Wednesday, April 30, 2008

a gritty day in navajo land

Actually, we started bright and early in Chama, a quaint little town in northern New Mexico known best for its narrow gauge railroad.  We'd spent the night at the Cumbria Suites, which might be described as a handful of rooms added to the back of the owner's house.  But it had a three foot basketball goal on which we dunked mightily to get our pre-coffee juices flowing.  Also worth noting-- at the actual coffee shop in town, we saw that our old chums Brewer & Shipley were slated to play the Chama Fest in June.  One Toke Over the Narrow Gauge Line!

Anyway, our trip west from there on US 64 was largely uneventful except for a gas stop that yielded the slowest pump ever--10 minutes (not kidding) for two gallons.  Mike's mission to pick up supplies at the supermarket nearby was equally time-challenged.   So we made it to Farmington a little later than planned, meeting up there with Jason Beasley, a very nice guy whose father has had much to do with bringing Navajo folk art to greater visibility.

Our first stop on the route behind Jason's Bigfootish vehicle was in Upper Fruitland to visit Mamie Deschillie.  Now 87 and a little less vigorous than when she walked to Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, Mamie is the grande dame of Navajo creativity.  Paintings, dolls, cutout animals and other non-traditional images have made her famous well beyond New Mexico.  She was willing to speak with us (with interpretation by her son Jerome) but in the old Navajo way, preferred no still photos.

Forty miles south of Farmington, with more guidance from Jason, we found carver Johnson Antonio, and he had no problem with us taking pictures at all.  Due to the blustery winds that were starting to whoop, we moved the piece he had in progress and his tools inside his hogan, and watched him work the wood.  No power tools for him.  Johnson started carving after he retired from the railroad, and lovingly pours his heart and soul into these representations of many things Navajo.  Even though it's a tough life out on the reservation, he says he prefers it to being in town.

And after following Jason down more incredibly dusty roads near Chaco Canyon searching in vain for the Willetos, we'd agree that it is a very tough place, harsher than almost any we've seen.   Thanks again to Mr. Beasley for the tour, and for so deftly weaving us into the fabric of these artists' lives.  We're richer for it.

Music in the Van-- Starbucks English Invasion compilation, Ryan Adams "29", Lucinda Williams "World Without Tears"
Highest Gas Price So Far $4.59 diese

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

no country for pink coyotes

We've been to Santa Fe before--10 years ago when we visited the International
Folk Art Museum.  It's the kind of town where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a gallery of some kind.  This time we had a couple of specific artists in mind, and meeting them was well worth any touristy inconveniences we may have experienced.

Stop #1 was Ron Rodriguez, the grandson of Felipe Archuleta, a carver whose fierce and funny tigers, giraffes, fish, elephants and countless other critters are highly prized pieces today.  Ron started in the family operation near Tesque when he was 9, first carving teeth, then painting a little, until he was making animals on his own.  Unlike his grandfather, who died in 1990, Ron's more than willing to use power tools, and also to incorporate metal and various found objects into his work.  His fiery red devil pig is one example of the less traditional forms he's delving into.
When we mentioned to Ron that we'd heard Santa Fe's famed "Fridgehenge" was no longer standing, he offered to show us the site to make certain.  Sure enough, no more GEs and Kelvinators in Druidesque formation at the landfill.  Something about a safety hazard... so we followed him into town for lunch at The Shed and to see a few more Archuleta sculptures at the Rainbow Man Gallery.  Zach down there is our personal hero for all the help he's offered, not the least of which was the use of his very own parking space in back!!!

Speaking of galleries we love, the Manitou is also on our A list for making it so easy to shoot some of Nicholas Herrera's work, which they're featuring in a show this summer.   Women with ladders who adjust lights on request is what heaven must be like...

