Sunday, February 10, 2008

Visitors, paneling, coffee

I've been busy working in the band room installing the sub-wall over the adobe. The beadboard paneling will go on top of the sub-wall. The adobe walls, even those covered with plaster, are not even close to straight- vertically or horizontally. Building the sub-wall structure is an effort to straighten out the surface so that the paneiling will be straight. Basically, I build off the floor and ceiling, and use a plumb line to get the wall straight. It's an imperfect science, but as Al Smith (from Airline Motor Repair) says, "This ain't no zero tolerance job!"> Anyway, I have finished all but the adobe wall facing the stage, whihc I will do later since the shelving/electric lines, etc for it are still undetermined. I may dive into it before refinishing the floor (at the time I install the band room electric) just to get the whole place done on my watch and sealed off from the main room construction.
Interesting existing door frames- 30 inches. I guess I'll just take some of these old solid doors to the table saw and trim. This is back of house, so it won't be handicapped accessible- there's no room to modify it as it is.
Eric Feighl came to town Thursday. He was in Midland on business and drove a rental car down here to check it out and spend the night in the club building. I showed him the basics of Marfa and gave him the toru of the whole place. We then went over to Maiya's restaurant where he got a drink and I got a non-alcoholic beer. That was the first of many stops. This girl named Romi (don't know the last name) had an art showing at the coffee roasting plant (formerly Pierce Chevrolet). Her art's subject matter was based around domestic violence. She had worked in the domestic violence unit at Dallas' Parkland hospital. Anyway, her work was good and the venue, in my opinion, was excellent. Bev and Johnny showed up with a portable fire pit for the parking lot to complement the free food and beer.

Next we went over to Tillie Arts for another Marfa Big Read event. This was a real deal Mexican food pot luck dinner with a three piece Ranchera group playing. Great, great food and State Rep Pete Gallego showed up and spoke.

Honor students from Marfa High and Middle Schools also did some readings for the group. All in all, a majorly successful community event for a Thursday night.
Eric and I headed back to Maiya's for another drink for him and non-alcoholic beer for me (I forgot that none of the convenience stores in Marfa sells O'Doul's or any other NA- so the next day I went to Pueblo Mart and bought the 2 six packs they had.)
We ended up the night at the Thunderbird Lounge and despite vowing that we wouldn't close it down, we did.

Earlier I had a Rockstar pomegranate drink. It had been so long since I had one that it wired me up; however, by midnight I could barely keep my eyes opne. That is, until I actually got in bed. Worst sleep I've had in months. Tossin' and turnin' like Allen Hill singing the Bobby Freeman song of the same name.
By the time I got up (8:30 AM) the next day Eric was long gone. His plane left Midland at 9:30 so he was out of here by 6:30.

Since it's basically still just me plugging away at the place I decided to clean the game room/work area up a bit. One way to do that is to get everything off the floor. Anyway, I have mostly succeeded and now we have ceiling fans hanging everywhere, the electric supplies are all segregated by class and use, and I got some more of the plumbing fixtures out into the yard. Now there's enough room to use the table saw with a full sheet of plywood without a problem. I had been using the table saw only in the outdoor garage area.
My New Year's Resolution/Lenten promise not to curse is going pretty durn well. I have caught myself, of course, but I think I can maintain a better method of speaking following Lent for the long term. That would be optimal. Quitting drinking is easy, but it definitely ups my coffee intake by a factor of about two. Thank goodness we have the best coffee anywhere here in the form of Big Bend Coffee Roasters. Believe it or not, it's available in Houston at the new place on 8th and Studewood, Antidote. Czech it.
I have a Baord of Adjustments (City of Marfa) meeting tomorrow and then I'm going to try to blaze it towars Houston in the Mercedes. It'll have to have a new battery first and it will also have to NOT be raining, since I'm missing the driver's side window. This trip back to H-town is for a doctor's appointment, a walk with John Lomax, a meeting with the Banana Blender accountant, and to move out of the big room of my apartment. Those are the non-primary reasons. The big deal is to get a box truck and load all the pinballs, video and whatever else I can get from Continental. I'll bring it back out here, drop it off, and blaze back to H-Town. By then the theory is that the Mercedes will be fixed (window and brights for inspection -it's a steering column problem) and I can drive it back out here. Rumor has it that once I get the car in inspectable condition there's a cat in Alpine who is good with the old diesels and will work on the older Benz models. That would be nice.
Once I get back, Father Bill Miller will be hot on my heels getting out here. I really want/need him to NOT hang out with the social crowd while he's here. What I really need is for him to help me move some big items around, stay in the funeral home itself, and, most importantly, hang out with full-time local people doing regular things. It will really help all of us for each of us to have an understanding of what Marfa is really like on a day to day basis (when it's not party time.) Also, we need to go to Mexico and get some items for this place.
OK, outta hare- time for Airstream - David

