Sunday, October 26, 2014


One of my favorite Jimi Hendrix songs, and if you're a Jimi fan you know that's a tough choice, but one of the all time favorites of mine is Little Wing. It's also one of his shorter tunes.

I've been loving that tune since I was a single digit aged kid, back in 1967 and 1968. My next door neighbor and classmate Brad had a very cool high school aged sister with a substantial music collection. 

Although my elementary music favs also included the Monkess (still a fan) and the Banana Splits, I liked lots of rock. CCR. The Stones.  Like lots of others, I really liked the Beatles.

Back then, my parents had quite an album collection as well. They had lots of great Elvis, some really good big band stuff, Sinatra, Gene Krupa and even a little known gem by guitarist Al Caiola wherein Al interprets the Theme to the Magnificent Seven on electric guitar and created a masterpiece. There was lots of stuff I didn't care for, as my parents were fond of show music and organ duos. I actually did find a show where Miles Davis played in their stacks later in life, but the fact he was on the record was not known to them, or for that matter, who he was.

Then, I got myself an acoustic guitar, no doubt japanese, from one of those green stamp deals. I was able to learn some chords and was really ready to learn to play multiple instruments and especially drums.

So then this momentous event occurred. A friend of my dad's, grateful for a favor done by my dad for him, decided to gift my dad with his fairly state of the art stereo and extensive 8-track and album collection. He was moving out to California and there was no room for it. My father hesitated, but as a fan of rock and roll already at age 9, I chimed in and my dad easily changed his mind.

So before I was even 10  I got a great collection of music from back in the early 60's to basically stuff that was recently released and a very nice stereo to play it on. In those days, and now as well, I'd rather have a nice stereo going then a tv. Even in the 1960's when it was unheard of for a kid to have a color tv in his bedroom, I'd have taken a stereo over a tv any day. And now I had one. And all this accelerated my desire to play the drum set and my parents soon had me taking lessons.

But one of the songs that I became entranced with in those days was Little Wing by Hendrix. A short song, although back then many of the early Hendrix hits were radio friendly and thus short tunes. Nonetheless, a moving and compelling song. It's always had a calming effect on me personally, and for more than forty years now I've enjoyed listening to it.

During the 1970's, I heard other folks do their versions of the song. But it wasn't until I discovered the Gil Evan's Orchestra version of Little Wing (and many other Hendrix tunes) from the mid-70's that I really, really made that one of my favorite songs of all time.

As a band member from 6th grade through graduation, playing in rock bands on the side and orchestral, marching and stage bands at school, I was well acquainted towards the use of horns in rock and roll and jazz. One song the stage band played from pretty much junior high into high school was Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" which I've always loved playing and hearing. 

Sting, like me, is a big Gil Evans fan in general, and specifically I think he's enamored with Gil's version of Little Wing. So enamored that in the 80's Sting did a concert with Gil, which exists on CD, and of course their arrangement of Little Wing rocked.

On Gil's Little Wing version, which appears on the album after Gil Evan's Orchestra plays the music of Jimi Hendrix, an album called "There comes a Time",  THE LATE MR. TONY WILLIAMS plays drums on that version.  Drummer Bruce Ditmas handles drum set duties on most other Hendrix covers, but the Williams version has some great drumming.

This is actually a song where I can emulate more or less exactly the drum part the late, great Tony Williams plays. He was a far more talented man than I on the skins, and far more conversant in many more genres of music than I on skins. But, since this was a more simple rock tune, and he was obvious playing for the song, it's a part I've just loved, particularly the hi-hat work and his drum fills.

I've written about why I love Gil's treatment of Little Wing as well as all other Hendrix tunes. There's many reasons. Gil's Fender Rhodes playing. The whampum-stompum horn section, which comes in so powerfully at times.

Ryo Kawasaki handles the electric guitar duties, and although his solos are fantastic, his interludes where he does heavy rhythm guitar work are just magical. Really grooving. Likewise, the sax solo by David Sanborn (Yeah, that Sanborn) and the trumpet solo by Hannibal Lokumbe are so deep. Hannibal's rendition of the vocals in a single stanza at the end of the tune haunt yet embrace.

In the background, percussion by Susan Evans and Bruce Ditmas add all kinds of colors. There's synth and keyboard work going on by others and since the song stretches out for nearly 3 times the original version, there's room for some very cool interpretations of Hendrix and his Little Wing.

The Evans Orchestra mix isn't traditional. The two electric bass guitars on Little Wing are more in the mix and louder than Ryo's quietly blazing guitar work. The drums are fairly prominent but keys and percussion create a canvas to paint on. The horns, at times soulful and soothing and at times powerful and moving, make me sing along with the lyrics that they are interpreting.

Tons of folks have covered this tune, including several bands I've been in. One of those bands I was in had a great guitarist who really had a great version of this classic. Years ago, I made a CD from my favorite versions of Little Wing by famous artists and by the several bands I'd been in. I still enjoy listing to that compilation of Little Wing. Of course, the first song on the disc is the real "thang": Hendrix.

 Certainly, there's other stellar ones that deserve mention, like Stevie Ray Vaughn. Just truly soulful, especially if you ever saw it live. I omit others not because they're not stellar, but because memory fails at this hour. Maybe some will comment with other great versions.

I urge readers to go to youtube and listen to some of the different versions available by the above artists as well as those I've omitted. I'm sure there are numerous great versions I've failed to mention.

It's also worth researching what the song means. There's lots of info around about what Hendrix said in some interviews about it. But to me, that's inconsequential compared to the artistry of the music and the tune itself. The lyrics move me, and I have a certain story envisioned when I hear them. It moves me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


These are the words my co-workers thought I might hear from my wife when she found out I had obtained a pedal steel guitar from a friend and was going to begin to learn to play it.

But I've got a great wife, an epic-ly great wife, and she has been nothing but supportive of my pedal steel guitar plans.

For the past few months, I've ruminated upon taking up the cello. There's a great blog, by the way, called Mid Life Cello, where the blogger discusses his efforts to take up the cello in mid life.

So that's where I'm at. I've been a drummer and percussionist since I was 11 years old, and have played semi-professionally with some regionally famous acts and have fallen into some great playing situations over the years. To help my tuned percussion abilities, I took lots of piano lessons in junior high and high school and I've kept up with perhaps an intermediate ability on the keys. With a few months of regular exercises and scales, I could be a strong intermediate or more on the keys.

Likewise, in junior high, I took lessons on bass and on both electric and acoustic guitars. I'm not a barn burner in the guitar department, but have a low intermediate ability on both, with a weak area in leads. I'm a better rhythm guitar player but constantly do try to improve my lead playing.

Bass has always come easier to me, perhaps due to my drumming and the drum and bass musical relationship. They drive the band. The last four years, I've more or less relaxed by doing some playing on a nice Fender jazz copy fretless bass with a real rosewood fretboard, not the composite fretboards used on some low end clones. 