After our time in Santa Fe we headed north to El Rito, where the Herrera family has lived for generations.  In fact, his mother's buried in a very cool shrine at the back of the house.  Nick makes no bones about the fact that he was on a collision course with disaster from drugs and drink.  In fact, a headon crash in a Yugo at 80 miles per hour helped convince him that getting his act together was essential.  A modern day santero is how he's often described, with updated takes on saints and sinners that radiate intensity.  More and more, Nicholas weaves social commentary into his work, taking artistic aim at political figures and corporate greed.

He also restores old cars and trucks, including the '39 Chevy coupe in which he raced down the road with Don in tow.  When he brought our favorite  Camera Guy back safe and sound, we showed him the Big Ball of tape, and heard the phrase we've always wanted--"su pelota es bonita."

From El Rito we cruised north past The Ghost Ranch and those rocky red cliffs that Georgia O'Keefe loved so much.  Great light and some non-Frito-Lay chips made the drive a delight.

Music In the Van--Amos Lee, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings "100 Days, 100 Nights", Jim Lauderdale "Lost In the Lonesome Pines"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

full tilt at the bone zone

Seldom do we get to retrace our steps on this show.  And if we do, it's usually at such a clip that there's no time to savor it.  But today, it was truly Turquoise Trail II for RVRR.  We'd driven scenic New Mexico Highway 14 nearly ten years ago for segments of episode #402, and ended up in Santa Fe.  This time though, we just wanted to make it through Madrid (one of the funkiest old mining towns turned cosmic seeker convergence center ever) to Tammy Lange's roadside extravaganza known as the Bone Zone.

Tammy Tattoo as she likes to be called got that name legitimately, working as one of the state's first female inkers.  In 1997 she started building an environment about halfway between Madrid and Cerillos, creating as she likes to call it "the art that dies to live."  There are indeed a great many bones out here that have been fashioned into motorcycles and other forms that you may or may not recognize.  There's her Better Bones & Gardens area, complete with the Wheel of Imagination (which one nameless tall producer walked into with his noggin) the River of Glass and Tiny Town itself.

The town's got a jail, a church, hotel and gallows, all part of her miniature golf course, though finding balls to putt with is half the challenge.  Then there's Tammy's very own bowling alley, complete with glass bottle "pins" that make every frame a lot more fun than the regular kind. "If it seems weird, chances are it is" says one of the signs that she's sprinkled around.

There has been some upheaval around the Bone Zone in the last few months, causing Tammy the stress of finding another place to live.  She can still work here on her art though, and she vows that in a month or so, the place will be looking better than ever.  She bought new tattooing gear, and hopes that the revenue stream from it will turn things around.  We left her some $$ in the donation box, and a Big Ball T-Shirt that she promised to cut up nicely.  We say rock on to that.

On the way back to Albuquerque we stopped in at Tinkertown, a sensational site near Sandia Park that we did see on the '98 trip.  Circus sign painter and carver extraordinaire Ross Ward made it "while you were watching TV" and we were humbled by his achievement.  Ross passed away in 2002, but his wife Carla still has it up and running, and to say that we were happy to see her (and it) is an understatement.   We meet the greatest people doing this show, and even though Carla says we're doing important work because we're documenting it, we know who the real heroes are. 

Did I mention yesterday that Don bought too much kettle corn?

Music In the Van--Kathleen Edwards, Byrds Super Hits (truck stop purchase)
Don's found money count to date on the trip-- $1.47

Saturday, April 19, 2008

tiling the time away

When Erin Magennes was still in high school in Albuquerque, her mother, an art professor at the University began the most ambitious project of her life--tiling the home they lived in, from top to bottom and everywhere in between.

Not just a single color, or a basic pattern that repeats.  No,  Beverly Magennes made each wall different, accenting them with flowers, birds and bursts of color, using fragments of tile that she scrounged and/or was gifted.  On the inside, all the ceilings and walls were covered in cereal boxes and coins, cigar packages and popsicle sticks.  Beautifully!  All in all, it was an 11 year undertaking.  And then Beverly moved on.  

