Saturday, January 30, 2010

For his next book, Dallas, the Cowboys (and even the Texans)

from Robert Wilonsky's Unfair Park book club blog in the Dallas Observer (full story and comments if you link on the headline).

This morning, Friend of Unfair Park PeterK sent me the photo at right -- quite the bargain on eBay, especially since it's got Hall of Famer Hank Stram's signature and remains at the low, low price of $9.95 thus far. I then forwarded it to my old friend and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson biographer Joe Nick Patoski, since he just so happens to be working on a book about the Dallas Texans, the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas itself.

"It breaks my heart to see that picture and think of the game that wasn't," says the former Texas Monthly writer, who left the magazine in 2003 after 18 years on staff. "The Texas death match, loser leaves town."

Joe Nick's latest tome doesn't have a title yet, only a publisher (Little, Brown again) and a due date (November). He's been in and out of town in recent months interviewing, well, you name it -- from the great Abner Haynes to Mike Rhyner. The book spans 1960 to 1979 and covers everything: "race, politics, assassinations, high school football, SMU, the Southwest Conference and the 1952 Dallas Texans, which everyone's forgotten and had to leave town before the season was over because they were so awful and and became the Baltimore Colts."

But, ultimately, it's about the two men -- Dallas Cowboys founder Clint Murchison Jr. (who, 50 years ago today, was granted the NFL franchise) and AFL co-founder and Dallas Texans owner Lamar Hunt. And it's about one Fort Worth native's fascination with Dallas.

Joe Nick Patoski
​"The nice way of putting it is: This is a cultural history of the Dallas Cowboys focusing on 1960 to 1979, and it's as much a cultural history of the city as the team," Joe Nick says. "The Willie Nelson book was my Texas book. Yes, it was about Willie, but also about Texas and Texans and who are these people are and what is this place. This is the next chapter. It's part of my lifelong attempt to figure out Texas and Texans, and it's been in front of my face my whole life -- growing up in Fort Worth and looking at Dallas.

"I was talking to one player's ex-wife, from Fort Worth, the other day. I said, 'Did you grow up looking at Dallas with hate?' She said, 'I loved Dallas. It had Cinerama.' This is personal. I have been trying to figure out Dallas my whole life, and sports, especially the Cowboys, are so much a part of the culture. I am making the case: America's Team, the most valuable sports franchise in the world, couldn't have happened anywhere else."

Reason I sent Joe Nick the photo is because, well, I know how much he loved the Texans. Because his book may be about the Cowboys, more or less, but I sometimes think Joe Nick wishes the Texans had remains Dallas's sole pro football franchise -- if nothing else, because they had the cooler uniforms. Hence, his decision to use Hunt and Murchison as his central protagonists.

"The book's about this great oil baron scion pissing match," he says. "Hell, yes, the book's about the Texans. And about what happened when they left. You've got one city where two sons of oil barons -- and these are two of the richest men in America -- and they grow up smitten with football and they butt heads for three years, and what a glorious time to love football. People they have these issues with Jerry, and all I can say is he may be a rich owner, but he's in the shadow of the richest owner to ever own a pro franchise, Clint Murchison. Well, and Lamar Hunt."

Monday, January 25, 2010

The sound of a frightened young mountain lion

calling for Mama (listen close)

Keep San Antonio Lame

from a San Antonio Spurs fanblog, a very spot-on ode to San Antonio (although I would've included Steve Jordan at Salute on Friday nights and listening to Guero Polkas on Radio Jalapeno, KEDA, 1540 AM, the only full time conjunto radio station in the nation; bonus points for mentioning the Ghost Tracks):


The_big_four_tiny by bellasa on Jan 25, 2010 1:57 AM CST Comment 57 comments

Proud Texas Citizens. Kinky Friedman, on the left could have been our Governor. You gotta love a guy who's campaign slogans are "How Hard Could It Be?" and "Why The Hell Not?" The legend on the right is Willie Nelson, who once smoked pot on the White House roof. Texas Proud, Baby!

So, in honor of LD's upcoming epic journey, I promised myself I'd write a few words about my hometown. What? He's already in town? Bummer. So, OK, I guess I'll post this anyway. For the rest of you peeps. Here's the short and not so sweet lowdown on San Antonio. It's the 7th largest city in the nation. It's boring. It's hot. There's nothing to do here. So that's pretty much it. David, I'm so sorry you have to spend a week in this city. I've lived here a long time, but I'm thoroughly medicated so it doesn't really affect me anymore.

