Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Brief Reminiscence of Thanksgiving Past

We lived in an attached house with a narrow street in front. You could play touch football there, two on two or three on three....."five steps and cut behind the red car"...."fake square out bomb"...."three straight completions is a first down".... On Thanksgiving it was cold out, good for football in sweatshirts. Red in the face, blowing some smoke like the Green Bay Packers. Working up an appetite, no school tomorrow and tomorrow is only Friday. Five touchdowns wins. One team wins, it doesn't take that long, it doesn't matter who won. It doesn't seem cold out at all, it's just right. Back in the house EVERYBODY is there. It is so WARM.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Power of YET


The most powerful English word is the simple three letter Y-E-T. It's powerful because it can change the direction of thought. From such changes in thought come changes in action. From where a person presently sits, real change may seem impossible. But is it?  Or are we just not taking action, yet.

I recommend adding Y-E-T to any negative thought or sentence you produce. What’s the worst that could happen? It would sound a little stupid?  OK, if it would be too embarrassing to try it out loud, try it just in your head.  If you are embarrassed by your own thoughts, that’s something you haven’t gotten around to addressing, yet.

Why do I care about the power of yet?  To be honest, its frustrating to listen to people recite the same problems over and over, making the same defeatist self-assessments, assuring the world how impossible their situations are.  I know, other people’s problems are not my problems, and they shouldn’t bother me.  I should stick to my own problems, a skill I have not perfected, yet.

Part of solving a problem is defining it clearly. Maybe that’s why we spend so much time defining and re-defining our problems. There is value in defining, it can lead to focus. Once defined and focused, move towards solutions?  We frequently define using “can’t, haven’t, never, didn’t, don’t, aren’t” and all their friends.  How can we overcome this?  We don’t have an equalizer to negatively defined problems, yet.

Try this: Add the word “yet” to any negatively stated problem. Here are a few:

“I’m not committed to my exercise routine, yet.”
“I can’t make my relationships work, yet.”
“I don’t have my finances where I want them, yet.”
“I don’t know how to use computers, yet.”
“I’m not in a career I’m satisfied with, yet.”

Beginning to harness the power of yet takes only one little conversation with yourself. It involves an affirmative answer to one question....."Which do you prefer, having problems, or having problems in the process of solution?” If your honest answer is having problems works better for you, I’d say you are not ready for the power of yet, yet.

We are all works in progress, but if we are not progressing fast enough (yet), we can get on the fast track, with the power of Y-E-T.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Top 10 Things I Learned From My Mother

Top 10 things I learned from my Mother:

10. Reading and writing are gifts, appreciate them.

9. Forgiving is better than holding a grudge.

8. If you are interested in something, don't dabble, GO FOR IT!

7. The best way to make friends is to BE a friend.

6. Payback is irrelevant when it comes to helping. Help because you can.

5. You don't have to be "religious" to be spiritual.

4. There are many ways to support someone, not everyone needs the same kind of support.

3. When people ask for advice, give it. Accept that whether they follow it is their decision.

2. Fight for what you believe, but always see reality.

1. Be discreet in your speech, but if something needs to be said, SAY IT.

Mom - With immeasurable gratitude.  Miss you every day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post Storm Visit to Rockaway

We went to Rockaway today.  We bought flashlights and batteries and donated them at a church in Far Rockaway.  Driving out there was a surreal experience.  Starting out in Rego Park you would not know there was a problem (other than lines for gas).  To get to Rockaway we go down Woodhaven Blvd., which turns into Cross Bay Blvd.  When you get to Howard Beach on Cross Bay all the traffic lights are out and all the stores are closed.  I could not help thinking of all the business owners who have surely lost everything. After Howard Beach comes Broad Channel.  I knew this would be bad, and it was.  No lights or power, abandoned cars everywhere, piles of garbage which were once people's possessions, piled everywhere.  There is a big donation center at an American Legion Hall on Cross Bay.  Cars were backed up and the parking lot was full, with hundreds of people dropping off donations.