Meanwhile, Erin was developing a love of tilework herself.  For years, she had an art car that 
carried much of the same sense of vibrant design and meticulous detail.  But the house, as she learned the hard way, was falling prey to the dangers of time and weather.  And the fact that her mom hadn't been as interested in proper technique as she was in making her vision a reality.  So Erin (who now owns a tile business) somewhat reluctantly begun the labor-intensive process of renovating the Tile House.  "It's an Albuquerque icon" she says, and a task she felt had to be done.  A year and a half later the place is truly looking great, and even though Erin tried to not be on camera, we TV Weasels knew she needed to be.  We didn't even ask how many tiles, like some pesky crews!

Our ABQ stay included a great lunch nearby at Sophia's, a small, non-descript eatery that's known for its good, hearty breakfasts and lunches.  We needed our strength for a run down to the fairgrounds to see Fidel.  That's what the locals call the mustachioed Bunyan style Muffler Man who's wielding an axe on the roof of a Vietnamese Restaurant.  Talk about cultural diversity.  That's just off Central Avenue, also known as Old Route 66.  There's a stretch of East Central where motels of yore (the ones that are left anyway) are showing their age, but none quite like the Aztec.   Apparently, some years ago a woman named Phyllis moved in and started decorating its simple stucco cabins with thrift store paintings and statuary, adding rocks, bottles, tires and assorted bric a brac.  Muy eclectico... 

The workday ended with some serious horseplay at Doc Atomic's home and studio just a few blocks from the campus of UNM.  He's a recovering scientist whose specialty is art made with castoffs of the electronic age--circuit boards, wiring, plugs, etc.  Machinas, his version of the Southwestern Kachina dolls so popular in these parts might give you a sense of his sensibilities.
He too has an art car, or truck in this case.  One that started as a picture postcard truck, then a stucco truck to match his house, and finally a Circuit Board pickup, which picked up the Big Ball for some Route 66 joyriding we won't soon forget.  And Doc seemed pretty happy with his RVRR T-Shirt, which he promised he'll take with him next week to France.  Please take some pix, Doc and let us see ourselves in Paree!

Highest Gas of the Trip--$4.29  (diesel) 

Friday, April 18, 2008

viva las vegas, the other one

How lucky are we? 

Thanks to our good friend Larry Harris from the Orange Show, we have a new pal in Las Vegas, New Mexico.   
Margaret is a great fan of folk art, and even purchased (she showed us the receipt) our book a while back, which we happily signed for her at the grand old Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.  The Plaza was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt's, was used by Tom Mix in some of his movies and now reputed to be a wee bit haunted.  Our stay was low-key and quite pleasant, with no ghosts to be seen at all.

The morning low did drop to twenty two degrees, sunny and crisp, as we followed/chased Margaret to one of the places she'd found for us to investigate.  It's called the Casa de Colores, which despite what Don said doesn't mean "house of calories."  The "colors" are the creation of Casey Marquez, a 78 year old who's been living in it for twenty years or more, painting both outside and in because "it makes me happy."  Casey worked in auto body repair, which may or may not explain his fascination with spray paint.  He's fond of smoking, loves his dog Spot, and  he plays a little harmonica too. Kudos are also in order for his home health care worker Yvonne, who helps him get out to work on the place and makes him stay off ladders.

Margaret's next tip took us a few blocks south of the Plaza to a homemade theme park in Bobby Valdez's yard. Concrete's the name of the game in this one--cartoon rodents, tweety birds, spiders, dinosaurs and anatomically correct caveman, not to mention an elaborate  indoor swimming pool.  The artist wasn't home but his neighbor Manuel spoke glowingly about the work Bobby has done, even though he "hadn't lifted even one little rock to help him."    He did however lift the Big Ball for a moment, just long enough to let out a quick "Jesus Christ" and put it back down.  Another satisfied customer!

