Wednesday, October 30, 2013


OK OK, so the Red Raiders lost a big one in Oklahoma, and I'm sure everyone has a lot to say about it, and I'm sure they know a lot more about it than I do, so I won't say much about how we lost or what we should do about it. The Sooner fans made big mean fun out of Tech fans' love affair with our coach, but apparently Texas and Oklahoma fans have been mean to each other since time immemorial. So what else is new?

It's big news of course when an undefeated team (us) goes down, especially big news in Lubbock. It does not seem to be big news that, nationwide, some kids broke their legs, or knees, or ankles, or a neck, in one case, or sustained multiple concussions, sometimes two, five, ten in a single day. The game takes its brutal toll. Nobody wants to talk about that. Some kids are finished for life.

Then I found out a bit about the upcoming Baylor game. This game will be held in Cowboy stadium, probably the biggest, most expensive coliseum for any sport anywhere. It has a retractable roof, a carryover from the last stadium, because the Cowboys are God's team, and God needs to be able to watch them. People say this with a kind of humor but I think some believe it as well; I'd like to know a little more about that connection (I myself might follow the Cowboys, if for no other reason than that the Browns seem to be forever part of the subterranean world). The Tech-Baylor game is in Cowboy Stadium by mutual agreement: the Dallas area has 50,000 Tech grads, and is only 90 miles from Waco, so they have no trouble filling it. It gives boys on both sides the chance to play in the big venue.

One thing about Cowboy Stadium is that it has an enormous television screen. This screen is so big that punters have actually hit it; but the point is, you go to watch a game, and you end up having this collective television experience, because the players on the screen are 100 feet tall, whereas on the field, you can hardly see them. Football was made for television; this was one of my first points, and it is easily borne out here. It turns out that, culturally, the whole football season that we are going through, and I'm talking regular Saturday Tech games, home and away, other college games (A & M, UT, Alabama, etc.), regular pro games on Sunday & Monday (all day Sunday, maximized) - this is a HUGE social experience which for the most part revolves around television. People have a large screen; they have friends; they have barbeque, chips, beer, whatever; and you're talking four, six, eight hours and a pretty big drunk in a lot of cases. It's social life in the heart of Texas.

I'm not all against it. People have their fun; the players are entertainers; there's a price for being at the top of the entertainment world. Cowboy Stadium, now that's the big time. Parking is $75, and it doesn't have a bus, train or subway going to it at all. You go, you pay big, you watch television. It all makes some kind of sense.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

football culture

Lubbock is a town of about a quarter million in West Texas, football country. It loves the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, but it's even more seriously taken at the high school level, where boys throughout the city and throughout West Texas suit up and go out and smash helmets every weekend. They love the game at every level, though, and people still play touch football out here, in the parks, at the university, just about everywhere.

At a soccer game recently I said to another dad, "I'm glad our boys are playing soccer and not football." That's because they've been doing research on concussions, besides the multiple leg injuries, and I've come to the conclusion that it's better our kids not be involved in it. Much to my surprise, he didn't agree. He was on his way to a tailgate and then the big Tech football game that very afternoon. Sure, his son was in soccer, but he had older brothers who were in football, and would be in football if he were a little more aggressive, probably.

It turns out his friend has a successful business, and was told by his tax accountant, find a tax writeoff, so, he invested a couple of thousand into a tailgate. These are serious business here; big money is involved. You pay for a parking space or two, or three, and you bring thousands of dollars of beer, food, barbeque roasters, etc. down to your parking space. If the game is at six, the tailgate starts at about noon, and all day, people are out there, sitting around, eating, drinking, talking football, wearing red and black. Stories abound locally of people stopping at the liquor store to get hundreds or thousands worth of supplies to take down to the game. The whole campus and area around the stadium is taken up with these people basically enjoying the parking lots.

