Monday, August 18, 2008

Rest In Peace Doug Manion

Doug at Dr. Bart's office striking a pose.

Sad News Via Dr. Bart Nichols

Doug Manion died last Thursday or Friday. I am told his death was a suicide. He was a devout Tacoland regular, never paying a cover but earning admission by helping load in band equipment or picking up empties for Ram (to my observation, there was a mutual respect between the two). Numerous times he would greet me at the garage door facing Elmira St. and ask if he could help because he didn’t have cash for the cover, I would of course say yes and he would keep schlepping until the entire band had loaded in.

Often armed with a disposable flash camera, he must have accumulated a wonderful snap shot history of Tacoland and other San Antonio music venues. If that pile of photos could be located and catalogued, it would be a fitting legacy for Doug. His father was some sort of good ol’ boy City and County politico. I remember when I was a kid, there were always “Re-Elect Judge Manion” signs around town. Always.

His childhood and teenage years observing the actions of his dad and his dad’s friends left him with an insider’s history of San Antonio from the fifties through the seventies, mainly the tenure of the Good Government League. He admitted to a several year involvement with methamphetamine that, among other things, wrecked his teeth. That fascination with speed gave way to Lone Star tallboys and Advil. Doug had resolved a years long dispute with his brother over access to a trust fund set up by their parents for Doug. He lived in Baja King William in a house on Wickes provided to him through that trust. I really think his life had become a little less difficult, at least with regard to food and shelter.

I last talked to him at Sam’s Burger Joint, maybe the night of the Ram Jam or perhaps when the Dinners opened for Davie Allen. He was in his usual upbeat demeanor, looked healthy and was complaining about his new dentures. In other words, same old shit.

Some may have considered him a bum or a drunk, but my opinion is that he was a good guy. I always enjoyed visiting with him; I would often pick up a new tidbit of information about music or from the San Antonio of my youth. I’m going to miss his gravely-voiced, quick speaking, hands in motion way of communicating. Again, he was a good guy.

It’s raining.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Totally F@#*ed Up!

Kethan Beschorner, 29, a suspect in the July 4th murder of Michelle LeGue, was arrested today and charged with murder.

He told police that he chose LaGue because people might connect her death to another man she was going to testify against in the 2005 Taco Land slayings.

Beschorner is being held in the Bexar County Jail on $100,000 bond.

He also told police that he recently became a believer in Jesus Christ after worshiping Satan.


If this Express News link works, there's more over there...

Express News...

That is just totally wrong and freaking weird...

Rest in Peace Michelle and say hi to Ram from all his family and friends in San Antonio - I know there's a Taco Land in Heaven!

Friday, July 18, 2008

First Impressions

True Story From Taco Land

By Robert Cordova

It was about 1985. I was headed out for the night to go see a friends
band play play at Taco Land. The deal was, they were gonna play about
10-ish, then we were suppose go to their studio across the street so I
could audition to be their new drummer. I had never been to Taco Land,
heard of it, or anything! So I show up, and the first band is playing
hard, loud and directly into my right ear as I walked through the
door. Perfect! The place was crowded and totally buzzing with a great
vibe. I remember noticing the low ceiling full of posters and bands
bumper stickers plastered everywhere.

I was impressed.

Then to see the band tucked away in the corner, with no stage,
riser....nothin! Just a couple of colored lights all wired together,
Al Bundy style, hanging to the front of the band. That was the first
time I ever saw a band rocking their balls off, two feet in front of
the crowd, who was rockin with them just as hard!

I was more impressed!

So I make my way back to the bar, to get a beer. And thats where I saw
the Heart of Taco Land. Ram was back there serving beers as fast as he
could take the money. He was taking orders, making change, and
heckling the the band with "hey, play one that sounds good!" or "When
are you gonna start playing you pussies!!" I couldn't believe what
this guy was doing! I just laughed, and tried to squeeze up to the
bar, without getting poked in the back with a pool stick.

Now I was feeling really impressed!!

I finally get to the bar....a mosaic of little colored tiles, and a
candy-apple red diamond tuck base.....with matching bar stools!! This
place was old school! So I'm leaning against the bar waiting to get a
beer, and this drunk lady next to me on her bard stool lifts her head
up a bit, and looks at me. She was dressed like she just came from a
wedding, except her dress was a little shabby. Lets just say it was
missing a few sequins. Like I said, I was smiling....kind of big, when
right then Ram asked "What ya need". I asked for a Coors Light (I
know, I know). As he stepped away to grab it, I hear a growl right
next to me. I look over and the drunk lady was not liking my smile.
She was showing her teeth like a bull dog ready to fight! Holy Shit!