Manuel also talked about more of the movies filmed around Las Vegas, from "Easy Rider" to "Red Dawn" to "No Country For Old Men"-- motivation to get out and see some more of the Land of Enchantment ourselves.  We headed out on scenic, shoulderless Highway 3, sharing space with a large cow at one point.  The road winds through the Pecos River valley and into some beautiful terrain.  Eventually we landed in Chilili, or just outside it at a small cemetery full of Horace McAfee's handiwork.  Over the years, Horace embellished the graves of family members and other folks from this small rural community, using metal and tin, much of it punched out with a nail.  It's simple and touching, and would only have been better if we'd been able to find Horace's grave too.  

Music In the Van-- Fiona Apple "Extraordinary Machine", Warren Zevon's Greatest Hits, Starbucks "From the Coffeehouse" Compilation

Thursday, April 17, 2008

aliens been berry berry good to them

OK, the Cover Up Cafe didn't quite make it, and the Alien Shaved Ice Shack hasn't opened for the season yet, but all throughout Roswell it's clear that whether extraterrestrials landed near here in 1947 or not, the local economy wouldn't be the same without them.  There is an "official" UFO Research Center in the old movie house, but it's kinda stuffy and staid.  We wanted souvenirs and silly thrills of the Outer Limits kind, which are best acquired from places like The Alien Zone, which even features dioramas with bug-eyed humanoids suitable for posing.

Scully and Mulder badges.  Check.  Roswell Snow Globe.  Check.   Alien Hot Sauce, Frisbee and Magnets, T-Shirts and Sweatshirts and whew.... let's just say that viewers like you were very generous today in helping us remember our visit.

Call it coincidence, but Roswell also  just happened to be hosting the state's Tourism Conference this week.  And Governor Bill Richardson happened to be staying at the same hotel, just a few doors down from Don.  We always bring guest gloves, so some celebrity guest catch seemed a genuine possibility, but the gov was gone before breakfast.  No pepper, indeed.

The weather took a turn for the worse during our shopping spree, so as we headed north out o' town, the skies were looking gray and foreboding.  Rain with a touch of sleet pelted us several times, and put the notion of more TV today right to bed.  Speaking of beds, we're booked at the storied old Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas (the one in New Mexico, that is) and planning to meet Margaret, a friend of a friend, and get this, an actual purchaser of our book.  Details tomorrow. We've got ghosts to deal with tonight.

Music In the Van -- Starbucks Classic Country compilation, Elko Railroad Earth Live (from Don's nephew)
New Highest Gas Price --  $4.25 (diesel)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sugar shock

Rufino Loya told his wife he was going to make something beautiful for her.  And proceeded to do just that in and all around the yard of his small frame house near a Highway 54 off ramp in El Paso.  Mr. Loya grew up in Mexico, saw churches and shrines that fired his imagination, and even though he was working at the Levi Strauss factory (he's retired now), would come back and spend countless nights and weekends on his "Wedding Cake House" or Casa de Azucar. That's what the neighbors started calling the ribbons of shockingly white columns and spires that began to dance around the property.  "The whole house is like a prayer" he explained, and  admits he's done it partly in hopes that others would be inspired to beautify El Paso in ways of their own.   

We know some of this because of our guest translator, Adair Margo, a local gallery owner who treasures the magical world that's been created out here.  While we struggle to say things in Spanish beyond eating, drinking and other basic functions, she helped us talk art and aesthetics with the man himself.  Kudos to her, and to Mr. Loya for opening the gates to his very sweet monument. 

Did I mention the wind?  Blowing the dust.  Like crazy.  Good thing we could run over to H&H Coffee Shop & Car Wash for a scrubbing and a great meal.  For us, not the vehicle.  H&H is an institution like no other we've encountered, run by two brothers right across the street from the house where they grew up.  Maynard, the outgoing bro who showed us around, says they don't make much on the food because the quality's so high.  Chile rellenos, which Mike ordered, are their best known dish, but whatever I had (the waitress' pick) was first rate as well.  We talked Jayhawk basketball with several Texans at the counter, and watched the van get the royal treatment, including a Big Ball buffing from Shorty himself.

