Monday, January 28, 2008

So What's Up With Mexico?

The Parental Units and I made a Garcias dash across the border today. A little shopping, a few margaritas, etc. It was ... quiet. Garcias' employees say the army is scaring the tourists... "but the soldiers are the good guys! The trouble is in Reynosa; it's perfectly safe here."
It felt safe enough to us. The Border Patrol guy seemed relaxed. Yet Inertia Tours is pulling it's Mexico daytrips from the springbreak itinerary.
So what's up with Mexico?

Sad News

I just received word that Steve Gomez passed away this morning. This was not unexpected as he has been very ill for a very long time, but our hearts go out to his wife Sherrie and everyone who held him dear -- I am certain that encompasses a very large group of locals.

Update 1/31: there is a "visitation" at the the catholic church in Port Isabel from 5 to 7 today; then a rosary at 7. Tomorrow at 2 pm is a funeral mass and then a get together to celebrate Steve at their house/office on Corral.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

In case you wondered where all the warm, sunny weather went....

Florida is hogging it!
I just returned from Ft. Myers Beach where I built this castle for a bead mail order catalogue
The weather was gorgeous.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

(Actual) "Severe Weather" alert

622 PM CST WED JAN 23 2008



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

my new movie...

premiers right here and now -- enjoy!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

"Hydrophobic Sand" - a sandsculptor's worst nightmare


Saturday, January 19, 2008

storm brings high tides

Movie features local muscians

Hey, we know we live in a great place crawling with uniquely talented actors and musicians - but it is great when others notice it as well. A movie (entitled "Broken Promises") is in the process of being filmed in various valley locations and will include the music of many local bands, including the Island's own "Toby Beau." Founder Balde Silva (who along with his wife and fellow band member Renetta grew up in Weslaco) and son Michael have cameo roles in the film. Last night the Rad hosted a press event that attracted a flashy, pretty crowd of people I mostly didn't know. Someone told me that the strikingly handsome goateed-guy getting his pictures taken with everyone was Anthony Quinn's son.

I was too shy to take a picture of anything but this cool guitar-shaped cake.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Not all infractions are created equal

Try to imagine what it would be like in your neighborhood if someone were arrested every time a law was broken. I’m talking every single person who speeds (even one mile over the limit), every person who drinks and drives (why do bars even have parking lots??), takes a puff off a left-handed ciggy, slips their dog off the leash, drops an empty water bottle on the sidewalk or fails to pick up poop; every driver who rolls instead of full stopping at an intersection or fails to use their turn signal or wear their seatbelt; all the people who put a dollar on the pool table or a fiver in the football add-em-up. Imagine all those folks busted and tossed in the clinker. Would you know any of them? Would you _be one of them?

Now imagine the size police force it would take to catch all these criminals in the act. Then imagine the local court system having to process all of these miscreants. And then imagine the uproar such a crackdown would cause --closely followed by the resulting PR nightmare.

Clearly, there are levels of lawbreaking that a society pretty much has to tolerate to some extent. If the authorities spend all their time pursuing the law-breakers listed above, they would not have a lot of time to deal with robbers, corruption and other serious crime. Here on South Padre many infractions are dealt with on a complaint-driven basis. If your dog poops repeatedly in my yard, I might complain. And if I am willing to take the time and effort to file and sign an official complaint, the city is obligated to deal with that complaint in some form or fashion.

There are a few things that irritate me -- I have even been accused of whining about them in this very blog. People hanging out in lucky 777 parlors who choose to part with a few bucks in a manner that may or may not be legal (obviously there is some gray area here) are not one of the things that irritate me. I guess these businesses must not irritate most other people either, or lots more folks would be willing to sign their names to official complaints, instead of just whining about them (see the latest discussion on SPIF.) Are these (face it, mostly older patrons) bothering you? Are they stealing from you? Are the business owners taking up scarce space that other more legit businesses are waiting in line for? Are their employees outsiders who spend their ill-gotten tips in the next county?

If a crime, this one is victimless.
Think about that next time you notice you’ve hit 45 mph just south of Whataburger.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Just one of those days

Now if this wasn't one of those days that made you want to step away from the computer (even though you had a buttload of work breathing down the back of your neck) and do a little yardwork, sculpt a little foam and catch a few tunes while sipping a margarita with a special guy at Boomie's -- well, you are a mighty hard case, my friend.

This is "Arctic Thunder" from Alaska. They were great. At Boomie's with my dad.

Update 1/11 - they are playing at Wanna Wanna right now - go check it out!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Up Next: "Terrorists are Congregating on SPI!"....?!?

The anonymous spooks who frequent the SPI Forum appear to be tireless in their efforts to destroy the tourism industry here. First it was “look how ugly we are! We need a color palette!” Now it is “look how dangerous our streets are! We need a curfew!”

Bullshit. All bullshit. If Jason Y. really loved the island he would shut that forum down; it is destructive and divisive and making us look bad to the online world.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Welcome Home Mom & Dad Feets!

