Friday, March 29, 2024

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I saw Herb Alpert perform in concert earlier this week. I wasn't sure what to expect since he's nearly 90, but I was utterly blown away. He engaged with the audience so easily that the crowd of 1,700 felt more like 17. It was crazy intimate and if Alpert has lost a step with age, I couldn't tell. His performance was top-notch. Seriously, this was one of the best live shows I've ever attended. He performed a cover of "Puttin' on the Ritz," which was cool in and of itself, but this trippy video played on the screens surrounding the stage. Naturally, I had to share.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Cardigans and Tom Jones .

Now Playing: Robert Drasnin Voodoo II
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Aunt Jessie (1885-1952)

La Grange Yellow Pages phone book, 1958
On this date in 1952, Fay Stewart, otherwise known as Jessie Williams or simply "Aunt Jessie," passed away at the age of 67 in San Antonio, just a couple of months after selling the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange to Edna Milton. Her sister-in-law, Eddie Ledda Moody, traveled from McLennan County to oversee Aunt Jessie’s burial in Sunset Memorial Park.

Fay Stewart’s parents came from Georgia (or possibly Nashville), moving to Waco well before she was born. The family lived for years on Franklin Street. In my book, I reported that the family struggled after Stewart’s father died unexpectedly in 1886. A local history buff in Waco has done some excellent research on that, and it seems the death of Stewart's father is the result of a census error in 1890. In fact, he outlived his wife who passed away in the 1890s before remarrying around the turn of the century. Information is sketchy after that, but circumstantial evidence would indicate Fay and her new stepmother did not get along well. By 1910, Fay’d moved to Austin and assumed the alias of Jessie Williams, as was customary for women in the sex trade intent on protecting their families’ reputations. All of this biographical information is updated in the 50th anniversary edition of my book, available now.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is available from both and It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Now Playing: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream and Other Delights Re-Whipped
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, March 22, 2024

Committing fiction

My fiction output has been close to zero in recent years, for a variety of reasons writers will likely be familiar with, but I won't bore you with here. Suffice to say this week has been different. I've been writing. Fiction. Last night I completed the story. Yay, me.

That's not exactly the first draft, though. And it's not the final draft, either. The premise first came to me maybe 15 years ago, give or take. I wrote the first draft then, but I had no ending. I forced an ending, which was wholly unsatisfactory. I knew it, the select few who'd read the story knew it, but no obvious solution existed. So I moved on and the story sat. And sat. And sat.

Unexpectedly, unlooked-for, an ending popped into my head. Why do these things happen? I have no idea. I realized that certain constraints I'd placed on myself with one of the main characters served no purporse and hindered the story. So I dropped those constraints. The story suddenly worked. The ending fulfilled the promise of everything leading up to it. That's not to say the writing process went smoothly--it took a full week to force out a couple thousand words. My writing speed continues to slow as I age. This is a story that mixes genres (that I rarely write in, no less) and has no obvious market, so I've got that going for me. But as a story, it is close to being the best version of itself it can possibly be. Another pass to clean up some messy spots and add some retrofitting and it'll be done. Will this lead to regular writing output from me again? No telling. I thought the same last year when I mamaged a couple of novel chapeters around this time but the radio silence since then proves nothing is guaranteed.

Here's a taste of the new prose a few pages before the finale:

The doorknob rattled. Eyes wide, J.T. grabbed it with both hands, bracing his shoulder against the door frame.

The door shook. Boyd screamed. The knob twisted in J.T.'s grip but he would not let it go. Porcelain shattered, followed by what disturbingly sounded like a flock of geese being sucked into a jet engine. The angry knob twisted harder, peeling skin from J.T.'s palms, but he refused to relent. The entire house shuddered, struck by a menace so cold J.T.'s tongue froze to the roof of his mouth.

And then... silence.

J.T. blinked bits of hoarfrost from his eyelids. Frost covered his arms, the door, the walls. Warily, he released his grip on the doorknob. Nothing happened.
Now Playing: Ted Auletta & His Orchestra Exotica
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, March 08, 2024

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Up until 24 hours ago I had no idea this existed. The Cardigans? Tom Jones? Performing together in this fever dream cover of the Taking Heads' "Burning Down the House"? I find it weirdly unsettling... but, I must confess, I am also fascinated by it. It's as if watching it amounts to participating in an involuntary cult initiation. You have been warned.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Smoke.

Now Playing: Don Tiare and His Enchanting Violins Strings Over Tahiti
Chicken Ranch Central