Thursday, November 27, 2008

Best pool on South Padre

I’m not a cement pond kind of guy. My preference leans towards natural swimming locales such as springs or rivers. But no matter how much you might or might not enjoy swimming, bodysurfing or playing in the Gulf, pool time on the island is critical for the full-on beach resort experience.

Pools have become a year round centerpiece on SPI as the island has been developed and matured, mainly through the combined miracles of heating elements in pools, windbreaks, and outdoor heaters around the cabanas whenever necessary, with a little help from global warming. No matter how blustery the weather might be, or how rough the surf and the riptide can get, or how significant the jellyfish and seaweed beachings, the water’s always warm and comfy in the pool. And given the semi-tropical nature of the climate (only 200 miles north of the Tropic of Cancer), if the weather’s bad one day, meaning highs under the 60s, it’s just as likely to hit the 80s on the next day, even in January.

The better news is, the snowbirds that do congregate on South Padre in winter almost never swim; at best, they’re trying really hard to cop some faint rays. If they do get into the water, it’s usually straight to the hot tub. Meaning the pool’s most often empty enough to swim laps.

For that reason, the search for the ultimate pool on the island has been a driving force determining where I stay in recent years, an allure that somehow justifies shelling out big bucks for vacations at Texas’ premier resort destination.

Understand, the pool has pretty much defined my stays on the island historically dating back to the mid sixties (honest). In the early years, the Sandy Retreat had the bigger, better pool than the Sea Island, the other big pool on the island. Both were much bigger than the diminutive though functional pool at the Miramar where my family often stayed.

Over time, though, the Sandy Retreat funked out and the Miramar declined into a junky cheap motel. The Sea Island, however, became the Radisson, and added a second pool, which made it a preferred destination when we didn’t book at the Sheraton, which claimed the best pool on the island.

After this summer’s Hurricane Dolly wreaked enough havoc and blew around enough debris to prompt closings and reconstructions, the Sheraton included, it was a good time to stumble into the Peninusula Island, a new smaller resort property next door (and in the shadow of) the Bridgepoint Condominiums, the smoked glass tower that for years was the tallest on the island (for all that luxury, the Bridgepoint had a rather small pool). The Peninsula consists of three six story buildings smartly designed around the property’s centerpieces – an infinity edge pool, a lower kids pool, two hot tubs, and a swim up bar.

The pool features low wave drains to keep the surface calm, a soft bottom, and water that isn’t overly chlorinated. Lots of deck chairs, cool wicker furniture by the bar, beachy design elements in the building complement the setting and the rooms are spacious, spare in the Euro Med tradition with lots of tile.

Normally, the studio rooms go for $225 in the off season, which is now through the end of February, but we lucked into a rate half that price. It’s worth calling to see what kind of rate you can bargain for or check an aggregator like The low price evidently reflects creeping signs of the Second Great Depression worming its way into the resort bidness. Whatever the reason, the Peninsula and its pool made for a great off-season quick getaway. I can’t speak for the Gulf, but as far as the Peninsula’s pool goes, come on down, the water’s fine. (click on the headline for a direct link)

The sunset views of the Laguna Madre were pretty cool too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joe Nick On Cedar

Well, at least a little bit of talking about cedar (Ashe juniper) on KVUE Channel 24 in Austin. Jessica Vess did a pretty good video feature on the subject that tears up Central Texans like me every winter. Plus some action shots of working the shears on little would-be cedars.

Click on the headline to watch the vid. Then get ready for your eyes to water, your nose to get runny, and your throat to get all scratchy and grungy. Welcome to the dirty little secret of living in the Hill Country.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doug TInker

News travels slow sometimes. I just caught wind of Doug Tinker's passing. I knew the clock was ticking down and talked to him about a month ago. I'm just sorry I missed his Bon Voyage last week.