The heck of it is, the vast majority of students are underage. Students get to go to the games free or at least at reduced cost, but they technically are not allowed to accept alcohol in the parking lots on the way to the game. Hundreds or thousands manage to get very drunk anyway, and they have been causing problems at the games. One problem is that they are rude to the opposing team's fans; sometimes these fans have driven up from Fort Worth (TCU) or Dallas (SMU) for the game. The police have begun arresting some of them for public drunkenness. My question originally was, if you were out in a hot parking lot for six hours, in spite of whatever barbeque you'd eaten, who would not be drunk? Wouldn't you have to arrest pretty much the entire stadium?

The updated stadium, which they spent millions on, now holds 60,000 fans, and was sold out at the last game, which wasn't even a crucial game. Rumors had it that they would be making people take breathalyzer tests on the way into the stadium. My friend said that at the last game, lightning forced them to tell everyone to wait outside the stadium for ten minutes. One student got mad and threw a bottle of water at the stadium employee. He had her arrested for public drunkenness. The behavior of today's students bordered on unacceptable, he said.

There is actually nothing amazing about the story I've told so far. My friend might not like it that I turned around and wrote about it, but hundreds of stories just like it happen at every game. Hundreds if not thousands of students binge drink, and do it around the game; in some places it's a fatal mistake though we've been lucky so far this year. People invest heavily in bringing adequate supplies to the parking lot, setting up camp, entertaining their friends, drinking to their heart's content, and going to the game. Football being what it is, games are aggressive, hard-hitting, involving many injuries, and big enough to be talked about for an entire week; because this is "bye" week for the Red Raiders, we'll be talking about that last game for two weeks. People live for it. If they're not bound up in the high school results on Friday, they watch several Big Twelve games on Saturday and for some, throw in the Cowboys on Sunday and you have the whole weekend, easily. Most families have some young boy somewhere playing on these teams. They consider the injuries to be the price of involvement. If they worry about the concussions, they don't say anything about it. Or maybe they do.

From what I can tell, none of the other sports hold a candle to football. People like baseball, and soccer, and basketball, even hockey; they love all sports. But none of them compete to football. My friend is an example. He'd take his kid to a soccer game, an hour or two tops, but he was spending eight, nine hours on the football game. It was his day, his night, his weekend.

People are proud to be able to handle the alcohol; the students may be the exception to that. They drink plenty and still go to the game, and I'm sure the vast majority of the 60,000 managed not to be arrested for public drunkenness. They take pride in being able to watch every move, being familiar with the players, collecting information about the coach. The coach is like the god. He makes more money than anyone. He is ultimately responsible for the choice of quarterback (a big issue here, even though the team is 4-0). He is the man.

What happens when people are injured? I'm not sure. It happens almost every game. They haul them off in a stretcher. Their career has a gap in it. Some demand to play no matter what their injury. The coach is ultimately responsible. Sometimes the trainer insists that they rest, but the coach and player demand that they play. You have this tension. Nobody wants to drop out of sight, be forgotten, have to go run a car dealership. They are literally equipped to do very little else. Their college education has been courses like Football 101, designed to keep their GPA up so they can practice more, study less, lift weights, beef up, not worry about academics. Truly worrying about academics would hamper their efforts to win, and winning is everything. In that regard Texas Tech is like every other college.

Oklahoma State, one of our biggest rivals, is being investigated for breaking NCAA rules. It's hard not to give football players favors, when so much rides on their performance. Apparently they are very likely guilty, and will have their hands slapped. But virtually everyone is guilty, it is generally believed. These guys are one step away from the pros. They've been protected and provided for their entire lives. They are eating multiple steaks every night, a culture of abundance surrounds them. They are expected to perform aggressively, passionately, for an hour of playing time each week. They gear their lives toward that. They chose this path; there's no going back. It's so wound up in Texas Tech culture, there's no going back. The only thing better, for a player like those who are here, would be to be at Alabama, or maybe another SEC team. As it is, they are right next to the SEC; our rival Texas A & M just up and jumped over there a few years ago and got to play Alabama on national television just the other week. Millions of dollars were involved in television rights. The kind of money that can keep a program in world-class coaches for a long time. People get hurt, sure, but that's the price you pay, they figure.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This article about the death of Damon Janes hit home with me, and was accurate in several respects. First, it says that though deaths are rare in football, tremendous damage is done anyway in thousands of cases that involve not death, but just constant concussions. Second was this quote: "We mourn the dead, pray it never happens again, then tune in for the weekend."

