Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Sheriff T.J. Flournoy dies

On this date in 1982, Fayette County Sheriff T.J. "Jim" Flournoy died at the age of 80. Big Jim, as he was known, was the longest-serving sheriff in Fayette County history, had a two-year run as a Texas Ranger during World War II and several stints as a deputy in various jurisdictions. He shot to fame, of course, by defending the Chicken Ranch brothel when KTRK-TV newsman Marvin Zindler campaigned to shut it down.

Big Jim would not have been happy with my writing Texas' Legendary Chicken Ranch: Truth, Lies and Legacy of a Lone Star Whorehouse (coming summer 2016 from the History Press, if you didn't catch that earlier).

Despite the late sheriff's misgivings, today I'm heading to the Texas State Library and Archives for another photography research run. There's only one or two more of these on my calendar, then all that will remain is compiling the images and captions to go with the manuscript text. There is going to be a lot of photos in this book once all is said and done. Heck, I'm impressed, but then again I'm easy that way.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Raving and Drooling
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chicken Ranch report: WE HAVE A PUBLISHER!

Folks, I cannot express how pleased I am to announce that I have a publishing contract! My long-in-the-works book, tentatively titled Texas' Legendary Chicken Ranch: Truth, Lies and Legacy of a Lone Star Whorehouse will be published in 2016 by the History Press. Go show 'em some love for their august taste in historical literature.

If all goes well (that is, if I meet my deadlines) we could see the book as early as this coming summer. This is a quick turnaround, so I've got my work cut out for me. Such a publishing date would ensure the book's availability at the 2016 Fayette County Fair, various fall book festivals and other potentially fun venues.

It's been very, very difficult reining myself in these past few weeks. I've come close to signing with other publishers in the past, only to have the deals fall through. I've been holding my breath on this one, certain that something would happen to put the kibosh on the deal. But you know what? The folks at History Press--in particular, acquisitions editor Jose Chapa--have been fantastic thus far. It's one of those apropos coincidences that the finalized contract arrived yesterday whilst I was away on a research road trip to Sealy, Bellville and La Grange. The History Press has requested more photos for the book than I'd originally planned on, and I'm surprising even myself with some of the interesting images I've uncovered. The book will be worth it for the photos alone.

It's hard to believe that when I started this project back at the beginning of 2009 I anticipated it would take six months, tops. Here I am, six years later and only now in sight of the finish line. I have to admit, there were times when I was profoundly discouraged and wanted to chunk the whole thing. The very real prospect of everyone who has supported and assisted me in this Quixotic quest over the years (and there have been a lot of people who fit that description) finally getting to read this book they've been taking on faith... well, that makes it all worth while. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this thing possible. I literally could not have done it without you.

Now Playing: Handel Hallelujah Chorus
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I have to admit, Tom Petty pretty much sums up my current state on multiple levels with "The Waiting." Yes, it is, Tom. Yes, it is.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Rolling Stones.

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, October 05, 2015

What's Jayme drinking?

I stopped by Spec's this evening to pick up a bottle of rum, because necessities. Whilst there, I caught sight of a bottle of Black Quad by Real Ale Brewing Co. out of Blanco. I'm a big fan of their Devil's Backbone Belgian tripel--faithful to the style at a reasonable price--so how could I not give the Black Quad a try? I picked up a bottle, wholly on impulse.

It poured like a clear, dark cola. So far, so good. The carmel-colored head was slow to form and subdued, maybe half a finger thick, but persisted quite a long time. More than an hour later it was patchy on the surface of the beer, like one of Louis Pasteur's petri dishes. The nose is alcohol forward (not entirely surprising for a 10.5 percent beer) with notes of dark cherries, malt and currants. The taste... holy moly. There's a sweet, malty rush of caramel, chocolate and toffee, with dark fruit--the usual plums and cherries--along with a slight tobacco-like sharpness. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, quite appropriate for a Belgian with this heft. Monkey Girl saw the clear mug sitting on the counter and mistook it for a cola. I told her it was a beer, and offered her a sip. She tasted it, and raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Beer's nasty," she said. "But if I liked beer, I'd like that."

I'm not a hop-head. IPAs just aren't my thing. I've made no secret that Le Terrible from the Quebec brewery Unibroue is my all-time favorite beer. Black Quad is not better than La Terrible. I won't even go so far as to say it equals La Terrible. Black Quad is inferior. But only just. Black Quad is definitely a worthy representative of the Belgian quadruple style. And it has the distinct advantage of costing just half of La Terrible. I mean, La Terrible is better, but it's not twice a good. Not by a longshot. I'm definitely going to make Black Quad a regular pick-up.

At a time when all the Texas microbrews seem to be chasing the "how many hops can we cram into a single bottle" trend that is raging nationwide, it's gratifying to see Real Ale Brewing Co. swimming against the current and taking up the challenge of producing complex, interesting Belgians. I hope the market rewards them, because damn, they're creating some worthy beers.

Now Playing: R.E.M. Eponymous
Chicken Ranch Central