Saturday, September 18, 2021

Dude Motel

This (as is obvious) is the Dude Motel.  It is in a town called Haltom City, which Wikipedia says is "an inner suburb of Fort Worth."  I took this picture three years ago today, which I feel like was a Sunday (but it was a Tuesday), I think taking the scenic route after dropping my wife off at the airport.  But I also might have been looking for ingredients for an Asian recipe, & Haltom City boasted some Asian grocery stores that I wanted to check out.  In any event, I had to take a picture of something called "The Dude Motel" & I was certain that it was closed if not closed-down.  I got out of the car to take a picture & as I was getting back into the car, someone emerged from the front office & said, "You better not be taking pictures of this place!"

Looking at the Google Maps, I see there's a grocery store across the street so maybe that's how I found it.  It seems like an awful little place, & the reviews bear this out.  But!  You can watch a video of the place from 1972 on YouTube.  That's something!

Friday, September 17, 2021


This is a story of a remarkable & beautiful little cat whom I had the incredible fortune to know & to live with for just over twelve years.  She traveled great distances with me.  She struggled with illnesses she had inherited, & illnesses that happen because of age.  Unlike many cats in her situation, she found a home, a home full of love, with one very special cat who loved her most of all.  & of course because life is as cruel as it is beautiful, she was taken from us, & lives only in our hearts & minds now.

In 2009, my wife & I moved to West Virginia, something I do not recommend.  She got her first academic job at Marshall University, in the dying town of Huntington.  Our first August there, a colleague of hers brought Bronte to our house.  We had barely finished unpacking, & we had driven from Austin, Texas, to Huntington in two cars over two long days, two humans, three dogs, & two cats.  I personally did not want another cat.  The colleague & her young daughter brought her over, expecting us to adopt her.  My wife wanted to.  I couldn't say no.

They called her "Elizabeth," & I thought about keeping that name, since one of its diminutives is "Betty," & I have a habit of naming my cats with the letter B for no reason other than my first two cats were called Blue Boy & Buster.  This little cat - & she was tiny - she weighed no more than four pounds - had a classic, almost gothic beauty, which made me think for some reason of the book Wuthering Heights.  I renamed her Bronte in honor of that strange, sad, lovely novel.

Here's what she looked like:

The one curious thing about her was that she had an unnerving cough, it was small & quiet, like her. But insistent. The colleague had found Bronte by her barn, across the river, at her home in Ohio.  She was very, very hungry, & in-between her coughs she ate as much as she could.  I asked about the cough, & almost as though practiced, the colleague & her sprog said, "Hairballs."  I was concerned & I confess a little unconvinced.

In fact, a few nights later, I made the observation to the wife that, having owned three cats, I hardly ever noticed such coughing without the later (though often not much later) appearance of hairballs.  It was evening, maybe even night, but my wife reached out to our old vet in Austin, who scared the hell out of & told us it might be congestive heart failure.  She suggested we take her to an emergency vet as soon as possible.  But!  To not drive too fast as it might cause her anxiety which might cause her heart to fail.

Being strangers still to the area, we had no idea where to take her but found a late-night pet ER in nearby Ceredo.  Avoiding the highway, we drove through the town in the dark, one of the hardest drives I've made, worried any acceleration would kill my poor cat.  Of course, that was not the case, as she lived with us a lot longer than a month.  She just had asthma.

Life didn't deal Bronte a great hand.  In addition to the asthma, whoever owned her before - imagine the kind of person who would abandon a beauty like Bronte! - they had also declawed her, in the most horrific way possible - I don't know the entire details, you'd have to ask my wife, but apparently it was one step worse than the usual fucked-up declawing.  Bronte always walked a little funny, & in her later years, with perhaps arthritis coming on, it was painful to watch her amble along.  I will say this, though: until about two weeks before the end, she still jumped from floor to chair to table to get her dinner.  & yes, we feed our cats on a dinner table.  We're not savages.  Also, we have beagles, who will eat whatever food they can get to no matter how cute the cat who's eating it.

We also believed that Bronte's owners had for some reason removed some of her teeth.  Why would anyone do that?  It turns out no one did - she had another condition called feline tooth resorption - which means what it sounds like.  Her teeth were reabsorbed into her gums.  Had she lived long enough, she might be toothless.  I wish she had lived long enough to be toothless!

We treated her asthma with steroids I believe until we couldn't.  We took her to a particularly inept vet in Hurricane, West Virginia, but the one thing he did right was recommend we use an inhaler on her twice a day.  If you've never seen a cat inhaler, it looks like this:

(image from here - instructions on use, too!)