I've enjoyed playing the fretless bass immensely. I'll never play like Tony Franklin, but that playing led me to want to take some cello lessons, and perhaps even some upright bass lessons and acquire one or both of those instruments.

I do home recording, and as I'll soon post, I'm upgrading my home studio. I've been using garageband the past five years, but want to upgrade to a platform that has more options for editing and more channels. My upcoming system will be ipad based, and I've found a DAW that has 16 channels so even recording live drums with plenty of mikes could be a viable option. Primarily, I've got a songwriting outfit with my old friends Billy Ray and Ricky Ray, and having more channels available for simultaneous recording would be a boon.

Back in the mid-eighties, I got into midi based recording and performing instrumentation big time. Midi drums. Midi drum programmers. Midi keyboards and samplers. 

So maybe now I'm taking a step back. I've long wanted to play the pedal steel guitar, particularly in the context of rock and blues bands. For instance, on Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty", David Lindley's solo on the pedal steel just rocks. 

So I've got to get a volume pedal, and I'll do that in the next couple of days. I've got a friend with one that is supposed to work well with pedal steel, so I'm getting into this low budget. 

I've got several amps to choose from. In reading extensively about both performance and practice amps for pedal steel, there's a split between Fender and other tube amps and solid state amps.

I've got a Fender Super Champ XD, which gives both a tube sound and some modeled versions of different amps, including clean Fender amps. I've also got a large Roland Keyboard mixing amp that I use for electronic drums, and that's a fairly wide range solid state amp with a 15" speaker. 

Oddly enough, my favorite practice amp for bass is a tube guitar amp, a cheap Epiphone model with 5 watts. This same amp is recommended by many as a practice amp for pedal steel. My Roland micro-cube is not recommended, but the similar Vox model is.

Finally, I've got a small Ampeg bass practice amp that gets a nice sound, so I'll have my choice of amps, but my guess is the Epiphone for quieter practice and the Fender for when I'm home alone.

I'll put it together tomorrow evening. It came in a nice old school heavy duty case. It's a Sho-Bud model, and I have not bothered to research the year but it's decades old. It's in great shape. The fretboard has some really cool insets of hearts, diamonds, spades and clovers. So it's gotta be 60's or 70's when that was cool to have on your axe.

I have a lot more research to do. My friend sent a basic steel and some finger and thumb picks, and I've gotten a few instructional dvd's off ebay. I also ordered some tab for more modern music with instructions. I'm sure there are instructional videos for pedal steel on youtube, but I haven't looked yet.
It's an incredibly hard instrument to play, the pedal steel, by all accounts. We'll see how this goes. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I'm going to try to get back to doing some storytelling here on a more frequent basis, and I'm hoping that I can bust my writer's block and get back to having some fun here.

The name is misleading, because the folks in the band pronounced it "Voyyyyyyyy-Ag'eeeeeeeeeeeeee. Very european sounding. It was actually a really good band, but we didn't go anywhere and I left shortly after playing with them several times for reasons explained below.

I think I found the band online, or maybe on an ad at a Guitar Center bulletin board. No matter. It was a month or so before 9/11, and I recall that because I was waiting for a used Sonor drum being shipped from Germany and of course it finally arrived months later being apparently untrackable and having been searched numerous times. I was playing a really nice Sonor Hi-Lite Exclusive kit with a gorgeous black lacquer finish and copper colored hardware. Just a beautiful and great sounding kit. It was a rare kit to begin with, and I could only find matching add-on drums in Germany on Ebay there, and only a few willing to ship to the USA.

But I recall wanting to add more toms to that particular kit because it was a funk-jazz-rock band very suggestive to me of the late, great Curtis Mayfield band from back in it's heyday. We were playing diverse material, all of it I'd heard before and I was looking forward to getting a few more toms to engage in some more active drumming as the music called for.

So I show up for the audition and their departing drummer is there to offer his evaluation. He's got his kit there, but I've brought my own in, because his kit is horrid. It's cheap, the heads are way worn and everything is very dirty and dusty. The kit has not been taken care of, and the cymbals look no better.

Now, I've seen master drummers playing on sad kits, don't get me wrong, but this guy didn't look like one of those guys who could blaze on a crappy kit.

So after a couple of songs he packs up and tells the band I'm the guy and we run through the material, which is several sets worth of songs. Again, I've heard them and know most of them and catch 95% of the stops and special fills and such and it goes really well. I taped it digitally to DAT and it still sounds good.

We got together a week later, as I recall it was the day before 9/11. We had another great practice running over the material twice. Again, I taped it and it's still as good as I remember.

The founder of this outfit was a guy we'll call Carl. Carl was in his late 30's, college educated with some kind of programmer job. He had picked up guitar cold 5 years before, and he was an excellent player. His leads especially reminded of Curtis Mayfield, which is a big compliment.

This was his first band, as I'll discuss more later. We were doing covers of popular songs but in a jazzy and funky and extended way. There was lots of wah wah pedal, which frankly was fine by me because there was some serious guitar playing going on amidst that wah wah'ing.

A guy we'll call Robert was apparently a long time friend of Carl and he played a huge 8 string bass and tenor and alto sax. He also was a great player and soloist and I'm thinking he had arranged all the music we were doing. He occasionally played bass either with our other bassist or solo. 

Lisa was the bassist and she was great. She had a nice, seventies Fender Jazz and later got a pristine seventies Fender Precision fretless. From the first note, she and I noticed we had a good chemistry and that we played very well together. It was almost one of those subconscious sorts of deals, where we each knew where the other was going.  She and I would play in later showcase gigs for various artists.

There was a singer whose name escapes me and we'll call So-and-So. One of those ladies who knows she is nice looking and acts the part, God's gift to beauty and humanity and all that. And quite the be-yotch. She didn't care for me at all, and was one of those new musicians thinking that in 6 months she'd be in Hollywood and on TV, when she "made it".

Well, I will say she was an excellent singer. Classically trained and could hit all kinds of notes and sustain for an eternity. I was duly impressed, and so was she. Impressed with herself, that is.

One very memorable arrangement this outfit did was of the Bill Wither's great "Ain't No Sunshine {When She's Gone}". That girl could sing the heck out of that tune, wringing all kinds of emotion and such out of that already great song. She did an extended vocal intro with all kinds of vocal gymnastics, and their arrangement then added a great electric guitar solo and an awesome sax solo.

So my hedging and delaying my decision I guess greatly upset her. 

So I come for the third rehearsal with them. Unfortunately the talented sax player Robert has suffered some kind of massive stroke or heart attack and will obviously be out for some time.  We nonetheless move through a few numbers, and all is well musically. 

There was a good keyboard player there that had come a few times and decisions were pending on both sides. She like me had been in lots of bands. Everyone else in this band, save for Lisa, had no other band experience. This, and most of them were in their mid-30's, was their first band and first band experience.

That seemed to be a good posture for me to take, because although they were ready to have me "join" right away, I wasn't ready to commit until I got to know them. At the time, I was playing with a couple of other bands at the time, but looking seriously for just one band to work with, and I was up front with them about it.