Lubbock is just getting wound up on its enormous football culture. It's a good year because of hope brought forward by a new coach, and it looks like we can win a lot of games at the college level. It's at the high school level that I really notice a lot more activity though. It must be everyone in any given high school in the area, that's wrapped up in this stuff. Either as a player, a cheerleader, or a spectator.

I gave up the last part of that quote, tuning in for the weekend, because of the first two parts. I decided that if it's really killing kids, then I just can't keep supporting it. But it's difficult. For one thing, I love people, and all the people, at least in these parts, are wrapped up in it. Second, it's really entertaining to watch; it's made for football. Last weekend, I took my kid to a friend's house, and he had a huge television, tuned into the Alabama-A&M game. A & M had a huge stadium, packed, everyone waving white flags. Both teams were at their best, marching up and down the field with precision and grace. I could hardly help settling in, having something to drink, and watching for a while - but I didn't. Best game of the year, and I passed it up.

College is a little better than high school in the sense that having 20-year-olds smoke cigarettes is slightly better than having 15-year-olds smoke. They get sucked into it before they know any better, and it kills them, and they become hooked on what it does for their heads, etc. I'm also down on meth and war, by the way, as things that kill boys (and girls) even though sometimes they're asking for it. If it's deadly, we should unite as a culture and protect our people from it.

Can it be made "safer"? I'm not sure. Two of the major tragedies are that when the various leg muscles are broken - the knee only bends one way, but people tackle at it from several ways - they don't ever fully recover. ever. But the concussion thing is worse. People are dying at 45 and 50 from having their heads turned to mush, and having lost their ability to control their impulses. Football has really only been popular since the advent of television - they grew up together - so we're talking about a 40 or 50 year experiment in some of these cases. The data is only now coming in. And it isn't pretty.

Don't mean to harp on it. I hate to rain on everyone's parade. And I love the Red Raiders, I don't have any problem with general loyalty to the local school. But I don't want people to keep getting hurt. It's time to get some other sports things happening, and support them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Do the right thing LUBBOCK

Welcome Natalie Maines back to Lubbock

Honor her in the Buddy Holly plaza as one of Lubbock's great musicians

OK, OK, let me start out by saying, I'm relatively new here; I have been here only eleven months, not even a year. So I don't know the whole story; I don't know Natalie Maines; I've never met her family. So you can take what I'm saying with that in mind.

I realize that she said some very hurtful things. Some people stopped listening after she slammed George W. Bush in London, and criticized the war. From then on, they didn't care for her, or they assumed that whatever reason people were mad at her, it was probably due to that.

But there was more. Some guy threatened her, in a Texas kind of way I suppose, and she wrote a couple of songs that were very personal, against Lubbock (Lubbock or Leave It), against everyone (Not Ready to Make Nice), etc. And, she won international acclaim for this album, which was excellent musically. I should mention here that I'm not sure how much her fellow Dixie Chicks had to do with it; I'm sure they co-wrote the songs, and they supported her, but the fire in the album came from her.

My point is, that helped in making the feud personal. She insulted the people of the town, the guy who threatened her, even her mother (as far as we can tell), and people took her family's side. They were offended, and they still are, many years later.

