Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall Tales and Ripping Yarns from The Great State Of Texas

“When The Words Wont Come And The TV News Sucks”


My mind is oat meal mush and my fingers are as useless as a tomato plant on Mars. Words wont come.

I can see them in my mind’s third eye, but It’s as if my vocabulary has reverted back to that of a five-year-old. A massive brain fart has incapacitated my once-fertile imagination to the point where everything comes out “see Dick run, see Sally chase Dick, see Spot bite Sally.” Jibberish on burnt toast.

I may have the answer to my condition, even though I can’t remember how I came to this conclusion, but it must be true.

“Television News.” It’s not “real” news; it’s a short presentation sprinkled with Fairy dust, and Unicorn piss dreamed up by a gang of young writers holed up in a small office on the tenth floor at Rock Center. Nothing but bad, bad Leroy Brown. There ain’t nothing on the news but bad shit, every day, twenty-four hours of hair-pulling madness with “big Pharma” sitcoms paying the way.

Lester Holt over on NBC looks like a million-dollar cloths horse dressed in his pretty suit, sitting there telling us that everything is okay. He knows it’s bull-shit, but he won’t say it. He’s a good dancer and a better liar than most of them. A little taste of doom and gloom, and then POW, “it’ those crazy assed Chritians fault.” Cuba is not communist; they just want the Covid vaccine and after-market classic car parts. Castro wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and AOC is his love child.

Lester said today that his viewers are getting the Delta Varient, even though they are fully vaxxed. You got the jab, you got the gab, and now your gonna be on a marble slab. This little bugger is worse than Epstiens home videos. Just what did those folks in India send to us? The next time I get a scammer call about my auto warranty, I’ll ask the Indian dude, “what the hell?”

I remember “back in the day,” when Walter Cronkite read us the news in a matter of fact black and white. There was no dancing around the subjects or inserting their own opines, just the facts, Jack.

Walter bought his suits at Sears, ate his lunch from a brown bag, and took the subway to work. I would imagine he sold pop bottles to buy those suits. Of course, I was a kid, but I remember being comforted by Walter’s grandfatherly looks and the warm way he reminded us that the Russians will nuke us at any moment over the Cuba blockade, but it’s okay. The good old USA will come back from the ashes and be as good as new. Now, let’s gets those rockets finished and get to the moon, and Kennedy really was a choir boy. Now, boys and girls, that was some real news. He wasn’t Edward R. Murrow, but he got the job done.

There. I believe I am healed and back to normal. Venting works miracles. It will take a while to get to 100%, but you can bet your sweet ass that I won’t be watching the TV News anytime soon. Good Day.

“When Alice Met Arlo”


Photo by: David Crosby

Above is a picture of my 16th cousin removed, Alice B Token, taken at the famous Woodstock Arts and Music Fair in 1969.

She was working for Wavy Gravy and The Hog Farm at the time, so she was used to serving large numbers of hungry, stoned, and confused flower children.

She was the only wait staff left, after her co-workers dropped the brown acid that Wavy warned everyone not to take, so her three days of peace and harmony were a living hell; you can only serve so many needy hippies in a day.

Not one to put up with shit from anyone, she personally kicked John Sebastian’s whiny gimlet ass for saying “Wow” for twenty minuets, and pulled Grace Slicks falsies off during a cat fight over a ham sandwich. Things around the stage got a bit intense. David Crosby grabbed her ass and she whopped him with the closest weapon she could find, which wound up being Neil Young’s Martin acoustic, which was a total loss after connecting with Crosby’s head. That’s why he didn’t play with Crosby,Stills and Nash, and is not in the film. The girl grew up in Texas and was a total bad-ass; enough said.

In this pic, she is delivering sandwiches to the bands at the rear of the stage, and appears not too happy about the whole situation.

Joe Cocker, that fidgety spastic Brit dude, had requested a spam and cheese sandwich on a toasted English muffin, while Janis Joplin ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a fifth of Southern Comfort. Celebrities are so damn picky.

This is where she met up with her future husband, Arlo Guthrie, who memorialized her in his song “Alice’s Restaurant.” The one thing she came away from Woodstock with was, “those worthless smelly Hippies don’t tip shit, they don’t have any money.”

“19 Holes With Dirty Harry”


How’s that for a landing! I have never flown a plane in my whole life, but my newly-minted friend, Sir Richard Branson, let me land one of his private jets.

This adventure started last week when my wife and I were feeling “down in the mouth” because all our friends were posting their vacations on Facebook, and here we are, stuck in Granbury.

My wife loves to enter stupid contests found in the back of her trashy movie star magazines, so she entered one that promised lunch with Sir Richard Branson. Who knew that she would win the darn thing.

A week later, out of the blue, Sir Richard sent us an email saying he would be stopping in Dallas on his way to Carmel, California, and if we weren’t busy, would we like to fly out with him for a round of golf and a spot of lunch at Pebble Beach. Well, hell ya!

A few days later, we are on Sir Richards jet heading to the West coast and dining on Picasso Pawns and ice-cold Chardonnay at 30,000 feet. We wondered what all the poor people were doing.

Sir Richard is a gambler and a jokester, so he bet me a fifty spot that I couldn’t land his private jet. Having consumed an entire bottle of cold wine and feeling a bit cocky, I took the bet. It was a rough-assed landing, giving the pilot a heart attack after we slid off the runway, but it was great fun.

Unfortunately, Sir Richard didn’t have any cash, so he gave me his Rolex instead. What a pal!

Arriving at Pebble Beach Golf Club, Sir Richard mentioned that his good buddy Clint Eastwood would be making up our fourth. My wife was so excited she fainted on the spot. Sir Richard brought her around with a few sips of expensive chardonnay, and a pre-paid Platinum Visa Card waved under her nose.

Clint and Sir Richard have more money than Moses and have a running bet of twenty-thousand a hole. We passed on their game but agreed to keep their score, so no one cheated.

Clint had Sir Richard down by two until he missed a critical par putt on 16 and posted a double-bogy.

Being Dirty Harry and all, Clint didn’t take that well, so he pulled a 44 Magnum from his golf bag and blasted his ball into powder, leaving a large crater in the green. ” Take that you little white shit,” he mumbled. He then turned to us and said, “its okay, I own the course.” My wife and I were a bit unnerved but managed to finish the round. Sir Richard knew better than to piss off Dirty Harry, so he let Clint win. It was chump-change to him.

After the game, we made our way to the grill and were seated in Clint’s special booth. He told the waiter to bring four “Dirty Harry Specials,” which consisted of a chili-cheese hot dog with extra onions, San Francisco Curley Fries, and a large glass of Colt 45 Malt Liquor. Yum-Yum, fine dining it was.

Finished with our meal and preparing to leave, we noticed a commotion at the bar, and Clint, being the owner, intervened.

It seems a group of hipster golfers were pissing about their outrageous bar bill and didn’t want to pay up.

Clint grabbed the nearest one and threw him to the polished pine floor. Then, being Dirty Harry and all, he produced his 44 Magnum from his jacket, pointed it at the hipster’s face, and uttered, ” this is the most powerful handgun in the world and it will blow your head clean off. Now in all this excitement, I forgot how many bullets I fired. Was it five or six? Well do you feel lucky, punk?”

Too afraid to move, we stood there shaking, we are sure that there would be a shooting all over a bar bill. Sir Richard offered to pay the tab, but Clint would hear non of it.

Clint got all “beady eyed” and, in his famous Dirty Harry voice, said to the hipster, “Well, do you feel lucky… punk?” The young man, fearing for his life, answered, ” I gots to know.”

Clint then fired a shot into the ceiling, sending everyone in the grill running for the door. He started laughing, as were the hipsters and the guy on the ground. It seems he pulls this act about once a month, just for fun.

It was a great trip, and Clint gave us some coupons for a free game at Pebble.

When Sir Richard dropped us off at Love Field, he asked if we might like to take a little trip with him and some of his mates into outer space. It pays to know the right people.

“More Things That Make You Ask, WTH?”


“Happy Summer Solstice.” Really? It’s called summer-time you little wokie twerps. This is not Stonehenge with a bunch of naked Druids dancing around a pile of rocks. It’s Texas, and it’s damn hot from April until October. Our seasons in Texas go like this; spring for a few days, then summer for 5 or 6 months, then winter for a few weeks, then summer again. Fall is a few days, maybe.

Flash! Chicago, the murder capitol of the US. Obama’s home town, yet he wont live there. Over the weekend, more than 50 shootings and multiple deaths. So much for their Juneteenth celebration. No coverage of this on NBC or ABC. Guess Lester Holt doesn’t read the newspaper.

New Zealand is sending a trans girl to the Olympics. She lifted weights for years as a guy, but couldn’t win, so now he is a she and is expected to be the gold medal winner in women’s weight lifting. The other girl competitors should organize a whoop-ass party for this dude.

Macy Gray, that has-been singer from decades ago wants America to have a new flag. It appears the current flag triggers her emotions. How about Macy moves to a country with a flag that meets her approval.

“Coming Soon To Your Hometown!” Kamala La-La-Harris will be our first black woman president, although she is not black, and Nancy “Grey Goose” Pelosi will be vice president. Sippy Cup Joe will be banished to the basement or his beach house. Dr. Jill will have to go back to teaching. Who was it that said things can’t get any worse?

“Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”


Us Texans can be braggarts, pompous asses, and supercilious zealots about our state, history, and traditions. To us, “everything is bigger” in Texas. I won’t deny this because it happens to be true.

We are divinely blessed with the big sky country, enormous cattle ranches larger than most states, the vast rolling prairies, Big Tex and the State Fair, The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show, the Big Bend National Park, big-assed rodeos, colossal oil and gas fields, big cattle with massive horns, tall longneck beers, fat fluffy biscuits, and my favorite, “big hair.” I happen to have first-hand knowledge of the big hair phenomenon. It happened in our household.

In 1956, an artistically inclined Fort Worth beautician that happened to be my uncle figured out he could take a woman’s healthy, shining long hair and transform it into a towering monument of femininity. Teasing, ratting, poking, backcombing, and then mold the mass into a two-foot mountain of tortured follicles. To keep the sculpture in place required a minimum of one or more 16-ounce cans of flammable cancer-causing lacquer-based hair spray that was known to explode when in the vicinity of an open flame. Who knew a hair-do could be so dangerous.

It was a winning combo for the beauty shops. Women had to visit their beauticians to achieve their “big hair” style, and the shop sold the spray to hold the sculpture in place. It was a gold mine, and within six months, every beautician in Fort Worth had doubled their business and was driving a Frank Kent Cadillac. The good times were rolling in, and Texas women would never look the same.

My hair-fixin uncle entered a hairstyle show in Dallas and needed a model. My mother, ever the good sister, volunteered for the job, and off the two went. But, of course, Dallas was the forbidden zone for us, Fort Worth-ians, so it was a shock to the family when my mother consented to go.

As children, we must repeat an oath, pledging to never, under any circumstance, visit Dallas, except for funerals and weddings, and then don’t spend your money there; keep it in Cowtown. Amon Carter watched over his sheep, and the Leonard Brothers needed our support.

As a cold Saturday in late December, turned to nighttime, and then late evening. My father grew increasingly worried about his wife’s whereabouts.
“How long does it take to fix some damn hair?” He said for the hundredth time. The weatherman on Channel 5 had forcasted a big sleet storm that might hit at any time.

Dinner was a sack of White Castle burgers. My sister went to bed early, and I, in support of my father, sat up watching “The Mummy” on Nightmare Theater. My father was outside in the cold, pacing on the front porch, chain-smoking unfiltered Lucky Strikes and cursing Dallas.

Around 10 PM, my father joined me in front of the television as the mummy was killing his final victim with a chokehold; the front door opened, and there stood my mother with a furry gargoyle perched on her head.

The lighting from our Christmas tree cast an eerie glow on her form. Tiny glass ornaments in her hair reflected the red and blue lights, making her an angelic Christmas version of “The Bride of Frankenstien.”

She staggard to the sofa plopped down, and fell over sideways. My father gently lifted her to a sitting position and placed a cushion behind her back. I noticed a small pile of broken hair where her head had landed. She began to weep. There was no consoling her; the more we tried, the louder she wailed.

Uncle said that a jealous competitor had switched his hair spray with a can of spray glue, so the hair-do would be permanent. The good news is they won the hair show, and they got a big trophy and a check.

The following day, mom left the house early. When she returned, her hair was as short as a man’s.

I was sad to see the hair-do go. I thought the tiny ornaments in her hair looked pretty cool. After all, it was Christmas time.

“Who Knew The Scarecrow Was So Smart”


The Democrats are upset that the new Prime Minister of Israel is a Jew. What the hell? of course he’s a Jew. A.O.C., that little Tesla driving-two apartment owning, grandmother ignoring cutie from New York says that the Israelis should have elected a Palestinian.

Some journalist stuck a mic in her face and this is what comes out, “Well, like, you know, they like, live just across the street, so like, it would be good for neighborhood relations,” she said in her 10 year-old valley girl voice. This is the wisdom that comes from a moron that was elected because of her whimsical social media videos. A mediocre bartender with a credit score of 400 goes to congress; definitely not “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” I read that Pelosi fixed her credit problem and co-signed for the Tesla.

“Old Joe” refuses to do a joint presser with Putin? Maybe for good reasons; the teleprompter might be in Russian, they wouldn’t let Dr. Jill, his mouth piece and coach, stand next to him, Putin might bring up the dirty money he and Hunter got from Russia and Ukraine, or Putin might say, ” Joe, you know Trump really won.” Pretty sure Obama called the shot this one.

“N” word Hunter keeps getting all the breaks. Using that foul word, for most Americans, signals the end of your career, your job or worse, your life. Hunter said it, he texted it, the viral community got it out there, Dorsey and Zucker censored it, and the main stream media ignores it. Hunter tweeted an apology of sorts to his followers,” sorry dudes, I must have smoked some bad crack.” So, is there good crack?

Kamala La-La Harris still can’t find her way to the Mexico-US boarder. She figures if she doesn’t go there, the problem doesn’t exist. It’s not that difficult. Google Maps will show her the way. Go to Texas and then head south on I 35.; there will be a motorcade of 500 pickup trucks flying Trump flags to safely escort her to the boarder.

Lester Holt, when interviewing her for his NBC newscast, reminded her VP-ness more than once, that she has never been to the boarder, even after her insistence that she had visited the place multiple times. She mumbled a bit and laughed it off. I guess her cackling witch laugh makes everything alright. Lester zinged her a good one.

The G-7; where all the leaders that ruined the economy in their own countries, get together to ruin the world’s economy so they wont look so bad.

“Ben and Jerry’s” is introducing a new ice cream flavor on July 3rd, just in time for our all American July 4th celebrations. “Aw Come On Man” double-double-Joe’s-in-trouble triple chocolate chunk, in honor of our favorite presidential ice cream man. Joe said he will send a few truckloads to the illegal kiddo’s in cages down there on the Texas boarder. Ice cream makes everything better, right?

The current leadership in Washington, both sides of the street, reminds me of the movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy and Toto are headed to Oz, and she stumbles across the Scarecrow.

