February 01, 2009

February 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 2

Welcome back to the latest issue of Truckin'...

1. Kitchen Table by Paul McGuire
That's cool. You're a chick. And chicks are supposed to like sappy shit like Coldplay. I need something that I can play air guitar to. Not 'insert and remove tampons from my ass' kinda music... More

2. A Proper Bow-Tie by Betty Underground
I lay out the pieces of his tuxedo, he finishes the primping process. Gathering the necessary toiletries strewn across the bathroom floor one by one, as he needs them. The hair dryer goes off. I run my fingers through his dried, loose, locks and secure them in the back in a short ponytail while he tones, moisturizes and brushes. In that order... More

3. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Joe Ely, and the Cotton Club by Johnny Hughes
Elvis bragged about his sexual conquests, using language you didn't hear around women. He said he'd been a truck driver six months earlier. Now he could have a new woman in each town. He told a story about being caught having sex in his back seat. An angry husband grabbed his wife by the ankles and pulled her out from under Elvis. I doubted that... More

4. First Impressions: Buenos Aires by Jonny Vincent
I tell him I'm from the Future, from the 21st century where people are used to paying for goods and services with this futuristic method of payment called credit cards. I apologise yet again and claim full responsibility for my own lack of research into his quaint and backwards and medieval system. I tell him I have no gold, no jewels, no currency and nothing to barter in exchange for the consumed food except these futuristic and useless credit cards... More

5. Pancakes by Paul McGuire
I just have to tell people the pancakes story and it perfectly explained Sabine. I sat through her bizarre routine every day for a year as she slipped into a trance and maniacally prepared her pancakes. She cared more about the pancakes than her own art. More than herself. Heck, more than me... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome back. I can thank our devoted readers enough for returning. This issue features two stories from yours truly... a series of random fictional pieces inspired by some of my old days in New York City. Betty Underground returns with another flirtatious and salacious tale. Johnny Hughes contributed one monster of a story involving Buddy Holly, Elvis, and the thriving music industry his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. And lastly, we have a new scribe to add to the Truckin' roster. Jonny Vincent is known in most circles as a professional poker player, but I happen to think that the Aussie one of the most hysterical writers on the intertubes. You'll see why with his observations about moving to Argentina.

Truckin' needs your help with a wave grassroots promotion. Spread the word about Truckin' on your blogs and whatever social networking sites you are currently addicted to. Please tell your friends about your favorite Truckin' stories. The writers definitely appreciate your support, as do I.

And as always, please let me know if anyone is interested in being added to the mailing list or perhaps you are interested in writing for a future issue.

Before I go, I have to give a hearty and sincere thanks to the writers for writing for free. They expose their guts, blood, and soul to the universe. Their dedication inspires me and I hope it inspires you too.

Be good,

"If you are innocent, you can get away with anything." - Hunter Thompson

Kitchen Table

By Paul McGuire © 2009

The loft was filled with hipsters. Strangers sipping wines and eating vegan hors d'oeuvres. I hid out in the kitchen. There was a small clock radio near the stove that blasted the local classic rock radio station. Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones filled the small kitchen area that included a table next to the refrigerator. I sat down on a stool and sipped a warm bottle of Sam Adams.

A guy I had never met before sat across from me on a folding chair. He was in his forties and wore a leather jacket. His salt and pepper goatee had strands of grey and white hair. He looked like an older version of Charlie Sheen. His left ear was infested with too many earrings. He reeked of excess aftershave. His Asian girlfriend was about half his age with lime green colored nails. She was propped up on his lap and chain smoked Benson and Hedges. She asked me non-stop questions for about twenty minutes. She was friendly but he was acting odd. He was suspicious of me and carefully listened to all of my answers. He did all of this without uttering one word. For some reason, I also had a feeling they did not know anyone else at the party.

"What do you do again?" she asked.

I write plays.

"Like stage plays?"

Something like that. I used to live in Sante Fe for about two years above a small theatre with my then girlfriend. My friends and I had free reign of the place three nights a week. I used to write these weird scenes and sketches.

"Like Saturday Night Live?"

Something like that. More like weird monologues involving a couple of characters. One was a meth-addicted truck driver. His name was Joel and he drove back and forth between from Texas to California. He lived in his truck and never slept. He constantly snorted meth and hauled shipping containers from San Diego to Dallas. He would buy meth from a dock worker in San Diego and got lit all the way to Dallas. He'd drop off the load, snort the rest of his drugs, bang a hooker, buy some weaker product in Fort Worth and head back to San Diego to repeat the process. I wrote all these little scenes that he'd have with waitresses and cashiers and hookers at different truck stops on the interstate.

