewhere around here, near what’s now Stinnett, Texas, founded 1926 by A. P. Ace Borger

That’s from

which I’m finding fantastic.  I’m not THAT into The Searchers the movie (I mean I think it’s cool) but this book is amazing as Texas history.  I’d put it on a shelf with God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright.  They can split the Helytimes J. Frank Dobie Texas History Prize for 2018.

Wikipedia yields:

photographer unknown.

A Kiowa ledger drawing possibly depicting the Buffalo Wallow Battle in 1874, one of several clashes between Southern Plains Indians and the U.S. Army during the Red River War.

Billy Dixon was there:

Billy Dixon during his days as an Indian scout. Only known picture of him while he still wore his hair long as he did during his Indian fights.

By August a troop of cavalry made it to Adobe Walls, under Lt. Frank D. Baldwin, with Masterson and Dixon as scouts, where a dozen men were still holed up.[1]:247 “Some mischievous fellow had stuck an Indian’s skull on each post of the corral gate.”[1]:248 The killing had not ended, however; one civilian was lanced by Indians while looking for wild plums along the Canadian River.

This wasn’t that long ago.

Maybe some day I’ll get to that part of Texas.  Long Texas drives have formed an important part of my life.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.


God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright

a spontaneous Helytimes Book Prize For Excellence is awarded to God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright.  Absolutely fantastic.  The Alamo, Marfa, Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, how the legislature works, the Kennedy assassination, Spindletop, everything you’d want to read about in a book about Texas is succinctly, thoughtfully, humorously explored.

Two clips:

What?! and:

A special bonus:  this book has a firsthand account of the 1999 Matthew McConaughey “bongos incident.”


Advances in Cormac studies

Morrow quotes McCarthy as saying that “even people who write well can’t write novels… They assume another sort of voice and a weird, affected kind of style.  They think, ‘O now I’m writing a novel,’ and something happens.  They write really good essays… but goddamn, the minute they start writing a novel they go crazy

In early 2008 Texas State University announced they’d acquired Cormac McCarthy’s papers.  The next year they made them available to scholars.  Now two books based on rummaging around in these notes have appeared.

This one, by Michael Lynn Crews, explores the literary influences McCarthy drew on, which authors and books he had quotes from buried in his papers.

The quote about novelists going crazy is from a letter exchange McCarthy was having re: Ron Hanson’s novel Desperadoes, which McCarthy admired.

This one, by Daniel Robert King, takes more of a semi-biographical approach, tracing out what we can learn about McCarthy from his correspondence with agents and editors.  A sample:

Bought these books because it gives confidence to observe that somebody whose writing sounds like it emerged pronounced from the cliffs like some kind of Texas Quran had to work and revise and toss stuff and chisel to get there.

From these books it is clear:

  • McCarthy is a meticulous and patient rewriter
  • it took decades for his work to gain any significant recognition
  • he was helped with seeming love and care by editor Albert Erskine.
  • he was patient, open, yet confident in editorial correspondence

These books are not necessary for the casual personal library, but if you enjoy gnawing on literary scraps, recommend them both.  From King:

However, in this same letter, he acknowledges that “the truth is that the historical material is really – to me – little more than a framework upon which to hang a dramatic inquiry into the nature of destiny and history and the uses of reason and knowledge and the nature of evil and all these sorts of things which have plagued folks since there were folks.”


In A Narrow Grave

In anticipation of a trip to Texas, I got this one off the shelf.  Neither McMurtry’s best (that would be Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, in which he gives a recipe for lime Dr. Pepper) or his worst (that would be Paradise, where he proves his point that Tahiti is boring), in this fan’s opinion.

McMurtry’s essay on the sexual attitudes of the post-frontier Texas of his youth is pretty interesting:

He also says it wasn’t a big deal in his youth for a young man to have sex with a cow or pig.

 


Good picture

Found this picture on Thomas Ricks’ blog.  USA!  USA!

170831-N-KL846-150 VIDOR, Texas (Aug. 31, 2017) Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jansen Schamp, a native of Denver, Colorado and assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, rescues two dogs at Pine Forrest Elementary School, a shelter that required evacuation after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey reached its grounds. The mission resulted in the rescue of seven adults, seven children and four dogs.  (U.S. Navy Video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/Released)

Reminded of a claim that Goebbels was forever frustrated the Nazis couldn’t make propaganda as good as what the USA churned out.

Worth signing up or whatever you need to do to read Ricks’ blog.