Dorothy: “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” The Scarecrow: “I don’t know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”

“Baseball At The Zoo”


In 1956, Fort Worth had one of the best zoo’s in the country. Located in Forest Park along the banks of the Trinity River, it was a world away from hot summertime Texas.

My neighborhood buddies, Georgie and Skipper and I would ride our “made in the U.S.A.”all steel, 60 pound,Western Flyer bicycles to the park every week either to play pick-up baseball on the city diamonds, swim in the city pool, or hang out at the zoo, which was our favorite destination. Being kids, we didn’t have a dime to our names, so we discovered a secret hidey hole near the Ape House, and skittered in.

Meandering trails of crushed rock surrounded by lush foliage transported us to the jungles of Africa. The only thing missing was Tarzan and Jane, yelling and swinging through the trees. We were always on the watch, just in case they made an appearance.

The Ape House was the main attraction for children. A building with a large outside enclosure featuring towering stone cliffs, large climbing trees, and a sparkling lagoon gave the place a jungle vibe. The Gorilla’s, and assorted noisy Monkey’s preferred the outside enclosure, so they were always lounging around the lagoon, picking their butts, fighting, or eating banana’s and other tasty simian treats. One of the Gorilla’s had a nasty habit that earned him the nick-name, “Whitey Ford,” that famous pitcher for the Yankee’s. Whitey the Gorilla Ford, threw monkey poop.

This particular summer day, after a morning game of baseball, the three of us visited the zoo. There was a group of children, about our age standing at the outside Ape enclosure. Three mom’s chaperoned the group of about twenty.

Kids, being the little twerps they are, were mocking the Gorilla’s, making faces, yelling insults and such, being brats. A few of the Gorilla’s were irritated by their behavior, and paced around the lagoon giving the group the stink eye. Gorilla’s have feelings too, and they were pissed. “Whitey Ford” sat on a boulder with his back to the tormentors. He was busy forming a perfect major league proportioned poop ball. The only thing missing was the stitching and the stamp.

One kid in the crowd ramped up the insults and threw a snow cone at the Gorilla’s. That did it.

“Whitey Ford” stood up, his back to the crowd, looked over his left shoulder, then at the other Gorilla’s, and gave them a nod, as if to say, “watch this.” The kid was still going at it, and one of the mom chaperones was standing behind him, doing her best to quiet him down.

“Whitey Ford” started his wind-up, turned on his right leg, lifted his left leg high, and released a perfect ninety-mile-per-hour curve ball at the mouthy boy. His aim was a little high, and he missed the kid, but hit the mom chaperone square in the forehead. She staggered backward ten feet, flipped over a wooden fence rail and did a back flip into the duck pond.

It was a beautiful pitch. We could see the subtle curve and the rise of the poop ball a split second before it hit it’s target. Holy crap, this Gorilla could pitch for the majors. We clapped and yelled our approval, giving a thumbs up to Whitey. He couldn’t return the gesture because Gorilla’s don’t have thumbs, so he gave us a nod and a smile.

“Live Your Life Like It’s Your Last Summer”


A half dozen years ago, I was sitting on the patio of my golf club having a beer with one of the H.O.A board members of the community I lived in. DeCordova Bend Estates is a hot-shit golf community in Granbury Texas, and if you can afford it, it was the happening place to be. At that time, my wife and I could afford it. We were hot-stuff. We considered ourselves “Donna Summer” hot stuff golf cart driving disco baby.

Dave, the nice fellow I was visiting with shared a tid-bit of knowledge with me. It wasn’t solicited, but he just threw it out there, kind of like a lure; something to discuss.

He said that he and his wife looked at their older years as “how many summers do we have left.” It was an odd statement and I didn’t understand it, so I begged further explanation. He expounded a bit. Alcohol has that effect; it tends to make normal folks speak like Will Rogers.

After a few beers, he shared this, “As we grow older, we approach the future with how many good days we have left before the medical issues arise, and the bills they produce, and the infirmity that comes with those issues, and then the hospitalizations and surgeries, and the nursing homes, and then the inevitable, which is death. Summers are our good place, our good times to remember with our families and our spouses. No one remembers winters, except for Christmas, we remember and cherish our summer times. It starts with our first childhood summer that we can remember.” Heavy stuff.

When he laid it out in those terms, it made perfect sense; “how many summers do we have left?” Why had I not had the fore-site to approach life in those terms?

I will turn 72 in September, and my wife is 69 as of last May. The two of us are on the downhill slide of life as we know it. Unless Dr. Fauci invents an age reversal shot, we are big-time screwed.

What summer are the two of us in? I have no idea. The medical issues started in 2019 with my cancer. Now two years later, I deal with the effects of massive radiation that has fried my internal organs. My wife needs major back surgery, as do I, and our little dog Winnie is 13 years old and having a bad time. What the hell? Is this it? Life sucks and then you die? So the television commercials for Fidelity investments are complete fantasy laden bullshit? Yes they are.

When my mother was struggling with terminal emphysema, and my father was dying from brain cancer, she looked at me and said,”what happened to the golden years?” I didn’t know what to say. At some point, the golden years had passed them by without a nod. Both of them, sick and dying, where was the happiness? No traveling, no walks on the beach, no nothing, except waiting for a miserable death. My sister and I watched this unfold, helpless to change the outcome.

I think Mo and I may have four or five summers left, but who knows. We will live each of them as if it is our last summer on this earth. Fire up the grill, throw on the burgers and pop me a cold beer; It’s summer time.

“I Was A 3-D Child”


I saw my first 3-D movie in 1955. My cousin Jock and I rode our balloon tire bicycles to the 7th Street Theater in Fort Worth. A ticket was $.25 cents and a coke and popcorn was another $.10 cents, we were set. The cheesy cardboard 3-D glasses were free.

After two cartoons, a message on the screen said “put on your 3-D glasses now!” Man, we were ready. The music was scary, the credits and opening scenes were even scarier. Vincent Price looked about as evil as the devil, and the wax figures looked real, ready to jump through the screen. Neither of us would admit it, but we were scared shitless.

Things started flying around the screen, then into the audience and over our heads. Floating orbs, spears and flying ghost. Old Vincent threw a fiery orb at the front row, and kids ran down the isle screaming, hitting the seats and falling, blind, still wearing their 3-D glasses. It was pandemonium. The manager stopped the film and brought up the house lights. That was it.

We rode our bicycles home still wearing our 3-D glasses and looking oh so cool.

“Everybody Gets A Month!”


February is African American history month, March is women’s history and Irish American heritage month, May is Asian Pacific and Jewish American heritage month, June is now Pride month (too many identifiers to call it Gay and Lesbian month any longer), September is Hispanic-Latino heritage month, October is Italian American heritage month, and lastly November is American Indian heritage month. But to list some is to exclude many. Where are the months to celebrate Caribbean, German, Scandinavian, French-Creole, or people from India? When is enough, enough?

So now friends and neighbors, June will be known as “Pride Month.” What about Juneteenth? June has always been the month for celebrating the end of slavery. Is that canceled now? I wouldn’t be surprised. Our black Americans are not going to be happy about this one. Why doe’s our government, (mostly our Democrat government) think a group of folks should get a month celebrating their sexual preference? I don’t give a tinkers-damn about who humps who, but when you try and cram this “Wokie-sock cap wearing-Birkenstock feet-hipster-skinny jean-I Phone talking-snow flake ” crap down my throat, then I get irritated. Gays can be Gays and boys can be girls and vice-versa, no problem, and most American’s feel that way. It’s not the 1950s anymore. Hell, even 40 years ago, Kermit The Frog sang about Rainbow Connections.

Old Sippy-Cup Joe, gave orders for all American Embassy’s and government buildings to fly the rainbow flag for “Pride Month.” Doe’s this include our embassy’s in Muslim countries? Muslim law and Muslim folks don’t have much love for gay and trans peoples. I’m still waiting for the news report on this one.

We can assume that this will be made law by “Old I’ll Sign Anything” Joe. Doe’s he realize the cost to change all the calender’s in this country? Just imagine; January, February, March, April, May, Pride Month, July etc. Doesn’t flow too well. For a point of argument, one could say, “well, this is harmless, let’s give those poor down-trodden folks their own month,” they deserve it. What have they done to deserve their own calendar month? The few gay folks I know, have great professional career’s and make a load of change and are definitely not down trodden.

Everyone needs their own month, so let’s make July “Grumpy-Ass Old Men” month. Us senior have to put up with this new world order, love-love Panda Rainbow crap, so give us our Du. We’ve earned it.

Dr. Gustav Scaramouch, head of Social Behavior’s Department at the Freddie Mercury Medical Institute in Queens, New York says, ” this is a slippery slope. Once we give the LGBQRSTUVWXYZ movement their own month, then we will be obliged to give other groups their own month. Our historical calendar will be decimated. Imagine starting with the first month of the year, January, will be “Black Lives Matter Month”, then February will be “Antifa” Month, then March will be “White Supremacy Month”, then April will be “Illegal Immigrants Month,”there will be no end. Then, they will come for our American Holidays. I called President Biden about this, but he was taking his fourth nap of the day and he couldn’t talk.”

How’s about we just leave things alone. It’s been working for over 200 years because our founding fathers were much smarter than us.

“Where’s The Dress?”


I met up with my old pal Mooch for lunch at the local Whataburger a few days ago; corner booth by the west window, same as always for at least ten years now. Giblet, his foul tempered chihuahua was nestled into his chest mount baby sling. A large colorful patch on the sling read; “Service and Emotional Support Animal.” I never knew that? What in the world could Giblet do except bite your fingers trying to steal french fries and crap in the carrier.

We ordered our burgers, said our howdy’s and made small talk until the meal arrived. Mooch was quiet except for smacking his double meat burger. I knew he was troubled about something.

About half-way through the meal, Mooch blurted out, “my grandson is a sissy-boy.”

I know his grandson Willie quite well, so this surprised the hell out of me. The kid is 6 ft. 240 pounds of Texas football playing whoop-ass. All district line-backer all 4 years at Granbury High School and the fastest man on the track team. Mooch must be on drugs or suffering from early onset “Old-timers.”

I said, ” come on Mooch, the kid is all testosterone and muscle and will be playing football for some Big 10 university next year.”

“Nope” he says. “He’s a girly-man, just like that Boy George dude back in the 80s. My son Harry called me yesterday with the news. Willie is transitioning into a girl named Sadie Sue. Harry said he’s wearing a blonde wig, dresses, high-heel shoes, makeup and big fake titties. He still has his Johnson, so that’s a good thing, but he said he is a girl now. I should have noticed something was amiss when he sent the AR 15 rifle I bought him for Christmas back to me with a note that said, “no thanks, guns or for mean boys.” His Grandma is so freaked out, she took a handful of Valium and took to her bed.”

I know nothing of this subject, but offered Mooch a coddled word, “I know this is a shock, but is there anything positive that can come of this. You think it’s just a fad or a phase?”

Mooch smiled and said, “Well there is one good thing, he got a full-ride scholarship to the University of Oregon, so at least he will get a good education.”

“Well that’s good news indeed. I’m sure he will be a stellar line-backer for the football team,” I say.

Mooch wiped a tear from his watery old eye and said, “not football buddy, he’s on the girls track team.” And with that, Giblet bit Mooch’s hand trying to get the last french-fry.

“Rioters,Racist and Wokies Oh My!”


Those pesky “Black Lives Matter” kids are at it again. Minneapolis MN must hold a special attraction for these little thugs because they keep returning to loot and burn major box stores. Target, CVS, Walgreens, Nike shoe stores etc. I can see Target and Nike getting looted because they carry expensive shoes, clothes and electronics. CVS and Walgreens, well I guess they need lighter fluid (for fire-bombs), narcotics (for stamina and strength), nose spray, band aids, and perhaps a bottle of cheap wine for a celebratory drink after the mayhem.

It appears from local news accounts, all this looting and torching was caused by a mistake; the police forgot to call King Le-Bron James before they shot and armed man trying to shoot them. It’s a safe bet Le-Bron would have asked the cops to put the guy on the line so he could give him some brotherly advice, or maybe promise some free game tickets. Le-Bron is extremely “woke” and has that calming effect on criminals.

Just to let the good “Wokie” citizens of Minneapolis know; if you’re a white person, and live in the burbs or a high-fa-lute-n part of town, you are all racist by default, even though you live in one of the most liberal cities in America. That includes Minnesota’s favorite Norwegian, Garrison Keillor, the past, and “oh so Woke” host of NPR’s “Prairie Home Companion” who got the boot for his loose hands around his female employee’s. Shame, I always liked Lake Wobegon, even though it wasn’t real.

“Baby Woodstock”


Velveteen and Zig-Zag, photo courtesy of Ken Kesey

Before the Covid hit last year, my cousin Velveteen and her husband Zig-Zag were planning a small reincarnation of the famous Woodstock festival but delayed the event for safety reasons. They met there in 1969 and have been together since that night they spent clutching each other in the “Freak-Out tent” both suffering from a bad reaction to the brown acid that the announcer warned everyone about.

Now in their late 70s, the couple resides in Red River, New Mexico, in a commune called the “Wavy Gravy Senior Retreat.” Zig-Zag is the entertainment director, and Velveteen is the main spiritual advisor and palm reader.

I received a letter from them a few days ago, and by golly, the “Baby Woodstock” is on for this coming July and will be held in the scenic mountains of New Mexico. They finished the school bus conversion a few weeks ago, and it’s a beautiful reproduction of Ken Kesey’s Merry Prankster school bus.

Photo by Wavy Gravy

The entertainment for the festival is going to be a bit dicey since many of the original performers are dead, in a nursing home, not playing anymore or too out of it. Zig-Zag, bless his old pot-smoking heart, did the best he could on such short notice.

The list is: Sha-Na, the other Na has passed on, Joe Cockers red white and blue cowboy boots, Carlos Santana’s guitar and stand, David Crosby, since no one likes his grumpy ass anymore, Arlo Guthrie’s ex-wife Alice, A full-size cardboard cut-out of John Sebastian accompanied by a recording of him saying “Wow” for twenty minutes, Melanie riding her personal scooter made from roller skates, Jimi Hendrix’s rapping cousin, little Purple Haze, Country Joe McDonald’s grandson, City Boy Dave, Joni Mitchell says she might make this one, Grace Slicks pet dog Roach, and of course Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm will furnish all the food and drinks. Wavy say’s this time they will be serving breakfast in bed, delivered to your tent by a drone.

We plan on attending. Tickets are available through AARP, Walmart, and Medicare Part B. See you there.

Peace Out Brother

Woke Me When It’s Over!


  1. ” Woke” alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”we need to stay angry, and stay wokeDefinitions from Oxford Languages

The slang word “Woke.” A nice little word that has been around for a century or more has been hijacked to fit today’s political correct movement. Like most words, the history of woke is a surprisingly long one. The word was first used in the 1800s but back then, it only meant the act of not being asleep. In 2017 the Oxford Dictionary changed the definition to what it is today. I say Bullshit!, you can’t change the meaning of a word to fit a movement. Who is responsible for this? Elitist educators most likely; those self righteous idealist that are indoctrinating our children into who knows what. I thank the good Lord my boys received their education before our educators and this country lost it’s way.

Like most folks, I “woke” up this morning, had coffee and am writing this blog post. I am “woke” because I am awake, and I will stay “woke” the entire day, unless I find it necessary to take a nap, then I will “woke” up again. Be assured, there is no racism or anger in sleeping or napping.

