Wigged out Baptists — KC bound — Good eats at Starvin Marvin’s

So I see those lunatics from the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka plan to protest at the funerals of those killed in Saturday’s shootings in Tucson. The  Rev. Fred Phelps and his gang of Baptist jihadists go wherever there is publicity so they can spread the gospel of anti-gay hate. Amazing those folks with their syllogism that the departed in these shootings and others including KIA American soldiers died because a) God Hates America  b) Because we have turned our backs on God’s way especially by allowing homosexuals in our midst. Well, maybe that isn’t really a syllogism perhaps it is 1/2 a syllogism, or even a half-assed syllogism. It’s been awhile since I studied logic.

I can’t believe these folks from Kansas call themselves Baptists. I’ve been around Baptists all my life. I went to a number of Baptist churches in my younger days. And I can honestly say I never came across any devout Baptists, any devout Christians for that matter, who were such antisocial jackasses.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Speaking of Kansas, I should be in or near there one week from today as I am supposed to go to Kansas City next week thanks to one of my sidelines. I expect it will be cold. It”s been cold the last couple of days. Here on the Texas Coast a 45 degree day, especially one with wind chill in the 20s or 30s passes for cold. Well, in my estimation it is cold. Have I mentioned lately that I  live in Southeast Texas because it is usually pretty warm here? That’s not the only reason, but that is a major one. We also have the best chili in the world in Texas. And the biggest dips**t for a governor. But that’s not really a plus.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Today I had lunch for the first time at Starvin Marvin’s, kind of in the neighborhood. I was a bit afraid it might be too rich for my blood as their TV ads kind of give that impression but the place that is best known for its ribs and hand cut steaks had a reasonable lunch. I had what was the special, which I believe is called their Texas Club. It looks pretty impressive coming from the kitchen as the sandwich is stood up on its ends. I found it a good eats nonetheless with several meats and cheeses. I smelled garlic somewhere, perhaps on the toast perhaps in the meat, if you can smell it you know it’s there. The price with a tip was about $11 for just myself. A little high, perhaps for a sandwich and steak fries and iced tea, but not really, not these days. They have a huge outdoors area with a large fireplace, that was stoked up on “hot” today and some other outdoor fires were burning while plastic helped keep some of the cold out. Still, I wasn’t brave enough to try it.

This is what used to be Rocky’s Road House and who knows what before that. It’s now part of the “Beaumont music scene” and it was the first place I’ve been in years where I knew every song playing from the sound system, from The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” to “I’m Free” from The Who’s “Tommy.” Impressive to an old rock n’ roll fart like me. Oh, and the waitress told me the truth, at least in her mind, about certain menu items. Give that gal a raise. For dang sure give her a good tip. Good atmosphere, reminds me of the Armadillo Palace in Houston.

Whether the name of this bar and grill — they have happy hour specials — was influenced by the little African cartoon character from “South Park,” I don’t know. I do know I had to wear my heaviest coat today which has a hood and it sometimes makes me look like Kenny from South Park, as in “Oh my God, They killed Kenny, you bastards.”

Starvin Marvin’s

2310 N. 11th St.

Beaumont, TX

(409) 234 5002

Deep O’ Meter: 4.5

(I occasionally do a restaurant review. I decided I would put my own stamp of satisfaction/dissatisfaction upon those eateries with the “Deep O’ Meter.” Eight Feet Deep, the name of this blog inspired it so an 8 on the Deep O’ Meter would be the best you could get. You won’t see many of those. I am pretty picky about restaurants, yeah, sure you are. The 4.5 I gave Marvin’s is above average.)

John Lennon, the Stones and keeping your fire engine clean

Strange days indeed. The words are a chorus to a John Lennon song called “Nobody Told Me.” I heard the song a lot in the late 80s and even remember it being one of the songs played by United States psy ops (psychological operations) soldiers who were trying to roust Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega from his sanctuary during “Operation Just Cause” in 1989.

John Lennon reheases "Give Peace a Chance." -- Photo by Roy Kerwood courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Those were strange days indeed. So was the time around December 8, 1980, when I sat in my recliner in the shotgun shack I rented on “Tobacco Road,” studying for some test in college. I didn’t have a television back then but it seems as if I had Monday Night Football playing through my stereo receiver. Or perhaps I was just listening to the radio. I don’t know. I tend to think I was listening to Monday Night Football while studying, definitely a no-no all the experts say. But nevertheless, I heard the announcement that John Lennon had been shot and killed outside his apartment in New York. I think my friend Suzie, who worked as a dee jay back then, called afterwards. I’m not sure. But it was such a loss.