Here’s a good post about the situation in Afghanistan.

Here’s a good one about “15 assumptions about the behavior of North Korea’s Kim family regime

And his reliefs and suspensions specials never fail to have one or two that would probably make a compelling movie.   At a secret Air Force base in Tunisia, a beloved commander lets his guys drink as much as they want and forms a dangerous relationship with a teenage subordinate.


Robert Caro’s two hour audiobook

Strong endorse to an audio only, 1 hour 42 minute semi-memoir by Robert Caro, boiling down the central ideas of The Power Broker and the LBJ series.  If you’ve read every single extant interview with Robert Caro, as I have, some of its repetitive but I loved it and loved listening to Caro’s weird New York accent.

 

Two details: he tells how James Rowe, an aide to FDR, told him that FDR was such a genius about politics that when he discussed it almost no one could even understand him.  But Lyndon Johnson understood everything.

James Rowe, from the LOC 

Caro tells that when LBJ ran for Congress the first time, he promised to bring electricity.  Women had to haul water from the well with a rope.  A full bucket of water was heavy.  Women would become bent, a Hill Country term for stooped over.  LBJ campaigned saying, if you vote for me, you won’t be bent.  You won’t look at forty the way your mother looked at forty.

from the Austin American Statesman collection at the LBJ Library.  The woman’s name is Mrs. Mattie Malone.  


Literary Life

Some real talk from Larry McMurtry

One of these days I’m going to rank all of McMurtry’s non-fiction books.  They’re all chatty and great.  This is the single best one.

Either Film Flam or Hollywood tells what it’s like to be friends with Diane Keaton and her mom.

McMurtry has really meant a lot to me.  Here are some other posts about him:

his book Roads

about the time I heard him talk about Brokeback

Oh What A Slaughter and Sacagawea’s Nickname

Sarah Palin and glamour

The Field Of Blackbirds


McConaughey Story

Study of McConaughey is always rewarding.  The best part of the above video is the first few seconds :12-:36

 

It’s unfortunate that used copies of I Amaze Myself!, McConaughey’s mother’s autobiography, are unreasonably priced.  I’m interested in more stories like this.

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Not great optics

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as they say.  Not into this vibe AT ALL.


Bama

Did not know this is like a DC semi-slur/term for dummy? via NY Mag via cuz.

By the time Costa got fired for using it, ’Bama had been around for quite some time, and its meaning and use had changed. Most likely, the word was first used to put down recent arrivals to D.C.’s black neighborhoods from southern states—especially Alabama, says cultural anthropologist and long time Smithsonian staffer John Franklin. “It’s had currency over several generations,” Franklin says. It was a way of calling someone a black hick: “There was some disdain for people who didn’t live in the city and weren’t sophisticated.” The word had particular weight during the Great Migration, when many African Americans left the rural South for northern cities. Then, the point was to differentiate the newer arrivals from the longtime Washingtonians—who worried that the countrified Southerners flooding the District would reflect badly on the whole community. It was, essentially, the way D.C.’s black residents called one of their own a redneck. (Around the same time, German Jews who had already been in the U.S. for a few decades coined their own slang term to put down their less sophisticated Russian and Polish cousins—and thus, “kike” was born, only becoming a generalized ethnic slur afterwards.)

Eventually, ’Bama lost most of the geographic connotations it once had, and melted into just another piece of regional slang. Even white kids like Costa learned what it meant, picking it up by osmosis from the culture around them. Costa says his own definition of ’Bama is that it refers to a person who is “stupid.” He spent most of his life in the Baltimore-Washington area, and says he and his friends grew up using “the B-word” all the time.

 


Miracle Man by Bob Carpenter

in honor of cousin’s birthday, she put me on to this one.


Good one from cuz

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more.

 


“Lesser” McConaughey, or, On The Subject Of Great Acting

1995. I got my first big paycheck as an actor. I think it was 150 grand. The film was Boys on the Side and we’re shooting in Tucson, AZ and I have this sweet little adobe guest house on the edge of the Saguaro National Park. The house came with a maid. My first maid. It was awesome. So, I’ve got a friend over one Friday night and we’re having a good time and I’m telling her about how happy I am with my set up . The house. The maid. Especially, the maid. I’m telling her, “she cleans the place after I go to work, washes my clothes, the dishes, puts fresh water by my bed, leaves me cooked meals sometimes, and SHE EVEN PRESSES MY JEANS!” My friend, she smiles at me, happy for my genuine excitement over this “luxury service” I’m getting, and she says, “Well…that’s great…if you like your jeans pressed.”