“Come And Take It; The Story of The Alamo Brisket”


Tex Styles learned the art of grilling at a young age. His father, an expert, medal-winning griller and smoker, proudly and meticulously teaches six-year-old Tex the art of cooking everything from burgers to ribs on his cast-iron Leonard Brothers charcoal grill. The family lineage of grilling over an open flame can be traced back to the British Isles and their ancestral home of Scotland, where a Styles family member cooked meat for Celtic warriors, the King of England, and Mary, Queen of Scots.

When Tex turns eleven, his father conducts a tiki-torch-lighted ceremony in their backyard and passes the sacred grilling tools to his only child. Father Frank, the local priest, attends the party and lays down a righteous blessing on the tools, Tex, and the family grill.


On summer evenings, when young Tex fires up the charcoal, the neighborhood gathers in his backyard to watch the boy genius at work.
Once he has entered his Zen-cooking zone, he serves up a better T-bone than Cattlemen’s, and his burgers are known to bring tears to a grown man’s eyes. Around Fort Worth, the word is out that some little kid over on Ryan Ave is a “grilling Jesse.”

Tex receives a bright green Weber grill for his thirteenth birthday and a professional cooking apron with his name embrodried across the front. The Star-Telegram newspaper takes his picture and writes a glowing article that appears in the Sunday food section. Over on Channel 5, Bobbie Wygant mentions him on her television show and sends him a congratulations card. He is now a local celebrity. Dan Jenkins, the hot-shot sports writer at the Telegram, does a piece on Tex for Sports Illustrated, and just like that, young Tex is officially a “big deal.”

When Tex turns sixteen, like his father and grandfather before him, he is inducted into the “Sons Of The Alamo” Masonic Lodge. To become a member, your family tree must include one direct family member who fought and died at the Alamo. Tex’s great-great-great-grandfather was a defender and was killed in the siege. He was also the head cook and griller for the Texian Army and a rowdy drinking buddy of Jim Bowie and Colonel Travis.

New members must speak before the lodge elders, recounting what they know of the siege from their family’s point of history. Since childhood, Tex had heard this family story a hundred times and can repeat it word for word, but tonight, he is drawing a blank on a few of the critical details and decides to wing it a bit. In the mind of a sixteen-year-old, his modernized recount of the battle makes perfect sense.

He stands in front of the assembled elders, leans into the microphone, and begins;
“In late 1835, my great-great-great-grandfather, Angus Styles, traveled from the Smokey mountains of Tennessee to the dangerous plains of Texas with David Crockett and his band of long-rifle toting buckskin-clad rabble-rousers. Angus was in the dog-house with his wife most of the time, so he figured a year or two in the wilds of Texas would smooth everything out with the Mrs.

Before immigrating to America, Angus was the chief griller and top dog chef for the Duke and Duchess of Edinburg over there in Europe. David Crockett knew Angus was a master griller and wanted him to travel with his men so they would eat well. Crockett and the men killed the meat, and Angus grilled it to perfection.

Arriving in Texas, Crockett tells Angus they making a stop-over for a few days at a place called the Alamo mission. A buddy of his needs some help to fight off a few Mexican soldiers; it shouldn’t take more than two days, tops.

Once at the Alamo, Angus realizes that Crockett was wrong in his evaluation. The rag-tag Army behind the walls would be no match for the thousands of Mexican soldiers sitting on a riverbank a few hundred yards away eating tortilla wraps and polishing their long bayonets. Mariachi music floating on the breeze gave the scene a weird party-like atmosphere.

Angus locates and converts an old adobe oven to a smoker griller and gets to work on some chow for the Texians. Brisket, ribs, and sausage, along with his secret sauce, will be on the supper menu.

A young pioneer woman from the northern part of Texas is there with her father, a volunteer.
Veronica Baird is busy baking bread and cinnamon rolls in another adobe oven and lends Angus a hand stoking his fire. A big German fellow, Gustav Shiner, wonders over and offers Angus a mug of his homebrew beer. It’s looking like the Army will eat and drink well tonight.

A chilly March wind is blowing towards the Mexican Army camp, and the troops are smelling the delightful aroma of cooking meat and baking bread. Having marched 1500 miles with little food, they are famished, and the wafting perfume is making them salivate like an old hound dog.

General Santa Anna and his officers are also smelling the same heavenly aroma and, having not much to eat in the past few days, scheme to get their hands on that meat and bread. Santa Anna sends a white flag rider with a note to the gates of the Alamo.

Standing in the courtyard, surrounded by a hundred plus fighters, Travis reads the letter, ” Dear Sirs and Scurrilous Rebels, on behalf of our large and overpowering Mexican Army and of course, myself, General Santa Anna, we would be willing to offer you a general surrender of sorts if you would share your delicious meat and bread with my troops. Looking forward to a good meal. Yours until death, General Santa Anna.”

The men, in unison, yell, “hell no,” we are not sharing our chow. Being a bit of a smart-ass, Travis then orders two 20 pound cannons to fire a rebuke into the Mexican camp.

The first cannonball destroys the Mexicans chuck wagon and what beans and flour the troops have left. The second cannonball blows up the cantina wagon, vaporizing numerous cases of tequila and wine. Now the officers and troops have no food and no hooch. Santa Anna is as mad as a rabid raccoon and screams, “that’s it boys, we are taking the mission pronto.”

The battle started that evening, and as we all know, it didn’t turn out well for the Texians. Veronica Baird survived the massacre and said that Angus Styles and Gustav Shiner fought off the advancing soldiers with carving knives, a keg tap, and her sizeable wooden baker’s Peel. They fought to their death.


As the women and children of the Alamo were escorted out of the mission, Veronica Baird spots Santa Anna, sitting on his black horse, about to take a bite from one of her Cinnamon rolls. She chunks a rock and knocks it out of his hand. His Great Dane dog, General Perro gobbles it down before it hits the ground. Sweet revenge.

She later wrote a book about the battle, and it sold pretty well here in Texas. Not only is the Alamo our sacred national treasure, but it was also the first BBQ joint in our state of Texas. Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed the story of my grandfather Angus dying at the Alamo.” And with that, Tex steps down and takes a seat next to his stunned father.

Strange Times In The Cactus Patch


Life in the cactus patch has been a bit odd the past month. The spring rains assaulted us like an Indian typhoon. Our veggie garden, thanks to the downpours, is boarding on fantastic and the landscape plants are strutting their stuff like a drum major. I am down to my last two classes for my Master Gardener certificate from Texas A&M, and upon receiving that document, I will be a certified plant snob, ready to impress or offend everyone I come into contact with.

I can picture myself sporting an English tweed jacket, bucket hat and Wellingtons, patrolling Granbury’s historic neighborhood’s dispensing unsolicited advice to the horticulture-ally uneducated.

“Mam, you shouldn’t plant those Hollyhocks next to the roses, the two species harbor a great dislike for each other.” You get the picture. I will be insufferable.

“Good God, help me!” it’s been 66 days and no presser from Kamala Harris. Imagine, after every gentle question from her adoring group of reporters, she cackles like the lunatic she is, and that passes as an answer?

Over at HBO, Bill Mahar blast the liberal media for portraying Israel as the bad guys. I’m not a fan of his, but he shoots straight from his liberal hip and takes no hostages, and he’s not Jewish.

As if he couldn’t get any creepier, Sippy-Cup Joe, in front of a “live” audience at a military base, tells an 8 year old girl he likes the berets in her hair, and she looks like she is 19 sitting there with her legs crossed. What the hell? Can one of his handlers put duct-tape over his mouth.

Switching gears now: I caught a little cancer back in the spring of 2019. Summers are usually boring around here, so it gave me something to occupy my time. SBRT is a high dose radiation treatment from a robot that looks like a Star Wars toy. They stick all sorts of devices up your backside while strapped to a table; kind of like what Frankenstein experienced. I asked my oncologist if the radiation was good? He said ” oh man, it’s the best, right from Los Alamo’s labs and endorsed by Oppenheimer.” So I’m being radiated with the same stuff that built “the bomb?” Yeah baby! Two years down the road, I am cancer free, but now have to deal with the side effects of massive radiation damage to my bladder, prostate and urethra. Pissing a stream of blood like like a vampire for 4 months is not for girly men.

I haven’t had a haircut in seven months. Look at the money I have saved! In 1970, my hair was long, now in 2021, it’s longer than it was then. Bald guys look at me with disdain. They hate me.

It’s never too late to rebel against something. I’m 71 years old, I have earned the right. I’ll let you know when I figure out what my choice will be.

Last week, Texas passed a law that allows every man, woman, child and animal to freely carry a firearm. Children toting 22’s, dogs with an AR15 strapped to their harness and grandmothers wearing twin holsters filled with shining Colts. The streets of Laredo comes to mind. Imagine getting into a argument at H.E.B. with an old lady over the last loaf of rye bread, and she pops you with a chrome-plated 9 MM. This will add new meaning to the saying “Wild Wild West.” Granbury, my town, is installing a new sign on 377; ” Welcome to Granbury, Where history lives. Beer and Ammo next exit. Yeah man! God Bless Texas.

Your-tube, My-tube, Everybody’s Got A Tube


I’m considering starting my own YouTube channel. Why not? Everyone and their dog has one, even my eight-year-old Grandson. His channel is just starting so I am waiting to see what comical videos he post. That goofy little kid that makes videos playing with toys made 10 Million bucks last year, so Jaxson can make at least that much.

What to call it, that is the question. I could use the name of my blog; Notes From The Cactus Patch, but then it’s all writing and no videos. Who wants to read a story on YouTube? No one I know.

I’m an old dude, so I could hone in on that and make it about dealing with younger people working in retail and how they make me want to smack them, because they are ignorant, insolent and disrespectful. But then, that would make me an angry old man basically yelling “get off of my lawn you little shit.” That would give YouTube an excuse to cancel me, being their employees are all “wokies,” which is a word I made up to fit that particular sickness.

I am an artist, a painter to be exact, so I could put on my purple beret and a velvet cape and give painting lessons while speaking in a bad French accent. Now that might draw some viewers.

Gardening is my hobby, and takes most of my time these days, so I could broadcast from my garden giving tips while talking to the plants, killing bugs and fighting fungal diseases. Nothing is more educational than an old fart talking to a cucumber plant, pleading with it to grow some little veggies. On the other hand, my Tomato plants are quite informative and have told me to expect a bounty harvest in July. The Okra has yet to say one word. I think they are pissed off because I planted them too close to the Corn plants.

My hair is snow white these days, and about a month away from being able to put it in a Paul Revere And The Raiders pony-tail. It’s longer now than it was in 1970. Go figure that. I also played in a rock band up until 2019, so I could do guitar covers from my back-yard. Flay and jump like Pete Townsend with my garden in the backdrop. Of course my wife would be just off camera with an oxygen tank.That would certainly be entertaining. To my family, maybe.

I will mull this over for a while until the right formula grabs me, then you will be the first to know.

Good day, and eat your veggies.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Cicada Days of Summer


Little Buzzy

It will happen any day now. Zillions of them will crawl from their dirt bungalows, dust off their wings, slick back their hair and proceed to make us miserable with their obnoxious song. Cicada’s are Gods way of shaking his “no-no, you’ve been bad” finger at us.

In the 1950s, it seemed the little critters were everywhere in our Fort Worth neighborhood. Cats loved to eat them, dogs like to crunch them, and us kids captured them for fun. Tie a kite string on their leg and fly them around like a model airplane, and then blow them up with a Black Cat firecracker. Such fun. Nothing was quite as freaky as an angry Cicada buzzing in your hand.

One summer evening as the family sat in our back yard, drinking ice tea and listening to the buggy orchestra, I put my pet Cicada, “Little Buzzy,” down the back of my mothers shirt. No one in the family knew she was such an accomplished acrobat.

The educated experts say the insects appear in seventeen-year cycles, then die off and reappear seventeen years later. Who are these experts, and when did they start keeping track of the bugs appearances? What if a few miss the die-off, or stay too long in their hidey hole and mess up the entire show? That may explain why we heard them every summer in the 1950s; confused Cicada’s.

I’m looking forward to sitting on my patio, a nice tumbler of Irish whiskey in my paw, and listening to the sounds of my childhood.

A Performance to Remember


Pictured here is my 17th cousin, Carmalita “Cookie” Zevon. In Texas, if we are unsure of our relations, everyone becomes a cousin. It’s a big state with a small gene pool.

In the fall of 1958, the first beatnik-style coffee house opened its door in Fort Worth Texas. Calling itself, “The Cellar,” I can assure you that Fort Worth did not welcome its presence or the caliber of inhabitants it attracted. Cousin Carmalita, who preferred the name Cookie, was a perfect fit and secured a gig as the first waitress at the new establishment.

Being 8 years younger, I and the other cousins had limited interaction during her teenage years, but I know from the sordid family stories and the “almost out of earshot whispers” that she was a real hellion of a girl.

Immersing herself in books by Kerouac and Ginsberg that glorified the new lifestyle created by the “beat generation,” Cookie began dressing in black tight-fitting clothing.

Waist-length black hair and a resemblance to a young Ava Gardner didn’t endear her to the Sandra Dee girls club at school, which resulted in a cliquish form of petulant bullying, so Cookie dropped out of Paschal High School at sixteen to live in sin with her next to worthless hoodlum boyfriend; a motorcycle riding teenage hubcap stealing thief from the north side of town. This decision resulted in her instant banishment from the family.

Polled by a phone-in family vote, she was christened the “little trollop.” Her name was not to be spoken at gatherings, and her mother requested all photographs containing images of Cookie be returned to her for proper disposal by fire. Her father, unable to watch her sweet sixteen birthday present, a Ford Fairlane convertible sit abandoned in his driveway, sold it to Frank Kent for next to nothing. The rebellious type was not tolerated well in the 1950s, especially in Texas, and our extended family.

The Cellar grew in popularity and crowds of the literary unwashed and self-appointed poets made it their rightious digs. High octane coffee and bad poetry create a tolerated misery for the sake of being cool.

Cookie grew tired of the bland poetry readings from ancient books and tried her hand at writing. Engulfed in her rebellion, and possessing a heart full of childish resentment, it didn’t take long for her to dish on everyone and everything she felt had “done her wrong.” Her parents were the main course in her cauldron of teenage hate. She petitioned the club owner to let her perform a personal poem about her life, and he agreed.

Saturday evening is reserved for the serious night dwelling “hip beats.” They convene and hold literary court to any who will listen. Mixed groups of the hairy educated gather around small tables arguing about poetry, politics, sex and the meaning of life. Old Crow adds the extra kick to the java. An occasional strange cigarette makes the rounds.

Cookie senses the time right and takes the stage cradling a cardboard box under her left arm and a large pair of sewing shears in her right hand. She sets the box on the floor next to a tall stool. Tears stream from her sad eyes, forming dark streams of melting mascara onto her peach pale cheeks. A tinsel thin string of snot drips from her left nostril resting on her upper lip catches the spotlight, bathing her face an ethereal glow. She gags a few times, composes herself and begins her poem.

