Dec 182022

This was from March 21, 2021 and I never published it. Again, some decent things here but unfinished. We’re about to enter our second winter post snowpocalypse. And not enough has been done to improve things so I guess we’re all just crossing our fingers that it goes well? The Republican party still has a hold on Texas whether that’s due to stupid rednecks or redistricting/gerrymandering. Abbott successfully defeated a challenge from Beto. At least I’m about to be rid of Chip Roy as my representation in the US House.

The last twelve months have been the most stressful of my nearly 50 years on this planet. I’ve had a few extra stressors on top of the ones that everyone else has had. But this post is not about me. This post is about what we want and expect from our government. It’s not a shock to anyone who knows me or has read the intermittent posts on here or my more frequent posts to Twitter that I tend to lean more progressive and therefore Democrat. However, I try to remain open and consider the other side on many issues. Given the last twelve months though and particularly the last week in Texas, it’s undeniable that the Republican party and leadership in Texas are solely to blame for the severity of the situation that we all faced with this unprecedented winter storm.

This wonderfully helpful article on the Texas State Legislature and the wikipedia page on Texas Governors back up what I suspected. The Republican party has had control of the state House since 2002, the Senate since 1996 and the Governor since 1995. So that’s control of all three since 2002 or 19 years.

 Posted by on December 18, 2022 at 10:49 pm
Dec 182022

I wrote this on Jan 14 2021 and never published it presumably because I wanted to get all of the songs finished on the ratings / commentary and I probably had other things to say, but it’s clear that’s never happening so I’m posting it as is from then because I think I had some good stuff here anyway.

I don’t normally listen to the Talk is Jericho podcast and I honestly don’t have a very high opinion of him (and it wasn’t improved by this episode), but since the topic was comparing Anthrax’s Spreading the Disease with their subsequent Among the Living, I have to weigh in. I feel I owe it to…whoever. He had Charlie and Scott from Anthrax and Eddie Trunk who I didn’t know it, but was working at Megaforce when Among the Living was released.

The premise of the episode format is that you take each track head to head and pick the winner. Scott and Charlie acknowledge at the start that they’re biased. I think it’s kinda arbitrary to use the album order to compare the tracks, but I don’t know the history for this particular idea. I’ll bet you’re shocked but I have opinions. First, I have some back story to relate to what the “panelists” also shared.

My introduction to thrash metal started with Metallica’s Master of Puppets. I remember buying the album. I’m pretty sure I was in Arlington and might’ve been on my way to a Rangers game with my father. I was already haunting Bill’s records (RIP Bill) by that time, but the store I remember was similar and I must’ve found it via liner notes. We didn’t have the Internet in 1986, kids. Anyway, up until Master, I had been mostly into bands like Ratt and Iron Maiden. Master of Puppets blew me away and I, of course, read the liner notes to that record which led me to Anthrax’s Spreading the Disease. Much like Eddie who mentions this in the podcast, I was blown away by Joey’s vocals over the thrash. I’ll save my opinions so I line them up with the ones from the podcast.

A.I.R. v. Among the Living
Lone Justice v. Caught In a MoshCaught
Madhouse v. I Am the LawLaw
S.S.C. / Stand or Fall v. N.F.L.N.F.L.
Enemy v. Skeletons in the ClosetSkeletons
Aftershock v. IndiansIndians
Armed and Dangerous v. One World
Medusa v. A.D.I. / Horror of It All
Gung-Ho v. Imitation of Life

Separate from the decisions comes the commentary…

  • I always wondered why they used the preacher from Poltergeist II to represent Randall Flagg from The Stand. I thought it worked on the album cover but it was a little odd. Jericho had no idea. It also sounds like nobody came after them about it.
  • I love that Eddie Trunk is the one who bought the original headdress for the Indians video
  • The talk about I’m the Man being safe as a b-side to I Am the Law in the UK and being obscure if it failed is hilarious in retrospect. Also, I own that 12″ and we fucking loved it when it came out. I need to digress to the Z-ROCK and Arcadia theater live recording that ended up on the I’m the Man EP
  • Scott translating all of the acronyms was great. Adolescence in Red was supposed to be a clever update of Rhapsody in Blue? I NEVER would have guessed that.
  • I’m as torn as Eddie on the Lone Justice / Caught match up. I LOVED Lone Justice and how on top and out front Joey’s vocals were but I have to give it to Caught. That was by far the hardest choice.
 Posted by on December 18, 2022 at 10:45 pm
Dec 182022

I wrote this in March 2021 and never published it. I have no idea why. It’s not just about COVID and now it’s sort of dated as I have watched a lot of other things since. Maybe this should be a recurring theme. And given the implosion of Twitter, we should all go back to blogging anyway. So, here’s the original post unchanged:

I’ve had some life changes that have meant that I have more time and control over evening television lately. It’s meant that I’ve had time to watch more of what I want instead of compromising with the other three members of the household.

