...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Time for Seafood Cuz We are True Margrit of SF

Being Chapter the 18th of the 2010 SXSW Haiku & BBQ Tour..a novella

Sunday, March 28th
I don't know what fare Andrew and Gary throw together for breakfast over at Gary's place, but here we indulge in good old-fashioned Sunday brunch carbs and fat. BACON! EGGS! CHEESE! BUTTER! TOAST! ELIXIRS!

Then I shower & then it's time to go. Just like that. We get to Bottom of the Hill and haul in the usual gear, plus a video projector and screen for the BIG "Syllable" Video Premier. Oooh. A birthday cake is cleverly arranged and acquired for Gary, thanks to heroic efforts by Mike. And...we are ready to go and the big show starts.

Palace Family Steakhouse are up first. This show is their guitarist, Brad's last gig, as he's moving to Boston. The band purveys an hysterically high-concept tribute to a real (although, now defunct) restaurant in the Mission. As it happens, Palace Family Steakhouse's empty shell sits less than a block from my home. It is closed now, and not really missed. It was simply a gross place to eat (and perhaps a wretched hive of scum and villainy)--but it's an epic place to sing about, without a doubt. The band does a medley of mostly Queen tunes with the lyrics adjusted to reflect a more steak-centric universe. At one point dancers dressed in cunning steak costumes appear and dance a pot-pie de deux. VERY entertaining. Fave moment: digging the lyrics in, "We are the Steakhouse"--which was to the tune/riffage of "We are the Champions". Instead of "no time for losers, cuz we are the champions of the world", Palace Family Steakhouse offers up: "no time for seafood cuz we are the steakhouse of the world." Nice. So uplifting.

I would be scared to try to follow such a performance, but Jill Knight is the perfect woman for the job! Joined by her star lineup of Pam Delgado & Jeri Jones and Rob Strom ( of Blame Sally & Pam & Jeri Show fame), Jill smoothly transitions the day from comedy-punk-opera to California folk-rock with that super bad-ass groove in which she specializes. AWESOME!

Next up is the music video premier of our song, "Syllable"! Sarah positions the screen and hits play. Why am I nervous?? No pressure! Just enjoy! I look around and listen to the laughter and applause. The crowd really digs it! YAY! Me too! it looks good big! GREAT JOB, directors Sarah Dunham & Chelsea Walton! You make us look good.

Then we leap up onstage and ROAR through our set. We feel the love flowing in a complete circuit: crowd to stage, stage to crowd, and it sure is great to be back in our hometown. As of late, we have been fond of starting shows with, "Make Them Beg"--so we play that first. BANG--! Other tunes from The Juggler's Progress follow in sound, fury, and blurs of light. Halfway into the tune, "The Juggler's Progress" (our album's title track, natch), I catch a glimpse of Dianne Nola working her way to the front of the room. She's wearing a very cute Heinz 57 sauce-themed outfit in honor of Gary's Heinz 57 Sauce Birthday. We add a few extra bars for her to do some tapdancing (that's her tapping on the album, too!). Her performance is relished by all. Then, all too soon we are done. We close our set with a full-octane version of "Syllable", after which my keyboard is thoroughly abused like a sacrificial lambchop, the stage is cleared, and the crowd sings, "Happy Birthday" to Gary. Cake is served at the merch table.

The final set set of the night comes from Clair and there is much moshing, fist-pumping, hooting and general hollering. The natives are pleased! Maria Stanford's powerhouse vocals rise above every series of terracing rock crescendos that her super-group delivers. Chills and thrills of the rock persuasion are experienced by one and all. They end their set taking a spin through, "Whole Lotta Love"--which perfectly rounds off this whole magical night. I'm not fooling.

Now that was a show, if I say so ourselves.

Many--but not all--participants repair to the True Margrit after-tour-party for libations, pizza, and socializing. Let is be said that it is not a terribly scandalous event, but nonetheless a proper party, with at least one guest adorably passed out on the couch, and two others whose degree of indulgences hampers the hand-eye coordination that would be required to pick up slices of fruit. In the end, all who are still inebriated take cabs home and no animals are harmed in the making of this party.