Vets would lie to us & tell us that their cats loved their inhalers, would run to them when they were taken out, but Bronte insisted that it was unpleasant every single time.  As someone who had to administer that to her twice a day, sometimes following it up with pills, for over ten years, I can tell you she didn't enjoy it once.  It was probably the one thing that kept her from loving me as much as she loved her mother.

However, the love of her life was our cat Bolan.  I suspect my wife thought she was getting a pretty female kitty for herself, a counterbalance to my cat Beatrice, who never loved anyone but me (& only me grudgingly).  But no, Bronte & Bolan became lovecats & their romance was frankly a bit too much for me to take, & I love the most sickening-sweet of pop songs.  I have hundreds of pictures of the two of them just embracing, & I have more memories of them grooming one another, & if you were looking for one at virtually any moment you were bound to find the other.  Just look at this nonsense:

That's within a year of her joining the family.  This is from five years ago:

This is from three years ago:

This is from less than a year ago:

One of the true romances of our time.  It's only because I am not a talented storyteller or songwriter that there aren't books & songs written about them.  But gosh living here, I certainly got the feeling no one in the house adored each other as much as the two of them.

The great thing is that Bronte got healthy, her asthmas was under control - she had as few as ten attacks in the ten years after we adopted her - & she gained weight.  She became a regular sized cat, even getting a little round tummy that my wife referred to as her "bowling ball."

She loved her life, she loved her siblings (mostly), & she loved the little cat room we had in Kentucky, & the lovely space we had for them in Fort Worth, & the big picture window at our place here in Portland.  & oh yes, she traveled with us from Huntington to Lexington, from Lexington to Fort Worth, & from Fort Worth to here.  We kept her in a carrier with Bolan, which I'm sure eased her anxiety, & didn't cause much trouble on the drives - except that time in Twin Falls when she hid behind the microwave in the hotel room.  We thought she had gotten out, which was absurd - perhaps she possessed some lingering sense of the misery of living outside a barn in Ohio, but she never ever wanted to go outside.

Bronte was happy for so very long with her life.  She was always around.  She came when she was called, & only occasionally did she ever mew, & usually it was a bit urgent, as if to say, "Where is everybody?"  We'd call to her, & she'd come, & in that way discovered she was never alone.  & she would do this, which I loved so much:

Just lying on her back like a doodle bug.  I would disturb her by rubbing her chubby little tummy.  The point is, she was healthy & she was happy.  & just so lovely, with the best personality, a charming little muppet that had no aggression or malice in her at all.

There's really no picture that captures what it was like to be around her, & of course you can't pet her, & hear her purr for you.  Okay enough with the pictures, Gary.  This is hard enough to write.

One day someone will write a paper or a book explaining the ways animals understand the world, & animal dynamics, & how they relate to us.  My cat Beatrice died in 2018 (I wrote about her here) & for the first time ever, Bronte would come to see me at night, like Beatrice used to do.  She didn't do it long - a few months - but it was almost like she was checking up on me, to make sure I was all right.  She was much more attached to my wife, & in fact spent the last few months of her life in the evenings on the sofa with her.  & now I guess I have to talk about the last few months of her life.

Bronte at some point was diagnosed with kidney disease.  This is commonplace with elderly animals & vets will tell you it's treatable.  Combined with Bronte's other issues, it was something of a concern.  We did what we could to make sure she had the medicine, & the proper diet, & here in Portland we made a little private litter box for her so she didn't feel like she had to compete with her two brothers.  We had a couple of scares but she bounced back.  But then.  About a month ago.  You know.  She stopped eating.  The horrible alarm call of the pet in distress.

She stopped eating & we went to the vet & what seemed like overnight she went from stage two to stage four renal failure.  There's a part of me that wants to insist we did everything possible but there's a part of me that knows we didn't, even if we did.  Our pets can't talk to us & even the best veterinarian is bluffing a portion of the time & you don't know if your animals are suffering or if they're hanging on just for you.  But you alway think there's more time.  You can't imagine that there wouldn't be just a little bit more time.

We had someone come & inject her with poison to put her to sleep about two weeks ago, on a cool Saturday morning with the windows open.  The night before, my wife had taken her to bed but I was already grieving & I don't sleep well with death looming so I was sitting in the same little room I am writing in now, listening to music & trying to exhaust myself.  Bronte had gotten so thin - not four pounds thin, but very thin - & every move looked laborious & yet in-between songs I turned & she was in the room with me, sleeping on a little pillow I keep near my desk.  When I dragged myself to bed, I didn't want to disturb her, but when I woke a few hours later, she was on the bed with us.  Imagine that.  It made one feel a bit hopeful.  I think I even might've tried to feed her again that morning, but I knew the end was near.