(Just want to give credit where it's due... here's the Keep San Antonio Lame myspace page and facebook page.) Learn it. Live it.

Thanks for coming, please tip your waitress on the way out.. More after the jump if your masochistic self is up to it.

Did the part time viewers leave? Is it just us? Good. Because now I'll give you the real insiders view of San Antonio. But keep it to yourself, because I'm doing my damndest to move SA back to #10 on the population list. It's not gonna be easy. I understand people are migrating to this state at an average of 1000 people per day. (And I don't even want to think about the percentage of Laker fans in that number).

Damn it Lyle, you're not helping me out here!

Alright, first and foremost, I absolutely love my town. Love. It. It's quirky, there's a nice cultural mix and most folks are very friendly. As a matter of fact, it has the feel of the ultimate small town. If you placed 10 random San Antonians in a room together, by the end of the night those folks will have discovered some common connection. OMG, I went to school with your cousins sister. Or your neighbor is my dentist. Wow, didn't we once sit next to each other at a Santana concert? And so on and so forth. This kind of thing happens all the time. All the time. Trust me someone on Monday night will say, "You look familiar". Seriously.

Let's move on to the name, it's San Antonio. San Anto is also sometimes acceptable if you're a local and in the know. Never, ever is it permissable to use San Antone. Unless your name is Bob Wills or Patsy Cline or you're singing San Antonio Rose. That's it. The only exception. So, don't do it. That's right... I'm looking at you, Marv Albert.

Contrary to popular belief, the Larry O'Brien trophy does not live here full time. Unfortunately. Let's face facts, that's a beautiful shot.

Right about now you're probably wondering about the title of this post. I borrowed it. And it totally epitomizes the perception of the city. Those that get it embrace it, those that don't... well, they embrace it, too. In the words of the creator of the Keep San Antonio lame movement, "A movement which requires no effort. We are lame and we love it... or leave it. Remember: Lameness, like all else, is just an illusion. Be the Lameness". Like I said, we're quirky.

Here are a few facts to get out of the way or if you want more in depth info, you can head over to the Official City Website or the City Wiki page. People (that would be the Native Americans) have gathered around this area for about 12,000 years. For the most part, the Native Americans lived at the San Antonio Springs, which they called Yanaguana which means "refreshing waters". San Pedro Park (home of the Springs) is the second oldest municipal park in the nation. The oldest? That would be a lovely park called the Boston Commons.

Huh... would you look at that? Where are the Native Americans?

San Antonio wasn't officially named until 1691. It was the feast day of Saint Anthony of Italy, so Spanish explorers and missionaries named the city in his honor. Actually, there are some reports that another Spanish Explorer, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca visited and documented the city by the river in 1536.

There are four major industries that support the economy in SA. Financial Services, Government, Health Care with a strong Bio-Medical Industry and Tourism. For your information, the number one tourist destination in Texas is the San Antonio Riverwalk followed very closely by the number two destination, the historic Alamo.

The San Antonio Riverwalk was in danger of becoming a paved over sewer system after the great flood of 1921 killed over 50 people in the downtown area. Instead, an architect / conservationist by the name of Robert Hugman convinced city leaders that flood gates could regulate the flow of water. With monies from the Roosevelt New Deal WPA program, Mr. Hugman's dream become a reality. And may I say thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Hugman! The Riverwalk is now home to dozens of Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, Nightclubs and Shops. However, my favorite parts of the River are those that are not commercially developed. I like walking by the cypress trees and especially enjoy the new museum reach extension of the Riverwalk.

Just one little thing about the Riverwalk, we drain it during the first week of January. Yeah, you heard that right and no, you don't want to know about all the items that have been found in that river. So don't come during that time period, unless you want to be disappointed. However, we even turn that into a party and we crown a Mud King and Queen. Once again, we bring the quirky.

My favorite use for the Riverwalk, a championship parade!

Enough about the riverwalk, let's talk about The Alamo. Approximately 250 Texians (the numbers are still in question) held off approximately 2400 Mexican soldiers for 12 days. All the Texians (some of which were of Mexican descent) died, although they were able to kill 400 - 600 before perishing. The battle of the Alamo, instead of quelling resistance helped Sam Houston and increased the number of soldiers willing to fight for their freedom and the future Republic of Texas. The final battle over Texas took place a little over a month later at San Jacinto, where the rallying cry was "Remember the Alamo." Supposedly that battle lasted less than 20 minutes and Texas was on it's way to being a Republic. That's the basic story, but I'm sure this guy (Phil Collins) could defintely tell you more. Wait... what? He's British? That's weird.