Margrit shuts the front door
The last guest has departed
"well, I'm back", she says

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live Long and Prospero

Being Chapter the 17th of the 2010 SXSW Haiku & BBQ Tour..a novella

Saturday, March 27th
Today we finally get to see our kind Southern California host, the fabulously cool Lynn, which pleases us to no end. She seems genuinely happy about the Star Trek flask--she didn't have one yet! HAH! Excellent! We done good. She and Andrew do a bit of catching up, we all make sure to grab a shower, and then, sadly, we must take our leave.

We drive north. It is an absurdly pretty day. The golden state. They aren't joking. We thread through Malibu, and up up the coast past Santa Barbara. Man. The breakers roll in, the water is a profound indigo, the hills roll up and down and around decorated with luscious curly greenery. We've been to lots of exciting new places, but the California coast, well, it sure is a pleasure to travel here. Except--uh, are we out of gas? The next town? Sixty miles. Uh oh. Will we indeed run out of fuel and get stranded? Shipwrecked, as it were, here on this little isle of a truck, in the wilderness with visitations from strange phantoms sent by an old wise wily wizard named Prospero who's pissed off at his brother, due to court-related intrigues...no wait, that's the plot of The Tempest.

Our nailbiter comes to an end right when the final few wisps of fumes exit the carburetor. Phew. We're here--a town with a gas station. That was close. Gary and Andrew celebrate with some fast food sandwiches, but I opt for some Lara bars. For now...

It now appears we underestimated the time it will take to get to our venue in San Luis Obispo. So, when we arrive, we pretty much have time to set up, say hey to our friends (one of whom is Andrew's very first girlfriend from high school!), and start playing. I hastily down another protein bar and the bartender plies me with some enchanting hazelnutty beer. Well, ok, that's breakfast and lunch right there.

We launch into an epic set--the only really long show of the whole tour. It's really nice to stretch out and play some older tunes, such as: "All of the Atoms Strung Together", or somewhat current ones we've neglected as of late, like, "Girls Just Break Your Heart", and the brand new: "Obvious Solutions", and so on. But even an hour and a half set goes by like a blur, somehow, and once again we are hauling our gear back into the truck.

Now I am ready to eat a whole porpoise, so we ask for some dining suggestions from the doorman at our venue. He sends us to a pizzeria a few blocks away. It is perfectly adequate, but I can predict that I will be eating a mighty mighty big breakfast tomorrow in San Francisco. For we have decided to drive all the way back to San Francisco (even though it's four hours) rather than spend another night on the road. Andrew is looking kind of blurry and dazed so Gary takes the first shift at the wheel.

Two hours later, we make our last pit stop of the tour where Andrew buys yet another Rockstar to guzzle and thus fuel this last leg. At this point I'm beyond putting two syllable together and I drift in and out of oblivion, my face mashed into my pillow. And then it really happens. Really really. We are in San Francisco. It is 3:15 am. We wearily unload my stuff into my place. Then the guys speed off into the night.

I pour a glass of revivifying sparkiling water...yum. And, ooh, there's bacon in the fridge. Bless you Sarah! Tomorrow: breakfast = me eating bacon. But it's four a.m. and I have to be at soundcheck for our "Syllable" Video Premier (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARY & welcome home) show at Bottom of the Hill in 12 hours.

Waves beat at the door
The past's already prologue
To another show

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eighth Notes and a Pitcher of Beer

Being Chapter the 16th of the 2010 SXSW Haiku & BBQ Tour..a novella

Friday, March 26th
In the morning we take the liberty of brewing some of Lynn's Taylors of Harrogate tea. Yum. Now, that's a proper English tea. In the resulting heightened caffeine-fueled state I hunker down in my room and finalize some lyrics to a new song: "Comforting the Castaways". For the next album...

Andrew and Gary do some work on their computers. We line up the shower queue, we all get to freshen up, dress for the gig; and before we know it, it's time to hit the 405 Freeway heading for to Santa Monica where we are playing tonight, at our current favorite Los Angeles indie-rock venue: Trip .

I have a little gold-chain necklace which has developed a knot, and I begin to obsess over it in the truck. I seem to tangle it worse the more I labor over it. DAMMIT. We get to the venue. The guys go in. I keep working on the knot. It's rather like songwriting--untying strands of metaphors. Or storylines. Or melodies and hooks and riffs. There's got to be a beginning, middle, and an end. When it describes that arc, well, that's when it's done... I almost have it. As I ruminate over this concept/ chore the dusk thickens and I can't see the damned necklace anymore. I give up and work on a setlist for tonight's show. Gary comes out to the truck to tell me there are excellent sandwiches to be had inside and offers to order me one--thanks, man!

