Friday, June 29, 2007


Ram, originally uploaded by H. Michael karshis.

We miss you already! Thanks to the kids at Grackle Monday for the photo. Kaw Kaw


Anonymous said...

Last Stop on the Barhop
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Tacoland was always the last stop because by that time of night I was too drunk to see. Who else would put up with somebody that borracho in public besides the Tacoland employees and regulars?

In typical Friday night fashion, my friend Tito (from those legends of rock known as The Harlots) and I stumbled in after an afternoon of barhopping. We’d usually start over in the Medical area and work our way in from Tra’s to He’s Not Here to I Don’t Know Yet
to Patsy’s to San Antonio Homebrew Supply to Tacoland. Sometimes that homebrew would lead to a certain type of diarrhea that gave your anal sphincter a workout at
Tacoland, because fucking Jesus, you never want to bare anus there. You didn’t want to bare dick there, lest a short man named Tiny peep through the crack in the door, lick his lips, and calmly let you know he loves to look at guys’ cocks. As awkward as it was it was fun, funny, and funtastic. That was Tacoland.

The Needles and The Crack Rock
Some band was playing- I always hated the sound in there and had no interest in rock and roll by my late twenties, so I always sat outside drinking $1.50 beer on the patio. Now that was something that I was interested in. Tito, on the other hand, really enjoyed checking out the bands. The relaxed atmosphere really facilitated a lot of one-on-one conversations with the bands in between sets.

The night some band The Needles were playing I was really wanting a crack rock and they were really wanting to sell me a Needles CD. I think they started at $10 and I said no, that’s all the money I had, so they lowered it to $7.

Hmmm…CD or crack rock.

“Hey Tito, can I borrow $7?” I asked.


Okay, so I pass Tito’s $7 to the guy and slip over to the corner of the patio where there’s a vato on a 10-speed bike.

“Oye amigo- tienes piedrita?” I asked.

“Cuanta?” he replied.

“Como cinco, diez- si tienes?”

“Claro,” he replied, pulling a $5 nugget out of his snap-up western style shirt and charging me $10.

“Gracias amigo.” I put the rock in the end of my cigarette and lit it slow, trying to maximize the effects of the $5 rock for which I had just paid $10.
Then I overhear that punk from The Needles selling his lousy CD for $5 to some other guy after he tried to charge me $10 and worked it down to $7. I didn’t bother to say anything to him. That’s Tacoland for you.

Steele Reserve
Fucking Tacoland- it was always like that. Sometimes it was homeless 50-year old hookers telling you their sob stories about their gay children getting AIDS from
fucking each other, other times it was sleazy sonofabitches trying to pass off Tylenols as Vicodin and getting pissed when you told them to shove it up their asshole. Other times it was making your way through a minefield of used points and shooting up in a house across 281 with a rig you had to wash out with Listerine because the resident junkie didn’t have any bleach. Yet other times it was hearing draft stories from guys who came back from Vietnam completely different- 30 years before. But I will always associate Tacoland with Steele Reserve.

The first time I ever drank Steele Reserve I was trying to drink off the effects of some illegal medication I took in Las Vegas. I had completely forgotten about that stuff- actually I think it used to be illegal in Texas because it had something like 8% alcohol. Nevertheless, you could get a 24 oz. can for something like $1.59 at the crackhead convenience store on 281.

Steele Reserve was the beer of choice at Tacoland, even though Ram didn’t sell it. Once he came out and chased away some homeless folks with a broom. The impression I was left with was that they were bringing in their own Steele Reserve instead of buying his $1.50 longnecks. I don’t know why I have that impression- maybe he said something about it, maybe that’s all I could figure out from what I saw. Within minutes, a few were back on the patio drinking Steele Reserve. That’s Tacoland.

Dead Kennedys- Still Dead 20 Years Later
Alcohol tends to blur circumstances, and I have professed to excess that pilgrimages to Tacoland were the results of binges, rather than the facilitator. Thus most of my memories take place under the floodlight out on the patio and aren’t too clear.