Retrieving her favorite childhood doll baby from the box, she places the doll on the stool, produces a small meat-cleaver and beheads the poor toy. A gasp erupts from the crowd. Earlier, for maximum effect, she filled the doll’s plastic head with Heinz Ketchup and potted ham to simulate blood and brains. When the doll’s head is guillotined and bounces onto the table nearest the stage, the ketchup splattered patrons recoil in horror. A beautiful 8×10 glossy photo of her parents is pulled from the box and cut to shreds with the sewing shears. She produces a Girl Scout uniform and rips it to pieces, throwing the all American remnants of the uniform into the audience.

Cookie leans into the microphone, takes a drag from a Pall Mall, and in a low growl says ” I never liked dolls or toys, but you made me treat the little shits like real people. I fed them imaginary food, bathed them in imaginary water, changed their tiny poopless diapers, and dressed them in stupid clothes, and for that I hate you and I cut my hair.” With that statement, she grabs a chunk of her beautiful lady Godiva length hair and removes a large portion with the sewing shears. She continues ” I didn’t want to be a Bluebird, but no, I had to be like the other girls on our street, you know I don’t like the color blue, and for that, I hate you and I cut my hair.” Whack, another large section falls to the stage. ” you hate my boyfriend because he is a bad boy, and he is all that, but I love him and want to spend my life on the back of his ratty-ass motorcycle holding a nursing baby in each arm as we travel west to find the meaning of life.” She then whacks the left side of her hair to within inches of her scalp. The audience is on the verge of bolting, fearing her next move may be severing an artery and expiring in front of them. A voice from the back of the room yells “this chick is crazy.”

Cookie ends her act and exits the stage leaving a pile of black hair mixed with ketchup and photo paper. The crowd of poets and hip cats give her a lukewarm reception. This performance was too unhinged for the normally unshakable.

That performance at the Cellar that night was the debut of what would come to be known as “Performance Art.” Carmalita Cookie Zevon performed once more before she and her boyfriend and a nursing baby rode west on a ratty-ass motorcycle to find the meaning of life. We can assume they found something.

Faster than a speeding…


I wrote and published this story back in 2018. Any kid that has ever dressed up in a super hero costume can relate to my true experience. Thinking back to that time in the mid 1950s, I now realize my neighborhood buddies didn’t care if I died right there in front of them while attempting this stunt. We were all bullet-proof and somehow had nine lives. It was all about the show, as I soon found out.

Surfing Netflix and Amazon Prime a few nights ago, I was surprised how many movies feature superheroes. Sure, the two originals are there, Superman and Batman, but then there are at least a dozen others. Did I sleep through some cultural entertainment shift?

The original Superman television series premiered in 1952, and by 1953-54 every kid in my neighborhood pretended to fly while fighting for truth-justice-and the American way. The girls wanted to be Super Girls, but the boys wouldn’t allow it. Superman was a man’s man, so they had to settle for Lois Lane.

The family that possessed the largest television screen was the meeting point where the gang gathered to watch our hero. My Father purchased the largest black and white television available, 15 inches, so our den was the destination.

There he stood in his padded super suit, cape flapping in the wind, a steely look on his all-American face. What a man! Only years later did we notice the slight paunch, the double chin, and the bad teeth.

At Leonard Brothers department store in Fort Worth, you could purchase a genuine Superman cape for $4.00 or for $20.00, a kid could have the full outfit, which included a blue stretch top and tights, a red speedo, and super boots. The kids in our neighborhood couldn’t afford the suit, so they settled for whatever fabric they could find for a cape.

I was the lucky one. My Aunt Norma, a seamstress extraordinaire made me a custom-fit Superman suit. It was a beauty; dark blue stretchy top with little super muscles sewn in, blue tights with a red swimsuit, gold fabric covers to over my PF Flyer tennis shoes, and the bright red cape with the super “S.” I was in super heaven and the envy of all my pals. We immediately planned a flying demonstration, and I was the vehicle. Our home, the only two-story house on the block was the designated launch point.

After gathering in my den for our afternoon viewing of Superman, the gang rushed to our backyard, awaiting the flight. I sneaked upstairs, squeezed into my super suit, and slipped through a window onto the roof.

The usual gang of six had suddenly swelled to thirty or so kids of all ages. “How can I fly in front of strangers? What if the suit doesn’t work?” I was getting a severe case of “cold feet.”

The roof grew higher with every breath as I inched my way to the peak. Looking down to the yard, it may as well be the grand canyon. I was shaking like a wet dog, and a dribble of pee leaked down my leg. A kid in the crowd yelled, ” What’s wrong kid…chicken.” That did it. I was by-golly flying today.

I crossed myself and ran down the slope of the roof. A millisecond before launch, my Mother yells from the window, “don’t you dare do that.” It was too late. My six-year-old super legs launched me into thin air. I hear theme music, feel the air under my cape and below, my pals, a look of wonderment on their faces, cheer me on to super glory.

Instead of gaining height and accelerating to supersonic speed, I made it twenty feet or so then dropped straight down, landing in the midst of the admiring crowd. Our thick lawn saved me from certain paralysis.

My Mother was on me like a duck on a Junebug. Jerking me up by my super cape, she proceeds to whip my little butt with a flyswatter; the only weapon she could find. I was mortified; young Superman receiving a whooping from his super Mom. The crowd dispersed, leaving me sitting in the grass in my super shame.

The next morning; miraculously recovered, I am sent out to play with my pals. Walking through the back gate, I noticed a bit of my super cape hanging from under the garbage can lid. My super days are over.


When the Band Plays the Last Song


Two weeks ago, John Payne, my friend of twenty years, and fellow bandmate was laid to rest. The last song was played, Happy Trails closed the show and JP has left the building.

Our story started two decades back when my old friend Danny Goode, and former bandmate from the 60s, called me after a thirty-year gap and wanted to have lunch.

The next day, over Whataburger’s, he asked me if I would be interested in playing with a rock band that he and two other friends had put together. I said I might be interested, but I didn’t own an electric guitar, an amp, a strap, or even a guitar pick and had not touched an instrument since 1990. He made a call on his cell, and after a brief muffled conversation, he told me everything was arranged. We were to meet at Jordan’s house on Saturday.

That Saturday, I met John Payne, lead guitar, and Jordan Welch, percussionist. John apologized for not having much time to put together the loaner equipment, and he hoped it would be alright. In my spot was a vintage Fender Twin Reverb amplifier with guitar picks and a cold beer sitting on top. The loaner guitar was a 1960s Gibson Les Paul. I told John that I think this gear would be more than adequate. I knew then, that John probably had more vintage gear than Guitar Center.

We played half a dozen songs, and I knew this grouping of four had something special. We all had been playing for decades and the musicianship was there. What was surprising, is our three-part harmonies. We sounded like the Ethel Murman Tabernacle Choir; it was borderline scary. We took a break and consumed a cold one to calm ourselves. We all sat in Jordan’s den, grinning like a Raccoon caught in a trash can.

The three amigos asked if I was in? Well hell yeah! I was then told there was a gig in North Richland Hills on Saturday night; be there at 7 sharp to set up. John said It was sort of a supper club and bar situation. And away we go.

Arriving at the “supper club,” I noticed the sign on the building read “Tuckers Catfish Café.” Okay, so it’s a seafood restaurant. After parking in the back, I give the secret squirrel knock on the rear door. A series of four or five deadbolts unlock the door parts, and I see Johns’ face peering through the door crack. He asked if I paid that guy holding the paper bag a few bucks to guard my car; if I didn’t, it would be wise to do so. So I did. The paper bag held a 40 oz Miller, and I paid the nice fellow five bucks.

It took a few minutes for my eyesight to adjust to the darkened conditions of the room, but I made out the obligatory small stage in the corner stacked with equipment, the wood parquet dance floor, a trash can full of dancing sawdust, a ceiling-mounted disco ball, shuffleboard, numerous vintage neon beer signs, and a cardboard streamer reading Happy New Year 1965. The place was also one living, breathing ashtray.

John comes over and says, ” well, what do you think of the place?” I should have been more diplomatic, but I blurted out, ” John, this place ain’t no supper club, it’s a beer-joint.”

John is smiling ear to ear, ” yeah, I know, ain’t it cool.” In a way, yes, it was cool. I hadn’t played in a beer joint in decades, so this would be my homecoming of sorts. John clearly dug the place to his bones.

The gig went much better than we expected, and the next few weeks were spent kicking around a name for this outfit. Finally, Jordan comes up with ‘The American Classics Band,’ taken from the brand of drumsticks he uses. Sounds good, everyone’s happy, and we become an official band.

That night, I had no idea what my time with these three amigos would bring, but I was up for the ride; and man was it a ride.

John requested that I call him JP. I did, and we eventually became good friends. He and I loved country and bluegrass music. Not the new stuff, but the classic 40s and 50s songs. We knew many of the same country pickers, and he was a fiddle player, like my father was, so the two of us had things in common, which carried over into the band’s dynamics.

We practiced every Thursday night for ten years, and became such a tight band that we read each others minds like little Yoda. There was not a song we couldn’t play or put our spin on.

Eventually, the practices became more about friendship and less about the playing. Sure, the music was always there, the bonding agent that kept us together, but many nights, there was more fellowship than picking. A bit of beer and some bourbon always appeared from a paper bag.

We helped each other through hardships; the death of a spouse, the death’s of two sons and other problems that happen in families, but the music and the friendships were always there, always strong and enduring.

Twenty years fly by, and Danny, Jordan and myself find ourselves without our friend John, and we know there will be no more music for us. It’s not in our bones, and somehow it wouldn’t seem right without John. We are old men now, all of us in our 70s, but we well remember when this ride for the four of us started, and how it has effected, and shaped our lives.

Play on JP, play on.

“A Small Miracle”


I wrote and published this true story in January of 2014.

My Grandfather was a farmer. His life was Seventy-five acres of cruel land in South West Texas. He would not have had it any other way.

On a scorching July afternoon in 1955, I stood next to him at a fence row along the south pasture watching anvil thunder heads form in the West, behind the Santana Mountain Peak, the namesake of his town, Santa Anna.
Little rain had fallen the past few years. The stock tanks were dry, animals were suffering, crops almost dead and the soul of the town was faltering. The prayers on Sunday were plentiful and to the point: please bring rain.

At the domino parlor, there was talk of bringing in a rainmaker, but the town had little money for such a wild idea. The town folk felt as though the good Lord wasn’t listening. A miracle was needed, even if it was a small one.

We had been standing at that fence row for a good hour, Grandfather not flinching or diverting his eyes from those clouds.
I wanted to see what he was seeing, but I couldn’t. He seemed to be taunting those thunderheads to come over that mountain, staring them down, challenging those clouds to bring what they had to his farm.
Looking away from the clouds for a moment, I looked at his weathered face. Just like his land, deep furrows everywhere. It’s as if each wrinkle was his reminder of a furrow that hadn’t produced a crop. He was only sixty, but his face looked decades older.
He glanced down and caught me staring. Embarrassed, I asked the first thing that came to mind “Grandfather, why are you a farmer?”
Still staring at the clouds he cleared his throat and said “I’ve always been a farmer boy, It’s all I ever knowed. One night, when I was about your age, the good Lord sent a tiny angel to my bed. She lit on the quilt and said Jasper, you’re going to be a farmer, and you will grow food to feed the children and the beast. This will be your life. How can you argue with the Lord boy? So, here I am.”
Up until then, we had never had a real conversation, and I liked the kindness in his voice. I wanted to know this man that had been so elusive and indifferent to me.
“Does the good Lord always tell people what they will do?” I asked.“It’s what I here’d” he replied.
Now you best go tell Granny to get the cellar ready, it’s going to come up a cloud tonight.” And with that, our first visit was over.
I came round the barn and saw Granny carrying an armful of quilts and pillows to the storm cellar. She already knew a storm was coming. She always knew.
Grandfather missed supper, unwilling to leave that fence row, afraid that if he did, those thunderheads would retreat. They didn’t.
The first crack of thunder shook the walls and sent me and Granny running for the storm cellar.
Grandfather wouldn’t come with us. He stood at that fence row until the hail stones pounded the cellar door. Only then, did he come down, wet and bleeding from the cuts on his scalp. Granny fussed over him for a few minutes and then he laid down on a cot and fell asleep.
We passed the night in that damp cellar. Granny, sitting, reading her Bible by the light of an oil lantern, Grandfather, snoring, and me slumbering between fitful dreams of thunder and lightning. The storm did what it was sent to do.

At dawn, we came out to a sea of water. The fields, flooded, reflected the sunrise like a new jewel. The farm animals rejoiced in unison. Grandfather checked the rain gauge on the fence, seven inches” he yelled. Granny cried into her cupped hands, and “I can’t remember why, but I cried with her.
Around lunch time, we loaded into the old Ford and drove into town. People lined the sidewalks. Women hugged each other, old farmers patted one another on the back, dogs barked and children laughed. The town had regained its spirit and hope overnight.
The Biscuit Café was alive, as was the domino parlor and the feed store. Everywhere the people of Santa Anna rejoiced and gave open thanks for this small miracle.
At the Biscuit Café, Grandfather treated us to a nice lunch of fried chicken. Pastor Bobby and his wife came in, and standing in the middle of the café, offered up a prayer of thanks for the rain. Grandfather, not a church going man, bowed his head and gave a hearty “amen” along with the rest of the patrons.

As we made our way back to the old Ford, Granny’s old friend Miss Ellis came up to Grandfather, hugged him tight and in a weepy voice said “it’s a miracle Jasper, God gave us a miracle.” He politely endured her hug for a minute, then we moved on towards home.
That seven inch rain didn’t end the drought for Santa Anna, but it gave the farms enough relief for the crops to stand tall again and the stock to survive that summer and fall. Grandfather became a church going man, never missing a Sunday, and his farm produced the best crop in years.
Fifty-eight years later, my wife and I took a day trip back to Santa Anna. I was curious if the town had grown and prospered. It hadn’t. The Biscuit Café, the feed store, the domino parlor and most of the other shops I remembered, gone. The old church still stood, showing its age, but still holding its head high.
We drove out to the old farm. The house, the barn and the smokehouse, all gone, lost to a fire. The only thing left was the windmill and the cellar. The fields were taken by scrub brush and weeds. Not a furrow survived.
I stood at that old fence line, and looked west to the Santana Mountain. Just like that day in 1955, thunder heads were building behind the peak. It was going to come up a cloud. I never forgot that conversation with my Grandfather that day, and sadly, I never got to know him better before he passed a few years later.
I have always believed that the power of prayer can produce miracles, and on that day, standing at that fence line, Grandfather and the Lord struck up a deal. The town got their small miracle, and Grandfather got religion.

“Grandad Is Way Too White?”


With all the hub-bub with big corporations and people, in general, being “too white” I knew I could count on my old pal Mooch to discover a solution.

I was in H.E.B. yesterday, and feel a tap on my shoulder. I turned and said, “can I help you?” I didn’t recognize this man at first, then I saw that possum grin and heard that stupid laugh.

” Hey old buddy, It’s me, the Mooch man. How do ya like my new look?”

” Holy Crap Mooch, you look like a gingerbread man; what happened to you?” I exclaim.

