Biannual roundup of what you are reading on this blog

You have done it again. No wonder I wander around flitting arbitrarily from subject to subject. My readers flit, too.

During the past year, you have remained as Alamobsessive as I, particularly focusing on the guns  Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson let be drawn in front of the Alamo. You joined me in remembering my father-in-law, George Spencer, and photographer Rick Hunter. You have demonstrated your interest in photography by two artists, Richard Nitschke and Sarah Brooke Lyons. You have let me take you traveling to San Miguel de Allende, and shown interest in the reign of Maximilian and Carlota in Mexico.

You refuse to let two old posts, one about David Sedaris’ “Nuit of the Living Dead” and one about Sandy Skoglund’s cheesy “Cocktail Party,” fade off of the top 12 list. It makes me particularly happy that you still show interest in the San Antonio Song and have given life to my true tale providing a ghost to inhabit Brackenridge Park.

The number in parentheses represents the rankings from six months ago:

  1. Please come and take them away from San Antonio, (1) 2013

    “They say Sam Maverick forged the bell for St. Mark’s from a cannon used during the Battle of the Alamo. If only the concept proved contagious….” Postcards from San Antonio – No. 12, “Peace be with you.”
  2. George Hutchings Spencer, 1923-2013 (3), 2013
  3. The State surrenders the Alamo; Run for Cover, (4) 2013
  4. Richard Nitschke: Seeing Agave in a Different Light, (8) 2013
  5. Please put this song on Tony’s pony, and make it ride away (10), 2010
  6. Sarah’s faces more than a thousand times better, (11) 2013
  7. The Madarasz Murder Mystery: Might Helen Haunt Brackenridge Park?, 2012
  8. “Nuit of the Living Dead” (9), 2010
  9. Postcard from San Miguel de Allende: Sun rises again at La Aurora, 2014
  10. The Tragic Rule of Maximilian and Carlota in Mexico, 2014
  11. Cheez Doodles as Art (12), 2011
  12. Rick Hunter lives here. And many other places., 2013

Thanks for hanging out here some and for giving me permission to keep on rambling on about whatever I’m currently pondering.

Richard Nitschke: Seeing Agave in a Different Light

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not….

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.

Georgia O’Keeffe

The striking beauty of the agave is not as hard to overlook as a petite flower, but four-foot by four-foot photos do command attention.

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Long-prized in Mexico for both medicinal uses and for producing Tequila, the plant has earned great respect in South Texas for its ability to withstand droughts.

Although not opposed to Tequila consumption, Richard Nitschke views the agave differently. He photographs the ones on his Hill Country ranch over and over under varying conditions, pushing the limits of light by shooting into the sun, overexposing and underexposing in order to release compositions hidden within. His focus on light and design at times makes his images border on the abstract.

Two of his agaves won awards in the Paris International Fine Art Photo Competition, and two of his works are included in the permanent collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

“Agave” opens for a three-day run at the 110 West Olmos Gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 12. The photos also can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, December 13, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 15.

Prior to making his living in commercial construction during his child-rearing years, Richard studied ceramics with Steve Reynolds at UTSA and worked in the silkscreen studio at the Guadalupe River Ranch. He also is a bluesman, singing lead vocals and playing rhythm guitar and the harp with the Mister in the After Midnight Blues Band.

Catch the art, and then make time the following weekend to catch the band playing at Gustav’s Bier Garten behind Magnolia Pancake Haus on Huebner from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, December 20. The doctor temporarily has grounded Claytie’s warbling, but Ginger Pickett will be filling in with the kind of holiday blues you want to catch.

The Blues Be Good News


“Some men get new wives when they turn 40,” said Lamar.  “All I want is an electric guitar.”

He is a practical man.  Probably had weighed out the economics of the situation pretty carefully.  Happy I made the cut.  Probably was a close call.

Even I could see the equation clearly.  Amazing I made the cut.


Even though I thought I had married an acoustic man who had wooed me sitting on the front porch in the mountains of Virginia listening to records (did I mention we were old?) of the exotic (hey, I’m not from Texas) Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Willis Alan Ramsey.

My husband kept his electric roots repressed for two decades.