Then, wind or no, we headed to a small plaza in the heart of downtown.  The one they call Alligator Park.  Named for the actual gators that lived in it from the 1800s to the 1960s. There's tales of them being taken to nearby  to stay warm at night, but now they're only found in fiberglass, in a massive fountain (no water actually) in the middle of the grounds.  Grounds where, according to a very detailed sign, no projectiles can be thrown!

That's not really why we left town, but leave then we did.  Bye bye Texas, hello Land of Enchantment.  Some Roadside America tips on scrap metal cars and a welded dinosaur along the highway were pretty underwhelming, but then we latched onto Ham.  Ham the Astrochimp, who is buried in the front lawn of the Space Museum--a hall of fame worthy monkey.  Except we were just in Independence, Kansas, which claims their Miss Able was actually the first space ape some two years earlier.  Did Ham have a better agent?   Or was it the fact that he survived his ride and Miss A didn't?  An asterisk on this one, perhaps?

Anyway, Roswell's  our destination.  Who's gonna be Scully tonight?

Music In the Van--EmmyLou Harris Starbucks Compilation, Loose Fur, Finnigan & Wood "Crazed Hipsters", Neil Young "American Chrome"
Highest Gas Cost Seen--$4.29 (diesel)
Also notable--First 2008 penny found by Don in 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ran the van man

Ran Van Horn is nothing if not ambitious.  And he's having fun .  Though he's had no art training whatsoever, Ran opened the Van Gogh Gallery on the main drag of Van Horn, Texas 11 years ago. Thousands of people a day drive past on I-10 he figures, and the price is right for rent in this part of the world, so why not?  

Ran's previous occupation was Baptist minister, but a fall and a head injury gave him a reason to relocate back to his native state, and start painting in the Van Gogh way.  Maximalist, he calls it.  Sometimes it's recreations of the one thousand or so paintings Vincent made during his short career, and sometimes it's variations on his own heroes, newsworthy events or simply things that strike his fancy.  He paints, and then lets the world slowly wander in to see, and sometimes buy.

We showed Ran the World's Largest Ball of Videotape in fervent hope he'll get the urge to whomp up a masterpiece that includes it.  We'll keep you posted.

At the other end of the street Van Horn also has an antique shop with a front yard brimming with  junk sculptures.  We couldn't find the guy who makes 'em, but we took plenty of pictures and heard Van and his friend Patricia say plenty of nice things about the sculptor, whose name is Gerald.  It's right next to Chuy's Mexican Restaurant, which proudly proclaims that football analyst John Madden stops in often and is crazy about 'em.

Speaking of crazy, we drove up to the Guadalupe Mountain National Park (the highest point in Texas except maybe Willie Nelson's bus) to play some very windy catch, and what should we find out in the midst of the cactus and brush but an old handgun.  A 9 millimeter that someone had unceremoniously ditched.  New meaning to the phrase "rock and fire."  We loved the view nonetheless, and followed it with a sprint through the Salt Flats nearby.  Grand Caravans seldom set speed records, so don't even ask.

Music In the Van--Shelby Lynne Suit Yourself", Crowded House's newest

Monday, April 14, 2008

the poop on oop

You may remember the big cigar smoking caveman from the comic pages of yore.  Or like Mike, you may not.  The folks of Iraan, Texas do.  They've got a "fantasy park" that bears his name and image because A.O.'s creator got the idea for the strip while working in the oil fields of West Texas.  This is truly a photo op rich piece o' greenspace in a town with little else to see.  And the bathrooms at the back are sparkly clean to boot!

We didn't start the day here though.  We began by dodging lawyers and lawmen in San Angelo (that compound fracas you know) on our way to see monumental sculptures with biblical themes by Donald Keeney.  Don calls his operation Message in Mesquite, and his bread butter is/are small crosses.  But it all started (and still continues) with massive, detailed  carvings that come from his love of history and archaelogy, and yes, the Bible.  They're graceful and fluid, and in some cases actually tell time too.  Way cool.  He also spoke of the many rattlesnakes that populate the grounds, but we only saw weasels.