He got a little teary-eyed and said, ” my twin, spoiled, rich grand-daughters said they wouldn’t see me no more cause I am too old, too redneck, too Texan, and too darn white. They are sorority college girls at UT so I guess they know about all the latest woke stuff. They are graduating next week and each is getting a new Porsche and a trip to Europe from my son Harry, and his wife Karen. Those girls say I can’t attend their ceremony, and they don’t want to see me until I change my old ways. I found these pills in my “Popular Gardening” magazine and ordered a bunch for me and Mrs. Mooch. I can’t change my age or my redneck-ness, but I sure can change my color. Well, how do I look?”

I told him he looked real fine, but somehow, I think Mooch missed their absurd point.

“The Banjo Boy?”


Breaking Real Hot News From; The Dead South News Service. Photo’s courtesy of author James Dickie.

Obie Wahn, the hotshot reporter for the Dead South News Service is in Northeastern Georgia with a breaking story that is sure to get everyone’s attention.

Uncle Gus’s Riverside Rafting and Fish Camp located on the Chattooga River has been in operation since 1962 and is well known as the location where the actors and film crew stayed, and filmed the 1972 movie “Deliverance”.

Uncle Gus has long since departed the camp but his memory and influence are kept alive by his constant presence. When Uncle Gus passed back in 1982, his only daughter, Sparkle, had his body stuffed by the local taxidermist, and today, he sits in his favorite easy chair near the potbelly stove at the back of the camp store. For a few dollars, visitors can pose for a picture with old Gus and his two blue-tick hounds that are also stuffed and obediently sitting at his feet. Framed pictures of Uncle Gus and Sparkle with the cast of “Deliverance” decorate every wall in the store. A life-size cardboard Burt Reynolds stands behind the counter next to the cigarette display.

‘Miss Sparkle,’ as she is known around these parts, is a feisty red-headed single lady in her sixties. She contacted me on the Facebook saying she had a story that would beat all.

Miss Sparkle tells a whopper of a story so I will share it with you in her own words.

She tells it like this; “back in 1984, a bunch of rich bigshots from Washington DC came down to ride the Chattooga like in that famous movie that was filmed here. They were nice men and treated me with respect, even though I was just a river rat. Daddy hadn’t been gone long and I was real sad, so it was nice to have some company at the camp. One night the bunch of us were sitting around the campfire drinking daddy’s famous “shine” and this one fellow they called Joe B started sniffin’ my hair. I didn’t mind cause I had just washed it with lye soap and it smelled pretty good. He was a nice man, in a creepy sort of way. Too much “shine” always gets you in trouble, and I’ve had plenty of it since then. Well, about a year later the stork shows up with this bundle of joy. I call him Joe Bee. He ain’t no kid no more and doesn’t want to do anything but sit in that swing all day long playing the same song on that damn banjo. I’ll tell ya, it’s driving us all to drink more than we normally do, and that’s a bunch. We tried hiding it, but he always finds the darn thing. Little Joe Bee just wants to know who his daddy is. My two other boys, the twins, Smokey and Bandit, their daddy never comes to see them neither, but he gave them each a black Pontiac Trans Am for their sixteenth birthday. At least Joe Bee’s daddy could send him a monster truck or something.”

“More Things That Make You Wonder, Why?”


In Texas, if you want a hamburger, you go to one place; “Whataburger”. Born in Corpus Christi in 1950, it is the home grown holy grail of burger joints. Always fresh cooked to your order with all the fixins’. It is a redneck culinary delight. Sure we have other boys popping up on prime real estate. “In And Out,” and “Five Guys,” are a bunch of West coast flakes trying to sneak in here and contaminate our burger pool. Cute little paper wrapped sandwiches you eat with one pinky finger sticking out like your drinking a glass of Chardonnay at a movie star pool party. I would like to see Spielberg try to eat a Whataburger.

I whipped into my local orange and white Whataburger here in Granbury yesterday for my monthly fix; a burger, fries and a Dr Pepper made to my order.

The voice from the speaker said, ” would you like to try our number 4?”

I replied, “no mam, just a Whataburger meal number 1 with fries and a small Dr Pepper, hold the onions and add two spicy ketchup’s.”

A few moments ticked by and the voice says, ” Sir, the meal comes with a large drink.”

Not trying to be difficult, well maybe just a bit, I say,” Yes, I know that, but that is too much liquid and my old bladder is smaller now, so I can only handle a small Dr Pepper or I will wet my jeans. I will pay for the large drink, but make it a small.”

Now the voice from the speaker is getting testy,” Sir, it comes with a large drink, and you have to take the large drink, that’s what has to happen.”

I pull up to the pick-up window for my meal. The lady opens the window and thrust a large drink into my hand.

I hand the drink back to her, and she shoves it back to me. I set it on the ledge and say, ” I will pay for the large Dr Pepper, but I want a small drink, just make the substitution and I will be on my way.” She is clearly, shaken and bug eyed. She leaves and in a few seconds, the manager appears at the window, ” Sir, you have to take the large drink, that’s the way it is. Our kitchen is in a turmoil now because you changed the Number 1 meal.”

“Tell you what Bub, take the Dr Pepper back, and give me a small Dr Pepper shake with chocolate ice-cream instead of the Dr Pepper drink,”I say. Now the crap is really hitting the fan. The window lady, standing behind the manager, is leaning against the counter, weeping. The manager looks as it he got goosed by a cattle prod and the kitchen is in a tither.

After a few minuets, the vehicles behind me begin to honk. The guy in the pick-up truck directly behind me takes his shotgun off of the gun rack and chambers a shell. Texans take their burgers seriously, and this is about to get nasty. There is nothing scarier than armed men in pick-ups having a blood sugar low because he can’t get their feed bag.

The window opens again, and the manager tosses me my burger meal, a large, and a small Dr Pepper, and a small Dr Pepper shake. He also gives me a gift card for twenty-dollars, a Whataburger Covid 19 mask, and a coupon for 30 days of free Whataburgers. ” No charge, and have a nice day,” he says.

Things That Make You Wonder, Why?


My wife and I visited our favorite Mexican restaurant a while back for lunch. We live in Texas, so Tex-Mex is one of our food groups that must be consumed at least once a month in order to maintain our cosmic balance and to keep our gut bacteria in check.

The wait staff, or the chip guy, plopped a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa on our table. No hello, how are you, and no water to wash down the salty chip dipped in a tomato and jalapeno fortified liquid fire? How does one eat hot and spicy foods without water? Why do they not think of that? Gringos are sissy-asses when it comes to hot salsa.

Our waitress, a pleasant young Hispanic girl arrives to take our order. The music in the room is loud and I have a hard time hearing her explanation of the “special of the day.”

Not wanting to appear deaf, which I almost am, I ask her to please turn down the music so I might understand her. She stares at me like I have a third eye on my forehead, something my wife does often. She says, “we need the music for the ambiance of the dining experience, and besides our staff likes it.” Okay, that’s fine, but it’s too loud.

This is one of the questions that make you wonder why, so I ask her, “young lady, do you know we are in Granbury, Texas, and not in Cancun, Mexico? Everyone in here is middle age or older, and they are all gringos that don’t speak Spanish, so they can’t understand a word of the songs being played.” She looks puzzled and rubs her chin a few times, then replies, “Sir, if we don’t play the Spanish music, then the food will not taste as good, and we want you to imagine you are in Old Mexico dining on a vine-covered patio and watching the waves roll onto the white sandy beach.”

Okay, this is getting good. I say,” I am looking through a window at a parking lot full of big-assed pick-up trucks and a highway full of speeding pick-up trucks pulling construction trailers, and nothing you can play or say will make me imagine I am in Old Mexico eating a resort lunch. We are in Texas, and I am going home, which is about four miles from here, to take a nap after this, not to my hotel room overlooking the beach.” I think she got the message.

Somewhere around my tenth chip and a few sips of beer, the music stops, then starts again. Eric Clapton playing “Sunshine Of Your Love” fills the room. The other diners smile, and there are more than a few tapping feet. Makes you wonder?

“Books For That Child That Is Different”


One of my favorite books from childhood.

“Fun With Dick and Jane” was okay for starters and sissies, but I and my buddies craved the real Avant-garde children’s books like the one above. We didn’t own an Indian tent, a pedal car, or a Cocker Spaniel. We had BB guns, sharp knives, and German Shepherds, so our reading material was a bit more on the street smart side.

The neighborhood gang, around the 5th grade, discovered Mickey Spillane and True Crime while looking through our Daddy’s sock drawer; which, in turn, had an adverse effect on a few of the boys during their teenage years. Booger and Georgie wound up at the “Dope Farm” and Billy Roy did time for robbery of a Dime Store with a Mattel Fanner 50 cap gun. Being a child in the 1950s was a hell of a lot more fun than now.

“I Told You It Was Sick”


Old Pal Mooch called this morning asking me if I would help him bury something. Mooch is not a sentimental guy, so I was a bit taken back with his request. He didn’t say who are what it was, or what happened. I immediately assumed it was his old Chihuahua, “Giblet.” He said he would pick me up in ten-minuets.

As I opened the passenger side of the pick-up truck, I noticed a tarp with something underneath, and a shovel laying in the bed. There was also a gas can. We drove in silence for a few miles then turned on a dirt road and onto some federal land.

Mooch found a spot by a large Oak tree and dug a nice little hole, about large enough for a small dog. He then retrieved the tarp and laid it on the ground next to the grave.

When he jerked back the tarp, I was expecting to see the remains of his beloved doggy, but instead there was his new Apple laptop. He quickly pushed it into the hole, poured gas on the machine and threw in a match. The fire did it’s work in less than a minute. I was too stunned to say much about what I had witnessed so I let Mooch do the talking.

“I paid nearly two grand for that sorry piece of plastic and I turn it on this morning and get Error 19. Sum-bitch, the damn laptop has the Covid-19 Virus so here we are burning it just like they did when the plague was killing those folks in Europe” he says.

It was best to just remain quiet. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was a computer error and not the Virus.

“I Did What?”


The White House released a statement this morning confirming that President Joe Biden accidentally signed an executive order giving all former Trump White House staffers a $1,000,000. severance check. When the president was asked about this mistake, he said “Come on Man, my earpiece was acting up and besides, Kamala said I was paying the electric bill.”

Biden Wins Nobel Peace Prize!


Breaking News from The Dead South News Service, Figaro Scaramooche reporting.

The Nobel Prize committee says this morning that President Joe Biden will receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021, even though he has been in office for one day and has accomplished nothing constructive. The committee did indicate that ” canceling every good thing that former President Trump accomplished and ruining America for eternity” counts as a logical reason to receive their distinguished award.

Hajkevek Neadervon, the spokesman for the committee, said that President Biden has asked that the 1,000,000 dollar prize be deposited into the Biden family account at the “Bank of The Happy Bat” in Wuhan, China.

” Waffles of Insurrection”


Photo courtesy of Colonel Sanders

Old Pal Mooch called me early this morning. I was dead asleep and dreaming of Pioneer beer batter pancakes slathered in Aunt Jemima syrup. In his usual excited state, he tells me that his band of patriots, the Hood County Plowboys drove straight through from Granbury to Washington DC, stopping to buy gas and some North Carolina jerky and pork rinds. I believe about half of his stories, so it never occurred to me that he and his bunch of armed rag-tags were serious about forcefully taking back the country before old Joe lays his hand on the “Good Book.” I will pay more attention to his wild schemes from now on.

He said that the closer they got to Washington, the more National Guard troops and armored equipment they saw. Thousands of soldiers posted along the highway, eating from food trucks and playing games on their phones. It was the scariest thing he ever saw.

Arriving in the city, they tried and failed to get to the mall, but installations of razor wire, armed troops, tanks, cruise missile installations, and claymore minefields blocked their way. A group of large and menacing soldiers told Mooch to take his raggedy-ass pop-gun carrying hillbillies back to Texas and then pointed a 50 caliber machine gun at the would-be insurrectionist. They got the message.

I asked Mooch what their plan B was and if they might be in peril. He took a moment to answer and then told me that since they couldn’t shoot anybody or get to see Old Joe, they found the nearest Waffle House. When all else fails, it’s time for a waffle.

“Plowboys and Snowmen”


Last week we had snow in Southwest Texas. It wasn’t our typical donut powder dusting, but 7 inches of heavy, wet snow that required the tree limbs and plants to muster all of their natural strength to stay upright. The hundreds of cedar trees surrounding my rocky plot fared well; my salvias and a few sissy cacti lost the assault and lay flat like a pancake, wondering what the hell hit them.

My wife channeled her inner-child and fashioned a decent 2-foot snowman in our backyard. Organic cucumbers for eyes, a carrot for the nose, and organic red grapes for the mouth. She said since snow is organic, then the building materials must also be. She topped it off with my worthless Texas Rangers ball cap. I took pictures with my smartphone, knowing that it may be years before another storm comes our way, and by then, who knows? I may be resting in a colorful Fiestaware container on the mantle, not caring about the weather at all, but If it wasn’t for keeping close tabs on the weather and waiting for the postman to deliver my favorite junk mail, my life would be over. I’m especially fond of H.E.B. ads.

Old pal Mooch called me yesterday. We haven’t met at Whataburger for six months, thanks to the “Rona,” and it was good to hear from him. He said himself, Mrs. Mooch and his chihuahua “Giblet” are now “vegan” and as happy as summer squash. He donated his freezer full of West Texas venison to Father Frank, the priest at Our Lady Of Perpetual Repentance, and the Mexican taco trailer in the Discount Tire parking lot.

After a few pointless pleasantries and howdy’s, he asked me if I would join his group of senior citizen revolutionaries and ride in his pick-up truck caravan to Washington, so on January 20th, they can take back our country. I entertained the invite for a few moments until he said his group’s name is “The Hood County Plowboys.” They wear overalls and gimme caps and have loads of AR guns and other assorted weaponry. I told him it sounded more like a hillbilly jug-band than armed insurrectionists and declined his offer; I don’t care for overalls or gimme caps. I told a disappointed Mooch I would watch for him on the TV news and to send me some pictures on his smart-ass phone.

It’s Alright To Speak Your Piece


I started my blog twelve years ago as an outlet to publish my short stories, opine on everyday life, and serve as a recounter of odd-ball Texas history. America and the “blogosphere” is different now.

My blog,” Notes From The Cactus Patch,” was born on another blogging site, and then switched to WordPress, which for me, a non-geek, was challenging and difficult to navigate. It took a while, but I became friends enough with this platform that writing and posting is no longer an ordeal.

Readers have inquired about the name of my blog. “Why do I write notes from a cactus patch?” they say. At the time I started my blog, my wife and I lived in Georgetown Texas, north of Austin, and was surrounded by cactus and cedar trees. Now we live atop a rocky hill in Granbury, over-looking Comanche Peak and I am once again, surrounded by cedar trees and cactus. The locality has changed, but the fauna is the same, so the name remains.

I discovered the “Search” button in the “Reader” category a while back. Not that I am keeping a count, but, I find that leftist-leaning blogs have hundreds, if not thousands, and possibly millions of more followers than conservative ones. Why is that? Coincidence? maybe, because more bloggers are in that twenty-to-thirty something age range. Us older bloggers, also known as “boomer’s and deplorable’s” are gaining on them. What else do we have to occupy our time but collect our Social Security check, clean and load our gun collections while reading our Bible, go to doctor’s appointments between medical procedures, and yell at kids to get off of our lawn? Blogging is a welcome and healthy distraction. A recent study finds that for seniors, blogging can add five years to our lifespan, or, cause us to stroke out and face plant into our laptop. Who did this study, Dr. Fauci?

