Technozombies


Technozombies. It’s not a real word, but it should be.

Standing in a rather long, and slow line at a sandwich shop during the lunch hour, my wife and I were treated to the bizarre, and ridiculous behavior of three millennial women. I hate that term “millennial”, but I guess its better than calling them dumb as shit little twits.

Each girl had a cellphone in their hand, tapping away. The man in front of them placing his order, tapping away on his phone. The guy taking his order had his phone in hand, tapping and waiting on his customer. The people behind us were tapping on their phones. Looking down the line toward the checkout, everyone was looking and tapping on their cell phone. This could have been a good “Twilight Zone” episode if Rod Serling were still around.

I focused on these three, and realized they were texting and sending messages and attachments to each other. No talking, just communication over the airwaves, mind melding like Spock. One girl did giggle, asking her friend ” did he really say that to you?” her friend giggled back. It’s odd how young women communicate with each other. Giggles, tongue clicks, half spoken words, broken sentences, rolling of the eyes, flicking of the hair. Its a secret language.

I watched them eat their lunch. All three, eating and tapping away on that damn device. No one looked up or spoke, except to take a bite of sandwich. Then head down, continuing to tap-tap. Complete social breakdown. I wonder, can they write in cursive? or do they print like most young people. Cursive is “our language”. Old timers know the value of the free-flowing wrist and a beautiful writing instrument transposing our thoughts onto paper. These young ones just tap-tap-tap.

I shouldn’t be so hard on this twenty-something generation. After all, I am writing this on a laptop.

No Rain…No Rain…


Read this morning that Woodstock will be back for an oncor. Fifty years its been since a half million young people sat in a pasture, listening to rock music, believing they actually changed the world. It was revisited in the 90s, and was a miserable mess, even without the rain and mud. Some things should be remembered for what they were, and leave it at that. But, possibly, this 50 year reboot could be a winner.

Imagine if some of the original musicians returned, and they well might if asked. That would be worth the cost of a ticket to see Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young wheeze through a set. Melanie could ride her personal scooter onstage and croak through a few tunes. Country Joe and the Fish could do the Vietnam song again, and Joni Mitchell might even make the gig this time. John Fogarty will be born on the bayou again. Of course Hendrix, Janice Joplin and the mighty Joe Cocker have checked out, so Santana will have to fill that void. John Sebastian and Arlo Guthrie could do their hippy single guitar thing and say “wow” a few hundred times. Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm could run the concessions.

Pretty sure the rest of the line up will be current stars. Rappers, dancers, acrobats and singers flying through the air or taking the stage via a zip line suspended from a cell phone tower a mile away. Its not about talent these days. Its all, “look at me” and auto-tune. Katy Perry can fly in on a Game of Thrones dragon while lip singing any-one of her forgettable songs. Courtney Hadwin, the fiery young reincarnation of Janice Joplin will probably steal the show. Greta Van Fleet will wow the crowd with their spot-on imitation of Zeppelin. Wonder how that will turn out since Robert Plant will be performing?

I attended the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969 and saw most of the acts that were at Woodstock a few weeks before, so I can say, ” been there and seen all that.” It will be fitting for the old-timers to show the young fans how it was really done. ” No rain-No rain.”


Luann’s Platter


Maureen and I visited Luby’s Cafeteria last week for lunch. When we walked in, the smells of food brought back memories from my childhood. Back in the 1950s in Fort Worth, there was Wyatt’s and Luby’s. It was always a hard choice for the family. Luby’s had the best deserts, while Wyatt’s always served larger portions. My Dad usually chose Wyatt’s. More bang for the buck. It was the Eisenhower years and things were tight. That’s back when he was still a Democrat. I was just a hungry kid.

We took our place in line, trays aligned on the metal rail. I scanned the extra large menu board for my favorite dish, but couldn’t find it. I panicked. The platter I came for, and have always ordered for decades is “The Luann Platter,” and they damn well better have it. My blood sugar was low and I could feel a rant coming on. Maureen rubbed a drop of “Peace of Mind” lotion under my nose to calm me. Then, in the lower corner of the board, I spotted it. ” The Luann Platter, half portions with a roll – $8.99.” What the hell! It used to be $4.99 with a roll, a drink, and pie? Retired folk cant afford those prices.