So after a break, when I re-enter the rehearsal room, I'm confronted by female singer, and backed up by the guitarist and founder and pretty much group leader. They don't think I'm serious about their band, and they see themselves "touring" in less than a year, and with my day job and family and other bands, they need to know that when "they make it" that I'll be there and abandon family and job at the appropriate time.

I briefly shared some gems from my years of musical experience with them, as I packed my drums and gear, on the realities of "making it" when you're  a cover band. On "making it" in Houston, Texas. On planning to be in LA in a year when they have yet to do a gig, and the only recording being done had been done by me. 

They weren't good enough for a Vegas hotel or bar gig, but might land a steady gig at a remote hotel somewhere where it's hard to get bands. In other words, a very talented band but not playing their own music, and not having any of their own music to one day play. Thus, they'd be a great cover band and maybe one day a first rate cover band, but that was a long way off.

As I loaded out my gear, two guys about my age who had been playing guitars in the room next door had heard what was going on during my inquisition and asked me if I'd jam with them. Turns out they were playing lots of blues rock stuff I liked by artists like Doyle Bramhall, Storyville, Arc Angels and the like. And so I unloaded into their room and that's another story. The story of Drivin' Wheel. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


If you like, or ever liked, the band Bad Company at any time in your younger days, or even today as I still do, forty years after their introductory album, then you should go watch this great 30 minute concert from Don Kirshner. It sure hit the spot for me and was very enjoyable. BAD COMPANY ON DON KIRSHNER'S ROCK CONCERT 1974

This Bad Co. show is just too much. There are extended versions of all songs, with Simon Kirke stretching way out from the drum parts played on the album. Boz and Ralphs are right on, as is Rogers in his singer, guitar playing and Fender Rhodes electric piano playing. In fact, the only disappointment was the fact that although the show begins with the song Bad Company, with Rogers playing the Fender Rhodes, it's abandoned on the next tune,  Ready for love, but the arrangement they play rocks so much that it makes the missing Fender Rhodes forgettable. 

I remember seeing this show 40 years ago. It was rocking. It still is.

Although rumors, and they are rumors, persist about various artists in the old days endorsing one drum brand yet using another to record, what we know from this Bad Arse Don Kirshner Rock Concert youtube is that the Ludwig drums that Kirke sported during that part of his career did sound great, even with the available mic'ing in those days, which admittedly wasn't that bad for drums with SM-74's and such.

What you also see is that this is a real band playing live and covering all the album multi tracked parts, and then some. With Kirke stretching out, Boz and Ralphs can adequately cover the solos with plenty of melodious bass playing, a benefit no doubt of Boz's time playing bass and singing with King Crimson. Rogers does pick up guitar and sit down at the Fender Rhodes, and he's a great player, but the real test of a 4 piece band is whether they can pull a show off live without an extra player or two.

Like Boz and his experience with King Crimson before joining Bad Co., and as with Rogers and Kirke having extensive experience with Free, Ralphs was no newbie and shows that by 1974, he was an old hand at live shows and had no problem keeping the songs melody going on songs where he is the sole guitar. As I mentioned, Boz and his playing helped greatly with the solos, and I make the parallel to Dusty Hill of ZZ Top filling in on the melody sorta as Billy Gibbons stretches out on solos. Kinda sorta the same, to me anyway.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Classic Rock magazine special edition magazine and DVD on Bad Company. My wife thought it folly, but for me, it was great. It's got great shots and interviews and stuff I didn't know. For example, I didn't know Boz Burrell was an ace guitarist before joining King Crimson and picking up the bass. I thought he had picked up the bass more or less cold, but in any event, he's a stout bassist and one of my favorites.

Back then, in 1974 when the Bad. Co. album came out, I was in the throes of starting high school and all that goes along with being that age. By that time, I'd been playing drums and drum set for over 4 years, and was in school band and marching band and stage (jazz) band and orchestra and in addition to private lessons on both percussion items and set, by the time Bad Co. came around I was a pretty accomplished basic rock and jazz set drummer.

My friends and I had a couple of different personal band efforts during those early pre-teen and teen years, including some jazz trios and other jazz music but when 1974 rolled around a great little band opportunity came about.  All of the folks I had played with before 1974 were in the school band program, and some played guitar and bass on the side, as well as trumpet and sax.

So these guys were not in band, and my mom was not happy with that. Since I had been playing along to tunes like Can't Get Enough and lots of the other material we planned to cover, I met some fellows with some talents on guitar, bass and vocals.

Robert, the guitarist, is known throughout Hollywood these days and has an illustrious history as a player and instructor. He was great back then in 9th grade. He could play any tune I knew, and if he didn't know it could catch the tune itself by ear and learn the tune back to front in a couple of days. He played a nice cherry Gibson SG with twin humbuckers, that now resides in the hand of his high school buddy, jamming through some kind of Peavey tube amp.

The bassist, Jim, was playing some kind of Hohner Beatle Bass through a Marlboro bass amp. It was actually not a bad transistor amp at all.  Jim was a couple of years older than Robert and I and was already playing with a REAL high school rock band of older guys working school dances and such and making decent money. Jim had brought a...wait for it...Peavey PA for this nice guy dating Jim's sister, who Jim was forced to bring as our singer. The singer could sing, but had no experience singing with a band, no meter, no sense of time and although he had all the lyrics, he couldn't put them in the right place and the vocals were just a big old mess.

So although Robert and I had jammed together and had practiced to records, and since Jim was already in the band,  the first run in my parents garage went pretty well ticking off a list of current hits of the day, and starting with "Can't Get Enough". It went so well musically, we went right into "Ready for Love" and "Rock Steady".

Again, the vocals were a mess, that I well recall. About that time, Jim's sister, the girlfriend of the singer who was there watching her man make his singing debut, decided she needed to go somewhere and thus the singer was spirited away to entertain girlfriend.

At that point, we ran back through the songs, just a three piece, with Jim the bassist singing and Robert doing some backing vocals. It sounded a lot better than Ron's singing. The music just got better.

We didn't sound near as good as this Don Kirshner show.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I'm looking for a Signature Lite Bop kit in any finish, and likewise a regular Signature series or Phonic bop kit. With Ebony Makassar (spelled various ways) as first choice,  Rosewood would be my second choice and Bubinga a very close third. More like a 2.1.

I'm no Sonor expert, but I think the Signature series was made mostly during the 1980's. That's certainly when I saw several top drummers playing them around Houston. I remember that "Texas" Tim Root, a clinician for Simmons Electronic Drums in the 1980s as well as being employed by Keith Karnaky at The Drum Shop, kept his fine looking Signature set sometimes in the upper floor at their way old West Alabama location in Houston.

 There have been many other great looking Sonor Signature kits I've seen in Houston and Austin and L.A. over the years, and I've always been entranced by the ebony makassar wood which is one of the Signature Series choices, the others being Rosewood or Bubinga. They sound a bit different, perhaps moreso if you have the ears of a dog, but I find them very pleasing.