Well, it was looking a bit iffy for a while there but the official word is that two of my favorite people in the whole world -- Don & Ginny Wierenga (aka Dad & Mom Feets) of Saugatuck, MI -- are making good their escape from winter and are on their way to SPI. This year they will be giving their old condo at the Royale a miss and are instead staying upstairs from me, right here at the Sandbox Inn.

They think they are going to relax on the deck, lounge in the hot tub, and listen to me and my friends play our ukuleles for their entertainment for the next several weeks. Hah!

I’m going to make Dad tell me all about his recent travels and volunteer work in Africa. I will be expecting Mom to offer decorating and garden tips in my ongoing efforts to make the Sandbox the coolest rental unit on the island and I am going to do my best to get her involved in craft camp/SPIgarden activities. And I know I can count on Dad to help me with a few little projects around the house and yard.... just before I give him a run for his money on the pool table.

I guess I might let them lounge on the deck a little, too.

Truth is, I am really looking forward to having them here, and for so many reasons. If you see them out and about be sure and say howdy. (Watch for the “Grandpas Gone Wild” T-shirt.)

Me and my parental units pose in front of an SPI Valentines Day Castle, circa 1993

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Laser Graffiti

Oh man, someone could have a ball with one of these on the 12th floor of the Royale, hey?


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Okay. I was wrong.

A week ago I wrote that the best way to cross the border at Matamoros is to drive across the bridge.
So that is what I did yesterday. And by the time I finally got to see the rainbow over the booth on the US side -- about an hour after pulling out of the parking garage at Garcia’s -- I was pretty sure I would have been better off walking. There was almost no line in the pedestrian lane. If there is a way to predict which route is the better bet (walking or driving) I have not stumbled upon it. Or maybe I just suck at it.

Sitting on that bridge for so long gave me time to reflect upon several things (in no particular order):

1. Wouldn’t it be sweet if someone posted a webcam on the US side of the bridge so one could discern trends and base one’s timing on something other than gut instinct?
2. Would it be possible to put a dollar amount on the lost productivity of all those people sitting on the bridge? How about the amount of emissions coming from all the idling vehicles? It sure seems to me that American ingenuity could come up with a better way to make the border crossing less arduous while still providing security...
3. How come the left lane is moving so much faster than the right lane? I have not moved in five minutes and that little black VW that was right next to me is already out of sight! (As is turns out, the left lane was being serviced by two booths, while the right lane only had one. Hardly fair, but who do you complain to?)
4. Hey look! A rainbow that ends right above the immigration booth! Where’s the pot o’ gold? No wonder people want to migrate here!
5. I just spent 1.5 hours in a comfy chair while a skilled healthcare provider painstakingly reconstructed a tooth she had drilled the heck out of a couple weeks ago. A tooth that my former dentist had given up for lost, asserting it needed a crown that would run me something like two grand. The Mexican dentist charged me $29.00 to drill the thing and $64.00 to rebuild it. By the time she pays her rent and her equipment costs and the salary of her assistant, I figure she is clearing about $15/hr for her efforts.... I should have tipped her.

Well, I didn’t. Tip her, that is. But I can put in a plug for Greengos Dentistry right here and now. The equipment is state of the art. The clinic is sparkling clean and new. The staff is unfailingly courteous and bilingual. I am a big baby when it comes to pain, and I didn’t feel a thing. Doctor Daniella says I will likely need that crown some time in the future, but she believes in keeping as much of the tooth intact for as long as possible. I like that. And when my former dentist calls to tell me it is time for a cleaning, I'll say thanks for the reminder -- and then I will head back to Greengos.

Affordable dentistry just 30 miles away is another really good reason to live here on beautiful South Padre Island -- no matter how long one might have to sit on that bridge.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


That is what I feel when I read SPIForum these days.
The most articulate, forceful town voices (to the point of shouting down anyone who does not agree with them) are trying to turn this town into someplace I would neither recognize nor want to visit or inhabit. Every time I read the term “color palette” I wonder who these people are and why they ended up here. They have nothing but contempt for the people who love to spend their vacations here - the same people who line up to have their pictures taken in the giant shark’s maw -- but they yearn to be loved by the rich island-hoppers who can so easily afford to patronize more exotic beaches. They think our main street is ugly, and keep saying it over and over again -- as if that will somehow magically make us lovelier instead of merely convincing the rest of the on-line world that SPI is some kind of hideous toad. But these same folks are frightened - positively terrified - of public art: the disappearing murals and non-existent sculpture that have the power to separate us from the bland ideal of a beach town they worship in their own minds.

We cannot be everyone’s cup of tea, so let’s be who we want to be....where we want to be. (Hey -- sounds like an ad campaign!) The people who like us will find us and keep coming back. The people who find us and don’t like us can take their business elsewhere. It’s okay -- because there will always be a crowd of people looking for a place just like this.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Polar Bear Dip Video

Special thanks to Martha for shooting lots of great footage whilst I was taking the plunge :)