I approached the smiling lady server and using my best old man controlled voice said, ” I’m not paying $8.99 for a half portion that was $4.99 with a piece of pie the last time I ate at Luby’s” and slammed my fist on my tray for effect.

Still smiling, she replied, ” Well sir, then you can choose the children’s plate if you are over 65 and or acting like a child, as of which you appear to be. You have a choice of chicken strips, a hot dog or spaghetti with a 2% milk and a fruit cup. That will set you back $4.99 plus tax. And by the way, The Luann Platter has been $8.99 since 2001.”

Oh, she was really messing with me now. Her smile had turned to a slight sneer and her eyes got beady. I leaned over the glass barrier. ” Do you know who Luann Platter is, young lady?” I demanded. ” No sir, was she a famous cook or employee of the month or something?” she said. Good Lord, this girl is clueless.

By this point, two other line servers had flanked the young miss in case I went postal. I faced them and with conviction said,” Luann Platter is the most famous character on the television show, ” King of the Hill.” An animated series that is set in Garland Texas and this dish that you serve is named for her. Don’t you know who Hank, Bobby, and Peggy Hill are?” The three servers had the look of social ignorance on their young faces. It was useless to explain. I collected my platter and we proceeded to the checkout.

We sat in our booth, eating our lunch in silence. The food wasn’t as good as it used to be. The good old days are gone for good. My turnip greens turned out to be Kale; the most evil weed ever cooked. Maureen’s chicken was rubber faux chicken and my corn muffin was doughy and awful. We can scratch this one off of our list.

Leaving the cafeteria, a fortyish blond women in a Luby’s uniform held the door open for us. In a girlish voice she said, ” Ya’ll come back now.” I noticed her name tag read “Luann.”

The Boys in Blue


I have always advocated purchasing things from children. Lemonade, cards, homemade candy and even cookies. It helps them understand capitalism, and having a little jingle in a kids pocket makes them feel good.

Last evening as I sat eating my second box of Girl Scout cookies, it dawned on me that there is a form of discrimination being practiced in the scouting world. The Girl Scouts, Brownies, Campfire Girls and Bluebirds get to sell merchandise for profit. Where does that leave the Cub Scouts? Penniless is where. The little boys in blue are as poor as blind mice living behind the Goodwill store. I hatched a plan. I called an old friend of mine, Marvin, a former scout like myself and ran my sure fire money maker by him.

For the time being, the Cub Scouts are boys. There may be those few that are confused about their assigned gender, but they can work that out later. Most of the scout leaders are men and fathers. Men like manly things, so by deduction the Cubs follow their lead. Selling cookies is not manly. Selling things that men like is.

Following the winning method the Girls have established, the Cubs can set up their display outside of Walmart or any retail establishment that will oblige them. On their tables will be an array of things men like such as; craft bourbon with names like Wolfs Breath, Hair of the Bear, and Webelo’s Firecracker. Beautiful cedar boxes of cigars with the scout emblem burned into the top, (every Dad loves a good stogie and a stiff bourbon after a scout meeting.) On another table, Daisy Red Ryder BB guns and kid size camping hatchets next to an array of extremely sharp knives and Cherry Bombs.

Marvin loved my idea. We meet with the Boy Scouts of America next week. Things are looking up.

You Will Buy My Cookies


Walking into Walmart this morning, I was accosted, not by a panhandler or some poor schmuck with a sob story, but a cute eight-year-old girl selling Girl Scout cookies. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and she “had” all the answers. This little waif, hands on her hips and a defiant gleam in her eye, actually blocked my entrance into Walmart. Standing in front of me like a little David about to punch Goliath, she meant business. I couldn’t bump her out of the way so I was forced to engage her. It was all a grand scheme. Standing behind a table stacked with boxes of cookies were four Mama Bears just waiting for me to decline. They all had that ” Just try to get out of this one,” sneer on their face.

” I don’t have any money,” I pleaded

” We take credit and debit cards,” she chirps. When did this start? Does every kid have a credit card machine in their backpack?

” I’m diabetic and could have a seizure,” I add.

“No problem mister, we have sugar and gluten-free,” she sneers.