I kind of looked at her, kind of stuttered without saying anything, you know, that dumb ass look you can get, and it hit me…

I hate that line going down my jeans! And it was then, for the first time, that I noticed…I’ve never thought about NOT liking that starched line down the front of my jeans!! Because I’d never had a maid to iron my jeans before!! And since she did, now, for the first time in my life, I just liked it because Icould get it, I never thought about if I really wanted it there. Well, I did NOT want it there. That line… and that night I learned something.

Just because you CAN?… Nah… It’s not a good enough reason to do something. Even when it means having more, be discerning, choose it, because you WANT it, DO IT because you WANT to.

I’ve never had my jeans pressed since.

I have been a McConaughey enthusiast for awhile.  Proof: I saw Sahara and The Lincoln Lawyer* in the theater.

Here is a thing I admired then and continue to admire about McConaughey:

He treated ridiculous movies with utmost seriousness.

I don’t believe he treated Sahara with any less respect than True Detective, even though Sahara is crazy.

He brought pride and his fullest effort to those movies, the same as he would to any other movie.  Failure To Launch, for example.

This is the mark of a true professional who practices his craft with great honor and seriousness

(but: could it also be the mark of someone who doesn’t know when something is ridiculous?)

matthew-McConaughey-david-wooderson-music-video

The director, Richard Linklater, kept inviting me back to set each night, putting me in more scenes which led to more lines all of which I happily said YES to. I was having a blast. People said I was good at it, they were writing me a check for $325 a day. I mean hell yeah, give me more scenes, I love this!! And by the end of the shoot those 3 lines had turned into over 3 weeks work and “it was Wooderson’s ’70 Chevelle we went to get Aerosmith tickets in.” Bad ass.

Well, a few years ago I was watching the film again and I noticed two scenes that I really shouldn’t have been in. In one of the scenes, I exited screen left to head somewhere, then re-entered the screen to “double check” if any of the other characters wanted to go with me. Now, in rewatching the film, (and you’ll agree if you know Wooderson), he was not a guy who would ever say, “later,” and then COME BACK to “see if you were sure you didn’t wanna come with him..” No, when Wooderson leaves, Wooderson’s gone, he doesn’t stutter step, flinch, rewind, ask twice, or solicit, right? He just “likes those high school girls cus he gets older and they stay the same age.”

My point is, I should NOT have been in THAT scene, I should have exited screen left and never come back.

Matthew McConaughey is a truly great actor.

From a description of an interview with Cary Fukunaga:

Fukunaga took one of these opportunities to share a story about directing Matthew McConaughey, a health-nut and non-smoker, in an early scene where he takes long, audible drags of a cigarette. Fukunaga describes saying, “‘don’t make it look like a middle school girl smoking for the first time.’ And McConaughey went in the opposite direction, just Cheech and Chong-ing it.”

McConaughey

Bo Jackson ran over the goal line, through the end zone and up the tunnel — the greatest snipers and marksmen in the world don’t aim at the target, they aim on the other side of it.

We do our best when our destinations are beyond the “measurement,” when our reach continually exceeds our grasp, when we have immortal finish lines.

When we do this, the race is never over. The journey has no port. The adventure never ends because we are always on our way. Do this, and let them tap us on the shoulder and say, “hey, you scored.” Let them tell you “You won.” Let them come tell you, “you can go home now.” Let them say “I love you too.” Let them say “thank you.”

These quotes are from his amazing commencement speech at University of Houston:

The late and great University of Texas football coach Daryl Royal was a friend of mine and a good friend to many. A lot of people looked up to him. One was a musician named “Larry.” Now at this time in his life Larry was in the prime of his country music career, had #1 hits and his life was rollin’. He had picked up a habit snortin’ “the white stuff” somewhere along the line and at one particular party after a “bathroom break,” Larry went confidently up to his mentor Daryl and he started telling Coach a story. Coach listened as he always had and when Larry finished his story and was about to walk away, Coach Royal put a gentle hand on his shoulder and very discreetly said, “Larry, you got something on your nose there bud.” Larry immediately hurried to the bathroom mirror where he saw some white powder he hadn’t cleaned off his nose. He was ashamed. He was embarrassed. As much because he felt so disrespectful to Coach Royal, and as much because he’d obviously gotten too comfortable with the drug to even hide as well as he should.