I had an opportunity a decade ago to buy a very nice minty (at least in photos and descriptions) a very nice Sonor Signature Lite ebony bop kit with matching snare from a drum shop in Germany called Magic Drum(s), who had the kit on their site for some time. I had bought a 16" Sonor HiLite orphan tom that matched my kit from them and they had minty stuff and I felt comfortable dealing with them. The owner or one of them spoke excellent english so I could talk via phone with him or email with no issues. But sadly, they seem to have vanished from the web.

I missed another great kit, a Rosewood Phonic with both a 22" and 18" bass drums, meaning Bop and Rock kit all in one. It got sold locally while I dallied on deciding. I've recently seen some great Phonic and Signature Lite kits at some live gigs, and remembered how much I like their sound and how gorgeous those kits are.

Sadly as well, Ebay is no longer the hub of Sonor Drum sales it once was, and the classifieds over at the Sonor Drum Museum are active but never with what I'm seeking. Back in the day, sonny boy, Ebay used to have all kinds of great kits and single/orphan drums and hardware from the Signature era, but not so much anymore.

I'd prefer a Signature Lite kit, which features shorter shells than the standard Signature line, with an 18" bass drum, a 12" tom and a 14" or 15" floor tom. And a matching snare if possible. That's a Bop kit, by the way. BUT, a like-sized (18/12/14/14sn) Phonic kit in Rosewood would be great also. Even a Sonorlite Bop kit would be a wonderful thing to enounter.

I've owned some great Sonor kits. A Sonorlite black lacquer kit in 22/12/13/16ft, A Sonor HiLite black lacquer kit in 22/10/12/14ft/16ft/14sn and a Sonor S Class kit in black lacquer in 20/10/12/14ft/14sn

Monday, May 5, 2014


I've decided to do some limited drumming over the next year, most recording with my friend Billy Ray and who knows what else. Usually, several times a year, someone from one of the many bands I used to play with will email about doing a sit-in gig with their band. There are more than one band I played with more than 25 years ago that are still going, and many more musicians who are grouped with other musicians that I played with over the years. For the most part, the Houston blues and original music folks I played with, as well as many of the cover band people, were so friendly and genuine that they got along really well. There were really some virtuoso talents there and in Austin, where I also have done quite a bit of playing over the years.

Back then in the 1980's, one of the kits I owned was a Tama Imperialstar kit. It wasn't their top of the line, sort of a mid-line kit. To this day I don't even know what the shells were made of, but they had a grey flecked paint on the inside, but different looking than great. It was a textured sort of look, as I recall.

I came into the Tama drums by accident. At the old and long defunct The Drum Shop on West Alabama in Houston, around 1984, I was in there one day buying a cymbal and they had an orphan set of Tama Imperialstar toms in sort of a white finish. I got them for a good price, and started using them with a Ludwig bass and floor tom for a Frankenstein kit. Ultimately, I got some matching Tama bass, snare and floor toms and had a pretty large Imperialstar kit. A lot of drummers were playing them in the 80's, and the drummer that most comes to mind was Stewart Copeland of The Police.

I've decided to pick up a couple of Imperialstar toms to build an inexpensive Bop kit for hauling around. I do like the sound of the old Imperialstar line, if for no other reason that I played a set for five or six years and must have come to like the sound. But I recall lots of compliments on how they sounded on gigs back then, particularly on gigs where they were not mic'd up for the PA system.

I plan to do some instrumental trio and quartet playing, doing all kinds of music I've not played much of in the last 35 years. In high school and early in college, I played in various jazz bands and combos. But I have not really done much of that kind of drumming and I think I'd like to branch out into something different for a while now.

A bop kit is more or less a smaller drum set, usually a 4 piece kit plus cymbals. The bass drums are small, being 18" standardly, with  often a 12" tom tom and a 14" floor tom. I don't know if the bop kit came about due to transportation issues in the Northeast part of the country or if its is sound better suited to smaller venues where jazz is often performed.

By contrast and long used labels, a jazz kit usually has a 20" bass drum with the same 12" and 14" toms. Both kits would use a (usually) smaller 14" snare. A rock kit usually has a 22" or larger (24", 26" and occasionally 28" as with Abe Laboriel Jr.)

So I want a lower volume kit that won't take up as much space in the car compared to a larger kit. 

I've got less than $40 into this deal for some drums in great condition with new heads of the style I use. An 18" bass drum, and it might be another brand, will be the next step. It might not be an Tama, but another brand. Depends on what kind of bargain on what I deem to be a bass drum that I can make sound good with the proper heads and tuning.

The good thing is, both the toms are black, which would go with many other kinds of finishes. Black is a common finish among the many makers and I've seen some good candidates in a preliminary look around on Ebay.

Ebay here I come.

Monday, March 3, 2014

ROY BROOKS, drummer extraordinaire

I am ashamed. Ashamed of myself. It was not until last Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 that I discovered late Roy Brooks and his drumming.

I'm going to post a link here for his tune THE FREE SLAVE   which is one of those album cuts recorded to youtube. It's got a serious groove.

So listen to this seriously epic piece of music. Recorded during the same period cats like Miles Davis were putting rock and roll guitars and music in their jazz, Mr. Brooks was putting R&B in some of his Hard Bop music. Just follow the lead line by the horns and all in that cut. It's just too moving for me. It's spiritual soul jazz journey, as one description I found says.

I'm not one so much for Be Bop music, but much of what I have listened to in the past couple of days from Mr. Brooks has been fascinating to me as a groove drummer and a learning and listening experience to me in terms of the bop, or jazz with an improvisational aspect to both melody and rhythm. 

But Mr. Brooks often mixed R&B with his Hard Bop, and this is where I can really understand and get into the music is when there is some kind of theme, some kind of melody. It's not your traditional Bop stuff, with lots of squeaks and honks and such from the horns. Maybe that makes me not a distinguished jazz snob but a normal dude.

Here's another tune by Mr. Brooks, a long one. Roy Brooks and The Artistic Truth - The Last Profet. He was known for using unique instruments like saws and such, but also would connect rubber tubing, like surgical tubing, to the airholes in his drums, allowing him to add or remove air and drastically change the sound of the drum.  It is solid. It contains some great playing and some unbelievable rhythms! Just listen to the sounds in the intro and try to figure out how they are making them. The popular guess on one drum forum I read was the air tubes. It's not synthesizers or samples, kids.

The playing of the late Mr. Roy Brooks reminds me of that of my late friend, Houston drumming sensation, Orville Strickland. Orville passed in early 1996, and he was a peach of a fellow. What a great and innovative drummer, always playing something so simple yet so hard for other drummers like me to do, like laying behind the beat on the cymbal while playing on the beat with all else. Hard. To. Do.

Old Orville, like Mr. Brooks, had chops to spare and was probably what I like to call a "natural" drummer. They somehow have the vision, the memory and those nebulous myriad physical abilities that make a great technical drummer. Add those skills to the ability to groove and to visualize progressions, and you're gonna be an in demand drummer somewhere, somehow.