There was no toll on the Cross Bay Bridge, just a sense of dread crossing the bay into Rockaway.  When you hit the first big intersection it looks like a third world country.  Many many people moving about with bags of stuff.  Some bringing to donate, many others leaving with supplies they had just picked up.  Huge charity set-ups that looked like a bazaar.  We did not see anything that looked "official" or government run, or that appeared to be from the well known big charities.  I'm not saying they aren't there, just that we didn't see them, nor did we see any signs directing people to them.
We drove around Rockaway quite a bit.  At this point there is some sand pretty far inland, but not much.  The boardwalk appeared partially intact in some places, gone in others, and damaged in others.  Mostly we just saw people clearing stuff out of their houses.  No traffic lights or electricity ANYWHERE out there, and no stores open.  Even if a person had money in Rockaway, there is virtually no place to buy anything.  We saw two big gas lines, and one place where there was a gas truck with a huge line of people with the omnipresent red gas canisters.

We then drove to Far Rockaway (the lower numbered Beach Streets).  For my friends who are not familiar with Far Rockaway, this is a very poor area, I would venture to say one of the lowest income areas in New York City.  It always seemed like a paradox to me, this blighted section right near beautiful oceanfront.  It has been that way for a long time.  We drove around and it was similar to the rest of electricity, no stores, people cleaning up.  We found a church on Cornega Avenue near Mott Avenue that had a pretty organized set-up, with a lot of people waiting on line.  People were circling the items they needed on sheets, and volunteers were essentially putting orders together for them.  People coming with donations were directed to put their stuff with the similar stuff on the tables.  So, our batteries and flashlights went there.  They also had canned food, Ensure, baby supplies, blankets, clothing, toiletries, and basic first aid supplies.

I would be lying if I said I felt "good" after making the donation.  I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness.  After thinking about this, and as we discussed the days events on the way home, we agreed that helping was indeed "good", and that helping MORE would be better.  Figuring out how to do that will be worthwhile.

So, we will bring some more stuff tomorrow.  Other than that, and other than deciding to offer a ride to a person who looks tired, or who may need to use my phone to make a call, or to help move some junk, I don't know what else to do, except this.....

My NY/NJ/CT friends know about what I am about to say, but I want to say it in case there are any of my non-local friends who do not know......the enormity of the damage, in human and property terms, defies the imagination.  I was in a few pretty large communities today, and it was hard to comprehend, and then one realizes that it is also like that in Long Beach, and all the towns on the South Shore, and Coney Island, and Staten Island, and New Jersey, and many many other areas.

So the only other thing I can think of to DO is to just encourage anyone who is reading this, take SOME action.  Make a donation, volunteer someplace (if you google this activity, volunteer opportunities abound), drive someplace with some friends and help people clean or move.
When we are back home, in comfort, warm, and eating a nice meal, our tens of thousands of neighbors are not, and will not be doing the same for a LONG time.

Please consider doing SOMETHING, and act on it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Trip to Austin

Last month we took a 5 day family trip to Austin, Texas.  I got to know Austin from going to law school at UT in the late 70's.  Not only is Austin not like the rest of Texas, it's not like anywhere else.

Some of the things I remembered, and wanted to experience again, were........
Great restaurants.
Nice, friendly people, everywhere.
Nice countryside and unique natural phenomena.
Every kind of music, abundantly.
Lots of health food, yoga, and all things groovy (Heck, I live with that, so visiting a society where that is "normal" had potential).
Good friends.
Huge campus and State Capitol which are big parts of the City, but by no means define the City.
A sense that there are ALWAYS things going on, and always fun things to do.

It's challenging to plan family trips as a family evolves.  When I suggested the Austin trip, Rebecca told me a good friend she had met in the dorm at Wesleyan was from Austin.   This promising news got even better when I emailed my friend Phil (who I had met in law school and stayed in touch with), and told him we were coming to Austin.  I gave him our basic itinerary, and told him about Rebecca's Wesleyan friend from Austin.  It turns out she and her family are great friends of Phil and his family, and it was agreed we would all get together.  Small world, and a great pre-start to the trip.