But I would like everyone to step back and see the big picture. When an artist makes a strong statement, should they be glued to that statement for their entire career? What if she changes her mind and decides that there were good things about growing up in Lubbock; would we even listen to a song like that? When a teenager says to her mother, "I hate you, you're the worst mother anyone ever had..." - should that mother hold it against her for the rest of her life?

She should remember it, I think, but she should forgive it also. And I'm pretty sure that Natalie's family has forgiven her, and I think the people of Lubbock can do it too.

Now here's another point: I don't really know all the people of Lubbock, and I certainly can't speak for all of them. I can't say for sure that all of them, or even most of them, are still mad at her. It's just a strong guess, based on what I've heard, and based on the fact that there are plenty of people who still don't even want to talk about it. Now that's a hoppin' feud!

One time I was in a small writer's bar in Iowa City feeling sorry for myself, and I put a quarter in the jukebox and played "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis. Some guy lit into me, saying that Elvis was a mean old bigot, and a drunk and drug addict to boot, and I shouldn't support him even with a quarter. I was shocked, and it might have been that I'd already drunk a few, but I listened to him with my jaw open and didn't even argue. Eventually, though, I came to disagree with him totally. First of all, Elvis was a great singer, and though he didn't sing anything political, or even controversial, that's enough for me. I don't have to agree with his lifestyle or his politics to love his music or appreciate what he did for the direction of American music in general.

Second, a song is only part words, and I for one, as a musician, have always heard the words last. That's why I knew how great the Dixie Chicks were, and what a good singer Natalie was, for a long time before I realized that any of her songs were about Lubbock. She's a great singer. If you separate that from what she said, you'll get my point, which is, it doesn't matter what she said, she should be honored in the Buddy Holly plaza anyway. She's one of the best. Period. Recognize that and get over the other stuff.

Actually, you don't ever have to forget it. It was an interesting period in the history of Lubbock and its musicians, and if the story is told a few times, that's not especially bad for either her or Lubbock. Lubbock can handle it. This is a city with great music, and great musicians, and it has a lot to be proud of. It should be proud of Natalie Maines, again.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I think it's a cultural thing, and I'm embarrassed to say, there's so much I love about Texas, but what are they going to do about the water?

Everybody knows the Ogallala reservoir is going to run out. It has already run out, leaving some people high and dry, making some farms in western Kansas, for example, virtually useless. Down here, they still keep pulling water from it. Midland, they say, is totally dry. Other towns are dry too, and out in the country, where you're allowed to draw a well, you have to draw new wells every couple of years, because they are using what's left, so quickly, in fact, more recently than ever.

My wife blames the frackers, and it's true, they use millions of gallons, and don't thank anyone, though their money is just as good as mine. There are also tons of water sprinklers around. All the wealthy people want to have very green lawns, and they're willing to pay for it; the city, also, wants to make sure its parks are green. The problem with these sprinklers is, much of it evaporates. In other words, they're pulling millions of gallons out of the ground, and putting it into the air, where it is no doubt causing some instability, a few extra storms, rising seas, whatever. It sure isn't going back into the ground.

I went out tonight for a walk around Tech Terrace park, a wonderful, green park. One night I was walking and the sprinklers shot out from between my legs and almost got me, right as I was walking. I actually like the sprinklers, I like the idea that people in town can share all this wonderful fresh green space, so we don't have to go home and do our own lawns. But I'm convinced that mostly the farming, but in any case the massive spray-irrigation, water put out into this dry air, is causing a lot of evaporation, and destabilizing the entire region. It's not just the cars and trucks that are messing up the air. We're putting a lot more water into it, and that's adding fuel to the fire, so to speak.

There are two different opinions when you ask people about the rapidly depleting aquifer. Nobody doubts for a minute that disaster is around the next corner. Some people have the attitude that, if everyone's grabbing it, I might as well grab mine; I'm not going to stand around, and watch other people take the last few drops. Other people try their best to be conservative, like my wife. She'll say, don't just water the grass, it's useless. If you're going to water the trees, go ahead, but why water grass when it's just going to die? Conserve the water, and only use it when you really need it.