You can see it in some of the solos Mr. Brooks does. He's capable of Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa or Neal Pert or Carl Palmer drum exhibitions, but he's not out to show off. He's out to groove, and the nature of improvisational music like Bop means the ability to step out in front with a solo every now and then, and for both those duties, Mr. Brooks is more than capable.

There's some great pictures of him here, with his kit, a saw and a bullwhip.

I've included some links to read about his interesting life, with some real tragedy and sadness due to mental illness and the lack of appropriate resources in this country to help those with serious and diagnosed mental illness, instead of sending them to jail and prison. Despite the demons that haunted him, he accomplished much in terms of his art. Here's his obit in the Guardian and in the Independent. Here's some other articles showing that even when he was imprisoned, he had plans for music and was making music. Go here and here  and here.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014



So as I last posted, I've become a fan of the show. The Princess was recently in town visiting her folks, and she had not heard of the show. She and I watched the first three episodes, so that makes a full twice I've watched the episodes of season one.  It's so well done, and so multi-layered that I've missed stuff.

I'll be without any real quality television entertainment after the last episode of TD airs in early March. Sort of like after Homeland or 24. I got through one season of Nurse Jackie, but the novelty soon wore on and I didn't find it enjoyable.

Back to TD. I didn't catch, for instance, in episode 2 when the detectives visit Dora's mother at her trailer. While there, the camera pans a couple of times past a picture on the mantle, featuring men wearing what appear to be black KKK hoods on horseback with a man hanging from a tree. The picture wasn't that great and I didn't try to pause it because I'm not so good at freeze framing, but I didn't see that the first time I watched episode 2. I can't claim independent discovery of this, I read in another review of that episode about the picture, and didn't remember seeing it, so I looked for it the second time around.

So one commenter on the link below notes that the highly disturbing beer can figures, five of them, that Rust makes during his interview/interrogation resemble not only the 4 Klansmen and the hanged man but also the Barbie diorama that Hart's daughter makes.

Here's an excellent link to a TRUE DETECTIVE DISCUSSION that has lots of other good links. Or you can just google and find some other interesting theories about what might happen in the last three episodes. I was going to say "to tie it up" in the last three shows, but as my friend Max pointed out, it doesn't matter how it ends because you know it will be like Folger's Coffee, good to the last drop.

In addition to the history of Carcosa and the King of Yellow, the comments to the post above have some great theories about what might be the plotline for the final episodes. Remember, this TD train with this story and cast stops in 3 weeks.

The acting. The writing. The film work. The casting. It's all so spot on. I think that's what attracts me. As a former cop, I see things I saw in old partners, none like Rust but many like Marty. Many like Marty. The hard drinking, philandering but "good hearted" type. There is no cop type, of course, but I swear more than one partner or co-worker at the department had many personality traits in common with Marty.

I've known so many detectives, good ones and bad ones, and part of me is listening like the two interviewing detectives, as I would when listening to a detective run down a case to me in my office or on the phone.

First, as far as gun spotting, after the Ledoux "shootout", I think I was right calling Marty's gun as a K frame Model 66. I clearly saw a round butt on his handgun when holstered at the Ledoux lab, and again it appeared to me to be a Smith with adjustable sights thus it's not a J frame.

Likewise, I keep thinking that maybe Rust is carrying a Sig of some sort. I definitely saw a hammer when he was taking aim at the fleeing methman (in watching a clip review on one of the sites), which no Glock has. It would likely either be in 9mm or .40 caliber.

It's clear that Rust is nobody's fool. Early on in the interrogation, when he demands a six pack, he mentions that just like a cheeseburger and a coke, the "you want this to be admissible, don't you" line tells me that Rust is far ahead of them.

That can cut both ways. The writer of the show said in a media interview that the drinking would mean the interview would be inadmissible. However, at least in Texas, intoxication does not always preclude admissibility of a confession or statement by the accused, what matters is the comprehension, ability to understand what is going on, and the understanding of the waiver of their rights. The conduct of such a person is also admissible, despite later claims that it was drug/alcohol induced nonsense.

Clearly, Rust is in possession of his mental faculties. One might reasonably argue, I think, that a heavy, daily drinker like Rust might not be normal until he has some kind of BAC (blood alcohol level) going on.

The only way in which admissibility of a taped statement would occur would be if Rust were the bad guy. So either way, early on, he's let them know he knows what they're up to and they are not seeking his assistance in solving the cases.

Marty figures this out as well.

Some interesting theories and questions I've read elsewhere that I think could occur:

-We know from episode 6 preview that Rev. Tuttle is interviewed by Rust. We know the 2012 cops think Rust killed Tuttle. Is Tuttle the Yellow King or his servant?

-Hart's eldest daughter is showing classic signs of child sexual abuse acting out. The Barbie diorama. The explicit journal diagrams shown at school. And the fifteen year old caught in the act Goth threesome. I don't believe Hart to be a molester, but what about his Father In Law, about whom we know little.

-I don't think either Rust or Marty are the serial killer, or even performing a copycat continuation of the killings. No, I think it is others, as spoken about with the talk about the location where the Yellow King is in Carcosa, who might have been getting killed by Rust.

-Certainly, a man of Rust's experience and intelligence would not keep anything incriminating in a storage shed. But it will be interesting to see what is in there.

-What did Rust do from 2002 to 2010? What was the issue that split him from Hart? To their favor, they honor their regard for one another and perpetuate the lie of the shootout for at least 17 years.

-One interesting theory puts Rust still working undercover for the Feds (no expiration date, baby) but assigned to Louisiana Homicide to look at the larger number of similar disappearances and killings of children, without the knowledge of his superiors or co-workers.

-It's interesting the 2012 cops interview Hart's wife.

-It strains credibility, in the modern world, that a UC narc in Texas could just transfer in 1995 to Louisiana. You couldn't, unless you were a fed and just pretending to be a State police. As a Texas cop, and I have not heard whether Rust was a Texas cop or a Fed. We know he was working for the feds, but not in what capacity.

As a Texas cop, you'd have to go to the academy again, as Louisiana laws are far different from the other 49 states and there was no reciprocity back then to just laterally transfer from one state agency to another.

But it's easy to put that aside with all else the show has going for it. I'll come back and add some more ruminations later. It would be nice if there were more TV that offered an escape like this.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Last week, my co-worker and buddy Max were discussing shows. I think he watches more TV than I do. He recommended that I watch the series Justified and the HBO show True Detective.


I have not had the time to watch Justified, but have read a little about it and it sounds as if it could be interesting.

But week before last, I binge watched True Detective, the first half of season one and was blown away by the entire presentation: the format, the acting and all those technical film things like how they film it and such are just plain refreshing and interesting. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson just do a fantastic job of captivating me. And that's hard for a show or movie to do these days.