Well, the next day Larry went to coach’s house, rang the doorbell, Coach answered and he said, “Coach, I need to talk to you.” Daryl said, “sure, c’mon in.”

Larry confessed. He purged his sins to Coach. He told him how embarrassed he was, and how he’s “lost his way” in the midst of all the fame and fortune and towards the end of an hour, Larry, in tears, asked Coach, “What do you think I should do?” Now, Coach, being a man of few words, just looked at him and calmly confessed himself. He said, “Larry, I have never had any trouble turning the page in the book of my life.” Larry got sober that day and he has been for the last 40 years.

Now: I loved reading this speech.  Many important reminders about life:

Mom and dad teach us things as children. Teachers, mentors, the government and laws all give us guidelines to navigate life, rules to abide by in the name of accountability.

I’m not talking about those obligations. I’m talking about the ones we make with ourselves, with our God, with our own consciousness. I’m talking about the YOU versus YOU obligations. We have to have them. Again, these are not societal laws and expectations that we acknowledge and endow for anyone other than ourselves. These are FAITH based OBLIGATIONS that we make on our own.

Not the lowered insurance rate for a good driving record, you will not be fined or put in jail if you do not gratify the obligations I speak of — no one else governs these but you.

They’re secrets with yourself, private council, personal protocols, and while nobody throws you a party when you abide by them, no one will arrest you when you break them either. Except yourself. Or, some cops who got a “disturbing the peace” call at 2:30 in the morning because you were playing bongos in your birthday suit.

Entertainment Tonight called this speech “bonkers.”

That’s not fair.

Maybe a fourteenth lesson that McConaughey only hints at in his speech is: to achieve greatness you must dance along the edge of bonkers.  To do anything worthwhile you must risk appearing ridiculous. On your journey, at many points, you will appear ridiculous.  The fear of appearing ridiculous stops all too many from achieving their potential.

You know these No Fear t-shirts? I don’t get em. Hell, I try to scare myself at least once a day. I get butterflies every morning before I go to work. I was nervous before I got here to speak tonight. I think fear is a good thing. Why? Because it increases our NEED to overcome that fear.

Say your obstacle is fear of rejection. You want to ask her out but you fear she may say “no.” You want to ask for that promotion but you’re scared your boss will think you’re overstepping your bounds.

Well, instead of denying these fears, declare them, say them out loud, admit them, give them the credit they deserve. Don’t get all macho and act like they’re no big deal, and don’t get paralyzed by denying they exist and therefore abandoning your need to overcome them. I mean, I’d subscribe to the belief that we’re all destined to have to do the thing we fear the most anyway.

So, you give your obstacles credit and you will one. Find the courage to overcome them or see clearly that they are not really worth prevailing over.

Here is what McConaughey looked like giving his speech.

McC

Here is a great actor whose greatest role is himself.

* The Lincoln Lawyer spoke to a real fantasy I can’t be alone in having in Los Angeles: someone driving you everywhere in comfortable quiet.   Since then Uber has come close to making that a reality.


Poignant Message

on the website of texasindians.com Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.49.32 PM We found your site very helpful and wish you all the best!  Let us know if we can help!


Like some…

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He lives in a room above a courtyard behind a tavern and he comes down at night like some fairybook beast to fight with the sailors. (5)

 

The sun was just down and to the west lay reefs of bloodred clouds up out of which rose little desert nighthawks like fugitives from some great fire at the earth’s end.  (23)

 

Then he waded out into the river like some wholly wretched baptismal candidate. (29)

 

The ground where he’d lain was soaked with blood and with urine from the voided bladders of animals and he went forth stained and stinking like some reeking issue of the incarnate dam of war herself. (58)

 

He found a clay jar of beans and some dried tortillas and he took them to a house at the end of the street where the embers of the roof were still smoldering and he warmed the food in the ashes and ate, squatting there like some deserter scavenging the ruins of a city he’d fled. (63)

 

Itinerant degenerates bleeding westward like some heliotropic plague. (82)

 

The judge sat upwind from the fire naked to the waist, himself like some pale deity, and when the black’s eyes reached his he smiled. (97)

 

He looked like some loutish knight beriddled by a troll.  (107)

 

The nearest man to him was Tobin and when the black stepped out of the darkness bearing the bowieknife in both hands like some instrument of ceremony Tobin started to rise. (112)

 

They crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of the animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like the cries of souls broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below.  (115)

 

Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they’d heard of pilgrims born aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more in the elements from which it sprang. (117)

 