I met Tinker when he was defending Yolanda Saldivar, Selena's killer. His white beard, white hair and love of sailing all recalled Ernest Hemingway, but Tinker was one of a kind. A former prosecutor, would be judge and defender of the indefensible, he practiced law in the Nueces strip that historically lawless zone south of the Nueces River and north of the Rio Grande, based in Corpus. Among his clients were Branch Davidians and homosexual lovers. He was equally at home with lowlifes and characters as with the nautical hoi polloi at the yacht club. He knew Havana and Veracruz both.

Even though Yolanda was found guilty (no question she did it) Tinker put up a good defense and a better show, especially each day after trial in Houston when we retired across the street to Buster's Drinkery, a very anonymous bar owned by a cabal of defense attorneys, where Tinker regaled the working press and fellow barristers with colorful tales of cases past.

We kept in touch and my wife and kids and I once sailed with him across Corpus Christi Bay in a race. Last year, he contacted me to talk about putting together a book. He'd written a column in a North Padre weekly paper about his exploits, and indeed, his career involved many larger than life characters, not the least of which was the Duke of Duval County, George Parr and his son Archer, who really did run their own kingdom in South Texas. I related to Doug how the book I'd just written on Willie Nelson came indirectly out of a busted Candy Barr book proposal. He stopped me in mid-sentence and asked, "Why didn't you tell me? I grew up with her in Edna. I was friends with her until she died and with all the other Slushers. She was good people."

A week later, an envelope arrived in the mail. Inside was a Xerox of an Edna High School yearbook. On one page at the bottom row of photographs of freshmen was Douglas Tinker, beardless but clearly him. On the row above was Juanita Slusher, the ripe makings of the future Candy Barr.

I should've known. Now it's all Wished I would've, and Wished I could've, mostly I wish Doug Tinker would've written that book about his exploits and storied career in a most unusual place and why he painted his painted toenails.

This obit is about as good as obituaries get, followed by a link to a site that's all about the coolest defense attorney you never heard of.

from (

Douglas Tinker

Douglas Tinker died on November 10, 2008. He wore out, he bit the dust, he dropped off the twig, he lost his last appeal. He was frustrated that he could not stay longer as he thought there might be just a bit more marrow in the bone of life, but in the end he was okay with it. He said that when you get right down to it and realize that nothing in, or about life, really ultimately matters, why then things get easier. Kinda takes the pressure off. And he had one hell of a run!

He loved boats and water and people and folks who loved boats and water and people. He was kind to strangers, children, waiters, and bartenders and always tipped well. He was a champion of the working man, and a thorn in the side of the corrupt, the powerful, and the self-righteous. He was proudest when he helped for free or next to free just because it was right. He would listen to bums tell their tales of woe and then give them a twenty and say “It’s alright if you buy booze with that.” He understood people, and did not judge them. He was a teacher and an ass-chewer who knew that it takes ten “attaboys” to make up for one “aw-shit.” He taught a lot of us everything we know as lawyers, but he was quick to point out that he had not taught us everything he knows.

He would knock an opponent down, but always helped them back up. There is not a Judge or a lawyer or prosecutor in South Texas who doesn’t have a favorite Tinker story. And when they tell it, they always smile. He called himself a one-trick-pony. There are sure a lot of just plain folks who are glad that he was on their side. That he was their one-trick-pony.

Doug loved dogs, women, booze, boats, friends, and defending people accused of committing crimes. When the whole world was down on somebody, he figured there ought to be at least one person to stand up for them, regardless of what they were accused of. So he took the cases others would not take. Because it was right. If it paid a little bit, or got some attention, well, that was okay too.

He is preceded in death by his son, Anderson Tinker, whom he loved with his whole heart and missed terribly. He is survived by his sister, Lee Loe and her husband Hardy, of Houston; his sister, Barbara Tinker-Hill of Dallas; and his brother, Tommy Tinker and wife Cindy of Hawaii.

So now the one-trick-pony has gone to the barn. Remember him well.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, November 13, 2008, at the Galvan Ballroom, 1632 Agnes St., Corpus Christi. In lieu of flowers, cash donations may be made at the service for the girls at Knuckleheads.