But this is a man who had played the Bonham – not today’s gay Bonham – when it was the USO.  Captain Midnight headlined a St. Mary’s Hall dance; that was when the band found out Jeff Richmond only had one harmonica in one key that he played discordantly throughout the evening.

The high point must have been opening for ZZ Top at the Teen Canteen.  Neglecting to mention Captain Midnight, Margaret Moser wrote in The Austin Chronicle:

Forget the cute, silly name – the Teen Canteen was the staging ground for San Antonio’s vibrant rock & roll scene, from before the Beatles until the dawn of punk. Owner Sam Kinsey opened the first Teen Canteen in 1960. It moved around to several locations, including a ballroom dance studio, settling at Wonderland (now Crossroads) Mall in 1963. In 1968, the Canteen moved to its last location on Bitters Road across from Northeast Stadium, the place it would occupy until it closed in 1977….

Local bands like the Pipelines, the Outcasts, the Spidels, the Stoics, the Swiss Movement, and the Virgil Foxx Group, plus touring bands of the day such as the Strawberry Alarm Clock (“Incense and Peppermints”) and the Syndicate of Sound (“Little Girl”) played there. More importantly, it was one of the places for Texas psychedelic bands such as Sweet Smoke, Zakary Thaks, Bubble Puppy, Shiva’s Headband, the Moving Sidewalks, and Lord August & the Visions of Lite. ZZ Top played their first gig at the Teen Canteen; others who got their start there include Mike Nesmith of the Monkees and Chris “Christopher Cross” Geppart.

Talent, and perhaps a smidgen of nepotism, continued to boost the band’s profile.  Band member Galvin Weston, whose royal lineage can be substantiated online, managed to get the band booked on the family’s cruise line.  Don’t know why Captain Midnight did not get an offer for a second summer cruise.  Surely people our parents’ age were into songs by Cream or Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You?”

Even nepotism must have its limits.  Alas, college dispersed the members of Captain Midnight to far corners of the map.

But fast forward past forty.

One electric guitar gets lonely.  The first black guitar led to a red guitar.  And then a woody-looking guitar.  And now a really cool Teye (Guitar men are rolling their eyes in their heads over my superficial descriptions.  If Captain, or After, Midnight’s band members want to get the details right, they have to get their own blogs.).

Plus, one does not play the electric guitar alone.  Lamar had to seduce our friend Richard Nitschke off the acoustic.  And Richard’s first electric guitar seemed to procreate as well (People, ducks, guitars.  Does just say no ever work?).

Strangely, it turned out our CPA is an amazing drummer, Karl Yelderman (whose drumsets reproduce like ducks as well), and he brought along bass player Daryl Chadick (with his multiplying bass guitars).  Now the band even has a keyboard player, Steve Chase (whose wife must have had his keyboard spayed).

Then there is Claytie.  Claytie Bonds has the type of voice capable of singing the national anthem a cappella at a chamber of commerce gathering when she was only nine.  She can belt out the blues.

Which finally brings me around to the point of the blog (guess I’ll never learn to tweet).  After a bit of a lull, the After Midnight Blues Band is playing four times in April.

You can catch the band this Saturday, April 17, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Alamo City Pizza and the following Saturday, April 24, at from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. at the King William Fair.

Someone asked me if the band stuff drives me crazy.  The answer is no.  I love the blues, and, even without nepotism to help, in my unbiased opinion, After Midnight is great.

The blues are great therapy, and, Lord knows, living with me, Lamar needs large doses of that.  So I’m standing by my man.

Update Added on September 5:  No reunion performance of the members of Captain Midnight is planned for today’s Canteen Fest at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes.  The band’s glory days are yet again overshadowed by ZZ Top.

According to Hector Saldana of the San Antonio Express-News:

ZZ Top made its first public appearance there.  “The scene was that of a drugless rave,” Kinsey said. “We had black lights; we had strobes and overhead projectors. It was fantastic.”

Admission was 25 cents in the ’60s.  Imagine “Where the Action Is” and “Hullabaloo” incarnate, albeit amateurish and fresh out of the garage.

Seeing the vintage photo of the Pipelines in the paper made me yearn to see a group photo of Captain Midnight, but, if he ever possessed one, my husband must have destroyed all evidence prior to our marriage.