Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Clifford Antone
Having taken a two hour cruise aboard three Metro busses to the airport, which I must admit is pretty damn cool that you can go some very long distances between three Counties for only a $1.50 fare, I noticed that there was an extremely long line for check-in at the American Airlines ticket counter. Thus I decided to go to the front of the line to inquire which airline I should check-in at since the first leg of my trip was an American Airlines flight being operated by Alaska Samoan…

With my trusty white cane in hand I had the Alaska Airlines check-in counter girl assist me with the requisite printing of boarding passes and asking for assistance to the corresponding gate. We breezed thru security, although for the very first time there was something wrong with my hiking boots as the TSA goon said “Hold it, I need to run those boots again!”

Always a first time for something new during our RIDICULOUS Airport Security measures, which I don’t know why, but when I hear them say things like that I instantly hear those famous K Mart words… Can I get a price check on aisle three as I feel like we’re all cordoning up for another Blue Light special!

After waiting for over an hour at my gate, it was time to pre-board the aircraft and as I handed my boarding pass to the gate attendant she said; “That isn’t gonna work.” Excuse me? They’ve put you in an Emergency exit aisle window seat sir… Thus, I could not believe it, as I was upgraded to First Class! Which I’ve never had the privilege of sitting in before, Damn! These seats are nice ‘N roomy. Is that real rich Corinthian leather? And SHEISA! The flight attendant just handed me a real glass glass of OJ. As well as free snacks, as the man sitting next to me struck up a conversation and made some crack about TSA, before back pedaling, to which my reply was that my only complaint is the ridiculous amount of inconsistency.

Riddle me this; How come I can fly all the way home from Sasebo, Japan, passing thru two separate Japanese cities security gates WITHOUT ever having to remove my footwear, but they needed to screen my boots twice in Seattle. Perhaps I should have been singing these boots are made for walking, walking all over me…

After changing flights in Santa Anna, CA at the Duke’s place, as in John Wayne airport, I was back to my standard fair of being in the cheap seats towards the rear of the aeroplane… Touching down in Austin, Texas at 10:30PM, I was last off the jet while awaiting assistance to baggage. The gate attendant walked me up the gang plank where I stood waiting for my assistance, being informed that it had gone to the wrong gate! While standing in the nearly empty airport, one of the flight attendants disembarking our aircraft stopped at the check-in counter and asked me; “You did want to go to Austin, sir?” (Good thing she was asking me now, eh?)

My assistance finally arrived and as we walked towards baggage I noticed that the place seemed deserted and the majority of lights were turned off. Oh, that’s because we’ve sent everybody home since all of the flights to Dallas have been cancelled due to its seven inch accumulation of SNOW! Yet, as we went down the escalator, she said there’s your family sir, as Nelie was waving at us… As it’s always good to have the person you’re meeting on the other end waiting for you when you arrive…

The next morning, I awoke to an empty apartment after having slept in, as “Bonnie ‘N Clyde” had both gone to work. When staying with Clyde & Nelie the first time in Sasebo, we broke into hysterics when two young Japanese school girls asked us; ‘Where is bonnie,” upon Clyde introducing us.

Stevie Ray Vaughn
That afternoon there was the usual annoying knock of Clyde on the door, saying open up Arse-hole! Nelie’s locked me out. So I let Clyde in who was just dropping by between his School Bus runs in order to get something to drink… (Doesn’t everybody leave a yellow school bus idling in front of their domicile?)

Returning back to my book on tape… About 10 minutes later there was another similar knocking on the door. On the second annoying knock as I’d left the door unlocked, I got up and opened it, thinking Clyde must have forgotten something? Thus I was surprised to have a woman standing at the door. When I asked her what she wanted, she started jabbering away in a really bad English or Tagalic dialect. Since I couldn’t understand a single word she said.