I was starting to wonder if i was impressed anymore.

What did I do to her? Ram slams a Budwieser in front of me and says
$2.00! I said, "I asked for a Coors Light". Ram said, "I know....
$2.00. Right then, the drunk dog-lady snarled and lurched at me with a
loud pissed off dog sound, and tried to bite my arm! She missed, and
fell right to the floor. Sweet Jesus! I helped her up, sat her on her
stool, and listened to Ram yell at her to stop biting his customers!
He took my money, apologized for her, and I took my beer. She sat
there, hunched over, and ordered another beer, insisting she was not
drunk. now this was just out of this world impressive!

I hung out a while longer, listened to my friends band play, then hung
out some more. About half way though their set, Ram came around with a
big oversized Sprite bottle, and was passing it around. He kindly
offered it to me, with one word....Tequila? Hell yah....I took a
drink, and felt right at home. Needless to say, there was no audition
that night. We all got a little too plastered and had a hell of a lot
of fun.

After that, Ram always remembered me, and I spent alot of time at Taco
Land. He always greeted me with a hug if it wasn't too busy. Some of
the nights that were most fun , were when no bands were playing, and
the bar was almost empty. Talking to Ram was a real trip. He was just
grateful for being alive and well enough to party with friends. I
remember drinking Lone Stars for $1.00, and Ram explaining. "Those
pussies on the Riverwalk dont know how to sell beer! $3.00 a beer?
Hell no....the secret is to sell twice as much for half the
price!!....Fuck those Pussies!!

Thats all completely true, and I will remember those times forever.

God Bless Ram.

Robert Cordova

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ram's Killer Takes Plea

Just before his capital murder trial would have started, Jose Najera pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in exchange for a 50-year sentence.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Witness To Taco Land Slayings Found Dead

Police are investigating the suspicious death of a potential witness in a 2005 murder case.

The body of a 44-year-old woman was found inside an apartment on the 1000 block of West Russell Place near downtown.

Published reports said the woman was a witness to the deaths of Ram Ayala and Doug Morgan at the Taco Land nightclub in 2005.

Police said a neighbor saw the woman and another person go into her apartment on July 4. The witness told police she saw the second person leave the apartment 10 minutes later but never saw the woman again.

Joseph Gamboa was convicted and sentenced to death for his connection to the Ayala and Morgan's deaths. The trial of Jose Najera, also charged in connection with the two deaths, is expected to begin on July 21.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Native American Trade Routes

True Stories From Taco Land

By Yawn Blog

Place: Tacoland
When: Late '90s
Who's Playing: Unknown
Ram Factor: Pow-Wow!

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'm working on finding more info on this! HMK)

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.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What Kind of Tequila Is It?

True Stories From Taco Land

By Rain

Place: Tacoland
When: One Night
Who's Playing: Nobody
Ram Factor: Kiss The Baby

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 selling 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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Trouble With Chicken

True Stories From Tacoland

The Trouble With Chicken
by Leighton Mann

Place: Tacoland
When: July 4th, 1997
Who's Playing: Chapstik + Boxcar Satan
Ram Factor: Pretty Fuckin' Funny

It was Chapstik's homecoming show, for the home base venue: TaCoLaNd. This club is a Texas punk landmark (see the Dead Milkmen song "Tacoland" for more details). We had to make it a good show, especially on the 4th of July!

At the obligatory BBQ on the 3rd, we were throwing out ideas on how to make the performance worthy of Ram's (Tacoland proprietor) expectations. He'd fucking kill us if we didn't make the place the required freakshow...

Before reading on, keep in mind that San Antonio's scene is an odd mixture of Texan absurdity and Mexican traditions...

Good ideas weren't coming. After rehashing the outfits, the smoke-machine debacle and the multimedia presentation problems (gross slide shows), someone (unnamed) blurted out, "A cockfight in front of the band!" After the anglos in the crowd recoiled slightly, everyone cheered. Ten minutes later, as usual, we all forgot about it and decided to practice instead.

The next morning, after being awakened for the last time by the roaches trying to drag race across my chest, I was freaked by some awful screeching outside. Someone had acquired two odd-looking chickens and tied them up to the front of the apartment. Somehow we knew that these drag-queens of the bird world weren't for eating.

First Clue: They were separated. Whoever tied them up knew these birds didn't like each other and were bred to be antisocial.

Second Clue: They looked too good to eat. These animals had elaborate, colored plumes and weren't the usual obese human-chow. They were tall, thin, and apparently strong.