Here’s what I can recall watching over the last month or so:

  • Fargo
    • I hadn’t finished the first season on FX but I thought it was great at the time and always wanted to go back to it.
    • The subsequent seasons (3) have been a mixed bag but it’s all generally pretty good. I think season 2 was my least favorite of the four so far.
  • Gonzo
    • Learned some things about early Hunter that I didn’t know, but he sure did become a victim of his own success. I didn’t know about his Jimmy Buffett connection
  • Speedwalking
    • Europeans generally do a much better job of coming of age movies than Americans. This is another example.
  • Haunting of Bly Manor
    • Henry Thomas does an interesting British accent
    • It’s appropriately creepy. Waiting to see if my daughter wants to join
  • Cobra Kai
    • First season was great. We’ve stalled on the second season. I don’t think it’s as good. In fact, now that I’ve watched the entire season, the finale was really just terrible. Even my 11 year old agreed. I don’t think we’ll watch the third season.
  • Ozark
    • First season was great. The exchange in the car between Bateman and Linney when he describes his take on her lover’s demise sold me on it or they might’ve lost me. It’s a mixed bag but still recommended. I’ll watch the fourth season when it arrives
  • El Camino – interesting add on to Breaking Bad. I shouldn’t have waited so long to watch this.
  • Gits – I ended up re-watching some of Hype because that’s where I remember seeing the most about Mia Zapata. I was not into them at the time. Super tragic about her and how that affected the band. At least they caught the dirtbag who killed her.
  • I’m Now – Mudhoney – confirmed my love for this band.
  • Mentors – legendary from t-shirts of people like Scott Ian and James Hetfield. Who knew El Duce could actually play.
  • Rambo – Last Blood – super violent and not all that great.
  • D.O.A. – covered most of the Sex Pistols US tour including the Dallas and San Antonio dates
  • Skinhead movie with Tim Roth
  • Game of Thrones
  • Squid and the Whale
    • I forgot that he also did Marriage Story which I watched in March as it became clear I was about to embark on my own divorce (the catalyst for all of this freedom to watch what I want for the first time in as long as I can remember)
    • The dad is insufferable but Jeff Daniels does a good job.
  • Various YouTube things. Mostly:
    • First We Feast (aka Hot Ones)
    • 3 Years Apart
    • Two Minutes to Late Night (with Gwarsenio Hall)
  • Ratched
    • Lily convinced me to watch this one. She’s an American Horror Story fan and it seems like stylistically, they’re related
    • It’s supposed to be a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but it’s very loose in my opinion. Very Kubrick influenced in the visuals
  • Great British Baking
    • This is the one that I and both younger kids can watch together. We just finished the most recent season where Peter won. We’ve watched a few other seasons in the past. I miss Sandy. I can’t imagine anyone other than Prue and Noel.
 Posted by on December 18, 2022 at 10:29 pm
Feb 222022

The Chronicle posted a 30 year commemoration last week of the night that GG Allin played the Cavity Club in Austin. The story lines up pretty well with what I recall about it. I didn’t attend the February 1992 show but one of my bands at the time played the Cavity shortly after that and I recall seeing the arrest report on the wall and it was still a topic of discussion as we loaded our gear in to play the gig. The descriptions of the club in the story are accurate. There was a small entry area with a counter or table as you entered the venue and then the stage and main area were immediately to your right as you walked in. I don’t think they had a liquor license or served anything. The place was very bare bones and an utter dump. The gig we played is the only time I ever went to the club. I don’t recall it lasting very long. I had forgotten that it had the Zendik people in it. I’d see them on local cable access and around town.

I did attend the later 1993 show on 5th street. We had to sign a waiver to gain entry. It was a fairly tame show in the end but he did smash himself in the head with the microphone a few times. There was no stage and it was fairly crowded.

After GG died, when I lived in the East Village in 94/95, I would see Merle Allin wandering the streets. He’s a hard guy to miss given his facial hair choices along with his haircut. The documentary, Hated, was released around that time. It was the first film by Todd Phillips when he was an NYU film student. He later did Frat House which was an HBO documentary that got squashed by the families of the frat boys of whom it did not paint a flattering picture. I recall Tool featuring prominently in the soundtrack. I think I also saw that on Austin local cable access. Todd Phillips has gone on to have a pretty prominent director career with Old School, The Hangover movies and Joker.