I don't watch much TV with any regularity, other than news shows. Sometimes I'll do some TV watching when the day winds down, but we are so busy with work and kids and school activities that generally my TV watching is limited. I certainly haven't followed any series since 24 went off the air some years ago except for a recent introduction to Homeland. 

Homeland was another show that was well written and very well acted and it will be interesting to see how a season 4 will go. I'll note that I didn't watch Homeland throughout the years. I "discovered" it during season three last fall, and binge watched seasons one  and two over several weeks to catch up about mid-season. And there I sat at 8 p.m. on Sunday nights, just like I did with 24, waiting for it to come on.

So now that I'm all into True Detective, I'll be at the TV this Sunday when Episode 5 airs. 

It's my most favorite depictation of some of the weirdness of police work and of people in general since Hill Street Blues some thirty years ago. 

I give TD big points regarding their period correctness. Likewise, it is impossible for me not to consider the legal procedures and crime scene protocols and other such things, even on a subconscious level. Solid stuff there as well, for what I imagine crime scene protocol in rural Louisiana in 1995 would be, even by the State Police. 

The brutality, alcoholism and the dark sides of various cops depicted on the show exists in reality too, but really that sort of stuff had stopped being so rampant most places in the 1970's by most reports I've read, due to the increased filing of civil rights actions by victims of bad cops. Maybe it was different in rural Louisiana back in 1995, running 20 years behind the times elsewhere.

In 1995, although I don't know about actual Louisiana State Police policies then, in some departments in Texas it still would have been possible for Harrelson's Hart to carry what appeared to me to be a Smith and Wesson Model 66 with a 2.5" barrel, although he would have been under a lot of pressure to move to a high capacity semi-automatic, either of the Sig Sauer or Glock brand. I did encounter officers in that era who still carried revolvers, but it was pretty much mandated just a couple of more years later and revolvers are all but dead as duty weapons in most modern police departments, and have been in most places since the very early 90's. 

So that's an interesting firearm choice for his character.

The preview for Episode 5 at the end of Episode 4 showed McConaughey's Cohle with what appeared to be a Glock 17 1st 
generation, well visible as he bends down to view a "devil's web" made of intricately arranged sticks. This would have been period correct for law enforcement in 1995. I'm not sure when Gen 2 came out for the Model 17, although I'm sure Wikipedia says, but many guys I knew were still carrying the early Glocks without finger grooves through the 90's. 

I could have sworn, and my friend Max agrees with me, that Cohle was packing a revolver also in the 1st or 2nd episode in the quick flashes I saw of their holstered weapons. I then began thinking in Episode 3 that it was some kind of semi-automatic pistol.

And of course we have Cohle's tool box arsenal and booze box. I saw a folding stock AKSM and a Desert Eagle in there, an ammo box, a couple of hand grenades, some mags, and probably something else interesting.

Of course, there were all kinds of guns at the end of Episode 4. I can't wait until someone who knows how to do screen grabs and such can get some pictures of what guns are appearing and starts a page at the INDEPENDENT MOVIE FIREARMS DATABASE for it. The IMFDB is a great place to see what guns are in what movies and shows. You wouldn't think it'd be possible in some instances to get a good screen grab from a real fast display scene but they've got some great shots there.

I'm not the type to nitpick an error in a show set at a certain time. Not a big deal and those mistakes happen all the time, but when movie armorers get it right, well that's something to be mentioned. 

There were some shows where I thought they were using certain guns but I was wrong for years about what guns were used and many others where I just didn't know what kind of guns were used. It settled some disagreements among different friends. For example, in a few of those more popular early Steven Seagal movies from the early 90's, I thought he was using a Browning Hi-Power. But the screen grabs clearly shows 1911s all the way.

It'd be nice to see some more of the older TV shows covered on their site. If I had the tech know-how or the time to learn and do it, I'd like to add a few shows. Barnaby Jones is one. I don't have any Barnaby Jones archives, but someone does, and I'd be curious to know what kind of revolver he toted. As I recall, it was a blued K frame size with a 4" (tapered?) barrel, maybe a Colt or a Smith.

Finally, back to True Detective, it looked like Cohle had some kind of Sig handgun during the final six minutes of episode 4, as I thought I saw a hammer and the slide/frame was tapered in a way that a Glock isn't. I suppose it could have been some kind of other DA semi-auto with a hammer. At one point when they were still in the project apartment, I thought it was either a Smith and Wesson 30xx of some sort or a Sig Model 39. Did anyone get a good look at an identifying feature of his hold-up handgun?

I would agree with some of the magazine articles I've read calling it the best thing on TV right now. It's a great show.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


For many reasons, I like many others was a big fan of 24. I didn't discover it until about 5 years into it's run, when a co-worker who I discuss movies and music with suggested that, given my law and order tendencies, that's 24 was my kind of show.

Back then, there was a Blockbuster down the street, and I could rent multiple episodes of prior seasons and binge watch 24. It took a couple of months to get through the previous seasons and get up to speed on the current season. I really enjoyed the show and many of the characters reminded me of folks that I had dealt with from various local, state and federal agencies over the years. And the show was very well written and casted.

Of course, being a big fan of Eastwood's Dirty Harry and Steve McQueen's Bullitt and Al Pacino's Serpico and other movies and books by Joseph Wambaugh about LA policing made me an instant fan of Bauer's brand of justice, damn the reality that in real life he'd be in custody with no bond for Civil Rights offenses and worse, mired in a multitude of Federal Civil Rights lawsuits and ultimately either sent to prison or the looney bin or more likely, some secret CIA prison.

I had always enjoyed Sutherland's work prior to 24 but was not a tremendous follower of it. He did some early movies that were just outstanding but 24 tops those performances. He's able to make you believe, as do most of the other great characters that appeared on 24, that he is who he portrays. 

I don't know much about Sutherland's personal life. I know he likes to drink and has a reputation as a sometimes bar brawler. So we have that in common, with the latter at least from my younger days. But what I really admire is that HE HIMSELF paid for the salaries of all the non-actor employees (and maybe the actors too, I'm not sure) of 24 when he had to do some sentence for a DWI a few years ago. That was a big piece of change. I thought that him paying the crew for his issues was extremely stand up and is something you don't see everyday in Hollywood.

I know there are some Jack Bauer types out there protecting national security and Americans, but I just hope we have enough of them. Former soldier and CIA contractor Raymond Davis is the closest thing I've seen to Bauer, yet Mr. Davis has not been celebrated as a national hero as he should be for his captivity in Pakistan.

It would be very cool if Mr. Davis could be given a role in the upcoming 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY that is set to air this May, or even work the true story line of the adventures in Lahore of Mr. Davis somehow into this episode. It is obvious that a team of assassins from Pakistan's intelligence organizations were dispatched to eliminate Mr. Davis, yet Mr. Davis was able to get some Glock 19 justice on his would be killers. 

There would surely be some way to work that scenario into this newest 24 which is set in and being filmed in London.

Mr. Davis might be a great actor or a horrendous one. Likely, like most of us, he'd do fair but maybe not outstanding. 