Shortly, I go in to eat my dinner. Gary was right. The sandwich is no joke--a freshly grilled pannini with turkey & pesto & cheese. Hell yeah. Good timing-- I was feeling small and weak, we didn't really eat a meal today.

The first act goes on. There are a few people there for them. The second act goes on--and more listeners arrive. My sister---the amazing and outrageously talented writer, Mim Eichler Rivas shows up! YAY! My very own sis!!! Strolling in soon after her are the wonderful, hilarious, and wise Uncle P, and our dear friend and colleague, Niall Fordyce, one of the few and far-flung guitarists who have played with True Margrit in recent years. Then a whole crew of Andrew's high school friends mustered via Facebook arrive. And then his friend Betsey, who he met at Berklee School of Music, also makes an entrance. And then a standup comic friend of Gary's walks in. YES, now it's a real party! And the bar continues filling up. I have a pitcher of Stella Artois from which vessel nobody else seems to be partaking...what the hell? C'mon, help me out, y'all! But I promptly forget about these libational issues--it's time for us to play! We get up and roar through our first few tunes. Hello Santa Monica! Hello Santa Claus! Merry March! Weeeeeee! We play a particularly snappy version of "Blazing Wheel". Yes. That's right! And then we execute a handful of other tunes with extra gusto. When we get to the spot in, "500 Years" where the meter switches over to 7/8 for a few bars, I see both Niall and Betsey from Berklee looking downright joyous. But then, there's nothing like odd meter for a nice rambunctious statement of fact--like: we could hang out always in drab old 4/4...OR NOT! AH HA!

All too soon, we are done playing and we drag our gear out to the street to tear it down & re-pack the truck. We chat with the whole motley posse and make a plan to meet for some grub at fairly nearby deli (for, it is now hours since the fancy sandwiches). Some of the party falls away, but a goodly portion are waiting for us when we make it to the restaurant. We are a bit slow arriving, what with dealing with our equipage. And though we hardly want to admit it, but of course we got lost on the way there. The sting of the mortification is softened by the joy of communing with family & friends, and is further ameliorated by the matzo ball soup (the balm of generations). A moment of peace.

And I sigh.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Been Through the Desert on a Pizza with no Name

Being Chapter the 15th of the 2010 SXSW Haiku & BBQ Tour..a novella

Thursday, March 25th
In the morning Ricky gets up and whips up a frittata for us all. Oh! Dreamy! We devour it gratefully and head over to the London Bridge. Yes, London Bridge. Oddly enough, a Victorian era Thames bridge from Londontown is here in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Weird and wonderful. We go and take a few pics. While I'm doing some (admittedly ridiculous) poses gesturing at and perhaps even straddling a statue, with Ricky (who is a serious pro photographer) snapping shots, a tourist comments, "that would look better if you faced the other way from the camera."

Ouch, sir. What is being implied? We all stare at him in disbelief--how rude! Andrew starts walking after him and haranguing him telling him he should never speak to women that way, who does he think he is, why is he creepy and inappropriate? Thanks Andrew, you are hero du jour. Well. Some folk don't know that dynamite comes in small packages.

On this peculiar note, we set out across the rugged lands. Soon we pass out of Arizona and into California. And on we go, our route passing just south of the Mojave National Preserve--a landscape not for the faint of heart, where only the toughest flora and fauna can flourish and the long miles are open to the sky, wind, sand and all they deliver.

And it's like. Oh. My. God. We are driving through the desert, right? And we are, like, TOTALLY thirsty. What's up with that?

We stop at a lonely gas station/ oasis for relief. They have two massive windmills and signs in their shop that warn patrons not to complain about the prices here, for, as the signage explains, the prices fairly reflect the cost of running this desert outpost, installing windmills, paying their staff. At any rate, we are grateful to them for providing this much needed stop in the desolate tracts of the Mojave. So be it. We continue on our route watching the horizon bake in the glare.

Finally, we hit Barstow and we select the local Sizzler for our lunching destination. Hey, the salad bar has actual veggies--it's better than...well, better than worse food. When our server learns from Andrew that we are a traveling band, she wants to take a photo with us. Naturally, we oblige. She informs us that this Sizzler is home to all the Barstow celebrity sightings. When actors are here in town shooting a film they eat here. She has quite a collection of pics of musicians and actors. She has met Vin Diesel and Lucy Liu--among other luminaries. She displays a few snapshots for us on her phone. Well then! It is very flattering to be included.