"Sounds so art-imitates-life-like. Did you ever drive a truck before?"

Actually, no. And I never did meth either in case you were wondering. I once snorted speed but that was only because I thought it was coke. A friend of mine from New Zealand invited me to a party in the Hollywood Hills. Much like this one, he disappeared, but I got stuck hanging out in a random bedroom with six people. They were the hardcore druggies. One guy was cutting up lines and the next thing I knew it my nose was burning and my nostrils were on fire. My eyes watered up and I thought I was going to suffocate. That's when some guy in a funny accent told me that it was speed.

"You don't have any Charlie, do you?" asked the guy in the leather jacket. That's when he palmed me something underneath the table. I went to the bathroom and had to wait for three people in front of me before I stepped inside and inspected the goods.

"That's like $100 worth, but I'll give it to you for $80," he said upon my return. "Because I like you. You tell great stories."

Thanks. I like you because you sell great coke and that I'll sell this for $120 and pocket the $40. I handed her three twenties, a ten and ten singles. She jumped up and grabbed a couple of beers out of the fridge. I assumed that they were hers. I showed up to the loft emptied handed. "So, who do you know here?" she asked.

Know anyone at this party? Nobody. Except you. And I know you told me your name but I forgot.

"How did you get here?" she asked.

Williamsburg? A cab, obviously. No way the princess would ever ride the subway, especially to an outer borough. I got dragged to the party by my latest fling. Betsy was pretending to be an aspiring painter but her artistic endeavors were funded mostly by her uber-rich investment banking father. I was perfectly happy at a tapas bar in the Village when she got a call and the next thing I knew it, I was in the back of a cab headed over the Williamsburg Bridge. When we got here, her friend Sidney was in tears. They disappeared and went outside and I got lost in the shuffle. I watched a couple of guys play guitar hero in the other room and thought that was kinda gay. That's when I decided to seek out a drink. I ended up here and talking with you guys. So who the hell do you know?

"I'm friends with Doug. He went to school with my sister, Em. Doug used to live here with his cousin Big Pete. But they both moved out and his former roommate's brother, Lil Pete, lives here no with one of the dudes from Pseudo Barcode."

Oh, that dweeb with the orange Mohawk who kept fucking up the Aerosmith on Guitar Hero?

"Yeah, he's the bass player. Have you seen them before? They're like gonna be the next Green day."

The cokedealer frowned. It got quiet for a second when Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young played on the radio.

"Now, if the Pseudo Barcode were anything like Neil Young, then I'd be excited," he said.

Hell yeah. Now you're talking. Who wants to be the next Green Day anyway? It's like admitting you love Coldplay.

"I happen to love Coldplay," she said.

That's cool. You're a chick. And chicks are supposed to like sappy shit like Coldplay. I need something that I can play air guitar to. Not 'insert and remove tampons from my ass' kinda music.

"Funny guy. You should be a comedian. So what ever happened to that girl?"

Which one?

"The one from Santa Fe. Was she an actress or something?"

Yeah, she was. A good one. Her problem was that she lacked confidence. I guess that's why it never worked out between us.

"So what are you doing now that you're back in New York?"

Well it appears that I just stumbled upon a potential entrepreneurial adventure with your boyfriend. I have never run coke before, but I used to deal pot when I was in college. We bought pounds at a time from these two Mexican brothers. They owned a painting business in Tucson and showed up at my fraternity house in their van. They'd be covered in paint too. They stuffed bags and bags of ditch weed into large white buckets. It looked like they were dropping off paint. They even took a check from me once when I was short. Can you believe that? A drug dealer who delivered to your doorstep and who took checks. Worst weed on the planet, but the smoothest transaction system ever implanted. Imagine how much more money your business could generate can make if you could accept credit cards?

"Now hold on a second, I think you're onto something," he said.

It's not very hard. All you have to do is set up some sort of store front. Like a bookstore or nail salon or something. Get your customers to swipe their credit cards. Charged them a huge markup. They'll pay it and probably buy more because it's all on credit. The best part is that you're not loaning them the money, their credit card company is. It's also the perfect way to launder some money.

"I like what you are saying. But there's a paper trail. It's very risky, we could get caught," he wondered.

True, unless you get someone who you trust or find a patsy to set up. There are a lot of coke fiends out there who will do immoral things for free blow.

"I could tell you stories," he said.

I'm sure you could. I mean, you're a coke dealer. Talk about an interesting life. I'm sure you run into freaks of all sorts.

