Sunday, August 31, 2008


Ah, what a Labor Day Weekend so far. Went out of the Makaira Mojo out of Port Isabel and fished up a nice wahoo of perhaps 50 pounds - and thanks to the captain and crew for the teamwork that made it possible. It was fairly slow fishing out there, another chicken dolphin and a few blow-ups, but we did well considering the slow season we're having.

Right under the Causeway pass we met and passed the pirate ship and in the excitement I forget to snap a picture, but there was Christy and April yelling "Sam I yam" and I gave 'em a big "Argghh" in return.

It was one of those idyllic days that makes it all worth it, living on the sandbar. Now when was that surfing supposed to get good for the Gustav waves?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Want One of These

How did Sandy Feet do it?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bird Mon

I'm still waiting for the sun to get some of those requested pictures, but in the meantime, here is a part of our morning ritual, which involves feeding the birds. This time of year it is mostly pigeons. They simply must be fed at 8:30 in the morning.

In the winter it was the redwing blackbirds, a rather aggressive breed, although the occasional grossbeak could run them off. In the spring it was quite a crop of frisky common sparrows. We've always had a few pigeons and doves, perhaps eight or so. Now there are about 50!

The neighbor across the street complained about the pooh-pooh situation and I confessed that it was me, as the poor birds acted ravenous. Being a kindly soul from old Mexico, he changed course and offered me respect. "I think those birds were blown over here in that hurricane. The downtown courtyards of Brownsville and Harlingen no longer have any pigeons. I will get you some stale bread for tomorrow morning."

Of course, the nice man wouldn't let me off the hook without telling me that when he grew up in Mexico, every town had an old man who would beg for bird food and then feed them every morning in the town square, often thought to be slightly crazy but treated honorably - others came along to sweep and wash the streets and to my storyteller it was fond memories. There were racing pigeons, regular rock pigeons, and fancy ones that were thought to come over from Spain. "See that one there with the beautiful colors? He is their leader, and his markings are considered very special in my country."

I had, err, no idea! But before leaving he asked how close I could get to the pigeons. "Only a few feet, especially if I have their food. They will sometimes hover over my head."

"Then they have chosen YOU, amigo. Adios."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sublime SPI Beach Art

I don't think I could improve on what Dolly did to this old Wal-Mart cabana tent, and boy it is a piece of work. The dog took a big ole dump there but I cleaned it up into the trash can before snapping this picture, so it must be special. The white sticks do have a certain wacky balance, don't they?

Yes, I suppose my view of art is maybe more organic, like these awesome railroad vines that seemed to go berserk after Dolly and today's thundershower. In the early morning, this dune will be blooming with purple railroad flowers everywhere. Hey I wonder, isn't there a white variety too? I seem to recall seeing some on the wild end of the beach.

But these are the things that make me happy - aside from the cabana trash but you get my drift. The beach is very clean and flat but the submerged part is heavily rutted between the first and second bars now, a good place to fish at dawn.

I also saw an elderly Oriental man with his family feeding seagulls popcorn by hand today. I am serious, he'd point one out and hold out the single popcorn and make the seagull eat it right out of his hand. Malia the dog thought that was cool but wanted a piece of the seagull. OK honey, time to take you home for dinner.

The days grow shorter. I shot these pictures a little after seven o'clock. I am reminded to enjoy the simple things. And yes, I was watching the sandbars for jumping tarpon, too. Maybe they'll be there at first light tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Attempting to give a damn

Lord knows what came over me, but I think I let off a stink bomb in Jason's South Padre Attack Forum. Looks like one with permanent results! If they accuse me for needing to repaint the town because of may caustic blast, see if I give a damn.

I didn't move here to become a political hack and it's time to focus on real things, anyway. Business, surfing, fishing, new hobbies, writing a book, more music, more money, more fun. Hey add less trash to that list while we're at it: Unlitter. I'll eat my hat if the "government" can help me with much of that. And I'll be double-damned if some silly Attack Forum will do any good - certainly it can't clear the stink out of the air. Not after that one, whew ... As a lyric by BR-549 reads, "he could cut a stink pickle that would bring tears to your eyes."

Ah, freedom at last.