2:30 a.m. we’re in a West Side Tejano bar featuring the marginalized of the local marginalized. I am with a couple of friends who are tripping on mushrooms and drinking beer. Nobody talks to us because we’re white. A man with a missing arm comes by and rubs his stump on one of their legs. Suddenly San Antonio is a very scary place.

Flashback 1 hour. We’re getting kicked out of Salute over on N. St. Marys. I’m about to kick out their window with my cowboy boots because one of my friends is screwing around in there and we want to get him out and leave. She threatens to call the cops so I dare her to and I tell her to tell them my name. Somehow after 151 I still had the sense to give her a fake name.

10 minutes later we’re at Tacoland trying to get in. Some kid (a band member) is wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt and insisting that we pay him $3 each to come in and drink beer even though it’s almost closing time. I’m with Eric and Brian from the Austin supergroup My Education.

Now here’s where my memory gets blurry. Brian had words with the guy. Dammit, there was no way in hell we were paying $3 to drink $1.50 beers at 1:45 a.m.! The conversation ended up something to the effect of Brian saying “Piss off you little punk and take your fucking Dead Kennedys reprint shirt with you!”

Native American Trade Routes
With its 500 year old tree that predated the Spanish establishment, Tacoland was on a Native American trade route. I’m fucking serious.

I can’t remember the fellow’s name, so I’ll just call him “John.” He was a really good guy- when he got to drinking we’d see his evil twin, who was a really good guy too, but a little more self-destructive than John. But that was Tacoland- if you weren’t self destructive you wouldn’t go there. It was a celebration of self destructive lifestyles leading to self destruction, to twist a phrase from a daytime TV judge.

John participated in various pow-wows and other Native American arts, and sometimes on a Friday he’d hit Tacoland for a few lukewarm frosty ones. Sometimes he brought his own Steele Reserve. On a couple of occasions, he had spent all his money and really wanted some refreshment.

He’d crack open his hatchback out in front of the patio and offer to sell dance bussels, headdresses, moccasins, ankle bells, eagle feathers, and just about anything he had to get some bucks for some beer.

I always liked John- he was a good guy, and when I had a couple of extra bucks (which was rare) I’d buy him a beer when I could.

Tony Suarez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I can't remember when I started going to Taco Land, mid 80's maybe. I do remember the initial fear I had of Ram (why did he call me a pussy?) wore off pretty soon. And if he didn't call me a pussy after a while I was hurt. My buddy Ethan and I would always go and try to drag friends with us. Most were too snobby to go back for a second time. Of course all the faces of the regular characters and new characters pop in to my head now but no particular story, all was good when you're home. Taco Land was home for me. Ram was the man of the home. The best nights there were the hot and steamy ones, watching The Sons of Hercules, Los #3 Dinners (Blue Pralines and #2 Dinners) I Ching Gatos, Flamin Hellcats, Buick McCain, on and on. And of course watching and hanging with Ram.
I remember the bottle of whatever booze + backwash was always an adventure. I moved away from San Antonio 9 years ago. Whenever I am in town I always stop in, usually with Ethan, to see Ram, fuck whatever band. Ram, knowing that I didn't live there any more, was always happy to see me and let me know it. When I go home this coming August I'll make one last visit. Ram, adios Daddy!

Anonymous said...


the two interactions with ram i remember best both had to do with hair.

one night after a swindles gig, drinking a beer, coming down from the volume, ram, in an unusual show of interest, in me at least, said, "hey dude, i wanna ask you something". and my first thought was, "is it after 2, do i have to get the fuck out of here?" but instead he pulled in close to my face and asked, "what the fuck happened to your hair? it's all tall and shit." and i said, "well, it just started growing that way. i got tired of mashing it down all the time." to which he replied, "you look like that dude, lyle lovett." and i just said thanks and then we both took a slug off of the baby.

another time i came in to set up for a gig and ram was at the bar with the shortest haircut i'd ever seen on him. so when i went over to the bar to get a beer, i said, "hey, nice haircut." and before the last 't' of haircut had left my tongue all i heard was, "HEY FUCK YOU!!". later on he divulged that doug and he had cut each other's hair but doug apparently wasn't as sparing as ram was.