On we go. We witness the highway threading through scrubby sands, and the Joshua Trees swirling past. In time, the mountains rise up before us. And then, at long last we are descending into the mighty Los Angeles basin. The sun sets. Oh my, it's time for this drive to be over. We feel all dried up and withered and spent from the accumulated fatigue, duress, action/inaction of automotive travel, and desert air. Gratefully, we arrive at our hostess, Lynn's home and creep out of the truck gripping our luggage. Lynn, once again, is graciously letting us stay at her comfy home while we play gigs in L.A.. However, she is not here this evening and we are on our own reconaissance to figure out why when how and what foodstuffs we might nibble on before we hurl ourselves into the blessed beckoning oblivion of sleep.

Of course, we first log onto the internet for awhile. Then we discuss where to display the present for Lynn--Andrew found her a very shiny pretty Star Trek flask (she is a hardcore Trekkie). Should we leave it casually on the kitchen table, the shelf? Her dresser? Then we try to decide on a DVD to watch. The hour grows later. Now when the topic of dinner re-surfaces, we are all non-committal. Pizza seems to be the idea that appeals--but from where? Who delivers? Where are we? Can we agree on toppings? I'm partial to a mushroom-only pie, Andrew prefers a meat-festival and Gary--well, he's just more flexible about pizza. The discussion grows almost heated. We repair to different rooms in sheer exhaustion. From our various chambers it can be heard that we are all chuckling, too. After all, this is hilarious. A pizza battle. And it's just the Mojave talking. And two weeks of the road. And meat is gross on pizza. Finally, Gary starts making calls. No one will deliver. Or they are closed, or they don't take credit cards--or understand a word Gary says. Weird. Somehow it takes an hour to sort it out, but he prevails and now Gary is hero du jour--he successfully orders us a half veggie and half sausage/ pepperoni/ bacon pie that comes in forty-five minutes. We eat our slices peacefully in separate rooms. The pizza: not bad. We all feel a bit better at this point, with a certain sheepishness we say goodnight.

Land without pizza
There must be an oasis
Gary saves the day

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Interview with a Hamburger

Being Chapter the 14th of the 2010 SxSW March into Spring Haiku & BBQ Tour--
(a novella)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
After far too little rest, we stir once again when the fancy coffee starts making itself known via celestial fragrances emanating from the kitchen. Teresa downs of the some elixir with the guys and sails off into her day. I dash a tear or two from my eye. Aww. Damn! It' been so very fun to see friends on this trip, but then it's over before you know it!

We get ourselves to an eatery. We need sustenance of the bacon & egg persuasion and then we need to get our sorry sleepy asses on the road, pronto. We have a long way to go to make our radio interview by 2:00 at Northern Arizona University's KJACK RADIO in Flagstaff. There are various reports on the driving time--some folks say three hours some predict five. But the experts agree: it all depends on the weather.

As soon as we get on the highway it starts snowing. Andrew is filming the snow flurries out the window with his phone, intoning in his best suspense-movie-trailer-narrator-voice: "The conditions: perilous. The temperature: dropping. The altitude: high. The time: short. The music: good". We all cackle. Another long day coming our way.

The snow, as it turns out, doesn't last long or stick on the road--and we zoom into Flagstaff pretty much on time (it took about four hours). We require remedial assistance finding the right building, but once a DJ meets us in the parking lot, and we are escorted safely to the station, we can feel relief that we have made it. Phew. The staff get us situated with chairs, headphones, and microphones, and we begin our interview. We do a full fun one-hour show and good times are had by all, with Music Director Ben Wake interviewing us and spinning tunes from our CDs, and Stan helping him out and the rest of the whole cool team supporting the production technically and otherwise.

I record a station ID after the show & then ask the KJACK team the ever important question. Where can we eat? Ben hesitates not one instant. "Diablo Burger". He says. And we listen.

And we aren't sorry once we are biting into the succulent local grass-fed beef burgers served on English muffins with the Diablo logo burned right into the bread in an extra special bonus classy touch... and for those of you who just tuned in: we are talking with a Diablo burger from Flagstaff, Arizona. Hi DB! You are just delicious! Well, you're welcome! So, DB, where do you draw inspiration? What are your biggest influences? Who is the best chef frying up burgers today? What's your favorite song? Oh. Sorry, I ate you.