On the post-Oop side of the day's mileage we passed the no-longer World's Largest Roadrunner, Paisano Pete in Fort Stockton, circled the contemporary art center that tiny Marfa
has become (we particularly liked the old jail)  and finished a very long day at the fake Prada store in the middle of nowhere.  It's a piece of conceptual art along Highway 90 that tickled our fancy, if not our feet.  Nice sunset over an old windmill, and on to Van Horn for more funny biz tomorrow.

Music In the Van- Various Artists "Timeless--the Music of Hank Williams", Elton John "Honky Chateau", Cat Power "The Greatest", Bob Marley "Legend", Bob Dylan's new Starbucks Artist Picks collection
Oh, and the highest gas prices of the trip so far-- $4.14 for diesel!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

trabajando en san angelo

Kinda freaky when you turn on CNN, and the first thing you see is a story from the town you're in--especially when it's an out of the way place like San Angelo, Texas.  The story of course is polygamists gone wild, and we're the only TV crew in town that's not here for the compound.
We did come for the art however, and found it all day in various forms.

First on the agenda was a quick run out to the Old Chicken Farm.  Not a poultry place anymore, but a compound for artists.  The O.C.F. even has a B&B and a great restaurant that's closed on Sundays.  Roger, one of the founding artists, kindly dished out CDs of the country pickin' that happens out on the patio too.  TV Weasels love free stuff!

The next two assignments both involved rocks and driving around town.  First we hunted for a grander than average fence made by a man named Cadena, enclosing both his home and his goats.  Then, with the gracious assistance of architect Craig Kinney, we trespassed in the yards of some very cool houses made by stonemasons in the 20s and 30s.  Craig's not sure who made 'em, but he thinks they're folk art in themselves, with decorative touches and flourishes no one would dream of including today.  We agree, and so does our own guest architect, Larry Harris (Narrowlarry to some of you) from Houston, who's joined the dog pack for a few days as well

Next we met up with a cop turned gardener turned sculptor named Bobby Peiser.  Bobby does stuff with plants, with wood, metal, stone and whatever else captures his fancy.  There's an 
olympic torch cactus, the ruins of Pompei, gates to nowhere, tiki gods and greenery with various Greek and Latin names we don't actually recognize.  Bobby's getting married again on June 5, and so happy he risks losing his status as an crusty, eccentric old fart (his words.)

All of which served as a set up for the day's final slam dunk, the Cascada de Piedra Pinta, a front yard waterfall grotto made by Jesus Zertuche.  The impeccably dressed Mr. Z. was a ranch foreman and laborer who brought materials back to his home near downtown, and crafted the one-of-a-kind tableau with snakes and dragons and bears to populate it.  The walls of his home are an amazing black and white stone extravaganza as well.  And to sweeten the deal even more, he took us inside, and played a few of the 450 or so songs he's written.  Kudos to our own Mr. Murphy for putting his limited Spanish skills to the best use possible.  Viva Zertuche!

Music in the Van-- David Lindley "El Rayo X" , Norah Jones' most recent
Trips to Starbucks--2

Saturday, April 12, 2008

a man of steel, hoss and jackie too

That's a house.  Really.  Robert Bruno's been building it since 1973 on the rim of Ransom Canyon a few miles outside outside Lubbock.  He's got a degree in sculpture, but no experience at construction.  So he's taught himself, and learned to solve the kinds of problems that occur when you're making something no one's ever seen before.
Is it a bird, plane. cow or something futuristic?  Not really.  Just something he felt compelled to do.   And the house has shifted in form constantly, he says, with beams getting moved, windows reshaped, curves flattened and so on, as he feels the urge.  But this year, something dramatic did happen to Robert.  He moved in.  Only to find that the only real difference is that instead of leaving at midnight or so, he stays!