They had but two animals and one of these had been snakebit in the desert and this thing now stood in the compound with its head enormously swollen and grotesque like some fabled equine ideation out of an Attic tragedy. (121)

 

The squatters stood about the dead boy with their wretched firearms at rest like some tatterdemalion guard of honor. (125)

 

Like some ignis fatuus belated upon the road behind them which all could see and of which none spoke. (126)

 

Under a gibbous moon horse and rider spanceled to their shadows on the snowblue ground and in each flare of lightning as the storm advanced those selfsame forms rearing with a terrible redundancy behind them like some third aspect of their presence hammered out black and wild upon the naked grounds. (157-8)

 

The dead lay awash in the shallows like the victims of some disaster at sea and they were strewn along the salt foreshore in a havoc of blood and entrails. (163)

 

One of the Delawares passed with a collection of heads like some strange vendor bound for market, the hair twisted about his wrist and the heads dangling and turning together. (163)

 

Glanton was first to reach the dying man and he knelt with that alien and barbarous head cradled between his thighs like some reeking outland nurse and dared off the savages with his revolver. (165)

 

All about her the dead lay with their peeled skulls like polyps bluely wet or luminescent melons cooling on some mesa of the moon. (181-2)

 

They passed along the ruinous walls of the cemetery where the dead were trestled up in niches and the grounds strewn with bones and skulls and broken pots like some more ancient ossuary. (182)

 

It was raining again and they rose slouched under slickers hacked from greasy iralfcured hides and so cowled in these primitive skins before the gray and driving rain they looked like wardens of some dim sect sent forth to proselytize among the very beasts of the land. (195)

 

The riders pushed between them and the rock and methodically rode them from the escarpment, the animals dropping silently as martyrs, turning sedately in the empty air and exploding on the rocks below in startling bursts of blood and silver as the flasks broke open and the mercury loomed wobbling in the air in great sheets and lobes and small trembling satellites and all its forms grouping below and racing in the stone arroyos like the imbreachment of some ultimate alchemic work decocted from out the secret dark of the earth’s heart, the fleeing stag of the ancients fugitive on the mountainside and bright and quick in the dry path of the storm channels and shaping out the sockets in the rock and hurrying from ledge to ledge down the slope shimmering and eft as eels.  (203)

 

A mile further and he came upon a strange blackened mass in the trail like a burnt carcass of some ungodly beast. (225)

 

He too had lost his hat and he rode with a woven wreath of desert scrub about his head like some egregious saltland hard and he looked down upon the refugee with the same smile, as if the world were pleasing to him alone. (228)

 

The other heads glared blindly out of their wrinkled eyes like fellows of some righteous initiate given up to vows of silence and of death. (230)

 

The judge was standing on the rise in silhouette like some great balden archirnandrite. (285)

 

The judge in the floor of the well likewise rose and he adjusted his hat and gripped the valise under his arm like some immense and naked barrister whom the country had crazed. (296)

 

The idiot squatted on all fours and leaned into the lead like some naked species of lemur. (298)

 

When he raised his head to look out he saw the expriest stumbling among the bones and holding aloft a cross he’d fashioned out of the shins of a ram and he’d lashed them together with strips of hide and he was holding the thing before him like some mad dowser in the bleak of desert and calling out in a tongue both alien and extinct. (302)

 

This troubled sect traversed slowly the ground under the bluff where the watcher stood and made their way over the broken scree of a fan washed out of the draw above them and wailing and piping and clanging they passed between the granite walls into the upper valley and disappeared in the coming darkness like heralds of some unspeakable calamity leaving only bloody footprints on the stone.  (326)

 

The candles sputtered and the great hairy mound of the bear dead in its crinoline lay like some monster slain in the commission of unnatural acts. (340)

Been re-reading this in audiobook format, blowing my mind like some mind that’s getting blown.  Those page numbers, from Google books, are from the hardcover, not that paperback.  (And don’t think I’m braggin’ with all those post-its on my copy — that’s the condition in which the book was returned to me after being loaned to a scholarly friend.)

Don’t miss Mills on the topic.  Always worth rewatching:


reblog from bookbinderlocal455

gotta remember this re: consuming internet.

stirs something within you

i think about this constantly in marfa, where there is a non-stop stream of performance and art, which sometimes rob one of time to pursue his/her own work. via pitchfork:

“One of the problems of our modern world is that there’s a lot of things to work through, but, at some point, everybody should take a pause from that and make something, so that it’s not just all one-way traffic. Human beings aren’t meant to be solely consumers—eventually, something has to come out. Otherwise, I don’t really see what the point of all that consumption is. The idea behind watching things and listening to things is that it stirs something within you, and hopefully that will stimulate you to then create your own thing.”