I’m trapped. Twenty adults are staring at me as if I am a leper. I hand her my Visa card and she rings up five boxes of cookies and a twenty percent tip to boot. I take my cookies and walk to my car, fearing they will grab me again on the way out. I’ll be having cookies for supper.


Heavy Metal Thunder


I’ve known about the Lone Star Bike Rally for years. A little get together in Galveston for local bike clubs to share stories and show off their expensive motorcycles. Turns out I didn’t know diddly- squat.

This invasion is an assault on the fair city of Galveston, and if not for the income the city will deposit, they would not allow this invasion of big spenders.

Imagine 400,000 people on Harly’s, Victory’s and Honda’s riding around every inch of the city all at once. The noise is maddening and the traffic snarl is epic. These motorcycles are deafening on their own, and now bikers have added hi-tech sound systems to the machines and everyone is on a different channel or mp3 player. Rap, soul, rock, heavy metal, country all at the same time from 400,000 different systems. It sounds like an alien orchestra.

The Strand and Seawall Boulevard are shut down. Where are these people going? A few hours ago, I followed a large pack of around a hundred or so of them down San Luis Pass highway. When they reached Jaimaca Beach, the pack turned around and headed back to Galveston for a repeat.

Gas stations are running out of fuel and ice. Beer is in short supply and the price is rising. One old timer in our condo complex heard that the National Guard may be called up to airlift Budweiser to the C-Stores. This is serious folks.

Every bike club in Texas must be here. Today I saw the following: a group of heavyset bearded guys in top hats and denim calling themselves the “Flying Garcias”, a pack of women riders in black leather calling themselves ” Dykes on Bikes” and a small pack of pastel-colored Vespas where the women were wearing capri pants, head scarfs and Jackie O sunglasses while the men sported madras shirts and Bermuda shorts. Everyone is getting into the act. The two best yet were the guys in Evil Kenival jumpsuits riding classic Triumphs, and a small pack riding vintage 1940s bikes dressed like Marlon Brando from “The Wild Ones”. Very cool.

Too bad I sold my Honda Trail 90 last year or I would be right in the middle of this invasion.

 

Someone Done Messed With Texas


Back in 1985, some cowboy hat wearing, dope smoking senator in Austin came up with a slogan and a television campaign to keep our sacred highways litter free. It was a stated fact, by known experts at TXDOT, that the litter on our state highways and FM roads come from young white males ejecting refuse from their pickups. I didn’t believe that, but that’s what the powers to be in Austin ran up the flagpole. Highway litter is indigenous.  Purveyors of trash have no color, no age or given vehicle type. All citizens are prone at one time or another.

Being an aware driver in those years,  I did, on occasion, witness assorted elderly motorist  throw the following  from their Buick or Cadillac : McDonalds, Dairy Queen or Sonic bags, assorted catheters, used depends, a walker, various canes, a walking boot, Rockport walking shoes, a personal scooter and a dead Chihuahua. On I-35 outside of Georgetown,  a young couple in a gray primer Chevy tagged my windshield with a poopy diaper at 70 miles per hour.   Lets be honest folks, it was everyone in the damn state. The shoulders of our highways looked like an alley in down town Detroit.

The first commercial of the campaign ran during a super bowl and featured Stevie Ray Vaughn playing “The Eyes of Texas” on his beat up strat and then leaning into his mic and speaking “Don’t Mess With Texas”. Yeah Bubba, we believed him because he was who he was. Willie also did a good commercial.  The Red Headed Stranger himself, standing there plucking that raggedy-ass flamingo guitar, pigtails hanging down and singing half a meter behind the music. That was back in the days when he was seriously being considered for a saint hood, so he could have persuaded any Texan to walk barefoot on a trail of broken Lone Star bottles.  Sassy gal, Governor Ann Richards and a cattle call of  Texas born actors and musicians proudly put themselves out there for the sake of garbage.  The campaign was wildly successful and within a few years the appearance of our highways was improved. What a difference three decades can make.

My wife Maureen and I drove to Dallas and Fort Worth this past Sunday from our recently adopted home in Galveston. She, to see grand children and myself to pick up my old Honda CRV from my sisters house in Plano.