In the world of rock music, one’s taste often comes down to the choice: Beatles or Stones? Definitely the Beatles, back then at least. I had grown up, well at least into my early-to-mid 20s, listening to John, Paul, George and Ringo. Isn’t it funny you hardly ever or even never hear “Paul, John, George and Ringo” or even “George, Ringo, Paul and George?” There is a reason for that. Or you never heard Pope John Paul George and Ringo for that matter.

Sometimes a song takes you to a particular point in the time of your life. It doesn’t have to be a new song. Maybe it was just playing when something memorable took place. Such as when I was getting ready to take a taxi to the Houston airport for Chicago and boot camp. An instrumental version of “Here Comes the Sun” was playing on the TV at the induction station. Or, for another example, a chilly day staring out the port hole at the rough seas somewhere off New Zealand, sometime around Thanksgiving, as I listened to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

I never saw the Beatles. I did see the Stones, or was at least in the Superdome as they performed way, way below from where we sat in the cheap seats. Nonetheless, we got a good look on the gondola TV thing-a-majig.

"Send me dead flowers in the morning ... " The Rolling Stones 2006. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons by Charliecorgan.

Still, it was at some undefinable time later on that I became a Stones person. The words to songs with teeth grabbed me such as “Sympathy for the Devil,” or “Gimme Shelter”  or the early 70s, Gram Parsons influenced “Dead Flowers” much more than the often whimsical or outright nonsensical melodies of the Beatles. That isn’t to say the Beatles, and especially Lennon, lacked poignancy in their work.

But you look back, especially at the early hits of the Fab Four, and see their genius for great melody and pop tunes. I’ll play “From Me to You,” released in 1963, and hear a spectacular pop song meeting rock. You might hear it an elevator today or on a Target commercial and if you don’t know the Beatles might say: “What a pretty song. I wonder who does that?”

Really, it isn”t fair to put the Beatles and Stone up against each other. I can often identify with the “World can be a pretty hard place at times, so f**k it,” attitude of Mick, Keith and the mates. But I also need a simple pop piece such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or something funny like “Mean Mr. Mustard” to help lead me from the hard edge.

And John Lennon on his own was something else, literally. He was the rock n’ roller, as exemplified in his tribute to late 50s and early 60s rockers on the Phil Spector produced “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” He did justice to songs such as Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” Lennon also made some of the most memorable of the protest songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Power to the People” even though the era of anti-war protest was beginning to wane. His song “Imagine” is a wonderful, imaginative song and incredibly naive just as the young need sometime be.

Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” album, released near the time of his death was not a critical smash yet after his murder it seemed the world seemed desperate to grab one last piece of the “John” of “John, Paul, George and Ringo.”

Once again, I started to write just a bit and I end up telling whomever will listen my impression of John Lennon in life and death as well as my inability to simply answer a simple question such as “Beatles or Stones.”

Well, that answer is of course, the Stones. But then the Beatles are in a category all their own, as is John Lennon.

I don’t remember the test I took the day after Lennon was murdered. I do remember  working at the fire station the next day. For some reason, I had this strong inclination to go wash our fire engine. You know, Penny Lane? Likes to keep his fire engine clean, it’s a clean machine … ” Well, that’s more McCartney, but you get my drift don’t you?

Friday. It's okay. Sunday and in Ft. Worth? Check this out!

Friday. What a concept.

I once lived for Friday to arrive. That is when I worked, roughly, five days a week. My record on such a schedule was rather spotty up until the last 20 years or so. That is, if you don’t include those four years I spent in college, during which time I mostly worked full time at a rate of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, which was a 56-hour work week. Now there was a concept!

These days, I no longer work full time. Well, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. When I do it is usually more than a 48-hour work week. I had no illusions that working as a writer was going to be easy and, sure enough, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, I tell people these days that my part-time job “supports my writing habit.” I’m not lying much when I say that.

Still, I remember Fridays. My friends Robbie, Judy, sometimes Tonya, Brenda, Delia, Rick, Beth or whomever. Mostly Robbie, Judy and I — the Yellow Dogs. Long story. We’d go one place or the other for a margarita. Sometimes Judy’s artist husband would meet us and he and I would design water towers for small cities which looked like a large margarita glass, except it would be leaning. Like Pisa. Those were good times. Sometimes we didn’t even wait for Friday. Sometimes it would be a Yellow Dog Day — a day I’d describe as comparable to a day you’re sitting back watching the evening news and see your name as a camera pans down a lawsuit. Yikes!

