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Tag Archives: Texas

Fin De Semana! 6-5-15

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Back when El Paso was a rough town full of pistoleros and Juarez was calm.

Eh, it’s monsoon season anyway.

Whataburger soldiers through the egg shortage.

What I’m Listening To:

Man, is it good to have Dwight back.

What I’m Drinking

Shiner Light Blonde- It’s the light American lager from Texas’ favorite brewery! It tastes pretty much like “cheap beer!” Sometimes, when it’s really hot, that’s all you want! Listen! Whataburger cut back breakfast, Blue Bell is off the market, I was worried about Shiner! It’s going to be ok! It really is!

Fin De Semana! 3-13-15

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How Mexico Learned To Polka

Bill Richardson, who as governor of New Mexico saddled some of its poorest counties with a tax to build a spaceport, is now lobbying for a group building a competing spaceport in California. Meanwhile, the New Mexico spaceport is still vacant with an uncertain future.

The Tigua tribe had a pretty nice casino, and used the money they made from it to do a lot of good for their community. The Texas Legislature shut them down and now the Feds are accusing them of violating that injunction. 

What I’m Listening To

Ryan Culwell-Flatlands Steeped in West Texas heart, shot through with echoes of Springsteen and as atmospheric as an abandoned house out on the plains. Flatlands covers a lot of ground, stylistically, but maintains the high-plains heart of The Flatlanders. I can’t wait to play this through my truck speakers while heading north out of town, out where the mountains finally give way to the plains. Out there, there’s nowhere for anything to hide, just the bare earth, light and shadow, and the ever present wind. That’s kinda how this album works, you get the same feeling of space and honesty.

What I’m Drinking

Protein shake. Off to the gym. Have a good weekend.

Fin De Semana! 2-6-15

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We’ve probably reached Peak Marfa.

Can’t wait until the Coen Bros make this into a movie.

A somewhat more sensationalistic look at el Valle de Juarez.

New Mexico’s favorite industry is back in business.

What I’m Listening To:

Dwight Yoakam-Secondhand Heart

Man, I am really glad to see Dwight Yoakam back on a major label and making new music. He’s going out on tour again, and Sam Outlaw is opening for at least one date if you want a great night of California country, that’d be the one to see. Dwight’s always played with form and sound, trying to meld a lot of different things. His newer stuff seems more ragged and rockin’ drawing more on Liverpool than Bakersfield. I’ll take it.

What I’m Drinking

Shiner Birthday Beer. I try to pick up a sixer of these every year. This is certainly one of the most memorable of their birthday beers, a chocolate stout that tastes pretty much exactly like a chocolate cake. This one’s good in small doses, since it’s heavy and rich. Definitely best enjoyed on it’s own or after dinner.

Fin De Semana! 5-2-14

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After all the scandal, demolition and construction, El Paso’s new Triple A baseball team is finally playing a home game. I plan on watching a couple of games, and hey, it’s closer than Albuquerque. I even kinda like the name. The El Paso Chihuahuas. The stadium might be a boondoggle, but I kinda hope this is a success.

Speaking of boondoggles, what if you build it (a spaceport) will they (space tourists) come? This article lays out the facts and holds on to the sliver of hope, that maybe, just maybe, one of the worlds richest men didn’t just screw one of the nation’s poorest states.

Texas likes whiskey. Texas makes whiskey. But what makes a whiskey a Texas whiskey? (I’ve been to the Ranger Creek facilities and even drank their Rimfire at my wedding. I’ll get around to reviewing it sooner or later…)

Speaking of smokey Texas delicacies, why do so few women run a barbecue pit in the Lone Star State?

What I’m Listening to This Week

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The Bigsbys- Goodwill Suitcase. The Bigsbys combine good ol’ crunchy 90’s alt-rock with a rootsy sensibility that puts me in mind of the first Kings of Leon album. But less hipstery. If you like rock and roll and America you will like this record. If you hate rock and roll and America, you might be reading the wrong blog. Either way, I’ve really been digging what the Bigsbys are putting down.