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mardi Gras at The American Legion Hall and Railroad Blues, Alpine, TX

Adam and I went (just us two) to play Super Bingo at the American Legion Hall in Alpine. I was told by Phil Westerman (the bar manager) that the earlybird Bingo starts at 6 PM, so we were sure not to be late. Well, it turns out that they don't even start selling the cards until about 6:25, so we were early.

We were not let down by the promise of free draft Miller Lite with thepurchase of the Bingo cards ($20). Since we were early, we took a game of shufffleboard on their old school full-size shuffleboard table (I think it's a National). I have never played a shuffleboard that difficult in my life. Phil told us that they recently had it refinished for the first time in many, many years and they took the top to the Sul Ross woodshop, which has a giant planer to have it planed. Anyway, it should be perfectly straight, but to me it's badly crowned. Keeping the weights from falling off the side of the table was nearly impossible! Anyway, the game quickly degenrated into nothing but laghter as we usually were both scoreless after many rounds. Finally, after playing for about 20 minutes we stopped (since Bingo was starting) with a score of 8-2. Hilarious!

Oh yes, and also beside the shuffleboard table was an extremely nice display of "Alpine" brand beers on a shelf. The whole place has an extensive beer can collection, including one I have never seen before- "Padre" beer. Great looking can- I'll have to steal that logo for something. I can't believe I didn't get a pic of that, but it's not going anywhere. Notice also in the picture (click to supersize) the "Operation Desert Storm" clock. This is the American Legion Hall, after all.

Bingo started and I would say there were probably about 70 people playing. Definitely pros- and we are not. The older lady sitting next to me finally got sick of seeing us not know exactly what we were dong and began to tutor us. Games we played incldued the "Crazy Kite", "Indian Star", "6 Pack (no free space)", "9 Pack", "Double Bingo", "Blackout" and the "Picture Frame". of course, neither Adam nor I won anything othe than the beers we drank. I would call that a bargain.
Everyone was nice. We were among the youngest crowd in attendance, and I would say the crowd is about 75% hispanic and about 70% women.

Once Bingo was over it was clear the hall was closed for business, so we got out of there, but not before using the bathroom, where, for the first time ever, I saw a "urinal target" in the old-school trough (of COURSE they have a trough at the AM Legion Hall!- Kudos to that!) Yes, "Hanoi Jane" is in the house. Pretty great.

Adam in front of the men's room door.

Adam and I decided to catch a game of pool or two at Railroad Blues before heading home to Marfa. it was Mardi Gras, so the place was pretty rocking.

We played a game alone and then were challenged to doubles by two guys from out of town. Several games later, with all of us playing pretty poorly but having fun, we decided it was time to go home. I got home about 11:40 and pretty much went straight to bed after checking email. And that was basically it! A happy Mardi Gras.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mardi Gras- Alpine AM Legion Hall Super Bingo

Tonight is Mardi Gras, my last day of drinking (in the U.S. at least) until Easter. This has been a yearly tradition for me since Satellite Lounge days over ten years ago and I only skipped it once. That was the year I was recovering from heart failure, so I wasn't really drinking anyway.
Adam Bork and I will be attending the monthly American Legion "Super Bingo" at the Legion Hall (Post 74) in downtown Alpine. The deal is this: for $20 you get to play the full card and drink as much Miller Lite draft as you want. $2500 in prizes are given away. They also have shuffleboard there.
They do Bingo every Thursday for lower buy-in and lower prize values, but Super Bingo Tuesday just happnes to fall tonight. Anyway, I am pumped. I met the bar manager here at the Padre's building when he strolled in while I was working the other day to try to sell me extermination services. His name is Phil Westerman. Anyway, we had a nice conversation and he filled me in on the Bingo deal when I asked about the Legion Hall. I'll take pictures tonight if they allow it.
Speaking of pictures, I have a few of the funeral home/club in it's near current state. I took the pics a few days ago and have since achieved a lot, especially reagarding getting the place better organized and cleaned up, but here they are.