I’m such a ham. I wasn’t going to write about much and already look what you’ve done.

Okay, I will do some good for a change on this blog instead of writing about politics or the weather or the craziness that passes for life. I will promote my old buddy Jonathan’s gig in which his trio, the Jonathan Sanson Trio will be recording a new, live CD. Jonathan just sent me an e-mail about it, albeit a mass e-mail, that’s what you do when you are a famous recording star in Fort Worth. Right, old buddy?  Just busting your chops. I was going to buy some chops for dinner, but I didn’t. So right now, I’ve got no other chops to bust. So you’re it, pal!

The Jonathan Sanson Trio, featuring Dan Tcheco on drums, Chris Carfa on bass and Jonathan on piano and vocals will be recording Sunday, July 25, at Eddie V’s Lounge in Fort Worth. Too bad they couldn’t wait a week, since I will be heading for Denton exactly one week later. Hey, can’t you guys postpone everything for one week, just for me? Yeah, and pigs make scheduled flights between IAH and DFW!

I have heard some of the group’s recordings and I look forward to hearing them live some day. Jonathan and I are old high school chums who lived across our family’s field from each other. Later, we hung out during our military days, he in the Air Force and me a Navy squid.

Jonathan says that everyone attending will get a free copy of the CD the group is to record. The CD will come out, hopefully JS said, in September. The great piano man also reminds everyone of the happy happy hour prices, if you like that sort of thing.

If you mention you heard about this on Eight Feet Deep, Jonathan might buy you a drink or he might garrote you with a piano wire. That’s his call. So if you are in what my friends from that area call “The Metro Mess” during that time, check it out.

This all happens:

6-10 p.m.

Sunday, July 25

EV Museum Place

3100 West 7th Street

Fort Worth, TX 76107


Open daily at 4:00pm.

See, I've got this song in my head

A pretty good proportion of the population — meaning a lot maybe but I don’t know how many exactly — gets songs stuck in their heads once in awhile.

It can happen when you hear someone whistling some tune while they toil away at some task or another. You go to your kids’ school plays and the little ones sing something just darling and later that night while you try to sleep that song is still there. And then, there is background music as in music to shop by.

Now the grandpappy of background music, known as Muzak, has been around for years. As early as the 1950s — a time when the least little thing could get people wound up, a special congressional committee would be formed — there were charges Muzak was causing brainwashing.

I would imagine the subject of manipulation through background music would be research gold for a music-loving social psychologist. From what little scientific reading I have done I don’t know this to be one way or the other a fact. This piece suggests that playing classical music in a wine store made shoppers buy more expensive wine. Whether that would mean that playing Sousa marches in a gun store would cause customers to arm themselves to the teeth is something to think about, but I don’t know that to have been specifically studied and affirmed.

Nonetheless, it seems at the very least background music in grocery or department stores do seem to make songstuckus — my made-up word for a song being stuck in one’s head — more severe.

Since a great deal of my work is done in different stores, I listen to a lot of background music. I never really thought much about store music until I started visiting many different stores. Even when I go to stores now just to shop I am somewhat taken aback by the variety of background music in stores.

Go to the store just up the street, with a decidedly more working class black population, and you may hear Soul from the 60s and 70s. Before you know it, you’re walking out of the store with groceries in your arms and Eddie Kendricks and the Temptations in your head singing “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”

Sometimes the songs you hear will stick with you even though you may not have ever heard them or hadn’t listened to a particular song in years. Like at a drug store in Port Arthur awhile back while waiting to speak with a pharmacist. “Hmm, hmm, hmm.” Wow, what is this? And you remember from way back to “Toulouse Street” on which the Doobie Brothers quietly sing “I might just pass this way again.”

Today it was early Beatles I hear over and over. “If there’s anything that you want/If there’s anything I can do/Just call on me, and I’ll send it along/With love from me to you.” Such simple, melodic, pop music. You wonder what all the hubbub was about when the Beatles first appeared on the scene wearing identical suits and moptops? Nonetheless, the song got stuck in my head at a store this morning and now I can’t get it out!

I don’t really know why music from the store has such an impact. It is played at level in most cases where it is almost subliminal, which makes some sense. But if it’s meant to affect you, to buy more toilet paper and six-packs of Busch, then why does the lyrics and music get stuck in your head and not the products themselves?

It’s jus another one of life’s great mysteries, unsolved, with love from me to you.