We looked at all our schedules and narrowed it down to some "Thursday through Monday" in June or July.  I suggested we narrow the search by "seeing if Slaid Cleaves was playing in Austin".  He is a singer/songwriter who Felicia and I became obsessed with, after seeing him perform a few months ago at Stony Brook.   He is originally from Maine, but he is based in Austin.  When we saw he was playing in the Cactus Cafe (a venue on the UT campus) in June, we decided THAT was the weekend to go.

Another plus with Austin is that Jet Blue has direct flights from JFK to Austin.  I don't travel enough to have my opinion really count here, but I LOVE Jet Blue.  I know they occasionally have a freaked out flight attendant or leave passengers on the tarmac, but I always do well with them.  Their website is easy to navigate and book on, the prices are fair, and they have cable TV in every seat.

I'm also a big fan of Enterprise Rental Cars.  Nothing against the bigger, more famous companies, but I just love the customer service at Enterprise.  I think it's because when I used to have my cars stolen during the Dinkin's administration, my insurance company always sent me to Enterprise.  They were consistently nice, and they still are.

We did so well with the airline and car that we decided to splurge on the hotel, and booked a nice Hilton in downtown Austin, right off 6th Street.  This is the big live music section of Austin, pretty well known in the music world as the site of the annual South by Southwest festival

After a nice flight we checked at the Hilton.  Pretty spiffy.  We had a great view of Austin and 6th Street.. In the first pic you can see the Capitol, and "The Tower" and the Longhorns football stadium.

In the next pic you can see motorcycles parked on 6th Street.  We did not realize that we had booked our trip during the Republic of Texas motorcycle weekend, also known as the "ROT Rally".  There were 40,000 bikers in Austin the whole weekend.  They were EVERYWHERE, but as one of the hotel workers said to me "These are mostly doctor and lawyer bikers, so it's not too bad".

Here's how that looked at night on 6th Street.

After some driving around, and lunch in an off-beat, friendly place (which pretty much describes every place you go in Austin), Emilie and I swam in the hotel pool while Felicia and Rebecca took a nap.  This is very different than our usual family dynamic, where I fall asleep and everybody else goes out.  After they woke up we looked at our list of restaurant suggestions and research, and decided to go for Tex-Mex (funny, we reached that decision pretty much every night).  Night 1 we went to a place called "Z-Tejas"!/texas/austin-6th-street/  We sat out on the deck and enjoyed the first of many excellent meals.

Part 2

From the moment I booked the trip, I knew our first breakfast in Austin would be at Cisco's.  When I was in law school I once ate breakfast there 58 days in a row.  Cisco's is a bakery with a restaurant in the back, located in the "bad" part of town (now gentrified and hipster of course). They are known for their "migas" (scrambled eggs with corn chips mixed in, served with beans, sausage, salsa, and tortillas or biscuits).

Besides the food, I liked Cisco's because it had a political history.....MANY famous politicians have eaten there over the years, and there were photos and other mementos on the walls.  Also, everyone who worked there was always very nice.

Cisco's did not disappoint.  Great food, friendly service, and excellent coffee (very important).

After breakfast Rebecca spoke to her friend in Austin, whose family is close friends with my law school friend Phil Durst, who lives in Austin.  I don't want to say too much about Phil because he is modest.  OK, I'll say a little.  We became friends in law school because although he grew up in Texas, he has New York roots.  He was funny, friendly, nice, and brilliant.  And still is.  Here's a link to his law firm website    Rebecca's friend mentioned something about Phil's artwork being in an Austin gallery.  I had not known anything about Phil's art, so of course I googled it, located the gallery, and put this on our agenda.

After the gallery we took a tour of the State Capitol building.  It was a cool tour, given by a "real Texan".

OK, we didn't take the picture above, but that's how it looked from the outside, and I might add, we parked right there on the street and walked right in.  We took only one picture, from the lobby looking up at the dome....