Basically, most of these shots don't do a very good job of showing you how things fit into place. Perhaps at some point I'll do a complete walk-through and paste things together with a narrative to boot.
There are no additional pictures here of the main room since there has yet to be recent progress on that front. I am still waiting on the new roof structure. The longer I wait, the further out our opening date is (but the funkier the rest of the place is turning out to be, which is great!)
I watched the Super Bowl in Alpine at Railroad Blues Sunday. For those of you who don't know, Railroad Blues is our "competition" in having good touring acts. The bottom line is that the two places are going to be perfect complements to each other. Railroad Blues is pretty much a fun 281 club. I had a great time watching the Super Bowl there by myself. The game was great, for one, but RR Blues also provided a giant, exceelnt buffet. HUGE! I had no idea- I was just going to check it out.
Anyway- success. After that, on a whim I caught the new Daniel Day Lewis Marfa-filmed movie, "There Will Be Blood". An excellent movie, in my opinion. Fantastic acting and the "prophet" character (Eli) reminded me a bit of my (former) male stalker in Houston. Freak.
Anyway, I guess that's it for now; hopefully I'll have some nice shots from the American Legion Hall. - David

Friday, February 01, 2008

Thursday, Friday

It reached 11 degrees for the low temp last night. When it's that cold I can actually pinpoint the few places the Airstream leaks. The floor doesn't leak air, which was my primary motivation behind two layers of plywood with opposing joints (bottm vert, top horiz). Despite having replaced the door gasket with a new one, the door leaks more than anything else. That being said, it's pretty tight and since I was beneath the covers and had my little 1300 watt electric heater on, I was never actually cold last night. I did notice that the heater never shut off. That is unusual, since I have it set to shut off around 55-60 degrees since I am not the one paying the light bill at El Cosmico.
Before I went to bed last night I watched the Mike Jones movie "American Dream". Yes, I moved Landis' DVD player and the TV he donated into the Airstream so I could wathc that movie and also another about the 60's folk band The Holy Modal Rounders that my brother Mark gave me for Christmas. Both movies were astounding for totally different reasons. When I remember the title of the Holy Modal Rounder documentary I'll discuss it more. AS for Mike Jones' American Dream, it's based on the story of his rising to fame in the H-Town game. There's very little bad language, essentially no drug use (despite the fact that Mike Jones is a part-time drug dealer ion the movie after quitting his job at Frenchy's). Anyway, the movie is so H-Town it's almost mind-boggling. The one white character is "Attorney Goldberg" who is a slick attorney with an office in Williams Tower. He gets Mike's kid brother out of jail and Mike out of his record deal with "Smoke Out" records. I presume that's the substitue for Swishahouse since Mike gets back in the "Ice Age" game (his own label). I can't really go into any more detail right now because it's so ludicrously H-Town in that kind of amateur rap movie way, but Gallery Furniture is in there as is Frenchy's and some pretty good footage of the city. I would like very much to see the Houston Press review this film. I will bug John Lomax about it- it should be in the music section, not film.
Back to what actually happened over the last two days. I took another trip to Alpine to finish the banking stuff at West Texas National Bank. I also grabbed paneling supplies for the game room at McCoy's. I cmae back here and got on the table saw to cut the sections of the ply-beadbpard that is going on the one new game room interior wall. Once I got all that cut and put up I began working on cleaning up and painting the celing fans. They are all whote, and I can't stand white ceiling fans since they are immediately filthy once they are tured on. So instead I have been painting the bodies and balde arms black and the blades themselves brown. This is done with oil based spray paint. The fans have to be drained of all their old oil, thoroughly cleaned with paint thinner and taped off. I had some initial bad luck with the brown paint for the blades bubbling up after one side of the blade was painted. This was occuring when a second coat of paint was hitting the areas of the blade that were exposed to both sprayings. Today I went to the hardware store and got some wire so now I have the blades hanging from the rafters and paint both sides all at once. There have been a few drips, but pretty minor. Nobody will ever see them anyway, as the big fans will all be in the rafters of the showroom once the roof is replaced. However, the fans look totally great- they look like Hunter fans from the 30's with the black satin finish and the plain brown blades. Very cool.