Here's the link to Tinker stories. Larger than life indeed. Godspeed, sailor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music for Regime Change, Part Two

Chuck Nevitt of the Dallas Blues Society Records rounded up a stellar studio group including Gregg A. Smith. Lucky Peterson, Big Jack, and Andrea Dawson to record the new hit "Do The Soul President" that recalls more than a little Johnnie Taylor and Bobby Patterson in the soul category.

Click for more info

A tip of the Hatlo Hat to Angus Wynne for sending it along.

Music for Regime Change, Part One

In a single day, I've received two pieces of music inspired by the changing of the guard here in the United States.

The first came from Matt Farmer, Chi-town musicmaker and blogger, , who sent me his new composition "Crawl Back to Crawford," about the outgoing Prez returning to his "ranch" (note: the locals still call it the old Englebrecht Hog Farm). I don't think he's gonna spend as much time there as up in Dallis, which is prolly a good thing from the standpoint of Crawford locals. All's I know is that Puff Dieterich, operator of Great Shapes hair salon, will once again be the Queen Bee of Crawford now that the speeding black car motorcades are going away.

Here's the lyrics:

(© 2008 Matt Farmer)

Well, for eight long years we've been payin' your rent
But now your lease done run
And all our money's been spent
So pack up your bags
And take a last look around
At how you drove a great nation straight into the ground

<<01 Crawl Back To Crawford 1.mp3>>
And don't let the door
Hit you in the ass on the way out
Don't bother with the goodbyes
Just make sure that you stay out
There ain't no need to call
No need to write
We don't even need you to turn out the light
Just crawl back to Crawford, brother
Promise that you'll leave us alone

Every step of the way, your story's been the same
Just cruisin' through the world
On your daddy's name
You had the oilmen friends
You had the Skull and Bones
But it never would have happened if your name was Jones


Slam dunk, privatize, deregulate
Tax cuts, trickle down
The politics of hate
Flag pin, waterboard
Intelligent design
You were handed your throne by just five of the nine


Monday, November 17, 2008

Fort Worth Teen A Go Go

Click on the link above to watch the You Tube promo of the forthcoming film documentary.

Someone likes what they've seen. From Gunther "Ooo-ooo" Toody on

"On Nov. 16th at the Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, TX there will be a first public screening of a new doctumentary called "TEEN A-GO-GO". Initially inspired by the FW Teen Scene comps, this documentary looks at bands formed during the classic garageband period in the mid sixties using interviews, found footage and photos. There are interviews with a lot of really great FW garage bands like the Elite, Larry & the Bluenotes, the Barons; and interviews with other bands from other parts of the country and interesting comments from garagepunk "experts".
I've seen it and it was better than I thought it was gonna be (expectations were low since the people that made it aren't really hardcore garagepunk freaks like us). There is some really great old footage in it and some of the interviews and stories are funny. There are some really insightful comments from Ira Robbins (of Trouser Press fame), funnyman Billy Miller, and from Texas writer and Fort Worth native Joe Nick Patowski (this guy really nails it describing why FW had so many cool bands). It was cool hearing so many great songs on the soundtrack (my favorite: "It's Been A Long Journey" by the Roots...Begin argument here about how the Roots weren't from Fort Worth...but it was released on a Fort Worth record label!...sorry, I was having a flashback). This probably isn't going to be released theatrically, but may make it to DVD someday. You might be able to see it on your local PBS station eventually (especially in Texas). This thing is not going to knock your socks like you wish it would but it's interesting and fun and there isn't really anything else like it that I know of, so that alone makes it worth seeing for those of us interested in the "garagepunk collecting hobby".
Check it out here:"

Cool future DVD cover here:

Norton Records, whose three audio CD compilation inspired this look back, can be found here: (go ahead, just click the head of Esquerita and a wonderful world of music awaits)

Here's the catalog copy for the CDs:

Fort Worth Teen Scene 1964-67
Gigundo wrap up of 1964-1967 Texas garage whomp from Fort Worth, based on Larry Harrison and David Campbell’s landmark article in KICKS #4. Includes famed five star killers by the Elite, Jades, Larry and the Blue Notes, rare uncomped singles by the Gnats, Mistakes, Jack and the Rippers plus unished rawness from the Barons, Rising Suns, Mods and much, much, mo’! Brutal sound, full color label shots, gatefold LP’s and detailed bios and photos of the groups that made up one of America’s most intense garage scenes ever! All this plus two photos of the Slobs!
NORTON 304 FORT WORTH TEEN SCENE VOL. 1 Train Kept A Rollin’ (Cynics)/Little Girl (Jades)/Night Of The Sadist (Larry And The Blue Notes)*/I Don't Want To Find Another Girl (Five Of A Kind)/I’m Blue (Rising Suns)*/Humpty Dumpty (Visions)/The Girl (Gnats)/In And Out (Larry And The Blue Notes)*/Time Is All (Mistakes)/Gloria (Tracers)~*/Without Her (Barons)~/ Fly By Nighter (Wyld)/She Said Yeah (Tracers)/ One Potato (Elite)/Two Potato (Elite) /Chocolate Moose Theme (Chocolate Moose) Thanks A Lot Baby (Bards)/Empty Heart (Nomads)/Little Latin Lupe Lu (Rising Suns)~/All I Ask (Barons)~*/Betty Lou's Got A New Tattoo (Creep)~/Don't Blame Me (Barons)*/Days Mind The Time (Mods) ~/Come On Up (Jinx)* (~ = CD only) (* = prev. unissued) LP $9/CD $12

NORTON 305 FORT WORTH TEEN SCENE VOL. 2 Route 66 (Visions)/I'll Go (Cynics)/Alibis (Bards)/Night Of The Phantom (Larry And The Blue Notes)/My Confusion (Elite)/Lost One (Roots)/Jack The Ripper (Jack And The Rippers)/You Deceived Me (Boys)/I’m All Right (Jades)/Splash Day (Coachmen) ~/Come On (Barons)*/My Kinda Woman (Images)/Evil Hearted You (Mods)*/Never Again (Five Of A Kind)/Run And Hide (Jades)*/Live And Die (Barons)/Take A Ride (Chocolate Moose)/Mister, You're A Better Man Than I (Cynics)/Sad Sack (Hi-Lights)**/Garbage Man (Snowmen) ~/Everybody Needs Somebody (Larry & The Blue Notes) ~/I’ll Never Be Happy (Barons)/She Said Yeah (Tracers) ~*/I Can't Go On Loving You (Jinx) ~* (~ = CD only) (* = prev. unissued) LP $9/CD $12

NORTON 306 FORT WORTH TEEN SCENE VOL. 3 It's A Cry'n Shame (Gentlemen)/Phantom (Mark Five)/It's Gonna Change (Trycerz)*/That's Allright (Fearsome Five)/Be Nice (Nomads)/Baby (Better Get On Home) Jim Jones & the Chaunteys/Don't Burn It (Barons)/It's Been A Long Journey (Roots)/Half Peeled Banana (Chocolate Moose)/Please Tell Me Why (Boards) ~/In And Out (Larry & the Blue Notes)/Free Soul (Loose Ends)/Almost There (Trycerz)/I Hope I Please You (Barons)/I Wanna Know (Royal Knights)/She's The Girl For Me (Visions)/Little Latin Lupe Lu (Hi-Lights)*/Train Kept A Rollin' (Larry And The Blue Notes )*/Trippin' (Night Patrol)/Mercy Mercy (Jades) ~/I’ll Come To You (Elite) ~/Ching Bam Bah (Velveteens) ~/Watch Me (Tracers) ~/You're On My Mind (Barons) ~*/Mister You're A Better Man Than I (Jinx) ~* (~ = CD only) (* = prev. unissued) LP $9/CD $12