What I’m Drinking

It was 50 degrees out and gloomy when I left the house this morning. Cool weather still won’t leave us alone. With that in mind, I’ve been working on a bottle of Lismore single malt. The guy at Specs said “this isn’t the best bottle of scotch you’ll ever drink, but it is the best bottle of scotch you can buy for 20 bucks.” He was right. It’s a Speyside whisky (if you’re a Scotch aficionado who notes such things) with big heather, honey, and smoke flavors with a pleasant finish. I put back a bottle of Basil Hayden’s to pick up this bottle and I don’t regret it. Thank you Specs guy, you were right. That was a very enjoyable way to spend 20 bucks.

Here’s One For the Road

The Tejas Brothers sound to me like a Saturday night oughta.

The Counselor, a place to start

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As a place to start this blog, The Counselor is as good as any. It sits at the nexus of so much I want to talk about here. The Modern West (not the Kevin Costner band, but I’m sure I’ll get around to that eventually), El Paso/the Border as well as the style and culture of all those things.

 

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It’s like Traffic, but….well….look at Fassbender!

 

 

First, let me say, leave it to Ridley Scott to make a movie in which the first scene is six minutes of Penelope Cruz begging for various sex acts to be performed upon her and have the result be well shot but strangely boring.

Beyond that, this film is superficially set in El Paso and  surrounding environs. Utah and England stand in for El Paso more often than not, but there’s some great pick up shots that manage to alllllmost capture El Paso, but not quite. And here’s why:

El Paso is a strange bird and hard to capture on film. It’s certainly Texas-y in a cowboy, wild-west kind of way, but it’s also very Mexican, sitting across the river from Cd. Juarez, with whom it shares a symbiotic relationship. (the two cities form the largest international metroplex in the world) There’s also a subtle international flavor to El Paso due the college, the military base, and all the cross-border commerce. We don’t have the West Texas drawl (that ends in Ft. Hancock) or a lot of cultural threads common to the rest of Texas (dancehall culture, oil, etc.) El Paso is closer to Phoenix and Santa Fe than Austin. El Paso and Juarez are very much the nucleus of their own little universe, and have been for a very long time.

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El Diario de Juarez would have had this headline. (And better reportage on drug violence.)

For the most part, The Counselor could be set anywhere in the Southwest except El Paso and Juarez feature so prominently in stories of the drug wars. It doesn’t make as much sense to set this in say, Tucson. Michael Fassbender is the titular Counselor, who goes into some narco business with his weird club owner buddy Reiner (Javier Bardem looking like the sort of burnt  super-fresa club owner guy I could kinda see living here.). Penelope Cruz is Laura, The Counselor’s love interest (she doesn’t get to do much) and Brad Pitt is Westray the cocaine cowboy wearing the same stupid 70’s western suits that every costume designer thinks SOMEBODY has to wear in this sort of movie. Cameron Diaz plays Malkina, Reiner’s girlfriend, a femme fatale who sets the wheels in motion for everyone to die. There’s some pretty obvious symbolism. (Malkina has cheetah spots tattooed on her, Reiner owns cheetahs. The cheetahs are loosed in an ugly bout of drug violence. Cheetahs are predators. So are jaguars. Jaguars are native to Mexico and the border regions, though they’ve been hunted to near extinction. Jaguars making a reappearance as Mexico erupts into horrifying spasms of violence would probably have been too obvious, I guess. And too Mexican. This movie seems strangely white washed for taking place in a city that is 82% Hispanic.) There’s some trademark McCarthy pondering that sound great despite the fact that no living human would ever utter such a thing in a real conversation. In general, you get your usual Hollywood scenes of grime covered Mexicans (who don’t listen to Mexican music or speak Mexican Spanish and only seem to work really grubby jobs) doing drug things while yuppie types fret about money and morality. The two rarely meet and when they do, it’s ugly and bloody.

 

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Almost no one dresses like this unironically anymore. 

 

As a portrait of life in El Paso, it fails. It also fails the first test for all artistic endeavors, it’s not very entertaining. Better direction could have taken the tension in McCarthy’s screen play and ratcheted it to a bloody denouement. As commentary on the modern West and the world in general it doesn’t have much to say beyond pointing out how abysmally disappointing humans can be when you throw money and power at them. McCarthy’s novels (and this screenplay) are essentially brainy action movies. The Coen Bros. seemed to grasp this with their adaption “No Country For Old Men” and they made a more passable stab at capturing the rhythms, culture and look of West Texas. If you stick with me, I’ll try to do the same.