We have one more leg of travel left for today's trip, so it is good we have eaten so heartily. We also stock up on some good-looking chocolates from a nice Flagstaff candy-store. After all, chocolate is the preferred post-hamburger food group. We begin nibbling it in the truck right away.

Fully-loaded on protein and sugar, we head west with zest. We are to stay with Gary's great bud, Ricky, in Lake Havasu City tonight. Just three hours away...or well, maybe more. The sun sets over the high mountain desert. It's another XTC evening. Andrew & Gary sing along. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not that familiar with the XTC oeuvre, but I dig them mightily when I hear them. And thus, we are all chilling, enjoying the tunes until we near Lake Havasu and we try to follow the web-generated directions to Ricky's abode. We are directed in a very wide loop that ultimately deposits us at exactly the same intersection of the same thoroughfare where we exited the highway. HELLS BELLS! This detour costs us almost a month. A year! A DECADE! Finally, we call and Ricky talks us through the proper route to his house. And thus, we park and we drag in our belongings. In our spent state, we exhibit poor posture slouching wearily at his table, though we are not so weak and tired as to be unable to enjoy snacking on the delightful array of treats he has provided for our delectation. Nor to preclude the quaffing of refreshing beverages. Oh yes. Thank goodness for you, Ricky!

It is not long before I excuse myself and head to my room--for tonight we all have separate chambers. Yes. This is deluxe.

However, it is late and tomorrow: to California! So, right now: to dreamland.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

Being Chapter the 13th
of THE 2010 SXSW MARCH into SPRING HAIKU & BBQ TOUR--a novella

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
I wake up and smell the coffee. Fancy coffee. Teresa's roommate, Heinz has a super-cool uber high-tech coffee-maker that can be set to have a steamy frothy beverage ready at any specified appointed hour. Apparently, it roasts the beans, then grinds them, then brews a single immaculate cup, one at a time. Then it darns your socks, feeds the cat, answers your emails, saves the planet from trash-piles, and writes an award-winning one-act play for your consideration.

Maybe I drifted back off and dreamed that last part. I emerge from my sleeping-bag nest, yawning & stretching.

Teresa goes off to work while Andrew & Gary drink perfect coffees. We all get out our laptops and engage in a variety of computing activities. Eventually, our fancy turns lightly to thoughts of breakfast. On our friend Iris's recommendation we hit the Frontier Restaurant--to which we can walk from our Albuquerque home base. Very convenient. We all order and devour items with green chilies--and we are satisfied....for now. There are more more chilies out there in this town, just waiting to be devoured. And we are the hungry-for-spice band for the job. Yep.

The remaining time left before the gig is taken up with:
1) Gary & Andrew's fabulous new hat purchases at Lobos Men's Store.
2) A bit more laptopping for the guys. I workout whilst singing & warming up my voice--one of my favorite multi-tasking approaches to life on the road.
3) Planning and then eating dinner with our dear friend Kimberlee who has taken our quest for a proper New Mexican meal seriously. She guides us to an establishment that provides chilies--both green AND red in abundance--smothering various delectables (for example: tamales, enchiladae, and such). She also instructs us on the finer points of sopaipillas: how to put honey in the sopaipilla, then pick up a bite of, say, green-chili enchilada with the honeyed sopaipilla, and then munch morsels of conflicting-yet-harmonious flavors all together now. YES! We like. And thus fortified with spicy foods, we head to our show at
The Orchid Chamber--a groovy Hookah Lounge with cushy seats, moody lighting, and much sweetly-scented tobacco in the air.

We set up on the stage (actually, it's an area that's appears to be designed to be a private booth, which gives more of a vantage point to an array of hookahs than the crowd--but I decide to assume that these inanimate objects really dig me) and we rock some tunes from The Juggler's Progress + more. I see flashes from cameras and various video cameras rolling, so I know we are being well-documented. Good. As it should be.

After our set we receive some glowing commentary from the listeners. Especially effusive is the doorman. He tells me, "I really love your band, and you are just great! Dynamite comes in small packages!". First, this phrase makes me think of green chilies--but then, while I reflect on how flattering this statement really is, he adds "I should know". And thus, we get to bond over being short--he is none too tall, although not as short as me.