"These days it's pretty tame. Most of my clients are all my age. Older cokeheads with day jobs and mortgages. They're kinda boring actually. In the 80s, it got pretty out of hand. Everyone was doing blow when I first started dealing. I worked at a hotel in Midtown as a doorman and snorted more shit when I was on the job than when I was off. That's just the way it was. Man, some days I miss it. I used to deal coke to Jamil Jefferson."

Jamil Jefferson. Wow, he used to play ball for St. Johns. Didn't he get drafted by the Nuggets?

"I have no idea. I never followed basketball. I also sold blow once to an Arab sheik from Assistan or Butrain or some place like that. He asked me to get him as much as I could. I was dealing small potatoes at the time. Like an eight ball would be considered a huge deal for me. I sold $20 bags and one gram transactions mostly. But this sheik wanted everything I can get my hands on. He's short on time and gave me a fistful of cash. So I had to go uptown to Spanish Harlem on my lunch break, dressed up like I'm a fuckin' total nerd in my doorman outfit with tassels and white gloves wandering around the hood with like four grand on me. I bought a ton of shit from this brother who totally ripped me off. Half of it was probably powered milk for all I know and wrapped up in fifty deflated balloons. So I rush back downtown and I jump into the back of this limo. I'm sweating my ass off and I handed over as much coke as I could find in an hour to this sheik, and he's tearing open these balloons and ripping the biggest rails I have ever seen."

God bless oil money. Our addiction to black gold funded that jackoff's cocaine habit. I guess that's the best description of trickle down economics that I ever heard. So I never asked, what do you do now? Do you have some sort of day job or deal full time?

"Funny you should ask," he said. "I'm actually a teacher."

No shit.

"Yeah, 5th grade science at a middle school in Queens."

Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

A Proper Bow-Tie

By Betty Underground © 2008

I woke up groggy. Mouth coated in the taste of scotch and cigars. Where am I? What time is it? The haze quickly clears and I am in a complete panic.

"Shit shit shit. What time is it?"

It's daylight still. We'd dozed off but we couldn't have been asleep too long. My heart races as I spring from the bed and frantically rummage through the clothes on the floor.

Pant pocket. Check every pant pocket. Why do men insist on wearing safari pants with so many god forsaking pockets.

In the last one, a cell phone.

Hearing voices I glance out the window. The crowd is assembling across the lawn. Our friends. Dressed in wedding frocks.

Flip open the cell phone. "4:30." I scream. "Get up! The wedding starts in thirty minutes."

"No it doesn't. It's at 6pm."

On the bedside table is the invitation. I reach over him for it, with a grasp on a clump of his hair on the other hand I pull his buried face from the pillow. Pointing at the text, "Wedding, 5pm."


"You. In the shower," I command, pointing to the bathroom. "I'll get your tux."

I wrap the bed sheet around me. 250 thread count. Scratchy. I hate the fucking country.

His growl booms from the bathroom. Eerie in it's calm. "SOAP?! There isn't any in here. Can you grab my shampoo from my dop kit and the soap off the sink?"

I toss the soap over the shower curtain and dig through the dop kit. How does one man require so much shit to look good?

I pull back the shower curtain, holding the dop kit, "I can't find any shampoo in here!"

He reaches in and pulls out an unmarked container of white stuff. He grins. That slight sideways grin so comfortably familiar already.

"You really should label that shampoo if you ever expect me to help you again. I suppose this other container of pinkish stuff is conditioner. You want that too?" I say, rather snarky.

He grins. Wraps his water soaked arms around me, lifts me over the tub wall and into the shower. The contents of the dop kit scatter across the floor. The sheet still around me is soaked and clinging to my shape. "Sexy," he says giving me a full glance from head to toe. I remain fixed on the upper part of his body, working against the force of gravity to not look down. I try to speak. To discourage his next thought, but before I can he is pinning me to the tile wall, warmed from the heat of the water. He presses his soapy body against me. Roaming hands and body slippery as he is devouring me. The steam filled air is heavy and my head grows lighter. My knees weaken below me and I push him back into the stream, "This is not going to help us get ready any faster."

I wad the wet sheet up, wonder, "What will the maid think," and wrap a towel around myself.

I lay out the pieces of his tuxedo. Pants, shirt, coat, bow-tie. The cuff links from his grand father and the expensive watch he treated himself to. He finishes the primping process. Gathering the necessary toiletries strewn across the bathroom floor one by one, as he needs them. The hair dryer goes off, my cue to do my most favorite thing; run my fingers through his dried, loose, locks and secure them in the back in a short ponytail. I love the way his soft hair feels between my fingers, the curls twirl around them, fighting against the taming. Then he tones, moisturizes and brushes. In that order.