Monday morning, I drove past downtown Dallas on I-45 and came upon a stretch of highway over the Trinity River. On either side of the roadway was garbage piled against the barriers. Not your standard trash bags, but sofas, chairs, lawnmowers, a dishwasher, a stove, televisions, a lemonade stand, various bumpers and tires and three cars on concrete blocks, wheels removed. It looked as if a convoy of Waste Management trucks had overturned and not bothered to cleanup the wreckage. So this is what Don’t Mess With Texas has become? City of Dallas, TXDOT…what the hell? A major highway through your city looks like a dump. At that moment, I was glad that we had left Dallas years ago. I was embarrassed for my former town. This carnage went on for at least a mile and as the long bridge ended, I saw a large travel bus parked on the right shoulder. An old bearded man in a black track suit and pigtails  was walking down the side of the highway picking up garbage. I did a double take but kept on driving.

 

 

 

Sea and Cactus


Well…we finally did it! Sold the house in Granbury Texas, packed up and moved to Galveston Island, all in one week. Now we sit on our condo balcony and stare at the ocean which is about a good pitching wedge away from our perch. It rained every day the first week and now, a few days past our second, its much cooler and less humid. Not bad weather for people our age. I assume the weather is what draws people our age, since there are throngs of them in all corners of the island. Could Galveston be the new redneck Miami Beach?  My bet would be yes.

This blog has been Notes From The Cactus Patch for a while, so my dilemma is, do I keep the name or change it? I found one small gathering of cactus about fifteen miles down the island highway, so if that counts as a patch, then the name remains.

Every surfer outside of Texas knows there “aint no surf in Texas”. Well Bub..let me tell you about October 10th. Hurricane Michael paid a visit to the Gulf and kicked the crap out of Florida, but along the way, he provided perfect sets of 8-10 foot  waves here in G-Town. We sat on our balcony and watched surfers at Jimmy’s Pier tear those bad boys up. Every surfer in the region converged on Galveston Island for that one day and it was epic. Being a surfer myself, I ached to be out there with them, but in reality, I probably could not have paddled through the break. I haven’t surfed for 25 years, so I will for now, leave that sport to my son and grandsons.

Now that I am retired ( in my own mind) I will be more diligent in keeping this blog current. I am working on a series of short stories and a children’s book about the Alamo.

More soon….

For the Love of A Dummy


A few weeks ago, I was surfing the net looking for comedy albums and came across one titled “Beverly and Eric Sing”. The album cover was a pretty blonde girl holding a lap dummy and they appeared to be gazing into each others eyes and singing. I studied the girl for a moment and realized that it was my cousin Beverly, whom no one in the family had heard from in many years.   I had heard from another distant cousin that she had reinvented herself and made a stab at a career in singing. So, here she was, singing love duets with a lap dummy. Some things never change.

Beverly was a strange child that seemed to like dolls more than people. As kids, any game we played always included her doll as a participant. We didn’t mind, it was a kid thing. We sort of liked having conversations with a plastic doll.

As she matured, her taste in dolls evolved, and she moved on to Charlie McCarthy type lap dummies.

Every holiday, there was always a dummy seated next to her at the family dinner table. The dummy always ate well. Even if it was the last piece of pie, the dummy got it.  It made no difference that it couldn’t digest anything, she would stuff Turkey and dressing, pies, gravy, biscuits, all the stuff we loved, right down its little wooden gullet until it ran out the dummies hollow back. Dummy poop. It was disgusting.

The family just smiled and cooed, “how cute”. My aunt would always brush it off as “a little phase she’s going through”.

My cousins and I knew better.  Beverly was a psycho.
When she turned sixteen, her dummies began speaking to us as if they were human.

At every family gathering, there was a new dummy and Beverly was often caught nuzzling and smooching on those little wooden devils.

She did try dating real boys a few times, but always took her dummy along for a chaperone. This didn’t go well with the “real boy“, so it was usually one date, no kiss and get the hell out of my car type of thing.

We didn’t see her too much during those years, just a line in a Christmas card from Aunt Bea now and then, sort of ” Bev is doing fine, is on the Debate team” blah blah.

Her junior year of college, Beverly announced that she was getting married to her boyfriend Eric, and she was bringing him home for Christmas to meet the family.

Her parents were extremely excited that she had found love while away at school.

Her mother, Aunt Bea, arranged for a huge surprise party for the betrothed during their visit, and went overboard inviting friends and family to share in their new joy. They were confident that Beverly had turned that corner that led to sanity and a boyfriend with a pulse.

