First, a gig note:
Jesse Sublett & Kim Simpson, South Austin blues & murder ballads show, with Chapter 4 of Grave Digger Blues, Friday, Sept. 27, 9-11, Whip In, no cover. This is going to be a fun gig. I’ll play at 9, blues & murder ballads and another reading from Grave Digger Blues, your favorite surrealistic detective novel; and then my friend Kim Simpson will play a set of brilliant solo blues, folk and other material. You probably know Kim as the host of KUTX Folkways every other Sunday, and he also does a show on KOOP on Tuesdays. He’s a brilliant musician and we’re looking forward to this gig.
Now the art blog: A WHOLE LOT OF NOWHERE TO RUN:
A couple of years ago I did a driving trip up to Fort Worth, Brownwood, Mobeetie, Amarillo, Lubbock, Post, Wheeler, Shamrock, Wichita Falls, and a few other far flung places, for the purpose of research on a couple of book projects. I’d rather give details about those projects later and just post some images I’ve been working on with photos I took on that trip. And a thought that kept going through my head during that drive was the repulsed, freaked out reactions of Coronado and his little conquistador party as they toured the Llano Estacado about five centuries ago. These were killer Spaniards pursuing myths and rumors about cities of gold, Eldorado, and they were really disappointed not only not to find those cities built of gold but in the seeming total lack of scenery of any kind, not even a drive-in or a Denny’s, horse-head pump jack, freaky giant glowing white crosses, or the Jesus Christ is Our Savior Truck Stop.
“I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues … with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea … there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by.” Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, 1541
“[Not] a tree, shrub, or any other herbage to intercept the vision… the almost total absence of water causes all animals to shun it: even the Indians do not venture to cross it except at two or three places.” General Randolph Marcy, 1852
Centuries later oil field trash, cross roaders, grifters, pimps and safe crackers would drive their Cadillac Eldorados over that failed trek to find the cities of Eldorado, and some of those knuckle head safecrackers were guys whom I’ve been researching and writing about (there, I broke my vow already not to discuss any of the projects), guys who were loosely defined later on as belonging to the Dixie Mafia, and the specific guys I’ve been writing about were variously called the Overton Gang, the James Gang, and since I’m writing the history and concentrating mostly on Tim Overton and his merry minstrels, I like to call them the Austin OG.
Anyway, these images have very little to do with the story, except for the fact that they do intersect with some of the places where the OG went and cracked the safes of small town banks. A heist at Mobeetie, up in the Panhandle is a big part of their story, as that caper went kablooee, bad, and there was a massive manhunt involving Texas Rangers, sheriff’s departments all across the Panhandle plus Oklahoma and Kansas, plus DPS troopers and troopers and state agents from Mississippi, Oklahoma, and so on, deputized ranchers on foot, in cars, on horseback, men with dogs, men in leased airplanes and helicopters. The heist crew was rounded up finally after three days. It’s a good story.
And when I went to Mobeetie, it had not changed much at all, still population about 200, a handful of houses and vacant lots and a few little businesses, including the First State Bank. You stand there or drive through there and the flatness doesn’t end, there’s that straight line horizon to nowhere, and I kept thinking about the five characters running out of the bank at 4 AM during March 1966, running out and being pursued across the snow dusted ground, and there’s barely a perpendicular stick or a rolling hog wallow as far as you can see, just a whole lot of nowhere to run.
The figure in these pictures is a Chinese burial suit from the Han Dynasty, 206 BC – 220 AD, made of jade and copper wire, at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.
And I’ve included a couple of mug shots of the anti-heroes from my book, a book I really do hope to finish by the end of 2013.