After the tour we went back to the hotel pool to rest up for the evening's activities, including "waiting for the bats to come out at the Congress Avenue Bridge".....More on this in Trip to Austin Part 3.

Part 3

We decided to see a well known Austin attraction, the "bats who live in the Congress Avenue Bridge and fly out every night at sunset".  I did some online research and found out that 1,000,000 (yup, a million!!) bats sleep all day in the Congress Avenue Bridge, and every night at sunset they "fly out to feed".   I'm not sure why I wanted to see this, but I wanted to see it.  In fact, my whole family agreed that we wanted to see this.  Part of my thinking was....."if it doesn't measure up as a tourist attraction we will have still spent a nice sunset at the shore, and then we can go for Tex-Mex".  Everyone knew this was the plan, and were cool with it.  Here's a link about it

Like most things in Austin, the Congress Avenue Bridge was five minutes from our hotel.  The concierge (yup, he knew about the bats!) told us the Austin American Statesman (THE Austin newspaper) allowed bat watchers to park in their parking lot.  Sure enough.....

There were quite a few people waiting for the bats, and a lot of posted info about the bats.  We learned all about the natural phenomena that caused one MILLION bats to live in the bridge, sleep all day, and come out at night to feed.  There was even a bat expert walking around and answering people's bat questions.  She did point out that we were not at the height of the bat season, which is right after hundreds of thousands of bat mom's give birth, then leave their young to hunt for insects. Supposedly the bats consumed thousands of pounds of insects every night.

Looking at the bridge in still light twilight, I waxed poetic and thought, "This is all a bunch of bullshit.  I mean, a MILLION bats?"  "Did someone actually take a census?"  "A million is a lot, I don't think you could fit a million marbles under the bridge, much less living creatures."  I also wondered "Where does all the bat guano go?"

I was also a little worried about one million blind bats flying around, right where we were standing.  The expert lady assured us they were blind, but their sonar tracking was highly sophisticated and they might come close but would never hit us.  I was skeptical, I mean, my GPS is pretty sophisticated but sometimes it sends me on stupid routes.

We had some time, so we took some pictures....

Here's a picture from early in the bat waiting process....

As it got darker, more people congregated....

Then, it started to get dark, and you could kind of see shadows of bats flying around.  There was never an "oooooh, ahhhhh", moment.  It was mostly "Was that a bat?  Did you see any bats?".  At a certain point I realized that if a bat got close enough for me to actually see it, that was way too close.  If there are a million bats in there, they were either hibernating or watching something on cable.  Maybe they were waiting for the tourists to leave when it got REALLY dark.  Maybe they weren't so hungry that they had to come out the moment the sun went down....maybe they would just come out later for a nosh.  So, we saw some bats.  For all I know, we may have seen thousands of bats.  But a million?!?!?!

Still in all, for a free attraction, I felt we got our money's worth.  It was only 9 o'clock, so we embarked on our evening plan, dinner in South Austin.  The Congress Avenue Bridge crosses Town Lake.  On one side Congress Avenue is a downtown street, leading directly to the Capitol building.  On the other side of Town Lake, Congress Avenue becomes South Congress.  This is a pretty cool part of Austin, with lots of restaurants, and food trucks, and bars with music, and college students.  We cruised up and down checking things out, then hunger won out and we went to one of the restaurants on our list, Guero's Tacos.  Pretty dang good!!!!

After dinner we had to walk it off.  We stumbled upon Amy's Ice Cream.  Fantastic.  I did some research later and found out Amy's is an Austin tradition.  Here's a posting from a Foodie blog about Amy's.

When we got back to our hotel, we took a walk on 6th Street, which was closed to traffic due to 40,000 bikers being in Austin, on 6th Street, all at the same time.  Certainly more bikers on 6th Street than bats at the bridge.  We walked around in the insanity for an hour or so, then called it a night.

Another great day in Austin....

Next, Part 4....Barton Springs!!

Part 4

Saturday promised to be a busy day.  The agenda was "picnic lunch at Barton Springs" in the afternoon, then dinner at Phil Durst's house, then we were all going to the Slaid Cleaves concert.