I was one of the last hold-outs among my circle of friends that actually liked the Attack Forum, and valued it for the updated during Hurricane Dolly especially, as if the Forum had a cathartic Kumbaya Moment. Then, it reverted to its old ways, the tired expressions like "you don't have a clue if you don't go to the Board meetings." Gosh, after being told a hundred times I was getting dumber and dumber by the minute, this Wells Boy let 'em have it. I think I wrote "Tim you ignorant slut ..." Priceless. And stinky-roo. S-o-r-r-y!

For all the angst and high drama, it was all a silly game anyway. It was addictive and few recognized my humor, satire, and tongue-in-cheek moments. But it's like giving up cigarettes: no more. Hey that's a swell idea, I could give those suckers up permanent, too.

In the big scope of things, I happen to notice that the date had slipped by August 16, which is the magic day the tourism falls off by about half here on the island. Now that's some serious stuff, and yes I do give a darn about that. Somehow, I was hoping for a resurgence after Hurricane Dolly, perhaps an unrealistic wish. Fittingly, on that day that day I saw the Bongo Dogs at the Wanna-Wanna, which resembled a bombed-out WWII ruins because of the storm - a truly existential experience.

But in a typical island way, band members all said they preferred the steadier, smaller crowds and more relaxed atmosphere. And I finally relaxed too, and smiled.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Epitaph: "More Bass"

Jerry Wexler died on Friday, a true genius for the music scene dating back to the late 40's. He was 91. The NY Times has a nice obit here. Strange dude but he promoted many artists you will know. Scroll down to the bottom of the obit and somebody said his tombstone would read "More Bass."

Being an old tuba and sousaphone player I rather liked that, and was always into black rhythms that back then was so controversial. As I migrated to electric bass and then the finger-picking the guitar, I was always a bass man. And it's about time to set the record straight!

Leo Fender invented the rock 'n' roll guitar as we know it, but it was always the singing and the bass that matters. That "wall of sound" was perfected in later years, but it always required a big booming bass. It is no coincidence that one of the most famous artists alive is a bass player named Paul McCartney.

It is sad that so many of the true instigators are leaving us, but what was cool was that Jerry Wexler didn't even like beatniks or hippies, and could barely stand bands like Led Zeppelin. But he was part of the Grand Experiment on the leading edge, and brought a works of what they used to call "race music" to our attention. Over 60 years later, the vision still works.

More bass, man.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to Gardening on SPI

Well I finally rescued the lawn mower and weed whacker from the "maws of heck." Both were frozen up from the effects of a flooded garage but somehow - and with some STP gas treatment - I got them both working in top order.

Assessing the landscaping, it was fairly dire, with plants either dead or leaning at 45 degrees, the poor beloved plumerias stripped of most all their leaves. The native stuff lived, such as the Coral Bean plant I rescued. The sea grape also did very well, with some missing parts here and there. The natal plum, a beach plum also known as the Monterrey plum, was toasty dead - and spiky as heck. The trunk on the beach plum was so hard I had to use a chain saw.

Dang, I was just starting to get the upper hand, after messing with getting rid of a century plant and a palmetto that died. Bam, instant mess after that hurricane. The salt killed a bunch of the good grass and then this field grass filled in, growing two to three feet high within a week. It's not against my religion to mow more than once a week, but that was a stunner. I feel set back about two years.

So I took stock and looked at my gardening tools and took inventory. Anything that was metal seemed horribly rusted. The planting pots I had organized so well had moved all around the garage - the water must have been fairly high - and some had sprouted mysterious plants that died. I'm lucky to have the lawnmower and weed whacker working, I guess.

Then I remembered what Paul Johnson said about what happened after hurricane Emily, which burned the plants so bad: you have to dilute and get rid of all that salt. Hurricane Dolly was interesting in that the strong wind came from the west, meaning Laguna Madre water twice as salty as the ocean. So we'll we watering except in those shady spots where the mosquitoes lurk. Gosh I hate gardening with a bunch of skeeters.

The question is whether to hit the plants with a dose of fertilizer and iron. I haven't figured that out yet. In theory, the plants would be very hungry for some food, something aside from nasty sand and salt. On the other hand, all the fertilizers I have are ... salts. Maybe I need some fish emulsion or something? Mulch when I can get a truckload?