Presently, I sit down with Teresa, Rebekkah, and Kimberlee. Rebekkah points out that next time we come through, we should stay with her at her capacious abode--there would be separate rooms for all band mates. Ooh, no earplugs, no drummer banished to the front porch for extra-loud snoring. Heaven! We hastily improvise a haiku about it.

When this year's next year
In Albuquerque again
At Rebekkah's, yo.

But one hopes, this soaring poetry will not even appear to belittle our fine hosts--we are more than ecstatic to be staying with Teresa and Heinz and the fancy coffee-maker. And when we return to Teresa's we run an extension cord out to the porch so Andrew can have a little heater going out there. It's really quite cozy.

Meanwhile, Gary & I are crashing again in the living room. Unfortunately, he is awakened repeatedly by explosive sinus noises I'm producing as a result of breathing/singing in the hookah-smokey environment (and possibly the higher altitude in Albuquerque). He tosses pillows down onto my pallet from his perch on the couch, but to no avail. I snore on. Dynamite comes in small packages.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Wilting at WIndmills

Being Chapter the 12th of the 2010 SxSW March into Spring Haiku & BBQ Tour--a novella

Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Tell me why I don't like Mondays? Today, it's chiefly due to the sad reality of getting up so early. We imbibe caffeinated beverages with our hosts, thank them profusely for putting us up /putting up with us, we return all our possessions to the truck, and with collective deep breaths we start into a very long travel day. Across Texas we go. The sun gets higher. We are making good time. We are cooking with gas. We have the proverbial pedal to the metal. We are totally lost. Serves us right for operating under the aegis of so many travel cliches. We realize we are heading towards Dublin (Texas, not Ireland)) instead of Abilene. Dang.

We pull over in a cute little town--Comanche, maybe? I take pictures of an appetizing doughnut shop while Gary consults all two maps we have. He figures out a route to get us back on the way to Abilene. We zip along the amended route and only lose half an hour...or so. It's cool. It's cool. We are going to the home of our Albuquerque host, Teresa, and she will be fine with our updated arrival time--as long as it doesn't get pushed back too many times.

As we get hungrier, we fondly recall last night's mighty meaty meal. Andrew philosophically notes in haiku form:

"Happy happy cows
Do not know what is in store
Yummy yummy cows"

So true, Andrew. So true.

When we are an hour out of Abilene Gary logs on to the internet to do a search for a catfish restaurant. We haven't had fried catfish yet. And time's a-wastin. We won't be in Texas much longer. He compiles information and maps and triangulates the results. His plan works like so many highly advanced quartz crystal satellite-telescope clockworks all chiming in harmony with the accuracy of a super high-tech Moon colony of the not too distant future.

1400 hours

True Margrit approaches Abilene from the south on Texas State Highway 84, merging on Busness Loop 20, then exiting from the Business Loop at Pine Street.
1415 hours
True Margrit is seated in Joe Allen's Restaurant. The band orders food.
1500 hours
Band very very full. Fried catfish is the star, but the homemade breads are divine as well.

After our feast we take a look around at all of Joe Allen's horse-racing memorabilia. He's the owner of Pepper's Pride--a record-breaking thoroughbred with 17 consecutive wins! Wow, cool. But we can only delay the inevitable so long--we must get back in the truck and get to New Mexico.

We heave ourselves back into the groaning vehicle and speed off across west Texas. We pass some windmills. Then more windmills. Then more. I snap some photos of their shiny white hi-tech aerodynamic forms standing proudly on the prairie against blue skies festooned with fat fluffy clouds. More windmills. That's way more than Beggar's Canyon back home, uh, I mean the Central Valley, in California. We check into it. The web informs us that we are passing through the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, which is the largest wind farm in the world. Splendid. It's pretty to look at--AND it's GREEN. Right here in Texas. The future. Catfish, windmills, alive alive-oh. I melt into my pillow for a power-nap. sidghkjkgjkjsfg

I awake to a discussion between Andrew & Gary with liberal use of coding/html, nomenclature. I instantly drift off again. I dream that under duress the band must join a cult located at "the other house" of the folks we met in Granbury (who are super-nice, I must point out, in real-life and not at all cultish). To escape we have to make use of guitar picks on a rotary telephone. We can't get a dial tone and I shout,"help!" and then in reality I wake up. The guys are very quiet, just driving along...did I actually yell? On this trip Gary has already informed me that I snore--but do I also talk in my sleep? I sure hope not.