He dresses as I dig through the pile of mutual clothing tossed on the floor for the pieces that I came in wearing.

"Shit." I spin around and see him holding one end of a piece of black fabric. "I don't know how to tie a fucking bow-tie. Why isn't it pre-tied?!"

I had gotten as far as finding my panties and a wife-beater. His. "Let me do that."

"You know how to tie a bow-tie?"

"Yes. Age = Wisdom = me knowing how to tie a proper bow-tie." I finish, close my eyes and breath him in one last time. He smells of cedar and nectarines. "There you go. Perfect. You look perfectly dashing."

"You'll never stop amazing me."

"Get your jacket and get out of here. I have to get back to my cabin without that crowd of people seeing me!" I say pointing out the window.

One final hesitation in his step before he leaves. The screen door slams and I put on the rest of my clothes and plot the best route to avoid being seen.

The screen door slams again and my heart leaps out of my chest. I freeze. Who just came in.

There he is, standing in the doorway to the room with a panicked look. "The ring. Where is the ring?"

"Crap. Where was the ring?"

"In my dop kit."

"The dop kit you tossed on the floor before dragging me into the shower?'

He sheepishly grins, "Yep."

It is 5:53. I scurry to the bathroom and kick a little black box across the floor. "Found it." I open the box. "Eternity band. Nice." I hand it to him, "Put it in your pocket. No, not that pocket, your breast pocket. You don't want to loose it again!" Pushing him out the door, "Now go. Get. They may not notice if I show up late, but trust me, if the groom shows up late, people will notice. Now, go. Get married."

(alarm sounds)

I shoot up in bed. No one laying next to me. It is 5:30am. My room. My bed. A dream.

For now.

Betty Underground is a writer from Northern California.

Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Joe Ely, and the Cotton Club

By Johnny Hughes © 2009

Elvis Presley was leaning a against his pink 1954 Cadillac in front of Lubbock's historic Cotton Club. The small crowd were mesmerized by his great looks, cockiness, and charisma. He put on quite a show, doing nearly all the talking. Elvis bragged about his sexual conquests, using language you didn't hear around women. He said he'd been a truck driver six months earlier. Now he could have a new woman in each town. He told a story about being caught having sex in his back seat. An angry husband grabbed his wife by the ankles and pulled her out from under Elvis. I doubted that.

Earlier, at the Fair Park Coliseum, Elvis had signed girls' breasts, arms, foreheads, bras, and panties. No one had ever seen anything like it. We had met Elvis' first manager Bob Neal, bass player Bill Black, and guitarist Scotty Moore. They wanted us to bring some beer out to the Cotton Club. So we did. My meeting with Bob Neal in 1955 was to have great meaning in my future. I was 15.

The old scandal rag, Confidential, had a story about Elvis at the Cotton Club and the Fair Park Coliseum. It had a picture of the Cotton Club and told of Elvis' unique approach to autographing female body parts. It said he had taken two girls to Mackenzie Park for a tryst in his Cadillac.

Elvis did several shows in Lubbock during his first year on the road, in 1955. When he first came here, he made $75. His appearance in 1956 paid $4,000. When he arrived in Lubbock, Bob Neal was his manager. By the end of the year, Colonel Tom Parker had taken over. Elvis played the Fair Park Coliseum for its opening on January 6th with a package show. When he played the Fair Park again on February 13th, it was memorable. Colonel Tom Parker and Bob Neal were there. Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery were on the bill. Waylon Jennings was there. Elvis was 19. Buddy was 18.

Elvis' early shows in Lubbock were:
January 6, 1955: Fair Park Coliseum
February 13, 1955: Fair Park, Cotton Club
April 29, 1955: Cotton Club
June 3, 1955: Johnson Connelly Pontiac, Fair Park
October 11, 1955: Fair Park
October 15, 1955: Cotton Club
April 10, 1956: Fair Park
Elvis probably played the Cotton Club on all of his Lubbock dates.

Buddy Holly was the boffo popular teenager of all time around Lubbock. The town loved him! He had his own radio show on Pappy Dave Stone's KDAV, first with Jack Neal, later with Bob Montgomery in his early teens. KDAV was the first all-country station in America. Buddy fronted Bill Haley, Marty Robbins, and groups that traveled through. Stone was an early mentor. Buddy first met Waylon Jennings at KDAV. Disc jockeys there included Waylon, Roger Miller, Bill Mack, later America's most famous country DJ, and country comedian Don Bowman. Bowman and Miller became the best known writers of funny country songs.