This morning, I am sitting at my laptop watching the north wind whip the trees into a formidable frenzy. The sky is gray and spitting cold rain, the windchill is way below what I can stand, and, there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow’s eve. Not our typical Texas weather, but it’s dawning January, and winter’s appearance is late this year. The Cardinals visited their feeder a few times before giving up; too windy to eat. These hunker-down days are for writing, tuna sandwiches, and strong coffee. I will read and write for a while, then succumb to a nap.

After suffering through a dozen or more random blog posts, one, in particular, grabbed me. His blog picture was the spitting image of that “Jack the dude” that owns Twitter. Short un-even haircut, a ZZ top hipster beard, and that “no one is home” look in his doll eyes. I clicked on his post.

It seems that this slightly if at all educated young fellow is dead certain that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will save the world in 30 days or less by un-doing every good deed our President has put into place the last four years. The dynamic duo will correct the wrongs that plague every third or fourth world country on the globe, but will save our fascist, greedy white privileged racist America for last; It’s the right thing to do, and yes, America will foot the bill. He supports the movement to make AOC a saint, even though he is an atheist and has no idea how religion and the Catholic church works. I am assuming this young man was born in the late 80s and started his education around the same time the teacher’s unions became a full-blown socialist organization. They still are but now have “outed” themselves because they feel “empowered” by “the movement” and the great reset that is due to premiere in 2021. Let us pray he doesn’t have access to a Harry Potter wand.

His comment section was fat with support for his soliloquy. ” Go dude, we are with you” and “f… America and the conservatives.” I cringed more than once as I read on.

I don’t care for his poisonous pen or his misguided forecast of the future, but people that share common beliefs bond together, no matter the outcome. That is what shaped our Republic, and that mindset is what made us America. Let all free citizens speak their piece, but don’t be offended when others challenge that piece. God Bless Texas and Willie Nelson.

“Get It Right!”


As a guitar player of 50 plus years, and one that has played and heard others play this song hundreds of times, get it right, fool, it’s not that hard. Also, learn how to tune that damn instrument. Another thing while I’m thinking about it, stop watching YouTube; those guys making those guitar teaching videos aren’t any better than you are.

The American Classics at Eno’s in Bishop Arts District

Pictured above, The American Classics at Eno’s in Dallas’s Bishop Arts District. Yes, we are playing that song “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and then went into “Take It Easy.” That’s me on the left with my 80s Epiphone Casino. It was so thoughtful and nice of the management to leave the televisions on while the band plays.

“Wont You Be My Friend? Or Not”


Photo by: Burt and Ernie

Fred Rogers had it right. He wanted to be friends with everyone, if even for an hour a day. He kept his personal opinions to himself and focused on the positive. Fred would have made a terrible politician. He was the kind father that every kid wanted and every adult wished for. Mr. Rogers would have walked on broken glass before intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings. Not so much with the rest of us knuckle-dragging neanderthals.

If you read my blog, you know that I like to poke fun at both political parties. I am an equal opportunity abuser; no one is over-looked. My dislike for each camp is about even, so it’s easy to throw each under my bus and back over them a few times. Nothing is more satisfying than imagining the screams of a crooked-scum sucking-lying-thieving politician as they are squished into asphalt pancakes.

Maybe two days ago, I discovered that I may have lost a few friendships over my past satirical post. Was it something I said? Probably not, but more like something I wrote. These posts were not offensive, at least not to me, but meant to be informative and jovial; light-hearted little digs covered in glitter and dancing unicorns. I didn’t know these friends were liberal in their thinking. Politics are rarely mentioned when we are together, but it’s possible that after a few bourbons, my inside voice became my outside voice, and a wayward word or two slipped out, and there you have it; friendship canceled—no return calls or text, no email addressing the possible offending reference, only non-confrontational silence.

I feel bad about these misunderstandings, but not too bad. Friendships can be strong and unwavering, and I have a few of those, or they can be as casual as a tank top and flip-flops, and I have some of those too.

When I turned ten years of age, my late father shared a pearl of wisdom with me. Speaking from experience, he said,” there are two things you should never discuss with family or friends; religion and politics.” A wise man he was. Having forgotten his advice over the years, I have paid the price many times over; and it appears I continue to do so.

Merry Christmas to all.

“Two Kings In A Caddie”


I wrote this story back in 2014. A few changes and editing have been made for a smoother read. Of course this is pure fiction, but if you believe everything that has happened to us in 2020, this could as well.

The high desert at night, is solitude. The velvet blackness holds wondrous things.

The “57” Caddie pulled away from the gas station, spewing gravel and dust. The old man that had filled it up a few minuets ago watched until the tail lights disappeared down the highway. Two, twenty-dollar bills for ten dollars of gas, go figure. There was a two-dollar bill mixed in the bills; TCB was printed on the front. What the hell did that mean?

The most comfortable place in the world to the aged singer was sitting behind the wheel of his beloved white Cadillac.  

Not the sleek crooner in size thirty-six sport coats anymore, he really didn’t care to be. He was comfortable in his own skin.  After decades of dieting, he surrendered to the siren’s call of biscuits and gravy, and his beloved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. “Hell, everybody gets a little heavy as they age,” he told himself, and after seeing an old girlfriend in a supermarket trash magazine, he felt better about his expanding looks. The once sleek red-headed dancer was now as portly as himself. It’s a shame he couldn’t call her up. But then again, she loved the man he used to be and he loved the girl she once was.

The decision to disappear back in the late 70s was his way of escaping the hell he had created for himself. Drugs, alcohol, guns, crazy-ass women, and an army of hanger-on’s. The whole scene was sucking what life he had left from him. Realizing, that, if he was going live incognito, Las Vegas Nevada was ground zero. Every casino on the strip had Elvis impersonators. He could hide in plain sight.

To stave off boredom, he worked for a while at one of the cheesy late-night wedding chapels, imitating himself. He loved the irony of it all. He would have the wedding party crying and gagging with laughter, telling stories that only the “real Elvis” would know. The patrons were appreciative of his stories and his one-man karaoke performance, and he could still make a few young brides swoon.

At times, he became bone-weary of it all and yearned to go home, but he knew that could never happen, except in dreams. These long rides in the desert calmed him and allowed sleep without prescription drugs. He was clean now and was damn – straight going to stay that way.

The Caddies headlights illuminated the figure of a man standing by the roadside, thumb in the air. Aaron had never picked up a hitcher, but a tingling feeling in his scalp told him he should stop for this one. Pulling over, he waited for the stranger to approach the car. The door opened and a figure slid into the seat beside him. He turned to introduce himself.

In the glow of the dash lights sat an old man; long gray hair was tied into a ponytail, and a neatly trimmed gray beard filled his face. He wore a loose-fitting red running jacket with matching sweat pants. His gold lame’ running shoes, shined like gold bars.

Aaron studied him for a moment and then asked the old man, “I know you, mister, I’ve seen you on TV, aren’t you Willie Nelson? What are you doing out in this desert this time of night?”

The old man looked at Aaron and spoke softly, “No, I’m not Willie Nelson, and that’s a fine compliment, to be sure. I’m not going far and it’s nice to meet you Elvis.”

He spoke Aaron’s first name as if he had known him forever, and the tone of his voice made him squirm. Elvis ditched his first name years ago and now referred to himself as Aaron, his middle name. It was part of the plan; Elvis was who he used to be.

“No sir, I don’t know who you are if you’re not Willie,” Aron stammered.

In a slightly scolding tone, the old man addressed Aaron, “young man, I’m shocked that a Christian boy like yourself from a Baptist church in Tunica would not recognize me. Don’t you find it strange that I know who you are? In fact, my boy, I know everything about you from the day you were born. And while we are here together, let’s ditch the Aaron thing. I will address you as you are known back at home. Elvis fits real nice, don’t you think?” Elvis nodded agreeably.

The old man pushed the button on the caddie’s glove box. The door dropped down with a clunk. From inside, came an angelic light that illuminated his face in a soft glow.  Elvis found himself staring into the most striking blue eyes he had ever seen; endless in depth, filled with kindness and forgiving but tinged with a bit of sadness. The old fellow looked to be as old as dirt, but in that light, his features were as soft as a pastel portrait.

“Does this help?” he asked.

“No sir it doesn’t, any lounge magician from Vegas can do those light tricks, although that’s pretty darn good coming from that glove box, that light hasn’t worked twenty years. While you’re in there, hand me one of the banana and peanut butter sandwiches would you?” asked Elvis.

“Surely, may I have one also? I haven’t eaten in a while,” asked the old man.

Elvis, turning to face his visitor, replied “Help yourself, sir. You’re pretty good with them tricks, I could probably get you some work in the lounges back in Vegas if you’re needing some cash.”

The old man sighed, and in between bites said, “No, but thank you, I’m pretty busy most of the time, seems like I’ve been working for an eternity, but I could use a little excitement.”

“Looky here now, I’m going to give you a final chance to figure out my identity and why you felt so compelled to give me a ride young feller, pull this caddie over by that pond up there” ordered the old man.

Elvis, laughing, said “Pond, there ain’t no ponds in the desert, unless they’re concrete, and in someone’s back yard.”

The old man said, “just pull over here please, just by that beautiful cactus patch.”

Elvis parked the caddie on the shoulder and turned off the engine.

The old man motioned for Elvis to follow “Come with me please, I think you will like this. It’s not everyday that I go through this much work to impress one of my children.” He said.

Elvis, now a bit amused by the scenario, followed him into the desert. Ink Dark and no moon, they were both stumbling on rocks and bumping into cactus, so the old man switched on that angelic glow to light the way. This impressed Elvis. This guy was really good.

They walked a short distance until they came upon a small lake. It wasn’t a stock tank, or a catch basin, and it wasn’t your typical Las Vegas casino pond, but a beautiful sparkling lake with palm trees and lush tropical plants lining the shore. Small waterfalls cascaded to the water’s surface producing a peaceful sound. The perimeter of the lake was back- lit with that same eerie light.

The old man turned to Elvis and said “Okay, my son, I usually don’t pull this one out much, but you’re a real special case boy.”

And with that said, he walked down the bank and out onto the waters surface. He didn’t sink, but skimmed across the surface like a dragon fly. Stopping about twenty yards out, he turned, faced Elvis, and raised his arms to the sky. The water boiled and swirled, flashes of lightning hit the surface, and the waters parted into two walls on either side of him.

On the bank, Elvis jumping up and down, screamed, “Hot Dog, I’ve seen this before. I know who you are now…you’re Charlatan Heston, that actor… you played Moses in that Easter movie, the Ten Commitments.”

That did it for the old man. It took the weight of the universe to tick him off, but this hillbilly in an old Cadillac had succeeded.

The old man walked to the bank, and directly to Elvis. Without saying a word, he pointed his finger at Elvis forehead, looked up to the sky and said, “Father, thy non-believers shall wallow with the hounds beneath the porch of the out-cast, let this man of doubt feel your wrath.”

There was a blinding flash of light. Elvis, knocked on his rear, found himself looking up at the old man. “Way up”.  He felt funny. He itched, his breath smelled like a skunk, and he felt the urge scoot his butt on the ground. Looking down, instead tennis shoes, he saw paws, and a lot of dirty, matted hair. He attempted to speak but his words came out in barks. This went on for a few minuets until he became a nuisance.

Another flash of light, and Elvis was once again eye to eye with the old man.

The old man smiled and said, “Elvis, I’m sorry I turned you into a dog, but like I said, you are a special case.” The glowing light usually convinces most people, but you’re just a little thick ain’t you boy.”

The old man smiled, put his arm around Elvis’s shoulder, and said, “Look, let’s get back to your car, I’ve got someplace to be, and I want you to go with. We can have a little visit along the way, a counseling session of sorts, no charge, it’s on the house. And by the way, when I’m down here, in this realm, I prefer to be called just plain old Sonny, it’s less frightening…puts people at ease.”

After driving for a while, Sonny turned to Elvis and said, “You know son, I play in a band when I’m home, and your name comes up often, the guys are always asking me when you’re coming up to join them.”

Elvis said “that’s nice sir, who might your band members be?” and where exactly, is home?”

“Well, home is where my Father is; Heaven. You know, the pearly gates and such, sitting on clouds, the weathers good all the time, all of that stuff you read about.”

“You mean streets of gold and everyone lives in their own temple type of Heaven?” asked Elvis.

Sonny replied, “Well not exactly, the streets of gold were a real maintenance nightmare, so we went back to Jordanian river – rock. The temples were a little small, so we made some major changes right after Frank Lloyd Wright came up. Everyone now has a nice little place with a view of the garden…everyone’s equal in Dad’s eyes you know. Your Mamma and Daddy’s place is an exact copy of Graceland. Bet you didn’t know that!”

Elvis swallowed hard and said “You seen my Momma and Daddy?”

“Well of course I have you nimrod. Didn’t I just tell you who I am and where I live. Don’t you listen!” replied Sonny.

Sonny clapped his hands on his knees and said, “Now, back to my band for a minute. It’s made up of the best musicians that ever lived.  Your old buddies Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash just recently joined up, and I’ve got Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison on guitars, Gene Kruppa and Keith Moon on drums, and I’m looking forward to Ringo joining up pretty soon. There’s Count Basie and Mozart on keyboards, Roy Orbison, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, and Old Blue Eyes on vocals. Man, that Orbison can hit those high notes…really ticks Sinatra off. Frank has a bad attitude about everything, always wanting to get the Rat Pack up and running again. Dads always sending him “down below” for a few days, just to keep him in line.”

Elvis was struggling to comprehend what he was hearing, he knew all those dudes when they were alive, and Bobby Darin was a running buddy back in the day.

Sonny on a bit of a roll continued, “Myself, I play a little bass sometimes, if Noel Redding is busy greeting the British arrivals down at the gate.  John Lennon still claims it wasn’t Yoko that broke up the band, he swears it was McCartney’s doings, and old Ed Sullivan already has a Beatles reunion show planned, just waiting for the other two to show up. I told him it wouldn’t be too much longer, but it wasn’t a deal if he had that stupid little mouse puppet Popo Gigio on the bill.  I just wanted to squeeze him until his little eyes popped out. Puppets make me uncomfortable.”

Elvis, staring at the road ahead was sweating like a lawn sprinkler. His mouth, dry as cotton, and he couldn’t catch a good breath. This was too much for him to digest at one time. Here he is, giving a ride to the Son of God. “Is this the way it’s suppose to be” he thought, “Aren’t you suppose to see a white light and your loved ones coming to meet you?” Not the Lord telling you he plays in a rock band full of dead musicians and hates mouse puppets. Maybe he was having an LSD flashback.

Sonny turned to Elvis and said, “No, Elvis, you’re not having a flashback, and you don’t always see the light…and yes, I can read your thoughts.  Really, this is pretty much the way it happens. I make special provisions for people as needed, and you are a special provision type of fellow, so enjoy the evening.  I’m not saying it’s your time to come home to “my place,” but who knows. Take the next right up here; you’re going to like where we are going.”