We had passed a gigantic Whole Foods a few times.  I kind of remembered that Whole Foods originated in Austin, and a little research proved this correct.  I love doing "a little research" while on a trip.  Sometimes the cell phone can get the job done, but if not, you can't beat "internet on the computer in the hotel".  How did we ever survive in the primitive past?

It's hard to describe how big and how nice the Austin Whole Foods was.  Here's a link about it

Felicia said "This Whole Foods makes Fairway look like a bodega!"

We loaded up a fine assortment of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, cheeses, chips, and bottled water, and drove to Barton Springs.  This is a famous place in Austin, but I know many of my New York friends have never heard of it.  It's basically a natural spring that has been made into a gigantic swimming pool, in a huge beautiful park, with a big hill for sunbathing and hanging out, five or ten minutes from downtown.  I will admit, we were the oldest people there, and thinking about that, I say "GOOD".  You will sometimes see topless women there too.  (Not usually the ones you'd want to see, but hey, topless is topless).  Here's a cool link about Barton Springs from the City of Austin website.

We sat in the picnic area and ate our Whole Foods grub.

Then we found a shady spot on a hill and hung out.  It was about 95 degrees, but not too bad in the shade.

I did go swimming.  It was VERY cold, but cooled me off.  Swimming is secondary to hanging out at Barton Springs.

Another great afternoon in Austin.   Then it was back to the hotel to shower and get ready to see Slaid Cleaves.  I KNOW.....WHO????  More on that in Part 5.

Part 5

We decided on this particular weekend in Austin because Slaid Cleaves was going to be playing at the Cactus Cafe, a small venue on the UT campus.  I discovered him when Felicia and I decided to drive to Stony Brook last October to celebrate our "anniversary of meeting."  She said "It looks like some guy named Slaid Cleaves is playing on campus."  She said she googled him and he's a singer/songwriter, who she thought she heard once on WFUV.  I said "That's enough info for me.  Get tickets and don't tell me any more about him.  Whatever it is, it is."

It is from such things that obsessions are born.  Slaid Cleaves is a singer/songwriter from Maine, who has settled in Austin.  He writes poignant, heart-felt songs.  He plays guitar and sings, and is usually accompanied by another guitar, or a fiddler, or a mandolin.  I'd say he combines elements of folk, country and rock.  I found an interview where he describes his style as "Americana".  I'll go with that.

When we saw him at Stony Brook there were about 80 people in the room.  Quite a few of them knew all the songs.  Two women sitting in front of us were crying during his song "Lydia".  Hearing it for the first time, I understood why.   On first hearing, almost ALL his songs got into my head.  When that happens, all you can say is "This guy is good."  At that show in Stony Brook we bought his CD, listened to it on the way home, and were hooked.

I should add, that while it has no impact on ME, Felicia points out that "he is a really good looking guy."

We had tickets for the four of us, and my friend Phil, plus Rebecca's friend Eliza (who lives in Austin) and her Mom Debbie (who LOVES Slaid Cleaves).  We deviated from our "Tex-Mex for dinner" routine and had a great dinner of salad, gazpacho (made with fresh vegetable from Phil's garden) and pizza at Phil's house.  It was great fun for us all to get to know each other.  

I was a little surprised there was an opening act, a singer song-writer named Anthony DaCosta.  He was pretty good  Between sets he was in the lobby selling his CD's and talking to people.  We were all trying to figure out how old he was.  I guessed he was about 30.  I suggested to Rebecca that she go talk to him, and buy a CD if she wanted to.  She did both, then came back and told us he was a 21 year old student at Columbia!!  

The Cactus Cafe was full (200 I would guess) with enthusiastic Slaid Cleaves fans.  He did not disappoint.  He was accompanied by a guy named ShoJo Jacques on fiddle and mandolin.  Here are a few youtube videos showing what he does....

Broke Down is a pretty impressive song.  Here are the lyrics....

