Recently I hopped into a borrowed car and embarked on a trip that I call the South Texas Triangle Tour. In your mind you can see a detailed image of Texas. You can see the three points of the South Texas Triangle: Laredo, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio. Right now you may hear somebody from the valley shouting, “That’s not south Texas!” No matter. As Texans most of us will agree that San Antonio is the gateway to South Texas. Questions may be raised as to what South, West, East or North Texas are. There are always contentions. Why is Houston not considered East Texas? Looking at a map it is clearly in the easternmost section of Texas. Why, if you’re from Houston, do you not say you’re from east Texas? You do not. You just say that you’re from Houston, which is where I’m from. All that aside, There are other South Texas Triangles, but this is the South Texas Triangle that me and my friend Brad perambulated. We only walked part of the way of course. Though the truest purpose of this mission is still unknown to me, I can share with you the truer purpose of this tour: music. There are other purposes that emerged for myself and others including untrue, hypertrue, extratrue purposes. One purpose of this tour is me, David Longoria. That’s my family lineage. I have other names including Longriver, David del Norte, Bruce, and David of the Black. Other stories surrounding this journey will be told and published and dialed in on radios and telephone lines, but I will share the most surface accounts of what happened, the most physical and mundane…journalistic in the most basic sense of the word. In fact, nothing really happened. So, for those of you who like grand fireworks displays or even exciting facebook likes and notifications, now is the time to click elsewhere, or get back to your reheated dish waiting for you on the stove or microwave oven. For you who are interested in unfinished sketches, impressions, and elementary sharing, please, read on.
So, we followed the I-35 corridor south to it’s end: the bordertown of Laredo Texas. We left the contraband in the earth to be safe from all who patrol. After crossing 4 major rivers, hundreds of torrents and a few tortillas stuffed with the raw deal, we arrived at the SecondChance record store in Laredo. Before I could make a find in the bins, this young Mexican guy with shaggy hear wearing tight slacks and a members only jacket got dibs on a mint Van Morrison Astral Weeks, Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk, and a good copy of Prince’s Dirty Mind, all in a stack of about 20 records. I gave up and chose to look at the cassettes before setting up my gear in the outdoor room, a long train car. I picked, strummed, sang. I noticed a young lady, her eyes closed in meditation listening to the sermon of the thumb. The index and middle fingers ushering unknown parishioners inside to sit at pews of oak. Dr. Brad kept court with Vivekananda (Rodrigo, at times) between music sets talking about Nietzsche and horses and madness. I closed my eyes and saw the Empty Orchestras. After the first show we drove down past the brightly lit international bridge, into the town plaza…old church built in 1755. Through the mist you could almost see Fred C. Dobbs with his weathered fedora smoking a cigarrette on the park bench before going to beg money for a meal. We stopped into an old building where poets were participating in impassioned recitations. The poets had swapped poems and were reading each other’s poems. Visions of a post apocalyptic snow covered New York City, embryonic love affairs, border town run-ins, skinny jean college marijuana joints. I helped myself to the deli tray with pan dulce and ham sandwiches. I picked, strummed, sang. Girl with blowtorch heart says she loves my voice.
Next morning Brad and I walked over to Paulita’s, a small old restaurant with a few booths and tables, and had a Mexican breakfast with homemade tortillas. A hearty breakfast for the drive to Corpus. Luckily the earth accepts all illegal things without judgement, because just west of Alice I got stopped for going 6 miles over the speed limit. A State trooper, a Mexican kid, probably not much older than 22, gave me a warning. I was enthusiastic and friendly and our stories were straight. Even the border patrol stopped us. They all ask us where we came from, where we’re going, why we’re going there. But the dogs, more importantly, didn’t question us.
First stop when we got to Corpus was North Beach, later we were told that this beach is not the beach to go to for the best vibes. Seagulls stand on one leg sometimes, the shoreline is beautiful when you look alongside it, the battleship is monolithic, the motels look dingy. We sat at Coffee Waves Shop for a couple of hours drinking espresso, then took naps in the car. We finished off the day with a sunset picnic under a pink and purple sky on a staired seawall overlooking the ocean. The cadential waves insisting on something else, not quite sure. On the way to the show we stopped and had a moment at the Selena memorial by the water, Como La Flor, Amor Prohibido, Baila Esta Cumbia. We arrive at NASA: Rene Sandoval hometown tastemaker, Nic Fair diminished chord mystic, Shayna Sands hourglass blues pop. I picked and strummed and sang. The NASA listens to No Time at All, sees me see the river, knows i am a crazy son.
Then there’s the afterparty where Dr. B and Michael the printer converse. She’s read Moby Dick five times and gives Brad an official creative license; It’s pink and the size of a business card. He immediately fills it out and places it in his wallet* The next morning we go with the Astorian theatre troupe, Persona Non Grata, to La Chapala for another Mexican breakfast. Ryan and Cassie take us to Mustang Island and we swim at the beach. I follow Ryan three sandbars out, the water gets deep, then shallow, then deep again. Ahhh! What a treat to swim in December in Texas. Riley the dog digs in the sand to nowhere. We bid farewell and take the SPID (South Padre Island Drive) to San Antonio. Meet up with my parents who have been having a retirees day on the riverwalk. We shower in their hotel room and we’re off to the Wolverton House where Hills Snyder is a co-proprietor. Hills Snyder’s Book of the Dead is something to behold. Actually it’s nothing to behold. It beholds you. Hills is awesome, a capital A artist, whatever that means. We meet up with Jesse and Sarah la Puerta. We eat at the interior Mexican restaurant. Back at the house, Boone Graham plays and I feel like a child. I am smiling. The news is there’s little baby worms hugging on carrot seeds. Then I pick, strum, sing. We sell tapes and finish up the bottle of Tequila. There’s dancing by the piano. I play a little boogie.
We end up at the abandoned Hot Wells by the San Antonio river. Justin Parr feeds us 2 am fajitas and we drink whiskey in glassblown vessels in his outdoor kitchen by his traincar home. We set up camp in the second floor of the old ruins. The old resort had its hey day at the turn of the century…corsetts, horse and buggy, parlor guitars. In the 1980’s the Rolling Stones had a party in the baths…red corvettes, stilleto heels, dancehall reggae. The ruins are haunted by playful ghosts. While sleeping on the old dance floor, the night wind plays the reeds and you can feel a shadowy brushing of your shoulder. We wake in the morning, bid farewell to the San Antonio river and grab an egg sandwich and an espresso from the coffee shop.
So, there’s my reading of this South Texas Triangle tour. If you’ve heard the now unavailable cassette release “I See the River” that is another reading of this small Journey. Bradley Ray King still yet has another reading of the South Texas Triangle. Perhaps I can only tell a fingernails worth of the story. It’s maybe the absence of what I left out that you can feel. I’ve been on long trips with bands and spent weeks alone in the mountains. Days reliably coming and going. But there’s something about the threes, the triangles. It’s in the triad of picking, strumming, singing where the story is told. Maybe you can get at it from there. I do hear myself talking, and I can read these words as well. I feel something as you are reading this, but maybe the telling is for someone else. I can only say that if you are now reading this you have some trust in something. I know it’s mere moments later and a few paragraphs of reading, but either way, it’s you who I consider my brother and sister. If you skipped it all and are just reading this sentence only, then by sheer magic we are together again.