All these singer-songwriters recorded there, did live remotes with jingles, and wrote songs. Elvis went to KDAV to sing live and record the Clover's "Fool, Fool Fool" and Big Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle and Roll" on acetates. This radio station in now KRFE, 580 a.m., located at 66th and MLK, owned by Wade Wilkes. They welcome visitors. It has to be the only place that Elvis, Buddy, Waylon, and Bill Mack all recorded. Johnny Cash sang live there. Waylon and Buddy became great friends through radio. Ben Hall, another KDAV disc jockey and songwriter, filmed in color at the Fair Park Coliseum. This video shows Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis, Buddy and his friends.

Wade's dad, Big Ed Wilkes, owner of KDAV, managed country comedian, Jerry Clower, on MCA Records. He sent Joe Ely's demo tape to MCA. Bob Livingston also sent one of the tapes I gave him to MCA. This led to a contract. Pappy Dave Stone, the first owner of KDAV, helped Buddy get his record contract with Decca/MCA.

Another disc jockey at KDAV was Arlie Duff. He wrote the country classic, "Y'all Come." It has been recorded by nineteen well-known artists, including Bing Crosby. When Waylon Jennings and Don Bowman were hired by the Corbin brothers, Slim, Sky, and Larry, of KLLL, Buddy started to hang around there. They all did jingles, sang live, wrote songs, and recorded. Niki Sullivan, one of the original Crickets, was also a singing DJ at KLLL. Sky Corbin has an excellent book about this radio era and the intense competition between KLLL and KDAV. All the DJs had mottos. Sky Corbin's was "lover, fighter, wild horse rider, and a purty fair windmill man."

Don Bowman's motto was "come a foggin' cowboy." He'd make fun of the sponsors and get fired. We played poker together. He'd take breaks in the poker game to sing funny songs. I played poker with Buddy Holly before and after he got famous. He was incredibly polite and never had the big head. The nation only knew Buddy Holly for less than two years. He was the most famous guy around Lubbock from the age of fourteen.

Niki Sullivan, an original Cricket, and I had a singing duo as children. We cut little acetates in 1948. We also appeared several times on Bob Nash's kid talent show on KFYO. This was at the Midway Theatre. Buddy Holly and Charlene Hancock, Tommy's wife, also appeared on this show. Larry Holley, Buddy's brother, financed his early career, buying him a guitar and whatever else he needed. Buddy recorded twenty acetates at KDAV from 1953 until 1957. He also did a lot of recording at KLLL. Larry Holley said Niki was the most talented Cricket except Buddy. All of Buddy's band mates and all of Joe Ely's band mates were musicians as children.

Buddy and Elvis met at the Cotton Club. Buddy taught Elvis the lyrics to the Drifter's "Money Honey." After that, Buddy met Elvis on each of his Lubbock visits. I think Elvis went to the Cotton Club on every Lubbock appearance. When Elvis played a show at the Johnson Connelly Pontiac showroom, Mac Davis was there. I was too.

The last time Elvis played the Fair Park Coliseum on April 10,1956, he was as famous as it gets. Buddy Holly, Sonny Curtis, Jerry Allison, and Don Guess were a front act. They did two shows and played for over 10,000 people. Those wonderful I.G. Holmes photos, taken at several locations, usually show Buddy and his pals with Elvis. Lubbock had a population of 80,000 at the time. Elvis was still signing everything put in front of him. Not many people could have signing women as a hobby.

Many of the acetates recorded at KLLL and KDAV by Buddy and others were later released, many as bootlegs. When Buddy Holly recorded four songs at KDAV, the demo got him his first record contract. It wasn't just Lubbock radio that so supportive of Buddy Holly. The City of Lubbock hired him to play at teenage dances. He appeared at Lubbock High School assemblies and many other places in town.

Everyone in Lubbock cheered Buddy Holly on with his career. The newspaper reports were always positive. At one teenage gig, maybe at the Glassarama, there was only a small crowd. Some of us were doing the "dirty bop." The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal had photos the next day showing people with their eyes covered with a black strip. Sonny Curtis mentions that in his song, "The Real Buddy Holly Story." When Buddy Holly and the Crickets were on the Ed Sullivan show, the newspaper featured that. The whole town watched.

Buddy was fighting with his manager Norman Petty over money before he died. They were totally estranged. Larry Holley told me that Norman said to Buddy, "I'll see you dead before you get a penny." A few weeks later, Buddy was dead. When Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, it was headline news in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Over 1,000 people attended the funeral on February 7, 1959. Buddy was only twenty-two years old. His widow, Maria Elena Holly, was too upset to attend. The pall bearers were all songwriters and musicians that had played with Buddy; Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin, Sonny Curtis, Bob Montgomery, and Phil Everly. Elvis was in the Army. He had Colonel Tom send a large wreath of yellow roses.