The sun is setting over some mesas. Hey! We are in New Mexico! We listen to some XTC--a favorite of Andrew's. After a few more hours, we arrive in Albuquerque where we get snarled up with our routing and temporarily drive in the opposite direction. Oh. My. God. NO no no. Personally, I might burst into tears. Or flames. Gary cradles his head in his hands. Andrew is a driving machine, but at this juncture, even he is starting to wilt.

Luckily, we are soon enough driving back towards Albuquerque, and in moments we are reunited with our lovely friend, Teresa. Acting the fabulous hostess, she makes sure we are instantly drinking revivifying beverages--and that we are receiving the proper gentle ridicule for our ever-weakening route-finding abilities that appear to be declining in direct proportion to our expanding fatigue.

And now we all can sigh in relief, pleased to be out of the truck and faced with the prospect of extended quality time on pillows in the immediate future.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Ideal Texas BBQ Moment

Being Chapter the 11th in the 2010 SxSW March into Spring Haiku & BBQ Tour-a novella

Sunday, March 21st
I awake in the zone of 10:00 am, not entirely sure where I am, or why...hmmm. Oh yes. Rock music. In Texas. The band is True Margrit and they're out spreading the word about their album "The Juggler's Progress". It all sounds familiar. I try it on for size. Yes. It fits.

And now. Perhaps it is time to get up and forage for some strong black tea.

I emerge to a Sunday morning bustle. Our hosts are getting ready for a trip overseas, but we are going to tear them away from their preparations for a bit, for we have a lunch date in the early afternoon at Austin's much-lauded Tex-Mex restaurant, Maudie's. YUM!

I hang out and chat with Julie for a bit. The laptops of all who are present litter the dining room. The internet is utilized. Showers are taken. Phone calls are made. And it's now time for lunch.

We progress in caravan-style to Maudie's. There is a wait, but we are assured it's worth it. There's a Goodwill Shop nearby so Gary & I opt to peruse the wares until our table is called. In due course, we get our table, we sit down & order, and our food arrives. Although I was instructed by many friends to get migas in Austin, I am swayed by the prospect of mushroom enchiladas. I'm not disappointed. They are all that I love--cheesy, corny, savory, mushroomy. I also love the chips--super thin and super crispy. I have heard diners refer to properly prepared deep-fried food as "light" when the item is:
1) crunchy
2) not visibly dripping with oil

Personally, I think this is ridiculous. Don't fool yourselves! It cannot in any caloric sense be calculated accurately as light--it's deep fried! But it can be delicious. Like these chips dipped in the Maudie's salsa. Very addictive, very tasty.

We go back to the house. Andrew fluffs a pillow, lies back on the couch, and composes himself for an afternoon nap. Gary retires upstairs as well. I receive phone calls that lead to a spontaneous mini-Oak Ridge reunion. David Snyder AND Jeanie Haber drop by and we all have a dandy old time catching up.

The shadows lengthen. Talking is hungry work--the time has come. The votes are in. Five out of six Austin residents agree that The Salt Lick is the best BBQ in town--except it's not exactly in town. It's a bit of a drive to the highly recommended location. Jeanie must depart. Julie & David have dinner plans with their daughter. But David Snyder is in. And thus the members of a very sleep-deprived band (plus David Snyder) go on a drive on the band's one day off. In the name of The Ideal BBQ Moment.

We get to The Salt Lick after dark. Nighttime adds to its mystique. The pit is so massive I imagine it as a circle of Hell, and the cooks with their utensils are like demons with pitchforks heaving the mighty slabs of beef like unshriven souls being forced closer to the flames. Amen.

We can't narrow down our desires, so we pretty much order one of everything they have--except turkey. Turkey is where we draw the line. The meats and sides all come out simultaneously and it is all truly a glorious array of Americana in edible form. But the baby-back ribs are the best of all--texture: succulent, flavor: sweet salty smokey tart rich--all at once. We all moan voluptuously. There is no way we can eat all this. Not even. The remaining food stuffs two of the extra-large takeout vessels completely to the brim.

Julie has retired but David is still awake when we return. He had demurred when we offered to bring them something from The Salt Lick. But when we hand over the leftovers he eagerly clutches the containers, his eyes alight.

And he sighs.