So many people lost good stuff, although some made it through just fine like my wild lantana, which decided that life was very good and is blooming all over like an blooming idiot. And the Norfolk pine did great. although listing about 6 degrees to the east; the salt pines seemed to be gone, MIA. My nemesis, the Brazilian pepper wood bush, is happily making leaves after being stripped by the hurricane winds. The birds and hummers love that bush but that's where the possums and raccoons live. That's one tree I have no problem if you want to drive a bulldozer at it. Plus, about 200 red-wing blackbirds wouldn't camp out there all winter because they know I have bird feed.

But that's next door and I'm lucky to have several empty lots abutting my property. But there's little protection and the bananas look dinky because they don't have any. Dang, I planted those bananas because I wantred something different, and did it all right. By now I should be eating Ice Cream bananas, a varietal I got that weren't anything like what you get in the store (yup, mash them up and freeze them and eat them just like ice cream). Oh well, I'll give them another year to see if they can get bigger than ... 16 inches.

You know, I had much better luck up in Austin, with a fine set of plum, pear, and peach trees and a raised garden along the edges of the cedar fence with tomatoes, peppers flowers, and herbs. I did onions one year and planted some mint and they all came back every year like big dogs. My problem was too much darn vegetation. My rosemary bush was a freaking tree about four feet tall. The passion flowers took over the fences - all of them - and tried to grow in grass. The plum tree put out at least 25 pounds of fruit, excluding what the birds and bugs got. Nope, I haven't seen that kind of action here, and the recent hurricane didn't help matters. Bayview sounds like you can grow some serious stuff over there.

But all is not lost and no way I'm leaving the island right now. The landscaping is always "work in progress" anyway.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oh Really?

Every day I read many bloopers and I suppose that I should start collecting them. Here's one from none other than the respected (and despised liberal) New York Times, talking about about a referendum vote in Colorado that would define when human life begins:

"The proposal is the first in nation to put the question of when life begins before voters."

This is impossible, since life could never begin before the voters, who were presumably already born in order to vote. We hope. Lyndon Johnson had some issues there in Webb County, mainly dead ones coming back to life - but I don't think they reproduced very much. That begs the question about how many voters really have a life, a shocking prospect.

I'll keep hunting!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Island Politics

What politics? That's for upstate people and presidential elections and stuff. I moved down here to get away from people trying to push their politics on me. Now there are a bunch of characters on the island who run for office, I will say that. There is some electioneering. But it's so different from "politics" as I saw in Austin that it's hard to call it that here.

The red aviation light came back on the top of the water tower tonight, a welcome sight. I had reported outages over the last few years and found they had a system, so I let it go. If that's "politics" I'll eat my hat.

And the skeeter spraying truck just came by our house, Wednesday at 10:38. Yay. If that's political I'll go ride my bike behind him for a solid hour, just like I was a kid.

It's so apolitical I actually joined a town committee. Talk about more characters. Well they got me! Hey we got some stuff done on the bayside, great to see at least some results. Most of what I learned about was history and how bureaucracy works. Not political.

Heck I even vote regularly now, something I rarely did before. But that's not political - it's called my right.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Goodbye Dolly

I'll do one more post about Dolly because there's some great new stuff happening, like Willie Nelson coming down in November for the music fest (starting October 31). Looks a little scruffy but the island still works. I took some pictures "downtown" on the bayside today and the bayside still looks a little rough, to say the least. The picture just above is of what used to be Tequila Frogs, of spring break fame. The rest are from Fisherman's Wharf to Palm Street Pier.

I guess a little "urban renewal" along the old Tompkins Channel and the old entertainment district will be a good thing. It could take a years or two to get back to a nice bayside, given all the permits and expenses. But much of the damage I saw was from docks that were built in the 70's and 80's. Even concrete pilings were rotting, the rust hanging off them, due to the high salinity of the Laguna Madre. You could obviously see that giant bolts and nails were just orange rust spots.

Once we get those three or four boats off the shore and the wreckage cleared out it will look much better. Charlie was down at Palm Street saying they had pulled a lot of trash out of the water, but his jet-ski business is back open and things are doing better already. I think Dolly showed us how important the bayside is to our economy - and why we need to maintain it better in the future.