By the way, I have to keep all the balde sets together as they were originally weighed at the Hunter plant in Memphis and grouped together. This is why you will rarely see a Hunter original rocking back and forth. This also helps conserve the motor bearings and provides for ultra quiet operation. It's a shame that these fans are no longer being produced this way. I will say, however, that the current Hunter original is still, by far, the best ceiling fan on the market today. Retail these days is in the $250 each range. I have seen them recently on sale for about $175. These cost me each $20 for the large ones and $10 for the small ones.
Last night I attended the public hearing regarding water and sewage rate increases for the City of Marfa. Following that was the regular council meeting. Attrendance at both was higher than normal. Anyway, the end result was that both water and sewer rates were increased, but for the low water user rates will reamin basically unchanged. The old system was a sliding scale that gave breaks to higher water users per 1000 gallons. Same with the sewer rate. Now the low water user will pay essentially the same as he/she would have before, but higher water users will pay more per 1000 gallons as usage goes up. I still think the prices are very reasonable, especially given that the water tastes great and the city is totally broke. This will encourage conservation among the populace, which, in my opinion, is important out here since our water table has been documented as declining. All that taken into account, the city should make more money on water (instead of losing $) and water consumption should also decrease. Welcome to the 21st century. Other items covered at the council meeting included a unanimous adoption of the new zoning variance application fees that our Board of Adjustments recommeded after our meeting last month (at which I was a voting member) and discussion of how to proceed with regard to negotiating with the City of Alpine on the new inter-local agreement on ownership of the gas company (Alpine and Marfa co-own Southwest Municipal Gas Co and the old agreement is about to run out). This will be a big deal- big $ and lots of control issues will be on the table. Lastly, there was a rare comment by a citizen during the usually silent "open citizen comments" period at the head of the regular council meeting by a gentleman who roundly criticized the Police Dept for not enforcing rules such as towing abandoned vehicles, illegal downtown U-turns, inspection stickers, parking facing against traffic, etc. This cat definitely has an axe to grind, and it sounds like he is particularly not fond of any of Adam Bork's cars and/or the Food Shark. This is the first time I've actually heard a complaint about the current police chief, who I think does a great job considering he's understaffed and underbudgeted. Anyway, Mayor Dunlap listened for a while and then made some jokes. Anyway, the topic was not addressed and this gentleman actually had some good insights and things to say later in the meeting when water and sewer rates were addressed and the new rates adopted.
Tonight, which is Friday night, I completed work at 6 and headed down to the Marfa Public Library for a proclamation by the Mayor and some food and music commemorating the beginning of Marfa's official "Big Read" month, where everyone is given a free copy of Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" and instructed to read it. Over the course of the month there will be numerous community discusions, activities, speakers, presentations and get togethers all addressing this book. It's and NEA project and books are available in both English and Spanish. I got my copy tonight. At the library itself was a nice spread of food (always great party food in Marfa!) and a conjunto/traditional Tex-Mex acoustic group led by local saxophonist and part-time journalist Johnny Calderon. It was very enjoyable. Of course I loooked like walking hell in my dirty overalls and Houston Roller Derby shirt (plus my unwashed for nearly a week hair stivking up everywhere!). The cool thing is nobody really cares. It was an event of good spirits all around. There was a fancy art opening tonight as well, but I have been skipping out on that type of stuff unless someone specifically asks me to go. First off, I am not too clean these days with all this work, and secondly I like to get up before nine and get cracking on the coffee and work. Tomorrow is urethane day for the new game room wall. I stained it today and now it's dry. I would deal with that tonight, but despite the fact it's not even cold compared to last night (36 degrees right now) the polyurethane does not like it under 60 degrees.
Tomorrow night there is a very cool looking presentation going on at the Goode Crowley theater across the street. Houston-born Mel Chin will show a film and sign novellas comparing and contrasting the U.S.'s 9/11 experience in 2001 and Chile's 9/11 experience in 1973 when Augustus Pinochet took over in a violent military coup and ruled through and with terror for the next 17 years. So once again my work day will end by 6 unless I pick back up later, which is possible since it should be maybe in the upper 30's for a low tomorrow night. - David