I'm like the guy in the old Jewish rabbi joke who agrees with both sides. First one rabbi has an opinion, and he says, "Yes, I agree!" Then the other has a different opinion, and he again says, "Yes, I agree!". Finally they turn on him and say, "Now Chaim, you can't agree with both of us. You have to agree with one, or the other, but not both!" So he says, "Yes, absolutely, I agree!!"

In Israel they have a kind of drip irrigation. It ensures that you don't lose water to evaporation, and it drips directly onto plants, without giving anything a chance to suck it out into the air. The good thing about drip irrigation is, you can run used water through it. That water will end up going downward, back to the water table, unlike spray irrigation, which must be clean, and with which, so much of it gets sprayed into the air. It might be something for Lubbock to think about. I sense a weakness, though. Everyone here is ruggedly independent. The very culture goes against the idea of getting together, as a culture, and solving the problem collectively, but denying ourselves something we've come to love (sprayed water). It doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Everyone knows we're doomed if it doesn't, but hey, we might be doomed anyway. What's the point of making our lives harder, dryer, just now when we need a break?

So tonight, on my walk, a huge, beautiful and dramatic cloud approached from the south and west, and came more or less right above me, with some heat lightning kind of tailing it to the south, and I could hear some wild thunder rumbling in the distance. Maybe some clues to get inside before it was too late. But instead, I walked my entire course, and it never really rained. Some folks say, it hasn't really rained in maybe seven years, we're due for a good year soon. Some farmers say, it would have to rain for weeks straight to make up for what has been lost. One would think, with all this water in the air, much of which we've put there ourselves, some would come back 'round and wet our whistle. Apparently it's drenching San Antonio pretty good. Leaving us untouched, though. the skies are blue most of the time (tonight, a pretty kind of gray), and when even a little humidity comes through, you can really feel it. Then, when the wind picks up, you can kind of feel that it's carrying stuff. Trouble, maybe, or just change.

Friday, April 5, 2013

There's a lot going on here, actually, when the students are still around, the weather turns to spring, the sports seasons get started, etc. We had a bit of a cold snap early in the week, like Tuesday or Wednesday, but by now spring has arrived pretty completely and I'm beginning to see green in people's lawns that arrives by dint of either careful watering, or just plain spring. Other lawns are entirely, completely full of weeds, or, in some cases, just red dirt and scrubby weeds.

I've gotten into red dirt music more than the red dirt itself, which doesn't seem to want to grow my onions or my flowers. The music is great though. I admit that I never would have even heard it up north; they have no such thing as "Texas only" radio stations, or "all Texas all the time". If I can get myself a discriminating ear I'll learn differences between Texas country and other country; maybe I'll even make some. Stay posted.

As of Apr. 1 I've been here eight months, though I've left town a few times. I've come to like coming back and I heard a story once of a movie star, name forgotten, who got a house in Lubbock because it was so easy to slip in and out unnoticed. As a full city, it has a convenient airport, but it's just minutes from anywhere, and it seems virtually empty as you come through it. I can see how this would appeal to people who get mobbed at busy places and who value their time a lot. I actually linger a little; I like the cotton fields that surround the place; I like tumbleweeds that you get out in the country; I like the wide-open sky that you see outside of town.

I have to say, the tumbleweeds kind of rattle us. Sometimes the wind picks up and the dust swirls around, especially around the edges of the road or around the horizon where you'd like to see where you're going or where you've been but you can't. But the weird thing is, these tumbleweeds come bounding out of nowhere, jump and skip at eerie awkward angles, and fly into your car with a scratchy sound like they might be ripping the paint off the side. The wierdest thing is their bounce; since they often carry cotton around here, they look sometimes like these outsized stick rabbits, an irregular jaunt, out to hop the prairie. It's Russian thistle, they say; came over here with the settlers, and caught on, and now it goes a-skipping across the plain.