Fast forward 10-15 years and I end up in another band where a band mate did some recording on one of GG’s albums and gets royalty checks from time to time. It’s become a tradition to meet out for beers and spend that money. Hence, the running joke: “These beers are on dear, departed Uncle GG. RIP”

 Posted by on February 22, 2022 at 1:21 pm
Nov 282021

What an interesting day. I’ll start with a happy belated birthday to one of my drumming godfathers, Charlie Benante, who celebrated a birthday yesterday. I love Charlie for so many reasons. He’s really a renaissance man. He’s responsible for not only some of the most amazing drum parts, but also many of the guitar riffs and the album art for Anthrax over the years. He’s on the same level as another drumming godfather (but more of a peer since we’re less than a year apart agewise), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. I bring up Questlove because he posted today about his disappointment at never being exposed to Pink Floyd’s The Wall until this week. It really struck me how we can all live in our music bubbles even as supposed educated adults. I know how he refers to Soul Train as his babysitter and his musical tutor over the years. I discounted that show as a kid but it was really an amazing showcase for so many artists.

The Pink Floyd connection flows farther into what me finally watching the first episode of Get Back, the new Beatles documentary from Peter Jackson. It turns out that as a part of that documentary and the making of Let It Be and Abbey Road, they were considering doing their first live performance in 3 years at Sabrata, a Roman amphitheatre in Libya, before ultimately deciding to do that rooftop gig. It’s relevant to the Pink Floyd discussion since they did Live at Pompeii in another amphitheatre only about a year later. I have to wonder if they somehow got the idea from the Beatles or someone involved in the Beatles or if that was just a common idea at the time?

I’ll note that going full circle back to hip hop, apparently the video for Gratitude by the Beastie Boys was an homage to Live at Pompeii. In fact, Money Mark commented about it in Questlove’s Instagram post about The Wall.

 Posted by on November 28, 2021 at 2:52 am
Sep 282021

Oh, our governor. I saw this in the news and now there’s some behind the scenes reporting from Politico. This really is a sign of the disproportionate influence of a former President on his party and the state and local governments. He has no authority to call for an audit and yet, the state scrambles for one where he won by 600k votes and there are no signs of issues with the election. This can’t be interpreted as anything other than an attempt to undermine free and fair elections in the United States.

I hope this new MAGA group (clever re-appropriation of the acronym that I learned about via a neighbor’s yard sign) achieves its stated goals and we kick this sorry excuse for a governor out of office. He’s turned Texas into a hellscape that I never dreamed possible despite the many years of Republican leadership.

 Posted by on September 28, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Sep 012021

Watched Malice at the Palace, part of the Untold documentary series on Netflix last night. I remember the media and David Stern jumped on the players but the fans were to blame along with the lack of police and security especially for what everyone knew would be a hotly contested game. It’s true that the players should never go into the stands. It’s just not worth it. The fans were charged but they ultimately got off easy. Their behavior was truly despicable.

Feel bad for all of the Pacers. Metta World Peace was clearly a troubled guy who was trying to deal with his mental health issues. You can see he does feel bad for the outcome. Jermaine O’Neal’s career was pretty much ruined and Reggie Miller lost his last real chance at getting a ring. I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to the NBA in 2004 so I never realized that it had such a broad reaching effect.

 Posted by on September 1, 2021 at 5:19 pm
Jul 302021

From VoteAmerica:

We have officially hit more than 460 anti-voter bills this year. This really is an astounding milestone. The onslaught of anti-voter attacks is the most intense and direct threat to voting rights we have seen since the days of Jim Crow.

Many of the most recent bills that have been introduced are coming out of Texas, which as I’ve said before is one of the most egregious perpetrators of voter suppression. So far during their special legislative session, 18 anti-voter bills have been introduced. Here are the stats on these bills:

– 13 bills have passed out of committee and are waiting on a full chamber (House or Senate) vote

– 5 bills are waiting for a vote in committee

– Note: Many of these bills can’t move forward after the walkout by members of the House which broke the quorum they need to pass legislation

If you go back and re-read some of my past emails, you’ll notice I mention Texas quite frequently. I’m tracking Texas so closely because their legislature has introduced a grand total of 85 anti-voter bills this year. That’s 18% of the bills I’ve been tracking. No other state comes close to this incredibly aggressive number of bills (the next nearest state is Arizona with 31 introduced anti-voter bills).

And then there is Indiana where voting rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a law that purged voters’ registrations without providing adequate written confirmation and notice procedures. Voter registration purges are one of the most common ways states disenfranchise voters.

 Posted by on July 30, 2021 at 10:33 am
Jul 282021

I had a friend post recently that the cottage that they had lived in on Elizabeth Street between South Congress and South First when they first met and had their first child had been demolished. It’s a pretty consistent story particularly in South Central Austin where housing used to be cheap in the 80s and early 90s but is now astronomically expensive. We also started talking about the changes on South Congress in the comments.