Elvis turned the caddie down the dirt road and after a mile or so came to a ramshackle tin building. The exterior looked to be an old military barrack, and over the door was a cheesy neon-sign that read “Sonny’s Place.” No cars parked in the lot, and no tire tracks in the sand. This joint was really out of the way.

Sonny escorted Elvis through the front door where they were greeted by a kindly lady with big hair sitting behind a counter. Elvis noticed her name tag read “Patsy C.” When she saw Sonny, she lit up and said, “My Savior, how good to see you again, everyone’s been asking if you were going to come by tonight, who’s your pal?”

Sonny replied, “This is the famous Elvis Presley darling, but he’s not here officially yet, he’s just visiting for a spell, slap one of those silver wrist bands on him please.”

Elvis interrupted, “Excuse me sir, what’s the silver band mean?”

Smiling, Sonny said “Oh, it means you can’t have the top shelf drinks, can’t use the nice restrooms, and most of all it means you’re not dead yet…understand.”

Elvis understood alright, and that was okay with him. As long as he had not assumed room temperature, that’s all that mattered.

When they walked into the main room, thunderous applause greeted them. Sonny humbly waved and nodded, and Elvis, slack-jawed and gob-smacked, stared at all the dead musicians and singers he had known.

On stage, Bobby Darin was kicking off “Mack The Knife” accompanied by an all-star band made up of Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Mozart, Charlie Bird, Gene Krupa, Glen Miller, Harry James and a full horn section. Bobby saw Elvis and gave him a big smile and a thumbs up.

When the song ended, Bobby directed a spot light to the small table occupied by Sonny and Elvis, and in that “oh so cool voice,” he announced “Ladies and Gents, in the crowd tonight we have the one and only, my good friend, Mr. Elvis Presley, stand up and take a bow, E”

The crowd went wild. Everyone, was on their feet, applauding, and from the back of the room a chant was growing, “Elvis..Elvis..Elvis.” A shaking, teary-eyed Elvis stood as best he could and acknowledged his peers…. dead peers.

Sonny touched his arm and said, “Go on up there my son, give it all you got.”

When Elvis walked onstage, the band came over and gave him a hug. His old friend Bobby held him the longest. Elvis grabbed the microphone, turned to the band, and yelled “Viva Las Vegas in the key of G.”

Strutting, gyrating, not missing a note, the crowd dancing in the isles, and Elvis was putting on the show of his life. His heart was so full of joy that he felt it would burst; and then it did.

As he floated backward, he felt hands engulfing his body, lowering him to the stage. He was aware of people standing around him, and then he saw a beautiful bright light, and from that light emerged his parents, and were leading him through a heavenly garden to a beautiful Graceland.

The musicians, formed a circle around his body, heads bowed, quietly praying.

When Sonny came on stage, they parted, and he knelt next to Elvis’s body. With his hand on Elvis’s forehead, he said, “wake up Elvis, you’re home now.”

“A Fort Worth, Texas Kind of Christmas”


A personal recount of my childhood Christmas memories.

Photo by: Elf -O-Mat Studios

Riding a ceiling-mounted “Rocket Train” to nowhere around the basement of a department store doesn’t seem like a Christmas thing, but that’s what thousands of other Texas kids and I did every year in the 1950s.

Leonard Brothers Department Store occupied two square blocks of downtown Fort Worth real estate and was known as the Southwest’s Macy’s. They offered everything the big shot stores in the East carried, and then, hundreds of items no retailer in their right mind would consider.

If you had a mind to, one could purchase a full-length mink coat with optional mink mittens, the latest women’s high-fashion clothing line from Paris France, an Italian cut-crystal vile of Elizabeth Taylors spit, James Dean’s signature hair tonic, Rock Hudson’s autographed wedding photos, a housebroken Llama, an aluminum fishing boat and motor, a new car, a pole barn, a nice two-story craftsman home “build it yourself kit” delivered to your lot, chickens, barb wire, hay, horses and cows, a 30-30 Winchester rifle, a 40 caliber autographed General George Custer Colt pistol, a bottle of good hootch and a Ford tractor. That’s about as Texas as it gets.

The Christmas season in downtown Fort Worth was internationally recognized for its innovative and wonderous decorations. The righteous city fathers figured the best way to out-do Dallas, a full-time effort, was to line every building with white lights from top to bottom and install large glowing decorations on every lamp pole, street light, and building façade available. If that didn’t make you “ooooh and ahhhh,” then you needed to go home and hide in a closet.

A week, or so, after Thanksgiving, my parents would take my sister and me downtown to see the decorations and visit the Leonard Brothers Department Store. Santa just happened to be in their basement taking advanced verbal orders from every crumb cruncher that could climb the stairs and plop on his lap.

My sister, in between screams and crying fits, always asked for the latest doll. She was scared senseless of “HO-HO,” but she somehow managed to spit out her order. Like clockwork, every year, I asked for a Daisy BB Gun with a year’s supply of stainless silver ammo ( for killing werewolves), a full-size Elliot Ness operable Thompson Sub Machine Gun, or an Army surplus Bazooka with real rockets and a long, razor-sharp Bowie knife encased in a fringed leather holster. It was a 1950s boy thing; weapons were what we longed for. How else could we defeat Santa Anna at the Alamo or win World War II, again? Our neighborhood may have sported the best-supplied “kid army” on the planet, and jolly old Santa was our secret arms dealer; parents non-the wiser. I finally got the BB Gun, but Santy was wise enough to not bring the other request.

Walking down the stairs to the store’s basement was the thrill I waited for all year. There, hanging above my head, was the beautiful red and silver tinseled sign, “Toy Land,” kid nirvana, and the Holy Grail all in one room. The smell of burned popcorn and stale chocolate candy wafted up the stairs, and I could hear the cheesy Christmas choir music and the sound the Rocket Train made as it glided along the ceiling-mounted rails. I almost pissed my jeans.

Hundreds, if not thousands of parents jostled down isles of toys, pushing, grabbing, snarling like a pack of wild dogs fighting for that last toy; the holiday spirit and common courtesy was alive and well. The queue of kids for the Rocket Train snaked through the basement like a soup line.

There, sitting on his mini-mountain top perch, sat old red-suited Santa Claus and his elfin apprentices, herding kids to his lap at break-neck speed. Each child got about fifteen-seconds, a black and white photograph, and then it was off the lap and down the steps. Kids were fast in those days; we memorized and practiced our list weeks before our visit for maximum impact. “Ho-Ho” had better be writing this stuff down. Kids don’t forget, squat.

Two Santa visits, four Rocket Train rides, and three popcorn bags later, our family unit departed Leonard’s for the new and improved “Leonard’s Christmas Tree Land,” located across the street from the main building. Thanks to the demolition of several winos infested abandoned buildings, the new lot was now the size of Rhode Island and held enough trees for every person and their dog in Texas.

Thousands, if not millions of fresh-cut trees awaited our choosing. Father, always the cheapskate, chose a sensible tree; not too big, not too small, yet full and fluffy with a lovely piney aroma. My sister and I pointed and danced like fools for the “pink flocked” tree in the tent, that cost the equivalent of a week’s salary. My parents enjoyed our cute antics. The sensible tree was secured to the top of our Nash Rambler station wagon, and we are homeward bound.

Pulling into our driveway, it was impossible to miss our neighbors extravagant holiday display. We had been away from home for 6 hours and returned to a full-blown holiday extravaganza that made our modest home look like a tobacco road share-croppers shack.

Our next-door neighbors, Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister were the neighborhood gossip fodder. The couple moved from Southern California for his job. He, an aircraft-design engineer, and she, a former gopher girl at Paramount Studios. The Misters reeked new-found money and didn’t mind flaunting it. They drove tiny Italian sports cars and hired a guy to mow their lawn. His wife, Mrs. Mister, always had a Pall Mall ciggie in one hand and a frosty cocktail in the other. Father said she looked like a pretty Hollywood lady named Jane Mansfield, but Mother said she resembled a “gimlet-assed dime-store chippy.” I got the impression that the Misters were quite popular in the neighborhood.

Their Christmas display was pure Cecil B. DeMille. A life-size plywood sleigh, with Santa and his reindeer, covered the Mister’s roof, and 20 or more automated Elves and various holiday characters greeted passersby. Twinkling lights covered every bush and plant in the yard, and a large machine spat out thousands of bubbles that floated through the neighborhood. This was far more than Fort Worth was ready for.

The kill-shot was their enormous picture window that showcased a ceiling-high blue flocked tree bathed in color-changing lights. There, framed in the glow of their yuletide decor, sat Mr. and Mrs. Mister with their two poodles, Fred and Ginger, perched on their expensive modern sofa, sipping vermouth martinis like Hollywood royalty. This display of pompacious decadence didn’t go unnoticed by my parents.

Father hauled our puny tree into the living room and began unpacking lights for the decorating that would happen tomorrow evening. Mother hurried my sister and me off to bed. Visions of spying Elves, sugar plum pudding, and dangerous weapons danced in my head; Christmas was upon us.

Sometime after 10 PM, Father got hungry. Searching for sandwich fixings in the kitchen, he found a bottle of Jim Beam bourbon. Then he found a fresh half gallon of Egg-Nog, which of course, he enjoyed with the bourbon. While searching for bread to make the ham sandwich, he found two “Lux Laundry Soap Flake” boxes, with a dish-towel in each one. Then by chance, he discovered the food coloring. This gave him an idea for our sad little tree.

I awoke in a start. The sun was shining in my face, which meant I was late for school. I ran into the living room and was stopped in my tracks.

Our formally green tree was now flocked in thick pink snow, as were the curtains, the fireplace mantel, two chairs, the coffee table, and my father, who lay on the couch, passed out, with a half-eaten ham sandwich on his chest. My Mother sat a few feet away, sipping her coffee and smoking a Winston; my Louisville slugger lay on her lap. I was reluctant to approach her, but I had to know.

I timidly put my hand on her shoulder and asked, “Mom, is Dad going to be alright?” She took a sip of coffee and a drag from her ciggie and said, “well, for right now, he will be, but after he wakes up, who knows.”

“Thomas Fowl Is Laid To Rest”


Drawing by Betty Crocker

Now the “Rona” has ruined Thanksgiving and is well on the way to destroying Christmas. Santa is no fool; that flimsy mask will not protect him from the vile germ that inhabits every surface in our homes. God forbid he drinks that warm milk and eats those germ-infested homemade cookies, and then brushes against that hot zone of a tree. He won’t last the night, and millions of children will be left presentless.

Our large cities, New York, Chicago, and others are adding Thanksgiving dinner to their list of hit crimes. A family can’t commune and break bread together or go to church on this peaceful day, but a family can have a funeral or go to Walmart or a strip club. How considerate is that?

This year, I will post in the local obituary that our family is mourning the loss of an esteemed member, Thomas Fowl. Visitation and the funeral service will be at our family home on Thanksgiving day. Out of respect for poor Thomas, the family and friends are requested to bring a side dish of comfort food for the attendees. Thomas will be laid out for viewing on a beautiful china platter with all the trimmings. A toast of good wine will be made in his honor. The governor is invited to attend if he pleases. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.

” The Plan”


A short story by Phil Strawn

A short time back, in a country much like ours was at one time, a young boy lived a good life. His parents, third-generation immigrants from Europe, we’re proud that their only child will be the first in their family to attend a university.

When Babalou was six years old, he asked his mother about two pictures hanging on the wall in their dining room. There was a painting of a sad-eyed man with long hair and a beard, hands clasped, staring upward. The other picture was not a painting, but a fancy written document on yellowish paper. His mother said the man with the sad eyes is our Lord and Savior, and the other picture is what we live by every day as a free nation. Babalou never understood her explanation, but he knew his mother was wise, and he trusted her.

When Babalou turned ten, he worked after school with his father in the family shoe repair shop. His father, a proud citizen, wanted his son to know the value of hard work and learn life’s lessons to build the boys’ self-esteem. Babalou was diligent and learned well. He flourished and became a good student and a fine young man.

The day Babalou arrived at the university, as he and his parents stood by their old car parked in front of his dormitory, they hugged him harder than he could remember. His mother said to him, ” Babalou, take this gift of education that you have been blessed with, and use it to better yourself and your future family. Don’t forget that this country allows you to be anything you wish to be. Go with the grace of God.” He nodded that he would do just that.

Two years into his university education, Babalou was a changed man. The years of professors preaching inequality and pushing socialistic doctrine had soured his once optimistic look on life. He believed God to be a fraud. The professors said the revolution is upon us, and ” The Plan” is being implemented as we speak. How could he argue? They knew everything.

His visits home became less frequent, and when there, he argued with his parents about the smallest of things, calling them fools and ignorant and useless old people because they couldn’t see his way is the only way. His family didn’t know their son, and it broke their hearts. In the last year of school, he didn’t visit for the holidays or summer and didn’t call home once. Letters from home were tossed into the wastebasket; the uncoupling was complete. The “Plan” had secured another convert.

The world of technology awaited Babalou. He invented an application for smartphones that was so new to the industry that the country’s largest companies begged to purchase it. He declined to sell what he had worked so hard to build. His pride was still intact but waning. His university education had paid off well. His parents saved their entire working life to pay for his newfound success, but not one word of gratitude came from Babalou.

Babalou formed a company that soon became the largest and most powerful in the tech world. He resisted selling and fought numerous hostile takeovers, but he lost the battle one day, weakend from the constant barrage, he signed their documents. His company was taken from him for the better of the people and for the “Plan.” Babalou was pushed out and swept away.

A rich man beyond anyone’s dreams, he lived a quiet life in a beautiful beachfront home in the land of the sun. Contact with his parents had ceased years ago. He sometimes wondered what they were doing, but he cared not enough to contact them.

The television news said the “Plan” was now in full effect. Social Pensions were canceled, the money to be used for illegal immigrants and others without. Medical insurance was banned. Others came first; citizens came last. Seniors and the disabled and infirmed were sent to retirement camps to live out their last days. Their property was re-distributed to the needy. They were of no use to this “one society” and contributed nothing. Babalou was not concerned; he had more money than God in off-shore and foreign banks. So what if he had to give some to the less fortunate. The “Plan” is right.

Babalou awoke from a sweaty, hellish nightmare. He is now, after many years, concerned about his parents and their well being. Why has he been such a self-centered, greedy fool? He had no answer, but he felt he must see them.

The private jet landed at the small mid-western airport, and Babalou chartered a limo to drive him to his childhood home. The neighborhood was different now, rundown and dirty. Old cars on jacks littered the front yards of the manicured lawns he knew as a child. This was not home; this was block after block of Hell. He knocked on the door of his parent’s home. A young boy answered. In broken English, he explained that the former owners had been moved to a “Retirement Camp,” and his family lived here now. The rose bushes so beloved by his mother lay dead in their flowerbed.

Babalou used his own application to track his parents to a Retirement Camp located an hour away. Arriving, the agency representative, a young lady with a surly attitude, took him to their apartment. She unlocked the door and led him into a small room with a double bed and a kitchenette. Babalou asked where his parents were. The young lady said they had died a few weeks before but had left a large envelope for him. She reminded Babalou that all of their belonging were now the property of ” The Plan,” and he could remove nothing from this room. He was gobsmacked. The Plan was implemented to help everyone live a better life, not put old people in camps and confiscate their personal belongings. What in the Hell has happened to his country? Where had he been?