In 1976, I was managing the Joe Ely Band. They had recorded an as-yet-to-be-released album for MCA Records. I was in Nashville to meet with the MCA execs. They wanted Joe to get a booking contract and mentioned some unheard of two-man shops. Bob Neal, Elvis' first manager, had great success in talent managing and booking. He sold his agency to the William Morris Agency, the biggest booking agency in the world, and stayed on as president of the Nashville branch.

I called the William Morris Agency and explained to the secretary that I did indeed know Bob Neal, as we had met at the Cotton Club in Lubbock, Texas when he was Elvis' manager. He came right on the phone. I told him the Joe Ely Band played mostly the Cotton Club. He said that after loading up to leave there one night, a cowboy called Elvis over to his car and knocked him down. Elvis was in a rage. He made them drive all over Lubbock checking every open place, as they looked for the guy. Bob Neal invited me to come right over.

Bob Neal played that, now classic, demo tape from Caldwell Studios and offered a booking contract. We agreed on a big music city strategy: Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, London, and Austin. Bob drove me back to MCA and they could not believe our good fortune. The man had been instrumental in the careers of Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Johnny Rodriguez, and many others. The William Morris Agency sent the Joe Ely Band coast to coast and to Europe, first to front Merle Haggard, then on a second trip to front the Clash. The original Joe Ely Band were Lloyd Maines (steel guitar), Jesse Taylor (electric guitar), Steve Keeton (drums), and Gregg Wright (bass). Ponty Bone, on accordion, joined a little later. The band did the shows and the recording. The recorded tunes were originals from Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

However, some of the William Morris bookings led to zig zag travel over long distances to so-called listening clubs. When I complained to Bob Neal, he'd recall the 300 dates Elvis played back in 1955. Four guys in Elvis' pink Cadillac. When Buddy made some money, he bought a pink Cadillac. Joe Ely bought a pristine, 1957 pink Cadillac that was much nicer than either of their pink Cadillacs.

When I'd hear from Bob Neal, it was very good news, especially the fantastic, uniformly-rave, album and performance reviews from newspapers and magazines everywhere. Time Magazine devoted a full page to Joe Ely. The earliest big rock critic to praise Joe Ely was Joe Nick Patoski, author of the definitive and critically-acclaimed Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. After one year, MCA was in turmoil. Big stars were leaving or filing lawsuits. We were told they might not re-new the option to make a second record. MCA regularly fired everyone we liked. Bob Neal thought the band should go to Los Angeles for a one-nighter.

He booked the Joe Ely Band into the best known club on the West Coast, the Palomino, owned by his dear pal, Tommy Thomas. We alerted other record companies. They drove back and forth to L.A. in a Dodge Van to play only one night. Robert Hilburn, the top rock critic for the Los Angeles Times, came with his date, Linda Ronstadt.

The Joe Ely Band loved to play music. They started on time, took short breaks, and played until someone made them stop. Robert Hilburn wrote that Ely could be, "the most important male singer to emerge in country music since the mid-60s crop of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson." The long review with pictures took up the whole fine arts section of the biggest newspaper in the country. Hilburn praised each of the band individually. He was blown away when they just kept playing when the lights came on at closing time. After that, several major record companies were interested.

The last time I saw Bob Neal was at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco on February 22, 1979. Little Pete, a black dwarf who was always around Stubb's Bar-B-Q, was traveling with the band. To open the show, Little Pete came out and announced, "Lubbock, Texas produces the Joe Ely Band!" Then he jumped off the elevated stage and Bo Billingsley, the giant roadie, caught him. Bob Neal, the old showman that had seen it all, just loved that.

Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel, Texas Poker Wisdom.


By Paul McGuire © 2009

It took Sabine six minutes to properly prepare her pancakes. She engaged in a bizarre ritual every time that she ate pancakes which happened to be every time she went to the diner. In 1995, she basically lived off of cigarettes, relentless inner rage, pancakes, and peanut butter and jelly. She had been off smack for almost two years and had not had a sip of alcohol to drink in over twenty months. She attempted to eliminate all desire save for a few items. She was clean from abusive substances, but she was absolutely pissed off at the world. The only times she found any semblance of calm were the moments before she ate her pancakes.

Sabine methodically went through a series of steps before she consumed a plate of pancakes. The first step involved inspecting the pancakes. New York diners usually served her three plate size pancakes. She would pick up each pancake individually. If the pancakes were too hot, she'd pick lift them up with the edge of a fork and peak underneath.