The night she arrived home, everyone was hiding in the den with the lights off.

When Bev walked in, her mother hit the switch and everyone yelled “surprise”.

I was in the other room looking out the window and didn’t see anyone walk up with her, or sitting in the car, so I knew she had been dumped or this was a fabrication.

Everyone hugged, kissed and slobbered over Beverly for a few minutes, then her mother asked, “where is Eric?”

Beverly chirped that he was waiting in the car and she cheerfully went out to fetch him.

All the aunts and the female cousins were so excited, they were about to pee themselves right there in Aunt Bea’s den. I think Cousin Sissy did leave a little puddle, but blamed it on the dog, Chester.

A beaming and radiant Beverly walked in the door carrying a large black leather duffle bag.

Aunt Bea looked at her, then at the bag, then at her again, and proceeded to turn as white as the wedding cookies on the kitchen table.

Beverly unzipped her bag, stuck her hand in and pulled out Eric.

I must say, Eric was quite a handsome lap dummy. He had long stylish hair, with just the slightest hint of moose, a close cropped goatee, and he was sporting a Ralph Lauren sport coat with soft grey wool slacks. Soft black baby loafers with tassels completed the ensemble. Quite a dresser he was.

Eric introduced himself to the family, and was very chatty and engaging. His voice was sort of like the kid in the movie “The Shining“, when he kept saying “red rum”. A bit unsettling to those that saw the movie.

My uncle Doodie stood at the back of the room observing the whole sick scene.

I could tell from his anguished expression that he wasn’t buying any of this.

Finally, Beverly announcing that they were getting married, pulled Eric up close and gave him a big sloppy kiss, with a lot of tongue.

That was it for uncle Doodie.

He charged through the surrounding relatives and grabbed little Eric during mid-kiss.

When he grabbed the dummy, Beverly’s hand, which was inside of Eric’s little body got caught in the string causing Eric’s hard wooden lips to bite down on her tongue. The harder my uncle pulled the little demon, the harder Eric bit.

Uncle was jerking the dummy, Beverly was trying to scream and Chester the dog had joined in, grabbing one of Eric’s legs, jerking it off and running out the back door leaving a trail of cotton filling on my aunt’s new rug.

After a struggle, uncle Doodie managed to get Eric from Beverly, and grabbing a small hatchet from the hearth, proceeded to chop the little dummy into kindling, right there in front of the shocked family.

With every whack of the hatchet, Eric screamed “help Beverly, help your little Eric”.

I must say, that even in the midst of the killing, Bev did a great job with Eric’s voice. I didn’t see her mouth move one time.

Now, poor Beverly, in her distress of watching her true love turned into cotton balls and fire starter, ran screaming to her car and drove away.

It was years before anyone heard from her again.

I called my cousin Poodie to tell him about the album I found on the internet and he filled me in our Beverly’s antics up until now.

Poodie relayed that a few years ago, Beverly and Eric 2, her new husband, had taken a trip to Disneyland.

It appears that during the ride “It’s a Small Small World”, Eric went nuts and hurled himself from the boat into a scene with singing and dancing hula girls.

Beverly, not about to let her man run off with some hussy dummy in a hula skirt, jumped from the boat, and destroyed the entire automated display of little singing hula dummies.

In the mêlée, she accidentally dismantled little Eric, an abrupt end to the marriage.

Aunt Bea reports that  she is happy in the state home, and has now taken on the spirit of Sherri Lewis and Lamb Chop, and keeps herself busy working on a come back show.

I think I’ll buy the album just to hear the duets.

Uncle Nehi’s Nap Camp


 

I read an article in my local paper a few days back about a youngster from Louisiana that fed his pet earthworms small amounts of nuclear waste, which in turn, made them glow in the dark and grow to the size of a state-fair hotdog. 

He is now raking in cash, hawking them on his own late-night infomercial. Every fisherman in the south wants a giant wiggling glowing worm. Every bass needs one. I wondered, what kind of person would come up with such an idea?

My family tree back in the “old country” was chock full of these sorts. Dreamers, schemers, and medicine show hucksters. All died poor except one.

Take my Great-Great-Great Uncle Nehi, a puny Scott with a sweet tooth. He spent his spare time in search of sugary delights. One night, while experimenting with various potions of colored water, fruit, and healthy doses of sugar, he invented “Nehi Soda.” Now It wouldn’t be summer without a grape Nehi and a Moon Pie, would it? His tinkering resulted in the “all American soda.” Soda pop made him wealthy, and he died young from a roaring case of Diabetes, but he died prosperous and happy. 

I always preferred Dr. Pepper, but my parents made us drink Nehi every year on the anniversary of his passing.

If it wasn’t for “dreamers and hucksters,” a beloved section of our economy would not exist. There would be no infomercials on television. Drug stores would have fewer isles full of useful little “as seen on TV” things. People would be wondering how to make their fresh juice or cover that bald spot. How could they make their hair puff out to look like a jelly roll while roaming around town in a snuggly blanket with armholes? Hanging upside down tomatoes would not exist. How would the astronauts write upside down without that nice ballpoint pen? I get a little scared thinking about what life would be like without these gadgets.

This past Saturday, my wife and I enjoyed lunch at a quaint restaurant alongside the Guadalupe River in Gruene, Texas. It was a hot one. A real sizzler. 100 degrees in the shade and we were sitting outside on their covered deck, enjoying the river’s tranquility and cooled by the misters. 

My wife, Maureen, full of food and a cold beer, drowsily commented, “a nap would be nice right now.” I agreed, but there was nowhere to have a nappy except the hot car, so that idea was out.

I summoned our bill and sat staring at the beautiful river, watching the tubers drift by, listening to the lull of bubbling water, I was entranced, hypnotized by nature’s respite.

 My bill arrived, and on the servers plate was an ice-cold Nehi Grape Soda, bound for another’s enjoyment. I hadn’t seen a Nehi soda in decades. 

I was slapped hard by this boy and girls, the Nehi, the river, the need for a nap, and nature, it all hit me at once. I couldn’t speak, and could only croak out “nap camp…Nehi…nappy.” 

Thinking I was having a stroke, my wife whipped out her cell phone and started to dial 911, but stopped when I finally choked out the words, “Uncle Nehi’s Nap Camp.” I had that stupid look that she knows all too well, something akin to “hold my beer and watch this.” She waited for the spiel, of which I was overly anxious to deliver.

Grabbing her reluctant hand, I dragged her down to the river bank. She was scared: I was excited. Invigorated and drunk on the elixir of my vision.

“Why didn’t I think of this years ago” I yelled. “It’s like the boy and his nuclear fishing worms. It’s not too late, seize the minute, make your mark, mark your territory, piss into the wind for a change. People need to sleep, they need a good nap, it’s our right!”

I was so excited I was waving my arms and spinning around like a “tent revival preacher.” I was on a roll. 

I was yelling like a five-year-old on a sugar high, “over there in the trees by the river, we can build cedar post and metal roof pole barns, add ceiling fans and misters and put up some comfy hammocks. We’ll have an outside bar selling Nehi sodas, cold Lone Star beer and baloney, and rat cheese sandwiches. We could have a small barn with little hanging beds for the kids and dogs, and a separate napping barn for in-laws and people you don’t care for. Imagine, napping in a hammock next to the calm river, life doesn’t get any better than that. Right?”

A grizzled old fisherman was sitting by a tree with his cane pole listening to this opera of fools. He piped in, “not a bad idea, sonny boy, but Old Blind Mable tried that back in 1949 and lost her butt. You can’t put a business in a flood plain. This river flooded pretty well every year back then.

Old Blind Mable had a mess of hammocks and people sleeping in them thangs, and the river floods and washes everyone down to New Braunfels, whether they wanted to go there or not. If you got some money to piss away, go ahead, I’ll have a nap here until it rains, then I’m heading to high ground.” My wife looked at me and said: “let’s go home and have a nap, Einstein.”

I was crushed, a broken man, my vision was a pile of raccoon crap, shot down by a crusty old river rat: and my wife agreed with him. No Nehi sodas, no ice-cold Lone Star in a hammock, no nap camp. What the hell.

As we walked back to the car, a large dog came strutting down the street, pulling a kid on a skateboard. I watched them cruise by and thought, “a big skateboard for two, add seats, get some big dogs and rent them to pull people around town, “now that’s a moneymaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: