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The Final Chapter

This is my farewell to Texas; I’m washing my hands of this state and writing my final testament here.  Many of the people I’ve met here in Texas have questioned my disdain for this state, so I find it only appropriate to finally open the windows and air-out all the fermented dissatisfaction.

It’s 88 fucking degrees here today, and it was in the 60’s last week.  Fuck you, Texas weather.  It’s a lie when people talk about the “dry heat” in the DFW area.  It’s as hot and humid as a sumo wrestler’s taint out there, and it’s not going to get better.  You people who keep denying this “global warming” conspiracy, opting for the “Liberal Media bias” argument – I hope you enjoy your denial while bursting into flames when you step outside to mow your lawn.  It’s hot as fuck out there.

“The economy in Texas is great!”  Bullshit.  I call huge bullshit on this one.  I’ll give you this; the economy is great in the way that there are an abundance of jobs if you don’t mind minimum wage and absolutely no checks-and-balances systems for employers.  Go read up on Texas Labor Laws, go read up on worker protection in Texas; prepare to eat shit if you’re even suspected of dissention in the eyes of your employer.  Yeah, jobs are great here if you have no aspirations of a living wage or job protection.  Also, while businesses enjoy some great incentives to grow here, look at the wages of the workers and the poverty rates among those workers.  How about utilizing some of those great incentives to help your citizens, or keeping up with your business code enforcement?  Anyway, enjoy it for now, Texas.  This shit is already starting to plateau as your population booms and innovation subsides.

Your politics suck.  I tried to keep an open mind, I really did, but when a former employer corners me the day after Obama’s reelection to explain to me that Obama is (no shit) just like Hitler for reasons A, B, and C – I just can’t deal with you anymore.  I saw a cowboy driving his truck the other day, proudly displaying a huge American flag on his window, next to it, a sticker demonizing the “Liberal Media”, next to the anti-Obama sticker.  Was he driving a Ford?  Nope.  How about a Chevy?  Nope.  He was driving a Nissan.  I might be crazy, but that just seems laughable to me, coming from such a patriot.  Texas wants to secede – let it (even though that wasn’t part of the Annexation – the more you know).  Rick Perry shits on Hurricane Sandy relief and asks for funding when suddenly Texas needs disaster relief.  That hypocrisy perfectly describes this state.  Someday, those of you who hold your best interests above all else, will die, and no one will give a shit.  You will have lived a pointless existence, and the rest of us will be happy to see you go.  Get with humanity, or get out of it.

You treat your animals like crap.  This is a nationwide issue, but I’ve rescued and re-rescued more dogs here than I ever have anywhere else.  You people couldn’t give a shit about another living creature, and you’re all the worse for it.  My own dog is a rescue, passed around the neighborhood when one family would get tired of him and just let him go.  If you don’t see why that’s a problem, then you’re an idiot.  I was attacked by a loose dog in my neighborhood last year, and do you know what the owner had to say?  “Well, he’s had his allergy shots, so you should be ok.  Oh, you’re really bleeding there…” I don’t give one fuck if your dog is tolerating ragweed better this year, he shouldn’t be out running around fucking biting people.  You’re lucky I’m not some little kid, or the parent of a child that the dog had bitten, otherwise you’d be enjoying the long-arm of any frothing attorney looking for a cake-case of negligence.  Quite honestly, the only reason I didn’t call the cops was because I didn’t want the dog put down.  It’s YOUR responsibility to take care of your animal, to make sure that he or she isn’t running around biting people – get it?  Probably not.

Now, I’ve covered a lot in this little blog of mine, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of this back-assward-state.  You would have to have lived here to understand, and I strongly suggest that you not make that move, at least not for the experience.  I have met a handful of good people here; I’ve met three Nick’s, a Dominic, a Cole, a Jim, an April, a Cyndi, a couple Daniel’s, a Patrick, a couple Michael’s, a Tara, and probably about five other people I didn’t see on my list of contacts.  You people have kept me sane, alongside my amazing wife, my crazy dog, and my generous, loving parents.  You folks deserve better than this, and many of you don’t even know it (or are somehow finding the good that I’ve lost here).  I’m going to miss you guys, and I’m sorry to so many of you that I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to – you deserve better of me than that.  Just know that you folks gave me a break here, mostly from my anger and darker sense of self, and for that I’m forever grateful.  The rest of you though – get your shit together, ‘cause I’m not going to be here to call you on it anymore.  See you around, Texas, just one less “Liberal” to deal with.

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It Rains in Texas

With it being the New Year and all, I have decided that the first post of 2013 needs to be directed at the subject this blog was set out to address in the first place.  Texas.  I’ve veered off a bit as of late with my posts, but I’m redirecting now in light of some startling discoveries I’ve made. 

There are slogans that Texans seem to cling to when prompted with defending their crazy-ass state: “Everything’s bigger in Texas”, “Remember the Alamo”, and my favorite, “Don’t mess with Texas”.  I would like to change this last one to reflect my new discovery about Texas and its inhabitants: “Don’t mess with Texas… unless you’re about to throw water all over everything… then just do whatever the hell you want”.  You see, you can mess with Texas, or rather; the weather can mess with Texas. 

It has been raining in North Texas the last couple of days, and you’d think that the Mayans had gotten the date wrong, ‘cause it’s the fucking apocalypse here when shit gets wet.  People shrivel, shiver, and complain.  They drive on the highways like they’re dodging raindrops at either 20 or 90 miles per hour (there is no in-between speed when bad weather strikes the Lone Star State).  I have never seen so many accidents in my life.  We aren’t talking torrential downpour here, we’re talking periods of isolated fucking showers.  To make it all that much worse, these people get off on watching/participating in automobile accidents.   

I have never seen such a large population with such a fucked up shared interest.  The accidents themselves really don’t slow down much in terms of traffic, as they’re rarely more than a fender-bender, but the reactions make traffic so much worse.  It’s like every one of the rubber-neckers has their little love-pump out while driving, satisfying primal urges to see another poor fuck who doesn’t understand how to properly respond to brake lights.  If Texas ever does secede, and the rest of the Union goes to war, no guns will be necessary to defeat these cowboys.  Just invest in Super Soakers and head on down to the highways.  You could basically watch the state implode given the right time-frame.  Spray the highways down, watch a few fucktards run into each other, don’t send out response vehicles, and watch the rest of them run into each other.  Yep, everything is bigger in Texas, including the accidents. 

So yeah, a little H2O goes a long way here, in case you ever really want to mess with Texas.

You Left Your Spine At Home Today, Didn’t You?

I don’t believe the “Liberal” media.  I also don’t believe the “Conservative” media.  I don’t believe the voices I hear while I shop for my groceries, or those that occupy the scrolls of my Facebook window.  Most of these people are full of shit, and maybe I’m the guiltiest of them all.  See, when I turn on my news in the morning, as I sit and watch the pundits argue over the “Fiscal Cliff” or pot, or who gets to eat the last sprinkle doughnut, I wonder why I do this to myself.  I know why – because I am a morning pooper get off on watching people be manipulated.  This probably sounds pretty strange, maybe a little cruel, but I’m just being honest here.  I relish the thought that I am going to encounter herds of people throughout my day that will have watched the same news programs as I have, and will have absorbed every soundbite into their vocabulary to spew later on.

These pundits today, they really love making you care about shit that doesn’t fucking matter.  Granted, some of it is actually pretty horrible (natural disasters, death tolls, climate change), but most of it lacks the gravity to actually be meaningful in your existence.  The reason that people like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are some of the most watched and trusted people in the world of pundits is the same reason that sometimes even assholes are well-liked: because they can honestly laugh at the sad state of affairs in our world.  They are probably restricted in the sense that they are not allowed to slap their lying-fuck-politician guests in the face, or ask their celebrity guests when the sex tape is coming out, but they are allowed to mock the issues that make Americans so afraid.

Most of these other talking heads are pointless at best.  There are a couple of exceptions, but most of them are truly spineless, and it’s easy to see why.  Imagine waking up one morning, flipping on the news, and watching a drunken pundit talk about how the fear mongering in this country has reached epic proportions, admitting that they are a part of that machine, and promptly ripping off their lapel-mic and walking off stage.  This would be an amazing thing to see, and might grant us a little clarity to at least acknowledge that the ticker/news scroll/brand insignia/diarrhea at the bottom of the screen is just distraction from the fact that this person reading off teleprompter will never tell you what they really think.  If they did, you might find out that most of the news is just slow-building drama that is just shy of trash reality television.

Honestly, I’m no better than any of them – and that isn’t some self-loathing statement, but the truth.  I am obviously writing about the same stupid bullshit that many Americans are, but maybe I’m even worse than most people, as I can acknowledge that I really could give a fuck if we go over the “Fiscal Cliff” or whatever.  I’ll argue with people I barely know, simply because I get tired of hearing about the beauty of “fracking” or how awesome it is that we are run by a bunch of bigots who still can’t get over our black President.  I’m just picking fights, all the while laughing in my head about how easy it was to drum up an argument from the guy in a Confederate flag hat.  I must have guts, ’cause that guy clearly has a gun.

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Steve’s Car VS Texas

Many of you will already know this story, whether from having been a part of the magic first-hand, or having been on the receiving end of one of the bitch-sessions that occurred after. For those unfamiliar, here is where my issues with this godforsaken state began.

A couple weeks after moving to Texas from Ohio…

I hadn’t quite settled into my new life in the Longhorn state. I missed my then-girlfriend, now Fiancee, Shannon, my friends, my band, and generally the social life that I had spent years building in Columbus, Ohio. There was a bright spot in the future though; some friends of mine were touring and were going to be making a stop in Dallas, Texas for a show. I was thrilled. Familiar faces, good tunes, good laughs, good times. I had already joined up with a group of musicians and had planned on meeting them at this show, in part to prove that I did in fact have a life prior to moving to Texas, and in part to get to know the area that would become my main musical hangout spot in Dallas. The area is called Deep Ellum. A few things to know about Deep Ellum that I didn’t know prior to parking my car there. Deep Ellum is evidently rampant with crime. Violent crime, burglary, parking violations, the whole deal.

Enough set-up…

So, I arrived at a parking lot that I had to pay to park in. Silly me, I’m thinking that this might mean someone actually gives a fuck about what goes on in this parking lot. I am wrong to think this. I trot down to the venue to meet up with my friends in Moving Mountains (the band playing that night) to find that they’ve guest-listed me and have added a “plus one” for the friend of mine attending the show with me. Sounds all-good so far. I meet up with my friends in Moving Mountains, hugs are exchanged, a little light petting, all is good. Time for a beer – but wait, my phone is ringing.

“Hey, Steve, it’s Matt”

“Hey dude, what’s up? You parked yet? They’re going on pretty soon”

“Dude… Did you park in the ACE parking lot, by chance?”

“Why yes, I did, why do you ask?”

“Well, you’re going to need to come down here. It would appear that someone has broken into your car”

End phone call, begin mad-dash to my car, where, on my way, I encounter a cop productively eating a burger in his car.

“Excuse me officer, it would appear that someone has broken into my car in the ACE parking lot, might you be able to drive me over there, since it’s another few blocks up the road?”

Nope. Cop drives away. I shit you not.

By the time I reach my car, there are about 15 people meandering around, looking up at the building that I’ve parked near. And there is my car, fucked to hell. After asking the gentle folk of downtown Dallas what might have occurred that would leave my car in such distress, I’m told that someone shot out the window, 11 stories up, in the building I’m parked in front of. Oh, joy. Where are the police? They’ve been called, 15 minutes ago. Here comes the news van – how, how is it possible that the news crew has gotten here before the cops? Oh, that’s just Dallas, I’m told. The cops are probably off herding cattle somewhere.

A cop eventually shows up…

“Sir, is there any way this is going to get resolved?”

“Nah, shit like this happens A LOT, these cases never get solved.”

The police officer then continues the conversation by explaining (bragging perhaps) that Dallas has been highly ranked as a violent city. I explain that all of this is freaking me out, as this is only my second week living in Texas. He laughs and says “Welcome to Dallas”.

I made the news that night. It was evidently one few nights in the last couple weeks that Dallas had seen any substantial rain. Lucky me. I drove home, in a city I wasn’t familiar with, while rain poured into my back seat through a shattered back window. Pretty. Fucking. Bad. Time. Oh, and the guys in Moving Mountains evidently dedicated a song to me as well, a fact I would find out from their guitar player, Frank, the next day when I explained why I missed the set. Thanks, Dallas.

Do we see why I have such disdain for this place? If not, I should also mention that some “critter” made a nest out of my wiring harness only two weeks after getting my car back from the repair shop for the initial cluster-fuck repairs. There went another few hundred dollars.

This state is made of hate and evil. My case is still open, and by that I mean never going to close. I just want to know who’s accountable, maybe he (or she) will read my blog and fess up.

Video proof that I’m not full of shit:

Steve’s Car VS Texas

I found something in Texas that doesn’t suck…

In the world of music there are two categories of bands: those who do, and those who do well. If you’re fortunate enough to belong in the camp of Lindby musicians, you fall into the latter category. On “Erikson”, the Arlington, Texas group’s first proper release, the eclectic amalgamation of forgotten genres seems tongue-in-cheek conceptually, but is executed in earnest. You can tell that these folks have been perusing the vinyl collections at resale record shops, and they have chosen their influences wisely.

The music of “Erikson” is jammed out in funky psychedelics and Lounge-pop with hints of Ska and the ever-present influences of The Flaming Lips and The Polyphonic Spree (one can even hear a little ELO in there at times!). For those of you unfamiliar with any of the genres or groups I’ve just mentioned, you should go look all of these things up immediately. If you do understand what I’m saying here, then you may have found an album worth the trouble of listening to. It’s pretty obvious that the Lindby folk have undergone some musical training, what with the Fugue near the end of the album and the multi-layered harmonies throughout the disc. That’s not to say that this album feels like homework, or the listening material of a grad student working on neo-classical pop rock; it’s more like those days in high school where your substitute teacher told you to stop reading Great Expectations and instead expounded on the genius of Ginsberg.

Lindby’s rhyme-scheme-rants are somehow familiar, like Shel Silverstein’s poetry, without the impending doom feeling. Like taunts in the schoolyard where children rhymed “dork” with “pork” and somehow made you feel like the worst kind of nerdy bacon, in the best possible way. When one hears simple rhyme-schemes found on “Erikson”, they may initially right the lyrics off and focus on the musical integrity – but as you go, you find that the rhymes are so brilliant because of their simplicity. It’s a return to the days when people didn’t craft lyrics with the intent of cerebral ambiguity, with the intent of being deemed a brilliantly damaged poet in a time of posers. Lindby says to hell with that and instead gives the listener the opportunity to sing along with the chorus after only hearing it once. It’s simplification at its best, and a tactic more bands probably ought to be looking into these days.

While a concept album, “Erikson” doesn’t follow the trajectory of storyline concept albums. Even though songs are loosely tied together, there is no story arc, there is no fundamentally flawed protagonist with a challenge to meet; instead there are loads of fun melodies and group vocals brought together by one name: Erikson. One can also tell that this concept album was created as much for the band as for the fans. There are inside jokes, and one can visualize the smiles of the members as they sing songs about friends and sneak looks at each other on stage as lyrics are improvised. “Erikson” is conceptual without being lofty; a panoramic shot feel-good landscape. If you feel that the album leaves something to be desired, that’s really more on you than Lindby, as they’ve provided you with an overview of what music has, and will sound like as genres continue to blend. These people know how they want to world to sound: cheery and sparkly, where everyone gets to have a good time, and everyone shares the name “Erikson”.

A few favorite tracks: “Jing Ling Tam Blues”, “King of Condiments”, “Gee! Sharp Diminished Over Bee”

Key elements: crunchy guitars, moog, group vocals, jazz piano

Check out Lindby at: http://www.lindbymusic.com

Or grab a record at any of their upcoming shows!

Texas Drivers – Worst Drivers Ever?

I’m not sure I should have a question mark on the end of the title.  It’s really not a question, I believe it to be true.  Texas drivers are the worst drivers ever.  I can’t substantiate this with anything other than anecdotal evidence, but that’s going to have to be enough.  Allow me to present my case:

Texas drivers, at least the millions that I’ve encountered on the highways in my years living here, don’t believe in turn signals.  You can never tell when they’re merging, you can’t tell when they’re turning, they don’t even know that they’re doing either of these things until they’ve already done them.  This is tricky when you’re driving behind one of them and they slam on their brakes to turn into a neighborhood.  This is also problematic when they look at you, acknowledge your presence next to them on the highway, speed up, cut you off, and then slow down.  Shit, if any of you would just use that little clicky-doo right next to your hand on the steering wheel, I would probably let you over and sing your praisesMaybe it’s just Texans rallying against the oppressive government, those pesky Democrats, trying to make the roads safer.  I’m not really sure, though it is true that using turn signals makes you a Marxist-homosexual-fundamentalist.

To make matters worse, one normally needs to merge multiple lanes just to get out of the cluster-fuck traffic that seems to exist everywhere in the DFW area.  This isn’t necessarily a driver’s fault, but more likely the fault of the drunken child who clearly drew out the road systems here.

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Here’s where this shit is your fault.  If you choose to change lanes at the moment a ramp is merging onto the highway, you deserve to be kicked in the throat. This is a daily battle for me, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it yourself.  It’s that moment when you run out of road and the soccer-mom-nazi in the minivan with the cell phone and batshit crazy makeup decides she wants to be where you’re going to be in a few seconds.  It’s the moment where you realize that death lurks around every corner, and sometimes death is a crazy bitch named Jessikah driving a Toyota Sienna like that ice cream truck-driving clown in Twisted Metal.  The things I have yelled out the window at Jessikah should probably never be repeated anywhere, so I will spare you.

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This brings me to my next point.  The horn.  Every time I honk at one of you fuckers, even if you are clearly in the wrong, you act like I’m taking a dump in your living room, in front of your whole family.  If all I’m doing is honking at you after you’ve nearly killed me, then chalk that shit up as a “win” and give me the apology wave.  Give me some form of acknowledgement that yes, you did something stupid, and no, you won’t do it again.  In 30 seconds.  To that car in front of me.  Christ.

I could probably go on for paragraphs, and maybe there will be an addendum to this post, but for now that’s all the chiding I have in me.  You’re winning, Texas.  I’m too tired to bitch anymore.

A drunk Texan on Craigslist at 10:00 in the morning.

So here’s the deal:  Like many other people trying to make a little cash these days, I’ve taken to Craigslist to unload some of my stuff.  Most of the interactions I’ve had have been harmless or even garnered positive results (two guitars sold!).  Granted, Craigslist is risky for everyone involved.  You never really know who you’re meeting, or the quality or authenticity of what you’re buying, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results thus far.  I’ve been honest and fair in my selling practices, and aside from being mildly creepy, the buyers too have been honest and fair in purchasing.

All that said, I was messaged by a lunatic this morning.  I’m listing a flute for purchase for 100 bucks.  It’s hardly been used, and working at a music store, I know what these things are worth.  I had considered my listing to be pretty straight-forward:

“Hey folks, looking to sell an FA Reynolds student level flute. This is a flute produced in Abilene, TX, and is in great shape. You’ll be able to see how beautiful this instrument is from the pictures, and apparently the pads even look pretty good, though it may need a couple. It comes with a hard case and has been very gently used. Normally a student flute will go for upwards of $400 dollars, so this seems to be a fair asking price.

Check out the pics!”

At the bottom one can view four pictures of the flute.

Easy-peasy-no-fucking-problem, right?  Wrong.

