Tag: Houston Chronicle

Beheading Birds of Paradise

birds
Survivors. Birds of Paradise who made the cut … or didn’t.

THIS SUNDAY MORNING, I awoke and thought of Sundays of Long Ago, specifically when I was married to my second wife and living in Houston.

We had a routine. I’d retrieve the fat Houston Chronicle from the lawn, pour coffee for the two of us — maybe we ate something too, can’t recall — and back to bed we went for an hour or more, reading the newspaper. It was fun.

I wonder if the Houston Chronicle still publishes a print edition. The world has changed so much in the past two decades. Another former employer, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, does not. It’s only online.

Just like me.

But this morning, here at the Hacienda, a far cry from Houston and New Orleans in all aspects, after coffee and bagels and cream cheese (lite), I went out the veranda door to do a bit of yardwork.

Madeleine Peyroux was still singing on the music machine.

I deadheaded a few Birds of Paradise. I whacked back one of the small bougainvilleas. I picked up rotting golden datura blooms from the ground in the Willy-Nilly Zone. And I cut stalks of defunct aloe vera flowers.

The weather was wonderful, and it appears the rainy season, which long overstayed its welcome this year, may have retired till June. I pray so.

We have plenty of work planned around here,* and it awaits the genuine end of the rainy season because it’s outdoor work. Not work I will do, of course. Work that people I employ will do, guys who do cement and stone.

And colonial tile.

terraza
Potted plants sitting on a scruffy surface. But you just wait!

There are three arches in the veranda, as you can see in the photo. There are potted plants resting on the three ledges below. They sit on a dingy brick surface. In about a week, a guy will come and lay beautiful colonial tile. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this 15 years ago or even last year.

It will be a huge — Yuge! — improvement. I’ll post photos.

In the meantime, I wonder if my second ex-wife still reads the Sunday newspaper in bed. I almost emailed her this morning to inquire. But I didn’t.

* * * *

* More work than has been done by far since the Hacienda’s construction. Roofs will be razed. Stairs will be moved. Floors will be ripped up. The Jesus Patio will be destroyed. Fruit trees will fall. More on all that when it happens.

Nincompoopery about slavery

I JUST READ this inane article that ran about six weeks ago in the Houston Chronicle where I worked for 15 pretty good years.

It’s standard left-wing nonsense about slavery and racism in the United States. The piece is laughable. I almost couldn’t stop my eyeballs from rolling up in my head. No, really.

I’d bet the vast majority of Americans think that slavery is something that happened in the United States and almost nowhere else, or literally nowhere else. And I’d win big if I wagered that most people think only blacks have been slaves.

Most slaves have been white.

Fact is that slavery has existed since the Dawn of Man, and it’s happened to all races. Slavery has virtually nothing to do with race. It has to do with war. If you’re in a war, and you lose, you might end up a slave, a commodity.

In relatively modern times, Stalin ran slave-labor camps. And those camps were populated by white people. In ancient Roman times, millions were slaves, and almost all of those slaves were white, having come from other parts of what we now call Europe.

Spartacus was not a black dude, which is why he was portrayed by Kirk Douglas, not Sidney Poitier, in that classic movie. I’m awaiting fat reparations and profuse apologies, but none seem to be coming. Darn it!

Most of those Africans who ended up on slave ships headed to plantation cotton fields were brought to Africa’s coast by other Africans, black guys who’d won a tribal war. The losers ended up in chains on the slave ships.

Slavery continues today, most notably in Northern Africa, especially in Mohammedan zones. Those same gay-murdering, woman-abusing, honor-killing Mohammedans so inexplicably beloved by the American Left.

That’s the truth about slavery, ladies and gentlemen. Pass it along. You owe no one reparations, and you have nothing to feel guilty about. Well, unless you’re a North African Mohammedan, and you read The Unseen Moon.

* * * *

(Note: The Houston Chronicle piece makes an attempt to equate reparations paid to Holocaust survivors with reparations for black Americans. Firstly, many Holocaust victims, actual victims, are still alive. No black American, his parents, his grandparents or his great-grandparents were slaves. Slavery ended a century and a half ago.

(Secondly, you could make the argument that black Americans today should be thanking their distant slave ancestors for going through that ugliness. As a result, black Americans are living in the United States and not in some hovel in Zimbabwe or Nigeria. That so many black Americans fail to take advantage of that blessing is a topic for another day, a topic that touches on cultural issues, not race.)

Music and whiskey

TWO HOURS after shooting the video above from the upstairs terraza, I was sitting on the Jesus Patio eating seedless green grapes and listening to the hog next door expressing displeasure with her situation, which she does often.

This is being written yesterday, Saturday. The previous night had seen a heavy downpour that lasted I don’t know how long because I went back to sleep after waking briefly to notice it.

Some things don’t change much in these parts, and the sounds of sunrise are one of those things. Roosters, tractor-trailer trucks on the highway up the mountain behind us, crickets, the loudspeakers of the house-delivery propane trucks.

However, some things do change, and they’re generally for the better. We got some great news recently. An international chain of movie theaters, Cinépolis, is opening here in our mountaintop town. Hooray! Now we won’t have to drive to the state capital for first-run flicks.

The changes that have occurred over the past 17 years that I’ve been here are considerable. There were no major supermarkets. Now there are two. There were no stoplights. Now there are many. There were few Gringos. Now there are way too many!

I wonder how they’ll react to the Cinépolis chain. Over a decade ago, the Mexican convenience store chain Oxxo opened its first store here, and the Gringos, many of whom are aging hippies, went bananas. Egad! Modernization!

We have numerous Oxxos now, including one directly on the major plaza. Another sits on the nearby smaller plaza. Their signs are subdued, not intrusive.

I’m praying for a full-blown Walmart and Costco.

Convenient shopping is a good thing, and it does not detract from the morning views I get from the upstairs terraza, something I love and that never changes.

* * * *

An old friend emailed me this week. I rarely hear from people above the border, so it was a welcomed event.

He and I worked together on newspapers for decades both in New Orleans and Houston. Like me, he is divorced more than once. Unlike me, he is not currently married. He’s three years older than I am, and he lives alone in a home he bought in Colorado after he retired from the Houston Chronicle.

I had sent him a note after seeing him briefly on a Netflix documentary of Janis Joplin who was a close friend of his in high school in Port Arthur, Texas, and later in her early years of fame and drug-addled degeneracy.

My friend is a much-published poet, but not in recent years. He said his life now is mostly whiskey and music. And that all his major life decisions were wrong ones. That last resonated with me because all my major decisions were wrong ones too. Till 1996 when my major life decisions did a 180.

What happened in 1996? I stopped drinking. My friend is 76 years old, and I doubt he will do that.

I didn’t even mention it.

Here’s to music and whiskey! And staying the course.

Newspaper days

I WAS A newspaperman for about 30 years before I retired at age 55 in late 1999. I never called myself a journalist, and I’ve never taken even one journalism course.

I’ve also been a taxi driver, a loan shark and a repo man.

But it was newspapering that I was best at.

There’s a link in the right-side column that takes you to Newspaper Days, a description of my decades in that world. It was a profession I fell into, just one more path in a life that’s been almost entirely haphazard.

Take a look if you have some spare moments. It’s a quick tour through exotic places like San Juan and New Orleans, and even haircuts in the Virgin Islands.

You’ll also encounter mangy dogs, suicides, alcoholism, unionism, motorcycles, political correctness, feminist zealotry, homosexuality, paste pots and old typewriters.