So let's move on to some of my other favorite things in the city. Icehouses. Yep, a place to congregate, watch a game and have a cocktail or a long neck. Whichever.

One of my faves, is La Tuna. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to flirt with the danger of contracting tetnus in the name of a good time. Aren't you?

The ground covering for La Tuna... pretty, isn't it?

Next up? Good eats. Where to begin and where to end? The list is endless, but I guess we begin with Rosario's. Site of the first PtR get together and our meeting place on Monday night. Their sister restaurant on the Riverwalk, Acenar is also a winner. And we can't forget about the leaning building that is the Liberty Bar. If figs are in season, order the appetizer... it's delish. True story, I once saw Tommy Lee Jones drive up in a smart car to enjoy lunch at Liberty Bar. I'm glad he's environmentally conscious, but that was just strange. By the way, he's a Spurs fan.

Please don't move Liberty Bar, Dwight. I'm begging you!

I understand Mr. Parker loves Bistro Vatel and Damien Watel does the French thing right. He also has a number of other lovely culinary options for your eating pleasure.

If you're out after a long night, then I'd recommend Mi Tierra where every day is like Christmas. This is an SA institution. Chris Madrid's and Timbo's for Burgers. Il Sogno Ristorante which is owned by Andrew Weisman, one of the best chef's in the state. Shaq's favorite dining option, Lulu's which features a 3 pound cinnamon roll. Yes, 3 pounds. O.K. enough with the food. I'm sure some of my SA peeps will be sure to add all their favorites that I wasn't able to mention.

Museums/Places if Interest: In San Antonio, we don't tear things down. The people of this city have long had a strong conservation streak and you can see it all around. Especially in the downtown area. Without these citizens of great vision, we would have lost the Alamo, the Riverwalk, the Majestic Theatre, the Empire Theatre, La Mansion del Rio Hotel, the Spanish Governor's Palace just to name a few. While other Texas cities were tearing down their older buildings to replace with the shiny and new, San Antonio was preserving and nurturing.

The Institute of Texan Cultures, I love this place... it features all the cultures that helped make Texas unique.

The McNay Art Museum A former home turned wonderful Museum.

San Antonio Museum of Art, it's a wonderful Museum and it's also part of the new Riverwalk expansion.

Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Museum technically in Alamo Heights, but the 09er's help to bring the quirky.

The Spanish Governor's Palace the National Geographic Society has labeled this the most beautiful building in San Antonio.

The Majestic Theatre this was built in 1929 and we're lucky to have it.

Were people dropping acid on a regular basis in 1929? Just asking. And another thing... where do you get a white peacock?

Blue Star Arts Complex In the heart of the city. In South Town or the King William area, whichever you prefer. Love first Friday... especially since they're refocusing on the Art/Artists instead of the drunkenness.

The King William Historic Neighborhood One of the loveliest neighborhoods in town with so much character.

Brackenridge Park where San Antonians can congregate and picnic. The San Antonio River runs right thru the center of the park and it's next to the SA Zoo. Also the lovely Japanese Tea Gardens are located within the park.

San Antonio Botanical Gardens Wonderful Jazz concerts and Shakespeare plays in the Spring and just an all around gorgeous site.

The Ghost Tracks. You can not call yourself a San Antonian if you have not driven across the Ghost Tracks.

The Gunter Hotel Home of the famous Robert Johnson recordings. Wow, did that floor you? That's right... the Robert Johnson arguably the greatest Blues man of all time.

Wow, one album and countless musicians and singers felt his power. A-mazing.

La Villita San Antonio's first neighborhood and witness to thousands of overindulging Fiesta goers. And yes, NIOSA totally rocks!

Although I'm truly just scratching the surface of the San Antonio experience, I can't leave you without mentioning the wonderful Missions and the San Fernando Cathedral.

Besides the Alamo, there are four Missions and I believe all of them are still active Catholic parishes. They include Mission San Jose, which is probably my favorite. It's especially nice to attend the Mariachi Mass at that location. Also, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada which is right next to the Espada Dam and the Aqueducts.

Mission San Jose... too bad I couldn't find a Wedding photo. Those are fun.

The famous Rose Window, supposedly created by a Stonemason to honor his dead fiance', Rosa.

Finally, the San Fernando Cathedral. It's beautiful and you can participate in a Mariachi Mass or a Spanish mass. Supposedly the Ashes of the Alamo Defenders were laid to rest in the cathedral, but in all honesty they were probably buried on the Alamo grounds.
This is the heart of San Antonio.