Sherry had a pawn shop band of gold
A sink full of dishes and a love grown cold
Along came a boy, pretty as the devil
She took his hand, the whole thing unravelled

There's no turnin' round, it's broke down

Billy took the ring, jammed it in his pocket
Drove down town and tried to hock it
Down at the bottom of Lake Ponchartrain
There's a love not carved inside a wedding ring

Broke down, cracked and shattered
Left in pieces like it never even mattered
Broke down, torn and frayed, ain't nothin' left you could give away
There's no turnin' round, it's broke down

Ain't no tellin where love goes
Maybe down where the black river flows
Won't be comin' back round, it's broke down
[ Lyrics from: ]
Baby in the back seat, and another on the way
Sherry thinks of Billy at the end of every day
Spends her nights waiting for real life to start
Listening to the sound of her double crossed heart

Broke down, cracked and shattered
Left in pieces like it never even mattered
There's no turnin' round, it's broke down

On the other side of town, two lovers lie still
Cigarette smokin' on a window sill
There's a picture locked up in an old suitcase
Billy closes his eyes but he still sees her face

Broke down, cracked and shattered
Left in pieces like it never even mattered
Broke down, torn and frayed, ain't nothin' left you could give away
There's no turnin' round, it's broke down, broke down

Slaid played all the songs we wanted to hear, plus a few new ones that were pretty darn good too.  After the show he was in the lobby and we spent some time talking with him.

Yes, I AM wearing a Slaid Cleaves T-shirt.  I mean, if not there, WHEN???

After the show we went with Phil and Eliza and Debbie to some funky ice cream/gelato place near Phil's house.  We sat outside in the pleasant night air.  

So, Whole Foods, Barton Springs, salad and pizza, Slaid Cleaves, gelato with friends.  What a day!!!!

Part 6

On our last full day in Austin we decided to "head out into the country". When you have a rented car, a GPS, and some time, why not?  This was the plan......

Breakfast at "The Omelletry"
Go the "The Lavender Festival" in Blanco, Texas.
Go to Luckenbach, Texas.

The Omelletry - I don't know about you, but when I am on vacation, I place high value on finding good breakfast places.  They don't have to be fancy, just good food, good service, good coffee.  When I was in Austin in the late 70's there was an "Omelettry" and an "Omelettry West".  I did some research and figured out that the Omelettry West was the one I used to go to.  It was a wacky, weird Austin place.  Further research showed that Omelettry West had been sold and was now a more "upscale", popular place.  So we decided to go to the regular Omelettry.  It had a strange mural on the front.

We had to wait a bit, but it was worthwhile.  Big omelettes, friendly service and good coffee.

We then hit the road for the Lavender Festival, out in Blanco, Texas.  We drove about an hour in the Hill Country, listening to country music on a bright, sunny day.  Here's a link showing what the lavender festival is all about.    Basically, a crafts fair with booths, in a genuine small town.  We checked out the exhibits for about an hour and a half.  Emilie and I liked the "historic courthouse" best (mostly because it was air conditioned). but I think Felicia and Rebecca enjoyed the crafts exhibits more.

Then it was off to Luckenbach.  When I lived in Austin I heard a lot of talk about Luckenbach, but I had never gone there.  It was talked about as this mythical place where people could go "to get away from their stressed lives and just relax and BE".  It was never clear whether it was an actual City, or perhaps just a frame of mind, or maybe just a legend.  It was also memorialized in one of the great country songs ever "Luckenbach, Texas, Back to the Basics of Love", by Waylon Jennings (with the last stanza sung by Willie Nelson).  Wanna know why I love country music?  Check this out....

We were driving on a desolate country road for a pretty long time, and the GPS indicated we were about 2 miles from Luckenbach.  From the back seat Rebecca asked "Hey Dad, what is this this place we're going to, what's going to be there?".  I told the truth...."Becca, I don't know, but we're about to find out."