We left long before midnight, to pay more homage to an icon of our youth whose Texas roots ran deep--Dan Blocker.  We'd seen Hoss' grave in DeKalb, but O'Donnell claims him as their own because he basically grew up there.  A nice Hoss head in a small park, and a museum with a pair of the lad's pants (from age 11) tell you this is the kind of place where a Bonanaza lunchbox like the one Don brought along would be admired.  It was, and Don (whose birthday is the same as Dan's) even offered his as a backup should calamity ever claim the museum's.

Lamesas is just a little further down Highway 87, and home to another notable piece of the past--a Uniroyal Gal aka a Muffler Jackie.  This one's been transformed into a cheerleader for the hometown Golden Tornadoes.  Her footwear's wildly inappropriate for sideline activity, and maybe it's just Texas, but her uh, balcony seemed bigger than other Jackies we've seen before. 

Last stop o' the day was Snyder, a town where a Gold Delorean once graced the bank lobby.  It's gone, but a house on the edge of town has Mr. Peanut, a Champion Spark Plug, a coffee pot, hammer and other random sculptures sprinkled around the yard.  I managed to leave my Starbucks travel mug at the gas station, but otherwise escaped Snyder safely.

Music In the Van * Addendum from Yesterday -- Tree Frog "Live At Liberty Hall" James McMurtry "Live In Aught Three"  (we heard Levelland right as we passsed by the town)
Today--"Dixie Chicks "Home", Mark O'Connor "Heroes", Wilco "Sky Blue Sky"

routinely, he says, rusting and reacting with the elements. 


Friday, April 11, 2008

This one's for the best boy

That gleeful guy in the photo is trying to make the point that Nokona, the golden retriever seen in Rare Visions credits as the Best Boy, is nestled in the pocket of Don's Nokona ball glove, at the company's factory in Nocona, Texas.  Pretty heady stuff, huh?  
We actually managed to surprise our favorite shortstop by keeping him busy with the manual on our new HD camera as we approached his leather goods mecca.  We were also a wee bit chilled from some time outdoors at the late Earl Nunnelly's field o' folk art near St. Jo. Earl's gone now, but the giant sunflowers, ladybugs and cacti forged from various implements and autos remain.  As do a great many cow pies as well, which we deftly stepped around to do our important TV work.
Kinda like the task that took us to Wichita Falls. To see and enjoy the World's Littlest Skyscraper--all four stories of it.  Seems that an East Coast scamster sold the Texans a skyscraper back in the 20s for a very good price, so good that it only 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the big ball rolls again

Today's the kind of day that yields many miles (523 if you're counting) and no actual TV footage.  That's OK.  We set off from KC in the rain this morning, talking what else, KU basketball and obscure musical facts.  The plan was merely to get familiar with our new HD gear and place ourselves by nightfall in a spot where we could officially begin this sojourn to the southwest in sunshine tomorrow.
That place is Gainesville, Texas, which is where the photo above was snapped.  Gainesville, intrepid viewers may recall, is where we met Glenn Goode, and his frontyard full of Muffler Men some years back.  Glenn also had a Muffler Jackie, whose short skirt he'd modified somewhat in the name of modesty.
Today did yield a small disappointment.  We were expecting a phone call from an MU student reporter who's writing a story about the Big Ball, but alas,  it never came.  Apparently, she's decided, like us, that fact checking is really over-rated!

Music in the van--Van M. "Tupelo Honey",  Allison Krause & Robert Plant "Raising Sand",
John Prine "In Spite of Ourselves" , Richard Thompson "Sweet Warrior",  Rockpile "Seconds of Pleasure"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One for the gipper, one for the road...

It's all about balls, this time the kind you put in a hoop...Rock Chalk, we are about to put the petal to the metal...stay tuned.  
(Larry thinks that the speed limit in west Texas is 85...and that's what I am going to tell the officer.)