Oh, shoot... did I get the heart of San Antonio all mixed up again? Hmmm?

You decide.
Have fun, David!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Big Squeeze 2010 Is On

2009 Big Squeeze finalists

photo by David Dodd


Better stretch out those bellows and get your reeds cleaned. The 2010 Big Squeeze is on with more prelim sites than ever, beginning at Casbeer's in San Antonio February 25 and running through April in San Angelo. All styles are welcome.

The details are below and at where you can also get your DVD of Hector Galan's excellent film The Big Squeeze. I get to deliver some soundbites but the main reason I'm touting it is the footage Galan shot in the Valley and in Houston at the finalists' homes. It's real folks folklife that I thought only Les Blank could shoot. Check it out


Fourth annual competition invites young Texas players to compete for $1000 cash, recording sessions and other prizes

Finalists perform at the 21st annual Accordion Kings & Queens festival June 5 at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre

Austin, Texas – Texas Folklife announces its fourth annual “Big Squeeze” accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. You may have seen “The Big Squeeze” film about the contest on PBS, or seen and heard the many stories on the news and in the papers statewide about the amazing young contestants these past three years. We are looking for great players in any genre of accordion-based music, including Cajun; German, Czech, and Polish polka; Tejano, Conjunto and NorteƱo; Western; and Zydeco. This year the contest goes on the road to go meet the talent. Auditions will be held throughout Texas and finalists will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed “Accordion Kings & Queens” festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on June 5th, 2010, where the “Big Squeeze” winner will be selected.

The “Big Squeeze” 2010 auditions sites are:

· San Antonio: February 5th at Casbeers in partnership with Conjunto Heritage Taller;

· Rio Grande Valley: February 8th through the 12th (La Joya ISD, Edcouch Elsa High School, and the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center);

· Austin: February 28th at the Mexican American Cultural Center;

· Dallas: March 6th at the Latino Cultural Center;

· Schulenburg: March 13th at Senglemann Hall;

· Houston: March 27th at Talento Bilingue and March 28th at The Big Easy Club in partnership with the National Zydeco Foundation; and

· San Angelo: April 3rd at San Angelo Museum of Fine Art.

The “Big Squeeze” is open to non-professional accordionists 21 and younger. Contestants will be judged by a panel of esteemed music professionals on song interpretation, technical skill, originality, execution, and stage presence. Interested players are encouraged to reserve an audition slot at a venue in their region by contacting Texas Folklife. Those who cannot attend an audition may also mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife by April 5, 2010. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at or by calling (512) 441-9255.

Semifinalists selected from the audition and mailed in tapes will be given travel stipends to take part in the Semi Finals held on May 1st at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. At that time, up to four finalists will be awarded $300 each and an expense-paid trip to Houston to compete before an enthusiastic audience of 6,000 accordion fans at the “Accordion Kings & Queens” on June 5th. The “Big Squeeze” 2010 grand-prize winner will be selected at the concert by the panel of judges with help from the audience. The grand prize winner will receive a prize package valued at $3,000, including a $1000 cash prize, travel expenses to Houston, a brand new Hohner accordion, and a day-long recording session at the historic SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston, as well as promotional support from SugarHill, Hohner, Inc. and Texas Folklife, and other professional opportunities.

“The “Big Squeeze” contest allows us to fulfill our mission to preserve and celebrate Texas culture in a very real way,” says Texas Folklife Executive Director Nancy Bless. “By supporting these young musicians we encourage them to continue playing the accordion, an instrument that is so central to Texas traditional music that it’s been dubbed, ‘the national instrument of Texas.’ It is so exciting to see a new generation carry on this heritage and to see the thrill that their mastery and extraordinary talent give to audiences.”

The “Big Squeeze” is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the Houston Endowment, the Cogburn Family Foundation, the Still Water Foundation, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including Hohner, Inc., SugarHill Recording Studios, Embassy Suites Hotel, and Sign Effects in Austin.

Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. For nearly twenty-five years, Texas Folklife has honored the authentic cultural traditions passed down within communities and explored their importance in contemporary society. Texas Folklife has been called “one of the state’s true cultural treasures” by the Austin American-Statesman for the accessible, joyful arts experiences we provide.

Located in SoCo just south of downtown Austin, Texas Folklife can be found next door to the Continental Club, at 1317 South Congress Avenue. For more information contact (512) 441-9255, or visit

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Poetry rumble - Be There


Join us as these twenty-first century titans appear together for the first time
in recorded history to celebrate and enunciate, as The Poetry Project at St
Mark's Church hosts the NYC launch of Williams' fiction debut, SWEETS AND OTHER

The countdown is on.... thirty days until blast-off!


