Sunday, October 25, 2009


I took a road trip last weekend and visited a friend who lives "Behind the Pine Curtain" that is that unique area of Texas known as East Texas (note: in my world, since Texas is such an ass-kicking state, various regions of the State deserve capitalization, a'la West Texas, Panhandle, Gulf Coast, the get the idea).

My friends name is El Bar, and he hails from Houston. Like many of my close friends, he's about ten years older than I am. Many years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I fell in with a large group of Houston musicians, artists and various creative-persona types. Many of us have stayed friends over the years, and El Bar is one of the closest friends I have. El Bar's chief running buddy, Woody Oakes, is an old friend of mine and Woody and I have played in many bands together since the mid-1980's.

El Bar and I began playing in bands together about 20 years ago. He and Woody had been friends since the early 1970's. Like me, El Bar has a huge circle of friends from all walks of life, and so many of his good friends have become, over the last 20 or so years, my good friends as well.

So last week yet another of El Bar's friends also visited him, namely, The Chef. The Chef, or "Chef" as we call him, is a famous and reknowned chef from Houston. Like El Bar, myself and Woody, he too is a Houston native. We all have a lot in common. A love for the blues and lots of other types of music, a love of guns and shooting and fishing. We have a passion for good Mexican food and each of us is a pretty good storyteller. Some of us are even funny mo-fos.

So the Chef and I spent the weekend checking out El Bar's country castle on a nice piece of property. I don't know whether to call it a farm or a ranch, because he does neither at this time. He just relaxes and is enjoying his retirement and playing music in bands in his area. He's a Houston refugee, and more and more of my friends are bailing on Houston and heading to other parts of the state, with a few heading to other states.

It was nice and green and the ponds and tanks and creeks and rivers I passed along the way were full as well. I took the backroads up to East Texas, opting to go a little out of my way past Bryan and getting on 79 there and taking 79 all the way to where El Bar lives. Past I-45 on 79, heading northwest past Buffalo, it was REALLY green, and there was water water everywhere. A big change from my recent journeys this past summer through Central Texas and the Hill Country.

We did lots of shooting of a wide variety of weapons, using the targets that register hits with a colored dot. Rifles, pistols and even a shotgun, .45 caliber and .38 super autos were the big shooters of the weekend. It was really windy all weekend, and the reports from all the local lakes was that they were full of big chop soup, so we didn't take El Bar's new bass boat out for a spin. El Bar drives a Honda Element normally, and he had to buy a used Suburban just to be able to tow his new boat.

So be it. We're ready to go to El Bar's house and do some big fishing in the future. He's right in the catbird seat literally being near Lake Palestine, and he's in striking distance to at least 6 or 7 GREAT fishing lakes with good stuff going on right now.

We didn't do much running around town. We all did a lot of reminiscing and music listening and watched several very interesting Jeff Beck concerts on DVD. I'm more a Clapton or Gallagher or Page or Peter Green man myself, but there are highlights to any Jeff Beck concert. I particularly like the songs from the "Blow by Blow" album, and it's been a favorite of mine since it came out.

El Bar is going through a Jeff Beck phase right now, in his guitar playing and in his music listening. In the car, we listened to Jeff Beck. At the house, Jeff Beck played both indoors and outdoors at the home fairly constantly. Out by the pool, his small outdoor Bose speakers really sounded great. I have a pair of those as well, and they are quite the outdoor speaker.

It came time that I had to leave, and as usual when my friends and I travel to meet each other over this broad expanse of state, the drive back is enjoyable but sort of a let down because you're headed back to the working week. Although I greatly enjoy my job, I would rather be fishing and shooting and hanging out at a good friend's place, surrounded by other good friends, remembering some of our glory days together 20 and 30 years ago.

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