Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sticking up for the little guys

Two concerts last week led me down a rabbit hole where I eventually ended up at the old motto of “shop locally.”

Wifey and I went to the town celebration in Wall for the express purpose of seeing a Sioux City band named 35th and Taylor. I heard them last year at Rapid City’s Summer Nights concert series and really liked them. They are young kids (20s, which are kids to me) who are a step up from the local bar bands, of which I have my favorites too, but on the cusp of breaking out to the bigger time. They opened for Bon Jovi in Chicago last winter.

They are a hard rock band, but not heavy metal. They have a great lead female singer with the raspy voice I like, a bass player with an excellent voice too, and above-average guitar players and drummer. They played Summer Nights in Rapid City a couple days prior and were headed to Sturgis to play a few gigs at the Rally. This was a nice schedule-filler for them, and they’d played in Wall the previous year.

They rocked the rodeo grounds in Wall. Unfortunately, not many people were there to hear them. I don’t know if they get paid a flat rate or a percentage of the gate, or both, but either way, if people want them back, they need to support those kind of acts.

Sure, everybody (but me) seems to want to attend Garth Brooks concerts. But Garth didn’t get to be Garth by people not supporting him when he was a no-name.

The concert was 10 bucks ahead of time or 15 at the gate. Sure, it might not have been your stereotypical western South Dakota, rodeo grounds type of music. But what the heck else was there to do within a 30 mile radius of Wall that night?

More people need to attend those things so: A, that band will come back again; or B, the event is successful enough so they will continue to bring other bands every year.

Then, a few nights later a friend of mine was among a small crowd who attended the Casey Donahew Band in Sioux Falls. I’ve been to two CDB concerts in Rapid City and Sturgis. Both pretty well attended. Not sure why they didn’t draw better East River.

CDB is a big deal in the Red Dirt Texas sound. They tour up into Canada. They too are on the cusp, if not closer, to the big-time than 35th and Taylor.

If you want to help young bands, attend their concerts, buy a CD for 15 bucks. Even if it’s not quite your brand of music, one ticket and one CD will mean more to those acts than a pair of $80 tickets to hear some aging rock band on a reunion tour. And there’s no reason not to support both.

I love local bands. They have character and characters and are hidden jewels of talent. Our favorites include Crash Wagon, Tie Dye Volcano and Pumpin’ Ethyl. Hardly household names outside of their areas. But they put themselves out there for you; put yourself out there for them.

So that thought then led me to a similar argument for buying books and supporting little-known authors (you know there had to be a self-serving component somewhere here, right?).

Again, whether it’s me or any other no-name author or retiree writing his memoir of life on the Plains or his time serving in the military. Buy a dang book. Or spend 99 cents for a Kindle version. James Patterson isn’t going to feel like you are cheating on him and it will mean more for that young, or not-so-young, author. Worse case scenario, you are out a couple bucks and couple nights’ reading time. Best case scenario, you enjoy the book and made the author’s day. Then, take two minutes and leave a short review on line. It will encourage that writer to write more and get better at what he or she does.

And shop your local book stores! Sure, I buy books on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble every time I go to Sioux Falls. But I buy just as many books at the two used book stores in Rapid City and the book store in Wall.

If you want those places around, it’s not like you have to drop 100 bucks. Buy a $5 book and be on your way. It’ll make the owner’s day. And come back the next month.

I compare all that to when I owned a weekly newspaper. Every $20 ad I sold, I appreciated immensely. A $40 or $75 ad made my day. It also made the electricity payment for the month. When you don’t buy an ad or a subscription, you don’t have a local weekly paper anymore. Then the beauty salon and local bar have one less (very valuable) place to promote their business. Then they close too. When the newspaper is gone, the post office won’t be far behind, because odds are the newspaper is the biggest mailer in town and post office’s get judged by the quantity of mail they deliver. When the post office closes, the town won’t be far behind.

So support the little guys now. Then someday they may be the big guys whose next appearance you wait in line to see.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Finished: McMurtry's 'Anything for Billy'

This was another I picked up off the legendary Wall Drug Bookstore bargain rack. I'm not being very original when I say Larry McMurtry is an awesome writer. His characters are unique and layered. I knew I couldn't go wrong for five bucks, and was correct.