Nick Tosches & Andre Williams
February 5, 2010
10:00 pm

Nick Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey and is the author of three novels,
eleven books of non-fiction,and three volumes of poetry. His books include:
Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of
Dreams, Where Dead Voices Gather, In The Hand Of Dante, and Chaldea. His latest,
Never Trust A Living God, is a collection of poetry illustrated by Gravieur. He
lives in New York City.

Andre Williams was born in Bessemer, Alabama in 1936, migrating with his family
to Chicago when he was a child. After the death of his mother in 1943, he was
sent South to the care of his grandparents. The North-South transition was
unbearable for young Andre, who was to return to live in the Windy City with his
father, a steel mill worker.

With little parental supervision, Andre traded into a penny ante career as a
juvenile delinquent, barely escaping Illinois State Reformatory by using his
older brother’s ID card to enlist in the US Navy. His career in the Armed Forces
came to a halt when it was discovered that he was underage.

As a civilian once again, he chose to avoid the pitfalls of Chicago and
relocated to Detroit, Michigan, where his musical legend began, on joining the
Five Dollars, and with writing and recording for the legendary Fortune Records
label. Bacon Fat, Greasy Chicken, and the extraordinary Jail Bait would be the
tip of the iceberg of Andre’s musical contributions. From his start at Fortune
in the 1950’s, he went on to work at Motown with Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells and
the Contours. He produced (and co-wrote) the Five Du-Tones’ 1963 hit Shake A
Tail Feather ( #28 on BILLBOARD R&B charts) and wrote Alvin Cash’s 1965 R&B
chart topper Twine Time. In the late sixties, he produced solo hits including
the standout Cadillac Jack for Chess Records. He has composed several hundred
recordings and continues to be one of the most widely collected and respected
of original soul and rhythm & blues artists.

Hard drugs eventually took a toll on Andre, leaving him homeless and destitute.
In 1995, his career was revived by George Paulus, who produced the acclaimed
comeback album GREASY for Norton Records. Andre continued to record for Norton,
as well as for In The Red, Bloodshot and Pravda, while touring internationally
to great acclaim. The 2007 film AGILE, MOBILE, HOSTILE documented a year in
Andre’s life.

With the return to constant touring and performing came a return to old vices.
He was in and out of short-term rehabilitation, but always, there was the return
to hard habits. Hitting the age of seventy without a permanent address and with
his health rapidly deteriorating, Andre checked into a six week program at a
Chicago substance abuse facility.

At a friend’s urging, he began trying to write fictional stories, in an attempt
to keep his mind and hands busy. Writing became his self-imposed rehabilitation,
and his hand scribbled no holds-barred tales evolved into a short set of
various-length entries which he immediately began referring to as “The Book”.
This debut volume from 73 year old Andre Williams is Sweets (And Other Stories).
The title story is a narrative novelette which takes you for a wild ride from
Chicago to Houston, New Orleans, and New York City, as a teenage girl finds
herself in a family way, without a family. Forced to fend for herself, she is
taken under the wing of a local pimp who entices her into prostitution. The
adventures that follow are a free for all foray through the fantastic world of
pimps and their women, funeral directors, gangs and drug running, with sidebar
anecdotes that are guaranteed to appall, alarm and astonish.

Extreme entries remain unedited, and none of Williams’ raw drawl storytelling
style has been tampered with in this standout fiction debut.

Sweets is the first hip-pocket paperback from New York publisher Kicks Books.


• RADIO FEB 4! Dave The Spazz hosts Williams and Tosches on his Feb. 4 WFMU
radio show! (Music To Spazz By with Dave the Spazz, WFMU 91.1 FM online and
archived at Thursday February 4th 8-11pm)

• WILLIAMS/TOSCHES TITLE MATCH FEB 5! Reading at The Poetry Project at St. Marks
Church, 131 East 10th Street, NYC

• TWIN SPIN AFTERSHOCK FEB 5! Late nite Smashed Blocked pop-in after reading
event! Join SB kingpin Josh Styles as he hosts this velvet rope stop-in pop-in!
(Andre rumored to spin seven of his sevens! Smashed Blocked at The Beauty Bar
231 East 14 Street, NYC

• FAN FETE FEB 6! Girdle Up top secret Greasy Chicken farewell fan fete fracas

Press Contact:
Paige Turner at Kicks Books