he was a crusty old dad and most of my memories entail him yelling at me, either to shut the back door (with a please stuck on there every once in a while) because the a/c was on, or to take my beer outside. but he was our friend and i know he loved us just as much as we loved him. and we always will... i love you, ram.

rain said...

i went in for a beer on a night that would have other clubs going strong. there was doug, ram, two or three old guys at the bar, and me. one of the guys at the bar would not shut the fuck up, he had every angle covered with a pitch. ram, getting a bit itchy, passed the baby around. it was one of the few times i remember a real glass bottle (in a brown paper bag). the car salesman fucker got his turn, and asked, "what kind of tequila is it?" before he could say anything else, ram said, "get the fuck out, you want to drink with me or not motherfucker?" the salesman tried to say he was sorry and laugh it off like a car sellling fucker would, but ram moved (quickly) to the other end of the bar and jerked the tequila out of his hand and said, "you think getting kicked out of a bar is funny?" he was walking out the door when ram came my way while calling him a "pussy" and handed me the tequila and in a much softer tone said, "don't be a pussy, kiss the baby"
i knew i found a home with ram, and now, i'll do my best to never be a pussy again.

Yawn said...

I wanna donate to Doug's hospital bill. $25 on August 1. How do I do that?

Those folks need a website with a foto of "The Baby." But it's in a brown wrapper right. And as donations go up to a specified goal, the brown paper bag gets darker brownfrom the bottom up. Does that make any sense? It's like a United Way thermometer, but it's "The Baby." I never got a chug off that sumbitch but I'd like to help fill it for the survivors.

Anonymous said...

I have quite a few road stories, but none as vivid as Ram and Tacoland. I had played in a few bands around the area and seen some interesting bar owners/managers, but none as unique as Ram. It turns out that he wasn't wild---just himself. In the eighties I was in a band called Red Square and we were opening for Glass Eye at Tacoland. I got there, set up, and ordered a beer. The rude guy at the bar says "Did you say Budweiser or did your say PUSSY?!?" I felt really embarrassed and really did not know how to respond so I said "Just a Bud, please." He looked at me like I had shit on my nose and served me the beer. In hindsight, I was lucky he didn't kick me out. The gig goes well enough (although Glass Eye appeared unusually uncomfortable outside of the Austin scene) and it was time to settle up for the night. Ram, it turns out, wants to pay us in equal increments of beer, pot, and money. Since only one member toked we did not agree on the arrangement. Ram reluctantly (was it all a joke?) paid us our cash and we went on our way.

My next Ram sighting involved "kissing the baby" which, I swear to God, was actually and old Palmolive dishsoap bottle filled with some cheap tequila. Several drunken band members and I enjoyed the experience as some kind of "right of passage" into Ram's world. I had no idea how historic that event would be for all of us.

While I did not get to hang at Tacoland as much as my friends did, I always enjoyed the brotherhood of Ram/Tacoland known throughout the state. God bless you, Ram. Get out of here. I miss you already!

Will Willard

Anonymous said...

Will-- I was at that very Red Square / Glass Eye gig! I still have a flyer from the show (with the fortune telling gal & crystal ball). Billy Zygote also played that night. I was hoping that Gary would've shown up for the weekend's memorial -- great guy. Thanks for bringing up another good gig memory!

Anonymous said...

I'm wiping the tears from my eyes accepting I'll never drink out on that patio with Tiny and Doug again. Then again, being married shifts your values around, so I doubt I'd be drinking out there again based on the fact my wife keeps me from doing some of the wild things I used to do. But I gotta know- poor Doug passed away, Ram was the first to go, but Denise made it through the Tacoland Massacre. Can I still donate to her post-op living expenses? Please post something or leave a comment on my blog at I can't give much, I didn't know Denise, but I want to give back somehow to that fucked up, yet special time in my life. Thanks, and please keep up this blog.

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