The man is a hero to this country, and has yet to be treated as such. I don't know Mr. Davis and likely never will. But since he is the closest thing to a Jack Bauer type agent that I've ever heard of, and since foreign agents tried to kill him for protecting his country, it'd be cool to see him get some kind of recognition for his heroism and captivity.

Friday, January 31, 2014


I'm enamored with the 5.7 x 28mm caliber. From the ballistic tests I've watched on TV and youtube, and from various other reporting sources, I've been very impressed with the lack of over-penetration that the round exhibits. 

In shooting the round from a fixed sight FN 5.7, I enjoy the low recoil and am VERY impressed with the accuracy of the gun, or at least with me shooting it. 

Did I say I was very impressed with the accuracy of the FN 5.7?

Like the Glock 9mm, it's a laughing gun for many of my friends, No, they're not laughing at it, they're laughing at how easy it is to shoot and how accurate it is, again, with that low recoil compared to what they otherwise shoot. They are laughing with the enjoyment of shooting this particular gun.

I really can't afford a P90, although who like me wouldn't want to have one in the back of the gun safe. Again, a great home protection gun, with the penetration issue again being key living in a populated area.

Don't get me wrong, there are other great calibers for home defense. You might not have a 5.7 or if you do, might not have it handy. The venerable 12 or 20 gauge shotgun is one of the best home defense guns and least likely to exit your home, in my opinion. And so say many others.

And I'm not really talking about a hi-capacity gun here. First off, I personally would be happy with a single shot version of the .300 Whisper single shot takedown that one company is making along with a silencer company. It would seem that this very gun could handle the 5.7, just with a different size factory bore.

Companies like NEF and H&R and Rossi have made these single shot guns, in some cases for years. I know some of these makers have combos that include a shotgun barrel and a rifle barrel. One series features interchangeable barrels in numerous calibers, like a rifle version of the Thompson Contender handgun. It seems like for one of these companies you have to send the receiver to the maker to have the barrel actually fit to your gun.
I know I've used these style guns, beginning with my H&R Topper Jr. at a single digit age. I remember the day we bought it at K Mart for a birthday. So they are making the same gun now, probably with a safety added, but with interchangeable barrels. I'd like to think I made my shooting skills better by knowing I had no follow up shot and that every shot had to count.

So I think a 5.7 takedown single shot with the options of having other calibers like maybe a .243 and a shotgun barrel or two would be a very handy gun and a great fun gun. And cheap.

Some kind of bolt action and semi-automatic rifle that uses 5.7 mags would also be a very fun gun, and it seems the centerfire 17 caliber guns that are so popular now could again be made for the 5.7 round. I have not really checked to see if there are Thompson Contender barrels for this round, but it seems like it would be a nice round for predator hunting and long range handgun shooting with low recoil.

And for Glock. Glocks are such great guns. So many, like myself, have had such outstanding experience with various Glocks over the years. I and many others had been hoping that the recently introduced .380 Glock would have been a mini-9mm Glock. I know that I and other bloggers and gun writers have suggested a Glock in the 5.7 x 28mm caliber.

No other pistol makers have taken the bait either as far as I know.


To all other Toyota distributors and marketing executives and those at Nissan, Isuzu, Honda, Jeep and other makers the 4wd vehicles I'll be talking about here.

I'm an American consumer. White, middle aged, professional, married with children and both of us work.

I've owned Toyotas now for over 30 years personally. Add to that another five years when my dad bought a Celica before I bought my first one myself in 1983.

My only regret in owning Toyotas was that in 1988 I SHOULD HAVE bought a Landcruiser instead of the Tercel I got. I thought I should economize at that time, going to school and all, and although I had a paid off trade in worth quite a bit and could have had low payments on the Landcruiser, the gas mileage scared me.

I laugh out loud at that now, with gas prices now vs. then.

The point of this post is, I want a REAL 4wd vehicle that is not some luxury mobile I can't afford. Yes, the current model Landcruiser and it's Lexus twin and vehicles of their ilk like the Land Rover are quite marvelous vehicles, and fabulously out of my reach.

I've often wondered why they don't make a "bare bones" edition of the current full size Landcruiser, dropping $25k or $30k off the price leaving a 4wd machine you can drive on the street, sans all the luxury extras that make the current Landcruiser almost indistinguishable from it's Lexus twin in terms of extras and luxury.

That leaves, other than trucks, as "real" 4wd vehicles the venerable Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. If the FJ Cruiser were somewhat longer with 4 full passenger doors and a bigger cargo area, then that's what I'd buy. I'm talking about an extension that would give a cargo area the size of the 1980's FJ Landcruisers, not the tiny just barely bigger than a Wrangler cargo area that the FJ Cruiser features.

We've owned a Wrangler before, for many years. It did leak a lot, usually mystery leaks that resolved and went away. We might consider an Unlimited, but I wish we had more choices with more cargo room that the Unlimited offers.

Unrelated to my desire for an old school Landcruiser, I'd also like to see a Jeep pickup truck worthy of the Jeep name. The old full size 4wd pickup, the "J" series that ended in 1983 I think, was a great truck. Instead of the custom and priced at $50k or more converted Wranglers that are being offered as "custom Jeep trucks", I'd like to see a real truck with a REAL extra shift lever for 4wd right out of the Wrangler or Rubicon. With a big engine with some torque like the Jeep trucks in the days of yore, 30 years ago, had.

My good friend Billy Ray had the follow up to the J series of Jeep trucks, the Comanche. When he called me, I was very excited for him. I knew the old J series trucks were rough and tough and very cool vehicles. Unfortunately, that day in 1997 he got it and when I saw that Comanche I was dis.a.ppoint.ed. big time. While it later proved capable in some 4wd situations, I recall one time Billy Ray sorta scraped against a parking lot light pole base and it basically ripped the front end off of his car, leaving a radiator, engine and fenders on each side. Luckily, it left the headlights and running lights, so it was legal, but it was not a tribute to solid construction.

So along with a more utilitarian Landcruiser, I'd like to see a nice Jeep truck worthy of the reputation and again something competitive with other trucks with similar specs.

As I have posted before, I do not understand why Toyota does not import an Americanized version of the current rendition of the 1983-1990 Toyota FJ 60 4 door Landcruiser. In all accuracy, I believe that it had some different numbers after the FJ for some of the years, but I'm not sure. But google FJ 60 if in doubt and you'll know the vehicle I'm talking about. In 1990, Toyota switched this vehicle to a larger and heavier design and it became more fancy and luxurious and is out of reach for the common family and person. 

I see pictures from all over the world, and even as close to Texas as Latin America. Certainly, they're all over Asia and Africa and I believe Australia. They are an updated version of the 1980's Landcruiser. What I call the old school Landcruiser.

I know from various for sale websites in other countries that Toyota still builds a modernized version of the venerable 1980's FJ series. 4 doors and a hatchback deal. Real 4wd that is controlled with a lever not a button. Some serious torque. A nice but simple interior. They also make a version in a single cab pick up truck, which is a vehicle I'd like to have as well.