Then the next thing I knew, she’d stepped around me and was now standing inside the apartment pointing towards the back of the unit… Still totally unsure of what she was gesturing at?

she simply walked into the bathroom, pulled her pants down and proceeded to go to the bathroom without closing the door!!! Oh crap, I DON’T NEED TO SEE ANY OF THAT!!! Aye Carumba…

Then she simply left, as I was speechless and all I could think of was “Welcome to Texas!”
Although we’d originally planned to leave for Washington DC on either Saturday or Sunday, our plans were pushed back and hence, Clyde took an extra day’s worth of driving on Saturday. For entertainment, Nelie drove me to the Capitol of Texas, which happened to be just down the street as they’re living just off of South Congress street which dead ends at the Capitol building. We managed to arrive just-in-time for the daily tour of the Capitol building which was finished in 1888. And I was glad that we’d decided to go check out this place, as the tour guide was most informative upon the doings of the Austin legislature.

Afterwards, Nelie and I walked around quite a bit trying to find the entrance to the underground foyer’s (Levels U1-U2) as there’s a very cool open air circular courtyard at the end of these underground offices. The two underground levels lead to the outside courtyard and are framed of rich granite archways which immediately made me think of Italy… (Which turns out to be exactly what the Architects intended) And the courtyard has a giant ceramic Texas emblem in the center of it.

Later that evening we proceeded to go check out Clyde’s boat over at his friend Paul & Jackie’s house, before driving to the famous Salt Lick restaurant in Hayne County, which we discovered is a “Dry” county, although the barbeque food was very good, we all agreed later that it wasn’t worth the hour and a half wait…

Sunday morning as we awaited Mary Ellen’s arrival from Mexico City, Mexico… Clyde had offered to give Oliver another driving lesson. Of course we were one hour late, since Nelie & Clyde didn’t believe me when I told them that we’d be “Springing Ahead” 1hr at 2AM Saturday night… So, when we arrived to pick-up Oliver he said you’re one hour late, man… But Oliver who’s from the Congo was very happy to be driving Clyde’s automobile.

Being from the Congo, Oliver had never seen or been around automobiles his whole life… But now he and his brother Alexander are most determined to learn and join this American past time… Yet, things definitely seemed to get lost in translation. After making Oliver drive backwards around the storage locker, while Clyde and I looked for Nelie’s table, I made the mistake of asking Clyde; Do you have to parallel park for the Texas driving exam? Yeah, that’s a good idea, to which Clyde tried verbally explaining to Oliver, who’s fluent in French and English is his third language? No, Clyde why don’t you show him… Well, just because I know it doesn’t mean I can do it… To which we set up some dummy cars made up of some of the various boxes in storage we were currently wading thru. Yet Oliver couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of what the car’s wheels are doing in relation to reversing direction and next thing we knew he was putting a dent into the Buick and an even larger dent into the adjoining storage unit!

As Mark Knoffler sang long, long, ago… “Sunday driver never took a test, Only in the wild, wild, West!”

Then we made the first of many mad dashes… Off to the Rodeo to hear George “NO-SHOW” Jones, who was preceded by the rodeo… With the highlight being the children’s sheep riding contest! Yes, they actually had kids trying to ride sheep… And you may insert your Montana Sheep joke’s here, if so desired? Then Clyde left to go pick-up Mary Ellen, while Nelie and I watched more of the Rodeo action.

Later that evening, we ventured Downtown to Antone’s to check out an excellent band; Del Castillo, who reminded me a bit of The Los Lonely Boys, as I was totally unaware of the significance of this music establishment, Mary Ellen explained that Clifford Antone was instrumental in establishing Austin’s reputation for music and his House of Blues had hosted many significant performers as well as Clifford playing bass guitar with some of the legends to grace his club.

The A-list names included the likes of; Fats Domino, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Delbert McClinton, Pinetop Perkins and BB King just to name a few as Mary Ellen read off some of the autographs hanging from the club’s walls.

I was also unaware of the fact that Clifford was the driving force behind Stevie Ray Vaughn’s career, as he’d coerced Albert King into letting Stevie sit-in on a session at his club one night when Stevie was currently only known as Jimmy Vaughn’s little brother… And the rest is history! Yet, Clifford was also instrumental in furthering the careers of Albert Collins, Jimmy Vaughn, Double Trouble and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Clifford was also quick to react to Hurricane Katrina, being one of the very first to host an All Star benefit in 2005 called; Neighbors in Need.

Walking back to the car, Clyde took great satisfaction in the fact that he noticed a brand new Ford F150 pick-up and shiny black Audi sedan both completely covered in bird shit from the flourishing Grackle population…