When we came off the exit we saw a parking lot with some cars and motorcycles parked, an enclosed area that looked like an outdoor dance hall

a small building (that was actually a closed post office that is now a souvenir place)

 and a bandstand with seats in front of it

I moseyed (a gait I NEVER use in NY) over next to the bandstand and asked someone if a band was playing today.  She said "Yup, the South Austin Moonlighters are playing today.  Should be 20 minutes or so."  There were quite a few people waiting for the music so I decided to get a beer and wait for the South Austin Moonlighters.  Beer was being sold out of large coolers, so I walked over and asked for a real Texas beer.  The lady said "How 'bout a Shiner Bock?"  I said "Yup, that'll do."

We all walked around checking out the entirety of Luckenbach, which was all right there where we were.  Then the South Austin Moonlighters started playing.  They opened with a country style song, but the rest of the time it was high level, high energy rock n' roll.  They were EXCELLENT!!!

I youtubed them when I got home.  They did this song (The BeeGees "To Love Somebody") when we saw them.

They played for about an hour.  After they were done it was announced that the "picker's circle" would start in about an hour.  I asked someone what that was, and was told that anyone who wants to come up and pick on their guitar or banjo was welcome to come and do so, and that they usually had some pretty good pickers.  I liked knowing that was going to happen, but we decided to buy some souvenirs and hit the road. Rebecca bought a sleeveless shirt that says "Luckenbach, Texas" on the front and "Everybody's Somebody in Luckenbach" on the back.  She's worn it while walking around Manhattan a few times since we've been home.

When we got in the car I said "Well, as far as I can tell, THAT was Luckenbach, Texas, what did y'all think?"  Felicia and Rebecca said in unison "It was GREAT."  I agreed, and added "It was not what I expected, but it was everything I expected.  It was PERFECT."

Part 7 (finale)

After getting back from Luckenbach we chilled at the hotel for awhile.  We didn't want to travel too far for dinner, so we had our last Tex-Mex fix at a restaurant on 6th Street called the Iron Cactus.  Rooftop dining with nice views.....

It was a long day, we were pretty bushed, and we were going home the next morning.  Around midnight, Felicia asked "Is there anything that you wanted to do that we didn't do?"  I thought about this and said "Yeah. One more thing.  I want to go to The Horseshoe Lounge".  This is a dive bar in South Austin that is the subject of a Slaid Cleaves song.  Here's a nice version.....
There's a lot more going on in this song than a tribute to a bar.   At least, it seems that way to me.

Horseshoe Lounge (Lyrics)

Ricky got the quarters for the table and broke
While I pulled hard on the sorrow and smoke
Raising up my bottle I looked for a chance
As you set your glass down on the bar with a glance at me

Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
Shuffleboard and neon light
Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
Cigarettes and whiskey tonight

Ricky said 'She's out of your league, let her go'
As I watched you pick your partner on that old dance floor
I know it didn't work out the first time we tried
But I'd do anything to have you by my side again.

Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
Peel the label off a Miller light
Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
I sit here thinking 'bout you every night.

Were you the one who faltered
Was I the one who strayed
Maybe God left us out of the plans he made

So here's to missed beginnings and things that never start
For these are the ghosts that run around in my heart
When I see that where I'm going isn't where I want to be
I get the urge to look you up see if you would come and meet me

Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
Peel the label off a miller light
Down at the Horseshoe Lounge
I sit here thinking 'bout you every night.

Ricky got the quarters for the table and broke
While I pulled hard on the sorrow and smoke

So, we drove over to South Austin to the Horseshoe Lounge......

It's a dive bar.  It was busy but not packed.  Music on the jukebox and some people playing shuffleboard (like in the song).  They were pretty good at it too.

The bartender had a big horseshoe tattoo on his arm.  When he said "What'll it be?" I was ready......
"Two Miller Lights" (like in the song).  I suspect we were not the first people to come into the Horseshoe Lounge, order Miller Lights, and then sit at the bar and "peel the labels off a Miller Light" (like in the song).  And that's what we did as our final hurrah in Austin.

Watched shuffleboard players in the Horseshoe Lounge, peeling the labels off a Miller Light.

Just like I pictured it!

Thanks for reading!  Comments are always welcome.