"Anything for Billy" is kind of a travelogue where you don't expect much of a plot, just am East Coast guy following Billy The Kid around because he's bored; but it ends up being a tightly woven one that comes together with a bang at the end. If you read this, as you should, play the fun game of asking yourself: "Who kills Billy?" I'm not ruining the ending for you, because everyone knows Billy dies at the end. But there's some controversy over who actually did it.

From Goodreads:
The first time I saw Billy he came walking out of a cloud....Welcome to the wild, hot-blooded adventures of Billy the Kid, the American West's most legendary outlaw. Larry McMurtry takes us on a hell-for-leather journey with Billy and his friends as they ride, drink, love, fight, shoot, and escape their way into the shining memories of Western myth. Surrounded by a splendid cast of characters that only Larry McMurtry could create, Billy charges headlong toward his fate, to become in death the unforgettable desperado he aspires to be in life. Not since Lonesome Dove has there been such a rich, exciting novel about the cowboys, Indians, and gunmen who live at the blazing heart of the American dream.
Billy has some great lines, like:

After learning what a butler is and does: "If I was ever a butler I'd probably shoot the whole family the first day."

On seeing his spurned girlfriend riding into town: "Oh, dern! This is gonna give me a headache."

Some lines from Sippi, the well-off writer tagging along with Billy: "No doubt it's always the unkissed girls you remember when you're about to be killed."

"I suppose what united Billy and the other gunmen was their determination to defy any order, no matter who it cam from, or what the consequences."

And there's the unique vivid descriptions McMurtry provides: "... on a day so hot and still you could hear a watch tick from thirty yards away."

After being shot, he's told by the killer: "Hurry and die, chapito. I've ridden a long way and I need to water my horse."

I'm giving this one an 8+ of 10 on the Haugenometer. High praise. I loved it. Amazonians were on board with me, giving it a 4 of 5. Goodreaders where less generous with a 3.5 of 5, but most of the complaints where that it wasn't historically accurate. Well, duh. It never claimed to be. It's fictional, loose historical fiction at best. Why would you want to read the same historical account anyway? There'd be no twists, turns or surprises. People can be so persnickety.

Billy would've shot 'em.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Two articles worth reading

The Wise Do Not Always Weigh In

“When one has too many answers,” Merton wrote, “and when one joins a chorus of others chanting the same slogans, there is, it seems to me, a danger that one is trying to evade the loneliness of a conscience that realizes itself to be in an inescapably evil situation. 



The threat to Holleeder’s life stems from a decision that she made, in 2013, to become the star witness in a mob trial. She agreed to testify against the most notorious criminal in the Netherlands, a man known as De Neus—the Nose, a reference to his most prominent facial feature. This was a risky choice. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Finished: Hunter's 'G-Man'

Stephen Hunter is one of my favorite authors because it seems he takes his time and gets it right. It appears he's not on some deadline to turn out two books a year. It's most obvious in the detail he puts into his book, almost a bit too much for me; because I like guns, but I'm not a guns and ammo nut (in the best sense of the word) like some people are. But those details are something that makes Hunter's books so unique and interesting, as well as the masterful plotting.

From Amazon:
The Great Depression was marked by an epidemic of bank robberies and Tommy-gun-toting outlaws who became household names. Hunting them down was the new U.S. Division of Investigation — soon to become the FBI — which was determined to nab the most dangerous gangster this country has ever produced: Baby Face Nelson. To stop him, the Bureau recruited talented gunman Charles Swagger, World War I hero and sheriff of Polk County, Arkansas. 

Eighty years later, Charles’s grandson Bob Lee Swagger uncovers a strongbox containing an array of memorabilia dating back to 1934—a federal lawman’s badge, a .45 automatic preserved in cosmoline, a mysterious gun part, and a cryptic diagram—all belonging to Charles Swagger. Bob becomes determined to find out what happened to his grandfather— and why his own father never spoke of Charles. But as he investigates, Bob learns that someone is following him—and shares his obsession. 

Told in alternating timeframes, G-Man is a thrilling addition to Stephen Hunter’s bestselling Bob Lee Swagger series.
This is book 10 in the Bob Lee Swagger series and is good stuff. I gave it a 7 of 10 on the Haugenometer. Amazonians a 4.5 of 5. 

I could've gone higher but was worn out after 464 pages of shoot-outs.