Babalou sat on his parent’s bed. The quilt his grandmother made, the satin pillow with the cross his mother loved so dearly, and his father’s worn pipe lay on the nightstand. Childhood memories flooded his senses, and tears of sorrow and regret came to his eyes. He opened the envelope. The first document he removed was the man with sad eyes, our “Lord and Savior.” His mother’s words came to him. The second document was the written words that hung in the lovely frame in their dining room. He studied it for a moment and then began to read aloud The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America for the first time in his life.

Old and Gray, But Still Rockin It!


A poster I came up with for our 2006 Big D 60s Legends concert in Dallas. The cream of the crop rock bands from the 60s came out to play one more time.

I’m Bored. I Think I’ll become a Beatnik !


A personal journey to become a Hep Cat. By Phil Strawn

Sluggo-nik

I am bored and uninspired. Writers’ block has crippled my creativity, and painting a picture on canvas no longer holds my interest. My guitar rest in a closet, untouched for two-years. My barber hasn’t cut my hair in months, and my goatee is taking shape, so the time is right for a change.

Last night, during supper, I announced to my wife that I have decided to become a “Beatnik.” Without looking up from her casserole, she asked if it will be like when I decided to become a “Hare Krishna” and move to India to play the sitar and hang out with Yogi’s. Ouch, that stung. She knows me too well.

“This coming Monday,” I say, “around 9 AM CST, I will no longer be a grumpy old guy, but instead, will become a finger-snapping, beret wearing, caffein guzzling, poetry writing, deep thinking Hep Cat.” She touched my whiskery cheek and said, ” now won’t that be fun.” She thinks I am not serious this time, but she can hide and watch.

I didn’t realize a change was afoot six months ago. The transformation has been silent and gradual. It’s as if Tinker Bell, the Beat Fairy, has visited every night and sprinkled pixie dust on my pillow.

A month back, out of the blue, I re-visited “On The Road” by the great beat author Jack Kerouac. It’s a challenging read, but I made it through for a second time. The free and rebellious nature of the characters piqued my imagination. If I can capture the “cool factor,” it might add a few more years to my punch card. Daydreams have no age limit or shelf life.

The Great Pumpkin Made Me Do it, 2.0


This is a post from a few Halloween’s ago. Since many of the kiddos will not be trick or treating this year because of the ” Rona,” I thought it a good time to revisit. Enjoy.

I did something last night that surprised myself, and that’s always a good thing these days. I watched ” Its The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” the preverbeal 1960s Halloween show.

It was comforting to see the old Peanuts gang looking so healthy and young. Pig Pen and Linus are still my favorites. Charlie Brown has a defeatist attitude, so I never got into him. I told my wife, Maureen, that it rejuvenated my interest in Halloween and trick-or-treating while watching that program. Things are going to be different this year, I declared.

As a child, I fondly remember the anticipation of Halloween. When October 1st came around, the kids in my neighborhood counted the days until the 31st. Back in the day (the 1950s), we celebrated Halloween on the actual date and did our begging on that evening, in the dark, and even if it was a school night. We were tough kids back in those days, staying up late and actually going to school the next day. We didn’t need a weekend to recover and didn’t know what a safe room was. Trick-or-treating was damn serious stuff for us, and we were good at it.

In a fit of nostalgia, I announced to my wife that I will go trick-or-treating this year. For now, she is going along with the idea as if I am joking. I tell her I am not, and she can hide and watch. As for a costume, I will wear a black t-shirt, a black jacket, jeans and sneakers, and possibly a Texas Rangers ball cap if the weather is inclement. I will not carry a glow stick or a flashlight; that’s for babies. If I can’t find a group of kids to walk with for some reason, I will trudge on by myself. I am determined to experience one last Halloween before that tall, robe-wearing dude with a sickle knock on my door. This has evolved into a bucket list thing, and I must see it through.

I have given this some thought and have worked out the perfect plan accepted in today’s society. When I ring the first doorbell, and a smiling man or woman answers, I will say trick-or-treat holding their bowel of candy. Their first reaction will be to say, “where’s your grandkid, or what the hell is this.” Either one, I’m ready. I will look them straight in their parental eye and say, ” I identify as a 6-year-old.” I will either come home with a full bag of goodies or be bonding out of jail. It’s going to be a good Halloween this year.

President Trump Reveals He is Superman After Fighting The Corona Virus


Photo courtesy of The Daily Planet

During a campaign rally yesterday, President Donald Trump revealed that he is now “Superman” after successfully beating the Corona Virus.

His personal physician says, “I have no clue how this happened, but it’s a done deal, and we have to live with it.” Dr. Seamus Scaromuche of The Institute For Super Hero’s said the most likely cause was the intense steroid therapy, along with the high doses of secret sauce from Johnson and Johnson. The First Lady was also seen feeding him a glowing green soup that may have been smuggled from the planet Krypton.

Concluding his speech, The President ripped off his expensive suit and flew off the stage, “faster than a speeding bullet.” Within seconds, he buzzed a Biden campaign rally being held at an airport a few states away. The small and confused crowd ran screaming from the tarmac as the flash of blue and red broke the sound barrier a few feet above their heads. The President then used his laser vision to melt the tires on Biden’s plane and welded the doors shut.

Upon returning to his rally, Superman/POTUS brought to the stage “Penny Lane,” great-granddaughter of Lois Lane. She tearfully remarked to the crowd, “my great granny would have been so proud.” President Trump then called White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanny/Starlight to the stage, and the two superheroes held arms high in a victory celebration.

Starbucks Employees Trash Own Stores After Seeing Amy Coney Barrett Drinking Their Coffee


Seattle Starbucks Photo by Don Knotts

Seattle Washington – Fourteen Starbucks shops in downtown Seattle were heavily damaged when employees rioted after seeing Supreme Court Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett drink from a Starbucks coffee cup during her questioning.

Buzzy Wayne, spokesman for the company said the damage is estimated to be in the 15-20 million dollar range. He also stated that no charges will be filed and no one will be terminated. Instead, each employee involved in the incidents will receive counseling and six months of paid leave.

In an email to Judge Barrett, CEO of Starbucks, Button Feldman demanded that the judge cease advertising and drinking their product. Judge Barrett replied, “I will gladly stop drinking your product, it taste like Badger piss anyway.”

Judge Amy Coney Barrett Arrives at Supreme Court Hearing In Costume


October 12, 2020- The Dead South News Service – photo courtesy of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett got day one of her bi-partisan hearing off to a rousing start by dressing in costume. It appears her attire is that of a handmaiden from the hit Hulu series “A Handmaids Tale.”

Senator Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris ran from the proceedings screaming. A doctor was summoned to administer a sedative to both women before the hearing could proceed. Senator Corey Booker, a fan of the show, said, “I don’t agree with her on anything, but Judge Barrett looks pretty darn hot.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairmen, got a chuckle from the stunt and told the remaining panel, “come on now, it’s almost Halloween.”

Judge Barrett, in her opening statement, said, “I only wanted to interject a bit of fun in this hearing.” She further unhinged the Democrats on the panel by placing small figurines of Jesus and the Pope in front of her microphone and lighting a prayer candle.

Seattle Orders 14 K Safe Space Containers In Case Trumps Wins


Seattle WA – October 11- As reported by Phil Strawn The Dead South News Service – picture courtesy of Ernie Kovacs

The Seattle Washington city council has placed an emergency order for 14,000 converted shipping containers to be used as “safe spaces” for their growing millennial population in the event that President Trump wins a second term. The tiny units, manufactured by Denver based “Hidey Hole Conversions” will be positioned around the areas frequented by millennial protesters.

Jim Box, CEO of Hidey Hole says the converted shipping containers are state of the art with Wi-Fi, a bathroom and a comfortable bed which includes a “heavy blanket.” Each unit will cost the city of Seattle approximately $ 4,000 US Dollars and will be delivered and in place by no later than November 1st, 2020.

In order to deter the homeless from moving into the “safe spaces,” a special patch will be required for millennial’s seeking refuge. The patches can be purchased at Starbucks for $10.00 or on Amazon.

President Trump Issues Final Last Wish While Dining at McDonald’s


Washington DC. Friday, October 9, 2020 – The Dead South News Service, Reported by Phil Strawn. Photographs by the late Ansel Adams.

Keeping with the newest protocol in Washington and the requirements of the President. POTUS Trump, via Twitter, announced Friday morning that he is issuing his “Final Last Wish” just in case he relapses with the Corona 19 Virus. The Secret Service tweeted that the President, during his weekly visit to McDonald’s, sent the tweet in between bites of a Double Meat Big Mac. Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, not to be ignored, texted from her weekly hair salon appointment, stating that she will be issuing her “Final Last Wish” later today, making it number two in the rotation. Her tweet was accompanied by a selfie of her eating a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sandwich while sitting under a hairdryer.

Nancy Pelosi on a recent visit to Oz

President Trump tweeted to Speaker Pelosi that she needs not to waste her time since his tremendous and wonderful wish will trump hers. He jokingly remarked that he heard from a little birdie, her squad of “Flying Monkeys” walked off the job because they haven’t been paid since May. The President reassured Speaker Pelosi that the White House will be doing “everything in our power” to ensure her final wish is granted as soon as possible.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted that they will also issue their “Final Last Wish” after being elected. AOC tweeted, ” Hey, what about mine?”

SuperFly Attacks Pence-Disrupts Debate


Photo courtesy of Google

The pesky fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence head during the debate on Tuesday evening has been identified as a ” Super-Fly Robot Drone.” Bud Zapper, head engineer for Acme Drone Supply confirmed to the press on Wednesday morning, that the drone was one of their new prototypes and is investigating how it escaped their R&D lab.

Zapper says that this particular drone is capable of reading minds and was being used to transmit the Vice Presidents’ thoughts to Kamala Harris via a receiver in her left ear.

Zapper added, “Mr. Pence had an extreme amount of hair-spray holding his hair-doo in place, so the electronics in the drone were most likely unable to penetrate the chemical barrier and were rendered useless, resulting in an annoying amount of feedback in Ms. Harris’s earpiece.”

Dr. Seamus Scaramauche from the Institute Of Extreme Behaviors stated, “this would explain Ms. Harris’ loss of concentration, skewed historical facts, odd facial expressions, and her general bitchiness. The Vice President said he wasn’t aware of the fly and felt no pain.

“Fancy Nancy”


San Francisco CA – The Dead South News Service

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream announced today that they will be partnering with Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi to produce a line of outrageously priced Boutique Ice Cream Freezers. The units, called “Nancy’s Fancy” will be sold in select markets on the West and East coast. Target cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC will be the main markets because they are considered leftist socialist strongholds. The South and Midwest will not be considered for obvious reasons.

The freezers, produced in Communist China by the Wu-Han Appliance Cooperative and Viral Laboratory will feature all stainless steel construction and state of the art electronics. Each unit will be assembled by young children in a guarded factory compound, and will come equipped with a 20 inch LED touch screen TV that will play Ms. Pelosi’s latest mumblings and accusations when the door’s are opened.

To ensure the product launch is a success, Ben and Jerry’s will offer a full year worth of their “ice-cream of the month” delivered by “Amazon Drone Force” to your front porch or somewhere in your general vicinity every week.

When asked if the profits and some of the product from the venture will be donated to the homeless population in her district, Ms. Pelosi said, ” Hell no! that’s my money. What would a vagrant do with money, or ice-cream.”

“Back In The Saddle Again”


My friend John Payne was raised in West Texas, and I have, with his permission, used his antics as a teenager to inspire my favorite character, Ferris Ferrier. This story was inspired by John.

Ferris Ferrier lives in Happy Texas. It’s 1958, and he is as happy as a resident can be. Ferris reads an article in the Amarillo newspaper about a movie filming in Fort Worth, and the company is auditioning for cowboys that can sing and play guitar while riding a horse.

Ferris plays guitar, a bit, and has some fancy cowboy duds, and his father has Ole Rip the cutting horse, so he’s convinced he could give this a shot. His parents give him their blessing, and its arranged that his cousins Jimmy Jam and Mary Meredith will take him and Ole Rip to the casting call.


Ferris isn’t nervous about the singing and playing, but more about Ole Rip getting spooked and bucking him off. Ole Rip is a working horse and used to cattle and his pen, and he is pretty unpredictable, but he’s the only horse on the farm, so Ole Rip it is.
Jimmy Jam suggest that Ferris and Ole Rip give a practice performance in the upcoming Christmas Parade next week. “Give the folks in Happy a preview of their soon to be movie star.” says Jimmy. Ferris agrees, and plans made.


The day of the parade, Mimi Jo Musson, the coordinator, moves Ferris and Ole Rip to the front of the show, right behind the baton twirlers. “Might as well give our new movie star a plug, right?” she said. Ferris is nervous as hell. Why right in front of the high school band? Ole Rip is bound to have a meltdown once that loud music starts. He explains to Mimi Jo the scenario that will likely happen, but she says “it will be fine, horses love music.”


At noon, the parade is lined up in the alley between the Prairie Bank and the Big Biscuit Café. Baton twirlers, Ferris and Rip, the drum major and high school band along with six floats followed by a stagecoach driven by Gabby Pat Parnell where Santa Claus rides and will throw candy to the children.


Ferris is freaking out. His throat is dry as sand, he has to pee, and Ole Rip is cutting one fart after the other, a sure sign he is not happy. As the parade turned the corner out of the alley onto the main street, Ferris starts to play and sing, and Ole Rip is doing fine. Then, the drums start, and the band kicks into Jingle Bells, and Ole Rip loses it. It is the first time Ferris has seen him rear up on h is back legs like Trigger, and is for a moment, impressed…until the horse makes a hard right turn and runs into Miss Molly’s Beauty Parlor.

As Ferris and Rip enter the business, Ferris hits his forehead on the door jamb and is spewing blood like a fountain. Ole Rip manages to demolish half the parlor before turning around and heading out the front door. They travel a few stores down, running parade watchers off the sidewalk.

The next stop, Western Auto and Rip is doing a similar demo job on the best store in town. Ferris is bleeding, his guitar is smashed, and the saddle is beginning to slide sideways. As they exit Western Auto, there are three vacant lots before you reach Bramwell’s Feed Store. Ole Rip picks up speed and heads for the feed store lot.

As the duo enters the lot, Rip is smelling oats and makes a beeline for the warehouse, where he abruptly stops in front of an open bin and proceeds to chow down.

The saddle slips off, and Ferris is on the ground.

He is a sorry sight, bloody face, torn clothes, his precious Harmony guitar smashed to sawdust, and then Margie Lou, his secret crush shows up. She is so excited she can barely speak.

” Good God Ferris, I have never seen a demonstration of horsemanship like that in my whole life, and I’m a rodeo queen. That was fabulous, and sensational” she screams. Ferris picks himself up and thanks, Margie Lou.
She adds, ” and next week you are going to audition for that movie, you should be so excited.”

Ferris says “you know Margie Lou, I think I’ll do my guitar playing on the ground from now on. Who knows, in a few years I might start me a band. By the way, that’s a good idea for a name, The Fabulous Sensations, and I’ll keep that in mind.”

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