We called her Fuzznika & we called her Brontalinski & I often called her "Brontee," rhyming with "jaunty."  She looked like a muppet yet she wasn't at all ridiculous, unless you count the doodle bug thing.  When you talked to her, if she were sitting on her hind legs, with her two little front legs holding her up, she would turn her head & pad the floor a little, as if in some kind of anticipation, or perhaps a little worried she might be in trouble.  She had the tiniest voice & the loudest purr.  She didn't like to be carried but if you did she'd grasp you like a koala does, possibly attempting to dissuade you, but, clawless, it was more like an embrace.  & like that last night, she would turn up at your side at the funniest of times.  Always welcome, always a joy to have around.

& my gosh I miss her more than I can possibly express.  The boy cats seem muted, & Bolan in particular spends much more time with me, & I try to console him & love him as much as I can.  That tiny little ball of floof got so much love from all of us I suspect we feel lost & drained.  We need to take the time to discover the reserve of love that she gave us.  Twelve years of sweet love.

Little Bronte, I hope we gave you a happy life, I know we gave you Bolan, & we kept you with us as long as we could.  I'm going to cry a bit more for you for a little while longer.  Please visit me in my dreams as I carry you in my heart as long as I live.  Goodbye little mouse, goodbye.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Self Help Radio 091421: Dare

(original image here*)

Audacious, bold, courageous, fearless, foolhardy, gutsy, impulsive, reckless - daring?  Is that what Self Help Radio was this week?  It certainly chose dare over truth.  But that's just the kind of show it is.  Or was.  Just for this week.  It's kind of how a theme-based radio show works.

& you know what?  A theme-based show will often want nouns or noun-like parts of speech (I'm looking at you, gerunds) to be their subjects, but a single word - "dare" - that is most identified as a verb?  That is a bit daring, isn't it?  Oh it isn't?  Well perhaps you should make your own theme-based radio show, then.  & not do conventionally daring things, like risk your life for someone else, or eat too many hot wings on a podcast.

Anyhoosle, the show was three hours of songs involving dares, daring, or daring things.  A primatologist talked about daring primates, we talked to an actual daredevil, & we spoke with someone who has an organization called D.A.R.E. - just not the one you're thinking about.  & I had an argument with myself.  Like you do on late-night radio.

You can listen now or when you dare listen at both the show's website (Self Help Radio dot net) & at the show's page on the KBOO website.  What happens on the show, songs & all, is listed below.  Please enjoy.  I dare you.

Self Help Radio Dare Show
"Dare" His Name Is Alive _Early Music Vol. 1 1985-1989_
"Dare" The Wedding Present _Seamonsters_
"Dare" The Mary Onettes _Dare EP_

introduction & definitions

"The Dare" Jimmy Tyler _The Dare_
"I Will Dare (Demo)" X _Ain't Love Grand_
"Dare True Kiss Promise" The Pooh Sticks _Formula One Generation_
"Dare" Gorillaz _Demon Days_
"How Dare I" Poppy Seed _Coming Through_

interview with primatologist Dr. Danuta Hackensack

"Double Dare" Bauhaus _In The Flat Field_
"Double Dare" Yo La Tengo _Painful_
"Double Dare Ya" Bikini Kill _The CD Version Of The First Two Records_
"I Double Dare You" Louis Armstrong _The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946)_
"Double Dare" Momma _Two Of Me_

interview with Portland daredevil Colt Sawyer

"Dare Devil Dick" George Formby _The Complete Collection_
"The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze" Crispin Hellion Glover _The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be._
"Anxiety! Daredevil Aviators" Bob & Ray _Classic Bob & Ray, Volume Four: Selections From A Career 1946-1976_
"Girl Daredevil" Bomb Pops _Recommended For Diversion Seekers_
"Dan Dare (Pilot Of The Future)" Elton John _Rock Of The Westies_
"Dan Dare" The Mekons _The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strnen_

interview with Marlon Queen of D.A.R.E. (the other one)

"Dare To Dream" The Orioles _The Jubilee Recordings_
"Dare To Dream" Dylan Cartlidge _Hope Above Adversity_
"Dare To Be Fat" Rootboy Slim & The Sex Change Band With The Rootettes _These People Are Nuts_
"Dare To Be Stupid" Weird Al Yankovic _Dare To Be Stupid_
"Dare To Tread" Tall Dwarfs _Fork Songs_