The timing is interesting as it coincides with the release of Liz Lambert’s documentary about her role in transforming the San Jose on South Congress in the late 90s (which I still need to see). The two are obviously related. I have many of my own stories as I’m sure anyone who has lived here for 30 years or more does too. I’m not going for one of those cranky posts where I claim that it was all better before. I’m happy with some of the changes. I’m not happy with others. I’m not the same person or in the same life situation now as in 1991 , 2001 or 2011. I was here in all of those years though so it lends some perspective that someone who moved here in the past couple of years will not have. I’m tempted to just throw out a list of things that only people who have lived here over that time will or will not remember.

  • South Lamar
    • Maudies was a Pizza Hut (look at the architecture. It’s obvious once you know)
    • The shopping center just up the road where Alamo Drafthouse is now was once a massive parking lot with strip mall that contained a moderately sized grocery store, a music store and a few other small local businesses
    • Horseshoe Lounge anyone?
    • Trudy’s South with the crazy bar smoking area in the middle.
    • Pinthouse S Lamar in the same shopping center as Trudy’s South was a Chili’s, people.
  • South Congress
    • Amy’s Ice Cream was the first Schlotzsky’s
    • Future Protocol / SpyCloud was a porn theater called Cinema West. Prior to that it had apparently been a reputable theater that started in the 1930s called the Austin Theatre where Stanley and Livingstone was the first feature. Cinema West shut down sometime in the late 90s. Here’s the ABJ story about it becoming Future Protocol in April 2000

I wrote this back in April and left it as a draft. Fast forward to now and there’s an article about Liz in Texas Monthly. There’s also an article about Slacker 30 years later which links a related Statesman story about the changes to Austin since that heavily sources a survey that my former boss (not direct but the Founder/CEO of the company that was my first “real job” in Austin), Peter Zandan has conducted for many years. Both of the articles bring up other long gone Austin spots from the 80s like the original Quacks on The Drag, Les Amis which ironically became a Starbucks and then Mad Dog & Beans. Sadly, Fricano’s, the deli that went up roughly in the same area also has gone away. So I guess now I’ve been here long enough / am old enough to reminisce about multiple generations of changes to local Austin businesses. We also now have lost the original Alamo on Colorado and the Ritz downtown location. At least the Village location is reopening. Now get off my lawn.

 Posted by on July 28, 2021 at 8:08 am
Nov 032020

This was also sitting my drafts folder since 2007. I intended to document the entire trip only ever made it this far. I’m publishing it as is.

We just got back from a ten day road trip to Montana and back. My second cousin’s wedding in Big Sky, Montana was the excuse for the trip. It was by far our longest road trip as a family and it actually went pretty well. Until this trip, I was the only one of the four of us who had slept in a tent. We opted to stay at KOAs for several of the nights to save money. We bought a tent and some sleeping bags for a total of roughly $50.

Our first night was spent at a KOA in Salina, KS. We drove straight through from Austin to Salina, leaving at 7am on Wednesday and arriving at Salina in the evening. I got stopped in Fort Worth by a cop I passed. The Wife pointed him out, but I wasn’t paying enough attention. I had to play the repentant dad to the meathead cop to avoid a ticket. That was the only cop encounter of the trip, thankfully. We pretty much blew through Oklahoma with a rest stop for a picnic lunch. Dinner was in Newton, KS at the Dairy Queen. We couldn’t find much else by the time we got there.

I’d stayed at one KOA in high school, so I don’t have much experience with them. I’ve now learned that they vary wildly from location to location. Their own sites are somewhat informative, but I’m wondering if there’s a good site with ratings by travelers. Salina has tent sites right by the entrance to the camp, so we had cars passing us on and off through the night. I had no problems, but it kept The Wife up. Most KOAs are pretty close to the highway, so you’re not really out in the boonies camping. It’s just a cheap way to stay. They average $23 per night for a tent site, though some are more expensive. I’ll get to that later.

We left Salina, KS at 8am on Thursday, headed for the KOA at Douglas, Wy. We’d gotten reservations at Salina and Douglas beforehand. We barreled through KS and eastern CO without much more than rest stops. Our first spontaneous stop was in Fort Collins for a beer tasting at Fort Collins Brewery and Odell Brewing. We got the kids a growler of root beer at Fort Collins Brewery and brought back some samples. Odell Brewing was a little fancier, but I think I liked the beer at Fort Collins better. We skipped New Belgium Brewing. I hate Fat Tire.

We hit Douglas just as a storm was gathering in the mountains. It meant a windy night and a lot of lightning, but thankfully we escaped the rain.

 Posted by on November 3, 2020 at 4:46 pm