Both of these vehicles would sell like crazy in this country. For the regular guy like me, I can't import one and pay a shop to have it legalized for import purposes. But an automotive maker could easily absorb those costs, since they already make the updated safety and emission products and it's a simple matter of introducing those to the vehicles still sold in countries not requiring such things.

I wish Toyota would market this vehicle in America.

Likewise, I see all kinds of new vehicles from Ford. I'd love to see a modern interpretation of the old school early 70's Bronco. If I were an engineer for Ford, I'd re imagine it as a modern version of the Land Rover Defender, with just a bit more length than the early Bronco models had. And with the power that the Defender has, because some Broncos back in the day had some big Ford V-8 engines in them. And those engines had some torque for off- roading with some serious 4wd transmissions attached.

And then there is Isuzu. In the early 90's, had I known then what a great off-roading vehicle that the Trooper was, I'd have had one. I still see a lot of these vintage vehicles on the road.

Billy Ray's friend Dan has one from the early 90s that he bought for something like $1,000 and put another $1,000 in it, and together Billy and Dan have traversed the often hard to travel beaches of the Padre Island National Seashore while beach wilderness surf fishing. Billy Ray claims that whilst they encounter many other brands of stuck 4wd vehicles (never any Dodge 4wd full size trucks, though), the Trooper has in effect been...wait for it...a trooper in the deep sands of Padre. Billy Ray claims the automatic transmission is the way to go for Padre Island wilderness four wheeling. 

So I'd sure like to Izusu make a real 4wd again as back in the day, those Troopers were affordable. Something more on the spartan side and less on amenities. Same with Nisssan. They could take their large truck frame, seat a SUV body on it and make a real 4wd suv. 

I'll mention a couple of other old rides that deserve remembering. The International Scout was a vehicle that fit the description of what I'm looking for, and they made several other similar models as well. Those days are gone.


Since my last post on the subject of citizens fighting back in Mexico against the cartels, the Government moved in and decided to co-opt the citizens brigades and dub them "Rural Defense Forces" or some such name, going back to the days when rural Mexican communities had no paid law enforcement or military to keep the peace.

But one condition of this deal is that the citizen fighters must register their names and weapons with the government. If I were in the citizens army command, I'd be rendering code names or numbers for each of my forces with their true identities not given to the government. And no registration of firearms.

I mean, come on. Mexico is the wild, wild west compared to the old west days in America, which can hardly hold a candle to the brutality, savagery and wanton nature of the current Mexican cartels. Are they going to require the cartel soldiers to "register" their weapons?

I would be afraid for the government to have my true identity. The government is bought and paid for by the cartels in many areas and on many levels. Lots of knowledgeable researchers claim the corruption not only pervades the state and local level but reaches into the highest levels of the federal government and military.

I would worry about the Mexican government having a corrupt employee who sold my information to a cartel who then could reek vengeance upon me, my family or my town.

The federal government and President of Mexico undoubtedly realize that they risk a "Mexican Spring" if they kill, disarm or otherwise fight the freedom fighters. Clearly, this decision to co-opt the citizens was made at the highest levels.

I like that term, freedom fighters. Vigilante also applies, but they have no choice but to kill or be killed by the cartels, so this is a war. 

Think about it. You have cartel violence all over most parts of Mexico. No community is too destitute for a cartel to consider moving in. They have the power to bring in ship loads, and I mean oil tanker size vessels,  of methamphetamine precursers through various Mexican ports. They rule  the highways in many areas, complete with roadblocks.

There have been cartels of one kind or another in Mexico for many decades. Difference was, they kept their violence to themselves with no collateral damage and all they did was bribe government officials and run dope. There were no decapitations, no hangings or other such atrocities. They had clearly defined territories and knew that the less bullcrap they generated would cause them less problems with law enforcement. 1 + 1 = 2.

Or as a friend of mine says, break one law at a time.

Don't get me wrong. Mexico, and particularly the border towns, have long been known for being wild, anything goes and very violent places in ways totally unconnected to the drug cartels. It's always been poverty stricken. The difference was, in many smaller Mexican communities and towns in the interior, life was peaceful and not nearly as violent as the border towns.

Now, in sort of out of the way places like a lot of towns, villages and mere isolated communities in the Mexican state of Michoacan,  you've got the heinous murders added to the kidnapping and rapes of women and children by the cartels.

So all this wanton, and it is truly heinous and wanton, cartel violence has pervaded many if not most of the areas of Mexico. Citizens, most of whom have never had it easy in this poor country, have just had miserable and indeed dangerous living conditions. I suspect many of them are fed up. I suspect many are very fed up not only with cartels and their violence  but with the government.

My late father long predicted that the people of Mexico would one day rise up against their long rumored corrupt federal government and have a(nother) revolution. That was 30 and 40 years ago when my dad said that, and things are so much more unimaginably worse there now then back then when my dad uttered those predictions.

So I would think the fear by the goverment of a citizen's uprising in Mexico is very high,  and that it's a very real possibility should the Mexican government not take this opportunity to take control of their country.

I keep wondering why the Mexican Naval forces have not been sent to Michoacan, particularly their naval special forces. They are rumored to be the only Mexican law enforcement or military entity that is not riddled with corruption. They seem to be the enforcers who get the job done and well done when called in on certain drug cartels.

So why are they not all over Michoacan helping the citizens and providing intelligence and support for them? To my mind, the Mexican armed forces, the Federales, the many law enforcement officers in state and federal prosecutors offices, and the many types of law enforcement officers in the country, ought to be side by side with the citizens and this whole Michoacan war could be brought to a quick end. It would be crucial for the military to continue their presence in support of the local militias, in order to deter the cartel members to not come back.

Likewise, it would obviously be wise to battle the other cartels in their territory at the same time they are fighting in Michoacan. Call in assistance from other nations if necessary or perhaps NATO troops to provide local law enforcement whilst all [non-corrupt] law enforcement and military forces battle the cartels and take their country back.

Mexico surely has lost billions in tourist monies over the past decade and likewise, I suspect many businesses who might consider relocating to Mexico find other countries to move to. Mexico, as I said, has in parts always been a bit dangerous of a place in terms of crime compared to where I come from, but there were many parts that had very low crime rates and were great places to visit.

Many of my friends have fished all over the coasts of Mexico and many of their waters, both salt and fresh, are literally brimming with fish. One friend of mine, the late Dr. Walter P., used to visit a certain mountainous area every summer in Mexico in furtherance of his college teachings regarding Mexico. He said the fishing there in the mountain streams was excellent.

Before this cartel violence started, I wanted to do some saltwater offshore fishing out of a certain Mexican town a lot of friends of mine have visited where they always caught lots of big fish. I still long to go to that town for the fishing I've heard so many stories about.

If the Mexican government would grow a pair, and really declare war on the cartels, they could make great progress with the help of loyal citizens.