Gary has a discussion with himself

"Dare Me" The Pointer Sisters _The Ultimate Collection_
"Dare I Say (feat. Jean Leloup)" Bran Van 3000 _Discosis_
"The Century That Dared To Dream" Channel Light Vessel _Excellent Spirits_
"Truth Or Dare" Eugene Mirman _En Garde, Society!_
"How Could We Dare To Be Wrong" Colin Blunstone _Ennismore_
"I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep" Ghostpoet _I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep_


"Double Double Dare" Hoyt Axton _Quagmire Volume 8 (A Further Observance Of Sixties Punk)_
"Come Back If You Dare" Jay-Jays _Bald Headed Woman_
"Don't You Dare" The Vaqueros _Quagmire Volume 6 (Frighteningly Rare 60s Garage From The Swamps Of Antiquity!)_
"Daring But Dead" Coyle & Sharpe _On The Loose_
"Don't You Dare" Donna Lynn _Blue Lipstick (34 Glorious Girl Pop Gems From The Mid-Sixties)_
"Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn" The Shaprels _Highs In The Mid Sixties Volume 4: Chicago_

conclusion & goodbye

"How Dare You" St. Germain _St. Germain_
"Dare I Care" Julian Casablancas & The Voidz _Tyranny_
"None Dare Call It Conspiracy" Mark Stewart + Maffia _Learning To Cope With Cowardice_

*"How Dare You Frank Chu, Oakland Riots, 2010" by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Whither Dare?

(Original image is here.)

This week's theme on Self Help Radio is but a single word: 'dare.' But what a word it is! It's a verb first & foremost but it's also a noun (the verb came first) (how do I know that?) ( told me) (oh)! Plus it has an adjectival form ('daring') & if you are a cool enough word to have an adjectival form, you're worthy of an entire radio show about you!

That's all fine & good but is the show about the verb or the noun?  Why does it have to be one or the other?  What about a song in which someone 'dares a dare'?  Does such a song exist?  Maybe not, but if it did, it would be on this show!  We're about all things 'dare.'  We're 'daring.' It's as if someone dared us to be daring!

Which brings me to: is that the reason this show is about the word 'dare'?  The truth is, the origins of this theme are lost to the misty haze of time.  It must have been months ago - at least weeks - that the idea of a show prominently featuring the word 'dare' came to me.  But who remembers yesterday, let alone several weeks ago?  There must be a reason that I don't recall it - so I don't dare attempt to explore the whys & wherefores of this show!

All I know is I dare you to listen, tonight, from midnight to 3am, on 90.7 fm KBOO Portland, online at  The truth is, it's a dare - you've been dared to tune in!  & if you won't - how dare you!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Preface To Dare: Dan Dare?

(image from here.)

The first time I ever heard of Dan Dare was in the David Bowie song "DJ," in which he sings, "Feels like Dan Dare lies down."  A comment on the song on helpfully informs us, "Dan Dare was the title character in a series of British sci-fi comic books. He was a space pilot, & his stories, while set in the distant future of the 1990s (the strip began in 1950), were clearly inspired by World War II. The original series ran until 1967, but was briefly revived from 1977 to 1979."

It continues, "Dan Dare’s status as a patriotic culture icon was satirized around the same time by the British punk group The Mekons (themselves named after Dan Dare’s arch-nemesis) in their song of the same name: 'Outer space, it's so fast/Flying off the backs of the working class/Outer space, it's a really nice place/Dan Dare.'  Dare is also mentioned in the 1967 Pink Floyd song 'Astronomy Donime' & a 1975 Elton John song."

Despite loving the Bowie song, & the Mekons song, I have actually never felt the need to pursue the character of Dan Dare nor read any comics he's been in.  It might be that it somewhat resembles Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, & I have no real interest in those kinds of space opera strips, with their dated looks & references.  (I also never much liked the Captain Proton episodes of Voyager.)  But I suspect British people of a certain age have the same fondness for it that a certain generation of Americans have for Flash or Buck.  (I have very happy memories of the television program Buck Rogers In The 25th Century & some of those memories are about the show & other characters besides Col. Wilma Deering, although not many.)

Will I talk about Dan Dare on this week's Self Help Radio?  Probably not.  Will I play the Mekons song?  Oh yeah!  Will I talk about why this week's show's theme is just "dare"?  Maybe tomorrow.