Third Clue: When we tried to let them roam free, instead of running away they attacked each other.

Fourth Clue: We remembered that one of the people at the BBQ the day before was proud of the fact that he could get "anything for anyone". Shit.

The preparation for show went on as usual, until the last things to be loaded were the "Props". I thought, "Oh, we'll just parade them around on their cute leashes, and that'll be enough to appease the bloodthirsty". The PA, the loading, the costumes, the BBQ, the weather, and the songs were enough, but loading two insane chickens was really starting to freak me out. But they got there alright, after a friend who had handled the monsters in Mexico drove them in his truck. (Bet that was a fun 5 blocks.)

TaCoLaNd is a small one-room club overlooking the open sewer called the San Antonio River. The show had the expected dense-as-Hell's-locker-room look, feel and smell. I was constantly leaving to get some air, and we were the last band. So, I found myself regularly checking the bird to see if they were OK, or if anyone was fucking with them.

Sure enough, just as Boxcar Satan went on before us, one of the birds turned up missing. Word had gotten 'round to the PETA wannabes and bloodthirsty in the crowd that there might be a "cockfight" during the Chapstik set. But I couldn't figure out if the thieves were just uptight hippies acting on a rumor and a chance to look like "heroes". Or was it one of the hoards of insane carnivores churning inside? (Or did Ram suddenly decide to start serving Chicken Tacos again?)

I made the call, "Fuck it! It isn't worth a vegan riot or a carnivorous frenzy just to use these birds."

Even though our amps are really loud, and our drummer likes to surprise us with extra loud hits; I wasn't prepared for the noise and confusion that exploded midway through the Chapstik set. First, the fireworks went off all around us and the crowd. (Keep in mind that the stage and the audience area at Tacoland are basically the same thing.) People are all around us. Smoke bombs and firecrackers are belching under my feet. Out of the corner of my eye I see "the" monitor fly towards the back. Then I look down to see an unnamed member of Boxcar Satan (the hint is that he is well hung) strumming my guitar with his penis.

"OK," Chapstik all think together,"this is a great show, but how do the songs go again?"

Just as I was remembering the chords to the bridge of our last song, the screaming started. People finally backed away from me and the microphone. I felt a brushing on my back, but assumed it was a straggler left behind during the screaming. The lingerer wasn't human, but it was pissed. I looked quickly behind and remembered the face behind the new cloud of feathers as the freak who said he could get us "anything".

The bird was even more freaked out than the crowd in seconds. The animal was trying to fly. Have you ever watched a roach try to fly? This was more scary, because this thing had claws, and was trained to use them. The temporarily sober crowd could do nothing but make momentary holes for the bird's crack-induced impression of "Flashdance".

It was beautiful. Vegans and carnivores, equally scared for their thin skins, around this whirling dervish of feathers and claws sharpened by professionals in the SouthSide.

The terror and camaraderie only lasted for a few bars of a hectic song. Soon, the cock was hanging out by my feet just looking up at me for the duration of the song. It looked like he was saying, "When are you bastards going to let me kick that other chicken's ass instead of all these hippies' ankles?!"


The next day: I wasn't feeling well (surprise!). The BBQ, organizing the show, the fireworks, the demonic bird trying to climb up my jumpsuit... it all made me thirsty. Pulling up to the "Crack 'n Go" convenience mecca, my stomach notified me that I was never to eat chicken again. I told Mr. Stomach, "Fine, I'll puke as soon as I pull into the parking lot!" (Scary bastard)

Unfortunately, the lot was filled with cop cars and motorcycles - apparently for the daily donut roundup. Cops everywhere and I was in a rental car. Before I could think, I was emptying my borrowed lunch (gallons of it) into my favorite stagewear: the white jumpsuit. Cops in the patrol car next to me had no idea as I laid white sack of vomit next to them and slowly pulled away.

I drove to a cop-free store and got the required Gatorade (passing on the Menudo). Just for kicks, I drove back by the first, cop-infested store, in my inconspicuous rented Neon. There was no trace of the beautiful jumpsuit, or the vomit, or even the ringer shirt I used to wipe my mouth/spigot. For this theft, I initially suspected the homeless guys in the park, but then I remembered the look on that chicken's face as he was staring up at me the night before. Was he looking at me? ...or my jumpsuit? We never found either bird after the show.

Thanks to Joe Barfield for the Chapstik link.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Last Band At Taco Land!

Click to make it bigger and print your own damn flyer, Pussy!

Now Available: The Swindles: Last Band At Taco Land CD/DVD. Get yours at the Release Party at The Cove on Thursday, March 6th, 2008.