I woke up this morning, after a 3 day flu that has decimated my stomach and sense of reality, and checked my e-mail.  There, I found the ramblings of a mad man.  Or a genius:

“Great looking flute, kinda small, though. Guess all they’ve got to do in Abilene is play small flutes when they’ve not rounding up rattle snakes to play. Ever seen a clarinet chasing a rattle snake? How about a trombone going after a small monkey riding a dogs back dressed up like a cowboy? Just kidding!!! I’ll give you $10 for your tiny flute, cash money, US dollars.”

I suppose I should also clarify – this is a normal sized flute.  Nothing crazy about it.  It’s not a magnet or a novelty for a pet mouse.  It’s a flute.

Initially, I was offended.  How dare this fucker talk to me about snakes and trombones and then offer me 1/10th of my asking price… how dare he call my flute tiny!

Then I thought about it from the perspective of a harmless, possibly inebriated Texan, perusing Craigslist at 10:00 in the morning, looking for the perfect tiny flute.  I have brought his dreams to fruition and he thinks I’ve typo’d and added an extra “0” to the $10 price tag this tiny flute should have.  It all makes perfect sense and I’ll be meeting up with him to exchange this flute made for such small hands for the $10 he proposed.

Or not.

One more reason, Texas.  Just one more reason I hate you.

Also: I was able to figure out his real name thanks to his ridiculous e-mail address, just in case this is to be an ongoing exchange.  I always like to know who I’m having an exchange with.

Southern Belle Fashion

Sometimes, in the fashion world, a movement sweeps through and changes everything; skinny jeans, the return of bright colors, retro sunglasses-styles.  These movements blow up and tend to hang around for a couple years, moving from runways to the public, eventually becoming looks for hipsters who wear these styles ironically.

Then there are movements that just don’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense; saggy pants, side-ponytails, backwards ball-caps.  These looks initially make the wearer feel proud, like a peacock, and only come back to embarrass the once-proud peacock years later when someone finds the photos.  Another look that will inevitably end up a part of the embarrassing list is the jorts-and-cowboy-boots look.

You may wonder what I mean by jorts.  Jorts are Daisy Dukes, a pair of jeans cut into shorts (for our purposes “jirts” also means jean-skirts).

This look is retarded.  It is the sartorial equivalent of wearing edible panties with a business pant-suit.  No matter how “country” you’re trying to look, it ultimately just ends up looking like the prostitute escaped from the farmer’s fantasy-barn.  I see this look a lot here in Texas, especially on younger women.  I suppose it satisfies the urge to look both like a skank and an equestrian, so maybe it’s just a little role-playing.  The thing is, there are much more sensible ways to look slutty and country.  You could put spurs on stilettos, or maybe wrap a bra around your Stetson.

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This looks fucking stupid.

Alaska V. Texas

I have something rather unpleasant to tell the good people of Texas.  You are not the biggest state.  Even if you tell me repeatedly that you are.  Even if you believe it in your heart of hearts, you’re not.  So, it would seem that perhaps not everything is really bigger in Texas, it’s actually bigger in Alaska, and probably less prone to lying about its size to impress other states.  They can just measure you, you know.  Let’s see, Texas is about 261,914 square miles, where Alaska is about 570,374 square miles.  That’s really not even close, which makes it all the more sad.  And you can find those statistics anywhere, just type that shit into Google and it pops right up.  Anyway, Alaska wins, Texas is just another guy with a sock in his pants.

Visual Comparison

To whom it may concern:

I hereby resign myself to live in this Godforsaken state a little while longer.  I’m not promising to like it, I’m not promising to try, but I will stop closing my eyes and pretending I’m somewhere else while I live here.  That said, this blog, which will undoubtedly get 5 views from my fiancee and her aunts (hello ladies!) is my attempt at dealing with living in America’s armpit.  At times I may be vulgar, at times my posts may read as humor, but I assure you that all of this is actually happening.  This is non-fiction.  For the 10 people I’ve met in Texas that pass for human and act decently by human standards: I’m sorry, you really don’t belong here anyway.  Welcome to the ultimate in Americana parody; welcome to Texas.