More later; I've worn out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

As I write a storm is developing over the south plains and is due to dump some rain on Lubbock. One thing I like about this place is that people really love the rain and mention how much we need it. The whole water cycle is still somewhat of a mystery to me: I'm aware that it will sit in the playas in the parks for a few days, and most of it will evaporate, and presumably some of it will find its way down to the water table. I presume that they're aware roughly of how much we lose to evaporation and how we could get some of that water back down to the aquifer if we wanted to. I assume they know that we want them to, though I don't assume they care enough to actually do it. I'm curious how much they've actually worked on this.

My son has noticed that the ground is full of "stickers" instead of grass, and that you can't really walk on it barefoot. You also can't ride a bike on it. There does seem to be green stuff on its way though; spring is coming. People do grow stuff, and I have confidence that there will be a kind of green color arriving soon. I thought it was a cold winter: a hard wind, a dry cold air with a couple of snows, this is more than we used to get in Illinois half the time. Yet people say it was relatively mild. One can't tell after one winter, what's what. I'd be a fool to plant. But the moon is down to nothing (this is good for planting) and I'm feeling the time is close. So tell me - when's a good time to put onions in the ground?

It's spring break, so I said to my class, what, is everyone going to Padre? Back when I lived on the plains, people used to go to Padre Island for spring break; it was the place to go. No, they said, though one guy said, I might go there by accident, because I live near there, but it's not what you think, because it's not a spring break destination anymore. If people are flooding to the sea at spring break, maybe they're finding some inland cove to hide out in where they can shoot out to the beach days and then still be high and dry when the hurricanes come in. I didn't hear another destination, like Corpus, or Galveston, or whatever. One person said, people come to Lubbock for spring break. Think about it. The weather's nice, and there's lots more to do here than, say, Plainview, or Littlefield. Several said, I don't really want to leave, I like it here, it's better than most.

Texas Independence Day came and went. Across the street are three houses. #2 and #3 had Texas flags for a while though sporadically; on #2 they had an old one, a little worn with time. After Texas Independence Day, house #1 had a brand new Texas flag, but it hangs from only one hole. #2 has lost its flag. As far as I can tell, if anyone lives in #1, they're very old; the gate is still broken and hangs at an angle in front. Somebody stops by days, presumably to take care of the place or whoever is in there. Someone with Texas patriotism? I can't quite figure it out. Hanging from one hole, of all things.

I'm falling asleep as I write. The fresh air of this town, the blowing wind, the approaching storm, makes me tired. More later!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm beginning to put together a better understanding of Lubbock sports. Of course I know that it's complicated, there's a whole history, etc., and that Texas Tech plays a pivotal role since so many people in the area went to it and remain loyal.

So, I have a number of questions. First, what happened to the Crickets? Presumably a town of 230,000 is big enough to support a minor league baseball team. Presumably it did support the team for a little while. Of course, the questions are: was the team any good? Did any famous players play on it? But, even more important, was the town unable to support the team when it fell on hard times? Did people just become less interested in baseball? Would a minor-league team have trouble if we got another one? What division did the Crickets play in, and was that the appropriate division?

Then we have the Lubbock Cotton Kings. Now I have always loved hockey, and would love it even more if we had it in Lubbock. There is no better game to watch than hockey, and it's really fun to play too though it might cost you some teeth. But I can understand why a place which experiences +100 summers, weeks at a time, might not take a natural liking to the sport. It's an interesting story how Dallas scored Minnesota's team, and it made it in Dallas, and that, I think, set off a wave of popularity of hockey in the sun belt; Phoenix has a team too, and maybe Houston, or some of these other towns. It does well in LA.

We're on the plains, and we actually have some cold weather, but the ice doesn't stick around long, on account of the sun, and the generally southern latitude. But I'm not sure it's weather so much as just culture. Hockey seems to have pricey entrance tickets so it likes a town like Dallas where a culture of wealthy spectators can come to a nice cool ice rink for a few hours.