Her next step was the buttering phase; the longest and most arduous process in her series of quirks. Before she even picked up a knife, she'd curse at the inferior quality of butter. It was a French thing. She was convinced that no one made butter than her own people and instantly scoffed at the various forms of butter that she was served in New York City. Despite her obvious disdain at the butter, she would slowly lather the top side of each pancake with a thin layer. She started with the bottom pancake and made her way to the top.

Sabine preferred the diners who scooped out a large mound of butter into a small paper cup. She hated the individual butter packets. She thought it was a waste on the environment and a nuisance to have to dig out the butter from the flimsy piece of plastic. The diners that served that sort of butter rarely gave Sabine an adequate supply. She would have to flag down the waiter or waitress and demand more butter, otherwise she could not continue on with her process.

"Each pancake needs to be treated with love and affection," she explained.

When she finally finished the buttering step, she moved onto the syrup stage. She only poured a small amount onto a tiny section of her pancakes. She would eat that section and then reapply more syrup to the next section and repeat the process. Again, it was a painstaking process and every minute or so she would have to add syrup to her meal. I often insisted that she'd save time if she simply poured a bug puddle of syrup over her stack but she vehemently protested. It would destroy the flavor of the pancake, she explained. The pancake would cease to exist because the essence of the dish would become just a lake of sugary goo. The pancake needed to be treated with delicate care.

And she rarely finished her pancakes. Sometimes she took up to ten minutes to prep them and only take three or four bites before she lit up a cigarette, which marked the completion of her meal. She never finished her pancakes because they were cold, which of course, was all her fault because she took way too long to prep them in the first place.

The pancakes. I just have to tell people the pancakes story and it perfectly explained Sabine. I sat through her bizarre routine every day for a year as she slipped into a trance and maniacally prepared her pancakes. She cared more about the pancakes than her own art. More than herself. Heck, more than me.

On the bad days, she would criticize my penchant for bacon and other meats. She was staunch vegetarian and believed that all the violence in the world was caused by meat-eaters. The meat corrupted our soul and fed our dark side. I often pressed her and asked her why she was so angry all the time because she never ate meat.

"Imagine what I would do if I ate the meat? I would try to kill everyone. Everyone that I see. On the street. The annoying people who push me on the subway. The way that the waitress looks at me every fuckin' time she walks by. I would want to poke her eyeballs out with the fork. And that homeless man on the corner? I would want to set him on fire. What a waste! He does not deserve to live."

Yeah, maybe it was better that she stuck to pancakes.

Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

First Impressions: Buenos Aires

By Jonny Vincent © 2009

Here is a little thing a lot of people don't realise about me. I'm a pacifist. A hippie. I hug trees. I'm empathetic. I turn the other cheek. I'm a pussy to the point of being homosecksual. If I genuinely believed that charity helped people instead of encouraged them to continue to be lazy and breed children they will never be able to afford to feed, I would be Mother Theresa.

I'm no saint and have never claimed to be one. My past is littered with shameful incidents where I have been in the wrong. But now, I basically try to treat others as I would like to be treated - the Bible is full of retardation but the Golden Rule is pretty solid stuff.

But I will only turn the other cheek so many times before I 'snap.' When I've had enough of getting slapped on each cheek, I put an end to it, usually in dramatic circumstances.

With the caveat that I've only been in Buenos Aires a total of three days, here are my early impressions of this interesting city.

Like a hippie new-age middle-level manager just out of a TAFE course, let's start with the positives:

1. Once you get past the miles and miles of slums and graffiti, parts of Buenos Aires are absolutely beautiful and idyllic. I'm currently staying in Las Canitas (which I think is part of the Palermo area) and it really is beautiful.

2. The absolute vast majority of locals I've met so far have been friendly, highly intelligent and ethical. I have not been ripped off once, and do not get the impression there is a culture of scamming or theft or unethical behaviour.

3. Despite the language barrier (I know exactly three Spanish words now), I am able to communicate relatively effectively with most locals due to their high level of intelligence and ability to understand my amateurish and possibly hilarious attempts at charades. Example: I found a laundromat and despite knowing way more Spanish than his English (I know three words, he knew zero), we laughed and charaded our way to achieving exactly what we both wanted - namely, my clothes to be washed, ironed and dry cleaned in return for monetary reimbursement. This may sound simple enough, but I have traveled to many countries, and getting something as simple as this done whilst handicapped by a language barrier usually results in hours of tilt and failed results.