Jarvis Cocker

 


Everything is something.

IMG_7241The bartender, a friend of my cousin’s, said that the drive from Fort Davis to Balmorhea – forty miles or so – was “some of the prettiest state highway driving in all of Texas.”

Sold, obvs.

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I don’t think my pictures do justice to the Wild Rose Pass.  In fact, I know they don’t.

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I was distracted listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, which I’d never listened to:

I would say “Atlantic City” is my favorite song on this album.  I was never super-into Bruce Springsteen.  But: respect:

Initially, Springsteen recorded demos for the album at his home with a 4-trackcassette recorder. The demos were sparse…

Springsteen then recorded the album in a studio with the E Street Band. However, he and the producers and engineers working with him felt that a raw, haunted folk essence present on the home tapes was lacking in the band treatments, and so they ultimately decided to release the demo version as the final album.

Complications with mastering of the tapes ensued because of low recording volume, but the problem was overcome with sophisticated noise reduction techniques.

“Nebraska” itself is an interesting song, about Charlie Starkweather:

The song begins with Starkweather meeting Fugate:

I saw her standin’ on her front lawn just a-twirlin’ her baton
Me and her went for a ride, sir…and 10 innocent people died

Springsteen was inspired to write the song after seeing Terrence Malick’s movie Badlands on television. The portrait in the opening lines of the girl standing on her front lawn twirling her baton was taken from the movie.

Starkweather himself was [supposedly] influenced by James Dean:

After viewing the film Rebel Without a Cause, Starkweather developed a James Dean fixation and began to groom his hairstyle and dress himself to look like Dean. Starkweather related to Dean’s rebellious screen persona, believing that he had found a kindred spirit of sorts, someone who had suffered torment similar to his own whom he could admire.

Charlie Starweather killed eleven people.  Ban movies, I guess.

Fort Davis:

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From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and the Chihuahua Trail …

During the Civil War,Confederate States Army troops manned the fort which was attacked on August 9, 1861 by MescaleroApaches. The native warriors attacked the garrison’s livestock herd, killed two guards and made off with about 100 horses and or cattle.

At Fort Davis they have an audio program, where they play announcements of the sort that would’ve been heard on the parade ground, years ago.  The day I was there the audio program was a list of ceremonies and salutes to acknowledge the death of former president Andrew Johnson.  Gun salutes every hour, and then at sundown.

In the reconstructed barracks, I came upon some National Park Service Personnel discussing the site, and the reproductions they’d used of guns and quilts and so forth.  They got quiet and respectful when I came in, and said if I had any questions they would answer them.  Then they got back to joking about how someday someone would sell the reproduced guns on eBay as “authentic!  from Fort Davis!”

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A poignant obituary:

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At lunch a guy came up to me and mistook me for Dave.  “You look just like Dave  – in profile!”

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A house I saw in Balmorhea.  I sat right down in the middle of the road to take a picture of it.

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In Balmorhea there’s a spring:

Between 20 million and 28 million US gallons (90,850 cubic meters) of water a day flow from the springs.

That’s crazy.

There was a sign nearby offering snorkel rental:

The cienega now serves as a habitat for endangered fish such as the Comanche Springs pupfish and Pecos gambusia as well as other aquatic life, birds and other animals.

I did not take a picture, because you can’t take a picture of everything.  But here’s one from the Texas Parks Department:

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Later a friend of mine described the drive from Marfa to Austin, seven hours away.

“The first time I did it,” he said,  “I was bored because I thought it was nothing.  But then, as I got used to it, I realized everything is something.”

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In Fort Davis I wanted to visit the rattlesnake and reptile museum.  I walked in, and there was no one there.  So I walked around.  A Spanish language radio station was playing.  Then, as I was leaving, I realized it cost $4.  I only had two singles or a twenty.  I debated what to do.  I left the two dollars, and figured that was good enough since no one had been there to explain the various lizards and scorpions anyway.

But then, driving out of town, I thought, “Steve, you know better.  This man went to all the trouble of collecting these snakes.  All he asks is four dollars.”  In my heart I knew it was right.  So I got change and went back.  The snake man was there this time, and he thanked me for my honesty.  He’d been watching my car the whole time, he said.