So what happened to the Cotton Kings? Same questions. I'd like to know. They say that, for a while, people could skate in the arena, then the Cotton Kings would take it over and play a game. Presumably they had a zamboni and all that stuff. I like that stuff. I'd trade Tuberville and Kingsbury both for a good zamboni. But we'll see. I'm 58 and not likely to go into the zamboni business.

Then, they say that originally this was a women's basketball town. The time of Martha Sharp, etc., now they were winners, and they filled the arena, or they used as an arena at that time, before the United Spirit. Then the team fell into hard times, and they thought, by pumping up the men's team, and getting that new arena, they figured they'd bring women's basketball back.

I'd like to know more. What can you do? A sports crazy town like this needs pro soccer too, I figure, but I'd be wiliing to start small. I'd be willing to support sports in all its iterations, as I'm already over my head in basketball support, football support, etc. It's natural here. People like sports and they love Lubbock. I'm sure I've missed stuff: Tech football, Tech volleyball, Tech baseball. I'd just like to know what really gets people, and if that can change or does, over time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

lubbock haiku

ok I'm coming out: I'm a poet. I have this haiku book (see right) and now, naturally, I'm making Lubbock haiku. If you make haiku about places, what better place? Lubbock is, as I would say, very real. So here goes:

loop lifts at quaker
geese call and circle their find
unfrozen water

bag o' 'spresso beans -
plane circles over frigid
fields, lubbock recedes

from bitter plains chill
scrub bush his only shelter
yellow house canyon

More to come!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's a rainy night in Lubbock, and I'll say it again: this town doesn't handle the rain well. Lots of towns, you get a huge thunderstorm, it floods the streets for a while. Here, if it rains at all, it floods the streets for a while. What, does everyone get used to it? Cars are going through three feet of water here. I wouldn't want to live on a low part.

On the good side, I took a break, and, flying back to Lubbock, was happy to notice that everyone on the plane was in a good mood when we took off from Dallas, as if, it's all going to be ok now, Lubbock is a lot more relaxed, you can live your life here and enjoy yourself. I felt that feeling on a plane once leaving Miami and going to the Dominican Republic. It's like, we don't have to put on a show anymore.

In the new year I want to learn about a few people. Some are not in Lubbock anymore. For example, what happened to Meat Loaf when he was here? Flunked out/dropped out, maybe, from Lubbock Christian. Or Natalie Maines? I don't want to rub it in, but she's an excellent musician, hometown girl, but everyone's really mad at her, and it can't just be about Bush. But that's ok, if they don't want to tell me, I can handle it. It's not like I run a publicity blog or anything. I'm just curious. And I'm a musician.

Then you have Buddy Holly, who lived here, went to school here, and sooner or later I'll actually find the houses he occupied, etc. Now he has staying power, fifty or sixty years later, and people are still leaving flowers on his grave. I think there's more to him than meets the eye. I'd like to know a little more.

Bob Wills and Woody Guthrie both spent a fair bit of their lives in the Texas Panhandle, and though I know we can't claim we're the panhandle, we're still West Texas and I'd like to know a little more. To be specific, I'd like to know who's still playing music like Bob did, or what they do to celebrate Woody. We'll see.

Then there's a diversity of just Texans, though Texas is a huge state, I'd still like to know a bit more about some of these folks. This list includes Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Jim Hightower, and a few more. Can't even remember some of the ones who have caught my eye. Some have written books about Texas, and I fully intend to get a few, and others just keep cranking out good music. I have a couple of dreams: one of these days, I might open up a Texas bookstore, or at any rate a place that sells Tex-arcana (you heard it first here)....and, one of these days, I want to play Austin. Now there are a couple of local dreams for ya. Time goes by, I become more of a Texan every minute. That could be bad for both of us!