4. The food and wine here are both just surreal. I don't have the vocabulary to describe the quality of the steaks and how sexy the local white wines are. If I end up living here, I will get so fat (and drunk) I will need double seats on airplanes like an obese Canadian. Also, everything is cheap as chips. Not those expensive gourmet Kettle chips, I'm talking about the cheap chips you feed pigeons and homeless people. If you're fat and love cheap awesome steaks and delightful Sauvignon blancs's, move here now!

Now to the negatives:

1. Accessing cash here is an exercise in tilt so ludicrous, I'll probably have to leave soon unless I can find a solution that doesn't require me to jump through retarded hoops. It's beyond ridiculous. This is the first country in the world I've visited where all ATM's only allow you to withdraw like $100 max per transaction.

2. Heaps of places refuse to accept credit cards. Seriously - WTF? Why do people hate money like this? If I owned a business which relied on payments for the exchange of goods or services, I would make it easy for the customer to pay me. Complicated concept? I don't think so - but apparently it's a concept lost on many Argentine merchants.

Example: The closest restaurant to where I live is this huge place about 20 meters down the block. It's a massive restaurant with about 40 tables or so. I had lunch there yesterday and requested the bill, which was about 35 peso (less than $10 I think). I hand the waitress my VISA - she returns saying the manager won't take VISA. I hand her my MasterCard. She returns saying the manager won't take MasterCard either. I jump up and find the manager and offer him AMEX - he says he doesn't take AMEX.

Obviously, I'm already annoyed at this point because if you don't take credit cards, just say so - don't reject them one at a time. I have no peso on me so I apologise to the manager and tell him I will bring him some peso the next day for the bill. At this point, he starts getting abusive and gets in my face about it. I back away (I don't like my personal space being invaded by customer service types or really anyone for that matter) - I apologise again and show him my rental contract which clearly states I live about 20 meters up the road in a luxury apartment building and I offer him my driver's license for him to hang onto until I return with his $8 - I assure him I will bring him the 35 peso tomorrow. At this point, I have been nothing but completely polite and respectful, despite the ridiculous situation of being in a massive restaurant which refuses to accept the three major credit cards in the world.

The manager was a short little shit and continues to get up in my face and starts yelling at me that I'd better bring the fucking money or else he'll take it out of the waitress' salary. At this point, I've had enough of this little fuck. I had turned my cheek one time too many. In what world of logic is it fair for a poor waitress to be billed if a customer doesn't have cash and the business doesn't take credit cards?

I tell him to stop being ridiculous and that I don't like his offensive tone towards me, the customer, and more importantly, his illogical, unreasonable and retarded threat to deduct the bill from the poor waitress' salary. I tell him to calm the fuck down, lower his voice to match his height, chill the fuck out and start acting professional - I take this opportunity to remind him he is in the customer service industry and that he should start acting like it.

I explain to him that this is all my fault. I tell him I'm from the Future, from the 21st century where people are used to paying for goods and services with this futuristic method of payment called credit cards. I apologise yet again and claim full responsibility for my own lack of research into his quaint and backwards and medieval system. I tell him I have no gold, no jewels, no currency and nothing to barter in exchange for the consumed food except these futuristic and useless credit cards, a situation for which I cannot apologise enough. But I promise him I shall return from my lodgings within the day with full payment plus many excess pesos for the inconvenience and I hope that settles the matter.

For some reason, he gets all offended (if I was forced to guess, it was probably my referring to his height - short people hate being reminded of their midget status). He starts yelling at me, even though I had not once yet raised my voice during this exchange and negotiation.

I decide I have had enough at this point, especially as he once again moves his face about six inches closer to my face than I am comfortable with. So I 'snap.'

I shove him out of my face, tell him to shut the fuck up or I will shut him up and that, if he keeps on being a ridiculous idiot about this $8 misunderstanding, I will walk in tomorrow, buy the fucking restaurant and my first point of business as the new owner will be fire him. For what it's worth, I meant every word of the above - at the time.

Of course, in the cold light of day I'm not actually going to buy a freaking restaurant just to fire a wanker manager.

This random and retarded threat has an amazing effect. He flips from being a dick with little man's syndrome into a sniveling, groveling, pathetic little man. He's apologising, stammering and touching me trying to explain away his attitude. I'm too angry to be benevolent, so I tell him to shut up, take his hands right the fuck off me and that I'll return with peso tomorrow (which I just did now - the way her eyes lit up when I handed the waitress the cash made me think this little piece of shit manager did actually take the unpaid bill out of her salary - what a tosser).

Jonny Vincent is a professional poker player and writer originally from Brisbane, Australia. He currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina.